Fitness Review: Yoga Studio App

Well, I think the sun was out for a total of 10 minutes today!  It’s been so rainy, and while I appreciate the free watering for my lawn, I’m ready for the sun again (also, my pepper plant doesn’t appreciate the rain, it’s struggling).  Also, we FINALLY got a hummingbird to visit!  Yay!  I was so excited, I immediately started making fresh nectar for the feeders because, that’s when you do when you have company, right?  But we waited until after dark to change out the feeders, and, well, since the yard is in disarray, it looked a little like a creepy-crawly horror film.  There were nightcrawlers all over the ground, and it looked like the ground was crawling (there’s mud everywhere).  Zach tried to shine his flashlight to show me, and I just shrieked and told him I’d have nightmares if he didn’t stop.  I’m normally not freaked out by worms, but I think any bug in a massive quantity is a little freaky.

So for this fitness review, I decided to do something different and review an app.  It’s called Yoga Studio, and I think it cost around $5-$6 (I can’t remember, I bought it years ago).

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I really actually love this app, and it took me a really long time (and research) to find a yoga app I liked.  It’s really worth the money, because free ones, in my opinion, really just don’t cut it.  Plus, it’s hard to relax when ads pop up everywhere.  It’s very “clean” looking – there’s not a lot of distraction, it’s easy to click on and find whatever routine you want to do.

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It’s also really convenient.  Not only is it nice to have a genuinely good workout on the go (I use it a lot for vacations, but I also like using it at home for quick workouts) but you can pre-download all the videos, which means you do not need a signal or wi-fi to use it.

Also, for those that need a really a rigid schedule to stay on point, you can sync a calendar with your phone to remind you, even down to planning the exact workouts.

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There’s not a whole lot else to say.  The girl’s voice is pleasant (which is actually a big deal), it’s comprehensive, the music is ambient and relaxing, and the instruction is clear.  If you like yoga, this is a very nice (cheap) investment for beginners and more advanced alike, especially when you need the extra instruction (i.e., you don’t want to create a routine on your own).  I’m not sure if it’s available on ALL smartphones, but it’s definitely available for the iPhone.

Namaste, and until next time.

Fitness Review: Ballet Beautiful and 10 Minute Pilates

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I thought today might be a good day to do another fitness DVD review.  Like I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t had a ton of time to devote to longer workouts, nor would I want to anyway.  Yard work is tiring and exercise in itself.

That being said, I still think it’s important to make sure I do things for my core, do dedicated stretching sessions, and more “mellow” workouts, because they can be relaxing, and prevent injury.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been alternating between Ballet Beautiful Total Body Workout and 10 Minute Solution Pilates Perfect Body.

Let’s start with Pilates first.

I like this DVD because it’s really good for small spaces, and each 10 minute session concentrates on one particular section of the body.  It’s not super hard, but still effective.  It’s my go-to for short workouts that don’t make me sweat or too sore.  However, I imagine if you did all of the workouts together, it’d be tougher.  I love this workout because anytime my back isn’t doing well, I can still do everything on this DVD, and in fact, it generally speeds up my recovery.  There are plenty of modifications to do to cater to injuries or fitness level, but I would definitely recommend this to beginners or intermediate levels.

Now for the ballet DVD!

I originally got this DVD to break up my routine, and because I love dance-type workouts.  It’s one of my favorites now.  It’s hard to describe the “difficulty” level of this workout though.  It’s broken up into several different workouts, some only a few minutes, some a little longer.  You can also go through all of them at once for a comprehensive hour-long workout.  Personally, while some of the routines are fairly easy, I think most are tough.  Especially if your form is good and you push it, it’s hard.  I don’t think this DVD is easy, but I think it’s great for beginners.  The super chill classical piano that plays in the background is a welcome change from the crappy, and slightly annoying techno/pop fitness music that generally accompanies most workout DVDs.  I will add though, don’t be intimidated by Mary Helen’s awesomely insane flexibility, just do your best, maybe do some extra stretching so you can get closer to some of the stretches she does.  My personal fitness goals involve more being strong and super flexible, rather than lose weight.  Although feeling as light as a ballerina is something I can hope for.

I doubt I’ll get deeper into the Pilates realm, but I’ve definitely been inspired with ballet.  This DVD perked my interest into more instructional-type DVDs, and perhaps, one day, will lead to some classes for fun.

I think that is all for now.  The rest of my summer will involve the Bolder Boulder and 5ks, so I might update with that stuff.  Summer is a time for wogging (walk/jogging).

Until next time.

30 Day Shred: Level Three

My final review of this DVD!  Yay!

It’s late because I took a week hiatus from working out because I threw out my back shoveling and then I just forgot to write the review.  In fact, I only did about a half a week of this level, but oh well, I still got the gist.

This level is actually a lot more difficult than the other two, at least for me.  I felt like the first two were comparable, and then BAM!  It got hard.  It was still fun, it kicked my butt, however, if you have knee problems (like me), make sure to wear knee braces, because I didn’t, and ouch, my knees.

This level is definitely more in line with the HIIT mentality.  It’s  a lot more impact, even on the low impact end.  I would highly recommend it, but again, stretch way more than what she offers up.  It’s just not enough.  I understand that it’s a DVD workout designed to be compact, but please invest in the extra stretching time.  You’ll be happier in the long run, and will end up more flexible.  In fact, might I recommend doing one of the many awesome stretch routines for doing the splits?  They are awesome.

So now that I’m done with 30 Day Shred, I’m on to something that’s a totally different pace.  I’m slowing it down and focusing on strength and toning, since I’ll be doing a ton of house and yard work.  I don’t want to tire myself out in the morning when I will have hours of physical work during the day.

Until next time.

 

30 Day Shred: Level 2

On Sunday, a friend came over to our house to hang out and do nerdy things with my husband, things that I’m not nerdy for.  They insisted I hang out with them, but I was bored, and started messing around with a puzzle we had bought and never put together, a really long time ago.  However, when I started separating the pieces, this is what came to mind:

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I realized I had never done a puzzle before.  For some reason, I just assumed I had.  Hasn’t everyone done a puzzle before?  Not me.  I was so flustered and said I needed a nap, and now Zach thinks I have narcolepsy.

The snow and cold makes me want to nap all the time.  I don’t really feel like being active when it’s in the teens when I wake up.  But, I [eventually] forced myself to get my workout done this morning, and finishing level two of the DVD.

However, along the way, I worked on music and singing for about an hour leading up to actually turning the DVD on and starting.  I felt pretty inspired this morning, and found motivation to work a lot harder on music than I have been doing lately.  Sorry, but no workout is worth it for me to stop inspiration!  I was still singing when I started exercising.  Actually, I think because I was so happy, my workout went much better.

So, my thoughts on level two.

It’s definitely a little harder than level one, but not a ton.  I enjoyed it more than the first one, my favorite move, for some reason, being the walkout push-up.  My criticisms: when Jillian Michaels says you should be gargling your heart or feeling like you’re going to die, it makes me laugh.  I will never want either of those feelings.  I like being tired and sweaty and even winded, but not death feelings.  I’d recommend not pushing it that far, if you’re really struggling with the exercises.  Work up to it.  Also, the stretching and cool down at the end is definitely not enough at this point.  I got bad leg cramps after the first day, and spasms at night.  I’d recommend doing more stretching (positions) than she does, and holding each position for at least 30 seconds.  Since I’ve been doing the stretching, I haven’t had as much pain or problems.  I’ve been having some back pains lately, but I think I strained it doing something else, not the workouts, and I still haven’t had problems with exercise with my back (actually, sitting and laying down I feel it – perhaps I slept weird?).

I feel like I’m getting more energy, and I’m definitely stronger than just a couple of weeks ago.  Also, cravings of bad food aren’t as strong, even though I just finished eating a cookie.

So that’s all for now!

I’ll have a new recipe up for tomorrow!

Until next time.

30 Day Shred: Level One

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Since I’ve started a new fitness regimen, I’ve decided to kind of journal about it/review products and other fitness things I’m experiencing along the way.  It has a two-fold effect (hopefully): first, hopefully it’ll help other people that may be reading my posts, and second, (and most importantly) it’ll make me accountable.

Now, I’m not a hardcore fitness person, I’ll just put that right out there.  I don’t like doing a whole lot of things in extreme, and I’m not looking to get a thigh gap or rock-hard abs or anything like that.  I’m seriously just doing it for fun and to be healthy.  There is a weird thing in the fitness world that likes to focus a lot on looks and shame others if they never attain the “perfect” body.  They say things like, “well, you’re clearly eating badly” or “you’re not working out correctly” if they perceive someone as not having the body they think one with a high fitness level should have.

So, I’m definitely not that person.  I eat well and walk a lot for my health.  Everything else I do on top of that, is seriously just for fun, and to see what my body can do.  If I’m not having fun, I ditch it and do something else.  Life is too short to waste time on stupid workouts that you hate, just to achieve a certain body.

I shall step down from my podium now.  There.  Ahh, it’s so nice down here!

I decided to start off with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred because right now, I’m on a DVD kick.  I’ve done this DVD before, a bunch of times, but always with mixed results.  The first time I tried it, I was still recovering from my back injury, and this made it a lot worse.  Now that everything is much better, I also am more aware of my limits.

I’m also not going to do this DVD for 30 days.  Mainly, because I’m not trying to lose 20 lbs in 30 days, and also because I want to move on to new things every week to mix it up.  I’m sure I’ll revisit this DVD though in the future, especially as I’m able to do more, it’d be interesting to have a second go at this and be able to do the advanced versions on most things.

It’s actually a fairly nice workout.  It’s great when you want to get in cardio and strength and you have a limited amount of time.  She calls it circuit training, and it is, and kind of seems like a light version of the HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training).  I just finished level one, and I’m definitely seeing a difference.  It was a little hard in the beginning, trying to start something new (and I haven’t worked out in months).  I struggled the first couple of times, and I needed to go to bed by 8:30pm every night, but I got through it.  I just had to remind myself that it won’t always be like this, that starting is the hardest part.  By the weekend, I had a lot more energy, my appetite was down, I was able to stay up later, and I could do the workout without stopping.

I still have some back issues, and I have knee issues, so I tend to stay around the lower impact versions of the exercises.  I still feel the burn, but I don’t blow out my knees or back (I shall have none of that!).  For abs, I pushed much harder, and did the “advanced” version as best as I could.

Even with today, I’m pretty spunky.  I woke up fine, and right after my workout, I had a snack and went right to house chores without much grumbling, because I wasn’t completely exhausted.  To be honest, throwing this into my schedule has made me more productive.

All in all, I recommend this particular DVD.  I’m starting level two this week, and also adding in something else, which I’ll blog about next week.

Until next time.

 

Food Hangovers Are a Thing in America

My birthday was amazing.  Seriously, the best birthday ever.  It was even better than the birthday I had where my mom managed to get another child my age to come over for cake, and I got this stuffed dog that had a pouch with puppies in the tummy.  It helped me get a strong grasp on the miracle of childbirth (the tummy is equipped with velcro, btw).  But this year was far better, and I got a really nice jacket, which I found out this morning, matches my workout shoes (bonus!).  Yes, I’m one of “those” people that like to look cute in workout clothes.  I spend about half my time in yoga pants and workout tops, so I feel this is necessary.

Yesterday, I was seriously suffering from a food hangover.  I have never experienced anything like it.  Because normally, I never eat that much.  Or that badly.  Even on holidays, I consume the goodies fairly moderately.  But all bets were off for my birthday.  Looking back on it, though, I think maybe eating all the cookies in the few days leading up to my foodie extravaganza were probably my downfall.  And my lack of exercise.  Ugh.  So much self-loathing over cookies.  I felt so awful yesterday that I had to have a green smoothie for dinner, because I could literally feel my body screaming for vegetables.

Actually, I am getting my final year in my 20s off to a good start.  I’ve started an “exercise” routine in the morning.  The reason for the quotes is because it’s basically just something to wake me up before I do anything, including eat.  Just to get the muscles going.  It has helped that the weather has been amazing too.  Because I’m part bear, I like to get fat and hibernate in the winter.  It’s hard to fight those genetics.  For whatever reason, I just CANNOT wake up early to work out in the fall/winter.  I just can’t.  It’s not happening.  This is a compromise to help me get going so I don’t get super lazy and not work out later.

Tomorrow is my Christmas shopping day.  This means, I will not, in fact, be doing a film review (but might I recommend the holiday classic: Muppets Christmas Carol?  My favorite).  I know that there are a lot of people (like my sister) that finished shopping a long time ago.  I wish I was that good, but I’m not (although my niece’s gift is already under her tree).  It takes me forever just to figure out what I want to get people.  And this year, we did secret Santa, so I’m extra relieved.  I love holiday shopping, but not on the scale that I’ve normally had to do.  It gets stressful when you spend hundreds of dollars, especially when you don’t have a lot of money.

And unfortunately, we are not sending out special holiday cards.  Next year, definitely, but this year has just been weird for everyone, so we’re opting out of that.  BUT – we will take a family picture this coming weekend, so I’ll share that.

I have a feeling shopping this weekend will be crazy, so if you’re going out, good luck.

Until next time.

A Fitness Post and Some Rain

Apparently, Colorado has a rainy season now.  It’s basically been raining for 2 days straight.  The sun is supposed to come out later today, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  It’s also been fairly cold, so much so, that one of our trees in the front yard thinks it’s fall and the leaves are starting to change… poor tree is confused.

I haven’t really minded the weather, although it’s been making me tired and I just want to sleep and/or watch TV all day or read.  I’m not really in the mood to get up at 5:30 in the morning, make breakfast, take care of dogs, and go for a jog.

But I HAVE been doing that!  Yesterday, we jogged in the rain.  It wasn’t fun for me.  I did not like being cold and wet afterwards.  And my poor asthmatic lungs have been bothering me, so today we decided to bring it back and do the C25K.  It feels weird taking several steps backwards, but I would rather do this and improve my lungs, and be able to run a 5K most days with good time, than to struggle more and keep falling because I’m hacking up a lung.

I even printed out a calendar and mapped out my fitness challenges.  When one ends, I’ll start another, doing 2 simultaneously.  That’s pretty incredible for someone that was an outspoken non-athlete who hated exercise.  I don’t know if I’m at the point yet where I LOVE exercise, but I’m definitely at the point where I enjoy it, and want to challenge myself.  Even as recently as March, I was screaming HATE towards exercise.

I also wrote out and posted, to the wall, short exercise routines that I can do in between working, housework or if I have a random break.  In addition to my regular 30-40 minute workouts and jogging, I’d like to get in a few short ones throughout the day.  I know, lofty goal, but I think I can do it.  I just need to be motivated.  At some point, I’d also love to end the day with a yoga routine, but I’m currently having trouble making that one stick.  All in due time.  I’m getting competitive with myself.

However, today, I’ll be doing yoga and weight lifting.  The lower half of me doesn’t really want to move right now because yesterday I did an intense lower body workout that I’m still feeling today.  I guess today is my “rest” day (even though I jogged a little this morning).  I’m not really into total rest days, because I don’t feel good if I don’t at least go for a walk and stretch.  I’m too used to my body moving.

So there you have it.  I’ll post links to the workouts I’m doing right now at the end of this post.  Tomorrow I’ll have my movie review for movie night.  But there will be no posts next week until Friday, in which case, I’ll have another movie review.

Until next time.

 

Workout Links:

Coffee Break Workout
30 Day Plank Challenge
Rainy Day Runner’s Workout
Quick 100 Calorie Burn

Yards and Cleanses

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little low on energy.  I haven’t really been into my exercise routine, and yesterday was the worst.  I felt miserable the entire time working out, and afterward, I wanted to be done with the day.  I feel only slightly better after eating breakfast today, but still not feeling great.  This only means one thing:

I have to start a cleanse soon.

No, I’m not “one of those people,” whomever they might be.  But I’m well aware that about every 6 months, my body benefits from a cleanse.  I’m going to do the Conscious Cleanse this time, because I’ve always done juicing in the past, and it’s never helped me emotionally, if that makes sense.  I normally eat really healthy, so when I have chronic tummy aches and bad skin, I know I need a reset.  This particular cleanse is easy, I don’t have to buy anything special, it won’t starve me, and I don’t need to give up my exercise regiment while I’m “detoxing” (i.e., crying because I’m hungry and weak).  Don’t get me wrong, I love juicing, it’s just not for me for a cleanse.  Too harsh.  I’ll be starting the cleanse after my wedding anniversary trip in the beginning of August, so I’ll do posts and updates about that then.

I thought today might be a good day for a gardening/yard update.  I really wish I could say I have an amazing looking yard right now, but, alas, it’s still terrible looking.  My plants are holding on for dear life because the earwigs and extreme heat.  And we won’t be able to get the grass in this year after all.  Just too many expenses, unfortunately.  Next year we should have grass though.  But we will have to hold off on the other stuff.  It’s a process.  On the plus side, my mint plants are making an amazing comeback!  I thought they were completely dead with a re-potted, but they are just growing like crazy now.  Maybe I should make some mojitos today?

That’s all I have for today.

Until next time.

Las Cruces Casserole and Pinterest Challenges

So, my online music classes started.  They are a lot of fun.  I must admit, I was a little intimidated by them, but I’ve found they fit me like an old glove.  Is that a weird analogy?  Anyway, I was a little angry at myself, because I realized, I should have been doing music all along.  At least I’m doing it now, I suppose.

I’ve also been spending some time on Pinterest.  God, that site can be addicting.  I mainly look at nerd stuff on it, which is fun, but at the same time, even less productive.  I found some fun fitness ideas, and I decided to do a couple 30 Day Fitness Challenges.  Yes, I actually do things I find on Pinterest.  I don’t just pin.  Unless it’s Doctor Who stuff, in which case, if there was a way I could DO Who, I would.  I just have to creepily browse for now.  So for the next 30 days, I’ll be doing the plank challenge and the beach body challenge, in addition to my normal exercise regiment.  I’ll let you know in a month if I’m super buff/making every jealous of my pale bikini body while at the beach (and by beach, I mean some reservoir, because I don’t have beaches).

My favorite thing though, is making the recipes I find on Pinterest.  I know there are a lot of blogs and whatnot of people trying to make Pinterest recipes and they are complete failures, but I have not found this to be a problem for me.  They’ve very rarely failed.  Actually, I think only one failed, and I’m not sure which it was.  So, I’m not sure if it’s just the places these people find their recipes, or what, but I even will adapt gluten-filled recipes to gluten free for my allergy-ridden body, and they still turn out well.  Even bread-based recipes.

But today, I’m not sharing a Pinterest recipe I found.  No, this one is my own, though I will say, it’s inspired from a Mexican cooking show on PBS.  I’ve changed it to be my own.  It’s a great dish if you want to make a lot of food, have it not be terrible for you, taste great, and get rid of those veggies in your fridge you’re letting go bad.

Zach calls it the Las Cruces casserole.  So that’s what we will call it.

Yummy?  Yummy.
Yummy? Yummy.

Here’s what you’ll need:
2 cups white rice
2-3 bell peppers
1/4 red onion
Salsa
2-4 lbs ground beef
Taco seasoning (I prefer Bearitos)
12 oz cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
12 oz can of black beans
Olive oil (for sauteing the peppers)
Crushed red pepper, dried basil and oregano, to taste

***Notes: You can use any rice you want, but white rice is stickier, and you’ll be smashing it down as a base for the casserole.  You can also use any veggies you want, I just like the bell peppers for taste and texture.  And as for the ground beef, feel free to use any other meat you have – chicken, pork, whatever.  Just make sure it’s shredded or diced, and season it well.

How to make it:
First, cook the rice.  Then lightly grease a large casserole dish (I used a 9 1/2″ X 8″ glass pan) and spread the rice on the bottom, pressing down firmly so it sticks together.

White rice smushes and stickies the best.
White rice smushes and stickies the best.

Add a layer of salsa over it.  Cook the ground beef with the taco seasoning and add it to the dish, spreading it evenly over the salsa.

The Bearitos is my favorite, but use whatever makes your seasoned heart sing.
The Bearitos is my favorite, but use whatever makes your seasoned heart sing.
Ground bison would also be lovely in this dish.  What it vegetarian?  I think chopping up tempe would be delicious.
Ground bison would also be lovely in this dish. Want it vegetarian? I think chopping up tempe would be delicious.

Sautee the peppers and onions in olive oil until they are lightly cooked (but still firm).

Don't forget the oil!
Don’t forget the oil!

Add them to the dish.  Rinse the beans, and sprinkle over the dish.

As you may notice, these aren't black beans.  I didn't have black beans, so I used cannellini beans.  They were just OK.
As you may notice, these aren’t black beans. I didn’t have black beans, so I used cannellini beans. They were just OK.

Add cheese and top with seasonings.

Mmmm... cheese.
Mmmm… cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Gobble up, eat for lunch the next day, etc.

Add your favorite hot sauce or some more salsa, or enjoy as is.
Add your favorite hot sauce or some more salsa, or enjoy as is.

 

Until next time.

Earwigs and a 5K

I wish I could say this weekend was super eventful, but alas, that’s not entirely true.  We lost a whole day because Zach worked all day Saturday.  It was productive though.  We spent some time with Zach’s grandma, Zach got overtime, I finished a lot of house projects I’d been putting off…

Ugh, but it makes for terrible weekend stories.

We did, however, jog a 5K in Denver for the Donor Dash on Sunday.  That was a lot of fun.  Even though I had been slacking for 2 weeks in the fitness department, I did my best during this race.  It just goes to show, the more fit you get, it not only gets easier, but it’s also not the end of the world if you slack off occasionally.  Just don’t make a habit of it.  But I inspired myself yesterday, so I’ll be hitting some strength training this morning after I write this post!  We are doing the Color Run next month – I think 5K’s are my sweet spot.

Photo from Instagram
Photo from Instagram

I also continued my war on earwigs.  I made these little traps to kill them.  They didn’t go over well.  First off, don’t use water, use oil and soap, because it won’t evaporate immediately.  Secondly, that didn’t even matter, because one of our dogs ate the traps.  It was a yummy, Mediterranean/soapy aluminum foil snack for her.  The Sluggo pellets are doing a good job though… if we can keep our dog from eating that too…

I spent all that time make dishes for nothing!
I spent all that time make dishes for nothing!

Lastly, I am starting a new class today through Coursera.  It’s a music class.  I needed something to help me be a better musician.  I’ll be starting private guitar lessons next month too, because I feel like I need to be able to do an alternative folk rendition of “Let it Go” in order to be the best I can be.  I have dreams, man.

Until next time.