The Dumbbell Club

Check it out, I’m famous: This Workout Club Not For The Bleary-Eyed.

Last Friday, the lady at the front desk gave me a heads-up about there being a reporter from the local paper upstairs interviewing people.  My first thought was to hope he wasn’t taking pictures, as I head to the gym each morning having just rolled out of bed, but luckily, he wasn’t.  What he was doing was asking everyone questions about why the heck we get up so early to workout. 

Answers varied from ‘it’s the only time I can do it’ to ‘it makes me feel better all day long,’ but it was cool to have him there acknowledging our little club.  It really is the same group of people there every single morning, and it’s really nice to have been able to meet and bond with people over the last year that I’ve been going.  I’ve made some great friends, and I feel like I’m a part of something.  Everyone looks out for each other, and it’s a lot of fun.  When I was out for a few days a couple of weeks ago, people actually asked about me.  Does that happen at other gyms, at other times?  Doubt it. 

(The only thing is that we don’t actually call ourselves “The Dumbbell Club, but that’s reporting for you.)

This week’s workouts have been as tough as always, but I’ve gotten through them.  I wouldn’t have ever done 20 wall walks or carried 45-lb plates during my farmer’s carry on my own, but that’s the beauty of working out with a group.  They pushed me, I did it, and it was awesome. 

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This week’s eats have been kind of a free-for-all.  I did prep some chicken and veggies on Sunday, but not nearly as much as I normally do, so I’ve been creating meals on the fly as I go.  The other day for lunch, I had a salad with lettuce, spinach, chicken, cucumbers, strawberries, sliced almonds, and balsamic vinegar, and it was awesome. 

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And I guess I was on a salad kick (trying to use up what I have in the fridge) because the other night I made a Chipotle salad with lettuce, spinach, chicken, red peppers, habanero salsa, and a few tortilla chips on the side.  That habanero salsa is spiiiiiiiicy, but I love it. 

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Last night, I had a weird craving for pasta… which was extra weird because I never crave pasta.  I really don’t even like pasta all that much, but I blame George for getting spaghetti this weekend.  It looked good, and I guess it stuck with me. 

I had some cooked chicken already in the fridge, so I decided to make one of my old favorites, with just a little twist.  (That post is wicked old and the picture is terrible; forgive me.)  I cooked some gluten-free spaghetti and heated up the chicken in a pan alongside some sliced red peppers.  Once everything was done, I threw it all in the frying pan with crushed tomatoes (basically tomato sauce without anything added), coconut milk, crushed red pepper, garlic, and basil. 

I used to use half and half or cream in this recipe, and it probably made it a little thicker, but coconut milk is a really great substitution if you’re trying to avoid dairy.  It’s still pretty thick, and doesn’t taste like coconut at all (which I’m glad about). 

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And on this wonderful Wednesday, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from this week:

The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done.

And whether it’s at work, in the gym, or in relationships, I strongly believe that’s true.  You can spend all your time and energy trying to figure out how to be perfect… or you can get things done.  No one’s perfect, and no matter how long you spend trying to be, it probably won’t work.  And in the end, you won’t gain anything from it either.  But if you get out out there and give it your best and get things done, you’ll undoubtedly reap the benefits. 

Just something to think about… Have a good one!


Recommitted

This week has been like a rebirth for me.  I’ve recommitted myself to eating healthier and being more focused during my workouts, and so far, it’s working.

But it hasn’t been easy. 

I was talking with my friend the other day about how it’s so easy to fall off the wagon, but it’s a lot harder to get back on.  Little by little, it’s easy to get used to eating more junk food than normal or becoming a little lax with your exercise routine, but cravings, cupboards full of junk food, and lazy habits are a lot harder to kick.  You don’t notice that you’re going off track, and then all of a sudden… your pants don’t fit. 

It’s a crazy world out there, huh?

Anyways, I brought back some of my old favorites this week, and I’m readjusting to liking/craving these healthier foods again.  After a while of eating well, the natural sweetness of fruits and veggies really starts to come out, but at first, after you’ve been indulging in cookies and candy for a little too long, these things can be kind of bland.  Luckily, I remember what it feels like to think carrots are sweet and crave a nice piece of lean grilled chicken over of a big, greasy sandwich, so I know it’s possible.  Those days are not far off again, I’m sure. 

For lunch this week, I made the standard chicken with zucchini and tomatoes.  I’ve been spicing it up differently each day with spices and add-ins, like sliced almonds.  It seems boring at first to eat the same thing every day for a week, but it’s really so easy to make it different each time. (Plus, it makes my life a lot easier during hectic work weeks.)

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For breakfasts this week, I’ve also brought back old favorites that have fallen by the wayside in recent months. 

Eggs with peppers:

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And green smoothies:

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This one was made with SunWarrior chocolate protein powder, almond milk, half a banana, spinach, and ice, and despite the disgusting green hue, it was really delicious.  I haven’t made many smoothies at all lately, and this reminded me how good they are.  I’m not in love with that protein powder anymore (and usually I just omit powders in favor of real food anyway), but I think I’m going to try to find another non-dairy one that I like, just in case.  I made this one for breakfast on Tuesday when I didn’t really have time to cook up any “real” food, and I realized that it’s nice to have it around in a pinch. On that note, if you have any good non-dairy (as clean as possible) protein powder recommendations, please share! 

One of the other things I’ve been focusing on this week is my workouts.  I reformatted my strength portion, giving myself more structure in pursuit of my goals, and I’ve added back in a warm-up, supplementary strength work, and core work.  These are all things that I used to do regularly as part of my workouts, but somewhere along the line, they sort of fell away.  Throughout the summer, I had less time to spend in the gym and, frankly, didn’t really care as much, but now, I’m back at it!  They seem a little longer, but really, I’m just using my time more wisely, so hopefully it pays off. 

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This week sort of seems like it’s dragging on, but it’s probably because I’m looking forward to Pumpkinfest and some very special visitors this weekend, and the good news is: we’re halfway there. 

So for those of you who are also looking forward to something:

Have a good one!


Use It Up

Lately, my diet has been a little… wild.  (For me, anyway.)  And my body has been paying for it. 

I think it all started back when I got my wisdom teeth out.  At first, I could only eat certain things, and most of them weren’t on my normal foods list.  Then, when I could finally eat normal foods again, I was feeling so hungry and deprived that I shoveled in anything and everything I could get my hands on.  And then I started this pattern of going out to eat a lot and getting bored with my normal foods, so I’d switch it up and bring back things I used to eat – like cheese, a lot of cheese.  And things have seemed to just spiral downhill from there. 

But then I remembered why I stopped eating all those things:

Pimples.

Stomach aches.

Lethargy. 

Weight gain.

Decreased performance.

Trouble sleeping.

Yup, now I remember. 

So in an effort to get myself back on track, I’ve been trying to clean all the junk out of my apartment –  all the cookies and candy and bread and bagels and pasta and cheese I’ve accumulated over the last few weeks, even if it is gluten-free.  For a long time, I didn’t eat any of this stuff, but then, slowly but surely, somewhere along the way, I started reintroducing them.  I’d buy a loaf of cinnamon raisin gluten-free bread here, a bag of candy corn there, and I guess I started to feel good enough that I thought I could handle them and it wouldn’t matter.  

But it did. 

(I probably should’ve known that subsisting solely on candy corn wasn’t a suitable plan, but I guess I got distracted by the pretty colors on the trees.)  Anyways, you can bet that I probably won’t be straying from the usual meats/fruits/veggies/nuts/seeds diet again anytime soon. 

It just works for me.  And now I know.  

I guess sometimes it just takes a little reminder, and I certainly got one. 

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I really hate to waste food, so for the most part, I have just been using up what I can.  I threw out the rest of the cheese in my fridge because I just couldn’t deal with it anymore, but when it comes to the things that don’t bother me quite as much, I’ve just been eating them.  It’s a little counterintuitive given that I know it’s not going to help me, but I’m not made of money and throwing away food – no matter how junky – is just not cool.

For lunch the other day, I made a wrap with one of the rice tortillas I had left in the freezer.  I filled it with chicken, red peppers, spinach, and a little habanero salsa, and I had some Cape Cod chips on the side.  It was a delicious lunch – and not terrible, nutrition-wise – but I still think I’m going to be saying goodbye to chips and tortillas for a while.  It’s a slippery slope, people. 

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When it comes to workouts, that’s another area I’m really refocusing myself on.  It’s easy to skip workouts in the summer because I’m so busy and still active in other ways, but in the winter, there’s less of an excuse not to get to the gym.  There’s much less going on, and thus much more time that can be spent in the gym – and plus, I have goals to reach

Here’s what Monday and Tuesday’s workouts looked like:

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I got to the gym a little earlier this week, and it made a big difference in what I was able to accomplish.  I go to bed early and I get plenty of sleep, so there’s no reason I can’t get there earlier.  (Usually I spend a half hour on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube instead of just getting out the door when I wake up anyway.) 

So that’s my plan… now let’s just hope I can stick to it!


Goals.

They’re important. 

And with the change in seasons, I feel like there’s no better time to set some.  We’ve been talking about setting some personal fitness goals at the gym lately, and it’s definitely lit a fire under me.  Winter’s long around here, and it’s the perfect time to establish some consistency and really commit to things, so I’ve decided that that’s what I’m going to do. 

As far as fitness goes, I want to really commit to crushing my workouts, getting stronger and faster, and improving some of my skills.  I want to be able to do pull-ups without a band, I want to be able to hold a handstand and have control without falling, and I want to get better at running. 

As the days get shorter and the darkness limits the time I can spend outside, I’ve found myself cooped up in my apartment more often, and it’s only going to get worse.  I sometimes say that I’ll head to the gym after work – but let’s face it, it’s way too crowded for me to want to be there at night, and I’m usually too wiped out from the day to want to do anything besides sit on my couch in my sweatpants anyway.  But after about five minutes of watching TV, I usually get antsy, so the other night, I decided to make a much better use of my time and start working toward my goals right away.

So I started practiced headstands in my living room, and then I ordered a pull-up bar online. 

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Yup, that’s right. 

I am now the proud owner of one of those removable pull-up bars that lets me work on knees to elbows/toes to bar/pull-ups/kips/hangs/L-holds whenever my little heart desires from the comfort of my own living room.  It took me ten minutes to put together, cost me 25 bucks, and (thank gosh I’m short) is the perfect size. 

Pull-up domination, here I come! 

And it’s not just at home where I’ve been working hard lately… We’ve been working hard in the gym this week too:

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(Don’t let the length of that second one fool you.  I assure you – it was not easy.)

In terms of personal goals, I did a quick search back to the beginning of the year to revisit the ones I set for myself then, and here’s what I found:

  • Put myself first
  • Don’t fear being alone
  • Don’t hang on
  • Stop overthinking things
  • Pursue my dreams
  • Make the most of every day
  • Do things I want to do
  • See the country
  • Continue bettering myself for the future

And I have to say, with the exception of “see the country,” I am absolutely killing it on all of those goals.  I’ll save the details for another post, but I’ve certainly come a long, long way since this time last year! 

When it comes to healthy eating goals, I have a simple one: care less.

Sometimes I let myself get a little too consumed with being perfect when it comes to eating.  It’s partly because I find nutrition so interesting and I want to see what I can do with it, but it’s also partly because I’m just a perfectionist in all aspects of my life.  Either way, occasionally I find myself obsessing over clean eating/macros/meal planning so much, when really, I seem to have the best results when I just go with it.  When I’m not counting calories or calculating protein-fat-carb ratios and I’m just eating what I know works for me, I am not only much happier and less stressed, but I also feel a lot better, physically. 

So that’s my goal: Eat clean and be healthy, but care less about being perfect. 

To that end, I’ve tried to be a little more creative with my meals lately, and it’s really been working out.  I recently discovered that the salad bar at work can be pretty phenomenal, and this salad with chicken, cold roasted veggies, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries has become one of my new favorites. 

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I busted out the julienne peeler this week to make some zucchini spaghetti (and carrot spaghetti, I suppose), which I cooked up with chicken and spices, and it made the perfect reheat-for-lunch meal. 

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I also brought brown rice back into my life in the form of ground turkey, rice, and tomato stuffed green peppers, which were absolutely delicious. 

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Oh, and remember all those apples I got last Sunday?  Well, I’m slowly working my way through those too.  I found out last night that the ginger golds make the perfect applesauce because they’re already so sweet and soft, and it paired perfectly with my porkchop and green beans dinner. 

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I’ve still got about two dozen apples left, so I think there’s definitely going to be some apple baking going on this weekend! 

When’s the last time you set some goals for yourself? 

What goals are you currently working toward?


The Two Coolest Things In My Life Right Now

Holy cow.  I think I’ve discovered the key to crushing workouts: REST!

This may not come as a shock to many of you, but it has always been a difficult concept for me to grasp, so it’s pretty cool to finally see it ring true.

I hate taking days off – it makes me feel lazy, more tired than when I do workout, and I get antsy.  But last week, I took the entire week off.  It started when I woke up sick on Monday and said forget this.  I actually got dressed to go to the gym, but when I realized how truly terrible I felt, I climbed right back into bed for two more hours – workout clothes and all. 

That trend continued through the week, and by the time Thursday rolled around, I decided to just call the week a wash and start over fresh on Monday.  I was tired of being sick (and tired from being sick) and I knew that if I pushed myself too soon, it would only take me longer to get better.  It was hard to take an entire week off from doing something I love – but it was also amazing.  I slept in every day, rested and relaxed literally as much as possible (sleeping almost 12 hours a night), and completely just listened to my body. 

I’m still not 100% (curse you, stuffy nose), but I’m getting there.  And besides the fact that it’s still hard to breathe out of my nose, my body feels wonderful – rested and rejuvenated to the fullest.  Workouts have gotten their charm back, and they’ve actually been fun again.  (The week before last when I was starting to get sick, I wanted to be anywhere but in the gym.)   Movements seem effortless and I feel ready to go. 

So the moral of the story is: listen to your body.  Rest, recover, take care of yourself… and come back stronger!

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The second coolest thing happening in my life right now is my new “screen door.”  (I live a wildly exciting life, I know.)  If it was socially acceptable and physically possible to live outside, I probably would.  But this is New England and it gets cold and living (read: eating, showering, sleeping) in your front yard is frowned upon in most communities.  So instead, I keep my windows and doors open until it’s physically too cold to stand it anymore.  I guess I just have a thing for fresh air.

But you see, there’s also these pesky little things called bugs.  Honestly, they really don’t bother me all that much, so I’d just been leaving my front door wide open, but then a huge moth nearly gave me a heart attack when it landed on me in bed one night (yup, gross) so I decided it was time to do something about it.  My dad is a contractor so I’m sure I could’ve just asked my landlord if he’d let my dad install me a new screen door, but obviously that’s way too much work. 

So instead, I went on my trusty Amazon Prime app (my addiction to Amazon Prime is another post entirely), and ordered a removable screen door.  I was a little skeptical, as it was only $9.99 and the reviews weren’t great, but when it got delivered the next day and I put it up with the included Velcro strips, I was sold.  It lets me keep the door open while keeping the bugs out, and the magnets snap it closed whenever I go through it.  For less than ten bucks and a five minute installation, it’s perfect.  And once the weather gets too cold to leave the door open (if ever), I can take it down and throw it in the closet until next spring. 

Problem solved. 

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What’s the coolest thing going on in your life right now?  Can you beat my new screen door?


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