Saturday, June 26, 2010


This morning, I got pumped...


I'm a dork, I know this. Am I in love? Totally. Am I already sore and busted less than 2 hours later? Sigh. Unbelievably so. Tomorrow is gonna suck, haha. My arms and shoulders seem to be suffering the most, but I can also feel it in my back, calves and butt as well. Mission accomplished!

So, it's 60 minutes long and the basic breakdown goes like this:

  • Warm-up
  • Legs/Squats
  • Chest
  • Back/Gluteals/Hamstrings
  • Triceps and Biceps
  • Legs/Lunges
  • Shoulders/Arms
  • Abs
  • Cooldown/stretch

Each track is about 5 minutes long and you take regular breaks in between to stretch and change out your weights. My favorites were the squat, back/gluteal/hamstring and bicep tracks. The back track is where we got to do deadlifts, rows and a clean & press. I kinda knew what a clean & press was via Jari Love DVDs, but it's a bit different with a barbell and it took me several tries before I could get the hang of it. Once I did though, it was a pretty fun move.

Triceps weren't my favorite, but they never are because my elbows always flare like a mo' fo'. In fact, there were a bunch of personal trainers walking around to check everyone's form and of course, dude came up to me and told me to bring my elbows in. I said, "Yeah, I know; my elbows flare like crazy." He agreed and said that was one of the hardest muscles to train.

Hands-down toughest track? Lunges. Holy burnout, Batman. I wanted to push hard and not stop (especially since a body-builder chick came by and started praising me on my form), but I had to flat out stop and just stand up straight a few times. I couldn't tell if it was the extra weight from the barbell, the high number of reps or the half-lunge pulsing moves that did me in... I'm gonna guess it was all of the above. The backs of my legs, my quads and butt cheeks were on fire.

The abs track wasn't too bad since it was mostly various crunches, but there was some plank work that I ended up doing on my knees a few times.

I of course was sweating like crazy, but felt pretty bad-ass when it was over. I officially need to start improving my upper body strength and my core. Those were the areas I struggled the most.

So that was BodyPump. The only downside? It's not (as of yet) going to be offered on the weekends. I guess this was just a "preview" session. So, so bummed. And according to the schedule, they're not bringing it back until after July 5th and the only night I'll be able to go is Thursdays at 6:30pm, after the 5:30pm Zumba class I usually go to. BUH! I'm definitely not doing both back-to-back and I loathe the idea of waiting that late in the evening to workout, but that may be my only option if I want to stick with it. I'm sure they'll add more classes later, but in the meantime, it's going to be pretty limited. Oh well. I'm just glad I finally got to experience it and see what all the hype was about. I'm officially a fan!

If you have a chance to check out a class near you, please do! It's pretty much the ultimate strength workout and I can't wait until I start seeing the results. Might just have to look into investing in a small barbell so I can get my fix at home, in between classes, heh.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ten Steps to a Bigger and Thinner Life.

Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to try Michelle Hastie's Ten Steps to a Bigger (and Thinner) Life weight-loss program. I first came across Michelle in an article she wrote for Divine Caroline called, "Tackle Your Food Fears," which piqued my interest, as I was just starting to learn the ropes of intuitive/mindful eating. I also started following her blog, and quickly learned that she's a personal trainer and weight-loss coach who discourages typical forms of dieting, self-hatred and extreme exercise and encourages self-love, balanced eating and appreciating your body's ability to move.

The program I reviewed is an extended version of this Ten Steps post on her blog, complete with audio/video files and homework sheets that provided an opportunity to apply what I learned in each step to my own issues with food and weight.

As for my criticisms of the format of the program, my only suggestion would be to include additional notes (either on the slides or on separate sheets) of the information provided in the audio track. There's a lot of great information that Michelle says that doesn't necessarily make it to the list of key points on the slides. If I heard something I felt was critical, I would pause the presentation and write it down, but it may be more helpful for others to have such information in a more accessible format. Other than that, I enjoyed listening to the step components in detail.

Let me just say, Michelle's program is like therapy in a box! Over the years, I've read my share of diet/weight-loss books, articles and magazines. Very few, if any, have dedicated a decent amount of time on trying to get you to sort out your personal issues and be happy with yourself first, before even trying to take on the task of losing weight. And that's exactly what Michelle's Ten Steps forced me to do. By taking notes on the information presented in the step slides and truthfully answering the questions she asked in the homework sheets, I found there were several issues and realities that I had refused to deal with, in the past and into this month. Because I allowed so many of my negative behaviors to persist and flourish, my issues with food and extra weight continued for years and into the present day.

I've read some self-help guides in the past and usually ignored the author when they assigned homework activities at the end of each chapter. Obviously, I didn't do myself any favors in ignoring those assignments. Why? Because I thought I had myself all figured out and that there wasn't any uncharted territory to discover, in terms of my emotions or self-knowledge. Well, if I had myself so figured out, why was I reading a self-help book in the first place?

Since Michelle's program isn't your typical rule book ("eat x calories/day, only eat foods off of this list, do x types of exercise for x minutes, most days of the week," etc.), I knew I needed to buckle down, focus and dig deep to answer the questions in the homework sheets. The information Michelle provided in the slides set me up (in a good way) to really think about all of the Why's in my life: Why did I gain weight? Why do I sometimes eat so fast? Why do I think negative things about myself when I look in the mirror?

Forming honest answers to these types of questions wasn't easy, but doing so was incredibly rewarding. In terms of food, activity and self-respect, life has seemed a lot more balanced this week than it has in a long time. There are still some issues I'm working on (self-criticism) and others I've happily kicked to the curb (recycling my role as "the victim," not taking the time to breathe, letting food/health/diet/exercise information overshadow other hobbies).

When it comes to food and exercise, Michelle keeps things simple: eat foods that fuel your body and make it (and you!) feel good; learn to appreciate movement by exploring activities you enjoy and won't dread when performed on a regular basis. The past couple of weeks, I've been successful in reminding myself that no food is off limits and any food I ever want will always exist (for the most part). By doing so, my out-of-control cravings have subsided and my urges to overeat have decreased. I've managed to make room in my life for chocolate and Napoleon Cake this week, without going overboard on guilt and extra servings. I also re-discovered my love for spinning and zumba and look forward to challenging myself at BodyPump this weekend. Not because of the calories getting burned, but just because they're fun and I love the way my body feels when it's active. Instead of saying to myself, "I have to workout today," I've been trying to change my tune and instead ask, "How do I want to move around today?" Makes a difference in my attitude and performance.

While the overall goal of the Ten Steps program is to help you to lose weight, there are also several emotional, psychological and physical milestones Michelle wants you to accomplish to ensure that your weight-loss journey is done without the typical tortures of strict dieting, mindless exercise, stress, exhaustion and self-defeating thoughts.

If you've found yourself trapped in the same cycle of fear, stress, self-bashing and guilt when trying to lose weight, I would definitely recommend Ten Steps to help you break down the underlying issues causing such emotions and gain a gentle, healthier perspective on weight-loss (and life!). Many thanks and kudos to Michelle for developing such a fresh and unique program!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zumba Fuel.

This afternoon, I decided at the last minute to hit up Zumba after work. Confession: I haven't been in over a month... I knew I wanted to do some kind of activity when I got home because I took the morning off and hence, felt sluggish all damn day. I considered yoga... Thought about walking around outside until I remembered the heat... Contemplated fighting the 5 o'clock gym crowd for a treadmill or stair master... Then, I finally said "Fuck it, I'll just go to Zumba." I hesitated though, since my ulcer has been nagging me off and on lately. But I sucked it up, rushed home to change and made my way to class.

Thank you, Ulcer, for playing nice today. I finished the whole class and left soaked. It gets a little embarrassing at times; I've always been a big sweater and today's routine left me drenched. I have a sweat band, but I prefer to look like a complete tool in the comfort of my own living room and not, y'know, in public.

ANYWHO, definitely going to start going again just about every week, if I can. Plus, she teased us with some NKOTB next week, so how can I not go? Pretty pumped.

Since today's class kicked my ass a little more than expected, I was ready to come home and throw together a good re-fuel meal:

A sweet-potato veggie scramble, of sorts, served with a toasted English muffin on the side. I took a pan, heated up about 1 tsp. of olive oil and added the following:
  • frozen spinach
  • diced red onion
  • 1 large chopped mushroom
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • diced tomato
  • about 1/2 clove minced garlic
  • 1 chopped sweet potato (pre-cooked in the microwave for 5 minutes)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute (still found another carton hiding in the freezer this week)
  • grated parmesan
  • shredded cheddar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cayenne
  • parsley
I was trying to finish off some produce and also wanted to break into the sweet potatoes I bought at the farmer's market a couple of weekends ago. Great flavor! And definitely filling.

This would've made a bitchin' wrap too. Maybe next time. Good night!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mental Health Day.

Took the day off from work, primarily to go to an 8:30 am spin class and to bake cake. Yuuup. Priorities. I have 'em.

Spin class was ok... I got a lot of good sprints in, but not a fan of the instructor. She was probably on the bike 50% of the time. Rest of the time, she was walking around. But she played more tolerable music than some of the other instructors, so I cut her some slack.

Came home, showered, ate a big bowl of oats and prepped for the day's next task:

Lemon-Blueberry Pound Cake!

Just in case you forgot where I stand on the whole Cake-vs.-Pie debate... And please note, this is NOT a healthy recipe! Plenty of butter and sugar to go around and I didn't make any substitutions. In fact, I added a few things to the original recipe from Food Network.

I first made the cake on Father's Day for my dad (sans blueberries) because lemon pound cake is one of his favorites. He raved about it so much that I had to make it again (that, and Doug was bummed that he didn't get to try any the first time).

Aside from adding blueberries, the main changes I made were: adding the zest of an entire lemon (creamed in with the butter) and adding an additional 1/4 cup of flour. I added the extra flour with high-altitude baking in mind, but even if you aren't at high-altitude and still want a lighter/fluffier texture, go ahead and add it.

The lemon zest is crucial! If you want a distinct lemon flavor in this cake, you really do need to add the zest, even though the original recipe doesn't call for it.

I poured about half of the batter in the pan and added about 2/3 cup of thawed frozen blueberries.

Poured the remaining batter and topped with the rest of the blueberries (somewhere between 1/4 and a 1/3 cup).

Waiting for this thing to cool before slicing into it was murder. Smelled sooooo good!

I cut it in half and froze the other half. Also, I did NOT include the extra glaze on this version. I did include it when I made my dad's version, but I left it out on this version and I think the cake was just fine on its own.

Delicious. And although I've avoided baking in the past, I'm coming around to it more often these days. I'd rather bake my own treats so I know exactly what's going into the mix and because there's much more effort involved, the final result is that much more satisfying. When I think of the discounted cakes, pastries and doughnuts I always eye at the grocery store bakery (and sometimes buy), they all make me gag now when I look at this cake.

I think bread will be next on my list of baking adventures. The bread selection in most stores doesn't do much for me these days and the good breads at the local/specialty bakeries are too expensive to buy regularly, so I'm going to start making my own. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Toned for Tuesday.

This week, I've finally had a chance to try out a new DVD:

Exhale: Core Fusion Lean & Toned.

I had this on my Amazon Wish List for a while after hearing some buzz about it through the blog world, but thanks to Missy at Missy Maintains, I had the luck of winning a copy through her contest. (Thanks again!)

The workout itself is based on a series of Core Fusion classes offered at Exhale spas. The DVD has 5 workouts (all under 10 minutes) and closes with a cool down stretch (about 7 minutes). I must admit, I kinda groaned at the thought of doing all 5 segments, but to my surprise, the entire thing went be really fast! To me, it felt more like 30 minutes. You'll need some hand weights, a mat, a chair and a nearby wall for support.

The warm-up is included with the arms segment and is mostly a mix of knee-ups that incorporate your arms. Then, you quickly move into various types of push-ups and arm exercises using hand weights (tricep kickbacks, shoulder presses, bicep curls, etc.)

There's also segments that focus the lower body as well, including thighs and glutes. Lots of squats and leg lifts (included some pulsing lifts that are killer!).

Right now, my least favorite segment is the Flat/Round Back Tone & Stretch. You're basically leaning up against a wall and doing all sorts of movements with your legs. It's hard to describe, so my apologies, but it's just a difficult circuit to follow (for me, anyway). That said, the moves really require a lot back and ab strength, so I can tell I'll reap the benefits if I just keep trying.

I also enjoyed the Pretzel Core Toner segment, where the focus is on abs. Here, you rely on your abs (both front and obliques) to hold certain positions in place, followed by some pulsing movements. Definitely a good challenge, but it didn't necessarily burn my abs out completely, which I appreciated.

My biggest complaint overall with this DVD (and really, it's not even that big) is how many of the moves require you to rely on a wall for support. Sorry, but I don't like rubbin' my [somewhat sweaty] body all over my white walls. And I don't have a big stand-alone wall in the middle of my living room, so it can be kind of a hassle to follow along visually while simultaneously getting your form in place. I don't know. It just seemed awkward at times. During the gluteal segment, I did try using the floor as an alternative during some of the moves, but couldn't make it work for all of them. Oh well.

This workout definitely seems to combine yoga and pilates moves with lots of stretching. In fact, I think the stretching is probably the most appealing part of this workout. Because you move through the segments so quickly, it's not nearly as intense as other strength/yoga workouts, but the extra stretching in between helped me feel a bit more flexible and stronger.

The instructors do a fantastic job of explaining the moves, which I found impressive since each segment goes by so fast. In fact, that was probably one of the (if not THE) first workout DVDs I've tried where I wasn't lost on how to perform any of the moves on the first try.

All in all, I'm quite happy to have this unique workout in my collection. While I don't think I'll rely on it for my usual strength training (it's simply not intense enough), I'll definitely work it into my weekly routine to improve my core strength and flexibility. I'll also rely on it as a great total body stretch routine, especially in between more intense workouts. I always tend to rush over my cool down stretches (something I'm always working on), so the segments in this DVD will ensure that my muscles and joints get the special treatment they deserve.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Salad Squared.

Tonight, Doug and I whipped up some special salads that made for a great, quick summer dinner.

I caught a recipe for Potato Salad with Green & White Beans on Serious Eats. The recipe, of course, was by Kristen from Cheap Healthy Good, whose site I raved about earlier today. It was a great spin on the same ol' potato salad:

Changes I made: Weighed out enough potatoes for 4 servings, not six; used 2 tbsp olive oil instead of 1/3 cup; 2 tsp of dried basil in place of fresh; used a can of green beans instead of messing with fresh ones (personally, I sometimes like the texture/flavor of canned green beans and thought they would go well with this dish anyway).

While I was working on that, Doug was putting together a shrimp salad, to be served on a baguette with guacamole:

He mixed:
  • 2 servings chopped cooked shrimp
  • 2 tbsp light mayo
  • diced cucumber
  • chopped red onion
  • chopped celery
  • little bit of Dijon mustard
  • salt
  • pepper

Doug mentioned how he wished he mixed a little Tabasco sauce with the shrimp salad before serving it up. I still poured a few drops on after the sandwich was made anyway and it was a really nice touch!

Loved the potato salad and looking forward to leftovers tomorrow. I'm thinkin' of adding some diced tomatoes and feta to it for a good lunch. It's pretty versatile and lends itself to all types of other mix-ins.

Great dinner! Back to our regularly scheduled Monday night TV programming. This gal needs to relax!

Mixed bag Monday.

Oh, Mondays. You always throw me for a loop, each and every week.

Weekend Re-cap:


Pretty good, all in all. Finally went back to 24Cycle (spin) class after a loooong absence and to my surprise, we got new bikes! I kinda miss the wider seats on the old ones (though really, I think I need a Tempurpedic pillow to sit on in that class to make me 100% satisfied), but the new ones have better/comfier handles and they're much easier to adjust with the better quality knobs and such. Not bad! That said, I've rekindled my love affair with spinning. Not sure if I'll try and get in to Tuesday's class, but I think I'll try and shoot for Thursday. Not planning on going to this Saturday's session, due to the debut of BodyPump! Still so excited for that class.


Could've used a do-over on this day. Emotional nonsense, lots of crying, lots of poor eating and drinking. Things did get resolved before the day was over though, so I'm thankful for that. Went to bed stuffed with a bit too much Domino's Pizza and tried to cope with the heat, but overall, felt better. That was, until...


Woke up around 1 am with chest pains. Asked Doug to pass me a couple of Tums. Still in a lot of pain. Proceeded to drink some Alka-Seltzer. Nope. Kinda felt worse. Wanted puke, felt on the verge of passing out every time I stood or sat up, broke out in a sweat, mid-chest/top of stomach still incredibly cramped and on fire. It soon became clear that what was happening to me was the return of an ol' friend: an ulcer attack.

A few years ago, I started getting ulcers (the less serious, but still crazy-annoying peptic kind, not the bleeding kind). I don't get them often, but they've been popping up about every year or so. And the symptoms of a flare-up have become painfully familiar, literally.

Tried pinpointing the cause with my doctor in the past, but no luck. The attacks themselves do appear after not-so-great eating and drinking though, so it's sort of been a blessing in disguise. I have been drinking alcohol pretty regularly for the past few weeks, so now I HAVE to give it up for a while, as booze is a big no-no when trying to heal an ulcer. Naturally, I'll be making better food choices than I have been lately as well. All I need to do is replay the attack I had this morning in my head and it's pretty much instant motivation to eat better. I'm sure childbirth and passing kidney stones rate pretty high on the List of Pain, but I think ulcer attacks aren't far behind. It gets so bad that my dignity goes out the window for 30-60 minutes and I'm totally cool with dying by the toilet in my pajamas.

So, I'll be replacing booze with cayenne water (sounds strange, but kills ulcer pain and actually helps heal it, in my experience) and passing up sugar and fat in favor of Zantac. Makes me feel like a cross between a homeopathic wizard and one of those old dudes from the acid reflux medication commercials, ha.

I woke up long before my alarm went off this morning and even though I wasn't planning a workout after the attack, I figured I could at least handle some time on my recumbent bike. Pulled it up to the TV in the living room and watched Adult Swim for an hour while I rode at a moderate pace. Covered 13 miles. Because my chest area is sensitive at the moment, I'm avoiding running and other high-impact exercises over the next few days. I'll get by just fine with some other alternatives I have planned.

Things that have cheered me up:

-After sharing my emotional stress with my mom, she of course had supportive words to share and immediately planned a Girl's Night/Sushi Date for us and my sister, tomorrow night. Love, love that woman. She's driven me crazy plenty of times in the past (and still does, heh), but she's always there when I need her the most.

-Discovering a new favorite blog this morning: Cheap Healthy Good. This pretty much covers all of my favorite types of blogs in one. I follow individual health, food and frugal-living blogs, so naturally, CHG is my new BFF. I've already snagged a few recipes I'm eager to try, including this Savory Oats dish. I've heard of others trying savory oatmeal in the past, but was kinda hesitant to give it a shot myself. This recipe looks like it'll guide me in the right direction!

Anywho, hope everyone's week is off to a good start (or at least without ulcer attacks)! I hope to have a new DVD review posted this week. Also on the horizon, another book review and a new weight-loss plan review. Kinda busy these days!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ravioli? Holy Canoli!

Took a stab at making some ravioli with won ton wrappers tonight.

The stuffing:

  • spinach (12 oz bag, frozen)
  • mushrooms (8 oz. package)
  • minced garlic (about one clove)
  • about 2/3 c. ricotta
  • 1/2 c. mozzarella
  • about 1/4 c. grated parmesan
  • salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • nutmeg
The first three ingredients were sauteéd together first, then cooled before mixing with the cheeses.

Won Ton wrappers.

Placed a little less than a tablespoon of stuffing, used water to moisten the sides, folded over and sealed shut.

Boiled in water in batches for about 1-2 minutes (we weren't really timing these, just kind of wingin' it and cooking them until the won ton skins became translucent).

Tossed with some Emeril Vodka Sauce and proceeded to inhale. I think the flavor of the stuffing really made this dish. The won ton wrappers were tricky to deal with though, and a few split open during cooking. We had some filling leftover and I suggested saving it for omelets tomorrow. Doug was on board with that idea!

Overall, a tasty dish and a great way to beat a ravioli craving. I thought filling the wrappers would take forever, but it went by pretty fast. And since boiling them didn't take long either, this ended up being a relatively quick dinner.

We have a list of different fillings we want to try, so stay tuned for more of these little bundles of joy in the future.

And, given the title of the post, I leave you with this:

Have a good night!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Last Chance Workout.


This week flew by for me. And for that, I am grateful. Before I get into my DVD review, let me quickly express how F-ING STOKED I am that my gym is offering BodyPump classes next week! I've been reading about these classes on other blogs for a while now and may/may not have squealed when I saw the BP logo on the 24 Hour Fitness class schedule. Looks like it's replacing 24 S.E.T. and is gonna be offered Sat./Sun, mornings. So, so perfect. I've heard that you're completely sore and busted after the first class, but being the sadist that I am, I still can not wait!

Alright, alright. On to review schtuff. I know it's been out for a while, but this week, I finally got around to trying out:

The Biggest Loser: Last Chance Workout.

I'll cut to the chase... Keeper? Yes! Time for the breakdown:

Starts with a general warm-up, complete with Jillian's mix of dynamic stretching and light cardio. The case says 5 minutes, but it's actually closer to 8.

Last Chance Workout:
This is a 25-minute session that acts as the bulk of the DVD. Basically, you alternate between high-intensity cardio moves and strength training moves, each move lasting around 30 seconds.

Some of the moves I recognized from various other DVDs I've done in the past (including Jillian's), but there was still some new stuff like Scissor Jumping Jacks and Staggering Push-ups. Buh. Regular jumping jacks are not my favorite, so having to cross my legs in the middle just about killed me. The Staggering Push-ups involved constantly alternating the position of each hand. Again, buh. I'm a push-up wuss though, so these were tough for me.

Also in the mix were some mountain climbers, in-and-outs (a.k.a. plank or squat thrusts), plank jacks, dumbbell rows, flys, tricep kickbacks and extensions, lunges with weights, side and front kicks, hooks/jabs/uppercuts, side squats with weights, deadlifts, bicep curls, jump rope (including one-legged jump rope, which of course killed me) and lateral raises. Those certainly weren't listed in order and I'm sure I left out a handful of others, but those are the majority of the moves.

I did ok my first time through. Definitely broke out a sweat and had some lingering soreness over the following couple of days. Since it is a shorter workout and because each move is performed for around 30 seconds, increase your weight during the strength moves and go for full-intensity during the cardio sets. I did a pretty good job of changing out my weights, but I probably could've pushed a bit harder during cardio.

I gotta say, Jillian flat out annoyed me during this workout. Too much yelling, talking down to/making fun of the contestants and not enough instruction. There were a lot of moves where she would just say "Ok, time for X," and wouldn't describe the move or what kind of form to have until the interval was nearly over, if she described it all, so I really had to stop and look at what people were doing and follow along the best I could. Following along is tricky too, because most of the contestants aren't in sync at all. I tried to follow along with Tara or Sione, but even with them, my timing got off. Not a huge deal, but pretty annoying during the first try.

Upper Body Sculpt:

This is a 10 minute workout. Pretty standard; rows, shoulder presses, push-ups, etc. Again, keep the weight up and you'll feel a damn good burn. New-ish move that killed me? Plank Renegades/Rows. Now, if you've done level 3 of 30 Day Shred or one of Jackie Warner's workouts, you'll recognize this move. But the twist? No alternating arms; you stay on the same side for each rep. Maybe it was just me, but not being able to alternate sides destroyed me. I actually got kind of upset with myself because I couldn't stay off of my knees the whole time. Tough stuff!

Another killer? Plank Flys Yep, get into plank on your weights and raise one arm out to the side. And as with the plank rows, you had to stay on the same side; no alternating arms. Owie. There were also some bicep curls and tricep dips thrown into the mix, so I was pleased with the variety of moves, given the amount of time.

Lower Body Tone:

This workout is also 10 minutes and quite effective. Though it's a standard mix of lunges and squats, the use of added weights and steady pace kept me sweatin' & burnin'.

Move that made me whimper? Jump squats WITH overhead presses! This is a balls-out move that Jillian closes with. Jump squats are one thing, but when you have to push weight up over your head while you're in the air? Well, hot damn.

Jillian's instruction during the upper and lower body segments is MUCH better, as is the pace of the contestants. Everything seemed much more focused and Jillian's teaching style seemed to mirror that of her own non-BL workout DVDs.

Cool Down:

Nice 5 minute cool down. I liked that the format of the BL workouts kinda "forced" Jillian into taking more time with cooling down and stretching; the cool down segments in her own DVDs always seems too short and a bit rushed to me.

I did the 25 minute workout only on the first day. On the second day, I ran a warm-up mile and did the two 10-minute workouts. Honestly, I don't think I could hang if I did all three workouts back-to-back... Since the 25 minute session has a lot of strength moves built in, my muscles would fatigue and burn out pretty quick into the upper/lower body segments. I might give it a shot some day, but for now, I'm digging the idea of breaking them up into quick, effective workouts for when I'm short on time, but still want to feel like a tough bad-ass.

That's all for today. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quoting close to home.

I wasn't planning on blogging today, but I read a quote just a few seconds ago that really resonated with me:

"I'm so grateful that I don't get on a scale because it's never going to be the right number."

-Kyra Sedgwick

This quote didn't stop me in my tracks because I found it particularly motivational or life-changing, but because it caused me to flashback to the day I reached my "goal" weight.

It was a great day. I gushed to friends and family and received their congratulatory comments with open arms. But y'know what? I have something to confess: When I stepped on that scale and saw 157, I was happy for less than 10 seconds and thought "I can and need to lose more!" And I did. And I couldn't maintain that weight. And I started to gain. And I kept weighing myself. And kept hating myself. Forget that I was no longer obese, a regular runner, a better cook, more energized and no longer at risk for diabetes. I didn't give a shit about any of that because all I could see were those numbers on the scale. And I, like countless others, allowed those numbers to dictate my happiness.

So Ms. Sedgwick is completely right, and almost painfully so. The numbers will never be right. Yes, I needed to see the numbers regularly to pull me down from 248, but did I need to see them every week day when I was hovering around 150? Not so much.

I'm not anti-scale. I currently have two in my house. They serve a purpose and I'll never preach that they're completely useless. But I haven't stepped on one in over a month and don't plan on stepping on one until my annual physical next month. I'll look at the number. It'll be greater than last year's number. But that's something I've known for a while now and seeing it in a doctor's office doesn't change anything. It doesn't change the fact that I still run, am still not obese, still cooking with healthier, more wholesome foods and still not at risk for diabetes.

I will step on scales in the future. But certainly not every day or every week, which I totally used to do.

For me, weight-loss has been a double-edged sword. Obviously, the big pros were becoming healthy and trimming down significantly. But the cons include developing a handful of unhealthy, obsessive, counter-productive behaviors that have sunk their claws in deep and have made maintenance a bitch. I knew losing a significant amount of weight was going to be a long, tough journey, but I was in no way prepared for the new journey that followed. I wasn't prepared to discover how some of my previous "healthy habits" would start to work against me. I wasn't prepared to start binging. I wasn't prepared to re-learn how to eat. I wasn't prepared to let go of guilt. I wasn't prepared to hear mixed reactions from family members (something I'm still dealing with, as recent as two weeks ago). Lots of not-so-glamorous shit that I simply wasn't prepared for, at all.

But I digress. I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I'm still dealing with various post-weight loss issues, I think I can do without having the scale regularly thrown into that mix. I don't want the scale and I to be enemies, but I don't want to be BFFs either. Scale, you have been demoted to casual acquaintance. Hope that's cool.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summ-ah, summ-ah, summ-ah time.

Another drive-by food pic post. It's been a long day and I'm beyond ready to zone out and relax! Plus, I've got new DVD and other exciting miscellaneous stuff that I'm working on, so hopefully those posts will trickle through in the coming days/weeks.


More grilled miracles:

Nice spread, eh?

Carrots 'n' onions.

My beloved zucchini.

Marinated pork chops, á la Doug.

Chopped everything up and served over brown rice. Topped with a little teriyaki sauce and a few sesame seeds. Pretty sure I don't need to tell you it was awesome. Leftovers for tomorrow's lunch, ftw.


Grilled peaches. Doug's idea and a first for me. I took one half and threw together a concoction of amaze-balls:

To the grilled peach, I added blueberries, a chopped plum, cinnamon, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a few chopped pecans. Heated in the microwave for a few seconds and added a dollop of whipped cream on the side.

*cue chorus of angels*

So, so good. And that was probably the 3rd plum I've ever had in my entire life, so I was pretty pleased that it was ripe and sweet. I saved the other grilled peach half for some oatmeal tomorrow. Yes, grilled peach oatmeal. Did I just blow your mind? If not, that's cool I guess.

Have a great night!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Re-visiting old friends.

Man, what is up with me and June? I'm still finding myself feeling a bit lost and bouncing in and out of funks. I'm feeling awesome today (I'm sure today being Friday hasn't hurt), but I hope the feeling lasts longer than a few days. Anywho, contemplating such things won't really help, so I suppose I'll just go with the flow...

Since I've had a "Meh" attitude toward fitness lately, I thought it was a good time to re-visit an old friend:

Well, hello there. Who forgot how intense these routines are? *Raises hand* Hachi-machi! I was feeling cocky on Wednesday and went straight to level 3. I forgot how much I kinda hate mountain climbers.

Busted out level 2 yesterday, but got cocky again and upped my weights. Definitely felt like a good challenge at the time, but now my shoulders are busted and I grunt every time I pick up my water bottle.

Taking a much-deserved day off. I thought I might do a run and/or some hot stair master action, but was quickly reminded of how much my calves are killing me. Despite the crazy soreness that I haven't experienced in several weeks (months?), I did indeed fall in love with the Shred all over again. How could I not? It's under 30 minutes, makes me sweat buckets, has me huffin' and puffin' in seconds and works over just about every damn muscle in my body. I know I need to (and will) mix in other forms of exercise, but [cue Hank Hill voice] boy I tell ya' what, these workouts have given my motivation a boost and of course, have challenged my current level of fitness, which has clearly slipped recently. I don't view it as a bad thing though; I want to get faster at mountain climbers and I want to have killer form when performing jumping lunges.

Now, I'm all about trying new things when I find myself in a funk (in fact, I finally ordered a copy of Last Chance Workout yesterday), but sometimes, it's just as, if not more, helpful to go back to some familiar classics.

I've also started doing this with eating schtuff. I've been really out of touch with food appreciation and hunger/full signals, so I went back and re-read my favorite highlights from French Women Don't Get Fat. I needed to remind myself that it's best to truly enjoy everything I eat, and not eat something just because it's there or because I think it will take the place of what I'm really craving. And that said, if I am indeed eating what I really want, I'm more likely to be satisfied with less. I was rockin' the French thing so well and one misstep turned into, well, I've lost count. But y'know what? It's okay.

I'm easing on the brakes and really just trying to not beat myself up, more than anything else. I'm also trying to think more positively and am ready to have a nice long talk with my doctor at my annual physical next month. She's always been super-cool, so I'm looking forward to hearing what she has to say. An outside prospective from a professional tends to help simplify my approach to things. I have this natural tendency to make things harder for myself and it's just ridiculous.

Anywho, I just gotta keep feelin' the good vibes. Got a pretty good weekend planned so far... Tomorrow morning, Doug, James (our housemate) and I are gonna go to a farmer's market. Then either later that day or Sunday, Doug and I want to go hiking since the weather is supposed to cool down through Monday. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pass the pizzas.

Trying to bust through this post tonight, so let's jump right in!

Friday: Wanted to take a stab at Claire Robinson's Easy White Pizza recipe from an episode of 5 Ingredient Fix I saw a few weeks ago.

Obviously made some changes... I used just a regular Pillsbury pizza crust, cut down the mozzarella to 2 cups, used fresh basil (made a mistake and forgot the recipe called for fresh oregano), added tomato slices, added chunks of goat cheese, sprinkled on dried oregano.

This was really good, but it got the wheels in Doug's head turning on how to make it even better. Tonight we took on a homemade grilled approach:

Basically the same recipe from Friday. Doug made the dough and people, I'm tellin' you, I'm not sure I want pizza any other way from now on!

And we experimented with a BBQ pizza as well:

Used Famous Dave's Sweet & Zesty BBQ sauce for the base, a mix of mozzarella and cheddar-jack, chopped ham, black olives, red onion and sliced avocado.

HOLY SHIT. The white pizza still tasted great, but I really fell in love with the BBQ version. And again, the homemade grilled crust just could not be beat.

That's all I have time for right now- sorry for the drive-by post. Enjoy your week and go nuts with grilled pizza!

Friday, June 4, 2010

We got the funk.

Earlier this week, I was in a major funk. I found myself feasting on junk, falling out of love with healthy/whole foods and feeling completely indifferent toward exercise. I just didn't care.

What brought this phase on? I suppose underlying work & financial stress is partially to blame. But I think the bigger reason was some good ol' body hatred. Last week, I noticed more clothing items not fitting. And of course, my immediate reaction was, "I have failed."

Obviously I haven't failed in the general sense of things, but I'm still failing to love myself and my body, at any size, on a regular basis. Some weeks are easier than others. Some weeks I feel "pleased" with myself because I look slimmer than normal and/or because I've kept up with workouts and healthy eating. But it's still pretty shallow at that point; even if I say "I love myself [right now]!", I know it's not genuine because the thought is only temporary. It's never long before I start dissin' my looks and size.

Oh, healthy body image and self love. We'll be BFFs someday, once I break the habit of criticizing myself in detail and mentally kicking myself to the curb for no good reason.

Anywho. I didn't intend for this post to be a downer, but I did need to capture some of these thoughts instead of beating them down with a shovel, as if they were zombies. Dang- now I want to watch the "Thriller" video, haha.

SO, said funk ran up through Wednesday. Yesterday, I knew I needed to get a grip. I needed some fresh foods. I needed to re-kindle my love of veggies. I went shopping, found lots of goodies, got home and started cookin'.

Into the pan went: black beans, mushrooms & zucchini:

Added some cumin, salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder (forgot to add real chopped onion) and some cilantro.

At the store, I picked up something new to try:

When I see "New Mexico Style" and "Green Chile" on the same label, I gotta give it a shot. I added about 1/4 cup to the beans/veggies. While that simmered, I got a salad started:

Romaine, tomatoes, cheddar. I also grilled some corn tortillas (can you see where I'm going with this?):

Few steps later, I had myself a black bean taco salad:

Topped with guac and sour cream.

AHHH! This salad was so dope. And the chile sauce is great- lots of heat, but the flavor of the chiles still comes through. This dish did indeed remind me of the awesomeness that is healthy food.

I avoided the gym all week, but finally went this morning for a quick 30 minute session. Twenty minutes/2 miles of speed intervals on the treadmill and 10 minutes of intervals on the stair master. I didn't feel like working out for very long, so I knew I needed to put on my Big Girl Pants and kick up the intensity. It was tough, but man, I felt amazing afterward (still do!).

Came home, showered, prepped my lunch and then made one of the best Green Monster smoothies I've made to date. I haven't had one in over a month, so I'm glad it turned out so good. In the mix:
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop Designer Whey Chocolate Deluxe protein powder
  • 1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Superfood
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 huge handfuls fresh spinach
Chocolate peanut buttery goodness! And still holding me over. Love that stuff.

So boys and girls, it would appear that I no longer have the funk (sorry, Parliament). Glad I snapped out of it when I did; a) it's Friday, b) I'm going to New Mexico this weekend for family fun, amazing homemade New Mexican food and hopefully a trip to Trader Joe's and c) I re-discovered one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite bands:

Ah, the feeling of being a 14 year old anglophile, full of angst.

Lastly, I hope to have new book and DVD reviews within the next 1-2 weeks, so stay tuned. And of course, enjoy the weekend!