Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekly Review

So I had a pretty good workout week in contrast to last week :) Not being sick definitely helped.  There was no knee pain!  Since my long run didn't work out that well last week I decided to just concentrate on shorter runs this week.  I figure that this close to the 10 miler, additional long runs aren't actually helping that much.  And since I've gotten one 10 miler in I know I can do it.

Monday - Yoga

Tuesday - Rest

Wednesday - I was planning to meet my training group.  Instead of meeting at the track this week, they were planning to meet at a local trail and do hill repeats.  But it was supposed to rain starting Wednesday evening and I didn't want to risk not being able to run in case the rain started early.  So I decided to go run on my own in the neighborhood.  And we have hills here so I just did about a 1mile warm up and then did a couple hill repeats.

Thursday - I ran on the treadmill at the gym.

Friday - Rest day

Saturday - I had signed up for a 5k out in Virgina with a friend.  It was a fun community race and I'll put up a re-cap a bit later.  It was out in Clifton so my friend and I decided to just stay out at a hotel near the race Friday night so we had a nice little girl's night to catch up before the race.  We kept the alcohol in moderation. Saturday morning, I got up and ran on the treadmill at the hotel and then we went out to the 5k.  We had a great time and the run went well.

Sunday - I did yoga in the morning and then we went to the Renaissance Festival again so lots of walking.  I also did some strength training in the evening. 

So the plan for this week is running on Monday, yoga on Tuesday, running on Wednesday, rest on Thursday and Friday and then my first 10 mile race on Saturday!  I've got to fit in packing at some point too since this will be my first racecation.

I hope you all have a great week too!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five Fall Favorite Activities

Woohoo, it's Friday and I have less than a week to go until we are at Disney World.  This day next week I'll be picking up my packet for the Tower of Terror 10 miler :) But in the meantime, it is time for the Friday Five link up with Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney. The theme for this week is five favorite fall activities.

I have a love hate relationship with Fall.  I love the slightly cooler weather and declining humidity but I hate that it signals the coming of Winter.  Nevertheless, there are lots of wonderful things about it and here are five of my favorites.

1.  Breaking out the Fall fashion -  Fall fashion is probably my favorite of the year.  I like the light sweaters, boots, and fun scarves without have to go through the full on bundling up that Winter requires.

Not ready for this yet!

2.  Basketball - The Wizards start playing in October and Georgetown starts playing in November.  I love watching basketball and going to games in person when we can.  And last year was the Wizards' first play off run in quite some time so I'm looking forward to them being able to continue that good run this year.

3. Vacation - We almost always take vacation in the Fall.  The weather still tends to be decent in most places, most places aren't as busy because school is back in session, and we have had time to save up some vacation days. We're leaving for this year's vacation next week and we've already begun planning next Fall's vacation.

Our Fall vacation to India a couple years ago.

4. End of season grilling and fire pits - I tend to get desperate to enjoy the last of the good weather in Fall before Winter sets in.  This includes more outdoor cooking and having friends over to relax on our back patio.  And it's a great time to pull out the fire pit as the evenings begin to cool.

5. Walks with the falling leaves - I live in a neighborhood with lots of beautiful trees and they are especially gorgeous in the Fall.  I love walking around and seeing all the colors even if it makes me a little sad to know the trees will soon be bare.

I hope that all of you are having a wonderful Fall so far!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

DDP Yoga

Ok, so I've mentioned in a couple weekly review posts that I've been doing DDP Yoga so I thought I'd go ahead and review my thoughts on it as I've been doing it for a couple months now.

DDP is Diamond Dallas Page and he's a former professional wrestler.  Mike was actually the one who first brought this to my attention.  Mike is a huge wrestling fan, as is another friend of ours.  Mike has been wanting to do yoga for a while but he didn't enjoy the yoga class he went to with me nor did he enjoy any of the videos we did at home.  He said they all made him feel too uncoordinated and that like yoga just wasn't for him.  Also, some of them were a little too heavy on the spirituality when he really was more interested in the physical benefits of the practice.

That's when our friend mentioned DDP Yoga to him.  She let us borrow one of the DVDs and Mike and I started doing it together.  He enjoyed it so much that we went ahead and bought our own set. Before I get further into my opinions about the DVDs, I want to share a video from DDP's site about a gentleman named Arthur that they helped re-claim his health.  This video is so inspirational and I definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it.

Arthur was looking for assistance getting healthy and sadly, many yoga instructors actually turned him away.  But DDP agreed to help and the results are spectacular.  And Arthur isn't the only person that DDP assisted with his version of yoga.  In fact, he has a whole page of inspirational stories on his website.

So what is it? Here is the information from the website.  "DDP YOGA combines the very best of Yoga, Traditional Fitness, Sports Therapy and Dynamic Resistance to create one of the most effective fitness plans in existence today.  It allows anyone to get an amazing cardio workout while improving muscular strength, dramatically increasing flexibility and strengthening the core in a single workout... all with minimal joint impact!"

As I mentioned above, Mike really enjoys the DDP yoga and I love that he's getting the physical benefits of it.  He likes that it comes with a training plan that tells you exactly which workout to do on a certain day.  There are three different training plans, beginner, intermediate and advanced.  Mike likes that it is pretty much all about the physical benefits of yoga without the "woo" aspect.  He likes that the beginning workouts truly seem like they are meant for beginners.  There are multiple places where DDP says it's ok to shake, it's ok to fall, just pick yourself up, try again and you'll get better at it. He doesn't pretend it was effortless and he makes you realize that it's ok for this to feel like hard work.

In addition, the workouts are aimed at people who have no background or exposure to yoga and are meant to be attractive to people who might have felt uncomfortable at the traditional language of yoga.  The original name of the yoga program was YRG yoga, which stands for Yoga for Regular Guys.  He even goes so far as to change some of the names of the poses.  Child's pose is "safety zone" and there are additional poses called things like "touchdown," "superstar," "lightning bolt" and "huddle up."  I think you get the idea.

There are three different DVDs each with multiple workouts. Some of them are focused on a certain body part like abs or below the belt and some of them are focused on a certain feeling like energy or wake up.

So what do I think?  I think these are very appealing to a certain demographic that may have felt that yoga was not accessible in the past.  I love that it's spreading the physical benefits of yoga beyond the traditional demographic. I like that the models he uses are a variety of body types and always both genders. DDP's demeanor is very welcoming and comfortable and he really makes you believe that anyone can do this.  Which is great because anyone can do this! The range in difficulty between the beginner and advanced workouts is really good.  And even some of the workouts on the first DVD are challenging.  There are a lot of squats, planks, and pushups!  The things I don't like are mostly personal preference and because I am not the target demographic.  I feel like some of the names are silly and it's strange to me to hear traditional yoga poses referred to in sports terms.  And I can't figure out why some names were changed.  For example, corpse pose is called dead man.  Umm... is that manlier for some reason? And I also feel like there a lot of benefits to yoga beyond the physical.  If you are looking for any of the mental benefits of yoga such as stress relief, this is not the place to find them.

But overall, I think this is a great workout program and the inspirational stories on his website are better truth than anything I can provide as to the effectiveness of the workout.  If you haven't enjoyed yoga in the past or found it alienating, I would definitely say give this a try.  And if you are just starting out, this is absolutely low barrier to entry. If you are already a yoga fan, this is probably not meant for you. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - September Bestowed Box

It's time for another Tasty Tuesday link up with Lean Lena. It's a great link up that usually has some really interesting recipes so definitely check it out if you can. Our kitchen renovation started this week so no cooking for me for a couple weeks. But I do have a review of the Bestowed Box we received in September.

I've talked about the Bestowed Box before but in short, it's a monthly subscription box with samples of snacks and other food related (usually) items.  From their website... "Join Bestowed and each month we'll send 7-10 of the best healthy snacks, beverages, and lifestyle items straight to your door. Every product we feature is carefully selected by our team of experts led by nutritionist Heather Bauer."

 Here is what the box looks like when it arrives.  It is $20 per month but if you sign up for three months or 6 months at once, you receive a little bit of a discounted price.

Again, the box was a mix of good and bad this month. Here is the write up you get with the bid detailing the contents.

And here's a photo of the goodies.

The Justin's chocolate almond butter was delicious but had a slightly grainy texture.  The package instructions did say to squish it around before opening so the texture might just have been because I didn't mix it up enough in the package.  The Balance Bare sea salt caramel nut bar was also delicious.  It tasted really dense and decadent and seemed like a real treat at the end of a heard day. The Bitsy's Brainfood cookies were better than I thought they would be.  They're not going to satisfy a craving for a chocolate chip cookie but they were slightly sweet and really filling.  I definitely see these as being a good healthy snack option.

The really intriguing thing in the box was a code for $40 off a HelloFresh Box.  I had never heard of these before so I went and checked out the website and I definitely think this is something I'll try out with the discount code.  It's a box where you get recipes and all the ingredients for three meals for the upcoming week delivered to you.  You can choose whether you want two servings or four servings per meal. They have a regular option where you have some choice as to the meals you get and a vegetarian option where you don't have a choice. I'm looking forward to trying this out once I have a kitchen again.

The bad in this box...the Supereats Kale and Chia chips.  I really did not like the flavor of these.  I like kale chips you make at home which are just seasoned kale cooked until crispy.  These were something else and had a weird musty taste :( there was also a bottle of Qure water.  The explanation talked about the minerals infused in it and the fact that it had the perfect ph balance but I didn't notice anything different with it. There were also tablets to put in yr water that supposedly inspire calm but I didn't try these.

So that's this month's box.  I have one more to go and I'll probably cancel my subscription after that. The boxes have introduced me to some tasty brands but I don't think the subscription would be worth it for me at full price.  I'll wait to see the October box before making up my mind.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekly review

Well, this is going to be a short weekly review.  Because I only worked out one day last week.  As I mentioned in my Friday Five post, I was sick for a lot of last week.  I thought I might be able to do some yoga or something Friday or Saturday, but it didn't happen.  So all I have is my Sunday run.

And it did not go well.  My training group was running at a location that was pretty far from me, about an hour drive according to Google Maps.  I'm sure it was beautiful but I just didn't want to go out that far.  So I decided to head back to the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda.  I was supposed to do 11 miles so my plan was to go 3 miles out and then 3 back so I could re-fill my water and then do another 5 miles to total 11.

Well, that didn't happen.  My knee hurt starting out but then settled down and started to feel better after a mile or so.  However, it started hurting again around mile 4 or 5.  My right foot started cramping around that time too.  And I had a really hard time with my breathing, which was probably left over from the illness.  I was surprised by the knee because I had rested it all week!  Maybe that's why it was having difficulty?  Anyway, I stopped at the 6 mile point.

I figure at this point, I'm ready for my 10 mile race in Disney World the first weekend of October.  I didn't want to push things and injure myself so close to the race. My plan between now and October 4th is to just do 3-4 runs during the week of shorter distances and more strength training.  And I'll finish getting ready for the Richmond half when I come back from Disney. 

The good news is that it has been a long time since I had a run this bad.  I felt good during last week's 10 miles and I felt good during the several runs before that.  I guess we all need a bad run every now and again to remind us that running is supposed to be hard.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Five favorites

Hi, guys.  I meant to blog more this week but I've been sick since Tuesday night :( Thankfully, I'm beginning to feel a lot better and actually left the bedroom this morning! It's funny how that becomes a big deal when you've been sick for a couple days.  I'm better just in time for the The Friday Five with Mar, Cynthia and Courtney.  

The theme for this week is favorites, which is perfect as I think about all the things I'm thankful for after spending a couple days being sick.

1. Tea - I am so thankful that I had a collection of tea as it has been delightful for my sore throat and helped to make sure I kept drinking fluids. I've been loving this ginger lemon flavor. I used to be a tea snob and think only loose leaf tea was good, but tea bags are so easy! Sometimes you want tea without it being a production.

2. Cozy bedroom - I'm glad that we have a comfortable and cozy bedroom with really nice bedding.  Sometimes I feel like it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend a lot of money on your bedroom when you're asleep most of the time you're there but I really appreciated it this week!

3. Kitties - they seem to have realized that I'm sick because they have been so sweet and affectionate this week. They're fighting even seems to be at a minimum. Not completely gone of course, since they are cats, but they seem to be making an effort for me :)

They also put aside the fighting when there is a common enemy in the form of a squirrel outside the window

4. Books - I would have been so bored for my awake hours if I hadn't had good reading material.  I've really been loving Brandon Sanderson's books lately.  I read his Mistborn series a while ago based on a recommendation from my brother and since then I've read Steelheart and am working my way through The Way of Kings.  They've all been really good and they all have a very distinct feel. I also love e-books because you can get new reading material without having to leave the house!

5. And of course, I'm thankful for my hubby.  He's made sure I have actual food for dinner (I had pop tarts for breakfast and lunch yesterday because that's all the effort I felt capable of) and has taken charge of packing up the kitchen for the start of our renovation next week. I would definitely have been much worse off this week without him.

I hope you've all been having a much better week thank I have. I haven't worked out at all this week but am hoping to maybe be able to do some gentle yoga today to get my body used to moving again and maybe a short run tomorrow if I'm better.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekly review

I hope that everyone had a wonderful weekend! Mine went pretty well :) Here's a summary of my workouts this week.

Monday - rest day
Tuesday - I meant to take my regular yoga class at work but forgot to take work out clothes. So I ended up doing some strength training exercises at home that evening.
Wednesday - my knee was hurting some this week so I ended up skipping speed work at the track and did 45 minutes on the elliptical instead.

Thursday - I started out doing a mile on the treadmill but my knee started hurting so I switched over to the elliptical which was easier on my knee.

Friday - I did a yoga video as well as a 15 minute abs workout.
Saturday - rest day plus walking around the renaissance festival. We saw this great acrobatic act called Barely Balanced.

Sunday - this was my first run with double digit mileage! 10 miles done. I did most of it with a friend from the running group and around mile 8, she told me she was done and to go ahead and finish up on my own as she wanted to slow down. This was on the capital crescent trail from Bethesda to Fletcher's Boat House. It was a downhill on the way out and an uphill on the way back, which sucked. But I still managed to pick it up a bit for mile 8 and 9. Overall, I'm really happy with how this run went even though I'm sore at the moment. 

I'm looking forward to a fairly calm week at work, I hope.  Monday will be a much needed rest day.  Tuesday will be yoga at work.  Wednesday will be running.  More yoga on Thursday, a run on Friday, a rest day on Saturday and an 11 mile long run on Sunday. I hope you're week is looking good as well :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Five - Blog posts

I hope that everyone's week is ending well!  It's Friday again and I'm excited to be linking up with Mar, Cynthia and Courtney again for the Friday Five link up since I missed it last week.  This week's theme is blogs to follow but I have so many blogs I love reading that I don't think I could pick only 5.  Instead, I'm going to post about 5 blog posts I've read recently that I feel have been really helpful.

1.  My feet have been starting to fall asleep in my older pair of running shoes and I will probably be retiring them soon.  *Sniff* But I was doing some research and came across this great post about different ways to lace your running shoes to help alleviate problems.  I had no idea that lacing your shoes differently could have so many results! I found this post to be super helpful and I'm going to try a couple of these out to see if it helps.

2.  In addition to being one of the hosts of this link up, Courtney gives great blogging tips and I really enjoyed her recent post on tips for avoiding writer's block.

3. I'm always looking for tips in order to try to run smart and increase my mileage in such a way as to minimize chances of injury.  This post from Runner's World last year has great tips and details.  It doesn't just say to strength train but provides lots of specific exercises to try.  It doesn't just say improve your form but provides lots of information on specific things to look for in your form. I've really been trying to make an effort to pay attention to my form and I think it's helping, though I definitely slip toward the end of my runs.  Always a work in progress :)

4.  I'm not at the point where I'm really concentrating on speed.  I'm working on increasing mileage and improving my endurance at the moment.  But I found this post from Merrell on improving your speed to be really interesting.  I like that it's not just about speedwork but also talks about things like motivation, planning and rest.

My kitties definitely have the rest part down!

5.  Lastly, Nicole at Fitful Focus has a fun series on finds from around the web that I really enjoy.  She always has great finds to share. 

I hope that you all have a great weekend ahead of you :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Plantain Moqueca

I am so happy to be back to a relatively normal routine and being able to cook again.  I'm taking full advantage of it since I don't know how long I'll have a kitchen since we'll be in renovation mode soon. So here's a recipe I made this week for the Tasty Tuesday link up with Lean Lena.

I enjoyed my trip to Brazil but I was a little worried about the food since I know it tends to be a meat heavy cuisine.  I wasn't sure what I would be able to eat as a vegetarian.  Thankfully I never went even close to being hungry but there was one dish that really stood out and I knew I wanted to try to recreate it.

Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian fish stew.  One of the restaurants I had dinner at served a vegetarian version that used plantains instead of fish. Here is the description of moqueca from Wikipedia:  "Moqueca is a Brazilian recipe based on salt water fish stew in coconut milk, tomatoesonionsgarlic, coriander and some palm oil (dendê)." 
There are two versions, one from the state of Bahia and one from the state of Espírito Santo.  My understanding is the Bahia version has coconut milk and the other one doesn't. I looked at several recipes for vegetarian moqueca online but none really spoke to me or seemed similar to what I had in the restaurant. So I decided to experiment and make my own version.  It's not authentic but it is delicious! 
Makes 6 servings
4 ripe plantains
2 tbsp vegetable oil (it's traditionally palm oil but I didn't have any)
Crushed red pepper (The seasonings are all to taste since I was playing it by ear)
Smoked paprika
1 onion
1 bell pepper
3 cloves garlic (I used garlic powder but fresh garlic would definitely be better)
Chopped broccoli (I just threw this in because I had broccoli that needed to be used and the recipe is versatile enough to just add in veggies that you have on hand)
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of cannelini beans
1 15 oz can of light coconut milk
Juice of one lime
Chopped parsley (supposed to be cilantro but Mike hates it with a passion so I use parsley instead)
Salt and pepper to taste
I started out by chopping the plantains into approximately 1 inch thick slices and searing them on both sides for about 3 minutes on each side. You want them to be nice and carmelized. I actually did this the day before putting the rest of the stew together.

I heated up the vegetable oil in a large pot with crushed red pepper flakes and smoked paprika over a low heat to make kind of a flavored oil.  Next, I chopped the onions, peppers, and broccoli. The vegetables in the stew I had at the restaurant were fairly substantial sized pieces so I did the same. It was a rustic style dish. I sautéed the veggies in the flavored oil (the garlic would go in here too if you use fresh garlic) for about 5 minutes over medium heat. I then added the can of tomatoes and the beans. It looked like it needed more liquid so I filled the empty can of tomatoes with water and added that in as well.  I added in salt, pepper and garlic powder.  I brought it to a boil and let all of that stew together until the brocolli was tender, about 10-15 minutes. 
I turned the heat to low and added in the coconut milk and the plantains back in.  I cooked it on low heat and stirred until the plantains were heated through again.  I finished the dish with squeezing lime juice on it and throwing in chopped parsley. I served it with rice.

The dish was a hit with Mike and while it wasn't a perfect recreation of the restaurant dish, I definitely enjoyed it. Have you ever tried to recreate something you ate at a restaurant without a recipe?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Weekly review

I'm back from camping and back from Brazil and ready to get back into blog world a bit :) I had a productive time in São Paulo but it was mostly work. I had one day free of work and managed to take a city tour that day as well as hang out a bit by the pool. The travel was exhausting though as it was around a 14 hour flight and included an overnight on the plane.  Therefore, I only got one run in while I was there and it was pretty short.

Monday - rest day, left to go to Brazil

Tuesday - rest day but I got some walking in on the city tour

Wednesday - treadmill at the hotel gym.  It confused me a bit since it was in kilometers and not miles so I was kind of guessing at speed.  This is around 1.7 miles so around a 16 minute per mile pace (I think).

Thursday - rest day as it was a full day of meetings and then another overnight flight home.

Friday - rest day since I was exhausted by the time I got home around noon.

Saturday - DDP yoga plus an extra core workout video. I still feel it in my abs whenever I laugh or cough!

Sunday - it was a recovery week on my training plan so it was a 7 mile run.  I can't believe that I almost said "only" 7 miles.  Who am I?!?  This run went really well.  We started at 6:30am so it was fairly cool. I forgot my knee brace and was a little worried when I began to feel twinges in my left knee and hip, but after the first mile I felt good and was able to do the whole run with my planned intervals and no extra walk breaks.  I feel like the core and leg PT exercises have really helped with this!  I was really happy with today's run and pace, even though it was a hilly route and there was a tree across the road at one point.  I'm feeling confident going into my first double digit run next weekend.

I hope everyone has a good week ahead of them!  I'm going to be playing catch up at the office but hoping to do yoga on Tuesday, run on Wednesday and Thursday, yoga on Friday, walking at the Renaissance  Festival in Saturday and my 10 miler Sunday.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekly review

It's been a busy but good week and leading into another one.  I'm just stopping in for a quick update on my workouts last week.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - rest day

Wednesday - track workouts.  I couldn't quite figure out the right pace for this weeks speed work.  It was supposed to be 2 sets of 2000 (or 5 laps around the track) with 2 to 3 minutes of rest in between. I definitely went out too fast on the first set and couldn't really finish the second set.  I ended up doing 1 set of 2000, 1 set of 800, and 1 set of 400.

Thursday - yoga class.  The teacher started the class by saying she was pushing her boundaries and making herself uncomfortable so she planned to do some of her least favorite poses in the class!  It was definitely an interesting class.

Friday - this was the day we left for our camping trip so there was some hiking in the afternoon.  I met and exceeded my goal of 10,000 steps per day.

Saturday - quick run around the camp ground with a friend in the morning plus lots of walking during the day.  This was a super hilly run.

Sunday - did my long run with a friend at a trail at Susquehana state park.  It was a fairly easy trail that went along the Susquehana river.  It was mostly flat, dirt and gravel or wooden boardwalk.  This was around 9 miles and I'm excited to say I felt pretty good both during the run and afterward!

I'm on a work trip this week so am not sure how my workout are going to go.  I'm going to try to at least get 2 runs in during the trip and will be back in time for my long run on the weekend.  Hopefully I can fit in some yoga during the trip too.

I hope everyone has a great week!