Fitness

Starting LiveFit Phase 3

After a morning of watching Yard Crashers and drinking the best coffee ever, we decided to hit the gym before the morning got away from us. I started  Phase 3 of Jamie Eason’s LiveFit 12 Week Trainer today. I am about 2 weeks behind in the program because I repeated a week during Phase 2 and then took a week off for a mental break to clear my head before continuing on. The first day of Phase 3 (Day 57) kicked things off with quads & calves. I love leg days and this was no exception. I did calf presses on the leg press machine for the first time ever. I really liked that compared to seated calf raises or using the smith machine with block. Have you ever done calf raises on the leg press?

I also JUST learned (over two months into the program) that there is a female version of each exercise video! On the LiveFit Trainer daily workout page, each exercise name is a link that opens a pop-up box with the exercise performed by a male.

LiveFit Video 1

From that pop-up box, if you click the name of the exercise again (or click the blue “View Full Details” button), it will open in a new browser tab (or window). Then, if you look closely, there is a small tab that says “Female”. Click on that and most of the videos are performed by Jamie herself.

LiveFit Video Female

I wish that this was the default view when clicking on the links from the LiveFit workout pages because it is a bit annoying to have to click 3 times to get to this.

While watching the male version of the video if sufficient, it is more helpful to watch the female version even though both genders are doing the exact same exercise. I feel that the body of a woman looks different when performing certain exercises, and it helps me know how my form is suppose to be.

I had to modify today’s workout because the plan calls for combining weights with plyometric exercises (like rope jumping) for supersets.

Here is what she says about this:

“You’ll quickly notice that these workouts combine traditional weight moves with plyometric exercises – for example, you follow-up leg presses with jump squats. Combining strength moves with explosive movements allows you to train for hypertrophy (the fancy word for muscle growth) and strength gains at the same time that you increase power – another important quality for fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike.

By hitting both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers, these moves also will stoke your fat-burning furnace. Picture the marbling in a steak. Our bodies have intra-muscular fat like that. Plyometric exercises help “squeeze” the fat from those areas.”

My gym doesn’t have a jump rope, nor does it even have the space to really do any of these long jumps and lateral bounds. It is a small gym, that is overcrowded with people and equipment, and is lacking many things that I need. In addition, nobody does supersets or any sort of these moves and I’d definitely draw attention to myself if I got off the leg press and started to jump around. 😦 We are thinking of switching gyms, not just because of this, but for many other reasons. I feel now is the time we have outgrown it and am looking for a place that is more suited to our current fitness needs.

I may give the whole plyometric + strength superset a try next time if it isn’t crowded because I bet it is a fantastic workout.

After the gym, I made Chocolate Protein Shakes to tide us over until lunch. We didn’t have much in the house for lunch because I haven’t made it to the store. Thank goodness I picked up some Costco frozen turkey burgers last week! These burgers can be grilled from frozen, which means no need to preplan and thaw. While I like to make my own turkey burgers, these come in handy for days like today when you have nothing planned and need something quick and easy. They also have a very clean ingredient list: white turkey, kosher salt, rosemary extract and black pepper and run 200 calories per patty.

We had some blackberries and blueberries, as well as Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips. A little salsa and avocado, and we had a fast and healthy lunch.

Costco Frozen Turkey Burgers

That is my turkey burger, sans-bun.

Costco Turkey Burger

Mr. Nine enjoyed his on a bakery bun. He also put his berries in a fancy dish. :-p

After lunch, I pulled some weeds in the garden and did miscellaneous yard work before deciding to try to squeeze in a run. Since I skipped the plyometrics part of my leg workout, I felt the need to do something extra to make up for it. I know my legs will be too sore tomorrow to run so now was the time to get one in before the DOMS set in.

For a change of pace, I headed out to the track.

Running On The Track

Besides some people playing tennis nearby, I had the entire place to myself. It is much to early to even think about incorporating speed work (I just want to be able to run pain-free regardless of pace), so I repeated  1 lap walks, 2 laps running for a total of just over 4 miles. Twice during my run/walk combo I hit the bleachers for some stair work. The bleachers are pretty short, only 29 steps, so I tried to do sets of 10. The result was a total of 580 steps (290 up, 290 down) per set.

Running On Bleachers

It was an overcast day but the sun peeked out for a few fleeting moments here and there.

My track and bleacher work, combined with a solid lifting session at the gym, made today a solid fitness day. Balanced with some therapeutic gardening and a nice dinner and evening with Mr. Nine, it was the perfect laid-back Saturday.

Do you ever go to the track (or other public place) to do bleachers/stairs? Do you watch videos online to learn how or brush up on certain exercises?

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Categories: Fitness, Food, Running | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stevia and Cybex

After a long night of thunderstorms, it felt good to sleep in and then have an extra-long breakfast while watching Moneyball.

I wanted to bake something for work lunches for the upcoming week, and came across my bookmarked recipe for Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread.

LiveFit Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread

It was easy to throw together, and they turned out quite well despite today’s discovery. I hate Stevia in the Raw (SITR).

To be fair, Jamie lists Ideal Xylitol in her ingredient list but that is not something I’ve been able to find in the stores. After doing some research, I found that many people use SITR in place of sugar in recipes. SITR is easily found at my grocery store and seemed like a good substitution.

This is only my second time baking with it (the first time was making Clean Eating’s Meyer Lemon Bars) and both recipes came out way too bitter for my taste. I wanted to do a little experiment this time, and used Truvia in the actual batter of the cake (bread) and used the Stevia in the Raw only for the cinnamon/”sugar” mixture. The cake part of the bars was actually quite tasty! It was the cinnamon SITR swirl part that tasted bitter and ruined the recipe. I dissected the bars to try to remove as much as the cinnamon swirl as possible to salvage some of bread.

I need to do some more research on these sugar substitutes, but my intuition tells me that no artificial sweetener is truly good. Last week I made muffins that were sweetened entirely with dates, and I really like the idea of using natural, whole foods to sweeten food instead of all these alternate sugar products on the market.

Frustrated with today’s baking experiment, I focused on lunch instead.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Grilled bacon-wrapped pork tenderloins with a chimichuri sauce, asparagus and an orange-pineapple-banana-honey-sweet potato mash. This came from a magazine-style cookbook that my Mom gave us for Easter. The mash was interesting. It is filled with citrus flavor. Definitely a different way to have sweet potatoes.

While at the bookstore last night, I saw an article about how the Cybex Arc Trainer is one of the best forms of cardio in the gym. It has been a long time since I’ve used it (it has been known to bother my knee) but was inspired to give it another try.

Cybex Arc Trainer

I just did the pre-programmed interval training option which alternated between 25-45 resistance for a total of 30 minutes, which is very similar to the workout outlined in the magazine. 30 minutes was enough to work up a sweat after my short chest lifting session. No knee pain! I think I’ll give this piece of gym equipment a try more often on cardio days to switch things up. Although I prefer to do cardio outdoors (running, cycling, skiing, rollerblading, hiking) there are certain days where it is easier to do it at the gym while I’m already there for weights.

Came home for a quick shower and then we went to visit some friends and go out for dinner. My stomach was not feeling the greatest, so I stayed away from the margaritas and opted for a simple dinner of chicken tortilla soup and a steak taco. I really wanted an ooey-gooey chimichanga or quesadilla, but knew that the deep-fried, cheese-filled nature of it would have me sick for the rest of the night. Thankfully, the soup is INCREDIBLE at this restaurant so I didn’t feel deprived. It was topped with plenty of fresh diced avocado, which in addition to the guacamole we had pre-dinner, was the perfect amount for my daily avocado fix. 🙂

Our friends have the cutest, most mature and well-behaved 4-year old I’ve met. During dinner she was quietly drawing, and before we left she handed me this masterpiece.

Drawing

She said that the picture was of me, and the chores that I have to do. Unfortunately she is right. There are many chores that I sadly never got around to this weekend that will still be waiting for me come Monday morning.

Have you ever baked with Stevia in the Raw? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite form of “in-the-gym” cardio?

Categories: Fitness, Food | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Good Friday Hike and Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins

Ah, a glorious Friday off.

We took a drive in the country for some awesome BBQ pork sandwiches.

South Moon BBQ Pulled Pork

Carolina-style, baby. After pigging out (pun intended), we took a 5 1/2 mile hike around a local lake.

It took us about 2 hours, I didn’t bring my Garmin, just wanted to soak it all in and have a fun day without any technology.

Some parts of the trail were along the lake.

Boat and Tackle

Other parts were in the sunny open prairie.

Prairie

The wooded sections of trail were my favorite.

Wooded Trails

We even crossed a dam.

Dam

The trail varied from packed dirt to mowed grass, and the temps hovered right around 60 degrees with abundant sunshine. All the fresh country air made us sleepy, so we stopped at Starbucks afterward for a round of iced Americanos. Refreshing.

The coffee tasted great with the Gluten-Free/Paleo Carrot Banana Muffins that I made last night.

Since I dropped the “p-word”, I want to explain, I am not doing the Paleo diet. I do want to eat more protein and more meat and vegetables because I am learning that I actually feel better doing so. As someone who ate a mostly vegetarian diet because I believed it made me feel better, I am learning that I actually feel better with meat and less carbs and less gluten! I don’t believe in any one sort of diet of eating-style, just balance. I’m not going Paleo, or gluten-free or any strict diet (although for those who do, I think that is great!) but I do want to eat less carbs, less sugar, less alcohol and more protein, vegetables and fruit. I’m not going to eliminate pasta or bread or a sugary dessert here and there, just changing the balance of foods and trying to cut back on those. And as always, clean eating is important. I don’t know a whole lot about the Paleo Diet, but I do find it amusing that these are labeled Paleo muffins since I doubt the “cavemen” ate baked carrot and banana muffins! 😉 Maybe I’m missing something.

In the end, it’s just a name.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a muffin by any other name would taste just as sweet.”

Back to the muffins, here are the ingredients:

Paleo Muffin Ingredients

Almond flour, carrots, bananas, dates, eggs, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, eggs, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. No sugar or flour!

The finished muffins.

Paleo Banana Carrot Muffins

Yes, I used Halloween paper liners. I don’t normally use liners at all, but I had these sitting in the baker’s cupboard for over 3 years now and figured I might as well use them.

These were really good! The only fault I found was that the cinnamon was a little strong, and they are a little too moist. I blended the bananas, dates, eggs, vinegar and coconut oil in the Vitamix and stirred that into the dry ingredients. It could be my method of blending in the high-powered Vitamix vs. a food processor, or the ratio of ingredients or the nature of gluten-free muffins. I’m not really sure as I don’t have a lot of experience baking gluten-free so I don’t know yet what to expect. They still tasted good, and I don’t mind the moistness, but they are definitely different from your typical muffins.

Here is the recipe for Carrot Banana Muffins, which seem to be basically the same recipe that is posted on Elana’s Pantry. There are only slight differences between the two. One thing I noticed is that Elana’s recipe calls for melted coconut oil. I did not do this step, just whipped it all up in the Vitamix in its solid state.

I love how they are sweetened naturally with dates, not sugar. I can feel good about eating these treats.

Call them Paleo, call them gluten-free, call them healthy, but just call them good!

What is your favorite gluten-free muffin recipe?

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Clean Eating Sirloin Steak Recipes

An alternate title for this blog post could be “A Tale of Two Sirloins”. I’ve been trying to eat more meat and bought a huge package of beef top sirloin at Costco. I decided to use this beef in a few Clean Eating recipes, one which was okay, the other was great.

Let’s start with the great…

Sirloin Beef Wraps

Clean Eating Sirloin Beef Wraps

Yum, yum!

I didn’t have any romaine (or any lettuce for that matter) and my cucumbers were not looking very good, so I stuck with just carrots, red onion and cilantro for the topping and it was plenty flavorful, crunchy, colorful and interesting.

The sauce for the wraps is made from whisking together Dijon mustard, raw honey, stevia, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes. The result is a sweet and tangy sauce that worked well on top of the beef.

Although the recipe does not mention this, it is always important to slice steak against the grain. With sirloin this is not as important as say a flank steak, I still find it makes a big difference. The meat is much easier to eat because it is not as tough to bite. Why? Because when you slice against the grain it shortens the muscle fibers. This website article, The Food Lab: Slicing Meat Against the Grain, does a great job of explaining the meat math behind it!

I would definitely make these wraps again. 🙂

Get the recipe for Sirloin Beef Wraps from the Clean Eating website.

The heap of carrots in the background? That is my Avocado & Carrot Salad. I’ll post the recipe for that later on so stay tuned.

Next up on the sirloin cooking spree…

Sirloin & Peppery Tomato Reduction

Clean Eating Sirloin and Peppery Tomato Reduction

The sauce made from reducing down diced tomatoes, water, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes, tastes a lot like A-1 Sauce. The recipe also calls for olive oil which I omitted, and I subbed tomato juice from the can (I used petite cut diced tomatoes) for the water.

Instead of slicing the meat for plating purposes, I decided to leave them as whole steaks. While this was okay, it didn’t wow me enough to want to make it again. It was quick, involved minimal dishes, and was acceptable for a simple weeknight dinner.

Get the recipe for Sirloin & Peppery Tomato Reduction from the Clean Eating website.

In conclusion, out of the two sirloin recipes, the steak wraps were hands down better.

In other news, I tried TRX Suspension Training for the first time!

From the TRX website:

“Born in the Navy SEALs, Suspension Training bodyweight exercise develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously. It requires the use of the TRX® Suspension Trainer, a highly portable performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to enable hundreds of exercises for every fitness goal.”

It was an introductory class so we didn’t get too sweaty, but was a nice way to try it out with a certified instructor. It was a lot easier than I anticipated, but some of the moves were definitely hard.

The great thing about TRX is that you can alter your foot position or angle of body to make it harder or easier. Squats, push-ups and pull-ups were pretty simple, one-foot lunges and planks were a little harder.

Imagine yourself in plank pose, but your feet are suspended in straps that can sway and move side to side. This means that you have to engage more muscles and requires balance and stability.

TRX Plank

(That is not me in the picture, photo credit goes to Couch2Camino.)

One-foot suspended lunges were definitely hard because of the balance factor. Check this out:

TRX Suspended Lunge

(Unsure who to credit for this photo, but I found it on Man Bicep.)

I can do one-foot lunges with my foot on a bench, but in a moving strap is much harder. I had to have someone stand in front of me so that I could lightly hold their hand so I wouldn’t topple over. With practice, one could master this, but it was definitely harder than the other moves.

There are no TRX facilities near our home so we had to drive and hour to try it, however you can buy the straps for home use. The only downside is that they are $200!

I prefer regular weight training and cardio, but this would be a great idea for someone who is bored with their regular workout routine, or for someone who wants a “portable gym”. If I ever got this, I’d prefer to do it outdoors in a park by attaching it to a sturdy tree branch.

If your gym offers this, definitely check it out! It is always nice to find new ways to push your body. If this was offered at a facility closer to our house, I’d probably go once in awhile for workout variation.

Have you ever tried TRX? Do you own a system? If so, do you use it often?

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A Formal Night Out

I love Saturday mornings when we have nothing planned.

Ezekiel Toast with Strawberries and Grapes

After rolling out of bed, I made an easy breakfast for us. Toasted Ezekiel bread, one slice made into a jam sandwich, the other slice had almond butter on one half and Sunbutter (sunflower seed butter) on the other. Fresh strawberries and red grapes sprinkled with a little Truvia. Along with coffee and a tall glass of water, it was a great way to start the day.

We went to the gym for about an hour workout session. I was suppose to start the LiveFit Trainer Week 10 (Phase 2 / Week 2), but I decided to start last week all over again. Although I did most of the workouts (I did have to skip a workout and a half), I also subbed some exercises, forgot my cheat sheet at home more than once and as a result did the wrong reps, and just didn’t feel like I gave it my all. The only person I’d be cheating would be myself and I wanted to do it right, so I am starting back at the first week of phase 2. Since I was well rested and the gym was not too busy, I had a great workout for my back and abs. Did 20 minutes on the stepmill for my cardio, that always works up a sweat! Technically I was suppose to do 30 minutes of cardio, but I planned on going for a half hour walk later anyway.

After we got home from the gym, I couldn’t wait to have one of my favorite post-workout snacks.

Chobani Cinnamon Apple Greek Yogurt

Chobani Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt! This is my new favorite yogurt, it tastes like dessert! Seriously, this is like apple pie filling, only it is creamy and cold. It reminds me a lot of the Carb Boom! Apple Cinnamon gels that I’d take on my long runs. Now that I am not running, long or short, I have no reason to take these fuel gels and I’ve been missing them.

Chobani and Luna Bar Comparison

I decided to compare the ingredients in the Chobani Apple Cinnamon yogurt with a Luna Protein Bar that I had sitting around. The yogurt has MORE protein! That’s right, 14g vs. 12g. It also has no fat, lower calories, sodium and cholesterol. Sure the bar has a bit more fiber and vitamins and minerals, but I get enough of that from other sources. Sure it has some sugar (they both do) but it is a pretty decent protein-rich post-workout snack in my book. And the fact that it tastes like dessert? That is just a bonus. 🙂 And there you have it, my review of Chobani’s Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt. Yum.

With splendid, unseasonably warm weather, we took a walk around town.

Crocus Flowers

It was so nice to see the crocus (crocuses? croci?) emerging from the ground. Spring is right around the corner!

For lunch I wanted to try an intriguing recipe that I found in Clean Eating Magazine last fall – Spaghetti with Kale and Poached Egg.

Cooking Kale

Here is the kale, cooking in a bit pot of water.

I cooked the spaghetti (Dreamfields low carb pasta) in the same water that the kale was cooked in.

Here is the finished dish!

Kale and Poached Egg Spaghetti

The flavors worked great together! The recipe called for regular feta cheese, but I used a lemon and oregano feta that added a strong (but good) citrus flavor to the dish. The creamy yolk of the egg, mixing in with the spicy red pepper flakes, bitter kale stems and salty cheese just worked.

After all the food, fresh air and exercise I took a much needed nap! I am not a napper, but today it just felt right.

We were invited to a formal fundraiser dinner for a local health foundation, but dinner was not until 7:00pm. Since we usually eat dinner like senior citizens at 4:00pm, I had a snack of hummus and pita chips to tide me over.

Hummus and Pita Snack

And I was still noshy so I had a small bowl of granola, and half a slice of leftover french bread pizza (Mr. Nine wanted to split it with me).

I also tried a new (to me) drink called KeVita.

KeVita

Wasn’t a huge fan of this. It tasted like a watered down version of Kombucha Synergy. Wouldn’t buy this again, but glad I tried it. At least I got some healthy bacteria for the day!

The afternoon flew by and it was time for our fundraiser dinner.

Formal Affair

Dinner was fancy and fabulous. Appetizers were mushroom purses, tempura shrimp, cheese, grapes, carrots, celery and sliced cucumbers topped with goat cheese and an unidentifiable red ingredient.

Appetizers

Pardon the horrible photographs, my camera does horrible in low light and I was trying to be quick about taking pictures so I wouldn’t draw attention to myself in the classy crowd of black-tie professionals, so I didn’t hold the camera steady as long as I normally would for slow exposures. Or maybe it was because I had too much wine. At any rate, here is the salad.

Salad

Which was followed by the main course of mashed potatoes, vegetables and two bacon-wrapped filet medallions. One beef, one turkey.

Main Course

Dessert was a mango layer cake.

Mango Cake

Add in some bread and coffee (and more wine) and that was the night! We danced which was not a pretty sight. I also did a little too much chair dancing, and apologize to my friends who had to witness that. 🙂

Formal Affair

It was a lot of fun to get dressed up and spend the evening with friends. We are so honored that they invited us to join them, and grateful to have such fantastic people in our lives.

I only wish we would have gotten a photo with the 8 of us, in front of the candlelit fireplace. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to do this again!

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Double Fit: LiveFit Turkey Muffins and FitMixer Amino

Double Fit, as in LiveFit and FitMixer!

First things first, I made another batch of LiveFit Turkey Muffins.

LiveFit Turkey Muffins

Ingredients: ground turkey, oats, onions, egg whites & spices (I left out the celery).

LiveFit Turkey Muffins Raw

In the raw, ready to go into a preheated 375°F oven. Just like mini meatloaf muffins, only a bit healthier.

LiveFit Turkey Muffins Cooked

Brought along a few for today’s lunch at work. I added some different spices this time, and while better, they are still missing something. Perhaps these would taste better drizzled with a little marinara sauce as they are a little very much bland for my palette. I also intended to add some spinach and red bell pepper in the mixture for color, but forgot.

I’m definitely going to use a sauce for the remainder 10 of these, for the very least to add some color.

Yesterday morning was Day 16 of the LiveFit Trainer plan, back & biceps, and today my arms are so sore that I feel my biceps when lifting my morning coffee mug! Wish I was kidding, but I’m not. Now that I am half-way through the first phase, the weight increases with less reps per set (from 12 reps down to 10). I like that I’m lifting more weight, and lifting with confidence, and can definitely feel the change.

In some ways I like the post-lifting soreness as it is a reminder of my efforts at the gym and thus keeps me on track, avoiding office junk food. However, working out back-to-back days, it is important to make sure your muscles have recovered. As a way to help speed up recovery, I started taking fitmixer amino.

FitMixer Amino

From the fitmixer website:

“fitmixer® amino™ supports you before, during, and after physical activity to help prepare, push, and repair your body no matter what your fitness level. The unique blend in fitmixer® amino™ fuels your body with the essential nutrients it needs to give you energy, support you during your workout, and achieve your fitness goals. Whether your goal is increased energy, muscle tone, strength, or endurance, fitmixer® amino™ is right for you.*fitmixer® amino™ uses Tri-Flow™, a patent-pending blend of ingredients university tested and clinically shown** to increase nitric oxide 300% more than leading fitness products.* Increased nitric oxide may have a variety of benefits including increased oxygen delivery throughout the body to reduce fatigue and improve muscle recovery.*”

My initial thoughts – this is Kool-Aid for grown-ups! I got the fruit punch flavor which was actually really tasty. It mixed easily in my BlenderBottle with no grittiness. fitmixer also sent me samples of their grape flavor, which was good, but I favor fruit punch.

I also loved their packaging design.

The thing I didn’t like about this product was, just like Kool-Aid, they use artificial dye Red #40 which can stain hands (a minor annoyance) to more serious issues such as being is linked to hyperactivity in children among other things. I’d prefer this product to be clear, or maybe just a light color (similar to Nuun). I don’t need my drink to be bright red just because it is flavored fruit punch. 😦

FitMixer Amino Mixed

I’ve been using this for almost two weeks and I cannot say that I notice any of the claimed changes. I’ve tried it before, during and after as they suggest, and have also tried it just after and just before workouts to see if there is a difference. I don’t feel that I am getting any increased energy or endurance.

As for muscle recovery? There is a slight benefit, but not as much as I was expecting. To be fair I’ve never tried a product like this one before, so I have nothing to compare it to.

fitmixer says that their product is “university tested”, but I do not have the data of their testing to know what variables were considered. It appears to be a fairly new product on the market.

Since this product tastes good, I’ll continue to take it and finish off the rest of the container, but may not purchase again if I don’t feel enough of a benefit. Instead, I’d like to try branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) for use as a post-workout recovery supplement, or just skip BCAAs altogether. Just like with all vitamins and supplements, it is hard to gauge if they really do anything for you or if it is just a placebo effect. Yes, I am very much a skeptic when it comes to vitamins or drugs. Belief is a powerful medicine, and the mind has an incredible impact on the body. In the end I just go with my gut instinct and the way my body feels.

Have you ever tried fitmixer or a BCAA supplement? Did it work for you? What do you do to speed up muscle recovery or to reduce soreness?

Categories: Fitness, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hot Sauce and Avocados

Today I started the morning with an Ezekiel english muffin topped with almond butter, apricot preserves and chia seeds, a Morningstar Farms veggie patty (we bought a huge box of these at Costco so they make a breakfast appearance quite often lately) and a sliced Kiku apple. I’ve never had a Kiku before, but the signage boasted of its sweetness & crunch and $2.49 / lb. was almost a buck cheaper than the Honeycrisp that I adore.

Friday Breakfast

The verdict? I would not bother buying this apple again. It was slightly mealy in texture and had almost no flavor. It did have crunch, I’ll give it that, but each bite tasted like diluted apple water.

Honeycrisp, you are still my BFF.

It was a busy day at work and lunch crept up on me, so I went the easy route and heated up a Kashi frozen meal. It has been awhile since I’ve had something from Kashi. If I’m going to go the quick & convenient frozen route I usually reach for an Amy’s. However these were on sale and they had a new flavor that was of interest – Chicken Enchilada.

Kashi Chicken Enchilada

The 7 whole grain and vegetable pilaf was just alright. It had a nice texture, but it did not wow me. The enchilada was pretty good though, with a nice subtle kick of spice. I try not to make a habit of frozen meals at lunch, but I’d get this one again.

Like with most frozen dinners, it did not fill me up. I still had a few LiveFit Turkey Muffins in the fridge from Monday, and that did the trick. Turkey Muffins are one of the recommended snacks in Jamie Easton’s LiveFit 12 Week Trainer plan that I started last week. I am not the type of person to just sit down and eat a big hunk of meat by itself, but they grew on me. These muffins are really filling as they contain ground turkey, egg whites & oats, but lack flavor and color. They are super easy to make, and came in handy when I wanted some healthy quick protein between meals. I’d like to try these again with my own seasonings and adding some spinach and bell peppers for extra color and nutrition.

Today I started Week 2 / Day 1 of the 12 Week Trainer so I wanted to quickly recap my experience so far. The plan at this stage is very doable as only requires 4 workouts during the week totaling about 30-40 minutes, giving me 3 glorious days off. Since there is no cardio (only lifting) it goes by quickly and I haven’t gotten bored. I enjoy weight lifting and am happy to be getting back into it and I am glad to have a “focus” when walking into the gym. Sometimes without a plan, I’d just aimlessly walk around the gym doing random exercises. This keeps me focused and I have found the exercises to be fun and effective, and I leave the gym feeling strong.

I will make it clear, although I made the turkey muffins, I am NOT following the eating plan. The plan would be fine for someone who wanted to walk the stage in a fitness competition, but for the every day person (especially someone who lives to eat, not eats to live) the plan is limited and repetitive. The focus is on clean eating, but they recommend egg whites for breakfast and turkey muffins and more egg whites for snacks. I like both, but not that much or that often! I do try to eat healthy for the most part, but don’t obsess about it at all, so I’m just continuing to eat as I normally do.

I stopped for a Skinny Mocha at Starbucks for a post-gym “snack”. Yeah, this was way better than another turkey muffin. 😉 And since it was snowing out, it made the coffee beverage even more enjoyable.

Since we had a later dinner, we shared some grocery store sushi.

Grocery Store Sushi

It is from a big-box grocery store so it wasn’t the greatest obviously, but it was still a nice little snack. I can’t wait until we go out for some GOOD sushi soon.

Tonight I wanted to do a taste test of the 3 popular hot sauces – Tabasco, Cholula & Tapatio. We buy all of these hot sauces (and some others) but is there really a difference? I learned there IS a flavor difference!

Hot Sauce Trio

I shook a few drops onto a plate and taste tested each by itself to get the true flavor.

  • Tabasco – Tasted like spicy vinegar, no depth of flavor. Watery consistency.
  • Cholula – Spicy, but also with a sweet tomato undertone. Beautiful orange color, good consistency.
  • Tapatio – Spicy, with a slight earthy smoky undertone. Darker red color, nice sauce consistency.

The winner was a tie! Cholula and Tapatio were hands down way better than the more popular Tabasco. Both had a nicer consistency which held up, nicer color and way better flavor. If I HAD to pick, it would be Tapatio. Not only did it score high with me on flavor and appearance, but it was the bargain of the bunch at 89¢ a bottle.

It was time to celebrate the victor with a special snack.

Avocados Sliced

I sliced up some beautiful avocados.

Avocado on Toast

And fanned them out on sliced triangles of toasted Ezekiel bread. Then they got a sprinkle of red sea salt, dried cilantro (of course use fresh if you have it! I didn’t, so this was better than nothing) and then a few drops of hot sauce. The coarse grains of the salt exploded in the mouth with a burst of flavor and the hot sauce added a nice heat to the smooth and mild avocado. The bread was the perfect foundation for these snacks.

Along with some pizza and beer, this meal was the perfect ending to the week.

Are you an avocado junkie? What is your favorite way to eat them? Which hot sauce do you prefer?

Categories: Fitness, Food | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Starting Something New – LiveFit

I usually don’t take photos of everything I eat during the day, but today I decided to snap some pics.

Friday Breakfast

Breakfast was a slice of Ezekiel bread toasted and topped with almond butter & apricot preserves, 2 Morningstar Farms veggie breakfast patties & a blood orange.

Almond Butter

I LOVE almond butter very, very, very much. My favorite is MaraNatha, but it is so expensive. Then I discovered Costco, and they sell a large 26 oz. jar for $5.89! Sometimes the price fluctuates from $5.79-$5.99 but it is usually right around there. Just for size comparison, the jars that the regular grocery stores sell are typically 16 oz., so this is more than twice as much almond butter! The savings from buying my almond butter there compared to another grocery store, probably covers the cost of the $50 Costco yearly membership fee!

I usually have a mid-morning snack, but breakfast was late today so I jumped right into lunch.

Chili & Apple Lunch

Amy’s chili topped with diced bell peppers & a little feta with a side of sliced Honeycrisp apple (best apple in the world). Half-way through the chili I got tired of it, not because it tasted bad, but because it was a big bowl of chili! I heated up the whole can which was 2 servings. I decided to wrap up the rest and put it in the fridge for later.

I was still a little hungry and wanted more fuel before going to the gym. I saw that our spinach and eggs were about to go bad, so I made a quick 4-egg white scramble with baby spinach and a little mozzarella cheese stirred in.

Egg White Scramble

Perfect amount to hold me over for my new (more about that below) workout.

I received good & bad news about my knee. Good is that the x-rays came out negative – no fracture. I felt very confident it wasn’t, but the doctor really wanted to rule that out. Bad news is that the injury is still unknown. I am 90% sure it is IT Band Syndrome, although I am starting to second guess that because my knee hurts even when I am not doing physical activity. Yesterday for example, just sitting at my desk working on the computer and I lifted my leg up and it hurt. I walked to my car, and it hurt.

The doctor called and said an approval for physical therapy was approved. However, the referral is an actual piece of paper I have to go pick up, with the name and location of what doctor he wants me to go to. I seldom go to doctors, so I really don’t understand how the whole HMO healthcare system works, but it seems silly. I had to wait 5 days for my x-ray results, another 2 for the referral (which I guess was “fast”, they said it could take up to 5) and now I have to drive an hour (30 minutes each way) to go get the referral and then schedule an appointment to start PT. Hopefully they can get me in soon.

At least I am taking a step in the right direction, even if the whole process is frustrating.

I decided that I need to do something else since at this point I am not sure how much longer I’ll be off from running. I’ve tried other cardio, like cycling & elliptical, and while these do not bother me when I am doing them (unless I crank up the resistance), I do feel it the next day. Then I came across Jamie Eason’s LiveFit 12-Week Trainer program. What caught my eye was that the first phase (4 weeks) had no cardio. This plan seems to work well for where I am at right now.

Today seemed like a good day to start so I went to the gym for Phase 1 / Day 1 of the workout. Today’s workout was all lifting and it went by pretty quick.

  • Wide Pushups (okay)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press (love!)
  • Flat Bench Cable Flys (used machine for this because cable machine was too busy)
  • Narrow Pushups (I suck at these, couldn’t do all reps, even with girlie modification)
  • Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extensions (love!)
  • Triceps Pushdown (also used machine, cable machine way too busy today!)

So I think I did it pretty well. Sure I had to substitute a few, but worked the same muscles more or less. I am interested in her nutritional stack but don’t have it in the budget right now. I’ve never used any of those products and am curious if they would work. I do have hemp protein powder I can sub for the whey, and also take chia seeds or Udo’s oil.

For a post-workout snack, I had a cup of this wonderful tea that a good friend gave me, along with a new (to me) product that I picked up at the vitamin store last time I was there – Natur’s Biscotti.

Natur's Biscotti

I love regular biscotti and saw that this has 10 grams of protein & 8 grams of fiber. A healthier biscotti option? Sure! The packaging says it is Almond Cherry flavor and the ingredients also show both ingredients.

I could taste the almond, and even saw a few, but no cherries! I did not pick up on a cherry taste nor did I see any physical cherries in the biscotti.

Biscotti Closeup

A little bit disappointed as I wanted some chewy cherry bites, and a few more almond pieces but overall it was okay. I’d like to try some other flavors to compare and give it another chance.

I’m off to the salon to see my stylist with a Chocolate Cherry Bomb Shake (Smoothie) in hand…

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

(one of my faves, thanks Kristen’s Raw!) …then tonight Mr. Nine is cooking dinner. I wonder what yummy goodness he’ll make?

Have you ever tried the LiveFit program? Do you take supplements like BCAA, protein or EFAs? How do they work for you?

Categories: Fitness, Food, Running | Tags: , | 5 Comments

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