Work Lunches

You know what happens when you don’t spend enough time meal prepping at the beginning of the week?  You spend a ton of money on lunches at work. 

At least, that’s what happened to me this week. 

With everything going on last weekend, I was a little too lazy to make any good meals for this week, so I just figured I’d make them as I went.  And well, that didn’t happen.  Instead, I’ve been snacking my way through the week and buying lunch at work many of the days.  Luckily, we have a pretty good cafeteria there, but it’s certainly not cheap.  I’ve been getting a lot of salads, which you pay for by weight, and I must pick all of the heaviest items because mine are always the most expensive salads ever.  (Or, I just eat a lot.)

This one had lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, chicken, sunflower seeds, craisins, and roasted veggies, with balsamic vinegar.  Okay, I guess that’s a lot of stuff, but still. 

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Another day, I decided to stray from the salad bar and get one of the specials.  It was an Asian stir fry where you could pick what you wanted in the wonton bowl, and I picked chicken plus just about every veggie available – broccoli, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, asparagus… it was awesome. 

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I don’t know if it’s the erratic eating or what, but I’ve been feeling extra tired this week.  It could be that I’m just busy, with working late and and playing flag football and staying up late to catch up on my favorite shows, but it’s just been really hard to get out of bed.  I think another contributing factor is definitely that it’s only 30 degrees outside and pitch black when I wake up now, making the thought of staying in my warm, cozy bed a lot more appealing than heading outside for the gym, but on Thursday, I almost slept through my alarm entirely.

Luckily, I made it at the last second and still got in some pretty good workouts:

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I’m looking forward to a nice low-key weekend catching up on some chores and errands. 

Hope you have a good one too!


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!


Pumpkin Season is Upon Us!

To say I’m excited for this weekend would be a pretty huge understatement.  Not only is it Pumpkinfest, but I also get to see two of most wonderful friends.  Add to that good weather, great food, and some fun times with new friends, and what more could I ask for?!

Last year, I planned on going to Pumpkinfest, but ended up going home instead.  My grandmother was in the nursing home and not doing well, and my whole family somehow ended up home and together that weekend.  That ended up being the night she passed away, so I felt lucky to have made the choice to be nowhere but there, with my family, on her last night. 

But this year, I’m staying here to go to Pumpkinfest for the first time ever, and I’m pretty excited to finally be there.  I’ll probably end up sick of the crowds after about ten minutes, but I still want to see what it’s all about! 

My company gave 20,000 pumpkins out to the town this year, and it was funny to see all the kids walking home from school with them on Tuesday.  I picked up a couple for my friends and myself, and the other night, I spent some time carving them.  My town is going for the world record, so your admission is one carved pumpkin in order to help us win.  I’m carving my pumpkin on Friday night with my friends from work, but my other friends aren’t getting here until late, so I carved theirs for them. 

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The finished products are a surprise! 

I was feeling lazy and thus wasn’t planning on cooking any of the seeds this year, but when it came time to throw them out, I just couldn’t do it.  So, I did what I do every year and cooked them up with a little bit of salt. 

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Such an easy, delicious, and nutritious snack!

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Speaking of easy and delicious (not necessarily nutritious), I’ve got a pretty good recipe coming at you next week.  These pumpkin spice cake cookies were super simple to make and I think (hope!) they’re going to be a hit.  They’re soft, chewy, and sweet, with just enough Fall flavor. 

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I was feeling extra tired on Wednesday, so I skipped the gym altogether and took an unplanned rest day, but Thursday and today, I was back at it:

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Those were tough ones!

As far as meals go, I’ve been trying to keep things as clean and healthy as possible this week because I’m pretty positive that there’s going to be plenty of candy apples, cider donuts, pumpkin beer, and other treats this weekend.  The other night, that clean, healthy meal came in the form of steak with asparagus, red peppers, and spinach.   I bought a different cut of steak this week (a London broil), and man, it was delicious.

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One more day of work and then it’s Pumpkinfest time! 

I hope you all have a great weekend… get out there and enjoy the Fall while you can!!


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!


People Are Friendly Here

Hey there… happy Friday! 

Before I go over all the really important stuff like how much I lifted and what I ate this week, I just have to share something: It’s a simple thing really, but I love living in a place where people are actually friendly – not friendly out of convenience or politeness, but truly, genuinely friendly. 

The other day, I had to go to an appointment on the other side of town, and once I finished up, I realized I was right near an apple orchard that a co-worker had told me about.  It was a beautiful afternoon, and it was only a couple miles away, so I decided to take a few minutes to go check it out.  It was at the end of this really long, narrow back road, up this windy dirt hill, and the scenery was immediately breathtaking – the epitome of Fall in New England.

It was smaller than I expected, and the orchard, greenhouses, and farm stand were located on someone’s personal property, but the signs were all handmade and very welcoming.  I parked and got out of my car, already astounded by the beauty of the area I live in, when I was greeted by the owner.  She was a cheerful woman who asked me how I was doing, what I was looking for, and how I heard about them.  We chatted for a few minutes, and she told me all about her family-run orchard and seemed genuinely happy that I was there.  I bought some apple cider and told her I’d be back – and I meant it.

But that’s not even what really got me.

As I was leaving, driving back down the long, narrow road home, there was this old man in the street blowing leaves.  He was old and a little frail-looking, but when he saw me coming, he backed out of the road and shut off the leaf blower so I could go by.  I slowed down and waved with the window down, expecting nothing more than an acknowledging nod, but the smile he returned was so full of happiness that it literally made me feel better inside.  It’s not that I was necessarily having a bad day, but his smile was just so genuinely warm and… friendly… that it made my day that much better.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the rat race – running to and from work and school and errands and obligations – that we forget to be nice to other people.  We forget how much a smile can make someone’s day or that asking how someone is (and truly caring about the answer) can actually mean something to that person.  I don’t know who that man was, but he seemed like somebody I’d like to know, and I wish I could thank him for that.

I’ve never been someone who goes out of my way to talk to strangers, but there’s something about living in a small town, where people are genuinely friendly and interested and caring, that makes you want to be the same.  Living here, I’ve found myself smiling at people in the grocery store, making small talk with the lady behind the counter at the bakery, and going out of my way to ask my neighbors how their day is going.  These might seem like small things, but I’ve found that it’s important to me, and that it’s really enriched my life.

And honestly, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

I had lunch at the bakery and café down the street from my work the other day, sitting outside under the apple tree to enjoy the beautiful Fall weather, and everything felt perfect.

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The homemade chicken, spinach, and white bean soup was delicious… (and so was the pumpkin whoopie pie I may or may not have gobbled up for dessert.)  I tried a sparkling apple Izze juice, which I loved, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

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Seeing this temperature on my way to the gym the other morning wasn’t necessarily awesome… but hey, I can deal with it.

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Speaking of the gym: I’ve been really working hard this week, and I’m excited to keep it up.  Our group is determined to set and achieve some goals this winter, and I’m committed to really getting better.  It was my friend’s 32nd birthday on Wednesday, so we did 32 reps of each exercise in his honor.  It was tough, and halfway through, I was certainly wishing he was only turning 25!

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And if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve created a pretty cozy little spot for myself at home, too.  It still needs a little bit of work (and I should probably start using the kitchen table instead of eating dinner on the couch every night), but it’s home – and I love it.

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I hope you are all having a fantastic day – and I hope you get the chance to do something to make someone else’s just a little better, too.

Have a fabulous weekend and I’ll catch you on Monday! Smile


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