Monday, September 30, 2013

Meal Prep Monday - Pumpkin Season

Happy Monday! I've been traveling a lot for work and haven't kept up with meal prep, so I made a big effort to get back on track this week and even prepped a little more than usual. And, because everybody's doing it it's that time of year, I used a lot of pumpkin!


I still can't get enough of oats in mason jars. They are just so easy to grab in the morning and eat at work since I am always late getting out the door. The macros on this version are pretty great (20 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber!) and I love the combination of pumpkin and fall spices. 

(one serving)

Calories: 373 | Fat: 9 g | Cholest: 0 mg | Sodium: 148 mg | Carbs: 55 g | Fiber: 13 g | Sugars: 20 g | Protein: 20 g

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup non fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1tsp stevia
1/4 cup oats
1 tbsp unsalted raw sunflower seeds
2 tbsp dried cherries
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup almond coconut milk
3 tbsp egg whites

Mix canned pumpkin, Greek yogurt, and spices together in a mason jar
Add in remaining ingredients, stir, and refrigerate overnight


I made two main dishes this week. First, I made The Lean Green Bean's Greek Yogurt Chicken. I followed the recipe pretty much as written (for once), and it turned out really well. It was a little more involved than my usual throw-some-chicken-in-the-crockpot method, but I think it was worth it to get a different taste.

For my second main dish, I made a pretty fantastic vegan pumpkin chili. I started off following The Iron You's recipe but ended up changing it quite a lot, including making it in the slow cooker. I really like how it turned out and will have a separate post up with the recipe soon. UPDATE: recipe is up here!


Somehow still not sick of my usual sides, so I baked up some zucchini, sweet potatoes, and spaghetti squash.


I'm a little behind schedule with my Fitness Blender 4 Week Fat Loss Program for Busy People after my work trip to NY (where I was busy pretending to be in the circus instead). This week I'm focusing on catching up with the program, as well as with my Zombies, Run! 5k training.

Monday: 2 Women's Rec League Volleyball games
Tuesday: Fitness Blender Workout Plan #9 
Wednesday: Fitness Blender Workout Plan #10, Zombies, Run! Week 2-2;
Thursday: Fitness Blender Workout Plan #11, Coed Rec League Volleyball
Friday: Fitness Blender Workout Plan #12;  Zombies, Run! Week 2-3
Saturday: Flag Football
Sunday: Indoor Volleyball Tryouts; Zombies, Run! Week 3-1

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Workout Wednesday - Beginner Silks at The Muse

I'm in New York this week for a work training and decided to take advantage of the tons of classes the city has to offer to try something completely new.

While I knew I wanted to try something new, I had no idea what kind of class I wanted to take and close to zero knowledge of New York City geography. To help narrow the field, I used GoRecess, which is kind of like the OpenTable of fitness.

It was really easy to find classes based on date and time, and to sort by type of class. The map view was also helpful, especially since I have a terrible sense of direction. After going through all the nearby options, I settled on beginner silks at The Muse Brooklyn and peer pressured my Williamsburg-based friend Sherri into coming with me.

(Image Source)

The Muse is a circus based community and artist collective which offers circus instruction blending physicality and creativity in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Aerial silks is a performance art where artists complete aerial acrobatics while hanging from lengths of suspended fabric. Getting all Cirque du Soleil requires mastering a variety of climbs, wraps, and poses that let you use the fabric to suspend, swing, and spin your body through the air.

The Class

I walked into The Muse with about 10 minutes until start time and no idea what to expect. Check in was easy and straightforward since we preregistered and prepaid online. The space is a converted warehouse with high ceilings that kind feels like your hipper starving artist neighbor's apartment. In addition to one large open class space with various eye beam hooks for aerial equipment and a tiny reception landing, the building also has two bathrooms/showers, cubbies for storing personal items and, oddly, a little kitchen where some of the artists were cooking dinner. After the previous class ended, the instructor hung two silks and we were ready to begin!

We got started with a quick jumping jack warm-up and then progressed stretches, some ab work, and push-ups. Nothing too unfamiliar, although we did do longer and deeper stretches than I'm used to. After the warm-up, we got to try the silks for the first time. The class was a mixture of levels, and my friend and I were the only first-timers, so our instructor Janine went back and forth between showing the three more advanced participants combinations to practice and teaching us the basics. 

During the hour-long class, we learned the simplest method for climbing the silk, as well as a more complicated method of climbing and a basic combination including a couple simple poses. We then ended with conditioning, which consisted of seated pull-ups using the silks. The class was physically very challenging for me, which is not surprising given my lack of both upper body strength and flexibility.  I could only get a couple feet up the silk, needed a lot of help from Janine to finally get the combination, and only managed about two seated pull-ups. Sherri (who can do MULTIPLE pull ups and has some rock climbing experience), did much better and was able to get farther along the progression, but still found the class physically tiring .

(Image Source)


Instruction: Janine gave clear instructions and was very patient. She did a good job of making us feel safe and comfortable (at least  as comfortable as possible knotted up in the air from  length of fabric). She also made sure that everyone (even me!) was able to experience some success and, with varying degrees of help, we all got to do something pretty cool for our skill level. 

Intensity: I'm not sure how many calories I burned, but this was definitely a pretty intense upper body workout and also challenged my flexibility and balance.

Cool factor: You're working to balance yourself in the air on elegant looking long pieces of fabric and can pretend to be in the circus. Some of your classmates are spinning upside down. This is a pretty big plus.


Difficulty: Silks are not easy, and it can definitely be a little discouraging to not be able to get anywhere or follow the instructor's directions.

Timing: The previous class ran a little late, and it took awhile to set up, so we started about 15 minutes late. We ended 15 minutes late as well, but I still like starting and ending on time.

Price: At $30 a class and $125 for a 5 class package, The Muse is definitely not cheap. However, Sherri tells me this is pretty reasonable considering the cost of gym memberships in NYC.

Bottom Line:

I had a lot of fun trying something so far outside of my comfort zone, got a great upper body workout, and really challenged my balance and flexibility. I don't think silks are my thing (mostly because I have trouble really enjoying things I am naturally terrible at) but I would highly recommend giving it a try to anyone who is looking for something new and cool. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Weekend Highlights - Vassar Volleyball Reunion

I'm in NY for a work training so I'm not meal prepping this week. If you need some inspiration, check out The Lean Green Bean's collection of weekly food prep pics, including one of mine!

Happy Monday! Anything exciting happen over this first fall weekend? I spent the weekend at Vassar reliving my collegiate athlete days and pretending to be a student again :)

Vassar College Women's Volleyball 2005-2007

Playing volleyball was one of the best parts of my college experience so I was really excited when our coach organized an alumni game for this weekend. Most of my class and a lot of the other girls I played with came up and it was really fun to catch up with everyone.

I took the bus and train up to good old Poughkeepsie Friday night. Saturday morning, a few of us took a stroll across the Walkway Over the Hudson, the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.

It was a beautiful day!


Afterwards, we took a walk down memory lane around campus, playing tourist and taking tons of pictures. One of my classmates may or may not have also lectured some poor undergrad about appreciating and making the most of her time at Vassar. Yes we were those people.

Our campus is so pretty!

And so are my classmates :)

After our walk, we headed over to the gym to watch the current team take on Kean University.

It was great to see our gym. Spent so much time here for four years of my life.

The girls won in 4 sets and played really well! And then they had to play us.

We ended up with a really strong team of 10 alums from the '06-'11 classes. With the exception of 2 girls, all of us had played together at least 1 year. We also had the all-time kills, blocks, and digs leaders on the floor (the last one = yours truly. yea I used to be kind of awesome). Unfortunately, we didn't win, but we did come close and it was actually a really high level and fun match. Not bad for a bunch of old ladies who haven't played together in years. There was a small reception (with food!) after where we had a chance to mingle more with our fellow alums and the current team.

All in all it was a great weekend and I can't wait to do it again. We are trying to make it a bi-annual event, so I think that means it's time to start training for 2015. Those young girls are going down next time!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Favs - Trader Joe's Finds

Happy Friday! I'm on a bus (with free WiFi!) for a weekend Vassar Volleyball reunion followed by a work training in NYC, so I'm just popping in with some recent finds at everyone's favorite specialty grocery store: Trader Joe's.

Almond Butter with Sea Salt

Ok so I know I'm probably the last fitness blogger out there to try this, but I finally tried this after finishing off my Whole Foods 365 brand almond butter. TJ's is so much better! I love the texture and the hint of salt really kicks the flavor up a notch. 

Coconut Water

I usually try to stay out of the beverage aisle (Way too much temptation. Have you had their mango green tea?) but this coconut water is worth the risk. I love the taste, but most importantly (if you're cheap like me) it's about a DOLLAR cheaper than the other brands I like. Just think what you could do with all those dollars saved! Like buy some Lululemon (after hundreds and hundreds of cartons).

Pumpkin Greek Yogurt

Pretty self explanatory but yes it's amazing.

Spaghetti Squash

I don't love TJ's produce (too expensive and limited) but every now and then they do have good deals on certain things, like this spaghetti squash. Also it comes with instructions! Really helpful if you are also the last fitness blogger in the world to try cooking with spaghetti squash.

Q: Any fun weekend plans? Any involving fun food? 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday - China Edition

As promised, here's a look at some of the food from my recent work trip to China. I tried to make healthy choices, but sometimes just had to eat the delicious, delicious fried street food. Mostly worth it! 


The hotel breakfast during week 1 was pretty limited so I mostly went with the Chinese breakfast staple of savory rice porridge, either plain or with egg, chicken, peanuts, or veggies. When breakfast wasn't included with my room, I mostly stuck with yogurt, almonds, and a banana.

My next hotel had egg white omelettes! At the same hotel, I figured out great go-to breakfast mixing "Chinese" and "Western" items from your typical big city reasonable hotel buffet. Baked sweet potato and pumpkin are normal Chinese breakfast items, and mixing them with yogurt, dried fruit, granola, and various other toppings from the cereal bar makes for a filling and pretty healthy breakfast. I love sweet potatoes for breakfast as you can tell from this week's meal prep overnight oats


I mostly ate lunch at offices or schools, which means a big bowl of rice with some kind of stir fried veggies and meat on top. When I did have a restaurant lunch and tried to order healthy-sounding menu items I didn't have great results. Exhibit A: Mostly parmesan, bacon, and crouton salad. Exhibit B: Omelette that unexpectedly came with a ton of cheese and french fries. The best (/most unhealthy) lunch I ate was probably the jian bing I picked up on my way to the Beijing subway on the far right. Jian bing is a fried savory crepe made with wheat flour, topped with an egg, and most often stuffed with crunchy fried dough, sausage, cilantro, and sweet thick soy sauce. Crunchy, salty, sweet, spicy, warm, and FRIED tasting all at the same time, I consider it a small miracle I only ate one this trip.


I didn't do a very good job of even attempting to eat healthy for dinner (lots of fried rice), but I did have a lot of delicious meals. The exception was the cheese and meat heavy room service salad in the middle. See any veggies? Me neither. My favorite meal was either hot pot (the top left picture is less than half of what ended up on our table) or the delicious fried potatoes and rou jia mou (fried meat sandwich) street food meal on the far right. I did have one good healthy meal, at the Jujube Tree vegetarian restaurant in Shanghai. Lots of fresh tasting imaginative veggie dishes cooked without a lot of oil, the best of which was the pictured lotus root, purple cabbage, snap pea, and pineapple dish.


I also consumed a dangerous level of caffeine during my trip. This included at least 4 cups a day of Nescafe during the first week while I was battling jet lag and without access to other caffeine options, a pretty good French press at Green House Coffee, and a lot of Starbucks.

Q: What have you been eating lately?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Meal Prep Monday - Feels Like Fall

Happy Monday! I'm so glad to be back home and meal prepping after a few weeks away. It also turned into fall while I was gone. What's up with that? I mean I love fall but it seems like time is moving so fast. Wasn't it just August?

Anyways, I was inspired by the changing season to make warm, comforting and fall flavored food for this week's meal prep.


When I was traveling, I got really into sweet potatoes for breakfast. Adding sweet potatoes, Trader Joe's awesome new pumpkin Greek yogurt, apples and cinnamon to the usual overnight oats makes for the perfect fall breakfast.

Makes 6 servings

Calories: 386 | Fat: 11 g | Cholest: 3 mg | Sodium: 168 mg | Carbs: 52 g | Fiber: 11 g | Sugars: 18 g | Protein: 23 g

1 1/2  cup oats
6 tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 cup almond coconut milk
18 tbsp egg whites
3 cooked chopped sweet potatos
2 containers Trader Joe's pumpkin Greek yogurt
1/3 container soft tofu
2 chopped small gala apples
6 tbsp cinnamon
6 tbsp unsalted raw sunflower seeds

Divide oats, chia seeds, almond coconut milk, and egg whites evenly into 6 mason jars and stir. 
Layer the sweet potatoes over the oats.
Blend the Greek yogurt and tofu until smooth. Pour over the sweet potatoes.
Layer apples over the sweet potatoes and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Top with sunflower seeds.


When I think of fall, I think of comfort foods, and meatballs definitely qualify for me. I followed Skinnytaste's crock pot meatballs recipe, adding a little extra vegetables and using beef broth instead of tomato sauce as my liquid. We had them over spaghetti squash "noodles" for dinner and they turned out pretty well.


I baked up a bunch of warm comforting sides including zucchini and yellow squash, sweet potatoes, and my first ever spaghetti squash.


Despite my best better than usual efforts, I feel pretty out of shape and a little squishy after being on the road for so long. To get back on track, I picked up Fitness Blender's 4 Week Fat Loss Program for Busy People. A part of the program, I completed the included personal fitness test. I love that this gives me a way to measure my progress besides the number on the scale. Here were my results:

1 Mile Run: 7:57 min
Push ups: 6 full, 20 half
Body weight squats: 82
Static plank: 1:25
Sit and reach: 1.4

I also downloaded and started using the Zombies, Run! 5k training app and started it during my trip so I'll be working some runs in too. Here's what I have planned this week:

Monday: Workout Plan #2
Tuesday: Workout Plan #3, Zombies Week 1-3
Wednesday: Workout Plan #4
Thursday: Workout Plan #5, Zombies Week 2-1
Friday: Workout Plan #6
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Workout Plan #7

Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm back! Work Travel Fitness Recap

Happy Friday everyone! I got back from a looong 3 week work trip to China last night and am SO glad to be back! I am fighting some serious jet lag (12 hour time difference is the worst!) but I thought I'd pop in with a quick recap of my efforts to stay fit during work travel.


Before I left for my trip, I downloaded the You Are Your Own Gym android app, printed out a bunch of Blogilates workouts, and succeeded in booking 3 (out of 7!) hotels with gyms. As a result, I worked out A LOT more than I ever have on a work trip before (i.e. a more than once. or never). Here's what I ended up doing.

I managed to work out 10 times in about 17 days. Not terrible, but not great either. I got pretty sick over the first weekend, which cut out a lot of the fitness time I had penciled in for the first part of the trip. I also only got in 5 cardio sessions, but since I've done serious cardio exactly zero times during previous work travel, I am pretty proud of this progress.  


I also walked some, but not as much as I was expecting to.

I only hit my 10,000 step goal 9 out of 17 days. Part of this was due to the sheer amount of time I spent on airplanes and buses, since my 17 days were spent in 7 different cities. However, I definitely could have made more of an effort to reach this goal.

Wrap Up 

Overall, I am really glad that I made the effort to stay fit during this trip. Exercising realy made a difference in my overall energy levels and helped me deal with the stress of being alone on the road for so long. However, I definitely feel a lot less fit than when I left and gained 3 pounds, although that probably has more to do with what I ate. So. Much. Rice. Anyways, for next trip I will try to:

-Get in at least 3 cardio sessions a week. To do this, I probably need to include some hotel-room appropriate (i.e. no jumping so I don't piss off my downstairs neighbors and get thrown out on the street) options. This will be a lot easier when I can access YouTube videos. Hotel room zumba sounds fun!

-Hit my step goal 3 out of 4 days. Looking up after dinner walking routes near my hotel would probably make a big difference.

-Workout 3 out of 4 days. I need to remember that any workout is better than no workout, even if I can only fit in 10-15 minutes. I think I would have come close to hitting this goal this trip if I didn't get sick the first weekend.

I took what feels like a hundred food pictures during the trip, so I'll be back in a separate post to go over what I ate. Until then, here's a pic of some yummy Beijing street food to tide you over :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More Winning! And It's Terrifying!

I won another blog contest! Woot! I love winning! But this time instead of a Reebok gift card I won a race entry from the great fitness blog Mindy's Fitness Journey. The only problem? It's for The Spartan Race, which is billed as the toughest and most brutal obstacle race out there. And I've never done an obstacle race before. In fact I have never done any race before. Ever. Unless you count field day. I'm pretty sure I remember rocking the potato sack race.

So why did I enter? Like I said, I really like winning, so I enter a lot of blog contests. Plus, I've been wanting to try signing up for a race to motivate me in my fitness goals. I may also have mostly done it to get an extra entry to the zombie run blog contest Mindy was running at the same time.

Even so, when I found out I won I was super excited (the whole obsessed with winning thing). But then I Googled Spartan Race training plans (like this one and this one), downloaded the official eBook and watched a bunch of race videos. And I was terrified.

In spite of my abject terror, I decided to use this awesome prize (worth over $100!) to motivate myself to be brave and sign up. But, because the free entry didn't have any time limits (thanks Spartan Race!) I copped out a little and signed up for one pretty far in the future.

So I am poop-in-your-pants-scared happy to announce that I am officially registered for the Spartan Sprint in Conyers Georgia on March 08, 2014. With the race over 6 months away, and now with the internets keeping me accountable, I hope to train hard enough to not die finish the race. I'll be posting updates about my efforts to prepare by doing things like running more than 3 miles without stopping and learning to do at least ONE pull up. Wish me luck!  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Favs - Fit Fashion

I love cute workout clothes! But then who doesn't? Here's some of the fitness fashion I've been loving lately. Warning: many selfies ahead. Also, I only have one selfie pose. And I really need to clean my mirror.

Run Eat Repeat Flowy Tank

Monica from Run Eat Repeat is one of my favorite fitness bloggers, and I recently discovered that she also makes really cute shirts! The fabric feels great and high quality, which I couldn't really tell from the pics online. The shirt is cut loose and long, which I love. And it's under $20! 

Lululemon Scuba Hoodie

This was a random gift from the bf and it's my first ever piece of Lululemon clothing! That stuff is freaking expensive! I can see why though because I LOVE this hoodie. It's super slimming, the fabric feels so nice, and it's one of the most flattering items I own. If I ever win the lotto or invent the next white out or something, you'll know because of the sudden influx of Lululemon into my wardrobe.

Old Navy Active Mesh-Bubble Tank

On the total opposite end of the price spectrum (i.e. where I normally hang out) have you seen Old Navy's active wear lately? This summer was my first time checking out the collection in a long time, and it's amazing! I picked up a bunch of tanks, some sports bras, and a cute jacket, all on sale. This top is probably my favorite. I love the color and the cut with the bubble hem and tie is super flattering and great for workouts because you don't have to worry about it riding up. It's also only $17!

Reebok Crossfit Nano 3.0

I got these with a Reebok gift card I won from a great giveaway run by Workout Mommy. Since I got the shoes about a month ago (you can check out my review here) I have gotten so much use out of them and I still love them. They are a little pricey, but if you are in the market for some high quality cross trainers and they are in your budget I would highly recommend them.

Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any of the above brands. If anyone wants to send me free workout clothes to review or for any other reason, I'm all for it!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

DietBet Wrap Up: Winning!

As I mentioned in one of my first posts, part of the reason I started this blog was to keep myself accountable during my DietBet. So, how did it turn out? Well, if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you probably know that I won!

To win, I had to lose 4% of my body weight, or 5.5 pounds. When I started, this sounded like a crazy goal to me. So, how did I make it?


I have been using MyFitnessPal to count calories for almost 6 months. I have a love-hate relationship with calorie-counting. I find it really annoying and time consuming, but it's the only thing that has ever helped me actually lose weight.

For the DietBet, I didn't follow any specific diet plan but just kept counting calories. I did lower my daily net calorie goal (calories eaten minus calories burned during exercise) to 1300.

Workout Consistency

I followed the Blogilates July workout calendar (see my review here) and was really good about sticking to it. That meant I was working out at least 6 days a week for about an hour a day, with a good mix of cardio and strength workouts. I also added in some of The Betty Rocker 30 day challenge workouts,  a run or two on the weekends, and played in doubles volleyball tournaments.

No Cheating

I think the biggest success factor for me was not having any "cheat days" during the DietBet. This didn't mean I never had days where I ate something deliciously diet-unfriendly or had drinks out with friends (check out my Instagram for photographic evidence). But it did mean that I didn't have any days where I didn't worry about my net calorie goal. So if I knew I had a happy hour with friends, I would put in some time on the treadmill in the morning so I could still meet my goal. I also did try to make smarter choices, like drinking vodka tonics and light beers instead of margaritas and mojitos, which was not fun.

Wrap Up 

So, what did I think of the whole experience? From a financial standpoint, I ended up winning $24 and change. So not a very large monetary reward. For me, the threat of losing $50 was a strong enough motivator on its own, but I definitely wouldn't join a DietBet for the cash. 

Money aside, I did find setting and publicly declaring a goal, making a plan to reach that goal, sticking with it and succeeding rewarding in itself. It was a really great feeling to know that I could achieve what seemed to me like a really difficult and ambitious goal.

However, in terms of fitness and weight loss, doing the DietBet definitely didn't have a significant long term impact. One of the reasons I waited so long to write this post was that I'm lazy I wanted to see what happened to my body after the bet ended. I weighed in at 138.2 pounds and weighed out under 132, which is probably the lightest I've ever been in my adult life. However, with the pressure off, I put half of the weight back on almost immediately. My pants don't feel any tighter, and all my new skinny clothes still fit so I'm not too upset, but it does feel like all that effort was a little bit wasted.

(Image Source)
So, was it worth it? I think so. Would I do it again? Probably not. I didn't like having to think about weight loss ALL the time, and also really don't like being that focused on the scale. Just like with my August Workout Calendar, I've also tried to find a little more balance with my diet and focusing on things beyond the number on the scale like my strength and fitness level. And no matter how it turns out, I'll let you know how it goes :)