Posts made in June, 2012

a new gym


Posted on Jun 29, 2012 in Fitness

For the past half a year or so, I’ve done almost all of my workouts in our home gym. It’s been an amazing resource to have. It’s so convenient and easy to get a sweat session in; I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to not having home gym equipment.

That being said, there is something magical about going to the gym. And sometimes I really crave it. I crave the shiny new equipment. I crave the plethora of weights. I crave the rows and rows of choices. I crave being surrounded by like-minded individuals. That’s why I was so excited to find out that there are two Anytime Fitness clubs within about 15 minutes of our new home. I had any Anytime Fitness membership when we lived in Bloomington (a perk of the gig), but rarely used it because the only club was on the complete other side of town—20 minutes on a good day. Now that we live in the country, driving 15 minutes to get to a gym seems like nothing, but when we lived in the city, 20 minutes was totally inconvenient. Relativity is a funny thing.

Anywho, that’s a long-winded way of saying, I went to my new gym yesterday! We’re still in unpacking mode, and since our home gym isn’t even close to set up, I figured I’d take advantage of my sorely neglected Anytime Fitness membership (you can use it at any club in the world).

I was really, really impressed with the quality and variety of equipment available. I thought for sure there was no way there’d be kettlebells or a BOSU at a gym in small town Salem, Indiana, but there were! And in fact, really high-quality, new, nice-looking ones!

The craziest part of the whole experience? The whole place was empty! I’m not sure if this was a fluke or a reflection of small town Indiana, but it was 6:00 am on a Thursday morning and I was completely and totally alone. Not another exerciser. Not anyone that worked there. Not even a fly.

In Bloomington, all the gyms would be completely packed at 6:00 am. It was definitely a crazy feeling. I kept having to remind myself it was morning. Because it was so deserted, it felt like I was working out in the middle of the night or something.

It was really nice because I got to lay out all my weights, kettlebells and medicine balls and work at my own pace. The emptiness even gave me the audacity to try out the squat rack, which is not nearly as scary as it looks. Granted, I just squatted the bar to start, but I did it! I’m not sure why that single piece of equipment has intimidated me for so long. Silly. I can’t wait to start squatting heavy stuff.

Overall, I was really, really impressed with my new gym! I’m sure I’ll still do the majority of my workouts at home (you know, once the boxes are unpacked), but having the “gym experience” at such a nice facility will be a nice option to keep in my back pocket.

P.S. Anyone else read the Fergie interview in the July issue of SELF? I was totally amazed by how down-to-earth and normal she seemed. I’m not normally a big celebrity chaser, but I always thought she’d be a bit of a diva for some reason, but she didn’t come across that way at all. Also in this issue: an amazing article on female Olympians. I’m so excited for the Olympics to start!

Do you prefer working out at home or at a gym?

my favorite weight lifting songs


Posted on Jun 28, 2012 in Fitness

This morning, as I was pumping iron (that phrase is so kitschy, isn’t it?) a particular song came on my iPhone and I really started “feeling it,” you know? When the music is perfectly synced and the adrenaline is pumping and you feel like you can lift the heaviest barbell in the joint?

I thought it might be fun to share my favorites, and, selfishly, I hope you’ll share yours too! I’m always looking for new songs to add to my power playlist.

Disclaimer: pretty much none of these are safe for work. Apparently I like curse words when I’m lifting…

1. “Outta Your Mind” by Lil Jon & LMFAO

The beat of this one seriously gets me going. Back when I was a runner, this was one of my favorite songs to run to. Now it’s transitioned nicely into a good strength training song. This version below is the clean one, but really, to get the full ass-kicking appeal, download the original. It’s really not appropriate for anyone under the age of 25, but it’s amazing. Especially the verse using hockey as a metaphor for getting drunk. Primo stuff.

2. “My Chick Bad” by Ludacris & Nikki Manaj

It’s really hard not to feel totally bad ass when you are listening to this song and lifting really heavy weights. I recommend listening to this while you squat something ridiculous or swing around the heaviest kettlebell you can find.

3. “Run the World (Girl)” by Beyonce

A lot of times, the free weights section of any gym can be chock full of testosterone. This girl power anthem helps me fight through the towers of sweaty boys that think they own the squat rack. Step out of the way, boys.

4. “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis

This probably has something to do with the fact that this is the song played when the Blackhawks score a goal, but this song totally pumps me up. And makes me want to dance.

5. “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson

This one comes straight from the mixed CDs I used to make in high school. This song has fueled many a hard, sweaty workouts for me.

6. “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J

Don’t call it a comeback. Retro LL Cool J never, ever gets old. This song is especially effective if you can time it where you do something explosive on the “UH” part of the chorus.

What are your favorite songs for weight lifting?

july goals


Posted on Jun 28, 2012 in Motivation

Because June was so crazy-pants, I skipped making any sort of health or fitness goals. I figured getting through moving into a new house unscathed was enough of a goal to take me through those 30 days. But here we are, closing in on the end of June and my life is starting to settle back down. Reviewing my yearly goals yesterday really got me back in the goat-setting mindset. Time to set my July goals! In July, I’d like to:

  1. Have three major sweat sessions per week.
  2. Eat four meatless dinners per week.
  3. Write down five things I’m grateful for everyday.

Just like I did with my May goals, I’ve created a goal chart to help keep me on track throughout the month. I never wrote about my final results from May, but let me tell you, that chart was a success! It’s amazing how motivated I am by a silly gold star. So motivated, in fact, that I actually went I sent Babyface digging around the depths of our moving boxes to find those stickers so I’d be ready for July!

Interestingly enough, the stars and chart were actually much more motivating than the monetary rewards. If you don’t remember: I gave myself a dollar for each day I hit all my goals. On the days I didn’t, the dollar went into savings. I think I ended up with $22 at the end of May, and honestly, I haven’t even used the money! Or thought about it! I think it’s probably still sitting in the jar in some box somewhere. I’m all about the gold stars.

I am changing it up a bit for July, because my goals are weekly. So instead of a daily check-off, I have a weekly tally. If I hit my goals at the end of each week, it’s a gold star for me! 

If you want to play along, I’ve posted the PDF of the chart for downloading. Go get yourself some stars!

What are your health and fitness goals for July?

2012 goal check-up


Posted on Jun 27, 2012 in Motivation

I’m about ready to blow your mind.

2012 is halfway over.

Well, actually, it’ll be halfway over at the end of the week, but close enough. Is anyone else totally bowled over by that little factoid? I can’t believe we’re already through six months of 2012. Before you know it, we’re going to be ringing in 2013. Crazy!

With the marking of the halfway point of the year, I figured now was a great time to check in on my 12 goals for 2012. If you were hanging out around this joint last January, you know that I set a dozen goals to help me guide my year. Let’s see how I’m doing!

1. Get Business-ed

Babyface and I set a goal to create two legal and registered businesses before 2012 was out and, guess what? We did it! We are the proud owners of two LLCs registered in the state of Indiana. We even have business checking accounts. Fancy, right? The process wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be, but it was annoying and time-consuming. It feels really good to have all of that taken care of.

2. Buy a house.

I have to be honest, this goal was a bit of a “gimme” when I wrote it, because I knew our plan was to buy this house at the time I set my goals. But, things definitely weren’t set in stone. By writing that goal, we really got to business finding a mortgage, getting the purchase contract written and getting insurance. We actually had a crazy easy time getting financed and getting in our house, so we’re very fortunate!

3. Pay off 75% of our current debt.

We’re finally just now starting to get on track with this goal. I doubt we’ll be able to hit the 75% mark, but we’re going to do what we can. The biggest thing that set us back was the tornado in Pekin. Even with good homeowner’s insurance, there were a lot of out-of-pocket costs to pay to get the house back to good condition. We’re actually still finding things. Babyface just went to open our pool for the season and realized that the pool cover was severely damaged by hail. Such is the life of a homeowner, I guess. I think that 75% goal was the dream of a renter. I think as a homeowner, we’ll be lucky if we hit 25% before the year is out. But at least we aren’t adding to our debt (well, other than that mortgage, you know).

4. Raise $2,500 for charity.

When I set this goal, I didn’t have anything specific in mind, but the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer ended up being the perfect opportunity to make a difference and hit my goal! I raised over $3000 and the vast majority of that was thanks to you guys! I am so proud that I hit this goal. And I’m definitely trying to figure out what big good thing I can do next!

5. Go scale free.

I wrote this goal before I had my revelation about the scale and weight loss. I might end up abandoning the scale again before the year is out, but for now, I feel like I have a healthy relationship with it.

6. Find my marathon.

I’m still on the quest to find that thing that makes me exciting about sweating. Hiking is close and the Avon Walk unleashed something in me that I didn’t know was there, but I’m not sure either of them are it. The journey continues…

7.  Become a better blogger, writer and recipe developer.

This goal is an interesting one. I wrote it when I was in a pretty deep and dark place about my blogging and writing. I was upset that other bloggers were so successful and yet I was floundering. I was upset that I’d had some nasty comments. I felt like I was working my tail off, but wasn’t reaping many rewards (other than, you know, the joy of doing something I loved). At some point early this year, I had an epiphany.  It just doesn’t matter. I got into blogging because I like to write, share my life and take pictures. And that’s all that matters! I am who I am. If people (readers, editors, companies) don’t like me, then there is nothing I can really do to change that. That being said, I did really want to up my nutrition and culinary knowledge to become a more skilled recipe developer. I started culinary school in January, and while it’s been a struggle, I feel like I’m much more confident in my knowledge. I’m also looking into other forms of education (there are a few online certificates I’m eyeing). I’m also just getting myself out there as much as possible! I have a weekly feature on Anytime Health and I’m a frequent contributor to Edible Indy. This goal is interesting because it came from a real place of negativity, but I think I’m still following through with it, just with a different kind of motive.

8. Read 50 books.

Gosh, guys. This one is hard! I’ve only read 14 books so far this year. That is waaaayy off from my goal. And if I’m being totally forthcoming, four of those were read during my vacation, so my non-beach reading levels are way low. I really need to step this up. I really like reading, I just seem to always find something else to do. Or maybe I just need to go live on the beach for the rest of the year?

9. Complete 3,500 fitness minutes.

As of today, I’m at 3,814 minutes for the year! Woohoo! Training for a 40 mile walk definitely helped (although I didn’t count my actual Avon Walk minutes into that total). I’ve also noticed I’m more of a fitness “burst” kinda gal. I’d much rather do a long gym session a few times a week as opposed to doing a little bit every day.

10. Go on 12 date nights with Babyface.

I’ve lost count, but I think we are pretty much on track! Mostly this goal was written out of a desperate need for us to get out more, and we’re doing it! Now that we live 30 minutes from Louisville, I’m so excited to explore the city with my best friend.

11. Switch to a plant-centric diet.

It’s been a slow process, but I think we’re finally getting there. I’d say we only eat meat 2-3 meals a week now and when we do, that meat is responsibly raised and a small portion of our total meal. We’ve even been trying to get one or two vegan meals a week! I think the variety is good and I definitely can tell I feel a lot better when my diet is made up mostly of nutrient-dense plants.

12. Enjoy 2012.

If I had to pick, I’d say this one is the hardest on the list. I really, really struggle with worrying. And that worrying turns into stress which is a nasty little infection that can sideline even the happiest of times. I’m trying really hard to just be happy but the older I get, the more anxious and stressed I get. It’s a constant struggle to overcome, but I’m working at it. Babyface is a big help. He always helps me we a hefty dose of perspective!

So there you go! My 2012 goals. I’ve completed four of them and the majority of the rest are on the right track. I’m going to take this chance to recommit to my goals that I’m struggling with. I  still have six months. :)

How are your new years resolutions going?

my healthy rules


Posted on Jun 27, 2012 in Motivation

I’ve heard a lot of talk recently about the new book by Bob Harper (of The Biggest Loser fame) called The Skinny Rules. I haven’t read the book, but thanks to a sneak preview on Amazon, I did get a look at his 20 rules for dropping weight. Obviously, since I haven’t read the book or implemented any of the ideology, I can’t really comment on it—although, admittedly, I’m intrigued after hearing quite a few people say they’ve dropped weight and had more energy on his plan. Maybe one day I’ll read it and try it out, but for now, I’ll remain comment-free.

Anyway, this post isn’t about Bob Harper’s book. But it is inspired by it.

When I was contemplating Mr. Harper’s rules, I started thinking about my own set of rules. Not skinny rules. But healthy rules. My rules, either conscious or not, that I try to follow on a daily basis to feel my best and be my best. I think we all have our own, unique set of healthy rules. Whether it’s intentional or not, we set goals for ourself in all areas of our life, including our health and fitness. Maybe you didn’t write it down. Maybe you didn’t tell anyone. Maybe you didn’t even acknowledge it, but you probably are trying to hit some goal today.

It got me thinking about all those things that are second-nature. The steps that I take that are the foundation of my healthy lifestyle. My simple, nonnegotiable principles to being healthy, to borrow Bob’s tagline. I thought it might be fun to list out my healthy rules and compare them with everyone else’s.  These are my daily principles for a healthy life, what are yours?

 1. Drink water all day long.

My giant, pink water bottle almost never leaves my side. I know a lot of folks will give specific amounts (“drink eight glasses!” “drink your weight in ounces!”) but I find that if I just sip on water all day long, I’m adequately hydrated. It’s become a habit now. I feel naked if I don’t have my big ass water bottle in my hand.

 2. Eat something green at every meal.

I’m not sure what it is about green plants that makes them so chock full of vitamins and minerals, but they are definitely nutritional rockstars. I try to pack them into every meal, every day.

3. Eat dessert everyday.

I know some folks think this isn’t a “healthy” rule, but to me, it is! Not only is it healthy for my mental state (c’mon, life is short, people!) but it is also healthy for my eating habits. By indulging a little everyday, I never feel deprived and never feel the need to overcorrect and binge on a whole pan of brownies. Sometimes it’s a small as a square of dark chocolate, other times it’s a slice of triple chocolate cake with cream cheese filling.

4. Sweat three times a week.

I’ll break down this rule a bit below, but my bare bones fitness rule is about just flat-out moving. I literally didn’t exercise more than walking from my fridge to my couch for years, and I never want to fall back into that. Just as long as I’m doing something that makes me sweat at least three times a week, I’m happy.

5. Lift heavy, lift often.

I was terrified of strength training for the longest time. Not only were the giant machines and weights intimidating, but I was for sure that I’d gain back all my weight if I focused on strength instead of spending hours doing cardio. The truth is: I feel my strongest, healthiest and fittest when I’m lifting heavy weights and lifting often. I am no longer a cardio-only kinda girl!

6. Have protein at every, single meal. And a lot of it.

Protein in my friend. It helps me recover more quickly from my heavy weight-lifting. It helps me feel full and satisfied with my meals and keeps my appetite in check for hours and hours. I wrote a whole post about the awesomeness of protein. Protein is good!

7. Keep the animal products to a minimum.

There are quite a few different sides to the whole eating animals debate. I fall staunchly in the middle. I consider myself a flexitarian, which basically means, I eat everything! But I do think that a lot of times, I use animal products (meats, cheeses, yogurt, etc.) to fill voids in my meals that should be filled up with nutrient-dense plant foods instead. Every day, I look at my meals and try to make sure I’m not filling up on cheese or chicken when I could be eating cucumbers or cauliflower.

8. Take my supplements.

I’m the first to tell you that I hate, hate, hate taking 12 pills a day. But I’m also the first to tell you that when I consistently take my supplements, I feel great! Is it actually changing something in my body? Who knows. It could just be the placebo effect, but either way, I feel the difference and that makes it worth it.

9. Get eight hours of sleep a night.

I’m one of those people who needs at least eight hours of sleep a night. Without it, I’m pretty much worthless the next day (and I’m really at my best at nine hours). It’s a definitely necessity in my life. Each evening, I figure out what time I need to wake up the next morning, count back eight hours and that is my required bed time. Nonnegotiable. Yes, that means my bed time is at 8:30 some nights.

10. Embrace the decaf.

I love coffee. I love the taste of it. I love the ritual of it. I love the romanticism of it. I don’t love how caffeine makes me feel. Just a few cups spread out over a few days, and I’ve got one nasty rebound headache. Going decaf a few years ago was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my health and sticking to it is a daily decision.

What are your healthy rules?