Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Egg-White Oats!

I've been hearing all about how people add in different things to their oatmeal to add in volume or extra nutrients etc. and to be honest I've just been too lazy to try it out haha! I was sticking with what I knew because it tasted good, I already had the macros plugged in, and plus I didn't know how the new stuff would turn out. 

I did try adding egg whites awhile ago and it didn't turn out how I wanted but this time around I added the egg whites part way through cooking the oats and it made all the difference! It's so simple and makes the oats extra fluffy plus you get the added protein from the egg whites. 

This has been my favorite post-workout meal for the past couple weeks and I don't plan on changing that! 

So these are my standard ingredients for oatmeal: quick oats, liquid stevia, vanilla extract, and now egg whites. 

I like to add in the vanilla for a little bit of added flavor and sweetness. Depending on what peanut butter I use, I will also add in cinnamon.

So here's how you make them: 
1. Take 1/2 cup oats and add in 1 cup water (or however many oats you're using)

2. Cook for about 45-60 seconds. Add 1/4-1/3 cup egg whites (I just put in however much I need based on my protein macros for the day). I also add in about 1 tsp of the vanilla extract but that's totally optional. 

3. Cook for another 2 minutes or so until the egg whites and oats are fully incorporated. I usually stir about every 30-45 seconds. 

4. Let the oats set for a minute once out of the microwave and add in whatever you like! I put in the liquid stevia and always some form of peanut butter haha. 

This is one of my favorites!

But oh wait...what do we have here? #nomnomnomnom

The finished products! 

If I'm using a plain peanut butter I like to add in some cinnamon but any flavored ones or the cookies 'n cream one I don't like to add it in. I'll also put on other toppings like granola, goldfish grahams, bananas, or other fruits. Just depends on what I feel like and what my macros allow. 


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sister Bootcamp Workout (Total Body & At Home!)

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! I feel like everyone has been saying it but really I can't believe it's almost Christmas. Today is just as jam-packed for my family as tomorrow will be so Christmas has always been a two day thing in my family. There's lunch at my dad's, dinner at my house, and church then tomorrow morning is breakfast at my aunt's and dinner at my grandma's. So Amanda and I will be cooking and cleaning all day in preparation for dinner. Layla doesn't even know it yet but she couldn't be more excited. She thinks every party is thrown in her honor haha! I'm not even kidding. 

The other day I put together a boot camp workout of sorts, and surprisingly Amanda asked to join me. Usually these workouts are not her type of thing but we made it into a fun sister workout! It's made up of 3 different circuits that you each do 3 times through. After each circuit is an insane burst of cardio to really sky rocket your heart more than it will already be going :) Amanda wanted it to be tough so that's just what I did! So for example you'll do circuit 1 three times through then do 3 hill sprints and then go on to circuit 2. It's a mix of upper body, lower body, HIIT moves, strength moves, and I even threw in some abs *gasp* ya'll know I never work abs! 

The great part is we did it all from home since we have some adjustable dumbbells and a hill right outside our door (we legit live on a hill). If you don't live on a hill or there's not one nearby just do regular sprints! Same goes for stairs. If you don't have any weights then just try to get creative with what you have around you: water bottles, bag of flour, cats, small children (not even really joking haha!). I've used one of cats before for squats or bicep curls and it was a joke at the time but those little heifers can be heavy! I've also seen moms use their babies and stuff to make it a cute little workout with them, and it's really sweet! If you can find some substitutions to dumbbells then this can be a great workout to do while at home or traveling. 

Circuit 1 (3x):
30 cross body curls (15 per arm)
100 mountain climbers
15 upright rows 
1 minute Heisman shuffle
15 burpees 

3 hill sprints 

Circuit 2 (3x):
20 stair dips 
20 180-degree jump squats
15 lying chest press 
20 v-ups
20 jumping lunges 

Sprint stairs 5x

Circuit 3 (3x):
12 lateral raise
20 kettle bell swings (probably shouldn't use a baby or small animal on this one though haha!)
21 bicep curls (7 bottom half reps, 7 top half reps, 7 full reps)
100 high knees 
30 russian twists 

3 sets of pull-ups til failure 

It took us about 48 minutes and we really didn't take any scheduled breaks other than a few seconds here and there for water. We were both dripping by the end but it was a great workout! Amanda even requested more so I know she must have been a fan because she does not like circuit workouts.  So grab a friend and let me know if you try out the workout and what you think! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

I happen to not be the biggest fan of peppermint in my desserts but ironically I have a lot of people in my life that do. So this recipe is for them and all of you who enjoy it or have peppermint fans in your life! 

By no means am I the first to come up with this combination but I did make this up as I went since I figured it wasn't rocket science. Amanda asked me if I was planning on following a recipe and I said "well, I'm gonna melt some white chocolate and add candy canes how hard can it be?"

And it wasn't hard at all! Takes less than 45 minutes and most of that time doesn't even require you doing anything ha! I just eyeballed the ratios and came up with the following proportions, which you can totally adjust to fit your tastebuds.

So here's what you'll need:
5 candy canes (crushed up)
1 bag of white chocolate chips
festive sprinkles (optional but really are sprinkles ever?!)

Here's what you do:

1. Place the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and in 30 second intervals slowly melt it. After each 30 second turn in the microwave stir the chocolate so it doesn't burn.

2. While the chocolate chips are melting, crush up the candy canes. Just place them in a ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin until most of them are ground up enough but you're still left with some decent size pieces.

3. Once the chocolate is melted, mix in about half of the crushed candy canes. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper and smooth out until it's level.

4. Place the remaining candy cane chunks on top and decorate with sprinkles.

5. Let it set in the fridge for about 45 minutes and then break into small pieces once the chocolate has hardened.

And that's all there is to it! It makes a nice sized batch but you can always double the recipe if need be. Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Longest Recap Ever

Hi all! I've been away from the blog for awhile but I'm finally done with school and have a week off of work coming up. So I'll have plenty of time to catch up on blogging :) 

Alright, so I'm going to try my best to do this recap in sort of chronological order! First thing first, we got the tree up right after Thanksgiving. It's tradition to do it the day after Thanksgiving while we watch Elf. I've seen that movie dozens of times and it still cracks me up every time!

I also started the She Reads Truth (it's an app) Advent plan this season! It began in December and then there's a scripture reading every day leading up until Christmas. 

Also, I got my hands on this jar of peanut butter and my life has just never been the same again. 

I put it on everything. Every. Thing. That's a dark chocolate Justin's peanut butter cup topped off in the best way possible! 

Last week my church participated in the annual choir walk and my aunt was in charge of refreshments so we were baking cookies like crazy! I enlisted the help of my mom for a little occupational therapy :) I also bribed her with cookie dough too haha! 

This little goober turned 2 on the 13th! I can't believe how much she's growing up (I know, I know I sound like a parent with their first kid) but seriously where does the time go?! I was saying to Amanda how I can really tell she's grown up a lot more. She's definitely on her way out of adolescence which I'm not sorry about that ha! I think it's common knowledge in the dog world that adolescence is the most difficult stage of raising a dog. I'm happy to say that the past two years of consistency is paying off nicely! P.s. she was totally thrilled about the snap chat as her face shows..

I recently mastered the art of adding egg whites to my oatmeal and the texture/volume is out of this world! It's my new post-workout obsession. I'm going to be posting separately about the new recipes I've been making because I don't want to make this recap any longer than it already is! 

And speaking of other new obsessions, I've been making my usual tortizzas with Flatout wraps and they're by far the best wrap I've ever used for them! The bottom gets nice and crispy without getting soggy so I can easily load up the toppings and not worry about the wrap collapsing when I go to pick up a piece of tortizza.  Pictured on this tortizza is a plain Flatout wrap topped with pesto, shaved brussel sprouts (pre-packaged at Trader Joe's), acorn squash, and mozzarella cheese. I've literally made so many versions of this over the past couple weeks so I'll post those soon as well! 

The amazingly sweet Rachael Miner over at The Simple Life sent me a Christmas package and this book was included. I LOVE IT. Although for me it should be called Coffee With Jesus since that's when I read it haha! But really, I love it. It's amazing to me how God works in His ways because I was just talking about how I want to find the Lord in every day and guys THAT'S ON THE FRONT COVER! ("Discover His Presence Every Day").  As soon as I opened the book I knew it was going to be just what I need and I can't even begin to explain how God has blessed me with Rachael's friendship. I thought it was cool because as she was reading it, I was on her heart and it turned out to be just the book I need right now! 

Okay, we're getting to the end since we're up until yesterday now! Megan was in town and since I haven't seen her since my trip to Connecticut back in May, I was so excited to be able to catch up in person! We went to Burgatory which is an insane burger place with THE best burgers and milkshakes ever. It's a dangerous combination! I always do the build-your-own-burger with elk as the meat since it's my favorite. People ask me what it's like and if you've ever had bison (I know this isn't helpful if you haven't) but it's a lot like bison but I personally think it's better. It's a very tender meat and not at all game-y like deer can be. I got my burger medium-rare and it actually came out on the rarer side which I was happy about! It seriously is so tender that it melts in your mouth like buttaaaa. I got mine topped with arugula, tomatoes, organic field greens, dill pickles, and this delicious garlic shallot aioli. As it's the holidays and memories over macros, I've been loosely tracking whenever necessary! 

So two last things that I will be posting the recipes as soon as I can: white chocolate peppermint bark and Christmas crack! Amanda and I are going the homemade route for the family this year so we're making all kinds of goodies for everyone. Margot came over the other day to help us out and it was a lot of fun! She's home until like the end of January which I could not be more thrilled about and we plan on having lots and lots of baking adventures. 

Phew so that's the end of probably the longest blog post I've ever done haha! It might've seemed to be longer to me, though, since Layla decided that an hour straight of computer time was unacceptable and kept bringing me toys to play with her. And, yes, I did play with her because I mean have you seen her face?! She's lucky she's pretty darn cute. 

Anyway, I'll work on getting these two recipes along with the egg-white oatmeal and torizza ideas! Another post I was thinking about doing is a week's worth of workouts so if you'd like to see that just shoot me an email :) 

Friday, December 18, 2015

It's the Little Things

As wonderful as this time of year can be, it can also be a stressful one, too. Finals, end of classes, shopping for presents, plans to travel, tons of events and parties etc. can all catch up to us. But at the end of the day we need to remember to take the time to just sit back, relax, and take time for ourselves. Even if it's just for a couple minutes.

As you all know, I'm crazy about my dog #sorryI'mnotsorry #andneverwillbe haha! But seriously, Layla is my go-to girl when I need to just sit back and breathe. It's amazingly therapeutic to be with her, and I forgot these past few days how much it can be necessary to just slow down for a few minutes. Saturday and Sunday were go, go, go all day type days. I was working on final projects and studying all day Saturday that I hardly paid Layla any attention at all. Her birthday was on Sunday and I was maybe home for a full two hours between church, social events, and more church stuff, and Monday was the same as Sunday plus my final class at night.

Needless to say that I was feeling pretty burnt out Monday night when I got home. It was a little after 9pm, I was exhausted, wanted to go straight to bed, but then I caught sight of Layla. Just as sweet, loving, and happy to see me as usual even though I had been so caught up in myself the past three days. I had hardly spent any time with her, and I felt awful.

I knew she hadn't been out on a walk that day since it was raining all day but it finally stopped so I grabbed her leash and asked her if she wanted to go for a walk even though it was after bedtime. You would've thought by her reaction that I told her she just won the lottery (of treats haha). She was so happy to be invited to go somewhere with me and I made her whole day just by giving her my time.

We weren't gone long, maybe 25 minutes, but it was to give Layla a mental break from being cooped up all day, stretch her legs before bed, and to relax together. When we got home she was just so excited to have my undivided attention that I played tug of war with her favorite rope toy. Yes I was still tired, still burnt out, and wanted to sleep but it was worth staying up those 15 extra minutes to play with her. Once she was tuckered out I just laid on my bedroom floor and Layla LOVES it when you lay on the floor with her. She came right over, plopped herself down on my chest (yep she's 70lbs...), and started trying to lick every inch of my face she could reach. I had her stop and so she laid her head tucked under my chin and gave a contented sigh.

As I laid there on the floor with Layla cuddled up, I started thinking about how it was worth staying up an extra hour after getting home. I was feeling so much better already and totally relaxed. I thought to myself "when was the last time I took the time to simply be with her without any distractions?" and I knew it had to be either Thursday or Friday. It might sound crazy to people but that was a long time for me to go without connecting with my dog.

I have learned a lot from Layla and I think you will find any dog owner who is crazy about their dog say the same thing. She teaches me so much about just enjoying the simple things in life, soaking up the moment, and of course unconditional love. There are so many days that I feel like I don't deserve her love because no matter what I say or do, she still sees me as worthy of love. I joke around with Amanda and tell her that God sent us dogs as a reminder of his perfect and unconditional love, but it's really not that much of a joke and never was. My point is that being with Layla teaches me to slow down and open my eyes to see things a little bit differently in life.

I'm done with finals now, but the past few days I've been much more intentional about taking those few minutes to sit with myself and God, and to re-charge a bit. I try to appreciate the little things more despite the mountainous to-do list waiting for me. My goal is to find the Lord in each day because even if I'm feeling stressed out, have tons to do, or whatever is going on in my life I know that it's all part of a plan. What's going on now is shaping me for the future.

So as we are in the midst of the holiday season, let's all try to be a little more mindful of spending more time in the moment. Our society has become extremely fast-paced that it is nearly impossible to keep up all the time. All the little moments and small things that make us smile can pass us by if we're not careful. Look for the blessings, the little things, take the time to sit back, and it's amazing what you can find.

Best of all I think it's pretty cool that I learned this just by laying on the floor with my dog. It truly is the little things.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Incline Walking Cardio Blast

Incline walking is one of my favorite forms of cross-training cardio. I can't stand the elliptical, and my gym doesn't have a stairmaster so usually the treadmill is my last option. Also since I have a treadmill at home it's an easy way to throw in some cardio when I need it!

Just walking though can get pretty boring so I like to mix it up a lot when I do my incline walking. What I typically do is add in some little HIIT moves here and there to really keep my heart rate up and my muscles working. 

Here's what I did this morning: 
1) 3 minutes incline walking
2) 1 round of HIIT-- 20 jump squats, 50 high knees, 20 jumping lunges

Then jump right back on the treadmill and repeat! I leave the treadmill running so that I can keep the time going plus then the incline and pace are already set and I don't have to wait for the treadmill to warm back up. I just hop right off the treadmill, do the round of HIIT, and hop back on! Just be very careful getting on and off! It usually takes me about a minute to do the HIIT moves.  I repeat about 7-8 times to get me to about 30 minutes. 

For the walking itself, I do about a 10% incline (that's the highest my treadmill will go at home) so I do about a 4.0-4.2 mph pace. At the gym those treadmills can go a lot higher so I do a minimum of 13% there with a 3.7-4.0 mph rage depending on the incline percentage.  The important thing is that you set it to what you need but make sure you're still pushing yourself! You can add in whatever type of HIIT you want. Some other combinations I've done: 

1) 10 burpees, 20 pop squats, 50 jumping jacks

2) 50 ice skaters, 20 lunges, 15 pike-ups

3) 20 tuck jumps, 15 kettle bell swings, 30 shuffle squats

It's a great way to combine HIIT with steady state cardio and really keeps my heart rate up! Plus it keeps things interesting for me, and that helps me to look forward to my workouts. No one wants to keep doing the same thing over and over, that gets too boring! 

Let me know if you come up with any of your own HIIT combinations, I'd love to hear them :) 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Healthy Chicken Salad

 I never thought I'd see the day where I liked chicken salad! I'm not a fan of mayo at all but I've been meaning to try out a chicken salad with subbing greek yogurt for the mayo. Well, I finally got around to it! And I loved it. 

My friend told me about her chicken salad that she makes with pistachios and green grapes and it sounded delicious to me so I got my inspiration from her! She uses light mayo instead of greek yogurt but what I like about hers is she uses very, very little so you can hardly tell it's mayo. I still wanted to try it out with greek yogurt, and like it just as much. 

Plus, with all the chicken and greek yogurt it's packed with protein! The pistachios give it a nice crunchy texture and I like the green grapes since it gives it a touch of sweetness but not overly sweet. It might sound like an unusual combination but trust me when I say it works.

Here's what you'll need:
20oz shredded chicken
1/2-2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup green grapes, diced
1/2 cup pistachios, rough chopped

I did these proportions based off the chicken so if you don't want a huge back of chicken salad you can scale them back to fit what you need!

First, I prepped the chicken with the greek yogurt. Amanda made chili the other night so she kept some of the chicken separate for me. To make it easier to eat, cook it in the crock pot and then you can shred it afterwards.  Just a few hours on high did the trick and then I seasoned it with lots of salt and pepper. 

Once the greek yogurt and chicken is combined, add in the pistachios. I did a rough chop just to break them up a bit but still with large enough chunks for a nice crunch. 

Next dice up the grapes! I love these green grapes that I found at Sam's club. 

Fold in the grapes (be as gentle as you can so you don't crush them) and it's done! I added in a little more salt and pepper at the end just to make sure it was really seasoned well. 

This made a huge batch with two tupperware containers one for me and Amanda each. It was a great meal prep recipe for this week as I've been having it for lunches and snacks all week. 

And of course here are the macros! The serving size is 1/3 cup and I got 15 servings for the whole recipe. 

Enjoy and let me know what you think! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Handling the Holidays

So it's that time of year again. The time where everyone panics because they're afraid all of their hard work is going to get undone in one day. Let me tell you that after enduring four years of holidays where I legit had anxiety attacks thinking about the food, it's totally manageable.

And some of you are probably thinking "well you don't know my situation" or "easy for you to say" because yes I've already put in four years of hard work and someone else might be just at the beginning. None of that matters, though, because we all start somewhere.

The key is to realize two very important things:

1) memories > macros

2) it's a very small time frame compared to the rest of the journey

I'm in this fitness thing for life. No I'm not going to count macros for the rest of my life but counting them has educated me and given me valuable tools for how to keep my life balanced. My point is that abandoning tracking macros for one day tomorrow is not the end of the world. That one day compared to the rest of the other days that I plan to stay on track is practically negligible in the scheme of things.

However, I am not going to use this as an excuse to binge, go overboard, or stuff my face to the point of being sick. I plan on using tomorrow as the perfect opportunity to practice what I preach: balance. This is gonna sound weird but it's just like when I take advantage of training opportunities to train Layla: if I don't take the opportunity then Layla misses the chance to learn something. To me, it's the same thing as helping myself learn to eat balanced without the help of tracking macros. How will I ever learn if I don't take the opportunities to do so?

There are of course some concrete steps that you can take to help yourself be successful. I'm not just gonna blab on about balance without helping you out haha!

1) First and foremost my main tip is DRINK WATER. Keep yourself hydrated and you will be better able to distinguish your body's cues i.e. if you're hungry or just thirsty. I drink about a gallon to a gallon and a half of water each day. So by the time I'm getting around to dinner tomorrow I'll have had plenty of water already.

2) Stick to lower carbs and fats early on in the day. Really try to eat a lot of protein because even though there will be turkey and prime rib (if you're like my family) let's be honest we all pile on wayyy more carbs than we do protein at Thanksgiving! I mean really, though, that's the way it's meant to be haha but just try to get in some good sources of protein at breakfast and lunch.

3) Try to squeeze in a workout (if you can). This can free up some space for extra macros but it's not necessary at all and for most people not very possible with being out of town or cooking like crazy. Also, I don't know if this happens to other people or maybe I'm just a freak of nature but working out actually curbs my appetite. My rest days are brutal for me because I am completely ravenous and it really tests my self-control. It's not the end of the world if you can't get a workout in but I find it helps me to stay on track if I do. I plan on getting in around 8-10 miles tomorrow plus walking Layla so that will free up a lot of carb space for me.

4) Mind over matter. Remind yourself that food is not what holds the power. This is going to sound silly but there have been times where I stand there holding something I'm craving and I start praying and telling myself the food isn't in control. It's all in my head and by acknowledging that, I can reason myself through the situation. If you're afraid of binging tomorrow then try to align your mental grip. For me it's praying and Bible time but do whatever it takes to help you. Meditation, talking with a trusted friend, working out, quiet time, journaling, crafts, etc. Seriously whatever it takes to get you to a better place mentally then try it out!

5) Find an accountability partner. I met a wonderful friend this way through my coach's facebook group and I highly recommend it. It's great to have that bond with someone who knows what you're going through and can give you that kick in the butt when you need it. Grab a friend or family member that wants to stay on track too and help each other out.

6) Focus on your time with family and friends, not food. Yes, easier said than done but just really try to focus on being in the moment with those you love. The more and more I put this in to practice the more I found that food just took a backseat to everything else. Basically the holiday seasons of 2011, 2012, and 2013 I wish I could go back and just shake that girl. I can't so there's no point dwelling on it but it's time I can't get back. Last year in 2014 things were infinitely better but I'm excited about this year because I'm bringing the strongest package mentally of all time in my life.

7) Don't weigh yourself. Just avoid the scale because if you hop on it Friday morning after having a much bigger dinner and dessert than usual chances are all you're going to see is the effects of water weight. It's not worth the extra stress or headache, and I'm just going to wait until early next week to weigh myself for my check-in. I know for sure I cried Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012 when I weighed myself because I made that mistake and thought I had gained pounds overnight. It was really only a couple pounds of water from carbs, which went away after a day or two, but I freaked out anyway and restricted for days afterwards. It's. Not. Worth. It.

8) Get back in the game as soon as you can. I know that not everyone can go back to tracking as usual on Friday like me (I don't have to travel) but I still have family plans both on Friday and Saturday. My plan is just to loosely track at those events but I'm not going to treat myself as much as I will tomorrow. Not in a depriving myself type of way but I do have goals in mind that I want to reach. I'll be back to my usual tracking come Sunday with zero guilt or stress.

Finally, though, just breathe. Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of reflecting on all the things you're thankful for. Instead of stressing about food try giving gratitude for having food when there are others who wonder where their next meal is coming from. If you're stressed about not being able to work out, give thanks that you have your health and are physically able to. These are all things that have helped me overcome my fear and anxiety of the holidays and a big part of it was shifting my perspective. It doesn't happen overnight and it's a process but I have faith that anyone can do it if they put their mind to it!

I hope these tips help, and everyone has a blessed holiday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Quads & Hiking

So last week was my rest week and it was just what my body ordered! I stick to light cardio only a few times a week, and make sure to rest and stretch. I swear my body loves each rest week more and more. There are some people I know that don't take rest days for MONTHS and I don't know how their body survives! I know it varies from person to person but I find that if I don't give my body proper rest and healing I get injuries left and right.

Anyway, after feeling refreshed and energized from my rest week I hit quads yesterday at the gym! I have since split up my leg days since I started my cut for two reasons a) I am insanely quad dominant so I need a day where I can focus just on my glutes/hamstrings without my quads tryna take over and b) my lower body is the hardest area for me to lean out. So giving it two days a week really helps me to give all three areas proper focus.

Here's my quads workout from the other morning:

It felt great to be back in the gym, and I had an awesome shoulder workout this morning. I can post that as well if you guys want, just shoot me an email or leave a comment! 

After doing some homework and lunch, I went shopping with Hannah to look at some sales. I'm so cheap that the sales still seemed too expensive to me haha! So yeah I didn't buy anything but we decided to take the dogs hiking in the woods once we got back. 

Layla loved being able to run around the woods with her sister! Lola has been quite energetic too lately but I think it's more to do with the fact that Layla isn't such an annoying puppy anymore. Lola seems to like her more and more these days, which Layla couldn't be happier about! 

We walked out to the old train tracks to get some cool pictures. Amanda wanted a cute one with the dogs, and Hannah and I laughed as we watched her try to wrangle them in. We could've helped and got them to listen buuuut we were too entertained :) 

Although we did get this sweet picture of the cutie pies! It is 100% their relationship-- Layla looking adoringly at Lola and Lola's just like "girl, plz. stahp." 

I know I sound like a broken record BUT I have more posts in mind and along the way! I promise I'm going to try to be an actual blogger again but grad school has been kicking my toosh. I have tons of ideas coming so I'll work on getting those posted! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Weekend in the Mountains!

I'm a little sad that I'm posting this right now because it means I am no longer cut off from civilization miles deep in the mountains. Call me crazy but I will pick a trip to the mountains over the beach every single time. I'm not a big fan of the beach but pluck me down in the middle of the woods with no cell reception, internet, television, or electronics of any kind and I'm in heaven. And obviously make sure Layla is there haha!

Me, Amanda, and our dad spent the weekend at our house in the Appalachian mountains which is about three hours north of where we live. There's a small town at the base of the mountain and then we have about a 30 minute drive winding our way up, up, up deep into the woods. I love it! There are a couple other houses around us but hardly anyone is up at the same times so you really have the mountains all to yourself. It's insanely remote but I tell my dad all the time that I'm going to retire up there. Possibly like next week haha!

It's amazing to just unplug and relax because there's really nothing else to do! Which is how it was designed and the way we like to keep it. There isn't a tv and never will be, zero internet, no data reception for your phone, and you're lucky if you get good enough cell reception to make a call that can last longer than 10 seconds. Luckily, Amanda got good enough reception to check in on our mom once a day but me and my dad were out of luck. We couldn't get any but I wasn't bothered haha!

People always ask me when I tell them about our camp and the first thing is: "well....what do you do all day?"

Honestly, that question makes me sad because our culture has gotten so caught up in technology, the newest fads, social media, and just constantly staying connected. That sort of lifestyle is exhausting to me and one I don't really find appealing. I love just sitting out on the front porch of our cabin, Layla sitting at my feet, and watching the sun rise over the tops of the trees. The sense of peace and calm that I feel is indescribable, and in that moment you can feel so in-tune with life and simply appreciate God's creation.

So to answer the question: we do tons of things! We go for hikes, do some yard work, play card games, other board games, sit around the fire and talk, cook together, make s'mores or mountain pies, re-tell old favorite family stories, crack jokes, go visit neighbors (if they're in), and just relax and enjoy one another. Something you'll often find us saying is where the day went because all of a sudden it's getting dark, and time seemed to have flown by.

Anyway, I'll stop my obsessive rant about why I want to live off the grid and get back to catching up about the past weekend! I'm warning you there are approximately a million pictures but I just couldn't help myself. It's such a beautiful place and I go a little picture-crazy. I had quite a difficult time narrowing it down to just my favorites to share. If I hadn't then this post might've been 10 pages long.

We stopped to get some groceries in town and we were so excited to find this GIANT stem of brussel sprouts for only $3! This is the kind of thing my family gets excited about haha! They were delicious and we had them for three different meals plus took home the extra.

Once we got up to camp, we settled our stuff in then took a hike for about an hour while we let the cabin warm up as the fire started. It was pretty overcast and chilly in the mid-30s but Sunday and Monday we got much better weather. 

This is our view from the side yard to the left of our house. There's a trail to the left of this picture (you can't see it) that leads to our freshwater spring where we get all of our water. There's no running water so everything is old school. 

The trail is straight back between those two larger trees in the center. 

We took a hike out to our neighbor's farm a couple miles away to see if the trees had produced any apples like last year. Sadly there weren't any but it was still a great hike! 

It's crazy how much quicker it gets darker up there compared to Pittsburgh. It was only about 4:30ish while we were out there, and already the sun was going down. 

I was up around 6:30 am Sunday morning, and sat out on the front porch with Layla and my coffee while watching the sun rise. It was absolutely beautiful! And such a peaceful way to start the day. 

Oh and me and Layla played with the filter on my camera :) 

I walked down across the road to the hollow across from our house and loved how the light was coming through the pines so I took more pictures! Layla didn't mind, she was happy to go crashing through the leaves smelling everything haha! 

After our morning photo shoot, we had breakfast and headed out around 8 to go for a hike. We went out to the point where you can look down the side of the mountain to the valley below. It's an amazing view! 

Before dinner we headed up to the fields about half a mile from our house to see if there would be any animals out at dusk. Usually if we're lucky we can spot some elk but nothing was out! 

The sunset was still worth the walk up even if we didn't get to see anything. 

Then we got started on dinner! On our way up it's tradition for us to stop at this little butcher where he cuts the meat fresh for you. Hands down he has the best steaks I've ever had. I really don't eat a lot of red meat (the last time was probably last year on our trip ha) but these steaks hit the spot! They were also HUGE. We had to split them in half so we ended up getting six regular sized steaks out of the three he cut us. 

She likes to think she's the best sous chef in the biz haha! 

We cook the steaks over the fire outside and it never fails to be delicious. I told my dad he better not cook them any longer than medium-rare and these were perfect! To be honest, I actually prefer my steaks on the rarer side of medium-rare but since we got delmonico steaks (aka the besttt) they were nice and tender. I might not eat steak all that often but I am well-aware that I am a steak snob haha!

After dinner, we had a round of s'mores out by the fire before heading inside for our nightly tournament of Yahtzee. Pro s'more tip: place your chocolate on the one half of the graham cracker then put it on a rock in the fire ring next to the fire. That way the chocolate gets all nice and soft which makes the s'more out of this world good! My family has always done that with our s'mores and it's delicious. You can also use mini candy bars like twix or snickers instead of plain chocolate which I would highly recommend. Just melt them a bit just like you would with the chocolate! 

Monday morning was the usual routine: coffee while sitting on the front porch before breakfast. We all have to drink decaf now #heartproblems but I don't mind because I just love the taste of coffee. It's great to just sit out there in the peace and quiet plus Layla always provides lots of entertainment as she spazzes out running around the yard. 

We took another hike after breakfast to just savor our last morning there. We spooked some grouse which nearly gave us a heart attack! If you've never flushed out grouse then you're in for quite the surprise. They wait til the absolute last minute, burst out in front of you, and legit sound like a jet engine with the way their wings beat. Layla jumped about a foot and came running back to me when it first happened haha!

Amanda wanted to take a family photo before we left and I just had to share because this cracked me up. She was setting her phone up and trying to take a test picture to check the angle and well it got majorly photobombed...

 The second one was much better! 

It was a weekend that I desperately needed and even though I'm sad it couldn't have lasted longer I know I'll be going back soon! My dad promised that we would not wait a whole other year until we go back up. All three of us are going to be more purposeful in finding the time to make an escape back up to just un-plug and savor life together. 

I can't wait until then! Where's your favorite place to go and unplug? 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Cut Workout Splits & My Current Carb Cycle

I can hardly contain my excitement right now! In approximately 2 hours and 33 minutes (but who's counting right? lololol) I'll be on my way to the mountains with my dad and sister Amanda! And of course Layla! It's my favorite place in the entire world, and we haven't been up since last fall so it's a much-needed trip. I got all my homework and papers done beforehand so I can just unplug, quite literally there's like zero reception, and enjoy it. By the way Layla has been in hardcore pout mode since last night when I begun packing because she's still convinced she's not coming. The last time I packed up my stuff and hers, she went to my aunt's for a week. Don't get me wrong she LOVES it there but this is a dog who seriously has a problem with being left out haha!

This is her official pout spot. She refuses to even look at me or the camera when I try to take pictures haha! Such a goof. I keep telling her she's coming too but she won't listen.

So before I take off for the weekend, I wanted to get a post up answering a couple of questions regarding my current cut. What my workouts are looking like and my macros so here you go! Note: I'm still not going to share my personal macros since that varies between individuals :)

Monday: leg day 1 (quads)
Tuesday: bis/tris & 3 mile run
Wednesday: shoulders & hill sprints
Thursday: leg day 2 (glutes/hamstrings)
Friday: back & cardio
Saturday: long run
Sunday: rest day

This isn't always set in stone and just depends on what I'm doing. Like this past week I switched around Tuesday and Wednesday because it had been raining and Layla loves to come with me on my runs. I swapped workouts so that she could come running with me on Wednesday! I will also add or decrease my cardio on a weekly basis if I think it's something necessary. As well as squeezing in short HIIT sessions every so often (most likely after glutes/hams) if I think I'll benefit from it. I know there's like this whole thing out about #TeamCardiNO but seriously it has so many benefits. Not just for leaning out purposes but for overall total health so I don't like to cut it out.

For me personally I split up my leg days because my lower body is hands down the hardest place for me to lean out. Plus I really want to focus on building up my hammies so I think that splitting up the two will not only help me in my cut but also in that goal as well. I want to be able to devote more time to each separate area of my legs. 

I've also gotten some questions about my macros and if I'm carb cycling. I am not currently carb cycling but I might add in a high carb day if I feel like I need it in the next couple weeks. Currently this is how I'm cycling my macros. 

Monday: moderate (possibly high)
Tuesday: moderate
Wednesday: low
Thursday: moderate
Friday: moderate 
Saturday: moderate (possibly high)
Sunday: low

Depending on if I find I need it I would either give my high carb day to quads or my long run (depending on how many miles I go). Not both in the same week but if I think that I need it more one day or the other based on my workout then I'll add it in then. I don't always think it's necessary to carb cycle, but if I feel like my body needs a higher carb day OR a calculated refeed then I might add one in every so often. We'll see! 

So my macro cycle is that I have 2 low days and 5 moderate but if I add in the high carb then it would be 2 low, 4 moderate, and 1 high. 

Hope this answers your questions! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Zoo 5K

This past weekend I did a 5k run with some friends from work at the zoo! It was great because we actually got to run through the zoo but none of the animals were out that early. We got free admission after finishing the race, though, so the five of us just hung out afterwards. It was a lot of fun, and me and my one coworker were running around like little kids (legit like going through the tunnels in the exhibits and stuff because why not) but I regret nothing haha! 

It was perfect running temperature in the low 40s which people probably think I'm cray but that is honestly my favorite running weather. Sometimes preferably the upper 30s is when I do my best running work.

None of my friends are runners but that's fine with me. I signed up for the race to have fun with them, and didn't mind running at their pace. It was great just to chat as we ran along looking at all the exhibits!

Tigers will always be my favorite animal! As a kid I would watch documentary upon documentary learning about them and well it's not like that's changed much now haha! 

It's been a few years since I've visited the zoo so I was excited that there were a couple new exhibits. The red panda, which is the cutest little guy ever, and the cheetahs. 

The leopards were moved too, and the exhibit was re-done so that they could come right up to the glass. I thought it was cool because I love being able to see them up close. 

We spent a good 10 minutes watching the elephants play! You could tell they were siblings or cousins or something the way these two would interact. 

Want to hear a classic Sam joke that I of course told at the start of the race? I asked my one coworker if she heard about the cheetah getting out and her face was priceless! Then I told her "don't worry it was spotted" get it?? Cue the eye rolls haha! But I crack myself up. 

See that little plastic bubble in the back left? Yeah those are the things you crawl through the tunnel to get through, and yes that is where me and my one coworker would go. Obviously haha! 

I've totally fallen off the grid but I have a ton of posts backed up that I'll try to get up soon. I'm going away this weekend with my dad, Amanda, and Layla to our house in the mountains, and I'm beyond excited! I'll try to get some blogging done before then but in the mean time have a great Friday!