Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Building Confidence

Monday means back to Double Light after weekend rest! It was nice to be off work and to be able to do the workout during the day instead of the evening after work.  I think I prefer my trainer didn't take these pictures, but since he did, here they are. Most of the exercises incorporated body weight...ooohh, I can't wait until I have a smaller body. My trainer made a makeshift step from a huge book and a towel. (It worked okay, but I think we will be ordering a real one if he keeps scheduling step-up type exercises.) In the first picture, I am essentially marching and pumping my arms as I step up on one side (then I turned around to step up with the other side). In the second picture, wall push ups (another modification for this not ready for "real" push-ups girl). Finally, the third picture is "box jumps". My "box" is probably only 3.5 inches tall, but when you are jumping up a whole body like mine it seems much taller and takes some concentrated effort. Box jumps are very much a mental challenge as well the physical challenge. Most of the time I had to have my trainer stand right next to me...I was convinced I would fall (I didn't.) I felt pretty good about this workout and I do feel like I am pushing myself in a way I wouldn't do if I were working out alone.
Lunch was my lettuce wraps. This time I used the leftover cold salmon. It was very tasty. I always love looking at my plate when I have lettuce wraps - the colors make me smile.

Monday afternoon I spent a little time in my very neglected garden. I don't know why, but I just haven't gotten into gardening this spring like normal. My planting is very minimal. I moved my tomatoes to the raised beds. I have been super disappointed in my tomatoes the last couple years and felt I need to try something different. So far they are growing very well.
These random tomatillo plants grew up by themselves from last year's plants. I was quite surprised. Last year my tomatillo plants looked great - tons of flowers, but minimal fruit. Hopefully, I will be in the salsa verde business this summer :)  I pulled all my radishes, spinach and lettuce. I replanted a couple rows of lettuce, but I want to get some different spinach seed.
My herbs are all over the place this year. I have a bumper crop of cilantro. I wish there were a good way to preserve it, but dried cilantro just doesn't have good flavor. My cilantro is always ready before my tomatoes, so this year I am going to try to do a second planting and hopefully it will coincide with ripe tomatoes. We do love our pico de gallo!
These dill plants were volunteers from last year too. It was a nice surprise. There was also quite a bit of dill growing in the yard, I picked and used some of it between mowings. I bought some other herbs to plant in this bed...and then I waited two long and most of them died :(  I was able to salvage a thyme plant and some basil - sorry tarragon, thai basil and someone else I can't remember.
I wanted to have some herbs closer to the house. Sometimes when I am cooking, I am a bit too lazy to go all they way out to the garden. I planted some in a pot on the deck by the grill - rosemary, basil and a lime basil. The lime basil died already, but the others are doing well. I've used it several times which indicates the convenience factor is working. My mother-in-law gave me this flamingo solar light. Sometimes it still freaks me out when I take the dogs out at night. I do a double take when I see pink light out of the corner of my eye.
I have been taking my lunch to work faithfully the last couple of weeks. I have only eaten out when invited by someone else (a former co-worker, my boss and my niece). Yesterday's lunch was a bit of mish mash - not well planned. I definitely got my fruits and veggies in!!

I saved the almonds and strawberries for a late afternoon snack. Those berries look amazing, but man, were they tart!   The snack did keep me from gnawing off my arm before dinner, so that is a win. For the record, I chose to eat my prepared (nutritious) snack over the chips that were calling me, so double win.
I confess I did NOT want to do my workout last night. I had been moving and cleaning stuff at work most of the day and was already tired and sore. Office Purge 2017 - Just a tip of the binder iceberg. There has to be a couple hundred and I still have may more to empty and move. I hope someone will want to reuse some of them.
I was also pretty hungry (possibly hangry) by the time I got home. I quickly prepared my potatoes for the oven so they could roast while I snuck in my workout. On the agenda last night....Bumps and Jumps, "Jr."  I think the name is borrowed from my husband's program, but heavily modified for me, hence the "jr.". The planned workout was 5 burpees followed by 7 box jumps to be completed in two minutes and then repeated for a total of three circuits. Any time not used to complete a task became rest time.

The burpees were pretty much a fail. I tried the first one and had a sharp pain in my upper left leg near the hip. I was super frustrated because although I didn't want to do them I was determined to do my best and not be a baby. My trainer ended up subbing 7 push-ups for the burpees. I tried to do one regular push-up, but couldn't quite get it, so we switched to modified knee push-ups. I can tell I am getting a bit better already. On the last circuit I surprised my trainer by trying the burpees again. (I know, who is this girl??)  I managed 4 super ugly burpees, but at least I have a baseline to improve upon. And yes, I am hoping they don't show up again on my schedule any time soon. I didn't have the pain when I tried the burpees later so maybe I just need to do other things before I attempt them to be loosened up.

One thing I have noticed in the last week is my confidence is increasing. A couple of times I have found myself trying to move things I previously would have called in someone else's muscles to do. For example, my husband put our hammock up on the deck while he mowed. (It is on a large metal frame). He was gone when I wanted to use it. Instead of waiting for him to get home, I moved it myself.
Yesterday at work, I moved some heavy desktops by myself. Neither of those tasks were easy but I tried and I succeeded. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to turn in my "Princess Delicate Flower" title and do all my own work, but it is nice to know I can in a pinch :)

Happy Wednesday!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

It Gets Better

So, after all my whining at the beginning of last week, I finished strong in the workout department Thursday and Friday.

Thursday evening I came home from work and knocked out my strength training workout. The highlight of the workout was...drum roll, please...I managed 6 push ups (girl/modified)!!! That is twice what I did the previous time push ups were on the list last week. It was exciting. I actually got several compliments from my trainer on my form and even on my attitude :)

Friday, I was off work so I could do a morning workout. My trainer talked me into going to the gym with him at 4:30 a.m. (on my day off!!)  He had a challenge to complete for his workout program. He had to complete 20 circuits of the following: 10 push ups, 10 squats, 10 jumping jacks and 5 inverted rows. He had 1 minute to complete each circuit - if he finished early he could have the remainder of that minute to rest. Most circuits he had 12-16 seconds to rest.

We made a little video of one imagine doing this 20 times!!

After he finished his challenge, we got busy on my workout. It was a little after 5a when we got started, so I was almost awake. We made this "ladder" out of tape a couple months ago. He has used it many times, but this was my first attempt. It is about 10 yards long. Each exercise was to go up and down the ladder doing different foot work.

First up, the NFL shuffle down and back.

Then the Ickey Shuffle down and back. You might remember this recent Geico commercial. Ickey Woods was a Cincinnati Bengals running back in the late 80s-early 90s (before my football fan time). Apparently, his touchdown "dance" became quite a sensation. Click here for more on the Ickey Shuffle  (#9 on the Top Ten End Zone Celebrations).
After each circuit, gasp for air, get a little drink of water...and repeat four more times. During the third circuit I didn't think I was going to make it. But somehow I got a second wind I guess. My trainer later told me that he had planned to stop me after the fourth, but didn't because he thought I had rallied. A huge challenge for me was getting my feet to go the right way. It wasn't really complicated steps, but when so much of your brain is focused on breathing, the feet just go every which way.

I admit I was relieved to have the workout finished for the day (and actually the weekend, since Saturday/Sunday are rest days).  I had planned to work in a least one walk, but that didn't happen.

Friday evening I had a relative I'd never met before coming over. I spent most of Friday baking yummy treats. For dessert I made ice cream of my favorite summertime desserts. I used my signature chocolate chips cookie also happens to be Pillsbury's recipe. I've been using this recipe for about 25 years. It is actually the only baking recipe I know my heart. One tweak - I add about a teaspoon of cinnamon.
You can pretty much mix and match any cookie with what ever ice cream flavor you like and end up looking like a culinary rock star. I prepared my ingredients for quick assembly - ice cream melts fast in the summer. Cookies, ice cream, caramel and sprinkles (my husband loves sprinkles!) - easy peasy!
The caramel was a gift from Meg at Running Just As Fast As She Can. Sanders has quite a history going back to the 1800s!  I'd never added anything to to the ice cream before, but the caramel was a tasty addition to this batch.
 Who wants one??

I was in the mood to make sweets and felt pretty safe doing so knowing I could be sharing and would only have a couple for myself. I also made Buckeye Brownie Cookies.  A ball of peanut butter and powdered sugar mixture is placed on top of the warm brownie cookie bases. This picture is prior to the chocolate coating they got after they cooled completely. I must have gotten sidetracked.
And because I just couldn't stop, I made Salted Caramel Nut Brittle. I discovered this recipe last Christmas. The salty sweetness is incredible.
And yes, I did give away the leftovers. I didn't want to, but I did. (Pat on the back for me.)

Saturday we did a whole lot of nothing except binge watch an entire season of Bloodlines on Netflix...a day we will never get back.

Sunday was another fun cooking day. With the baking out of my system I focused on more healthy recipes. My husband wants to eat more fish, so I bought some salmon and tried a new recipe for lunch. Skillet Seared Salmon with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce. It was delicious - I currently want to eat it every day!!  I served it with grilled asparagus and corn.  My husband had his beloved sweet potato instead of corn.
Sunday morning, I had gotten sucked into watching Food Network (not an uncommon occurrence). Bobby Flay's BBQ Addiction was on and he made me want to make Greek Orzo Salad with Mustard Dill Vinaigrette.  I wasn't sure if my in-laws who were coming over for dinner liked feta, so I served it on the side to add if desired. I used fresh dill from my garden...tasted like summer. I would definitely make it again with a little tweak...less olive oil. I like my vinaigrette more on the vinegary side to stand up to the pasta and veggies. My husband thought it was a bit slimy from the olive oil.
On the same episode Bobby made Grilled Zucchini Skewers with Jalapeno Yogurt Dipping Sauce. That caught my attention because we were grilling kebabs with tons of veggies for dinner and we do like some spicy. My pesto was a bit thicker than Bobby's, so I mixed it thoroughly into the yogurt instead of the pretty swirled effect he demonstrated. I actually hate Greek yogurt so I put mine in a little light sour cream (which by the way was delicious on pita chips...I had to taste test.)
Bring on the kebab fest. I had several skewers of just veggies on another plate. I am not a big fan of cooked tomatoes (other than sauces), but grilled cherry tomatoes are so pretty.
My husband learned how to make a garlic/rosemary marinade for his steak kebabs. I simply did a spice rub on the chicken kebabs.
 My father-in-law is a charred hotdog kinda guy so we sprinkled his hotdogs between our kebabs.
We got a little carried guess what we are having today?? Leftovers :)

Nothing too much on the agenda for today. I am starting Week 3 of Double-Light. Reading the schedule makes me question the "double-light" part of my training.
I see some scary things...burpees, box jumps, figure eights.

I sure hope my trainer is ready for this!!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I know I am obsessed with my sweet potato hash breakfast. Who knows how many times I have mentioned it here or on Facebook. But I am going to keep harping on it until someone tells me that they tried it. Seriously, how can you resist that place of yum?
This week I used the kale from the market. I admit I haven't been on the kale bandwagon and it is probably no longer a thing, but here I am trying it out in place of spinach. The chicken breast was sprinkled with cajun seasoning (this time C'mon Man) and then grilled. It is super easy to cook a couple extra pieces of chicken at dinner and then keep them in the fridge to use throughout the week. I simply microwave the sweet potatoes. Again, you can cook and cut them up in advance, so they are ready for a quick and easy breakfast.
Like all the leafy greens a huge bunch of raw kale cooks down to pretty much nothing. So keep heaping it in. I used about 3 cups to get this much in my hash.
Please excuse my pan - I promise it has been scrubbed clean a hundred times - that white inside surface stains terribly.
The kale maintained a chewier texture than spinach, which I liked. I didn't think it was as flavorful as the spinach.  Ultimately, it is pretty much a wash for me and I would use whichever is available. So have I convinced anyone to try it??

I have begun working on a baked version of the pumpkin oatmeal I mentioned in my last post. This morning, I made "muffins'.  I found a baked oatmeal recipe that called for bananas for which I subbed canned pumpkin.  I added ground flax seed to the recipe because my husband wants to be sure to get his Omega-3. The recipe called for an egg and baking powder to hold everything together and to give it a bit more rise and "muffininess." I am not going to mislead you and say they were exactly like muffins, but they were good and definitely an improvement texture-wise for me. My taste buds were calling for raisins, but I want to keep the sugar down.
First attempt recipe for 6 muffins (approx. 108 calories per muffin)

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp baking power
1 tsp cinnamon
1 chopped apple (I left skin on)
1 Tbsp ground flax seed (not pictured)

Mix everything together and divide among 6 muffin cups. Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes. The batter is thick and I just piled it in. They don't rise much so there is not a big overflow issue. Not the most beautiful because they don't rise like normal muffins.
My husband actually really liked them so I am sure we will be making them ahead for breakfasts and snacks. There will probably be a few other tweaks along the way. I'd like to try blueberries instead of apples. I am tempted to do half banana and half pumpkin, but I do like that pumpkin is about half the calories of banana.  Again, I am trying to reduce the sugar in my diet so pumpkin is better there too.

Double Light Recap

Monday night was tough. There were push ups - knee assisted push ups (girl push ups).  I managed three in the first circuit and 3.5 the second circuit. I really wanted four that second circuit, but couldn't make it happen. Next time...unless my husband has mercy on me and never schedules them again. So yeah, next time.

The inverted flys were harder than I expected and my muscles ached more from those than anything else. I used my two pound hand weights. I don't think it was the weight as much as the motion my body is not used to making.

Bench Squats - I don't think I am ever going to say I like squats, but I liked using the "bench" (in my case the couch with the rolled yoga mat on top of it.) The idea is for my butt to touch the "bench" when I squat. I have a hard time telling if my squat is deep enough and having a physical target to aim for is quite helpful. Apparently, I am not keeping my body straight enough (too much waist bending). It is hard for me to feel that, so I might have to head up to the wall of mirrors at the gym one day and watch myself. I am quite certain there are MANY more squats in my future so I need to be sure I am doing them correctly.

Tuesday was cardio. The workout out itself is very simple, but I obsessed about it all day because I knew it would be difficult for me. For the record, I hate that 30 straight seconds of cardio scares me. The concept was simple - 30 seconds X hops, short rest, 30 seconds lateral hops, short rest, 30 seconds X hops (opposite foot in front) - see abbreviated version in video below. I am not entirely sure if you are supposed to have short rest between the 30 second exercises or if my husband put them in so I didn't have a heart attack.

Then the entire circuit is repeated three times with about a minute between circuits. I admit, it was super hard and I was huffing and puffing like it was my job. I am not the most coordinated and got off balance a few times. I would not have finished without my husband - I was not going to let him down. Personally, I would have quit.

To a very serious subject. I am really struggling with the physical of these workouts, but more importantly I am struggling with my emotions. I am not proud to admit that my poor husband has his hands more than full with my meltdowns. Last night I asked him to record my feet doing a quick demo of the three types of hops. In my head it was perfectly clear, but I guess I didn't express it clearly. He stopped the video after each type of hop.  We finally got on the same page and got them all recorded together. Then he showed me the video and I completely lost it. It was showed my entire lower body. Like others, I am sure, I am SUPER self conscious about that lower stomach area....and it was AWFUL on video. I was completely horrified. I was upset that we had to redo the video again (NO WAY was I posting the other one). I was tired already from just demoing the workout - I hadn't even gotten to the doing the actual workout!  My poor unsuspecting husband was caught in the crossfire of my frustration and humiliation. Yes, there were tears again. It took awhile to get back to trying again (see video above). I can at least report that I finally got through the workout. Afterwards, my husband and I had a heart to heart talk. He is concerned that he is not the right person to "train" me. I get his point. We have a bond of trust that gives me the feeling of safety to express tough emotions and know that he still loves me. However, balancing that with being a good no-nonsense trainer is difficult when I need both. I know he is right that if I want this I have to do the work...and it will be hard. Truth is I know I have to do the work....but ideally, I just want the results without the work because it is SO difficult at this point. I am not giving up and I hope I can get my emotions in check so that he doesn't drop me as a client :) I can't do this without him. Any thoughts on how to get through this rough start and check my emotional side?

This is my first time really working with someone for workouts. In the past, I have just done my own thing - walking, swimming, etc. There is a definitely a different dynamic to have someone pushing (and encouraging) you each step. Since previous times have failed long term, I want to give this a real chance.

Disclaimer: I know I sound like a giant baby about this, but I am trying my best to be real about the process. I know from my own experience that this stuff does make people quit trying. If I can find a way to work through it and be successful, I hope that can inspire others to not give up.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Working in a Workout

I have to figure out a way to get up and moving in the morning to do my workouts. When I get home from work the last thing I want to do is be worrying about still having my workout to do. So, Friday night I begged my trainer to let me do it in the morning.

Then Saturday morning happened.

A quick trip to the farmers' market to get more asparagus. I had enough of the quiche ingredients to make another one like the one I made last weekend. I also bought some kale. I actually thought I bought some last week, but it wasn't in my bag when I got home. The greens in the bag are what the seller was calling "goosefoot". When I was a kid my mom called it "lamb's quarters".  So pretty much weeds. My mom would cook them like any other greens. For nostalgia's sake I thought I'd give them a go. I haven't decided yet how I am going to eat them.

After the market we had to run a few other errands.  My husband, who doesn't know his own strength, accidentally broke off our door handle. Guess I need to clean up that outline of the previous handle. We also stopped at a restaurant we had been to a few times, but is now closed. Terrible location and inconsistent food. The first time we went there they had the most incredible wings. Turns out once the chef they brought in to get the place up and running returned home they were never the same :(  The restaurant is now a Saturday only resale shop. I know that restaurant was the failure of someone's dream and that makes me sad. The whole resale shop thing just magnified that feeling.
When we got home from errands I got the quiche in the oven. It was so good. Fortunately, I split it between my mother-in-law and my sister before I started eating it, otherwise, I might have gone completely crazy!!
Still no workout....

Then Saturday afternoon happened....

Our local volunteer fire department had their annual fish fry.
 I wonder how many pounds of fish they "caught".
Since it was written right on the wall I am assuming this is not a secret recipe :)  Feel free to give it a try if you have who knows how many pounds of fish to fry.
The Filet-o-Fish has nothing on this sandwich.
My niece invited us to a paddle fest. For $5 you could use the kayaks, canoes or paddleboards they supplied as much as you wanted during that afternoon. I was tempted to take something out for a spin, but that was quashed the minute I saw a snake on the beach. Someone tried to shoo it with an oar and it reared up, jumped in and out of one of the kayaks, then swam off into the water....nope! Swimming snakes give me the heebie jeebies like nothing else. And yes, I know they are always out there, but if I don't see them...

After the paddlefest we headed out to the farm to visit with my in-laws for a bit.  As soon as it is time to leave the farm, Millie runs straight to my mother-in-law....every time.  She works grandma like no one else and manages to get her invitation extended. I think she is coming home Monday...or Tuesday.

That brings us to Saturday evening...
...and still worrying about having my workout to do. More begging and promising to do it Sunday excuses.

6 a.m. my husband comes in to tell me that he is bringing me breakfast in bed. (I am not sure what time he got up, but I thought I was going to get to sleep in.) Don't be fooled this is NOT a bowl of Fruit Loops my love brings me.

It is a big bowl of his pumpkin oatmeal.  He adds a half a cup of canned pumpkin and half of an apple (chopped) to the oatmeal as it is cooking. Then at the end, he sprinkles in walnuts and cinnamon. Most of the time he actually puts ground flax seed in it instead of the walnuts. However, he thought I would like the walnut texture better. It isn't the most attractive dish, but I definitely felt healthy eating it :)
You know he is not going to bring me a power breakfast in bed and then let me put off the workout again. So, Sunday morning I finally did my Friday workout. I am not sure, but I think my trainer pushed me a bit it retribution?  Maybe. This definitely felt like the most challenging workout so far.

Instead of a set number of reps, he has me go to failure. The idea is to keep pushing myself. If I do a crazy number of reps he will increase the weight. If I can only do a couple the weight is lowered. Ideally, he wants me to fail in the 10-15 reps range. Some exercises were closer to that than others. He kept a close eye on me during the "skull crushers" (named for what happens if you drop the weight)...nice.
With the workout FINALLY out of the way, I turned my attention to celebrating my nephew's high school graduation. Life goes from this....

 to this in the blink of an eye.
Proud of that kid. He starts a two-year school/work program this summer, that will end up with him certified in a variety of auto systems. I am excited for him to have a career he loves and affords him the opportunity to have a happy and fulfilling life. Congratulations!

Week two of Double Light is mapped out and ready for execution. I am determined to also get in a couple of walks this week.