Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday 30 minute leg workout

I just completed this little doozy of a workout. Initially it didn't sound like much, but after the first few rounds, I realized my initial impression of it being easy was way off. The more you put into correct form on this one (with any workout really) the harder it is and the more your legs will burn.

My legs were feeling pumped after this workout!!

Equipment needed: Agility ladder, or you could draw in a ladder on your sidewalk in sidewalk chalk.

Main Set:

15 body weight squats
10 squat jumps
20 second overhead squat hold

10 right leg backwards lunges
10 left leg backwards lunges
20 alternating lunge jumps

Agility ladder - high knees, two feet land in each ladder space - left side x 2
Agility ladder - high knees, two feet land in each ladder space - right side x 2

REPEAT as many times as possible in 30–45 minutes. Cool down. Stretch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken (sans-tortilla) soup

I've been pretty obsessed with my crock pot lately, now that it is finally a little bit colder at night, soups and chilis sound more and more appetizing after a long day of work and working out.

Yesterday I was inspired by a paleo recipe and decided to try a little something of my own in the crock pot. It's a lot like chicken tortilla soup, without the tortillas. It was really good! Dave loved it and ate two large bowls.


3-4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 cups chicken broth
3 sweet potatoes (about 3 cups cubed)
3-4 large carrots (about 2 cups cubed)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arugula or spinach (I used arugula and the peppery flavor was quite good!)
1 jar of fresh salsa (I used mild salsa by 365 from Whole Foods)
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp onion powder
2 teaspoons lime juice
zest of 1 lime (the leftover lime from the juice works great)

Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro & avocado slices

Step 1. In a large crockpot bowl, add the chicken, chicken broth, salsa, garlic, lime juice, lime zest, onion powder and salt. Set on low for about 8 hours.
Step 2. After 8 hours, add the cubed sweet potatoes & carrots, making sure they are still submerged in the broth. Set the crock pot on high and leave for another hour.
   *** Side Note: You can probably chop up the sweet potatoes and carrots and put it in with the first step ingredients. I just didn't have time in the morning and had to quickly do it in between getting off work at 5:00 and making it to boot camp at 6:00. I'm sure cooking them all day does wonders to the veggie flavor.
Step 3. Once everything is cooked, scoop out about 2-3 cups worth of vegetables and broth and place in a blender for about 15 seconds. Make sure the chicken stays at the bottom of the crock pot so it doesn't make it into the blender. With two large forks, start shredding the chicken in the crock pot by pulling the forks away from each other. Once the chicken is fully shredded, add the blended mixture back in, along with the arugula. Once the arugula has cooked down (this took all of 2 minutes in my crock pot) the soup is ready to serve.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and avocado slices. SO DELICIOUS.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Happy State of Mind - Regarding health and body image

A little while back I posted about those last 7 lbs, and how I said I didn't care about how fast they melted off and that I planned on enjoying myself a little more during the holidays.

Well, the last 10 days or so I've been weighing myself every day and getting disappointed with the lack of results on the scale. I've even upped my workouts, moving up to 2 workouts per day and what else have I done? I started counting macros again.

Really Erin?

What ever happened to "letting it happen, and relaxing a little bit?" -- Because obsessing over the scale and counting macros is not relaxing in the least bit. I need a mental health intervention.

I have an interesting little story to tell... for about a year or so I have been CONVINCED that I had developed a handful of food allergies. I convinced myself of this to the point where I avoided soy, gluten and dairy like the plague - as though it really did harm my body. I even developed my dreaded skin rashes again - all over my body, to back up my new theory. So I finally went to see an allergist to get tested for basically every food I come in contact with. My whole back was tested with a plethora of food tests - and a basic "Histamine" test spot (which always produces a reaction) to make sure my body was reacting properly.

Well, absolutely no foods at all tested positive for an allergy. I'm not allergic to any foods whatsoever. The only reaction I got was the darn Histamine test spot. You would think I would have been elated with these results. But I was so convinced that I had food allergies that I felt disappointed. The Doctor sent me home with some basic skin care maintenance information that I already knew about, and that was that.

A few weeks went by and I took the same care of my skin, ate the same foods... even ate a few things I shouldn't have because "why not? I'm not allergic!" -- And you know what happened? All those rashes that were on my skin before completely cleared up.

Why? Because my state of mind changed. I was not stressing about all the foods I was putting in my body. I wasn't worried anymore. A weight had been lifted and I had an answer on a piece of paper that told me my body would not reject these foods and make me feel miserable. So I ate them, and nothing happened. My skin got better. All this time my own mind was the enemy here, and that is what was making me miserable. The stress of it all.

I'm telling this story because I think it speaks volumes about how a "happy state of mind" can have such a positive effect on what is going on inside our bodies. It shows me how powerful our minds really are, and when the mind is at peace... so is the body.

So what do I take from this story and how am I applying it to my "weight loss expectations?"

I am putting my scale away. I will weigh myself every couple of weeks, just to make sure I am maintaining and not going off the deep end. I am going to stop counting macros. I will log my food and calories for a little while longer to establish my portions, but then I will eyeball it and fuel my body based and what it wants and tells me it needs. The only thing I will try to keep going strong is my water consumption. I truly believe drinking a gallon a day has done wonders for my health. Hydration has been essential for my workouts and daily life. I hope letting go of some of these habits of mine will allow me to release the constant stress and worry about my daily consumption. I don't want to worry why the scale went up 1.5 lbs in a day... I don't want to care about that. I just want to live healthy and eat healthy and continue being able to do the things I want to do. I want to try new recipes and love my food. I want to enjoy food, and enjoy cooking again. I want to learn to love my body in the skin I am in today - and yes, I will be thrilled if I can someday be in the 130's - but until then, the 140's have been pretty good to me.

I really don't have anything to complain about.

Paleo cookies

My bible in the kitchen is Against All Grain by Danielle Walker. Whenever I am needing a little creativity in the kitchen, I turn to her book for guidance. Lately I have been marking a lot of pages in her book of recipes to try (and possibly modify for myself) and last night I tried this recipe. I've been jonesin' for cookies lately (of the cinnamon oatmeal raisin variety) and this one was a pretty close substitute, but way healthier.
I didn't have ALL of the right ingredients (surprise surprise) but I was pretty darn close to having them. I substituted dried cranberries instead of raisins, and added pepitas to the mix for an added crunch.

Here are the ingredients I used:

2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp palm shortening
3 dates, pitted
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I like a stronger vanilla flavor)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (I used this much because my dough didn't seem thick enough)
2 tbsp chopped dried apricots
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp pepitas

Aside from the ingredients I followed her recipe completely. I have a vitamix, and it was a little difficult to blend everything, so I think a food processor is the next item on my list of things to buy.

All in all, this recipe was pretty good. These cookies don't really have any allergens to them, and I believe they're even vegan. They taste a lot like banana bread and the coconut flour actually works in this recipe. You would never know there wasn't flour in these cookies.

Gluten free.
Grain free.
Dairy free.
Soy free.

I can dig it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekend fun and a BIRTHDAY workout!

This weekend flew by in a flash, and was filled with fun workouts. Friday night was probably the most relaxing. Dave and I made turkey chili (recipe to come soon!) and watched re-runs of How I Met Your Mother - my favorite kind of Friday night. :)

Saturday began with an 8:00 am bootcamp. This Bootcamp is no joke, seriously - the trainer/owner of my gym literally starts off every class with, "For all you newbies trying this out for the first time.... this is no joke. If you need to puke, go outside."

Yeah, puking happens at this class... but not often.

I made it through the class unscathed (I did almost trip on one of my box jumps, but I managed to correct it just in the nick of time!) -- Then Dave and I went to Whole foods for some food. The rest of the day was kind of spent running errands that weren't all that interesting. Saturday night however was spent celebrating a lovely friends BIRTHDAY at Café Fiore!! By the way I tried a lavender martini there and it was AMAZING.
Hayley (Far right in the above photo) is a longtime friend from the high school days that just had an adorable baby boy. She recently got permission to work out again and has been my partner in crime at the gym - she's so hard core, going to every class possible... I love it! It's been so great having someone so amped on fitness to pull me to the gym when I don't feel like going.

Sunday morning rolled around, which was the morning of the 21st annual Patagonia Salmon 5K. Dave and I ran with our two friends, and it was a lot of fun, and for once we weren't doused in a sweltering wave of California heat. It was about 64° and perfect.
I even finished in a record time for myself - 8:40 min miles!!!! I haven't done that since Junior High, so I was pretty stoked.

THIS MORNING I got up a little extra early for a workout. Hayley's birthday wish was to go to 6:00 am boxing class at our gym. PERFECT birthday idea if you ask me.
A bunch of friends showed up, even ones that don't often wake up early, which was really cool. It was fun working out all together, though I needed a little extra coffee this morning. Early morning workout on a Monday? Waking up for that was harder than I expected.

By lunchtime today it was time for my second workout (sometimes I'm crazy and do 2 workouts per day) and it was REALLY great after so much cardio this morning. My legs are burning, so I wanted to share this one:

Warm up: 
5 minutes walk/jog on treadmill

Main set:
10 kettlebell deadlifts (I used a 20lb weight)
10 squats holding weight to chest
10 second squat hold with weight to chest
10 squat jumps

10 left leg lunges, holding weight in right hand - then switch legs for 10 more reps
10 second hold in lunge position holding weight - switch sides for another 10 sec hold
10-12 lunge jumps
10 lunge > curl > press - RIGHT LEG
10 lunge > curl > press - LEFT LEG

10 Single leg deadlifts - RIGHT LEG
10 single leg deadlifts - LEFT LEG

Repeat 3 - 4 times


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Coconut Creamer for your Coffee!

One food I can NOT live or function without is coffee. Seriously.

Since about age 13 I have been an avid coffee drinker, and have tried every latte and coffee shop under the sun, and am always looking for delicious new places to try.

With this new healthy lifestyle I've acquired over the past couple years, I've made a conscious decision to give up dairy. With the exclusion of dairy from my diet, and what I believe to be a sensitivity to soy, my favorite coffee shops were dwindled down to a select few that had almond milk or coconut milk. (I'm still fully supporting the petition to get almond milk at Starbucks!) I also had a hard time finding good creamers I liked that were in fact GOOD for me and not packed with chemicals and artificial sweeteners.

So, with this predicament I decided to try making my own creamer out of canned coconut milk. After many many tries with different ingredients, I have a simple go-to recipe that really works and tastes great.

NOTE: This recipe can be altered in about a million different ways with spices and different sweetening agents like maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, etc.

Here is the recipe:

In a large mason jar or recycled glass bottle that pours well (I like using glass salad dressing bottles, they pour nicely into a mug) pour in the following:

1 can coconut milk (If calories and/or fat are something you're keeping an eye on, or you dont like your coffee too creamy, use LIGHT coconut milk)

1 tsp cinnamon

1-2 tsp vanilla extract (depending on how vanilla you want your creamer to be)

2 tbsp maple syrup (optional, and not pictured) - because I like my creamer on the sweet side.

Shake and mix well in the closed bottle, and bada-bing!
A nice little batch of coconut coffee creamer!

I really do love the simplicity of this dairy-free solution. A lot of my friends have told me about adding pumpkin purée to it to make a pumpkin spice creamer! YUM.

I also want to try some cacao and peppermint extract to see if I can make a good "Peppermint Mocha" creamer for the holidays!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Finding balance...

In the months leading up to our wedding, I decided to count macros and really focus on body fat loss and muscle gain, also to lose those last few stubborn pounds to look my best on the big day. I found that counting macros was an incredibly effective way to fine-tune my eating habits and properly fuel my body for workouts... it worked so well that it became sort of an addiction, as I've heard that tends to happen. When something works and you see results, you want to keep seeing those results.

The problem with counting macros is everything for your entire day is mapped out. If someone wants to grab appetizers and drinks after work, well... no-can-do. I've already allotted this many grams of fats, carbs and protein for my day, and that would just throw it off... It was a strict way of eating that just made social gatherings a hazard, and enjoyment often was the sacrifice. But with something as big as a wedding, and looking your absolute best for that big day, friends seemed to understand the sacrifices I was making... as long as they were short term and I was at the very least going to enjoy myself on my wedding day...
My wedding day was amazing and I absolutely ate what I wanted that day and enjoyed every minute of it. Even on my honeymoon I put the calorie count app away and didn't use it the entire time we were in Kauai. We just simply enjoyed healthy foods and some not-so-healthy foods, and made sure to do fun activities that got us the exercise we needed. I managed to maintain my lowest weight (same weight I was on my wedding day) the entire time we were on our honeymoon with little to no effort, and that was a good feeling.
It has been about 3 weeks since we've returned from the honeymoon and with the holidays coming up I am finding myself at a crossroads. Do I start counting macros again and tackle the last 7 lbs during the holiday season? OR do I enjoy myself, possibly putting a few pounds on, but not too many, and try to tackle what I can assume will be the last 10 lbs at the beginning of the year? Enjoying food and time with family without feeling like I'm trapped in a cage of restrictions might be a pretty good way to go, and it's quite possible I can still make healthy choices and not even gain any weight... I just don't think I'm ready for another couple months of super-restricted eating habits that make everyone around me feel awkward and sensitive to my choices.

Counting macros works, and someday I may return to it, but enjoying myself and truly immersing myself in the holidays this year sounds like a good way to go. And who knows, maybe I will find some great healthy holiday recipes to keep me on track without feeling deprived or in a sugar coma! :P