Friday Roundup: 10/24

I have to say, these Friday Roundups might just be my favorite part of the week! All week long I mentally save things to put in this post. This has been a trying week (more family health drama!) but looking forward to writing this post has helped me to keep a positive mindset.

I’m going to be traveling through Wednesday of next week for work, so posts will be sparse for a few days. I will try to sneak something in while I’m gone, but I make no promises! Apologies in advance – I promise to be a better blogger in November. Now, on to the good stuff!

Kitchen Excitement: New Lasagna Pan & Cookbook

photo 1

I have to say, surprise presents are definitely the best presents. A box showed up on my door yesterday containing this gorgeous All Clad lasagna pan and Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian CookingConfession time: I adore Italian food. It’s my favorite food to eat, yes, but it’s also my favorite cuisine to cook as well! Americanized Italian food (think chicken parmesan, with fried chicken cutlets drenched in melted cheese) is definitely not even remotely healthy, but true Italian food can actually fit really neatly into a clean eating meal plan, as long as you seek out high quality ingredients and are careful to keep your macros balanced. Marcella Hazan is credited with introducing classic Italian methods and cuisine to America, and I’m really excited to dive into this cookbook. Nerd confession time: my favorite cookbooks aren’t filled with glossy photos perfected by food stylists. They’re books like this one, light on imagery but heavy on history. This cookbook is filled with explanations of where recipes originated and detailed information on various ingredients – it aims to teach so much more than just the recipes. I’m also pretty giddy about this pan. It’s branded as a lasagna pan, but it’s a perfect size for roasting vegetables and smaller cuts of meat – I’m thrilled to not have to break out my gigantic turkey roaster whenever I want to roast something. So thank you, Uncle Richard – one of my most loyal blog followers from day one – for this wonderful, thoughtful gift. I promise that a proper written thank you note is on its way, but I also just had to share my excitement here on the blog, and I can’t wait to share some recipes!

Fitness Steal: Les Mills Pump On Sale!

pump edited

Before I joined Studio Poise, I had a membership with Boston Sports Club. I wasn’t the best at sticking to a workout schedule, but the one class I attended regularly was Les Mills’ Body Pump. I absolutely loved the workout, and I have to say that while I love everything about my SP classes, I do miss Body Pump. So I was totally pumped (I couldn’t help it…) to see that the at-home DVD and barbell set was on sale for 40% off, and contemplated the set for all of 30 seconds before placing an order. The photo above shows everything that came in the basic set – the DVDs, a nutrition guide and a program guide, plus the barbell and weights (two 10 lb plates and two 5 lb plates; I also added two 2.5 lb plates to my order). I’m psyched to add this into my ever-changing rotation of at home routines!

New Music: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

1-2-3 honesty, I’ve typed and deleted and retyped a paragraph about this album more times than I can count. I’ve been a fan of Andrew McMahon’s music for a long, long time – from his first band, Something Corporate, through his time headlining Jack’s Mannequin, and now am so excited to see his work as a solo artist. I could gush on and on about his music and completely embarrass myself, but instead I’ll just say this: trust me when I say that you need to give this album a listen. If you want to download the MP3s, you can order the album through Amazon, but it’s also available to stream through Spotify. 

Holiday Fun: Halloween Adventures

I’ll be honest, Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, but I can’t help but get excited when I see how seriously some of my friends take the holiday. (Don’t believe me? Check out Sandpaper & Glue – I would never show up to her Halloween party without a costume!) I hemmed and hawed over what to dress up as this year, because I refuse to buy a costume. For one thing, store bought costumes tend to be insanely expensive for a flimsy bit of cheap polyester; but more importantly, they all seem to be made for women who are significantly smaller than I am. No thank you! I did, however, find a costume online that inspired me, and I decided to dress up as a minion. I already own a denim dress that is reminiscent of the minions’ overalls, and I’ll wear it over a yellow long-sleeved shirt and yellow tights. Add in some craft store projects for the accessories and I’m pretty psyched about my homemade costume! I will share pictures after my Halloween parties over the next week or so, but if you follow me on Instagram you might get a sneak peek. And yes, I absolutely will be wandering around those parties speaking only in Minion-ese.

What’s your favorite cuisine to prepare – any healthy twists on favorite classics?
What are you dressing up as for Halloween?
Let me know in the comments!

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Friday Roundup: I’m BAAAACK!

It has been an inexcusably long time since I last posted, and I sincerely apologize. I took a hiatus from blogging while I was on vacation last week, and while I had the best of intentions to get back to things earlier this week, real life had other plans. I’ve been dealing with some health-related matters with my family, and while things are back on track now, it’s definitely been a difficult few days.

I will be back to regular posting next week, and I wanted to make sure to get a quick Friday Roundup post up before the weekend. Here are some of the things I’ve stumbled across this week that I’m excited to share with you guys!

Weekend Recipe Adventure

Two-Ingredient Apple Almond Butter, courtesy of Wine & Dine to the Finish Line

I began following Cassy earlier this year and definitely recommend checking out her blog – I love the variety of content on her site! Earlier this week she posted a super simple recipe for apple almond butter. The apple butter comes together in the crock pot, and you then blend it with homemade almond butter. YUM. I am probably going to expand on the two ingredient list for my version, as I love the flavor of traditional fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, but I appreciate that Cassy’s recipe relies on apples for their natural sweetness and avoids adding extra sugar or artificial flavorings. I borrowed the image above from her blog – click it to follow through to her original post, which includes the recipe.

Gotta-Have-It Fashion Purchase: New Puffer Vests

My office apparently has not gotten the memo that fall has officially arrived in New England. I’ve officially reintroduced boyfriend sweatpants, tights & boots, and puffy vests back into my closet. That last item is a necessity for surviving my cubicle, so my current challenge is finding vests that are functional enough to keep me warm without turning me into the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Luckily, vests are all over the place this fall! I’ve pulled together a few of my favorites, below – click on any of the individual thumbnails for information on purchasing. I can’t wait to get my hands on a few of these – the camo and the poka dot ones are even on sale right now!

Fall 2014 Vests

Grocery Store Find: Unsweetened Starbucks Iced Coffee

Starbucks Unsweetened Iced Coffee

I know, I know… I said I had given up iced coffee. And that’s still sort of true. The Dunkin Donuts drive through was a standard stop on my morning commute, but I’ve since kicked that habit. However, work has been pretty intense lately, and I found myself really missing an iced coffee to sip during stressful meetings. Enter this beverage, my new grocery store best friend. For $4.99, you get 48 ounces of Starbucks brewed iced coffee. I find that this lasts me a full week at work, so it’s still a significant savings over my daily Dunks habit. It’s also unsweetened, so having it over ice with a splash of skim milk (or almond or coconut milk, whatever floats your boat) isn’t much of an indulgence, calorie-wise. I will also say that I love having this on hand to blend with my morning Shakeology – much easier than having to remember to brew coffee the night before!

New Fitness Routine to Try: P90


P90 90-Day Body Transformation for Everyone

There’s a new P90 routine available through Beachbody. I have heard a lot about the P90 series of fitness routines; they promise a total body transformation in 90 days. I’ve seen some other bloggers with incredible results, but I have also heard that some of the routines can be pretty intense, so I wasn’t sure there was a routine that would be the right fit for me, as I still find myself pretty heavily modifying on my T25 workouts.

Enter P90. Tony Horton took his existing P90 model, with its proven results, and modified it so that it could be used by people who are looking to increase their fitness level while avoiding anything too extreme. I’ll let the Beachbody product description help me out with describing the specifics:

P90 works because of a game-changing technique called Sectional Progression. Tony eases you into a variety of cardio, strength, and stability moves that work the back, shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, and legs—and every move helps strengthen and flatten the abs. These routines don’t get harder until you’re ready for the next challenge. Then, just when you’ve mastered those moves, he ups the ante a little more.

The all-new P90 workouts are arranged in 3 Progressive Phases designed to gradually ease your body past its old limits. So after 30 days of P90, you’re leaner and more solid; after 60 days, you’re seeing muscles you’ve never noticed before; and by Day 90 you can finally have that lean, strong body you could once only dream about.

P90 is currently on sale as part of a challenge pack for only $160, which includes the full P90 DVD set (regularly $79.90) and a month of Shakeology (regularly $130). I’m super excited to place my order and give this program a try – let me know if you want to try it alongside me!

 

What I Ate Wednesday

I’ve dedicated a lot of time to talking about fitness on this blog, but so far haven’t really touched on nutrition. The reality is, overall health and wellness requires revamping both your physical fitness and your diet. Even if you’re working out for two hours every day, if you continue to eat poorly, you won’t see the results you want.

I don’t follow any crazy strict diet. I like carbs. I like to indulge in a glass of wine when I’ve had a crazy day at the office. I think red meat is fantastic, and I can’t imagine a world without the rare ice cream treat. The key, for me, has been finding balance.

I strive for an 85/15 balance. If I eat clean 85% of the time, then I still have 15% of my diet for treats. This doesn’t mean demolishing a plate of nachos at the bar during a Sunday football game — but it does mean I can have that glass of wine with dinner or treat myself to an ice cream cone after an afternoon of kayaking.

I’ll talk more about clean eating in a later post – there’s a lot of information out there and it can definitely be taken to extremes. I’ll clarify the approach that I take, which has worked for me thus far.

Today, I wanted to share a typical day of meals. I work at a desk job from 9-5, so I’m fairly sedentary during the day. I do my T25 workout in the morning before I leave for the office, and I usually take a class or two after work as well. I usually aim for 1400-1700 calories/day.

I track my meals using My Fitness Pal. My diary is visible to friends on the site, so if you’re interested in getting a broader sense of my nutrition, you can view it here. If you wish to add me as a friend on MFP, please click here. Full disclosure, I actually documented everything I ate yesterday, but “What I Ate Tuesday” doesn’t have the same ring to it!

8am – Breakfast – Chocolate Vegan Shakeology – 350 calories

Chocolate Shakeology

I always have my Shakeology for breakfast. I will have a glass of water when I first wake up, before I do T25 for the morning, and then I make my shake before I leave for work and sip it during my commute and my morning email catch up. Today, I blended a banana, one cup of unsweetened coconut milk, and two scoops of PB2 to make a filling breakfast that came in at 350 calories. My recipes can vary but I always aim for 250-350 calories to make sure I’m starting my day with a filling meal.

11 am – Morning Snack – Iced green tea, green grapes, & hard boiled egg – 175 calories

Morning Snack

Every morning, as soon as I get to work, I brew a glass of green tea and stick it in the fridge. By 11am, it’s ready to drink over ice; I add a splash of lemon juice for flavor. I’ve stopped drinking coffee since I added Shakeology into my daily meal routine, but I like the small caffeine boost I get from the green tea. There’s a lot of debate over the health benefits of green tea, but I like the taste and the caffeine, so it’s a nice addition to my morning. I like grapes because they’re easy to snack on while I work, and the hard boiled egg has enough protein to fill me up until my lunch break. This snack comes in at 175 calories, which is just about right for a snack.

12:30 pm – Lunch – Apple, 2 slices sprouted grain bread, natural peanut butter – 400 calories

Lunch

Not the most exciting lunch in the world, but one that is filling and will carry me through my day. I love Food for Life Cinnamon Raisin 7 Sprouted Grains bread – you can find it in the freezer section of your local grocery store (I know that Whole Foods, Hannaford’s, and Stop & Shop all stock it in my area). I love buying frozen bread because it’s more economical; when I buy fresh bread I end up tossing more than half the loaf because it goes stale before I can use it up. I toast the bread and then top it with all natural peanut butter – I like to buy the freshly ground variety available in the Whole Foods bulk section. Lately I’ve been going with the honey roasted variety, but the unsalted peanut and the almond butter varieties are also both great options! Lastly, I’m in love with this apple variety, also from Whole Foods – Envy Apples. They taste AMAZING! I prefer to buy local apples when I can but it’s not quite apple season yet, so I’m indulging in these until fall gets here. The meal comes in at about 400 calories, which is great for lunch.

3pm – Afternoon Snack – Iced green tea or water and Krave beef jerky – 80 calories

Krave jerky

Danielle, the amazing owner of Studio Poise, turned me on to Krave jerky. HOLY COW IS IT DELICIOUS. The company makes a variety of jerky flavors, and produces pork, beef, and turkey jerky varieties. I picked up the Five Peppercorn beef jerky when I was shopping at Whole Foods last night and I’m addicted. It is REALLY TEMPTING to just keep dipping into the bag, so the next time I buy this, I’ll portion it out at home into the appropriate sizes. One ounce of the jerky comes in at 80 calories and gives a nice protein boost to carry me through the end of the afternoon. The sodium content in this brand of jerky isn’t nearly as bad as some of the other brands on the market, but jerky is a salty food, so make sure to keep up with water intake alongside this snack.

7pm – Dinner – Skinny Huevos Rancheros – 500-550 calories

skinny huevos rancheros recipe

This is my FAVORITE go-to dinner after a workout! Confession time: when I was first starting out on my fitness journey, I would occasionally rationalize to myself that by going all-out in Zumba, I had earned the right to stop at Chipotle on my way home. I was sabotaging myself! I love Mexican food, and it is possible to make a meal at home that doesn’t destroy your diet, as long as you’re smart about your ingredients. This meal feels like a real indulgence, but it comes in at about 500 calories! I topped mine with two eggs tonight because I was hungry after taking two classes at the studio. I listen to my body — if I wasn’t as hungry, I’d probably only make one tortilla. This is also a great recipe to share with someone; just add a nice green salad to round out the meal.

 

What are some of your favorite healthy go-to meals? Where do you go to find healthy recipes? Let me know in the comments!

Focus T25 STATurday: Week 2 (Take 2)

You may recall that last week didn’t get off to the strongest start for me as far as the Focus T25 challenge goes. To be honest, the week sort of hovered there. I got the workouts in, but I didn’t feel like I gave them my all. I wasn’t feeling well, and I let that translate into a less-than-100% performance.

So, I decided to repeat Week 2 this week, rather than move on to Week 3. The scheduling of the workouts gets progressively harder, and I wanted to make sure I was pushing myself and living up to Shaun T’s expectations. Because OBVIOUSLY he can see me in my living room sweating like a pig and trying to keep up with him on my TV screen. OBVIOUSLY.

This is one of the things I love about at home workout series – you really can make them work for you. The calendar serves as a great guide, and I was able to evaluate my performance and my progress, and decide to take some extra time before moving forward. I may ultimately decide to repeat the Alpha cycle before moving on to Beta — I would ideally like to be doing at least 85% of each workout full out, without needing to modify, before advancing to the more difficult series of routines. I’ll have to see how I feel after this cycle is over! I give this advice to anyone in my challenge groups as well – just because the calendar tells you to advance doesn’t mean that it’s the right move for you! Regularly check in with your progress, see how you feel, and decide whether you are ready to take the next step.

I decided to do quick recaps each day for this week. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you might have seen some of this content already… #SorryNotSorry.

Monday: Cardio 

I LOVE kicking the week off with Cardio! I pushed myself harder today and didn’t need to follow Tania for modifications as much as I have when attempting this workout in the past. I have a feeling this workout might stay in my repertoire even after I’ve completed the cycle; it’s a great go-to quick workout with a fantastic calorie burn payoff.

Tuesday: Total Body Circuit

I decided that I’ll be ready to advance to Beta cycle when I can do Total Body Circuit without a) cursing at Shaun T on the screen, b) needing to hit pause to take water / mop up the sweat that I’m slipping on when attempting the pike moves, and c) don’t feel the urge to crawl directly back into bed for a nap after completing the workout. This workout is not messing around. I still find myself getting tripped up at points – I need to pause in my workout to figure out what the heck Shaun is asking us to do, because I haven’t quite mastered the lingo for this workout just yet. I am assuming that this will come with more practice… but I like to pretend that I’ll never have to do TBC ever again every time I finish it, because it kicks my butt every single time.

Wednesday: Speed 1.0

Is it okay to play favorites? Because this is my favorite workout in the Alpha cycle, hands down. I really like the balance between cardio, strength, stability, and stretching. I could easily see myself keeping this around as a go-to routine long after this challenge is in the bag.

Thursday: Cardio

Wait, didn’t I do this already? There’s a method to Shaun T’s madness, that’s for sure. Doubling up on Cardio this week, and stacking it with Speed 1.0, and I’m definitely feeling it. I am also feeling the after effects of last night’s book club meeting, but that’s neither here nor there.

Friday DOUBLE SESSION: Lower Focus & Ab Intervals

I took today off from work and had planned to go kayaking with my mom, and stacking this double on top of an hour on the lake definitely put my core to the challenge. As I write this post Friday night, I am FEELING IT. I liked this double, though – stacking Cardio on top of Lower Focus in Week 1 really left me drained, whereas this combination tested my body without leaving me dead on my mat.

Okay, but on to the important part… how are my stats looking?

STATurday Week 3

Guys, I gotta say… I’ve seen the before and after photos that Beachbody uses to promote these DVDs, I’ve heard the stories from friends and colleagues who have done the program, but I guess I didn’t really expect to see numbers like these. I am TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY.

The individual numbers tallied in the graphic above show my loss between Week 1 of STATurday results and today. In weeks 2 and 3, I lost another 5.25 inches. I was thrilled to see my arms come down after no movement in the first set of results, and I am super excited by the loss in my hips. I’m halfway there, and I’ve already lost 11.25 inches overall. THAT. IS. CRAZY.

I’ve got three weeks to go. Since I repeated Week 2, I will be taking 6 weeks total for Alpha cycle. I’ll report back again in two weeks, just in time for the friends’ wedding that inspired this challenge. I can only hope that things will keep progressing as well as they have been thus far!

GET IT DONE: IN  25 MINUTES A DAY!

Again, I do just want to add this disclaimer: I am still very much in the during portion of my journey. I currently wear dress size 12/14, so these numbers are reasonable for someone of my size and height (5’9″). Adjust your expectations proportionally to where you’re starting from, and remember that results will vary based on individual body composition.

Tropical Ginger Blast Shake

It’s time for another round of Thirsty Thursday action!

I booked a vacation for later in September this week, so I’ve been distracted by dreams of lounging by a pool with a tropical drink in my hand. Since I’m still 7 weeks away from that vision, I decided to make a healthier Shakeology version of my favorite poolside cocktail – a pina colada. I jazzed this version up with banana and ginger, resulting in a slightly sweet, slightly spicy, definitely delicious concoction that helped to power me through a very tedious conference call this morning.

tropical ginger blast shakeology

 

Tropical Ginger Blast Shakeology

This shake feels like a treat! It tastes like a vacation and helps me forget about my day job. As an added benefit, ginger is a great super food with lots of healthy benefits, like aiding in the absorption of nutrients  and reducing inflammation and joint pain. The pineapple included in this shake is also a fantastic superfood, chock full of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. 

  • 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology
  • 1 small banana
  • 0.5 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 tsp ginger (I love the convenience of this jarred version, available at Whole Foods, but fresh grated is great if you’ve got it!)
  • 0.5 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 0.5 cup cold water
  • Ice

Blend all ingredients for 30-60 seconds, depending on the speed/power of your blender, until well combined. Enjoy!

Note: As an independent Beachbody coach, I receive a discount on my monthly Shakeology shipment, but I paid for all ingredients used in this post. Regarding ShakeO: While I use and love the product, please note — These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

STATurday: T25 Alpha Week 1

WHEW. I did it, y’all! I survived Week 1 of Focus T25 Alpha. As you may remember, two big components of any SMART goal are that they are measurable and time-defined. One reason I chose this particular fitness program was because it built these factors right into the workout calendar. Every Saturday, instead of popping a DVD into the machine, I pick up my trusty measuring tape and pull together the data. STATurday – the day I (hopefully) get to see my progress reflected in the numbers!

Before we get to the numbers, I wanted to share a quick recap of how yesterday went.

You guys. I can’t accurately convey my reaction when I checked the workout calendar for Friday’s routine…

Friday double day.jpg

Luckily, selfies exist and I had the foresight to grab my camera and document the experience:

Double reaction.jpg

The program is called Focus T25, Shaun T! It’s not Focus T50! YOU LIED TO ME, SHAUN T. I FEEL BETRAYED. Just when I was starting to like you, you go and spring this on me.

… It’s possible that I sometimes tend to be a little bit dramatic. Anyway. Moving right along.

Once I got past the initial shock and betrayal, I realized that this made sense. Upping the ante on Friday’s workout would give me the extra little oomph I needed to head into the weekend on the right foot. So, I laced up my sneakers, I pressed play, and I threw everything I had into those 50 minutes. I actually felt pretty good throughout the first round, Lower Focus. It was my first time trying this workout, and it is a killer. Lots of squats and lunges – but definitely within what my body is capable of doing. Tacking Cardio 1.0 on after that was brutal, though. I found myself following Tania, the modifier, for most of the workout, because my legs were totally burned out after the first round. Despite how wiped out I felt by the end of it, though, I survived. And when all was said and done, I felt pretty great about my burn for the day!

calories after double.jpg

(And then I went and took a Piloxing class at Studio Poise, because I’m a masochist. Obviously.)

Annnnnd… drumroll please… now on to the exciting part – STATURDAY!

Focus T25 Alpha Week 1 Results

TOTAL INCHES LOST = 6 INCHES! 

So, a quick disclaimer — I took my measurements on 7/12 as part of a Facebook challenge group I’m participating in, and I didn’t re-measure last week prior to starting Focus T25, so these measurements are a combination of this week’s efforts with Shaun T added to three weeks of Shakeology. Please ALSO bear in mind that I am very much still in the midst of my journey toward fitness and I have a lot of toning and trimming left to do. Every individual is on his or her own journey toward wellness and no two sets of stats will look the same. Tracking these numbers is as much for my own reference as it is to inspire others who are thinking about setting off on their own path to a healthier lifestyle.


GET IT DONE: IN  25 MINUTES A DAY!

Introducing Thirsty Thursdays!

If you’re anything like me, the term “Thirsty Thursday” conjures up memories of your college days, red solo cups, and a LOT of cheap beer. Well, that’s not what this blog’s version of Thirsty Thursday is all about. That’s partially how I ended up in such crappy shape in the first place – my partying habits wanted to keep pretending I was in college, and my late 20-something metabolism just wasn’t cooperating.

Instead, this Thirsty Thursday will be about sharing recipes for my favorite meal of the day – my Shakeology! I introduced Shakeology into my diet about a month ago and I’m so impressed with the changes I’ve seen in my eating habits. I have dramatically reduced my coffee intake; I used to get crippling caffeine headaches if I skipped coffee for a day, but after two weeks of ShakeO, I found that I wasn’t craving the caffeine and I wasn’t feeling any negative effects. Now, when I treat myself to a coffee, it’s just that – a treat to enjoy, rather than something to get me through the day. I’ve also seen a huge reduction in sugar cravings. I have a serious sweet tooth. I love desserts, and nothing calms me down like some dark chocolate on a bad day at the office. Shakeology has helped to really reduce those cravings and again, now when I choose to indulge, it’s something I am doing mindfully, rather than caving to a craving.

There are a lot of Shakeology recipes out there already. One issue I have is that many of them rely on processed foods for additional flavorings – things like pudding mixes or artificial flavorings. I strive to eat clean whenever possible, so the recipes I share on this blog will strive to include ingredients as close to their original form as possible.

Today's Thirsty Thursday recipe: Banana Pudding Shakeology!

Today’s Thirsty Thursday recipe: Banana Pudding Shakeology!

Banana Pudding Shakeology
This is one of my favorite shakes for days when I need some extra potassium to soothe my muscles after a tough workout, or for days when I’m feeling especially hungry in the morning and need something that will carry me into my day. 

  • 2 small bananas
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg (I use fresh ground, but jarred is fine too!)
  • 0.5 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 0.5 cup water
  • Ice

Blend all ingredients for 30-60 seconds, depending on the speed/power of your blender, until well combined. Enjoy!

 

Note: As an independent Beachbody coach, I receive a discount on my monthly Shakeology shipment, but I paid for all ingredients used in this post. Regarding ShakeO: While I use and love the product, please note — These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.