Monthly Archives: October 2013

Fitness Update: GRIT, Yoga, and Hundred Pushups!

Yesterday morning, bright and early at 6 am – I had the opportunity to take a free demo class of Les Mill’s newest offering – GRIT. (Just an FYI: Les Mills is the same company that offers Body Pump, Body Jam, Body Step, etc) GRIT is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) style workout. Fortunately for me, my Body Pump teacher’s husband just recently got certified to teach GRIT and his gym was hosting a few demo classes to get people interested in the program. Heather and I reported to Arlington Health and Wholeness around 5:45 am to meet up with the group and get started.

There are three styles of GRIT classes: cardio, plyometrics, and strength. In our 30 minute demo class, we did a cardio based workout – although there was plenty of plyometrics involved! We did a series of intervals involving various exercises – high-knees, push-ups, burpees, jumping squats, jumping lunges, and sprints in between. We finished off the class with an abs track. It was intense! During the class, I felt like I was going to pass out but in a “working really hard” way – and I felt great after class ended! I should have grabbed some pictures, but I was too busy working out! Although about half-way through the push-ups I had to drop to me knees (we did A LOT of push-ups) and I have some very bruised knees from doing push-ups on a basketball court floor.

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They are seriously gross. And it definitely hurts to kneel.

Today I actually wore my calf compression sleeves to work under my dress pants because my calves are so sore. I was sort of hobbling around before I put them on. I think it was all the plyometric work that really got into my calf muscles – a muscle group that I think was seriously underworked before now!

For a quick look at what GRIT is all about – check out this video:

Speaking of push-ups, I mentioned in my Fitness Bucket List post that push-ups are sort of my nemesis and one of my goals is to do 10 full “real”, all the way down to 90 degree push-ups in a row – and I think I’m getting really close! Based on some recommendations, I downloaded the ‘Hundred Pushups’ app from iTunes and I started it this week. It’s a three day a week program that builds you up to doing a bunch of push-ups in a row. While I have no delusions about being able to do a hundred push-ups, I’m really excited to make working on them a weekly priority.

Finally, this past Sunday I had an amazing yoga class. It was only the second time I’ve been to yoga since I started my half-marathon training plan, and now that I’ve abandoned that idea, I’m so excited to get back to yoga. I’ve truly missed it. I was worried that I would have lost all the gains that I had built up going twice a week. Fortunately, I had a really spectacular class. I held Bird of Paradise (albeit with a bent leg), held Crow for a few seconds, and even got into full Wheel pose! I was so shocked. I remember being able to do this move (referred to as a back bend in my gymnastics class) when I was in middle school, so I was shocked when I started taking yoga and found I couldn’t push up into this position. This past Sunday, I just decided to go for it and I popped right up! It was such an amazing feeling. I think it’s really a testament to the strength I’ve built up in my shoulders and arms that I was able to pull it off. It reminds me of a quote I saw on Pinterest about falling in love: “You fall in love the way you fall asleep – slowly, and then all at once.” I think the same thing is true for yoga poses – you work and work on getting them, and then all of sudden you take a deep breath – and you’re there.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes & A Kitchen Tip!

Since it’s October I’m taking full advantage of the excuse to celebrate two of my favorite things: pumpkin and horror movies! Both of these things are October staples – and I had plenty of each this weekend! After Body Pump on Saturday morning I whipped up some Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Up first – a tip for cooking bacon!

I learned this tip for Rachel Ray and have since seen it on many cooking shows and articles online. Apparently, restaurants bake their bacon on sheet trays rather than cooking it on the stove top. This prevents 1) grease from splattering all over the stovetop and 2) keeps the bacon from having those “less cooked” spots as it cooks and crinkles up in the pan. Another great tip is that if you bake the bacon up on top of a cooling rack over the sheet tray – all the grease will drop down below! I recently purchased a new set of cookie sheets from Bed, Bath and Beyond so I took full advantage of baking my bacon this weekend – but I have yet to find a cooling rack that will work to put up on top. As soon as I do I’m definitely trying that method!

Bake the bacon in a single layer in a 375 degree over for 12 – 15 minutes.

uncooked bacon

cooked bacon
Tada!

And while the bacon was baking I moved on to making the pancakes!

whole wheat pumpkin pancakes title

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes 7-8 pancakes.

    – 1 cup of my whole wheat pancake mix
    – 1/2 can of pumpkin puree (I’d say it’s about 1/2-3/4 of a cup)
    – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    – Enough milk (I used soy milk) to bring the mixture to a pancake batter consistency

Mix all ingredients together until smooth – don’t over-mix! Drop onto a hot skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

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Yum! These pancakes were so delicious and filling on a nice, cool, weekend.

I spent most of the weekend being sort of a hermit and getting stuff done around my house while I caught up on TV shows and watched a few movies. And by “watched a few movies” I mean watched the Paranormal Activity movies in marathon format. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, and I swear I never learn my lesson. I absolutely love horror movies, and I enjoy the scary feeling they give me while I watch them but sometimes after a marathon like this (or a particularly scary movie) I wake up in the middle of the night seriously creeped out. Luckily, I’ve discovered that the Animal Planet show “Too Cute” is on Netflix Instant and it is seriously the best cure for a case of the late-night heebie-jeebies! I’m sure I’ll need it again soon, as one of my favorite horror franchises – the Halloween series – is on marathon all this week on AMC. Even though I own all the movies on DVD (except for that terrible third outing that doesn’t count because Michael Myers isn’t even in it) I cannot resist the urge to watch them and/or DVR them when they’re on TV!

Questions of the Day:
What are your favorite horror movies? Or do you like horror movies at all?
Are you addicted to pumpkin too? If not, what is your favorite fall treat?

Photo Dump 10/16/2013

I’ve seen on some other blogs posts called “Photo Dumps” and thought they were a great idea! I’m always saving pictures on my iPhone, or taking pictures and they end up in the ‘Camera Roll’ black-hole, never to be seen (or shared) again. I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some photos and stories!

New ProCompression Socks
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Yes, I bought these specifically because they look like Steelers colors. The team may not be having a good season, but I can still represent while I recover

Scuba Jackie
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On my birthday, a very old friend of mine posted this picture on my wall. It’s from approximately 10+ years ago when I was actively SCUBA diving. I just had to share.

Random People at Concerts
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Heather and I spotted this guy at one of our summer concerts and she struck a pose so I could sneak a picture. Talk about some short jorts!

Yoga Cat
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I’m not sure whether to call my cat Grace a Yoga Cat or an Anti-Yoga Cat here. If I roll my mat out, she lays down on it pretty much immediately.

Rowena Ravenclaw
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I finally ate my Chocolate Frog that I got as a souvenir on my visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter last March and this was the card I got with it. Appropriate, as I think of myself as a Ravenclaw.

Don’t Let The Cat Out of the Bag
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These pictures as super old but they’re so cute! This is back when Grace was a kitten, and she decided that a tote bag hanging on a chair was a toy. So adorable.

My New Tattoo – as of 10/6/2013
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A few weekends ago I spent my Sunday afternoon getting a new tattoo. It’s a small Deathly Hallows symbol (from Harry Potter) on my foot. I have a similarly sized Celtic knot on my left foot in the same spot and I think they balance nicely. I also think it’s a great way to pay a small and inconspicuous tribute to a book series that influenced a generation – specifically, my generation.

Oktoberfest Group Pictures
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The last weekend in September, a group of my friends and I went to Oktoberfest in National Harbor, MD. It’s become a bit of a tradition, and this was my fifth year in a row attending the festival. Thanks to some awesome strangers, we got these amazing group pictures on the grassy hill and they are just begging to be framed! In fact, the picture of us all lying down in a circle was a stranger’s idea. He just walked up to us and was like: “You know what would look cool? If you all laid down in a circle and I took the picture from above” – and he was right! 🙂

Sweat Pink Ambassador!
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A little over a month ago, I officially became a Sweat Pink Ambassador! 🙂 This was my new member swag, which I of course immediately rocked at cycling class that night! For those of you not familiar, Sweat Pink is a great networking program for those people interested in healthy and fitness – check them out through the button in my sidebar!

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I want to thank Strong Fit Beautiful for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! 🙂 It’s always so nice to get recognition from other bloggers – and this award represents Attitude and Gratitude – and I am so incredibly grateful for the network of support and love that I’ve found in the blogging community. The reactions to my post yesterday are just a small proof of the mutual support and encouragement the blogging world provides.

Strong Fit Beautiful is definitely one of my favorite blogs. She has such great insight into exercise, health, as well as great music playlists every Thursday! Not to mention, she’s a group fitness instructor at my gym. In addition to her blog, I’ve listed 9 other blogs that I love and that inspire me in so many ways – in hopes that you’ll check them out and love them too! And definitely check out Sarah’s blog at Strong Fit Beautiful and see the list of her nominee’s – I found a few new favorites already!

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The rules for the Sisterhood Award are simple:

1. Post the logo on your blog
2. Thank the person who nominated you
3. Choose 10-12 other ladies who blog as your nominees
4. Post the links to the nominees’ blogs and notify them on their blog.

Give these wonderful ladies some love:

Strong Fit Beautiful
One Reader’s Wonderland
Wine to Weightlifting
Mar On The Run!
My Year of Sweat
Once Upon a (L)ime
Wellbeing Nut
Run Eat Repeat
The Scrumptious Pumpkin
The Broccoli Blog

A Running Crisis & Cheese and Herb Stuffed Chicken

I’m having a little bit of a running crisis lately. I’ve discussed it in detail with a few of my friends and the problem is that mainly – I’m not a big fan of running.

Sure, once a week or every other week I get the urge to go out for a run. But I definitely don’t like it enough to run the 3 times a week (minimum) that would be required for proper training. So here I am, 5 weeks into my training plan that should have gotten me through a 10k in November and then a Half Marathon in February and I just don’t want to do it anymore. Through the first weeks of this training plan, I’ve made excuses to skip more runs than I can count which has resulted in only working out 3, sometimes 4 days a week. In contrast, during the months of July-August I gave myself permission not to run at all and focus on yoga, weight lifting, and cycling and I was working out 5-6 days a week without really even noticing it. Probably because I was participating in activities I truly looked forward to and enjoyed.

This situation has left me in a yo-yo argument with myself of “just don’t run the races – there’s no reason to dedicate yourself to something that you don’t enjoy” to “don’t be a quitter” and back again. I’ve had numerous friends tell me you can do it. But it’s not so much that I think I can’t do it as that I don’t want to. And isn’t it silly to force myself to do something half-heartedly when there are activities I’d gladly dedicate myself whole-heartedly to?

In this spirit, I think I’ve decided to skip the 10k in November, and possibly knock the race in February back to a 10k (if Disney will let me switch). There are circumstances surrounding the February race that make it hard for me to not go at all, so I’m hoping to still participate in some way that weekend.

Now, on a less existential note: a recipe! 🙂

bacon cheese chicken

I came up with this recipe as a way to use up some leftover cream cheese I had in the fridge, as well as some bacon and chicken breasts that I had picked up on sale. Also, lately I’ve had a thing for blending up cheese in my food processor.

Bacon-Wrapped, Cheese & Herb Stuffed Chicken
Serves 4.

    – 4 boneless chicken breasts (or you could use thighs I suppose)
    – ¼ cup cream cheese
    – ¼ cup ricotta cheese (I’m sure you could use all cream cheese, this is just what I had on hand)
    – 1 tablespoon dried herbs of your choice, I used oregano and thyme
    – 4 slices bacon
    – Salt and pepper

Cut a “pocket” into the fat side of each chicken breast. Salt and pepper the chicken and set aside.

Add cheeses and herbs to the food processor and process until smooth.

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Stuff each chicken breast with cheese mixture and wrap in a single bacon slice. Place in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and sear on each side before transferring to a 350 degree oven to cook for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

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I served the chicken breasts with some steamed veggies on the side – such a quick and easy, delicious dinner! I also suspect that these would freeze well. You can stuff and wrap the chicken breasts, then seal in a freezer bag for future dinners! 🙂

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Oh dear – it’s been almost two weeks since I posted! Not that you noticed, but I do want to make it clear that I didn’t die or disappear – I just fell into a black hole of overtime and stressful days at work that left me at a point where the last thing I wanted to do was look at a computer screen. So I took a little break and tried to unplug. I think it has done wonders to re-energize me.

To catch up, over the past two weeks I worked a lot of long hours, but still managed to whip up some delicious (homemade!) food. And I did remember to take pictures of (most) of it. And I can’t wait to share the recipes with you! Up first, a recipe that is a great use-up for leftovers, but can be a little time-consuming if you’re making it from scratch. In this instance, I had leftover rice (some wild rice that I had made for a previous dinner, and some white rice from Chinese food take-out) and some chicken and stock from my big day of broth making. I have to say that this recipe could be really versatile and definitely work with any leftovers you have (I’m thinking couscous or quinoa could be an interesting twist!). The original recipe is from MichelleMarieFit and I didn’t change it up too much when I made my version.

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Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
Serves six.
Based on MichelleMarieFit

    – 2 cups leftover cooked chicken
    – 2 cups leftover cooked wild rice (or a combination of wild rice and white/brown rice)
    – 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
    – 1/2 cup chicken stock
    – 2 cups leftover cooked vegetables (or you can sauté them really quick before adding to the casserole – I used a combination of celery, garlic, carrot, onion and edamame)
    – 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients (cooking anything that isn’t already cooked beforehand) in a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

This was such an easy dinner to throw together! I was really happy with it – and I even froze a bunch of single serving size portions in small containers to use as “heat and eat” style lunches for days when I don’t have anything planned!