Yesterday morning, I added another max to my list: front squats.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been having to clean the bar (bring it up the my chest from the ground on my own), so I was nervous to go too heavy.  Yesterday though, I moved my front squats into the squat rack, and increased my weight by a good amount.  I struggled a bit, as I’m still working on my form and the overall strength it takes to do it right, but hey, I’m getting there – and that’s what counts. 

For the rest of my workout, I had one goal: do at least each group unbroken, meaning I wouldn’t stop in the middle of any of the sets.  Sometimes I find that I go too easy on myself, allowing myself to take largely unnecessary breaks just because, well, I can.  There’s no one watching me and no one to tell me not to… so why not, right?  But in reality, I’m only cheating myself, so in an attempt to push myself harder, I made a conscious effort to stop doing that.  And I’m happy to say that it was a total success!  I really didn’t have to work that much harder to complete all of the sets unbroken, but I’m sure I got a heck of a lot more out of it.

Here’s what it looked like all together:

  1. Warm up: 5 minute walk on treadmill
  2. Front squats:
    1. 15 @ 45lbs
    2. 12 @ 65lbs
    3. 8 @ 95lbs
    4. 6 @ 115lbs
    5. 3, 2, 1 @ 135lbs
    6. 8 @ 115 lbs
    7. 3 @ 135 lbs
    8. {8 @ 70lbs} x4
  3. Workout (UNBROKEN):
    1. Run 6 laps
    2. 10 Pull-ups (assisted @ 40lbs)
    3. 10 Toes-to-bar
    4. 10 Walking lunges (each leg)
    5. Run 4 laps
    6. 10 Hand-release push-ups
    7. 10 Box jumps
    8. 10 Goblet squats @ 20lbs
    9. Run 2 laps
    10. 10 Handstand push-ups
    11. 10 Wall balls
    12. 10 Dumbbell deadlifts from floor @ 30lbs
    13. 50 Shoulder presses @ 35lbs
  4. {12 Barbell bicep curls @ 20lbs + 12 Overhead tricep extensions @ 20lbs} x4
  5. {20 Swiss ball sit-ups + 20 Swiss ball overhead side bends} x5
  6. Cool down: 5 minute walk

For breakfast, I made another chocolate protein shake, plus a banana on the side.  (I know I said I want to mostly drink this at night but laziness + lack of food/ideas/time = another chocolate shake. Oh well.)


For lunch, I just brought another serving of my dinner from the night before.  What’s easier than that?  I didn’t put honey on the chicken this time, but I did use some crushed red pepper to spice things up.


Later, I snacked on an apple and almond butter before calling it a day.  Sometimes Fridays drag on, but this one flew by, for sure!


After work, I drove to my mom’s house to stay for the night.  I told her I’d pick something up on the way so we wouldn’t have to cook (it was Friday, after all), but she’s awesome and decided to make dinner in the crock pot instead.  (I really need to get a new crockpot and start using it because it makes cooking weeknight dinners so much easier!)   She cooked chicken, veggies (carrots, broccoli, peppers, peapods), and spices in the crockpot, plus she made asparagus and rice on the side.  It was totally delicious and much needed after a long day… thanks, Mom!


Time to start this weekend off right… Happy Saturday! Smile

Largely Unplugged

This weekend was spent largely away from the computer, camera, and TV… and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Most of the time, I enjoy snapping pictures and blogging about everything I do, but every now and then it gets tiring and I need a little bit of a break.  With my Spring allergies starting to bloom in full force, the stress of my CPT exam being just a week away, a beautiful three days of warm weather, and an Easter holiday spent with family all converging at one time, it was the perfect weekend to unplug a bit and just enjoy a little downtime. 

I did snap a few pictures here and there though, so here’s a limited recap of this past weekend.

Saturday morning, I headed to the gym first thing and completed this workout:

  1. Warmup: 10 minute walk on treadmill
  2. Back squats:
    1. 10 @ 95lbs
    2. 8 @ 135lbs
    3. 6 @ 155lbs
    4. 4 @ 175lbs
    5. 3 @ 195lbs
    6. 2 @ 215lbs
    7. 2 @ 235lbs
    8. 2 @ 215lbs
    9. 2 @ 195lbs
    10. 4 @ 175lbs
    11. 6 @ 155lbs
    12. 8 @ 135lbs
    13. 10 @ 95lbs
  3. Workout: (4x)
    1. 25 Jump ropes
    2. 15 Close-stance front squats @ 45lbs
    3. 10 Overhead squats @ 45lbs
    4. 5 Push presses @ 45lbs
  4. Wide stance barbell squats (Plié squats):
    1. {15 @ 95lbs} x2
    2. {12 @ 115lbs} x2
    3. {15 @ 95lbs} x2
  5. 5 Deadlifts @ 95lbs x5
  6. 25 RDLs @ 45 x2
  7. Leg presses:
    1. Wide: {12 @ 170lbs} x2
    2. Middle: {12 @ 180lbs} x2
    3. Narrow: {12 @ 170lbs} x2
  8. {10 Hanging knee lifts + 25 Calf raises} x4
  9. {25 Swiss ball sit-ups + 15 Handstand shrugs} x4
  10. Cool down: 5 minute walk

Post-workout, I snacked on a delicious green smoothie on the way to visit my family.  Made with plain Chobani, frozen strawberries, a little bit of honey, and a ton of spinach, it was the perfect drink on a warm Spring day.


After a little bit of shopping and hanging out outside, my mom, cousin, and I went to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner. 


This is pretty much our entire family’s favorite Chinese restaurant, and I think we ate enough for everyone who wasn’t there with us!


For dessert, my mom and I snacked on my cousin’s famous homemade biscotti.  Everyone in my family seems to have a signature treat that everyone else always asks them to make, and that’s definitely his… it’s amazing!

Easter morning, I opened my Easter basket with my mom and lounged around for a while before getting the day going.  (Yes, I’m 24 and still get an Easter basket… thanks, Mom. Smile)


I made a bacon and egg sandwich on an English Muffin with strawberries on the side for breakfast (plus chocolate from my Easter basket, of course), and then my mom and I took a long walk outside with the dog. 


The weather was absolutely beautiful, and now that I’m starting to transition out of Winter and into Spring mode, I’m just hoping it sticks around!

For Easter dinner, we headed over to my aunt’s house to share the day with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.  I feel so lucky to have so much family living so close by, and it’s wonderful to get to see them practically whenever I want. 

My aunt is a fellow Pinterest addict, and along with all kinds of appetizers, we enjoyed these fun (and wicked tasty!) blue drinks before dinner. 


And for the main attraction: enough food to feed an army!  Of course, with three growing boys, she pretty much always has to prepare like she’s feeding a small army, but my aunt is an excellent cook, so I love joining in.  We had ham, lamb, potatoes, rice, green beans, rolls, and all the fixings.  She steamed the GB’s and then tossed them in lemon, honey, and garlic, and I had two huge helpings.  I definitely need to try making them that way next time! 


For dessert, we had birthday ice cream cake for my cousin, plus Trader Joe’s pear tart (delicious), and of course, more biscotti.  Stuffed full, I eventually rolled myself into my car and drove on home, where it took all the energy I had left just to crawl into bed early. 

A great weekend, indeed! 

My Favorite Part(s) Of The Day

Do you have a favorite part of the day?

Aside from the fact that it’s still dark out and sometimes it’s so hard  to get out of my nice, comfy bed, my favorite part of the day is by far the hour and a half I spend at the gym in the morning.  I won’t lie: sometimes when I’m lacing up my sneakers, it’s the absolute last thing I want to do at that moment, but once I get there – and especially, once I’m finished – I remember why it’s my favorite. 

Usually, I feel sort of tired and groggy on my way in to the gym, but after a few minutes of getting my blood pumping on the treadmill, I’m ready to go.  It’s weird, I can almost feel myself getting all pumped up for my upcoming workout, and I get almost overly excited for the pain fun that’s about to ensue. 

When I tackle something new, make some sort of gain, or even just get through a particularly tough workout, I feel accomplished and so proud of myself.  Maybe I’ve just never experienced that before because I didn’t really play competitive sports growing up, or maybe it’s because I just don’t get that sort of satisfaction in other aspects of my life… but it’s seriously awesome

Every day, I pretty much see the same people there in the morning, and even though I don’t talk to most of them (I’m shy, what can I say?), I still feel like I know them.  It’s almost like we share a bond; a membership to the secret 5am workout club that you have to be really tough and committed to join. 

And seeing people rock their workouts that early in the morning is really, really great. 

So I’m telling you: if you haven’t already boarded the exercise train, get on it immediately.  You don’t have to lift super heavy weights or run 16 miles a day; just get out there and do some walking, biking, swimming, rock climbing… whatever makes you happy.  Because honestly, as long as you’re being active and doing things that you enjoy, I promise it will make a positive impact on your life. 

Yesterday’s workout wasn’t anything all that special, but I did feel like a champ after I finished all those pull-ups!  Here’s what it looked like:

  1. Warm up: 10 minute walk
  2. Front squats:
    1. 15 @ 50lbs
    2. 12 @ 60lbs
    3. 10 @ 70lbs
    4. {8 @ 80lbs} x6
  3. Workout (5x):
    1. Row 250 M
    2. 10 Overhead lunges (each leg) w/ 10lb plate
    3. 15 Wall balls
  4. Pull-ups (assisted @ 50lbs) & Hanging toes-to-bar:
    1. 10 PUs + 8 T2Bs
    2. 9 PUs + 8 T2Bs
    3. 8 PUs + 8 T2Bs
    4. 7 PUs + 8 T2Bs
    5. 6 PUs
  5. {12 Cable upright rows @ 40lbs + 12 High cable rows @ 40lbs} x4
  6. Core (4x):
    1. 20 Swiss ball crunches
    2. 15 Back extensions on Swiss ball
    3. 10 Oblique twists (each side)
    4. 5 Hanging knees lifts
  7. Cool down: 5 minute walk

For breakfast, I had the rest of the cinnamon-banana-dark chocolate chip muffins I made the other day, plus a bunch of purple grapes. 


Late morning, I started getting hungry, so I snacked on some sliced cucumbers and carrots before heading out to a meeting.  The meeting was at the company office right near my apartment, so I stopped at home for lunch, and it was wonderful to get to be outside for a few minutes during the warmest part of the day.  Being at home for lunch is always my favorite thing, but it was particularly great considering the beautiful weather we had going on yesterday.  I guess I might have to revise my previous statement because noontime sunshine makes the lunch hour a pretty great part of the day as well! 

I just threw the leftover steak, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli I’d brought with me for lunch onto a plate and popped it into the microwave, but somehow not eating it out of a plastic container made it taste so much better than it would have at my desk.


DSC_0465Dates for dessert, of course. 


I snacked on an apple with almond butter later on, and then my friend forced me to try one of the Panera chocolate chip cookies that someone brought in.  I love most all chocolate chip cookies, but Panera does chocolate chip cookies right.  That’s for sure. 


I had to run a few errands after work, so a quick heat-up-in-the-microwave dinner was perfect. This massive plate of goodness consisted of homemade meat sauce over spaghetti squash with sliced green peppers and snow peas. 


I always try to make extra food when I cook early on in the week because by the end of the week, I often get lazy and/or busy and don’t have time or energy to make meals.  Having a few extra meals in the fridge ready to go makes it easy to grab something healthy on busy nights, and it also makes the probability of stopping at a fast-food restaurant on the way home smaller.  I try to plan it out to make sure I don’t end up with way too much, but you can always just stick a pre-made meal in the freezer if you don’t end up eating it.


Do you prep extra meals ahead of time?

What’s your favorite part of the day?  Do you have more than one?

Deadlifts & Landmines: Not As Scary As They Sound

I think it’s official that my absolute favorite thing to train in the gym is legs.  I used to like upper body best, and I still enjoy it, but training legs makes me feel so powerful – all 5’1” of me! 


Yesterday’s strength portion of my workout incorporated deadlifts on their own for the first time, and it was a lot of fun.  I’ve been steadily increasing my numbers on squats and upper body strength exercises, but I really had no idea where I stood on deadlifts alone.  These were challenging, but it’s definitely not the best I can do, so I’m already excited to push myself again next week.  My legs may not be long, but at least they’re getting stronger every day!

  1. Warm up: 10 minute walk on treadmill
  2. Deadlifts:
    1. 12 @ 70lbs
    2. 10 @ 80lbs
    3. 8 @ 95lbs
    4. {5 @ 115lbs} x5
    5. 8 @ 95lbs
  3. Workout (4x):
    1. 100 Jump ropes
    2. 10 Pull-ups (assisted @ 40lbs)
    3. 15 Hanging knee lifts
    4. 20 Push-ups
  4. 100 sit ups
  5. Circuit (4x):
    1. 12 Lateral raises @ 10lbs
    2. 10 Alternating side curls (each side) @ 10lbs
    3. 10 One-arm landmine rainbow presses with squat (each side) @ 45lbs 
  6. {12 Back extensions + 20 Obliques} x2
  7. Cool down: 5 minute walk

If you’ve never heard of a landmine, don’t worry, because until yesterday, I hadn’t either.  The Y I go to just got one a few weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to try it out ever since.  I went for it yesterday, and although I have no idea what the move I did is actually called (and I may have just made it up), I do know that it absolutely killed my shoulders/back/biceps so I’ll definitely be incorporating more landmine exercises in the future. 

After a bit of Googling, I found this article, and although I don’t necessarily agree with some of the moves, I do think it might help me come up with other things to do.  If you don’t have a landmine, you can easily just put a barbell in a corner, like they did, and add a whole new dimension to your workout. 

In other news: Do you know what the grossest thing to eat right after you brush your teeth is?  Besides orange juice… kiwi.  I learned that one the hard way yesterday.

I had two near-death bananas at home, so the other night I decided to use them to make a few muffins.  I basically used this recipe, except that I used two bananas and two eggs instead of one.  The result was a batch of muffins that were way more dense and less fluffy than the original version, but that was fine with me.  These were super moist, but still really delicious, and the cinnamon and chocolate chips added to the natural sweetness of the bananas.

But the kiwi?  That was another story. 

I’ll definitely think twice about eating one with a minty-fresh mouth next time. 


Since breakfast was sort of lacking in protein, I was hungry again just a little while later and snacked on some carrots and cucumbers to hold me over until lunch. 


For lunch, I brought a repeat of Monday’s meal: chicken with green and red peppers, plus dates for dessert. 



Around mid-afternoon, I was starting to get hungry again, when my friend stopped by my desk with a new product her husband had picked up for her.  She gave me a pack to try, and I’d say that I liked them, but I wasn’t in love with them.  The sweet dried mango flavor was really tasty, but the oats flavor was a little overpowering for me.  They weren’t bad for a quick, bite-sized snack though.


Later on came my real afternoon snack… a pear with cinnamon.  When I was younger, I used to love pears, and I’d always eat the seriously soft, juicy ones.   I guess I forgot about them for a while, but when I started eating them again, it seemed like all I could find was really firm ones.  I like them both ways, but I still think they’re best when they’re really ripe – just like with bananas.  The trick is just to let them sit in the fridge for a while before you eat them!


Once I’d eaten all of my meals and snacks for the day, I assessed the state of my desk, and this is what I found:


It’s like a Tupperware factory by the end of the day around here!  (And that doesn’t even include a container for my muffins because I put those in a bag for some reason…)  Thank gosh my lunch box (or my “food purse” as my friend calls it) is big enough to hold everything I need!

Last night, dinner was a little later, so I snacked on another date and a big spoonful of crunchy peanut butter when I got home from work.  Every time I dig into a jar of peanut butter with a spoon, it amazes me that there was once a day where I didn’t even like peanut butter at all.  The horror!

Later, dinner came in the form of Christmas on a plate.  I cooked up some sliced red peppers and green beans in a pan with steak, seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning. 


If you don’t have a grill, cooking them together and letting all the flavors combine is the way to go!


Despite a weak threat of snow last night, it has been getting progressively warmer all week, and I have to admit: I don’t hate it.  I’m heading home for Easter this weekend, and the forecast is calling for 57*F on Sunday, which sounds like the perfect weather for a nice long walk after dinner. 

I certainly don’t want to wish away winter, but if the flowers outside would start to look as lively as these colored daisies I picked up at the grocery store the other day, I wouldn’t complain!


Have a great Thursday, everyone!

Indecisive Eater

I always look over my workouts the night before to see what’s coming.  I don’t really like to be surprised when it comes to exercise, so previewing them allows me to get mentally prepared. 

When I saw yesterday’s, I didn’t think it would be all that challenging.  Sure, burpees are hard for me, but it looked easy enough written out on paper. 

Boy, was I wrong.

After the very first round, I was thinking, “holy $h!t, this is ridiculous” and I was fully convinced that I would never make it through more than two or three rounds, let alone the five I was aiming for. 

Luckily, the body is a powerful thing, and once I stopped thinking about it and just took each round as it came, I was fine.  Worrying about having four rounds left is what made me feel skeptical about completing it, but once I just let my body do the work, I was done before I knew it.  (Granted, I still felt like I was going to die afterwards, but that’s beside the point.)

Here’s what it looked like:

  1. Warm up: 10 minute walk on treadmill
  2. Push presses:
    1. 12 @ 40lbs
    2. 10 @ 50lbs
    3. 8 @ 60lbs
    4. {5 @ 70lbs} x5
  3. Workout (5x):
    1. Run 2 laps
    2. 10 Burpees
    3. 15 Dumbbell swings @ 20lbs
    4. 7 Handstand push-ups
  4. Upper body supersets:
    1. {12 Cable curls + 12 Cable pushdowns} x4
    2. {12 Cable upright rows + 12 High cable rows} x4
  5. Core (4x):
    1. 20 Swiss ball crunches
    2. 15 Back extensions on Swiss ball
    3. 10 Overhead side bends (each side)
    4. 5 Hanging knees to elbows
  6. 25 Hanging knee lifts
  7. Cool down: 5 minute walk

I pack all of my lunch and snacks the night before as well, but I often leave breakfast open and choose what I want in the morning.  Yesterday though, I was so indecisive that I almost didn’t eat anything at all.  (Luckily I knew I wouldn’t have survived the morning if I didn’t eat and so I forced myself to, but still.) 

Eggs didn’t sound appealing, I had no time to make muffins or pancakes, I didn’t want to have oatmeal or yogurt again… the prospects were bleak.  In the end, I ended up going with two random things that were easy to grab: a chocolate protein shake with almond milk and cantaloupe.  Definitely not the most exciting meal ever, but it worked!


For lunch, I brought an absolutely delicious meal that was sort of a new twist on things I’ve made before.  A couple nights ago, I cooked up some ground beef and then simmered it on low for a while with a small can of tomato paste, water, crushed red pepper and basil. 



I microwaved a spaghetti squash and sauteed green peppers and snow peas in a pan before throwing it all together in a Tupperware for a couple of meals. 


For lunch, I just heated it up and threw it on a plate, and it was great!


A couple of dates served as dessert…


And I snacked on an apple and almond butter later in the day. 

After doing a little baking last night, I couldn’t decide what I wanted for dinner (apparently indecisiveness was the theme of the day), but eventually I went with something super easy: 2 fried eggs, bacon, and green beans.  It took all of three minutes to make and was perfectly satisfying. 


For dessert, strawberries, a couple squares of TJ’s 70% dark chocolate, and a small glass of almond milk. 


My stomach’s already feeling better, and I’m determined to carry it through this weekend.  So far, so good… Happy Wednesday! Smile


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