Fit Gifts

Amidst the eating-more-than-we-should and the working-out-less-than-we-should of Christmas week, Andrew and I received (and gave) a few gifts that will help us be a little more fit as we get back to our routines.  The best fit gifts under our tree this year:

1. Running Clothes

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Please, don’t be intimidated by how tough I look. 😉  My mom, a fellow runner, gave me some awesome new gear this year!  The top is Under Armor and looks white in the photo, but is actually that cool pattern above on the right.  The leggings are Nike, and they are perfect. 🙂  I don’t know about you, but I find new running gear to be so motivating!  I couldn’t wait to put them on and run yesterday!

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Additionally, my aunt Ann gave me this great running top.  I am looking forward to taking it on its debut run!

2. Extra Long Yoga Mat (for the giant)

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Andrew and I have been taking a yoga class pretty faithfully for almost a year, but we had yet to purchase our own mats.  The standard-sized mats we borrow at the gym are fine for me, but at 6’4 Andrew hangs off the top and the bottom.  For Christmas this year I bought him an extra long yoga mat.  With 7 feet of mat, both his head and feet are cushioned. 🙂  I waited until after Christmas to buy a mat for myself (the gray one pictured above) because I thought Andrew might give me one.  He didn’t;  instead, he gave me a…

3. Fitbit Flex

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I have been absolutely geeking out about this thing since the moment I opened it.  For those who aren’t familiar, a Fitbit is a wrist band that tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, hours slept, sleep quality, and more.  In other words, a health nut’s dream come true.

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I’ve been having so much fun with it.  It’s a great visual reminder to get up and move;  over Christmas, when we were doing a lot of sitting around, it was convicting to see how far I was from the recommended 10,000 steps a day.  It motivated me to go out and take a walk. 🙂

The sleep features are really cool too.  You tap the band a few times when you lie down to sleep, and then again when you wake up in the morning, and it tracks your sleep patterns.

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In related news, I sleep like a champ. 🙂  See how there’s no pink (awake) at the beginning of the night?  Yes, I actually fall asleep that fast.

Fitbit also gives you the option to set weight loss goals and record the food you eat.  It tracks how many calories you’ve eaten and tells you how many you have left based on your goals.  All around, it’s an awesome gadget

With these tools, we are on our way to a healthy 2014!

-What fit gifts did you receive or give this year?
-Do you have a Fitbit?  Are you as obsessed with it as I am?

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Christmas 2013 Recap

Well, hello there!  My name’s Catherine.  I used to blog regularly, but then I took a few weeks off for Christmas.  You may or may not remember me.  😉  Now that the busyness of the season is (mostly) behind us, I have returned.

Here’s a Christmas photo of my beautiful family, plus a recap of our Christmas week (yes, when you’re married with two sets of divorced parents, Christmas lasts a whole week) :

Christmas card

 

This was the first year that we coordinated rather than matched our outfits for the Christmas card photo.  It was a huge step for our family, but I think the result looked great!

 

The decorations and presents:

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I love decorating the mantle and making wreaths!  I am especially proud of this Christmas wreath. 🙂  Andrew had the ornament made with our wedding date for me last Christmas, and I love it.

The weekend before Christmas, my mom’s side of the family came in town for a big Christmas lunch.  It was great to see everyone, catch-up on life, and eat until we were too full. 🙂

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That weekend we also looked at a few houses on the Tacky Light Tour.  I don’t know how common this is, but it’s a big deal in Richmond.  People love their tacky lights!

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Also, my nieces are the funniest people in the world.  As soon as we buckled our seat belts (yes, I am in the back middle seat between two car seats–perk of being petite?) Lauren (4) put her hand on mine and said, “Okay.  So, let’s talk about Disney World.  Do you want to hear what my favorite rides were?”  They went to Disney World earlier in December, and she wanted to talk about it every time there was a pause in conversation.  Money well-spent, sis.  😀

We spent Christmas Eve with Andrew’s mom and sister.  Unnaturally, I didn’t take any pictures. :-/  We opened presents, ate dinner, and attended an awesome Christmas Eve service at our church.

On actual Christmas day we were with Andrew’s dad.  His apartment complex is adjacent to a nice park, so after opening presents and eating, Andrew, Jenny, and I took a much-needed walk!

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We had a Dumb and Dumber moment during the walk.  The temperature was approximately 20 degrees, and I’d forgotten gloves.  Throughout the walk I was trying to tuck my hands in my sleeves, blowing on them to make them warm, sticking them in Andrew’s gloves etc.  After we’d been walking for, oh, 30 minutes, Andrew said, “Do you want my extra gloves?”  You’ve had extra gloves this whole time?? 😀

 The day after Christmas Andrew and I drove down to Raleigh to do Christmas with my family–first my mom, then my dad, aunt, and uncle.  Again, I wish I’d taken more photos, but I do have a few:

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Lauren helping my mom open a present 🙂

There is never a dull moment with my family; we laughed a lot, exchanged a few funny re-gifts, and just enjoyed being together!  Also, I must give a shout out to my sister, Whitney, for cooking some really delicious dinners while we were there;  I wanted to take photos, but the practice of taking food photos was ridiculed prior to my doing so. 🙂

On Friday, my dad, aunt, and uncle drove up to Raleigh from Atlanta, and we celebrated Christmas all over again.

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My dad and Lauren reading a book 🙂

On Friday night, some of the crew drove to Chapel Hill to see our beloved Tar Heels play basketball!  Andrew was not a UNC fan before we started dating, but he sure does look good in Carolina blue!

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On Saturday morning, Andrew and I went running with Aunt Ann, which has become a great tradition whenever we are together in Raleigh!  After a lot of sitting around and visiting, it felt good to get outside and move.

It was tough to say goodbye everyone, but we enjoyed the time together while we could!

And finally, a tradition that Andrew already hates doesn’t love but one day will appreciate, the second annual Christmas morning photo:

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Merry Christmas!

How did you celebrate this year?

Current Fitness Routine + The Funniest Running Photo I’ve Ever Accidentally Taken

During the month of November, between the leftover Halloween candy and Thanksgiving treats, I hit the sweets pretty hard, was a little slack on my workouts, and by the end of the month felt pretty blah.  At the beginning of December I recommitted to working out most days of the week and treating sweets as treats rather than something to be eaten whenever I feel like it.  Already I’m feeling better!

In terms of working out, I have been on a roll this month.  Despite the cold, I have been hitting the pavement running like a champ–yes, I am feeling quite proud of myself. 🙂

 

running1Frosty grass calls for fleece-lined spandex.

Here’s what the last week looked like for me in terms of fitness:

Saturday:  Kickboxing video
Sunday:  Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred
Monday:  Run-40 minutes, easy
Tuesday:  30-Day Shred
Wednesday:  Run-30 minutes, intervals + walk- 60 minutes
Thursday: 30-Day Shred + walk- 15 minutes
Friday:  Run- 45 minutes

Jillian’s 30-Day Shred is tough–for those who don’t know, it’s a circuit-style exercise DVD that combines strength with cardio–but it’s not kicking my butt like the last two times I did it.  I take that as a sign that I am more in shape these days! 🙂

jillian2I do love being able to workout in my living room with the blinds closed 😀

On Wednesday morning I took a really funny photo by accident.  Running friends, you may understand what I am about to explain.  Or perhaps I will just sound vain or weird. 😉 Sometimes when I am running in the morning, when the sun is low, and I pass a solid fence, I think, “Wow, my shadow looks cool.  I wish I had a photo of that!”  On Wednesday this happened, and I decided to pull out my phone and try to get the shot.  However, by the time I took off my gloves and opened the camera, the terrain had changed a little bit, so there was a small hill leading up to the fence.  Here’s the result:

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Bahahaha.  My bottom half is on the hill in the foreground, and my upper half is on the fence, making it look like I have the tiniest waist and the biggest booty ever.  And with the tree, I look like I’m holding a gun.  I was really amused. 😀

And finally, because I like food and like posting pictures of food, here’s what we had for dinner last night:

rosemarychickenRosemary balsamic chicken, roasted Brussels sprouts, and quinoa.  Yum. 🙂

Have a great Friday, everyone!

-What does your weekly workout schedule look like currently?
-Have you ever taken a photo of your shadow while running (or wanted to)?

Less Meat Monday: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos {with Chicken}

“Less Meat Monday” admittedly doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Meatless Monday“, but it’s a huge step for some members of this household (read: Andrew :)).  Last week he acknowledged that he should probably be eating a little less meat and a little more fiber for his overall health, and he gave me the green light to try some new dinner recipes in which meat is not the star.

Naturally, I was thrilled—as Andrew puts it, I always have one foot firmly in the vegetarian camp.  Now, we are not going vegetarian, but I am planning to make Mondays “Less Meat Mondays”, and try new recipes in which I can cut the amount of meat significantly with beans, lentils, or some other form of plant protein.

Here’s what was on the table last night:

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos {with Chicken}

2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb chicken, cooked and shredded*
2 medium sweet potatoes
½-1 c salsa
olive oil
chili powder
cumin
salt & pepper
mixed greens
lime
cilantro
goat cheese
corn tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Chop sweet potatoes into ½-inch cubes.  Put in bowl, and toss with olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  2. Spread sweet potatoes on a pan, and place in oven for 30 minutes, stirring/flipping halfway through.  3.  While the potatoes are cooking, combine beans, chicken, and salsa in a pot, and heat on low.  4.  When potatoes are done and beans are hot, place in tortillas with greens, cilantro, lime juice, goat cheese, and/or whatever sounds good :).

(*I actually cooked the chicken in a skillet as soon as I put the potatoes in the oven;  there’s plenty of time to do this and heat the beans, but if you have leftover chicken you want to use, this is a great way to do it!)

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The tacos were a hit!  Andrew said he did not miss the extra meat—typically we use 1- 1 1/2lb of meat for any given dinner, which will last us two nights, so only using 1/2lb of chicken was a significant drop for us.  You can also leave out the chicken entirely, and I doubt you’d miss it.

Happy eating to all! 🙂

-Do you observe Meatless Monday?
-Any recommendations for high-protein, meatless (or less-meat) dinners that I could try in the coming weeks??

Vegetable Lentil Soup {with Bacon}

I don’t always cook with bacon, but when I do… it’s delicious.  😉  Yesterday we had about 1/2 lb of bacon that we needed to use (leftover from a Thanksgiving dish), and we’d picked up some green lentils at the grocery store this weekend, so I decided to create a new recipe.  The result was fanstastic.  I don’t want to oversell it, but this was a real winner for us. 

Vegetable Lentil Soup {with Bacon}
1 1/2 c green lentils
4 carrots
3 celery ribs
4 Roma tomatoes
2 c spinach
2-3 garlic cloves
6 slices bacon*
6 c chicken broth
Salt, pepper, & red pepper to taste

(*I used a natural, nitrite-free bacon.  When I sliced it, the last 1/2-1 inch was pure fat (as opposed to the other pieces that were half fat, half meat), and I couldn’t justify using it, so I tossed it out.  This recipe is actually 6 slices of bacon minus 1/2-1 inch of fat from each slice. :))

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1.  Chop carrots, celery, tomatoes, and garlic (minced).  Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.  2.  In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, cook bacon over medium-high heat until cooked through.  3. Add carrots, celery, and tomato, and saute for 3-4 minutes.  4.  Add garlic (move other veggies and make room on the bottom of the pot so it can actually cook), and saute for about 1 minute.  5. Add chicken broth, lentils, and seasoning; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer with lid tilted for 25-30 minutes (until lentils are soft).  6.  In the last 5 minutes add spinach. 

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Again, at the risk of overselling it, this was a fist-pump-because-I’m-so-happy-I-made-something-so-tasty meal.  The bacon just gives it so much good flavor!  It worked well for us because there was enough meat that Andrew didn’t feel deprived, but a sufficiently small amount of meat that I wasn’t picking around anything in my bowl (which sometimes happens; chicken is very hit-or-miss for me).  Most of the protein (13g per serving) came from the lentils, which I love.

When we bought the lentils, Andrew noticed the very high fiber content–15g per 1/4 c dry serving.  After we’d tasted and determined how good this soup was, as we were ladeling it into bowls, I had to remind Andrew that eating multiple large servings might have some undesired effects.  😉  He appreciated the reminder and held himself back a bit.

If you don’t have a Stewsday meal planned for tonight, give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think!

How often do you cook with bacon?

Thanksgiving and the Beginning of Christmas

Hello, friends.  I took a little blogging break over the last week and a half–not intentionally and not for any real reason.  I simply didn’t feel like blogging.  Anybody else ever have a period like that?  I am back now, and here’s what we’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks:

Thanksgivings
Andrew and I spent the weekend before Thanksgiving with his mom’s side of the family in Northern Virginia.  Andrew was in Heaven because, due to lots of food allergies in the family, everything on the table was gluten-free dairy-free (or had a GF DF equivalent), so he could eat anything and everything! 

We made a Pin-spired vegetable turkey with the cousins:

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 And went for a tractor/wagon ride between dinner and dessert:

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And because blogging was so far out of my mind, those are the only photos I took. :-/  It was so great to visit with family, eat good food, and relax!

We spent Thanksgiving day with my family at my mom’s house and, as is customary on Thanksgiving, ate too much. 🙂  I love my family, and  it’s always so good to spend time with them and laugh–usually at something one of the nieces said. 

For example, while we were all sitting around the table, sweet little Lauren (4) looked at me, then Andrew, and said, “Umm, you guys were supposed to get a baby when you got married.” 😀  I couldn’t tell if her tone was suggesting that we were cheated or that she was cheated (out of a cousin), but it was very funny.  Thanks, kiddo. 😉 

Once again, I took very few photos :-/  Here’s the sweet potato casserole that we made and a plate of the leftovers I had for lunch Friday:

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Yum 🙂  My absolute favorite Thanksgiving food is my mom’s broccoli casserole.  So cheesy.  So delicious. 

Christmas Tree Farm
Yesterday Andrew and I ate brunch and went Christmas tree shopping with our good friends Amanda and Diron. 

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As it turns out, we were way too picky, and neither couple found a suitable tree, but we had an awesome time walking around, taking a hay ride, and drinking hot cider. 😀

It’s going to be tough to go back to work today after the long, relaxing weekend!  Have a great Monday!

Question for WordPress users: A couple of weeks ago my computer decided to stop letting me use Google Chrome to write blog posts (in the visual mode), and I have since been confined to using Internet Explorer (which randomly deletes paragraphs, resizes photos, reformats the post, etc.  It’s pretty awesome.)  Has this happend to anyone else with Chrome?  Is there any way I can fix it??