Friday, January 30, 2015

Another Snow Day Workout!

Okay so I'm totally laughing at myself because I forgot to look up the official term for one of the moves in this workout. I made a note in my phone to track my workout from Wednesday morning so that I could actually share the whole thing with you guys. I wrote it as I went along making up the workout and for the one move I couldn't think of what it was actually called so I told myself that I'd look it up later and fix it. 

Except I didn't. And I already put the pictures all together and edited them so there's just no going back now. What I really mean is that I'm just too lazy to go back and fix it. 

And I also still don't know the right name. That's my other excuse. 

Sooo yeah, I call them "shoulder plank thingies" but something tells me that's not the proper name...

Anyway, all you do is you start in a plank then go down to your forearms (still in a plank position) one arm at a time then back up again to your hands so that you're in the traditional plank. Then, you just repeat and go back down to your forearms. Anyone know what I'm talking about?? I always call them shoulder plank thingies because it's meant to target your shoulders as well. So that's how they got that name from me! 

If that made zero sense to you and you have no idea what I'm talking about then feel free to just substitute that exercise for another one! Also, can anyone explain to me why every single time I type a number followed by mountain that it underlines it in yellow? 

I totally sound like a grandma asking her grandkids for tech help right now but it's the story of my life. But when I click on it my phone keeps asking me if I want to create an event about the 100 mountains. Am I supposed to go climb all those mountains? Are other people supposed to come if it's an event? Is this like a mountain party? What is Siri trying to tell me?! 

Moving on from the mysteries of my phone, here's the workout that I did the other morning! 

I did this workout following my other snow day workout that I made up on Tuesday morning. At first my abs did not seem as sore as I thought they were from doing the ab roller the day before. So, I figured I'd add in some ab rollers during this workout. 

Well, needless to say but they were VERY sore and as soon as I did the first rep this was pretty much my reaction... 

It was pretty brutal but I stuck with it until I got to 10 and then collapsed for a few seconds while I allowed my abs to recover. I then decided to take it easier on the abs for the rest of the workout, and leave out the ab roller! 

I went through with as little breaks as possible and the whole thing took me a little over 30 minutes to complete! The key is to go nice and slow during the reps to make sure you're hitting the proper form to really work those muscles! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ground Turkey Meatsauce over "Pasta"

This is probably one of my favorite things to make, and I forgot just how much I love this recipe! Lately, I've been in a food rut just eating the same things but I'm trying to challenge myself to stop being lazy and to actually branch out with more recipes. So far it's been successful! 

Ideally, the zucchini and squash in this recipe would look more like noodles but I don't have my spiralizer yet since I just ordered it from Amazon. Which, I can't wait for it to get here! So until that happy day, I have to make due with the old stand by where I chop it up and serve the meat sauce over it that way. Just as yummy, though! 

You can always skip the zucchini and squash, and use this as a sauce with actual pasta. I honestly prefer having the veggies! It tastes much lighter and more refreshing to me that way. 

For this recipe you'll need: 
3 small zucchini
3 small yellow squash
2 pounds lean ground turkey
1/2 large onion
 8-10 cups spinach 
1 24-oz jar pasta sauce 
1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 tbsp basil
salt and pepper to taste

First, chop up the onion and put that in a pan with the ground turkey. Let those cook together while you start chopping the veggies! 

For the zucchini and squash I kept it short and sweet with the spices. Just a drizzle of sunflower seed oil to help brown them, and then salt and pepper. That's it! The real flavor will be with the sauce :)

Cook the meat until it's no longer brown and the onions are soft and clear. 

Once that's done, then add the pasta sauce! This is where I like to let it bubble and boil for several minutes to get rid of that jar taste. Add in the garlic, basil, and more salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, and let it bubble and reduce for about 7 minutes or so. 

By now, the zucchini and squash should be nice and browned! 

Once the sauce is where you want it to be flavor-wise (a.k.a. doesn't have the fresh-from-the-jar taste), add in the spinach. This is where you want to keep adding as much spinach as possible. I probably put in the amount pictured about 4 or 5 times. 

That's the crazy thing about spinach! You put in what looks like a ton and then look 5 minutes later the spinach disappears and is like "lolololol let's play hide and seek"

So put in what you think is way more than necessary, and then put even more in! 

See? Where did it all go?!

When the sauce is all ready, scoop yourself out some veggies and top if off with a big serving of sauce and of course some cheese! 

What's one of your favorite recipes?!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

20-minute Total Body Workout

This can either be a 10-minute workout or a 20-minute workout if you repeat the circuit again! I did this through once as the starter for my Snow Day Workout. It's up to you!

The way this works is you do each of these moves for 50 seconds and then have 10 seconds of rest/prep for the next move.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

1. High knees (bring that knee to your waist!)
2. Alternating bicep curls (fast, lighter weight)
3. Mountain climbers
4. Overhead tricep extensions (fast, lighter weight)
5. Scissor kicks
6. Standing shoulder press (fast, lighter weight)
7. Pulsing superman (lift and lower arms and legs)
8. Kettle bell swings (fast, challenging weight)
9. Ice skaters (optional: resistance band around ankles)
10. Jumping lunges (optional: light weight on shoulders)

Repeat! Or go on to this workout here :)

Honesty Hour: Taking a Step Back

The past week I took a step back from everything and just re-evaluated everything going on in my life. My relationships, my fitness, my passions, my future, but mainly my priorities. I always want to be totally honest on here and if you've been following this blog for awhile then you know that under no circumstances do I ever have it totally together. Nor have I ever wanted to portray that image so I decided it was time for another honesty hour post! 

As you all know, I follow macros. It's come to the time near the end of my reverse diet, though, that I'm just getting a little tired of tracking. It has nothing to do with IIFYM and I'm so grateful for the freedom and balance it has given me. It's more to do with the fact that I realized I have been tracking what I eat for about 4 years now, both healthily and unhealthily. 

So I'm pretty much at the point where I'm just done with tracking all together. I don't want to have to worry about putting food in my mouth and thinking to myself "does it fit my macros? what adjustments am I going to have to make?". 

I want to begin challenging myself to eat intuitively, and to get back to my natural roots of just listening to my body. I have gotten to a place of peace with food and a balance that I don't think I had even before I started tracking four years ago. But the thing is, I want to check that tracking hasn't given me an artificial sense of balance. That's not a negative thing, and all I mean is that I've finally found my balance with food but it's within the confines of a set of numbers. I will always be able to keep my balance if I know it's within my macros but what about outside those numbers?

I want to take that peace and balance with food and apply it in real-life. No tracking, no apps, no second thoughts about macros. This is the next phase that naturally follows finding a balance through tracking macros. I think that macros are wonderful for giving people a sense of what nutrition their body needs and a great way to educate themselves about portion sizes, macro ratios, and how to properly fuel their bodies. The thing is that we will eventually outgrow that. The counting, measuring, tracking, etc. It's just not something you can do long-term for 40+ years. 

In no way am I saying that macros are not a good idea but at the end of the day, I don't want to rely on them forever. That's what I mean by an artificial sense of balance. My macros helped me find peace with food, but one day I need to learn how to keep it all on my own. 

I thought that day was a lot farther off but for right now, I feel like the best thing for me is to start decreasing my tracking little by little. Like the past week, I did not want to track at all so I didn't. I have no intentions of tracking tomorrow, either, and you know what? I'm fine with that. I don't have any guilt or anxiety over it. 

I don't want to become obsessed with the numbers again, and I just want to do what's best for myself both mentally and physically. Now, this is NOT a free-for-all where I'm just going to go crazy and eat whatever I feel like. It's supposed to be practice for intuitive eating and to do the whole 80/20 thing but just without tracking. 

I still plan on weighing and measuring because I don't want to lose sight of portion sizes. I think that's something important to keep in mind even if I'm not specifically tracking. The only thing is I'm not going to track it, check macros, or worry about switching things out. 

I'm also going to make sure that I don't deprive myself of something that I might be craving. If I want something different than what I have packed, I'll switch it out. Such as coworkers bringing in treats which happens a lot at my office! No complaints though :) I think it's important to indulge your cravings every so often even when there might be a better option. I'm human, and it happens to everyone. This is the type of freedom that I want. Switching out an apple for half a bagel isn't going to happen every day, and there will be some days where I'll probably say no in favor of a better option. I also probably wouldn't do it if I know I'll get to have something even better later on. You bet I won't pick the bagel if I know froyo was on the table!

I'm also applying this philosophy to my workout schedule as well. I am the biggest creature of habit, and for so long I was just stuck in my workout schedule. The same thing over and over again. Sure, the workouts were a bit different but the days were the same (i.e. Monday is quads, Tuesday is shoulders/run, etc.). Lately, I've felt as though I really miss running. With the winter weather and having to move my runs around or cut them out that I've ended up putting lifting above running for the sheer convenience of being able to do it indoors. I love lifting I really do but I would be lying outright if I said that running did not make me happier. 

So for the past week I've just been doing my own thing when working out. I didn't feel like doing anything on Saturday and was tired so I took the morning off. Something that usually would have caused me physical pain because I look forward to my long run all week. I absolutely hate it if I'm unable to get to it because of a schedule conflict. Except this past Saturday I wasn't really feeling it and just wanted a relaxing morning enjoying my coffee and watching some Food Network. So that's exactly what I did and I have no regrets! I feel nice and refreshed and ready to tackle this week of running!

Which all of this just leads me to my ultimate point: do what you love. I am a runner to my core and there's no point whatsoever pretending otherwise. Lately I've been putting other workouts above my running, and I noticed how that affected me. So this past week I cleared all of my other workouts and just ran. In fact, I didn't even follow a route. I literally just went out the door and ran wherever I felt like it. I kept track of the time so I had a general idea of the mileage but this past week was about just the feeling of running. I ran because it's what I love to do. It wasn't for a workout, or that I felt as though I had to with my marathon training, but was simply for the sake of enjoying the run. Without any of that pressure, it felt like I was falling in love with running all over again. 

This whole past week I didn't track anything, ran when I felt like it, did other workouts when I felt like it, and the freedom has been amazing. I really felt like God was tugging at my heart and warning me that sometimes I make my nutrition and fitness an idol. Meaning when it comes down to it, I often worry more about making time to go for a run than making the time to read a devotion, pray, or just spend time with God. I cringe when I think about it because I know that it's happened before, and by no means am I proud of that. It's something that I'm definitely working on because I don't want my fitness or nutrition to get in the way. 

I feel like I need to be more present in the moment with people in my life, my job, and my relationship with God. And if that means no longer tracking or strictly following a workout schedule then so be it. I want my running and nutrition to be a part of my life, I don't want it to be my entire life. When God made me, he knew he gave me a passion for running but that doesn't mean it's what I was created for. So, yes I do love running but it's not what defines me. 

If I'm being completely honest, this "break" from tracking and workout schedules is more permanent than I originally intended. I mean it's been a week already which is longer than I thought I would have wanted but I have no desire to get back to my old routine. Usually by this point, I'd be itching to get back to a set structure but I'm completely happy just hanging out at this new phase at the moment! So that's exactly what I'm going to do! 

I'll just take it one day at a time, and see where God leads me! 

I found this quote and it really spoke to me so I just thought I'd share :) This has definitely become my new motto for the whole process! In fact, it's been set as my lock screen! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

With this record-breaking snowstorm I haven't been able to run either yesterday morning or today. I could technically go the gym and run on the treadmill but I avoid those things like the plague. Sure it can be frustrating that my running plan is a little out of whack but I have little complaints because I like the snow!

There's someone else who's having a ball with all this snow as well. She's a 70-pound fluffball and wants to be outside! It turns out Layla is great at helping shoveling the walk, too. And by helping I mean she runs around the yard in sheer bliss, kicking up all the snow back on to the sidewalk that I already shoveled off. I guess that's what I get for not using a leash with her but she has so much fun that I can't hold it against her even if I tried. 

I clearly talk way too much about my dog so I'll get back to the reason why you clicked on this post! I've decided to just do whatever the heck I feel like this week whether that be running in a foot and a half of snow, lifting, or piecing together random at-home workouts. 

This morning I opted for the random workout! 

I'll do my best to remember exactly what I did because honestly I just said to myself "What do you feel like doing?" so I went from one move to the other based off my favorites! It was actually really fun and a nice break from the structured workouts that I often do. In fact this is part of a bigger change that I'm making but I'm working on that in another post!

Okay so here's what I did (from what I can remember ha)

100 high knees
10 spider push-ups
100 jump ropes
10 ab rollers
100 mountain climbers
50 russian twists
25 kettle bell swings
20 leg raises
20 jumping lunges
12 double arm rows
1 minute sprint in place
10 ab rollers
25 jump squats (get lowwww! butt should almost touch the ground)
20 bicep cross body curls (10 per arm)
20 jumping lunges
12 lateral raises
15 burpees
20 dead lifts (lighter weight)
1 minute plank
50 jumping jacks
30 bowling lunges (15 per leg)
100 high knees
25 jump squats
25 kettle bell swings

I really like alternating weights with cardio moves. I think it allows my body to recover better so I don't feel like I need to take breaks. Personally, I find back-to-back HIIT moves way too draining especially with longer workouts so I like to add in weights in between. I'm still working out with the weights but my heart rate gets to lower at least a little before going up again with the next cardio move! Plus, I think it keeps your muscles guessing :) I'm a big believer in muscle memory. Our bodies are much smarter than we give them credit!

This part of the workout took me about 20-25 minutes but I paired it with another 10-minute circuit that I made up this morning as well. I'm working on getting that up now!

I love that sight :) stay safe out there little snow bunnies! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Baked Cookies 'n Cream Doughnuts

Some of you may remember my Vanilla Bean Doughnuts that I posted ages ago, like really does it seem like it was way back in June?! Anyway, I was in the mood to bake something yesterday and I finally decided on making those doughnuts again. Then as I was nearly finished with the batter, my mind randomly drifted to the mini Oreos in the pantry and a light bulb went off! 


I got really excited because cookies 'n cream is my favorite flavor of anything so I was curious to see how these would turn out. They did not disappoint!

So, start out with the regular base of the vanilla doughuts except you don't have to add the cinnamon. I accidentally did since I was not originally planning on adding the Oreos but the taste still came out fine. It's up to you if you want to add the cinnamon to the batter but I would not recommend adding it to the glaze. Luckily, I already knew at the point I made the glaze that they would be cookies 'n cream so I was able to leave the cinnamon out! 

Once you have the base mixture ready to go, crush up 10 mini Oreos to add into the batter. You'll also want to add another tablespoon of almond milk since the addition of the Oreos will dry up the mixture a bit. 

You can add as many Oreos as you want but I found that 10 was a good number! If you decide to add more than that, you'll probably have to add more almond milk to the batter again. I crushed the Oreos for the batter up pretty finely because I didn't want to be giant chunks throughout the doughnuts. The ones that I used for the topping, I left as bigger pieces!

My little baking assistant was very attentive as usual! It's possible that one or two Oreos uh "accidentally" found their way to the floor...

I don't let her beg but she does know that if it falls on the ground, it goes to the hound. It's like having a little vacuum cleaner pick up after me wherever I go :)

This recipe still only made 6 just like the original, and I baked them at 325 for about 11 minutes. While the doughnuts were baking I made the glaze which was just 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp powdered sugar, 2 tsp almond milk, and 1 tsp of vanilla. I also crushed up another 6 mini Oreos to sprinkle on as toppings! 

Let me tell you, the finished product was absolutely delicious! My mom inhaled hers in about 2.5 seconds, and I had to agree with her when she said they were incredible. In my opinion, definitely a step up from just the plain vanilla ones!

Enjoy :)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Return of Friday Favorites!

So it's been quite some time since I've done a Friday Favorites but I finally remembered today! I told you that I would definitely forget on occasion but I'll try to get back on track. 

1. Drops In the Ocean by Hawk Nelson

I am positively OBSESSED with this song right now, hands down my new favorite! As soon as I heard it on the radio, it was one of those songs that make you go heck yes!! I love the message, the melody, the lyrics, the beat, just everything about it. I pretty much stalked the release of it on iTunes because it wasn't out at first when I heard it on the radio. It was a very stressful time for me just constantly hoping/waiting for it to come on the station!! My mom and Amanda knew when it did because all of a sudden they'd hear a random blast of sound as I cranked up the volume when it would finally play! #sorryI'mnotsorry

You can listen to the song here!

2. Running In Winter

"Is she crazy?!" Nahhh, I just like the cold! Okay that still probably sounds crazy to most people but I really do love running when it's colder out. I ran last Saturday at a whopping 0 degrees (actually felt like -13) but I would take that over an 80 degree and high humidity run any day! I'm not a big fan of the heat at all and the thought of living in a place like Florida or the southwest just does not appeal to me. As long as there's no ice to contend with, I prefer running in the winter. There's something about running in the early mornings with freshly fallen snow that soothes me. It's quiet, peaceful, and everything seems right in the world for that moment. 

This is when I went running last Saturday when it was 0 degrees out! At first it looks like I've made all sorts of muscle gains buuuut it's more likely due to the fact that I have two pairs of leggings, two sets of socks (one long, one short) two under armors, one pullover, two headbands, and then my three pairs of gloves. If anything, the winter makes me come up with some interesting and entertaining outfit combinations because it's all about the layers! Matching or not, I literally give zero hoots about how I look. 

3. Parks and Recreation

This show never fails to crack me up! I've been telling Amanda that she needs to watch it for years now, and it was on the other day and she ended up loving it. So, we've ordered the seasons from our local library to watch at home, and are starting from the beginning! I haven't caught up on the latest seasons at all, and I've watched it off and on the past few years so I'm excited to start over and watch the earlier parts that I've forgotten by now. 

4. Crocheting

My new favorite hobby that my dearest Margot recently taught me! I haven't had that much time to work on my latest project of making a pair of fold-over boot slippers but I plan on catching up this weekend. I have Monday off as a holiday so that of course will be designated to going out to breakfast, crocheting, and a good ole fashioned baking session! I know, I go hard. Plus, with crocheting I can now add to my extensive list of hobbies which goes as follows: running, lifting, and crocheting. I need to develop more skills, guys. Wait, do food prep and macros count?! I'm gonna add it to the list anyway. 

The slipper look weird at this stage but I'll post a picture of the final product! I even have little buttons to go on the side :) 

Have a good weekend!! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Easy-Peasy Pepper Dish!

Based off the comments and questions since switching to IIFYM, it seems like a lot of people think I probably eat Oreos all day but that couldn't even be farther from the truth. In fact, I'm working on a post that will entirely discredit those assumptions.

 Don't get me wrong, I love Oreos, frozen yogurt, Goldfish grahams, and ice cream sandwiches but I'm not even exaggerating when I say my spirit animal would probably be a bunny. I absolutely go crazy for vegetables and I always have. I don't think I could live without baby carrots! 

So a majority of my dinner is filled with deliciously crunchy veggies! My favorites are brussel sprouts, zucchini, butternut squash, broccoli, peppers, and sweet potatoes. Not sure if sweet potatoes are technically a vegetable but I don't care because I love them. 

The other night for dinner, I whipped up some peppers to go with my chicken and sweet potatoes. This is pretty typical of what dinner looks like for me: lean protein and lots of vegetables. Sometimes I throw in the sweet potatoes as a heavier carb source but I go through phases with that. I love pasta but often times it's not worth trying to fit all the extra carbs for me because let's be honest, I'm a volume eater! If I can get 5x the amount of veggies over one little serving of pasta, I'll swap in a heartbeat! 

Plus, you can't ignore your micronutrients ;)

I'm gonna say it, I'm gonna saaaaaay itttt...


I know, you're so tired of hearing me say that but hey it's in the title of my blog! 

So, for the peppers all I did was slice them up and saute them over medium heat for a few minutes until they softened. I used olive oil spray (Trader Joe's brand), salt, pepper, and added in a few slices of onions too. I love caramelized onions so just for kicks I threw them in the mix, too. 

All nice and browned!

So with 2 servings of peppers (170g), 4oz of grilled chicken, and 125g sweet potatoes the grand total macros for my meal were: 
35g carbs, 32g protein, 4g fat

*random fact: one serving of pasta alone (about 1/2 cup dry) is around 45g carbs. So look at all the veggies I got in place of that! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

These Delts Are on Fireeeee

Disclaimer: before I start this post I should warn you. You will be singing Alicia Keys by the end of it and if you don't like her, you probably should stop reading now. 

I should also warn you that I may or may not but probably am definitely really hyper right now. I think it's from all the endorphins from my workout plus the giant cup of coffee I'm drinking. It also helps that I just found out I have a three-day weekend coming up which is always welcome news!

Okay, okay, okay you didn't click here to listen to my random ramblings so I'll make this post worth your time. 

Here's the shoulder/chest workout that I did this morning! You can do this all at home with dumbbells, and trust me you'll still get results. I've done every single one of my shoulder workouts at home, and I've seen plenty of growth and progress! It's just about finding alternatives that you can do with dumbbells rather than equipment at the gym. 

Pictured are the 20lbs but if I take the little plates off each end then they become 15lbs orrr I can add on more plates to make them heavier! I do all of my shoulder exercises with a range of 15-25lbs. It may not sound heavy but I've come a long way in the past six months from using 8-10lbs! 

So, here's the workout: 
circuit: x15 upright rows, x10 lying chest press, x10 lateral raises, x10 push-ups, x10 standing overhead press (repeat 3 times)
3x10 rear delt flyes SS 3x10 front raises
3x10 seated military press SS 3x12 lying chest flyes
3x10 incline press (I sat on the floor and leaned against the couch)
3x10 seated arnold press
Finish up with 3 sets of 10 push-ups

My delts were on FIRE by the end of this workout! Ya know the song "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys? Well, during my workout I kept singing in my head "These delts are on fireeee" because only God knows why my brain even thought of that and it's still stuck in my head...

Needless to say, trying to wash my hair in the shower this morning was a fun experience because all the shampoos and conditioner are on the top shelf, naturally. I don't care, though, because it's been an awesome week so far! It's normal for everyone to have good and bad workouts but I'm on a roll with killer workouts this week!

Have a happy Tuesday my dears! :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

We Are ALL "Real" Women

There's a good chance I might offend or upset someone with this post and for that I'm sorry. I honestly mean that because I don't want to fuel the fire but I believe this is something that needs to be put out there more. So here goes nothing. 

How many of you have seen this phrase EVERYWHERE?

"Real Women Have Curves"

I 100% completely and totally disagree. 

Wait, what?

Yes, I disagree and I'll tell you why. This is just more body-shaming in a different form. What about those girls that don't have curves? You're gonna tell them they're not real? I know girls that no matter what they do to try to gain weight, they just don't have a lot of curves. They want those "real" curves but can't seem to get them. 

And that's FINE. That's the way God made them, and they are just as beautiful, real, and wonderfully made as the rest of us. 

There are also girls coming out of eating disorders that are making healthier changes to their bodies but those changes aren't necessarily reflecting that yet. They're still very thin, and then they have to deal with being told they're not real? Two years ago, I lost all shape to my body, and there was little curve to be found. I thought that was the way I should be, and I was in a very vulnerable place. I was not secure with how I looked at all, and extremely susceptible to what society was telling me. 

Coming from that place in my past, it wouldn't have been healthy for me to hear this type of message. It would've made me feel worse about myself. More confused, more conflicted, and more insecure about my body. You never know someone's story and I think telling someone to "eat a cheeseburger" is just as harmful as the other way around.

I heard a story from a girl who is working on getting past her eating disorder, and she's come a long way. She's put on a lot of healthy muscle, and increasing her calories but she's still very tiny. The point is she was at the gym one morning, and this random girl came up to her and said "why are you starving yourself?" then promptly walked away. This poor girl was so shocked and upset that she started to cry. She has made amazing progress, and has worked so hard to overcome her past but then someone says something so ignorant and rude with no idea of what she had been through. I think that's just so careless and thoughtless because you never know someone's background.

I understand where this phrase came from and I get it that people are trying to tell society where they can stick it, but I think it's harming other women in the process. It's bringing other women down by trying to lift other women up. It's like a set of scales where when one side goes up, the other has to go down. 

I don't believe that's right. I don't believe that's necessary. Also, I don't believe it requires a lot of attention. 

Think about it this way: was there ever a time when society just announced "Okay, folks listen up! From now on, we are only going to feature size 00-2 models in the industry."

It was a quiet and slow process where all of a sudden, we realized that we were constantly bombarded with images of the "perfect woman". It didn't happen overnight, and I don't expect it to go away overnight either. 

What if, instead of everyone posting all this stuff about real women being this and that, etc. that we just took out all the labels? I don't think there should be some sort of slogan about real women because like I already said, I think that body shames others. 

As women we have the right to look however we want. If you love your curves, that's awesome! If you want to build yourself some curves, go get 'em! If you're completely content with the way you look, wonderful! If you're not and want to make some changes, you can do it! It is your body, and yours alone.

And if someone ever tries to tell me that girls with muscles are gross, I'll just casually flex my delts at them then walk away ever so nicely ;)

Bottom line is that there is no right or wrong way to look. However we look is how God intended, and I realized that when I began to criticize my body I was pretty much telling God that He made a mistake with me. Let me say this: God doesn't make mistakes. Ever. So every woman that He made, He made her real. 

That's enough for me, and I pray that it should be enough for everyone else too. 


Friday, January 9, 2015

Let's Make the Best of Winter!

You read the title and you're probably thinking at this point: "Yep, she's TOTALLY lost it. Completely bonkers." 

Or maaaaybe I got a healthy dose of perspective this week :)

It's also possible that I've gotten really, really sick of everyone and their mother complaining on social media about the cold, the snow, the traffic, the delays, etc. I get it. It's frustrating stuff to deal with, and I'll admit that same stuff has gotten to me every single winter. 

But not this time. I'm determined to be more positive about this winter. For starters, I absolutely love winter I just don't like what it usually brings along (a.k.a. unsafe roads and unpredictable traffic). I do not mind the cold or the snow, in fact I welcome it! I'm a four seasons kind of gal and I need to have very separate and distinct weather patterns throughout the year. 

So why did I feel the need to post this on my blog? Well, the main thing is that no matter how much we complain, how much we grumble, how much we yell at other drivers in the snow, winter is not going anywhere. I live in Pittsburgh, and if you don't already know this, it snows here. A lot. However, without fail every single year people freak out about the snow! I'm talking about kids that I've known since kindergarten and have grown up around here. IT SNOWS EVERY YEAR, GUYS.

I'm also well aware of the fact that both this year and last year have been unusually cold and harsh winters. Even for people who usually don't have that much of a winter. Again, I know that nearly everyone except me hates winter but again, it's not going anywhere. Hating winter will not make it go away. We just have to make the best of it! 

Now that we've accepted that winter is an annual thing, we can move on to the important part. 

I want to start this next part off by saying that a good friend of mine from my Bible study passed away unexpectedly last Friday. She was young, she was healthy, she was full of life, and had a passion for God that I had never seen before. She is dearly missed and her passing gave me another dose of perspective. She was not much older than me, she took care of her body by running and eating well, and everything seemed to be going right for her in life. But then a combination of unlikely circumstances, and she winds up brain-dead on life support. Her family was forced to make the kind of decision that everyone dreads. I had a hard time accepting that she was really gone when I got the news, and it didn't fully sink in until I went to the service this past week. 

I cannot even put into words the grief that I felt when I walked in there. I'm not just talking about my own but you could practically feel it radiating off everyone. I know that I haven't had a very difficult life so far, and have never truly been exposed first-hand to so much pain and grief. When I saw all her loved ones just aching with the loss, it opened my eyes and reality slapped me in the face. Often times people will ask me how I got through everything with my mom but the thing is she survived. I never had to face what her family was going through because my mom pulled through. People will say they feel sorry for me but to me there's nothing to be sorry about! She's alive and recovering, and things could have gone so much worse. 

The other thing is my grandma recently got diagnosed with adult leukemia, and there's still so much up in the air. She has to do her chemo treatment which by the grace of God she's able to do at home, but that's still not a true cure. Her doctors told us that she will at least be alive by this time next year, but after that it's unclear. We don't know how much time we have, but she's keeping her head up like the champ she is. She said so herself, if she gets another year then it's a blessing. It's been a painful reminder for the second time this week that we never know how much time we have left. Which means we better make it count, winter or not.   

So, when I want to complain about winter this year I will keep one very important fact in mind: I'm alive. I have my God, my Savior, my family, my health, a warm house, enough food, clothes on my back, a cute puppy to cuddle with, and I am loved.

I got stuck in traffic this Tuesday going to work. What should have been a 25 minute drive took an hour and 45 minutes. When I first hit all the traffic, I thought I was going to burst a blood vessel because I was so frustrated but then a little voice in my head said: "You're complaining about traffic when Erica's family is grieving over the loss of her. They would switch with you in a heartbeat. Appreciate what you have."

It was a cold, hard truth that shook me to my core, and I shut myself up after that.

It was 9 degrees yesterday when I wanted to go for my run. Not an ideal temperature but I have multiple layers of under armor. Why else would I invest money in all that cold weather gear if I'm not going to use it? I'm also healthy, able, and I have to train for my marathon. Six miles in that cold did not sound appealing but I put on two layers of leggings, two pairs of socks, one under armor, one thin pull-over, and then my Nike cold weather pull-over. I had my ear warmer and two pairs of gloves, and you know what? I had an amazing run! My first two miles, I broke under a 7 minute mile which I haven't done since my last shin injury. At first I thought the burning in my lungs was from the cold air but then I figured out I was just motoring!

Layla absolutely loves the snow, the mini polar bear that she is, and she begs for me to take her outside. Do I necessarily want to go out at 7pm when it's pitch-black and cold? Not always but she has the time of her life and she wants the exercise. I have new snow boots, a down winter jacket, and thick gloves so why not put them to use?? So I've taken to calling our nightly walks "Snoventures" to make them sound more fun! Get it? Snow + Adventure = Snoventure!

I told you I'm determined to make this winter more positive and what's better than cheesy puns?! ;)

So let's embrace winter, shall we? It's more time to live life, love others, and appreciate what we have. Each morning we wake up, snow or not, is a gift from God. Let's put it to good use, and not just try to rush through the winter as quickly as possible. Let me just add that I realize there are some places where it's so cold below freezing that it's unsafe. I'm not advocating that we ignore safety or anything like that! That, of course, is very important but we can still cut back on the complaining and grumbling. Freezing temperatures or not, there are still things to be grateful for in this life.

I also want to close this post saying that I fully realize it is indeed Friday and I have forgotten to post Friday Favorites for like weeks but I figured writing this post was a little more important!

So, I hope you all have a Happy Friday and stay safe! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Latest Pre-Workout Obsession

I am definitely a creature of habit so when I find a food that I like I will keep eating the same thing until I finally get bored and ready for the next obsession. I also get lazy with my macros and if I can eat the same thing the next day without having to plan it out, I'll do it. I have no shame and I know for a fact that I'm not the only one to do know who you are :) 

So my latest thing that I've been eating for breakfast might sound like an interesting combination and I honestly can't tell you how I came up with this idea but I love it. 

It's four things: 
Honey nut Cheerios
Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Walden Farms Maple Syrup
Cool whip 

I know it all began a couple months ago when we had so much extra cereal that I started to eat the cheerios to get rid of them. Then somehow I added in the syrup and then cool whip one day to hit my macros. That's usually how it goes because I'll think to myself "Well, what has 2g carbs and 1g fat. Wait, COOL WHIP. Yes, I love when this happens! Now, where can I put that in a meal without it being too random/weird..."

Which is most likely how I got to putting it in my cereal in the mornings. I have no idea if that's how it actually happened because I don't remember but I know myself well enough to guess that's probably how my mind worked.

So for this little concoction, I use however much Cheerios I need for the day (about 1/2-2/3 cup), 1-2 tbsp of almond milk, drizzle of syrup, and about 2-3 tbsp of cool whip. I don't use all that much almond milk because I don't want it to be like ordinary cereal with milk. This way it turns out more kinda of like a parfait almost since using less almond milk doesn't make it too soggy.

This always hit the spot for breakfast before my workouts, and I have it every morning. That is until I get bored with it and find something else...but for now I'm going to enjoy it! 

It's also great for a bedtime snack when I'm in the mood for something sweet!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Green Bean & Arugula Salad

I can't remember the last time I posted a recipe so pretty please forgive me! I've been incredibly boring and just sticking to recipes that I already know (and have published) because I haven't had much time to try out new ones. Plus, I can get lazy with my macros and will often eat the same stuff to avoid new calculations. Whoops. I actually made this one a long time ago but found it in the queue so here it finally is! 

I love salads and they always hit the spot for dinner. This one was no exception and it was super easy! 

For the salad: 
3oz arugula (be careful, it can get a little wild ;) hahahaha for my terrible joke, reference this post)
4oz grilled chicken
3oz sauteed green beans

For the dressing: 
Dijon mustard
Rice vinegar 

For the chicken, I just grilled it with salt, pepper, and garlic which is my favorite way to prepare it! The same thing with the green beans. I sauteed them for a few minutes until they were softened and used salt and pepper to season them. 

I did about 2-3 teaspoons of mustard and several dashes of the rice vinegar as the dressing. I know it sounds like a weird combination but it's actually really good and macro-free! So you bet I pile that stuff on without having to worry about tracking it. 


Marathon Training: Week 1

Okay, so I just finished up my first week but I wanted to share the general plan of what I'll be doing each week. It's a free online training plan that my friend followed for her first marathon and she recommended it to me! There's all sorts of plans for different races and you can check them all out here

I'm following the days a little bit differently just because of my own schedule. For instance, I do my long runs on Saturdays and not Sundays. My rest day is also Sunday and not Friday. Another thing is I do not really cross-train in the traditional sense such as doing biking or swimming rather than running. According to my own schedule, cross-training is pretty much leg day and that's the way I'm going to keep it. It's supposed to be an aerobic exercise buuut that just means more supersets and going heavier, right?! ;) Seriously, though, it does get my heart rate sky high! And that's pretty much the same thing to me. 

I'll also post more updates about supplemental nutrition like when I get to about week 7 and I'll have to incorporate more higher carb days. Remember: for every hour you run, you can add 50g of carbs back in your macros (hello #carbcity). I can't wait for those days!! Hi my name is Sam and I'm a carboholic. 

Speaking of that and completely random change of subject but it made me think of a joke that Amanda showed me the other day. 

She loved it because she's a crazy cat lady. Like I wish there were support groups because I'd send her to one. I love her dearly but no I will not allow her to start her "collection" of cats. She's like with Pokemon GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL. 

Anyway, back to real-life, I'll make sure to post my progress on here and any useful tips or information I find along the way. You know I'm a total Google and research fanatic so I'll definitely be doing my homework along the way. 

Happy Wednesday loves! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Schedule Changes: Marathon Training & New Workout Splits

There have been a lot of changes to my schedule the past two weeks. The first one being that I started my marathon training last week which means that I need to make sure that I am following the plan, and keeping running a priority over lifting. Yes I want to maintain muscle but I also really, really want to cross that finish line. I know it's completely possible to do both but if I end up losing a little bit of muscle along the way, I'm not going to sweat it. 

The most important reason as to why my schedule has changed is that my grandma just got diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. She's going to be in the hospital for the next 4-6 weeks as she starts extremely intense chemotherapy. The biggest blessing is the hospital is literally 5 blocks from my office so I'll be able to visit her every day after work in addition to weekends. 

I plan on visiting her every day that I can because this is going to be a stressful time for her and my whole family. Not only does my grandma need support but so does her husband and her children, my dad and aunt. I'm not going to let my workouts get in the way of that. They were all there for me during my mom's aneurysm/stroke/recovery, and I don't plan on abandoning them now when they need help. 

I have goals for 2015 but my family trumps everything. I've already done some tweaking to my schedule that I think will allow me to balance being with family, working full-time, and my goals. It's going to be a trial this week, and if I have to make more adjustments then I will. I also have many substitute workouts that I can do at home if necessary depending on my work schedule that day. In the end, I don't care if I go a few days without working out if it means that my grandma feels supported and loved. 

So here's the new breakdown:

Monday: Legs 
I used to split legs up into two separate days (quads and glutes/hamstrings) but not anymore. 

Tuesday: Shoulders & 3 mile run
I used to incorporate some chest work with shoulders but I decided to just fully focus on shoulders because I don't necessarily care so much about chest. That's completely my own personal preference and I know some people really like to work on chest. But I'm not one of them so I cut it out to make more room for training runs and focus on shoulders. 

Wednesday: Training Run

Thursday: Bis/Tris & 3 mile run

Friday: Back/Abs
I used to run on this day, too but I switched that around after I cut out the second leg day. This gives me much more breathing room because instead of working out twice a day (morning then after work) I only need to make time for one workout! 

Saturday: Long Run

Sunday: Rest!!

Eventually, when my legs may not recover after leg days and higher mileage weeks, I'll cut out Mondays to replace with longer training runs. That's probably not until about halfway through the training plan so I'll come to that bridge when I cross it. I may not have to cut leg days at all because my quads can actually recover fairly quickly. We'll just have to see! 

I'll also be posting my training runs each week with the mileage and any other notes that I think could be useful or helpful! 

And, please, keep my grandma in your prayers! She's amazingly strong and optimistic about it all but there's no denying that she's in for a rough 4-6 weeks. She means the world to me, and I don't know where I'd be without her! 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Full Body Circuit

I got iced in yesterday morning due to some typical crazy Pittsburgh weather! Basically, it couldn't decide if it wanted to snow or rain so we got this lovely mixture of both that just turned into thick ice. Which meant that my Saturday morning long run was most definitely cancelled. As was any hope of driving to the gym to do some lifting. 

So, I combined some moves from different power workouts that I could do in my living room and this was the result! I played around with different numbers based off the original workouts that my coach gave me, and added more since I wasn't able to run or lift. 

I went through the whole thing twice with little rest in between each of the moves (pausing to grab some water is fine! and probably necessary haha). I did rest about a full minute in between the first and second rounds. 

I made sure to really challenge myself with the weights because I still wanted to fatigue my muscles. Overall, it was a great workout that definitely kicked my butt! Try it out and let me know what you think! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Keeping Motivation

I get asked a lot "how do you stay motivated?". Especially now that it's winter so it's cold, snowy, and really dark in the mornings. 

Honestly, I don't often lack motivation and it's because I turned my "have-to's" into "want-to's". 

I know it's easier said than done but try it out. Put in the hard work, give it a shot, and track your progress. Chances are you might discover that you've fallen in love with it! We're not all born athletes but have to grow to love things. I really and truly love running and lifting. I didn't know how much I would love lifting until this past spring. I picked up a weight and haven't looked back since. Working out isn't a chore for me. It's my therapy, my escape, my time for myself. I do what I love and that's really what keeps me motivated. When you do it out of passion then you don't really have to work to keep up motivation to do it. 

It's not to say that I don't have the mornings where I wake up and don't feel like working out. That happened to me just the other morning. I had gotten maybe 6 hours of sleep, and it was 5am and pitch black out. 

Not to mention it wasn't helping that it was 25 degrees outside and my bed was warm. Layla was snuggled up against me and she was showing little motivation to wake up either. So I laid there for a few minutes and had that war with myself: 

"I could just go back to bed." 

"But I should still workout. I didn't have time to lift yesterday so I should really do that today."

"I'll feel better once I finish. I always do." 

"It's so cold out. I don't wanna be colddddd."

"Maybe I'll just lift and not run."

"But it's Tuesday." 

Long story short but I did get my butt out of bed. For two main reasons: it was shoulder day (my gosh do I love shoulder day) and Layla. On Tuesdays, I always make sure to run because Amanda and I go to Bible Study in the evening. I basically come straight home from work, gobble down dinner, pack my lunch at lightning speed, and then leave. We're gone from 5:50-9:45 since where we meet is farther away this year. 

The point is, I don't have time to walk Layla in the evening so that's why I make sure to run in the morning so she can come with me. I think it's really important for her to not only get the exercise and stretch her legs but it just gets her out of the house. Otherwise she'll be stuck inside all day, and plus she enjoys our runs together. Every day she at least gets a walk or a run, often times both depending on the day. 

So that will almost get me out of bed because I have an obligation and a responsibility to Layla. I know I'm a crazy dog lady to most people but I take my commitment to Layla seriously. When I got her, I promised to not only give her a forever home but to take good care of her and that includes making sure she gets healthy exercise. Runs and walks are good for her physical health but also her mental health because she's able to get out and enjoy the fresh air. 

Which means I will always get my butt out of bed because I can't stand the thought of her being cooped up all day. Due to me simply wanting to get extra sleep. But even though having Layla depending on me holds me accountable, I also get motivated by the simple fact that I love running with her. 

Call me cheesy but what can get me out of bed to run in the mornings is thinking of it as a great bonding experience. I love when we're on a run and Layla nudges my hand with her nose so that I'll scratch her ears, or she'll rub against my leg in a reassuring way, or look up at me and wag her tail when I give her praise. It's great having a running buddy because I'm used to running alone in the winter when it's so dark and cold. Not going to lie, it's also reassuring to have that extra feeling of safety because even though she's still not full-grown, Layla is around 70 pounds now, and let's face it not many people are going to give us trouble and risk taking on a dog of that size.

Ever since she was a tiny puppy, she's always been my accountability buddy!

So find something that you love to do. I love to run and especially with Layla. That motivates me because it's something that I enjoy doing! If I didn't love it then I wouldn't force myself.

On the days where Layla might not be depending on me, another thing that keeps me going are my goals. I signed up for a full marathon in May and I have full intentions of tackling it! Even though I've been told before that it might be unlikely that my shin could handle all that training, I plan on giving it my best shot. 

I started telling people that Jesus and lots of icing and stretching will get me through the next 5 months! And carbs. Lots and lots of carbzzz :)

My marathon may still be 5 months away but I know it will take lots of consistent training and upkeep of my shin to make sure that I can cross that finish line. I plan on running every single step of that race, and will not settle for anything less. I've always said I've wanted to run a marathon some day and by George, that's exactly what I'm going to do!

So on the mornings when I don't want to run I say to myself: "but you wanna run that marathon, right? Are you going to keep making excuses once training starts? Where is that going to get you?! Do you want to cross that finish line?? Get yo butt outta bed, girl!"

That's actually pretty accurate of what I say to myself. There are just some days where I have to give myself some tough love.

I do the same exact thing with lifting. My goal right now with my reverse diet is to build up my metabolism. How do you do that? With muscle. How do you build muscle? Weights (and carbs but that's another story).

"but you wanna build your metabolism, right? You want to take care of your body, right? You need to build that muscle, right? How is that going to happen if you don't get that lift in? Get yo butt outta bed, girl!"

It's what keeps me going through my workout, too. If I'm afraid to go up a weight because I don't know if I can handle it yet or it'll be too hard, I tell myself "how will you ever find out if you don't try? Pick that dang weight up, girl!". It makes me push myself to do better and to keep going.

So you don't have to talk to yourself as a drill sergeant like I do, but I find that keeping my goals in perspective helps me to keep up motivation. I think about what I want to achieve, and that will always light the fire under me to keep going. Not only do I love running and lifting but I love chasing my goals and the drive it gives me. I got asked the other week, "What are training for?" and I simply said "Myself".

I do it because I love it. And I won't settle for anything less.