Monthly Archives: September 2014

Fun Workout Session After a Trying Day

I had a trying day. The students I work with struggle to trust adults , and at the moment they find me untrustworthy. It makes sense. They don’t know me. I came into the school in the middle of September. They think I’m replacing their current teacher, which isn’t true.

The situation really bums me out, for lack of a better phrase, because I feel like the effort I’ve put into being an effective and trustworthy teacher for the past three years is of no use. I feel like a student-teacher starting all over again. It’s incredibly uncomfortable.

However, I know I’m in a fantastic school and the experience is irreplaceable. I know I’m becoming a better teacher and learning a lot of new skills and strategies. Things will get better, eventually. I’m sticking my Autumn Resolutions I posted about earlier….I’m going to smile and be more patient and keep learning.

But I was still bummed out when I got home this afternoon. It was also really hot outside (where did the half-decent weather go?) so I was not in the mood to workout. Skipping today’s workout session would mean skipping two days in a row, which I generally try to avoid, so I came up with a creative(ish) solution. I managed to throw a few oddball things together and create a workout session that was mostly just plain goofy, but it had two challenging elements as well.

100 Challenge Workout Session

It’s about time that I do another round of The Hundred Fitness Challenge I blogged about a few weeks ago. Today, I did a set of 100 push ups hoping to improve my completion time. But I didn’t want to dive right in without getting warmed up….so I did three “Shake It Off” Zumba routines. Yes, three. Like I said, I was bummed out and this song made me feel ten times better!

I completed three…yes, three…Taylor Swift Zumba workout sessions before moving on to more challenging exercises. I looked absolutely ridiculous, but that’s why I used youtube videos in the privacy of my own apartment :)

Next, I completed 100 push ups. The time to beat was 4:43, and this time around I completed them in 4:28! Baby steps! I can get the first 50 out in no time. The second 25 take about a minute to complete. The last 25 take forever! I’m hoping that they become more evenly timed as I improve.

I cooled down from the 100 push ups with – yes – another dance video. I really wanted to get out of my funk. I opted out of a fourth T.Swift  video (there are SO many Shake It Off Zumba routines!) and instead went for Boom Boom Pow.

NEXT I looked for a quick squat workout video that went with a specific song. I was really feeling the “top hits” kind of music this afternoon :) I found this video to “Scream and Shout” and my quads were burning when I was done!

And I wish I could tell you I was done at this point, but I looked up a few more “dance workout” videos to cool down.

I felt pretty silly, but I had a blast! My arms and legs are tired from push ups and squats, and I burned a few extra calories dancing like a fool, so it certainly wasn’t a waste of time :) I’m generally not a fan of Zumba. Honestly, I think it isn’t a great fitness endeavor…it’s not an efficient way to spend an hour at the gym. BUT when you’re having a bad day and you just want to move forward and put yourself in a better mood, dancing along with these youtube videos (and throwing in some push ups and squats in between) might be just the thing to turn your day around :)

I wanted to keep up my cheery mood, so I put on Disney Pandora and jammed out to Tarzan, Lion King, Mulan, and Aladdin music while I cooked dinner.

 So my day ended on a positive note. Tomorrow I’ll keep working on those Autumn Resolutions and hopefully have a better work day!

Question: What do you do to turn your day around?

Good night!

Autumn Resolutions…because Fall is more motivating than Winter!

I, like many other women these days, really enjoy the Fall. I love the decorations, the flavors, the colors, and the nicer weather. Fall brings in a new school year and gives me another chance to begin again. This is my fourth year teaching, and I feel like I’m completely remaking myself…for the fourth time.

It’s cold and dark in January. The holidays are over, and I’m over the weather by then. So why do I have to wait for New Years to create new goals for myself? Let’s start now. New school year, new city, new job, new goals.

1. Smile everyday at work.
This one is difficult. Teaching is acting. No matter what you’re going through or how you’re feeling, you have to be “on” for your students. You’re their rock 5 days a week, 9 months a year. This new job requires even more patience from me than what I’ve experienced in the last few years. I’m grateful to have this experience because I know it’ll make me a better teacher. Even though I’m exhausted every day when I get home, I’m not as cynical and frustrated as I was coming from my previous teaching job. So my first Autumn resolution is to have a smile on my face every day at work and be super patient :)
2. Remain consistent with my workouts.
I used to have a love/hate relationship with fitness. About 7-8 years ago, I began a very unhealthy exercise regimen, and since then I’ve struggled to see fitness in a positive light. I’ve always tried to make exercise a priority, but I was still bitter towards it. I’m in a better place now, and I’ve gotten into a good workout groove over the past 4 months. I have been successfully completing 4-5 challenging workouts a week and have been making sure I go for walks on the days I don’t workout. I feel strong and happy :) And I sleep like a rock on the days I workout before teaching!
3. Eat more vegetables at breakfast.
I reflect on my food choices a lot, and I know I’m pretty good at including enough veggies during lunch and dinner. There’s ample room for improvement at breakfast. I often have fruit or pumpkin for breakfast along with eggs or almond butter, but it would be better if I could throw in bell peppers, tomatoes, or sauteed spinach more often during breakfast. 
4. Stretch more often.
Strength workouts and running cause muscles to tighten. If I don’t remember to stretch, I’ll lose the flexibility that has allowed me to remain agile and injury-free!

5. Get into a blogging schedule. 
This one is tough. You may not believe it, but blogging takes up a TON of time. I would love to get into some sort of set schedule, but most of the time I squeeze in the writing whenever I can. Fortunately, the “creation” portion of my blog (the workouts and recipes) are just part of my everyday life so they don’t take up any extra time!
I’m hoping to have some sort of consistency with my new weekly post Paleo Food Friday. I can work on this post throughout the week, and then I won’t have much to do and can post it Friday morning before work! It worked out well last week for the first installment, so hopefully I can be consistent with it.

6. Get outside and enjoy the season as much as possible!
I’m not a big fan of the winter cold, and I don’t go outside hardly at all during Spring because of pollen allergies, so I need to enjoy this weather as much as possible! I need to get my butt out of bed in the mornings and enjoy the crisp air during my morning runs. I need to go trail running at least once a week. I need to get outside everyday!

Question: What goals do you have this season?

Happy Sunday!

paleo food friday

Paleo Food Friday #1

Pardon the cheesy name for my new weekly post :)

There are many people who read Paleo blogs and comment on Paleo forums who have yet to make the leap into the lifestyle. Sure, the name Paleo is ridiculously annoying, but its principles are solid.
It’s also not restrictive or extreme, two words I hear people use countless times as an excuse for why they believe they can’t eat this way.

So every Friday, beginning today, I’m going to show snapshots of Paleo meals I eat throughout the week. I frequently share recipes, but I’m not including those here. Paleo Food Friday is a weekly post with proof that you can eat healthy, whole foods and not feel hungry or restricted or bored!

 I’m here to tell you it is manageable! Long term! I’ve been Paleo since November 2013 (nearing 1 year!) and it hasn’t been difficult at all. I love the way I feel eating Paleo and I love the overall fitness philosophy of the Primal/Paleo way. Ok enough fangirl talk. Here are some of this week’s eats!

Saturday
One of my favorites: breakfast bowl of yum! Our fridge was practically empty Saturday morning, so I scrounged together a few things to make a Paleo breakfast bowl. I have chopped almonds, canned pumpkin, almond butter, “baked” apples, unsweetened coconut, a few chocolate chips (because what’s wrong with chocolate for breakfast!), cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, and coconut milk. It’s like a giant bowl of Autumn Paleo oatmeal…sort of. Close enough :)

Sunday
On Sunday I went to work with Ryan so I could use the gym and then get some work done in the sunny lobby! I don’t like to rely on cafeteria food, so Sunday morning I packed my own breakfast to eat after my workout. I chopped up some leftover crock-pot carnitas and added them to two scrambled eggs. Add a few grape tomatoes and you have a delicious and quick paleo breakfast! I also grabbed a passion fruit tea from Starbucks.


Monday
Monday’s lunch was a “mason jar” salad (that I put in a plastic container and not a mason jar…) I put oil and vinegar at the bottom, followed by tomatoes and cabbage, then mixed greens, then leftover pork, and lastly, roasted broccoli. It was an awesome salad :)

Sorry for the poor quality! There’s no natural light and
 condensation set in before I could get a picture!

Tuesday

Tuesday I made a quick breakfast with  Aidell’s Habanero Chicken Sausage & scrambled eggs with grapefruit.


Wednesday 
I was making red curry chicken on Wednesday when I realized I had no spaghetti squash for the base of the meal! I looked through the fridge to see what I could pull together quicly. Fortunately I had butternut squash and some carrots, so I baked them, mashed them, threw in some spices and other ingredients, and viola –  “mashed potatoes!” I wasn’t quite sure how they would turn out, but they were delicious! I’ll definitely include the recipe in a post soon! Here’s a few pictures for now:

Thursday
Yesterday Ryan and I went out to eat at a great little BBQ joint called Pizzitola’s in the Heights in Houston. The building certainly doesn’t look like much from the outside, but we were super impressed with the food. The chef came to our table twice to check on us and even sent out complimentary smoked sausage. The service was great and the food was yummy! AND it was Paleo friendly. Ryan had brisket, and I had ribs. My plate came with four ribs, grilled veggies, and potato salad. (Okay, so I’m sure there are some ingredients in the potato salad that aren’t quite Paleo, but I’m not aiming for perfection, especially in restaurants!)

Friday
There were only a few bites of chicken left from Wednesday’s curry chicken dinner, so I packed it for lunch along with a piece of bacon and some sliced bell peppers and tomatoes. Super paleo-friendly lunch!

Un-Paleo Item: Beer. It’s hard to ignore the call of Autumn-themed beers at the grocery store. This week Ryan and I tried Shipwreck Pumpkin Head and Abita Pecan Harvest. Both were great :) The Shipwreck wasn’t too pumpkiny like some beers can be this time of year. Abita Pecan Harvest is one of my favorites from Abita, so I have to get a pack at least once this season!

Question: What great eats did you have this week???

Happy Friday!

How to Create a Circuit Workout!

I’ve successfully completed two morning workouts in a row! I can sometimes get in 2-3 morning workouts a week, but attempting two mornings in a row is rarely successful. I guess since I wrote a blog post about it yesterday I felt like I owed it to myself to be more consistent in the mornings :)  Here’s the circuit workout I completed this morning after a 20 minute cardio session on the upright stationary bike:

arms and abs circuit workout

Sorry, I’m feeling a “school” vibe since I’ve started teaching again :) For more workouts, visit my workouts page!

Before I started reading & learning about various workouts and their benefits, I wasn’t able to put together an effective workout by myself. I used to ask Ryan to make up workouts for me and I would scour the internet for something that was challenging. Now that I’ve figured a few things out, I often create my own workouts and post them in blog posts and on my Workouts page.

creating a circuit workout

Creating a Circuit Workout:

1. Decide on muscle groups
Am I going to focus on upper body, lower body, and/or core? Or maybe a combination of two or three?

2. Where do I want my heart rate to be?
Is my goal to create a heavy-lifting/strength workout where I take a lot of time to rest, or do I want to create a workout that has my heart racing for a good 30-45 minutes? Deciding this will allow me to figure out specifically which exercises to include. This morning my workout didn’t get my heart rate up very high, so I started with a bike in order to get in that element of cardio.

3. Come up with a list of exercises for each major muscle.
 For example, if you’re doing a lower body workout, you’ll want to include 2-3 exercises for quads, hamstrings, calves, and maybe hip flexors. If you’re doing upper body, you have come up with exercises for chest, back, triceps, biceps, and shoulders. (I’m sure you could get even more detailed here, but I’m not that serious with upper body.) For abs, you’ll want to include lower abs, upper abs, obliques, and all-encompassing exercises.

Then you have to think about cardio exercises: jumping jacks, mountain climbers, jump rope. butt kicks, high knees, skaters, etc. Will you include cardio exercises with your strength exercises?

5. Arrange chosen exercises into groups

Will your rounds be muscle-focused or a combination of muscle groups? A muscle focused-round, for example, would be squat jumps, lunge jumps, and box jumps. A mixed round would include squat jumps, calf raises, and push ups.

How many rounds of exercises do you want? You can have anywhere from one to one hundred since it really doesn’t matter. I prefer to have about 3-4 rounds (groups of exercises) that are repeated 2-3 times each. It’s rare I’ll create a workout where a set of exercises has to be repeated more than 3 times. I get bored easily :) This morning’s workout required only two repetitions of each round.

5. Choose a timing/counting strategy. 
Are you doing 25 reps of each exercise before moving on? Or are you doing as many as you can for 30 seconds or 1 minute before moving on? Are there scheduled rests or should we rest as needed? This morning, I decided to complete a certain number of reps before moving on. When it comes to upper body exercises, some wipe me out after 15 seconds and others could go on for a minute; so for me it was important to focus on reps instead of time!

6. Readjust as needed during the workout.
Sometimes exercises just don’t turn out the way you think they will. I once tried to include donkey kicks into a timed circuit. I’m not very efficient with donkey kicks, so I could only complete 5 per round. Five reps wasn’t enough, so I decided to trade it out for a different exercise that would work similar muscles. Donkey kicks fit better when I’m completing a certain number of reps.

And last but not least,
7. Search for inspiration!
I’m always looking for new exercises or twists on overdone exercises. I wrote a post about that a few weeks ago, and I have to say that I probably looked like a crazy person kicking like a donkey in the middle of my burpees, but I had fun changing things up!

Pinterest has endless workout ideas and it often leads me to blogs with countless links to workout resources! I know it’s hard to stay motivated to workout and challenge ourselves. Being able to design your own workout routine can help shake things up and keep you invested in seeing results!

Question: How do you like to plan your workouts? Is there a particular part you look forward to? I really like burpees, so I always look forward to them in my circuits!