Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Strength-Training

As I have mentioned before, Farrell's consists of three components: cardio, strength, and nutrition.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we are huffing and puffing like crazy while we kickbox.  This is a great cardio workout that burns over 600 calories.  We start the session with a brief warm-up, follow that with five minutes of stretching, continue with ten more minutes of cardio/shadow-boxing, and then roll out the bags to start punching and kicking with power.  We finish the session with a group stretch.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, however, we keep the wraps, gloves, and bags stowed away and instead focus on resistance training.  A surprisingly large number of people forgo strength-training, as they fear that they will bulk up and not look as slim as they would without the muscle-building.  On the contrary, building more lean muscle mass will actually pump up your resting metabolism, causing you to burn more calories for a longer period of time.  So instead of bulking up like a body-builder, resistance-training will actually cause you to burn more calories and shed more weight than if you only focus on cardio.

As opposed to CrossFit or Body Pump that focus on free weights or a gym that boasts top-of-the-line weight machines, Farrell's advocates for strength-training with resistance bands.  The bands are easier on the joints than free weights, and it's much easier to isolate muscle groups using resistance bands.


We alternate upper-body and lower-body days.  On upper-body days, we exercise five muscle groups: the chest, the back, the shoulders (which suck...a lot), the triceps, and the biceps.  On lower-body days, we exercise another five muscle groups: the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the abductors/adductors, the gluteals, and the abdominals.  Regardless of the day or type of set, we complete four exercises for each muscle group (with the exception of abductor/adductor -- we complete one exercise for each -- and gluteals -- we complete two exercises).

There are three ways we workout with bands:
  • Classic Sets: we complete three sets of 16 reps for each exercise.  The first set of 16 is slow, and it is followed immediately by a fast set of 16.  The goal is to burn out the muscles to the point of not being able to finish the second set.  After the fast set, we take a brief pause and then complete another slow set of 16.
  • Drop Sets: we complete three sets for each exercise, but we start with 12 very slow reps with a band two colors above our normal choice, then we drop down a band color and complete 16 faster reps, and then we drop down to our normal color of band and complete 24 fast reps.  The goal here is to find the color of band that makes it impossible to complete the set of 12 reps: we want to achieve muscle-failure.
  • Super Sets: we complete two sets of 16 (one slow and one fast) for each of the four exercises in the muscle group, and then we go back to complete the final slow set of 16 or each exercise in the muscle group.
I really enjoy drop sets, as using a much more difficult band is quite the challenge.  Super sets are also super difficult, but it's too frustrating for my liking since I achieve muscle-failure almost immediately with this workout.

Today was interesting, however: we did more of a circuit-type workout and incorporated classic sets, drop sets, and supersets while mixing up muscle groups (i.e. adductors + quads, for example), and in between sets, we did a pyramid of push-ups, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers.  So in addition to the hellish lower-body workout, I also did 120 push-ups this morning.  Lovely.

In addition to simply completing the workout, we are asked to log our progress by identifying the specific exercises we complete each day, the band color we use to complete the exercise, the type of sets and number of reps we complete, and our goals for the next round.


While I feel like the nutrition part of Farrell's is super logical and just makes total sense, I am also always starving on strength-training days.  Seriously, my stomach generally starts growling when I am halfway through the workout, and my appetite is hugely insatiable for the rest of the day.  My body loves getting stronger, but it also thinks that it needs a whole lot more nutrients in order to do so effectively, apparently.

It's getting better as we progress week by week, but the tummy is still a-rumblin' every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  Ugh.

But you know what?  My tummy is just gonna have to deal with it.  After all...


Now go do some squats.  Or lat raises.  Or shin tappers.

And love the burn.

What is your favorite strength-training exercise?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday

Today was a super busy day, but it was a great one.

First, it started with the biggest butt-kicking I've ever had at Farrell's.  Seriously, I think our instructor wanted me to either a.) throw up, b.) pass out, or c.) die.  I'm not sure which one was her goal, but I was close to all three.

If someone else tells me to do a squat jump or a plank or a mountain climber or a fire hydrant, I might still throw up, pass out, and/or die.

But anyway...

I'm heading to Chicago tomorrow after school and will not be back until late Friday.  (Do not fret: there will be posts up while I'm gone.  I wouldn't want to disappoint my thousands of fans mom.)

As a result of the pending trip, my day has been jam-packed.  At school, I was feverishly trying to compose sub notes, grade miscellaneous assignments, email directions to various colleagues, clean my classroom, pack the supplies I'd need for the conference, make copies of everything my kiddos would need while I was gone, etc.  While it made the day fly by, it also made for an exhausting several hours.

After school, I headed to the nail salon.  I mean, I couldn't very well head to the big city with raggedy nails, could I?!  I also hit up Target for some last-minute supplies, including healthy snacks and, of course, a brand new scarf.

Because you know what I need?  More scarves.


In my defense, though, I saw this scarf months ago but "didn't need it" and left without it.  I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it some more, and I decided that I did, in fact, "need" that scarf.  So, I went back to Target to get it.  And when they didn't have it, I went back again.  And then I went to another Target.  Again.

And again.

And again.

I had totally resigned myself to the fact that this must've been a mystery scarf, that it must have been a figment of my imagination, and that I was just out of luck.

And then today, I saw it -- and threw it in my basket so fast that it didn't even know what hit it.

(Yes, I just spent three minutes writing about a scarf.  You're welcome.  But just wait 'til you see it: you'll understand.)

When I got home from the nail salon, Target, and the bank, I packed up my cooler, loaded my suitcase, and crammed a string-bag full of water bottles, tennis shoes, and resistance bands.  Good thing we're taking an SUV to Chi-town because whoa: apparently I'm going to need the space.

As I was sitting on the couch contemplating what to do for dinner (my meal plan was a little empty this week due to leaving tomorrow), The Boy suggested we head out for a dinner date.  At first, this stressed me out, as I was panicking over what the heck I could order.

Then, I decided to say "screw it" (kind of) since I'd be ditching him for four days and kinda wanted to hang out with the dude.

We checked out a few menus online and settled on Noodles & Company, which is conveniently located just a couple minutes away.

I opted for a small Whole-Grain Tuscan Linguine:


For 350 calories, 38 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of protein, I figured this was totally do-able.

And whoa, was it good.

We had an absolutely lovely evening dining on the patio and chatting about (as usual) the most random topics.  I sure love The Boy and might miss him a teensy tiny bit while I'm out of town.

Therefore, I'm going to go hang out with him now.

Peace out, yo.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Five-Week Testing

Believe it or not, but I have been on this crazy healthy-living journey for five weeks now.  After five weeks of perfect attendance at Farrell's (three days per week kickboxing and three days per week strength-training) and five weeks of nearly-perfect nutrition, I am proud to say that I am kicking major butt.

Remember how I broke up with the scale?  How I haven't stepped on the scale for the last five weeks?

Well, that all changed yesterday.

Before we get to that magic number, let's talk about inch-loss.  At Farrell's, they measure inches in five areas of the body: chest, waist, arm, thigh, and hips.  In total, I lost 11.5 inches.

Yes, let that sink in: eleven point five inches.


I lost 2.25 inches in my chest.  This is unbelievable to me, as my boobs are still spilling over my bra.

I lost 5.25 inches in my waist.  Again, this doesn't seem to make sense because I don't feel like my pants are any more comfortable, but I guess the measuring tape doesn't lie, huh?

I lost 0.5 inches in my arm.  I was one of the only people to lose inches in this area, as our strength-training really builds up muscle, which in turn increases the measurement of the arm.  I have a lot of fat yet to lose in this area, but as soon as that's gone, I look forward to this number increasing as I get buffer and buffer.

I lost 0.25 inches in my thigh.  Again, this number generally goes up rather than down, as our legs are bulking up like crazy.  I can feel the muscle here, so I'm okay with a small number of inches lost.

I lost 3.5 inches in my hips.  This is the area where I feel I need to lose the most inches, so I'm pretty pumped that the number is already that big.  I look forward to it decreasing a whole bunch more in the next five weeks.

My body fat percentage only decreased by 1.2 points, but I really don't think the method they use to measure this is accurate.  So, oh well.

Regarding fitness testing, I pretty much rocked it: my push-ups increased by 26, my sit-ups increased by 11, and my mile time decreased by ten.

And now, folks, the moment you've all been waiting for:

I lost eight pounds in the last five weeks.  While eight pounds doesn't seem like a whole lot, I want you to consider the amount of muscle I've been building.  Eight pounds is a whole heck of a lot of weight when you consider how ripped I'm getting.


And while I don't feel like I look crazy-different, The Boy assures me that I do, and my besties are all quite complimentary, too.

FF and I were so excited about our testing results yesterday that we decided to partake in a little too much celebration.  Both The Boy and BFF called this the "anti-Emmy" day since it was everything I don't do on a normal day, and they were both proud of me for "letting go" and enjoying myself.


I'm proud of me, too, but there is no way another way-too-much-fun day can happen anytime in the near future.  I'm still recuperating!

But you know what?  Eleven point five inches was something totally worth celebrating.

Yay, me!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Tough Day

T is for Tuesday.

T is for Tough.

This week, T was for a Tough Tuesday -- and it was tough in more ways than one.

First, the day started with the most killer of all killer workouts.  It was an upper-body day at Farrell's, and it was the first week we did "super sets."  Essentially, a super set is when we burn out an entire muscle group all at once.  I promise I'll go into more details later, but it will take an entire post to discuss resistance training and the different techniques we do throughout the ten-week program, so you're just going to have to hold your horses.

While I am usually sore on resistance days, I was especially hurting after this particular workout.  It was so bad, in fact, that when we were doing cardio between sets, I couldn't even lift my arms to jab, to do jacks, to do anything.

And what makes it even worse is that I did not even get my hair wet in the shower for fear of not being able to lift my arms to wash it.  (You know what I am?  SEXY.)

That's when you know it was a good workout.

After a tough day emotionally (I'll fill you in later...maybe), I had yet another tough workout:

Source
Tuesday was our first race for See-Us Run Des Moines: the fourth annual Grand Blue Mile, a street run that kicks of the Drake Relays.  Nearly half of downtown Des Moines was shut down as more than 8,000 runners headed out for a mile-long race.

While I was sunburned and sweaty last year, this year I was freezing.  It was in the 40s, and the wind was brutal.  I did a tad worse than I did last year, but I beat my 2011 time by 13 seconds.  Considering I haven't been running at all -- and considering I had to halt my running a few times to wait for encourage my 14-year-old running buddy -- I'd say I did fairly well.  My official time was 10:04.

I know it was only a mile run, but it was a mile more than I've been running lately, and it was definitely a faster pace than I am used to -- especially in such frigid temperatures (my lungs hate the cold).  So, I'm happy with the time.

Most of all, though, I'm happy with how it made me feel.  I know I've said before how therapeutic running is, but sometimes I forget that myself.  No matter how crappy a day may be -- for whatever reason -- a good, old-fashioned run will generally make it all go away.  At least for a while.

And that's exactly what happened.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Snack Attack

Well, this was going to be a post solely about the snacks that I've been enjoying while completing the Farrell's 10-week challenge, but as soon as I titled the post, I thought of this video and can't seem to get it out of my head.



You're welcome.

Side note: I'm pretty sure my brother and I (my sister was too young) watched every. single. one. of the Saved by the Bell episodes -- at least five times.

But I digress.  Back to the topic at hand: snacks.

As previously mentioned, the Farrell's nutritional plan suggests eating six small meals a day, and according to my weight and body-fat percentage, I am to be eating 33 grams of carbohydrates and between 14-18 grams of protein for each "meal" (with the exception of the "before-bed" meal, which calls for as few carbohydrates as possible).

Because I was used to my snacks consisting of Sour Patch Kids and/or Flamin' Hot Cheetos, it took me a while to figure out exactly what a quality snack would look like.

Here are some suggestions that I have been loving lately:

Morning:

The nutritional plan recommends consuming all fruit for the day prior to noon.  Therefore, my morning snack usually consists of a banana or an apple with some other protein-y things.  I have found, though, that apples keep me longer than bananas, so I tend to go that route.

Oh, and generally I scarf this down while grading papers or between passing periods.  It's lovely.

Medium Granny Smith apple, 1/8 cup wasabi peas, two Babybel Light cheeses
I have also found that I am one cranky lady if I do not eat fruit.  Therefore, I try to over-buy every weekend, yet I always seem to run out come Friday or Saturday.

Another of my favorite morning snacks is an apple, two tablespoons of crack sunflower butter, and a piece of Babybel or string cheese.

Full Circle Sunflower Butter
Seriously.  If you haven't tried sunflower butter, do it.  Now.  I have gone through a jar of it each week for the past two weeks, and I'm well into my third jar already.

OMG.

But moving on...

Afternoon:

What I eat for a snack in the afternoon largely depends on what I have going on for the rest of the evening.  If I have a chill afternoon at home watching Jeopardy! with The Boy, I might opt for this:

Carrot sticks, hummus, Babybel cheese, and savory edamame crackers.
Or, I might opt for my absolute favorite snack of late:

Tomato, two ounces of fresh mozzarella, multigrain wheat thins.
If I have a busy evening or have to run with the kiddos or have meetings or errands or whatever after work, I generally grab something that is more easily on-the-go:
A chocolate-dipped coconut Luna bar (usually accompanied by a piece of Babybel or string cheese).
Obviously there is a plethora of protein/meal-supplement/nutrition bars out there, but I found that Luna meets my nutritional requirements and tastes pretty darn good, so that's what I'm sticking with for now. The chocolate-dipped coconut bar is seriously delicious and is almost a "treat" in the middle of the day.

Evening:

Because I am not supposed to have too many carbohydrates before I go to bed, my evening snack is usually a protein shake.  I couple 1.5 cups of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze or Unsweetened Coconut Almond Breeze with a scoop of protein powder:

Arbonne Essentials: Vanilla Protein Shake Mix
When I make the shake with the Arbonne protein powder, I generally only put in one of the suggested two scoops so that it's not overly chalky and so that it tastes like liquified cookie dough.  For real.

(Also, if you are interested in purchasing Arbonne protein powder -- seriously the best I've tried -- please let me know, and I'll put you in contact with my provider.

Side note: despite that sounding super shady, I swear AG is not a drug dealer -- unless your drug-of-choice is spectacular protein.)

But I digress.  As usual.

Random Comments About Snacks:

As I've said before, the Farrell's nutritional plan specifically says to not count calories and to only worry about proteins and carbohydrates.  However, I still find myself analyzing the magic calorie number like a crazy woman.  Most often, I stay within a 1,500-1,700 range, but there are a few things that I try to take into consideration when planning out my snacks:

  • If I have Dessert Oats for breakfast, I do not accompany my morning fruit with sunflower butter. Two tablespoons of that heavenly goodness contain 200 calories, and I do not need a quarter of my daily calories coming from a condiment.
  • While I love me some cheese, I do try to limit that intake as well and not have it for every snack.  First of all, it's expensive.  Second (and more importantly), it generally has a fairly high concentration of saturated fats, something that I certainly want to watch.
So, there you have it: the current favorites in my snack rotation.  I'm sure I'll totally OD on some/all of this sooner or later, so hook me up with your yummiest of yummy snacks.


What is your first choice for healthy bites?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Glowtastic

Happy Monday!

It's weird how blogging falls by the wayside when grades are due, isn't it?  Today marked the end of our second-semester 12-week grading period, and since my students had major essays due last week, I spent the entire weekend grading.

When I say the entire weekend, I'm not exaggerating much: I spent from 9:00-4:00 on Saturday grading essays and from 12:00-8:00 on Sunday grading essays.  I then graded more today, and thankfully, I'm done for a little while.

I'm also exhausted.

The reason I stopped grading at 4:00 on Saturday, though, was super fun: my sister, my new friend from Farrell's, MB, and another friend and I ran the Glow Run!

My sister and FF (Farrell's Friend) and I met at 4:00 and hit up Nobbies and Target for some glow swag.  We each bought some tights, some flashing rings, some glow jewelry, and more.

After, we hit up La Hacienda for the pre-race meal of champions: margaritas, nachos, and enchiladas.  It was, by far, the most "cheating" I've done on a cheat day thus far.

And it was amazing.

Shortly after we got back to my house, the other girls joined us, and we got glow-ified prior to heading downtown to join the 12,000 other crazy people.

FF, Sister, MB, Kanye me, Rach
I mean, just look at MLK!  This was the entire race route, and it was insane.


I thought I would cut my shirt to make it ├╝ber cute, but it turned out to be way too cut and just annoyed me like crazy throughout the entire evening.


So, I took it off and threw it away.  :)


Check out the bling!  I'm pretty sure that this is a.) the biggest medal I've ever received, b.) the brightest medal I've ever received, and c.) the only medal I've ever received for running anything less than a 10-mile race.

Cracked me up.

But I love it.  :)


The Glow Run was really, really fun, but I'm not sure I'll do it again.  I mean, it cost $35, and the majority of the money benefits some company in Kansas City (with a small portion of proceeds going toward a non-profit in Iowa).  Also, it was SO packed.  We got downtown about a half hour before the race started, but we spent that entire time parking and got to the starting line just as the first heat was leaving.

We then made the best decision of our lives and, instead of waiting two hours to start the race, skipped the first portion and met up with the second wave as they started running.

Genius.

Like I said, I enjoyed the race (hello, dressing obnoxiously and hanging with girlfriends!), but I'm not sure I'll do it again.

Tomorrow's going to be a crazy-busy day with strength-training, ACT-proctoring, working, and running the Grand Blue Mile.  So, I'd better hit the hay now.  :)

Peace out!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Busiest of Busy Days

While this little ol' blog o' mine started out as a healthy-living blog, it quickly morphed into a what-did-I-do-all-day-today blog.

And for some reason, y'all my mom loved it.

Honestly, I'm not quite sure why.  I mean, I'm not that interesting: I workout in the mornings, I teach, I usually have one or two meetings, I cook dinner, and then I go to bed.

Wild and crazy, I say.  Wild. And. Crazy.

Because I'm really digging the return to the healthy-living focus, I'm going to stick with that and continue giving you super delish recipes, talk about how much I hurt from working out, and stuff of that nature.

But, I wanted to update you on what I have been doing in my day-to-day life as of late.

So, here you go:

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and was scared poop-less by my landlord who was in my hallway at 4:40 a.m.  Apparently our basement had approximately four inches of water in it, and he had to fix it in the middle of the night.

Then, I worked on getting some sweet guns for 50 minutes in upper-body day.  If I could just work my triceps a bit harder, I'd have some pretty cut arms.  Woot woot.

After coming home and getting ready and preparing food and eating breakfast and reading blogs, I headed to work.

As soon as the bell rang, I changed for Workout #2.  Today was the second practice for See-Us Run Des Moines, and we tried to work with the kids on pacing.  We ran three 1/3-mile laps around a block near school and timed the kid after each lap, hoping that they would be within a few seconds for each one.  Most of the kiddos did pretty well, but we have a lot of work to do with some of them.  The Grand Blue Mile next week should be interesting.

When practice ended, I had to drive one of my favorite students home.  I love this girl.  She came to the States two-and-a-half years ago from Honduras and is just one of the sweetest, most motivated, most conscientious students I know.  She was telling me today on the ride home that she just loves her parents and wants to show them that she not only appreciates everything they do for her but wants to "pay them back" with good grades.  She talked about having difficulties in some of her classes because of her language barrier, and we came up with different strategies we could use to help alleviate those.  She told me her career aspirations of an immigration lawyer or a domestic-assault advocate.  I just love her to pieces, and getting to know the students in a more casual setting is one of my favorite parts of See-Us Run.

Okay, enough gushing about my kids.

After I dropped her off, The Boy and I headed to Beaverdale (yes, that is a real neighborhood, tee hee) to hang up 80/35 posters.  80/35 is a huge, two-day festival over the Fourth of July weekend, and in exchange for one free ticket to one day of the show, The Boy and I agreed to distribute 30 posters around the neighborhood.



Thirty posters in 30 stores doesn't seem like that big a deal until you're actually hanging 'em all up.

It took forever.  And I probably should've worn my Garmin since I'm pretty darn sure we walked a million miles.  In the freezing cold, biting wind, and stinging sleet.

Finally, we came home and cooked dinner.  It was really, really good: pan-grilled chicken with chorizo confetti:


I swear there's chicken hiding under all of that soy chorizo.  (Note: the recipe called for 1/4 cup of chorizo, but since I used soy chorizo and was really hungry, I made about a half cup.  Also, the recipe called for 1/4 cup yellow and red pepper and two tablespoons of green pepper, but I threw in all three whole peppers because I love me some veggies.)  We sided the entree with The Boy's sweet potatoes.

Yum.

Now, at 9:00 p.m., I am ready to hit the hay.

I. am. wiped.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Break-Up

Well, friends...

I'm currently going through a break-up.

No, no, no, not with The Boy!  He and I are as picture-perfect as usual.


No, I had a break-up with my scale.

I have always been a results-driven person: I strived for a 4.0 in high school (got it), I pushed for straight As in college (almost got it -- stupid women's studies course), I work my butt off and try my hardest to prove myself in my job, etc.

In addition, I have always been quite obsessive.  I review emails 18,000 times before I send them, just to make sure they're perfect and that nothing could be misunderstood.  I spend hours planning my meals to ensure that my proteins and carbs are as close to where they should be as possible.  I create detailed training calendars like it's my job.

For years after the lovely digital scale landed in my bathroom, I stepped on it every. single. morning.

And every. single. morning. that the number did not decrease, I got super discouraged.

I mean, I would be running 15, 18, 26.2 miles, I would be pumping major iron at CrossFit, I would be watching what I eat like a crazy woman, but the number on the scale either would not change or would, in fact, go up.

And that was, as you can imagine, so discouraging.

Eventually, I just thought, well, if I'm not losing weight doing everything I possibly can, then I might as well just eat whatever the heck I want.  And that, my friends, is where Flamin' Hot Cheetos, Sour Patch Kids, chimichangas, and cabernet enter the picture.

That's also where major weight-gain comes in to play.

Because of my results-driven and obsessive personality (lovely aspects that they are), I have realized that stepping on the scale every day is actually quite detrimental to my health and emotional well-being.

It turns out that I did, in fact, lose some weight over the course of several months -- approximately 12 pounds.  But when I stepped on the scale every single day, there would be fluctuation: I would gain a pound, lose a few ounces, gain another ounce, drop a pound, etc.

Like with most things in life, it was easier to focus on the negative (weight increasing) rather than the positive (weight decreasing).  So while I was losing weight overall and over time, my brain only registered the increases, thereby making me think that I was gaining weight.

I wasn't focusing on the long-term -- I was focusing on the right-now.

In order to not discourage myself, I decided that during the initial ten-week session at Farrell's, I would only weigh myself three times: at the very beginning, at the five-week testing, and at the very end.

Let me tell you: it has not been easy.  Every morning the scale taunts me, just begging me to step on and take a quick peek at the number below my feet.

And every morning I tell that scale no.

I know that I am working out like crazy, I know that I'm eating exactly what I am supposed to, so I can only assume that the number on the scale will drop like it is supposed to.  I just don't want to risk the discouragement of "How did I only lose two pounds?!" or "I'm up a half a pound today?!" before it is absolutely necessary.

And, I know that before that number drops, it may go up.  After all, I am building a heck of a lot of muscle.  I only want to weigh myself when I'm also taking into account measurements and body-fat percentage.

But most importantly, I need to remember this:


And that, my friends, is why the scale and I are DONE.

Question: How often do you weigh yourself?  What other factors do you take into consideration when discerning whether or not your current exercise and nutritional plan are working?

A Day to Run

Yesterday marked the official start of training for the 2013 season of See-Us Run Des Moines.  There was one coach, one community mentor, three teachers, and approximately 25 high-school students, many of whom were all new to the sport of running -- let alone marathon-training.

There were 30 people who came together after a long day of work or a long day of school to start something huge, something intense, something emotionally and physically trying.

And I cannot imagine a more fitting day to start.

After the tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon, I think we just needed to get out and run.  We needed to get out there and be thankful for the peace and the clarity and the tranquility that comes from a good run.  We needed to get out there and think of those whose lives have been forever affected.  We needed to get out there and pray for peace and for healing for our country and for our world -- for Boston and for so much more.

We just needed to get out there.


I am so proud of the newest See-Us Run Des Moines crew who ran -- maybe for the first time in their lives -- a half mile.  I know that all of these students, regardless of what obstacles they have in their lives, whatever doubts they have in their minds, will gain so much from simply running.

And what they gain from running, no one can take from them.

I have been asked whether Monday's events will make me think twice about running future races, and the answer is -- without a doubt -- no.  First, I refuse to live my life in fear; after all, if I took all of the nation's recent tragedies into account, I could not go to school, I could not go to the movies, I could not go to the mall, I could not go anywhere.

Second and most importantly, I refuse to focus on the evil in this world.  Rather, like so many people have said in the last couple of days, I vow to focus on the good -- because there is so much more of that in this world.


Get out there and run.  Run for Boston, run for peace, but most of all, run for you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chicken and Chorizo and Cheese, Oh My!

Trying to avoid the sporadic downpours we had yesterday, I headed west to Trader Joe's and Super Target, two of my all-time favorite stores.  After all, we had zero fruit left in the house, and I needed to get the grocery shopping done before yet another busy week commenced.

As usual, I first planned out exactly what we were going to eat for every meal and snack of the week.  (Or, let me be more accurate: exactly what I was going to eat and cook for dinner; The Boy often grabs random things on the way to/from work for his breakfast, lunch, and snacks.)

Here are the dinner plans for this week:


DINNER
Shrimp kabobs + rice w/ veggies + Brussels sprouts
Chipotle shrimp taco w/ avocado lime coleslaw + green beans
Mussels in green curry sauce + ¼ c brown rice + asparagus
Palmer’s salad
Pan-grilled chicken w/ chorizo confetti + sweet potato + asparagus
Spicy baked shrimp + ¼ c brown rice + green beans


Then, I go through every single meal for the week and figure out exactly what I need to purchase from the store to make that meal possible:


As I noted on Instagram, this looked like it would be an expensive excursion.

Here's what I bought:


Look at all of the produce!  In the mix:

  • Brussels sprouts x 2
  • Sweet peppers (for snacking)
  • Basil
  • Avocados
  • Coleslaw mix
  • Spinach x 2
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Limes
  • Lemon
  • Apples
  • Baby carrots
  • Bananas
  • Bell peppers -- green, yellow, red
  • Sweet potato
  • Onion
  • Strawberries
  • Tomato
And there are probably other things hiding under that mound of fruits and veggies.  But you get the gist.

Here's where the expensive-ness kicked in -- with the freezer items:



I had to buy a lot of meat:

  • Frozen chicken breasts
  • Shrimp (two pounds)
  • Shrimp skewers (because I forgot to defrost the fish we were going to eat last night and needed a fast alternative)
The refrigerated items:



In the mix:

  • Tempeh
  • Eggs
  • Laughing Cow cheese
  • Babybel cheese x 3 (y'all were right: way less expensive at Trader Joe's)
  • Coconut water
  • Unsweetened Coconut Almond Breeze
  • Butter
  • Soy chorizo (it was supposed to be real chorizo, but I couldn't find it; let's see if The Boy notices)
And finally, the pantry items:



In the mix:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Light coconut milk
  • Green curry sauce
  • Chicken stock
  • Corn tortillas
  • Luna Bars (chocolate-dipped coconut)
  • Olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Israeli couscous
  • Soy sauce
I still need to buy more oatmeal, some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and mussels.  But, whew: that was the majority.

And here's the damage:



I spent $76.26 at Trader Joe's and $52.58 at Target for a grand total of $128.84 for the week.

It is less than I spent the first week and more than I spent last week.  However, I think that that is pretty much how this is going to go: one expensive week, one less expensive week, which likely averages to around $100 per week on groceries.

This week, like I said, I had to restock on meat.  Next week, I won't have to buy as much of that.  I also bought a couple of extra sweet potatoes (unless we go crazy and eat 'em all this week), extra avocados, and likely more cheese than we'll actually eat.  So, hopefully next week will be less breaking of the bank.

What's on your meal plan for the week?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Best Burger

Hello, hello, hello!

I have yet another delicious recipe for you to try...tonight.

Courtesy of the best, most realistic "fad" diet around, I present to you The Official Abs Diet Burger (with a side of roasted asparagus and grape tomatoes):


Here's what you'll need (as always, please look at the original recipe for measurements):


  • Rolled oats
  • Reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese
  • Onion
  • Egg
  • Lean ground beef
  • Spinach
  • Pepper
  • Salt

Now, the recipe is super complicated.  Are you ready?

Dump all of those ingredients into one bowl:


Mush together.  (I used a wooden spoon to start mixing and quickly realized that my good old-fashioned hands would do the trick a lot better.)

Now, form four patties from the mixed together mess that you just created:


Heat up a grill pan over medium-high heat, and plop those bad boys on the stove:


I discovered that I made my patties too thick and would've probably been better off making six to eight smaller patties -- or simply smooshing the patties down a lot more.

In addition, they do fall apart somewhat easily while flipping (simply due to the loads of extra ingredients), so take that into consideration and only flip when necessary.

To prepare the veggies, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil to minimize clean up, spread the asparagus and tomatoes (or green beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, whatev) out, spray them with some olive oil, and sprinkle with lots of herbs and spices.  I generally opt for salt, pepper, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, cayenne, or any variation of the aforementioned.  Throw it all in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes, and you have yourself a yummy, low-calorie side dish:


Here's the breakdown for the burger (including Sara Lee 80 Calories & Delightful wheat bun) and veggies:

  • Calories: 367
  • Carbs: 25g
  • Fat: 14g
  • Protein: 33g

Again, since I'm shooting for 14-18 grams of protein per meal, it probably would've been better for me to make smaller patties.  Oh well.

Seriously, this might be the best burger I have ever had, and The Boy (who is a huge fan of greasy burgers) loved it as well.  It'll certainly make the rotation, as it almost feels like "cheat" food.

Make this ASAP -- and let me know how you like it.  :)

I'm off now to rock out with Bon Jovi.  Check ya lata!