Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

This past week I reunited with some friends I haven’t seen for a while. After spending some time with them, I’m noticing that I feel better about myself both physically and mentally.

First, my tracker. (Pardon the icky food stains on the cover. I keep it in my kitchen drawer and often journal while I’m cooking or just after I’ve eaten.)

One beautiful thing about working for Weight Watchers it that I get to listen to 3 meetings per week while I’m on the clock as a receptionist. Last week the topic was tracking. For about a month now, I’ve been doing the whole “I’m tracking in my head” thing. If you’ve ever been a Weight Watcher, you probably know what I mean. I’ve been keeping track of the PointsPlus values I eat and what I have left in my head, but not putting anything down on paper. The message I heard at the meetings really hit home and I felt like a fraud knowing that I was slacking on something we stress as being so important to our members. That’s when I decided to recommit to tracking 100%. I went home, turned to a fresh week in my journal and started immediately by filling out the weekly goals/challenges plan and writing out my exercise plan.

All week, I wrote down every. single. thing. I didn’t guess on any PointsPlus values. I looked everything up unless it was a food I eat regularly and was 100% sure of the PPV. And guess what? It was actually fun! Maybe that’s my Type A showing, but I enjoyed going back to the basics and looking at my eating in such a logical way. I also found myself measuring out more of my portions instead of eyeballing them and working hard to get in my Good Health Guidelines so that I could check off those little boxes.  I definitely noticed myself eating less BLTs (bites, licks & tastes) and made better choices overall because of the accountability. Does it take extra time? Yes, but not much. Is it worth it? Heck yes!

The gym was the other “friend” I reunited with this week. 

We only pay for our gym membership from November-April each year. The rest of the time my husband is too busy at work (sometimes 80-90 hour weeks) to really utilize the facilities and I can run, walk or bike outside and do DVDs at home.  This year, I really slacked about getting signed back up and it was almost January when I reenrolled. The owners gave us the last two weeks of December for free, but I was too caught up in the holidays to take advantage of that bonus. My loss, for sure. This past week I got my behind in gear when I realized we were paying for something that wasn’t being used.  It felt so good to be back.

As you can see, the gym is really small. I’ve actually seen hotel fitness centers that were bigger and had more equipment. Plus, it only costs $25/month for both of us and it’s about a 2 minute drive. We’d have to drive about 30-40 minutes to get to the closest, more standard gym and those start at about three times the expense. It may not be fancy, but they really do have everything we need.

There’s only one elliptical (in the middle of the last picture) and it has a mind of its own. You can set your resistance and crossramp, but it chooses to adjust itself at random times during your workout, even when it’s on the manual setting. Sometimes pushing the buttons brings it back where you want it. Sometimes it doesn’t. Today was a “doesn’t” day. I ended up with much more resistance than I wanted for much of the workout. I still cranked out about 45 minutes. The owners bought three new treadmills with TVs last year and had cable hooked up. They told me at least one new elliptical is next on their list of upgrades.

The beautiful thing about such a small gym is that I’m usually the only one there, espcially when I go in the middle of the day. Thank goodness this was the case yesterday. Here’s me (pardon the not-sure-what-I-was-thinking expression) after 45 minutes on the posessed elliptical:

Do not adjust your monitor. Those yoga pants are, in fact, electric blue. They didn’t look that blue on the Victoria’s Secret website when I put them in my cart. I almost returned them, but they’re super comfortable and were only $6 so it’s worth sacrificing my pride. I feel like an 80’s aerobics instructor when I wear them. Has anyone seen my leg warmers?

Dinner was another old favorite. Spicy Turkey Meatloaf with Ketchup Topping and roasted potatoes.

I’ve made this recipe a couple of times before, but this was by far my best execution. The ground turkey came packaged as 1.2 pounds instead of the 1.5 pounds the recipe called for. I used just one package and the only change I made was to eliminate the chicken broth. It was still very moist and actually stayed together even better than my previous attempts.

What do you like about your gym? What would you like to see improved or added?

Don’t forget! My giveaway for the Dr. Weil audiobook ends tomorrow at midnight EST.

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One thing I love about the first few weeks of January is that the grocery stores seem to have more healthy foods on sale than normal. I take advantage of the savings by stocking up on the healthy things we eat regularly, and also by trying some new things. Like a lot of other bloggers, I opted to stay in yesterday rather than brave the winter wonderland. That gave me plenty of time to check out some of those new-to-me finds.

Breakfast was a new-to-me treat, Kashi 7-grain waffles.

I’ve never bought these before because they’re a bit on the expensive side so it was a treat to see them on sale. I usually buy the “other brand’s” low-fat waffles. They’re pretty good when I want a waffle fix, but don’t keep me full for very long. These new waffles were delicious! They had tons of flavor and kept me full for several hours. The ingredients were much less processed and, for those who are wondering, they’re the same number of PointsPlus values  as “those other” waffles. I’m definitely going to watch for these to go on sale again and for coupons.

For lunch, I decided to fix something I’ve read about quite often in the blogosphere, but never tried until yesterday. Tempeh!

The cooking directions on the package were a little vague so I wanted a tried-and-true way to eat it. Most recently, I remembered reading about tempeh on Cynthia’s blog. A quick search led me to her directions for Banh Mi. I didn’t have any spinach and I don’t really like carrots so no banh mi for me. However, I did get the inspiration to put my tempeh in a wrap and I heated it according to her directions. Inside the wrap I layered romaine lettuce, sprouts, the tempeh and dijon mustard. The tortilla was so full that I couldn’t really get it to wrap and ended up eating it like a taco.

I really, really liked the tempeh and will definitely buy it again, on sale or not. Cynthia informed me (via a reply to my comment on her post) that tempeh had a “different texture.” She was absolutely right, but I found it to be a nice texture. It’s very hard to describe the flavor, but there’s lots of it! If you haven’t tried tempeh, I’d encourage you to give it a go.

With my tempeh wrap, I had a mug o’ lentil soup from the batch I made on Sunday.

This was also a new-to-me recipe from The Volumetrics Eating Plan. My husband bought this book a few years ago when he first became interested in eating more healthy. We successfully made a few recipes and then sort of forgot about it. I revived it in my recent quest for new recipes and found a lot of dishes I want to try. This one is definitely a keeper.

Together, it made for a wonderful, filling lunch.

My husband got home from work pretty early and we headed to the gym for a triceps and chest workout. He recently downloaded the free JEFIT app for his android phone and has been torturing me with it sharing it with me. We haven’t really even begun to dig into all the features, but we’ve figured out the basics.

Basically, the app lets you view and select exercises by the part of the body you’re aiming to target.

The app has several predefined workouts which you can do as is or add/remove exercises to suit your needs. You can also start from scratch by selecting individual exercises to create your own routine.

If you’re not sure how to perform a certain exercise, there’s also a free downloadable player that allows you to view animations for each move.

So far we’ve done two of the preset workouts using this app and I must say that I’m impressed. My husband has some experience with weights and likes the way it’s put together. I’m fairly new to “real” lifting and it’s still easy for me to use. It’s helping me build my confidence around the free weights and machines which is a huge benefit in my mind.

After our workout it was home for dinner, also a new recipe. This one came from the same cookbook as my lentil soup from lunch. Italian Turkey Spirals were time consuming t0 prep, but fun to assemble and tasted delicious!

As suggested in the recipe, I also made the Tomato and Fresh Basil Sauce (a separate recipe in the same book) to go with the spirals. Served with whole wheat spaghetti, this was the perfect mix of protein and carbs for a post-workout meal. Oh, and there are green beans hiding in the back there for some veggie goodness.

My husband was super impressed with this dinner and I really liked it, too. I’ll definitely make it again. Since we didn’t use much of the sauce, there was enough left over to freeze and use later for another meal.

What new food or fitness ideas have you discovered in 2011?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a Dr. Weil audiobook! Entries close Friday at midnight EST.

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Hellllooooo 2011!!!

So what if I’m 4 days late. 🙂

Normally I don’t find New Years’ to be especially exciting. Sure, there’s the bash to watch the ball drop and welcome in the new year, but to me January 1st has always been just another day. Until this year. While I don’t make New Years’ resolutions, I’m feeling completely refreshed. It’s like a mental “airing-out” that’s made me really motivated in all areas of my life, food & fitness included. I don’t know what brought this on, but I like it!

My husband went back to work yesterday after a two-week holiday vacation. It was bittersweet. I’m going to miss having him around every day, but it felt really good to fall back into a normal routine.

I started off the day the same way I’ve started every day since Christmas. With this amazing specimen of coffee-making genius:

This Keurig may seriously be the best Christmas gift my husband has ever bought for me. It’s changed my life. You laugh, but I’m not kidding. Okay, I’m only kind of kidding. It makes the most delicious cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted, coffeehouse or otherwise. The funny thing is, I’ve always sworn that I didn’t want one. I thought those little K-cups would be too expensive to keep up with my caffeine habit. My mother-in-law mentioned that she saw that you can now buy a little contraption (that grey thing in the top row of the carousel) to brew your own coffee grounds. Once I learned that, I wanted one. When I told my husband, he said maybe we’d pool our Christmas money and get it. Sneaky little booger. Turns out, he’d already bought it for me and stashed it at his sister’s house. It’s been so much fun to try all the different varieties. I try to limit myself to one or two K-cups per day and then use my own grounds beyond that. So far, the Emeril’s Big Easy Bold has been my favorite.


I sipped my coffee and read my book for about an hour, just enjoying the quiet. It was glorious. I love spending time with family and friends during the holiday season, but I also love my down time. That’s something I haven’t had much of lately and it was nice for my first “normal” day to start that way. Another great part of the morning was sharing a leisurely breakfast with Peanut when she woke up. After that, it was time to get down to business. Peanut had serious playing to do and I was ready to exercise.

The last few months of 2010 I felt like a hamster on a wheel when it came to fitness. My workouts were half-hearted at best. I knew that the exercise was good for me and I was doing it as often as I could, but I wasn’t excited about it. The switch didn’t really flip in my brain until January 2nd when I made myself accept my sister-in-law’s invitation to go to Zumba. I had all kinds of excuses running through my head for reasons why I couldn’t go, but I didn’t let myself bail. I went and, when those endorphins kicked in, all of the reasons I love exercise came flooding back to me. Suddenly I was excited about getting back into the swing of things. I came right home and jotted down a workout plan for the rest of the week. This is something I used to do every week. Unconsciously, I’d started to let it slip sometime around Thanksgiving and by Christmas I’d quit doing it altogether.

Yesterday reinforced to me how wonderful having that plan can be. I knew exactly which DVD I needed to grab: the original Power 90 with Tony Horton. I did the Sweat session followed by Ab Ripper 100. Definitely got my blood pumping and geared me up for the rest of the day. It also made me hungry.

I’ve found several recipes lately which sounded delicious to me, but that garnered an upturned nose from my husband when I showed them to him. I put those back as possible lunch options when it’s just me at home. Using this original recipe from Real Simple magazine as my inspiration, I made several modifications and came up with a lightened-up, simplified version based on what I had in the pantry.

Rotini with Arichokes and White Beans

(makes 4 servings)

  • 5 ounces whole wheat rotini
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 15.5-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered, rinsed & drained
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring regularly to keep the garlic from burning.
  3. Add the beans, artichokes, salt & pepper to the saucepan. Cook until heated through, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the reserved water and artichoke/bean mixture to the pasta and toss.

In keeping with my attempts at eating more veggies, I plated mine with some torn romaine lettuce which I stirred in after I snapped the picture.

I portioned out the leftovers and popped them in the fridge. Now my lunches for the rest of the week are no-brainers which really helps me stay on track. 

After lunch I cleaned. And cleaned some more. And cleaned even more while catching up on DVR’d shows. We got a last minute invitation to go out to dinner with some church friends and accepted. The food was mediocre (I’m talking to you, Tumbleweed.), but the company & conversation were fantastic. It was a great end to a great day.

So far, it’s been a great beginning to a great year. Bring it, 2011!


What has been the best part of your 2011 so far?

Oh, and one more thing…




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The holiday season is in full swing and the final countdown to Christmas has begun! One thing none of us have a lot of is time. Unfortunately, one of the first things that can go by the wayside is our workout calendar. We’re so busy finding the perfect gifts to give to others, accepting invitations and maybe even preparing our own homes to be the center of the festivities. It’s difficult to make ourselves a priority when we’re swamped, but you know what? You’re worth it. Here are 10 reasons to make sure you don’t neglect yourself and your fitness routine during the holidays:

  1. Great Stress Relief: No matter how much you love the holidays (and I do), they can be pretty stressful. It’s inevitable. One of the best benefits of exercise is that it’s a natural stress reliever. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain which act as a sort of “happy drug.” It doesn’t matter what activity you’re doing when you exercise. You’ll still reap this benefit.
  2. Get Some Me Time: The holidays are a great opportunity to spend more time with friends and family. Sometimes it even means visiting with people we don’t see any other time of the year. While all this togetherness is nice, it can also be a bit of people overload. Exercise is a great excuse reason to take a breather and have a bit of time to yourself. Hit the gym solo for a run, lifting or whatever other exercise you enjoy most. You’ll return to the marathon of festivities refreshed and better able to appreciate those around you.
  3. Be Energized: The holidays can be hectic and leave you feeling exhausted. Being too tired is a common reason people say they don’t exercise, but that’s actually a great reason TO exercise. Working out can give your energy level a fantastic kickstart. Unlike relying on caffeine (hello, Starbucks triple-shot latte) or eating sugar to keep yourself going, using exercise to boost your energy won’t result in that miserable mid-afternoon crash.  A good sweat session will give you the energy you need to keep up with your busy schedule. Plus, you’re likely to sleep better when you do hit the hay. NOTE: It’s not recommended that you exercise right before bed. That can actually keep you awake.
  4. Make Good Choices: Food temptations are everywhere during the holidays. It’s impossible to avoid them unless you hole up in a cave for about 2 months. Exercise can help you face these food challenges head on. I always feel so powerful after a workout and have a renewed passion for my healthy lifestyle. This carries over into my eating. When I’m consistent with my workouts, it’s easier to remember the connection between what I put in my mouth and how it affects my body. This puts all of those temptations into perspective. “I’m working so hard at the gym to take care of my body. Do I really want to eat that?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but more often I’m able to walk away from the unhealthy stuff. Being fully aware of what you’re eating can also help you stay in control of your portion sizes for those foods you do decide to eat.
  5. Stick with Your Routine: Letting your workout routine go by the wayside during the holidays can make it easier to slack later. Scheduling may make it impossible to stick with your regular routine note for note. Map out your holiday plans 0n a calendar and form a workout schedule around the events you’re scheduled to attend. Then, stick to it! This will make it much easier to get back to your regular routine once the holiday festivities are over.
  6. Be Guilt-Free: There’s nothing wrong with giving in to some of those food temptations during the holidays. After all, there are many homemade treats offered this time of year that people don’t make at any other time of the year. If you deprive yourself entirely, you’re likely to feel deprived and fall take a flying leap off the wagon. As long as you keep a healthy level of indulgence, you don’t have to feel guilty. Exercise can help ease your mind about eating a few goodies. I am NOT saying that exercise is an excuse to eat with abandon or that you should think of food as a reward for working out. Keep those general rules of healthy eating in your mind and practice moderation.
  7. Test Drive New Get-Fit Gadgets: If your family & friends are aware of your quest for a healthy lifestyle, there’s a good chance you’ll be getting some kind of fitness-related gift this holiday. Don’t pretend you’re not dying to use it the minute the you unwrap that special something! Whether it’s a new workout outfit, new kicks, a heart rate monitor, a pedometer, a workout DVD or any other exercise enhancer, take it for a test drive! The newness may help your motivation to workout and it’s also just plain fun to use our new toys.
  8. Mood Booster: For most people, the holidays are an enjoyable time. As I mentioned above, they can still be stressful. We’re expected to keep a smile on our face through weeks of parties, gatherings, shopping and other festivities. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. We’re tired, we’re stressed (see above) and some of us are dealing with challenging people and awkward situations. It’s easy to become irritable and grouchy. Since we tend to take out our frustration on those closest to us, this can lead to snapping at those we love which we inevitably regret later. Exercise can actually make you a more enjoyable person to be around during the holidays and beyond. Your family and friends will appreciate and enjoy their interactions with you more after you’ve had a good sweat fest.
  9. Be A Good Example: As I mentioned above, we’re typically surrounded by loved ones during the holidays. Some of those loved ones may already be struggling to lose or maintain a healthy weight. While the holidays are probably not a good time for you to lecture your friends & family about diet and exercise, there is one very powerful tool you can use to encourage them: yourself. Watching you stay committed to your healthy lifestyle during the holidays may be all it takes for someone to decide to take that first step toward getting healthier. It can also encourage those who are already on the path to stick with their own workout routine.
  10. It’s Just Plain Good For You: We’ve all heard the physical benefits of exercise over and over again. Besides helping us lose weight  (or maintain a healthy weight), exercise also help prevent chronic disease, lower blood pressure, strengthensour bones, tone muscles, lower our heart rate, lower cholesterol, ruduce the risk for breast & colon cancer, and much more. Those benefits don’t take a holiday, even if you do. Exercise is good for your body. Period.

What’s your workout plan for the holidays?

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Tummy Troubles

The last thing I’ve wanted to talk about for the last 2 days is food, hence my lack of posting. I’m going on 48 hours of icky tummy syndrom that’s made it impossible to keep food in my stomach for longer than 20 minutes. At first I thought it was dehydration because it started toward the end of my 4-mile run on Tuesday. I started chugging water and that only made me feel worse. Long story short, I have no idea what’s wrong. I feel fine and then as soon as I put something in my stomach I feel like crap. I think I’m on the uphill swing because I was able to eat a protein bar before my run today with no ill effects. The bad thing is that I have no food pics to share because I thought you’d get tired of seeing plain toast. 🙂

Enough whining. It’s too nice of a day for that. I just finished a fabulous run that left me feeling fully in control and prepared for Saturday’s 5k. I’m aiming to beat my time (36:12) from my last 5k two weeks ago and I KNOW I can do it. I just know it. Another reason for my great mood is that I was down 1.8 at weigh-in before the run. Woo to the hoo! I really feel like I’m headed in the right direction to getting my body back after baby. I feel stronger and I can notice positive changes in the overall way my body looks. I still have a ways to go (about 45lbs) to get back to my goal weight, but I’m encouraged by the progress I’ve made so far.

I’m proud of myself for focusing on fitness this time around instead of just that number on the scale. When I originally lost the weight a few years ago, I didn’t work out AT ALL until after I’d lost 55lbs. The weight was coming off fairly easily just by eating less so why did I need to exercise? My reality check came when I hit my plateau and couldn’t take off any more weight. That’s when I joined a gym. I started out by taking step classes 2 days per week and gradually worked my way up to working out for 1-2 hours every evening after work. Lo and behold, adding activity helped to bust my plateau and I made my goal weight six months after joining the gym. Besides being where I wanted to be on the scale, I noticed a huge difference in muscle tone and my energy level. I also started to focus more on eating the right foods instead of just eating less of the not-so-healthy stuff. Thus began my passion for a healthy lifestyle. I liked losing weight, but I LOVED the way I *felt* when my main goal was getting healthy. It just so happens that eating right and exercising go hand in hand with both.

Mmmkay. So, that was a pretty long post for not really having anything in mind to write about when I sat down to post. I hope I didn’t bore you to tears. Hopefully I’ll have some food pics to share with you tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your Thursday!

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