April Challenge: Week 1

Last week Andrew and I began a month-long fitness challenge, with the goal of “spring cleaning” our habits and getting into better shape.  Here’s a recap of our goals:

Start getting ready for bed by 10 PM
-Plan lunches and snacks for the week, and make sure we have all necessary ingredients
-After dinner, only snack if actually hungry
-Complete at least 4 cardiovascular workouts each week
-Complete at least 1 yoga + 2 weight-lifting workouts each week

Over all, we did really well!  Here’s what our week looked like in terms of these goals:

-We’ve been getting ready for bed by 10 PM on week nights, and sometimes earlier!  I can feel a noticeable difference in how I feel in the morning.  Check.

-When possible, we’ve planned lunches and snacks.  I was traveling Wednesday-Saturday of last week, which meant eating out a lot or having meals prepared by someone else.  I did the best I could with what was there (also, I may have ordered a slice of cheesecake after dinner on the company tab…).  Thankfully, many restaurants now have a list of healthy options, so it’s easier to make healthy choices! (Normally I don’t necessarily order off the “healthy” menu–I order what I’m in the mood for–but it’s a different story when we’re going out to eat every night, plus lunches while traveling.)  Andrew continues to pack his lunches most days like a champ.

-Andrew is the after dinner snacker, and he has been doing really well this week.  When he is hungry in the evenings, he’s been snacking on raw veggies and hummus.  Go, Andrew!

-Fitness.  Here’s what we did:
*Andrew: run/walk (1), yoga (2), gardening (3 & 4), body sculpt class (5), walk (6), elliptical (7)
*Catherine: walk (1), weight circuits (2), run/walk (3), weight circuit (4), walk (5), run (6), weight circuit (7), walk (8)

Total cardio workouts: 4 (Andrew), 5 (Catherine)
Total weight lifting/yoga workouts: 3 (Andrew), 3 (Catherine)

Fitness goals…Check.

For Andrew, gardening this week counts as cardio and weights, as he was working up a sweat doing some serious digging, tilling, and carrying heavy bags of dirt around.  You know, just another day at Two Storey Farms.

Also, the “run/walk” that’s listed for both us of has kind of a funny story.  On April 1, day one of this challenge, we finished dinner, and Andrew suggested we go for a walk.  While we were getting ready I said, “What if we walk to get ice cream/Italian ice?” So we started the two mile walk to our favorite dessert place.  A minute into the walk Andrew said, “Let’s run so we can get there faster!”  So we ran for ice cream and ate it on the walk home.  Four miles in the bank.  😀

The other funny exercise-related incident this week was related to the body sculpt class Andrew attended.  I was still out of town at that point, and he’d told me the night before that he was going, so I texted him Saturday afternoon to see how the class went.  He said, “It was like, ‘Which one of these things is not like the others?’  All women… mostly moms.” He saw a friend from church in the class who assured him that there’s usually at least one other guy!  I’m still so proud of him for sticking it out. 😀

For anyone who’s interested, this is the weight-lifting/body weight workout I’ve been doing this week:

April Workout

If you move from one exercise to the next with no break, it takes about 10 minutes per series (30 to do it three times), and it’s a pretty good little workout!  You can always adjust the reps or weight you use as needed.  I plan to change it up next week so my muscles don’t get too used to one workout, but it’s been serving me well.

So far I don’t feel super different (except being more well-rested), but I think part of that is having been out of town for four days and getting off track food-wise.  I am confident that we are making healthy choices most of the time, and I am excited to see how the rest of the month goes!

-Have you ever literally run for ice cream or some other type of food?
Have you ever been the only person of your gender in a group exercise class?

Rainy Day Weight Circuits

I don’t know how things look out your window, but here on the East Coast there was a quick switch from hot to cold-and-rainy in the last week.  While I am not afraid of the rain and certainly don’t mind running in it, if I can complete my workout without actually leaving the house in this weather, that is fine by me!

I created and have been doing this weight and cardio workout from the warmth (well, dryness, anyway) of my living room this week:

Living Room Weight Circuit

 

By moving straight from one exercise to the next without a break, you can make it a cardio workout as well as strength.  I typically use two 10-lb dumbbells for the moves that require weights (and sometimes for the walking lunges, if I’m feeling ambitious :)).

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

What have we been eating this week to power such a grueling workout?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  The last two nights we’ve had one of the most neutral-colored meals possible:  tilapia + brown rice pasta + spaghetti squash.

tilapia

We baked the tilapia with a mixture of butter*, garlic, lemon juice, and basil, and made extra to season the brown rice pasta.  We roasted the squash with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Everything was delicious, despite falling in the oh-so-visually-appealing beige-yellow-tan category.

(*Nature’s Promise organic non-dairy buttery spread)

Tonight may be a stew night, despite the fact that it’s not Stewsday. 😉

Have a great Thursday, and if you’re experiencing the weather we are, stay dry!

What are you eating this week?
How does the rain affect your workouts?

Fitness Apps and Listening to Your Body

Last week I mentioned that I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app out of curiosity about how my diet measures up to recommended guidelines.  Since then I have been recording my food and exercise (on week days), and I have one overarching thought about the app: It’s a helpful tool, but it’s still crucial to listen to your body.  Before I go into that, here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Monday: Running-30 minutes (AM); Walking-25 minutes (PM)
Tuesday: Weight circuits- 30 minutes; Walking-30 minutes (AM); Ultimate Frisbee- 70 minutes (PM)
Wednesday: Walking- 30 minutes (AM); Yoga-60 minutes (PM)

Thursday: Weight circuits (upper body)-20 minutes; Walking- 30 minutes
Friday: Running- 30 minutes

Let me draw your attention to Tuesday.  I burned a lot of calories through exercise that day–in the morning I lifted weights and did some light cardio, and after dinner I played a very intense game of Ultimate Frisbee with a group of friends.  The game was four-on-four, which means we all did a lot of running (with so few people on each team, you really cannot take a break,) and the only other girl playing (opposite team) was very comparable to me in terms of physical abilities (speed, willingness to crash into someone to catch the frisbee ;-)), so I was giving my all the entire game.

When we arrived back home around 9 PM, I had a substantial snack, but according to MyFitnessPal, I still fell way short on calories (and fat) that day.

myfitnesspal2

 

(Side note: check out my fantastic protein intake;  the only meat I had that day was about 2 oz of pork tenderloin at dinner.  Bam.)

Wednesday was a different story, however.  I took it easier with my exercise, but I was so much hungrier as a result of the previous day.  MyFitnessPal is just a tool and does not recognize that hunger can carry over, so on Wednesday I exceeded my recommended calories, fat, and…well, everything!  I think it would have been detrimental to my health to adhere strictly to what the app said I needed–my body knew it needed more.

My point is, this app is a great tool for getting the nutrients you need, but it doesn’t know your body as well as you do.  Listen to and honor your body!

Workout Motivation: Strong Over Skinny

If I learned one thing from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in The Silver Linings Playbook, it’s, well, to look for the silver lining in any situation.  (Andrew just read that over my shoulder and said, “No, it’s that if you are doing a lift while dancing, make sure you don’t get caught in the crotch.”  I’m sticking with the silver lining thing.)  One upside to my scary experience Friday is that it has provided excellent workout motivation.

While running on Monday I thought, What would I do if the guy drove up beside me in his car right now?  As I pondered the question, playing the scenario out in my head, I noticed I was running faster.  I felt the desire to push myself to be in the best shape possible–to be strong and able–so that if I ever end up in a similar or more dangerous situation, I have a fighting chance at defending myself.  I don’t want to run simply to burn calories, but rather to be fit and prepared for whatever challenges come my way.

Then I started thinking about workout motivation in general, separate from this specific experience.  I think what motivates us to exercise can change from month to month, even day to day.  Maybe we do it to lower our risk of a disease that runs in the family, or because we like how it makes us feel (go, endorphins!)  Maybe we want to be able to defend ourselves or run a marathon.  Maybe we just want to look good in a bikini.  There was a time in my life that I valued being skinny over a lot of other things.  But what’s the point of that?  What good is “skinny,” if you still can’t do the things you want to do?  We cannot reduce the value of our bodies to their size.

In recent years, I’ve learned to value strong over skinny.

Why I Workout:
To be healthy–There are many diseases and conditions that regular exercise can prevent (or at least greatly lower your risk of.)  If I can avoid certain heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, and other issues just by going for a walk each day, you better believe I’m going to do that.
To do what I loveI like to hike; I like to kayak.  I don’t ever want to miss out on an activity because I am not physically able to participate (for reasons that are my own fault.)  I don’t ever want to be nervous about having to park far away from where I’m going or not be able to explore a new city by foot.
To be strong–I want to be able to run (more) marathons.  I don’t want to say, “That’s too heavy;  I’ll wait until Andrew gets home.”  If the need ever arises, I want to be able to not just defend myself, but kick someone’s tail.

If I also end up thin while aiming to be strong, it’s no more than a happy byproduct.  Thin, in and of itself, holds very little value.

This was actually not the direction I intended to go on the blog when I started writing today, but I’m okay with that. 🙂

What is your non-skinny motivation for working out?

Jillian Michaels and Fresh Green Beans

I am officially bringing Jillian Michaels back into my life (her fitness DVDs, that is.)  Leading up to our wedding over a year ago I completed her 30-Day Shred workouts and really enjoyed them.  Well, perhaps “enjoyed” isn’t the right word;  I felt whatever it is you feel when you are successfully motivated by someone yelling, “Get up! Get up! Get up!  I have 400-pound people who can do this… so can YOU!” through the TV screen. 😉  Around the same time I purchased Jillian’s Ripped in 30 DVD.  I used it a few times, then fell off the wagon.  Yesterday I pulled it off the shelf, put it in the DVD player, and allowed my butt to be kicked.

I’d forgotten how much I love her workouts, and how much harder I push myself when, well, someone else is pushing me!  I am definitely feeling the good kind of sore today–like I worked hard.  Jillian is back in my regular workout rotation, and I am pretty excited about it. 😀

Transitioning from fitness to food, last night we cooked some green beans from our garden for dinner!


greenbeans5 greenbeans6 greenbeans4

We picked exactly thirty green beans.  Thirty beautiful, fresh, delicious beans.

Along with the green beans, which we lightly sauteed, we made mahi mahi, brown rice, and side salads.  We used this recipe for the mahi mahi, but we baked, rather than seared, the fish, and used a dairy-free buttery spread rather than butter for the sauce.  We also used fresh basil from the garden!

 greenbeans7 greenbeans3

It’s interesting how careful we’ve been to not waste food that we have grown.  Typically when preparing green beans, I snap off more of the bean than necessary for the sake of doing it quickly.  Last night I was so careful to only break off what was necessary.  It takes hard work to grow every centimeter of those beans!  I really think home-grown food tastes better too.  We have one zucchini and a few yellow squash that are about ready to pick, and I am so excited to eat them, even though they aren’t my favorite veggies.

After dinner we went to Ray’s for ice cream and DF frozen ice with our good friend Amy (she has an awesome blog you can check out here!)  She teaches in Florida and is town visiting for the week now that school is out for the summer.  It was so good to catch up, and made for a nice end to a great Tuesday. 🙂

Have you harvested/eaten any of your summer veggies yet?  Have you done any Jillian Michaels workout DVDs?

Weekly Workouts and Colorful Veggies

Happy Friday, everyone!

Last Thursday I wrote about creating a workout schedule;  having a plan helps me, well, stick to the plan rather than delay (or skip) workouts.  I’ve done my best to follow the schedule this week, and as a result I have had some excellent workouts!  Here’s what my week looked like in terms of fitness:

Saturday: Yard work (with the world’s worst lawn mower)

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Run-30 minutes, chased by a dog

Tuesday: Weights- 30 minutes (This workout from one of my favorite blogs!) + Walk (20 minutes)

Wednesday:  Run- Intervals (Warm-up + 1 minute easy-30 seconds hard-30 seconds sprint + cool down)  Wednesday PM: Yoga

Thursday: Weights- 30 minutes

Friday: Long Run- 60 minutes*

(*About to happen)

So far, so good!  I am feeling well worked-out.  Also, this week I started reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek.  Scott is a phenomenal ultramarathoner and a vegan, and now I am feeling some serious motivation to a. run longer distances and b. eat lots of veggies (not run an ultramarathon and become a vegan…don’t worry, Andrew. 😉 )  It’s an awesome book for anyone seeking inspiration!  In fact, it inspired last night’s side salad at the Storey home:

DSCN8156Lots of colorful veggies 😀

Have a great weekend!

What was your best/favorite workout this week?  What was the most colorful thing you ate?

 

Workout Schedule + Laughing During Yoga

Today I feel much, much better than I did yesterday and exponentially better than the day before!  I think a night of Benadryl-induced sleep was just what I needed.

After a full, long day at work yesterday (I arrived home at 6:00;  don’t feel too bad for me ;-)) Andrew and I made a curry dish using a bottle of Thai Kitchen’s Green Curry 10-Minute Simmer Sauce.  It is not an especially pretty dish, but it was quick, easy, and very tasty:

DSCN8052

 

First we browned some ground chicken in coconut oil, then added the simmer sauce, sliced green peppers, baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts.   After it simmered for the full ten minutes, we tasted it and decided it needed ginger and some chili garlic sauce to give it more heat.  We then served it over our leftover brown rice.  Delicious, and easy (Are you noticing a trend?  “Easy” has been our meal theme lately;  I’m hoping to break out of that soon. :))

After dinner we made our way to yoga at our gym.  Oh man, I had a bad case of the giggles throughout the whole class!  “Bring your right foot beside your left hip, cross your left leg over your right leg, make sure your sitting bones are completely on the floor, and lean forward and touch your forehead to your thigh.”  Whaat?? “Now take your toes in your hands, and straighten your legs.”  Yeah… that’s not happening.  But I will definitely laugh at Andrew (and myself) as we try. 😉

Now that I am feeling better, I am itching to do some more intense workouts–they have been missing from my routine the last few weeks.  First, I was taking it easy in the week leading up to the 10k, then I was recovering from the 10k, then I had a busy week and minimized my workouts, and then I had another busy week…  Four weeks later, I’ve stayed fit with a lot of walking and yoga, but haven’t had a really good, sweaty workout and am feeling a bit “bleh” physically.

So, I am setting a new workout plan for the coming weeks (well, I’m really just rewriting what has worked for me in the past as a means of recommitting to it.  :))  As always, it will allow plenty of flexibility:

Monday: Running- 30-45 minutes

Tuesday: Weight Circuits- 30 minutes (Jillian Michaels DVD), Walking/Elliptical

Wednesday:  AM–Running-speed work (intervals, tempo, etc.)  PM–Yoga

Thursday:  Weights- 30 minutes

Friday: Long Run- 60+ minutes

Saturday: Rest

Sunday:  Anything/Just Move- 30 minutes

It definitely helps me to have a plan in place.  I am looking forward to sweating again 🙂

I apologize for the very scattered post;  it’s just that kind of week!

What does your weekly exercise routine look like?  Do you ever get the giggles during yoga?