“Target Practice” Friday

I’m writing this post from Las Vegas! Soon I will be shopping, so I will try to keep this “Target Practice” post short.

Remember, I borrowed stole the idea for this series from the ladies over at Fit.Fun.Femme.

Improve Pace - Monday involved the same HIIT treadmill work from last week and a new HIIT workout routine.  I kid you not, I almost died!  Both of these routines will get your heart rate going.

HIIT Workout Routine

50 Push Ups I am able to do 32 push ups without stopping!  I’ll take any progress I can get!

Half MarathonAs you know from Monday’s post, I ran 7 miles uphill with the Pasadena Pacers on Saturday.  I did stop to walk during some of the steep inclines, but overall I kept pace. Following my run with the Pacers, the Bear and I rode the beach cruisers through Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice.  I also ran with my lunch buddy, Marco, for 6 miles on the treadmill this Wednesday. That’s the longest I have ever ran on a treadmill. I normally get bored after 30 minutes.  AND I got in a quick 3 mile run this morning on the strip!

Eating CleanUgh… pretty much a disaster considering I ate chili cheese fries and a hot dog from the Dog Haus on Sunday.  I didn’t take a picture because I was too ashamed!  Dog Haus aside, I ate okay this week. I even managed to lose weight…not sure how that happened considering I’m not even trying to lose weight anymore.  I only weigh myself once in a while to make sure I’m maintaining my current weight.  Anyhow… I had a delicious Mahi-Mahi sandwich after my 7 mile run and beach cruise on Saturday.

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I also ate a lot of black bean quinoa salad this week. Yay for leftovers!

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Next week, I will officially kick off my half-marathon training, scout’s honor!  I plan to get back on track with eating clean, and push the pace even faster.

Now it’s time to enjoy what Las Vegas has to offer…pools, shows, and shopping!

Have a great weekend!

Tropical Smoothie

IMG_0607_smallI have been told by the Bear that I have some silent readers out there who are requesting smoothie recipes.  (You know who you are!)  Since I’m leaving for Las Vegas today, I thought this smoothie recipe would be just the thing for getting me into the mini-cation spirit. Not that it takes a lot, as I’m always ready for a vacation. But I could use a few sugary drinks poolside!

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Even if you are not going on a mini-cation anytime soon, this smoothie will make you feel like you are in the tropics.  It is also perfect for morning bird watching in the backyard.

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5.0 from 1 reviews

Tropical Smoothie
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 1
 

Ingredients
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ⅓ cup frozen mango
  • ⅓ cup frozen pineapple
  • ½ banana
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth

 

Isn’t my blender totally cute and retro!  I finally decided to buy a big girl blender after my mini blender wasn’t cutting it anymore.

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The pineapple and mango completely hide the spinach flavor and the coconut kicks it up a notch.  I could go on about this flavor combination.  It was so delicious that I was a little sad when I got to the bottom of the glass.

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After work I’m heading to Sin City with the girls! I could not be more excited to enjoy the sun, food, and drinks! Which leads me to my next question…

What are your favorite low-calorie poolside drinks?  

Blueberry Salmon Salad with Blood Orange Chia Seed Dressing

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Since the Bear does not eat fish, I am always looking for new ways to sneak it into my diet.  Typically this means I eat fish while dining out.  However, recently I have been experimenting with fish at lunch and have found that it holds up quite nicely.

Being tired of tuna fish salad, I decided to create something new.  Normally my recipes start with whatever is available in the pantry. Rummaging through the pantry and fridge, I found avocado, blueberries, canned salmon, and walnuts.

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Having my upcoming Vegas trip on my mind, I remembered a delicious salad I had at Mon Ami Gabi with similar ingredients, so I went to work.

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Blueberry Salmon Salad with Blood Orange Chia Seed Dressing
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 1
 

Ingredients
  • ½ avocado
  • ½ can of salmon (or 8oz freshly cooked salmon)
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ blood orange
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon chia seeds

Instructions
  1. Remove the salmon from the can and rinse thoroughly (removes the icky canned flavor)
  2. Remove avocado flesh from skin and cut into bite sized pieces
  3. Don’t forget to rinse the spinach and blueberries
  4. For the dressing combine the juice from the blood orange with the olive oil and chia seeds
  5. Gently toss the spinach with the salmon, blueberries, avocado, walnuts and dressing

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I had a blood orange on hand because a coworker brought in a bunch from his tree, so I decided it would be the perfect addition to the salad dressing.

Here is a fun fact: canned salmon actually has no detectable mercury, making it the perfect replacement for canned tuna.  Plus it is quite tasty.

Health Benefits of Salmon

  • High Omega-3 Fatty Acids which improve cardiovascular function 
  • Contains selenium, vitamin D, and B vitamins which improve metabolism
  • The protein found in salmon builds and repairs cells, tissue and muscles throughout the body.

If you don’t like eating fish, one option to take advantage of these health benefits is to include a fish oil capsule in your daily regimen.  You will be thanking fish oil for strong nails and shinny hair!

Pasadena Pacers + Reasons to Join a Running Group

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Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to run with the Pasadena Pacers, a running club in the San Gabriel Valley.  I discovered the Pasadena Pacers at the Expo for the Pasadena Marathon and was intrigued by the high energy group.  It was evident that every member of the pacers absolutely loves running.  I needed to learn more about them…

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(Photos from the Pasadena Pacer’s Facebook Page)

After visiting their website, I discovered that the club is a FREE running community that meets every Saturday at 7 a.m. at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center.   Depending on experience level, there are five running groups to consider: The Pre-Conditioners, 10-Mile Challenge, Half Marathon, 20-Mile Challenge, or Full Marathon.  There is something for everyone, from first time runners to experienced racers.

 Reasons to Join a Running Group

  • Receive coaching from other runners
  • Meet other runners within your same skill set
  • Motivation and inspiration from other runners
  • Regularly scheduled (weekly) runs
  • Up-hill training (at least with Pasadena Pacers)
  • Learn new local routes
  • Gain access to exclusive events and races
  • Hear the latest running events and news
  • Make new friends and running buddies

Last Saturday, I ran with the 10-Mile Challenge group, which was perfect since I have not ran that distance before. Everyone was so warm, friendly, and welcoming. We started bright and early with a dynamic warm-up to stretch our muscles and loosen our joints.

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Then they introduced each group for newcomers, so we could find the right fit.  After everyone was in a group, it was running time!

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The 10-Mile Challenge group was running 7 miles, which happened to be perfect for my half marathon training.  The Northbound route that we ran was mostly uphill, so it was excellent challenging training for a race.

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(Like I said, this group is high energy and fun!  Above is Wende and John being silly).

After the run, the Pasadena Pacers had juice, water, and bagels available, all of which were donated by members of the club.  I also met some lovely ladies, and hopefully, new running buddies.

Pasadena Pacers

(Me, Terry, Missy, & Wendy)

Whether you join the Pasadena Pacers or not, I would highly recommend joining some kind of running group.

“Target Practice” Friday

Now for something new!  I thought it would be nice to have a Friday recap series where I discuss the progress I’ve made on my short term goals. I will also be sharing my fitness/health plan for the upcoming week.

The ladies over at Fit.Fun.Femme call this “Target Practice.” If you aren’t following these ladies, you should cruise on over to their blog. Natalie is a newly engaged marathon runner, and Sara is a Louis Vuitton lovin’ Yoga instructor.


Improve Pace - Monday involved HIIT treadmill work.  It was an intense workout, and I was sweating bullets by the end. Below is my HIIT treadmill routine.
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50 Push Ups -  My personal trainer, you remember Craig from the Park Workout Routine, read my post on Monday and decided to help me with this goal. Oh yay… I’m sure you can sense my enthusiasm.  During my Tuesday workout, he had me do many sets of regular push ups (55 total). Then he followed those push ups with crazy TRX one legged push ups. Those were fun.  Loved the sore arms this week.  (Craig, you know you are the best!)

Half Marathon - I ran 3 fast miles on Wednesday with my friend, Ben. He is one of those annoyingly fast runners I was talking about on Monday. He loves to run backwards while I am huffing and puffing with a forward run. But it paid off! Check out this speed racer!

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Eating Clean - My eats have been pretty clean this week. We went out to dinner on Wednesday night and I ordered the grilled salmon, which was tasty but had way too much salt and oil.
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I ate about half of it! Serving sizes are so big these days.

I also tried Holly’s Cucumber Dill Greek Yogurt Salad as a afternoon snack during work this week. So delicious!

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Have you tried frozen grapes yet?! If you haven’t, then you are missing out. They are like little frozen drops of sunshine! Okay, so frozen sunshine is an oxymoron. (I should know better since I work for an Aurospace organization). But THEY ARE SO GOOD and have replaced my chocolate squares after dinner.
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Next week I will be leaving for a short girl’s trip to Vegas about mid-week. I know it will be tough to eat clean and exercise while in Vegas, but here’s hoping! I’m contemplating on whether I should bring a blender. I’m also kicking off my half-marathon training next week and have a long run scheduled for Sunday, the day after I get back from Vegas. Haha… I’ll let you know how that goes!

Anyways… question of the day!

How do you maintain a clean diet while on vacation?

Patriotic Protein Pancakes

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Happy 4th of July!  It’s going to be a great day.  First of all, I have the day off from work today.  Second, the morning started with Patriotic Protein Pancake, see recipe below.  And third, I’m buying a new laptop today!

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I have had this old beast for the last …ummm… SIX years!  It is well past time for a new computer, especially now that I am blogging.   The plan is to hit up Best Buy, Costco and Fry’s,  so I can find the ultimate new computer.  Though, I’m leaning towards this beauty.

After laptop shopping, the Bear and I are going to catch the local fireworks show, which is never disappointing.

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Thing 1 and Thing 2 even got a little festive for you guys!  Meaning they had to suffer through a mini photo op… though they never seem to mind.

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Trader Joe’s was having a great sale on organic blueberries and raspberries the other day, so I bought a bunch.

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As I mentioned above, I started the morning with Patriotic Protein Pancakes.  I first discovered protein pancakes from Brittany and have fallen in love with these breakfast delights.  However, I switched the recipe up a bit to make it a little tastier.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Patriotic Protein Pancakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 1
 

Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of brown rice protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Trader Joe’s Ground Blueberry Flax Seed
  • ½ banana, mashed
  • 1 sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of unsweetened vanilla AlmondBreeze
  • Dollop of organic vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Handful of fresh blueberries and raspberries, or berries of choice

Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine egg, brown rice protein powder, flax seed, cinnamon, and AlmondBreeze until all the clumps are smooth.
  2. Mix in the mashed banana.
  3. On a skillet over medium head, pour the mixture.
  4. Heat for approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Flip the pancake and cook for another 3 minutes.
  6. Top the pancake with greek yogurt and berries.

Just a few action shots…

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Bubbles will appear in the batter when the pancake is ready to be flipped.

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I hope you all have a fantastic 4th of July!

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What are your plans for Independence Day???

Don’t Drink Soda, Period!

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Okay, so the title of this post might be a little harsh, but I’m really passionate about this topic.

I think we all know that soda is not exactly the best thing for our health, yet most of us still drink it.  Today I’m going to break down all the reasons NOT to drink soda.

Not too long ago I was addicted to soda.  A Diet Coke along with my Lean Cuisine was a common sight for me during lunch.  I always knew it wasn’t good for me, so I would try to limit it to one can a day.  However, on the weekends I went crazy and drank soda constantly.

Then I did a little research…

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What’s Really in my Soda?

Jillian Michael’s Master Your Metabolism book opened my eyes to the horrible things that can be found in soda.  (Don’t worry… there will be a book review soon!)

  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup:  There was been an increase in High-Fructose Corn Syrup in the American diet since the 1960s.  Now it’s in everything from cookies to soda.  HFCS boosts our fat-storing hormones. HFCS fools the body into not releasing insulin and leptin, which are two hormones that our bodies release when we are done eating.  In addition, HFCS increases the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which in turn causes us to reach for a second helping.
  • Aspartame:  Artificial sweeteners train our bodies to crave sweets.   Our bodies recognize the sweetness, but there aren’t any calories so our bodies think they need to eat a lot of sweet things to get enough calories.  Aspartame also causes permanent damage to our brain’s appetite center because it contains excitotoxin.
  • Caffeine: While a little caffeine isn’t the end of the world, a lot can be very damaging to our hormones, and therefore, metabolism.  Abusing caffeine overstimulates our adrenals, slows the oxygen flow to our brain, and suppresses our immune system.
  • Sodium Benzoate/Potassium Benzoate:  Benzene is a known carcinogen that has been linked to thyroid damage.   Sodas typically have benzoate salts added to prevent mold growth; however, when these salts sitting in plastic soda bottles come into direct sunlight, dangerous amounts of benzene can form.
  • BPA: Soda cans contain a epoxy resin called BPA.  It is used to keep the acid in the soda from reacting with the metal cans.  BPA has been linked to infertility, obesity, and cancer.

Reasons to Say NO to Soda:

  • Weight gain: Studies have shown that diet and regular soda have attributed to long term weight gain.  Even drinking one can of regular soda a day can lead to gaining one extra pound a month.
  • Heart attack: Findings have shown a 48% increase in heart attack and stroke risk among daily diet soda drinkers.
  • Tooth decay:  The acidity in soda, regular or diet, dissolves tooth enamel which has doubled the incidence of tooth decay.
  • Kidney stones: Soda has a high phosphoric acid content, which is a substance that promotes kidney stone formation.  Drinking two or more cans a day doubles your risk of chronic kidney disease.
  • Diabetes:  Drinking regular soda has been linked to diabetes.  Even just one soda a day has shown to increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 18%.

About six months ago, I eliminated soda from my diet.  It took a solid month before it was completely out of my system.  I no longer have the soda cravings that I used to get around lunch time.  Now, if I even have a sip of soda, it tastes gross with a strong chemical undertone.

Instead of soda, try drinking naturally flavored sparkling water, homemade ginger ale, homemade iced tea, or kombucha.  I mostly craved the carbonation from soda, so sparkling water and kombucha became a must have during operation soda removal.

In light of all the horrible affects soda has on our bodies, I encourage you to remove soda from your life!

Pasadena Marathon + New Goals

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Let me start by saying the Pasadena Marathon was AMAZING!  It was the first time I ran a 10k in a race and the experience was exhilarating.

The morning actually started a little late.  My phone decided to die during the night so the alarm never went off! Talk about the wrong night for this to happen. Thankfully, the Bear is an early bird and woke me up, so I was only up 30 minutes later than planned.

IMG_5829_smallAfter getting ready, we hopped on the beach cruisers (great warm up/cool down) and headed to the marathon.  Luckily we got there in time to see the half marathoners take off.

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I was even so lucky to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Monica!  She has been an inspiration to me during this process, and let’s just say I was a little star struck.

IMG_5789_small(Photography is courtesy of the Bear, who is an amazing photographer!)

Once the half marathoners were on their way, it was time for the 5k and 10k runners.   Following the “Ready, Set, Go,” I was off.  I ran the first mile at a 8:44 pace!!! Whoa, that was fast for me.  Gradually my pace slowed down and according to my Garmin my average pace was 9:41.  That’s faster than my usual 10 minute pace, so I’ll take it.

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By the end of the race I didn’t have such a big smile on my face.  It was hot in Pasadena.

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Having a medal wrapped around my neck wasn’t a bad way to start the day!

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Apparently, people were allowed to run with strollers and dogs.  I thought this trio was a hoot!

New Goals:

I got the idea for sharing my goals with the world from Ashley’s blog.  I think it’s a great way to hold myself accountable and that’s what this blog is all about anyways.

Near Term Goals:

  • Run Half Marathon(s) – While 13.1 miles scares me a little, I’m aiming for a half marathon in the October time frame.  That will give me a good four months to train.
  • Improve Pace – I would love to consistently run at a 9:30 pace.  That’s 30 seconds faster than my normal pace.  I guess it’s time to start incorporating more HIIT into my routine.
  • 50 Push Ups – I would like to be able to do as many push ups as my friend, Jeremy.  I’m competitive… what can I say.  Currently, I can do 30 push ups without stopping.
  • Eat Clean – I already eat clean, but I really want to cut out the extra cheats.  After a long run, there tend to be a lot of cheats.  As you know I have a sweet tooth, but I also have a pizza tooth.  Time to cut down on the after dinner dark chocolate squares and bi-monthly pizza nights.

Long Term Goals:

  • Duathlon – I really want to do a duathlon at some point.  There is one coming up in April, but I’m guessing I’m a year out before a duathlon.
  • Triathlon – Now this one will take a lot of trianing.  Even though I grew up with a pool, I’m not a great swimmer.  However, I want to cross a triathlon off the list.
  • (Maybe) Full Marathon -  Running 26 miles scares the bejesus out of me! It seems like so much wear and tear on the body. I’m not convinced of this goal yet. I mean, the Athens warrior died after running 26 miles to deliver a message of victory.  Although my half Ironman friend, Brett, tells me it isn’t so bad, I’m not sure I am ready for that kind of commitment.  Also, I am convinced he is part alien.

Well, it’s time to start training for the next adventure!  I’ll leave you with my jazz hands picture.  I find it hilarious for some reason…

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Yup! That guy is giving me a funny look. However, I’m pretty used to getting strange looks from time to time. :-)