Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sneaky Vegetables

I had an awesome package waiting for me when I got home from work today!

My new shoes!

(Can you tell in the bottom left picture that my foot is lifted? I was falling off balance as I took the photo.)

I ordered Reebok RealFlex Scream 2.0 shoes, because I've been doing ALL my workouts in running shoes for the last year, and I suppose that's why I go through the running shoes so quickly. 

These shoes are super lightweight, comfortable, and cute! I'll let you know what I think once I get a few workouts in.

In other news, the morning workouts haven't exactly been wildly successful this week. We made it yesterday, but this morning we both just rolled over and went back to sleep when our alarms yelled at us. Then, because the workout gods were laughing at us, traffic turned our normally-15-minute commute into an hour-long fiasco, and Terry didn't make it home until 6:15. We called it a sign and took today as a rest day, vowing to actually get up tomorrow at 4:50.

But tonight I refused to let our dinner plans follow the way of our workouts and successfully created a new-to-us recipe! I've made whole wheat crepes once before, and this recipe is absolutely delicious. I simply sauteed some spinach (with olive oil, salt, and pepper) in a separate pan, then rolled up about half a cup of wilted spinach with a tablespoon or so of ricotta cheese. I threw each finished crepe into a 300-degree oven while I prepped the rest. 

By the way, crepes are not what I consider an easy dish. These bad boys loved irritating me when I tried to flip them over. I found the key is to ensure that the pan is preheated for quite awhile and to make sure that the batter is super thin in the pan.

Otherwise, you get this:

Sad crepe.

I'm also whipping up a loaf of zucchini bread. Those sneaky vegetables, finding ways to infiltrate delicious breakfast foods. So silly.

See you tomorrow with a leg workout and Friday fun!

Happy March! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WIAW on a Mellow Day

Happy What I Ate Wednesday! And a delicious day it was.

6:30 am - Breakfast - Oatmeal with almonds, vanilla, banana, and cinnamon

10:00 am - Snack - A few Cuties

1:00 pm - Leftover vegetarian Mexican casserole from the other night

4:00 pm - Snack - Peanut butter and jelly on brown rice cakes

6:00 pm - Dinner - Spinach-arugula-almond-parmesan salad with crostini and burrata

After dinner - Snack - Cereal

And a piece of chocolate

Oh, and that Stella in the background. :-)

Check out the other WIAWs!

The rest of the day moved along fairly uneventfully--and I was so grateful for that. Terry and I woke up for an early workout--biceps, triceps, and two speedy miles--before work. Tonight we worked on our puzzle for way too long and are looking forward to another early workout tomorrow!

What's the best thing you ate today?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One Hundred Thousand

(If this was Jeopardy!, I could respond with, "What is not my salary?")

When I opened up Blogger to start my post today, I found quite a lovely surprise!

BLWB hit 100,000 pageviews! I know it's child's play for some, but when I started writing a year and a half ago I never would have thought I'd continue almost daily for so long! I really love this little blog, and I'm so grateful to you for reading. THANK YOU!!!

I'm going to keep tonight's post short in an effort to hit the hay much earlier than yesterday. We ended up sleeping in this morning (again) and completed our four miles after work--not nearly as relaxing of an evening as we would have liked, to say the least. Between grading, test-writing, running, cooking,  and eating dinner, the night absolutely flew. We even kept the TV off to encourage productivity. I'm ready for a much more mellow night tomorrow.

Today's four mile run really felt good! We ran to UCLA and back, almost exactly four miles roundtrip, and it was a perfect way to chat, hear about each other's day, and get outside in the smog fresh air. I need to foam roll tonight, and I'm already dreading those tight spots. Tomorrow we'll be up for an early two-mile speed run, according to our 10-K plan.

And tonight's simple dinner was an Ina Garten spinach-feta dish along with whole wheat macaroni and cheese (a la 100 Days of Real Food). Thank goodness it was an easy one; I was ready to put my feet up!

Gruyere and cheddar combo--a definite winner

Deliciously creamy

And with that, I'm off to sleep. Thanks again for reading along and for getting me to a "big" (for me!) milestone!

What's a recent accomplishment you're proud of? 
Come on, don't be shy--toot that horn!

Monday, February 25, 2013

10-K Training Plan

Well, folks, I'm back on the running wagon again!

Terry and I are officially training for our 10K. Yesterday we completed a "getting our toes wet" 5-miler, and it felt pretty good. It's funny, but once we got rolling, I felt almost as though I hadn't taken a break. Well, except for the whole gasping-for-air thing.

See, when we trained for our half marathon, it took awhile to understand how my body deals with running long distances. But this time, when I felt that little twinge in my knee, I knew that a quick massage would get rid of it. When I thought I needed to walk, I pushed a little harder. When we hit a tough hill, I focused on the tempo of my music.

I still don't ever want to run another half marathon, but I'm excited about this smaller challenge that won't totally destroy my foot. I have a lot more confidence in myself as a runner now!

The race is in four weeks, on March 23. I plan to loosely follow a combination of the Novice and Intermediate training plans that Hal Higdon designed. 

Today, though, Terry and I wanted a chance to catch up on our work days and chat a little, so we took a little walk around our neighborhood before stretching and decided to bump the upper body action to tomorrow. We'll run four miles in the morning and then hit the weights in the afternoon.

I'm so excited to have a new plan! After the last two months of creating my own workouts, I'm looking forward to a little variety in my routine. And I really love training with Terry; we complement each other well. (Perhaps that's why we got married?) I'm the one who keeps us on schedule and gets us out the door, but once we're running, Terry is a machine. He keeps an incredibly consistent pace and pushes me to keep going. Such a team. :-)

Before I go, I am thrilled to announce some SUPER exciting news: my friend Jenn started her own blog! Jenn has been incredibly supportive of my blogging journey, and I'm so happy that she has begun her own adventure.

Jenn's blog, Buff Girl on a Budget (I can't even tell you how much I love that name), follows Jenn as she explores workout discounts. She tries out unique classes throughout Los Angeles, including beach yoga, Zumba, and aerial arts. This week, Jenn asked me to write a guest post about our SoulCycle endeavor, so please check it out! I guarantee you will love her blog; she's hilarious and SO inspiring!

Have a lovely Tuesday!

What workout can you return to time and time again without feeling like you took a break? For me, running is getting more comfortable, but I'll have to say dance. Jenn took me to a hip hop class last year, and I loved getting back into the groove!

Terrible Service, Excellent Weekend

*Note: I have one Oscar spoiler here, so if you haven't heard the results and for some reason don't want to know, come back later. 

This weekend, we had some terrible service. Twice.

First, we woke up lazily yesterday and I suggested going out for breakfast. Terry found a new-to-us place on Yelp called Food. Yes, that's the actual name. I judged a little, but the menu looked fantastic, so we went for it.

Upon arrival, the hostess greeted us at the door and told us it would be about 10 minutes and we could wait outside. A few minutes later, a couple showed up and walked into the restaurant without being greeted, then ordered ahead of us and scored one of the last tables. The hostess then invited us inside, told us to get in line and order and seat ourselves. I swear, we've never felt so confused. Why on earth did we have to wait outside when it was an order-and-seat-yourself?

Anyway, despite the odd greeting and seating situation, we found a table and thought the food was decent. Not great, not horrible, but also probably not good enough to entice us to come back. It was still fun to try a new place.

Later, in the evening, Terry and I headed out for an evening with his coworkers at a banquet. The night turned out to be a blast, especially catching up with Terry's work buddies, but the meal service was again confusing and hilarious. We had pre-ordered salmon, because we've decided not to eat meat during Lent. Well, our waiter came over to announce that they were out of salmon, so would we like prime rib or chicken?

Umm...neither. We can't eat meat. Hilariously, the waiter seemed annoyed and irritated with us for being so demanding. Yet, somehow, a few minutes later, two delicious salmon meals were delivered to our table.

We also enjoyed a fun tomato bisque with puff pastry on top. Deliciously nutritionless. :-)

Despite the odd service this weekend, we had a great time. Relaxing and enjoying each other's company was the name of the game; we started a jigsaw puzzle, tried a new recipe or two, watched old Modern Family episodes, and talked about some future plans.

The highlight of this evening was an awesome Oscars party at a friend of a friend's house. We showed up around 4 and didn't leave until the show was over at 9. We particularly loved Seth MacFarlane's hilarious writing and the musical numbers, and of course I had something to say about each of the dresses and hairstyles. But the best part was that the host, Arnold, had an Oscar pool where we each filled out ballots and then also random envelopes where we got to play along with the presenters. We each received a stack of envelopes, and if our envelope had the winning movie or person, we won a bit of cash. We all got pretty competitive and loved the fact that we could win even without knowing a thing about the nominees.


And now it's late, and another week begins tomorrow. Any big plans for fitness and health this week? We're starting our training for our 10K, and I'm excited to share the plan with you tomorrow!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Delicious Accident

If there's one thing I've learned about relationships over the last six and a half years and marriage over the last year and a half (wow! already?!), it's that communication is key. And I think Terry and I have become pretty great about communicating with each other.

In this picture I'm saying, "Please don't do anything weird or embarrassing right now." (He didn't. Because he is a gentleman and a scholar.)

Tonight, however, presented a delicious (and hilarious) exception.

See, this week, I challenged Terry to create our menu. He was responsible for deciding on lunches and dinners from Friday through Friday. He never fails to impress me with his creativity; we ended up making several new recipes this week, including homemade gnocchi.

Tonight, the menu included zucchini ribbons and goat cheese marinara with eggplant. I took that to mean roasted eggplant slices topped with zucchini ribbons and goat cheese marinara. When Terry came into the kitchen as I assembled our plates, however, he looked around with a confused expression and said, "Did you make the almond pesto?"

What the what?!

Turns out, Terry's menu called for goat cheese marinara veggie pasta (with actual pasta) and zucchini-almond pesto salad on the side.


Terry laughed off my mistake like a champ while I moped about messing up dinner. Apparently our communication skills still need some work, huh?

Turns out, however, that my mistake resulted in a delicious accident.

And a super simple recipe!

Roasted Eggplant with Goat Cheese Marinara and Zucchini Ribbons
Serves 2

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced 3/4-inch think
  • 4 small zucchini
  • 1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan for garnish
Heat over to 425 degrees. Lightly oil the eggplant, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the marinara sauce and wine in a saucepan. Once boiling, stir in the goat cheese and reduce heat to medium-low.

Finally, use a Y-peeler to create your zucchini ribbons. I have absolutely no tips for doing it; my process was extremely awkward and uncomfortable, though generally successful. You'll figure it out. 

To assemble, place the eggplant slice(s) on a plate, then pile on the zucchini ribbons (a generous handful), and top with the marinara sauce. Garnish with Parmesan and serve hot!

*Note: The zucchini ribbons aren't cooked, and you can barely taste them. Perhaps you can encourage a zicchini-phobe to enjoy this meal! Also, this meal can of course be served with pasta instead of or in addition to the eggplant. Be creative--just use whole wheat!

In other news, we didn't wake up this morning for a workout. I take full responsibility for snoozing about eight times before finally telling Terry we should just change our alarms to 5:30 instead of waking up every three minutes. But we did squeeze in a terrific workout this afternoon: My Sure-to-Get-You-Shaky Leg Workout from last month. Damn, that's a doozy! We also tacked on a 20-minute HIIT on the treadmill: 30 seconds HARD, 60 seconds easy; 10 rounds, plus a cool down. We are certainly going to be sore tomorrow!

Here's the leg workout:

I used 10-pound dumbbells for the first four exercises for the first two sets, then increased to 15 pounds for the pendulum lunges, wide leg squats, and good mornings on the third set. 

And finally, some terrific blog posts from some of my favorite bloggers:

Happy Friday to you!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Good Ol' WIAW

Story of my life:

I swear my desk was organized on Tuesday. I don't know what happened.

Lately I feel like I'm finding great ways to get organized, but I seem to only be able to organize one area of my life at a time. Right now, my desk at work is (obviously) chaos. But the house is pretty clean. Next week I'm sure it'll all switch around. If not, it's just a slow downward spiral toward pure insanity in all aspects of life. 

Speaking of which, have you been standing more at work lately? I'm trying to do more grading while standing, and perhaps that explains the lack of attention to the desk. Oh well. Can't win 'em all, right?

Today was also Day Three of No Morning Workout this week, which felt fantastic. Terry and I felt ridiculously sore from our deck of cards HIIT workout from Monday, so we took the day off. The extra sleep gave me a little pep in my step, but I'm looking forward to getting up for our regular routine tomorrow. Get ready, legs--I'm comin' for you.

Meanwhile, here are today's meals:

 6:30 am - Breakfast - French toast with berries and peanut butter (recycled photo!), plus tea

 10:30 am - Snack - 3 Cuties (okay, Josies)--unpictured

1:00 pm - Lunch - Leftover fish, rice, beans, and veggies bowl from Wahoo's (forgot to take a photo--thanks, Internet!)

3:30 pm - Hot chocolate while grading at Starbucks

5:00 pm - Appetizers - Cheese, crackers, and bread, plus mocktails (half sparkling water, half pomegranate sparkling juice, lemon slice)

7:30 pm - Dinner - Ina Garten's grilled swordfish with arugula, plus steamed artichokes and lemon butter

Sooooo good! Terry grilled these bad boys perfectly. I don't normally love seafood, but the grill really added a lot of flavor. And the lemon-arugula combination rocked! That Ina...she knows what she's doing.

9:00 pm - Dessert - TBD. I'm leaning toward something peanut buttery with perhaps a few chocolate chunks thrown in. Mmmm...

Check out the other WIAWs!

Do you BBQ? Link up recipes below--we're trying to use our grill more!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Deck of Cards HIIT Workout

What I'm loving lately...

Josies--which are the Trader Joe's version of Cuties. 

Scout's enjoying the box more than I'm liking the oranges, I think.

Deck of Cards workouts. 

Approximately 30 minutes of insanity

I do my very best to create engaging, interesting workouts that keep my energy up and my motivation high, but I am loving the unpredictability of these "random" workouts. For this one, some tips:

  • The workout is technically a HIIT because it combines high intensity exercises (star jumps and burpees) with active rest exercises (push ups and squat-presses). My heart rate was through the roof for a majority of the workout though!
  • On the burpees, drop all the way to the floor if you can, but lighten up the intensity by staying in the plank position and jumping back in immediately.
  • Squat + Press (I didn't use a cable, just regular dumbbells): Squat, then use the momentum from coming up from your squat to do an overhead press. I recommend light weights (3-10 pounds, depending on your fitness level).
  • Star Jumps (25 seconds in; don't feel pressured to be as awesome as she is--I go about half as high)
I am SOOOO sore today! Shoulders, chest, back, and quads. By the way, least fun series of cards ever: 
That's 32 burpees in a row.

Check out my Deck of Cards Jello Legs Workout for another option!

Making homemade versions of some of my favorite foods.

Researching vacation options. 

I want to go to there. (Source)

Catching up with friends. 
I got a chance to see three of my closest friends this last weekend; I spent some time e-mailing with my friend in Chicago; I went to happy hour with a coworker on Friday. A lot of the time I choose to come home and hang out with Scout or Terry, but I know that time with friends helps relieve stress and create healthy relationships. Plus, once I'm out with my pals, I always have a blast!

Since I'm so sore, it's likely that I'll take tomorrow as a rest day. I would rather take a day off than push my muscles past a healthy point. And I'll be loving that glorious time to rest my body!

What are you loving lately? 

Have you tried a deck of cards workout yet? What do you think?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Walking in the Workplace

Yesterday, when Fay was here, she mentioned that she works at a stand-up desk in her D.C. office. I've always known Fay to be an active person--when we get together, we almost always go for a long walk together while we catch up. But I was still impressed to hear that she requested a stand-up desk. The best part: After Fay got her desk, she noticed other people in the office requesting the same thing! Health is contagious. Like the plague.

We got to chatting about how much our jobs can affect our health. Since I'm a teacher, I can easily spend almost the entire day standing and walking. Terry, on the other hand, finds himself sitting at a computer or sitting in meetings nine to ten hours per day. Even an intense, hour-long workout can't undo all that sitting.

This article from The New York Times outlines some of the recent health concerns about sitting, "even for people who are quite active when they’re not sitting down." Check out the full article, "Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics," by Steve Lohr

Today I asked Terry to take my FitBit to work, just to see exactly how much (or how little?) he moves. The result? 

1,475 steps. Yikes! (Note: This total does not include our workout.)

If your job is considered a sedentary one, consider the following options for increasing your movement and improving your health.

Sit less at work.
  • Request a stand-up desk. Your office might even have policies in place already that make the transition super simple. Plus, like Fay, you could be responsible for setting an office trend, and then you'll be a hero, and they might give you an award. But at the very least you'll be sitting less.
  • Find excuses to get up: walk to your coworker's cubicle instead of e-mailing him, get in some face time with your boss by lingering outside her office like a creeper, set a timer to go off every 15 minutes and force yourself to get up each time (bonus: you'll annoy your annoying cubicle neighbor). Be creative.
  • Any time you don't have to be sitting, stand. If you're reading over some documents, talking on the phone, or writing with a pen/pencil (for those born after 1995, here is the definition of pen and pencil), stand or walk while you do it. It's more fun to walk, because if you run into things you'll draw attention to yourself (see first bullet point for possible outcomes). 
Find ways to be active throughout the day.
  • Be one of those people who brings tennis shoes to work and walks for 30 minutes at lunch. Extra points if you wear scrunch socks and polka dot tights like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl
  • Take the stairs. Even if you work on the 31st floor. (You'll look super professional all sweaty in your 9 am meeting. Trust me.)
  • Go to the bathroom/water fountain/fax machine/copier that's farthest away from you. My husband used to walk down four flights of stairs to use the restroom. I'm so proud. 
  • Walk or bike to and from work. In LA, dodging cars adds an extra workout and improves reflexes.
  • Walk to lunch. Even if you brought your lunch, walk to a park to eat it. Or walk while you eat it. Again, be creative.
  • Do laps during meetings. Especially if you aren't the one speaking, I'm sure no one will mind if you just walk/run/bike in circles around the conference table. (BLWB is not responsible for demotions or firings that may take place as a result of these suggestions.)
(Just FYI, I was totally sitting on the couch like a hypocrite when I wrote the first half of this post. Now I'm standing up at the kitchen counter. Let's proceed.)

Sit less once you get home.
  • If you have a treadmill, walk on it at a slow pace while you watch TV. (If you're like Liz Lemon on 30 Rock, you could eat pudding while you walk on the treadmill. No judgment here.)
  • Walk or bike to the grocery store and to complete your other errands.
  • In addition to your usual exercise, take a walk before or after work.
  • Instead of board games and TV, take your kids or your dog (or yourself) to the park in the afternoon.
Any tips for ways to stand or walk more at work?
If all else fails, get a box that's too small to be your desk, and then perhaps you'll be encouraged to get up more often.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Worst Picture Ever

Brace yourselves for the worst picture ever.

I broke all the rules. Waited until halfway through the meal to take the photo. Used the flash. Didn't put the colorful stuff on top so you could actually discern what is in the salad.

Luckily, the salad tasted far more delicious than it looks in the above picture.

Fay, one of my best friends who now lives in D.C., came to visit today. Last week, in preparation for her weekend, Fay sent an e-mail asking if I might be interested in checking out Soul Cycle, a spin studio in LA and New York. I asked our friend Jenn to join, too, because she just started a blog of her own (more on that later, but you can check it out here!) and I thought it might be good research for her.

The three of us ended up enjoying the class with some mixed feelings thrown in for variety. Jenn had to take off afterward, but Fay and I walked back to my apartment for showers and lunch.

At first, we talked about going out for lunch, so I asked Fay what she might want. Her answer--"Fresh produce!"--inspired me to keep it simple and fix up the freshest meal home. The salad included strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, feta, spinach, and balsamic. We ate our salads along with some blackberries, Cuties, and cheesecake brownies. Super simple, refreshing, and perfect for that fresh produce Fay requested. I'm so glad we stayed in!

After lunch, Fay headed out to visit another friend, and Terry and I squeezed in some shopping. Every once in awhile I feel the need to grab a couple new wardrobe pieces that can spice things up a bit. I've mentioned before that I'm no fashionista, but I think TJ Maxx had some great stuff today! Including this sweet spring dress (it was 80 in LA today, so I'm cool with moving right into spring).

Terry even picked up a few shirts for work. A miracle in itself since normally his only wardrobe additions come at Christmas in the form of gifts from others.

The rest of the evening included Cribbage, Sports Night on Netflix Instant Streaming, shrimp pasta, chocolate fondue (SOOOO full right now), and cuddles with a little kitten on the couch. 

Some reading for you:

Let's gear up for another week, huh? I have tomorrow off, but I'm waking up with Terry for a workout and then spending at least the morning on work. 

Happy President's Day! Do you have the day off? Any plans?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cardio, Core, and the Murtaugh List

Happy long weekend to you! At least I hope it's a long weekend for you; if not, my apologies and may your two days off be even more enjoyable. 

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a solid workout to enhance your weekend, I highly recommend checking out these tough little guys:

I completed both on Friday and loved the difficulty. Honestly, in the cardio intervals, I couldn't maintain the 1.5 incline at 7.3 mph, so I knocked it down for a few minutes in the middle there. So sweaty and so terrific!

So far the weekend has felt extremely relaxing. Yesterday I went out for a quick drink with a coworker, then came home to make a delicious tomato bisque with my husband.

Enjoyed with some mocktails--sparkling water, sparkling cranberry juice from TJ's, and a slice of a Meyer lemon. Fizzy and refreshing. 

 Today we slept in, made my whole wheat buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, and went for a lovely walk around the neighborhood together before meeting up with our friend Heidi for lunch. It was so great to catch up after awhile of not seeing each other!

This afternoon we headed to campus to check out Dance Marathon, an organization Terry and I were involved with as students. We got a kick out of being back at the big event, a 26-hour danceathon raising funds for pediatric AIDS. We agreed we definitely miss the vibe of college, but later, when all we wanted to do was go home and put our feet up (at 6 pm), we realized we don't exactly have the stamina we used to. Apparently we're getting old, huh?

On How I Met Your Mother, Ted has a Murtaugh List (<--yes, there's a Wikipedia page), which essentially outlines all the things Ted is too old to do in his thirties. Well, at 27, I've got some items on my Murtaugh List. Stuff I'm too old to do (and props to you if you're still up for any of these!):

  • Staying up all night dancing, even for a great cause, especially without any fun beverages. 
  • Sleeping "anywhere"--I can handle a bed or a couch, but I refuse to curl up on the floor or anywhere outdoors without a tent.
  • Camping out for basketball tickets.
  • Posting passive-aggressive status posts on Facebook
  • 4 x 4 burgers from In N Out (from Terry--honestly, I never went above a Double-Double)
  • Coachella-style concerts--or any concert that lasts more than three hours
  • Going more than a week without washing the bath towels

So this evening, we embraced our getting-old selves and watched two moves while vegging on the couch. The Artist and A Fish Called Wanda, both awesome movies but in completely different ways, made for perfect Saturday night entertainment.

Also perfect for a Saturday night: leftovers! We reheated the tomato bisque from last night, and I cooked Terry a grilled cheese (I had grilled cheese for lunch, so I opted not to repeat).

Four-cheese grilled goodness: Gruyere, cheddar, Gouda, and Manchego 

Oh, and I may or may not have baked a batch of these cream cheese swirl brownies tonight. Heavenly.

What a wonderful start to the weekend! Tomorrow we have plans for the farmer's market and then I'm meeting my friends Fay and Jenn for a new-to-us spin class, SoulCycle. I really loved my first spin experience last year, so I'm eager to see how this one goes. Wish us luck! (Tip: If you're in NY or LA, your first class is only $15!)

So, what's on your Murtaugh List?