Hot Yoga Made Me a Masochist

Fall...?

Fall…?

 

I’m not going to promise to write within any amount of time anymore because it clearly sets me up for failure. That being said, holy shit it’s Autumn. Did anyone else do the stop, turn left, turn right, narrow your eyes, and then slowly turn your head left again? Because I totally did. What I think is probably weirdest is that it’s 50 degrees today and that feels chilly, when in Spring it feels like angels are bathing me in joy and light. Like, why? I really think it’s psychosomatic but who knows for sure. If it’s an excuse to get a cute new jacket I’m totally going to run with it.

So, the rest of this summer has been super eventful. Mia familia went to the West Coast and it was never the same. I think we realized, as a whole, how much we have a tendency to bicker. All families do, sure, but my family is A+ BONUS points good at it. And usually it’s good-naturedly bickering at each other, arguing for the sake of arguing. It was a stressful week – a lot of sitting and driving and looking and going here here here and here; but it was probably one of the cooler vacations I’ve ever been on. We went to Crater Lake, which, everyone needs to see at least once in their lives. We devilschurnstopped in the Redwoods National Park and hugged some really big trees – that actually may have been my favorite part of the entire trip. We hiked probably a total of three miles and it was incredible. I honestly can’t put it into words. Everyone was pretty quiet that entire hike, just looking at the trees. We spent a few days at the beach in Newport, Oregon, which was super freaking cold. But we also stopped at Devil’s Churn, which other than turning into a “let’s all get as close as possible to the death pool” adventure, was massively cool. My poor mother nearly had a heart attack because we kept inching closer and closer.

Safety first, everyone. San Francisco was awesome, though stupid packed. I think it’s the kind of city I’d love to go back to with friends and check out more of the hip and trendy areas as opposed to stereotypical touristy places. On our drive from Newport to San Francisco (oh, yeah, that happened), we stopped in Sonoma for an hour or two to check out some of the big name wineries. I think there’s a special weather that is only right there in Sonoma and Napa Valleys because it was 78 degrees, sunny, and gorgeous the entire time but before and after wine country was chilly and windy. Something’s up with that. I can’t even begin to really fit all of the goings on of that week in a blog post without taking up all of it but my favorite parts were the farm cafe we ate breakfast at with my brother and his wife (they live out there – hence the reason for the trip), Crater Lake, Cards Against Humanity with my family (unreal), the Redwoods National Park, trolling the college town we stayed in with my sister, and the Japanese place we ate at in San Francisco. I think by the end of the week we were all pretty ready for our own beds and Old Bay Seasoning, but it was truly an amazing time and I’m really grateful for the experience. Vacation week very well spent.

There's a little dip in that island. Do you see it? That's the length of a football field. Enjoy perspective.

There’s a little dip in that island. Do you see it? That’s the length of a football field. Enjoy perspective.

So the West Coast was incredible. After we got back, life went pretty back to normal. I received a promotion at work and am really, genuinely enjoying what I do, met a really nice guy who I’ve been seeing for the last two months, and found hot yoga. I can’t begin, I mean really can’t begin, to promote it enough. I love yoga; have the apps on my phone, yoga clothes in my drawer (other than just yoga pants because I’m pretty sure all females between the ages of 14-40 have at least one pair), prerequisite yoga mat and carrier in my backseat, etc. I am a huge fan. I have woken up, intentionally, at 6:30 a.m. to prostrate myself in a room full of other half-awake humans. I say “Namaste” at the end of a class and mean it. I genuinely enjoy sitting and meditating – at least for roughly 20 minutes and then it’s all, “oh my god why is it so quiet,” and “someone turn off the repetitive flute chords.”

I digress. On my birthday, I decided to hit a hot yoga class at a place in my home town with my friend, Taylor. Neither of us had tried it before but I think we both kind of assumed it’d be some asanas in a warm room. A little downward dog, a little corpse, some warriors thrown in for spice…and I have never sweated so much in my entire life. The room was easily near 100 degrees and it was aggressive. I mean, we moved fast. Hard things happened. Buckets of sweat poured from every place in my body sweat can come from. And minus the one gentleman who took “breathe vocally” as “make extremely angry orgasm sounds every time you exhale for an hour”, it was euphoric. Taylor and I turned to each other halfway through, both looking like boiled beets (which don’t sound very appetizing, I might add), and said, “This is freaking awesome.” The rest is pretty much history. Sure, there was a time when getting up from a goddess squat into Warrior II that I got tunnel vision and almost blacked out, but the first time I did a yoga headstand was also in hot yoga. I praise it to everyone.

Back in August, I think, I tried aerial yoga with my friend Vicky up in PA and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever tried, athletically. It still is super cool and I’m hoping to get back there in the next few weeks. But hot yoga challenges me, pushes me, makes me feel like 5’2″ of rubber and somehow I leave feeling like I can scale buildings. It’s hard. It’s really hard, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But since then, we’ve coerced a few other friends to join us and they’ve liked it just as much. I already loved yoga – the movement, the difficulty, the spiritually, the lightness afterward – but, this kind of yoga brings me to a place I haven’t been able to find elsewhere. I feel home in three places – my actual home, with my support group, and in a yoga studio. I know yoga definitely has a cult following of perky 20-somethings looking for their latest calorie-burning fix but it’s so much more and with the right instructor, it becomes a lot more. I used to do yoga on break at work in the rehab; found empty group rooms and tried not to break my neck in the 30 minutes. But now I find other time, when I can genuinely focus on it and really work. It really hurts, I really push myself, but I love it.

Now all I need to find is a good yoga top that doesn’t chance any Janet Jackson-esque slips while doing Sun Salutations. Lots and lots of back and forth, up and down…can get dangerous fast. And I wanted to tack on the end here that my friend Meara and I are challenging ourselves this month to write for our respective blogs every day. I have a tendency to really only write when I’m going through big changes, usually painful ones. Like break ups. I write when I go through break ups and it makes for a really depressing blog and I’m really not a depressing person so I’m making an effort to change. I’m also concurrently doing a challenge via tumblr called “Happy Healthy Holidays” that’s all about setting your own goals, but strongly encourages clean eating 80% of the time and working out at least 3x a week. I’m incorporating a morning workout into my work days…I really don’t want to but it’s become excruciatingly clear that evening workouts aren’t working because I’m usually too tired or have other important places to be. So, I’ll be up at 6 a.m. tomorrow. I’ll try to at least mention my workouts here, for accountability if nothing else. Now, I have to go prep my lunches for the week because yeah, that happened to. I plan so many things now. My neurosis is so happy.

It’s great to be back!

– a.

What happens when you take away cheese…

So, I mentioned it on Facebook, but I’m intending on going vegan for the month of August. Last year, I didn’t drink alcohol for the month of August and I wanted to do something restrictive again. I love challenges and being sort of bored with my daily goings on, I decided having to switch up my diet pretty hardcore was a good idea. And I don’t want to do this half-assedly. I don’t want to stock up on high-sodium, all-soy frozen products. I’m hoping to eat as cleanly as possible during this month. I’ve made a few starter vegan meals and so far they’ve been great.

Luckily, I have about seven years of vegetarianism still under my belt (college ruined that) and I prefer drinking Almond Coconut milk rather than regular milk. It’s so good. Seriously. I don’t even…it’s so good. My biggest struggle will be with making sure I don’t fall into monotony. Could I eat my Kashi cereal and AC milk every morning? Technically, yes. Will I end up throwing the box across the room in frustration after about a week? Oh, totally.

Unlike last year, when I planned fancy non-alcoholic beverages after the first and found myself staying in a lot because I wasn’t sure what I was going to drink, I want to go into this really well planned. If I like it, I might stay vegan. Probably not, but, here’s to hoping. I really like cheese. I mean, I really like cheese. I could survive without meat, that doesn’t bother me, but fish and cheese would be hard to never ever eat again.

I’ve found some great websites that have really good recipes and stories about going vegan (how they did it, why they did it, what was hard, etc). I never realized how expanded the ‘dairy-free’ arena of substitutes there were. Here are a few of my favorites, if you’re ever thinking of trying a recipe or challenging yourself:

The Gluten Free Vegan

Oh She Glows

Clean Eating Chelsey

Veggieful

My pinterest page also has a lot of good ideas brewing: Pinterest

If you know of any other good places for vegan recipes, or, hell just some motivation, don’t hesitate to post! Before I run along and get ready for work, I wanted to share my recipe from last night for the (vegan) soup I made. It was an absolute hit…with my parents and me anyway. My little brother said it looked like poop in a bowl but he also eats McDonald’s on the regular so…ignore him?

Asparagus and Leek Soup

Not the world's best photo, but nonetheless.

Not the world’s best photo, but nonetheless.

I cannot take credit for this recipe, however, and won’t attempt to try. I found it at Veggieful! Her photo is way prettier than mine, too. The only thing I changed between her recipe and mine was a.) no vegan margarine because I don’t have any, b.) wayyy more olive oil. Not a crazy amount, but it needed far more than a tablespoon, c.) I added half cup of the AC milk to add some creaminess.

Please try the recipe! Asparagus and Leek Soup

It. Was. So. Good.

Anyway, hope you all are having a great Hump Day!

What would be the hardest food for you to give up?

What suggestions would you give to someone changing their diet?

Have you ever gone ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ before? Would you do it again?

– a.

Trading my soleus for a 5k

Let’s first point out how hilarious my pun title turned out. …It’s Monday, I tried. It was surprisingly nice today, even though I was only really able to enjoy it on my drive home from work (poor timing Batman). Yesterday ended on a strong positive note – I finally got off of the couch and had a productive day. Folded laundry that had been begging to be remembered, cleaned a room that looked like a storm had hit it (okay, it was my bedroom), went to the gym and kicked my butt all the way into mid-week, and spent some quality time cuddling on the couch with Sun Chips. No, I was not physically cuddling with a bag of Sun Chips. Please erase that image.

Cartoon1

Or commit it to memory, your choice. I was cuddling with a human, and it was adorable. Except when we decided to put “The Raven” on and I completely geeked out over a man being sliced in half. The lights weren’t even off! I’m more of a fan of thriller, less gore. If you want my opinion of the movie, I’d give it, but it probably wouldn’t be super positive. Dying for love has never been a romantic ideal for me, so that ruins a lot of the premise of the resolution.

But the Sun Chip laziness and glory was so worth it after the butt-kicking. I (finally) went to the gym yesterday afternoon after contemplating an outdoor run for, oh, four hours. The wind had picked up and every time I thought about my eyes and nose dripping for two miles, I found myself back under my fleece blanket on the couch. I hadn’t been to the gym in a while, honestly. I’ve been running at home outdoors and hiking as much as possible. So, it was a nice change of scenery (how weird does that sound? A gym? Scenery?). Now, I used to hate treadmills. I mean loathe, despise, cringe at, etc. They were not my cup of ANYTHING. This is, I think, because when I was younger, I tried to run on one and it felt like every time I came down it made a super loud noise and it felt like I was sort of bouncing.

Basically, I felt fat. But earlier this week when I ventured back onto one at the hotel, I had one of the best runs I’d completed in a long time. It was magical. I set my pace and was a lot better at keeping it than when I run outside, I was able to watch my little red dot go around the the 5k trail on the screen, and I knew how many calories I had burned, how long I’d been running, and how far I’d gone instantaneously. My iPhone can do the same thing in regards to the information, true, but as someone who really struggled (and still actively does) with shin, knee, and hip problems, I love the option of just stopping if things get painful. If I’m outside, I could still be a solid mile or so from home.

So instead of running the two miles I’d intended, I ended up completing a 5k! And if you look at the photo I took of my treadmill, I was super smooth taking it by the way, you can tell that I am not an extremely talented runner. Yet. My goal now is to train over the next 2-3 months to run a 10k, and run it straight through.

treadmill

I’m going to be tweaking the novice plan I found here to fit my own needs and issues, which I’ll put up on this blog. April-May is the goal for running a 10k for me; as a swimmer rather than a runner for years and years, finally setting race dates would be fantastic. But, this plan starts with the ability to run three miles without stopping and while I can finish a 5k, I can’t run it straight through. So, I’m going to give myself extra time to build up and make sure I’m increasing the mileage at a rate that won’t cause me injuries. I do like the cross training, and I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, you all will be seeing the work out updates here! Which, along with ‘recipes’, will be another tab on my menu shortly. Yay!

My workout ended with some hip work (adductions and abductions, for killer strength) and bicep work. I expected to be sore today but was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t much more than the occasional twinge you get when you know you had a good workout, but didn’t push yourself too far. After my fabulous workout, I treated myself to what every red-blooded, high energy 23-year-old should have: a Grande Skim Cappuccino! Now, I usually try to support local businesses more than corporations, but the Starbucks was right there and I had a gift card that I’d been holding on to since Christmas.

aftergym

I’m pretty honest about myself, folks. I’m not a 115lb marathon runner (yet!). I’m most certainly a work in progress. But I think that’s what can make for interesting reading sometimes. I love reading blogs about people who have already gotten ‘there’, who already have it all. But I don’t, and I know there are a lot of others who don’t either. I’m naturally a curvy person and I ate a lot of Sheetz in college. It was delicious, but it stayed with me. And now I’m trying to become the strongest, healthiest person I can. It’s not easy, but it’s a fun adventure.

When I got home, after driving around dancing rather like a maniac to Ciara’s “Goodies” and other classics, I ate one huge bowl of my dad’s homemade bean soup. It was vegan, which made me eye my dad confusedly, but so good. To increase my protein intake even more (and because I was sick of craving ice cream), I made myself a chocolate peanut butter protein shake. And enjoyed every creamy second of it. I’ll post the recipe below but I’m going to be updating it soon – I’m trying out this PB2 stuff I’ve seen all over fitness blogs. I love peanut butter, so much, but it does have the downside of high fat content.

beanstewToday I woke up and basically threw myself into my car – having a cappuccino at 6pm pretty much threw off my sleep schedule entirely so I slept until 7am then had to dash out the door. I swung by the (local!) coffee shop and grabbed a coffee and Nova Lox bagel for breakfast. Nova Lox bagel is a black russian bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, red onion, tomato, and capers. I always ask for “extremely sparse” cream cheese, otherwise they dollop it on heavy. Absolutely delicious. Lunch was my work’s attempt at Shepherd’s pie, which will never be as good as an ex’s friend used to make it (go figure), and after a few more harried hours of me basically running around throwing paper, I came home and ate a big ol’ bowl of leftover chicken and asparagus risotto. I didn’t take a picture of it, because I ate it directly out of the Tupperware. I’m not sorry.

As promised – the beginning of my Novice Training Plan Tweak!

Because Sunday is the “big run” day, Hal suggests that Monday be a “Stretch and Strengthen” day to help sort of rest the muscles while still getting a work out. He didn’t specify length of time or too much into what exercises one could do, so I picked a few ones that I could do in my bedroom. For the last two exercises, I used a medicine ball. By the way, I love medicine balls. It’s a little creepy.

StretchandStrength

Good luck! I say 20 reps because I like doing two sets of 10, but however you do it is up to you. Now, I’m going to drink my Yogi tea and listen to some more Disney songs. And probably draw a cartoon of me hugging a medicine ball.

If you want my Dad’s recipe – let me know and I’ll add it next time!

How do you like to treat yourself after a good workout?

Have you ever used a training program before? How did it turn out? Did you like it?

 

-a.

 

All Neon Everything

Taken July '12 right before the start of Alcohol-Free August

Happy Sunday! When I was growing up, Sundays were always marked with classical music in the AM (my parents preferred NPR), a slow breakfast, and pjs for a few extra hours. Even now, I wake up earlier on Sundays than any other day of the week just to relish in the happy comfort.

My past few days have been a bit unpredictably busy. Friday ended up being a busy morning plus work, which was hectic. Working in addiction, you’ll notice that Friday nights have a tendency to be the most frustrating nights of the week. Everyone is just a bit more squirrelly. But, luckily, I was working with other no-nonsense co-workers and we dealt with struggles as they came. After work? Sangria with my friend Ashley! We love getting together after work and talking about our days, our men, and our futures. Call it corny, but we do it once every other week or so.

I woke up Saturday morning to a phone call at 9am from the manthing (Note: it could be man-thing, man-friend, or quite possibly man-sicle) asking if I wanted to come over for breakfast (Also note: that means cuddle mostly, then breakfast). He had gone out in typical mid-20’s fashion the night before and was begging off the hangover with snuggles and eggs. Eventually, we got around to cooking. He, a man’s man, made bacon and I made the eggs. Little did he know, I made them 3 parts white, 1 part yoke like I do at home. Added a little basil, salt ‘n pepa, and a sprinkling of sharp cheddar and tah-dah! Egg health. And guess what? He didn’t notice. Sneaky egg health! Bacon

Then, more cuddling and general laziness (and a bit of a nap, whoops!), until I met up with my mom at 3. She’d finally convinced me to go bra shopping at this place in downtown Frederick called Soma. Now, ladies, I am not what you would call an “average cup size”. It’s my cross to bear…quite literally. If you’re one of the elite who has to wear about three sports bras when running, you and I probably should chat. For years (and years and years), I’ve tried to find the proper appendages and mostly just failed. You’ve heard of side boob? Try under-boob, back-boob, muffin-boob, and every other kind of you can think of. Okay, scratch back-boob, that sounds pretty nasty.

Anyway, I had my first proper fitting at this beautiful, elegant store in the afternoon. I’m rather squeamish about being seen in any state of undress (the beach is a nightmare), but the young woman who did mine was efficient, honest, and charismatic. She took me under her wing and showed me that not only have I been wearing the wrong size, but having a larger cup size doesn’t doom one to a life of nude bras with thick straps and fifteen clasps (oh, the horror!). I tried on all different kinds and left with a very nice black lace number that I’ve lusted over for the better part of my adolescence and young adult life but never found in my size and a light pink “every day” wear one that still makes them say “hello” without saying, “It may cost money to speak with me,” if you get my meaning. soma

I forgot to take a photo of the inside of the store, which was beautiful and honestly if I had the money would have spent hundreds on fabulous underwear and loungewear, but I did snap a photo of the bag. Price-wise, it’s about the same as say, Victoria’s (not so) Secret, but a much higher quality and with a much larger range of types, colors, and sizes. Honestly, next time you need undergarments, look them up. I modeled my new bra in front of the mirror for about an hour when I was home last night.

I also had my first experience at M-O-M, My Organic Market. And oh, was it love at first sight. I’m already trying to switch over to a clean eating lifestyle, and having M-O-M and Whole Foods in Frederick is fabulous. My dad already frequents when he can and it will definitely be my one stop shop for all things kombucha. I surprised my friend Taylor with an afternoon snack (read: feast) of kombucha tea, organic ranch chips, roasted red pepper and gouda soup, and coffee from a local coffee shop. We sat in her room and totally indulged. Fabulous afternoon. Dinner with my folks (chicken and asparagus risotto…seriously good eatings) then I cuddled up and watched Sex and the City for the rest of the night. I may have also eaten a bowl or three of frozen blueberries. They’re my dessert weakness.

OatmealToday I decided I would be more personally productive – I had made overnight oats yesterday and tried them out for breakfast this morning. I followed the recipe from Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers (www.pbfingers.com) and thought they turned out pretty good. I didn’t have any fresh raspberries to add to it this morning though, and because I used raspberry Chobani, I wasn’t sure if any other fruit would work. Next time, I think I’ll stick with vanilla Chobani and add banana or strawberry. Still, a good breakfast. I’ll put the recipe I used (slightly tweaked from Julie’s) at the bottom of this post.

I’ve been struggling the past few days with running motivation. I hate admitting it because I’d like to come across as superwoman when it comes to my work out schedule but the reality is that sometimes I wake up and have so many other things I’d like to do. And then I whittle away my time and before I know it, it’s bed time/snowing/doomsday. After reading a few others’ blog posts today, I’m starting to get the bug again. It doesn’t help that it’s so cold out (hey, 20-something is cold!) and I’m along the lines of a bear when it comes to wanting to be warm. I mean, I’ve been awake since 9am today and have basically just done a lot of blog-related things. I’m hoping it warms up enough this afternoon that I can go for a long run and get some of the excess energy I’ve been carrying around out.

One of my big obsessions for the past year has been buying work out clothing. I’m finally starting to amass an amount that proper enough for an active lifestyle. And I can finally throw away a lot of my hideous T-shirts and saggy leggings that are not conducive to making me feel good about myself. Maybe you can agree, but I feel like when my work out garb is bright (and I mean neon), I’m more likely to put it on and feel active in it. My tanks are highlighter yellow and my jacket is buzzworthy pink. I just feel better about myself and, much like when I ‘dress the part’ for work and feel more accustomed to the day, when I ‘dress the part’ for working out, I feel like I am accomplishing more. Maybe that’s just me. But hey, if it gets me off the couch and pounding the pavement, who am I to question it?

Tonight I have bean soup, a long jog, and reading/snuggle time with man-sicle. A good Sunday.

– a.

What clothing do you struggle with fitting appropriately? What stores do you love to love?

How do you motivate yourself on your off days?

 

Overnight Oats Recipe

Overnightoats You just mix them all together in a bowl, cover, and let sit in your fridge overnight. Personally, I suggest that if you’re going to use a fruit-based yogurt, to use one that you would normally flavor your oatmeal. I’m trying the apple next and adding a tsp of Cinnamon. If you don’t like Greek yogurt (some don’t like the tang), regular should be okay but I’d say add a little less milk then. I use skim milk, but Almond/2%/Whole/Whatever should work.

Qi’a is a combination of chia seeds, buckwheat, and hemp seeds. I like it better than regular chia because I prefer the texture It’s organic and you could find it at your local Whole Foods (or M-O-M!). For Julie’s original recipe, look her up here: www.pbfingers.com

Or just look her up in general. Probably one of my favorite blogs to date.