Thursday, June 27, 2013

Note to Self

Working out in a non-air-conditioned gym is a lot easier at 5 a.m. when it is 70 degrees outside than it is at 4:30 p.m. when it is 95 degrees outside.

Yesterday, I decided that after a night of winning trivia (get at me!) and staying out too late, sleeping in a bit was a better option than waking up at 4:20 to hit the gym.  Apparently I should have checked the forecast for the day prior to making that decision.

It. was. brutal.

There were times that I seriously had to slow down for fears of passing out.  Apparently my "Level 10" for the day differs based on temperature of the room.

And I'm okay with that.  I'd prefer to stay conscious while exercising.

Note to self: don't sleep in on workout days in the summer.

It was so hot that when I got out to my car and tried to check my phone, this was the screen that I saw:


Note to self: don't leave iPhone in the car in 95-degree heat.

And now on to a completely different topic: dinner.

I had fully intended to create another step-by-step recipe post for y'all based on last night's delicious dinner:

Huevos Rancheros Tacos and Roasted Peppers
But, as I started photographing the step-by-step process, it became quite clear that I was, essentially, chopping stuff and piling it on in various layers.  Clearly it is a super easy recipe that does not warrant it's own step-by-step process.

Anyway, ingredients you will need:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Mexican shredded cheese
  • Black beans
  • Avocado
  • Pico de gallo
  • Cilantro
  • Lime
  • Black pepper

Broil the tortillas until they are just a smidge on the crispy side and then top with cheese and beans and broil for another minute or so.  Then, top with a fried egg, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, and black pepper.  Serve with a lime wedge.

For the roasted peppers, I bought a bag of the mini peppers and cut them up on a foil-lined baking sheet, spritzed with olive oil, and roasted at 350 for about 20 minutes.  (This "recipe" was courtesy of my mom.)

Oh, and I was also famished after my evening workout and craving salt like it was going out of style, so I convinced The Boy to run down the street to Qdoba for some chips and queso:

As you can imagine, that didn't take much convincing.  We loooooooooooooove Qdoba's queso.

Please go make the huevos rancheros tacos ASAP.  They are easy, they are healthy (minus the queso), they are cheap, and they are so fresh -- the perfect summer meal.

Note to self: make these again next week.

Any delicious meals you've tried lately?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Recipe Inspiration

Many of my friends have a tough time understanding how I stick to healthy eating.  They say they love food and that cooking is such an experience for them, something that they could never not do.

I'm not sure what they think I'm eating...

Just because I'm health-conscious and (more-often-than-not) watching what I eat does not mean that I do not enjoy food, settle for bland chicken breasts, or dislike cooking.

Rather, the exact opposite is true.  I love food, there's no way I could eat plain chicken once let alone every day, and cooking is one of my favorite activities.

I mean, look at some of the meals I've savored over the last few days:

Tilapia w/ Olive and Red Pepper Couscous
This was seriously one of the easiest and most delicious meals I've prepared and eaten in a long time.  All I had to do was saute the pepper and garlic for a few minutes, toss in some Israeli couscous and chicken broth, and throw in some kalamata olives.  Then, I seasoned the fish with salt and pepper and broiled for a few minutes.  It was so good.

Pork Chops w/ Mango and Red Pepper Salsa w/ Sweet Potato wedges
The salsa was not supposed to include red pepper (it was supposed to have red pepper flakes), but I misread the recipe.  Regardless, it was delicious, and this is coming from someone who does not so much care for pork.

Soba Noodles w/ Miso-Glazed Tofu and Vegetables
The Boy claimed that this could be served in a restaurant -- yes, it was that good.

However, I do not come up with these recipes on my own.  Yes, I know what tastes good together.  After all, mango, avocado, onion, and cilantro make a pretty darn good salsa for just about anything.  And, mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger together for a decent marinade.  Finally, any sort of seasoning (rosemary, oregano, seasoned salt, garlic salt, pepper, cayenne, etc.) while roasting any sort of vegetable is bound to be delicious.

That's about all I've got, though.  I am not a "chef" by any means.  I have a tough time creating anything from scratch and would totally suck on a show like MasterChef or Chopped.

But, I am a really good reader.  That is, I can follow a recipe like no tomorrow.  My favorite place to find recipes is on Cooking Light's website.  First, I know that most of the recipes are healthy.  Second, I know that most of the recipes taste good.  Third, I know that all of the recipes include real ingredients, most of which are not too difficult to find.  (For example, instead of using ground Fiber One cereal to bread proteins -- a la Hungry Girl -- Cooking Light uses Panko.)  Finally, I know that I can easily find the nutritional information for each recipe without having to enter the ingredients into a recipe calculator myself.  (And, I know that when I enter the meal into My Fitness Pal, it's likely already listed, which saves oodles of time.)

Another place I like to find recipes is on other healthy-living blogs.  My go-to blog for (mostly) healthy recipes is Iowa Girl Eats.  Kristin has tons of recipes (she generally posts one per day), and most of them are pretty darn healthy.  The only reason I head to Cooking Light first is because I have to enter IGE recipes into My Fitness Pal by hand and, let's face it, I'm lazy.  :)

So, there you have it: I love to cook.  I eat good food.  What I cook, however, simply uses less butter, fewer oils, and reduces nonessential unhealthy components.

But like I said before, I'm not a chef: I can just read well.  :)

And now for a completely random selfie:

I was driving to school today (at a stoplight in this photo, obviously), and I realized that I was having kind of a good hair day.  This was super weird since I have not washed my hair in a few days, even after falling asleep post- super-sweaty workout yesterday.  Seriously: my hair was drenched.  (If that's not sexy, I don't know what is.)  Thank you, baby powder, dry shampoo, and hair spray!

You're welcome.  :)

Where do you get your meal inspiration?  Can you create meals from nothing, or do you have to follow a recipe?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer is Hard

I am a girl who thrives on routine.  I need a set schedule in order to stick to things, especially my fitness and meal plan.

While I have a set schedule regarding workouts and summer school, it does not seem to be enough of a schedule for me to keep myself accountable.  In the evenings, for instance, we have zero routine and instead stay up late sitting on patios, watching TV, and hanging out with friends.

I think the main problem is that there is just too much fun that happens during the summer, and that makes it difficult to stay on track.

For instance, there is Zoo Brew on Wednesdays, bike rides to Mullet's or the Cumming Tap (yes, Cumming is an actual town in Iowa, believe it or not), the Arts Festival this weekend, and so many chill patios with delicious cocktails and appetizers.

I have a hard time saying no.  And, frankly, during the summer, I just don't want to say no.

But, I need to exercise the ability to do so on a more regular basis.  Or, at least I need to work on being better when I don't say no (i.e. drinking loads of water and maybe one cocktail, ordering healthier food, etc.).  I feel like I have reversed some of the progress I have made with Farrell's in the last couple of weeks, and I am not back to where I was at this time last year, as evidenced by trying on fancy dresses for an event last week.

Today is Monday, and as my mom said yesterday (head over to her blog to wish her a happy birthday!), Mondays are perfect days to start anew.  So, here are my goals for the week:

Drink a lot of water.  I generally guzzle water like it's going out of style, but I have not had nearly enough in the last few days.  I need to really up the water intake.

Workout six days per week and run at least one day (a minimum of three miles).  I am able to hit up Farrell's every day this week, which hasn't happened lately due to out-of-town travel, but I also need to increase my miles.  I am hoping to run a couple of half marathons in the late-summer and fall, so I need to get to work on that training.

Limit myself to no more than two nights with booze (likely Wednesday and Saturday).  There is no need for me to have a fruity drink simply because I'm laying out at the pool.

Allow myself no more than three out-to-eat meals.  I am having lunch with a former student on Wednesday, I am having dinner with family on Wednesday, and The Boy and I are going to have a date night on Friday or Saturday night, but other than that, I do not need to eat out.  After all, I buy groceries for a reason.

Blog at least five times this week.  I hold myself accountable when I blog about what I eat and my fitness philosophies.  Therefore, I need to blog more regularly.

So, keep me accountable, y'all!  Help me achieve these goals.  Thank you in advance.  :)

Stay tuned for progress...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Back to Reality

Last time I chatted with you, I whined about a lack of motivation.  After trekking to Omaha for a whirlwind weekend of maid-of-honor duties for my sister's wedding, I am ready and raring for a healthy week ahead.

Before we talk about this week's plan, however, let's recap the weekend!

Around noon on Friday, I headed to Omaha so that I could meet my mom at Hot Mama, the super-cute boutique where she works.  (Seriously, when is this coming to Des Moines?  On second thought, hopefully it stays away: I'd lose all of my money there.) I tried on some awesome pieces but did not buy anything just yet: after all, I want to continue losing inches, and if I'm spending a bazillion dollars for jeans or tops, I want them to last a while.

Once my sister's fiance and his parents got to town, we headed to Upstream Brewing Company, the site of their rehearsal dinner.

We were at a brewery, so naturally I sampled a delicious beer: the Firehouse Red Lager.  It was so good.  I could've probably downed several of them, but I kept it classy and stuck to just one.

For dinner, there were sooooo many good choices, but I opted for the grilled chimichurri chicken:

It was good, but I wish it had more of the avocado spread (so little you can't even see it in the picture!). The jalapeno tortilla was yum.

After dinner, we beat the storm home and laughed through a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity and more booze (naturally).

On Saturday, we headed to her shower.  It was thrown by two of my mom's girl friends, and it was absolutely beautiful.  The decorations were gorgeous, the food was fantastic, the drinks were delicious, and the company was unparalleled.  Plus, my sister totally scored some sweet gifts.

On Saturday evening, we hit up the country club (the site of the ceremony and reception) for our tasting.  We all loved each of the food options (we all wanted full portions of each!), but the bride and groom narrowed it down to one dish and a vegetarian option.  We then headed to our neighbors' (my second parents') house for appetizers, cocktails, and entirely too much fun.

It was a great -- albeit very busy -- weekend.

Now, back to the healthy-living portion of the blog:

Like I mentioned before, I spent the last two weeks not working out as hard as I had the previous ten weeks, and I was not eating as well as I did either.  Instead, I took a few much-needed rest days from Farrell's and then when I started coaching, was assisting my team rather than working out myself.  And, with The Boy's birthday weekend and a house guest, I was eating a lot of chips and dip, burgers and hot dogs, and Funfetti cupcakes.

And, like I did prior to starting the first ten-weeks of my transformation, I felt like poop.

I haven't had as much energy as I'd like, I have felt more bloated than normal, and I have just not felt good about myself.

Gee, maybe healthy living -- good food and lots o' exercise -- has some positives.


So, immediately after returning to Des Moines from Omaha yesterday, I put together my meal plan and hit up the grocery store.  I bought more protein powder, oatmeal, sunflower butter, string cheese, apples, tomatoes, and asparagus, and I grabbed up the ingredients to make delicious dinners like Soba Noodles with Miso-Glazed Tofu and Vegetables, Tilapia with Olive and Bell Pepper Cous Cous, and Spiced Chops with Mango-Mint Salsa.  (Can you tell I like Cooking Light?)

I also have a lot of good workouts planned for this week: I'm hitting up Farrell's every morning and am going to try to get to See-Us Run Des Moines at least once or twice, but it's hard when I have an hour of downtime between workouts.  I hate just sitting around in my sweat and usually get super tired and end up just going back to bed -- sometimes in my sweat, sometimes not.

The Boy sure is a lucky man, huh?

However, despite having healthy plans and good intentions, I already have some barriers to 100% success.  First, I am hitting up happy hour with a girl friend tonight.  I'm planning on having one drink (the Georgia Jackass at Americana -- yum), and if we eat, I'll opt for the hummus plate.  Tomorrow, The Boy and I are heading to Uncork Your Passion, PP's annual event for which I was an underwriter. It is at a local winery and always has the best appetizers.  Since I paid hella-money for this event, I'm going to enjoy.  Finally, mi madre and I are heading out of town (again) on Friday night for another bridal shower on Saturday.  Food will be out of my control for those 24 hours, but I'll do my best.

So, there you have it: I'm back to (mostly) reality and ready to return to tip-top shape!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Off Track

So, for ten weeks I kicked major butt.  I ate everything that I was supposed to, I rarely cheated (except for the occasional ice cream, darn it), and I worked out like a beast every single day (sometimes more than once).

June 1st was the culmination of those ten weeks of hard work, and I celebrated by running 12.4 miles.

The following week was reserved for recovery, both by choice and by necessity: it was the last week of school, and I had a heck of a lot of work to do and could not afford to be absolutely exhausted while grading hundreds of essays.  So, I took a few days off from working out.

While I have gone to the gym every day this week, I've only worked out a couple of times because I am supposed to be coaching the newbies and teaching them proper form rather than working out myself.  I've still managed to get a couple of good workouts in, but I should be attending later classes as well as running with the kids in the morning.


Instead, not only has my bed been calling my name, but I think Netflix read my mind when it uploaded a new season of my current favorite show:

Don't judge.
Also, I want every outfit ever from this show.
Side note: I feel like I have been slipping in and out of a coma lately.  Whenever I come upon a break from school, whether it be winter, spring, or summer, I tend to get sick.  I think my body is just go-go-go-go-go for so long that when it finally gets a break, it realizes that it "has time" to get sick.  While my throat has been scratchy all week, I've just been feeling ridiculously run-down.  It's like my body waited until school was done, the party was over, and our out-of-town guest left before it decided to poop out.

But anyway...back to my unhealthy living as of late.

Finally, The Boy's BFF was in town from Friday until Tuesday, and while I had all good intentions on eating well, those fell by the wayside when we brought home leftover burgers, hot dogs, carne asada, chips, dips, cupcakes, and other deliciousness from the party.  It has been so much easier to grab a handful of chips and a chunk of cheese than make something healthy for lunch or for a snack or for dinner.

Plus, I'm going to be out of town this weekend for my sister's bridal shower, and I don't want to go to the store before I leave.  So, I've been scavenging through the cupboards for anything somewhat healthy -- to almost no avail.

I'm going to head to the store for a couple of things today and will make a decently healthy dish (vegetable and chicken fettucine from Better Homes and Gardens) that will last for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.

And, I'm going to head out on a bike ride with one of my buddies today, so that will be a nice little extra workout.

Starting with a trip to the grocery store on Sunday and a normal week of workouts on Monday, I will be back in tip-top shape and ready to conquer (but first identify) some new goals to get me back on track and crazy-healthy.

But if you could all send me some motivation in the meantime, I would greatly appreciate it.  :)

What is your favorite quick, healthy, cheap (that party was expensive!) recipe?

Peace out, yo!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Birthday Weekend!

"Birthday Weekend!" is by far the most apt title for this post, as I excitedly squealed that phrase approximately 25,000 times per day in the two weeks leading up to the actual weekend.

You see, I was so excited about what I had in store for The Boy.

Seeing that he had not been home in 10 months and that he desperately missed his family and friends, I knew exactly what to get him for his birthday: I would fly out his best friend from California to Iowa.

I harassed The Boy's BFF about three months ago by text, voice mail, Facebook, email, messenger pigeon, smoke signals, and the like before finally reaching him to set up his travel plans.  Just like The Boy is likely tired of me screaming "Birthday Weekend!" every two seconds, I'm sure that The Boy's BFF is thankful the weekend is over so that he'll stop receiving "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" texts from me.

(Apparently I show way too much emotion via text message.  I didn't know there was such a thing.)

But I digress.

The Boy's BFF flew out on Friday.  He was supposed to get in at 6:13 p.m., but due to some incompetent airline employees bad luck in the airport, he did not arrive until 10:45 p.m.  This caused me all sorts of stress: how was I supposed to find an excuse for The Boy and I to leave the house that late at night?

But, it all worked out in the end.  The Boy and I hit up an Iowa Cubs game and stayed for the post-game fireworks, which took us to about 10:15.

Then, as The Boy was talking to his mama on the phone, I started driving to our "next destination."  Instead of going to a fun bar, good live music, karaoke night, or a friend's house, I drove to the airport.  The look on The Boy's face was priceless: "Mom, I'm going to have to call you back."

At first he thought we were going somewhere, but when I pointed out our lack of luggage, he realized that we were probably at the airport to pick someone up.  When we got inside, he was white as a ghost with nerves and anxiety, so excited about who was going to come down the stairs.  When he finally realized who it was, he was absolutely thrilled, giving his BFF (and me) huge, huge hugs.

Just that moment alone made the whole weekend worth it.

We headed outside and straight to a late-night bar/restaurant for some grub prior to heading home.  My BFF joined us, and the four of us had a blast sitting, talking, relaxing, schmoozing.

The following day (Saturday) was the only day I had planned for us. I woke up early to start Day One of Farrell's coaching and was gone for most of the morning.  When I got back, I immediately started throwing together everything for the party.  My sister and I had accomplished most of it the day before, but I still had quite a bit to get done myself.
Check out this load of groceries!  Wowza!

We worked so hard!  And then relaxed with some homemade sangria and salsa.  :)
I prepped all of the food, sent the boys on some errands for last-minute goods, and made myself pretty while the boys loaded the car.

(Side note: you may be wondering why we loaded the car.  After all, the party was supposed to be in our front yard.  However, it was the one day all week that decided to involve torrential downpours.  So, our amazing friends A&C offered to let us host the party at their house.  We are oh, so thankful for them and that generous offer.)

Check out the spread:
And this is only some of what we had!
For recipes, please see the links in my previous post.

In the top left-hand corner, we have pretty much the best baked beans ever.  I am not a fan of baked beans at all, but I could not get enough of this dish.  I made two tins of it, and boy, am I glad I did!  Yum!

In the top right corner, we have Mediterranean orzo salad with a lemon vinaigrette.  The Boy and I decided that we would be more than happy having this as an entire meal!

The middle row is the Mexican meat that The Boy and his BFF picked up from the Mexican market: chorizo with tortillas and limes on the left, and melt-in-your-mouth carne asada on the right.  Both of these were quite the hit with the party guests.

The bottom left is a stack of burgers that we whipped together.  The Boy was in charge of seasoning, and while I know it included soy sauce and balsamic vinaigrette and probably loads of salt, I'm not quite sure what else.  Regardless of what was in there, it was awesome.

The final picture is homemade salsa, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.  This was seriously the easiest recipe ever and by far the best salsa I've ever had.  The Boy thinks it could've used an additional 2-3 jalapenos, though.

Everyone else brought awesome food as well: strawberry-marshmallow-blueberry skewers, bacon-wrapped pickled watermelon rinds, taco dip, fruit salad, indoor s'mores, cheesecake, Oh, Sweet Jesus bars, and more.

We are so, so thankful to have the absolute best friends in the entire world and had a freakin' blast celebrating with them Saturday night.

The rest of the weekend (and through Tuesday) was kind of a blur: we headed to different patios around Des Moines (we Iowans love a good patio!), hung out with my BFF, cooked lots of delicious (and unhealthy) food, and just enjoyed each other's company.

The Boy's BFF left yesterday evening, and I know The Boy is super sad.  He absolutely loved having his BFF in town, and I am so thankful that we were able to make it happen.  Thankfully, The Boy will see him (and the rest of his friends/family) in July, and his BFF already has plans on returning to the Midwest, hopefully in August in time for the Iowa State Fair.

Now that would be an eye-opening experience for both of the California boys.

Tomorrow, I will be back with my regularly-scheduled healthy posts.  Hopefully this will also force me to get back to my regular healthy-eating.  These last few days have wreaked havoc on my nutrition plan.

Good thing it was all worth it.  :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Five Things Friday

I was thinking about doing a "Five Things Friday" random-ish post today, and then when I was catching up on all of my favorite blogs, I realized that there is actually a link-up of the same name going down today.  So, I decided to join in the fun.

Since this is my first official link-up, hopefully I do it correctly.  Technology and I sometimes don't get along.  I must get it from my mama (who, by the way, needs to get back to bloggin'!).

But I digress.

1. School's out for summer!

I hope you all sang that in your best Alice Cooper voice.  While I love my kiddos, summer could not have gotten here soon enough this year.  It was a rough year for some reason, but I made it and am looking forward to getting refreshed (and jazzed for next year) this summer.

Per tradition, we had our annual golf outing as soon as final grades were submitted.

The weather could've cooperated a bit more (it sprinkled on us for about 20 minutes and was just an overall dreary day), but we had fun nevertheless.

I had a blast with one of my besties, Mindy, and two of our awesome guy pals.

(Side note: Mindy is one of the two friends I have had the longest.  She and I met the summer prior to our freshman year at Drake, were good friends all four years of undergrad, started teaching together at the same school in 2005, went to graduate school together from 2008-2009, and have been besties since.  I love this girl and am so thankful she's in my life.)

2. Birthday Weekend!

The Boy's birthday is on Sunday, and I have quite the weekend planned for him.  I'll fill you in on his major birthday present later on, but suffice it to say that it is pretty much the hardest secret I've ever kept -- and pretty much the best gift I've gotten anybody in the history of ever.  I. Can't. Wait.

Tomorrow, we are having a grill-out at our apartment.  Cross your fingers that we won't actually get the storms that the meteorologists are predicting, as right now we have 20+ people coming and cannot hold that many in our itty-bitty one-bedroom apartment.

As soon as I finish this post and put on some real clothes, I'm going to head to the store and spend approximately a bazillion dollars on groceries -- and then cook the day away.  I'm so pumped.

3. Party Time, Excellent!

Ah, good ol' Wayne's World.

Anyway, like I said before, I'm headed to the store soon to prep for the party tomorrow.  Here's what's on the menu:
My sister is going to come up and help me cook today, which will make the process even more fun!  Eeeeeeee!

4. Coach Emily

I had my first official duties as a Farrell's coach last night, and tomorrow I'll head back to the gym for the initial testing of the new 5 a.m. crew.  You know that I absolutely love Farrell's and cannot wait to inspire the new crop of Extreme Bodyshapers.

5. A Free Week

I have been super dedicated to eating well and working out like a madwoman the past ten weeks, and while I've stuck to these principles for the most part this past week (Week Eleven of the transformation), I have been a little more lax.  I skipped both resistance-training days this week (Tuesday and Thursday) and have not been super great about what I've been eating.  For example, yesterday I inhaled a bowl of ice cream as well as some Whopper's.

And it was glorious.

In addition, I know that this weekend (well, pretty much tonight through Tuesday) will not be my healthiest due to Birthday Fun, but I pretty much don't care.  While I haven't felt deprived lately, I haven't given myself free reign to eat whatever the heck I want either.  I'm still planning on being relatively cognizant, not going totally overboard with unhealthy foods, but I'm not going to be eating salad and half a chicken breast either.

I'll get back to Dedicated Emily on Wednesday.

Happy Friday, y'all!  What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Random Free Day

Unlike a few months ago, I have had absolutely no problem falling asleep (and staying asleep) lately -- probably because I've been worked to the max.

Monday night, however, was a different story.  I was wide awake until probably 1:00 in the morning.  I just. could not. fall asleep!

When my alarm went off at 4:30 Tuesday morning, I promptly turned it off and rolled over to sleep some more.  This was literally the first time this has happened in months.

I don't skip workouts.

But, I knew that I had a lot to do yesterday, and I knew that I had no choice but to be productive.  After all, today is the last day of school, and I had to make great headway through the piles of essays making residence on my desk.

So, I did it: I hit snooze and passed the heck out.

And it was glorious.

I rolled out of bed at 6:30, took a quick shower and whipped up some breakfast, and headed to school.  And you know what?  I graded lots of essays and didn't hit the wall until far into the evening.

I had other opportunities to workout yesterday: I could've run with the kids after school, I could've gone to a later Farrell's class, I could've gone for an after-dinner walk with The Boy.

But I didn't.  I took the whole day off.

At first I felt guilty about skipping a workout.  I mean, other than one day when I was in Chicago, I have worked out every scheduled day (six days a week -- sometimes seven, and sometimes twice a day) without fail.  Skipping a workout leads to a slippery slope.

I know myself too well.  It's the same thing that would happen if I had "just one" cookie when I was trying to be super disciplined.

Oh, just have one more.  It's only one more cookie.  You can burn it off tomorrow.

Oh, just skip another workout.  It's only one more.  You've been so good lately anyway.  You deserve it.

While most of the day went well, Tuesday did kind of lead down a not-so-great path.  Without my usual routine of working out in the morning, I was not as motivated to eat as healthfully as normal either.  While I stuck to my super-healthy meal plan for the most part, I also added in a few sweets throughout the day: a chocolate chip cookie at lunch, a few candies with my kiddos during school, some ice cream and candies at home with The Boy.

I didn't overdo it, but none of that would've happened had I stuck to my normal routine.  It's like my brain just says, Well, you made a little mistake, a few more won't hurt either.

But you know what?  Today is a new day.

And you know what else?  My body needed a break, and I gave it a break.  And that is important.  It has worked really, really hard the last ten weeks with so few days of rest, and those ten weeks of crazy workouts culminated in a 12.4-mile run -- and then it kept right on working.

I was quickly headed toward overdoing it -- quite possibly to the point of injury.

Rest days are important.  Free days are important.  If your body gets used to eating the same thing every day (or even the same nutrient breakdown every day) and working out in the same way every day, it is likely to plateau, to stop showing progress.  It's good to surprise the ol' bod with an unexpected day to do nothing and eat not-so-great.

Which is why I'm patting myself on the back for a rest/free day yesterday.  After all, today is a brand-new, fresh start.  And I'm ready to kick it in the butt.

Check ya later!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Drop It Like A Squat

As I'm sure I've told you a million and one times before, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are resistance training days at Farrell's.  In addition to the scripted exercises, we also throw in some cardio, and in addition to kickboxing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we occasionally do some strength training as well.

I thought that I would share with you some of my favorite exercises as well as ones that make me want to crawl into the fetal position in the corner.

So, without any further ado, here are my FAVORITES:

Back Exercises

I love working out my back doing exercises like the seated row, for example.  The back is one of the strongest muscles in the body, and therefore I can move up bands like no tomorrow.  Obviously, this makes me feel like a beast, which is always a good thing.

Fire Hydrants

The dog must be a favorite animal among fitness buffs.  Yogis practice downward dog, and we practice fire hydrants.  On all fours, we lift our legs like we are puppies relieving ourselves and then lower our legs back down to repeat approximately 8,000 times.  This hurts...a lot.  But, it hurts so good.  My hips have always been my problem area, which means I love working them out.

Adductors and Abductors

These exercises also work my problem areas, which is one reason I love them.  The primary reason, though, is that I get to lay down while exercising.  How's that for lazy?


As I have gotten older, I have noticed that my tummy is not nearly as flat as it used to be.  I like the good old-fashioned sit-up to really target that area.

And now, let's talk about the exercises that are the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE:

Lunges & Step-Back Lunges

These burn oh-so-bad.  It's awful enough when we have to do either lunges or step-back lunges, but when the instructor has us do both exercises, I pretty much want to die.  I know they're helping my legs and my hips and my booty, but I just cannot stay positive when I feel like there is fire searing through my muscles.

Lat Raises

(Or, let's be real: anything that involves my shoulders.)  The progression of bands at Farrell's is as follows: yellow, green, red, blue, purple.  Because I am now in my eleventh week (get at me!), I should be well into the reds and blues; however, I cannot seem to move past the yellow (the yellow!) on any shoulder exercises.  Seriously.  It's embarrassing.

Mountain Climbers

I am starting to hate these less and less, but for some reason I just cannot stand this motion.  I would much rather sprint across the gym 100 times than get into plank position and move my knees into my chest repeatedly.  I have no legitimate excuse as to why I hate these so darn much, but I do.  A lot.


One of my friends Facebook-posted this article about how crunches are bad for you.  Interestingly, my back has been killing me for several weeks, and I think it's largely due to the number of crunches we do at Farrell's.  If we're not doing "real" crunches, we're doing some form of ab exercise that mimics the crunching motion: toe-tappers, shin-kicks, Russian twists, etc.  And every time we do these, my face contorts with pain.  I think I need an alternative.

Weird Planks

Regular planks are bad enough as is, but when you add leg motions, side planks, arm twists, and more, I feel like I am the most inflexible, uncoordinated, unfit person in the entire universe.  I don't know what it is about my core, but it does not like plank-jacks, Spiderman planks, hip drops, or whatever else the instructors are trying to make it do.

I could go on and on and on about exercises that I love and exercises that I hate (but mostly the ones I hate), but I'll leave you with this list to ponder for now.  I'm sure I'll have updates for you as I continue this next leg of my journey.

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Dam Fun Race

Saturday marked the completion of my second annual Dam to Dam race.  Thankfully, unlike last year, this race did not culminate with me dry heaving down the chute.

I was certainly not out to win this race (duh) or even PR; instead, I was just hoping to finish this race, as I had pretty much not trained at all.

When I say that I had not trained at all, I am not exaggerating.  The most miles I have run since the marathon in October was a whopping 4.8, and I ran that on Memorial Day.  Prior to that "long" run, I had run 4.6 miles during the Market to Market Relay.  And, aside from a few weekday runs with See-Us Run Des Moines (no longer than three miles each), that is all the training I did for my 20K.

Yes, I ran nearly a half marathon (12.4 miles) without any significant training.

And boy, am I paying for it.  While my legs are feeling a-okay, my hip flexors are screaming at me like you wouldn't believe.  I swear that I am walking like a 90-year-old woman.

But let's talk about the actual race, shall we?

After school on Friday I headed downtown to Vet's Auditorium for packet pick-up.  It was a huge event and run incredibly smoothly.

First, I picked up my bib with timing chip attached (they were arranged by the thousand, which made pick-up super fast).

I then headed down the long corridor to grab my t-shirt, which was a hot-pink women's fit that actually fits my boobs.  First time for everything!

Just outside of the hall where I grabbed my bib and shirt, they had a lot of fun: huge buffets of food as well as a happy hour with a live band on a patio overlooking downtown.  Because I still had errands to run, I didn't stay for the food or drinks, but it looked like a great time.

As I was leaving packet pick-up and walking the looooooong distance back to my car, a fellow runner approached me and started chatting.  Turns out that he was running his twelfth Dam to Dam and that he had, in fact, won the race in 2003 and placed in or near the top ten every year since.

I was a little starstruck, I'm not going to lie.

(When I told my good friend Rowsers about this encounter, the first thing he said was, "Did you touch his calf?  Because I totally would've."  I did not, in fact, touch his calf, but I was pretty darn thrilled to talk to the guy.)

After running to Scheel's for some GU and matching headbands for my girlfriends, I stopped by Fazoli's for my favorite pre-race meal: spaghetti marinara with a couple spoonfuls of fettucini alfredo.

I know what you're thinking:

When my race buddies invited me over for dinner to carb-load with them, I declined, as I have found that the best pre-race meal for me is Fazoli's.  They all scoffed and said that was disgusting and that they would have the bubble guts, but I swear that it does me wonders.  I love it.

As soon as I got home, I prepped for the morning before chowing down my carbs (heaven in my mouth) and crashing on the couch at 7 p.m.

When The Boy got home from work, we hung out for about an hour together, and then I politely excused myself to pass out in the bedroom, as I knew the morning was going to come a lot sooner than I'd like.

Because we had to be downtown to catch the bus at 5 a.m., Rowsers and AM picked me up at 4:50, which meant I got up at 4:10.  I got dressed and then ate my favorite breakfast, Dessert Oats:

Not the most photogenic meal, but it is sooooo darn good.
Rowsers and AM arrived promptly at ten 'til five, and we picked up BFF before heading downtown.  Let me tell you about all of the buses that were waiting for us: they circled a city block.  It was nuts.  Dam to Dam sure is efficient at ensuring everyone arrived to Saylorville prior to the 7 a.m. start time.

The 20-minute bus ride took us from downtown Des Moines all the way north to the Saylorville Dam.

Me and BFF, ready to run (kind of)
All three of us used the porta potties and downed some last-minute carbs (bananas, a peanut butter sandwich, or PowerBar energy-blast gels) prior to heading to the starting line:

And we arrived just in time to see the sun rise over the lake.  It was beautiful.

We then stared off in the distance to see our destination (really, really far away): downtown Des Moines.

Seriously: how far away does that look?!  We ran that!
As the sun continued rising, the views got prettier and prettier:

The spillway that was quite forceful with all of the flooding we've been having.

The three girls are ready and raring to go!

AM, BFF, and me
And so is Rowsers:

Pretty sure he was mimicking me.  Butt.
After one more trip back up to the porta potties (where we saw a girl throw open an unlocked potty only to find a dude pooping -- hilarious!), we were really ready to go:

(And wishing we had brought sunglasses.)
Check out the starting line: all 8,000 runners.

Right as we crossed the start line (approximately seven minutes after the gun went off), we ran into the Roosevelt band.  It was really cool and invigorating seeing my students -- and hearing their rendition of Bad Romance as I started my 12.4-mile journey.

The first few miles flew by.  Even without training, we stuck to a fairly steady pace of 11-minutes and were feeling good.  We walked through the water stops and took a quick walk break around 3.7 miles, but other than that, we were rockin' and rollin'.

Around mile five, BFF had to make a pit-stop, and the line was so long that AM and I got in a nice seven-minute stretch break.

We quickly picked up the pace, though, and continued doing well until we hit the hill from hell on mile seven:

While the hill itself was atrocious, it was really cool and inspirational seeing all of the flags lining the road.  It was hard not to tear up a little.  Good thing I was sweating a lot.  :)

We continued toward downtown and, as soon as we hit the north side and Birdland Marina, we saw some crazy flooding:
Yep, that's a bike trail.

Good for triathlon training, maybe?
And around mile ten, I pretty much hit the wall.  My legs did not want to move anymore.  My upper back was killing me like crazy.  The blister on my left heel was two seconds from popping open.  My body did not want to move another step.

But, as I have said before, the miles weren't going to go away.  We had to finish the race.

The last mile was pretty awesome: it had music serenading us for that last leg of our journey, culminating in the Isiserettes at the finish line.

(Maybe it wasn't quite like at Obama's inauguration, but it was pretty darn cool seeing some of my kiddos performing, motivating us to finish strong.)

Holding hands, my besties and I crossed the finish line.  I love my girls.

According to my watch, we finished in 2:37 (last year I finished in 2:27).  However, my watch stops when I stop, so it did not take into account the time we lost at the porta potty.  I believe our final finish time was 2:45.

Like I said, this was after zero training, so we were pretty proud of ourselves -- and told each other that next year we'd train for real and run together again.

Happy, accomplished girls.
It was a great, great day.  We had the most beautiful weather, we had an incredibly scenic route, and I had by far the best company of anyone on the course.

I'm so proud.

See you again in 2014, you Dam race!