Let the Race Season Begin!

Hey all!

Thanks for all your responses about not feeling like myself in my last post. Sounds like most of us feel a little off when we have stress in our lives! Hopefully this little funk will pass soon. After all, our mood can most certainly be a self-fulfilling prophecy! 😀

———–

So I did it – I signed up for the first race of 2010. Let race season begin! Well, almost.

January is my last “off month” for training. I’m going to spend the rest of the month doing more yoga, more group classes, and more cross training.

Then when February hits (and actually probably late January,) I’m getting my training face on. Oh yeah, bring it!

The first race is in early March, but it’s just a 5k, which I run twice a week now anyway, so I figure I’ll be fine with only a little over a  month of actual training for it. Besides, it’s going to be a fun race anyway!

I’m running it with one of my besties, Kim (who I went on the cruise with.) It’s her first race ever, so I’m super pumped for her! She runs regularly though, so I’m sure we’ll be running for both time and enjoyment 😀

Either way, I’m sure you can tell, I’m pumped. The only thing that can make races even better is running them with a friend!

So after enjoying my last couple weeks of cross training (aka Paige is too much of a sissy to run in single digit temps) I’ll be going back to a schedule of four-five days of running.

 

Just thinking about race season got me so pumped that I tentatively decided to get started on accomplishing one of my 2010 goalsI picked a race for my first ever half marathon! There’s a half marathon about an hour away from my town on May 1st, and I’m thinking I’m going to sign up for it. Who am I kidding, I’ve already created my 12 week training program (which I’ll post in my Workout Log tab soon.)

I’ve also been thinking about doing something to kick the race season up a notch for me. However, I’m not 100% about it yet. It’s something that will be just a bit time intensive. I still have to decide if I can commit (fully) to it along with possibly training part-time. I don’t want to overload myself, but it’s something I really want to do. We shall see. I have to decide by the end of January, so I’ll let you all know by then what I’m talking about.

Yaaaay for race season! 🙂

———————-

Work today sped by, and I spent the entire work day trying to catch it. Busy bee I was, I left work somewhat on time, I ventured straight to the gym where I got in a good hour long sweat session.

After showering, I realized how hungry I was! I had eaten a Cherry Pie Lara Bar around 3:00, but was still famished from working out when I got home. I tore into some chips and homemade hummus before getting started on dinner:

 

IMG_1513

 

I’ve had an acorn squash I’ve been wanting to play with for a few days, and decided tonight would be just as good a night as any to do it.

Tonight I made a combination that I’ve never done before – sausage (meatless) and apple stuffed acorn squash!

 

IMG_1514

Such a delicious combination!

IMG_1515

I usually just go with sweet for squashes, but this sweet + savory combination was definitely a winner. I loosely followed the recipe here (and obviously used meatless sausage – Tofurkey to be specific, rather than pork.)

IMG_1516

With a wee side salad of romaine, spinach, tomatoes, and Goddess. Nom.

Pleasantly full with healthy and delicious food, I digested while catching up with laundry, your lovely bloggies, and a little reading.

IMG_1519

Heyyy, how’d that chocolate get there 😉 Such great tasting dark chocolate.

You guys, I’m really liking this book. Although, it’s not going to transform me into being a vegan overnight, it definitely puts information that I knew and have heard before into a different perspective. I think having an open mind is very important, and Alicia’s way of telling her side has me really intrigued. I’m not ready to make the switch from vegetarian to vegan (that’s a huge commitment I’m just not ready to make) yet, but she makes very valid points without being pushy or judgmental. 

Plus I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes 😀

Does your work out routine change during certain times of the year? Or do you stick to the same schedule pretty consistently year round? As I explained above (and in my fitness story) my workout schedule changes when I start training for races. However, before I started racing, I would switch up my routine 2-3 times a year as well. I think it’s important to put some variance in my workout routine, as to not become bored or burnt out. You can switch it up with classes, cross training, workout DVD’s, new activities – such as cycling or yoga, upping your reps and lowering your weights and vice versa…the options are endless!

I’ll Bet You Could Juice That!

Howdy, howdy!

Nothing like starting off a week than some fresh squeezed carrot, apple, and grapefruit juice!

IMG_4451

More on that later 😉

This past weekend was a pretty short Christmas vacation (worked up until noon on Christmas Eve) however, somehow I feel adequately rested, even with all the celebration!

In fact, we concluded our Christmas celebrations by having Shane’s dad and his girlfriend, Linda, over for Christmas lunch!

I set my alarm for 7:00, so I’d have plenty of time to get in a good workout before finishing getting the house cleaned and the food prepared. Since we were snowed in, I had to workout upstairs, and I decided to make it a cardio + weights day, and fit the following into exactly one hour:

  • 10 minute warm up on the elliptical
  • Upper body: back and triceps with the following exercises:
    • Skull crushers + long arm pullovers using a 20 lb. dumbbell (works better with a bar bell, though)
    • one armed row on each arm
    • tricep kick backs
    • posterior flies
  • 30 minutes on elliptical with an incline and resistance of 6-10

I was a sweaty mess afterward, so I hopped in the shower, and got cooked up a nice warm breakfast before I got started on the meal and appies. Since the almond butter was a-dwindling in my Trader Joe’s Almond Butter container, I jumped at the chance to make stove top OIAJ with these ingredients:

  • 1 cup water, half cup oats
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin stirred in at the end
  • 1 T agave
  • 1 T TJ’s pumpkin butter drizzled on top

IMG_4438IMG_4440

 

Gah, this combination is a phenom in my book of oats!

Then it was time to get cookin’! For appetizers and snackies, I made hummus with crackers and pita chips, guacamole with blue chips, and shrimpies with cocktail sauce. I had all of this set out when Shane’s dad and his girlfriend arrived.

IMG_4442

IMG_4445

IMG_4446

For the meal I made some lasagna roll ups! I made half vegetarian/portabella, half with meat – and each had ricotta, spinach, and tomato sauce in them:

IMG_4441

After getting them all rolled up and in their respective pans, I covered them with tinfoil and put them in the fridge until our guests arrived. Then, I simply got them out of the fridge and popped ‘em in the oven! They needed an hour to bake, so that gave us plenty of time to munch on the snackies, and sip on the red:

IMG_4448

IMG_4447

Just discovered I like Chianti today! My SIL got me a bottle of it for Christmas, and I broke into it today. Thanks, Jami! 😀 I also love Pinot Noir, as you can see;-)

Thankfully, everything turned out fabulously, and everyone loved it all! Either that, or they’re really good fakers 😉 heh heh

Oh, and look at the sweet gift Shane’s dad got us!!!

 

A juicer!! I couldn’t believe it! Perfect timing, considering I’m suspecting one of the reasons my last blender bit the dust was because I fed it carrots 😉 While I was dreaming up the concoction above (holy yum, btw,) the husband was trying to come up with the craziest combo’s possible, taking the “it can juice about anything” quite literally. At one point, he even said, “Hey… I’ll bet we can juice a cinnamon roll… or how about pizza juice?!”  Honey, you can’t juice that.

And Linda, his girlfriend, also got us an amazing gift basket. She’s SO sweet, she did a great job on the gifts, too. This was our first time meeting her, and I absolutely loved everything in the basket.

I was so mad that I forgot to take pictures when they were here. We don’t have many pictures of Shane and his dad together, and I figured today would be a great day to change that! Unfortunately I remembered this about 10 minutes after they left. Oh well, next time…

 

The hubby and I savored hour last hours of the weekend by snuggling up on the couch and watching the movie, Up! It was such a cute movie! Squirrel!!

Hopefully everyone had a lovely end to their Christmas weekend!

Do you have a signature dish or appetizer that you tend to make often when you have company? I almost always make guacamole 🙂

My Post-Workout Stretch Routine

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE!! 😀

I, for one, can’t believe it’s already here! For some reason, it doesn’t feel like it to me. One reason might be because I’m about to go get ready and head into work for a half day – gotta make that dough! Another – I didn’t have time to do any Christmas baking this year, which is unheard of for me! However, I do plan on whipping up some delicious homemade eggnog when I get home today 😉

Streeeettttccchhhh

The following stretches are my go-to moves whenever I do any form of cardio and/or lower body strength training. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, and stretches just about every muscle/ligament/tendon from the booty down. These 5-10 minutes can really save your legs and body! Why, you say? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Stretching after you work out or warm up (never stretch cold muscles) has a multitude of benefits! Here are just a few:

  • Better performance; flexibility in a joint asks less energy to be able to move through the exercise
  • Increased blood supply and nutrients to the joints, and possibly better circulation
  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Improved muscle balance and postural and kinesthetic awareness
  • Decreased risk of lower back discomfort

 

And here are the eight stretches I do (per side) every. single. time. after a cardio or legs session:

 

Start out with an inner thigh stretch (you can start it on either side of your body) by leaning your torso to one side with that knee bent, stick your booty out as to make sure your knee stays behind your toes, and hold for 9 counts.

IMG_1329

Side note: In addition to stretching after a warm up and especially after finishing exercise, you should also hold a stretch for at least six seconds. It takes 6-10 seconds to elicit the stretch response from the neuromuscular system.

Next, pivot your body to the side of your bent knee into the frontal plane, and lean your torso forward to get a nice calf stretch (gastrocnemius,) like so:

IMG_1330

To stretch your deep calf muscle (soleus,) simply bend your knee slightly, and keep stretching your calf:

IMG_1331

From here, straighten your torso to be perpendicular to the floor, and sink down a few inches to get a great stretch in the hip flexors:

IMG_1332

It’s easy to stretch the quadriceps muscles from this position by dropping your knee to almost a 90º angle:

IMG_1333

Next, slide the stretching leg in, and bend slightly, resting your hands on that thigh, to support yourself while you stretch the hamstrings of the opposite leg:

IMG_1334

 

And simply point your toe to the ground to get a good anterior calf stretch:IMG_1339

A lot of people tend to forget this stretch, but it’s very important, especially if you run!   

Finish up by bringing the ankle of that leg on the the knee of the opposite leg, and sit down a few inches to get a nice gluts and hip stretch:

   IMG_1335    

Then repeat for the opposite side of the body, and you’re lower body is ready to go!

Actually…I just though of one important stretch that you should do if you’re a runner – the runner’s stance stretch! I typically add this in between the quad stretch and the hamstring stretch, and it looks like this:

Hurdlers Stretch

[source]

 

Hopefully a few of you got something out of this post – let me know whatcha think!

This post will be linked into the RAN Fitness tab at the top of the bloggy starting today! 😀 I’m also going to start recording my workouts in that section, so ya’ll can see (and I can keep record of!) my workouts on a day-to-day basis!

 

Is your lower body stretch routine similar to this? What type of stretching do you do post warm-up or post-cool down?

A Smashing Good Meal

Hey all!

Happy Friday (And day before my cruiiiise!) I can’t believe it’s already here. Today will be spent doing all the last minute things that I’ve forgotten to do, which will include making at least 3 lists, and going to at least 3 grocery stores, I’m sure.

Today is also the day our new Black Friday deal should arrive. We scored a deal on an amazing LG front loading washer dryer, that I’m super pumped to use. I’m gonna be a clothes washing machine-queen when I get back from this cruise! Anyone need their clothes washed? OK, maybe I won’t go that far 😉

Yesterday after work, I went directly to the gym. Do not pass home, do not pass grocery store, do not pass Von Maur. I wanted to get in a good interval run (which turned into HIIT) and some strength training since I had to nix my workout altogether on Wednesday, due to a little K-9 catastrophe.

Since running was my first priority, I jumped on the treadmill to begin with, and did the following:

· 5 minute warm up walk

· 2 minutes @ 6.0

· 1 minute @ 6.4

· 2 minutes @ 6.3

· 1 minute @ 7.0

· 2 minutes @ 6.5

· 1 minute @ 7.0

· 2 minutes @ 6.5

· 1 minute @ 7.1               

· Repeat last two for the next 15 minutes

· 5 minute cool down walk

I was pretty beat after this workout, but after the cool down, I was ready for some weights. Today was triceps, shoulders, chest, and abs. I typically do 2-3 exercises with 2-3 sets per each part, but today, since I had already gotten in HIIT, and had a little more to do, I stuck with 1-2 exercises with 1-2 sets

· Pushups/body weight/2 sets of 10

· Shoulder press/10 lbs/2 sets of 10

· Chest press/20 lbs/2 sets of 10

· Straight arm pullover w/ a skull crusher/20 lb barbell/2 sets of 15

· Planks/front/2x’s @ 30 seconds

Then I finished out with ten minutes on the stepmill at an intensity of 9. Notice I didn’t say an easy breezy ten minutes or a nice ten minutes. Those last ten minutes are killer! The stepmill is evil…in a good way.

I had been dreaming last night’s dinner since I got groceries for this week at the store last weekend.

El Menu:

  • · Smashed Golden Potatoes
  • · Roasted carrots w/ a sweet n spicy glaze
  • · Black Cherry glazed Cod

First I got started on the carrots. I peeled and chopped three biggun’s, and then coated them generously with a mix of maple syrup, coconut oil, sea salt, and tamari. Into the oven they went. Next, I got started on the sauce for the cod. The glaze I used for the cod was adapted from this month’s Clean Eating magazine. I just sauteed a little lemon juice, some no sugar added black cherry preserves:

IMG_2447

Then added a little cinnamon and a dash of cayenne, bring to a boil,  and let simmer for just a couple minutes. Meanwhile, I sprinkled some paprika on the cod fillets, and tossed them in the oven with carrots.

While they were kickin’ it in the hotbox, I got started on the potatoes!! This recipe was yet again, adapted from a CE recipe. I boiled 4 medium-sized yukon-gold potatoes, along with two cloves of garlic for about 12 minutes:

IMG_2446

After boiling, it was smashin’ time – in the Standup Mixer, Mr. Brown, of course:

IMG_2453

After adding a few key ingredients, including greek yogurt and goat cheese, they turned out magnificently!! Actually, roasted red peppers were also supposed to go in the mix, but I didn’t realize until after I sliced them up…

IMG_2448

That they were to be roasted first. Oops! So instead, I just bagged them to be used on a salad or dipped in hummus:

IMG_2450

I seriously recommend you making these potatoes – and I desperately wish I could give out the recipe, but I don’t think Clean Eating would like that too much.

IMG_2454

Doesn’t it look gourmet?!

IMG_2455

Ok, well gourmet for me? haha.

Side note – you can see I’m still eating fish. When I first announced I was making the transition to become a vegetarian, I noted that I’d still keep fish in my diet, and then wean it out. I’m still planning on doing this, but I finally set a tentative date to do this. I say tentative, because I’m going to listen to my body, and if it still needs fish for a while, so be it. However, I knew it’d be extremely hard going 100% meat free on a cruise ship. I’m going to do my best by packing veg-friendly snacks, like bars, and nuts, and whatnot, but I think it’ll make the trip and the transition that much smoother. So, naturally and in full cliche, I am making my tentative “meat-free” date January 1st, 2010. We shall see how that ensues…

Anyway, I also made a super yummy dessert from ED & BV – Cinnamon Sugar tortilla chips:

IMG_2452IMG_2456

Oh Dreena, your ideas are so simple, yet so genius.

My Morning Routine: Streamlined

So if you’ve been reading RAN for a while, you probably know I can be aloof, care free, and am usually in a rush or running late. While I still “run late” three out of the five days of the work week, I have learned to come up with a streamlined routine that is helping me out big time – whether it’s by allowing me to get more accomplished before leaving for work or by getting my booty out the door on time. It’s very possible to be at work/away from home 9-12 hours a day and keep up your healthy habits.

Basically, I prep anything and everything that can be prepped in advance either the night before or the Sunday before. I’ve posted my in-a-pinch oats to go before, but if possible, I like to make a big batch on Sunday for about 3-4 mornings worth. Plus, I wanted to be a little more specific on how I streamline my morning routineThen the night before, I’ll put it in its separate container, add the mix-ins I want, and store it in the fridge until morning. I’ll also prep my lunch for the next day while dinner is cooking – before all the counters are wiped down, post-dinner eating. I’ll also gather my snacks for the day during this time.

In my experience, the snacks I pack can either make or break my healthy eating for the day. If I forget to throw in (a couple of the following): veggies + hummus, laughing cow cheese wedge + crackers, fruit + nuts, bars, or yogurt + granola, I usually end up meandering down to the café here at work mid-afternoon and grabbing something not so healthy. And if I do all this while dinner is cooking, I don’t really waste too much of my night doing prep work.

IMG_2439

(OIAJ, prepped the night before)IMG_2444

In fact, the only thing I do make the morning of are my smoothies (I eve pour the water for my coffee into the tea kettle the night before so all I have to do in the morning is turn the dial to high)

IMG_2443

One last thing I prepare the night before is my workout bag. If I pack a workout bag, put it by the front door, take it to work and change there, there’s about a 99% chance I’m hitting up the gym when I leave the workfront.

IMG_2445

This leads to a more streamlined and consistent workout routine, especially in the colder months when it’s more appealing to just go home and chill out by the fire.

How do you try to make your morning routine as seamless as possible? Obviously, I’m a big plan aheader, but I’m sure there are other tactics. What are yours?

I hope everyone has a wonderful end to their week!