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Archive for the ‘Strength Training’ Category

WHOA, busy day. It is 6pm, and this is the first time today that I have been able to sit and relax! I had a day full of appointments, errands and, the most significant happening, MY LAST COLLEGE CLASS EVER!!!!!!! WOOOOOOHH! Now all I have to do is pass 2 finals, finish 1 paper and get through Senior Week.

Today started at 7:45 am when I woke up to head to the gym. I typically don’t go to the gym in the morning, but since today was rather busy I wanted to wake up early to energize myself. Before going to the gym I tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter Luna Protein Bar. Hello lover 🙂 (okay…I’m obsessed with Sex in the City, and my “hello lover” phrase is stolen from the one and only Carrie Bradshaw.). This was my favorite of the three flavors by far! It isn’t overly sweet and has an awesome peanut butter and chocolate flavor. It has 12g of protein and 190 calories, which was perfect pre-gym fuel.

On Wednesdays I have been trying to incorporate some upper body weight training, so I usually start with a light cardio and then lift moderate weights. Since I was crunching time I cut my work out a bit short, but here it is:

20 minute run–2.2 miles

4 minute walk @ 4.0

3 x 10 bicep curls with a bar @ 40 lbs

3x 10 lateral raises @ 7.5 lbs

3×10 hammer curls @  20 lbs

3 x 10 side crunches @ 22.5 lbs
Consuming whey protein within an hour post work out is supposed to be great for rebuilding muscle so I decided to have breakfast number two: Green Monster, Granola and Raw Almonds. This contained: 1 scoop chocolate whey protein, 1 scoop Green Amazing Grass Superfood, a generous amount of cinnamon, 1 large frozen banana, 2/3 cup vanilla soy milk, 1/3 cup water, 2 handfuls of spinach and 2 ice cubes. I topped it off with 1/4 cup Nature’s Path Vanilla Almond Flax Granola and raw blanched almonds. When I was consuming this lovely bowl I had two revelations:

1) CINNAMON IS THE BEST SPICE EVER! I would and do put it on everything. It is so key for flavor the warm flavor of this bowl, I love it!

2) Raw blanched almonds really add a lot flavor/texture wise. They are buttery, smooth, and full of flavor. Roasted almonds have a bit more crunch but these little gems are phenomenal!

Workin’ it Out,

Nora

What is your ideal exercise/food to fuel it?

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I was on a bit of a chocolate kick late last night (you should see Mr. Chocolate Almond Bunny now….I forgot to take a picture but large chunks of my chocolate almond bunny were stuffed into dates and apricots in my snacky post dinner state yesterday! So good though!)  and thought it might be interesting to try some mocha oats.

I always read and admire Jess at Healthy Exposures amazing oat creations and instead of using half water half milk in her oats, she uses brewed coffee. I think this is genius, and gives the oats LOTS of favor, especially when you allow them to soak in the coffee. I made my oats overnight style and added: 1/2 mashed banana, 1/3 cup oat bran, 2 TBS rolled oats, 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/3 cup brewed coffee (while still hot!), 1/2 TBS chia seeds, 1 TBS Hershey’s Natural Cacao, cinnamon and vanilla extract to my bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning I added: 2 large sliced strawberries, Chobani Greek Yogurt and 1 TBS almond butter.

Traditionally overnight oats are made with a half milk, half yogurt mixture, but I opted to omit the yogurt last night and use it as a garnish in the morning. Last time I made overnight oats they were too thick and slightly chalky. I find that chia seeds generate so much volume in the bowl that it ends up being the perfect consistency without other thickening methods.

The mashed banana and strawberries added sweetness and when the bitter cacao and coffee oats were blended with the Greek yogurt, my bowl had a true rich mocha taste! Recently I have been LOVING oat bran. I think it is the perfect creamy base for fresh berries and fruit. I wasn’t sure if it would hold up as well as regular oats over night, but it was thick and delicious in the morning.

I am continuing my chocolate addiction mid-morning with a chocolate protein shake:I used 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder and 1 cup vanilla soy milk. I have to admit, that I am a bit skeptical of protein mixes, as they tend to have LONG ingredient lists, and I do not know THAT much about them. I use an organic whey protein mix that is my grocery store brand and selected whey for the muscle repair and building qualities. I have been trying to gain upper body strength, and decided  with guidance that post-lifting sessions (2-3 times a week) I would drink a protein shake. This is only day 2 of my lifting sequence so the true benefits are to be determined.

I’m so glad that it is finally Wednesday, but as each week nears it’s end, I grow more weary of my post-college future. I have expressed my desire to work in the food/wine industry before, and am continuing my search for possible career paths. It is so hard to find a career that you are passionate about and inspired by, especially in the state of  our current economy. I can only hope that whatever I find is something that I can wholly dedicate myself to and love.

Happy Hump Day,

Nora

What is the best job you have ever had (includes internships, voulenteer work etc)?

What career path you hope to follow, or currently have?

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On Sunday I went to Target to treat myself to a few new items in honor of my birthday. Along with a new dress (they seriously always have the cutest clothes!), and 2 types of granola bars, I wound up with this:A beautiful new scarf, Bon Appetit and Mini Clif Bars. I am a huge fan of Clif Bars (I like Luna Bars, but not as much as these!), and was excited to finally make this purchase. These are the perfect snack on the go or workout fuel. They are each 100 calories and have between 4-5 grams of protein!

On Tuesdays I have a dance class from 9:40-10:55 and a Philosophy class from 11-12:20, so I thought this would be the perfect pick me up for in between. I have never tried the Blueberry Crisp variety, so it was my first pick. This dense little bar with filled with pieces of dried blueberry and had a nice crunch. It was so satisfying and held me over until lunch time. I will certainly toss a few of these in my bag from now on for some fast fuel!

As promised, I incorporated Crofter’s North America Superfruit Spread into my lunch!!The composition: Two Pieces of Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread (Cinnamon sprinkled on each half after removed from the toaster), Crofter’s North America Superfruit spread on each half (~2TBS), slices of White Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, a mound of Clover Sprouts, sliced English Cucumber, and Turkey Breast.

Winning combination!! Cinnamon is probably my go to flavor for everything, I just can’t get enough of it! The sharp cheese with the bitter cranberry was phenomenal! This spread was made for cheese. I liked the North America spread in my oats, but I LOVED it in this sandwich (mainly because of the cheese contrast). I had this and a big crunchy Jonagold; a meal made for the fall.

I lifted some weights this afternoon, so shortly after lunch I was still a bit hungry. To be full and focused, I went for the Chobani that I have been patiently waiting for the right moment to try: Non-fat Honey Greek Yogurt. I have ordered Greek yogurt for dessert at Greek restaurants and am always floored by how something as simple as thick yogurt, real honey and nuts can be so indulgent. I topped mine with Bear Naked Fruit and Nut Granola (~3 TBS-1/4cup), which is packed with almonds, walnuts, pecans, raisins and dried cranberries. I still have to try 3 more flavors to make a complete assessment of their products, however; this might be my favorite. It was thicker than the “fruit on the bottom” varieties, and had a stunning honey flavor. This is the way Greek yogurt should taste!

Happy Eating,

Nora

What ingredients do you find yourself adding to everything?

****KEEP THE ENTRIES COMING FOR MY CHOBANI GIVEAWAY!!!!! Click the “CHOBANI GIVEAWAY”  TAB ABOVE FOR DETAILS****

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Do you ever wake up and have a Groundhog’s Day movie-esque moment, where you feel like you’ve already lived this day before? Maybe it was the 5am wake up and ACTUALLY making it to yoga, or maybe it was my double Amazing Grass repeat, but today was one of those days for me. I have the world’s best internal clock and promptly woke up 3 minutes before my 5am alarm. I actually like when I do this because it is less of a rude awakening. I contemplated going back to sleep, but knew if I didn’t go to yoga that I was going to feel stressed about not going (ironic?) this week, and began getting ready. I wasn’t that hungry when I first woke up, but I really don’t believe in doing anything on an empty stomach; you have to fuel your body, and you wont be able to have an optimum performance if you don’t. I wanted something easy to eat, easy to digest and something palatable at the 5am hour (aka nothing chocolate or too heavily flavored). I wasn’t planning on having another SuperFood Energy Bar, but the Berry Whole Food Energy seemed to fit the profile I was looking for and I decided to give it a try.

Half-eaten 5am photo

The Verdict: My instincts were right, this was the perfect early morning energizer! I actually think I liked it more than the Green Chocolate Whole Food Energy that I had yesterday. It was extremely tender, but still had a nice, dense texture to it. The flavor was light and slightly sweet. One of the reason I don’t have chocolate flavored energy bars first thing in the morning is because I don’t like the intense, overwhelming sweetness. They are good for mid-day snacks and pick me ups, but not something I enjoy at 5am. This bar had the perfect balance of flavor and necessary nutrition. The Berry SuperFood base was a lot better tasting than the Green. I have yet to try the original Green SuperFood, but I think if anyone is hesitant to try these bars that the Berry Whole Food Energy is a great place to start.

Yoga always puts me in a state of tranquility. It woke me up and relaxed my tense body. I was happy I ended up going, but waking up so early the first day that I start my Lenten sacrifice of caffeine may not have been the best idea. When I was leaving class (which is also held in a dark, warm room…just to add to my sleepy sensation) I could feel my eyes becoming heavy and the aroma of coffee was in the air. What a tease. I decided to have an apple immediately post work out, remembering they have “wake up” qualities because of the fructose and the physical stimulation of the crunch.

Clearly Couldn't Wait to Eat This!

It worked a bit but after getting settled I decided I needed some protein and comfort. The yoga studio I attend also has a juice bar and one of their signature drinks is “Protein Punch” made with frozen banana, dates, peanut butter, and chocolate soy milk. That sounded good to me, so I made myself a peanut butter, banana, raspberry and chocolate smoothie with Chocolate Green SuperFood. I used 1/2 cup Chobani plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 TBS crunchy organic PB, 1/4 cup frozen raspberries, 2 ice cubes and a packet of Chocolate Green SuperFood. I call it Peanut Butter and Jelly Bliss.

Love of My Life

The Verdict: I CURRENTLY HAVE TEARS IN MY EYES…it was THAT good. I am wide awake and full of life after this smoothie. I love experimenting with different concoctions…but after this one, I don’t know if I’ll ever try another mixture again (lies but IT WAS AMAZING).  I have admitted my PB&J obsession in past post and this smoothie was PB&J + Chocolate + THICK creamy goodness= one happy girl. I felt like I was eating an ice cream sundae for breakfast…coffee who? This was infinitely better.  I could go on and on but for the sake of those reading this, I’ll contain myself. I’ll just end by saying that I am in love.

Happy Hump Day,

Nora

What is your favorite smoothie combination?

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I hardly ever…actually, never…  record “food diary” style entries in my blog, but today I have a few reviews, so I am making an exception. I have a pretty long and busy day today so, I thought it was appropriate for a double dose of Amazing Grass. My victims:

Chocolate Whole Food Energy and BERRY Green SuperFood

I woke up feeling like I had a sore throat coming on! AH! I CANNOT AFFORD TO BE SICK!!! I decided to start my day with a dose of greens and OJ. I prefer mixing the powders into smoothie form to reduce the grittiness, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I poured the BERRY Green SuperFood pack into a large glass and mixed it with a bit of water before adding the orange juice. The Verdict: Not too bad!! I was expecting it to have a weird taste but it was fruity, light and refreshing. It did have a bit of a gritty texture (not lumpy though, it mixed fairly well), but you have to anticipate that when you mix a powder into liquid. It soothed my throat and gave me necessary energy to power through my 9:40-10:55 ballet class (NO COFFEE NEEDED!).  I paired my drink with a cool breakfast of 1/4 cup muesli soaked in 1 cup of vanilla soy milk, cinnamon and a sliced banana. I swear there is something about the sunflower seeds in this muesli that makes it extra hearty. They are nutty, crunchy, and the star ingredient in this mix!

During my second class (I usually have to run because this class starts at 11:05), I fueled up with my new Chocolate Whole Food Energy Bar. I picked the chocolate bar to try first, because I was slightly nervous about the contents, and EVERYTHING tastes better when covered in chocolate…right? The Verdict: It wasn’t as scary as it looked!! I really liked the taste; it had the distinct flavor of Green Amazing Grass, which to me tastes like a combination of banana and green tea, and was chocked full of dried fruits and nuts! The density was nice (it was an extremely hearty bar), however; I found it a bit too dry, and I was constantly sipping on my coffee (BAD NORA…it’s the last day before Lent I couldn’t say no, I love the flavor) to clear the particles from my teeth. Overall I really enjoyed this bar and it kept me satisfied and motivated through my lifting session after class. On the days that I lift, I typically do a light 20 minute elliptical warm up, but today I was motivated to do a 20 minute run! Talk about green power!

This bar is 230 calories with 9g of fat (1.5 grams of Omega-6, and .2g of Omega 3), no cholesterol, 25mg (1% daily value) sodium, 330mg (9% DV) Potassium, 37g (12%DV) carbohydrates, 5g (10%DV) protein, 35% DV (all from Beta-carotene) Vitamin A, 15% Vitamin C, 4% Calcium, 15% Iron, 20% Vitamin K and 8% Vitamin B-12. To see a full list of ingredients click here.

After lifting, it was lunch time. I really liked the Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted whole grain bread I purchased a while ago, and decided to give their cinnamon raisin a try. I have to pause here for a “YUM” moment, it was fantastic. I wasn’t in the mood for an almond butter and jelly sandwich, so I tried something a bit more savory with the sweet bread, creating my “I Miss Thanksgiving” sandwich.

I went on a refrigerator hunt for goat cheese (LOVE goat cheese on dried fruit/nut bread!) and cranberry sauce but was out of luck, so I went for the next best things. I spread one piece of toast with lingonberry jam and one with pumpkin butter. I sprinkled cinnamon over the pumpkin butter and almonds over the jam, and added slices of extra sharp white cheddar, mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, mixed greens, cucumber and sliced turkey breast. I enjoyed my sandwich with an apple, and I have to say, it was all I expected and more– a simple lunch full of Thanksgiving flare. My favorite part of this sandwich was the contrast of sweet raisins, pumpkin butter and Cinnamon against the sharp cheese and peppery sprouts. I think next time I might make a grilled cheese and pumpkin butter sandwich with this bread–I can  guarantee that it will be out of this world good!

I have work tonight from 3-6pm but know that it will fly by. I have had such a good day of “living life and eating right” (yes I am THAT corny), that nothing could shatter my attitude.  All the while, I will be dreaming up a yummy dinner to complete my day…and don’t worry, I’ll be sure to post.

Eating AMAZING and Feeling AMAZING,

Nora

Have you tried any Amazing Grass products? What is your favorite, and how do you enjoy it? (i.e If it is a drink mix what do you add it to…if it is a bar, do you eat it as a post work out snack? A quick energy boost when your on the run?)

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Okay…I’m definitely dedicated to this whole work out thing. After looking at the schedules for the yoga studio I went to this past weekend, I realized that the only time I could attend a class was at 5:45am today. I said I was going to do yoga once a week and I meant it! I went to bed early last night and prepared my pre and post workout snacks. On the way out the door I had a Cinnamon Roll LaraBar . I chose this as my pre-workout fuel because, although it is a bit high in fat, it is low in protein and has about 27g of carbs (more than the Clif bar I often pick). It also is a self-proclaimed “humm food”, definition on the back of the wrapper: “Real food that creates an unmistakable feeling of health and well-being, often accompanied by an inexplicable and irresistible urge to, well, hum.” I LOVE that motto!!!…and how appropriate for yoga.  I packed up a homemade post recovery drink, paired with an apple. I switched up the recipe this time to have more protein, fat and calories: 1/4 cup plain Chobani, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 TBS  Crunchy Almond Butter, 1/2 scoop Organic Vanilla Whey Protein, 1 Scoop Amazing Grass Green Superfood and 1/2 a banana.

Replenish

My daily "Humm Food"

THE VERDICT: I am  a morning person. I love the peace and tranquility of the morning, and having time to myself before a crazy day. Plus, waking up at 5am isn’t that bad when you get to have a cinnamon roll LaraBar. The chuncks of walnut and dates with the cinnamon flavoring reminded me of a cozy breakfast. At 210 calories, it was just enough to help me wake up and do some yoga. Yoga wasn’t THAT intense and I could have very well just come home and made a real breakfast, but my shake was so filling and probably gave me better nutritional benefits for muscle building. It was actually REALLY tasty too!! I find sometimes with whey powder, you can still taste it despite how many other things are blended into the drink. The almond butter, almond milk and banana flavors masked the bitter protein powder really well. I think the Chobani that I added to my drink really MADE it a smoothie. It was so much thicker than last time. I’m definitely going to keep experimenting with different shake mix-ins!

Namaste,

Nora

What do you do for strength training? What is the best protein shake you’ve ever had/made? What else do you like to enjoy post workout?

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Over the past year, my crazy schedules have lead to a demise in my work outs. Every now and then I would sneak in a 30 minute elliptical session or a 30-minute at home yoga video, but that was the extent of my physical activity. Going from a full-time swimmer to a hobbyist  runner and then nothing definitely made an impression on my body. I noticed a decrease in my strength and muscle mass…so goes the old saying, “if you don’t use it you lose it.” Now that my schedule is a bit more concrete I have been trying to incorporate weights and a mixture of light cardio activities to help build myself back up. I think that it is important to mix up a workout regime so that you can work different parts of the body and allow time for rest and recovery. It also keeps you from becoming mentally burned out from repetitive activity.

I boiled down my “workouts” to afford myself down time, and do things that I truly find enjoyable. I decided to start my weeks with a run on Monday, take a yoga class Wednesday and end my week with an activity of choice on Friday with the weekends off, since that is when I work and catch up on things. In between my active days, I am going to do strength training with weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

HOT YOGA: I took my first Power Vinyasa Yoga class this past Sunday, and I was in love. It was conducted in an 85-90 degree room and the constant flow of motion allowed my muscles to relax and be at their optimum flexibility. I woke up a bit sore the next day too, because I typically can not stretch that much on my own. I have taken some yoga here and there over the years, and found this to be the best for me. The classes at the studio I attended were  a bit expensive, but I am going to try to do this once a week.

RUNNING: I ran 3.25 miles today and it felt like I was revisiting my long lost friend. My endorphins were through the roof , and I was ALL smiles for  the rest of the day. I love the release and stimulation of running; it is freeing and serene. After my half-marathon in September 2009, I stopped running regularly due to weather conditions and lack of time,  but it will always have a special place in my heart.  As much as I hate treadmills, I am going to try to run for a half-hour at alternating intervals so I can slowly get back into it.

After committing to all of this, I began to wonder the BEST way that I can fuel and replenish my body to gain back my muscle?  I always eat something pre-work out but often times when I hit the gym, lunch or dinner is about an hour away so I usually just wait until then. This got me thinking…should I have something right after my work out to replenish? What is the best type of food for pre and post work out? Should I add more protein to my diet on days that I work out? Naturally my curiosity lead me to conduct some research.  I found a lot of information all that pointed to similar things, the most informational was this about.com link–CLICK HERE. In sum it is important to eat something carbohydrate rich, and low levels of fat and protein about an hour before you work out. You should never exercise on an empty or completely full stomach. Post work out it is important to eat something that is composed of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates within 2 hours.

I’m still contemplating whether or not I should immediately drink a protein shake or have a bar right after my work out, even though I will most likely be eating a full meal within an hours time. I tried a small protein shake out today

Don't Judge By Looks...It Was Good

(1/2 cup soy milk, 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 scoop organic vanilla whey protein powder, 1 scoop of green Amazing Grass, a dash of cinnamon and Ice) and was still hungry an hour later for lunch.  SO my conclusion: What you eat and when you eat before and after working out DOES matter, especially if you are looking to build strength. I’m going to continue to experiment with pre and post work out food options to see what works best for me.

Live Strong,

Nora

What is your pre and post work out routine? In terms of strength training, what have you found to be the most effective and efficient exercises and nutritional staples?

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