Friday, February 24, 2017

Favorites Friday

Happy Friday!  Here's some favorites of the week!

Favorite Workouts

I just started two Fitness Blender programs at the same time, FB Flex (upper body) and FB Booty (lower body).  Each program has 3 workouts a week, so I just staggered them so I have 6 days of alternating workouts!  Hopefully that makes sense.

The favorite one that I can recall for this week is the Upper Body - Guaranteed Muscle Burnout workout led by Daniel.  I am trying my best to start really pushing myself to lift heavier on upper body workouts.  It's really, really tough for me since my arms are nowhere near what my legs are.  I've almost outgrown my weights for lower body exercises, but still struggle and can only do 10 to 16 pounds total for many upper body lifting exercises.  I definitely want that to change, and the only want to make it change is to push much harder, so I really went for it this workout and lifted as hard as I could stand while keeping good form.  I shook the entire workout and pretty much melted into the floor by the time I was done, but felt so proud after!  I was so sore for 2 days, but I definitely saw how much I'm capable of pushing!

Favorite Recipes

Not shockingly, my two favorite recipes this week were courtesy of Cooking Light!

Banana Bacon Nut Toast

This was really, really tasty.  I've always scoffed at the whole Elvis peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich folklore, but I've gotta say that Elvis was on the money here.  Bacon in small quantities is not only delicious obviously, but it's not really high in calories, and there's just enough here to provide a nice smoky saltiness to the banana's sweetness, the pecans add a nice crunch and the nut butter adds creaminess and makes it feel extra indulgent.  I'd been in a breakfast rut lately, and this definitely made me excited about eating in the mornings again!

The recipe is here, but I slightly tweaked it.  I used a half a banana on my toast and also used Trader Joe's mixed nut butter (reviewed below) instead of straight up almond butter.  I was surprised at how filling this was!

Peruvian Steak and Sweet Potato Bowl

This was another dish that really hit the mark when it comes to having complimentary flavors, texture and color.  It's also a very simple dish, especially if you make the beans and rice in advance.  It also made me question why I don't cook flank steak more since it's both inexpensive and delicious!  The crunchiness of the pumpkin seeds (can't you tell I love crunchy things in dishes?) really added to this and kicked it up a level.

I think this dish would have been just as good without the dressing, but the dressing was really nice.  The recipe is here.  (Just to note, I did tweak the dressing based on what I had on hand.  I used harissa paste instead of chipotle chilies and used Grade A maple syrup instead of honey.)  Also if you want to kick your beans up a notch, add a half to full teaspoon of lime zest.  It especially elevated a dish like this!

Favorite Products

Please pardon me while I look like a total schill for Trader Joe's this week, but I picked up two impulse purchases there that ended up being amazing!

Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter

I saw this on the shelf when we were shopping Saturday and grabbed it on an impulse and I'm so glad I did!  I eat peanut butter all of the time (although I have to be careful with brands because it can cause horrible heartburn for me), but really am not a fan of almond butter.  It just has a muddy taste to me and doesn't really do much for me.  The mixed nut aspect of this really appealed to me however since I love cashews, hazelnuts and pecans, and I definitely wasn't disappointed.  You can definitely taste all the the individual nuts going on in there, so it gives it a more complex flavor.  I also like that it stays sort of liquidy, for lack of a better term.  It just feels lighter than peanut butter and makes it really easy to drizzle over things, and I especially enjoyed drizzling it over a banana for a nice hefty snack in the afternoons.

Trader Joe's Almond Butter Granola

I was looking for some granola just to mix up breakfast this week and also impulsively grabbed this at TJ's.  Oh my God.  Usually I'm whatevs about granola, especially since most of it is sickly sweet and the serving sizes are too tiny to be worth it.  This one is a very generous half cup serving and is delicious!  The whole almonds in it provide a great crunch and toastiness, and to me it's not as sweet as other granolas I've tried.  I've really been enjoying it as a topping for smoothie bowls this week (it's not fancy, I just pour smoothies into a bowl instead of a cup) and it's really been so delicious and filling.  It does have 9 grams of sugar a serving but you know, YOLO.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thinner Thursday and Recapping our Los Angeles Trip! (Part 2)

Ug sorry guys, work exploded so I wasn't able to get my Part 2 recap up when I wanted.  Before we get to that, I wanted to do my weigh in with a small caveat.  Long story short, I discovered my scale is inaccurate (in my favor) by anywhere from 0.4 to 0.8 pounds and has been for God knows how long.  In the scale's defense, it is around 11 years old, so I just think the calibration is probably way off and old girl needs to be retired.  I am continuing to do my weigh ins on it until I can get a new one just to continue to be accountable, but keeping in mind that the number might not be 100% accurate.

Previous Weight:  186.8
Current Weight:  186
Difference:  0.80 pound loss

I'm really happy with that obviously and definitely suspect I'm lower than that due to the way my jeans are fitting.  I've had a good stomach week too (not sure why, I'm not doing anything different?), so I'm definitely less bloated.  Anyway, good stuff!  Now on to the rest of our LA trip!

Day 2:  Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Chez Jay and Santa Monica Pier

We were obviously feeling a bit crispy the morning of Day Two after the holy shit death metal extravaganza, but we all sucked it up and ended up having an amazing and really packed day.  We started up at Griffith Observatory, which is one of the coolest touristy things you can do in my opinion.  I'd never been IN the observatory since it was closed the one time we went, but thankfully it was open.  It is SO cool!  I loved looking at all of the exhibits, especially the Tesla coil demonstration!

It was a stunningly beautiful day, so walking outside of the observatory was a real treat too.  LA has gotten so much rain lately that everything was lush and green, which was something I hadn't experienced there before.

And because I'm very mature and ladylike, I couldn't pass up this opportunity...

Afterwards Eric drove us down to Los Feliz and took us to lunch at a diner called House of Pies.  I hadn't eaten much for breakfast that morning so I was pretty hungry, and ended up getting a delicious BLT and split a piece of apple pie ala mode with Eric.  I am usually not a huge pie person, but theirs was really awesome!

After lunch we definitely needed to walk around and be active, so we took my aunt and uncle to the Hollywood Forever cemetery.  Now I know that seems ghoulish to some, but I really like cemeteries for some strange reason.  They are just always so peaceful and quiet, and especially in a frantic city like LA that can be a bit of an oasis.  I strongly encourage you to check this one out, it's incredibly beautiful and is a great place to walk around, and to me it is interesting to see all of the celebrity graves.  There is a fantastic statue of Johnny Ramone, and there are a lot of other people like Estelle Getty, Mel Blanc, Mickey Rooney, Cecil B. Demille and tons of other interesting celebrities who shaped Hollywood buried there.

One of the coolest aspects of the cemetery is that they have a ton of peacocks roaming the grounds.  I'm not sure why, but it definitely adds to the beauty of the place!  We were lucky enough to see one of the males put his feathers on full display when he felt threatened by another male, and it was very fascinating because he was somehow making his tail feathers vibrate?  I'd seen peacocks fan out their tails but had never seen this behavior, so it was pretty cool to witness!

After all of that excitement, we definitely needed a quick nap and shower, so we headed back to the rental for a quick break.  For the record, I personally think vacation rentals are a much better deal than getting a hotel room.  Sometimes it's a little bit rolling the dice, but we got a whole apartment that fit the 4 of us with room to spare, a full kitchen/fridge and a parking space (so impt in Hollywood!) for a fraction of what a hotel would have been.

So this day actually was my aunt and uncle's 12th wedding anniversary, so we took them down to Santa Monica to an old school place called Chez Jay for dinner.  Chez Jay is hard to describe, I suppose it's technically a dive bar, but it's really so much more than that due to its history!  It was a frequent hangout for celebrities like Jim Morrison, the Rat Pack, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe.  Daniel Ellsberg reportedly handed the Pentagon Papers to a NYT reporter while having dinner there (in the booth we sat in this trip I might add!).  There's many, many more stories like that and you can just feel the history when you walk in there.  It's very dark and intimate.  I love it!  They also have super tasty seafood dinners, and all of us ended up getting the Swordfish Bearnaise for dinner.  Delicious!

After that we took a walk to the Santa Monica pier to take in all of the energy and the lights.  I'd been on the pier during the day but never at night, and it was so beautiful.  We walked the whole length, just enjoying the breeze and all of the musicians.  I also decided to be brave and get on the ferris wheel (momma does NOT do heights), and ended up being so happy that I did!  Their ferris wheel was actually pretty sturdy and didn't swing all over the place, so I actually was able to relax and enjoy the gorgeous view!  The moon was insane that night, it was really huge and bright and there were a lot of stars out too.  Hopefully they won't mind that I shared this, but I HAD to share this pic I snapped of my aunt and uncle while we were on the ferris wheel!  Aren't they cute?!

I also had to post this silly as hell souvenir photo that we got afterwards.  I mean of course we had to buy this, because how can you not buy it?  I just love that Eric looks very unimpressed by the impending death flying our way.

After the ferris wheel we each got a frozen custard for dessert, then I made everyone go down to the beach!  Even though this photo is dark, I really love it.  I was just so happy in that moment, standing with my feet in the ocean and taking in all the views of the pier.  It was the perfect night!

Day 3:  Universal Studios, The Rock Walk and El Compadre

Oh boy, this was yet another action packed day, but SO much fun.  We got to Universal Studios pretty early, I feel like it was around 9 am or so and didn't leave until 3:30 or 4 at the least!  I love this beautiful statue that greets you when you walk into the park.

So, the last time we were at Universal they were in the process of building the Simpsons and Harry Potter attractions, so we were excited to check them out now that they were done.  We were definitely not disappointed!  The Simpsons stuff was such a head trip, they didn't miss a single detail from the nuclear plant to Moe's to Krusty Burger!  They even had a Lard Lad donut stand, and I cannot stress how ENORMOUS the donuts were.  I later looked on MFP and the whole donut was over 1600 calories!!  (Don't worry, the 4 of us split that whopper).  It was shockingly tasty, as was the Krusty Burger and the Duff beer in Moe's!  The Duff beer was a bit outrageous though, they served it in a 24 ounce glass!  Eric and I just split one, and even that was almost too much.

The first thing we did actually was go on the backlot tour, which is my favorite part.  It's so fun to get to see all of the different sets and hear about the history of the studio.  They of course have all these cheesy special effects things sprinkled in, but that's what makes it fun!  They have this awesome King Kong 3D thing during the tour, and while I usually am not the biggest fan of rides, this is so well done and realistic!  (I believe I educated some kids behind me on every swear that exists the first time I ever experienced it!)  They had actually added to the experience when we took the tour this time, and when King Kong crunches into a dinosaur or snorts, they spray water in your face to make it seem like you're getting splattered with blood or mucus.  It's gross and awesome at the same time!

The Harry Potter attraction is absolutely exquisite.  I really give them props for what a beautiful job they did building that world, and there was definitely a lot of care and attention to detail.  It was really cute seeing how excited the little kids were (most of them were dressed up), and hell, even the adults were pretty excited!

I did get a frozen butterbeer, and it was very good although a bit sweet!

We also watched the Animal Actors show (I know some might find it cheesy, but we're all animal lovers so we liked it!) and did the Jurassic Park ride as well as the Simpsons ride.  I definitely was out of my comfort zone with getting on rides, it's not something I really do ever because I get horrible motion sickness.  The Jurassic Park ride is pretty mellow until the end so I can tolerate that, but the Simpsons ride is super intense and I had to keep my eyes closed the whole time because of the 3D they were using.  Every time I opened my eyes it made me super queasy since the ride was also pretty violently jerky.  Even Eric admitted that it was a bit too intense, and he doesn't nearly have the issues that I do with motion sickness and all of that.  Anyways, we survived!

For our Hollywood finale we visited the Rock Walk in front of the Guitar Center in Hollywood, then went to dinner at El Compadre.  If you are a music fan, make sure you go out of your way to get to the Rock Walk, it's basically the Walk of Fame but for musicians.  There are dozens upon dozens of hand prints of musicians who shaped the music industry.  I snapped tons of pics, but had to post my Brian Wilson picture.  :)

In general LA has amazing Mexican food, but El Compadre is really special.  It's another dark, intimate place, and not only do they have amazing food, but they light their margaritas on fire!

We had such a wonderful dinner.  My dinner choice of grilled shrimp tacos technically was healthy, but me choosing to eat a thousand chips with guacamole and two flaming margaritas probably didn't help my health goals!  Ah well, I enjoyed every bite of it honestly, even though we all rolled out of there stuffed to the gills.  Afterwards we took a stroll around the neighborhood and we walked past Eric's old apartment that he lived in before moving up here, which was sentimental for me to since that's where I stayed when we were long distance dating and I would come to visit!

Anyway, that's it.  Thanks for bearing with me spamming you guys so many pictures (and trust me, this was the culled down version).  It was just such an amazing time with my family that I wanted to share.  We definitely made some fantastic memories!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Recapping our Los Angeles Trip! (Part 1)

Hey guys!  I decided to be nice to myself and not do Thinner Thursday last week.  I know that's a cop out, but I stepped on the scale post vacation, had a stroke, then decided this week was probably going to be more accurate as to what's going on.  I think my body is probably still reeling from traveling, sodium and not being in a routine, so I'm just going to give it a week to settle!  For honesty's sake, my weight was 191 when I weighed, but I am pretty positive that it's mostly water weight/bloating, especially since we had Chinese delivered for a quick dinner the night we got back and I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.  In place of that and Favorites Friday, I wanted to recap our Los Angeles trip, which was absolutely wonderful!  It was busy, action packed and I had an amazing time with Eric and my aunt/uncle!  We had a lot of laughs, and it was fun getting to experience some of our favorite LA stuff through their eyes.  I've had the blog so long that I can't remember what I've told you guys and what I haven't, but basically Eric lived in Los Angeles for 11 years before we met.  He was an entertainment journalist for many years before leaving that industry for the corporate world.  We met through work (I was at the Portland office), and I went down for a training and we met in person for the first time.  Lightening bolts, destiny, fireworks, all of that, and then he moved up to be with me.  We go back to LA a lot since his brother lives there, and I've really grown fond of it and have come to appreciate its history.  We always have a blast!  Anyway, Eric is the best tour guide for LA you could have, and my aunt and uncle wanted him to take us around and show the sights.

For the most part I did okay from a health standpoint.  I would rate myself a solid B- I guess?  I was probably the most "behaved" the first two days when it came to food, but we really went for gusto on Day 3 with both food and alcohol.  I don't really regret when I overindulged, it was all stuff that I can get only in Los Angeles, I was having a good time and it was worth the water weight/extra pound or two to be honest.  I did stay faithful to tracking in MFP, so my streak is still going strong!

I admittedly didn't end up doing my Fitness Blender workouts.  We had a rough night our first night there and ended up sleeping probably about 2 hours max?  We rented this VRBO in Hollywood, and during the first night there was someone either a street over or possibly in the same building who decided to start practicing/singing death metal songs.  (You know the type I'm talking about, the one where it's screaming and not singing.)  Anyways, it was like a full on like we were standing in a club, shaking the room volume that went on from like 2 am to 6 am.  We were all pretty despondent about it, especially since we'd been up since 3 am Saturday and all of that jazz.  Since it's LA, there's no point really in calling the cops unless someone is being murdered in front of you pretty much.  We did talk to our rental guy in the morning and he felt horrible, and he found out that apparently these psychos did get the cops called on them and there was a complaint filed.  It was literally THE only negative thing that happened the whole trip.  Anyway, my larger point was that I sure as hell wasn't doing a workout after that night, and then the rest of the time I decided to prioritize spending time with family instead of fretting whether I was burning an extra 100 calories a day.

We did get in plenty of activity.  I don't wear a calorie tracker like a Fitbit or anything, but we were definitely crossing some miles every day.  Not enough to burn off what we ate certainly, but we definitely didn't laze about.  We all even took stairs instead of escalators where possible, took walks after meals, etc.  We walked so much that my foot freaked out and my plantar fascitiis flared up briefly, but thankfully went away!

I thought I would go day by day with recaps of what we did and show you guys some of my pictures!  I know I've been terrible about posting pics on the blog lately, and today will definitely make up for it!

Day 1:  Canter's, Farmer's Market and the Rainbow

The one thing I love about going down to LA is that travel wise for us it's so EASY.  The flights are cheap, plentiful and only take about 2 hours.  We got down there in record time, and even though getting up at 3 am majorly sucked, it was so awesome to land in LA at 9:30 with a full day ahead of us!  After checking into our rental and dropping our bags, we went back out for lunch at Canter's Deli.  If you're not familiar, it's an old school deli in Hollywood that's been around since 1931!  Eric first took me there because it was a place that the members of Guns N' Roses used to eat, in fact this famous picture was taken at a booth in Canter's:

I absolutely love this place and beg to go every time we go down to LA.  I don't know what it is, it's just that it's not fussy, it's very authentic and it's a place that regular people go.  They have the bakery counter to end all bakery counters, but I always get a black and white cookie.  I will rarely leave LA without getting my black and white fix at Canter's.  We all got a cookie each, and it was seriously like the best batch they've ever made!  (I just stuck with matzo ball soup and an egg cream for lunch).

 Afterwards we drove over to the Grove and the Farmer's Market to show my aunt and uncle around.  We were stuffed to the gills so we didn't really buy anything other than pastries for breakfast in the morning.  I opted for a couple of small rugelach, nothing too crazy.  The best part was that there was a booth selling soaps that benefited injured rescue animals, and they had an adorable rescue goat you could pet!  As you know I instantly become 5 years old whenever I see an animal, so I asked the lady running the booth if I could pet him, and she told me yes then handed me a french fry to feed it.  So cute!

After roaming around at the market we came back to our rental and caught a quick nap so we'd be a bit refreshed for the evening.  Since we had time and Hollywood Blvd was literally around the corner from our rental, we took a walk up there to take in all of the insanity.  Even though I am not the biggest fan of mascots, I was brave (ie had a glass of wine in me) and took a picture with "Finn" from Star Wars!

And then I took pictures with my man.  <3

Afterwards we met up with my BIL/SIL at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset, yet another one of my most beloved spots in LA.  They have pretty amazing pizza, it's another laid back place where you can just chill, there's a lot of great history and there's a good chance you'll see a celebrity in there!  It's dark in there and basically lit up with just Christmas lights, so it feels a bit like a mobster speakeasy.  My aunt and uncle fell in love with it too, which made me very happy!  We had a really nice time catching up with Jeff and Nicole, noshing on yummy pizza (I only had 2 slices but wanted like 9!) and throwing back some beer.  Afterwards we walked up and down Sunset to show them all of the historical bars (ie Whiskey a Go Go, The Viper Room, The Roxy, etc).

Holy crap you guys...this is so long lol.  I have 2 more days to recap (with pics), so I think I'm going to cut the post here and do a two parter since I don't want to torture you too much and have the posts be 79 pages long!  Stay tuned later this week for part 2 of our adventures!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Favorites Friday

Favorite Workouts

No Jumping Recovery Cardio

I'm going to be straight up, I felt like dog crap on Monday.  I had 2 beers and 2 glasses of wine at our Superbowl party Sunday, which in the olden days would have been a mere nightcap but apparently my 37 year old body is like "nah girl" about it now.  It aggravated my insomnia and I was awake from 12:30 am to 4 am.  Oy.  Anyway needless to say, I just was not feeling some crazy workout when I got home from work but I also didn't want to totally slack, so I chose this low impact workout as a compromise.  It was totally what I needed and by the end of it I felt so much better!  I was able to move and sweat a little but without totally burning myself out.  This workout would also be great for beginners or anyone who needs a low impact workout that doesn't have jumping in it.  This is also an example of one of the workouts I have on my schedule when I'm in L.A.!

Lower Body Workout for People Who Get Bored Easily

I've had this workout in my favorites for awhile now, and I constantly go back to it time and time again.  Besides the fact that I love leg workouts the best anyway, I love the bored easily format and also love this particular group of exercises because I'm all about the squats and deadlifts.  I was particularly proud that I was able to use 15 pound weights (30 total) for every single one of the lifting exercises!

Favorite Meals

Skinny Taste's Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

We had my aunt and uncle over for the Superbowl, and one of the things I made for our party were these meatballs.  They are everything I love about wings but are about a thousand times easier and healthier!  I love that they are filled with tons of vegetables (if you hate vegetables or have vegetable haters in your life, this would be a good way to sneak them in).  Now full disclosure, I actually did make a traditional wing sauce with them (1 cup of Franks with 1/4 cup of butter) instead of just going with the paltry 1/3 cup of Franks from the recipe.  To me it's worth having that classic wing taste, and it only came up to 34 calories per meatball.  They were a big hit and I wish I'd made a double batch!

Honestly if you take away the wing sauce component, they'd make just a great basic meatball that you could add to just about anything from a classic marinara sauce to teriyaki sauce.  They would also freeze well if you wanted to make a couple of batches for future use.

Trader Joe's Misto alla Griglia 

I have been totally obsessed with this vegetable mix from Trader Joe's lately!  It's a lifesaver for creating a quick but really tasty dinner, so I like having a couple bags in the freezer at all times.  I like to mix it with cooked pasta and a bit of pasta water for a humble little pasta dish, and the vegetables are so flavorful that you don't even need additional oil, salt or spices.  I'm sure it would be wonderful as a pizza topping or in a wrap with hummus, but it's hard to pull myself away from just making pasta dishes with it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thinner Thursday

Ug, I'm having to do some Stuart Smalley level talking myself off the ledge this morning.

Previous Weight:  187.4
Current Weight:  186.8
Difference:  0.60 pound loss

So two weeks ago I was steadily losing, last week I was up a pound, and this week I thought that surely I would be at my weight two weeks ago or lower, but I'm just shy of that.  Despite mentally coming so far, stepping on the scale this morning and seeing that has sent me into a mild tail spin.  I truly thought I was going to see a 185 number, so not seeing it was a huge disappointment.  I have at least 30 if not 40 more pounds to lose, and the thought of how long it will take to lose it if I either stall or bounce back and forth every week is giving me hives.

I am trying to remind myself of all the things I would tell any other friend in this situation.  I feel fantastic, and my workouts have helped me combat the depression I've been struggling with for months.  I'm wearing the smallest pants size I've worn in years.  My measurements are showing progress and I am starting to show muscle definition.  From a fitness standpoint, my strength levels are miles from from I ever thought I could do.  For me to be able to consistently use 20 and sometimes even 30 pounds total for upper body exercises was unthinkable even a year ago, but I've finally hit that place.  That's small potatoes for the average person, but for someone who had a weak upper body and core, it's pretty cool.  I have a hundred little micro examples of improvement that I should focus on, but yet the scale is still bothering me.  Usually it doesn't, but I just want desperately to not be in an overweight BMI range.  I just barely got out of the obese range (finally!), and I'm just ready to be in a more normal spot.

I am trying to calm myself down by telling myself I'm doing the right things, so all I can do is trust the process and if I continue to do what I'm doing, I will lose.  I am active, which for me at this point is less about weight loss and all about feeling good.  I monitor my food and eat a mostly balanced diet in sensible portions.  At some point there is going to be a whoosh, I just wish it would come soon so that I could calm the hell down!  It doesn't help that I feel so bad about my stomach this week, specifically my digestive issues.  I always look bloated, and some days it's so discouraging to feel proud and excited of muscles popping out in my arms, then look down and seeing my stomach just looking ug.  I put on jeans this morning and have an effing roll over the waist due to the bloat, so now I feel self conscious because my shirt is form fitting and you can easily see it.  I mean seriously, at what point can I just wear a normal size top and not have to worry about this ridiculous thing showing?  I'm just very frustrated.  I have yet ANOTHER doctor's appointment in March, so we'll see what he says.  Probably to take Miralax, lol.

I'll get over it you guys, I promise, I'm just having a crappy day.

We are leaving for our Los Angeles trip on Saturday, so this weigh in has put a slightly different spin on things for me.  I do want to enjoy myself, but now I feel like it's more important than ever to stay mindful and do my best to maintain at the very least.  I'd already been brainstorming how to balance having fun while also not being crazy, so here's what I'm thinking.

1)  Exercise:  We are getting a VRBO in Hollywood and it does have Wifi, so I am going to bring my tablet and put some low impact cardio on my schedule.  I was originally going to just take a break from from my workouts, especially since we'll be busy and doing lots of walking, but especially now I think fitting 20-30 minutes in of low impact stuff in the morning would be beneficial and help keep me in my routine.

2)  Eating:  Tracking my food and keeping up with MFP is non-negotiable, no matter how much or what I eat.  I have a good streak going and also want to remain as aware as possible of how much I'm eating.  I also plan to keep my breakfasts light in order to balance out what are likely to be caloric lunches and dinners, along with sensible portioning.  Breakfast is probably the meal that impresses me least during the day anyway.  I perused the menus of the places we're going and have a basic plan in place to enjoy myself without going insane.  Thankfully since it's California, healthy options are pretty easy to come by.

Anyway, this too shall pass I hope.  I'll be back tomorrow to post my Friday favorites!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Favorites Friday

Favorite Workouts

1.  Upper Body Workout For People Who Get Bored Easily

So I was dumb and over-trained my lower body towards the end of last week (long story short, I didn't take a rest day when I should have and did a supposed total body workout that really was geared heavily towards the legs, which was not good since leg day was the previous day), and was feeling a lot of fatigue in my legs.  As a result I had to take a rest day and then switch out a leg workout for an arm workout.  I've done this arm workout before, but had kind of forgotten about it until I chose it for my schedule over the weekend.  It was exactly what I needed since it didn't involve the legs really at all.  It's challenging and had my arms quivering by the end, but I felt so empowered and accomplished by the end!  I love the "Bored Easily" series from Fitness Blender.  Even if there's something you hate in the routine, at least you only have to do it once, then you move on with your life!

The big win from this workout is that it gave an adjustment to certain lifting exercises that were making my back mad.  Typically for things like tricep kickbacks, closed rows, etc you bend at the waist with a flat back and do both arms at the same time.  Ever since I hurt my back earlier in January, these movements have bothered me immensely and put all kinds of pinching and pressure in my lower back.  In this video Kelli took a split stance and did one arm at a time with her back angled up a little more, and I found that I had zero pain when doing the exercises that way!

2.  No Equipment Butt and Thigh Workout

Kelli released this new workout on Monday and I immediately put it in my favorites list after I completed it!  I actually did do it with weights since I wanted to amp up the challenge, but even without weights it is quite the workout! (The set of squat holds immediately after a set of jump squats is just plain mean!)  I was sweating like crazy 5 minutes into the workout and felt really tired afterwards, so it's definitely a keeper.

Favorite Meals

1.  Avgolemono Chicken Soup with Rice

So this soup is very ugly, hence there being no personal picture of it, but it was pretty delicious!  It was one of those total comfort soups, and the combination of the lemon, egg and rice was pretty magical.  It was simple to make, filling and is very affordable to make.  It was also low calorie and high protein and I'll definitely be making it again.

Favorite Non-Fitness Stuff

1.  Jackie

This weekend we saw that movie "Jackie", which honestly I was kind of shoulder shrugging about because I'm not the biggest fan of Natalie Portman.  While I acknowledge that she is very pretty and a fairly decent actress, she just comes across as a bit snooty and borderline Gweneth Paltrow-ish and it grates on my nerves.  Anyway, I went into it expecting the movie to be like most of these biopics, adequate at best, a train wreck at worst, but ended up being pleasantly surprised.  It honestly is one of the top movies I've seen in the last few months!

I fully will eat crow here and give Natalie her due, she was really incredible in the film and I felt she really played Jackie quite well.  Thankfully she had a great script (which seems to be half the battle in these biopics), but she genuinely had a lot of range and played the role very well.  As I mentioned, the script was tight, smart and really focused on just the week or so after the JFK assassination.  There have been a million movies on JFK but none that have really focused on Jackie Kennedy, so it was very unique in that way.  Also, the girly girl part of me was swooning over every single outfit in the movie!  They did a fantastic job with the costumes.  Anyway, I can fully recommend the movie!

2.  Playing For Change

If you know anything about me or have followed the blog for a bit, music is a huge part of my life.  I 100% believe that music has the power to change lives (it has changed mine many times), inspire and yes, heal the things that are wrong in the world.  I can be cynical in a lot of ways, but my belief in the power of music has never wavered and if anyone thinks I'm a silly dreamer for that, so be it.  I had a moment this week where I just realized I needed a mental health break from social media, the news and getting swallowed in anger.  (It's a fine line to walk, staying informed while also not being consumed and overwhelmed.)  As I have many times I decided to turn to music, specifically Bob Marley, when I stumbled on this set of videos from this organization called Playing for Change.

I didn't realize how badly I needed to see/hear these until they were in front of me, and I definitely had a few emotional moments going through them...basically this organization has musicians from all over the world record a song together (each person records their part separately in their country and then it's all put together).  It's much more beautiful and eloquent than I'm describing, it's staggering how many countries participate and how many various instruments are used, but the end result is just absolutely breathtaking.  Seeing so many people from all over the world come together and create something beautiful put me in a better frame of mind.  They also teach music education around the world!

I've linked to a couple of the videos below, but you really should go check out their Youtube channel, there were so many wonderful and inspiring performances that it was hard to choose which ones to link!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thinner Thursday

Previous Weight: 186.4
Current Weight: 187.4
Difference: 1 pound gain

So I know I sound like a broken record, but even though I was kind of irritated to step on the scale and see a one pound gain, I'm not too broken up about it.  For one, it's shark week, and us ladies know how that goes.  Sometimes there's water weight and you just really can't do anything about it.  Secondly, I took measurements yesterday and from an inches standpoint I'm where I was back in July, and even lost another quarter inch in my neck (which WTF!).  This is why it is SO important to make measurements part of what you use to record your progress.  Old me would have been sad to see a gain on the scale and assume I was failing, when truthfully my body is where it was. The pants I'm wearing today were uncomfortably tight two months ago but are loose on me today.  I guess what I'm saying is, the scale number is annoying but ultimately it's all good.  Ultimately I trust the process and will just keep on as I have been.

Right now I'm in an in between phase between Fitness Blender programs since we're going to LA at the end of next week (!!!), so I didn't want to start anything new.  I've been curating my own workout routine and toggling between upper body, lower body and core.  It's a good break and forces me to really thoughtfully plan my workouts and not over train one area or another, but I will be glad to get back to Fitness Blender picking the workouts for me!

In general the rest of this week and all of next week are about staying on point and making sure that I'm in a good place for LA, and I'm also trying to plan roughly how to eat while I'm there.  Right now my thinking is to just keep breakfasts really light so that lunches and dinners won't be that impactful, and to also just keep portion control/food choices in mind at meals.  For instance, I'm still at Canters and having a good time if I have a bowl of matzo ball soup and one black and white cookie as opposed to ordering the soup, two egg creams and half the bakery counter.  It will be difficult since there's some stuff I really love in LA, but I just plan to be as mindful as possible while still enjoying myself.  Luckily we're going to be doing lots of walking and active things, so that should help matters!

When we get back from LA I'll be starting up FB Flex, which is an upper body program.  I'm pretty excited for it, I've been noticing more and more progress in my upper body strength (I'm still a TOTAL weenie at pushups), so I definitely want to keep working and getting stronger.

That's really about it for now!  I'll be posting my Friday favorites tomorrow!