Friday, January 27, 2017

Favorites Friday

I thought it would be fun to do a regular post each week detailing some things from the week I loved.  I'll probably focus on mostly my favorite workouts/meals of the week, but if I see a good concert, interesting movies or whatnot, I'll throw those in too!

Favorite Workouts

1. Abs and Superset Training:  I really loved this abs and upper body workout that I put on the schedule Wednesday.  It is fast paced and over before you know it, but my arms were shaking afterwards!  I know this makes me a bit crazy, but I love that Jello feeling in my muscles when I've done a tough workout!

2.  My Stretch Sheet:  I decided to jot down all of the stretches I enjoy doing, put them in a spreadsheet and categorize them by the body part it benefits.  Every evening I look at the sheet and randomly choose a handful of stretches based on my needs that night and where I feel I need stretching the most.  It's made doing my little stretch routine in the evenings all the more easy!  I've noticed that I feel a lot better and am sleeping even harder at night.

Favorite Meals

1.  Cooking Light's Beef Daube Provencal:  This recipe definitely has become a frequent MVP in the menu rotation for us lately!  It's a slow cooker recipe (there is some initial prep involved) but it tastes like a classic Beef Bourguignon, and there are some very unique elements to the stew that give it a lot of character.  Don't let the dried mushrooms on the ingredient list scare you off!  I live in foodie paradise Portland and even I have trouble finding dried mushrooms, but I have easily substituted fresh and it works out just fine.  Do increase the amount of broth if you do this since you won't have the soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms.  I also use one pound of beef chunks instead of two.  You could totally eat this just on its own, but it's really nice over egg noodles, rice or a sturdy pasta such a penne or elbow macaroni.  I imagine that quinoa and barley would also be tasty additions if you didn't want to use rice or pasta.

It makes a very hearty six servings, which is great for lunch leftovers or for stashing extra portions in the freezer for a future lunch or dinner.

2.  Cooking Light's Whole Grain Burrito Bowl:  So on paper you may say that this is a very basic burrito bowl and I myself certainly wasn't expecting to become obsessed with it, but here we are.  It is another frequent star on our weekly menus, and I'm going to go on record saying that it's one of my favorite meals.  While everything in it is basic and it's easy to put together, the combination of everything in it makes my brain explode.  It's beautiful to look at and there's so many different textures, flavors and temperature differences going on that it keeps me excited about every single bite.  That's exactly how healthy eating should work.  You should be excited and engaged by your meals, and this is definitely one of those.

You can somewhat play with the ingredients too.  I forgot to buy canned chipotles this week, so I just used a teaspoon of harissa in the beans instead (and actually liked that better).  I use white rice that I cook myself (not sure why CL is all about the precooked rice).  I leave the jalapenos out of the pico.  I also use cheddar cheese because that's what I prefer.  If you wanted to bulk up the meal, you could add grilled chicken, beef or even grilled portobello mushrooms to the bowl.  I think it's great with just the elements listed but you know, do your thing.  Whatever you do, don't skip the cabbage salad!  It's the best part and adds so much beautiful color and crunch to the bowl.  If you have a mandolin, use it to slice the cabbage whisper thin basically.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thinner Thursday

Hola!  Today's weigh in was one big yay!!

Previous Weight: 188.2
Current Weight: 186.4
Difference: 1.8 pound loss

I think this week's success comes down to 1) better weather and 2) a better back.  The snow and ice storm derailed my activity levels a bit because I'm used to taking walk breaks and walking 1-2 miles a day when we're at work.  Kind of hard to do that when the sidewalks are covered in 3 inches of ice (we had 4 people fall at our office, one poor guy broke his arm in his fall!), so I was unfortunately sitting a lot more.  And then with my back I was doing lower impact workouts and not lifting as heavy when I did lift.  This week everything's back to normal, we've been doing 2 miles of walking a day, and my workouts are back to being intense.  Being active makes SUCH a difference.

My stupid back is FINALLY back to normal, and ironically it was after a workout on Saturday where I was very frustrated and decided to go after it like I normally do instead of holding back.  I was just really annoyed because I've been babying my back and it continued to be painful and feel pinched, so I decided that if it was going to hurt anyway I might as well get a good workout in.  So I did, I just lifted and did my HIIT stuff like normal, and my back actually felt better afterwards!  I'm pretty much at 100% now.  I do notice that certain things still don't feel good, basically anything where I'm bent with a flat back like a bent over row or a tricep kickback.  I may start substituting something else for those exercises, but otherwise things are good.

I've been pretty proud with my eating lately and things are still really on point for me.  We haven't had any "OMG, didn't pull anything out for dinner so I guess we should go have tacos and 20 margaritas" nights since I started back into this in earnest.  Having the steady stream of homemade dinners produces easy leftovers for lunch, which makes things easier to track, and I always have homemade breakfasts.  We're only eating out one to two times a week, so now it feels like an actual treat when we go somewhere!

No huge plans for the weekend other than trying to catch up on Oscar movies.  We've seen 3 of the best picture nominees so far, so we want to try to squeeze in a few more.  So far of the three we've seen, Manchester By The Sea is my favorite.  If you plan to see's very, very dark and not exactly the most uplifting material, but it's so well done that it just stuck with me even days after seeing it.  The other two were Arrival and La La Land.  Arrival was much better than I expected, especially since I'm not a huge Amy Adams person, but her performance was very good and I was glad to see the movie nominated.  La La Land was good, though I am a bit surprised at how much everyone is foaming at the mouth in love with it.  I mean I liked it, it was well done, but a few things about it irked me that would spoil the movie if I went into detail over what they are.  In a nutshell, I was not pleased by the ending and we'll leave it at that!

Tomorrow I'm going to post my very first "Favorites Friday" post recapping things from the week that I really liked.  Meals, workouts or anything else that comes to mind!  I want to try to make it a regular thing, just to reinforce that there are so many positives to focus on!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thinner Thursday

Hey all!  This week's weigh in was a slight womp:

Previous Weight: 188
Current Weight: 188.2
Difference: 0.2 pound gain

I mean you never want to see a gain on the scale but I'm not especially worried about a 0.2 pound gain, it's more eye rolling than anything.  I'm feeling great, my clothes are fitting great and I'm doing all the things I'm supposed to be doing, so I'm not really discouraged.  I'm chalking it up to typical weight fluctuations combined with not being able to hit my workouts as hard due to my back.  I'm really hoping that my back is back to normal soon so that I can go back to lifting a bit more.  I can tell it's getting there, but it's being really slow and annoying about healing.

I also need to take a new set of measurements since I haven't done that in ages!  I'm going to wait until the 1st of the month (can you believe we're already over halfway through January??) so the timing is consistent.

My back woes have actually prompted me to do something positive this week, and I have been committing to stretching for at least 10 minutes in the evening while watching TV.  I just kind of free style various stretches that feel good and work on whatever tension I am feeling at the moment, but I typically try to hit each area (neck/shoulders, core, hips, back, legs) at least once.  I downloaded a free interval timer app and that's actually been super awesome because I can just set it to the number of "reps" I want to do, how long each interval should last and how long each rest/transition period is.  I've been doing 1 minute of each stretch with an 8 second transition period, and it really is a nice way to wind down the evening.  I've typically gone well beyond the 10 minutes and one evening did 25 straight minutes of stretching.  It's not like it burns a ton of calories, but at least I'm not just sitting and doing nothing.  I have to keep reminding myself that working on flexibility and being kind to my sore muscles is just as important as the actual strength training aspect!

I'd said that I wanted to start posting a favorite workout of the week here and there just to let you guys know what I'm up to.  I've had to be pretty creative with my back stuff and try to choose workouts/modifications that wouldn't aggravate me.  I randomly chose this workout the other day, and hoo boy, do NOT let the low impact label in the title fool you.  I was pouring sweat and shaking the entire time, but I loved every second of it!  It was 3 rounds of the following exercises:

Squatting Calf Raises
Push Ups
Alternating Lunges
Arm Circles (switch directions halfway through)
Front Leg Raises - Left
Front Leg Raises - Right
Oblique Crunches + Leg Raises - Left
Oblique Crunches + Leg Raises - Right

During the first round you do each exercise for 2 minutes each, second round is 1 minute each, third round is 30 seconds each.  On paper that sounds all sugar and spice, but my muscles were completely toast by the end of it and I was sore in the most random of places the next day.  I really like total body workouts like this and actually added it to my favorites folder so that I can come back to it again.  I feel like it's one of those workouts you could use to judge your progress pretty easily.  The bridge exercise actually helped my back quite a bit for a wonder!

Food tracking and menu planning is going really well, I found weekly menu planning templates online (just do a Google image search, you'll find some good ones), so I just printed a bunch of blank ones and sit down on Thursdays and start planning meals for the next week.  I assess what we have in the pantry/freezer that I could make and then also thumb through my cookbooks and Cooking Light issues for inspiration.  I plan everything out, then make a grocery list based on that and do our shopping on Saturday or Sunday.  I always make sure to have a backup meal that I can throw together in case plans change.  The snow storm is a good example...we were supposed to meet a friend for dinner last Thursday but couldn't due to the snowstorm.  Even though I didn't have a planned meal, I knew that I had a bag of frozen grilled vegetables and pasta, so I was able to throw together a simple but tasty pasta dish in a pinch.  It's all definitely much less aggravation than going to the store and winging it and has also saved money since I'm only buying what we immediately need.  Eric is also pretty cute because he'll look at the menu and get excited about random meals (especially pasta ones).

Menu planning also makes calorie counting a lot easier because I can enter my MFP entries a day ahead of time and then assess if I have room for an extra snack in the evenings, or if I need to add some items to my lunch.  I have a horrible habit of not bringing enough food for lunch and then starve until dinner time!  Being able to look ahead of time and see that my lunch only adds up to 200 calories or something (I'm usually packing stuff like salads or whatnot) prompts me to make the adjustments I need to be comfortable!.

It's amazing to me how much being back on track has dramatically affected my mood and outlook on life compared to a couple of months ago.  It's like, the same stuff is going on but I feel better emotionally equipped to handle things and a lot calmer.  Obviously exercise is huge in boosting mood and the feel good chemicals in your brain, but something about also having a control on my eating has really boosted my self esteem too.  I just feel organized and together, which is very calming and makes me feel good about myself.

All in all, things are going well!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Getcha Back

My back has continued to bother me throughout the weekend, though I think at this point it's a muscle thing.  When I woke up Saturday there was a pinching sensation in the lower right, but when I worked out (more on that in a second) it loosened up and felt great by the end.  I got out my trusty trigger point therapy workbook and saw that the massage trigger point was actually in my glute.  It didn't take me long to find it, there was the most painful knot in the world right about where the book indicated there would be one.  I massaged it and woke up today with it back to feeling pinched and sore.  I honestly think it may need another day or two of stretching, massaging and low impact workouts to set things right.

As much as it bums me out to not lift weights or do HIIT, I know it's important to listen to my body, so I went slightly old school and did this hour long pilates routine from Fitness Blender on Saturday.  It actually was really fun to do this now that I'm fitter and have a stronger core, this was my go to video back when I first started, but now that I'm stronger I was able to really do some of the moves properly.  And holy God, even though most of it is done on the floor, don't let it fool you!  I woke up with very sore abs and thighs today!  Today I did this barre routine from FB, and for whatever reason my back didn't seem to appreciate it as much as the pilates.  There are some weights involved in the routine, but I just stuck with my little baby two pounder weights.  I looked at the workout on the schedule tomorrow and it's strictly a lifting routine, so I'm hoping my back is a bit better so I can do it with at least lower weights than normal.  Worst case, I can do it with just body weight, though it will be much more effective WITH weights obviously.

One thing that I need to be better about is getting back into doing some free style type stretching in the evenings when we're watching TV.  Doing those low impact routines that are mainly stretching brought home the fact that my hamstrings and other parts of my body are pretty tight and stiff.  I've always had great flexibility and don't want to lose any of that, so the only thing to do is work at it a little every day, even if it's only 5 minutes.  I downloaded a free interval app and spent a good chunk of the Green Bay/Dallas game going through a series of both dynamic and static stretches.  Despite my back pinching and barking at me a bit, it felt good so I need to keep at it!

We are still a hot mess of snow and ice all over the roads, but I was able to make it to my shelter shift today and then limp over to the grocery store for fruit, salad greens, bread and some other staple type things.  I had a menu planned out and technically we could have survived with pantry items this week, but it's good to have some fresh fruits and vegetables around.  I am really very over the weather!  The roads get more dangerous by the day since the snow softens during the day, the freezes rock solid at night.  I think most Oregonians are pretty disgusted with Oregon's lack of planning or action during the storm.  Most major streets remain unplowed and a sheet of ice, and don't even think about going down a rarely traveled side street!  Anyway, it is supposed to thaw mid week, however, now flooding is a threat because it will be raining every day.  Um, yay?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Best Laid Plans

So I'm a bit pissed at myself right now because I screwed up my back on Wednesday shoveling snow.  It was hurting when I was doing it but I kept going anyway, which was really stupid on my part.  It felt tender all that night but I did some stretching and figured it would go away with a good night's sleep.  It still felt off when I got up yesterday morning, but I figured again that once I got up and moving that it would loosen up.  I wrote out my Thinner Thursday post, then went to do my upper body workout.  The first set was a ventral raise (ie this but with dumbbells) and warning bells immediately went off the second I did the first few reps.  You know how sometimes you've got aches and pains, but you know if you keep at it the soreness will work itself out?  This was more of an "abort mission bitch!" kind of pain.  I stopped and attempted to do it again and the pain in my lower back started getting sharper, so I decided to back off entirely.  I decided to stretch and just do a Pilates routine later, thinking that would be less intense.  I gave it a couple hours, but about 10 minutes into the Pilates routine, the pain started getting really sharp again so I immediately stopped.  Sigh.  I know it was the right thing to do to stop, but it still frustrates the hell out of me.

We did go for about a 2 mile walk yesterday to go get some lunch (our lunch unfortunately obliterated any caloric benefit from walking), so at least I wasn't without activity, but it totally stresses me out to not be able to lift weights.  Today is technically a rest day so I'm going to respect that and hopefully give my back a chance to mellow out.  I really hope this passes soon, I really hate injuries.  I mean it is what it is, I have backup routines I can do that are low impact so that I will at least be burning some calories, but this is a good reminder to be on point with my food!

The snow event we got is getting less charming by the second.  So to recap, we got a shitload of snow on Tuesday night, it slightly softened up Wednesday then got below freezing, then melted slightly more yesterday and got to 14 degrees last night.  We've been working from home, but since we don't have VPN it's difficult for us to fully work the way we need to, so out of guilt and stupid optimism we decided to drive into work this morning.  (We were also led to believe by a coworker that the roads were better than they were, not that I'm bitter). HUGE error in judgement because the roads were straight up ice.  We were spinning at the first intersection leaving our house and it wasn't much better from there.  Thank God Eric is a total pro at driving on that crap, so he got us to work safely but Jesus.  It was like Ice Road Truckers, but not even that glamorous!

The weather isn't really going to improve the next 2 days so I've really got to get in our freezer/pantry and make a weekly meal plan from what we've got going on in there so that I don't have to go shopping out in this nonsense.  We're pretty stocked up on vegetarian options, I've got lots of frozen veggies/spinach and we have potatoes, beans, pasta and rice.  I'm not terribly worried about it, it's just more annoying than anything.

I am very nervous because tonight we're having our pet sitter come over and go over a plan for watching Molly when we're in Los Angeles.  The pet sitter is a new thing for us and so far we've only had her come do quick 30 minute visits to let Molly out when we've needed to be at work functions or plan to be out and about for awhile.  This will be the first time that she'll be watching Molly for an extended period.

I can't remember if I talked about this on the blog or if this happened during my hiatus, but basically the kennel we've used for years f'ed up the last time we kept Molly there.  We got her home and she had a huge scratch as long as my hand with a bunch of hair missing on her shoulder, and it was very red and swollen.  When I contacted the kennel, they had no knowledge of the scratch and had no idea what could have caused it.  The fact they didn't notice it pissed me off majorly, especially since the kennel isn't exactly cheap and we pay extra for her to be VIP or whatever.  I asked to speak with a manager and basically it was kind of like "oh our bad" with a shoulder shrug.  Anyway, I was pretty furious about it, especially since we've been very loyal customers for years and have recommended a lot of people their way, so I decided that was Molly's last visit.  She is getting older (she'll be 9 this year!) and has a heart condition and it has always broken my heart to drop her off and watch her tremble and be scared, so on that level I think everyone will be happier in a pet sitter situation where Molly can be at home in her element while we're on vacation.

The nervousness just comes from the unknown and the whole trusting a relative stranger with our house key and our dog.  Logically I'm sure it will be fine, the pet sitter is licensed, bonded and all of that jazz and has so far been very reliable for the short visits we've had her do.  I'm just hoping we're making sure Molly gets enough potty breaks and attention while we're away!  The thought of her being lonesome makes me kind of sad.  Despite being a diva, she really is just a big old baby!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thinner Thursday

Being back on track continues to pay off!

Previous Weight: 190.2
Current Weight: 188
Difference: 2.2 pound loss

I still feel like I maybe need to calibrate my calories a bit more, that's a pretty big loss for just a week's time.  To be fair, I was insanely active yesterday so that may have caused part of it.  I'm going to keep things at 1550 for another week and monitor.  I'm no longer famished between meals at least!

I'm sure you've seen on the news, but Portland got hit with a historic snow storm on Tuesday night into Wednesday.  We got about 8 or 9 inches at our house, which obviously is peanuts for places in the Midwest/East, but it's a huge deal here!  We had to stay home yesterday and will have to again today.  I don't know what it is about when it snows, but psychologically I just feel really antsy and almost trapped.  I felt like I was on speed yesterday and just could not sit still.  I did an extra lower body workout on top of the one scheduled, so it came to about an hour and a half of HIIT and lifting.  Then we took Molly for a walk in the snow, then I shoveled the driveway.  I still felt like climbing the wall after all of that, so I did an hour of yoga style stretching.  I never did feel tired.  I mean it's never good for your body to sit still for long periods of time, but damn, it just got ridiculous after a bit.  Today will probably be more of the same, except today is upper body/abs.  We may actually take a walk to a local diner just to get out of the house since we both have cabin fever like crazy.  Having said all of that, the snow is absolutely gorgeous and our normal old street looks like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting.  These are some of the pictures from our walk yesterday:

I love that picture of Molly.  She was none too pleased by the snow, especially since it was up to her chest, so I shoveled a tunnel in the backyard so she would have an easier time going out to potty.  It must have reminded her of the race track because she started zooming in circles!  That wonderment lasts all of a minute for her, so she's mostly been hanging out on the couch with a blanket over her.  She's funny, she likes to split her time being downstairs with Eric and then coming to visit me upstairs in my office and sleeping on the futon in here.

Anyway, that's really about all of the news there is.  Hopefully we thaw out soon (though it doesn't look likely).  In the meantime, I'm going to zone out to some classical music and get some work done!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sweet Potato Waffles

Hey guys, fun news!  I am always taking tons of pictures but then never post them to the blog because 1) Blogger is a pain in the ass and 2) sometimes I don't know how to fit them into the context of a post.  I decided to start up an Instagram account for the blog so that I can share them easily without you guys having to endure one of my novel blog posts.  There's so many little things I want to share sometimes that don't really warrant a whole post! The main reason I'm really kind of excited about it is that I feel like I always have good pictures of my meals to share, so now I can do that easily, plus give a calorie count with it.  If you want to follow me, my username is runstogetwaisted.

This is one of the pictures I shared to the new Instagram, but this morning I made some really awesome sweet potato waffles, and it was my own recipe!  Basically I had one small baked sweet potato left over in the fridge that I didn't want to waste, so I decided to take it and try to turn it into waffles.  It turned out really awesome and I was super happy with them.  Because of the moisture content of the sweet potato, they weren't super crispy, but I actually liked the soft texture.

They happen to be gluten free because I have a bag of Pamela's baking mix in the pantry that I don't want to go to waste.  I say this as a baker and as someone who is very picky about baked goods, but Pamela's mix is actually pretty awesome and impossible to tell from normal baking mix.  However, if you don't have that or don't want to get it, I'm sure this would work just as well with something like Bisquick.

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Waffles (makes 4 waffles)

1.5 cups of Pamela's baking mix
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange zest
1 TB oil (vegetable, coconut, canola, whatever)
dash of cinnamon

Combine all wet ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add in baking mix and whisk until combined.  Use a 1/3 measuring cup to scoop batter onto a hot waffle iron and cook per the waffle maker directions.

The waffles themselves were 317 calories apiece, but once I added 2 TB of maple syrup and 1 TB of butter, it made it 527 calories.  I think next time I'll just cut the toppings down to 1 TB of syrup and 1/2 TB of butter.  Anyway, it was super tasty, so I hope you'll make them.  Make sure you put the orange zest in the batter, it definitely elevates it and gives it a really lovely freshness.

We are getting a winter storm here in Portland and it's been miserably cold all week, or at least cold for us.  It's generally not gotten above 25 or 30 degrees all week, and we've had dips into the teens.  Today we're getting snow (it's snowing as we speak) and then freezing rain for two days.  It was good incentive to get our weekly shopping done and get our butts home!  One thing I've noticed with the cold is how stiff and sore my joints and muscles have felt.  I actually did an extra warm up video before my workout today and was very thankful I did.  I needed a little extra before I could even think about lifting weights today.  And ironically the extra credit video they offered today was a 30 minute stretching video, so it was basically like having one really long cool down.  I was very appreciative of it.  Even with that, my joints are still feeling a bit stiff!

I hope you all are having a great weekend and staying warm!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Do You Even Lift Bro?

As promised, here's some more detail about my workouts!  I know a big part of the reason I didn't blog for awhile is that I felt like I didn't have anything interesting to talk about when it came to what I do for fitness, but then it occurred to me that I really had never gone into detail on what the workouts are like or what I do!  I'll give a little schpeal and link to some of their videos below (there's no auto play, so it's safe to open at work), which BTW, are free!!  Their site is great and you could build your own workout calendar with just the free videos, I just chose to purchase a few of the organized programs they offer because I literally need my hand held when it comes to strength training.  I tend to focus hardcore on my lower body because it's what I'm good at, but really need help and assistance with my upper body.

I am trying to remember specifically how I found the Fitness Blender videos, I think I was looking for a barre workout and happened to stumble on this one from them.  I loved it so much that I started poking around to see what else they offered and saw that they had HIIT videos.  I've always wanted to try HIIT but have been scared shitless of it because it looks so intense, but decided to try their beginner video of it.  While it was incredibly tough I was able to get through it, so I just gradually started doing more and more of the Fitness Blender stuff.  I only had a couple pairs of weights, but when I started doing their lifting style routines I got hooked!  I started realizing that unlike running, I wasn't fighting myself on working out and wasn't bitching or making excuses.  I just came home, did my workout, felt good and life went on.  Something just clicked, and that's when I was able to let go of running without guilt and focus strictly on lifting and HIIT.

I alternate the workouts between combo of HIIT/lifting, or just lifting.  I prefer the just lifting workouts and tend to gravitate towards them especially on days where my motivation is lagging, but the ones that are a combination of HIIT with lifting sets mixed in are the workouts that I find to be the most effective.  The cardio stuff is stuff like squats, lunges, high knees, jumping jacks, etc and the lifting portions are things like deadlifts or squats/lunges with weights.  For upper body workouts it's stuff like burpees, planks, tricep dips and push-ups while the lifting exercises are the types of things you traditionally think of with lifting.  Bicep curls, chest flys, presses, etc.  My favorite workouts for either upper or lower body are lifting superset workout, which is basically doing two exercises right in a row without stopping.  (For instance, 10 weighted squats followed immediately by 10 deadlifts, then repeated again.)  My heart is pounding out of my chest during these workouts, yet it's low impact.  I think maybe I'll start posting a favorite workout of the week just so you can really see full examples of what I'm doing.  Typically they are all 30 minutes or less, though if my energy is higher, I try to squeeze in closer to 45 minutes.

If I'm feeling low energy or very sore after an intense session of HIIT from the prior day, I do an easy cardio routine like this or this.  Those were the types of videos I did in the beginning when my stamina was low, and they were an excellent way to ramp up to the more difficult workouts.  They also have a lot of great stretching videos, so if I'm really feeling achy I'll do a stretching routine like this.  It really all comes down to achieving a good balance on all fronts.  I try to make sure I'm not overworking one muscle group or the other, getting a good balance of cardio and strength, while also listening to my body and respecting the days it needs me to back off a little and do recovery cardio or stretching.

Anyway, that's about it in a nutshell.  I know I sound like a paid lacky for Fitness Blender, but I swear I'm not, I just truly love the videos that much.  Besides the fact that it's free, it's just so convenient to do it at the house and not have to go to a gym or get dressed and go through the rigmarole of going for a run.  Most importantly, the changes in my body have been pretty amazing.  They have videos ranging from 5 minutes to over an hour, with every fitness level in mind.  There's just no excuse to not do the workouts beyond injury or plain laziness.  Daniel and Kelli both seem like genuine, cool people and I LOVE that they don't have a bunch of music and cheery screeching in their videos.  They are right there doing the workout and huffing and puffing with you.  The fact that they offer the videos for free tells me everything I need  to know, and they are truly in this because they care about people's health and fitness.  They are very body positive and encouraging as well!  It's really worked well for me, so I just thought I'd share a little more.

The most important thing at the end of the day really is finding an activity that works for you and makes you happy.  You have to find your "thing", and whatever that thing is, do it consistently!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Thinner Thursday

I wanted to go ahead and bring back my Thinner Thursday weigh in posts for accountability and tracking.

Previous Weight:  193.4
Today's Weight:  190.2
Difference:  3.2 pound loss

Obviously I'm very happy with that loss but I'm assuming that some of it is water weight, plus I don't want to make a habit of dropping weight too quickly.  I feel like 1-2 pounds a week is healthy, but certainly don't want to drop 3 or more pounds a week consistently!  I did decide to bump up my calories just slightly starting yesterday from 1500 to 1550.  I've been paying attention to my body since getting back on track, and what I'm finding is that I've been consistently hungry after dinner in the evenings and starving by the time I wake up.  I'm not a breakfast person, so being that hungry in the mornings  (plus seeing the scale this morning) tells me that I just need a little extra food during the day.  I'm going to try that for a week so that I have enough for one bigger meal during the day or an extra piece of fruit in the evenings.  I figure if it helps, great and if not I can adjust slightly more.  Part of the issue is that I underestimate my exercise calories since I feel like MFP tends to really overestimate their numbers, so I'm likely burning more than I think I am.  It's just going to take some calibrating to get things right.

Things have otherwise been going really well.  I've really done my best to focus on whole foods and to make sure that I'm getting fruit and/or vegetables at every meal.  The way I feel is just night and day compared to over the holidays.  My pants feel so much more comfortable and my energy is starting to spike again.  I'm not craving garbage and my urge to snack at night/between meals has pretty much vanished.  The prep work and organization can be challenging for someone as disorganized as myself, sometimes I feel like I'm in an endless cycle of prepping and cooking, but it's definitely been worth it in the long run.  Being able to grab my already prepared breakfasts/lunches from the fridge has definitely made the mornings less stressful.  Some sample meals from the past week:

  • Baked sweet potato with toasted almonds and blueberries + soft boiled egg (breakfast)
  • Slice of wheat toast with PB and a banana (breakfast)
  • Cooking Light beef vegetable stew with rice (dinner)
  • Homemade tomato soup, 2 soft boiled eggs, orange slices (lunch)
  • Rice noodle salad with cabbage, radish and carrots (lunch)

My workouts have been really tough because I'm working on getting my fitness levels back to what they were, but I feel like I'm finally working through the cycle of being sore after every workout.  Today is the first time I don't feel muscle fatigue, plus I feel like I have a ton of energy!  I am eager to get back the muscle tone in my legs and arms, I sadly lost a bit in a mere 3 months!  I spent Tuesday looking at my workout calendar and planning what programs I'm doing until April.  I have a trip in February (Los Angeles) and then two trips in May, (Cincinnati and Chincoteague, Virginia)  so basically I'm just trying to train around those dates and have a plan in place.

I was pretty stoked to see that Fitness Blender actually has an upper body lifting routine that doesn't focus on mass building, so I purchased that one as well as a two week program that's kind of a HIIT/fat burning thing.  Once my FB Booty program is over, I'll go straight into the 2 week HIIT program.  That will end right before our Los Angeles trip, then when I get back I will do 4 weeks of the Upper Body program plus FB Booty in tandem.  I know it seems like a lot, but the upper body (FB Flex) and FB Booty are only 3 days a week each.  This way I'll have 6 days of workouts and leg/arm days will be alternated.  After THAT, I'm doing their 4 week abs program.  Needless to say, I'm covered until my trips in May, and also hoping that by then I'll be well on my way to goal!  After that, I think I may start up one of their 8 week programs since I'll actually be around town for awhile.

I started writing up a big thing about my workouts, because I realize that I've never really gone into detail about what they're like, but it made this post too long.  I will post it in a separate thing this week so that your eyes aren't glazing over!  I will also be posting a review for all of the Naturally Ella recipes I'm making.

Monday, January 2, 2017

January, You Start The Year Off Fine

Happy 2017!  I hope everyone had a really nice New Year's Eve.  We usually stay in, but we were actually social butterflies on Saturday.  We saw Rogue One for the second time (my aunt and uncle hadn't seen it and wanted to), then we came home and chilled for a bit before going to a friend's house.  Her husband smoked some ribs and a turkey breast and they were both delicious.  We had a nice meal and hung out for a bit, then got out of there at about 10:30 because we were worried about the freezing temps and drunk people on the road.  I was definitely nervous driving home, my car was covered in ice and the roads were slick, but we made it home fine thankfully.  It's been a wild winter here in Oregon so far!  We're supposed to get temps in the 20s this week, then another nasty ice storm (the 3rd one of the year).

On New Year's Day I did my shelter shift, then later that night we went to see Henry Rollins and his spoken word show.  Henry is one of the most fascinating guys and I could listen to him all day!  He tells a lot of great travel stories and is incredibly smart and funny.  If you ever get a chance to see him, you should!  Some of the things he said were very inspiring and it was a great way to start the new year.

Today was devoted to taking down all of the Christmas decorations and the tree, plus going and grocery shopping.  I sat down over the weekend and made a menu for the week and then went and stocked up today.  This is going to sound hokey, but it was actually empowering in a way to get back on track and walk up to the checkout stand with a cart full of produce!  I have a really nice menu planned up and have some new recipes on there to try.  I've been testing recipes from this food blog called Naturally Ella.  I'm sure it's been around awhile, but I've fallen behind on the times when it comes to food blogs so it's new to me.  It's a vegetarian blog and admittedly, the pictures are what drew me in!  Her recipes are very simple and wholesome, (and what I've tested so far has been delicious) but I'm finding they're quite caloric.  Just a good reminder that just because something is vegetarian or vegan doesn't mean that it doesn't pack a wallop on the calorie/fat front!  I just have to be careful about fitting the recipes into my macros.  When I test more of the recipes, I'll have to write a review for you guys!

I am a few days into my FB Booty program and am working through a lot of soreness, but it actually feels really good.  Maybe it makes me a weirdo, but I love that feeling when you lay down to sleep at night and your muscles are tired and vaguely sore from that day's workout.  I've been sleeping a lot better the last few nights since I started working out again, which is a really nice benefit.  I often have really awful nightmares (like being chased by killers, Keith Morrison from Dateline is going to narrate the story of my murder nightmares), but I've noticed that I haven't been having bad dreams the last couple of days.  That is definitely a nice benefit that I won't complain about!  I notice that I can't lift quite as much as I could before and that my stamina is slightly affected due to taking so much time off, but I think that I'll get back to the level I was before fairly quickly.

I feel really optimistic about this year already!  I just feel really good mentally for the first time in awhile, and I'm definitely happy to be back on track!