Adventure Friday

Today’s Happy Note: I now have a beautiful temporary tattoo of a dolphin on my left arm.  My life is complete.

Lazy day again!  I did a 30 minute ab/cardio workout video this evening with my mom.  It was called “Envy Abs” and was actually pretty good.  I hadn’t done a lot of the moves before so it was unpredictable.

Adventure Friday:

Kate went on an Adventure Monday here!  So happy my idea is rubbing off.  It really is fun — I always look forward to my adventures throughout the week.

Today’s adventure?  Visiting my best friend from high school and her family’s seven dogs.  There were actually eight there today since an extra dog was visiting.

Eddy (I *think* that’s who this one is) says hello!  He was trying to eat my…

…coconut milk green tea ice cream!  Seeing as today was supposed to be an adventure at all, when we wound up at the grocery store and wandered past the alternative ice cream aisle, I knew it was fate: it was my time to try the coconut milk ice cream.  The verdict?  Pretty tasty, but with a slightly odd aftertaste.  It honestly tasted like a slightly less creamy version of standard green tea ice cream.  I would like to try more of their flavors this summer and will probably eat this one again as well!

I know this was kind of a lame adventure; I didn’t take too many pictures.  But trust me, being climbed on by eight rambunctious dogs is no picnic.  For some reason they all really liked my feet…

I have always been a cat person but I also love dogs.  When I have my own apartment I want to get a cat, since I think it will be easier to take care of.  I really do like dogs though.  I want to name my cat Stanley.  Or Ceaser.  Or Miller.

Are you a cat or a dog person?  Or neither or both?

It’s been raining cats and dogs here today (pun intended) so adventure options were a bit limited.  I desperately wanted to run but it was, quite literally, pouring.  And it’s supposed to tomorrow as well!  At least the plants will be well-watered.

Eats hodgepodge:

Okay so this was a smoothie made with plain yogurt, water, frozen blackberries, ice, and chocolate amazing meal.  It was disgusting.  I didn’t want to waster it so I added loads of stevia to mask the flavor but yeah, it had a distinct, unappealing grassy flavor.  And I actually like grassy flavor — but this was a bit extreme.  I feel like it’s this kind of food that gives health food a bad name.  For your own sake, don’t buy it.

I do, however, love all the Amazing Grass bars!

Frozen fruit in cereal is really delicious.  Crunchy and cold but also smooth, sweet and satisfying.  You should try it!  And yes, that is peanut butter in my bowl.  I am obsessed with peanut butter — I might even call it my favorite food — and will add it to pretty much everything.

Blondie bars with lots of secret ingredients including cherries — the fruit Michigan is most famous for!  With a glass of milk for dipping.  These are being sent to a friend but I had to test one or two for quality control purposes, of course. 🙂

I want to make scones this summer.  A lot.  With fresh berries and warm butter on top. Nom nom nom.

I may have had the most random dinner I’ve ever consumed tonight: a few unpictured bites of steak with a warm apple with cinnamon and pb.  Hey, it was exactly what I wanted!

Lots of links to catch you guys up on!

Averie is giving away Naturally Nutty here.

Ever wanted to know how a vegan ultramarathoner eats? Check out this New York Times article.

I have a reader (hi Xenia!) who writes a sporting goods/sporting events blog called Be In The Game.  Definitely check it out if you need any equipment or are a traditional sports fan!

And finally, a fun Lite Choice contest here!  Their frozen dessert is one of the most delicious I’ve ever had.  Go support TLC!

That’s all for tonight.  Maybe I’ll be more fun tomorrow.  This rain needs to go away!

Good Old Sunday Exercise and Eats

Today’s Happy Note:

This is a black cherry steaz bottle cap.  My last one said “I am powerful.”  I think they’re kind of great, and they make me feel happy and strong and unique.  What more could I ask of a bottle cap?  Thank you, steaz!

Workout:

I listened to my body today and she said she did not want to run.  So I didn’t!  I headed to the gym and did 25 minutes of serious weight lifting followed by 30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training on the elliptical.  I first heard about HIIT a few years ago and then was inspired to try it by Janetha.  Basically, HIIT involves a brief warm-up followed by 15-20 minutes of intervals that alternate from easy to, well, high intensity.  Pretty self-explanatory.  You can vary the ratio of hard to easy depending on how you feel; wikipedia suggests 2:1, I have seen 4:1, and currently, I’m at 1:1.  I would do a minute relatively easy (think “jogging” pace) followed by a minute of everything I’ve got.  I kept this up for 20 minutes, followed by a five minute cool-down.

This sounds easy, and the concept certainly is, but let me tell you it is KILLER.  The sprints make it feel like a great workout (and it is) in a small amount of time.  It is, I believe, supposed to burn more fat and be good for anaerobic capacity.

I like to do supersets when I strength train.  This means I pick a group of four to five exercises, and I rotate through them.  So round one consists of, for example:

Superset 1:

12 captain’s chair crunches

6 pull-ups (I can only do 6, even with plenty of assistance)

12 V-ups

12 real-delt rows

I then rotate through the set three times.  I like to alternate arms, abs, and legs so that each muscle group gets a little rest but then has to work again.  I am not sure how scientific this is, but it works for me.  I usually do 3-5 supersets like the one above.

After my power hour at the gym I went to a yoga class at The Shala.  I wasn’t trying to be exercise-obsessive; this is the only time of week for the donation-based (read: inexpensive) class and I like to take advantage of my weekends to do actual yoga classes.  By the end of class, I was exhausted.  After lunch  I took a nice long nap instead of being productive. 🙂

I saw this wonderfully concise and truthful quote in Oprah magazine today and wanted to share with you guys:

“Exercise should be a habit, like brushing your teeth.  It wouldn’t cross your mind not to brush your teeth, and physical activity should be viewed the same way.” – Bob Greene (Oprah’s trainer)

For me, and probably for many of you guys, this is obvious.  Whether it’s twenty minutes on the yoga mat, playing in the ocean with friends, or a marathon; we get it.  But not everyone approaches physical activity this way.  I like to think of my exercise time — my 30-120 minutes a day, typically — as primal: the urge to move feels incredibly natural and human to me.  I think that deep down, this is true for most people, it’s just that many Americans have gotten out of touch with this.  Sometimes my friends question my dedication to running or yoga or laugh when they see me doing a half hour workout dvd.  But my body and mind need this time.  When I exercise, I actually end up having more energy, I’m happier, and, I think, kinder.  It really is like brushing my teeth.  Outside of the occasional rest day, I couldn’t not do it.

How do you guys feel about this?  Is this approach obsessive or just natural?  Do you feel better when movement is a part of your daily routine?

Eats:

I have been consciously trying to eat every three to four hours, and to include plenty of protein and fats.  And I’ve been feeling more satisfied!  Go me!

This is Three Sister’s Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal with a half a serving of Tera’s Whey vanilla protein powder (which was not gritty and tasted nice and creamy!  Yay!).  I can’t wait to try the rest of their oatmeal varieties.  I am really liking this company so far, go check them out!

This was one of the best weekend brunches ever.  Well okay, it was three o’clock so I don’t know if that’s really brunching hour.  But whatever.  Two eggs, white cheddar, and spinach on whole grain bread, broiled for five minutes (I have no toaster and the broiler is a decent substitute).  Three large carrots sliced up with two tablespoons Justin’s maple almond butter.  This meal was mountains of delicious.

Dinner: veggie stir fry (swiss chard, peppers, baby bella mushrooms cooked in coconut oil), steak, and hummus.  With steaz on the side, of course.  I marinated this steak overnight in maple syrup, soy sauce, and ginger.  Um, YUM!  This was a bottom round cut from the farmer’s market.  It is a tougher cut so the texture was a bit chewy (I also overcooked it a bit), but the flavor was wonderful.  I won’t lie: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love red meat.  This is not something that I would ever skip out on.  I also believe that meat can be a healthy part of a plant-rich diet, for many people.  That’s my meat philosophy in a nutshell!  Agree or disagree?  Or do you just not like meat? Regardless, I respect everyone’s individual dietary choices; I promise I’m not judging you. 🙂

Triple chocolate hot cocoa.  Dessert is my favorite part of the day!

Minus three ginger cat cookies (tiny) and a similarly small square of cherry dark chocolate, I think that’s everything I’ve eaten for the day!  I’ll probably do full day eats once or twice a week, since I like to have a visual record, but don’t want to bore you.

The end!

Have an excellent week!  Make sure to smile and think positive; this will improve everything, I promise.

Health Changes!

Daily Creativity:  Markers.  I have some.  And they are begging to be used.  Honestly, I much prefer pastels, but those are at home, so the markers will have to satisfy my coloring craving.  What’s your favorite way of drawing?

Today was hands down one of the rainiest, wettest, windiest days of my life.  I left my dorm a total of three times and went through three pairs of pants and three jackets, because each time I returned home so soaked that I needed new ones to be dry again.  I love the rain far more than most people, but this was some serious business.  Normally I even like to run in the rain, but I think it actually would have been legit dangerous to do my long run today.  Instead of whining about that and moping around the house  (aka room) all day, I made a backup plan last night!  I headed to the gym instead with a fresh, crisp newspaper.  Well, it wasn’t so crisp by the time I got there, despite being tucked into the bottom of my bag.  It was wet and droopy.  But alas, we don’t get everything we want in life.  I was really pleased with my workout; it was 90 minutes of cleansing, sweating, powerful, invigorating joy.

Workout:

4 miles on treadmill, shifting between speeds from 6.0-6.5 mph

30 minutes strength training: I did three sets of four exercises, with each set containing 3 sets of 12 reps.  I alternated between arm and ab exercises.

2 miles on treadmill,  1 @ 6.5, 0.5 @ 6.2, 0.5 @6.0

1/4 mile walking cooldown.

Twas the perfect Saturday afternoon pick me up.

Health Change #1:

I didn’t sleep well again last night, yet again.  I was still awake at four and realized that I was hungry.  I think this was actual hunger because it had been over six hours since dinner, so I decided to have a snack.  Then another snack.  And another.  TJ’s mini peanut butter cracker sandwiches are dangerous with a glass of chocolate soymilk.  I think my biggest “food issue” (and we ALL have them, in some way or another, I think — no one is a perfect eater) is not so much about food but about sleep.  I tend to be either the most tired or the most wired in the evening/night; both of these states leave me feeling very emotional.  Emotions often lead to snacking.  I wish so much that I could just fall asleep consistently at the same time night after night.  I think that would make things easier, and so, after break, I am going to try to make an effort to be consistent with my bedtime and sleeping.  The goal is to be in bed at 10:30, lights out at 11:00, and up at 7:00-7:30 so that I can workout before classes.  This pattern has hands down been the most effective for me in the past.  If I finish classes at 6:00, I have 4 hours to study and make dinner.  This is doable.  And getting my workout done before I start my day is great; I’m usually too tired after classes.

So that’s the very long-winded plan.  I think better sleep will potentially lead me to better health.  Not that my current state of health is bad, but I genuinely do want to nix the nighttime eating habit and my general drowsiness.

Health Change #2:

Another change I’m making is starting food journaling.  I joined SparkPeople because I’ve heard good things about it.  I really would like to banish for good about 8-10 pounds, and I tend to eat mindlessly/emotionally.  I know that I will have to be very careful not to take the journaling/counting too far.  I will NEVER restrict when I am genuinely hungry; I aim to eat intuitively, and if there is a day when intuitively leads to 2500 calories, so be it.  I just want to record things so that I end up with 2500 on that day, and not 3000.  Does that make sense?  I also want to use the journal to record my strength training!  I would like to be more toned come spring and summer, ideally.  Not just because of bikini season — I enjoy feeling strong and powerful, and I know that strength training has plenty of health benefits.  In fact, I don’t even think I own a bikini right now, oddly enough…

I do NOT intend to banter about my journal, recording, or calories on my blog.  I respect my readers of all backgrounds and I don’t think this would be enjoyable or useful for a lot of you; I also do not want to become obsessed.  The blog will stay the same; I’ll still be talking about what I do for my health, like running, yoga, attending therapy, and coming up with fun wholesome recipes.

Health Change #3:

A few weeks ago I did a no-dairy/low-dairy challenge, and noticed that my digestion seemed a bit better.  After reading Caitlin’s (BTW, go wish her good luck in her triathlon tomorrow!) decision the other day, and reading Averie’s comments/advice on the subject, I’ve decided to continue eating only one serving of dairy a day, be it yogurt, milk, cheese, or ice cream.  I think I feel better with this amount and if it turns out later on it isn’t working, I’ll reevaluate!

Random Eats From Today:

I bought myself a giant puzzle and have been working on it today!  I also hung out with my best friends for a while and then went to see Alice In Wonderland with one of them.  It was just okay — the visuals and design were stunning, and the acting was quite good, but the plot seemed to just drag along.

Have an excellent Sunday bloggies!

Fears, Foods, Friday, Fun

Daily Creativity: More writing.  Not very interesting, but it’s so important for me.  I’m officially on spring break now (yay) and last night I just did a giant freewrite about all the things I don’t have to do.  It was such a relief to see this massive list and just feel free of obligations for a while.  Now if only I were going somewhere warm…

I’m going back to Michigan over break and am hoping to get in some serious trail running.  I guess not too serious seeing as the race is the 21st, which is sad because I’d love to just hit the trails for an exhausting ten miles everyday.  But I *probably* shouldn’t do that.  Sigh…

This is probably the last time I’ll be home before late spring/early summer.  For me trail running in the summer means one thing and one thing only: snakes.  I am beyond terrified of them and this is utterly and completely ridiculous because the only snakes that ever come out on the trails are garters or other non-dangerous snakes.  There are massasauga rattlers where I live but they mostly stay in the woods.  I have run into snakes on hot, dry trails in summer on a few runs (like less than 10% of the time) but I am still so scared.  I’m really ashamed of it; my mom often hikes while I run and she’s all like “get over it!”   But I can’t.  Just seeing the snake sitting on the path in front of me makes me freeze up.  Plus, on a trail with a ton of hills, curves, and roots, I’m afraid I won’t see the snake in time to stop and I’ll step on it or get too close or something.  I totally avoid the trails in summer, actually, unless I feel really really brave.

Snakes are my biggest fear, more than being alone forever or men or having too many people around me.  They’re just so tangible.  I kind of had a tramautic episode with a snake as a child and ever since I’ve had this very real, visceral fear of them.  Yuck.  Any suggestions?

Okay, sorry for just talking about snakes for so long on my healthy living blog.  What’s your biggest fear?

Eats!

Breakfast: yogurt, banana, cinnamon in a pb jar topped with a few nuts (I picked the almonds off because I wasn’t in the mood).  I have to really be in the mood for almonds or it’s a no-go.  I’m glad I was able to recognize the fact that I really didn’t want them and therefore didn’t need to eat them.  Also had some British Breakfast tea with milk and honey.  I can’t decide which I like more in the mornings, British Breakfast or Green tea.  Do you have a favorite tea?

Lunch = SIAB!  Mandarin orange passion fruit smoothie from the bubble tea store.  Topped with yogurt, granola, and cashews/brazil nuts.  I bought a little single serving container of granola because I really wanted some but didn’t trust myself with a box.  That was a good choice because I went back for the rest (with a little chocolate soymilk) immediately after eating this (about half the granola was on the smoothie).  This was a very yummy lunch.  I think anything is more fun when it can be eaten with a spoon (see dinner).  I’m trying to cut back to one serving of dairy a day, like Caitlin.  I had two yogurts today though.

Snack was about a serving of these dried pineapple rings, which I actually like more than regular pineapple, consumed throughout the afternoon.  And a small unpictured apple.  He was very disappointing; no crunch whatsoever and a total lack of flavor.  Yuck.  Must get more apples at farmer’s market tomorrow.

Dinner: TJ’s carrot ginger soup (about two cups worth) that I caronae-ified with spinach, carrot-sweet potato-apple mixture, hummus, and steak.  This was a really wonderful combination.  I love big, veggie-filled one-bowl dinners.  Consumed entirely with a spoon.  The steak was the most tender, wonderful piece of meat I have ever cooked.  I was so proud of myself!

Dessert was his sweet, juicy, and very pink orange.

I didn’t run or workout today, i.e., it was a total rest day for me.  This feels so strange.  I definitely struggle with feelings of guilt when I do this but I haven’t completely rested in a while, it’s the end of the week, I’m tired.  So there.  I just have to remind myself that I am very physically active so much of the time that the occasional rest day is a good thing!  It’s weird how un-hungry I’ve been compared to usual.  I definitely feel like I did’t need to eat as much at all!

Okay, off to go watch Numb3rs (yes, I know how painfully nerdy I am) with a cup of tea.  Hope you’re having an excellent Friday night!

Any fun weekend plans? I plan on doing my last long run followed by a museum adventure!  It’s so nice to have a weekend in this wonderful city that isn’t going to be consumed by studying.

A Place Called Smoothieland

Daily Creativity: I plan on spending some serious quality time with my journal tonight.  Just me, my pen, and my endlessly bizzare thoughts.

Yoging:

I was *this* close to coming back to my room and vegging out with a book after my last class got out at six.  It was a looooonnnggg day and I was just happy I’d survived  But deep  down I knew my body had a lot of energy to burn off, which meant workout time!  I won’t lie, I was totally inspired by Cheryl from the Biggest Loser.  On last night’s episode she said something like “it felt really good to come back from a long day of working and just move.”  So true.

I ran downtown along the river; it was so lovely and mysterious in the dark (don’t worry, there were a lot of runners and bikers out in the early evening).  I did about 6.5 miles total with the following 35 minute speed workout thrown in the middle:

5 x (4 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy)

The four minute sections were basically half-miles.  It was hard but I also felt strong.  My legs were definitely ready to be done by the last one!  I ran all the way over to Yoga Vida for another advanced vinyasa class (I went to one last Friday too).  I didn’t love the teacher, but he did do a really nice and invigorating series of poses.  It really worked my upper arms — he had us going back and forth between upward dog and downward dog, coming in and out of crow, and doing a million chaturangas up to planks.  My arms were shaking.  Crazy hot handstand boy was totally there again and even crazier.  I know yoga is about looking inward, and I wasn’t comparing my abilities to him —  I’ll never have that kind of upper body strength — but it was fun to watch.  Today he went from a crow directly into a handstand and back down into crow then directly into chaturanga.  Amazing.

I ended my yoging adventure with a trip to Jamba Juice.  Why does JJ have to be right down the street from the yoga studio.  I was planning on going home and making a nice stir fry for dinner, but I was in the mood for a smoothie.  I’m not sure what’s up with this smoothie kick lately.  I think maybe I just get jealous of other blogger’s fun smoothie creations?

I had the mango peach meal thingy (i.e, it was topped with granola and banana).  So.  Nom. Nom. Nom.

When I got home I had dinner part dos, half a steamed sweet potato topped with flax pb and cinnamon.  Perfect!

Random, but the sweet and nutty flavors worked really together.

I got a steak at the farmer’s market the other day.  It was local, organic, and grass-fed.  My favorite.  I believe I paid nine dollars for it, which at the time felt expensive, but for two servings, that’s only $4.50 each.  I could probably get some really sketchy, low-quality, highly unethical ground beef for two or three dollars from the store.  But I don’t like my meat this way, plain and simple.  And I could probably eat that same steak at a restaurant for $25.  I won’t lie: I love meat — red meat, white meat, poultry, sea food.  I like it all.  I try to eat it in as ethical a manner as possible,but when it comes down to it, I believe that humans, especially carbohydrate-sensitive ones like myself, are meant to eatmeat.  There are many people for whom this does not work and I totally respect that!  But it works for me.

Glad I got that out there.  Now I can show you pictures of my lovely little steaks (which I pan seared until the smoke alarm was about to go off so I stopped.  They’re a wee bit rare, but I like them that way).

At first I wasn’t gonna talk about this because I know many of my readers are vegan or vegetarian or even raw and I don’t want to offend anybody, but then I remembered that this is my blog and we all have to make the health and dietary choices that work for us as individuals.  Do you eat meat?  If not, do you consciously seek out other protein options?

Long Run Sunday, Brunch, And Bison

Today’s Mini Goal: Call or email a friend I haven’t talked to in a while.  I always feel better when I keep in touch with the people I love; it makes me happy!

I had a happy little Sunday!  I hope you did too!

Started with a looonnngggg run.  I was only supposed to do ten miles but for some reason I could only imagine doing two loops of Central Park, so I made it a 14 miler, with three fast miles (haha, relatively speaking) at the end.  It was cold but still sweaty.  I felt really strong during the second loop; it seemed like I could feel my individual muscles working.  I felt powerful and lean and good!  I was happy about it.

Came back and made an excellent weekend brunch.  Weekend brunch is the best meal ever.  What’s your favorite thing to make on weekends?

I sauteed two slices of walnut raisin bread in coconut oil.  The oil gave it the perfect coconutty flavor.  I heated up a chopped pear and half a chopped apple with cinnamon in the microwave.  When the bread was warm and a bit crusty I topped it with the pear, part of a container of coconut yogurt and peanut butter.  Heaven.  In breakfast form.

Yesterday Sophia did a post about a stew that she made that reflects her name and her personality.  I think that my brunch and my dinner today both reflect me!  My brunch was the perfect combination of the familiar and the exotic; a new twist on an old classic.  I like to think I’m a classic woman, but also very unique, although I’m not sure I have proof of this.  The coconut in the breakfast added the perfect amount of sweetness and nuttiness; I’m not overwhelmingly kind or crazy, but they’re definitely there.  And warm fruit with cinnamon is such a delicious, happy thing.  I strive to be happy.  And, of course, everything was smothered in peanut butter, which adds flavor and depth to a meal.  I think I’m substantive, but also light when need be, just like peanut butter.  Yum.

After inhaling this pile of deliciousness I scooted down to Union Square for some more yoga at Yoga Shala; this time with my cousin.  The class wasn’t super challenging, which was just what I needed for today.  Pigeon pose has never felt so good.

Ate more food with my cousin afterwards at a cute vegan cafe.

The rest of the day has been full of lots of reading, nibbling, and a bit of relaxing.  Nibbles ranged from hot chocolate to dried pineapple to this masterpiece:

This, my friends, is a carrot tower and it is officially the most exciting way of eating vegetable in the entire world.  My carrots were jsut sitting on my plate, and although tasty, I wanted something more.  Suddenly, I thought, why not build a carrot cabin?  It turned out more tower-like than cabin-like, but nonetheless, it’s pretty cool. Simply remove carrots (or vegetables of choice) one at a time and dip them in a giant pool of almond butter,

Try not to topple it!

Oops.

If you have kids, or if you’re just a kid-like adult, you should try this.  I haven’t ever had this much fun eating my food, let alone eating healthy food!

My dinner was also special.  I guess today was just a special day of eats!

Salad of random mixed greens and shoots, roasted broccoli and chayote squash, and pan seared bison steak.  Topped with a sauce I made by combining about a tablespoon pumpkin butter and a teaspoon Annie’s  Goddess dressing.  Perfect.  I have nothing else to say about this meal.

Mmmmm.

I was really happy with the “trajectory” of my weekend.  I did a good job of making myself happy through the right combination of time spent with friends, time spent by myself, time spent out of my room, etc.  For me, this tends to be a very delicate balance.  A little too much time alone in my room and I start thinking nobody loves me; too many parties and I feel gross and overwhelmed.   Does anyone else experience a similar problem?  I like to have a rough outline of my weekend and plan a little bit of time with friends, but I also need to be flexible.  This plan seems to work best for me.

How was your weekend?  Any fun runs or events?  What was the best meal?

See you guys tomorrow!

Edited to Add: Oh my God, I think I just lost my beloved jar of honey almond butter.  I have looked everywhere.  I don’t know how I will go on.