I do a lot of reading. Yes, I wish I meant Great American Literature but I actually mean anything remotely related to 36broadway scattered across the world wide web.
So I’ve decided to start sharing my top reads each week. Picks will always be from sites that I find to be highly credible and inspiring, and those I personally look up to. It’s my way of sharing content relative to my site while giving a big shout-out.
Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:
Tiny Buddha – Let Go of Control: How to Learn the Art of Surrender. Are you a control freak? I am. Well, I’m recovering and only thanks to a slew of inspiration from Tiny Buddha. This is one of Lori’s guest posts from Dr. Amy Johnson from Modern Enlightenment. Here, she speaks about the root causes of control and attachment and how to free ourselves for a unburdened and more peaceful existence. Yes, please!
Thrive Personal Fitness – The Reward Factor. I can’t count how many times I have seen food suggested to be used for rewarding yourself after a tough workout or sticking to a plan. And we’re not talking about a celery sticks. In this post, Pamela of Thrive Personal Fitness discusses how developing a mindset that it’s ok to incent yourself with high calorie foods in order to get fit can be detrimental to your health and progress. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a repeat offender to the weekend diet-derailer, but this puts it in perspective and I can see how some may take it a bit too far, especially those just starting a wellness program.
Fit Sugar – Vegan Snack Recipes. I’m a sucker for a slide show of tasty, nutritious, and quick anytime snacks. Fit Sugar get’s it right with 10 yummy take-anywhere options that incorporate filling fiber, good fats, and protein. I especially like the Apple & Nut Butter Sandwiches and Edamole – what great ideas! Perfect for the girl-on-the-go.
Momentum Gathering – A Simple Guide to Remembering Who You Are. This is one for me. A simple but powerful reminder of how it’s important to remember and recognize who we really are amidst the chaos of our lives. When I shift my focus and let myself ‘feel’ me, I find myself in some of my most content times, regardless of what else is going on. I know with a full-time job, this site that I just love sinking my teeth into, along with obligations to family and friends, it’s easy to move furiously from one thing to the next without a much purpose or a sense of self. Learn how to stop, look, and listen to the one that does it all.
What inspired you this week?
–Say this to yourself with a deep breath ‘Stay Calm, Carry On.’ It sounds silly, but just say it and you’ll see.
–Read about meditating. I’ve never officially meditated, but I’ve come across enough articles about meditation and breathing techniques to know the objective and imagine the feeling you’re left with. The idea is to do enough research to find ideas that you can relate to and focus on that feeling of inner calm and deeper mindfulness when you’re at the end of your rope. Make a conscious choice to be still instead of stressed.
–Remove yourself from the situation. We are taught in life that we will only accomplish great successes if we grin, bear it and never give up, but there are many situations where it does you more good to leave than it does to stay.
–Hold something (like a pen) in your hand and squeeze hard. Envision all the tension flowing from every part of your body to your hand and into the object.
What ways of staying grounded work for you?
Hmm apparently we are obsessed with ground turkey. But that’s ok because it’s a fabulous way to add lean protein to yummy meals!
This weekend we threw together one of our classic favorites: Turkey Chili. We have made so many renditions of this recipe I couldn’t tell you where to find our original inspiration. Chili is a staple and a tasty way to load up on tons of veggies, filling fiber, and muscle building protein. And it’s totally portable and easy to re-heat. That’s what we call a power meal!
Here’s what you need to start!
1lb ground white turkey meat
1 can whole peeled tomatos (the big size)
1 can tomato paste
Veggies – one of each: red, yellow, green, and jalapeno peppers, onion, zuchini, potato (optional if you want to add a little starch)
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1tsp chili powder
Start by browning the turkey in a large skillet with a splash of EVOO. Meanwhile, warm a large stew pot up on med-hi heat and add garlic and EVOO. Add onion and the rest of the veggies, chopped in stew sized pieces. Cover and let cook for 10 mins. Once turkey is browned, take off heat and set aside.
Once the veggies are heated and cooking, add tomatoes, paste, cumin and chili powder to the stew pot. Add cooked turkey. Stir, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 mins. Then, add drained and rinsed beans. Stir, and let simmer for another 15 mins.
This will be a short entry. I’ve had a little too much fun over the past couple days and while it’s great to let loose, I’m secretly mad. Drinking too much and staying up to late is like a punch in the face to any progress I’ve made. I don’t even want to remind myself and Google how bad alcohol is for your muscles and metabolism, never mind feeling like crap the next day.
But, it’s important to be with friends and connecting with people you’re close to is a huge part of living well, even if it does involve bottles (plural) of wine. So I could argue going overboard is worth it but I know I can have fun without going too far with food and drink.
Aside from my 2 night diet detour, Week 3 of Insanity is complete! I’m currently enjoying my Off day and recovering from a late night on the town. Now that I’ve done each workout in the first set a few times, I’m noticing my endurance has increased and the moves that were previously killer are easier to make it through. Like Hit the Floors – a week ago I barely made it through 30 seconds but yesterday they didn’t feel as crazy and I pushed to get through all 3 circuits. But don’t get me wrong, there are multiple points during each of these workouts where you’re working so hard you don’t know your name, but what makes it bearable is that the total workout is less than 40 minutes. And it usually goes fast.
There is a day each week where you are supposed to do one of the workouts and then Cardio Abs, which is a video I tried last week. I haven’t exactly been doing it that way, but I have been doing this video after the Recovery workout to kick up the intensity a bit. The warm up in Cardio Abs is all high intensity plyo moves that you know from the other workouts so it’s a great quick cardio blast. I usually don’t plan ahead and give myself enough time in the morning to do a 40 minute workout and then another 20 minutes. I think I need to try it this week since I’m feeling progress and should see if I can handle it. It’s been a while since I’ve worked out for a full hour!
I only have 1 more week of alternating the workouts I’ve been doing. Then, I am supposed to have what I’m thinking of as a pseudo-recovery week where I do the same video every day (Core, Cardio & Balance) before I jump back into the second set of workouts that are longer and I suspect more advanced. I’m entertaining the idea of starting the part 2 workouts early – perhaps during my recovery week I will start alternating with the new set. I haven’t watched C, C & B yet, but I’m not a big fan of doing the same thing every day.
So I am trying to be hopeful that I’ll rebound rather quickly from these past couple days of diet plan faux pas. I feel bloated and soft, not even remotely as lean as I had been feeling. Hopefully if I did take 2 steps back, it was after I had taken 4 steps forward. I need to always make sure to be aware of the discipline I can have and remind myself that feeling fit and healthy is way more rewarding than some chips or another glass of wine. And with a vacation to Florida in less than a month that’s enough motivation to behave from here on out!
Despite the recent sweeping trend of providing ‘healthy’ menu alternatives at even some of the notoriously worst restaurants (think Unos: home of the 2,000 calorie ‘Pizza Skins’ who now offer ‘Five Grain’ thin crust pizza), one chain giant yet again gives us a reason to never stop being skeptical. Published yesterday on Time’s health page was an article about how McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal is made with an offensive number of artificial ingredients and contains just about as many calories as an Egg McMuffin. Read more here.
I’m a bit disappointed, Micky D’s. I’ll admit, I hadn’t yet had the pleasure to select this bait-n-switch bomb in a pinch, but I guess I’ll stick to egg & cheese on an english muffin from Dunkin Donuts as my default on-the-go breakfast. Well, that is, until they get ratted out.
They say it takes 3 weeks to break a habit. Or, even better, make a new habit. If that’s the case, then the first full week must be the hardest so I’m thrilled to report that I’ve successfully made it through Week 1 of Insanity! I’ll admit that I was most apprehensive about making it through a weekend and sticking to my meal plan in situations where I could easily go overboard, but I stuck to my schedule with only a couple of exceptions so I’m feeling confident and healthy.
On the subject of eating, I think the biggest challenge for me is being at home and hungry, especially unsupervised. I don’t mean to sound like an over-eating shut-in as I’m writing this but really what I mean is I am used to borderline starving myself all week so when the weekend arrives, I see it as an opporunity to reward myself and I can go a bit crazy with the snacking. It had become routine for my boyfriend and I to load up on mostly healthy snacks each weekend (all natural tortilla chips, organic salsa, whole wheat pita chips, natural frozen coconut pops, dark chocolate bars, etc.) and we would basically munch our way through Saturday and Sunday. Usually with one or two meals out in between. What I’ve learned is this can easily add up as extra, unnecessary food intake and sabotage all the good I’ve done all week. Technically, the weekend represents up to 30% of a week so if your eating habits are spotty like mine you may not see the results you hoped for.
And I’m not even going to get into alcohol. Yikes.
So this past weekend I wanted to be extra disciplined and plan out my days as much as I could so I could take a couple of opportunities to indulge, if nothing more than to reward myself for completing Week 1 of Insanity and make sure my body had an opportunity to replenish any nutrients I may have missed during the week. I ate flawlessly until Saturday night when I ate out with my mom at an Italian restaurant. This could be sabotage but luckily I ordered a dish that was very buttery so I only ended up eating some chicken, spinach, and a piece (or 2) of Italian bread. Believe me, I am usually a lot worse. And I only had one glass of wine. This was on top of a fairly light day of eating and also the workout of the day Pure Cardio which is a real burner.
Sunday and Monday (Presidents Day Holiday) followed suit – 80-90% good eating, 10-20% cheat. I think this was due for the most part to planning meals and snacks ahead of time and having something substantial (300-400 calories) to eat every 2-3 hours.
I had my first Rest day on Sunday and boy I needed it. My calves no longer feel like knots and I was eager to jump into Week 2 yesterday. So far I have completed all the workouts that I’ll be alternating during the first 4 weeks of the program (with the exception of Cardio Abs which I add on Day 14). Today my scheduled workout was Cardio Power & Resistance and I think it’s my least favorite of all. The name makes you think it may be a bit of a break but it’s not and the actual workout is segmented by 3 intervals of 4 power moves and it doesn’t seem to go by as fast as the others. Tomorrow will be my second go-round of Pure Cardio so I’m starting to mentally prepare myself. If you read Day 5 you will know why!
Overall this week I have been feeling strong, slim, and light. And I’ve noticed I don’t feel as hungry or off-balance as I did through Week 1. It seems last week there was an adjustment period where my body was getting used to a higher intensity workout every day and also a shifted diet plan. But my advice to those trying to push through is that it will be no time until you’re past it and feeling amazing. It feels like my body has switched to overdrive and is accepting of the activity level and efficient on the amount of calories I’m having each day. Big difference!
My only reservation at this point is that I will not be running for the next 8 weeks. Actually, during our week in Florida I will have plenty of consecutive days of running but I have built that around my Insanity schedule. Running to me is the epitome of fitness level, perhaps since that’s where I started a decade ago. If I can get through a couple miles of straight running then I am on the top of my game and improving. A successful workout plan without running feels foreign to me, almost like swimming with your clothes on. I guess I just need to get used to the idea and hopefully I will see what results I can get without a minute in the gym. Prior to Insanity, I have incorporated interval training into my running days and seen an encouraging difference in endurance and speed. I suppose the downside to Insanity is that you may set aside the other fitness goals you have set for yourself, but I’m optimistic that the results with this program will out-do anything I could do on a treadmill.
As humans, we feel an inclination to always put our best face forward. On a job interview. To family we may rarely see. Even to our nearest and dearest friends. It seems we’d rather stretch or even manipulate our true selves in an effort to mask weakness or failure. At some point, or even in this very moment, we’ve all had people in our lives who do this more than others, and it’s those people who make it challenging to connect on a deeper level.
I believe in our journey to live more openly, honestly, and freely, we all have an obligation to be real. Especially to one another. We face challenges and we all have weaknesses that, as a matter of fact, make us unique and interesting. When we share our true thoughts and feelings, we become more relatable and people are drawn to us to make a connection. Have you ever loved a movie where all the characters led perfect lives and had no troubles? Opening up and owning our true story can be scary, but when we hide elements of our character or hardships we’re doing both ourselves and others a disservice. We chance falling even harder when the truth eventually comes out. And we leave interactions without a feeling of honesty or wholeness.
A good example comes from my recent commitment to Insanity. Of course I want to share my experience with family and friends. I would be doing myself and my progress a great disservice if I portrayed the program as being easy in an attempt to come across as exceptionally fit and disciplined. But what happens if in 70 days I haven’t made a huge transformation? The truth is the workouts are a struggle, the eating plan takes adjustment, so if I do make a noticable change I will have overcome even more in the eyes of others.
Like most other life lessons, the first step is awareness. If we can be aware of the positive impact being real can have on our lives we can start to be mindful of being open and putting ourselves out there in many interactions with others. It is unrealistic to be real in every interaction all the time, and there are certainly scenarios where holding back the truth is necessary. But just imagine how much more connected and supportive the world would be if people took less time building themselves up and more time being real.