Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Uppercuts beat the blues.

I'm a pretty big Robert De Niro fan. In fact, one of my all-time favorite movies is Raging Bull.

So , it was only natural for me to feel like The Ultimate Bad Ass this morning after completing my first basic boxing workout, from SHAPE magazine.

HIGHLY recommend this routine. It was super fun (even more so, with Wu-Tang Clan playing on my stereo) and a definite stress buster. I repeated round 5 five extra times, skipped the push-ups (my wrists are sore from yoga) and did a few extra minutes of jumping rope. After all was said in done, the whole routine ended up being 45 minutes and I was dripping. It went by so fast! I'm happy to say I've found a new favorite cardio workout. My shoulders and upper back are a bit shot though; I've been stretching all morning to keep the soreness and the stiffness at bay.

Outside of becoming the next Boxing Warrior, I also tried a new cookie recipe this week, courtesy of Coach's Oats: Oatmeal Coconut Cookies! Sooooo good! Doug said they were the best cookies I've made yet. And considering I'm still a novice baker, I was happy to hear that.

I swapped out the 1/2 cup of sugar with Splenda and used reduced-fat coconut by Let's Do Organic, just to lighten things up a bit. I left everything else the same. Doug suggested adding chocolate chips next time. Will do! These were pretty easy to make, so I'm down for making another batch soon.

That's all for today. Until next time, get your box and bake on!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oatcakes and out the door.

I've been M.I.A. the past week, but all is well. Just busy with work, life, love and The Sopranos. I never watched it when it actually aired, but between the library and borrowed seasons from my Mom, I'm already into the second season and officially hooked. And craving baked ziti every other day. Ah well.

Back to losing weight again, finally. Yes, I'm calorie-counting with The Daily Plate, but so far, tracking and seeing the numbers isn't freaking me out like it was in the past. I'm trying to apply what I've learned from intuitive/mindful eating guides while still tracking calories and so far, it's working pretty well. In the past, when I counted calories or points, I would be so focused on the numbers and not really being mindful about what I was eating and how I was feeling, in terms of food pleasure, emotional triggers and hunger/satiety cues.

By having a better idea of how many calories my mindful choices have, I think the transition out of calorie-counting and into maintenance will be much easier. Here's to hoping! I'm just experimenting with different things right now instead trying to stick to just one single method. I know what works and what doesn't, so it's been kinda fun and rewarding to take that knowledge and customize it to meet my needs. So far, it's been a guilt-less process, leaving me relaxed, energized and satisfied.

On to breakfast:

Cinnamon-Raisin Oatcakes

In a bowl, I combined:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbs Splenda (optional)
  • 2 tbs raisins
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
  • cinnamon to taste

Cooked and flipped like regular pancakes and served with maple syrup. Mmm! The only thing I would change next time is maybe adding more cinnamon. I'd also like to try adding pumpkin or berries. Tip: Be sure to serve these warm; I couldn't find my camera and spent a while looking for it. By the time I came back, the cakes had cooled and didn't taste as good as they could have, so I had to zap them in the microwave. MUCH better.

Very filling and pretty quick to prepare.

That's all I have to blab about for today. I'm still working my way through the last of the Bob Harper DVDs and hope to have those reviews posted soon. Hope everyone is enjoying their week!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Redefining the 'J' in 'PB & J.'

Breakfast was quite the adventure this morning. Now that I've recovered, I thought I would share the eye-opening, drippy-nose inducing, coffee-replacing treat with my fellow bloggers:

Peanut Butter, Jalapeño and Banana Sandwich.

After becoming inspired with a Kitchn post about Peanut butter stuffed jalapeños, my curiosity got the better of me and I immediately picked up some peppers.

The verdict: Yeah, I kinda dig it! Probably the most unique breakfast I've slapped together by far. The crunch from the peppers added a fun texture to the sandwich and the heat played well with the sweetness from the banana and the added drizzle of honey. And even though the pepper was pretty damn spicy, the peanut butter kept the heat in check, allowing me to take several bites without perishing.

I'm not sure what possessed me to use an entire pepper in one sandwich though- that was kinda poor planning on my part. Next time (oh yes, there will be a next time!), I'll use less of the pepper and dice it up into smaller bits instead of whole rings, making for a less intimidating, better distribution of heat.

I was starting to feel a bit bummed that I didn't bring my usual iced coffee to work today, but after that sandwich, there simply was no need. Turns out spice is an adequate substitute for caffeine.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to the grindage.

Yes, I made a reference to Pauly Shore slang in the title of this blog. What can I say?

I'm a fan of the Weasel.

Anywho, obviously in a good mood on this Monday morning, for a few reasons:

  • I actually didn't ditch my morning workout today. Usually I'm pretty diligent about morning workouts, but the past couple of weeks, I've been setting my alarm for 5 am with the intention of working up a sweat, but not always following through, due to occasional bouts of laziness and/or muscle soreness (mostly the former).

    Well, today, I stuck to my guns since I had gotten a decent amount of sleep and didn't feel particularly sore. Granted, I laid in bed for about 20 minutes after the alarm went off, but I finally crawled out, put on my workout gear and made some appointments with Jackie Warner and the treadmill. Did Jackie's upper body workout to warm up and then took on a 2 mile run. Felt so much better. Not a big whoop I know, but it just felt like a real accomplishment, given my random lack of dedication lately.

  • For the first time in ages, I meditated after my workout. Sometimes I hesitate to meditate (ignore the rhyme) so early in the morning because I'm afraid it'll make me just want to go back to sleep, but I felt quite refreshed afterward. It was a great way to cool down after my run and generate some positive vibes, which are very much welcomed on Mondays. Need to make more of an effort to work that in every day, even if it's just for a few minutes.

  • I read a great post from Dietgirl called "Intuitive Eating- What and Why." Whether or not you're really interested in intuitive eating, I'd still recommend giving it a read; pretty much every thing she talks about is identical to my experience. We're all so different, yet very much the same when it comes to figuring out this whole weight-loss/health schtuff. It's not so black and white after all.

    While I feel it's a bit premature to say that I'm fully recovered from disordered eating and poor self-esteem, I can say that I've shown a great deal of progress the past couple of months. I've finally confronted a lot of issues that led me to eat the way I did and look at myself in such a poor light for so many years. It feels good to have those burdens lifted and to truly understand what it means when I say, "I'm damn awesome." Frees up a lot of time to y'know, live.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

This is how we do it.

After eating the dinner Doug and I put together tonight, this song popped into my head:

You're welcome!

I'll start with the quinoa salad I made:

I sauteéd some zucchini with salt, pepper and a clove of minced garlic. I set it aside to cool and then later tossed it with some cooked quinoa, fresh tomato, avocado chunks and a quick dressing (made with 1 tbs olive oil, about 2 tbs of lemon juice and a pinch of kosher salt).

Ahhhh! I was so pleased with how this turned out, especially since this was our first time trying quinoa. I found a simple guide for preparing quinoa on The Kitchn website. Simple and filling. Definitely a new favorite starch!

The other part of the meal featured some good ol' surf & turf:

Lamb chops & shrimp.

We were browsing the meat section at Sunflower Farmer's Market and spotted a couple of small lamb chops from New Zealand, marked down with a coupon. After the mark down, they were less than $2, so it was a pretty irresistible deal! While I was working on the quinoa, Doug took over the meat. He rubbed the lamb in finely minced garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and rosemary. For the shrimp, he tossed them in oil, butter, garlic, salt, parsley, lemon juice and some dry vermouth (we didn't have any white wine on hand). Both were just cooked in a pan on the stove top.

The meat was so tender and juicy. Granted, there was a good amount of bone and fat, but the meat itself was just great. Add the shrimp and the veggie quinoa and we ended up with a high-five worthy dinner.

Mad Men is coming on soon, so I'm cutting this post short, but I hope everyone had a great weekend (and hope you keep your eyes peeled for some good lamb deals)!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bob Harper- Pure Burn, Super Strength.

Alright folks, time for another DVD review from Bob Harper's Inside Out Method. After taking a stab at his intense Cardio Conditioning workout, I must admit, I was a little hesitant to try the full-hour strength workout.

My verdict? Another intense, muscle-challenging session! Because this is a weight and resistance-based workout, it seems to move at a somewhat more manageable pace than the cardio conditioning DVD, but that's not to suggest that it won't get your heart rate up, burn out your muscles and leave you panting. Below are some of the moves ("some" is the keyword here, people):

  • weighted squats
  • wide rows
  • deadlifts
  • push-ups
  • bicep curls/shoulder press
  • shoulder combo (front raise, lateral raise, "pinky-up" raise)
  • down and outs w/ weights (squat thrusts performed with dumbbells in hands, some with push-ups in between, then an added jump at the top)
  • plank rows
  • single arm flies in a squat position
  • lunges (single side, alternating sides w/ dumbbell in both hands, jumping alternating sides w/ dumbbell)
  • matrix lunges
  • tricep work (extensions and skull crushers)
  • ab work (crunches)
  • T-stance (in plank with dumbbells, alternate raising each arm while working into a "T" position)
  • T-stance with push-up in between arm raises
  • plank with knees to elbows, alternating sides (bring knee up toward elbow of same side, then return to plank, repeating move on other side. eventually increase speed.)

For a more complete list, I'd highly recommend checking out this Amazon review; she does a better job than me of listing all of the moves in order, both for the full hour workout and the shorter beginner's workout.

Probably the two most memorable moves for me were the down & outs and the T-stances, particularly when Bob instructs you to add push-ups in between. Definitely dropped some F-bombs during those intervals. He's also a fan of making you do isometric holds of different moves, usually while in squat position or holding up your dumbbells. Sadist.

Another tricky move that I had never tried before was going into a lunge and passing my dumbbell back and forth between both hands, reaching underneath my front leg. Bob said the point of this move was to ensure proper form and he's right. You pretty much have to perfect your lunge, otherwise the passing of the dumbbell will get messy.

It seemed like Bob provided better instruction throughout this video, compared to the cardio one. Probably because using weights demands proper form. He has different assistants this time, but still has two girls and one guy. Helen, who does not have the typical body of someone who has had four kids, performs all of the advanced moves. The woman is a machine. And my new hero. As with the last DVD, everyone is sweating, panting, groaning and not always smiling. Even the other girl who performs the easier/modified moves looks like she wants to cry or scream from time to time. I must be just as much of a sadist as Bob, because I kind of found joy in seeing that, haha.

Deciding how much weight to use was a little tricky for me... I've gotten spoiled with my Jari Love workouts, where each person's weight amount is usually displayed during each interval. Bob mentions using up to 12 lb. dumbbells, but kind of leaves it at that. It's also assumed that Bob and his assistants use the same weight amount during the whole workout, but that wasn't going to fly for me. I found myself bouncing back and forth between 5 lb. weights and my slightly-more-than-8 lb. metal dumbbells. During the shoulder raise combo, I stuck to my 5 lbs. because the isometric holds were murder. I think even 3 lb. weights would be challenging during that segment.

So, overall, another good DVD. I think I'll always prefer Jari Love for my strength training, but I appreciated the variety of moves Bob offered in this workout. It got my heart rate up a lot higher than I expected, made me sweat tons and provided a lot of moves that challenged my upper body, a current area of weakness for me.

After trying 2 of the 4 DVDs so far, I can say that if you're looking for a "fun" workout, this set probably isn't for you. I've found myself having to get motivated to do these workouts because there's nothing happy and cheerful about them. These workouts are strictly about building and maintaining a high level of fitness. If you're looking for a no-nonsense, let's-get-down-to-business kind of workout, you can't go wrong with Bob and this series. Out of all the fitness DVDs I own (and there are quite a few, trust me), this set has felt most like what I'd imagine a workout with a personal trainer would be like, simply because of the function and variety of moves presented.

And because Bob has both males and females working alongside him, it becomes clear that his workouts aren't about "getting that bikini bod" or "bulking up;" they're simply about getting a fit, healthy, strong body. He recognizes that you have to work hard to get in good shape; no gimmicks, no short cuts and no "10 minute workouts." (He even says at some point that a 10 minute work out is a warm-up, which made me laugh because he's pretty much right.)

Although Bob makes me cuss in frustration and sweat to the point where my sweat band can't absorb another drop, I feel like a bit of a warrior when that cool down rolls around. I'm definitely feeling stronger and more capable of physical challenges. Any serious fitness DVD collection isn't complete without the Inside Out Method.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It was a Chinese food and beer kind of night...

Last night, I was on my own for dinner and had two basic ideas in mind: Chinese food and beer. It's a slam dunk, am I right? For two [huge] servings of Fried Rice, I used:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice (boiled in water seasoned with salt, garlic powder & ginger powder)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 broccoli stalks, chopped (you could use florets too, of course)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • minced ginger to taste
  • kosher salt/black pepper
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs. Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce
  • low-sodium soy sauce to taste




Sparing the recipe procedure details because I'm confident that [most] of my readers are awesome cooks, capable of swinging a bitchin' pan of fried rice without suffering any fatalities. This tasted fabulous, if I may toot my own horn. It probably helped that I hadn't had fried rice in aaaaaages. It's always so oily at restaurants, but at home, I was able to play around with my own spices, cut down the oil significantly and boost the fiber and protein amounts, thanks to brown rice and the use of edamame. Excellent mix of flavors. The leftovers for lunch are going to be amazing. Can't wait!

I was also taken away with another addition to my meal:

My very first Pumpkin Spice Ale, courtesy of Michelob. I'm not a huge beer fan, but I kept hearing about pumpkin ales, so I had to give it a try. So good! I just went with Michelob because it was the cheapest option and I didn't want to spend a lot of money in case I didn't like it, but now, I'm looking forward to trying some other versions. In fact, the guy at the liquor store added me to a waiting list for the Venetucci Pumpkin Ale. The Venetucci Pumpkin Farm is a local farm here in Colorado, as is the Bristol Brewing Company. I'm sure it'll be even better than Michelob's. Again, can't wait!

On a non-food related note, Doug and I are seeing Pavement in concert tomorrow. Now that is a big, fat CAN'T WAIT!!! Need a song for today's phrase of the day:

That's all for today. I'm still working on shelling out some more Bob Harper DVD reviews in the coming days, so stay tuned for those. Hope everyone is having a good week. Later, kids!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just 'cause.

Today, I've felt more beautiful (inside AND out), than I have in a really, really long time. And it's even that time of the month- how do ya like them apples?! I look forward to feeling this way more in the future. Since today was the initial moment of clarity though, I felt the need to dedicate a post to it. With a soundtrack courtesy of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, even:

In terms of my everyday life, nothing has changed; still have the same job, same [more awesome than thou] Doug, same rented house with its ridiculous wood paneling on the walls. But in the past 24 hours, I'm just, dare I say it, feelin' the love.

Part of what contributed to this awakening was a well-deserved and much-needed clothes shopping trip. Thrift stores are the bee's knees, as some of you may well know. I basically bought half a wardrobe for a little over 20 bucks. I noticed I was falling into that frumpy phase again where I was dressing as basic and plain as possible. It's a terrible habit from my heavier days and unsurprisingly, eventually makes me feel kinda terrible. Not only did this trip boost my self-esteem, but I think I may be starting a love-affair with the color green (both wearing it and spending hardly any of it; a shirt for 99 cents is love, people).

Also found some cheap lipstick in some fun shades (I tend to rely on neutral colors that basically match my own tones, thus defeating the purpose of buying and wearing lipstick), thanks to New York Color. Now, don't get me wrong- I appreciate the ability to rock the natural look too, but sometimes it's just fun to doll it up a bit a feel like a sexy broad. I've never been overtly feminine, but I still get a kick out of playing around with my girly side from time to time.

Geez, all this talk about clothes and make-up... Guess I'll have to pose for a pic soon, heh.

Anywho, yes, this post had pretty much nothing to do with food or fitness, but I feel all of this still relates to my health. Very much so. I can't help but close with one of my favorite lines from "Kids in the Hall": Life's a pretty sweet fruit!

The rest of the day includes spending time with beloved friends (and possibly beer) at Geeks Who Drink. Again, love. Ok, that's enough with the love. Can't have this blog turnin' into a movie starring Drew Barrymore. I mean, I guess it could, but Mama needs to see the money first.