Apr 30, 2013

April was Amazing!

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Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

I can't believe tomorrow it's May, this month has just flooown by. All in all, I'm quite proud of the fitness goals I've stuck with this month -- Here's my quick recap:

1. Plank A Day
I planked a total of 57 minutes on 70% of the days in April, and now I've been planking for nearly 3.9 hours in 2013

2. 30 Day Squat Challenge

Almost there :) Today is Day 28 (last rest day) and I've knocked out 2,815 squats over the last 27 days!!

3. Beat Matt at Racquetball...

Okay... so this wasn't an official goal, but yesterday Matt and I duked it out on the racquetball court and I swept a match for the first time ever--yeah--pretty cool :)

I hope y'all had a great April! Here's to an even better May!!

Apr 26, 2013

Friday Favorites no. 5: Fun, Food, Fitness!

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Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

It's been a beautiful week, and here are some of my favorite parts of it!

Favorite New Recipe
Chili Yogurt Sauce for Crispy Garlic Sweet Potato Fries (YUM!)
I stumbled across this delicious looking recipe on Fit Foodie Finds the other day. This Chili Yogurt Sauce is unlike any dipping sauce I've ever made and I can't wait to try it out!

Favorite Workout Song
Ke$ha - Die Young

Don't judge me until you run to it :)

Favorite Flavor
The fresh Basil from our herb garden in Vegan Alfredo sauce :)

It's only been a couple of weeks and our little garden is already flourishing (with the except of a couple cilantro and basil starts). The sweet basil we planted smelled & tasted wonderful, and I hope all the other herbs do just as well.

Favorite Experiment
Red Lips...
Just Fun!

Favorite Motivation
Just Run!

It's Marathon weekend here in Nashville, and since the route goes right by our place I'll be hanging out there cheering on the running masses! Happy Friday y'all!

Apr 24, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday (#WIAW): Earth Day Eats

Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

So, I'm trying something new today and linking up with Peas & Crayons for What I Ate Wednesday, a weekly food diary that's all about food and fun! Basically, you pick a random day of the week, capture what you ate, and link up on Wednesdays to share :)

Here are my Earth Day eats!

Since it was Earth Day, I kept my meals very veggie friendly...

Breakfast was a scrumptious 3-egg scramble mixed up with a chopped up baked potato (check out the recipe I use here).

I'm a big snacker, and Earth day was no exception. In the morning before lunch, I had a big bowl of blueberries and then followed that up in the afternoon with red bell peppers and carrots. My post-dinner snack was a plate of homemade roasted red pepper and garlic hummus with some more baby carrots.

Lunch was a quick mix of frozen steamed broccoli & chicken, mmmh mhhh Mmmh!

And for dinner, I partnered up with a friend and cooked up a plate of garlic cauliflower, Italian style meatballs and fresh green beans made in EVOO topped off with a glass of Oliver Red :)

I love getting new meal ideas on WIAW, and I'd definitely recommend heading over there and checking some of the posts out. Happy Wednesday and best of luck with all of your healthy goals!

Apr 22, 2013

Embrace Your Inner Morning Person & Monday Meraki (#MM) no. 11

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Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

Per a certain lovely reader's request, I'm going to delve into the topic of morning "routines".

Now, I'll be the first to admit that rigorous workout sessions at the crack of dawn are not my cup of tea. In truth, there aren't many activities that I would commit to every morning like clockwork.

That being said, I do have a few best practices to share that always make my mornings a little bit better :) For simplicity's sake, I'll elaborate via acrostic poem:

Avoid Hitting Snooze
Tip: When your alarm goes off, avoid the overwhelming temptation to insta-snooze for 5-20 minutes. I always feel better when I just sit up and give myself those extra minutes to assimilate to being awake.

Wake Up With A Goal In Mind
Tip: Getting motivated in the early hours of day is roughly 100,000x harder when I haven't already outlined some sort of goal for myself beforehand. Fun fact: Your goals don't have to be monster tasks! Trust me, any goal accomplished before 6am makes me feel like an absolute rockstar.

Aim Your Sights On The Next 30 Minutes
Tip: To reduce stress, I try to focus only on the next 30 minutes of my day when I wake up in the morning. I just visualize the small, important things that need to be done only in that frame of time to avoid overwhelming my sleepy brain. It definitely makes my mornings more thoughtful and peaceful :)

Kiss The Mirror
Tip: Okay, I'm not suggesting you physically kiss the mirror (every morning), what I'm saying is that it really helps to start the day by positively reinforcing your self image. Everyone feels better when they think they look good, so why not start your morning by telling yourself that?

Tip: Breakfast is so important, so don't skip it or cram down junk when you're in a rush. The morning is often the busiest time of my day, so I usually opt for a healthy & filling made-in-the-microwave scramble.

Name Your Blessings
Tip: We all have so much in our lives to be grateful for, and taking a minute in the quiet of the morning to mentally list some of those things puts a great perspective on your day. Better yet, take out a pen and piece of paper and write down 10 very specific things that you're happy about. I started this practice a little over a year ago and I never get tired of it!

Now, since it's Monday it wouldn't be the same without a little Meraki...

Over the weekend, I followed through on my last post's goal and went on an early morning run through Bloomington, IN. I felt the creativity and patience it took to craft this route on MapMyRun warranted a MM shout out :)

In a few words the 6AM, 2.5 mile run was: chilly, twisty-turvy and incredibly satisfying.

Happy Monday!!

Today's Feedback: Got any rise n' shine, feel good tips to share? Hit me up!  

Apr 18, 2013

Rock the Relay Recap & Vacation Plans!

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Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

Our marathon relay team (fiercely named the 'Cookie Monsters') finished the Rock the Relay Marathon in Indianapolis last weekend in 4:19:54.8, each of us running 3 separate 2.19 mile loops. The morning weather was too chilly for my liking (in the 30s and windy), but we all did a stellar job of keeping loose in our break periods and it was a fun experience overall!

I have a favorite rule of thumb for post-race resting: For every mile you run in a race, that's how many days you should rest. So in lieu of running this week, I've been keeping my eating habits in tip-top shape and doing real work on my 30-Day Squat challenge (as of today, Day 16, I've done 965 squats so far!!).

Today, Matt and I are taking off for a weekend getaway to our alma mater to enjoy the Little 500 bike race festivities and we can't wait to be reunited with a ton of friends and family! I'm so pumped that I've planned a special run for tomorrow morning (I hope we don't get too turned around and mess it up!):

This is why I love MapMyRun :) 
Have a fantastic Friday-eve, and good luck with all of your healthy goals this weekend!!

Today's Question: Do you have any tips for staying healthy while traveling?

Apr 9, 2013

Hey, It's Grilling Season!

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Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

I've been taking it easy with my workouts for the last week, doing a lot more walking than running, but still keeping on top of the daily core workout and squat exercise goals that I've set. Last night, Matt and I took it especially easy, trading in our planned racquetball game for a beautiful evening of grilling dinner together outside followed by a NCAA tournament-induced couch potato fest... it was so worth it! I can't get enough of this fabulous weather, and any decision to be outside is a no brainer!

Whipping out the charcoal grill for the first time this year was a great idea. I inhaled a turkey burger, topped with a over-medium egg in place of a bun and paired with lightly seasoned asparagus. We also added a side of my homemade hummus (this was a garlic/pesto version) served with tortilla chips. Yes, it was all as delicious as it looks :)

As penance for last night's indulgences, I'll be going on a 4-mile outdoor run this evening, but if we're being honest that sounds like a pretty amazing punishment to me. It's still feels so great outside :)

On a different note, lately I've been test-driving bloglovin as a way to catch up on all my favorite blogs, and I love it! If you haven't ever used bloglovin before, you should definitely check it out (or just click here: Follow my blog with Bloglovin).

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Today's Question: What's your favorite thing to cook on the grill?

Apr 8, 2013

Warm Weekend Wrap-Up & Monday Meraki (#MM) no. 10: Our DIY Garden

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Hi darlins'! It's great to see ya here!

Nashville was long overdue for the GORGEOUS weather we saw this weekend. Understandably, I wasn't in the mood to workout indoors, so instead of heading to the gym I opted for a lot of walking around my favorite neighborhoods in Nashville. It was great seeing so many people out and about, enjoying the warmer temperatures!

Here are a couple fun pictures I snapped on Friday afternoon... some window shopping for bicycles and some kitty cats in windows :)

Besides prancing around the city, I managed to get in plenty of squats and planking, and prepped a bunch of fresh produce as snacks for the week.

I did work on one other really fun project this weekend, Matt and I built an herb garden for our back patio! I can't wait to use the fresh herbs for cooking, and we had so much fun building our little garden, I'm making it the feature of this week's Monday Meraki!

Supplies we used:
  • A trusty old pallet
  • About 2.5 large bags of potting soil
  • Landscaping fabric
  • Staples & a staple gun
  • OJ & white wine mimosas
What we planted:
  • Baby spinach
  • Cilantro
  • Creeping Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Sweet basil
  • Mint Julep
  • Lavender Munstead
  • Sage
We also planted some green bean seeds in a planter on our back windowsill & starters for a mix of hot peppers that caught Matt's eye. Apart from the Creeping Thyme and Lavender Munstead, all of the herbs we planted are culinary, and I can't wait to find recipes that call for what we have in our garden!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Today's Question: Do you have any favorite recipes that call for one or more of the herbs that are listed above? I'm pretty new to cooking with fresh herbs. :)

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/6528833/?claim=wwdz44rtsdb">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Apr 1, 2013

Trying New Things (#TNT): HIIT Edition

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Hi darlins'! Lately I've been beyond busy with exams and family visits, and it's great to see ya back here! I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

I was able to wrap my Easter weekend up with the remaining sets of #6packMarch, a Tabata HIIT interval workout and a glorious HBO season premiere of Game of Thrones. All in all, I'd say a highly successful weekend on the goals and television addiction fronts :)

Goal Update:

  • HIIT Workouts: Ta Da! I finished three different HIIT workouts over the last week, and I'm so happy I stuck to my goal!! (See below for more detail on how I feel about each type of HIIT workout I've attempted)
  • Daily Fitness Habits: Unfortunately, I've been none too impressed with myself over the last few weeks when it comes to forming (and keeping) great daily fitness habits (you can see in the line graph below I only planked about 2/3 of the days in March, so lame). All that's needed to fix this issue is a little more planning in advance paired with a concerted effort to hold myself accountable for the goals I set (i.e., writing down what I'd like to accomplish and noting how I did), and that's exactly what I intend to do asap!  
  • Drinking More Water: I'm all over this goal, all day, every day!
  • #6packMarch Challenge: As of last night, I'm done, and I didn't even miss 1 sit-up! It wasn't always pretty, but I'm so happy I stuck with this challenge :)
My #6packMarch Challenge Victory Beast Pose :)

Switching gears, let's get into my experience with HIIT thus far...

Types of HIIT Workouts Completed
  1. Tabata Method - A running and walking workout. Starts with ~3 minutes of warm up, followed by 8 sets of 20 seconds sprinting/10 seconds walking. Total workout time ~7 minutes.
  2. Little Method - A cycling workout. Start with 3 minutes of warm up, followed by 12 sets of 60 seconds fast cycling @ max resistance/75 seconds slow cycling @ low resistance. Total workout time ~30 minutes.
  3. Turbulence Method - A combination of strength training and cardio. Starts with a 5 minute warm up, followed by alternating 8 reps of various weight exercises and 1 minute of mountain climbers for ~45 minutes (see here for a demo video that I found extremely helpful). Total workout time ~50 minutes.

Tabata Pros:
  • Quick, but definitely challenging
  • Great outdoor workout
  • There are a lot of really great (and free) apps you can use (I use "A HIIT Interval Timer" for Android)
Tabata Cons:
  • Hard to do on a treadmill
  • When it rains, the sprints can be somewhat dangerous outside
  • I need a fairly flat surface to run on (maybe it's just my clumsy self, but sprinting on sidewalks in hilly/old neighborhoods terrifies me)
Little Pros:
  • Great to do with a buddy if you're using stationary bikes
  • Fairly quick workout, but still challenging
  • Nice change up for those with a running-centric workout style
Little Cons:
  • Bike seats can be sooo uncomfortable
  • If you don't have an actual bike (like me, thanks to some clepto 10 year olds) then you'll be confined to the indoors
  • Piggy-backing off of the previous con, cycling equipment in gyms is usually packed in pretty tight. Chances are, if you're cycling next to someone for an extended period of time, the smells won't be very pleasant.
Turbulence Pros:
  • Incorporates strength training
  • Challenging and an incredibly different workout for those who mostly just run (like me)
  • Doesn't get boring because of all the variety
Turbulence Cons:
  • It's naturally harder to fit a 50-minute workout into a busy schedule
  • Requires that you have access to strength training equipment (i.e., a gym or free weights)
  • When it's packed at the gym, maneuvering around other gym go-ers could be really annoying (if your gym is set up anything like mine)

Overall Thought: While Turbulence and Little HIIT are fantastic ways to mix it up at the gym, my schedule is always jam-packed and I love the idea of shorter Tabata interval workouts that give my fitness schedule more flexibility but don't lack for intensity!

That's about all I have to say for now on HIIT, and it's Monday... so let's Meraki!

My love for running compels me to take a stroll down memory lane for this Monday Meraki... Exactly 1-year ago from yesterday I finished my 1st half marathon!!

I don't know where I would be without running, and I'm so thankful for everyone who inspired (and who continues to inspire) me to keep on moving on!!

Have a great week y'all!

Quick Question: After reading my thoughts above, are you thinking about trying any of these HIIT workouts? Have you already? Which one do you think you would/do prefer??