Thursday, December 30, 2010

New 16-week Plan

Workout yesterday: Female Body Breakthrough (FBB) Week 2/Workout A + 5.0 miles on stationary bike

Workout today: 60 minute Kickboxing class + 5.0 miles on stationary bike + Abs

So I mentioned yesterday how I was starting a new 16-week program from the "Female Body Breakthrough." I am hoping this will help to tone and firm up some areas but I am pregnant so I'm pretty sure I will have to modify things at some point, especially as my belly starts to grow in size.

Here's a little bit about the program in case any of you are interested...

The Workout:
Cosgrove's 16-week plan is broken up into four four-week segments. During the first few weeks, you only do 3 weight workouts each week. By week 3, you start adding in two metabolic circuits in addition to the weight workouts that are also outlined in her book. Then during the last few weeks you can add in another cardio workout during the week if you desire.

The Rules
Rule #1: You should not miss a weight-lifting workout. If you need to miss a workout, you can miss out on a metabolic circuit but you MUST commit to doing all three weight workouts each week.

Rule #2: You should drink a protein shake within 15 minutes of finishing your weight-lifting workout.

Rule #3: You should lift heavy weight without compromising good form.

Rule #4: You should eat 5-6 small meals per day, each containing a fruit/vegetable and a protein.

Rule #5: You should eat clean 90% of the time (avoiding processed foods and sugar.) You still have 10% (or 3-4 meals each week) to treat yourself.

Rule #6: No steady-state cardio routines (until the last few weeks where you can add in one if desired). This means no running, no elipticalling (is that a word?), no biking, no stepping, etc. You still get some good cardio in using her metabolic workouts though.

(I have to admit I will be cheating just a bit on that last one. I know some of the metabolic workouts will be a bit tough for me to complete, especially as I progress in this pregnancy. I plan on keeping my kickboxing and BodyFlow classes each week and I do want to try to run/walk on the treadmill once per week as well for as long as my body allows.)

So that's it in a nutshell. I'm enjoying the workouts so far (still in the base phase), and they have all left me with a good "burn" the day after so I'm hoping that they're doing some good.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Female Body Breakthough -- My New Experiment

A few weeks ago I started following this blog: "The Great Fitness Experiment." It's a woman who does a new fitness experiment each month, trying out many of the different fitness regimes out on the market. Some of her experiments have included karate, kettlebells, vegan eating, long-distance running, double cardio, crossfit, etc. (I actually bought her book too and found it highly fascinating and entertaining.)

From her blog I came across this book:

I was very intrigued by this book because the author and I seemed to have a similar experience or sorts. Rachel Cosgrove, a fairly well known personal trainer, discovered that while training for an Ironman competition (2.4 miles swim + 112 mile bike ride + 26.2 miles of running!!) she was becoming a bit flabby. This seemed to be counter intuitive to what you would think would happen while training for an endurance event of such magnitude. She would often train 3-4 hours each day but it was all steady-state cardio training (biking, swimming and running.) On the day of competition, she was proud of her accomplishment and impressed by her endurance, but a bit embarrassed by the shape of her body.

Once the Ironman was over, she had a goal of fat-loss and put herself on an 8-week program that consisted of NO steady-state cardio but instead focused on weight training and interval training using metabolic circuits (basically body-weight type exercises such as jump squats, jumping jacks, jump lunges, burpees, etc.) All of these workouts lasted a maximum of 60 minutes each, reducing her gym time from 30+ hours each week during Ironman training to 5-6 hours each weeks using this new method.

So what were her results? Well I think these pictures speak volumes...

Before (during her Ironman competition)...


Pretty amazing results, right? During that 8-week period, she ended up losing 15 pounds of fat and regained the toned, firm body that she had once had.

And she had these final thoughts to say about steady-state cardio...

"It is time to bury the myth of using long, slow steady-state cardio to burn up fat, for good. No more spending hours and hours on a treadmill, elliptical, or bike...Get off the treadmill, stop spinning your wheels, and push yourself in the gym if you want to lose some serious fat. Take it from me, I finally learned first hand. It's time to put the last nail in the coffin of using aerobics for fat loss, bury it for good, and do some high intensity, interval dancing on its overdue grave." (To read more about her experience, check out this article: "The Final Nail in the Cardio Coffin")

So after hearing her story that sounded oh-so-familiar to mine, I bought her book and will be following her program for the next 16 weeks. Of course I don't expect to have these kind of results while pregnant, but I am hoping to get stronger and regain some of that muscle mass that I lost while doing so much steady-state cardio during the last few months.

Stay tuned for what Rachel Cosgrove's 16-week program entails...

(By the way, I am totally not knocking cardio workouts, I am a fan and will always be a fan of them. I plan to do at least 1-2 of them each week even during this 16-week program. I just really think we need to reevaluate what types of workouts will give us the real results that we are seeking. Remember, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten!" -- Roger von Oech)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lesson Learned

Workout Today: BodyStep Class + 7.0 miles on stationary bike + Ab workout

I have a little story that I would like to share with you all today. It's a very personal story (as it has to do with me!!) but I need to share it in order to prove a particular point..."If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." (Duh, right? But I seem to need reminding of this often!!) This statement is especially true when it comes to exercising.

For most of my adult life, I have been a regular exerciser. I started running when I was 15 and have belonged to various gyms in many different states. My workouts though, were definitely one dimensional. I was without a doubt what you would call a "cardio queen." I loved to run, do aerobics, bike, ride the elipctical, etc. and prided myself on my endurance. This also led me to a belief that because I was doing so much cardio (and burning so many calories, right?) that I could just eat whatever I wanted and I would be good. While I wasn't overweight, I also knew I wasn't where I should be considering the amount of time that I spent in the gym. I knew I wanted to change my body and I also knew that the best way I could do this was not going to be inside the gym but rather inside the kitchen. I started eating better-for-me-less-processed foods and eating more frequent meals throughout the day (the basic principles of clean eating.) I soon noticed that my energy levels were up, my skin was clear, and my pant sizes were going down.

In addition to overhauling my diet, I also started to REALLY weight train for the first time. I had been "dabbling" in weight training for years, after all I was an exercise physiology graduate and I knew all the benefits of weight training. I just always felt like I could get "more bang for my buck" doing more cardio than weights so it was something I only recently took seriously last spring.

After a few months, I had lost 15 pounds, tons of inches, a bit of body fat, became more toned and even improved my running times. I was literally in the best shape of my life and even had a woman at the gym tell me that my arms were getting "ripped."

I really liked how my body responded to less cardio (I was down to doing it about 2 times per week) while upping my weight training (I was doing this 5 times per week). I started to lift heavy and do a lot of circuit training (doing one exercises right after the other with little rest in between) which helped to maintain my endurance and cardiovascular fitness without the need to do any additional cardio sessions per week. My metabolism was smoking hot, I felt great and got a lot of compliments on how I was looking. Happy ending, right?

Well, not exactly...

In May 2010 I started to train for a half marathon and my focus again turned to doing mostly cardio. I threw in a weights session here and there, but I didn't want to train heavy because I didn't want to hinder my running workouts. I had a great training schedule, I loved training with my little running group every Saturday morning, and I felt rather "speedy" for the first time in my life. I ended up getting injured two weeks before my race and didn't have quite the race that I had trained for, but still managed to finish in under two hours.

However, by the time the half marathon was over, I wasn't pleased with what had happened to my body. I had gotted "soft." My hard-earned muscles from earlier in the year were disappearing and I felt kind of flabby. I had gained 5 pounds during training and found that I had cravings for carbs and sweets that I didn't have as much when I was focused on weight training rather than cardio-based workouts. After my half marathon, I took a break from running as many miles, but just substituted in other aerobic workouts in the form of Kickboxing, BodyCombat and BodyStep at my gym. Yeah, I would throw in an occasional BodyPump class to keep the muscle juices flowing, but I wasn't really seriuos about weight training anymore.

Then in October I found out I was expecting another baby (yeah!!) but it also meant my eating plummetted because I had hardly any appetitie and what little appetite I had was definitely not craving anything too "clean." (Anything green made me want to gag!)

Needless to say, the body I have now is not the body that I had 8 months ago (I know, I know I'm 14 weeks pregnant, but like I said, it started well before the pregnancy hit.) I know that I will be gaining weight for the next 6 months in order to have a nice, healthy baby, but I also know that I can make some changes now that will help me to bounce back a bit faster after this little one is born.

Stay tuned for what those changes will be...

Reasons for the "No-Blog" Zone

One of the big reasons that I haven't been blogging much here has been because of this little baby...
After six months (and a lot of studying crammed into the last 3 weeks or so!!) I officially became a certified personal trainer as of December 18th, 2010. So from here on out, I will be signing my name like this...
Dadra S. Call B.S., NASM CPT
(Totally kidding, of course!!)
It feels so nice to have completed this. While I am not quite sure where this will take me or what exactly I will do with myself now, it is something that I've wanted to do for a really long time and I'm glad that I was finally able to do it!!
Another, even bigger reason for the lack of blogging has been this...
Soon after completing my half-marathon I found out I was expecting baby #3!! After finding out, I had two weeks of feeling great followed by 6 weeks of misery. I have never been so sick for such a continuous amount of time in my life. Fortunately I was able to keep up with most of my work outs since the only relief I would get was from sleep or exercise endorphins. Many times I would feel completely lousy when leaving for the gym in the mornings, but within about 20 minutes, most of the sickies would pass and I would end up having a pretty good workout.
I am currently just over 14 weeks along (not sorry to see you go, first trimester!!) and my workouts have been pretty much the same so far (I did start wearing a heartrate monitor to some of my more intense gym classes just to make sure I was keeping it below 160...what my doctor recommends since I was very active pre-pregnancy.)

Now that I'm done studying and feeling pukey, I'm hoping to be back on here more regularly.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cold Weather Workouts

Yesterday's workout:
45-minute BodyJam Class
60-min Burn & Firm Class

As you can see, I am definitely still competing in the challenge at my gym, even it it's just against myself. I love me a good challenge!! (And I totally loved that BodyJam class yesterday. It brought me back to the 10 years of my life when I took dance lessons growing up!)

Speaking of challenges though, I feel like I need something to really motivate me this winter. I am NOT a fan of running outside during the cold months of winter which is why I rarely do any winter/spring races. I tend to bring my workouts inside during the months of December-March and then I get all excited and pumped to be back outside for spring running again. Last year I made the goal to exercise 2010 miles during the year 2010 and I should be able to meet that goal by the end of the year. I guess what I am looking for now is another challenge/goal to work towards and I am in need of some ideas. Does anybody have any???

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Still Alive!!

Now that it's been well over a month since my last post, I decided to get back on the bandwagon again and hopefully (but no promises!!) start posting again a big more regularly.

It's been a busy month and I take my test to become a certified personal trainer in just two weeks so I have been pretty involved with that lately. I have learned so much, although I am not entirely sure what I will do with it once I have it. I have a dream to one day open up my own gym in the basement and train people from there but that will be a ways into the future yet. Dream big though, right?!?!?

I have been taking lots of classes at my gym lately now that the weather has turned chilly. The gym I go to is actually having a competition between December 1 and January 15 to see which person can attend the most gym classes. The winner gets a free one year membership!! I thought I might have a shot at winning this since I regularly attend about 6-8 classes a week even without the competition drive. Alas, my dreams were shattered by day two of the competition. Turns out there are two men (ahem, a bit psycho if I do say so myself) who had already taken 12 classes in just ONE day!! They must have stayed at the gym all day long on December 1st and taken every single class offered. They plan on doing this until their stamina dissolves (or they become gravely injured which is probably even more likely.) Obviously these men have no life outside of the gym (i.e. no families to take care of, no jobs to speak of, no wives to come home to) and since I have rarely seen these two men at these classes before, it is obviously a completely testosterone-driven attempt to win this challenge. (Do I sound bitter, because I kind of am!!) At least one of the trainers has warned them about the dangers of 10+ hours of exercise a day and the fact that neither of them is in the greatest of shape right now just screams "Injure-Me-Now!!"

So what do you think? Does this sound a bit crazy to any of you either? Am I being too critical of these two men who really are working hard to win this challenge? I would love to hear your thoughts!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Home Exercise Videos

Today’s Workout

60 minutes BodyCombat Class

I LOVE that BodyCombat class. It always make me sweat and today’s new release was no exception. I love how strong it makes me feel with all that punching and kicking.

Today’s class made me think a bit about those old “Tae Bo” videos that used to be really popular with good ol’ Billy Blanks


(Picture found here)

I remember back in college I watched an infomercial about some sort of Tae Bo workout that promised AMAZING results (don’t all infomercial products promise the same thing…that’s what makes them so appealing to us all.) I was convinced that this product would make be totally ripped so I grabbed the phone and placed my order. It was a few minutes later when I realized that my meager student income wasn’t going to allow me to pay for these videos without having to go hungry for few weeks. I then called back and canceled my order when the sense of clarity finally revealed itself.

I have to say though, that there are three workout video sets that I have had my eyes of for a while that really intrigue me.

#1: Turbo Fire


(Found here)

#2: P90X


(Found here)

#3: Insanity


(Found here)

All of these programs promise AMAZING results (surprise, surprise) but I don’t know anybody in real life who has experienced the great changes in their physique that these programs claim will come. Have any of you tried these videos? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BodyPump Time

Today’s Workout:

60 minutes BodyPump class
25 minutes HIIT on the stationary bike (I was a sweaty BEAST when I was done today!)

Have you ever tried a BodyPump class? Here’s the description from the Les Mills site:

“BODYPUMP™ is the original barbell class that strengthens your entire body. This 60-minute workout challenges all your major muscle groups by using the best weight-room exercises like squats, presses, lifts and curls. Great music, awesome instructors and your choice of weight inspire you to get the results you came for – and fast! Like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new BODYPUMP™ class is released every three months with new music and choreography.”

My gym just showed off the newest release this morning and I am a FAN. The chest and lunge track were challenging (like always) but the shoulder track was really INTENSE. I really, really like the new release.

After my marathon last year, I REALLY got into BodyPump, doing it about 3 times every week. I had a bit of burnout from doing it so often and went on to other things. In the last few weeks, I have ventured back into doing it twice a week and feel it gives me a great total body weight workout. If you belong to a gym that offers this class, you should definitely check it out. It will make your muscles BURN like crazy!!

(Pictures found here)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aging and fat potential

Today’s workout:

60 min BodyFlow class (love getting my stretch on!) followed by a Bridal Bootcamp Workout found here (I’ve already been a bride, but this workout was a great mix of cardio and weights and quite challenging with all those supersets)

As many of you know, I am currently studying to become a certified personal trainer. While studying last night, I came across a few statistics that I found interesting and though I would share…

“Adults who are not involved in exercising regimens will lose approximately 5 pounds of muscle per decade, while simultaneously adding 15 pounds of fat per decade.”

(Source: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 3rd Edition)

Can you believe that? I was really sad (and a bit scared) to read that statistic. No wonder we are a nation where 33% of all adults are obese and 2/3 of the adults population is overweight. Obviously a lot of that has to do with the typical American diet of high-fat, highly processed foods eaten in enormous portions. But the inactivity rate of Americans in general is quite astounding, only furthering the obesity epidemic of our nation.

Everyone I know (especially those older than 40) have always told me how much their body starts to fall apart as they age, particularly their metabolism and muscle vs. fat ratios. I found this statement pretty interesting though…

“When the concept of age-related fat gain was investigated, it was determined that body fat was not an age-related issue, but rather was attributed to the number of hours individuals spent exercising per week. It has also been shown in sedentary individuals that the daily-activity level accounts for more than 75% of the variability of body-fat storage in men.”

(Source: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 3rd Edition)

So I guess the best way to overcome the lean muscle mass loss and fat gain as we age is to get out there and move more (and follow a bit more Michael Pollan’s advice… “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Running for the fun of it

Today's workout looked like this...

60 min kickboxing class (this class always kicks my booty!!)
20 min core work/stretching
(I'm really trying to work on stretching properly in order to improve and eliminate injury risk)

I read this article the other day that really resonated with me. It was from a blog called “Marathon Mommies" and was about a woman who finally understood the joys of just being able to run without worrying about setting PRs and setting a new pace standard. After lots of hard work, she had finally qualified to run the Boston Marathon. During her training however, she started to develop some severe abdominal pain and eventually had to have emergency surgery to remove a large mass from her abdomen just weeks before the race. In her own words she says this…

“After surgery and staying in-and-out of the hospital with complications, I was left unable to run for about four months, let alone even walk comfortably. It turns out I have something called Crohn's Disease, not a glamorous thing to have, but at least it was not what they thought it was, cancer.

There is one thing I can say (many people may think I am nuts.) I feel truly blessed to have gone through that. It is in those frightening, dark moments, that I learned the most about myself, what I am made of, and the way I think about moments in my life is completely different than in the spring.

My running used to be all about how fast I could run and that is really all I cared about. Forget about the fun along the way, going for a run just for the fun of it without worrying about my pace - the pureness of running had been wiped away and I was obsessed with splits, the newest gadget and not being satisfied with a race unless I placed in the top three.

Now things are different. The first week I started back it took me 20 minutes to walk a half mile. I am not kidding, I was that sore and stiff…But, even in that moment, 20 minutes felt like winning a marathon. I could move and that was all I needed.

I am now back to running. I have run a 15k and a half marathon this past month. I am not setting records or caring about my speed. I am just out there enjoying the moment and my ability to be doing something I love so dearly. Someday, maybe, I will again try a shot at Boston. But, for now, I am just enjoying the roads and taking it all in.

Now, I would never wish what I went through on any of you. However, the one thing I can say is sometimes we all can use a little reminder to sit back and enjoy the moment. Enjoy the movement. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy your health and the ability to go out and run.

Every now and then, take off the watches, forget about your splits, feel the sun on your face, take a look around you and just enjoy the road you are traveling.”

This was exactly what I needed to hear this week. Sometimes I get so focused on time/pace/distance covered etc. that I miss out on the true joys of getting out and moving my body. I don’t give my body credit for all of the many wonderful things that it allows me to do. Sometimes I focus too much on how LARGE my thighs are rather than revel in how far those LARGE thighs have taken me, how many lunges, squats and miles they have endured and conquered!

I can’t even tell you when I last went out on a run without my Garmin, but I want that to change. I really do like knowing what my pace, time and mileage is at any given moment, but sometimes it does tend to take the joy out of running. I need to enjoy the experience of running a bit more and revel in the fact that my body can do a lot of wonderful things, even if it isn’t perfect. I love you Mr. Garmin, but I think a little break from you now and then may help me to focus more on what I CAN do rather than on what I CAN”T!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5k Race

Sorry for the little hiatus (AGAIN!!) Hopefully I'm back on track now!

After putting together my Race Results Tab, I realized something...I have not run a 5K race in over 10 years!! I ran a few in high school and several in college, but after switching over to longer distances, I left the 5K distance completely. Probably because I'm not a particularly fast runner and 5Ks are supposed to be FAST!

On a whim last week, I decided to sign up for a 5K on Saturday. It was just a small local race and I really wasn't expecting too much for these reasons...

1. I haven't been running more than 1-2 times per week since the half-marathon in an attempt to both heal my piriformis injury and break in my new minimalist running shoes.
2. I have done no speed training at all in recent months.
3. I am so NOT a 5K runner!!

I really do prefer longer distances because I feel like I can run in my more comfortable pace and not go "all out." ("All out" for each person is VERY relative. Kara Goucher, a world-class marathoner, was running a "slow" pace for her when she was 8 months pregnant of 6:30-7:00 min/mile. Ummmm, yeah, that's basically an all out sprint for me!!)

But I was also interested to see how well I could run a 5K on a whim. I actually finished in a pretty respectable time (24:56, average 8:03 min/mile) but the coolest part was that because it was a small race, I actually ended up taking first place in my age group (30-39) and won my very first running prize....a nifty medal!!

I took 6th place overall out of about 90 runners. Not too shabby for a run I wasn't even planning on a week ago. I have to admit, I kind of like these smaller races where you actually have a chance to win a prize every now and then, even if you're not Kara Goucher!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Shoes

Today's run went a little something like this...

I'm easing myself back into running while trying to recover from my hamstring/piriformis issues. I was actually pleasantly surprised with today's average pace of 8:18 per mile. I was actually planning to take it a bit easier today but I felt good and perhaps these are to thank for that...

My new pair of Newton running shoes!!
Last week we headed down to Sheperdstown, West Virginia to check out a new "natural" running store. It's called "Two River Treads" and is owned by a physician and elite marathoner who preaches the benefits of running in shoes that mimic barefoot running and encourage midfoot to forefoot striking rather than heel to toe running (their motto is "the first running store to abandon the modern running shoe.") After reading the book "Chi Running" and doing some research about barefoot/minimalist running, I was a bit intrigued and decided to check it out for myself. I know a few people who run in the Vibram 5 Fingers (I find these to be a bit too extreme for my taste) and rave about them. After doing a trial run around the store's neighborhood, I decided to give these Newton Running shoes a go. They are minimalist shoes that have less cushioning and more forefoot propulsion to force people away from heel striking (the theory is that most running shoes these days are so cushioned and controlled that they force people into an unnatural gait pattern, a cause for a lot of injuries to the hip, knee and foot.)
I have struggled with some frustrating running injuries over the last few years and the idea that these shoes might help to alleviate these issues was very appealing to me. They were a bit more expensive than my normal running shoes (Asics Nimbus) but they are supposed to last twice as long (these shoes should last at least 1000 miles where most other running shoes start to break down after 300-500 miles.)
Because these shoes will force you into a more natural running pattern, they also require a "breaking-in" period. You start with running in them for just one mile the first time out, then you can add a mile each time you go out in them until you reach your normal running mileage. This breaking in period can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. I just finished running my first 3-miler in them and I have to say I quite like them. I do notice I feel more tenderness in my calves and feet than in my other running shoes, which makes sense since they aren't as cushioned and I'm striking with my midfoot rather than my heel.
I'll be sure to give another review in a few months when I've had a chance to really break them in.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chia Chia

Today's workout consisted of the following...
60 minutes BodyFlow class (Yoga/Pilates/Tai Chi)
2 mile run on the treadmill (easing back into running with some piriformis/hamstring issues...and some new shoes too. More on those later!!)
30 minutes upper body weight training (pull/press combo, 3-exercise-superset for the shoulders and tabatas for the biceps and triceps....lots of fire felt in the arms today!!)
This lovely snack followed my workout today...

A lovely green monster, made with kale instead of spinach today (kale, vanilla protein powder, banana and lots of water and was extra icy today, hence the funky look!!)

The bonus ingredient today was this...

One of my running partners is running a marathon this weekend and he started using these for his long runs about four months ago. After researching some of the benefits of incorporating chia seeds into your diet, I have started adding them to my daily smoothies too.
Here's a little info about chia seeds...(source)

"Chia, is familiar to most of us as a seed used for the novelty of the Chia Pet™, clay animals with sprouted Chia seeds covering their bodies. Little is known, however, of the seeds tremendous nutritional value and medicinal properties. For centuries this tiny little seed was used as a staple food by the Indians of the south west and Mexico. Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. It was said the Aztec warriors subsisted on the Chia seed during the conquests. The Indians of the south west would eat as little as a teaspoon full when going on a 24hr. forced march. Indians running form the Colorado River to the California coast to trade turquoise for seashells would only bring the Chia seed for their nourishment.

If you try missing a spoonful of Chia in a glass of water and leaving it for approximately 30 minutes or so, when you return the glass will appear to contain not seeds or water, but an almost solid gelatin. This gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia. Research believe this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when food containing these gummy fibers, known as mucilages, are eaten. The gel that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.

In addition to the obvious benefits for diabetics, this slowing in the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar offers the ability for creating endurance. Carbohydrates are the fuel for energy in our bodies. Prolonging their conversion into sugar stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration in their fueling effects.

One of the exceptional qualities of the Chia seed is its hydrophilic properties, having the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weigh in water. Its ability to hold on to water offers the ability to prolong hydration. Fluids and electrolytes provide the environment that supports the life of all the body’s cells. Their concentration and composition are regulated to remain as constant as possible. With Chia seeds, you retain moisture, regulate, more efficiently, the bodies absorption of nutrients and body fluids. Because there is a greater efficiency in the utilization of body fluids, the
electrolyte balance is maintained."

Pretty interesting stuff, huh?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Homemade Protein Bars

Sorry about kind of dropping out of the blogworld for a while. I've been super busy and this blog kept getting pushed to the back burner. I really don't know how many people are still reading this, but I really do enjoy writing about health and fitness so I decided to give it another go. Besides, even if one person gets a good idea or motivation from something here, then it makes it all worth it in the end!
My morning started off with the following workout:
60 minutes kickboxing class
15 minutes stationary bike
15 minutes leg workout
(This included wall sits with a weighted ball overhead, stability ball lift and curls and one-legged machine leg was short but pretty intense and my legs were on FIRE by the end!)
A while ago I ran across the following recipe for making your own protein bars. (This is not my own recipe, but I don't remember where I got it so I can't give proper credit!!) I do my best to eat whole foods when possible, but sometimes you just need something quick and easy to toss into your purse as you run out the door. My kids like these too and they only require 5 simple ingredients...
Oats (A healthy whole grain)

Peanut Butter (A healthy fat and a bit of protein too)

Ground flaxseed (Another healthy fat)

Protein powder (Giving these bars a nice protein boost!)

Homemade Protein Bars
2 cups oats
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
4 scoops protein powder (I use chocolate)
2 T. ground flaxseed
1/2 cup water
Mix all ingredients together (I usually use my hands to really mix it in good.) Place mixture in container and freeze for 30 minutes. Take them out, cut into bars and BAM you have some nice clean protein bars with very few ingredients and very little time involved. I usually cut these into 8 bars (then I will sometimes take four of these bars and cut them into halves for the kids to eat too.) This is a great alternative to granola bars (usually laden with unrecognizable ingredients and high fructose corn syrup) or the other 100-ingredient protein bars out there. And because you made 'em, you know exactly what's in 'em too!! You can even make them your own by adding some sliced almonds, raisins, etc.
Hope you enjoy!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekly Challenge (Sep. 27-Oct. 3, 2010)

I am a huge fan of stainless steel water bottles. I have actually amassed a pretty large collection of them in my attempt to find the "perfect" water bottle for me. (Easy to clean, keeps liquid COLD yet doesn't sweat on the outside, doesn't leak, no funny noises when I drink from it, etc. are a few of the qualities that I have been in search of.) Alas, all of my many water bottles seemed to fall short in at least one or more areas. I began to think that maybe the perfect water bottle just didn't exist. My hope was restored though once I discovered this beauty...

Image found here.

This is the Thermos Vacuum Insulated Hydration Bottle. This water bottle is soooo amazing and all of my other water bottles are collecting dust because I will ONLY use this one now. It is just that good. It never leaks or sweats water to the outside, it's easy to drink from, and very easy to clean. But it's best feature in my opinion is that it keeps liquid COLD!!! For hours and hours and hours!! On Saturday for instance I took a full water bottle with me to go shopping. I put 3 ice cubes in it before we left home and after spending 4+ hours in a hot car (it was in the 90s) it still had the ice cubes left in it when I took a swig. AMAZING!! I actually used this bottle when I ran the half-marathon too (I had a strap thing that I made work with this bottle rather than the flimsy plastic bottle it came with.) It probably looked like I was carrying some coffee with me, but I didn't care. I don't seem to get my thirst quenched properly unless I'm drinking cold beverages and this little bottle kept me in cold water from start to finish. If you can't tell, I am a huge fan of this little hydration bottle!!

This actually ties into the weekly challenge for this drink water, and lots of it!! Water is an essential nutrient to keep our bodies healthy and performing their best. It helps keep your muscles and organs hydrated, cushions your joints, keeps your skin clear from blemishes, assists in weight loss, transports oxygen and nutrients to cells, eliminates toxins and wastes from the body, and regulates body temperature. Not getting enough water can make us eat more (confusing hunger with thirst), make our minds fuzzy and unable to concentrate and interfere with short-term memory.

Because of my active lifestyle, I aim to drink about 3 liters of water per day. I have a 3-liter container of water that I keep in the fridge and I just fill up my water bottle whenever it empties until I have downed all 3 liters. Your challenge for this week is to make sure that you are getting at least 8 cups of water per day and if you're active, try for even more (think 2-3 liters.) I know some of you may have a hard time getting in that much water, especially if you enjoy sodas and flavored drinks so do the best you can with this challenge. Aim for reducing your flavored beverages and increasing the amount of pure water you drink each day. You can also try adding in some lemon, lime, strawberries or kiwi slices to help flavor your water more naturally.

Time to DRINK UP this week!!

Talking Point: How much water do you typically drink each day? How do you make sure that you are getting enough?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pumpkin Time

I have been CRAVING anything pumpkin for a LONG time. Alas, I could not find any canned pumpkin anywhere. (I know, I know...I could clean out, cook and smash up a real pumpkin but that seems to be a lot of trouble when I know how quick, easy and yummy Libby's pure canned pumpkin is!!)

I was super excited this week when I went to the store and what did my eyes behold....LIBBY'S CANNED PUMPKIN!! I was so thrilled that I bought 5 cans.

I have been having pumpkin inspired dishes all week....pumpkin w/ greek yogurt, pumpkin pancakes, etc...but my favorite pumpkin creation to date is the Pumpkin Smoothie...

It was like drinkable pumpkin pie!! (That maybe doesn't sound as good as it tasted, but believe me, it was YUMMY!)

I added a banana, two big spoonfuls of canned pumpkin, about 2 t. pumpkin pie spice, vanilla protein powder along with water and ice. It was the perfect post-workout meal!

Talking Point: Do you love pumpkin as much as I do? What kind of yummy smoothies do you like to make?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

4th Place

Do any of you remember those "No Fear" shirts that were pretty popular in the early 90's? They would usually have the "No Fear" logo on the front and then some saying on the back. Some of them were pretty inspirational, some were pretty mean and in my humble opinion, a bit inaccurate too. I remember one shirt having this phrase..."Second place, the first loser!" I'm sure this was intended as motivation to always shoot for the top, but I hardly considered a second place finisher in any competition to be a "loser."
Watching the Olympic games every two years though does make me think about 4th place being the "first loser." I have always felt a little bad watching the fourth place finisher in the Olympics. They have obviously worked so hard to even be in the Olympic games in the first place. Being the fourth best athlete in the world is nothing to scoff at either, but just being out of the medals must be a bit disheartening at times.
So what does this have to do with me?
Well, I got the official results from my half-marathon on Saturday. My time was 1:56 (as you can clearly see from the picture). My surprise was that I actually finished 4th in my age group! The race was REALLY small...I usually don't even come close to placing! It made me both excited and a bit sad though...
Happy because, hey, I came in 4th!! With an injury no less!!
A bit sad though because only the top three finishers received a prize (a pretty snazzy backpack) and the recognition. And perhaps the hardest part...I finished only 90 seconds behind the 3rd place finisher in my age group. Awwwwww, so close yet so far away!!
I will do my best to be happy about it though. I really feel like I gave it my all. Could I have gone 90 seconds faster...perhaps. But it's easier to second guess myself now that it's over. I was in a lot of pain at the time and it took just about everything I had not to stop and quit. So I'll try to take a "glass-half-full" approach and shout to the rooftops....
Talking Point: How would you feel about coming in 4th place? Any words of advice, condolences, congratulations, etc.?!?!?!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekly Challenge (Sep. 20-Sep. 26, 2010)

So how did you do making your vision board from last week's challenge? I have to admit, I haven't finished mine yet. I was a bit preoccupied worrying about my injury and the half-marathon, but I did manage to cut out a few pictures and quotes from my huge magazine collection. I hope to finish mine this next week. If any of you finished your vision board, I would LOVE to see it!

This week's challenge is going to focus on fitness again. The challenge has to do with weight-training. For a long time in my fitness journey I concentrated solely on cardio activities. I figured they gave me the best calorie-burning "bang for my buck" so I did it ALL THE TIME!! I still do a lot of cardio activities (hello, running?!?!?) because I enjoy it and it keeps my heart and mind healthy and alert. But it wasn't until I got serious about weight-training that I started to see some real changes in my body. I have more muscle definition than I ever have before and I like seeing the toned muscles starting to shine through. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely still a work in progress, but I really like the changes that have come my way both physically and mentally from the challenging work of weight lifting.

The benefits of weight-training are hard to deny...fat loss, increased energy, stronger bones, greater muscle definition, just to name a few. Of course it's a great calorie-burner too, especially the aftereffects. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will burn from just sitting on the couch!

So this week's challenge will have to be personal to where you are at in your weight lifting journey...for some of you, it will be to start to lift, for others it will be to lift more. But decide this week to make weight training an integral part of your workout routine. It will pay off big for you if you're consistent with it. One of the best resources that I have found for some good exercises and programs to start or continue weight-training is this book...

Image found here.

I have several books about weight-training, but this is by far my favorite. It's great for giving detailed pictures and progressions of various moves and it provides lots of different exercises for each body part. It even has some programs designed in it for you to take the guesswork out of what you should be doing. It's also nice because it has exercises you can do whether you workout at home or at a gym. I think it's definitely worth the investment to pick this book up. You can find it here for a pretty good price.

Talking Point: What do you enjoy about weight-training? What is your favorite go-to move or area you enjoy working the most?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pain is temporary, Pride is forever!

That quote was my mantra during the half-marathon today. The BIG NEWS...I survived it!! Now on to tell the tale...

Backing up a bit, about two weeks ago I strained my left glute somehow while doing some walking lunges at the gym. I felt some discomfort, but nothing too bad and I really didn't think anything of it. I only really felt it when I ran, but it was just nagging for a while, until it started to get much, much worse. I was determined to do my last "long" run last Saturday of 8 miles and it was pretty excruciating. I did most of it by myself since I had to slow my pace way down and I completely broke down after 4 miles. I remember yelling (at least in my head)..."This is SOOOO unfair!! I have only one week until the half-marathon and I have been running my butt off!!" (Butt is about as vulgar as I get!!) Then I actually started to chuckle a bit at that point because what I had just said was a bit too literal...I had literally run my "butt" into a huge amount of pain. The last few miles my backside seemed to go numb a bit and I was able to finish up the miles close to what I really wanted my race pace to be (about 8:30-8:40 min/mile.)

I decided to take the next few days off from running and did a lot of cross-training instead. Again, it never seemed to bother me except while running so I really enjoyed the cross-training. Then on Wednesday morning I decided to try a test treadmill run. I made it about 5 minutes before I had to stop. At this point I literally ran into the bathroom at the gym and bawled my eyes out in one of the stalls. I was so beyond frustrated and angry...just two weeks before I had been able to comfortably run 12 miles and now I was struggling to run for 5 minutes!! The pain was sharp and started to head down my hamstring during that treadmill run which I knew was not a good sign. I came home from the gym that day and cried my eyes out again with my husband on the phone. I told him I should just bag the race because I really didn't want to be in that much pain for 2+ hours. I definitely had a "woe-is-me" pitty party that afternoon!!

I spent the next two days considering dropping out (which by the way is what I would recommend to anybody else experiencing that kind of pain...I'm just terrible at following my own advice!!) I also rolled out my backside like crazy (did you know a simple rolling pin makes a great substitute for a foam roller?!?! Every time my son Landon would see me get it out he would say "Ohhh, momma's bottom hurts!") I also popped ibuprofen like it was candy and prayed for a miracle. I even had a blessing last night that somehow I would be able to survive today's run.


I am always nervous before a race, but I was exceptionally apprehensive about this one since I really had no idea what to expect. I wasn't in any pain, but I knew that it was running that always brought it on so I would only find out once I started out. Sure enough, I could feel the pain in my left glute from the very start, but it never got unbearable, just a constant ache. Fortunately there was no shooting pain like there had been on the treadmill. Miles 1-4 went by pretty smoothly, but I could tell I was holding back my running partner so I told her to run her own race and go on ahead. At this point I also turned on my music and it did help distract me from the pain.

Then at mile 7 the pain really started to get to me...not the pain from my left glute though. Fortunately that pain had begun to go numb by this point, but my left hip and especially my left knee really started to ache (I'm sure from compensation!) Miles 7-11 I limped along, hoping that I could survive the misery that was now my life!! Then at mile 11, my mp3 player died...I really missed my music at that point, but I also knew that there was no way I would stop now with only 2 more miles to go. I picked up a bit of speed and realized that unless something catastrophic were to happen, I could still finish my number one finish under 2 hours. It was a magical feeling when I reached mile 13 and I ran my heart out for that last 0.1 miles coming in at exactly 1:56.

I am actually really pleased with that time. It was under 2 hours (yeah!) and actually only a minute off from my PR (1:55). But there was still a bit of disappointment. My running partner had a great race and was able to run it just like we had trained. She finished in 1:49 and ended up taking second place in our age division. I was so happy for her, but a bit disappointed about what could have been. I had trained so well, eaten so well and my times were awesome, but it just wasn't meant to be today.

That is the hard thing about running and especially racing. You can do everything right, but you never know just what kind of body you will have to run with when it comes to race day. I was reminded of two very important lessons today though...

1. I'm STRONGER than I think I am!


2. I can do HARD things!

Today's run was the most painful run of my life (that's saying a lot since I have been running for 15 years now!) But I DID it!! I finished it because I am STRONG and I can do HARD things!! I am also so appreciative of all the prayers and thoughts that were sent my way today. I prayed several times during today's run and I know that it was the Lord who helped me to overcome what I could not have done on my own!

"I can do all things through Christ which STRENGTHENETH me." (Phillipians 4:13)

Now it's time to go rest and massage this aching body!!

Talking Point: Have you ever had a hard experience that made you realize just how tough you really are? I would LOVE to hear about it!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Workin' the Core

I just finished reading an entire chapter about core training while studying to become a personal trainer. I'm sure many of you know by now just how important core training is to your overall health and can greatly improve your fitness abilities as well. A strong core will also make you less apt to experience back pain and will improve your posture and athletic performance. Let's hear it for the core!!

One of the best exercises that you can do to strengthen your core is the plank. Before you begin the plank exercise, practice a "drawing-in maneuver" which is where you pull in your navel toward your spine. It should almost feel like someone has just punched you in the gut. This is the feeling you should try to maintain throughout the entire time that you hold the plank position. Here's what the standard plank position looks like...

(Image found here)

Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders and your forearms should be holding the majority of your weight along with your toes. The rest of your body (head, neck, back, legs) should form a straight line. Draw in your abs as described in the "drawing-in maneuver" and hold this pose for as long as you can maintain good form. As you tire, your bum will start to move up and/or your back will start to arch. Do your best to maintain good form throughout the entire movement.

You can also do a slight variation of the move by resting on one side and doing a side plank...

(Image found here)

Again, your weight will rest on one forearm and the outside edge of one foot while maintaining a straight line with the rest of your body. Hold this position as long as possible.

I heard of a plank contest done at a gym where the winner lasted for over 8 minutes in the plank position!! This got me thinking that maybe we should do a "plank contest" among the readers of this blog. If you're interested in playing along, set a stopwatch and see how long you can hold both the plank and the side plank using good form. Then post your results in the comment section below. Let's see who has the "Core of Steel" shall we?!?!?

Talking Point: What other exercises do you like to do to strengthen your core?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekly Challenge (Sep. 13-Sep. 19, 2010)

First things first this morning...

The lucky winner of this bondiband is...
Stephanie T.!!!
Congratulations Stephanie!! Unless you've moved I still have your address so I'll be shipping it off to you shortly. I hope this helps to keep your hair back a bit better during your basketball sessions!!
So how did the challenge go for you last week with increasing your workouts in some way? I was able to get in one workout but I hope to be able to do more of those types of interval workouts soon after my half-marathon this Saturday...wait, did I just say THIS Saturday? Why yes, my race is this weekend and I'm both scared and excited about it. Scared because my backside is still giving me issues but excited because I've trained long and hard for it and I just hope and pray that everything somehow comes together for me on race day! Did any of you have any luck in increasing the volume and/or intensity of your workouts this week?
The challenge for this week will be a bit different. It has to do with something that I've wanted to do for myself ever since I started seeing other people make them and incorporate them into their lives. The challenge is to make yourself a "vision board." This will be a visual reminder that you will put up some place to remind you of what your goals are, whatever they may be. Maybe it's to lose 5-10 pounds, build muscle, buy a house, improve a relationship, workout more regularly or to eat healthy foods...whatever your goals may be, you have to envision yourself doing it before you can achieve it and that's what this vision board will do for you. It will also help to keep you motivated when your resolve may be weak!
Here's a description of a vision board that I found here...

A vision board (also called a Treasure Map or a Visual Explorer or Creativity Collage) is typically a poster board on which you paste or collage images that you have torn out from various magazines. It’s simple.

The idea behind this is that when you surround yourself with images of who you want to become, what you want to have, where you want to live, or where you want to vacation, your life changes to match those images and those desires.
The Five Steps of Creating a Vision Board:
Step 1: Go through your magazines and tear the images from them. No gluing yet! Just let yourself have lots of fun looking through magazines and pulling out pictures or words or headlines that strike your fancy. Have fun with it. Make a big pile of images and phrases and words.

Step 2: Go through the images and begin to lay your favorites on the board. Eliminate any images that no longer feel right. This step is where your intuition comes in. As you lay the pictures on the board, you’ll get a sense how the board should be laid out. For instance, you might assign a theme to each corner of the board. Health, Job, Spirituality, Relationships, for instance. Or it may just be that the images want to go all over the place. Or you might want to fold the board into a book that tells a story.

Step 3: Glue everything onto the board. Add writing if you want. You can paint on it, or write words with markers.

Step 4: (optional, but powerful) Leave space in the very center of the vision board for a fantastic photo of yourself where you look radiant and happy. Paste yourself in the center of your board.

Step 5: Hang your vision board in a place where you will see it often.
I know that may sound kind of cheesy to some of you, but I think we all tend to underestimate the power of positive thinking and of having concrete goals to focus on in life. By next Monday, I hope to be posting my own vision board. Hopefully this will give me enough motivation to get it done!!
Also, my brother-in-law suggested that I allow for people to check in on their progress on any challenges that they may have started. He's been doing a great job on following the "100 Push-up Challenge." I ended up skipping an entire week (bad Dadra!!) so I am only on Week #3 now. He is scaring me about weeks 4-6 though so maybe it's good that I am a week behind!! So far so good on the plan...I can currently do 30 consecutive push-ups which I'm excited about but wondering how in the world I'll be able to do 100 in just another month. Maybe that's something that should go on my vision board! Anybody else out there that would like to update on their challenges too?
Talking Point: How many of you are going to commit to doing a vision board this week?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bondi Band

So I'm a little bummed right now. My training has been going really well for my half-marathon coming up on the 18th. A couple of weeks ago I tweaked my left hamstring doing some walking lunges, and it has been bothering me ever since. The pain isn't bad enough to quit running, but it is a nuisance. I am trying to stretch it out everyday and am just hoping that it will survive long enough to go 13.1 miles next Saturday. We shall see...

Ever since I cut my hair short, I have had a ridiculous time trying to find a way to keep my hair out of my face when I exercise. When it was longer, a ponytail would usually suffice but even then I would sometimes get some fly-aways that would bug me when I was doing an intense cardio session. I tried many different kinds of bands to try to contain my short locks but I hated how they would ride up my head, slip off or were just too tight. And bobby pins just weren't cutting it anymore. Then I saw an advertisement in Runner's World Magazine about these new headbands called the "Bondiband." Their motto is "No Slip...No Drip" and I have to whole heartily agree. They stay in pace, are comfortable to wear, and even prevent a lot of the sweat from pouring down onto my face while I workout. I got a few different ones, including the one below...

I really love these bondibands and I am now giving one lucky reader a chance to win one too. Just leave a comment telling me why you would like one of these bands (or you can just tell me why you think this blog is sooooo amazing!!:)

Just make your comment sometime before Monday morning and I'll be picking a random reader comment who will then win this...

(If you're not a "Runner Girl," maybe you can give it to someone who is!!)

Talking Point: Have you found any cool workout gear recently that you would like to rave about? I always love finding new products that actually work as advertised!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Training Partner

Well, I didn't actually get a picture of my food plate from last night's BBQ. It was a bit chaotic with 10 kids and 6 adults trying to eat at one time, but fortunately I was able to keep it pretty clean. My plate consisted of some grilled chicken, veggies with muhammara dip, cantaloupe and a few too many servings of veggie chips (love those things!) I did manage to avoid the cake and ice cream and the s'mores though so definitely a success. If there had been brownies, I would probably have given in...they're my absolute favorite desert!

Although I do have a running group that I get together with every Saturday, most of my runs are done solo. I enjoy this time that I have to zone out and think about things for a while.

But when I say I run alone, that's a little bit untrue, since I always run with my very faithful companion. He does a great job at keeping me motivated and monitors our pace very closely. He's always ready for a run (unless he needs charged) and gives me good feedback on how each run goes. This is him...

Awwww, isn't he sweet-looking? I really do love this guy. We've been together for over three years now and I seem to grow even more fond of him with time. We've done two marathon-training programs together and he was there for me when I struggled through the Richmond Marathon and triumphed in the Baltimore Marathon. He has been my constant companion while training for my current half-marthon too. He gets a bit neglected during the winter months (when the treadmill replaces him for a bit), but come Spring, Summer and Fall, he and I become the best of friends again.

In the dark days before the Garmin 305 entered my life, I used to have to map out my distances by car or bike and then guess at what my mileage, pace and total time would be. Now my little friend does it all for me and is amazingly accurate. They have since come out with a newer model (the Garmin 405) but I just can't imagine replacing this little guy, at least not yet!! Yes he is a bit bulky (I look like I have a small computer on my wrist when I run) but I wouldn't trade him!! He is definitely my favorite running gadget (outside of the very necessary Asics Nimbus running shoes I wear of course!)

Talking Point: What is your favorite piece of workout equipment? Do you have a Garmin watch? What do you think of it?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekly Challenge (Sept. 6-Sept. 12, 2010)

So how did your week go with no sugar? I did pretty well overall (a few mistakes like those candied pecans I mentioned that I didn't even think about!!) I did pass up on a few deserts and ice cream cravings (yeah) but I also seemed to make it up for it other ways (boo!) It was a good challenge, but it seems like anytime I completely ban a food item or food group, I tend to crave it more than ever!! I'll try to strive for more balance this week.

Happy LABOR DAY!! What are your plans for the last holiday weekend of the summer? We plan on grilling out this afternoon with a few of our friends. I will post a picture of my plate later in an effort to motivate myself to keep it clean!!

In honor of "labor" day, this week's challenge will be a fitness challenge for everyone. This week, I want you to think of one way that you can increase the intensity of your workouts. For those of you are don't workout regularly, maybe it will be deciding to exercise 2-3 times this week. For those of you who do workout, try to incorporate more reps, sets, miles, or HIIT training (my personal favorite!!) into your workouts this week. Challenge yourself this week and your body will thank you later!

Talking Point: What are your plans for increasing your "labor" this week? I will be incorporating some new HIIT workouts into my week (found here on this site.) These workouts are short, but pretty nasty!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

My New Running Goal

If you look over at the right side of my blog now, you will see this new little image...
After perusing some other health/fitness blogs, I saw some people had set goals to do a race in all 50 states. I've heard of the 50 States Marathon Club (people who run a marathon in all 50 states) and I've thought that was CRAZY!! But a race in each state seemed more manageable. Then I started thinking about the cost that would entail (the cost of getting to each state, staying in each state and then add on those race entry fees to race in every state....YIKES!) So I decided on a slightly modified goal for me...I have a goal to run (either in a race or simply for recreation) in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. I have 14 states completed, 36 plus the District to complete. One really nice thing about living on the East Coast is that I can complete a lot of these states that are within driving distance fairly easily. I have friends and/or family in those northwestern states so visiting them and running/racing will be a bit easier (and good motivation to make a visit!) Running in Alaska and Hawaii will be really fun goals to meet (I'm hoping to go to Hawaii for our 10 year anniversary...just 3 1/2 years away!!) I think the most challenging part will be all those Midwestern states that are all standing starkly white right now. Anybody have any ideas on how to complete those?!?!?

I always like to have something to work towards in my exercise routines. Obviously this is a LONG term goal of mine (I'd like to do them all before I turn 40, giving me just about 10 years to complete it.) My short term goal is to run the Western Maryland Half Marathon with a PR on September 18th. I've put in the training, but you never know what can hit you on race day to derail your efforts. I may do one more half-marathon this season, but I think I'm putting off doing another marathon this year. I'm just not feeling the "running mojo" that I will need to pound out all those miles. I feel like all the running I've been doing for the half-marathon training has made me go a bit soft in the muscle department (I still weight-train consistently, but not as heavy and I feel like I've lost some definition that I had last spring.) After completing these half-marathons, I'm going to shift my focus a bit more into weight training and HIIT workouts to see what kind of results I can get.

Talking Point: What kind of short and long-term goals do you have related to fitness? Does having something concrete that you are training for help you to workout each day?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Grocery Shopping

You know it's time to go grocery shopping when your fridge starts to look a bit like this...

The only things in good quantity in this fridge are clementines (a new love!!), a few green vegetables (am learning to love) and eggs (have always loved!!) We always tend to have at least two containers of eggs in the fridge at all times. One is for hard-boiled eggs (which I label) and the other for everything else. It's really nice to have an easy protein option available in a pinch, like a good hard-boiled egg/egg whites.

Sometimes I really detest grocery shopping though. I actually love going inside and reading all the labels and seeing the new products that come out, but trying to do all of that while trying to stay within a budget and entertain two squirmy kiddos can be exhausting. I usually try to put it off as long as I can, but once we start to run out of the fresh stuff, I know it's time to enter the war zone again!

An after shot at our newly restocked fridge...

Here's a list of things that can usually be found in our fridge (at least for a few days after grocery shopping anyway)...

Fresh fruit...grapes, apples, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe and clementines are the favorites around here. I try to buy mostly organic when it comes to produce, unless it is something we don't eat the skin of like bananas and cantaloupe.

Fresh vegetables...kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, (though not in the makes your other produce spoil faster), green and red peppers and green beans usually top the list.

Greek yogurt for me, regular yogurt or go-gurts for everyone else!
Ground turkey
Chicken breasts and tenderloins
Organic milk
Yogurt-based salad dressings (these are a little pricey, but oh so good and healthified!! A friend of mine turned me on to these...)
Cottage cheese
Hormel Natural turkey breast slices
Unsweetened applesauce
And my huge 3 liter of water that I strive to drink everyday

Like I said before, I try to buy organic products when I can, but our grocery budget limits me sometimes, so I often have to pick and choose what is really important. Like this week when I saw the price of organic peppers was $5.99 for 2 and I could get regular red and green peppers for $1.69/lb. The budget won out this time and I opted for the cheaper option. Like I said in the previous post, you have to do the best you can and hope for the best sometimes!!

One thing that I do to save a little money is I always buy my nuts in the bulk section of our grocery store. They are a lot cheaper this way and actually taste fresher in my opinion. Almonds, peanuts, walnuts and pecans are my faves!!

I also like to try new things each week to see if I like them (or if anybody besides myself will eat them!!) My new items for this week were...

Individual servings of instant brown rice (perfect for lunch-on-the-go or even a quick meal at home)

Ryvita crispbread crackers (I've tried and love the Wasa brand but I thought I would give these a whirl.) I'll let you know soon what I think of these two new products!

So that's a little look into our food world around these parts.

Talking Point: What kinds of foods do you like to eat? Do you enjoy trying out new things when you grocery shop? What are your refrigerator staples?