Friday, February 8, 2013

Fifteen for Friday

Ladies and gents, it is my pleasure to inform you ... that things are about to get random.

The ever lovely Danielle recently tagged me/game me the Liebster Award, and Liz just did a random things post so I thought I'd combine the two into a post of my own. I'm either incredibly cool, original ... or neither.

1. This morning, I attended a lovely breakfast albeit more of a meet-and-greet at a local elementary school. I've been a tutor through the school district's program for seven years (?), and I'm in fourth year of tutoring the same girl. The breakfast is a chance to meet her teacher this year, talk about any issues and see the classroom. My teacher had a meeting so I talked to the school coordinator and ate a lemon poppyseed muffin while I tried to entertain Miles.

2. The program actually brings a group of students to the office and there are eight of us who work with the kids. We do homework, read and eat snacks. And I make the snacks. Usually, it's a combination of fruit, grain and peanut butter though I might spice things up with Goldfish crackers and carrots. I'll tell you this: Apple and PB is an acceptable combo but putting banana and PB in a tortilla will confuse the heck out of some kids.

3. After tutoring for so long, one of my biggest fears is that Miles will struggle in school and I will not be able to help. They teach things so differently now, and I once had to have a fifth-grader show me how to multiply. Seriously.

4. My co-worker went to Florida and all I got was a stinkin' orange fresh from the grove. Two, actually, because my work husband hates most fruits and gave me his. By the way, the oranges are only stinkin' in the stinkingly awesome way.

5. My work husband and I frequently go to the nearby hospital cafeteria for lunch and one of the cashiers asked me if we were indeed married. I laughed. We make good friends but I'm pretty sure we'd kill each other within a week.

6. My actual husband and I will be celebrating Valentine's Day this weekend. We have a total sexy thing planned. Miles will go to Camp Grandma and then we're going to run a 5K and paint the kitchen. If things get out of hand, we'll get brunch.

7. I initially had high hopes of PRing the 5K but my runs of late have showed me that my fitness might not be where I thought it was. My PR is 25:33 and I finished the same race last year in 27:35. My adjusted goal is to finish closer to the PR than last year's race.

8. I have a $35 gift card to Amazon, and I have no idea how to use it. I considered buying ZCut but some of the reviews say that it's not worth it when you can get the ZWOWs for free on YouTube. I am also thinking of trying protein powder but I hate to see blowing it on something I might not like.

9. My friend has gotten me addicted to this game called Ruzzle. I seriously could play it for hours. If only it didn't eat data on my phone ...

10. I began playing Scrabble as a youngin', sitting on my mom's lap as she played with my grandma. I absolutely love the game, and I still play (and get beat by) Grandma when I visit Cincinnati. Mark even proposed on a Scrabble board, and we had games set out at our wedding for guests to play.

11. I have asparagus on my grocery list but I have no idea why. I am not making anything that asparagus will complement nor do the boys of the house eat it.

12. I am a complete meal planner, and I often know what I'm making for the next week by Wednesday. Our upcoming meal plan includes broccoli pesto from "Happy Herbivore"; Blackened Salmon Po Boys with Alexia Multigrain Onion rings; beef stew; and ... I am still missing a meal. Any ideas?

13. I often track my menus/meal ideas on Pinterest. It's far easier than bookmarking things at work and hoping I remember to print out the recipe before going home. I think I might be one of the few who actually makes the things she pins.

14. This one might not be my style but my friend/roommate posted a story on Facebook about a Disabled veteran asking people to sign a petition as his service dog faces euthanasia for biting woman who beat him with a pole. It's an incredibly sad story and makes me want to hit things.

15. My college roommate deserves a medal for living with me. Mostly because I napped in her bed when I didn't want to climb into my loft.

Happy Friday! Any randomness today?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

En plein air

It's no secret that I'm fond of my daycare provider. She makes healthy, fresh-from-the-garden meals; she makes it a priority to teach them good manners; and Miles, at 19 months, already sings "A, B, C, D" and counts to three.

But this morning, I became her biggest fan.

She didn't bat an eyelash or give a sideways look when I dropped off Miles 20 minutes early in full winter running attire. She didn't offer any snarky remarks when I mentioned that I was going to soak up the day's rays on a quick run before work. In fact, she was probably supportive or encouraging as she always comments about how good the example is that I'm setting for Miles.

I'm not going to argue her on that one.

 photo 04271974-ECA0-4925-94BF-5F4FE6194C39-6031-000005737373D65A_zpsd828a1c9.jpg

The air was mild (relatively speaking) at 27 degrees, the wind was non-existent and the sun was bright when I arrived at the park. I had briefly considered running downtown from work but knew the park would be clear of yesterday's snow. And even though the park is a frequent haunt, my miles in the basement made the familiar sites welcome.

 photo 6BCC7189-530E-46A5-A9C2-565B81AB5AE6-6031-000005737D83D55A_zps1fc6ccb7.jpg

I set off along the path with two goals in mind: take it easy and enjoy. I didn't want to look at my watch, fretting about pace, nor did I want to squander such a rare chance to run outdoors. Though my runs en plein air were much appreciated last week, my pace wasn't where I wanted and I realized/feared that I had squandered some fitness by spending too much time on the revolving belt.

 photo 86CC28E8-ED89-4750-A87A-9E9C5B1F3C57-6031-00000573778D17F5_zpsc63d8052.jpg

The first mile or so was a bit lethargic and I had to force myself to look around but as I made my way toward the back end of the park, I began to settle in. My footsteps got lighter. My breathing was steady. My eyes narrowed as the brilliant light reflected off the bright white snow. I pushed my shoulders down and back.

 photo EB23CF6A-34F8-4C12-A442-CBFC29A0E5EC-6031-0000057380DB0152_zps4162ff6a.jpg

I stopped for a moment around mile two to snap some photos but otherwise kept my feet moving, faster and faster as the miles ticked away. I finished the run just shy of five miles, happy and committed to getting outdoors more frequently. Even if it means sacrificing 20 minutes with Miles a morning or two a week.

Had it not been for one small lapse, the morning would have been an epic success. And by lapse, I mean that I forgot my shoes.

I had taken my gym bag to work, with clean, professional-ish clothes so that I could avoid stopping at home between the run and work. I had a Handful tank that served a dual purpose: bra and base layer; a racerback blouse; blue cardigan; and denim trousers. I even remembered a black belt though, sadly, the pants don't seem to require it these days. A pair of professional shoes - or even the boots that have become uniform these days - were still in my closet ... and in the living room ... and, shit, kitchen. I never, ever wear my running shoes outside of running but thankfully I have an old pair that I keep at my desk in the event I take a lunchtime walk.

 photo 1D9ECC03-1637-4626-A8C9-3F2B804DA970-6031-000005737A933C21_zps78a2cea6.jpg

I'm pretty sure the hot pink sneakers make the look.

Love the skin you are in: A giveaway

My wedding bands are the inevitable casualty of winter. The dry, brutal air chaps my skin and the area between my ring and middle fingers becomes chafed and flaky. The only thing I can do to help it heal is to take off my rings for a week or so and apply lotion.

Lots and lots of lotion.

In years past, I didn't pay much attention to the moisturizer I used. I would apply a cheap drugstore find or an overly scented, overpriced selection from a store in the mall - neither of which did much for my skin. I found Aveda's hand relief cream last year, and I fell in love instantly. It was a workhorse lotion without being greasy, had a mild scent and had quick results.

My tube ran out just before the holidays, though, and I had been hoping to find another in my stocking. Instead, I got the best mug. Ever. Since then, I've been scamming lotion from co-workers because I inadvertently forget it every time I am at Target. Too many pretty things. Too distracting.

 photo seabuckwonderskincare_zpsca2861a1.jpg

So it was with them in mind that I disregarded the mention of Dr. Oz (he called the seabuckthorn a "miracle berry") and accepted an opportunity from SeabuckWonders to try its skincare line. (The company also offers a line of supplements.)

 photo sea_buckthorn_zps6c7fcf17.jpg

About SeabuckWonders:
The wait is over. SeabuckWonders’ personal care product line is here. And it’s packed with a high concentration of sea buckthorn oil for maximum results. That means healthier, softer and more beautiful skin for all those who add these products to their daily routine. Unlike many Sea buckthorn products in the marketplace, SeabuckWonders believes quality and quantity are both important. Because Sea Buckthorn is expensive, many manufacturers provide skin care products with little to no sea buckthorn to minimize their costs. At SeabuckWonders, we focus on maximizing the benefits of our products and therefore, provide a high concentration of sea buckthorn oil in all of our personal care products. It’s a simple formula: More sea buckthorn = more health and beauty benefits. And you can even see the difference. Because our skin care products contain a higher dose of sea buckthorn, you’ll notice a bright, yellow-orange glow—a mirror reflection of the sea buckthorn berry’s natural vibrant color. This intense concentration of sea buckthorn makes SeabuckWonders the superior product line for skin healing and beauty enhancement. High Concentration of Organic Himalayan Sea Buckthorn Infused with Omega 3, 6, 7 & 9 Vegan, Non-GMO Paraben-free, Cruelty-free, and Gluten-free
I'll be honest -I wasn't sure how all of that would translate to skin care. Omega vitamins are great in a diet but for my face? It seemed curious.

And curious I still am. But I can tell you this (and a few thats):

Scrub a dub. I love the facial cleanser. Like love it. It has a gentle exfoliant that gives me the feeling that I actually washed my face and I feel like my skin is tighter after just one use. It has a mild orange scent, from natural orange extract, that is fresh and refreshing. The product claims to make skin more vibrant and I do agree that my skin looks a lot better since using it. It could be a more regular beauty regimen ... or the sea buckthorn.

Facial hydration. SeabuckWonders has two options for moisturizing your face - a facial cream and a deep hydrating serum. I've been using the cream in the morning and the serum at night, and my dry skin has been happily soaking them up. Winter hasn't done my face any favors, and I think I was breaking out because my oil glands were going into overdrive to compensate for the dryness. I say this because I'm obviously (not) a dermatologist. I didn't like the cream at first, I will admit. I felt like it was greasy and though it is scented with the same orange extract as the other products, its odor was a bit off. I am not sure if it's regular use or it was a one-time problem but I no longer feel like it smells funny, and I think it hydrates really well. Maybe even better than the serum. The key is applying it immediately after washing your face.

Hands on. The body lotion is probably the product I've used least frequently, mostly because I forgot to take it to work. So far, so good, though. My chafed area by my ring finger is already looking better after one day sans ring. The lotion is thick without being sticky and not greasy at all. It does require reapplication throughout the day, and I normally do so after going to the bathroom and washing my hands.

Hydration is good for skin but requires frequent trips to the bathroom, require frequent hand washing, which dries out the skin. Such a vicious cycle.

You can try to end it, though, as the kind folks at SeabuckWonders have offered one reader its lineup to help you love the skin you're in this Valentine's season. The winner will receive the skin care kit, including lotion, facial cleanser, face cream and deep hydrating lotion, a more than $70 value.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Open to U.S. residents only. The giveaway ends Wednesday, Feb. 13. The winner will be selected via Rafflecopter on Thursday, Feb. 14, and will be emailed. The winner will have 72 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be selected. I was sent the SeabuckWonders products at no charge but all words and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spring Training: Week 5

Spring Training posts document my training for the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon on March 30 and my "A" race, the Wisconsin Marathon half, on May 4.

The week, in training:

Monday: 4.1 miles, outside
Tuesday: 4.78 miles; outside
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: ZWOW 31 (a.m.) + 3-mile run (p.m.)
Friday: 5 miles, intervals; treadmill
Saturday: ZWOW 22 + TurboFire 30
Sunday: 9 miles, long; treadmill

◊ ◊ ◊

My inclination is to use this sentence to wax on about the complexities of the weather but as I've done that time and time again, I thought I would spare you. Rather I will say this: Mother Nature threw me for a loop last week. A real figging loop. We had two gloriously warm (for January) days followed by another Arctic blast. And when I say blast, I mean it - wind gusts of 30 mph and just pure blusteriness.

I'm pretty sure I just made that last word up. Go ahead Merriam Webster, add it.

Anyway, back to the running ... the weather really messed with my schedule. I had been running indoors during the week, allowing me to quality control my quality runs. I did hills and intervals with set limits that didn't allow me to quit. On the weekends, I head outdoors with Denali. It was what it was, and I was settling into the groove. Or at least I had gotten in the habit of sleeping in a sports bra and shorts so I could hit the treadmill by 5:30 a.m.

With shorts-worthy temperatures, though, I knew I couldn't pass up the chance to pound the pavement ... even if it meant ditching a scheduled hill workouts. Long-time readers, or maybe even new ones (waves hi), probably know that I can be a bit stringent when it comes to following a schedule and I can get down on myself if I miss quality workouts or cut them short. And you might expect me to go on about how I'm going to suck it at Run the Bluegrass for missing the workout. But I'm not. Not this time.

I'll go ahead and spare you the annoyance of asking why and tell you that I know that other areas of my training are helping with hill work - specifically lunges and deadlifts. Today, alone, I did 100 lunges as part of ZWOW 20.

Rather than get boring and pretend I know things I don't, I'll tell you that I engage my hamstrings when I run on an incline just as I do when I perform lunges and deadlifts. My butt, too. (For real info: Read this.)

It only seems advantageous then to strengthen those hamstrings when I'm hanging out with Zuzana or doing BODYPUMP to help prepare for the Lexington half in March. I am no expert but a month+ of RAW and too much time on YouTube have introduced to me a number of variations on those exercises. These are my favorite and, again not as an expert, I think it could be worthwhile to pick two or three, incorporating 3 sets of 12 in regular resistance workouts.
Just a quick note - if you do a traditional deadlift, stick your butt back as you tip at the waist. I've seen some pretty wonky ways to do it when I teach BODYPUMP. So wonky I can't even explain it.  I just don't understand why you don't want to show people what you got.

Happy training.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Getting in the game

I had never intended to host a Super Bowl party but there we were Sunday afternoon - Mark was cleaning the house and I was cooking up a storm.

 photo 82FD6EEB-BAC5-4C8E-AED4-814633DF2DD4-4209-00000334252326FB_zpsda23417e.jpg 

There were Johnsonville Pork and Chicken Brats (free through a Bzz Agent campaign); sauteed peppers and onions; twice-baked potatoes, two kinds - traditional and a Hawaiian sweet potato version inspired by a Clean Eating recipe; random chicken egg rolls that I had in the freezer; Kim & Scott Cheese Pretzels; and the spice cake.

 photo FDF5AD24-94EC-4E1D-9935-FEF97D36DBD3-4209-000003341EB34896_zpsa37213bc.jpg

Wait. Maybe I should have listed spice cake first. After all, it was the reason for the party, which I guess I should clarify as a mere get-together with my in-laws.

 photo 5CE01371-55AF-462B-8ADD-3BFB31878BB2-4209-000003341430657C_zpsc2f9d471.jpg

My mother-in-law had a birthday last week and when Mark asked her what she wanted, as a gift, she said a spice cake with caramel icing ... made by me.

 photo 1A8983C8-789F-4D43-A8BA-9EAE02304885-4209-000003340EE96913_zps4d3f955c.jpg

I wasn't feeling the work of a layer cake thing so I decided to make the Coffee Spice Cake from "All Cakes Considered." It was easy enough, I had all of the ingredients on hand and the "icing" was a dusting of powdered sugar. I opted for no dusting. We'll call it a calorie savings effort rather than a "I want to play more Words With Friends" effort.

 photo 33611FFE-8688-4CFA-B530-ED7AEA485A1C-4209-0000033417C44342_zps6bbe1136.jpg

I did feel a bit guilty about not giving my mother-in-law the one thing she wanted so I did give her something she needed - a care package. She has a high-ranking position at a university that keeps her busy and one of the first things to get neglected is her eating. She has often told me that her lunch is a bag of popcorn or yogurt. As I was making my lunches for the week, I opted to take it up a notch and make enough to share with her. I made Greek Lentil Soup, Chickpea Soup and a Spinach Vegetable Soup - giving her four servings of each; baked banana steel cut oats; and Chocolate Zucchini Muffins from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook.

 photo CCBC2EE2-CCF1-41DD-8E2B-3C5B4AC2B75C-4209-000003340A62FD46_zps2a1e9d0a.jpg

I felt a bit lame handing her a bag of food in generic plastic containers but she loved it, especially as it's not something she wouldn't do for herself. Or maybe she was just smiling because Miles was eating ice cream with a spoon and a fork. As both are required. Obviously.

 photo 2E51081A-DD3A-4187-80E5-73509B8561EA-4209-000003341BE006CE_zpsc463c22a.jpg

As for the game, my in-laws stayed for 15 minutes of it before going home and Mark and I made it to the half-time show. Pretty good for non-football fans.

How was your Game Day?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Welcome to the Jungle: 8.4 things about BODYPUMP 84

To say I was nervous might be the understatement of the century.

Saturday morning, I was scheduled BODYPUMP Release 84 by myself and, for the first time, I felt completely unprepared. When I teach a new release, I try to know it so well that I can hear a different mix of the song on the radio and give Miles the cues as we drive. Obviously he doesn't do two-two squats while in the car seat.

The music in this release, though, has had some trickier beats and transitions, and I just don't feel like I've gotten it. The release also has some new innovations that use plates (front squats, hammer curls with a twist) that require Les Mills' SMARTBARS or plates that can be easily held, and our club doesn't have those. I've had to rehearse with the bar and practice along with the background folks on the master class DVD. It doesn't help that the time I would have normally spent rehearsing has been devoted to cross-training or running because I don't want to get up early.

But if I've learned anything in the past six months as an instructor, I have learned that you have to be confident and make it work. And that's what I planned to do.

As is often the case, I quickly learned that I had worried for naught ... mostly because no one showed up.

I had pre-written this post under the notion that I would have taught the release twice, done it a dozen times and feel like I could give a few thoughts. Fairly. I thought of scrapping it and getting uber whiny that if I want to take some big steps toward becoming a fitness professional that I should be able to pack a BODYPUMP class but I figured I'd save the "It's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to" card when it's a bit more warranted.

So here are my thoughts on 84. If you have taught it or done it as a participant, I'd love to know your thoughts!

1. While I'm a bit sick of Adele - she's been featured on the last three releases - I totally dig the squat track. It's two big sets with a mix of bottom halves and holds that really build tension. I went heavy on legs last week (but nothing I hadn't done before), and I was sore until Wednesday.

2. I was never a big fan of Guns n Roses. When they were popular, I was still young enough to be grossed out by Axl's nipple ring and thought Donny was definitely better than Jordan. And, as of this release, still not sure I'm sold on them and "Welcome to the Jungle." The song just doesn't flow for me, and the last set - with five super slow presses, a set of 2/2's and 16 singles - is enough to make you get out a bush knife and hurt someone.

3. Triceps. Love. Seriously. It makes me want to say "Scream" all the time. (Big thanks to Usher for signing off on the track.) I also like that it includes a new move, the row to kickback, which is more functional and targets that back a bit more.

4. Biceps are dumb. Well, the song for this track is. There's very few lyrics for me, as an instructor, to key into it and I think the techno sound gets repetitive as a participant. I might like it more if we had plates to perform the hammer curl with a twist but we don't. I will say that it burns the heck out of my arms.

5. They need to call the lunge track "Legs, Part II." You do more squats than lunges, and the releases have been that way for the past three. I do enjoy that there's only one set of jump squats so it's easier to execute proper form for the second set of lunges.

6. With the exception of triceps, this might be my favorite track. I really like the music ("Welcome to the Club") - it has a fun beat and catchy lyrics. And every time I hear "Open up the door, Mr. Frankenstein," I smile and secretly wish that there was a Halloween theme release. Who wouldn't love to do squats to "Thriller"? Wait, that song is like 123 minutes long. Nevermind.

7. Abs. Holy abs. I have been working on my core but the 16 walking planks at the end have me on my knees. Literally.

8. Eff you, Nickelback. ("Lullaby" is the cool-down song.)

8.4. If you live in northeast Indiana and want to try the class (for free-ish), shoot me an email and I'll see what I can do. A little sumthin-sumthin, you know. Since you are awesome and read this far.