Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WIAW: Favorite Group Games

After several days of rest (over a week!) and TONS of stretching, I finally eased back into some yoga today. And I do mean eased...I chose a level one flow on OnDemand and didn't even break a sweat, but the postures still challenged my well-rested and well-stretched muscles. Tomorrow I'll try a walk and some more stretching, but I'm still planning to take it very easy until I'm at 100%.

And now for some of today's meals...

 Breakfast: French toast, plus cantaloupe and tea

Lunch: baked sweet potato with peanut butter and cinnamon

and cereal!
You may or may not see some chocolate chips in there. Who's to say?

Baking snack: milk and a cookie

For dinner, Terry and I headed to a friend's apartment for pizza, salad, and Cards Against Humanity (all unpictured, because we were laughing too hysterically to bust out a camera). Much fun as it was, poor Terry has to be at work early as always, and I've been waking up around six each morning just to pretend to have some semblance of a normal schedule. Off to bed!

What's your favorite group game? Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples always make me crack up, but we also love Telestrations, a game that combines Telephone and Pictionary.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Unilateral Upper Body Workout

As you might guess, I'm still on a break from working out while my weird tight muscles recover and loosen up. But Terry has still been hitting the gym, which makes me so happy. I think I do a good job of not pushing him to exercise, but of course I'm always glad when he does. While I'm resting, I thought he might skip the gym, but he's been rather disciplined, even waking up early to work out before work some days!

And I still love creating workouts, so here was Terry's upper body circuit today:

The idea of a unilateral workout is that you are challenging your muscles in an unfamiliar way. By forcing each body part to work independently and without its opposite side, you engage your core and don't allow one side to make up for the other side's weaknesses or imbalances. If you notice that one side is stronger than the other (usually the case, because most of us use one side more naturally than the other), a unilateral workout can help. Unilateral ("one side") workouts are also extremely functional because so much of what we do on a daily basis is one-sided: pulling open a door, lifting a suitcase or even a purse, holding a baby.

Some notes about these exercises: Remember to complete all reps on one side before moving to the next side. Note: Choose a moderate/moderate-heavy weight, but go easy on yourself--unilateral exercises often require a lighter weight than you might think!

Front Shoulder Raise

Upright Row

Lateral Shoulder Raise

Bent-Over Wide Row

Dumbbell Chest Press

Dumbbell Pullover

Side Crunch

Dumbbell Side Bend

Let me know what you think!


First of all, a few shout outs:

On Saturday, my dad celebrated his birthday! My mom got him an awesome cake to celebrate:

Wonder where I got my love of burgers?

Terry and I are heading up north this weekend to spend some time with my parents, and we're excited to celebrate Dad's big day. Love you, Pops!

And another shout out to Courtney from Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life, who welcomed a beautiful baby boy over the weekend. I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney at the Blend Retreat last year, and she's super sweet (her blog title is incredibly appropriate on so many levels). Congrats, Courtney!

Another weekend, another missed blog post. I always have the best of intentions, but I'm soaking up as much time with Terry as possible before work gets crazy for him soon. And we really did take advantage of some quality time this weekend!

Friday evening, Terry worked out without me (I'm still on rest--more on that later), and we opted to stay in for the night. We reheated leftovers and watched Anna Karenina, a decent movie. On Saturday, after Terry stopped into work, our afternoon plans got scratched, so we ended up back at home to watch two terrible movies and cook a seriously delicious summer meal of BBQ chicken, baked sweet potato, and grilled asparagus. Then we baked blondies for dessert and stayed up until midnight. Crazy, huh?

Sunday we really took things easy--slept in, drove to the farmer's market,

(I forced myself to cut up the melons right away when I got home; otherwise I just never do it!)

worked on our puzzle,

(I swear we've made progress)

and went to True Food Kitchen for a date night.

Last night, after our little date, I asked Terry what his favorite meal was this weekend, and his response surprised me. He said he loved our Sunday lunch, the big platter of snacks I threw together after our trip to the farmer's market.


  • cucumber slices
  • three types of hummus (we've recently become hummus fiends)
  • grapes
  • cantaloupe and watermelon
  • celery
  • an olive tapenade
  • Ak-Mak crackers
  • cucumber-lemon water (not pictured)
It really was tasty, and so simple to assemble. 

And a little update on my aches and pains:

Last week, I mentioned some pretty significant pain. I was aching all over: neck, shoulder, upper back, oblique, lower back, hip flexor, gluteus medius, and quad, all on the left side. I took six full days off of working out (the most I did was a two-mile walk), and I tried everything--a massage, foam rolling, heating pad, ice. But the good thing is that I'm finally, FINALLY feeling better! I'm still achy, but I think it was all just tight muscles. And stretching seems to be solving the problem! (Who'da thunk?) Yesterday I spent probably two hours over the course of the day just stretching, and I think today will be the same. 

I still can't remember doing anything specific to tweak my body, but I think increased sitting and lack of stretching are mostly to blame. Today I'm typing from a high counter and standing while I blog, and I'm going to avoid sitting all day. Fun challenge! Maybe I'll be back to working out by the end of this week, but I'm not going to push it. Wish me luck!

Hope you have a fantastic Monday! (Our local news station keeps saying "TGIM" today--is this a thing? I must have missed the memo.)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Significantly Underwhelming Experience

Well, guys, yesterday I checked another item off the 30 Before 30 list! Given the amount of time on my hands, I'm aiming to squeeze in several of my goals sooner than later. My mom and I are already signed up for a cooking class when I go up to visit her!

So yesterday I set out to go to a movie by myself. I've thought about it for years, and my mom's done it several times. It seemed like a good thing to do. I just get so worked up about these types of things; much as I love to try something new, I let myself get all anxious in unfamiliar situations. So I tried to get out of it (oh, I can't find the free tickets...oh, it's not a convenient time...oh, maybe Terry would want to see this movie with me...). And then I got in the damn car and bought a ticket.

Turns out, going to a movie by myself was (unsurprisingly) anticlimactic. It was exactly like going to the movies with someone, except no one sat next to me. Which was good, because it was a theater with couches and I would have felt uncomfortable chillin' on a couch with a stranger.

So moving on, huh?

Tonight for dinner I tried a spin on one of our usual meals. I love making veggie burritos--they're packed with a variety of vegetables, they taste fantastic, and they are beyond easy to make. But this time I added a little flair:

  • I bought Terry's favorite tortillas from Teresa's Mosaic Cafe in El Segundo
  • I made the refried beans myself (surprisingly easy!) using Lisa's recipe
  • I made fresh guacamole 
  • We used purple and white bell peppers from the farmer's market, plus zucchini

Just these simple touches made the meal we normally throw together (and still enjoy) a little more special--and even more delicious! 

After dinner, when I made the horrifying realization that we had nothing for dessert, I raced to Smitten Kitchen's brilliant blog to find a brownie recipe. Those are currently cooling (while we drool), and we're off to enjoy some DVR action. Hope you have a wonderful Friday!

City Lovin' and WIAW

I love challenges. I find myself more motivated and less distracted if I have a goal in mind, even if it's an arbitrary one. But yesterday's goal wasn't arbitrary. See, this September I'll "celebrate" my tenth anniversary of moving to LA. And I haven't exactly been sugar-coating my feelings about this city; it's most certainly not my favorite. I complain about the traffic, the smog, the lack of seasons. Complain, complain, complain. How dull.

So yesterday's goal--specifically during my walk to get my massage--was to brainstorm everything I love about LA. I focused in on the area where we live, and I shocked myself by discovering that the list really goes beyond "warm weather." 

Here's what I love about just the walking-distance parts of where we live in LA:

We can walk to two Trader Joe's, a Whole Foods, a Sprouts, a Bristol Farms, and a City Target.

Tons of people walk everywhere, and I love the diversity around here. Students walking to and from class, tourists on vacation. Small groups of businessmen grabbing lunch together (usually groups of three, and usually men--my only explanation here is that perhaps women are more likely to bring lunch and therefore skip the restaurant). Moms with their kids at the park.

We get a little taste of that "city" feel but with neighborhoods nestled between the tall buildings.

I've talked a lot about the restaurants near our place; we can walk to (less than two miles away) at least 50 restaurants--not exaggerating. We are near Sawtelle, Brentwood, and Westwood, so we never run out of delicious places to try.

Culture abounds near our apartment, including the Hammer museum, several movie theaters, and, of course, UCLA.

When I feel frustrated with all the traffic and honking, I look to the left and see a quiet little street with trees and cute houses. The city constantly surprises me.

A lot of folks have pets. On a walk to the store, you're guaranteed to see tons of people walking their (usually tiny) dogs or running with their (usually giant) dogs. It seems the larger the dog, the faster the movement. Yesterday I saw a woman with two Toto-type dogs, and she was just standing there. The dogs were just standing there, too, and they seemed to be thinking, "Um...we wouldn't exactly call this walking..."

Of course, the greenery around here makes me momentarily forget that I'm living in a city.

And I guess I really can't complain about the weather.

Turns out, I actually really love where we live. I should probably take on a more positive outlook about it, since we won't be here forever!

Something I'm always positive about: food. Here's my WIAW!

Check out the other WIAWs!

Today's theme was "Let's try to NOT eat everything in sight." I've been rather liberal with my food intake lately, and since I'm forcing myself to rest, I needed to chill out on the portion sizes. I think I did a good job, especially after a quick trip to Sprouts to stock up on more fruits for snacks.

In no particular order:
  • hummus-avocado-cucumber on a pita
  • banana with peanut butter and a glass of milk
  • Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes
  • Greek salad with couscous (like this one)
  • cantaloupe
  • grapes
  • hard-boiled egg (can you believe this was maybe my second time boiling eggs?)
  • for dessert: ice cream with walnuts and chopped chocolate
It was a delicious day. 

What do you love about where you live? 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hollywood Bowl and Admitting Defeat

Today Terry and I both cashed in on our anniversary gifts to each other! Terry bought me a gift card to Bliss Spa, so I walked over today for a massage before lunch. Helloooooo heaven! I like the Blissage because they use heated tables and a signature foot wrap that makes you melt.

Today felt like the perfect time to take advantage of the spa because I've actually been in quite a bit of pain lately. On Saturday my neck stiffened up throughout the day, and it hasn't loosened up since. Similarly, my left hip/glute/hip flexor/lower back ( entire left middle?) has been in agony for some reason. The last time it felt good was on my run last Wednesday, so I assume I must have tweaked it or something, but I don't remember feeling anything that day.

I really struggle with pain like this. I usually just try to avoid overworking any painful area, but these two areas really limit my options. I've tried to stick with long walks and yoga the last few days, and now I think I need to admit defeat. Even after the massage, TONS of foam rolling (I now have extremely disdainful feelings toward tennis balls), liberal applications of IcyHot, cuddling with the heating pad, soaking in the hot tub...I'm still hurting. So I guess I need to take a few full days of rest, and if it still hurts I'll check it out at the doctor. Booooo...

I've said it before, but injuries seriously bum me out. Clearly my body needs rest and recovery, but I just don't feel like myself without some activity. And poor Terry--I get super grumpy if I skip even one day of workouts. Because I'm lacking my endorphins! And, as Elle Woods says, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands. They just don't!"

Source: Google Images

In this house, if I skip a meal or skip a workout, things get ugly. Here's hoping I can find a way to make a few days of rest work.

Terry also cashed in his gift today: tickets to "The Rite of Spring" at the Hollywood Bowl! We've gone once before, even prior to our wedding. We brought a picnic again: Last night, Terry grilled up the rest of the bison tri-tip that we made last week, and we saved the leftovers for tonight. I prepped the sandwiches ahead of time, and we enjoyed a scrumptious picnic of hearty sandwiches, cantaloupe, and champagne, plus coconut macaroons for dessert. We sat with two ladies who are Bowl regulars and talked about travel, theater, and Los Angeles.

The show itself turned out to be completely captivating, even for me. I never played an instrument and don't really know anything about classical music. Of course, I used to hear it in my ballet classes, but I guess I was always focused on the steps because none of the music stuck with me. But tonight's show grabbed me; I think it was the adorable conductor, an adorable older gentleman who threw his arms around like a twenty-year-old. After two hours, he must have been exhausted!

My handsome date :-) 

Oh, and we saw a shooting star during the show! I actually don't think I've ever seen a shooting star in LA before. Several audience members saw it, too, and we all pointed it out to each other. Pretty cool, huh?

Hope you have a lovely Wednesday! I'll be back with a WIAW!

Of Possible Interest:

The Great Blog Search

Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son today! I've loved following their relationship and wedding, and it's so fun to see them become parents! Despite the negative views some have of the Royal Family, I think Will and Kate are handling their roles quite gracefully.

To celebrate, tonight I set the table with a little British flair. So cheesy and so ridiculous--please don't judge me too harshly--but fun nonetheless. As Terry pointed out, this is what happens when he cooks the meal and I have too much time on my hands. Clearly I'm much more controlled when I do the cooking.

The picture frame was a gift from my friend Amanda. We got married three months after Will and Kate and then went to London on our honeymoon, so she was hoping we would meet them and become good friends. Still working on it.

Terry grilled a fantastic meal tonight: bison tri tip and grilled corn, plus leftover Brussels sprouts from last week and some garlic bread and Stella too.

Earlier in the day, I had hoped to bake scones, but that'll need to wait until tomorrow. For today, the British dinner and tea had to suffice.

And now moving along to far less important concerns, like the blog search I'm currently undergoing. See, I read several health and fitness blogs; some of my favorites are The Fitnessista, 100 Days of Real Food, Peanut Butter Fingers, Best Body Fitness, Sweet Tooth Sweet Life (about to pop!!! good luck Courtney!), and Daily Garnish. I read several others, but those I check every day. But I'm now trying to find some blogs on other topics to expand my blog roll. I really love reading about healthy living, but there are so many other topics I've never even thought to explore online.

I'm interested in any of the following topics:

  • travel
  • literature
  • the English language/grammar
  • parenting
  • San Francisco or the Bay Area in general
  • general humor, especially relating to super sarcastic responses to recent events
Any suggestions? What's your favorite non-healthy living blog?

Also (more importantly), how did you celebrate the royal birth?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Meals and Fitness for the Week

Today's adventure was a long walk to the farmer's market to pick up the vegetables and fruits we'll need this week. On the menu:

  • Sunday: veggie stir-fry
  • Monday: Bison tri-tip with grilled corn
  • Tuesday: Tri-tip (leftovers) sandwiches at the Hollywood Bowl for Terry's anniversary gift
  • Wednesday: Greek couscous salad (similar to this one) plus Caprese salad (so basically lots of tomatoes and cheese)
  • Thursday: Veggie burritos
  • Friday: Some sort of pasta or eat out
Our loot from the farmer's market:

  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Hummus & pita
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Eggs (not pictured)
Snacks and lunches:
  • Hummus and pita
  • Fruit and yogurt
  • Cereal and granola
  • Grilled cheese with veggies
  • Tuna salad
  • Smoothies
This week is fairly calm around here, so I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to cash in on two gift certificates: a facial and a massage! I normally put these types of things off for years (literally), so using a gift certificate from my parents from Christmas and a gift card from Terry from this month is practically a miracle. And I'm so excited for some pampering!

But I still want to hit the gym for workouts. Here's the plan:
  • Sunday: Long walk to the farmer's market
  • Monday: Upper body and HIIT
  • Tuesday: Slow three mile jog
  • Wednesday: Lower body and walking
  • Thursday: Full body strength or yoga
  • Friday: Four miles?
  • Saturday: Active rest
More importantly, we're in the middle of a puzzle! On Friday, I suggested we try to find a puzzle to get going on my 30 Before 30 bucket list. Wouldn't you know it: Target had a puzzle of Neuschwanstein Castle (one of our planned destinations when we go to Germany this fall) on clearance! So we're about 60 percent done and two days in. Because we're super cool.

Scout also thinks we're cool.

That's it for now, folks! Have a fantastic start to the week!

Friday, July 19, 2013

New-to-Us Restaurants in LA

A new-to-us restaurant opened about a mile from our apartment, and they recently sent us a buy-one-get-one-free coupon to encourage neighbors to try it out. So yesterday evening we walked up to Brentwood to try Burger Lounge

The menu is simple--mostly burgers, salads, and fries/onion rings--but when you do something well you should stick with it, right? And they do burgers very well! They also have desserts, including shakes that I'd like to try another time. And they do specials, too, like the lamb burger, which Terry tried.

It says "grass-fed," not "ass-fed." 

You know when restaurants publish photos of their food that look delicious, but then the actual food doesn't seem so appealing? Definitely NOT a problem at Burger Lounge! The burgers looked at least as good as the photos and tasted great, too!

Terry's lamb burger

My "lounge style" burger

Plenty of dipping sauce options--all free! BBQ, ranch, ketchup, and Thousand Island

The half and half--onion rings and fries

We liked it.

The food was delicious--fresh, simple, perfectly cooked. We thought the burgers were fantastic, and we'll definitely go back to try more. The crisp toppings made me think of In-N-Out, and I was impressed with the variety of options given the seemingly simple menu. Oh, and the prices were excellent! Under $8 for a grass-fed burger? That's a rarity around here.

The restaurant itself was tiny, and the seat-yourself setup meant that we had to keep a sharp eye out for an open table. Sitting outside seemed ideal, but nothing was available, so we ended up pretty close to the loud kitchen. Not ideal for a romantic date, but for a casual night out it worked just fine. And the service was excellent! You order at the counter, but the servers bring your food to your table and refill drinks, bring extra sauces, etc. Impressive indeed.

There are now several Burger Lounge locations in Southern California (LA and San Diego), so I highly recommend it. Enjoy!

The rest of this weekend has been heavenly--sleeping in, yoga, long walks, and a fun lunch and dessert out. We tried Huckleberry again (Terry had the Reuben and I went for the BLTA, both were delicious but Terry wanted more meat--it barely covered the bread) for lunch, then ventured to Sweet Rose Creamery. Owned by the same company as Huckleberry, we had heard about this ice cream shop and its unique flavors. But the flavors were, in fact, awesome. I opted for mint chocolate chip (REAL mint--it seriously tasted like a mojito!) in a chocolate cone (what?!) and Terry had something with ginger cookie and candied orange. We even thought they were worth the high price ($8 for the two single scoops), though they would be a special treat for sure. 

With these indulgent meals, I'm making sure to find plenty of time for workouts! I did some amazing yoga today, plus lots of walking, and tomorrow we're hitting the gym for some sort of full body workout. It always feels extra good after a day of treats!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cables & Cardio Workout + WIAW

After my not-sure-I-could-ever-be-a-stay-at-home-wife post from Monday, yesterday turned into quite the whirlwind! I woke up to drive Terry to work, came home to work out, then spent most of the day with my friend Katie and her gorgeous baby girl Ainsley. We went for a walk, ate lunch, and baked Carmelitas from Pinterest. Katie and I are both guilty of pinning delicious recipes and then never actually making them, so I loved her idea of picking something sweet and going for it!

And ooohh my, were these soooo sweet! Definitely a once-in-a-very-long-while treat. But the spoonfuls we devoured right out of the oven tasted like caramel pizookie. I need more Pinterest in my life, apparently!

In addition to yesterday's excitement, I've been enjoying some fantastic workouts around here. I've really been feelin' it this week, so I completed this one on Monday (Terry and I are both STILL sore, two days later--perhaps I should thank the 150 jumping lunges we did?):

Some notes on this workout:
  • For each set, you complete the same cardio blast after each strength exercise. So on the first set, you do the cable upright row, then one minute of jumping jacks, then the cable overhead press, then one minute of jumping jacks again, then the cable biceps curl, back to one minute of jumping jacks, etc. When you move to the next set (starting over again at the upright rows), you switch the cardio blast to the jump rope.
  • All the strength exercises can be done using dumbbells if cables aren't available to you. For the straight-arm lat pull down, switch to a wide row.
  • No jump rope? No problem: do tuck jumps instead.
  • We didn't have a timer with us, so we just did 60 jumping jacks, 60 jumps on the jump rope, and 30 alternating jumping lunges for each round. You can approximate based on your fitness level.
  • Make it easier: Lighten the load for your weights for the strength, but do your best to get to 10 reps for each round. For the cardio, reduce the amount of time (45 or 30 seconds), and rest as needed.
  • Make it harder: Increase resistance/load for your weights. For cardio, increase the amount of time, try jump roping on one foot at a time (I did 30 jumps on the right foot, then 30 on the left), or switch the jumping jacks to star jumps.
I love using cables because they are a safe way to challenge your muscles. Much as I love dumbbells (and I sure do!), cables offer plenty of variety too. Your core is more engaged because it's a less stable environment, so you're getting a well-rounded workout. If you try it out, let me know if you're as sore as I am!

In other workout news, yesterday I hopped on the treadmill for the following:
  • 1 minute walk
  • 3 min run
  • 2 min faster run
  • 1 min even faster run
  • Repeat three times for 28 minutes total

And today I ran about four miles around our neighborhood. It feels good to be on track with my workouts!

Other goings-on:

Ridiculous LA traffic. Note the time. WHY??

This delicious, simple, perfect-for-summer meal, thanks to Daily Garnish. Great way to incorporate all our farmer's market vegetables!

Our apartment is sweltering. We're having trouble sleeping, and poor Scout just can't get comfortable. He walks around, lays out, then gets up and looks for another place to try. 

The aforementioned Katie recommended this Trader Joe's coconut milk ice cream yesterday. It's seriously delicious and creamy and the perfect texture. Ideal for these hot summer days!

Today's treat was homemade lemonade, made with honey instead of sugar. Perfect for my husband, who's home sick today.

And now for today's WIAW:
Check out the other WIAWs!

Breakfast: French toast with slivered almonds, maple syrup, and tea

Half of a KIND bar for pre-run fuel

Lunch: Leftover crunchy vegetable noodle salad (above) - I ate it cold and it tasted perfect after a hot run

Snack: a peach, plus cereal

Snack #2: that lemonade I mentioned (yum!)

 Dinner: BBQ salmon prepared on a cedar plank, which we soaked in pinot noir, plus pancetta Brussels sprouts

Terry kept raving about what a great combination these were, and I completely agree. He did a fantastic job with the cedar plank salmon, and I'm getting the hang of these Brussels sprouts!

And dessert: Carmelitas (mentioned above) and vanilla ice cream--I'm off to enjoy that now! Have a great Thursday!

Of possible interest: