Spin Doctor

Last night I visited an old friend that I later realized I had been missing a lot–the spin bike.

I used to spin at least once a week and always loved it, but lately I haven’t been too inspired to attend a class, nor did I know the schedule. While I was home for lunch I happened to look up at the group fitness schedule and noticed Wednesday spinning had been moved earlier to 5:30–perfect! (And I also noticed that they are now offering spinning at 5:45 am twice a week?? Score!) So I packed my gym bag with capris and a tank, perfect for the sweat session I had been needing.

Spinning bikes

I was a little concerned about the wear that spinning could do to my legs, which is part of why I hadn’t been doing it with my half marathon training. But I wanted needed a good sweat session without much thinking, and that’s what spinning is best at. So I reminded myself that I controlled the resistance and to not overly challenge my legs (afterall, it was my first class in like a year, plus I had a long, hilly run coming up this weekend).

Fifty-one (yes, the instructor had our class last 51 minutes…) minutes later, I was soaked with sweat with a clear, relaxed mind. I did a set of push-ups (really focusing on my form in the push-ups) and some ab exercises before stretching. I find it really important to get in some core work when you’re doing spinning because you might forget about your form on the bike.

When I started spinning a few years ago, I was lucky to have had a couple of instructors who really helped me learn about proper form and how to get the most out of the workout. (I’ve found that the instructors at my current gym don’t focus on that very much, which is a shame.)

I’m going to try to incorporate more spin classes into my cross training now that the classes are being offered at more convenient times for my schedule. And I hope I can get M to rejoin me on a bike (he went a couple of times last year).

Your turn: What workout have you realized you’ve been missing lately?

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ABCs of Me!

Saw this from another HealthysELF blogger, Danica, and thought it’d be fun to share some randomness about me. Feel free to do the same!

A – Addictions
I know I’m addicted to sugar (so bad), but I’d also have to say that I’m addicted to pushing myself. I’m always trying to challenge myself to do something or be better–I can’t just sit around and do nothing.

B – Bed size
Queen — But M and I would love a king! We keep saying whenever we move into our own house (we currently rent), we’ll buy a king bed. One can only dream…

C – Chore you hate
I hate going through and cleaning up the dogs’ poop in our backyard. Uck!

D – Dogs or cats?
I used to be a cat person, but now I wouldn’t trade my pups in for the world! I still love cats, though.

Love these two pups!

Love these two pups!

E – Essential start to your day
I feel like I have an off-day if I don’t get some type of workout in in the morning (be it running or yoga). But definitely have to have some love from my dogs every morning!

F – Favorite color
I love silver, but people say it isn’t really a color. 😛 I am also a fan of the chocolate and turquoise combination.

G – Gold or silver?
See above–silver! My rings are white gold, though. 😉

H – Height
5’8″ … though I always strive for an extra inch.

I – Instruments you play/have played
I played the trumpet all through grade school. I attempted to join the high school band my freshman year, but volleyball and horses/rodeo took up my time. (Ironically, M also played the trumpet in grade school! Aww!)

J – Jobs you’ve had
In no particular order: Western wear store sales person, customer service rep at a bagel place, construction worker, sales person at a salon/spa/beauty supply store, basketball arena usher, photographer, media relations intern, publications intern, editorial assistant, freelancer, e-newsletter/photo editor, web producer, volleyball referee

K – Kids
Only the fur kind — 4!

L – Living arraignments
Our little family lives in Lexington, Ky.

M – Mom’s name
Michelle

N – Nickname
I’m not really called by any nicknames any more (sadness!), but I have been called: Arzy, Roughie, Smart Ass…

O – Overnight hospital stays
Only when I had pneumonia in the first grade, and I was in the hospital over Christmas! Total boo!

P – Pet peeve(s)
People who don’t use their turn signals, people who are oblivious to what their dog does, litter bugs, etc.

Q – Quote from a movie
“You tell ’em hell’s comin….and I’m comin with it!” — Tombstone (I could list many, MANY more from this awesome movie)

Tombstone

R – Right- or left-handed?
Righty tighty!

S – Siblings
Just one, my big sis (2 if you count my brother-in-law)

T – Time you wake up
Varies depending on what I’m doing in the morning, but mostly either 5 or 6 am

U – Underwear
Always a necessity

V – Vegetables your dislike
I grew up hating spinach, but now I’ve come to accept how awesome a veggie it is. I don’t like olives, though.

X – X-rays you’ve had done
It seems like my feet have been the most X-rayed feet ever lately! But I’ve also got films on my fingers and knee.

Y – Yummy food you make
I love baking, so anything I bake I love. But I’m starting to venture more with cooking, and so far my favorite has to be either the grilled chicken bruschetta or Anne’s chunky turkey veggie soup.

Z – Zoo animal
I’m always a big fan of the otters, seals, giraffes, and the ocelots (which are rare at a zoo)!

Taking Advantage of the Weather

TempsHow often does it happen that the weather is in the mid-50s and it’s semi-light when you get out of work in the middle of January? Not often. So I took advantage of the weather Monday by getting in a run in my old neighborhood by my gym after work. I missed out on a long training run over the weekend because I was in Tennessee for an agility trial, so I wanted to push my speed over 4 miles and see how I felt.

My first mile was my fastest in a long time–8:13! After that, I slowed down, but I still ended up running 4 miles in 0:34:19 (8:44 avg min/mile). Not bad!

I cooled down on an elliptical in the gym, then did some upper body with resistance bands, and then some core work before stretching and heading home. I forgot how much I enjoyed using resistance bands–I think I’m going to have to start incorporating them in my workouts for a change from the free weights.

Then after dinner (pasta with meat sauce M had made a couple of weeks ago and we froze, with some Very Veggie salad mix), I decided the pups needed to go on a walk since our lunch walk didn’t happen in the earlier rain. So while M worked on his homework, we set out for a 2-mile walk in pants and a sweatshirt…still warm! The perfect way to kick off the week!

 

10 Things to Know How to do by 30

So it might be a little odd that I post this now, since I turned 30 in November, but I received an email from The Nest with an article titled “10 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do by 30” and I took a look at it to see if I succeeded in that, now that my 30s are a few months old…

  1. How to budget
    OK, so maybe I’m not the best at budgeting (M certainly has that over me), but I do know when I have the cash and when I don’t, and I’m generally pretty good about not overspending. I do need to work a little closer with M, and not expect him to do all the financial work for me, and that’s why it’s one of my 2013 goals to be more financially fit together. This just poked me into more action…
  2. How to cook (at least one) signature dish
    I would have to say I have at least a couple signature dishes that I make…maybe not on a regular basis, but I still can make them. I’ve expanded my horizons with cooking lately, thanks to Pinterest and healthy bloggers that I follow, so this one is always a work in progress.
  3. How to write professionally
    If there’s one thing a freelancer should know how to do, it’s how to write. But I did take some professional writing classes in college so I knew how to write memos at work, resumes, etc. It’s definitely a different type of writing, and one that everyone, no matter what profession you are, should learn.
  4. How to not part with your hard-earned cash
    This goes right along with #1. I tend to be pretty stingy with money at times, and I always have buyer’s remorse, even when I buy just one shirt! I think for me, I have to learn to be happy with purchases I make for myself and not feel so guilty all the time–I work hard for the little bit of money I earn, so I should be able to enjoy it every once in a while.
  5. How to change a flat tire
    Oh yeah, I’ve got this one in the bag! I knew how to change my own flat tire when I got my license at 16. And when I started hauling our horse trailer to shows and rodeos, I learned how to change the tires on our horse trailer (with and without a horse in it). My dad made sure his girls were very self-sufficient and independent (and poor M is reminded of that a lot).
  6. How to look up your credit report
    I somewhat know how to do this…I’ve done it before. But I’m so worried about how they say the more you look up your credit, it affects your numbers, so I don’t do it very much. Perhaps I should try it to see where things stand right now…
  7. How to manage your money…digitally
    Online banking is the way to be. M does all of our banking online (he doesn’t even have checks, and it drives him nuts that I do–hey, entry fees for agility trials take check, not credit!). I can manage my money online, and have been toying with getting our bank’s app on my phone, but then that scares me if something were to happen to my phone. So I think I’ll wait on that one.
  8. How to swim
    I think this should be something you should learn before you’re 15! Knowing how to swim can save your life. I know how to swim to get by, but I wish I knew how to swim effectively and proficiently. It’d be great to be able to incorporate that into my workouts more (I did do some swimming when I had a stress fracture in my foot a couple of years ago).
  9. How to move on
    From the slide: “We mean this in the broadest sense possible, whether it’s moving on after you didn’t get the job you wanted, after learning that the mortgage for the home you loved is way out of your price range, and, okay, sure, getting over old relationships.”

    I have a hard time with this. I’m afraid of letting go or change, so moving on from things like an unsatisfactory job, friendships that aren’t fulfilling, etc., is hard for me. However, things like the house, etc., that are more physical and I can see money being taken away from me is easier to handle. I tend to hold onto friendships that might have been dying for months, just because I have a glimmer of hope we might be able to rekindle things. And it’s draining for me in so many ways.

  10. How to strike a balance between work and life
    I think I have a decent balance between work and life, because it’s my life that helps relieve the stress from work. But I need to strike more of a balance in my life outside of work–see more friends, expand my horizons to learn more and do more, etc. I think it’d lead to me having a happier and more fulfilling life.

How do you stack on this list? 

The Power of Speaking Up

Just a quick note to let y’all know, once again the power of social media has surprised me. Remember my post on Sunday about how my RunKeeper GPS app on my phone said that my 8 mile run was actually 20 miles? Well, after walking my dogs on Sunday and having what I knew was about a 1-mile walk turn into a 2-mile walk (that started across the 4-lane highway half a mile from my house), I was irritated and blasted that blog post a couple of times on Twitter, hoping to call out the makers of RunKeeper.

Well, lo and behold, yesterday I got a tweet from @RKSupport: “Good call out Megan. Accurate tracking is everything. Hoping the latest update cleans up errors, but let us know if it continues.”

Sweet! I noticed an update for my app on Monday, and a little part of me wondered if my post had anything to do with it, and apparently it at least helped spur it on!

Here’s the convo:

TwitterConvo

So, moral of the story is, if you want something fixed, stand up and let someone know about it!

(Now if only I can get LA Fitness to fix their equipment so my friends and I can run together in the mornings! Sheesh!)

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while, so finally, here it is:

One night we invited friends over for an impromptu dinner. Usually these dinners involve each party bringing something for the dinner/desert. No one said anything about desert, and I had a bit of a sweet craving, so I was trying to find something that I could make quickly and not a lot. I grabbed my bag of dark chocolate M&M’s and found a recipe for dark chocolate brownies on the back. I decided to switch it up some and make my own, and they were a big hit.

Combine the gooey-ness of the warm peanut butter with the melted dark chocolate chips & you've got heaven in a bite!

Combine the gooey-ness of the warm peanut butter with the melted dark chocolate chips & you’ve got heaven in a bite!

(I halved the original recipe because I didn’t want to make a whole batch, plus I was doing brownie bites, not brownie bars. You can double this to make more if you’d like.)

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/6 of a cup of butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp water
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/8 cup whole wheat flour
Nut butter (I used peanut butter)
Extra dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease muffin tin with baking butter spray.
  2. Heat the dark chocolate chips, sugar, butter, and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring consistently, until the chocolate and butter are melted. Pour into medium bowl.
  3. Stir in the egg with a wire whisk until blended, then add vanilla. Add flour and salt and stir well. Add in a couple more dark chocolate chips (and nuts, if you’d like).
  4. Fill the muffin cups with 1 spoonful of the mixture first. Then add a dollop of nut butter in the middle and cover with more brownie mix.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The mixture of the melty chips and gooey peanut butter is amazing!

8 Miles that Turned into 20!?

Saturday dawned with a lot on my plate. I woke up early, dressed in my winter running pants, short sleeve tech shirt, zip pullover and fleece, and headed out to meet with the LexRunLadies at yet another new running spot. My plan was to run 8 miles, and the leader of our run said it’d be easy with a down-and-back course.

This time I was smart and took my fleece off before we started running–it was 34, and I knew I’d warm up within the first mile. Great thinking, because I later even took my pullover off after the half-way mark and ran in my short-sleeved shirt (thank you, sun!).

The run itself was very nice–we ran along part of a road that then turned into a running trail along some horse farms (this is horse country, after all, so most of my runs are along horse farms–I won’t complain!). We crossed one major road, but it wasn’t too bad because it was pretty safe. I was able to run with two other ladies who were at my pace, which was great! It was a lot of fun to be able to chat with someone throughout the entire run–it made it go by so quickly!

Only one time did I stop to walk, and that was when Jill and I took off our extra layer when we were about 3/4 of the way back. We knew where the 2 mile mark was and we were completely surprised at how quickly we were already done with 6 miles. At this point, I should have checked my GPS on my phone, but I didn’t. (Once again, I forgot to charge my Garmin, so I was just using my RunKeeper on my phone.)

It was fun talking with Jill because she had finished an IronMan, so she was telling me about training and her and her husband’s experiences with the races. She’s training for the Run the Bluegrass too, so we talked about future training runs, etc. When we finished our run, she pushed me to run two short cool down laps around the parking lot and then walking–which I needed. Usually I’ll walk to cool down, but I really need to think about making myself run a little longer to cool down after my runs, no matter how tired I am. (I totally forgot to take any photos from our run! The weather was perfect with sun and clear skies and a bit of a stiff wind at various points.)

RunKeeper

RunKeeper

So why does my title say 20 miles when I said I was running 8? Because, according to RunKeeper, we ran 20 miles in 01:15:08. That’s like a 4:30 mile! Crazy, huh?? I don’t know why it messed up so badly like that, but it frustrates me because I couldn’t see my splits and accurately record my miles and pace to go with my training. Has anyone else had any problems with RunKeeper?

So, we believe we ran the 8 miles in 01:15:08 (rough estimate, since I don’t recall the total time, and we weren’t sure exactly what time we started our run). Not bad. I felt great! I came home, quickly foam rolled and stretched a little more (I had stretched in the parking lot before I got in the car), showered, and then I was off to meet with a couple of friends for a presentation.

That afternoon I went to work the dogs in agility at an indoor facility (I was totally rocking my ProCompression socks all day after my run to help my legs recover). I was hoping to be able to rest more after my run, but the only time to work the dogs was Saturday afternoon. I did my best to not push myself too much, and I think it worked.

Then it was time for a date night with the hubby–using up wedding gift cards for dinner and then we saw “Broken City” at the theater with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe–definitely recommend it.

How was your weekend?

Some Times You Just Need Rest

This week I have just felt exhausted. I hadn’t slept well all week, either, which doesn’t help. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve started to amp up my workouts for my half marathon training, or just one of those things where you just feel drained.

Some times you just need to learn to listen to your body and sleep, much like what the Stump Kids do on a daily basis...

Some times you just need to learn to listen to your body and sleep, much like what the Stump Kids do on a daily basis…

Either way, I decided I needed to listen to my body. Yesterday morning I wanted to do speed intervals for four miles on the treadmill, but after about two miles, I knew that wasn’t going to be, so I aimed for 3.5 miles. Suddenly, at 3.2 my legs just felt dead and I was worried I’d injure myself, so I stopped sprinting and just walked the last 0.3 miles at a slight incline. I took a little extra time to stretch, and then went home to walk the dogs and get ready for my day.

That night I wanted to do some weight training on my upper body, so I spent 20 minutes working with free weights (my activity was limited, since I had forgotten to pack a sports bra…grrr) and then headed home, relishing in the idea of relaxing all evening. M took the reins on dinner, so I grabbed my Kindle and read on the couch until it was ready. Later, I fixed myself a cup of Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea from Celestial Seasonings (yum, one of my favorite flavors), and actually went to bed to read at 10. Half an hour later, I was out like a light!

I woke up this morning to my alarm going off at 6:30–the latest I’ve been able to sleep in a long time. I took my time getting out of bed (had to snuggle with the Corgi, you know) and then took my time getting ready for work after doing a few yoga poses to stretch and wake my body. It was perhaps one of the most relaxing work mornings I’ve ever had.

Today is a total rest day for me–my body told me it was tired, and I have an 8 mile run planned tomorrow morning, so why not. (My normal “rest days” include an hour-long yoga DVD in the am and weights in the pm.) We’re going to have dinner and play cards with friends tonight, and that’s exactly what I think my body, and psyche, needs after this hard week.

Workplace Insights

The following is mostly just a stream of thoughts put to the keyboard…but I feel it’s an important topic that everyone should feel open to discuss.

They say you spend a very big portion of your life working. You spend at least a third of your day working. So you want what you do your a living to be enjoyable, right? But it’s not all 100% just about you, but about the people you work with is just as important. You have to be able to get along with your co-workers and your management.

So what do you do when you’re unhappy with your work? I’m not talking about myself at this current moment in particular, but just talking from experiences in my past and some of my friends’ experiences.

It’s imperative that whoever you are, wherever you work, you have a support system at work. Now this is different from the support system I talked about in a previous post, but the support you should receive from someone like your boss and your coworkers.

I’m lucky to currently have a boss that cultivates creativity and has the back of her employees. If we need a day off, she’s all about finding someone to help make sure our job (which can basically be 24/7) is taken care of. She works hard to make sure our jobs aren’t too difficult, yet she challenges us to think of new ideas and concepts to help the company.

Some might not be so fortunate–they might feel stuck in their position, pigeon-holed to stay within the lines and not be able to stretch their legs outside of the job description that’s on paper. Or they have a boss that might believe in the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality because perhaps they feel entitled? They might forget that they were once in the position of their employees (hey, we all started somewhere, right?). But it’s a leader like that can create a stifling environment, which can be unpleasant for anyone. You don’t want to work in an unpleasant environment after a while–it eats away at your soul and your heart. This can make life move slowly…miserably.

Yet, in this economy, we feel trapped. If you have a job, you’re darn tootin’ going to do your best to keep it–that is, until you are able to find something better–but still, you’re afraid to shake the boat because you need that income and those benefits.

So what is someone to do when they’re unhappy? Right now, you just keep plugging along. You keep your chin held high and your head to the brimstone and do your job and pray for things to get better.

Or, you can take that leap and hope for the best…you just have to plan a little for the future before doing so.

So which is it? 

Yummy Eats — New Recipes I’ve Tried Lately

Recently I’ve been trying some new recipes for M and I to try that are healthy and delicious. It’s been fun!

Friday morning I tried Tina’s French Toast Scramble. At first I was skeptical about the taste…I mean, egg whites and a banana? But, no…really, this was so yummy! I used 2 egg whites, a banana, honey, cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, and then a scoop of peanut butter in a mug as I ate this with a glass of nonfat milk. I didn’t expect it to hold me over, but I was surprised that I wasn’t hungry until it was time for my mid-morning snack of an apple. This is definitely now in my breakfast rotation!

Saturday our friends made a Guinea peanut sauce with butternut squash recipe from Allrecipe.com. It was pretty yummy, but needed just a little more kick to it. Perhaps a little more pepper? More garlic? Not sure, but that might be a task for the future… (A great recipe for my vegetarian friends!)

Monday I told you about M’s healthy banana cookies… I’m excited to try some more healthy cookie recipes now.

Sunday I tried Anne’s chunky turkey vegetable soup. I had been wanting to give this a try, and we had veggies to use up in the fridge. This was one of the most delicious vegetable soup recipes I’ve ever had, and it was so easy! I diced up a green bell pepper, 2 (or 3, I can’t remember) celery stalks and a couple big handfuls of baby carrots and combined those with a can of diced tomatoes (low sodium), browned ground turkey, and brown rice. It was very hearty and full of flavor (check out her post with the list of spices). (I didn’t have any kale, but I have thought about adding some spinach to this recipe some other time.) We decided next time I need to double the recipe for leftovers, and that this was definitely a keeper in the dinner rotation.

This chunky turkey vegetarian soup is so colorful, which means it's nutritious on top of delicious!

This chunky turkey vegetarian soup is so colorful, which means it’s nutritious on top of delicious!

So there you have it, just a handful of the new recipes I encourage you to try. One of my goals is to try some new things with cooking, and so far we’re on a good roll!

Do you have any new recipes to share?