Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Routine Revamp + Leg Workout

Yesterday, I decided to begin a new routine for myself, focusing on resistance training versus my usual workout plan of mostly cardio. I've been craving a new routine for awhile now, and I'm already loving the new challenge. It makes me super excited to get out of work and head to the gym. It's been a few months now since I've felt that thrill, I tell ya!

Part of this new challenge is trying to incorporate more protein into my diet and start cutting back on processed crap - switching from Skippy peanut butter to natural PB; trading in my typical lunch of processed Healthy Choice soup for a more balanced meal; following my workout with a protein-rich snack instead of raiding the cabinets for pretzels and crackers when I get home...etc.

To make it easier on myself, on Sunday night, I prepared all my foods/snacks through WEDNESDAY and packed them away in to-go containers to take to work. I don't know why I'm just discovering this concept now, but holy wow, it's genius! And with everything all prepared, portioned, and packed up, ready to go, it will make my life SO much easier through the week. No more scrounging last minute in the morning, only to realize I left my bananas on the counter at home, leaving me to resort to the vending machine for an afternoon snack. And then on Wednesday night when I'm making dinner, I'll do the prep for Thurs/Fri. Which means I only have to cook 2 days/week - woo hoo!

I thought it would be kind of cool to share my food log from yesterday to give you an idea of what I'm trying to gear towards with the whole more balanced meal, more protein, less processed food concept. I'm still all about anything in moderation - I do not believe in eliminating food groups or avoiding sugar altogether - that's just crazy, unhealthy, and unrealistic to maintain. However, I am extremely supportive of portioning and calorie counting. And if you want to achieve a fitter body, there are certain things that definitely need to be moderated. I happen to have a weakness for processed, on-the-go snacks since I tend to be pretty busy, so this is my effort to reign that in. Check it out:

1/2 Fiber One 100% Whole Wheat English muffin
1 Tbsp Teddy's Natural Chunky Peanut Butter
1/2 C Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp Baker on Main's Fiber Power Cinnamon Raisin Granola 

Snack 1
1 C sliced cucumbers with skin
1/2 serving Almonds

4 oz (~1 skinless, boneless breast) chicken, baked with Mrs. Dash seasoning
1/2 C cooked quinoa with roasted onions, tomatoes, and zucchini (recipe to come!)
1/2 C sauteed green bell pepper and red onion

Snack 2
1/2 C low-fat 2% cottage cheese
1/2 C blueberries

Post-workout Snack
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-blended with ice

4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, seasoned with Emeril's Essence and sauteed in 1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp salsa + 1/4 avocado, diced
2 C roasted kale

I tracked my calories for the day as well just to make sure I'm within a good range. For the day, I took in a little under 1400 calories, which is perfect for me. I also consumed 130 GRAMS of protein - that's double what I typically eat.

My workout yesterday focused solely on LEGS. I'm following this workout plan for the following weeks, and even after only one day, it's got me hooked. When I initially looked at the leg workout, I thought "Okay, this isn't too bad. I can totally do this. Hell, I've run 13.1 miles before!"
....Uhm yeah. Fast forward to this morning when I took a step down off my bed and nearly toppled over.

So here's a look at my Monday Leg Workout:

4 x 20 Leg extensions, using a light weight (primary muscle group: Quads)
4 x 10-12 Barbell squats, 20 lbs (primary muscle group: Quads)
4 x 10-12 Step-ups with dumbbells, 20 lbs each hand (primary muscle group: Quads)
3 x Length of gym and back walking lunges with dumbbells, 10 lb each hand
3 x 10-12 Stiff leg deadlifts, 20 lbs (primary muscle group: Hamstrings)

Monsterset (perform the 3 exercises back-to-back with no rest in between)
4 x 10-12 Leg extensions (primary muscle group: Quads)
4 x 10-12 Hamstring curls (primary muscle group: Hamstrings)
4 x 30 Calf raises with dumbbells, 20 lbs (primary muscle group: Calves)

My leg muscles have a week now to recover and rebuild...and thank goodness for that because they will need it! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Muffin Topless Challenge

Though running has helped me shed unwanted fat, improve my cardio fitness, and boost my confidence, I'm left feeling unsatisfied recently. I feel like I'm in limbo almost. I completed the half marathon, I do not intend on running a full marathon, mainly due to dreading the time-consuming training schedule...so here I am - STUCK almost. 

What do I do now? Do I embark on another half marathon? I would love to eventually do another, but I'm feeling the desire/need to try something new and challenge myself in a different way. Eventually, I would love to compete in a triathlon, but I am not at that stage yet - I don't even own a bike! 

And though I'm happy/proud of the hard work I put in to obtain my new smaller frame, I am at a point where I feel like it's time to take the next step and focus more on details versus big picture. I'm done with losing weight at this point, but I would really love to improve my PHYSIQUE and transform some more fat into muscle. 

So lately, I find myself scouring the internet in my spare time in between work and wedding planning for fitness tips to help me figure out a way to better tone my body.

And you know what pops up over and over and over again?

Resistance training. 

That's right, ladies. Not just cardio....but weights. Located in the meat head section of the gym full of grunting men. Those creaky machines that scare the crap out of you because you don't know how to use them. Those dreaded dumbbells that seem to only come in two sizes: big and bigger. 

And no, those cute little 2 lb weights - or BEAUTY BELLS as Savannah refers to them as - do not count. My pocketbook is probably heavier than that...and carrying that around everyday sure as hell hasn't given me sculpted shoulders.

I've been very adamant about keeping resistance training in my workout schedule, about twice a week. However, I've been using the same 8 lb weights for about 2 years now and have not put much effort into increasing the weight to challenge myself. I still feel a burn after doing my full body resistance workout, however not much is happening with my physique. So clearly, there is something I am missing.

Therefore, I've turned this into a new goal for myself. I will be using the Muffin Topless Challenge as a guide, which promotes a healthy LIFESTYLE versus DIET mentality - totally right up my alley! Though I consider myself an overall healthy eater, I do consume some form of processed junk almost daily. The MTLC has some great tips for eliminating processed, sugar-loaded junk and replacing it with more protein and vegetables, which I have wanted to do for awhile now.

I think the three toughest things for me will be:
1) Cutting back on cardio and introducing specialized muscle group weight training. The MTLC workout plan includes 3 days of cardio + 5 days of resistance training. ONLY THREE DAYS OF CARDIO?! That, to me, is a foreign concept. For awhile, I was doing 6 days of cardio a week! At the same time, I think I'm looking forward to a bit of a change...
2) Consuming protein shakes. Yeah, I'll be honest, I'm totally scared of that part. Whey protein? Casein? Who am I? But you know what I say...bring it on! I'm sure it won't be the most DELICIOUS thing in the world, but word on the street is they are quite filling. And they're flavored, so maybe they won't be SO bad...right?
3) Public functions. Most parties are filled with junk, junk, and more junk. And who wants to be that person only eating salad? Also, I'm at an age where alcohol is at pretty much every function. It's pretty impossible to avoid - or maybe it's impossible because I don't WANT to avoid it. Either way, I've wanted to cut back on my alcohol intake anyways, so this will be a good starting point. While I won't eliminate it, I will definitely limit myself more than I have recently.

The three things I'm most looking forward to:
1) The results. DUH, this is a gimme. Well, hopefully there will be results.
2) Change. I've never had a workout plan like this before, and I dare say I'm kind of excited about it? I'm sure it will hurt and there will be many days I wake up with extremely sore muscles - no pain, no gain, right?
3) Logging the progress. Of course! There will be updates and pictures!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Steamed Broccoli with Miso-Sesame Dressing

Happy Friday all!

Gosh, I have just been so crazy busy lately...and away most weekends - I guess summer are always like that though. I start to feel like having been out of town on weekends, I have to be particularly careful with what I'm consuming on the weekdays.

I try to be very strict during the work week and fill my diet with protein at every meal, at least 5 servings of fruits/vegetables per day, whole-grains for my carb source, and very minimal junk. I'm a huge snacker (I follow the 5-6 small meals a day versus 3 big meals), so I always have to carry food with me. Instead of my usual fat free go-to snack, pretzels, I have been replacing this (which contains pretty much zero nutritional value, by the way, it's really just good for satisfying a craving for something salty and crunchy) for in-season fruits and raw veggies.

Some days I happen to be more ravenous than other days - I totally refer to this as having a tape worm... nerdy, I know, but it always seems to get a giggle out of people - and I try to incorporate higher amounts of protein on these days, in the form of nuts, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, etc.

Since we typically eat a dinner of lean protein and vegetable, Brent and I are very good about trying out new vegetable side dishes so that we aren't left unsatisfied with boring food. We decided to crack open one of our new recipe books, Power Foods, which I highly recommend for all you healthy eaters out there. I think we found it at TJ Maxx actually. So from this book, I bring to you a delicious recipe for Steamed Broccoli with Miso-Sesame Dressing. Enjoy alongside your favorite lean protein!

Steamed Broccoli with Miso-Sesame Dressing

2 Tbsp dark miso
1 1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 C rice or soy milk (we used Silken Tofu!)
4 C broccoli florets
2 Tbsp minced red bell pepper

  • In a small bowl, mix the dark miso, sesame seeds, lemon juice, and oil. Slowly add the milk or silken tofu, stirring well. For a thinner sauce, add more liquid.
  • Arrange broccoli florets in a steamer basket over a small amount of water. Steam florets until bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to serving dish, drizzle with sauce, and garnish with red pepper.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Caught the bug again...

Well, it's happened.

I think I may have caught the half marathon bug again.

It barely even took convincing this time.

On Tuesday, I got an email at work with the subject "Adnexus Challenge?"- ohhh that word challenge just gets me every time, I tell ya!

So yup, here I am again, rolling the idea around in my head of registering for the Chilly Half Marathon in Newton on 11/11/12. I kind of promised myself (and Brent) I would wait a little while before I did another one, considering how time consuming the training is. Also, training alone for that kind of distance was no walk in the park either. It took a LOT of self motivation - way too much to do it twice in a 6 month period.

However, there are a good amount of my work colleagues registering for the race and willing to do group training runs after work, which means I would not be training alone - this makes it MUCH more appealing.

With that being said, this course is NOT going to be an easy one. In fact, it will be incredibly difficult. Reviewers of the race claim this should be called the "HILLY Half Marathon" instead of the "CHILLY Half Marathon". THAT scares me. Having lived in the same area of the course, I am very familiar with how hilly it is over there. Check out the elevation profile for this baby:

Miles 6-9 will NOT be fun. However, it is totally doable! It will just require a lot - A LOT - of hill training.

Oh, and mild training through my honeymoon. Not sure how I feel about that...

I still have a little more considering to do, so we shall see. I would totally love to repeat my experience with the Run to Remember!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend on the Cape by Picture, Part II

One of Brent's best friends, Miguel, got married at Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster, MA this past weekend, and my GOODNESS was it a beautiful wedding! Miguel and Mary got gorgeous summer weather for their beach ceremony:

Their cocktail hour was full of delicious passed Hors d'oeuvres (including my favorite scallops wrapped in bacon mmm..), tall glasses of sparkling wine, a sushi bar, an amazing cheese display, and relaxing jazz in the background.

Love this...absolutely amazing how flexible babies are!!
First course: crab cake
The second course was a caprese salad, buuuut I forgot to grab the camera for that one. 
Main course: filet mignon with baked stuffed shrimp, mashed potatoes, baby asparagus. I was so full at this point, I barely was able to eat half of it.
Adnexus crew group shot, take 1!
Adnexus group shot, take 2
Jamie and Brayden, he loves to dance! 
Groom and his beautiful daughter/flower girl, Isabella
Time to cut the cake! Lemon cake with raspberry mousse filling, so delish!

When the reception ended, we headed to the resort Terrace bar for a lil after party.

Rockin' Brent's jacket at the end of the night...

After an amazing, fun-filled weekend, it was time to head back home and pick up our big pooches from daycare:
So excited to see Mom and Dad!!
Brent and I can't get over how crazy fast these things (eh hem, major life events) fly by. You spend over a year planning a wedding, and in one day - BOOM! - it's over. The scary thing is...in less than 8 weeks, that will be us - Ahhh!!!

Weekend on the Cape by Picture, Part I

WARNING: picture heavy post ahead...

That, right there folks, is the beautiful bed & breakfast we stayed at this weekend in Brewster, MA. The Old Manse Inn is owned by quite possibly the most adorable couple in the world, Karen and Rich. Rich greeted us on Thursday afternoon upon our arrival and immediately made us feel like we were at home. He gave us a nice little blurb on the history of the Inn, some amazing recommendations for local restaurants and nightlife, and a great tour of the inside - which included homemade iced lemonade (to die for!), freshly baked cookies (made by Karen that day), and decanters fully stocked with ample sherry and port for guests to enjoy while lounging in the adirondack chairs on the front porch. Sounds like heaven, right? You have no idea. Just wait for the breakfasts Karen made fresh each morning...

Day One:
Cantaloupe Mojito - cantaloupe melon balls with mint and dried cherries - AMAZING!
Breakfast Burrito with spicy cheese sauce, homemade tomato and mango salsa, and Vermont maple sausage
The burrito was stuffed with spicy scrambled eggs and potato and cooked under a panini press - absolutely delicious! 
Day Two:
Strawberry yogurt and granola parfait - the granola was homemade by Karen

Heavenly herbed eggs, oven-baked bacon, and banana walnut berry muffins baked fresh by Karen that morning 
Day Three:
Fruit salad in poppyseed glaze 
Blueberry stuffed french toast with Vermont maple sausage - I don't actually eat sausage! 

So far, it appears all Brent and I did here was eat! haha BUT just to clarify, and since this is a health blog after all...
For all you healthy foodies out there like myself, Karen takes great pride in her culinary work and strives to create healthy, delicious meals for the guests. The food here was extremely fresh and clean, the meat is baked, not fried, and we quickly realized what a HUGE difference it makes in how you feel after the meal. All in all, breakfast was absolutely PERFECTION in my book.

While we're on the subject of food...
On Thursday night, we opted for a date night out on the town.

We dined at the famous Brewster Fish House. This place is well known for its fresh seafood and artful dishes and gets rave reviews online, so I was DYING to check it out. They did NOT disappoint...their fish chowder was phenomenal, drinks were delicious, and the meal. Oh, the meal...excuse my terrible iPhone 3GS camera pic.

Brent's meal (far plate): Grilled Pinelands Farms Strip Steak
My meal (near plate): 
Papperdelle with Poached Egg, Summer Beans, Baby Squash, Black Truffle Butter
I knew I was in for a lot of meat for the next two days at Miguel's wedding festivities, so I opted to go vegetarian for Thursday's dinner - quite possibly the best decision ever. Although, Brent's steak WAS pretty damn amazing. 

Then in typical Jen-fashion (just because your mind is on vacation, it doesn't mean your body is!), I woke up early on Saturday morning to go for a run to check out the surrounding beaches before the temperatures and humidity got too high.

Even at 8am, it was a lot more humid than I was hoping/expecting it to be, so I only made it 3.5 miles.
After the run, I came back to this nice little area on the grounds of the Inn to stretch and catch my breath before Karen's amazing breakfast was served.

Now that I've written a short novel and overdosed you with pictures, I'll save Miguel's wedding pictures for another post...