It is very rare that you get a new month on the first day of the week. It seems right that you should wake up feeling refreshed and excited about what could be possible this month. For whatever reason, that made me feel like it might be a good idea to make some goals for the month. I mean why not?
1. Practice yoga at least 10 minutes daily. I’ve been doing yoga challenges, but not really focusing on my yoga practice. I need to get back into that.
2. Get up early every morning. It’s summer! This means I have more daylight in the evenings, which means if I get up earlier and get more things done sooner I can take advantage of it.
3. Try a new funtivity every week. I love funtivities, and right now is the perfect time to integrate them into our plans. They can be an active activity, or just a new adventure (e.g., a new restaurant).
4. Cut back on sugar. I’ve been really bad about the extra dose of sugar. I am going to try my darndest to limit my “sugary” snack intake to twice a week…I am talking candy and ice cream here. Maybe next month I’ll cut my fruit (but let’s be honest).
I’ve been eating stuffed peppers for as long as I can remember. My mom used to make them when we were younger. I am pretty sure I used to take them for lunch sometimes. They are just such a good Sunday meal prep option, that are also good for lunch leftovers.
I’ve stuffed them with pretty much everything at this point….they’ve been vegetarian (with Morningstar Crumbles), they’ve had rice or quinoa, and then of course other ground meat…turkey, chicken, buffalo. You can really stuff them with almost anything.
I used to have to get creative in how I positioned the peppers to bake. Then I got a fantastic pan for our wedding, literally designed for peppers. It’s awesome.
Below is a recipe I’ve been using recently, it’s clean, simple and tasty.
Italian-Style Stuffed Bell Peppers
What you need:
4 bell peppers
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 pound ground beef, bison, turkey, or chicken
Go ahead and preheat the oven to 375 F. While that is preheating, let’s get to chopping.
In a large skillet heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until they are translucent and slightly brown. You can lightly season the onions with salt and pepper. I also like to add a little more pepper and saute those.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook for about two minutes.
Now we add the meat and cook until fully done. I usually add a little heat here with some red pepper.
Fill the peppers and pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes. This will leave the peppers soft, but still a little crunchy.
High intensity training is a staple in my weekly workouts. Essentially, any routine that gets me in and out in 30 minutes or less (thinking Kayla, Plyos from P90X and 21DayFix, and more) are done at least twice a week. Friends who live in the NYC-area have told me, more than once, that I “have to try FHITTING Room.” That it was in my fitness wheel house.
So we rallied a few troops from work and went during my last week long trip. I didn’t really know what to expect but I was ready to sweat.
The room holds 24 participants and class is run by two instructors. I loved the added instructor. It means you can’t get caught slacking at all, and the energy remains high throughout the workout. Ben and Farouk taught our class, and they were just really fun to be around. I don’t remember looking at the timer once because they were keeping our spirits up.
The workout itself was challenging in the sense that it got my heart rate up and I was sweating VERY quickly. It was broken up into a “warm up” (term used loosely), strength, circuit, and then finally a partner workout.
The Warm Up: we did 30 seconds of jumping jacks, jump rope, air squats, hip openers, mountain climbers and then more jumping jacks. I was certainly warm up the jump rope and sweating buckets by the second set of jumping jacks.
Strength: I didn’t go extremely heavy here, probably used just about a 12-15lbs depending on exercise, but really started to feel it when we were doing the bent over rows with kettlebells. Each move was a minute long, and we did it with the entire group. This was done twice through.
Circuit: Then they broke us into four groups and we went through four different exercises twice. Each station lasting a minute. This included rowing, KB presses, KB step ups and KB swings.
Partner: Finally, if my arms weren’t tired enough at this point we did 4 rounds for each person and you had one minute to finish nine dumbell thrusters to a medicine ball and nine burpees. And at the FHITTING room, you go all the way to the floor for the burpees.
This workout was no joke. I was honestly sore for two days following, and couldn’t believe it. The workouts change daily, so you can be sure you never fall into a rut.
The last two days has been filled with some interesting news items that has led me to shake my head, and go hmmmm.
A test that can gauge your obesity risk?
I come from a family that has often struggled with weight — we have one of those really unhealthy relationships where we eat our feelings. It’s a learned response….and while that has a significant impact on our waistlines it is a habit that in theory can be broken.
On the other hand, researchers have now said they can successfully link certain byproducts of digestion to the risk of excess body fat. Something we can’t change…yet. It’s possible that these findings might lead to more personalized interventions for people who are identified as “at-risk” for obesity, including diet, exercise or supplements.
In a study published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, researchers note that obesity risk is driven by many factors. They include, “amino acids and muscle metabolism, energy metabolism, and [the] involvement of gut metabolism.”
In a not so shocking finding, the researchers say that obesity is complex and one magic bullet isn’t going to fix the situation. Read more here. Do you think having this information would make a difference?
On my ride back from pilates this morning, I heard the story of the teacher’s letter to a parent regarding her child’s lunch. Then I got home and saw that it was on GMA. Is this really a thing? I know and appreciate the hard work that has gone into revamping school lunches, but being uber judgey about what is packed from home is ridiculous. Also, since when is peanut butter NOT a healthy snack? I’m pretty sure it is one of those “in moderation” snacks that is good for you. And another thing, how are you suppose to keep milk cool for lunch?
Double Chin Remedy
Forget contouring like a Kardashian, and don’t you fret about bad angles anymore. The FDA approved a new treatment for adults with “moderate-to-severe fat” below the chin. The treatment, Kybella, apparently naturally absorbs fat, and has the potential to be a big seller. That is IF, patients are ok with the potential side effects including trouble swallowing or nerve damage to the jaw that an result in an uneven smile or muscle weakness in the face.
I’ve done yoga in the middle of Times Square, in a blocked off alley way across from a Whole Foods, on a hilltop, and inside a Lululemon with all the pretty clothes tempting me while I was in down dog. Two weeks ago, we practiced yoga in a new unconventional spot….Saltwater Brewery.
Knowing that we were at a brewery, it shouldn’t surprise you that this was the first time Josh joined me for vinyasa flow class. Apparently being surrounded by beer taps is the best way to get your husband into the yoga mood.
Bend at the Brewery is led by Alexis King. She runs the TRX Yoga class at Slash Fitness and also does private practices for clients. This was my first class with her, and her energy made me want to take more — especially that TRX class.
The Sunday that we went was a much smaller class than some of her previous classes (know this because of the pictures). It was just us, and four other people, which means more attention (yay!). The flow itself was challenging with some added twists that my incredibly tight sore body needed. Alexis was great about coming over to help you move deeper into the poses. She also helped me get into flying pigeon on one side.
The only down side is when you go into a headstand you realize you are on a concrete floor and should you lose your balance you may hurt yourself. I was a little tentative to do anything beyond tripod because of that.
A photo posted by Alexis King (@alexiskingyoga) on
Should you choose to stay after class, you can get a flight of beer for a little cheaper than the usual price. We didn’t stay since I was headed to NYC that afternoon and had to get some packing done…but the next time we go, we are absolutely staying to take advantage of that.
If you follow healthy lifestyle and fitness experts on Instagram, you may have found the fantastic abs of Kayla Itsines on your phone. Kayla is a 23-year-old personal trainer from Adelaide, Australia. At first I was hesitant, since a 23 yr old’s body is WAY different than a 30 year old’s. But, Kayla also shares #fitspirations from her many, many members of #thekaylamovement and some are new moms, moms of three, and others who are living incredibly busy lives. We are talking abs for days, people.
So I went ahead and purchased her Bikini Body Guide 1.0. Her workouts follow a great interval format, in total it is 28 minutes of resistance training — two 7 minute circuits that you run through twice. You tend to do these Monday, Wednesday and Friday with Monday being a cardio/leg day, Wednesday arm/abs and Friday total body. The remaining days are either low impact cardio or recovery days. The full program is 12 weeks long.
I am a month in, and really love the challenge these circuits bring. In truth, I haven’t changed my diet so my progress isn’t necessarily the same as some of her other participants. Also, I haven’t taken my progress photo yet…because I am scared of photos.
Of course, my “low impact cardio” days are my Orange Theory Days, which isn’t low impact and just cardio, so my body is incredibly tired. I have a hard time resting, and was recently counseled that “yoga isn’t resting.” Maybe I can change that up for the next four weeks.
In all honesty, I just love the fact that Kayla didn’t see her nearly 2M Instagram followers coming. She was just a humble trainer posting progress photos of her clients, then she started answering questions, and THEN she launched her eBooks.
Every January I make a promise with myself to stay out of the gym, and workout at home or by running outside (polar vortex obviously has that on the sideline). I just can’t handle the crowds, fighting for machines, my favorite spin bike or these people. So I pull out my trusty DVDs, or go to our apartment gym at odd times when I know no one will steal my treadmill as I do my sprint/weight lifting intervals.
So here is what’s on my radar/keeping me in check this month.
One of the things that kept me from fully dedicating myself to P90x when Josh first got it last year, was that they required a significant amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good 60 min+ workout, but that usually involved cardio and weights, with a few breaks in between, and those workouts are usually reserved for weekends.
The 30 minute workouts do not disappoint. I have decided to do the “lean” program, which means a lot more cardio and less weight lifting (though that is in there too). I’ve done one full week, which reminded me why I hate plyos and Tony Horton (in a good and bad way) and decided to alternate my P90x and yoga days so that my back didn’t tense up.
I am deep into my second set of 36 days for Ultimate Yogi. We had a minor set back with vacation, but are back full stream. The second 36 days include a focus on balance and flexibility. These routines are no joke. I think I was more sore after balance than I was after strength. And I don’t think I have seen my abs as flat as they are right now in a very long, long time.
Trying New Yoga
Speaking of yoga, I took my first class with Irene last Saturday. Aside from being right next to Carson (are you serious? this was like the most intimidating thing ever) it made me remember how desperately I want to become a pro at headstands and tick tocks and all those other fancy yoga moves. (Also, Carson was really encouraging, so now I think I caught the bug, and will likely be attending more classes with those two). I also really want to try aerial yoga, and just found out there is a studio not far from me that has it!
I don’t make resolutions, I am just too Type A to handle failing at resolutions. Instead let’s just say I make healthy goals…one of those is to take our menu planning a step further and actually do food prep on Sundays. We’ve made it two weeks in a row (hazah!), and so far it has actually helped decrease stress after work and allowed more time for us to hang out at night. It’s been nice, and certainly takes a lot of pressure off us when it comes to making dinner and cleaning up after since most of the hard work is done.
Bringing Back Running
And finally, after a year of retirement, I am contemplating returning to the racing world. Last year, I didn’t really train that great and didn’t really run aside from a few treadmill sprints and terrible 5M outings. This year is my last to use my guaranteed entry for NYC Marathon. I am still trying to decide if it is worth it. Deep down I know I will regret NOT doing it. We are also going to try to register for Lululemon’s Sea Wheeze race. Yes, I did say we.
Since Adam Levine was named People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ last week, there have been countless articles detailing how yoga gave him that body, how it improved his sex life, and helped him remain more focused. We’ve heard Gisele say that yoga was what got her figure back after giving birth (sure that isn’t just genes), and Kathryn Budig makes me wish I was that flexible and able to look that good in any yoga position.
The truth is, I didn’t necessarily believe that yoga alone could ever tone me up enough or help me drop pounds like some of my other more intense workouts. And though my once (sometimes two) a week class helped me relax, a long run or a serious sweat session always relieved stress in that moment.
That was before I started the Ultimate Yogi program. I’ve been diligently following the program for three weeks (heading into my fourth), and aside from adding a spin class to my Saturday practice I have kept it strictly yoga. I’ve lost four pounds, and have started getting back into my 2 petites…something that I haven’t been able to do in at least three years.
I am shocked. Yoga has always been my “active recovery” or option for when I am just slightly worn. I think there is a lot involved here, and not just the physical benefits. As I noted previously, I am sleeping better…something that we all know impacts your metabolism. Since I’ve been doing my practice before work, I have also seen benefits in my focus, which is a positive since we are so busy right now.
More importantly though, I’ve been managing my chronic stress a lot more efficiently. I recently read an article about a Harvard study tracking people with high levels of stress, which will potentially detail how regular yoga can actually switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function. It is really quite impressive.
This isn’t the first time I’ve contemplated a detox, but lately I’ve just really been feeling like I need it. I’m cranky, sluggish and feeling a little bloated…like all the time. Maybe it is the stress. Maybe it is all the travel. Whatever it is I need a swift kick in the butt to start feeling like myself again.
The last time I cut refined sugar out of my diet it went pretty well. So I think I will start there. Otherwise, my diet is pretty focused on non-processed foods. I don’t do white flour and surprisingly have been able to cut rice out too. Dairy (aside from my ice cream) is plain, nonfat yogurt and even my milk is almond-base.
Juice cleanses intrigue me, and I’ve always wanted to try them because they sound so simple and people rave about them. Here are your juices. Drink them every 2 hours, drink lots of water and go forth and be energized. The problem is all the work that you have to do BEFORE you start…cutting out the meat and what not. I would essentially be zapped of energy before I even start. (TRUTH: I have filled out forms and then closed out of the browser window more than once on some of these.)
This month’s SELF featured a 7-Day Detox that includes a meal plan with real food AND a workout plan.
The meals are a little intensive and the workout plan includes AM and PM sessions, which is a little daunting, but I think this might be the right thing for me. Plus, since it includes real meals, I can possibly get Josh on board for at least the dinner plan.
So that’s the plan beginning this weekend. Hopefully, come October I will feel back on track.
That’s the question I was asking myself as I exited Uplift Studios last Friday. I am not one to be intimidated by the dudes in the weight room, but there was something nice about walking into a gym and studio that didn’t smell like stale sweat. (You know exactly the smell that I am talking about, you probably just had a PTSD reaction to it.)
Uplift keeps things intimate. Classes are only allowed 10 people, which makes getting into them hard. I tried to get into a couple 7:30am classes and it just wasn’t happening. With no where to be on Friday until Josh made it to NYC, I figured why not take the evening cardio class.
My first impression upon walking in was how clean everything was. In addition to not smelling like a gym it also had almost like a salon/spa feel to it. Water bottles and fresh towels and SNACKS are offered, but what really made me excited was that you have a phone charging station. Maybe this was just because my phone was dying so it was an immediate need.
The locker room, for which they have locks you can check out at no charge, is filled with all the goodies you could possibly want. Malin + Goetz face wash, razors, full-size towels to dry off with, bobby pins and hair ties.
But, I don’t go to the gym for the perks (mostly). As I waited for my class to start I watched anxiously as the class before me did burpee after burpee, sweating through their shirts. I don’t like burpees, I know their benefits. I just hate them.
My class only had three other women in it. Essentially, meaning Kate (the instructor) was going to be able to pay close attention to all of us. (awesome, no slacking off the burpees) The women upon finding out it was my first time, introduced themselves to me and assured me that if they could do it–they were a bit older than me–I could do it.
From the start of the 55 minute class, my heart climbed to 180. It would come down as we did our intervals, but during the quick bursts it was back up. I ended up burning close to 530 calories by end of class. We did weights, fancy-style jumping jacks, something that I will call hyped up running mans, and so much more. All to amazingly wonderful music. (She played the 500 Miles remix from Pitch Perfect. I mean really.)
I walked out of there completely satisfied in my decision to work out on a Friday that was over 100 degrees and had me sitting in an office with no AC for more than four hours.
If possible, I believe I will be making some trips to Uplift when I am in NYC.