Wonderful people who make this blog worth updating

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Creating a Fitness Habit

I've tried and failed so many times in life to create and maintain a habit or commitment to my health and fitness. I've had the best and most consistent results in the last 3 years or so, even during my last pregnancy. So, what worked for me?

There are so many different ways that you can accomplish this. One that I've liked is to be a part of a Challenge Group. It is so helpful to keep company with like-minded people, or people who have similar goals. On those days you don't feel like working out, you know that someone from your group will notice your absence, or that your coach might give you a call or text to check in! If you are having problems or feel like you're failing, let your coach or partners know, that's why you're a group!

Many programs also come with a Workout Calendar, or you can create your own. I love having a physical calendar where I can cross out my workout for the day and see those X's adding up over the course of the weeks! When I consider skipping, my obsessive personality is bothered by the fact that the day will have a blank.

Combine Fitness with Nutrition:
 This one is HUGE for me! When my workouts are in line, I am less likely to fill my body with things that aren't going to fuel me for my workouts and specific goals. I'm not talking about deprivation, but making sure that you're choosing wisely. I've always felt that I eat healthy, but realized that I often come up short on vegetable and protein portions when tracking them for my workout goals. I have also been using Shakeology for several months now, and have noticed a huge energy boost and reduction in cravings for junk!
Solomon and I enjoying our Greenberry
Create and Use Incentives:
One of my favorite incentives is to choose the workout that I will accomplish next and buy it for myself as a reward.

My reward for finishing Insanity Max 30 this Friday is 21 Day Fix Extreme.

People often choose to buy a specific piece of clothing that they are hoping to fit into by the end of a particular workout program.

Another incentive that works well for me is to have workout outfits that I enjoy wearing. Rather than throwing on those old running shorts from the bottom of the drawer, choose something new to go with a new workout, or reward yourself with a new pair when you've stayed on track for a set amount of time.

It is hardest in the beginning to develop a new habit. When I started Insanity Max 30, I decided to switch my workouts from evening to morning. I am most definitely NOT a natural morning person, but I love the feeling of accomplishment when I've finished something of worth so early in the day.
It was extremely hard to make myself do my workouts when I felt so lethargic, but now my dependence on caffeine is gone, and I feel strange if I have a schedule issue that makes it impossible to work out in the morning. Creating consistency takes the most work for the first few weeks, but with the other steps, you will have a habit that becomes as normal as making that morning coffee!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Favorite Workouts

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, post-baby changes were one of the more minor things on my mind. After my daughter was born, I started walking any day that it was above 30 degrees and doing some yoga when she was a few weeks old.

My first introduction to intense at-home workouts was Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, which I completed in summer of 2008.

I was very happy with the results from this workout series. Most workouts marketed to women weren't nearly intense enough, and I wanted to get good results!

I stuck with Jillian after this, and have done her Ripped in 30, 6 Week Six-Pack, No More Trouble Zones, and Yoga Meltdown. Yoga Meltdown and Ripped in 30 are my favorites of everything she's created.

 I still do some of Jillian's workouts occasionally, but I've found some new workouts that I love even more. A friend of mine had gotten some awesome results doing Turbofire and invited me to join one of her Clean Eating Challenge groups on Facebook. I needed some accountability to get eating healthy again after having my son in 2013, so I joined. She was recovering from a knee injury at the time and couldn't do workouts with any jumping, so she posted about a new Beachbody workout called PiYo. Its a Pilates/Yoga hybrid strength workout with Chalene Johnson, and let me tell you, its my favorite workout series ever! It includes the same kind of strength/yoga combinations as some of Jillian's programs, but Chalene is such a fun trainer! The program also includes so many more workouts that Jillan's program, so its a lot harder to get tired of it!

I still felt like I needed to make some gains in the muscle department, so when another friend started posting about Insanity Max 30, I decided to do something crazy and order the Challenge Pack with Shakeology. I'm finishing the 60 days this Friday, and the results have been amazing so far! I can do pushups and burpees like nobody's business!

What's my favorite overall? I'd have to say that PiYo has been the most fun, its the workout I most genuinely look forward to doing, and my flexibility has improved tremendously too! I was also inspired to sign up as a Beachbody Coach, so that I can inspire others in their journeys toward wellness and a full life.

What are your favorite workouts? Are there any challenges to your health that you would like to improve through better fitness and nutrition?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Monthly Meals Week 2

These are actually a bit out of order since I haven't posted in awhile, but these are the meals that I will make starting on Friday. 
Maybe you'll find some new favorites!  

Mon: Alfredo Pasta with Sausage
Wed: Salmon Burgers (from Costco)
Thurs: Beef Hot Dogs and Mac & Cheese (from Costco)
Fri: Creamy seafood pasta or pesto pasta
Sun: leftovers

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Insanity Max 30-Day 2

I started this workout yesterday and maxed out at only 4 minutes in. . . and I thought I was in pretty good shape!
After doing a lot of Jillian Michaels' workouts in the past, I get the whole concept of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), and I'm totally sold on it as the best way to get fit quickly. Knowing that won't get you through these workouts though!
I love the combinations of moves Shaun-T includes in the workout, and I absolutely love his demeanor as a trainer, he's much less annoying than Jillian!
There were a few things in the second workout that I had to modify, mostly the pushup sequences since I broke my elbow as a kid and have a hard time keeping proper form. I also got interrupted several times by the littles, which is also to be expected!

I'll let you guys know how everything goes as a continue, I'm loving it as the moment and hope that the newness doesn't wear off anytime too soon. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Monthly Meals: Week 1

I've always prided myself on being able to cook and plan meals on the fly and use up the last of my ingredients in an economical way. As I'm getting closer to student teaching and eventually working, though I've realized that this way won't always work for us!

I thought it would be great to do one of those once-a-month cooking type ideas, but quickly realized that most of the meals aren't the sort of thing we actually like.

Our family isn't picky, but most crockpot meals that include vegetables turn out too soggy for us, and I wanted to be able to reuse side dishes for multiple meals. Cooking meals and freezing them also isn't appealing since they have to be frozen in bags, microwaved, and re-served.

We are also Eastern Orthodox, and so have a lot of fasting days through out the year, including every Wednesday and Friday. The traditional fast is vegan, but we have a blessing from our spiritual father to gradually ease into fasting more fully. That said, we probably include more vegetarian days that your typical American family, so I'm working on getting more new recipes in my repertoire.

Here's our first week of dinners, which started on Friday:

Mon: Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala with leftover Somali Rice
Tues: White Chicken Chili with chips and Salsa
Wed: Cheese Quesadillas and guacamole
Fri: Chicken Gyros with pita and tzatziki sauce
Sat: Tacos (at a friend's house)

I also keep a running shopping list in Google Docs so that I can access it when I'm on the run. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction toward feeding a family in a busy world!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Easiest Chicken Gyros Ever!

The Easiest Chicken Gyros Ever

 Start with about a pound of frozen chicken breast.
 Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and slice into very thin strips (this is easiest to do if the chicken is still half frozen).
1 medium onion, julienned
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup of kalamata olives (optional)
1/4 cup of olive oil 1TB Penzey's Greek Seasoning
Allow ingredients to marinate for at least an hour (overnight is better) and saute until onions are translucent and  chicken is cooked through.

Serve with your preferred pita bread and tzatziki sauce (I buy mine at Costco).
Tabbouli and hummus both make a great side dish!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Cup of Suffering, The Cup of Salvation

Today a close friend posted a heartfelt cry for God to heal her son from his recently diagnosed illness. As I read her post, my thoughts immediately connected to Christ's own words as he suffered in the flesh, "Father, if it is possible, take this cup from me."

The cup of suffering is one that none of us desires to bear. Not only do we want to avoid it ourselves, but we want to remove it from those that we love. What parent desires to see the suffering of their own child? None that deserves the title mother, or father. We pray for healing, because we want healing, and also know that God is the healer of both physical and spiritual ailments.

What if, though, our suffering in the flesh is exactly what is needed for our own salvation, or the salvation of another?

In the case of Christ Himself, it was necessary that God Incarnate suffer in the flesh, because God's own entrance into death was necessary to destroy its power over humanity.
As it is summarized so beautifully in the liturgy: 

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; For the Lord hath done a mighty act with His own arm; He hath trampled down death by death, and became the first-born from the dead; He hath delivered us from the depths of Hades, granting the world the Great Mercy!
-Troparion of the Resurrection, Tone 3

Thinking about this suffering reminded me of an article I read today about the kidnapped Orthodox nuns from Ma'aloula, Syria. A new video recently surfaced, which shows that, Alhamdulillah, the nuns are alive. Raymond Ibrahim commented upon the fact that in the video they were no longer wearing their crosses that are part of the monastic habit. They were presimably forced to remove them by their captors, but if they hadn't they may have been martyred already.

Ibrahim comments, reflecting on the words of St. Paul about the cross:

"'But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world' (Galatians 6:14). You removed the cross from the nuns' breasts. Remove it! We do not rely on the visible. But know that the cross is firmly planted in the hearts of each and every one of those nuns."

It is not that the image of the cross holds no value, Christ came to redeem both the physical and spiritual realities from corruption and death, and this is exactly the truth that we proclaim as Orthodox Christians through the use of icons.

The point of Ibrahim's comment is that the truth of the Incarnation and the reality of life in Christ will not be impeded by the lack of a physical cross on the nuns' clothing.

We pray for God to see fit to preserve the nuns lives and to see them released from captivity, but to return to the first point, if their suffering is effectual for salvation, either their own, or the souls of their captors, it becomes something completely glorious when removed from the context of our earthly temporal existence. Suffering, while completely devoid of pleasure, can be a means to enter into God's own business of uniting humanity to himself, one soul at a time.

"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 
 perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
-Romans 5:3-5