I’ll admit that I go through food phases. For a while I was all about grilling chicken thighs and I’m pretty sure I ate that every day for lunch and sometimes dinner for a good couple of months. In the winter I get on a comfort food kick and make meatloaf, chili, and stew every week (or so it seems). As the season changes from winter to spring and back to winter again because Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind in Indiana, I find myself wanting spaghetti (or maybe its simply because my race season has started and I always want spaghetti when I’m running.) Either way – I’ve been playing around with using spaghetti squash, zucchini, and yellow squash as my noodles. But all in all, it is the same variation of the same thing – squash noodles and sauce on top. Then my friend sent me a link for baked pizza spaghetti pie. I thought I could do something like this but make it more like baked spaghetti and less like pizza plus add in my own favorite things. It makes a ton and I plan on eating it for lunch every day this week so I suppose I’ll share the rest with my husband so it won’t go to waste. Enjoy!
1 large (or 2 small) spaghetti squash
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms (your choice of kid), sliced
1 small can black olives, sliced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup – spaghetti sauce (no sugar added, I used Classico)
4 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish, or I used a 2 quart dish which is a 7×11, either one will do, and set aside.
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and threading. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the skin of the squash gives when you press on it.
3. Using a fork, shred the squash into a large bowl and set aside.
4. Place a large pan over medium heat. Add ground beef, bell pepper, mushrooms, and onion. Cook until pink no longer remains in the beef and it is broken up into pieces. Add in olives and mix together.
5. Combine the beef mixture with the spaghetti squash in the bowl. Add 1 cup of spaghetti sauce, salt and pepper. Finally, add whisked eggs to the baking dish and mix everything together until you can no longer see the eggs.
6. Evenly distribute the mixture into your baking dish and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until a slight crust forms on top of your baked spaghetti. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
I’m a huge proponent of eating clean (when you can) and staying on a budget. Let’s face it, eating healthy can be expensive. Produce isn’t always cheap and because it can go bad, you are always stocking up your fridge for the week. The key to saving money is finding the produce that is on sale and buying that for the week. I used to just buy whatever I wanted for each week but when my grocery bills were exceeding $100 (for just 2 people), I was thinking my spending was getting out of hand. PLUS, I was throwing some stuff away because I just couldn’t eat it fast enough. Now that I’ve eliminated a bunch of things from my nutrition like dairy, legumes, and gluten (not for the trend but for health reasons), I find I’m able to eat more produce because I don’t have as many choices to choose from.
Anyway – Kroger was having this great sale on produce: Pineapples – $1.00, Strawberry Papayas – 2 for $5.00, 5-lb. bag Blood Oranges – $2.99, and Raspberries 2 pints – $5.00. I also picked up a package of pre-sliced mangos for $4.99 (that wasn’t really bargain shopping but I LOVE mangoes and they were really ripe this week so I couldn’t pass it up). So I picked up all of these things, took them home, chopped them up into bit-sized pieces and made myself this super delicious tropical fruit salad. To take this fruit salad to the next level, I whipped up some super easy coconut whipped cream. Yes – you really can make whipped cream from canned coconut milk. It just takes a little bit of planning and a few minutes and you are all set.
1 can coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (optional – if you like it to be a tad sweeter)
1. Place a metal mixing bowl in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Place your coconut milk in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight if you really like to plan ahead. This ensures that the cream separates from the liquid.
2. Separate the solid cream from the liquid. Save the liquid for later or pour over your fruit salad to act as a liquid. In your metal mixing bowl, add the solid coconut cream and vanilla extract (and powdered sugar if you are using it). Mix with an electric mixer on high for 1-2 minutes or until thoroughly mixed through and it has a creamy consistency.
3. Add a huge dollop to your fruit salad and enjoy!
The actual fruit salad ingredients with their prices
1 small pineapple – $1.00
2 strawberry papayas – $5.00
1 container pre-sliced mangos – $4.99
1 pint raspberries – $2.50
2 blood oranges – $.74 (8 oranges for $2.99 = $0.37 an orange)
1 can coconut milk – $2.89
Total – $17.12
Makes about 10 servings (perfect for breakfast and lunch sides) = $1.71 per serving
As I say goodbye to 2013, it’s nice to take a look down memory lane and remind myself that although there were some of the rough goes that each year brings, there were also some high points too. It is so important to keep these high points in your memory to remind you that life isn’t that bad and when you are feeling down and out, you can always pull on your best memories to keep yourself in check.
So more as a reminder to myself when I’m feeling bad about my nutrition (or lack thereof), how I’ve fallen off the workout wagon (I will get back on soon, I promise), or how I continuously make excuses why I’m not making it to the gym (it’s freaking cold outside!) – I can take a look back at my 2013 and know that if I did it once, I can do it again, and if I stick to it I can probably do it better.
Without further ado – my top 10 2013 fitness highlights…
1. I climbed 36 flights of stairs. That’s 780 steps and 500 feet straight up in 7 minutes and 6 seconds coming in 3rd place in my age group and 206th out of 1,068 people. Not bad for my first try and not training.
2. I hit a new personal record for my 2nd half marathon. I ran the OneAmerica 500 half marathon in exactly 2 hours, which of course was my goal. I’m so proud of that number and I’m hoping to maybe hit a new PR in 2014.
3. I placed 3rd in my age division at the KeyBank 8K during the Carmel Marathon Weekend. This put me in the running for the Triple Crown Series.
4. I placed 3rd in my age division along with my husband at the Geist 5K this year and we ran the 5 miles back to the car in the rain. It was definitely a memorable race.
5. I won 1st place in my age division in the Triple Crown Series 8K events (KeyBank 8K, Eagle Creek 8K, Hoosier Park 8K). The first time I’ve ever placed 1st in anything!
6. I placed 1st in my age division at the Noblesville Fit Fest 5K. The second time I’ve placed 1st in a race and it was in the same year!
7. With the support of a few friends, I completed my first Whole30 program without any cheats or having to start over. Through this program (and a lot of testing and doctor visits) I was able to determine that I have a gluten and dairy intolerance that was causing some undesirable effects on my body. I have now since remedied those and I am feeling WAY better.
8. I was able to help a friend run in her first half marathon and ensure that she reached her goal of finishing in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less. There were times where she wanted to stop but together we pushed through and we ended up beating her goal by a few minutes. I am truly blessed to have been able to be a part of that experience with her.
9. I tried many new fitness activities in 2013 including CrossFit, SkyZone Skyrobics (trampoline exercises), Insanity, Hip Hop Abs, and Boxing to name a few. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to realize that there are some activities that I really enjoy that I never thought I would and others that just aren’t the right fit for me and that is COMPLETELY okay.
10. I had a 2013 goal to run 12 races in 12 months and I met my goal. I used to be that person who said, “The only way I would run is if someone was chasing me,” or “Look at those people running outside. They look miserable.” I never thought I would have enjoyed running as much as I do and I look forward to keeping up with this fitness adventure in 2014. Perhaps 14 races in 2014 should be my next goal. What do you think?
Happy New Year!
The Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon was my 2nd half marathon for the 2013 running season and my last race of the running season as well. Yes – I’ve hung up my running sneakers until the weather gets warmer again (metaphorically… we all know I still workout during the winter months, I just don’t pay to run in the cold). I’ve never run in the Indy Monumental half before, but I’ve run two downtown races so I figured it would pretty much be the same thing.
For this last race, I ran with my friend, Alyssa. Alyssa decided to run the half marathon (her first half marathon) to raise money for Joy’s House, an adult day service in Indianapolis for adults who need assistant and cannot provide for themselves. She had a goal of $200 and a finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Where do I come into play you might be thinking? My job was to be her running buddy, to keep her motivated when she wanted to quit, to help her with her pacing, and to let her know she was doing a good job. I was able to run with Alyssa a few times prior to our actual race day but nothing more than 8 miles. In fact, neither one of us ran more than 8 miles before the race. (To be honest, I didn’t train as much as I should have for this race but I was in the middle of moving from my house into an apartment and then from an apartment to my new house… it was quite a hectic month for me). I wasn’t too worried for myself, however, knowing I had run 13.1 miles earlier in the year and I run quite often. I know how to pace myself for longer runs without over doing it in it the beginning.
Race day arrives and we get to the start line. There is no race coral and no one is really pushing to be up towards the front. I find this oddly refreshing compared to my last downtown half marathon start. It is very relaxed. The music starts and we are off.
We ran most of the 13.1 miles with a couple of walk breaks and lots of water breaks to ensure hydration. In the end, not only did Alyssa exceed her $200 fundraising goal, but she also finished her very first half marathon in just 2 hours and 24 minutes (6 minutes under her goal). I am so proud of her and I’m so glad I was a part of it! Way to go!
Today is officially Day 10 of my Insanity 60 Day Challenge and my third time completing the Plyometric Cardio Circuit workout DVD. If I am going to be completely honest with you, which I always am, I will tell you that it was not easier than the first time I did it. The only thing that has gotten easier was the warm up and that is because Shaun T. uses the same basic warm up moves in all the DVDs I’ve used so far. Circuit 2 was still tough for me during the Level 1 drills, Ski Drills, and In-and-Outs because my shoulders can’t hold my weight that long while jumping into different plank positions and incorporating pushups as well. I will say that I’ve gotten better since the first time, but I still can’t last the full 1 minute and 30 seconds without stopping for a break. And while I’m being honest, I also did some pushups on my knees. I love the fact that even though I’m 10 days into this challenge, Shaun T.’s workouts still get me super sweaty so I know I’m getting a killer workout in. How many workouts do you know that you are sweating profusely after the warm up? Yea, me either. So for a refresher – here is what I did.
Warm up – 3X
Jog – this is no light jog. Give it what you got.
Jumping Jacks – the key is to do the full jumping jack, arms come all the way up.
Heisman’s – Make sure you get both feet up in the air as you switch from side to side.
123-123 – These are Heisman’s with three steps in between.
Butt Kicks – Make sure you are kicking your butt with your heels when you run.
High Knees – Get your knees higher than your hips if you can.
Mummy Kicks – Arms out straight like a mummy, straight leg kick your feet while criss-crossing your arms at the same time.
Circuit 1 – 3x
Suicide Drills – Suicide drills aren’t extremely difficult. If you watched basketball or played basketball, then you know what to do. All you do is run to one side, touch the floor with the opposite hand (so run to the right, touch the ground with the left) and turn around and do the same thing on the other side. Keep doing this until 30 seconds is up.
Power Squats – Power squats are like regular squats but with a small jump when you come to the top. Be sure that you are pushing your butt back like you are sitting in a chair and you keep your arms in front of you to maintain balance and proper form.
Mountain Climbers – I felt super silly doing this and I was glad my husband was out of the room. Basically you look like a person climbing a mountain, really fast, and there is no mountain. Make sure you fully extend your arm up in the air and bring your opposite knee up to 90 degrees. Switch and do the exact same thing on the other side. Now repeat, but only do it super fast.
Ski Jumps – Keeping your feet together, jump side to side like you are skiing downhill.
*After Round 3*
Switch Feet – This looks a lot like my happy dance. You are going from heel to toe keeping your legs straight and switching your feet and arms left to right. (A really bad running man, if you know that dance move)
Football Sprints – Football sprints have your feet out wide, knees are bent, you are down low with your hands out in front and you are moving your feet super fast. You face front, then right, then front, then left, then you shuffle to the right, shuffle to the left, shuffle back, and set (touch the ground), and sprint. You do this twice before you get your next water break.
Circuit 2 – 3x
Basketball Drills – To complete this exercise, all you do is face one side of the room, squat down, pick up an imaginary ball, and shoot to the front of the room or “the hoop.” Make sure you squat all the way down with your butt going back to keep proper form and really engage your legs. When you come up, really power up through your legs into an explosive jump. It’s a lower body workout for sure!
Level 1 Drill – This is a B**** because it incorporates so many moves and I don’t know who Shaun T. was counting for, but there was no way I was moving that fast! You start with 4 push-ups, move into 4 plank mountain climbers, jump your legs in by your hands, stand up reach for the sky and repeat. I couldn’t even complete one solid push up with good form before he was already counting mountain climbers. Don’t let this bother you, I figure eventually I’ll get there.
Ski Drills – Are you ready to work your core? Starting in full plank position, jump both of your legs up to your right side. Jump your legs back to starting position and then up to your left side. Repeat as many times as you can until 30 seconds is up.
In and outs – Still in full plank position, jump your legs in to your hands, keeping your feet together. And then jump your legs out back to plank position. Make sure to keep your core tight throughout the entire exercise and take a break if you need it. I certainly did!
After round 3, Shaun T. moved right into the last 3 moves.
Jabs – throw alternating jabs for 30 seconds.
Cross Jacks – Like jumping jacks but alternating arms in the air instead of both at the same time and crossing one foot in front of the other.
Upper Cuts – Squat down low and throw as many upper cuts as you can in 30 seconds.
Attacks – Just like jabs only instead of fists, hands are open.
And there you have it – Day 10 complete and 50 more to go!
Recovery (noun): 1. the act of recovering 2. a return to a normal condition
If I’m recovering from cardio, which my last workout was (cardio power & resistance), I’m thinking to myself, Whew! No cardio. Hallelujah! This should be a nice break from the crazy insane cardio I did yesterday and it’s only 33 minutes long! Yes!
Well after the 3 minute warm-up and stretching break, we move into plank exercises. I have decent shoulder strength, but not enough to hold my entire body weight while doing something else simultaneously. I definitely had to take a few breaks during the first plank exercise movement. I held out okay during the plank pulses. After warming up the abdominals and legs, we moved into another stretching position. We held downward dog for a bit and then came into a flatback or hamstring stretch depending on your flexibility. After yesterday’s workout (Cardio Power & Resistance), I needed all the stretching I could get.
We then moved onto lower body exercises with some slow squats which flowed nicely into the squat hold and pulses. If you haven’t done it in a while or ever for that matter, go ahead and sit nice and low into a squat position where your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle, and you feel like you are sitting in an imaginary chair. No go ahead and hold that pose for 30 seconds before you do 16 pulses. Sucks, but in a good way.
Just like the squats, we performed some slow lunges, followed up with a lunge hold, and finished up with lunge pulses. The crappy thing about lunges is that you have to do both legs, unlike squats which knocks out both legs at the same time. The second leg is always the worst because you are kind of hurting already from the first round of lunges, now you have to complete the other side to balance things out.
Back to squats, this time just a touch faster than before, but not too fast because after all, this is a recovery workout. Again followed up with the hold and pulses. If you’re legs aren’t hurting yet, you are seriously inhuman… And of course we repeated the lunge circuit as well.
After this we did some quad strengtheners and oblique work on the floor and finished up the workout with balance poses (table top, knees to chest, knees to oblique) and more stretching.
Overall, this wasn’t really a true recovery because I was still working out, but I guess I was recovering from cardio since there wasn’t any cardio in this DVD. I thought it was a nice change of pace and I was still a dripping mess when it was all said and done. Hopefully the next time around I will be able to do more plank work!
On Monday (June 10th) I decided to dust off my Insanity DVDs and give them another try. Now that I’m nannying (which has me up at 5AM), I figure I can just go ahead and get my workout done in the morning while she is still sleeping. The great thing about their house that I don’t have is a solid large place to workout in with a TV and that way I can still get my evening runs in if I need to while I train for my next race.
I looked at my Insanity calendar and realized I never made it past the second workout so I started with the next workout in the sequence which was Cardio Power and Resistance. HOLY CRAP! I know that Insanity is no joke, I mean, it’s called Insanity for crying out loud. But these exercises are for lack of a better word… insane!
The warm up is by far the best (and when I say best I mean easiest) part. We did a series of exercises 3 times. The first round was to get the move down and feel comfortable and to engage your core, the second round was a little bit fast than round 1, and round 3 was all about speed and getting your heart rate up without sacrificing form. We started with a jog, power jacks, log jumps, 123’s, butt kicks, high knees, and ended with vertical jumps. Each exercise last 30 seconds and you didn’t get a break until the entire sequence was complete. I couldn’t believe that was just the warm-up!
We then moved on to my favorite part of the workout… stretching. And everyone knows how much I hate stretching (even though I know how important it is)… so if this was my favorite part you know how bad I needed to catch my breath! I will say that Shaun T. is very thorough in moving through all of the stretches. You feel pretty good to head into the torture you are about to voluntarily put yourself through.
Once the stretching was complete, we head into the actual workout. Just like the warm-up, Shaun T. had 4 core moves he wanted you to first try in round 1, speed up in round two, and as fast as you possibly can handle in round 3. The exercises were Power jumps, Belt Kicks, Hit the Floor, and V-Push ups (You can find demos of these on youtube). By now, I was sweating profusely and trying really hard not to start at the timer that scrolls across the bottom of the screen. I mean the workout is only 40 minutes long, but dang! Those are a long 40 minutes!
Now that we were finished with the cardio power portion of the workout, it was time to work on some resistance exercises. If you want some awesome upper body exercises that don’t utilize weights, you need to check this video out. Luckily, we only had to do one round of these exercises because I don’t think my body would have handled any more than that. We did – Triceps Dips, Leg Triceps Dip, Triceps Ball Push-Ups. Again – these are really difficult to explain but I know there are some great videos out there with people who look much better than me doing them!
Back to cardio power – Hurdle jumps, Globe Jumps, Moving Push-Ups, Floor Sprints (These are just like mountain climbers, only faster and with more intensity. Try and get your legs to your chest as much as possible. Remember, these are floor sprints and not floor walks)… 3 rounds down and I was seriously hurtin’ for certain.
The last exercise we did were 4 sets of 8 hop squats into 8 Push-Ups with no break. I had to give myself a last push to give it all I had to make it through. I knew the end was in sight, stretching and chance to catch my breath were right around the corner.
I will say that this is not for the faint of heart or for someone who wants an easy at-home workout. This is real deal. Shaun T. makes you work for what you want, but I guess that’s why everyone who is on the DVD with him look awesome.
Looking forward to Cardio Recovery tomorrow, that is if I can even walk tomorrow!