Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beta Phase Week 3 STATurday!

I know it's STATurday but I'm just dying to talk about my 5K race this morning instead! I PRed!  I'll get to a recap soon, but I guess it is best to stick to the plan and make my STATs known.

Since Beta Week 2:
Weight:  -2 lbs
Chest:   no change
Waist:   no change
Arm:   no change
Thigh:   -.25"
Body Fat:   -2.6%

Since the beginning of my Focus T25 Challenge:
Weight:   -7.1 lbs
Chest:   2"
Waist:   1"
Arm:   +.5"
Thigh:   -.5"
Body Fat:   -4.5%

Interesting.  2 weeks to go!  Today is probably the first time I feel comfortable admitting that I'm sorely (haha, pun may or may not be intended) tempted to get Gamma phase and keep moving forward.  *shrug*

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

There's espresso in that shake!

So, I saw a recipe (thanks again, Pinterest) for a protein shake that had espresso in it.  And maple syrup.  And chocolate.

I was all over that today.

I wish I had a pic to show you, but I'm sitting here with an empty cup.  lol  I felt like a naughty girl drinking this even though, given the ingredients I used, it was only 243 calories.  Totally freaking decadent.

It was so good I text Nick about it.  He wants me to have one ready for him when he gets home.  Maybe I'll take a pic then, but honestly, it just looks like any other chocolate based protein shake.  But it sure tastes like a yummy dessert.  Better than anything I've gotten from the Greentree Road Starbucks lately (do you guys even put coffee IN your coffee anymore?).

Mocha Maple Shake
1 cup water
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (your choice of brand and type!)
1 teaspoon instant espresso (or 1 serving of premade espresso, but you may need to cut down on the water)
1 tablespoon chopped pecans
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I used sugar free)
1 cup of ice or to your preference - I used 6 standard cubes

Blend it!

Just a few of the other things that I've been consuming:

Turkey Bacon BLT with a sliced up pear sprinkled with cinnamon!

And, my favorite meal of the week - Chicken Stir Fry!  First, you take some sliced mushrooms (about 1 package, 2 if you have big mushroom lovers in your crew), a whole head of broccoli (or if you're lazy like I was this time, a whole big bag of frozen pre-chopped florets), and either sugar snap peas or snow peas and throw them in a big skillet or wok.  Cook them until crisp-tender... not until they're wilted and dead!

Then, add your meat - I used 3 chicken breasts that I had cooked and chopped previously.  You could also go with shrimp, slices of flank steak, whatever floats your boat:

Then add a splash of this:
Have I professed my love of Trader Joe's yet?  I love it so much it is worth the drive!

Then add a glug or three of this:

A few shakes of this make it extra special.  Just trust me.  No Penzeys near you?  First off, I'm sorry.  You're truly missing out.  Second, you can get other 5 Spice Powders in your local supermarkets, usually:

Stir that all together until it's just how you like it.  It's one of those "to your taste" kind of dishes that you need to figure out for yourself.  I will tell you that the a little of the Sesame Oil goes a long way - I rarely use more than a tablespoon for the whole pot.  Finally, you've got this:
Nom Nom.  I think I just got hungry again.

Serve it over some brown rice and you've got a great meal that takes very little time to throw together, and is more delicious and healthy than takeout!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Workout Schedule for the Week of 8/26-9/1/2013

And... they're off!

You can see just how thrilled Garrett was this morning.  Poor baby.  The good news is that when he got to his school, met his teacher, and saw his cubby all made up for him he was perfectly fine.

I got up early to get my workout in before getting the kids up for school.  That seemed to work well, but we'll see what the coming days and weeks have in store.  On days where I have 2+ workouts, I may have to do 1 before they go to school and 1 later on.  Again, we'll see.

This morning was Core Cardio.  I felt pretty good, although I did take it easy on the twisting lunges and the speed kicks just in case.  I burned almost the same amount of calories as before (228 today), so I was happy with that.  I still feel stupid doing burpees, but I doubt that will ever go away.... it's just a silly feeling exercise.

Here's my plan of action for the rest of this week!

Monday:  Core Cardio
Tuesday:  4.5 mile easy run, Upper Focus
Wednesday:  9x400s.  I'm not going to go out of my mind about it, I'm just going to get it done.  After that, Speed 2.0.
Thursday:  4 mile easy run, Rip'T Circuit, Gym Weights
Friday:  Dynamic Core, Core Speed.  Core Speed is an exclusive DVD that you only get if you order direct from a Beachbody coach.  It's (supposedly) a more advanced workout and you can use it in place of Speed 2.0 in the Beta schedule as desired.  From the start, my plan was to do the first half of Beta using Speed 2.0 and the second half using Core Speed.  So, that's what's up!  I mean, unless Core Speed really sucks and then I'll ditch it because I really really like Speed 2.0.  ;)
Saturday:  Gatorade Steelers 5K!!  I have been looking forward to this race all year!  I've got yellow and black gear down to the socks and headband that says GO STEELERS.  I've never really "dressed up" for a race before, but come on... it's Steelers kickoff event for goodness sake!  lol  The race pretty much runs a route that I run around a lot (I live less than .75 miles from Heinz Field), and finishes inside the stadium.  I just want to have fun, but I definitely want to PR too.  My last 5K almost a year ago was 26:05, and I've beaten that many times during training runs and other races, so hopefully I'll do pretty well.  The kids are doing the 40 yard dash across the field too!
Sunday:  Since I'm planning on running hard on Saturday, I don't want to chance going too long the day after and getting injured since my body seems to be going through a prissypants phase (I refuse to say "getting old").  So, I'm just planning on a stretcher 30 minute easy run followed by T25 Stretch.

Good times lie ahead - I can feel it!  Have a happy, safe, and wonderful year of growth all you students and teachers out here!  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Last Week of Summer Vacation Workout Review!

Well it was fun, but now it is done.  As of tomorrow morning, it's unofficially Fall in our household when the kids go through the doors of the local Academy.  It's bittersweet, of course - they're off for a new adventure, growing and learning all the time, but all the same, the years fly by so fast... This year I have a 3rd grader, a 2nd grader, and a 4 year old Pre-K kid (he won't really be 4 until September, but he squeaked by the cutoff date)!  I refuse to feel old!  :)

Speaking of which, here's what I've been doing to keep this ol' body moving since my Monday morning workout!

Tuesday:  I started my morning off right with just over 6 easy as pie miles on a beautiful morning.  Afterwards, I did Core Cardio and worked up a great sweat.  Good times!  I felt great after working out.  Then, over the course of the day, I had this slight niggle in the left knee that turned into a real PITA.  It wasn't even in the knee, but in the "space" you can see between your inner knee and the calf muscle area?  It felt like something was pulled, crunched, or simply tweaked WAY wrong.  I spent most of the night all wrapped up, icing, and taking ibuprofen.  Even stretching seemed to aggravate it more than help it.

Wednesday:  I was up for a 40 minute tempo run, which my husband tried to talk me out of after I'd spent the whole night prior bitching about my knee.  It felt "ok"... not great, not normal, but ok, so I headed out.  Even in my head I said if I just needed to make it a 40 minute easy run, that would be ok.  Well, my knee did bother me through the first part of the run, but it wasn't agonizing, didn't really affect my stride, and went away for the most part about halfway through.  It was actually a pretty decent tempo run!  T25 this day called for Rip'T Circuit, which I knew was a pretty light workout, so I went for it when I got back.  I used heavier weights again and felt pretty good.  My knee bothered me off and on the rest of the day, but seemed to be getting better.

Thursday:  The plan called for a 5 mile easy run.  I told myself I was going to keep it slow as to not tweak my knee anymore.  To my surprise, my knee felt much better and my "easy" pace ended up being a little faster than I intended in the first place!

When I got home, I got right to Upper Focus - again, with heavier weights.  It was a good workout!  Since this is typically my gym weights day, I figured I'd go easy on the upper body weights when I got there and focus on the lower.  I ended up doing a couple more sets of certain things (especially the calf extension with felt AWESOME on my "bad" knee), and worked in a few different exercises than I normally do.

Friday:  A rest day from running, but not from T25!  Today's schedule called for Rip'T Circuit followed by Speed 2.0.  I admittedly kinda liked Rip'T this time around... maybe it is growing on me.  I used my heavy weights for the entire workout instead of switching up throughout and I think I got a lot more out of it.  Speed 2.0 is just loads of fun and a fantastic calorie burner.  I love it.

Later that evening, we took the kids out to North Park for a short walk/scooter around the lake loop.  Which is still crowded, btw.  So, I had some more exercise there too!  lol

Saturday:  Glorious rest day!  Well, kinda.  I spent most of the day in the van driving back and forth to Cleveland (don't ask), and then on the way home we got a call from my Uncle saying that my cousin was in town for the Steelers game and her car blew up in the parking garage.  So, they needed help navigating the city, picking up personal items, finding a hotel, etc.  Of course this had to be a game that went into overtime as well, so it was a really really late night.  Oof.  And yes, the Steelers lost, to top it all off.

Sunday:  I wasn't too sure of myself going into this run.  I'd just had a stressful day followed by a late night before and I wasn't feeling real well emotionally or physically.  My knee felt fine, but my legs felt tight, tired, and like lead.  The first 3-4 miles were a bit of a chore.  My slowest mile (mile 2) was when I went over the Fort Pitt Bridge over to Point State Park - it felt like Mount Everest to me!  I've never huffed and puffed over that thing like I did this morning!  I ran over to the Jail Trail and finally started feeling better.  By the time mile 5 hit, I was in the zone and feeling great.  I tried a Honey Stinger gel (vanilla) for the first time.  It tasted really freaking good, but I don't know that it gave me the "kick" I get off other gels.  I'd give it another go, though.  I felt really great on the way back home, aside from having that weird Mile 6-7 tightness crap I deal with on a lot of runs.  Lots of friendly runners and walkers out and about this morning, too, which always makes me feel better on a run.  I did feel bad for the lady who, immediately after saying hi to me, about faceplanted into the ground.  I stopped and turned around to ask if she was ok because I heard her fall, but she jumped right up and dashed on forward, so I'm guessing she's a rock star and is just fine.  At least I hope so!  I got home safe and sound and feeling great (my knee didn't bother me AT ALL, aside from what I believe was a phantom twinge as I was going over the bridge) after completing 10.1 miles in 1:28.  I'm thrilled that this run went from being potentially awful to wonderful!

I did my Stretch with Shaun T when I got home and chugged some water.  ;)

This was a pretty good week.  I hate it when twinges and potential injuries are lurking about, but I feel pretty confident that I just tweaked some soft tissue in there doing twisting lunges during T25 (they were the only things that bothered me all week during the workouts, so I'm guessing they were the culprit).  I'll be more careful about them in the future.  I still nailed my tempo run and my long run!  My gym day was pretty productive and I've got some new tricks up my sleeve.  I *might* be starting to warm up to Rip'T Circuit, but we'll see.  Overall this week I ran 26.31 miles.  I love seeing that number inch closer to 30 again.  Next week is a bit of a lighter week because I'm racing a 5K on Saturday.  I'll get back up there, though!

Nutritionally, this week has had its highs and lows... but not too low.  I ate out twice, but thankfully kept to the healthier options on the menu - you know, like asking the server to bring the "sweet potato toppings" out on the side instead of drowning an otherwise healthy food item in junk.  I was honestly disgusted when she brought me like a 1/4 stick of butter and 1/8 cup of brown sugar.  I just used a smidgen (probably less than a teaspoon) of the butter.  I couldn't fathom eating all that.  I also had my catfish grilled instead of fried!  Small steps make a big difference!  I did have a few bites of a Wendy's Frosty and a swig of a Slurpee, but I think the Slurpee was sugar free.  And... I confess that I was planning on eating some Potato Patch fries at Kennywood this evening while we were there, but Vincent started throwing one of his wicked fits so we ended up leaving early.  Bummer.

Well, that's my week in a not so tiny nutshell.  I hope yours went great!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

T25 STATurday - Beta Week 2

Real quick update since it is late!

Since Beta Week 1:
Weight:   no change
Chest:   -.5"
Waist:   -.5"
Arm:   no change
Thigh:   +.25"
Body Fat:   +.2%

Since the start of Focus T25 7 weeks ago:
Weight:   -5.1 lbs
Chest:   -2"
Waist:   -1"
Arm:   +5"
Thigh:   -.25"
Body Fat:   -1.9%

I'm loving the changes I'm seeing in both numbers AND in my body!  I am much stronger than I've ever been.  I was telling Nick the other day that never would I have thought that I could do pushup after pushup and make my chest/face go the whole way to the floor.  Changes here and there make a big difference in the long haul!

Long run tomorrow - 10 miles (and easy ones, I hope)!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bakin' Bacon

Bacon is one of those things I can't help loving.  The smell, the sizzle, the crunchy parts, the more chewy parts, how it makes me smile on a bad day... can't be sad with bacon.  I don't eat it very often anymore, and when I do it's usually turkey and low sodium if I can find it.  This morning I baked up a big ol' batch of bacon to use for BLTs, kiddo breakfast, whatever for the next few days.  I don't fry my bacon anymore ever since I learned the trick for making a large amount of perfect flat strips of bacon in the oven.  Pop those sexy strips on a baking sheet, and throw them in the oven for 10 mins (400 degrees).  Pull the sheet out, drain off some of that grease, and flip the strips.  Back into the oven they go for another 10 minutes while every person in your household comes wandering into kitchen like zombies drooling like fiends.  Enjoy slapping their hands away from the hot cookie sheet as it comes out of the oven as you remind them that you plan on draining these lovely slabs of "meat" on paper towels for a few minutes.  I mean, yeah, you're making bacon but you still care about all that grease going into the body, right?  Ha!

And just do you all don't think I'm going off the deep end and starting to eat junky foods, I also cooked up a big batch of organic quinoa to use for the next couple of meals too.  Sweet potatoes too.  ;)

This is one of only 2 food pics I took this week!  The other one is the same chicken, rice and a steamed veggie blend instead of the big pile of yummy carrots.  Haha.  I guess I've just been so hungry at meals this week that I've eaten before taking pics.  Oh well - real life wins!

Remember my posting that I made some banana bread last week?  Well, I just thought I'd share how it went over.  It was an NSA banana bread recipe I found on Pinterest.  I had to tweak it just a bit for the ingredients I had - I didn't have any whole wheat flour, just AP.

Here is the original post: No Sugar Added Banana Bread

You can click through to see the recipe as written.  Like I said, the only change I made was using all AP flour instead of the whole wheat blend and I did use the applesauce instead of oil.  I usually do that anyway.

It smelled great and cooked through well, taking just a few minutes over the listed time in the recipe.  I let it cool, forcing myself to hold back from the "hot out of the oven" temptation.

According to MyFitnessPal, with the ingredients I used each serving (8) was 166 calories, 34g carbs, 1g fat, 5g protein, and 2g of fiber.  Not too bad for a baked good, eh?

The kids each had a serving.  My daughter ate all of hers and said it was yummy but didn't want anymore the next day, which in her little way of speaking says "It was just ok".  My middle kid ate most of it and when I asked if he wanted to finish it, he fussed about it and said he didn't want it.  And like his sister, he never asked for more.  The youngest is in the "eat 3 bites of everything at every meal and lose all focus" stage of life, so he doesn't count.  So, I'm guessing the kids really didn't love it.

As for me, I thought it was pretty good - especially if you weren't/aren't expecting super sweet dessert like food.  That's fine with me, honestly.  My husband had a couple of slices of it and never complained.  Usually I can tell when he doesn't really like something I've made because he'll either a) drown it in some condiment or b) do the same thing as the kids and eat it one time and then let the rest fester in the fridge/cabinet and act like I don't notice it.  ;)

It did have a texture unlike "real" banana bread.  It was dense and spongy.  Again, that doesn't bother me, but some people might be taken aback by it.

I'd make it again, but I would make a couple of modifications for personal preference.  First, I would add more spice.  1/2 t of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice just didn't cut it for me.  I'd add 1t at least of cinnamon and maybe some nutmeg.  Second, I'd add nuts.  Banana bread just needs nuts for me.  Lastly, I think I'd try muffins instead of the bread!  I think this kind of texture just lends itself more toward muffins than bread.

Overall, though, a very good find!  More proof that you can bake with healthier options!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Workout Schedule for the Week of 8/19-8/25/2013

It's officially the last week of Summer vacation here in the city of Pittsburgh!  And.... remember what I was saying the other day about wanting another day at Sandcastle?  Well, it's looking like Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be in the mid 80s and sunny so I might just get my wish!!  Woohoo!

I'm sitting here surfing through some of my favorite blogs and having my post workout coffee.  I did Dynamic Core and I was able to put a little more into it this time and burned a couple more calories.  I think, other than the strange cardio bit in the beginning, that I'm preferring this now to Ab Intervals.  It's the side plank stuff.  I heart planking lots.  haha.

Here's this week's workout plan:

Monday:  Dynamic Core
Tuesday:  6 mile easy run, Core Cardio
Wednesday:  40 minute tempo run, Rip'T Circuit
Thursday:  5 mile easy run, Upper Focus, Gym Weights <-- I think I'll be going light on the upper body weights at the gym since I'm doing Upper Focus and maybe tack on a few more leg based workouts to even it out.
Friday:  Rip'T Circuit, Speed 2.0
Saturday:  REST
Sunday:  10 mile long run, T25 Stretch

In addition to my workouts, I have LOTS to do.  We have to finish school shopping for the kids (yeah, yeah I know... late!), we have our meet the teachers event on 2 different days  (I have 3 kids that go to 3 different schools - go Pittsburgh Public!  grumble grumble...), I need to get some major and not so major things done around the house - AND I still want to squeeze the last droplets of Summer vacation fun out of life.  Then, you know, there's still the day to day cooking/cleaning/organizing/being mom stuff.  ;)  So, this will not be a lazy week, that's for sure.  Today's agenda includes grocery shopping and food preps for the week!  I did my menu planning last night.

Now to finish that coffee!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week 1 of Beta Phase Complete - Weekly Review

I hope you're all having a wonderfully relaxing Sunday afternoon (or morning, or evening, depending on where you are)!

You feel that?  I do!  Endorphins, baby!  haha... I had a great long run earlier.  I'll get to that in a bit, but first let's cover what I did since Monday, ok?

Tuesday:  I had an easy 5 miler planned, but it wasn't all that easy.  I was super tired due to lack of sleep the night before (kids), and I just wasn't feeling it from the start.  It felt like it took the entire run to get warmed up and I just never settled into a comfortable pace.  I got it done, but again, it wasn't marvelous.

After the run I was apprehensive of what Speed 2.0 might bring.  I've heard that it's tough, there's no breaks, blah blah blah.  But, I sucked it up and pushed play after stretching out a bit.  OMG it was freaking awesome!!  By far my favorite T25 workout of the entire series.  It was sheer fun and excitement.  By the end of it, I was even going "woohoo" at the TV with the rest of the crew.  I broke a hell of a sweat, burned 265 cals according to my HRM and had a blast.  No, there were no breaks.  Yes, it was really fast and hardcore.  I loved it.  I can't wait to do it again.  Just goes to show you that different things appeal to different people.

Wednesday:  Speedwork day.  Let me be honest here:  I've been scared as hell of this workout.  Unlike the pain of childbirth/pregnancy that you forget immediately, I still have not forgotten how much running 400s hurts and sucks.  But, I know it has to be done or I have no chance at a PR anytime anywhere.  So, when the alarm went off at 6 something, I jumped out of bed just to get this over with.  The sooner you're out there, the faster you run, the faster you're done, right?  Well, as it usually happens, the first few intervals felt like a challenge, but still easy enough.  The last half?  Especially the last two?  That's when I have to convince myself that I'm almost done and to please not puke.  Then on the way home I feel better and by the time I get home and get stretched and re-hydrated I'm all like "I'm awesome!".  Ha!  I'm happy to say that I nailed all 8 of my 400s at or faster than my goal pace and I have survived to tell the tale.  ;)

I was a little concerned that my legs would be in really crappy condition after this run to do Rip'T Circuit.  But, again, I went for it.  I had no reason to worry at all.  This workout was really really really easy.  Disappointingly so.  Total Body Circuit is much harder and I expected this one to be a revved up version of that.  In true circuit training form, this workout takes you through bursts of cardio, then onto weights, then abs, etc.  However, and I know I've complained about this with regards to TBC, the transitions are so haphazard and fast that by the time you get your weights or put them down and get into position (in proper form) for the next move, Shaun is halfway done with that set and you're stuck with 2 options.  1) keep following along and work your sides in an uneven manner and/or get less of a workout OR 2) pause the DVD to get your reps in, and again debunk the whole "25 minutes a day" thing because you need more time.  Shaun starts heading toward the next move before the first one is even done as he's wandering around, and while he has that extra time to get to his weights or onto his mat, I'm stuck with the decision of quitting the current one early or picking one of the 2 choices above.  It's just something that annoys me.  I'm hoping that after a couple of times of doing this workout I'll figure out a system for myself to getting it all done.  I'm not saying this is a terrible workout - it isn't.  It has great, effective moves.  I just have to figure out how to make it work for me.  That's all.  Again, different things for different people.  Oh, and I prefer to use dumbbells instead of the bands.

Thursday:  I woke up to a chilly, fall like 50 degree morning.  Hooray!  I opted for capris instead of shorts, but still had short sleeves going.  My legs were a little sore and needed a bit of loosening up, which is understandable given the abuse I gave them on Wednesday, but after I got going I felt fantastic.  Another 5 wonderful miles on the North Shore!

After I got home I got right to Dynamic Core.  Wow.  This is a wicked ab workout!  There's just a little more cardio in it than I would prefer in a true total Abs routine, but I understand why and it's cool.  There are some fierce moves in this one.  If your abs aren't screaming at the end of this workout, then either 1) you're in far better shape than I am or 2) you're doing it wrong.  lol  I think this is a much more intense workout than Ab Intervals, but each has their merit.

I headed up to the gym for my beast mode weights training.  ;)  I felt awesome and I was able to increase some weights in some areas I'd been holding back on (biceps curl, especially).

Friday:  Upper Focus time!  I was quite sore from Thursday's gym workout, but I gave it my all.  I used my 8 lb dumbbells and that seemed to be ok.  This was a pretty good workout.  It gave me the lowest calorie burn according to my HRM of any T25 workout, but that's because there's hardly any cardio.  But, given the goal of this particular workout, that's understandable.  I liked it, although looking ahead in my training schedule, I don't know that I'd schedule this on top of a gym day.  I'll see what happens.  I do have to say it bothered me when Shaun T said that ladies won't get big biceps because... well, I want bigger biceps!

After Upper Focus was another round of Core Cardio!  I really enjoy this!  Again, it's a lot of fun and works up one heck of a sweat.

Saturday:  Rest day!  I did take it easy much of the day (I got some long overdue WoW playing in), but we did take the kids out for a walk on the trail and let them ride their scooters around a bit.  I also got out to GNC to get a reload on some stuff.  Oh, and we went to Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner.  Just being honest!  I had the minestrone soup with a garden salad and a piece of sourdough.  Seriously.  As much as I wanted the lasagna... I know better.  ;)  The kids love their pizza, though!

Sunday:  I had 9 miles on the schedule, but kind of knew already that I was going to go a little longer.  This run started off amazing and I felt really great from start to finish.  Somewhere around the convention center my GPS on both my watch and my phone went nuts and I spent the next several miles not really knowing how fast or how far I was going.  I'd calculated that my devices were about a third to a half a mile off, so I ran until they said 10 miles and change and then walked the rest of the way home.  After I got my stuff connected and uploaded into the computer, I was satisfied that I probably ran around 9.71 miles with my calculations.  So, that's what I'm going with.  haha.  Not that it really matters.  I had a great run.  I felt awesome, didn't bonk (yes, I had my chia seeds last night!!), and just needed a Hammer gel at around 5.5-6 miles.  It was just a wonderful run.  I could have gone longer, but I'm trying to be smart.

Yes, I did T25 Stretch when I got home after my run.  :)

Overall this week I ran 25 or so miles, nailed my speedwork, and felt great.  I got through the first week of Focus T25 Beta and found some new favorite workouts in that!  My gym workout couldn't have gone better, and I'm loving this strength I'm gaining.

My nutrition has been ok.  Like I mentioned before, I did have frozen yogurt the other day and last night we went out, but I did make good choices at the restaurant.  I've accounted for everything in MyFitnessPal.  I'm starting to think that I really do need a little more carbs than I've been allowing myself, especially with the speedwork and longer runs.  I must say that I'm liking my current long run fueling strategy - the night before I have a bowl of oatmeal with chia seeds (last night I had PB2 and a drizzle of honey in it as well) and in the morning I just have a banana before heading out.  I don't feel like I'm weighed down with a big meal and I definitely have the energy and stamina to get through the run.  It's working!  At least for now!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

STATurday - first week of Beta edition

It's another STATurday already, and with that comes my weekly accountability post with my progress thus far.

Since week 5:
Weight:   +1.3
Chest:   -.5"
Waist:   +.25"  <--- it really is like +.18 or something, but I'm rounding to the nearest quarter here
Arm:   no change
Thigh:   -.5"
Body Fat:   +1.8%

Total since beginning Focus T25:
Weight:   -5.1 lbs
Chest:   -1.5"
Waist:   -.5"
Arm:   +.5"
Thigh:   -.5"
Body Fat:   -2.1%

So, the weight went up a little!  Like I said before, I'm not after weight loss so I am fine with that... in fact it is a bit of a relief.  Now, there could be several things factoring in with that.  1) Last week's reading could have just been flat wrong.  2)  It's PMS time around here, so that naturally leads to a gain somewhere.  3) I have been trying to eat more and using MFP to at least come close to "eating back" my calories.  4) I have had a couple of treats this week in between all my healthy eating.  The other day we went to Baskin Robbins (I got frozen yogurt, but that's still not the healthiest thing ever), and yesterday I baked banana bread (it was no sugar added, no sweeteners at all other than the bananas and applesauce).  5)  I just simply haven't burned as many calories this week as last.  I'll get to that in a second.  

I am glad to see change finally in my thighs.  I'm a little sad to see the waist go back up a bit, but I have some bloat (see #2 above) that could be contributing to that.

Now I said yesterday that I was going to give my initial impression of the Beta phase workouts in this post.  Well, they are absolutely not what I had expected at all!  I can't tell for sure if it is a good thing or bad thing at this point, so we'll have to see how things go so I can give a proper review at the end of the cycle.  What I will say is that aside from Core Cardio and Speed 2.0 the calorie burn isn't there.  Which, to me, is a little bit of a letdown.  

Calorie burns this week:
Core Cardio:  255 Monday, 228 Friday (I was tired after all the workouts the day before plus Upper Focus directly before, so admittedly I wasn't going all out this day)
Speed 2.0:  265
Rip'T Circuit:   135
Dynamic Core:   134
Upper Focus:   126

Now compare that with the 2 workouts from Alpha phase that I have stats for:
Total Body Circuit:  225
Lower Focus:   182
and I can tell you that based on perceived exertion I burned around TBC with Alpha Cardio and Speed 1.0.  Ab Intervals was more than likely lower than LF.

So far the "fun factor" in Beta is spot on.  The workouts are interesting, challenging, and FUN.  But, to me, they are easier than Alpha.  Especially Rip'T Circuit, which I expected to be a revamped Total Body Circuit, and in my opinion was the easiest workout in the set!  I even did that workout immediately following my speedwork run!  I guess I came into Beta expecting to get my butt handed to me, but instead I'm sitting here saying "really?  That's it?".

And with that I'd better get on with my day... lol  I said I was going to wait to give a proper review and I'll stick with that plan and give myself a chance to work these workouts to their (and my) fullest potential.  

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Already?

Wow, the final days of summer vacation are just flying by!  This weather shift lately has really thrown things for a spin... it's felt like Autumn already most mornings.  Just the other day when I headed out for my run it was 50 - yes, five zero - degrees!  I wore capris instead of shorts!  I think the local stores are going gung ho with it as well because yesterday there was a whole display of pumpkin rolls, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin tart, pumpkin you name it and even the beer cooler was filled with pumpkin and other Harvestfest-type selections!  Now, don't hear me wrong, fall is my absolute favorite time of year and I love everything about it, but it is still WAY early for that for me!  Give me a couple more weeks of sunshine and warm enough air to enjoy a whole day at Sandcastle, please!

Actually, my prediction for this is that after a period of these fall-like conditions, we're going to have a wicked heat wave.  And unfortunately by then, Sandcastle will be closed.  haha.  What luck!

Since I posted a review on Tuesday of my experiences with Focus T25 Alpha phase, I never posted a recipe or pics of the yumminess going on around here.  So, better late than never, here you go!

Scrambled egg whites with fresh tomato and basil and a little bit of parmesan cheese. 

Mixed greens with fresh tomato and a drizzle of Italian dressing. 

4 oz grilled sirloin steak with steamed broccoli and a baked sweet potato.

Grilled chicken breast with steamed broccoli and cauliflower and a baked sweet potato.  I usually buy a big bag of sweet potatoes and bake them all at once so we have them for a couple of days.  Sweet potatoes are actually quite nutritious if you don't "candy" them with a heap of brown sugar and molasses and syrups and all that.  They're delicious all on their own with just a sprinkle of cinnamon! 

One of my favorite snacks - sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. 

Grilled salmon rubbed with a touch of honey mustard (about 1 teaspoon), roasted asparagus, and couscous.

Burger made with lean ground beef (4 oz), and served with honeydew and blackberries.

Tomorrow is my total rest day, but I'm happy to report that I made it through my first week of Beta phase of Focus T25!  Tomorrow is also STATurday and I'll give my initial impressions in that post.  It's mostly good, I'll tell you that.  ;)

TGIF!  Have a great start to your weekend!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Focus T25 Alpha Phase Review

As promised, I wrote up my thoughts on the Alpha phase of Focus T25.  Keep in mind that these are only my opinions and experiences, YMMV.  I'm not paid by anyone, sponsored by anyone or influenced by anyone other than the Lord above.  I'm also not a Beachbody coach or a certified personal trainer (yet).  All I've got is an NREMT card, and that really doesn't make me an expert on anything other than potentially saving your life if need be.

Cardio:  Fun workout - challenging, but not discouraging.  Easy moves – easily “learned” in a time or two.  Would definitely do it on a crosstrain/non-running day.

Speed 1.0:   Incredibly fun workout.  Easier than Cardio or Total Body Circuit, mostly because it works in intervals – you work hard for a couple minutes and then you get a “break” where you work on stretching and stability.  When finished, it feels like you just did a nice run with stride efforts or intervals.  I probably looked forward to this one every week more than the other workouts in Alpha phase.  I will definitely do this one again.

Total Body Circuit:  Sigh.  I’m going to give the most objective review of this I can.  It’s no secret that I wasn't ever a big fan of this one.  Does it work the whole body?  Yes.  You do everything from jumping moves to push ups to core work and everything in between.  Did it raise the heart rate and give a good calorie burn?  Yes.  The one and only time I used a hrm during TBC I burned 225 calories, and for only 25 minutes of effort, that’s fantastic.  So yes, it is effective.  By the end of Alpha phase, I was able to complete the entire workout without modifications.  But, on the downside, this workout was very haphazard, did not have a nice flow (especially if you don’t want to get injured!), and was just really not enjoyable.  It wasn't because it was hard… I can deal with hard.  It just didn't click with me.  The moves weren't fun, they seemed very thrown together, even the crew in the video seemed like they were just doing it because they “had to” not because they “wanted to”.  Meh.  Hopefully someone else can find some enjoyment in this workout because I don’t think I ever will.  It probably will not be leaving the DVD sleeve anytime in the near future.

Ab Intervals:  I loved this workout.  I can tell you why without much trouble, too.  This was a fantastic core workout that wasn't just “let’s do 5 million crunches of different varieties.  Maybe we’ll do 1 or 2 other things.  Other than that – crunch, crunch, crunch”.  There wasn't a single crunch to be had in this 25 minutes.  It was great, and my abs BURNED by the end of it.  Also, to break it up, there were short bursts of cardio to get the heart rate up AND still keep the core in focus.  This is another one I’ll definitely do again.

Lower Focus:  Lunges and squats.  Squats and lunges.  You’d better enjoy these because this workout really utilizes them and their variants.  No worries, though, Shaun T makes this FUN.  I will say that this workout is a tad on the tough side if done after a run or after say, Total Body Circuit, but it is still doable.  I would do this workout again if I was looking to focus on my legs as an addition to another workout or on a light day.

Stretch:  This really isn't just an Alpha specific workout, it is done through all phases of T25, but I love it!  I do it after every long run now in place of my old standby routine.  I think it really helps!  I highly recommend not skipping it and adding it to your workout rotation.

Overall Impression of Focus T25 Alpha Phase
I think this is a great introduction to higher impact cardiovascular exercise with the option to modify to lower impact as needed.  All of the workouts are very well thought out with the exception of Total Body Circuit, which, if I'm being honest, I do not recommend for someone who is just "just coming off the couch".  If I were someone who has not exercised much, if at all before or even recently, I would substitute the TBC days with either another day of Alpha Cardio or a 30 minute brisk walk or easy run.  Or even more structured circuit training/crossfit at the gym would be a good idea.  I truly believe that Total Body Circuit done as quickly as presented with poor form is a prescription for long lasting injury.

The crew in the videos is decent - Tania is a machine even as the friggin' modifier.  The super fit looking girls that rotate each video (Jan and Christina, I think?) are kind of annoying after a while.  You can tell that the workouts aren't incredibly hard for them, but when they know the camera is right on them they make over dramatic faces like they've really got it so so tough.  Something that cracks me up during the workouts is that when Shaun T goes to focus on one of the crew and they're doing something that requires stability they start wobbling around when he's next to them.  It makes them a little more "human" to me.  I like the two guys in the videos.  They're usually right on with regard to form and speed for me and I typically follow them more than Tania (who I only really needed during the first couple of tries at Total Body Circuit - those dang oblique push ups!!) and the Fit Girl of the Day.

I agree with others who have said that it is a little misrepresented that the program is "25 minutes a day, 5 days a week".  First of all, there's a 3-5 minute cool down active stretch at the end of each workout.  Don't skip that.  Stretching is necessary after these!  Also, Fridays are "Double days", and even though it is "optional", if you are looking for the advertised results, you should do the program as written, right?  So, in reality, it is "25-30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, and 50-60 minutes 1 day per week".  Add Stretch into the mix (and I highly recommend that you do) and you have another 25 minutes to tack on.  Still, compared to other routines and exercise programs, it isn't a huge time commitment, but it is not advertised well.

Another recommendation that I'd make - now being 2 days into Beta Phase - is that if you are still modifying a lot at the end of Alpha or you still feel like you're getting your butt handed to you during every workout to stay and maybe do another round of Alpha before moving to Beta.  My husband is doing this.  Trust me - I've only done the first 2 Beta workouts and they are totally on another tier above Alpha.  So, if you don't have that foundation solid, you're going to struggle.

All in all, T25 has been good to me thus far and I do think it is worth the investment if you're looking to get started with something, have somewhat of a base of physical activity, and/or need something to supplement another program you're doing.

You can focus for just 25 minutes, right? (or 30 or 60... lol)  ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Workout Schedule for the Week of 8/12-8/18/2013

This begins the first week of Beta Phase for Focus T25!

I did Core Cardio early this morning and let me just say... oh my!  It is a jump in intensity from Alpha cardio that's for sure.  From the very start you are moving quickly - not so much of the "let's ease into it" kinda stuff.  The lunge progression at the very beginning was tough because I just ran a longer run yesterday.  There is a LOT more jumping/plyo movements in this workout, so be prepared for that if you're reading this and have not gotten to that point yet.  The interesting thing that I found about Core Cardio is that it is almost similar to last cycle's Speed 1.0 in that you go all out crazy for a few minutes on a higher impact move and then do some kind of lower impact move in between.  During Core Cardio, you have periods were you slow down and do holding/twisting moves to "focus on the core".... these are short, though because before you get too settled down you're right back into jumping or doing burpees or something else.

It was right at the perfect level, in my opinion.  It was challenging, but not "omg I'm dying and I hate this" hard.  And, the transitions (for me) were MUCH better than in Total Body Circuit, so even though you do go from thing to thing to thing there's a far better flow happening.  According to my HRM:  255 calories burned.  Not too shabby!

As for the total plan for the week:
Monday:  Core Cardio
Tuesday:  5 mile easy run, Speed 2.0
Wednesday:  Speedwork.  Gonna try for 8x400s.  Hold me.  Also, Rip'T Circuit.  Help?!
Thursday:   5 mile easy run, Dynamic Core, Weights @ the gym
Friday:   Upper Focus, Core Cardio
Saturday:   REST
Sunday:   9 mile long run, T25 Stretch

I'm also going to use this week as a "tester" week to see if I need to redo my nutrition plan and goals.  I can't keep losing weight and I really want to put some more muscle on.  I'm enjoying this "feeling strong" thing.

Have a great week everyone!  Stay Focused!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bye Bye Alpha Phase and Week 1 of Fall Race Training

That title kind of sums it up - it's been quite a week around here, but I'm happy to say it has been a successful one!  Here's what I've been up to since Monday:

Tuesday:  I started things off bright and early with an easy 5 miler.  This was another one of those wonderful runs that felt great from the first stride to the last.  Negative splits and all.  Love these!  I followed the run up with the last installment of T25 Ab Intervals.  I felt strong and did great.

Wednesday:  I was nervous coming into this run because it was my first scheduled tempo run of this training cycle.  I did 10 minutes easy, 15 minutes not so easy, 10 minutes easy (my spin on the Hal Higdon tempo method, which I know varies from some others... but this works for me).  I somehow was able to pull out a mile PR during this run (7:28).  Maybe it was just Life granting me a gift since I was going to run the Liberty Mile with my kids?  hahaha  Anyway, this was not an easy run by any means, but I got through it in one piece and can say that yes, I will be able to do it again.

After the run, I took some extra time to pull myself together (water, stretching) before pressing play on Total Body Circuit for the second time this week.  This was pretty tough after just doing a tempo run, but again, I focused on form rather than speed on this and was able to get it done without modifications.  I was very glad to be done, though.

Thursday:  I was looking forward to an easy 5 mile run day to sort of recover from the previous days activity.  My run started off ok, but then I had some cramping and GI issues pop up after mile 2 that bothered me the rest of the run.  I did pass a couple porta johns, but I'm really not a fan of those things unless it is a dire emergency and when in all reality I'm not that far from my house.  I didn't have negative splits on this run, but I sure as heck had a quick last mile and a half trying to get back home!  Go ahead and laugh at me, it's ok.

Once my bathroom issues were resolved, I did Alpha Cardio.  I just focused on giving this workout my all since again, it was the last time I'd be doing it.  This workout is a lot of fun.  I do enjoy it.  After Cardio, I got a snack and headed to the gym where I was able to do my full weights routine with added weight from last time.  I felt great!  It's so much easier to lift when I didn't have to do Total Body Circuit first!  lol

Friday:  Total Body Circuit for the LAST time!  Woohoo!!  You want to hear something funny, though?  This time I'd say it actually wasn't that bad.  lol  Figures.  I still don't see myself turning to this workout on a whim, though.  But I didn't quit on it, and for that, I'm proud.  This particular "double day" called for Lower Focus after TBC.  It wasn't as hard as I expected it to be after Total Body, and I put it all out there.  Lower Focus is another great workout that I'll miss in the weeks to come.  Speaking of which, I do plan on posting a full review of all of the Alpha phase workouts and schedule.  I'll hopefully put that up this week.

Another thing about Friday's workouts:  I used a HRM to see exactly how many calories I was burning during these since it has come into question several times in various forums as well as my challenge group.  During TBC I burned 225 calories and Lower Focus burned 182.  I agree and approve of these numbers.  lol

Friday evening was also the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile that I ran with 2 of the kids.  You can read that recap in my previous post!

Saturday:  Rest day!  Most of the day was pretty low key around here.  Garrett went to a friends birthday party and had a great time.  After the party, we took the kids up to Wildwood Highlands to play in the ball pits and arcade.  It was Star Wars night, and we all know how big of a Star Wars fan Vincent is.  lol.  He got his picture taken with Darth Vader, a storm trooper, and Chewie.  We stayed a little later than planned but it was a fun night.

Sunday:  I had 8 miles on the schedule.  I was looking forward to this run and really just wanted to have a nice easy time.  I wasn't really worried about a certain pace goal or anything.  The first 3 miles sucked.  I felt like my legs just didn't want to go.  The weather was decent and it was a great morning to be outside so I just tried to soak in my atmosphere and keep moving.  I crossed the bridge and headed to the Point and ran around the fountain.  I love it when I catch a nice breeze when I'm near it because the burst of mist feels amazing.  Then I headed up the river and got up close to the Andy Warhol Bridge to check out this "yarn bomb" thing they've got going on.  It's.... interesting.  I'll just leave it at that.  They weren't letting even any pedestrians on the bridge, so I turned around and went back over the Clemente and hopped onto the trail.  It was quite busy on the trail this morning!  Heaps of other runners, but that's typical of a Sunday morning.  There was a much larger amount of people on bikes today.  I like seeing people out and active - young, old, fit, no so fit, and everywhere in between.  It just makes me happy.  By the time I hit 4 miles I was (finally) feeling warmed up and felt very good!  I felt my pace naturally increase to a nice comfortable place that felt easy, but not too speedy.  I headed a mile or so further up the trail and then turned around to start heading home.  I really felt great.  I was hardly keeping track of my pace and distance via my watch and I "accidentally" went too far.  But hey, I felt good, so I think I'm ok.  I ran 8.51 miles.  When I saw I was at the 8.5 point, I knew I could go another .75 probably before getting home, but I figured I'd better stop while I was ahead, so I just walked.  The whole walk home I kept thinking "I really wanna run!"... lol  I sprinted across streets to make myself feel better.  ;)

When I got home and got another drink, I cooled down and stretched with T25 Stretch.  I'm fairly certain this is a permanent routine for me now.  It feels too good to stop.

I'm feeling pretty confident after this week.  My first week of Fall training went spot on, and my final week of T25 Alpha went great - even to the point I didn't mind Total Body Circuit at the end!  I got in my gym strength training day too and got my groove back there from my weak day last week.  I ran 24.18 miles this week.  I'm on my way back!

As far as food goes, I know I've already mentioned several times that this was not as stellar of a week as previous ones.  We had a birthday party, an ethnic food day at Kennywood, and on top of that, various factors led me to not be as prepared as I was before with snacks and eating on a schedule.  This is one thing I am determined to get back on track with next week.

Oh, and I did have my oatmeal with chia seeds last night before bed to test the chia seed theory out again.  While it did take me a bit to warm up on my long run this morning, I still didn't get to a bonking point or ever felt like I was fading out.  In fact, I continued to feel stronger and stronger the entire run!  Again, I'm not saying "it's all in the chia seeds", but I have to wonder if there isn't something about it.  I'll be doing the same thing next week.

I hope you all had a great week of fitness and fun as well!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

GNC Live Well Liberty Mile 2013 Recap

I have been excited about this race because it was the first time I was going to run with my 7 and 8 year olds, Vincent and Victoria!

They both woke up yesterday morning excited.  I kept having to tell them the race wasn't until evening.  haha.  They were so good about getting ready and out of the house in time.  (We left a little after 5, because we were expecting traffic, but there really wasn't much)

We got to Market Square just after packet pickup started.  I really give it to the organizers - everything was set up so well and easy to navigate.  We picked up our bibs and then headed over to shirt and bag pickup.  After some confusion from the volunteer over which sizes where what and where, we got our shirts (which are nice, BTW) and bags.  The bags were full of goodies - drink mixes, water bottle, bandaids, biofreeze, fruit snacks, granola cluster things, pretzels, sunblock, etc.

Nick had dropped us off downtown with the understanding that he was taking Garrett for something to eat and then coming right back.  He was going to park in a garage and then meet us back at Market Square.  So we just hung out there for a while, enjoying the sights and sounds.  The kids were being really dramatic - doing stretches and warmups and such.. it was adorable.  Time ticked by and still no Nick.  I wanted to start heading over to the starting area so the kids and I checked our goodie bags in with Gear Check.  Of course, at luck would have it, as we were walking to the start line, Nick and Garrett showed up.  LOL

Coordinated grey shirts!  hahaha

I love this pic.  They were SO excited.

We got to the starting line and piled in with the growing crowd.  Tori and Vince started getting nervous with all the people stacking up so I explained to them that at the start things would probably be crazy but we would hold hands until we crossed the start line and things opened up a bit.  We would stick together so no one got lost!  

Nice crowd gathered for the mile!

The race started, and just as I told the kids, it was a bit crazy at first.  You had the walkers that lined up in front versus the speed demons coming from clear in the back.  We did as we planned and held hands until just past the start where things calmed down.

Vincent was just so full of energy.  This was his first race and he didn't really know what to expect or do.  He was running from one side of the road to another, doing jumps, etc.  He had so much fun.  I told him to save his energy to be able to run to the finish!  haha.  Victoria did ok at first and then ran out of gas quickly.  She started asking to slow down about a quarter mile in.  Vincent wanted to speed up.  So our struggle was finding a happy medium.  By the time we were halfway done, we'd settled into a nice pattern of Vincent running a bit ahead, me in the middle (so I could still see him), and Tori just behind me.  

With the finish line in sight and about a quarter mile to go, Vincent really wanted to just run to the finish.  Since we were so close and I could see Nick right there, I told him to just go for it.  Tori unfortunately had enough and started walking.  I waited up for her and then grabbed her hand and told her that the finish line was right in front of us and I knew she could run it in with me.  So, we shuffled our way across the finish line.

A reporter/photographer lady was interviewing Vince at the finish.  She got some great pics of him.

Vincent is in this pic at the line, I swear.  LOL

After the race we stuck around a little bit - the kids enjoyed the cookies and pretzels, and then we headed home.  Victoria was disappointed in her performance, but she'll be ok.  Vincent was so happy and elated he said he wishes he could run a race every day!  hahaha  He was barely phased running 1 mile.  If he just ran by himself from the start he could have easily finished a lot faster, I'm sure.  I think he has some natural talent there!

As far as results go, they're not that important for a "fun" kids run, but Vincent finished in 10:36, Victoria in 10:56, and I came across the line at 10:57.  Definitely not a fast mile for me at all (I don't think I even broke much of a sweat), but definitely the most gratifying mile ever.  It was a joy to support the kids and do something like this with both of them.

I'm really proud of both of the kids and I'm glad we got to do this together!  Can't wait until next year! 

Required pic of Garrett.  I'm proud of him too.  He was so patient and good before, during and after the race!

STATurday, end of Alpha Phase!

That seemed to go quickly!

I'll have my Liberty Mile recap up sometime later today, but for now here's my official end of Week 5 and Alpha phase STATS!

Since Week 4:
Weight:  -3.1 lbs  <-- yes, I am SHOCKED by this because my eating hasn't been the cleanest this week!
Chest:   no change
Waist:   -.25"
Arm:   no change
Thigh:   no change
Body Fat:   -2.1%

Totals for Focus T25 Alpha Phase:
Weight:   -6.4 lbs
Chest:   -1"
Waist:   -.75"
Arms:   +.5"
Thigh:   no change
Body Fat:   -3.9%

Like I said, I am shocked by this weeks weight loss because my eating has been a little sloppy.  I stepped on the scale three times to make sure that number was consistent.  Vincent's birthday on Sunday brought a bit (a lot) of sweets and leftover sweets into the house.  I indulged on more than one occasion on these.  I also have been lax on making sure I'm eating throughout the day instead of waiting until I'm starving and then eating big meals all at once.  Crazy schedules this week have promoted late dinners and lunches, skipped snacks, etc.  We also went to Kennywood on Hungarian Day to eat some of the awesome family heritage foods.  I was honestly expecting a bit of a gain this week and I would have been perfectly fine with that.

I'm excited to see what Beta Phase has in store.  I'm hoping for bigger arms and less waist fat, but more defined abs.  We'll see.

I'll be adding a pic to this post once I can get them on here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I Forgot!

When I posted my schedule for the week yesterday, I neglected one thing.

I have a race on Friday!!

How in the world did I forget a race??  LOL   Can I just claim a blonde moment?

Anyway, this Friday is the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile.  I am running this with my daughter Victoria and son Vincent.  Garrett is still too young, so he and Nick will be waiting for us at the finish.

I was originally excited about doing this race for myself, but both kids expressed an interest in running with me and I jumped at that opportunity and signed us all right up.  A goal I have is to instill a love of fitness and fun into my children so any time they want to join in on something like this I'll let them!  I can always do a mile time trial for myself anytime anywhere, really.

We're all pretty excited about it.  We're all wearing grey shirts (haha) and the plan is to stick together, although Vince keeps threatening to run for the finish himself.  It'll be a fun time.

Since I kind of got into a habit of posting random meals I've been eating, here are a few from the past week:

Cottage cheese with a chopped apple, about 1/4 cup Kashi Go Lean Crisp! for crunch, sprinkled with cinnamon.  Nice hearty breakfast!

Spinach salad with sliced mushrooms, yellow peppers, and grape tomatoes with 1 tablespoon light ranch dressing.  This was a side dish to a roast beef half pita (4 oz roast beef in 1/2 a whole grain pita with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard).

Chicken Wrap.  This is also lunch today - yay!  So delicious - low carb tortilla with 1 4 oz organic chicken breast, grilled and sliced and wrapped up with 1/4 avocado, 1/2 cup romaine, 1/2 a sliced tomato, and 1/4 sliced yellow pepper.  Nom nom.

Veggies with a little ranch for dipping.  This plate was actually a lot fuller, but this is what it was down to when I thought - huh, this is so good I should capture it.  lol  Note the bottled water in the back.  I've been making sure to drink a ton of water too!

Here's to hoping I don't forget anything important today!  haha!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Workout Schedule for the week of 8/5-811/2013

We had a great day yesterday celebrating Vincent's birthday!

Star Wars, Fire trucks, and Legos.  Throw in some brotherly love and pizza and it was a good time.

I had a slice each of Hawaiian Pizza and Veggie Lovers.  I also had a small piece of that cake and I swear 2 spoonfuls of ice cream.  By the time we were all finished and I was cleaning up the table I felt sick!  Holy sugar bomb I'm not used to anymore!  Eek!  I had planned (as Nick and I always do) on having seconds on the cake and ice cream after the kids are in bed to celebrate another year of keeping them alive and partially sane, but I just wasn't having it!  I couldn't touch it.  I felt like I hadn't eaten anything all day while at the same time feeling bloated and crabby.  There's something to be said about good food in general and the fact that our "old good foods" (such as grocery store buttercream cake) aren't as good as we think they are.  So, for my evening snack I had a bowl of plain greek yogurt with blackberries and cinnamon.  I felt much better!

But, I'm back on track this morning!  I finished Total Body Circuit a little while ago.  Again, no modifying but a slowed pace to keep good form.  I have to keep telling myself I only have 2 more times of this workout to go and I can put it back in the sleeve forever if I so choose.  Yes, I realize how over dramatic that sounds but I truly am just doing this workout because I *have to* and not because I want to at this point.  I just want to be true to the challenge.

This week begins my official start to training for my fall races.  I'm loosely following Hal Higdon's Intermediate 10K plan until the Great Race and then doing the last couple of weeks of the Half Marathon program until Buffalo Creek.  My runs will be a little longer than Hal's plan states just due to the fact that I'm incorporating this into a half marathon program, ultimately.  Also, I'm still doing T25 and only running 4 days per week until Beta phase is over (coincidentally, about a week before the Great Race, so I have a few weeks of dedicated running training).  Like I said, "loosely following".  Really, it's my own hodgepodge plan, I guess.  I'm a little apprehensive about starting speedwork again, but like anything else... we'll see how it goes.

As far as goals for the races go, I'd love to go sub-50 minutes at the Great Race.  My current 10K PR (which was actually during the Pittsburgh Half Marathon) is 51:44.  I know this sounds crazy, but I'm not really hung up on PRing at Buffalo Creek.  Everyone talks about how fast it is and how "everyone" gets a PR there, but I'm not really worried about it.  I'm really doing this particular race for 2 reasons:  1) Fall foliage.  I love running through pretty trees.  2) I love all things buffalo.  I love to eat it, I love to look at it, I love the history, love the lore, love to pet them, and I think they are just dang cool.  I'm really hoping the shirt and the medal have a buffalo on them this year.  That would rock my world.

Told you I was nuts.

Here are my plans for the week:

Monday:  Total Body Circuit - DONE!
Tuesday:  5 mile easy run, T25 Ab Intervals
Wednesday:  35 minute tempo run, T25 Total Body Circuit
Thursday:  5 mile easy run, T25 Cardio, Weights
Friday:  T25 Total Body Circuit, T25 Lower Focus
Saturday:  REST!
Sunday:  8 mile long run, T25 Stretch

I hope you all have a great week!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Another Week and Another Year Gone By.

My boy Vincent turns 7 years old today!!

The little stinker is actually still in bed, but that's ok.  It's still summer vacation and it is his birthday, after all.  We'll have a full day and night of fun ahead once he's up and about.  For our dinner tonight he wants a Hawaiian pizza and a Veggie Lovers pizza.  Well, at least we're eating fruits and vegetables, right?  haha.  For the party we're having marble cake with buttercream icing.  It has a fire truck on it.  He couldn't decide between a Fireman party, another Star Wars party, or a Lego party, so we're doing an odd combo.  Whatever works!  The cake is fire truck and the decorations and plates and stuff are Star Wars and Lego.  Suits Vince perfectly.  :)  For ice cream, he wanted Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Yes, I am highly looking forward to the food today.  It'll be a nice little break from my norm.  But I'll be back on track tomorrow.  At least mostly.  ;)

I just finished Week 4 of the Alpha phase of Focus T25!  It's been a pretty productive week around here, actually.  I won't disclose too much just yet, but we're making some positive changes and things are looking better for the future.  That is always a good thing.  Praise God.

Anyway, here's what I've accomplished fitness-wise since Monday!

Tuesday:  I ran a little over 4 miles in fall-like 50ish degree weather. Bliss!  I followed that up by doing Total Body Circuit with no modifications!  Yeah!!

Wednesday:  Another 4 miler.  This one was a little tougher... it was one of those runs where it seemed like it took forever to just warm up and get a feel for the run.  Then by the time I got there, it was almost over.  Oh well, it happens.  I still got through it in a decent time.  After the run I did Lower Focus, which actually went a bit better than the run.  It felt really good.

Thursday:  When I woke up, it was pouring rain.  I wasn't in the mood for a wet run, especially since this is my "beast mode" day, so I waited a bit to see if it would stop.  It didn't (at least not soon enough for me), and I knew that I needed to get my day moving, so I pushed play on Total Body Circuit and planned to just get to the gym and run on the mill before strength training.  Being that I was already in kind of a crappy mood, it made TBC a bit tougher, but I got through - again, no modifying but I did slow the pace at the end.

After a quick recovery and getting the kids up, I headed to the gym where I got a bit over 5 miles in on the treadmill.  Running after Total Body Circuit officially sucks, and I hope never to have to do that again.  My legs felt like crap and it was really hard to just get going.  The first bit of the run felt like I was struggling to slog through in "recovery mode", but thankfully after a couple of miles my spark kicked up into a flame and I felt pretty good.  I finished pretty strong, so that made it ok.

My strength training went pretty well except the shoulder press.  Note to self:  After all those freaking pushups in TBC your shoulders are trashed.  Yeah.  I even had to take OFF 5 lbs to complete my last set because I felt so weak.  Boo.  Everything else went just great, though, so I can't complain too much.

Friday:  T25 "Double Day" started with Ab Intervals this week.  I'm definitely able to put more into this workout and get more out of it when I do it first.  I felt a lot stronger on the holds, that's for sure.  This weeks "bonus" workout was Speed 1.0, which as I previously posted was the final Speed 1.0 workout for T25.  I put all I had into it knowing this.  I really enjoy Speed 1.0, but you already knew that.

Saturday:  Rest day.  Full disclosure:  I didn't even get out of PJs.  Victoria wasn't feeling well, the weather was just "meh", and we really didn't have anything to do.  So I took it easy but I got a lot done around the house.  Nick and I went through some boxes we had in the basement and cleaned out some stuff.  We ended up with a large amount of stuff to donate and a heap of just junk to throw out.  Funny how that works - how you can just accumulate "stuff" over the course of time.  Glad to be rid of things we don't need or really want!  I'm finally hitting the point of letting go of baby stuff that I know now we'll not be needing anymore.  It is selfish to hold on to things that are still in decent working condition when others could use them.  It just took me some time to get over the sting of my doctor telling me "no more babies" when I had always planned on 4.  But anyway - that was my Saturday.

Sunday:  When I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning it was raining again.  Instead of getting stressed out about it, I took a look at the radar map and it looked like it was about to blow over so I just went back to bed for a half hour.  When I got up, it was cloudy but fine so I threw on my clothes and got out the door.  I originally only planned on 6 miles, but then I figured I'd just do the "go for an hour" thing.  I felt really fantastic on this run.  I seriously feel stronger than I probably ever have.  I didn't gawk at my watch very much and just did what I've been doing on these timed runs - just keep things as they feel good.   I had one point around 5 miles where I thought I might be starting to fade a bit, but I refocused and realized that my form had gotten sloppy, so once I focused and corrected myself I felt back to fantastic again.  Focus T25 has really helped with this - more often than not I'm thinking "what is my focus here" and it gets me through.  At exactly the 1 hour point, I was at 6.9 something and I had to give myself another minute so I could get to 7 miles.  It would have driven me crazy if I didn't.  Plus, it may have "earned" me that extra lick of frosting later... lol  ;)  It was a really great run, though.

When I got home, I did T25 Stretch.  I know I've expressed my love for this routine after longer runs before.  Today is no exception.

So - another great week has passed!  I did T25 as scheduled, hit the gym, and got all my miles (plus some) in.  I ran 20.37 miles overall.  I've been feeling great about my strength and my pace during my runs.  I think I might need to redo my upper body strength training soon, but I want to see what Beta phase of Focus T25 brings before doing anything drastic.  It includes an "Upper Focus" workout and the use of dumbbells or resistance bands in a few workouts.

Nutritionally speaking, this has been a fairly clean week.  I did share a vanilla cone with Nick the other day.  I've been trying to be more conscious about eating more, especially on "beast mode" day and fueling/recovering from workouts better.  That reminds me, I haven't used chia seeds in several weeks (most of the recipes in the Insanity/P90X/T25 plans call for the use of flaxseeds, but not chia).  I've been wondering if that has played a part in my feeling kinda "blah" and almost hitting that "bonk" point sooner in longer runs.  So, last night I had a bowl of oatmeal with blackberries, chia seeds and almond milk.  This morning I had my typical banana before my run and I didn't even come close to hitting a wall, other than the point where I noticed my form was bad.  Now, I'm not going to jump up and down and say "the chia seeds did it!!", but I will experiment again with it next week and see what happens.  If I have another great run, the chia seeds stay a permanent part of my fueling process.

I'm off to put my face in a cake now!  (just kidding.  But I am going to get the birthday fun rolling!)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

It's STATurday Again!

This summer is flying by!  I have days where I'm glad (when the kids are driving me nuts and simply because I LOVE Fall and everything about it) and then I have days where I'm kinda sad because then it goes back to crazy schedules and missing my babies and dealing with teacher drama, friend drama, etc.  Oh well!

Here are my Stats for week 4!

Since Week 3:
Weight:   -.6 lbs
Chest:   no change
Waist:  -.25"
Arm:   no change
Thigh:   -.25"
Body Fat:  -.3%

From the beginning of my journey into Focus T25:
Weight:   -3.3 lbs
Chest:  -1"
Waist:   -.5"
Arm:  +.5"
Thigh:   -.5"
Body Fat:  -1.8%

I am thrilled to see some change in my waist this week!  All week I've been really focusing on using my core for everything.  Even running!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Farewell, Speed 1.0

It was fun, but now it is done.  Time to move on (after next week) to Beta and start another one.  I hope Speed 2.0 is just as fun!

I really am going to miss this workout as I move on.  Next week is Total Body Focus 3 times and Speed 1.0 is eliminated in favor of that.  Sad Panda.  This workout is fun and effective.  I can definitely see this as a workout that I would add to a rotation or pull out in that dead of winter "can't run outside and can't make it to the gym due to snow" day or three that tends to happen.  It is the perfect balance between way hard and too easy.  At least that is how it is for me now.  Maybe my feelings will change after Beta?  Either way, I can tell you that I will be doing this workout again.