How many steps?!

I got a FitBit this weekend! I am addicted already. I am constantly checking my wrist to see how many steps I have taken, how many calories I have burned, and how many miles I have walked today.
I debated on getting one for a while, I thought it would just be another 5 second fitness craze, but the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t care.
I know some people will say that I caved, and it’s not something I really needed to remind me to be healthy, but who cares.
I compared all the fitness bands for weeks before deciding on the FitBit Charge. I looked at the Jawbone, the Garmin, Nike Fuel, etc. I ultimately decided I wanted something that had a screen so I would not have to log into an account or go online to check my stats, and the Bluetooth capability of the Charge was a plus, and it had to track my sleep as well.
A co-worker also has the Charge and I have been drooling over her’s the past week.
I was surprised how easy it was to set up too, I simply plugged the USB stick that comes with it into my laptop and did the initial set-up including my location for time accuracy, and started walking. What I was most surprised about was how accurately it monitors my steps, for the first day, every time I took a step I would look down at the number to see if it was getting it right, but for the most part it was. Every now and then it adds a step if I am waving my arm around, or doing something like that, but for the most part it’s on point.
The other thing I love about the Charge is that I can monitor everything on my phone as well. It has Bluetooth so it automatically syncs when I open the app. The app is what tells me my sleep stats and I can add any water and food I consume throughout the day, and keep tabs on my friends with FitBits. In the app you can also challenge friends with FitBits to challenges, and keep track of who is winning day to day. I really love when you can create challenges, I am a pretty competitive person, and knowing that other people can see if I am slacking, really helps keep me on track.

My goal right now is 10,000 steps a day. I got it mid-day so the first day, I did not reach my goal, but I did get a lot of steps in, just doing things like cleaning the house, and running errands, I had no idea what kind of an impact these things make. And now that I am conscious of my steps, and winning challenges, I am always taking the stairs. Last night just to make sure I reached my goal before I went to bed, I walked and hopped around the living room while watching TV. I felt pretty accomplished reaching that goal! And that is always a good feeling.

Barre

In case you have not heard of the latest trend, I have created a link to PureWow’s story about Barre (pronounced bar) becoming the next “it” thing to do in the exercise world.

I know I said earlier that everyone doing cross-fit was selling their souls and going on off on the latest trending thing, but I honestly had never heard of Barre when I joined, and little did I know that it would become the new trend.

But none the less, it is my new favorite thing to do. I love the flow of the Barre classes, they can be fast pulsing movements to an upbeat song, and then in the next minute we are doing one inch movements very slowly to a relaxing song. I also love the mystery. I’m not sure about other Barre classes but the one I attend has a great instructor, who is always learning new ways to do things, and so we never do the same thing in two classes.

We use a variety of object during any given workout (balls, small weights, resistance bands, yoga mats) and all in ways you would not normally think to use them. For instance today I used a squishy ball behind my back to get more range in working my upper abs, then I used it as a balance for feet while working on my lower abs, and again between my legs while doing squats and during our relevés (ballet term for up on your toes and back down). 

The other great thing about this class is that I am not just working one part of my body in a class. We manage to do a full body workout and get a good sweat going in just about an hour. Today we worked our legs until they shook every time I thought about moving them, our abs until it hurt to lift even my neck, the arms until I could no longer lift a pencil and per usual, we always do a great gluteus maximus (butt) workout.

Learn more about Barre here.

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Vegetarian?

That’s right! I am a vegetarian now. I know some people are rolling their eyes, and saying that I am probably weird and not doing myself any favors, but I don’t care. 2015 is the year of ME!

So as of January 1, 2015 I have not eaten any meat. I have decided to do this for a number of reasons. I would like to tell you that it is because I am a huge animal rights activist, but while I have always really loved animals, that is not really the main reason. I guess there is not one real reason. I do love animals, and I do think that it is cruel how they are kept and slaughtered to feed the world, but I realize that this is a necessary evil, and my abstaining from eating meat is not going to change the world. I also realize that, while I may not agree with the way that most meat companies go about getting an animal from the farm (factory) to the grocery store, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t benefits to eating meat. Don’t worry I am not going to go around throwing red paint on anyone who eats meat.

Then why go vegetarian you ask.

Well for one, I just have never really had a big taste for meat. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be the first in line for chicken nuggets, but what part of the chicken is the nugget anyway? I was very rarely eating red meat (pun intended), and even chicken seemed to elude me at the grocery store more and more recently. Trying to eat healthier, I was eating more and more fruits and veggies. So really making the switch was not a giant leap. Sure every now and then I think about how easy it was to run to Wendy’s and grab a box of nuggets, but then I have learned how it can be just as easy to whip up some even more delicious honey-sriracha  brussel sprouts (recipe below).

Next, I also really wanted to challenge myself to hold myself to this. Because I am not a die-hard vegetarian it would not be the end of the world if I ate meat one day. However, I would think really hard before doing it, because I have made this commitment to myself to really take this vegetarian thing seriously. I want to know that I can do this. There are so many things in this life that are out of my control, but what food I put in my body, that I can control.

Lastly, I think that I was also a little bit enticed by the challenge of cooking all my meals vegetarian. It is not hard to throw a chicken breast in the oven and make a side of rice or broccoli, but to be able to branch out and find new and creative ways to trick myself loving things that I never had a strong palate for, is a bit harder. For example, I have always loved broccoli, but it gets a little boring to always steam it, and eat it. Now I am opening the door to baking it in the oven, with a little garlic and lemon, and maybe a little cayenne for spice, until it’s a little blackened and delicious.

So I got myself a new cookbook to get a new perspective and some great ideas. It is called, “Thug Kitchen”, and even if you are not vegetarian, I think you would like this book, if not just for the occasional meatless meal, or snack. This is not just some recipes thrown together and called a cookbook. This is witty and gritty, and real. They open your eyes to the world of healthy eating, and show how you can do this, even on a budget, and it’s for every skill level. This is not for the faint of heart though, they get down to the ugly truth about the crap that we have been mindlessly putting in our bodies because that is just how we were raised. The authors challenge everyone who picks the book up to stop and think about what you eat. And they use a lot of profanity to get their point across. But it works!

So anyway resolution number 2 is to make a recipe from this book at least once a week. Anyone seen “Julie and Julia”? Now I am not committing to making every single recipe in the book, because I am human, and I have a life, and there are foods that I don’t like. But I do promise to branch out, and try things I am unsure about. And I also promise to keep you informed on the things I try, and to share the failures, the triumphs, and the recipes with you. Although I still recommend that everyone get their own copy. You can find ThugKitchen blog here, and buy the book at most bookstores, or online.

As promised, here is your reward: The link to the delicious brussels sprouts.

SPICY ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Resolutions…

I took a prolonged break from my blog, and told myself I was too busy and blogging wasn’t doing anything for me anyway.

Not true! Blogging, I have come to realize is one of my greatest outlets. While I have a few followers and most of them probably don’t even read a word I write, it doesn’t matter. This is how I track my progress, hold myself accountable, and most of the time in the process, I usually have some sort of insight I didn’t have until I read my own words back to myself.

So I know it is cliche, but my 2015 resolution (one of them) is to commit to my blog in a way that I haven’t before. I know I have lied before and said, I will write a few times a week, or whatever, but this time I’m really serious. Still don’t believe me? I guess I will just have to prove it.

So to catch up the one person who was actually reading this blog before, I will give you a little summary of the past few months.

1. I completed my half marathon. It was brutal. It was not what I was expecting. No one tells you that you are going to feel like you want to die 11 miles in, but I am telling you, you will… if you don’t prepare properly, which I didn’t. I thought I could get by on my good looks, and charm, not the case. I was running around 6 miles on a regular basis, never gone past 7 miles in one run, that was a huge mistake. Also I deviated from my routine. I had never eaten or drank anything before or during a run, and decided that the half was the time to start doing that. My other biggest enemy on this run? My brain. I psyched myself out, I told myself 7 miles in, that I couldn’t do it, and I believed myself. I crossed the finish line, it took me 3 and a half hours, and when I crossed I had to go straight to the med tent before I collapsed. Next time (and there will be a next time, though I don’t know when yet) I will be more prepared.

2. I took an extended break from running after the half did not go as I had hoped. Like a small child, who did not get the toy they really wanted at the store, I threw a tantrum and refused to run for a while. I was scared (don’t ask what I was scared of… I think it was failure). While running and I were on our break, I still couldn’t stop thinking about it in the back of my mind. Everyone around me is involved in some type of exercise routine, and here I was pouting and not doing what I knew I should be doing.

3. I started running again. This was a slow process, starting on perfecting my mile time. I wanted to be faster, and then go for distance. I thought if I can run a fast mile, then I can run 2 miles fast, then worry about 3 miles and so on. Eventually I did get back into my 5k routine, and then was roped into doing a winter 5k. I guess I thought that the half in unbearable heat was too much, so why not go for the opposite in the extreme cold. The race was the Santa Shuffle, and I did it with my co-workers. It was COLD! But I finished it, and I was not upset by my time, it was not my best, but after being off running for a while, I didn’t have high expectations.

4. It’s cold outside now, and my motivation to get outside and go for a run, especially because it is dark before and after work, is low. I needed something new. Something to keep me exercising, something exciting, but challenging. I wanted to strengthen my muscles, not just the ones I use for running, which is sometimes only once or twice a week in these cold winter days. I have always secretly wanted to take a ballet class. I don’t want to be a ballerina or anything, I just love that they can create such beautiful lines with their bodies, and they are all so strong without being overly muscular. So I did some research and found a Barre class near me, and decided it couldn’t hurt to try it out. Everyone I know seems to be drinking the same cool-aide (either that or they all had hoods placed over their heads and were dragged into the cult of the Cross-fitters). They are always saying cross-fit is the best, you need to do cross-fit. I don’t know if any of you are into cross-fit, (if you are, I’m sorry) but that shit is pretty intense. I just have no desire to lift weights, and climb ropes, or have a gun collection hidden under my sleeves. I much prefer the more solitary and mellow stuff. I like running because I can put my headphones in and forget the world, it’s just me, my thoughts and the pavement. I have to say though, I LOVE Barre! It is the highlight of my week. I go every week, and it is always something new, but more on that later.

If you have made it to the end of this endless post, thank you for reading, and I’m sorry, I promise to try and keep my posts shorter from now on (but I make absolutely no promises).

On the road again

I broke down during my writing hiatus and joined a gym! 

There was a Groupon and I can’t resist a good discount deal….

I really liked going to the gym, I used to feel so out of place just walking into one, and I thought I would regret joining, but it turns out that I really liked it! 

I got 2 free personal training sessions, with a trainer that was pretty easy on the eyes, and he was also very knowledgeable about creating a training program fit for me to reach my specific goals (well goal….13.1 miles).

I also got used to running on the treadmill. At first I wasn’t sure about the treadmill, but I grew to love it. I liked being able to press a button and force myself to go faster. It made it easy to run at a constant speed and create a routine pace. 

Now I am road bound again. The Groupon is over and now I must go back to my old ways. It was different going back outside again. I think I got used to the cool air of the gym and now my lungs scream at me with the thought of going out in the 90 degree heat that is completely saturated down here at the beach. The air feels thick like I have to push harder to cut through it, and in turn I think my body feels heavier. I could just be imagining things, but that’s how it felt this week. 

However as much as I don’t like this strange but familiar feeling, I know I have to get used to it again, because they are not giving out medals for running in place, inside a nice air conditioned room. 

I was also not ready for the highs and lows that come with running outside again. I knew I would kick myself for it, but most of the time on the treadmill was spent at a 0 degree incline. Only on my cross training days did I walk up a few hills. Now my muscles are protesting when I run down and up the other side of a small ditch in the road, as if it was Mt. Everest. The pain is good though, it reminds me that when it hurts less the next time, I am getting stronger. 

The countdown is on! Only 11 days until the Half! 

Only 11 days until I am pronounced dead at the finish line. If I don’t become roadkill being trampled by hundreds of feet at the starting line (OK I guess I am being slightly dramatic).

Some healthy options!

 

 

Healthy pizza option:

photo 2 (1)I took a whole grain pre-made crust and cut it in half, used tomato sauce on one side and pesto on the other. I grated fresh mozzarella cheese onto both sides and added slices of fresh tomato, diced onion, chopped spinach, and chopped black olives. It just takes a few minutes in the oven for it to heat through and make the rust nice and crispy, and for a softer crust just take out of the oven a little sooner. 

 

Flavored water:

photo 1 (1)

You can use any fruit to add a little flavor to your daily water intake. I cut up fresh strawberries and mint and mixed it into this pitcher and left it in the fridge for a while. I had great tasting refreshing water for the next few days. I have also tried this with cucumber and lemon, that one was equally as delicious. 

 

I am always looking for ways to switch up my healthy habits. Always eating the same things, even though they are good for you, can get boring. Any one else have some ideas on changing up some healthy recipes.

 

The hiatus is over!

It has been way too long since I have written a post, but I am back in the saddle again!

Life has been crazy, so much going on at work, trying to get to the beach this summer, ect.

I am holding myself to writing at least once a week from now on.

Running Update:
The Virginia Beach Rock N’ Roll Half is only 23 days away!

I could not be more nervous! I have been training hard, and I can feel it…
I have lowered how much I run weekly, I was trying to long millage every other day, but it has become too much and friends and fellow runners have all convinced me that limiting the long millage days to about once a week will be enough.

I have also taken up some new cross training activities. I got a personal training lesson on the TRX system, using my own body weight with the resistance bands. This stuff is hard and I really have to push myself, but I am using muscles I never knew I had. I have also taken a couple of yoga classes, to work on my balance and some core strength. A friend of mine is also a spinning instructor, so I took one of her classes. She combines cycling with a full body workout on the bikes, push -ups, crunches, and some tricep work.
I really like having so many options for cross training it keeps things interesting.