WTF Workout?!

August has been a pretty crazy month for me, but while my blog entries cooled down, my workouts continued to fire up!  I’ve been traveling a lot, which means my routine has needed to shift to accommodate my locale.  

The first adventure was a five day intensive Lomilomi retreat.  Lomilomi is a style of Hawaiian massage that I’ve been studying for about two years now.  This was my third class and it was incredibly inspiring.  I knew that I would be in a calorie-friendly environment, as our meals were all vegetarian, mostly made from ingredients found right on the land we stayed at.  Speaking of the land, I already knew about Dreaming Mountain in Johnson, VT, but now that I’ve spent four nights there I’m absolutely in love with it!  I had done a mini-cleanse before the trip, so I had already cut out alcohol, red meat and was strict to my food allergies diet (generally no sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, coffee and a slew of other random things).  This meant that I didn’t feel the need to do my really intense workouts on the retreat.  Instead, I did yoga daily, a martial arts dance that’s part of the Lomi training, and, of course, I was giving and receiving massage daily.  I ended up dropping 5lbs just from living a healthy stress-free active life for a week!

The next adventure was much more challenging.  My company recently opened up a new store in Key West, FL.  It was my job to head down there to set up all the infrastructure.  This meant taking three planes each way to a hot, sweaty tourist playground, working five 12 hour+ days in a row and attempting to stick to my diet and exercise.  The first thing I learned is that the sun rises LATE in Key West, after 7am.  So to keep up my workouts I had to just deal with getting up in an unfamiliar place in the dark.  I did a combination of creating my own workouts in the hotel’s (really spectacular) gym and yoga on the beach.  I should have recorded what I did in the gym but I didn’t think to.  It was nice varying between being in the gym and being on the beach.  I really didn’t get much time at all to enjoy the island so at least doing yoga under the stars, next to the ocean, and then slowly watching the sun rise through my vinyasas was pretty spectacular.  I’ll admit diet was much more of a challenge there, and I made myself outright sick once or twice, but you gotta live too, right?

It’s nice to be back home and back to a more normal routine.  Though, it seems my yoga is going to be ramping up as I’m trying to hit the minimum pre-req hours for a yoga teacher-training I’m hoping to start in January.  I only just found the program and they require 35 hours in their studio before I can enroll.  Since I live an hour away this is a challenge, but I’ve been wanting to get my yoga certification for years now and it’s a teacher I really like.  Wish me luck!

So, today’s workout was really unusual for me.  It’s a little bit of everything.  I started out doing someone else’s workout (some of you may recognize the first few items) and then decided I wanted it to be more dynamic.  This was LONG.  My arms were shaking at the end and I was dripping with sweat.  I feel it’s a good mix of cardio and strength training, though the cardio portion never really ends.  Check it out:

8/27/13 – For Time (My Time = 24:50)
  1. 1 Min High Knees
  2. 1 Min Sprint
  3. 1 Min Low-Jacks
  4. 30 Weighted Burpees (I used 5lbs)
  5. 30 Knee Tucks
  6. 30 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
  7. 30 Plank Side-To-Side Jumps
  8. 10 Prisoner Getups
  9. 10 Weighted Sit-Ups (I used 15lbs first 5 and then 10lbs last five)
  10. 10 Push-Ups
  11. 20 Knee Tucks
  12. 20 Side-Lunge w/ Floor Touch
  13. 10 Side Crunches, Right
  14. 10 Side Crunches, Left
  15. 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Tricep Kickbacks in Lunge Position (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
  16. 12-10-8-10-12 Pyramid Bicep curls (I used 8lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs)
  17. 10 Weighted Lunge Twists, 5 Each Side (I used 10 lbs)

After that, I needed some protein and amino acids!!  Cut to today’s smoothie!

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This beauty contains pomegranate juice, coconut milk, spinach, flax seeds, fresh local blueberries, frozen mangoes, and a half-serving of vegan protein powder (Fat Flush).  I’ve honestly moved away from using protein powders in my morning smoothie because I feel adding flax or chia seeds plus spinach gives me enough protein without making me bloat.  But, today I really killed my upper body so it seems right to add in the protein and help rebuild my muscle tissue.  

I also am on a daily gut repair formula from my Naturopath which includes l-glutamine.  While new research is always coming out, there’s a lot out there showing a direct correlation between l-glutamine and muscle recovery.  It’s recommended post-workout, along with protein and carbs (1:4).  We always hear protein protein protein after workouts, but that’s one time when I think it’s important to have carbs to help with the recovery.  Frankly, I do think there’s such thing as too much protein.  I’m definitely trying to build my muscles, but that doesn’t mean I need to eat 10 eggs and a bucket of protein powder in one day.

What post-workout drinks/meals/supplements work for you?

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Upper Arm Beatings and Post-Workout Pancakes!

One of my friends, Rosie of Rock Bodies, is a personal trainer who often posts delicious healthy recipes to Facebook.  She found a recipe for pancakes that uses just two ingredients: banana and eggs.  Seriously, that’s it.  They are AMAZING.  Before I made them though I had to finish my workout for the day (especially since I was having local sausage with my pancakes).

Today I wanted to focus on arms and abs.  Yesterday I did Zuzka’s ZShred #3 which was a legs-intensive high-intensity workout.  I really prefer full-body workouts and while I felt like a new person after this workout, it ended up being too much for me and I am HURTING today. So I decided to take it easier on my legs.  This workout will definitely get your heart rate up but it’s primarily a strength training workout and while it’s an upper-body focus there’s definitely leg involvement as well.

6/29/13 – Set interval timer to 2 rounds 45 sec activity, 15 sec rest
  1. KB Swing
  2. KB Snatch R
  3. KB Snatch L
  4. Weighted pilates sit-ups
  5. Plank climbers
  6. Pull-ups (as many as you can do
  7. Dive bombers
  8. Renegade Row
  9. Single-Leg deadlifts
  10. Dragon flags

Once you’ve completed that you deserve some pancakes right?

Paleo Pancakes

Paleo High Protein Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Banana
  • Optional: pinch of cinnamon
  • Optional: ~1tbsp protein powder or tapioca flour

Directions:

  1. Beat the banana and egg together.  You’re done making the batter!  No, seriously, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  I used my Vitamix to mix them but you can easily do it by hand.  I added cinnamon, which turned out great.  I also made the mistake of using jumbo eggs so my batter was a bit too thin so I added some tapioca flour to thicken it.  You can use protein powder as a thickener if you prefer (I recommend using a plant-based powder without GMOs, soy or whey).
  2. Cook on skillet like normal pancakes.  I recommend making them small and thin (the large one in the picture was to finish off my batter).

I found with the sweetness of the banana no syrup was necessary, though I’m sure if you like you can add some maple syrup or agave.  Enjoy!!

32 Days, 2880 Burpees, 12 Miles and Wearing Too Much Weight!

I’m excited that I’ve made it over a month in my 90 day burpeee challenge!  I’ve also kept up with running a mile every morning and I’m already seeing my speeds improving and my legs are becoming shapelier.  I’m also excited to say that after five days of calf pain, I’m no longer feeling terribly sore from running, just dealing with some minor aches and pains.  I’m just about finished with the current Zuzka ZWOWs that are up on her site so as a present to myself for completing them I purchased her ZCut Power Cardio series and I’ll let you all know what I think of it.  On top of all of this I’m finally finding joy in doing hot yoga and the two sessions I’ve done have kicked my ass, made me sweat more than anything in my life, and made me feel AWESOME!!  This is a huge change from the first time I tried Bikram, when it triggered my acid reflux and I left the class with 15 minutes to spare and cried in the hallway, seriously.

Now I have to get into a topic that I know is seriously overdone on the internet.  I fully expect most of you to zone out right about now.  Oh wait, let me tell you the topic: Body Image.  Ok, now you can zone out. 😉

I’ve been blessed that for most of my life I haven’t struggled with real body image issues.  I’ve had minor issues but for the most part I’ve been confident with my size and shape.  I was stick thin for most of my childhood, to the point of being teased.  Then in high school my Swedish genes kicked in and I suddenly had some junk in the trunk and a small belly.  College rolled around and I was living a very unhealthy lifestyle, practically living off of taco bell and alcohol.  My weight skyrocketed to 180 and I was wearing a size 14.  But somehow I never felt large.  I’m a tall woman, just shy of 6′, which allows me to conceal my weight well. My arms and calves generally remain thin even when my hips, butt, gut and thighs expand.

It wasn’t until I moved to Boston, fresh out of school, and started working a retail job where I was on my feet all day, that I realized how unhealthy I had been.  Just by living a different lifestyle (normal schedule, steady income which led to good food, and walking all the time) I dropped down to a size 8.  I was also doing yoga regularly then but really wasn’t exercising aside from that.  When I then attended school for massage I began lifting weights and building muscle.  That’s when I started paying more attention to my body and I kept my weight around 165.  Not fantastic, but with the muscle and staying at that size 8 I felt good and I think I looked good.  The one thing I really never lost was that gut; my belly always protruded and I have an over-emphasized lordotic curve (curve in the low back) which often means lack of abdominal strength.

Flash forward a few years.  I eat well, I exercise regularly and I even went through training in Kickboxing and Insanity.  I have to say the Insanity program is AWESOME!  It’s HARD, but that was the first thing that really kicked my core strength into gear.  I know I have a great core now, and I’m constantly improving it, but I still have that gut and curve.  I’ve tried not eating within a few hours of bed, eating several small meals instead of a few large ones, cutting out gluten and dairy, even doing full food elimination diets.  Nothing really seems to help.  Then this past November my boyfriend and I really fell off the wagon, as one tends to do around the holidays.  I wouldn’t say it was a worse year than usual but suddenly that 165lbs became 175lbs.  In mid-January I got back on the horse and have been eating healthy and exercising. As you all know in the past 32 days I’ve upped my exercise routine quite a bit.

So guess what?  Want to know how much weight I’ve lost?  I mentioned my legs are looking more cut.  I didn’t mention that my arms are more muscular, my face looks thinner, my shoulders and back look like I could punch through a wall.  So how much weight did I lose?  None.  I gained weight.  As of this morning the scale say I’m 183lbs.  I shit you not.  I’m pissed.  I now have body issues.  Apparently I’m a late bloomer but I’m working my ass off and that gut is going out instead of in.  I use MyPlate so I know what my nutrition is and I’m well within the appropriate range.  I also can’t be gaining muscle this fast, and when I took “before” pictures yesterday it’s apparent that there’s quite a bit of weight around my mid-section.  Even in yoga I found myself self-conscious of the fact that the other women in the room were so much thinner than me.  Wtf?!  I know full well we all come in different shapes and sizes and the point is that I’m healthy so why am I freaking out about this?!

Well, I am.  For the past two days I’ve switched to two smoothies a day.  I was having one for breakfast and now I do one for breakfast, one for lunch, an afternoon snack and a reasonably-portioned dinner.  I don’t feel I personally have much more time to exercise, since I’m already doing about 90 minutes a day, so I have to look at diet.  I also had food allergy testing done and I get the results back in a week so I can see if it’s possible that something I’m eating is bloating me up (the testing was also done for other digestive issues I have).

So….blargh!  But enough venting about my odd weight issues.  Lettuce talk about snacks (yes, punny, but most of you stopped reading ages ago so…):

ImageThis was today’s afternoon snack.  It’s a whopping 108 calories with 8g of protein!

Ingredients (which you can all see pretty clearly):

  • Romaine lettuce leaf
  • Small handful of snap peas
  • Small handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 hardboiled egg, sliced

I rolled it up like a burrito and it was surprisingly delicious and filling enough to get me to dinner, which will be steamed salmon and brussels sprouts.

For now, it’s time to find new exciting smoothie recipes.  I will share that my local health food store offers frozen wheatgrass shots.  I’ve been adding those to my smoothies and it’s pretty good. 🙂

 

1200 down, 6900 to go & Warrior Food is not my friend

I finally did the math.  It’s not like it was hard, I just didn’t want it staring me in the face.  So far I’ve done 1200 burpees (60 more to do today), which means I have 6900 to go and will have completed 8100 burpees by the end of my 90 day challenge.  That’s assuming, of course, that I finish.  But I BETTER finish!  

I finally gave Warrior Food another try today and I’m sticking with my “C” rating.  At this point I’d gladly give the rest of the bottle away.  Today I tried mixing it with some of the strongest flavors I could:

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Ingredients:

  • handfull Spinach
  • 1c Cranberry Pomegranate juice (100% juice, no added sugar)
  • 1 banana
  • handful frozen strawberries
  • handful frozen peaches
  • 1tbsp spirulina
  • 1tbsp flax seeds
  • 1tbsp flax seed oil
  • 2tbsp Warrior Food

I’ve found that the cranberry pomegranate juice is a really nice base and makes smoothies a little thinner and sweeter.  I will say for me it’s not the best choice for a morning drink.  I have acid reflux and I think that on top of all the fruit is just too acidic.  I’ll stick with my unsweetened coconut milk in the mornings but will keep using the juice for afternoon smoothies.  

The big bummer is that even with all this flavor I can still taste whatever it is in the Warrior Food that’s making me cringe.  I’m still not sure if it’s the cactus or the stevia.  I know I don’t like most things with stevia but it doesn’t have the normal stevia taste.  I’ve never eaten cactus by itself so that could definitely be it.  Regardless, Warrior Food is not for me. It’s also thicker and mealier than the other powders I’ve tried.

I ordered a jar of the Fat Flush Body Protein I reviewed over here.  While I wasn’t 100% keen on it the first time I tried it, comparatively it’s one of the best.  I really like the minimal ingredients and it’s the only powder I tried that stays white so on the few days that I’d like a smoothie that’s neutral-colored I’ll go with that.  I’m also going to continue using the Supreme Meal powder.  I like the idea of rotating protein powders, just like I like the idea of rotating all of my smoothie ingredients.  I had a nutritionist tell me once that the body likes [healthy] surprises.  She recommended switching up supplements as well.  That idea seems to work for me so I’ll keep rocking it.

I’m still looking for more protein powder ideas.  Let me know if you have a favorite!

900 Burpees in 10 days and brown smoothies to boot!

That subject is a lie.  It’s only 11am here so I’ve only done my first round of burpees for the day, making it 840 burpees so far.  But by the end of the day it will be 900, even though I’ll be  kicking and screaming the whole way.  I am SORE!!!  Yesterday I completed Zuzka’s ZWOW #43 (on top of the 90 burpees for the day) and it was a total killer.  She apparently recorded it right before Thanksgiving so it was a particularly hard workout.  I woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache only to realize my abs are just that sore.  I guess in the grand scheme of things this is a good thing.  But let me tell you, I was NOT excited to do those first 30 burpees this morning.  I think I see 90 minute of yoga in my future to try to stretch this body out!

This morning I made a delicious tasting smoothie, despite it being brown.  Check it out..

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Brown Rice Smoothie

 Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of NutriBiotic Brown Rice Protein
  • 1 Banana
  • Small handful of frozen strawberries
  • Small handful of frozen pineapple
  • Small handful of frozen mango
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1 tbs of chia seeds

I had picked up one packet of the brown rice protein at my local coop and decided to give it a try.  I’m a huge fan of the fact that it only has one ingredient and it’s 80% protein.  It’s also soy/gluten/GMO-free.  I’ll say that the smoothie tastes delicious but it is a little thick, though not as thick as the Warrior Food or Peaceful Planet powders.  It’s about the same texture as the Warrior Food, so grittier than Peaceful Planet or Fat Flush.  Overall, I’d use it again but I’m not madly in love with it.  I’m still searching for that perfect protein powder.  Let me know if you have any suggestions!  I’ll give this one an A-.

 

720 Burpees in 8 Days and Smoothies to Spare!

While my urge to run has ebbs and flows, my love of fitness and nutrition lives on and I’d like to start sharing my latest obsessions with you.  2013 has brought me two things so far: burpees and….

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I FINALLY BOUGHT A VITAMIX!!!  More on that in a minute.  First…

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Oh, burpees, you’re the exercise everyone loves to hate!  Eight days ago we started a new challenge at work.  Well, two challenges to be exact.  You could pick either a 90 or 100 day burpee challenge.  The 90 day challenge is 90 burpees a day for 90 days.  The 100 day challenge is one burpee on day one, two on day two, three on day three and so on and so forth until you’ve reached 100 on day 100.  Naturally, I chose the 90 day challenge and have been in sweet pain ever since.

One might ask, “What is a burpee?”  Well, if you’re lucky I’ll post a video sometime soon but today is not that day.  There are literally dozens of burpee variations.  Two of the most basic are:

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Squat, jump out to plank, jump back to squat, jump up.

And…

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Squat, jump out to plank, do a pushup, jump back to squat and jump up.

The latter is called a “Competition Burpee” and that’s the one I’m doing.  So, I’m basically doing 90 squat thrusts, 90 pushups and 90 jumps a day…on top of my normal workouts.  Yes,  it’s a bit much, but I have to say that after only 8 days I’m noticing much more definition in my arms and legs so, hey, I’m going to keep it up.  Speaking of “normal workouts”, ZuzkaLight is the latest woman kicking my ass.  If you haven’t seen her YouTube channel before check it out!  I try to do one of her workouts 3-4x/wk.  I’m on #40 as of today.

Ok, enough about burpees, let’s talk about my new beloved Vitamix.  I’ve wanted a high-powered blender for a very long time and after doing my taxes this past weekend (oh the luxurious life I lead) I decided to use some refund money and invest in my health.  After watching far too many videos and reading reviews comparing the Blendtec to the Vitamix to the Kitchenaid to the Ninja to the etc. etc. etc., I decided to go with the Vitamix which honestly was my first choice to begin with.  So far I’m not disappointed.

To honor my new toy and give me something to think about aside from burpees I thought it’d be fun to share some of my creations with you.  Here are some of the first smoothies I’ve made.  I should note I also made brazil nut butter (brazil nuts, raw honey, sea salt, flaxseed oil) before learning how high in saturated fat brazil nuts are (damn shame since it tastes just like cookie dough) and a caper-parsley sauce but since I didn’t photograph either I’m not putting them in here.  I should also note that while I have some strong beliefs about nutrition, I am not a nutritionist, nor do I purport to be.

Smoothie #1

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Ingredients:

  • Frozen strawberries
  • Frozen peaches
  • Whole banana
  • Flaxseed
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Coconut Milk
  • Protein Powder*

This was fruity and amazing and I can’t say enough good things about it.

Green Smoothie

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Ingredients:

  • Pomegranate-Cranberry Juice
  • Spinach
  • Frozen strawberries
  • Frozen mangos
  • Chia seeds
  • Spirulina

Again, another winner.  VERY fruity. VERY green (thank you spirulina). VERY nutritious.  It was my after-workout smoothie and not only did I get to enjoy it, but my boyfriend kept gulping it down saying, “This can’t be healthy!”.

*Why is there an asterisk next to protein powder?  Well, I’m in the “testing” phase of powders right now and I’d love to open up some discussion on that.

Protein Powders

Generally I’m a big fan of whole foods and I try to use whole foods over processed foods as much as possible in my diet.  I ALSO have a strong desire to have ton of protein in my diet so I do want to use a protein powder in my morning smoothie.  I have some ground rules for protein powder:

  1. It must not contain soy, whey or animal proteins. There’s a lot of controversy over soy but aside from the concern that it could increase my chances of breast cancer if I ingest it regularly, I can say from my personal experience that it’s very slow for my system to digest and, frankly, it makes me gassy; so no thanks, soy! 
  2. It must not contain a bunch of chemicals, stabilizers and preservatives because it just doesn’t have to.
  3. It must be at the very least 17-20g/serving of protein and no more than 100 calories per serving.
  4. No GMOs. Period.
  5. It must be sugar free.
  6. It shouldn’t taste like crap.

I have four contenders so far (pictured above): Fat Flush Body Protein, Peaceful Planet Supreme Meal, Warrior Food, and plain Rice Protein, and can review two so far.

Fat Flush: A friend of mine who is a nutritionist highly recommended this and gave me a scoop to try.  Normally I’d stay away from things that say “Fat Flush” because it sounds too infomercially and I’m looking to be healthy, not emaciated.  That said, the ingredient list is pretty good: Pea protein concentrate, Rice protein concentrate, French vanilla extract, guar gum, inulin, and stevia.  So, not a ton of crap.  I will say stevia isn’t my favorite but I couldn’t taste it much in this, and I’m really picky about the stevia aftertaste so I was impressed that I only noticed it a tad.  It was a little grittier than I’d like, even in the vitamin (which turns flaxseeds and chia seeds into dust).  I give it an “I’ll think about it”.  Which probably equates to a B+

The Supreme Meal: I found this at my local coop.  You might be surprised I bought it considering how many ingredients it has: Protein blend (non-GMO pea protein isolate, organic Hawaiian spirulina, rice protein concentrate), freeze-dried sprouts blend (quinoa, millet, amaranth, broccoli), organic flax meal, lecithin, natural vegan flavors, horsetail herb, proprietary FOS fiber blend (fructooligosaccaharides, sprouted mung bean extract), bioflavanoids concentrate, vitamin D2, vitamin B12.  Ok, so a lot of ingredients but a lot of GOOD ingredients.  So far this one is my favorite.  It has poor reviews if you just mix it into liquid with a spoon (it clumps).  I had no problem in my Vitamix.  It was smooth and tasty.  The spirulina makes it dark green, which doesn’t bother me one bit but bothers some people.  I also love that there’s nothing in there pretending to be sweet.  It was just yummy.  Unfortunately, it’s 140 cal/serving but I may overlook that due to how much I liked it and how many nutrients it has. A-

I picked up the Warrior Food from Vermont Fiddle Heads, who I tend to trust as Linda is our local raw foods extraordinaire.  I haven’t tried it yet and I’ll be fully honest that the bottle is filled with so much homeopathic new-age propaganda that I almost didn’t buy it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty crunchy chick, but this was over the top.  That said, I trust Linda and it’s the only protein powder that she sells and I was impressed by the ingredients: Sprouted, Raw, Non-GMO, Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Hemp Protein, Organic Actual Vanilla Bean, Wildcrafted Nopal Cactus, Organic Whole Leaf Stevia.  I love that it’s 100% organic and doesn’t have much in it.  I’m wary of the stevia but I’ll let you all know what I think.

What protein powder do you love and why?