Last Week’s Workouts and the Wonder of New Shoes

For the last few weeks–perhaps even a month–my knees had been feeling achy on runs and long walks.  I pulled back on intensity and distance, which helped some, but not enough, and then it finally occurred to me:  I haven’t bought new running shoes since April.  Those shoes maxed out their mileage some time ago.  Sunday night I bought a new pair, and it’s made a huge difference in my workouts this week!

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The Brooks Ravenna 4

Here’s what last week looked like in terms of workouts (spoiler alert:  I kind of dominated :-D) :

Sunday: Biking- 11 miles (with Andrew… it’s possible that we stopped for ice cream/Italian ice somewhere in the last few miles, but if we did, I assure you it was 100% Andrew’s decision, and I only went along with it for moral support.)

Monday: Running- 30 minutes (debut run for the new shoes!)

Tuesday: Lifting- 30 minutes; Ultimate Frisbee- 90 minutes

Wednesday: Running- 30 minutes

Thursday: Lifting- 30 minutes; Elliptical- 20 minutes (intervals);

Friday: Running- 60 minutes (trails)

I have been a devoted living room weight-lifter for years, but while we were in Jamaica I discovered the beauty of lifting at the gym.  The allure is about 15% accountability–I won’t skimp on reps if someone is standing next to me–and 85% vanity–mirrors on multiple walls so I can see my muscles working from different angles?  Heck, yes!  Pure vanity, but very motivating.  I had two great lifting sessions this week as a result, and  I’m pretty sure I’m stronger already.

In retrospect I should have taken a day off because we are leaving today to hike and camp for the long weekend!  I think today will mostly be driving and setting up camp, with most of the hiking being tomorrow, so hopefully it will give my muscles a chance to rest.  I can’t wait to be in the mountains!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

What was your best workout this week?
Weight lifting: living room or gym?
Any big plans for the long weekend?

The Sandwich-Hater’s Lunch: Black Bean Salad

As you likely know by now, I am a sandwich-hater down to my bones.  I hadn’t posted on the topic or shared a sandwich-less lunch recipe in a while, but my my sister’s excellent guest post last week inspired me.  After a week on vacation eating a lot of heavy foods (hello, bacon every morning), I have been craving fresh, raw, whole foods.  Beans, rather than meat, have sounded like the most delicious foods in the world this week!  I made a big batch of this super easy black bean salad on Sunday night, and I’ve been working my way through it for lunches:

Black Bean Salad
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tomatoes, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 c corn (I used frozen)
Italian dressing to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Done.

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Friends, it’s really delicious.  Also, has anyone had Popcorners (pictured above)?  We buy some whenever we go to our wholesale club, and it’s a miracle if the 18-serving bag lasts a week.  I like to tell myself that Andrew is eating more than his share, but in reality I think I am the culprit.  Last Sunday we took a risk and bought two bags and agreed that no matter when we finished the first, we could not open the second until a week had passed since purchase.  This will prevent us from the entirely possible scenario of eating 36 servings of popcorn chips in one week.  Hah!

Have a great Thursday!

What’s been in your lunch box this week?
Have you tried Popcorners??

Jamaica Part 2: Fitness and Adventure

While it may be tempting on vacation to lie on the beach all day–especially when a waiter walks by at regular intervals and says, “Hey Princess!  Are you doing okay?  Can I bring you a drink?”*–it’s also exciting to explore all that the activities the area and resort have to offer.  And you’ll feel better if you move a little bit between those buffets and fruity drinks. 😉

(*After this happened a few times, I requested that Andrew start addressing me as “Princess” and offer to bring me drinks regularly;  he declined.)

Here’s how we stayed active in Jamaica:

Snorkeling
When we were on our honeymoon we purchased snorkeling masks, which we brought with us last week.  The resort offered snorkeling trips, which we did once, but most days we also explored on our own just off the coast.

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A huge thanks to our friend Kevin for letting us borrow his waterproof camera for the week!

Sailing
The resort offers a variety of water sports, so we went sailing one day!  The culture difference related to this cracks me up:  In the US, in order to take out a sailboat you’d probably have to take a class, sign a waiver, pass a test, etc.  In Jamaica they said, “You know how to sail?  Have fun!”  😀

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Beach Volleyball
This was more Andrew’s thing, but I played one day too!  Every day at 4:00 the resort staff organized a volleyball game, and Andrew played most days.  Also, if I may brag on my husband for a moment, Andrew is kind of awesome at volleyball.  I had no idea (he never played on a team or anything), but I supposed I should have realized, considering is good at most sports.  The one afternoon he didn’t play, all his teammates kept saying, “Where were you??  We needed you!”

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Also, minutes after the above photo was taken, the guy on the right dove into the water to cool off and came up screaming expletives, his foot gushing blood.  We looked in the water and saw that he’d stepped on a stingray, which then pierced his foot!  We talked to him the next day after he’d spent a good portion of the night in the medical center; he was in some serious pain, but he’s okay!

Offsite Adventure: Ziplining and Waterfall Hiking
The only thing we did that was not included was an excursion to Ocho Rios (about 90 minutes from Montego Bay) to zipline and hike a waterfall.  The trip was absolutely worth the extra cost!

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The view from the sky lift

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Dunn’s River Falls is a series of 3-4 ft waterfalls with big pools at the bottom of each.  We hiked from the ocean to the top of the falls.  It was awesome (and provided some great photo ops! :-D)

The Gym
In addition to staying active outside, we did hit the resort gym a few times–once for Andrew, twice for me.  Each time I completed 20 minutes on the treadmill (intervals + a short warm up/cool down), and 20 minutes of weight circuits.  I wanted to make the workouts count without feeling like I was spending too much precious vacation time at the gym.

That was our Jamaication!  I’m still not sure about this whole, “not on vacation, back in the real world” thing, but I am slowly adjusting.  Yesterday afternoon I made myself a “transition from paradise to reality smoothie”: pineapple, mango, and strawberry.  I compromised by not including spinach, flax meal, or rum. 😉

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Not bad, but not Jamaica.

Have a great Tuesday!

Where did you go/are you going on vacation this summer?
Have you ever been to Dunn’s River Falls?

Jamaica Part 1: Food and Relaxation

Jamaica was all we’d hoped it would be–a great mix of adventure and relaxation.  This morning I will focus on the food and relaxation aspects of our vacation, and tomorrow I’ll dive into the adventure and activity aspects.  Overall, I think Andrew and I both did better in terms of being active and not stuffing our faces than we did on our honeymoon. 😀

First, I must say that Sandals handled Andrew’s food intolerances incredibly well. During our check-in process Saturday (which included a damp towel to cool off, a glass of island punch, and a comfy couch,) the sous-chef met with us and talked about what he could eat and how the food is prepared.  Anyone with a food allergy or intolerance knows that it can make you nervous to go somewhere like this and have no control over how the food is prepared; it put our minds at ease to have the chef take the initiative to speak with us and let us know that he is on top of things.  In addition to the plethora of naturally gluten-free foods, they provided a GF bread basket upon request at dinner as well as a GF pizza crust at the beach-side pizzeria!  Point one of a million for Sandals.

After checking in, we settled into our room and enjoyed our complimentary fruit and cheese plates on our balcony.

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We ate our weight in fresh fruit this week.  It was a-mazing.

The resort has five or six restaurants, with a few different breakfast options.  We decided to park ourselves at the breakfast buffet each day, partly because we didn’t go to an all-inclusive resort to eat like birds, and partly because this was the view from the restaurant:

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No big deal.

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Fresh fruit galore!

After breakfast most days we hit the beach.  The resort where we stayed sat on the mainland but had its own private island just offshore, with boats taking guests back and forth throughout the day.  We spent most of our sun time on the island.

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I have a feeling that being on the island all day is what kept us from being total gluttons.  While there was a bar as well as a husband who heard, “No, thank you, I’m fine for right now,” as, “Please bring me a pina colada ASAP,” the island restaurant served a much lighter lunch buffet.   Our lunches typically looked like this:

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Salad, jerk chicken, and a few frozen beverages 🙂

Dinners provided more of the face-stuffing opportunities.  Each restaurant created a signature drink, which the server brought to the table upon your arrival.  (Would you like this pineapple-garnished blend of delicious fruit juices and rum that I’ve already made and have for you right here?  Yes.  Yes, I think I would.)

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I failed to take any entree photos, but our dinners included dishes like Caribbean lobster, coconut-encrusted trout, garlic tiger shrimp, and filet mignon.  Yep.

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Desserts included beauties like this:

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Mango mousse and strawberry cheesecake

Between meals we filled our time with a lot of this:

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And this:

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And this:

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Pulling the lounge chairs into the shallow water?  Yes, please.

…And enjoyed views like these:

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<Sigh.>

We didn’t, however, spend 100% of our time eating and otherwise doing nothing.  Tomorrow I will tell you all about our active adventures and how we worked out more than once during our vacation. 🙂

I hope you have a great Monday!

Have you ever been to Jamaica?  A Sandals resort?  What’d you think?

Home (Bitter) Sweet Home

We are home from Jamaica, and while it’s good to be home, it’s also good to be…. well, in Jamaica.  I may or may not have had to fight back a few tears as we were leaving yesterday morning.  I plan to write a full post (probably two) in the next couple of days, but for this morning, I leave you with a few teaser photos:

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I know.

Have a great Saturday!

Sandwich Hater’s Lunch Jr. (Guest Post)

Our guest blogger today is my amazing big sister, Whitney.  She brings a new perspective to the blog–the challenge of getting a 6-year-old to eat healthy foods daily. 😉   Enjoy!

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“Occasionally my sister Catherine (DoDo to my children) posts about her lunch choices as a self-proclaimed “sandwich hater.” I can relate to these messages because, (although I enjoy anything that someone wants to put between two slices of perfect carb laden bread), my 6 year old absolutely refuses to eat a sandwich. (Editor’s note: ‘atta girl!)

Kendall is in the First grade in a year round school.  I remember sitting in the parent orientation meeting before she started Kindergarten and listening to the Food Service Manager (head cafeteria lady) describe a typical school lunch.  I was horrified.  HORRIFIED.  A 5 year old cannot be expected to lay the foundations for their entire academic career when we are feeding them hot dogs as a protein and tater tots as a vegetable.  I knew then that I would be packing her lunch every.single.day.

So now comes the dilemma of this post.  I need lunches that are: nutritious, portable, able to stay fresh until 12:30, likely to be eaten by a 6 year old, and void of all sandwich related paraphernalia.

A typical lunch for Kendall looks like this:

1 organic cheese stick, 1 homemade “Gogurt”, seasonal fruit, seasonal vegetable, and some sort of carbohydrate. This could be crackers, granola bar, veggie straws, etc.  (I know, I know. The protein police have something to say about this. Cheese and yogurt both have protein and she’ll eat some chicken at dinner.)  She also gets a treat, but there’s a rule.  If anything in her lunchbox comes home (i.e. carrots) then her treat also has to come home. She can’t eat a cookie first and not have time/room for cucumber slices.

The best investment we made in the lunch project was some good Ziploc reusable containers.  They have three compartments that separate her food so nothing runs together and they fit perfectly inside her lunch box.  I also found these awesome silicone Popsicle molds that work great as yogurt containers.  I just mix plain Greek yogurt with fruit, honey, or granola.

The next best investment we make is letting Kendall help pack her lunch most days.  She gets to choose a fruit and a vegetable, she gets to help put it all in the box.  She is now invested and empowered in her own meal and is more likely to eat it as a result.

We are fortunate in the fact that Kendall’s best friend at school also comes from a “real food” family.  Together they stage a daily lunch room sit-in on school lunches, Cheetos, and most importantly: sandwiches.”

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How could you make that sweet face eat a sandwich?  Also, she comes by her love of ice cream naturally 😀

Thanks, sis!

Eating Well in the Real World (Guest Post)

Our guest blogger today is my little brother, Ross!  He is a. funnier and b. a better writer than I am, so enjoy 😀

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“Hey there, Catherine’s blog friends!  I’m excited be making my long-overdue debut here on A Two Storey Home.

Now, I may not grow as much produce, eat as many hipster meals, or run as many miles as my big sister, but I think I can still provide you all with some valuable fitness and nutrition insight.  Also, unlike some members of my family, I am not at an all-inclusive Jamaican resort without a computer.  Thus, you are stuck with me.

So, without further adieu, here we go:

Between the ages of 18-22, there are three major transitions that significantly impact a person’s fitness and nutrition habits:

1)     Freshman Year of College – While I think the “Freshman 15” is a fairly overblown phenomenon, there’s no question that the college lifestyle requires a serious adjustment. Gone are the days of strict high school athletic schedules, home-cooked meals, and childhood metabolism.  I didn’t necessarily gain weight freshman year, but I certainly replaced some of my high school muscles with some extra cushion.  All you can eat?  Challenge accepted.

2)     Moving Off-Campus – You don’t hear much about this transition period, but it’s a sneaky-dangerous time in a college student’s life.  Smaller meal plans, more than a 100-foot walk to the gym, and zero supervision.  I remember looking at my weekend’s credit card statement one Monday during my sophomore year: takeout Chinese, McDonald’s, 7-11, and Sonic.  All in one weekend.  Woof.

3)     Entering the Real World – It took nearly 250 words, but I’ve finally reached the transition period I set out to talk about in this post.  Although I’m just 14 months into this whole “adulthood” thing, I’ve found it to be the most successful health and fitness transition yet.  Structured schedules, hand-me-down cookware, and enough money to pay for the occasional fruit or vegetable…what more could a guy want?  I guess a trip to Jamaica would be nice, but who has time for that?

The real world has been an excellent opportunity to redeem myself for the “Moving Off-Campus” portion of college.  Honestly, they’re somewhat similar stages of life, just with four more years of maturity, and an equal amount of trips to Jamaica.  Rather than playing N-64 and eating fast food, now I go to the gym and make my own meals.  I’m such a young professional it hurts.

What are some of those Ross-made meals, you ask?  Great question. In keeping with the ATSH theme, here’s a quick recipe for some really solid turkey burgers.  My roommate Matt and I have made these a few times (his recipe), and they’re awesome.  It’s the kind of food I’d imagine they would serve at one of those swanky all-inclusive Jamaican resorts.

(I’m leaving out quantities; we just eyeball it, and so should you).  (Editor’s note:  This is obviously a family trait).

Ground Turkey
Diced onion
Diced jalapeño
Diced garlic
Worcestershire Sauce
Salt
Pepper
Steak Sauce
Avocado

-Mix the turkey (super cheap at the Carytown Kroger, and presumably, most places) with the onion, jalapeño, garlic, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.

– Form into patties

– Place patties on grill, on low-heat.

– It’s tough to over-cook turkey, so I’m not exactly sure how much time to cook it for.  Just keep an eye on it and use good judgment.

– Serve on a whole-wheat bun or in a wrap.  Feel free to add additional onions, jalapeños, or even tomatoes.  The avocado and steak sauce are completely optional, but both are really good to spread on the bun or the wrap.

In fairness, things like this are not an everyday occasion.  Generally, my dinners consist of a grilled chicken breast, a bag of vegetables and/or pasta, and some sort of fruit.  My meals are pretty generic, but they’re quick, reasonably healthy, and very cost-effective – all very important qualities for a 23-year-old male who isn’t in Jamaica.

This is getting excessively long, so I’ll actually hold off on the exercise portion of this post.  Thanks so much for letting me intrude on your blog world for a day.  It was nice to get back on the writing train.

Hopefully Catherine will invite me back to discuss the fitness challenges associated with being a 20-something with a full-time desk job.  That is, if she comes back from Jamaica.  Did I mention she was in Jamaica?

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 Ross has been invited back to write part 2, as well as other posts in the future.  If I don’t return from Jamaica, he gains full operational control of A Two Storey Home.