Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FML kind of days

Yesterday was one of those FML kind of days.

How yesterday should have gone:

  • Smooth 8:10AM flight from MA to NJ
  • Receive cool rental car from Avis
  • Find cute little coffee shop to do work for an hour
  • Celebration luncheon + a few drinks with my fellow conference planning committee
  • Catch my 4PM flight from NJ back to MA
  • Workout
  • Be awesome at life

How yesterday REALLY went:

  • Quite possibly the most turbulent flight I've ever experienced in my life, can't count how many times I almost reached for the vom bag
  • Receive a PRIUS for a rental car <--UGH
  • Drive around trying to find a coffee shop for 20 minutes, finally settle with a Starbucks...in Target
  • Celebration luncheon + a few drinks with my fellow conference planning committee <--one of the only things that actually happened how it should have
  • Drive around Trenton airport aimlessly for 30 minutes trying to find the terminal. Hey, TTN, legible signs would help. Thanks.
  • Cell phone with my GPS dies during aimless drive through airport. 
  • Arrive at 4:02PM to find out my plane has already departed <--FML #1.
  • There are no other flights taking off that night <--FML #2.
  • There is an Amtrak train leaving from downtown Trenton at 6:30PM but won't get to MA until almost midnight <--FML #3.
  • Rental car company has a one-way rental available...and it's NOT the Prius <--WIN!!
  • Drive through NJ + NYC at rush hour <--FML #4
  • Arrive home in MA at 10:30PM. 
No workout.
A whole lotta FML's. Oh, and maybe a mental breakdown at the Trenton airport. That might have happened...

Hate.
On a positive note, I was reminded again of how absolutely lucky I am (even after all the FML's yesterday) to be marrying such an amazing guy, who patiently talked me off a ledge while I was stranded at Trenton airport and came to my rescue last night. Thanks, love!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Memphis Soul 5K BBQ Run

Yesterday, Ally and I participated in the Memphis Soul 5K BBQ Run. This race was hosted by Marathon Sports to benefit Multiple Sclerosis. The course takes you through Teele Sq, Ball Sq, and Davis Sq, ending at The Burren for a super fun outdoor post race BBQ, fully equipped with all the southern BBQ fixings and live Memphis soul music...and unlimited Magners, of course.

The race started at 11AM, which was right around the time it started to reach 80 degrees. This wouldn't be bad except the course wasn't shaded...like at all. And it seemed like you were running directly into the sun for most of it. It didn't help I had a few too many glasses of Sauvignon blanc the night before.

Nonetheless, I finished in a decent time of 24:42 - not my PR, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be considering my hydration level that morning.

Shout out to Ally though for reaching a new PR - so proud of you!!

I scooped up a bottle of water, my finisher medal, and granola bar following the cross of the finish line, and headed on over to the post-race party.

Hungry runners at the post-race party | Photo courtesy of Ally
Finisher medal + Arnold Palmer Sr at Orleans 
One of these days, I swear I will get a decent race shot...until then, this is the best I can do

Friday, August 24, 2012

Exercise of the Week: Extreme HIIT Treadmill Workout

Lately, I've been cutting back on endurance cardio and adding more HIIT (high intensity interval training) into my workouts. Why? Well, mostly to change things up a bit and prevent boredom. But also because HIIT is a great way to boost your fitness, metabolism, and fat loss.

Plus, I've got to fit into a tiny white dress in 2 weeks!

This workout is a tough one, so don't say I didn't warn you. Feel free to play around a little with the speeds of the high intensity portion - don't overdo it if you feel like you're going to pass out! I recommend doing this workout or a variation of this HIIT workout a few times a week - you will notice a huge difference in your aerobic threshold! I do this particular workout 2-3 times a week now for my cardio...it provides really great fitness benefits, and it takes only 35 minutes of your day. Incorporate some weight training in there, and you'll be right on your way to a new, fitter self!

Extreme HIIT Treadmill Workout

  • Warm-up jog for 9 minutes at 6.5 MPH, 0% incline
  • Run at 9.0 MPH, 1% incline for 45 seconds + Recover at 6.0 MPH, 0% incline for 45 seconds: repeat 5X
  • Run at 9.0 MPH, 2% incline for 30 seconds + Recovery at 6.0 MPH, 0% incline for 60 seconds: repeat 5X
  • Run at 9.0 MPH, 3% incline for 30 seconds + Recovery at 6.0 MPH, 0% incline for 90 seconds: repeat 3X
  • Cooldown walk for 5 minutes at 4.0 MPH, 0% incline


On that note, happy Friday, everyone - enjoy your weekend! Mine will be spent with my two pups while Brent is away for his bachelor party...Max is super excited already for some quality Mommy and Me time haha


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Frozen Berry-Granola Squares

I feel like I hardly ever post any (healthy) dessert recipes, so it's about time - and let me tell you, these gems are PERFECT for a summer sweet tooth!

Did I mention they are SUPER easy to make?

Oh, and CRAZY delicious, too. 

Recipe adapted from Clean Eating.

Frozen Berry-Granola Squares

Ingredients:
1 C whole-grain granola
2 C fresh mixed berries (I used strawberries and blueberries I had in my fridge)
3 C low-fat Greek yogurt (Again, I used what was left in my fridge, which happened to be a combo of ~1 Cup non-fat plain Chobani and ~2 Cups mixed berry flavored Chobani Champions...and I have to say, I highly recommend adding the mixed berry flavored yogurt in there; it was DELISH!)
1/3 C agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:
  • Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil.
  • Sprinkle granola evenly on bottom of pan and set aside.
  • In a blender, mix together berries, yogurt, agave nectar, and vanilla until well blended. Pour berry mixture over granola, smoothing mixture to the edges of the pan. Cover with foil and freeze until firm (~4 hours). Keep frozen until serving.

Nutrition Facts (per 2-inch square):
Calories: 170 | Total Fat: 2 g | Saturated Fat: 1.5 g | Carbs: 28 g | Fiber: 2 g | Sugars: 16 g | Protein: 10 g 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DIY Wedding: Sea glass candy favors

 

I had already finished my glass coaster favors (future post!) when I came across this absolutely ADORABLE idea for a beach-themed wedding favor: sea glass candy.

I didn't care that I already had favors, I HAD TO HAVE THIS SEA GLASS CANDY at my wedding. The tins I purchased came with personalized stickers, so I kept it simple and just used those. Feel free to decorate the tins however you like!


To go with our color theme, I made blue and yellow sea glass candy, flavored raspberry and banana respectively.


What you will need:
  • Small candy tins/containers - I bought these from The Knot: $17.50 for a 24 pack, and you can select a personalized sticker for each. 
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C water
  • 3/4 C light corn syrup (I recommend using light so that it does not affect your color in the end)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp flavoring oil (I used raspberry and banana extract, found in Shaws)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp coloring dye (I used blue and yellow, found in Shaws)
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting
The How-To:
*Please refer to this link for step-by-step pictures - they were very helpful!
  1. Grease a cookie sheet with butter.
  2. Measure and pour into a medium saucepan: granulated sugar, corn syrup, and water. Place over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, you can ditch that spoon, no need to stir.
  3. Without stirring, boil the mixture until a candy thermometer reads between 300 and 310. Note: If you're like me and don't own a candy thermometer because you will likely never make candy again in your life, make sure to keep an eye on the clock during the process. From when the sugar dissolves until the candy boiling is done, it took between 25-30 minutes. Once you've hit the 25 minute mark, drop a small amount of the boiling candy mixture into a glass of ice water. When it separates into brittle strands and is rock hard to the touch in the ice water, that means it's ready. If it's still kind of soft  in the ice water, then it needs to keep boiling. 
  4. Once you've seen the brittle form in the ice water (or your thermometer reads between 300 and 310), remove the pan from the heat and let the boiling subside.
  5. Measure flavoring oil and food coloring into candy mixture. Blend with a wooden spoon - you'll notice it gets a little steamy for a few seconds. I recommend going 1/4 tsp at a time with the food coloring until you reach your desired color. 
  6. Pour your candy mix onto your greased cookie sheet and let cool. I recommend letting it set on a very flat surface for 15 minutes before putting it in the fridge for another 1/2 hour or so. 
  7. Once cooled and completely hardened, cover the candy with parchment paper and tap with a mallet to shatter candy into small pieces. 
  8. Using a basting brush, coat candy pieces with confectioner's sugar. Note: I actually just poured some confectioner's sugar over the broken pieces right on the cookie sheet, and mixed it together well so that all the pieces had a light coating. It helps keep the candy from sticking together.
  9. Fill your mini favor tins with your desired amount of sea glass candy. Your guests are going to LOVE this sweet, delicious favor!
I was actually shocked at how easy it was to make the candy. The part that bugged me the most was the cleaning up after. I noticed the residual candy in the saucepan hardened and stuck very tightly to the sides of the pan. So want to know a trick? Fill your pan with water and bring to a boil. Your candy will dissolve right off. Put your wooden spoon in the boiling water as well to get rid of the food coloring. Works like a charm!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Exercise of the Week: Killer Back Workout

Well, yesterday's workout completely owned me. Thursday is the day I dedicate to giving my back muscles a good workout, and yesterday was a tough one. I followed my weight training with a VERY intense interval workout I had found online this week (P.S. I think I'll make that NEXT week's exercise of the week). By the end of the hour, I was pretty tired, but GOD did I feel great. There's something about a super productive workout that makes me feel totally invincible.

This back workout is courtesy of Muffin Top-Less, and guys...it's a good one:

[Image via]

Superset #1:
3 x 12 Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
3 x 12 Narrow Grip Lat Pulldowns
*Main muscle worked: Lats

Superset #2:
3 x 12 (each arm) One Arm Dumbbell Row - one knee and one hand on the bench
3 x 12 Seated Cable Rows
* Main muscle worked: Middle Back

Superset #3:
3 x 15 Lower Back Hyperextensions <--these are a killer!
3 x 12 Reverse Grip Bent-over Row
*Main muscles worked: Middle and Lower Back

Note: Superset = two exercises performed back-to-back with no rest in between. 
So, for instance, perform 12 wide grip lat pulldowns and 12 narrow grip lat pulldowns immediately after, then rest 1 minute; perform 12 wide grip lat pulldowns and 12 narrow grip lat pulldowns immediately after, then rest 1 minute, etc.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Less than 4 weeks!

Well, well, well...what do ya know - less than 4 weeks to go until I become a Mrs.!

Right here to be exact:


Everyone keeps asking me if I'm nervous, and shockingly, the answer is NO. 

I'm a whole lot of things - excited, anxious, thankful, hopeful, occasionally stressed, constantly preoccupied - but nervous is not one of them. I keep waiting for it, anticipating the day I just kind of lose it over wedding-related ish, but to be honest, it's one of the things that has kept me GROUNDED over the last month. I have completely drown myself in DIY wedding projects, and I am having an absolute BLAST with it all! It is making me that much more excited for my big day, and I think it's super helpful with taking the edge off. I mean, really now, what is better than sitting down after a long day with a crisp glass of white wine, and some arts and crafts time?!

My thoughts exactly.

I have used many other blogs, wedding websites, and wedding forums to spark inspiration for creative ideas that I thought it would be kind of cool for me to blog about some of my own DIY experiences, particularly for beach-themed weddings like my own! So check back here for some fun DIY wedding project posts over the next few weeks leading up to the wedding!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Creamy Egg Salad with Avocado

I've never really been the biggest fan of egg salad - which is strange, since I love eggs, and chicken salad is one of my favorites. So I have been kind of determined to form some kind of bond with egg salad.

BUT all that mayonnaise, however tasty it is, is not something I'm trying to add into my diet right now. So after seeing a few recipes for egg salad using avocado as a replacement for mayo, I became intrigued and decided to embark on my own creation.

First, I opted to use mostly just the hard-boiled egg whites versus the entire egg. Whole eggs are crazy high in protein, and unfortunately high in fat as well, but isolate just the egg white, and you've got yourself a high protein, super low fat item to work with.

Instead of the traditional mayo, I combined plain non-fat Greek yogurt (Chobani brand) with a nice, ripe avocado as the "binding" mix.

I typically would have added celery, but I forgot to pick it up at the grocery store, so I just used diced baby carrot instead. Really, all celery does is add some crunch in there, so baby carrots or any other crunchy vegetable will do the trick.

For spices, you can really add whatever you like. I kept it simple with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, but I think some dijon mustard or mustard powder would go really great as well.

Oh, and I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but it was my first time making hard-boiled eggs. So if you are a hard-boiled egg maker virgin like me, use this how-to...they came out perfect after a 2 minute rapid boil, then covering and letting them rest 15 minutes!


Creamy Egg Salad with Avocado

Ingredients:
8 hard-boiled egg whites, plus two egg yolks, diced
1 ripe, not bruised, avocado
4 Tbsp plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 C onion, diced
1/3 C baby carrots or celery, diced
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika

Preparation:
  • Mash avocado and yogurt together in medium-sized bowl to make smooth paste.
  • Add diced egg whites, the two yolks, onion, and carrots. 
  • Combine well, then mix in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika to taste.
  • Serve on a salad or sandwich. 

I served mine on a low-carb tortilla with some romaine lettuce for added crunch. This egg salad is so ridiculously smooth, creamy, and flavorful - you will NOT miss the mayo. It was absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Exercise of the Week: Sculpted Shoulders!

Tuesday is now my day dedicated strictly to shoulder work, and yesterday's workout was pretty intense. Hell, my shoulders were burning even after the first set! But to be honest, I kind of love that muscle burn, and it's completely necessary if you want to sculpt.

So go pick up some heavy weights, leave the sub-5 pound dumbbells on the floor, and try out this workout! 


TIPS:

  1. During a set, once you begin to feel your muscle burn, do 3 more repetitions, then end that set. For example, if it says to do 12 repetitions, you should be using a heavy enough weight that you begin to feel a burn at 9 and can only do 3 more. 
  2. However, those new to weight-training may begin to feel your muscle burn after only 7 repetitions; in that case, only go to 10 then end that set, continuing to the next movement. You will be able to work up to 12 repetitions, I promise. 
  3. Also, if you have done your 12 repetitions and have not felt any muscle burn - you need to use heavier weights, my friends! Using weights that are not heavy enough to give your muscle a challenge, is NOT going to help you tone. I highly recommend starting with NO LESS than 5 lbs, but preferably 8-10 lbs for a really effective workout.
  4. Perform your weight training BEFORE your cardio. This shoulder workout will take approx. 20-30 minutes depending on how long your rests are - try to keep your rest period under 1 minute to maximize your workout. After your weight training, then proceed to do 30-45 minutes of cardio - HIIT, run, elliptical, bike, walk, aerobics, dance, kickbox...whatever you prefer! 
Shoulder workout adapted from Muffin Topless 

Warm-up
4 x 12 Shoulder Press, 30 seconds to one minute of rest in between sets. Get those shoulders working!

Monster-set (complete 3+ exercises back-to-back, without rest, i.e. 12 front raises, 12 lateral raises, 15 rear lateral raises, one after the other without rest; rest for one minute, then repeat cycle)
3 x 12 Front Raise with Dumbbells
3 x 12 Side Lateral Raise *if this is too difficult, use bent elbows
3 x 15 Bent-over Rear Lateral Raises

Super-set (complete 2 exercises back-to-back, without rest)
4 x 10 Reverse flyes
4 x 12 Upright Row

If you are like me, you will be sweating after this shoulder workout. After your cardio, follow-up your workout with this delicious protein shake!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate PB Banana Protein Shake

I love peanut butter, if you haven't gathered that from this blog yet.

I also love chocolate.

Oh, and bananas, too.

And I think those flavors combined is pretty divine. So when I found this recipe for a Chocolate Banana Protein Shake, I had to try it myself....with some peanut butter, of course.


And guys...it was fabulous. SO ridiculously tasty that I am now addicted and have one after every workout.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake

Ingredients:
1 scoop chocolate-flavored protein powder (I used EAS chocolate whey protein, found in Shaws)
1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 ripe small banana
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp natural peanut butter
3 ice cubes

- Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Consume 30 minutes after your workout!


If you reaction is, "EW, but it has protein powder in it..." - that was my same reaction just over a week ago. And I'm sure there are products out there that probably taste like crap, but not this. It legit tastes like a chocolate banana ice cream frappe. If it tasted like crap, I definitely would not be consuming it. 

So why whey protein, you ask?

Whey protein is the ultimate source of protein. It is a rich source of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), containing the highest known levels of any natural food source. It provides the body with the perfect amino acid profile for lean muscle building, strength, and recovery. It also works as an antioxidant to improve the body's immune system.

It's fast ingesting and plays a huge role in post-workout nutrition, when your body is in a catabolic state and needs protein fast. Here are some of the performance benefits:

  1. Increased lean muscle mass
  2. Decreased recovery times and faster muscle repair
  3. Reduced post-workout muscle breakdown
  4. Increase metabolic rate

If you fit into any of the following categories, you likely need increased protein levels and will benefit the most from supplementing with whey:

  • Bodybuilders and strength trainers
  • Endurance athletes
  • Those on weight loss programs
  • New to strength/weight training
  • Vegetarians
  • Team sport players
In just 1 week of supplementing with whey after my workouts, I am noticing a huge difference in my body. I have more energy during and after my workouts, the protein shakes keep me full after my workout until dinner time, and I can actually see more muscle toning, especially in my core and shoulders. I'm anxious to see what results I achieve after week 2! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

my bachelorette party by camera

My bachelorette party was a few weekends ago, and while I won't share all the shenanigans that went on, I will tell you it was absolutely the most amazingly, perfect, wonderful weekend that a soon-to-be bride could ask for...seriously! My fabulous bridesmaids whisked me away to Newport, RI. We started off with brunch at Atlantic Grille, were shuttled to and from multiple wine tastings at Greenvale Vineyards and Newport Vineyards, enjoyed a light lunch at The Landing, shopped around the Brick Market Place, had some pre-game fun in the hotel rooms, ate dinner at the Brick Alley Pub in downtown Newport, and ended our night at The Pelham, where there was an 80s cover band...amazing.

Told you it was perfect!

Here are some of the (appropriate) pictures from the weekend:

Me, Julie (sister + MOH), and Lauren at breakfast
Lauren, Holly, Allyson, Me, Mina, Julie - about to enter our first tasting of the day
Mom, Me, Julie
Group shot before we entered the tasting
Post-tasting: we chose our group fav wine and got a bottle to split + drink outside
Check out those mean pouring skills! Mom taught me well! haha
It's like noontime in this picture, and I'm already in such a condition...
{dress}
Next stop: Newport Vineyards!
Group shot of the tasting. P.S. the wines here were AH-MAZING
Enjoying our glasses of wine outside in the sun
Having so much fun!
Sister shot
Lauren and I :-)
Grabbing a light lunch in downtown Newport, and enjoying the view of  the water
Yikes
And I think this is a good place to stop with the pictures.

Trust me, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves the rest of the night...