Friday, February 24, 2012

New habits, Old commercials and a touch of Yum!

I have neglected this blog quite badly over the past two weeks and for that I'm sorry! I have been both busy and stressed which is never a good combination. Luckily I have not been neglecting my workouts. In fact, I've been plugging along pretty consistently. I am logging my meals and my workouts daily and according to my fabulous Polar FT7 heart rate monitor, I'm burning an average of 400 calories per workout. I am finding that I need to incorporate more strength training with my cardio but am struggling to find the energy to do it all at once. I've found myself mildly discouraged because the scale has not budged in two weeks. I've decided to reduce my daily calories to see if it makes a difference. I also need to focus even more of my attention on what I'm eating.

I've built up some good habits since my last blog post. I made a conscious decision to be more active at work. Last year I went from working on my feet eight hours a day to sitting on my butt for 40 hours a week! It has been a huge adjustment and I find myself needing to be more active just to maintain my weight, let alone lose any. Over the last week I've been trying to fit in at least one daily wall sit and a plank a day. Some days I even do wall pushups and squats (I make sure to close my office door first, ha!).

I also bought a pair of Ryka sneakers to leave at the office so now I have no excuse not to get up and walk. On a side note, this is my first pair of Rykas and they are SO comfortable! They're designed specifically for women's feet and I feel like I'm walking on a cloud. They're quite a bit clunkier than my Brooks Adrenaline running shoes but for quick work day walks they are perfect. Anyway, I digress. I've managed to recruit two coworkers to walk with me during the day. It's usually just a 20-minute, 1-mile stroll but it feels great to get out and stretch the legs and enjoy some sunshine! We call it our Diet Coke break haha.

I've recently discovered steel cut oats which I'm absolutely in love with. I have been an instant-oatmeal hater for as long as I can remember; the mushy texture just turns me off. In the past I've tried adding chopped walnuts to the oatmeal but even then I couldn't stomach it. I've seen steel cut oats mentioned a lot lately on various blogs and my twitter feed so I decided to give them a try. Wow! They have sort of an odd chewy texture that I like a lot. I've been seeking out recipes that require baking the steel cut oats so they're even more firm and hearty. Each week I choose a flavor, cook my oatmeal on Sunday and then portion it out for the whole work week. It is insanely easy to grab a container from the fridge and head out the door in the morning. The best part is that I get a huge portion for roughly 300 calories! The oats and a small fruit are enough to keep me full until lunch time, which is impressive in itself.

Baked Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal
yields 5 large servings

1 tablespoon butter
1 ¼ cups steel cut oatmeal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of your choice)
2 cups hot water
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 cup chopped apple

1. Pre-heat your oven to 375°F. In a large dutch oven (or other oven-safe sauce pan), melt butter over medium heat until froth forms.
2. Add in the steel cut oats and toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Don't let them burn!
3. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice and salt.
4. Pour in the milk, hot water and maple syrup and stir to combine.
5. Cover and remove from heat. Place the covered pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
6. Take the pan out of the oven and remove the lid carefully. *Add in the chopped apples and stir to combine. The oatmeal will still appear loose but will thicken as it cools. I let mine cool completely and then portion it out for the week and refrigerate it.

At work, I warm my oatmeal and simply add half of a freshly chopped apple on top. You can also add chopped nuts, milk or additional maple syrup to your taste.

*If you prefer your oatmeal on the mushy side, you can add the apples before placing the oatmeal in the oven.

The next time I make this recipe I may try adding some vanilla extract and some fresh lemon juice for even more of an "apple pie" taste.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Hotel living is the life for me.

I'm baaack and I'm pretty freakin' proud of myself this week. I've been out of town on business since Super Bowl Sunday and boy did it feel good to sleep in my own bed last night. I've been doing a fair amount of traveling for work over the last few months and have been struggling to keep focused and motivated while on the road. Case in point: the only eateries within walking distance of my hotel were Waffle House, Bojangles and Cracker Barrel. Noooo! Thank goodness for cars and the "Around Me" app on my iPhone.  

I began the week with my game-face on (you know, it being the Super Bowl and all) and if I do say so myself, it was a great success. I planned ahead and brought some fresh fruit, Larabars, bottled water and protein powder. I also brought my running shoes, workout clothes and heart rate monitor. Nothing was going to get in my way! When I returned to the hotel after work on Monday, I walked through the lobby and passed a table holding a giant pitcher of lemonade and some delicious-looking chocolate chip cookies. I swear those cookies knew my name. I scowled at them and rushed past the table-of-deliciousness and up the stairs to my room (OK, I may have drooled a little bit on the way past).

Back at my room I threw on my workout gear and headed down to the hotel gym, which I was happy to see had not one but TWO treadmills, an elliptical and an exercise bike. I slid my room key into the door lock and turned the handle... nothing. Tried again... aaaand a big fat nothing. Now fiercely determined to begin my workout, I trudged down the hall and over to the front desk... the same front desk that was conveniently positioned just beyond the table-of-deliciousness. "Baaaang! Take us home with you! We're warm and delicious and chocolatey!" the cookies shrieked at me as I walked by. Yet again I gave them my fiercest glare-drool and continued to the front desk where the young lady informed me that they have been having trouble with the gym door. She issued me a separate key for the gym and off I went on my merry way. And so we have Success #1: Bang-1, Cookies-0.

I enjoyed that hotel gym so much that I used it every day for the rest of my stay, which is a step-up from my every-other-day home workouts - Success #2! I also somehow managed to complete a 5K on the elliptical in a time literally MINUTES per mile faster than anything I have ever done. I'm still not sure how that happened but it did and it was Success #3. I kept track of all my meals via the Lose It! app on my phone and consciously made healthier food choices despite dining out for 2-3 meals a day - another success. One afternoon, my coworker and I decided to visit the outlet mall nearby. This may have been my favorite part of the week because...

I found this gorgeous lace LBD at Ann Taylor! It was a size smaller than what I usually wear but I tried it on anyway and you know what? It fit! And like a sexy-ass glove, no less. Better yet, the dress was originally marked upwards of $200 and I got it for... are you ready? $22. Twenty-two dollars!! I have three weddings to attend this year (seriously people, stop the wedding madness) and nothing to wear to any of them, so at least one outfit is taken care of. Now I need to find some bright-colored heels so I can dance the night away.

Oh, and the best part of all? I weighed in this morning and lost a few pounds since last Friday. It's been a really great week and my new challenge is to keep it going now that I'm back in my usual (read: crazy) home routine.

I hope your week has been full of success too!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Running for Sherry and "Beefing" up

I would like to take a moment to mention a very special run that I neglected to list among my 2012 goals. My reasoning being that this run takes place one week from today, on Saturday, February 11th 2012 (11am EST), and there is no specified location, distance or time to beat. It is a virtual run in memory of a woman named Sherry Arnold. I was alerted to the the event via this twitter post from Runner's World. On January 7th, Sherry left her home for an early morning run. She never made it home. You can read Sherry's entire story here. It is moving, to say the least. The virtual run is a beautiful tribute to Sherry's memory and a great reason to get moving on a Saturday morning. I hope you'll join me!

In other news, recently I had been noticing an overwhelming feeling of nausea after my runs. It seems to have subsided as of late and I think I may have found some solutions. I am one of those people who cannot eat anywhere near the time I workout, so I had been running on a virtually empty stomach. Then post-run I was drinking an almond milk protein shake and heading to bed an hour or 2 later. I have found that rearranging my meals and drinking my protein shake about 30 minutes before running has not upset my stomach. Then I follow my run with a larger meal that includes protein and carbs. This seems to have done the trick and I'm so relieved.

I also had my annual lady-doc appointment last week and they determined via blood test that my iron levels are too low and I am anemic. We agreed that this stems largely from the fact that I haven't eaten beef in over 2 years. My doctor literally told me to "eat a steak"... how often does that happen?! The reason I stopped eating beef in the first place was because I noticed I would get stomach cramps when I did eat it. Then I saw Food Inc. and was horrified that companies "rinse" ground beef in ammonia to kill e.coli bacteria before it arrives on consumers' plates. That was enough for me!!

I have not eaten beef since then... until this week. My coworkers joined me out to lunch for the ending of my beef-eating moratorium. They even took an awkward photo of me with burger in hand. Yay coworkers! I'm still not much of a beef person. My doctor recommends I eat red meat at least once a week until I get my iron levels up. I also have iron pills that I have thus-far avoided taking. I should probably get on that, though. 

Is anyone out there anemic? Do you supplement your diet in any way other than eating red meat?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shredding and Goal-Setting

Hello, my name is bang and I have AADD - aerobic attention deficit disorder! I blame the Sagittarius in me for my wandering mind and fitness commitment-phobia. I literally do a different workout every single day because routine bores the bananas out of me. I am finding myself dreading my treadmill runs because I'm sick of staring at the same wall day in and day out. I have tried watching TV which is OK in small doses but I find that I draw most of my energy from the music I listen to while running (more on that in a later post). The reason I have avoided running outside is because of the plantar fasciitis I developed in my right foot while working retail. It has healed a great deal since I left that job but I still have occasional pain in the mornings and when I workout too hard. Despite my foot, my boredom has propelled me to join a running club via I have yet to attend a session but intend to do so after my upcoming business trip.

In the meantime, I have rediscovered Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. I remember the very first time I tried the Shred back in 2009. I nearly puked halfway through and was overjoyed when my phone rang, relieving me from the second half of the workout. Today I completed Day 2 of 30 (Level 1) and what a difference since that day in 2009! While the workout was nowhere near "easy", it certainly wasn't as horrible as I'd remembered. I even managed to do the exact same workout two days in a row... and boy, do I feel it. I'm pretty sure it's going to hurt to squat tomorrow! It is not my intention to complete the program in 30 consecutive days. I will listen to my body (and mind!) and switch things up if/when necessary. But I'm thrilled to have this extra element in my lineup. I have also discovered that there is a community center very close to my house that offers Zumba and Kickboxing classes. Both have been added to my to-do list.

And finally, I have some concrete goals I'd like to put in writing:
  • March 19th: Be able to run 1.5 miles non-stop. (A requirement of a fitness assessment I'll be participating in for work.)
  • June 9th: Komen Race For the Cure 5K
  • October 27th: Color Run 5K
  • November 22nd: Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8K