Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

Happy November! Crazy, right? The holidays are officially underway, and we only get two more months this year.

Last night I took a break from BLWB to enjoy a midweek dinner with friends. Today, I took a break from working out, because my body needed a rest. Yesterday boot camp called for 40 minutes of steady state cardio, and I had hoped to run at a nice, easy pace. Unfortunately, my IT band was aching pretty badly within the first few minutes, so I took it down to a low-impact incline walk (4.2 mph, incline 8). I am always impressed at how great of a workout I get from incline walking. I love having that option for a non-running workout, because I really hate the elliptical.

Anyway, between the IT band, my exhaustion of late, and the giant knot in my neck/shoulder, I thought perhaps a rest day was in order. It feels great to give my body a little break, and hopefully I'll be good to go tomorrow. Today it's all about the foam rolling...wish me luck.

Today's Halloween festivities stayed fairly mellow. We continued our tradition of watching a semi-Halloween movie--tonight was Edward Scissorhands (last year was Beetlejuice and the years before were Sweeney Todd and Nightmare Before Christmas). Next year apparently we're doing Sleepy Hollow (Terry chooses, as it's "his" holiday, but I've liked them all so far). We also carved pumpkins, unlike last year.

Guess which pumpkin is mine!

And now, our favorite part of Wednesday:

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats

6:30 am - Breakfast - Oatmeal with a splash of milk, cinnamon, a bit of maple syrup, a scoop of peanut butter, 1/2 banana, and 1/2 pumpkin muffin, plus tea
1:00 pm - Lunch - cottage cheese and applesauce with 1 1/2 pumpkin muffins (plus a mini Butterfinger from a student!)
5:30 pm - Pumpkin-carving snack - scoop of peanut butter and milk, plus a cup of tea
7:30 pm - Dinner - BBQ chicken sandwiches, sweet potato fries, and a lager
10:00 pm - dessert - as a special Halloween treat, Terry got us a Snickers to share!
What I would have been for Halloween if I was cool and had somewhere to go:
  • Kate Middleton (and Prince William for Terry)
  • Tina Fey
  • a hipster
  • Lois Lane (and Clark Kent)
  • Hogwarts professor
What did you dress up as for Halloween? Or, if you were awesome like me, what did you think about being while sitting on your comfy couch?

Monday, October 29, 2012


Today I'd like to thank Superstorm/Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy for providing a bit of Perspective for me. Here's how my morning went:

  • Dropped the honey jar on my cup of tea, spilled the tea all over the counter.
  • Forgot (until about 6:20 am) that I was supposed to do crock pot chicken for dinner and had to scramble to make it happen.
Not entirely unsuccessful
(tonight's dinner: chicken breast,
roasted Brussels sprouts, pumpkin muffin,
and cottage cheese)
  • Learned that if I spill tea when it's been steeping for a few minutes, I should just start over instead of assuming the same tea bag will still suffice. (It tasted like maple water.)
  • Dealt with grumpy, argumentative teenagers in two of my classes, which made me feel quite grumpy and argumentative myself.
And then I got home and saw my Facebook page (forgive the unintended pun) flooded with pictures of the storm on the East Coast. I couldn't help but realize that my day--with all its functioning power, normal traffic, sunny weather, and petty problems--could have been much, much worse. 

So on that note, I wish a very safe night to all those in the path of the storm, and I hope it's a quick return to normalcy. 

Another aspect of my day that helped provide perspective is the awesome Boot Camp workout I completed this evening with Terry. We hit the gym but had to split up (how much can you really "split up" in a 20-foot-by-15-foot gym?); I did my treadmill intervals (Julie is doing Best Body Boot Camp, too) first and Terry tackled the weights. We agreed that the hardest exercise today was the scorpion. I will feel that one tomorrow!

The workout took an hour total, which is always my favorite length of a workout. Tina nailed it with workout lengths; she always gets to right around one hour, and I love it! 25-30 minutes on weights and 30-35 minutes on cardio is the dream range for me. 

  • No snooze button: Success! (Sorta!) I didn't hit the snooze, but I also didn't get up right away. I set my alarm for 5:00 (why?!), then turned off my alarm and negotiated with myself for about 25 minutes before finally dragging myself outta bed. It's times like this when I have to ask myself: Why did we buy such a comfortable mattress?!
  • Morning workout: Probably on Thursday. I'm not excited, but I will do it.
And I shall leave you with a collage of my little guy playing on our pumpkins. 
We carve them tomorrow!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Constant Improvement

Today turned into an errand and baking extravaganza, and I'm not upset about it. 

After a few hours of studying, Terry and I ventured out to Target and Trader Joe's, with a stop at the pumpkin patch along the way. We have a tradition of carving pumpkins, though Terry is far more talented than I am. I think this year I'll go with a Halloween word instead of a face.

Eventually I got around to starting my fall delights. I made a batch of pumpkin muffins and--a first for me--pumpkin bagels! I followed the recipe here, except I used all whole wheat flour, added 1 teaspoon cinnamon, made the dough in my food processor, and ended up needing almost 1/2 cup water instead of just 1/4 cup. 

The process took quite awhile: mixing the dough, kneading forever, letting the dough rise, forming rings, letting the dough rise again, boiling, and baking. (And let me tell you, if you need a bit of an arm workout, don't scoff at kneading!) But the bagels turned out great! I made a honey-cinnamon cream cheese to go with it (just whisk 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon honey, and 2 tablespoons cream cheese), but for breakfast I may try a peanut butter cream cheese. Either way, the bagels are delicious, chewy, thick, and dense. They have just a hint of pumpkin flavor, perfect for a breakfast!

The rest of the day felt relaxing, a great way to rest up for the week ahead. We read, played with (and laughed at) the kitten, watched the second season of Happy Endings (Terry picked it up for us on Friday). A lovely little day.

As October winds down and Halloween threatens to kick start the holiday season, I've been thinking about how best to finish out the year. Obviously, as my blog is all about trying to live a better life, I try to constantly improve. Improve myself, improve my surroundings, improve my outlook. A teacher of mine (the same one who taught me to empty my cup) had a lesson about never being satisfied. He had a mirror in his classroom that said, "Are you satisfied with this person?" All year, I wondered what that mirror was about, and it turned out you were supposed to say no. You were supposed to want to do better, give more, improve. And that's exactly what I try to do here.

I want to constantly improve. There are so many areas of my life where I feel I can be better: teaching, blogging, cooking, working out. Even in my relationships, I feel I can be a better wife, daughter, sister, friend, family member. That drive to better myself keeps me pushing, and it motivates me every day.

But it can also be overwhelming. Yesterday, Coach Valerie Kondos Field talked to us about aiming to improve 1% every day, and her idea really resonated with me. If we take our large goals--say, running a marathon--and break them into smaller parts (start with a 5K), and then break them down even further (run three times per week), we are much more likely to achieve them.

That's one thing I love about Tina's Best Body Boot Camp: We set goals and accomplish them weekly. As you all know, I'm participating for the third time around, and I'm getting more focused in my goals this time. I've said it over and over: I want to move my workouts to the morning. So this week's goals:

  • No snooze alarm.
  • One morning workout. 
Last week I finally accomplished the morning workout, but I cheated because I didn't have to be at school quite as early as usual. This time shall be different! I think the snooze thing will really help me, because how beneficial are those 10 minutes (20?) with a buzzer going off every few minutes? May as well get up! I'm hoping to push it to two morning workouts for the next two weeks, then three after that, and finally four. Wish me luck!

As for the rest of the holiday season, a few goals:
  • No Christmas shopping after December 20.
  • Enjoy a night at The Grove. (They have a huge Christmas display!)
  • Plan our summer vacations.
  • Finish our wedding album (yup, still not done!). 
  • Go to a movie.
With that, I'm off to (hopefully) enjoy the last inning of the Giants game! GO GIANTS!!!!

Any goals for the rest of the year? What are you working to improve?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Coaching Success

Today I had the opportunity to hear a young UCLA coaching legend speak.

Valerie Kondos Field is in her 23rd year coaching the UCLA gymnastics team, though she was also an assistant coach for eight years before taking the reins. I have always admired Coach Val because she is famously not a gymnast; in fact, she was a ballerina when she applied to be the dance coach for UCLA's team in the 1980s.

Coach Val told all about her background and then told us about her connection with John Wooden. Also famously, the two coaches became close friends over the last two decades of John Wooden's life. My favorite anecdote she told was about a day when a reporter interviewed the coaches together and asked something about whether Coach Val would be the next John Wooden. Apparently Coach Wooden chuckled and said, "Why would she want to be the next John Wooden when she can be the best Valerie Kondos Field?" Oh, Coach.

The biggest aspect of Coach Val's speech that inspired me was her three tips for success for her athletes.

  1. Improve 1% every day.
  2. Ruthlessly attack your weaknesses.
  3. Observe without judgment. 
I love them all. And obviously Valerie Kondos Field knows a thing or two about success (six national championships and 12 conference championships, for example), so I'm inclined to listen to her advice. But I think that each of these ideas is one we can all learn from. To focus on improving just a little--instead of being overwhelmed by too much at once--seems doable for anyone. The second speaks for itself: know what your weaknesses are and be willing to do all it takes to improve upon them. Coach Val even admitted that her big weakness is motivating herself to work out (who would have thought?! It's tough for all of us, apparently). And the third is one I hadn't thought much about but that inspires me. To observe the world and people around us without passing judgment sounds difficult, and I can certainly improve there.

As for the original legend, Coach Wooden's definition of success (perhaps the most famous ever written) is:


That guy just rocks. (These photos are from a statue newly erected at UCLA in honor of our beloved Coach.)

We spent the rest of the day at a UCLA volunteer retreat for young alumni, always fun, and always an opportunity for me to take cheesy pictures.

When we got home around five, I forced myself to throw on a yoga video. At first I wasn't excited at all, but halfway through I felt great and managed to get through the whole 45 minutes. Honestly, I felt fantastic at the end; I really needed the stretch and core work that only yoga can give me.

And now...the moment you've all waited for: the winner of the Under Armour hoody giveaway! I loved reading about all your favorite fall things, by the way. But the winner is...

Lauren! (There were a few Laurens in the running, so please be sure it was your comment!) E-mail me at to claim your prize!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday or Friday? Hoody GIVEAWAY!

Did today feel like a Friday, or was that just me?

That one's for the introvert in me.

(Original source)

Seriously, I laughed for about five minutes when I read this one.

If you caught my post on Facebook tonight (do you follow BLWB? it's the coolest thing to do!), you know that I made two meals tonight: one for us and one for a coworker going through a tough time. A bunch of us signed up to help her out with meals this week, and it was fun to get in the giving spirit before the holidays!

For us, I made a new pasta recipe; I'll definitely share the magic with you guys, because it was phenomenal! [And I also promise to share a photo with you as soon as I find the cord that connects my camera to my computer.]

For my coworker, I decided to go with some classic comfort food:

  • Homemade chicken noodle soup
  • Sourdough bread (with a card that suggests what to do with it - dip it in the soup, bake homemade croutons, make garlic toast)
  • Mixed green salad with vinaigrette dressing
I hope she likes it! I get so nervous making food for others; usually I just cook for me and Terry. I'm eager to hear what she thinks. 

Tonight's boot camp workout called for 40 minutes of cardio and some crazy difficult planks. I ended up only completing 30 minutes on the treadmill because my IT bands were aching, and I'm vowing to do a solid 10 minutes of foam rolling to solve that problem. Tomorrow is also my last chance to complete Goal 1 for this week: working out before work. Honestly, I'm kinda cheating, because we have an inservice day tomorrow (teacher meetings, but no students), which means I don't need to be there at 6:45 like the rest of this week. So I think I'll get up at 5, complete my circuit workout and intervals, and leave the house by 7. Wish me luck!


Under Armour Hoody Giveaway

Well, given the comments on yesterday's post, it sounds like a lot of you might be excited about my giveaway today! As you know, Under Armour gave me the opportunity to review their Fleece Storm Full Zip Hoody, and I love it! You can check out my full review here. But let's get to the good stuff: how you can win one of your very own!

First things first: Under Armour is extremely generous; instead of sending me two of the same size and color, the winner gets to select his or her size and color! And yes, guys can win, too! (Under Armour has male versions of the hoody.)

To enter the giveaway:

  • Leave a comment with your favorite thing about fall or winter weather. (Mandatory)
  • Send a tweet that mentions this giveaway and my twitter handle (@BetterBurgers) and Under Armour's handle (@UnderArmour) (Optional for a bonus entry)
    Example tweet: "I'm entered to win an @UnderArmour hoody from @BetterBurgers!"
I will choose a winner Saturday night 10/27 at 5 pm PST. The winner will be announced that night. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Under Armour Hoody Review

When Under Armour contacted me to see if I was interested in reviewing one of their products, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I have always felt that Under Armour makes fantastic athletic gear, but I wasn't aware of how much they have expanded their retail items.

For example, I'm pretty sure I need to get my husband this Superman Alter Ego T.

Under Armour site
How awesome is that?

The company has seemingly endless clothing options: footwear, tops, bottoms, accessories--for men, women, and kids! I'm so impressed with the lines of clothing and sports wear, and again thrilled that they wanted to work with me.

Under Armour allowed me to choose from a list of items to review for the upcoming holiday season, and I fell in love with the Fleece Storm Full Zip Hoody.

Fleece Storm Full Zip Hoody

The hoody comes in a variety of colors, and I was stoked to see grey on the list of options, but they also have really bright choices, like teal and pink. The pockets are perfectly placed (does that make sense? Maybe it's just me, but sometimes my jacket pockets are awkwardly positioned) and nice and cozy.

And I cannot tell you how well this hoody fits! I love it! It's comfortable--not too tight--but fitted. The sleeves aren't too short (I have normal arms, I swear, but a lot of jackets make me feel like I'm part gorilla), and the wrists are fitted just right. The company provides an extremely accurate sizing chart that helped me decide which size to order, and it's perfect! The hoody also goes past the hips, which I like a lot. I know I'll wear it running in the winter, and I hate when jackets are too short. 

I wore my new hoody to school the other day and felt so comfortable and warm (my classroom is an icebox, and it was the first time all year I didn't have goosebumps!). I was surprised that the jacket doesn't look like "workout gear"--it worked perfectly with nice jeans, and the color I chose classed things up a bit.

Obviously, Under Armour is an extremely well known and respected company, so I already knew the quality would be stellar, but this hoody really exceeded my expectations. The material is soft and cozy, and the outer part of the jacket is water repellent. (I may or may not have spilled water on myself when I wore it. Don't worry about it, but I do in fact know that it does repel water.)

Living in LA doesn't require too many hoody-wearing days, but I look for any excuse to bundle up on cold nights, and the weather is finally cooling down here. I know I'll wear this jacket for every outdoor run or walk when we go up to northern California for Christmas this year. I wish I had it last year when we were freezing in Paris! It would have been perfect for all our walking--lightweight but warm.

If you haven't already been convinced, I highly recommend checking out Under Armour's amazing clothes, shoes, accessories, and outerwear. They aren't just for workouts!

I really can't get over how great this hoody fits! It doesn't add bulk, just warmth!

And, as you may have guessed, the generous folks at Under Armour are letting me host a giveaway! Keep an eye out later this week!

Disclaimer: Under Armour sent me a hoody to review, but all opinions and the above review are my own.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Glory of Adulthood

During high school and college, and even now, I've heard my friends reminisce about the past.

"I wish I was a kid again; life was so easy."

"High school was so much fun. Why can't the real world be that way?"

"College was the best four years of my life."

And don't get me wrong; I had a fantastic childhood. I enjoyed high school for the most part, and college truly gave the rest of my life a run for its money, because it was fantastic. But I've always been much more excited about the present and future than about the past. And that is why I thought I should summarize my thoughts in this Why Adulthood is Awesome post.
  • I can drive. Yes, I could drive as a teenager, but now I don't have to ask permission, and I likely won't get grounded if I forget to call when I arrive at my destination (thanks for caring, Mom and Dad!). 
  • I can stay up as late as I want (though, to be honest, I'm usually in bed by 9 on Fridays...).
  • If someone calls past 10 pm, I don't have to explain to my parents who is calling and that I do, in fact, know what time it is.
  • The food is so much better when you a) don't have to eat at the dorms (yes, UCLA dorm food is considered some of the best in the nation, but it's still dorm food); b) know how to cook, can afford to purchase, and have a big enough kitchen in which to make good food; and c) no longer consider In-N-Out to be a "nice" place to eat.

  • Again, my roommate is my husband. I had some fantastic roommates in college, but now I can decorate any way I want.
  • No more midnight workouts--thank goodness.
  • No more midnight group meetings to finish that project.
  • No more midnight anything.
  • People are generally less concerned with who asked whom to the dance, though I suppose it could come up if ever adults attended dances.
  • I get to live with my best friend (who happens to be my husband), and we have a slumber party every night. 
  • I have a pet!
That's me!
  • I can travel to exotic places all by myself--or with my favorite travel buddy. 
  • I get to enjoy being friends with my parents. They've done their job raising me, and now we can all just have a good time together.
  • I get to be married, which is the absolute greatest thing ever.

Obviously, there is a lot I miss about high school and college, but I'm far happier and healthier now than I was then, and that makes me so excited for what the future holds!

Are you stoked about being an adult, or do you miss the good ol' days?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Warm Soup Belly

This morning, as I scrambled eggs and toasted bread for breakfast, I announced to Terry, "Hey, I completely forgot about lunch. We literally have nothing to bring to work."

Now, of course, this reveals a few things about me:

  1. I hypocritically ignored all of my own advice about prepping lunches the night before.
  2. I didn't plan my menus for the week in advance.
  3. I actually didn't even look in the fridge and think about lunch until six o'clock in the morning.
  4. I need to get my act together.
Of course, we did have some options. We could have packed overnight oats or peanut butter and jelly. We had some slightly old spinach that could have been made into a decent salad of sorts. But I had heard about a local soup place near my work--and Terry had plans to get off work early today. If that's not fate, I don't know what is! Terry is all about soup, so he was in.

Side bar: I actually don't really like soup. Yes, I have two soup recipes that I highly recommend (chicken noodle and Pappa al Pomidoro), but it sort of ends there for me. It's funny, because I've always wanted to like soup. My mom used to make soup on cold days and ate it out of a mug--it always looked delicious and comforting. Similarly, I always thought tomato soup with grilled cheese would be phenomenal. And yet every time I made it or ordered it, I wasn't a fan. 

To be fair, I know that homemade soup is MUCH better than canned stuff, and I know that butter works wonders. And I can take down a bowl of clam chowder like nobody's business--as long as there's enough sourdough bread. But lately I'm eager to try more soups to see how it goes, hence the new restaurant today.

Well, it was awesome!!! I ordered the tomato-basil bisque and a spring mix salad (greens, feta, and candied walnuts), which comes with a side of sourdough bread. Honestly, the bread wasn't anything to write home about, but the soup was soooooo tasty! Somehow it was still piping hot when Terry dropped it off for me, and I just loved every bite. By the time I was done (I couldn't even finish it all, so I'll enjoy some tomorrow as well), I had warm soup belly, a condition that Marshall mentions in HIMYM--it makes you want to curl up in your pjs and is not exactly conducive to teaching teenagers.

Who knew I would someday write an entire post about soup? Especially liking soup! 

The rest of the evening was quite mellow. I'm not feeling great, and I even skipped my workout. I had to convince myself that missing one day of exercise (or just moving my workouts one day back) isn't the end of the world and is likely a smart choice to get me through the rest of the week.

I did, however, enjoy my husband's amazing chili tonight, along with some homemade cornbread. This cornbread really rocks my world; I'm already so excited to eat it for breakfast tomorrow. And we have some leftovers of the chili, too, so I get to eat that once or twice more this week!

Scout helped me study a bit, the Giants won the NLCS (HELL YES!!! WORLD SERIES, BABY!), and I've got big plans to get in bed super early tonight. 

I spy a Giant's shirt!

What's your favorite lunch? 
I still won't say soup, even though it really hit the spot today. I'd have to go with a half sandwich (eggplant, roasted bell peppers, grilled sourdough bread...) and small salad (spinach and feta can be involved), plus a few sweet potato fries. :-) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Goals for Boot Camp

What a weekend! We ate dinner out all three nights, a rarity around here, but it felt great to avoid the massive mess in the kitchen and instead just focus on relaxing and hanging out with my hubby.

Today Terry and I slept in as late as the cat would allow, and we kept the morning very mellow. Another bowl of seriously delicious oatmeal got the day started off perfectly. After a few hours of reading, I met up with my coworker to plan out the next few weeks of teaching, and Terry and I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning, working, and clearing out our DVR.

Oh, and watching Scout become a Giants fan. Sorry, Ter!

Honestly, this weekend wasn't much of anything health-related, but it really felt great to get a few items checked off the ol' list, relax, and enjoy time with family and friends.

Tomorrow begins Best Body Boot Camp Round 3! I'm so excited for the eight weeks of pre-planned workouts (you all know how I feel about that), the challenge, the community feel (there's a Facebook group where you can connect with other boot campers). But this time around I'm particularly excited for the weekly goals.

During Best Body Boot Camp, each participant is expected to set two additional goals. They don't have to be fitness-related; they can be anything. In the past I've set goals such as:

  • Go to sleep by 10:30 each night
  • Include 15 minutes of stretching each day
  • Eat 5 different vegetables each day
  • Avoid leftovers all week
  • Wake up at the first alarm all week
  • Spend at least 10 minutes unwinding at the end of each day
This session, I'm excited to set and accomplish my goals. For the first week:
  • Complete at least one of the workouts in the morning, before work.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes away from work and the computer each evening
The first is a goal that's been a long time coming, if you've been following BLWB. I always talk about how much I wish I could get myself up by 4:30 to work out before school. So far, I'm getting much better about going to sleep earlier (by 10 instead of 11), but I still struggle with getting up before 5 am. I'm hoping that setting the goal of working out just once per week before work, I'll be able to slooooowly adjust my schedule.

I am amazing such a dork.

The second goal relates to the fact that this school year has been quite overwhelming work-wise. Between lesson planning, grading, blogging, and studying, I'm busier than usual. I need to do a better job of keeping myself relaxed in order to be more prepared for the next day.

As always, I'll keep you updated on my progress with Best Body Boot Camp, and you can still expect some fun workouts!

I hope it's a great week for you. What plans do you have for health and fitness? Any delicious recipes or new workouts?

What are some goals you've set for yourself recently?

Autumn in a Bowl

Already, this weekend has gone by in a flash, and I can't believe tomorrow is Sunday. Where does the time go?

This morning I woke up way too early for a weekend and fixed the world's most delicious bowl of oatmeal. Just regular oatmeal topped with a tiny bit of maple syrup, a splash of milk, a dash of cinnamon, a scoop of peanut butter, and a crumbled pumpkin muffin.

I told Terry that it tasted like autumn in a bowl. He teased me, but I know he agreed it was delicious! I headed to school to proctor an exam for the students. I tried to use the time to get some work done, but those plans are never as successful as we hope. Still, I was glad to be able to help out the kids. And...

It rained today! It was just a drizzle, and only for the morning, but moisture most certainly existed, and those glorious few hours have provided hope that the heat is, indeed, done for the year. I may be wrong, but a girl can dream.

Once I got back home, I completed my Increasing Speed Treadmill Workout and the Deceptively Difficult Arm Workout. Both got me sweaty and fatigued, and I was ready for lunch and a shower to round out the afternoon.

This evening, Terry and I met up with friends for dinner and a musical. Since the show was at the Pantages, we chose a nearby bar and grill for dinner. I took the night off from pictures, but I'll tell you that Blue Palms Brewhouse is certainly worth a visit if you're ever in Hollywood. The food was really great all around, and the beer on tap wasn't too shabby at all. The atmosphere, while loud, made the evening even more fun as we got ready for the show.

And then we all walked over to the Pantages for The Book of Mormonl Have you seen it yet? It's hilarious! I can tell there are certain parts that could easily offend many people, but the show was extremely well written and performed. We had a wonderful time with friends, as always!

And now, as I've fallen asleep about four times writing this short post, it's time for bed. I hope you have a great Sunday!

What was the last great musical or play you saw?

Friday, October 19, 2012

What I Love About Fridays

Everyone seems to have an extra pep in their step. The students are more positive, the teachers seem more relaxed, everyone wishes each other a happy Friday. The buzz on campus is electric.

Drawing from a student on a vocabulary quiz. Awesome.

I usually choose Friday as my rest day. While I love working out, I also appreciate my days off. I take the day to value my rest time and not worry about rushing home to get my workout done.

Terry and I try to get home pretty early to catch up on our shows via DVR. I cannot possibly describe how comfortable--and comforting--my couch is.

Scout knows. Oh yes, he knows.

The possibilities ahead in the next 48 hours get me all sorts of excited. Longer workouts, new recipes or restaurants, time with friends or family, sleeping more than six hours, an extra cup of tea in the afternoon, a few errands, or maybe even a little trip. (Every Friday I conveniently ignore the voice that tells me I'll never squeeze in all the things I want to, and every Sunday night I get annoyed at the weekend to do list with two things crossed off.)

On Fridays, I don't have to rush to ensure that my lessons are ready to go for the next day. I can take the time to relax, run errands, or, in today's case, study at Starbucks.

Today I tried my first pumpkin spice latte. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I have always heard such great things about the famous "PSL"--I guess I wanted to see what all the hype is about. Turns out I'm still not a fan of coffee, but the latte was tolerable and is likely responsible for the fact that my eyes are still open at 9:40 pm. (Wild night, folks.)

Since I never drink coffee, I was super excited to finally be able to take a classic coffee cup photo. Do you like it?

Lately, Terry and I have made Friday date night. Any day of the week that allows me several uninterrupted hours with my husband makes me a happy lady. Tonight we ventured out to a sports bar and grill for dinner.

This salad wasn't as good as it looked, but it got the job done.

Two pints and a Giants' win later, we headed to Manhattan Beach for another stop at Manhattan Beach Creamery. We loved it last time we went, and this time was even better. Terry stuck to a one-scoop cone of vanilla chip, and I got myself a one-scoop sundae, also with vanilla chip. It was seriously perfect for the night, and that ice cream is gooooood. I'm glad it's not closer to us; I would be there every night!

Blurry picture FTW

Fridays also (usually) mean no alarms for the next day, though Scout usually wakes us up around 6:30 trying to get us to play. Tomorrow, however, I'll be proctoring an exam for the students at my high school. I should have a few hours to get some grading done while I'm there, and I hope it'll start my weekend off on a productive note.

I hope you had a fantastic Friday and are looking forward to a wonderful weekend. Any big plans? After I proctor the exam tomorrow, I'll spend a few hours studying before an event at UCLA, and in the evening we're going to see The Book of Mormon in Hollywood at the Pantages Theater. We have heard that this play is hilarious and can't wait to see if it lives up to the hype. Our friends Heidi, Ed, Katie, and Corey are also attending, so we'll grab dinner before--another fun outing with friends!

Happy Friday to you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lower Body Stability Circuit

After about an hour of studying today, I suddenly felt inspired to apply some of my learning to a leg workout. The program I'm studying to prepare for my personal trainer certification exam, NASM, emphasizes the use of distinct phases to enhance any client's overall health. The first of these phases focuses on stabilization, which cultivates core muscles and balance. Starting with this phase enhances a person's overall ability to perform more advanced exercises and helps prevent injury.

So today I created a pretty tough lower body stabilization workout. Let me tell you--anything involving a back leg on a stability ball sure gives me a lesson in humility!

My legs are still a little shaky from that bad boy! You can increase difficulty with this workout by adding weight and/or reps to your sets. For information on how to do these exercises:

Stability Ball Squat
One Leg Deadlifts

Step Up to Balance
Split Squat
Let me know what you think if you try it!

And now for today's eats:

7:00 am - Breakfast in my classroom, a pumpkin muffin and banana, plus TWO cups of tea (I was a real treat for my students--hyper teachers are more difficult to handle than hyper students)

10:30 am - Snack of an apple

1:15 pm - Lunch--er, half a lunch. I only get 30 minutes for lunch, which seems like plenty, but by the time students leave my classroom, I prep for the next period, I walk to the faculty lounge, and I put my lunch together, it's practically over. So I ate half of a whole wheat pita stuffed with eggplant hummus (from Trader Joe's), spinach, cucumber, and feta.

3:00 pm - Second lunch (the other half of that pita) plus carrots

7:30 pm - Dinner at home. I made spaghetti alla carbonara, which was delicious. Only a few ingredients for such a healthy, satisfying dinner. We enjoyed asparagus on the side.

And for dessert at 8:30 pm, a brownie and a scoop of pumpkin ice cream.

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats
Check out the other WIAWs!

I hope you're making it through the week! Just a few days until the weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What College Taught Me

Another day gone by far too quickly. By the time I finished work and got home from the store, I knew I wouldn't have time for strength and cardio as originally planned. Instead, I completed three rounds of Courtney's Timed Stability Ball Circuit. Honestly, when I first saw Courtney's post with this workout, I knew I wanted to try it but also thought it looked pretty low-key. I only have a set of 8-lb. weights, so I assumed the 50-second rounds would feel easy.

Wrong! Done properly and with a timer, this workout has impressed me both times I've completed it. Today I did three rounds and was already sweaty after the first one. The third round was really a struggle! That Courtney, deceptively difficult! I also took about 20 minutes to really stretch after the workout, because I've been feeling quite tight in my neck, shoulders, and legs. A little stretching goes a long way!

I should mention that this happened today:

It was glorious. It tastes exactly like pumpkin pie filling, but frozen and creamy.

Tonight Terry and I attended another UCLA event at the beautiful campus, and we had been excited about it for several weeks. The event gathered nine Disney Imagineers, who all work on a variety of projects and all attended UCLA.

The panel, moderated by a 53-year Disney veteran, showed the depth and diversity that exists among Imagineers. From a lighting designer (the guy who designed all of the lighting for the new Cars Land in California Adventure) to project managers (the folks responsible for all creative direction for Tokyo Disney Sea and Disneyland Paris, for example), we met an impressive sampling of the talent that Disney has working on their staff.

One of the questions the moderator asked really got me thinking: What stands out to you from your time at UCLA as a particularly meaningful experience that has helped you to this day?

Two panelists' responses particularly intrigued me. One said that his time at UCLA taught him his craft. He is a set designer (and designed Pooh's Honey Hunt in Tokyo Disney), and his college years taught him carpentry and other crucial skills for his career. Another panelist discussed an anecdote in which his engineering professor asked the class to prove that the collision of two pool balls is not a perfect elastic collision. The problem stumped the students because their textbooks has used the pool ball example as a perfectly elastic one; the energy from one ball is transferred entirely to the other ball upon collision. But the professor finally revealed that since sound is released, not all of the energy is transferred. The lesson taught our panelist how to think outside the box--er, textbook, as it were.

Of course, I couldn't help but think about my time at UCLA and tried to come up with a particularly meaningful experience or lesson. Having given it only an hour of thought, I think my response must be that, while in college, I learned how to read.

Obviously I knew how to read from a young age, and I devoured books as a kid. I feel that my high school was fantastic and taught me a lot of skills, and obviously I managed to squeak my way into UCLA. But I wasn't really reading; I was glazing over the words and calling it literary. It wasn't until my second year at UCLA that I figured out how to actually read any text, analyze its contents, uncover the many layers of meaning, or connect it to its historical context.

I learned countless other life skills during college--how to get along with people, how to manage finances, how to write a five-page paper in two hours at four in the morning...hmm, I see another letter to me in my future--but learning how to read really stood out to me today as I reflected on my collegiate experience. Now I can confidently approach any text, from research papers to novels to instructional documents, and thoroughly understand its meaning. I know I will value this skill for the rest of my life, and it's one reason I have chosen to help teach high school students how to read.

That's my little tidbit for today. Sorry, Mom, I'll be back to the health-focused stuff tomorrow. (Though reading is an excellent way to keep the mind sharp!)

What stands out to you from your education as a particularly meaningful experience that has helped you to this day?