Archive of ‘Wednesday’ category
How is it the end of February already?! Time seems to be flying by at warp speed lately, I can’t believe I start student teaching in 2 weeks, and I graduate in 3 months! Because I am so behind on posting, you guys are going to get a 2-for-1 post today. Three total if you count my February Foodie Penpal Reveal post. How lucky for you!
I’ve been eating Paleo since the first of the year because I am trying to build muscle mass and trim fat. I am honestly amazed at how awesome I feel! I am sleeping better, getting stronger, and fitting into clothes that were snug at Christmas. I also don’t feel the need to obsessively count calories like I did in the past, which has been so freeing. In fact, if I count calories at all, it is in the other direction to make sure I am getting enough on a daily basis. Calorie restriction DOES NOT work, but I will save that for another post.
The biggest change I have seen has been the significant difference in my overall strength. For example, when I started weight training, I was only able to do 8-10 push ups. Now, I am able to do 20 fairly easily! I am still a long way away from completing a pull up, but I am hoping to complete one by my birthday in mid-May. Stay tuned!
January Body Fat Percentage – 28.2%
Current Body Fat Percentage – 26.7%
Yay! Down 1.5% I had to adjust last month’s totals because I realized I was reading the chart incorrectly. I was in the wrong age bracket. Whoops! I am back on track though and heading forwards. My goal is to get to 17%-19% body fat.
Here is a recipe for a dish I whipped up last night. I served it alongside some roasted brussels sprouts and asparagus.
Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken
Time: ~30 minutes
- 4 Chicken breasts, skin on and bone in
- 1 Lemon, quartered
- 2 Cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary, chopped
- 1 Cup chicken broth – You may need a little more or a little less depending on the size of your pan
- Olive Oil
- Your favorite all-purpose seasoning. I use Back of the Yards from The Spice House.
- Heat oven to 375˚.
- In a cast iron (or oven safe) skillet, heat olive oil so that you will get a nice seer on your chicken breasts. While your oil is heating, liberally season your chicken breasts with your favorite all-purpose seasoning.
- Seer chicken skin side down until the skin is golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.
- Flip the chicken breasts over and sear the under side for another 4-5 minutes.
- Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken and place the quartered lemons into the skillet.
- Add the chicken broth, smashed garlic, and half of the rosemary to the skillet and place it into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.
- Garnish with remaining rosemary and more lemon juice, if desired.
Disclaimer: Before we even get started, please know that I am not a dietician, doctor, personal trainer, or expert in the medical, health, or fitness field. Everything I am writing is my opinion and is to not be taken as medical advice. You should consult a doctor or a professional before changing your diet or exercise routine.
We are making some healthy changes around here, and I am happy to report that I am no longer going to weigh myself for Weigh-in Wednesday. Instead, I am going to focus on my strength and overall body fat percentages. Here’s why:
I spent a little over two weeks at my mom’s house in southern California for the holidays. Since my mom does not have cable TV, I read a ton of books and blogs on weight training, diet, and exercise. The original purpose of this was to complete my New Year’s Resolution of doing a pull-up, but it actually spiraled into something more. I realized that for years, I have been doing everything wrong. My diet was wrong. My exercise habits were wrong. My attitudes toward fitness and health were wrong, and I was determined to make it right!
A friend of mine told me about a book by Gary Taubes called Why We Get Fat. I am in the process of reading this so I can’t comment fully about it yet, but the gist of his book is that for years we have been conditioned to think that weight loss was a calories in vs. calories out type of formula. We have been taught to avoid high fat foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils and replace them with low-fat foods that are actually higher in carbs and sugars than their fatty counterparts. Many poor crash diets have taken this idea and capitalized upon it, Atkins being the most famous. Don’t worry, I am NOT doing Atkins, nor do I think Atkins is a healthy diet.
Taubes’ theories led me to Mark’s Daily Apple, which convinced me to give the Paleo Lifestyle a whirl. In a nutshell, Paleo is all about consuming nutrient-dense foods that are not refined or processed. It’s not a diet, which is the best part. It’s about consuming items that our bodies are genetically designed to recognize and process as food/energy. You can think of it as “caveman food.” Could a caveman acquire a bag of Doritos? No. Don’t eat that. Could a caveman acquire green beans and eggs? Yes. Eat that.
Paleo Food Pyramid.
Photo Source: Fit Bomb at http://www.fitbomb.com/caption
I have been interested in the Paleo Lifestyle for a while, but since I do not eat a ton of meat, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of eating as much lean protein as Paleo calls for. However, the scientific studies behind Paleo intrigued me and everything I have read about it makes logical sense, which is why I decided to give it a whirl.
I have been living a Paleo Lifestyle for about 5 weeks, and I am amazed at the results so far! I am sleeping better, I am getting stronger, and I am fitting into pants that I couldn’t squeeze into in the fall. I am never hungry, my cravings for bad food have practically disappeared, and I feel amazing!
For my workouts, I have been focusing on High Intensity Interval Training (also knows as HIIT). I have seen fantastic results and my favorite part is that HIIT only take 20-30 minutes. I usually do my HIIT workouts in the pool 3 days a week and then do weight training on the other 3 days. I am still adjusting and building the best fitness routine for my schedule, but this is the basic idea I stick to for now.
Like I said above, I am tracking progress with measurements, body fat percentage measurements, increased strength, and pictures. I would like to accomplish my goal of doing a pull-up before my birthday in May.
Current Body Fat Percentage: 28.2%
I was going to post a photo here, but I am not ready for that yet! You can see the before when there is completely different after.
My Favorite Paleo Resources
My favorite HIIT Resources
None of the sites below require a gym. They can all be done at home!
I know it is Thursday, but I’ve been traveling and haven’t been around a computer until now. I am in California spending time with my family for the holidays. I keep reading on Facebook that the weather in Chicago is dreary and gross so I am happy to have sunny skies around me at the moment! I don’t do well in inclement weather. Living in Chicago is quite challenging for me year-round! This was my view this morning at 7 a.m. as I sipped coffee from my mom’s kitchen table. Why did I ever leave California? It is a mystery!
December in southern California!
Soooo… I’ve been off the workout wagon for the last month. I didn’t expect a good weigh-in today and was considering skipping this post all together. However, the main reason that I started blogging about weight loss was to hold myself accountable. Since my last weigh-in, I have not been eating as well as I should have, and I did not workout consistently or with any sort of intensity. I have been doing a ton of reading about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and think I am going to give that a go from here on out. I have been a reader of BodyRock.tv for years and have done the workouts here and there, but feel it is time to step it up and start doing workouts like that more consistently.
Today, I did a HIIT-inspired swim set. I love, love, love swimming. I swam competitively in high school and on a club team in college. I’ve considered joining a Master’s Team over the years, but haven’t been able to find one that fits my schedule in Chicago. My school has a really nice pool so I just need to motivate myself to jump into the water when it is below 32 degrees! Even though it is a heated, indoor pool, I am shivering just thinking about it!
My workout today was about 30 minutes. I warmed up with an easy 10 laps of freestyle. Then, I did 4 sets of 4-minute all out freestyle, followed by 1 minute of easy breaststroke. You are supposed to repeat this immediately until you have done 4 sets in a row, but I thought I was going to have a heart attack by the end of the first one so I rested for 1-2 minutes between sets. After 4 sets (~20 minutes), I did an easy 10 laps as a cool down. I alternated 50′s of freestyle and breaststroke.
I am also going to up my protein intake. I try to eat as vegetarian or vegan as possible for various reason, but I think I will have a better shot at increasing muscle mass if I increase my protein intake.
So, that’s the plan! I’ll let you know how it went at next month’s weigh-in. January 16 for those keeping track.
Starting weight: 155.5 lbs.
Last month’s weight: 152 lbs.
Current weight: 153.5 lbs.
Up 1.5 pounds, but still down 2 pounds overall. Onwards and upwards!
It has been one month since I started my weight loss journey, and I am here for my first weigh-in! I am trying to have a better attitude towards weight loss this time around than I have had in the past. Rather than looking at it as a chore, I’m focused on changing my unhealthy habits and replacing them with better decisions that will benefit me and my family in the long run. Below are a list of goals I have set for myself, but they are things I think are important for anyone trying to live a more healthy lifestyle!
Change habits. I do not want to be focused on what I can’t eat or what I can’t participate in. In the past when I was dieting, I would avoid anything that would tempt me with unhealthy choices. However, I now realize that this is part of the reason I keep going up and down in weight. I’ve never taught myself how to be in these types of situations. I’ve simply avoided them until I achieved the results I wanted. This was a short-term solution to a recurring problem. I’m no longer going to miss Sunday football gatherings with my girlfriends because I am trying to avoid bar food and beer. These are challenges I am going to be faced with for the rest of my life, and I need to learn how to navigate them appropriately.
Find what works for me. I am sure we’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!” Yeah, I used to roll my eyes at that phrase too, but in all honesty, it’s 100% true! In order to be successful with any type of health or weight loss plan, you have to find what works for you. If it is not feasible for you to spend 90 minutes in the gym four times a week, find a fitness plan that fits your schedule. It can be as simple as walking during your lunch hour, taking the stairs everywhere instead of the elevator, or parking in the furthest spot at the store and jogging to and from your car. You shouldn’t think that you need to be in a gym in order to be making positive health progress. Every step you take is a step towards better health and every little bit helps! I have found that taking classes work the best for me. I push myself harder when there are other people around and one hour in an intense Zumba, boxing, Pilates, or yoga class goes a million times faster than a session on the treadmill or elliptical.
Be nice to yourself. My girlfriend text me the other day out of frustration because she had been working out and eating right all week. However, when she weighed herself, she found that she had gained half a pound. This is a big reason I am only doing monthly weigh-ins. I find that my weight goes up and down practically in a matter of hours, especially now that I am in my 30′s. Why? Who knows? Stress, water weight, too much salt this week, the scale was off, etc., etc. The point is, I don’t need the stress of worrying about my weight on a weekly basis, and I need to put my energy into eating right and exercising. That doesn’t mean I do not want to see the number on the scale move down! I’d just rather focus on how I am feeling, how my clothes fit, and the progress I am making in my strength and endurance. We are our own worst critics. Don’t be too hard on yourself! If you slip up, give into temptation, and eat too much ice cream, don’t worry about it. Get back on the wagon and start again tomorrow. Do not beat yourself up for being human!
Set reasonable goals. You are not going to start running today and run a marathon next week. Losing weight, getting fit, changing habits, and increasing your strength and endurance are difficult things to do. If they were easy, everyone would be fit and healthy already! I think one of the main reasons that most people fail with diets is because they try to completely overhaul their life overnight. I’ve done this myself, unsuccessfully, many times. I am going to try to focus on one major thing that I want to change every week in the beginning until it becomes a habit. For now, I am trying to plan my meals every week so that I do not give into convenience when I have just finished a workout and am starving. I’ve been trying to do my weekly shopping on Sunday and prepare my meals for the entire week as soon as I get home. So far, it has worked like a charm. Removing the guess-work from what I am going to eat for lunch or dinner has really helped me watch my calorie intake. It’s hard to justify grabbing a burrito on my way home from the gym when I have a perfectly good salad already prepared in my fridge!
Be an Elf for Health! When I started to draft this post I was thinking about awesome it would be to be able to tap into the internet community for additional support. There are so many resources and communities out there that it can be hard to weed through them all and find the one that works the best for you and aligns with your fitness goals. I was thinking about how beneficial it would be to be able to share progress, tips, and motivation with anyone who is interested. Just as I was thinking about this, I read about Elf for Health on Twitter. This idea was created by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean (same blog that hosts Foodie Pen Pals!) and Elle from NutritionElla. This is exactly what I was looking for. I had to sign up! The full details for Elf for Health can be found by clicking the image to the right. It’s totally free to sign up and it serves as an additional layer of motivation to get you through the holidays.
You get paired up with another “elf” every two weeks and are charged with keeping them motivated throughout the holiday season. In turn, they help keep you motivated! You are asked to email your buddy 2 times per week:
- Monday: Send your buddy an email to help them with the challenges for that week. Ideas of things to include/attach: your own personal tips & tricks, inspiring words and/or images, a new, healthy recipe or workout to try.
- Thursday – Saturday: Any time during these days, check in withy you buddy! For example, ask them if they tried a new recipe, workout, or had fun with any certain challenges. Feel free to tell them how you did with your challenges, too!
There is also a list of printable daily challenges. Challenges can be something for the body like do a circuit workout today. Or, it can be something for the soul like buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you. Sound fun? Round 1 starts on Monday and Friday is the deadline to participate in the full-length of the program.
Ok… weigh-in time!
Sorry about the socks. I still haven’t made time for a pedicure! Very bad.
Starting weight: 155.5 lbs.
Current weight: 152 lbs.
Down 3.5 pounds. Yay!
Over the weekend, I had to buy a brand new pair of jeans because every pair of pants I own no longer fit. Buying new jeans is a great feeling when you are going down sizes, but an awful feeling when you are going UP sizes (like I was).
I have been struggling with my weight ever since getting a 9-5 desk job. This is one of the reasons I opted to go back to school and change careers. I absolutely could not stand sitting at a desk all day. Not only was it boring, but it was drastically effecting my health. Prior to moving to Chicago, I was a swim and snowboard instructor. I never realized how awesome it was to have active jobs where I was outside and moving around all day. While I realize teaching isn’t going to burn the amount of calories I would burn during the winter ski season, I am looking forward to having the freedom to move around the classroom each and every day. You’d be surprised at how stiff and sore you get sitting at a desk for a few hours straight!
So, this series is going to chronicle my journey back to fitness. I’m going to start tracking my food intake and will be posting healthier recipes from here on out (don’t worry, I will throw in a few treats from time to time ). I am nervous about posting my weight on the internet for all to see, but my goal is to be as honest and open as I can be throughout this process so that I can have a log of what works and what doesn’t for me. My goals with this change are not just to lose pounds and inches. I also want to increase flexibility and improve my strength.
Note: I actually weighed in at 155 lbs but had to put on my shoes because I desperately need a pedicure. Posting my weight on the internet was stressful enough, and I couldn’t bear the thought of having my weight on here with ugly feet!
I know this week I was supposed to be talking about where to start when it comes to wedding planning, but I attended such an awesome wedding over the weekend, and I just had to share it! That’s ok. We’ll catch up next week.
One of my dearest friends got married on Saturday at the Hidden Valley Retreat and Spa in Escondido, California. It was one of the most relaxing weekends I have had in a long time. I love living in a big city, but the traffic, constant horn honking, noise, lack of nature, long lines, and busy lifestyle is wearing at times. It was so nice to spend the weekend unplugged from technology, catching up with old friends.
My outdoor yoga studio for the weekend. Namaste.
If you are looking for a unique venue in southern California where you can throw a multi-day affair, Hidden Valley is definitely a spot you should consider. The property is so beautiful, you will not need to spend a dime on ceremony decorations. They have an indoor event center, but I have also seen pictures around the web of people who held their dinner and reception outside.
The property is nestled among oak groves and has a raw beauty that is second to none. There are pick-your-own apple, pear, fig, persimmon, and grapefruit trees on the grounds. Hidden Valley also has on-site accommodations that can sleep up to 40 guests, which makes things really easy if you have folks coming in from out of town.
I became Mrs. Cucina Kristina on April 21 of this year. I had planned on blogging throughout the entire process, but between wedding planning, work, and being a full-time grad student, I never managed to find the time. Now that the wedding has passed, and I have had some time to reflect on all the work I did, I thought I would start a series on here to showcase all of the DIY projects I tackled during my wedding. DIY projects are the best way to keep your budget at bay so if you are trying to pinch your pennies I have a ton of ideas to help you out! I’ll also offer up some advice and tips for managing your wedding that I learned throughout my engagement. If you are newly engaged, congratulations! If you are in the midst of wedding planning, hang in there! It will all be worth it in the end.
I am not one of those girls that has been dreaming of her wedding day since she was a little girl, so I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided to plan the entire wedding on my own. The internet can be so helpful but so overwhelming at the same time. There are millions of websites to sift through and hundreds of options to choose from for everything. You want blue table cloths? Be prepared to thumb through an entire binder of various shades, patterns, and fabrics.
My first piece of advice would be to enjoy your engagement. This might sound silly, but my husband and I no sooner announced our engagement when people started asking us where we were getting married, what date we chose, what our colors were going to be, what kind of dress I wanted to wear, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice that people were excited, but the wedding planning process is such a whirlwind you should take some time to enjoy being engaged. Go to a romantic dinner (or two) and let the fact that you are going to be married really sink in! Plus, your partner-to-be probably put a lot of thought into how he or she (it’s 2012, people!) was going to pop the question, and you should give them some time to enjoy the spotlight without rushing straight into wedding planning.
Speaking of popping the question, if you can (I am speaking to the proposer here), hire a photographer or ask a friend to take photos while you propose. My husband’s photographer friend donated his time to do this for us, and I am so happy to have those photos as a keepsake. If you propose in a crowded public place, chances are someone will snap a photo of you and email it to you. If you are lucky and propose in a more private forum, there may be a secret photographer waiting in the wings. However, don’t bank on that because a proposal is a special moment that you can never replicate and you definitely want to document it if you can!
Hello Internet! My, how I’ve missed you. Ugh, I apologize for my lapse in posting, my absence has been weighing heavily on my mind over the past few weeks. I planned on doing some catch up blogging while I was in southern California over the weekend, but I didn’t have the free time I thought I would have while I was away (funny how that always happens). The good news is, I have quite a few posts sitting in my drafts folder so you will not be deprived for long.
Blush Bridal Couture - Tustin, CA
I spent five wedding-centric days in California running from bridal shop to bridal shop looking for my dress and bouncing between department stores to finalize our registry. I am 98% certain I found the dress I am going to wear on my wedding day which is so exciting I can’t explain it. However, I want to wait ~3 weeks and try it on again with fresh eyes to make sure it is the dress and not just the best dress I tried on that weekend. I was home for such a limited amount of time and must have tried on about 50 dresses between the 4 bridal stores we went to. I feel slightly snobby for saying this, but after a while the dresses all start to look the same. I would definitely recommend against marathon dress shopping to a future bride-to-be. Unless you absolutely have to cram it all into one weekend, take your time and enjoy it. Wedding dress shopping is so much fun, there is no need to rush the experience. To the left is a poof-tastic dress I tried at the request of my bridesmaid, Christy. Not “the dress,” obviously, but it was fun mix things up and try on dresses that were completely not my style.
Alfred Angelo - Huntington Beach, CA
Wedding dress shopping was a blast! I was shocked. I expected shopping for a wedding gown to be like shopping for regular clothes, where you try on 100 things and only a handful flatter your figure. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Each dress I tried on was more beautiful and more elegant than the one before it and it is impossible to look bad in a wedding dress (THANK YOU, Catherine de Médicis for inventing the corset!). To the right is another princess-style gown I tried on at the request of my Matron of Honor, Devon, and my mother. Can you tell how thrilled I am to have it on by the expression on my face? The princess-style gown has never been my thing. In fairness to this dress, it did not photograph that well. The skirt was speckled with sparkle so it twinkled as you moved, it was definitely better looking in person.
Matron of Honor - Devon, Bridesmaid - Christy, and Me
To the left, is a picture of half of my bridal party and me at Alfred Angelo. Can I stop for a second and brag about the gift Devon gave to me? She gave me her copy of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings. It’s my first wedding-related “something old.” She also gave me my first “something new.” A planner so I can keep track of important dates over the next year. I opened it to find that she had already circled our wedding date and filled out a few other dates for me. Like, December 14 – Jesse’s last non-married birthday and April 22 – You will wake up as husband and wife. How adorably sweet is that?! I can’t stand it. But, that is why I picked her to be my MOH.
If you live in the southern California area and need some bridal shop recommendations, you can read my reviews and experiences on Yelp.
Yesterday marked 1 year from the date of my upcoming wedding day. Eek! That sounds far away, but I am sure it will sneak up on us before we know it. My fiancé and I are paying for the wedding ourselves so over the next year I plan on taking on a bunch of DIY projects so that the bulk of our budget can be put towards our reception. The current projects I will be taking on are:
Save the dates
- Flower girl basket/ring bearers pillow(s)
- Table centerpieces/Head table decorations
- Place cards
- Card Box
Phew! That seems like a manageable list right now, but I am sure most of those things will prove to be very time-consuming. We’ll see how realistic that list is in about 6 months.
As a bride-to-be, I will also be losing weight and will use this blog as a vehicle for posting recipes and pictures of food. I’ve been an avid food blog reader for the past few years and have always wanted to start my own food blog. I experiment a lot in my kitchen and would love to share my recipes with you. Yes, you. My readers! I cook mostly vegetarian foods, but live with a ravenous carnivore so there will be some meat recipes in there for you animal eaters. I am not a vegetarian, and I do not want to give the impression that I am. Serious vegetarians frown upon that and I am here to share my life with you, not to upset people. I just happen to love produce, vegetables, and fruits and find myself drawn to plant and legume-based recipes.
So, welcome! Please come back and visit often.