Fitness: Interval Running Workout #2

As promised, here is the second interval workout in my running circuit. This one involves more running than the last workout, but it’s still not horrible. You still walk more than you run, and it’s shorter! You can power through this entire workout in only a half hour. The downside- you are going to sweat. You are actually going to sweat a lot. You need to make every single second of this workout count if you want to receive maximum benefits. Every time you hold back or put the treadmill on a lower speed than you know you can do, you are only hurting yourself. This workout goes by extremely fast. Make the most of it.

Oh yeah, and you might have a tiny bit of trouble walking to your car after. But that’s only a minor detail.

 

 The Workout:

Warm-up for 3 minutes by jogging at 5.5-6.0 mph.

Run fast (not a sprint, but make sure you’re moving) for 1 minute. I set my speed for 7-7.5 mph.

Walk for 2 minutes at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 4 more times (without the warm-up)!

Sprint (yes, sprint) for 30 seconds. Again, I set my speed for 8-8.5 mph.

Walk for 1 minute at 4.0 mph.

*Repeat 9 more times!

Bonus Tip: To burn some extra calories you can do this whole workout at a slight incline. And I mean slight. Set your treadmills incline to 1.0 or 2.0 for some extra spice. Warning: you WILL feel it.

 

…and you’re done! That was quick! Go buy yourself  a new blouse, you deserve it. Nothing wrong with some positive reinforcement, right?

Check back next week for a more endurance focused interval run. I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Happy running!

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Buffalo Pork Chops

I’m not the biggest fan of pork, but I eat it. Sometimes I feel like I am running out of dinner options. There’s only so much chicken, beef, and turkey you can eat. Pasta can quickly become boring. And we are slowly but surely getting into the fish game. Sometimes you just need something different. That’s when the pork comes in. If I’m going to cook and eat pork its got to be all about the seasoning. That’s why I was very happy to come across a recipe for Buffalo Pork Chops.

This recipe was actually very good. I go into any meal with pork involved expecting to be disappointed- it’s just better that way. This time was no different except for that the fact that I wasn’t disappointed at all. As we were eating, my husband and I turned to each other and said we should make this again (he shares my same sentiments about pork). Wait, what? Make pork again? Were we crazy? I have made a few other pork recipes in the past and those words definitely never came out of our mouths before. Those recipes were good or should I say tolerable, but I wouldn’t care to make them ever again. Maybe it’s just the buffalo sauce talking, but this is a recipe for the books.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter

2-3 tablespoons of hot sauce

Thinly slice or shredded mozzarella

2 boneless pork chops

Salt & pepper

Directions:

1. Season both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper.

2. Heat olive oil, butter, and hot sauce together in a large skillet (medium high).

3. Once the mixture is heated, add in the pork chops. Cook on each side until done (about 5 minutes each side).

4. Transfer the pork chops to a baking sheet and coat with additional hot sauce.

5. Put some mozzarella cheese on top of each pork chop.

6. Broil on high for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

The best part of this recipe is that it is actually two recipes in one. Instead of using hot sauce, you can see barbeque sauce instead. Since barbeque sauce is one of my absolute favorite things ever and possibly one of the greatest inventions ever, we will definitely be trying that one out soon.

While cooking the pork chops I roasted some asparagus and potatoes (tossed in olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper) for sides.

The picture above (because I somehow never remember to take my own picture — mental note, mental note) and recipe was taken from Allison’s Skinny Jeans.

Happy Friday and happy cooking! As always, feel free to share your thoughts on this recipe and others below.

Fitness: Interval Running Workout #1

I hate running. I love working out, I love going to the gym, and I love being active. But, I don’t love running. No matter how many land sports I tried growing up and throughout high school I always went back to swimming. Not just because it was the sport that I felt like I excelled the most at, but because it also does not involve running. My hatred for running was evident at an early age. During my kindergarten soccer games I would plead with the coach to be the goalie because that was the one position that running wasn’t really involved. Plus, the ball was not really flying at you that hard, if at all. Through middle school and high school I tried tennis and lacrosse. I tolerated the running but it was definitely not something I looked forward to. In college, I pretty much abandoned the running world altogether and just stuck with swimming. Once I graduated, that is when the real problem arrived. I needed a cardiovascular exercise to partake in. I had been so active my entire life that it felt strange not to have an activity to turn to. Swimming was pretty much out of the question. First, I was kind of sick of it after about fourteen years of competitive swimming and second, the membership to all the pools around me are expensive. I tried biking at the gym, and using the elliptical as well, but I just wasn’t seeing the results I wanted and wasn’t getting that same post-workout “high.” That was when I decided I needed to face my biggest fear: running.

Over the next couple months I slowly tried to build myself up to running 3 miles. I was getting there but it was a slow process that really wasn’t much fun. At all, in fact. I searched for a new running method, talked to some friends, and was introduced to interval training. This has completely changed the way I feel about running. I actually don’t mind running now (I won’t say I like it). What is interval training? Interval training is when you push your body really hard for about 30 seconds to a couple minutes, then you “rest”/take it easy for another 2-3 minutes, then you work your body back up to high intensity for a couple more minutes and repeat, etc., etc. You get the point. I like interval training for many different reasons. One, it’s quick. All you need is 20-30 minutes. If you can make it 40-45 minutes, great but it’s not needed. Two, I can see and feel the results. I love how interval training is sculpting my body without me even having to pick up a weight. I also notice that the actual running is getting easier each week enabling me to push myself a little harder than I normally would. It seems to be working a lot faster than just straight running. Three, it burns more fat (especially for women) than just straight running. Pushing yourself hard for a few minutes, “resting” for a few minutes, then going hard again actually makes your body work harder. To achieve that mountain/roller coaster effect your body needs to work each time you increase your intensity, then it gets to rest, but only before it needs to work its way back up all over again. Lastly, interval running also keeps your body burning long after your workout has finished. I can feel my body working, sweating, and radiating off my hard earned heat throughout my drive home from the gym and until I hop in the shower. After one of these workouts I feel like I have accomplished something, like I have just done something really good for my body and myself. Probably because I have.

I have a set of about eight interval running workouts that I continually cycle through. I hate doing the same workout twice in a row because I get bored very easily. I am always finding and adding new running routines to keep my workouts fresh. In hopes to inspire other running-haters to give interval training a shot I will be sharing my workouts here with you, one at a time. This week I am going to share one of my favorites because it really doesn’t involve a lot of running but it’s still highly effective. But you will need to get your butt and calf muscles pumping because there are a lot of hills involved:

 

1st Set: Warm-up!

0-3:00: set incline on treadmill at 2 and the speed at 3.5 mph

3-5:00: incline- 4; speed- 4.0 mph

5-7:00: incline- 5; speed- 5.0 mph

7-8:00: incline- 2; speed- 6.0 mph

2nd Set: Get the blood flowing!

8-16:00: Repeat the warm-up set above

3rd Set: Hill time (a.k.a. booty time!)

16-20:00: incline- 12; speed- 3.7 mph

20-21:00: incline- 15; speed-4.0 mph

21-23:00: incline- 10; speed-3.0 mph

4th Set: Feel the booty burn!

23-30:00: Repeat the 3rd set above!

5th Set: You’re really working now!

30-37:00: Repeat the 3rd set above, again!

6th Set: One last time!

37-44:00: Repeat the 3rd set above! Yes, again.

7th Set: Sprint- give it all you have left!

44-45:00- incline-2; 6-10 mph- whatever you can do, push yourself, it’s only 60 seconds.

8th Set: Cool down!

45-50:00- no incline; speed- 3 or 3.5 mph

*Disclaimer: This is one of the longer work-outs. I don’t always have time to do the whole thing but even if I just do half of it, I’m sweating big time!

 

For more information about this work-out, go to the awesome Blogilates website. I found this work-out there. You can also find a lot of other health/fitness tips there too. And plus, the website is super cute.

If you want to read more about interval training/running, visit Nerd Fitness. They give a pretty straight forward and simple explanation of how it’s done/it’s benefits.

I hope you all get a chance to try this workout, it’s worth a shot. Feel free to post your experiences below. Make sure to check back next week for Workout #2. Happy exercising!

Today’s Obsession: Patagonia and Bobbi Brown

About a week ago I celebrated yet another birthday with family and friends and as usual got completely spoiled. I’m not quite sure how I got so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life but when they come bearing gifts, I’m not going to ask too many questions. All joking aside, my family and friends really do rock. Besides a ton of food, laughter, and love I received two new products (among many others) that I have head-over-heels fallen in love with.

First, I have officially popped my Patagonia cherry and I have to say I really, really like it. Alright- here’s the real story. My husband received his first Patagonia vest this past Christmas. I never really saw him as the vest type of guy but it actually looks really good on him and he actually really loves it. That’s when my natural woman jealous tendencies really started to kick in. I wanted one too. I wasn’t sure if it was the Patagonia brand or the vest I was jealous of. Now I am able to tell you, it was both. For some reason I never really liked vests but I have so many other fleeces/sweaters that it didn’t really make sense to spend a lot of money on something I don’t really need. So, I started to casually browse for Patagonia women’s vests in the coming weeks. To my surprise I found a ton of different styles that I really liked. One thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want just the typical fleece material. I feel like it is a little too “old” for me and not something you can really wear in a fashionable way on a daily basis. Although, the models on the website made them look pretty damn good but I wasn’t convinced I could pull it off. Not for my first time at least. So it was settled, I either wanted a vest with a fuzzier fleece material or a quilted one. I continued the search for the perfect vest to lose my vest-virginity to (J.Crew has a really nice quilted vest that tempted me). But in the end, my jealous heart went back to Patagonia where I found the vest for me: the Women’s Retro X Vest, in dark walnut.

The material was exactly what I was looking for- a fluffier, fuzzier, and more fun fleece. Not to mention the color is really versatile, it can be worn with almost anything. To me, this is a vest you can wear out in public instead of just while hiking, skiing, or working outside. You can dress it up slightly with a button up Oxford shirt underneath or you can completely dress it down with a hooded sweatshirt. Whichever way you choose, it’s still a cuter and hipper version of the traditional fleece vest. I’m not ashamed to say that I have worn mine approximately four or five times in the last week and a half. The way I look at it is that I won’t be able to wear it much longer once spring finally hits us (fingers crossed). So in this case, the repetition is totally acceptable, right? This vest will typically run you about $180 but don’t settle. I was able to find my vest for about $100 here with free shipping and it was worth every single penny. Well, every single one of my mom’s pennies.

I have also developed a rekindled interest in make-up lately which I completely blame on my sister-in-law. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved make-up but I usually just run into the cosmetic aisle in Target and grab the cheapest mascara, concealer, or eye-shadow I can find. I have had my bouts with more expensive make-up like Smashbox, Bare Minerals, and Laura Geller. But once I finish the product I am usually pretty reluctant to go out and cough up more cash for a new one. But a few really good Black Friday deals at Ulta got me going again and now I want more, and more, and even more. Lucky for me, I started running out of my Laura Geller bronzer just in time for my birthday. I decided I wanted to try something new since I really don’t have a clue about the full potential of available bronzers out there waiting for me. With this very crucial dilemma on my mind I sought the help of my fashionista sister-in-law. She suggested I try Bobbi Brown. And yes, it’s amazing. I settled for the golden light shade since my skin a pretty fair and I don’t like to look like I am wearing a lot of make-up.

The color is perfect. With just a little dab it gives your cheeks the slightest healthy glow that no one would ever know is make-up. You can also apply the bronzer a little heavier to make it slightly more noticeable but still completely natural. The best part is that it stays on all day and night until I wash my face. Or perhaps the best, best part is that I have also noticed that I don’t get it everywhere once it’s on my face, including the collar of my shirts/coats or on my pillow when I lay down after work or for a cat-nap on the weekends. I also really like to feel of the bronzer itself. It does not feel “cakey” or heavy at all. You can’t even feel it on your face. Harmless beauty is the best beauty. The price is typically $38 which I don’t think is horrible for designer make-up and you can buy it mostly wherever more high-end make-up is sold. My sister-in-law suggested buying it at Nordstrom’s because it’s free shipping. Who doesn’t like their make-up to arrive free right at their front door? But when I was looking I didn’t feel like they had the right color for me so I decided that I would get mine from Bloomingdale’s. It’s the same price and you get free shipping if you are a Loyalist card member which everyone should sign up to be one right now. It’s free and is just a bonus points card, not a credit card. I think I’m going to stick with this one for a while.

Two great products- one happy girl.

Can someone remind me again why it can’t be my birthday every month?

Grilled Chicken Marinade

For some reason, food has been on my mind all day. Maybe it’s my mind’s way of telling me that it is time to post another recipe. Well, lucky for me I tried a new chicken marinade last night and it was probably one of my favorites I have made so far. Perfect timing if I do say so myself. I did that on purpose, right?

Chicken is very easy to cook with and can be prepared many different ways. We probably have it once or twice a week in my house. The problem? It can get very boring. I can’t tell you have many different types of marinades and sauces I have tried with my chicken over the last year. They all seem to blend together in my mind and once again have become boring. Nothing has seemed to really stand out to me yet, but last night I think I found the solution to my problem (well, at least for now). I came across a grilled chicken marinade that I actually haven’t tried yet so I decided to give it a whirl. And I was very pleasantly surprised.

Below is the original recipe for the marinade. I cut it in half because I was only cooking two chicken breasts and it seemed to be just right, so feel free to adjust accordingly.

Ingredients:

1 cup of brown sugar

1 cup of vegetable oil

1/2 cup of soy sauce

1/2 cup of vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)

The rest is pretty simple.

-Mix all the above ingredients together and pour over chicken either in a bowl or a ziploc bag.

-Let marinate for 4 hours or overnight if you can (confession, I only had time for it to marinate for about 2.5 hours and it was still delicious but next time I will for sure let it sit overnight).

-Next, grill it. It is too cold to be cooking outside here so I just cooked them in a grill pan on the stove (a wedding shower gift that we didn’t register for that I am actually glad we got-note to future bride-to-be’s). My pieces of chicken were a little thicker so it took about 20-25 minutes but well, well worth it.

I served my chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus. It made for a delicious meal. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take my own picture of my creation last night but here is a mouth-watering picture from the blog in which I had originally found this recipe. After that I obviously had to try it, right?

4-ingredient-chicken-marinade-NoBiggie.net-

If you try this marinade (which I am strongly encouraging), let me know what you think of it or if you have any other chicken suggestions. The somtimes-bored-cook in me would greatly appreciate it. 🙂

Happy cooking! Enjoy the weekend.

We Have A Right To Choose

I never really liked Hobby Lobby. Why? I’m not completely sure. It seems exactly like my kind of place- full of fun and creative things to decorate your house with, one craft project after the next. You can seriously get lost in there for hours. My friends rave about the place, but I just don’t understand it. Time after time I seem to have a bad experience there. Long and slow lines, poor customer service, long waits on the phone, or crappy store hours for us busy folks. But now, my time has come. I now have a real reason to dislike Hobby Lobby.

It’s no secret that Hobby Lobby is a religious company- founded on typical Christian beliefs. They are closed on Sundays and host a variety of religious paraphernalia throughout the store. I think this is great (except the closed on Sundays part- sorry, blame it on my generation). There aren’t many major companies out there today that abide by morals and beliefs such as these. Most companies just care about making money in any way possible, completely diminishing any personalized touch or uniqueness. Eventually every business or store gets mushed into one big smorgasbord crying for people to come and spend money there- any time, any day. So I get it, Hobby Lobby is different- they have values, that’s great. Really.

On March 25th, Hobby Lobby will present their case to the Supreme Court for a right to deny their employees with birth control coverage. As a company, they are legally responsible to provide birth control coverage under their health insurance plan but of course, this goes against their Christian beliefs…

There you go- I rest my case. I could just end this blog post here. But of course, you know I won’t.

Now, we must remember this is a company, a corporation, a business. This isn’t a church or a religious institution, “We’re not talking about religious organizations—we’re talking about corporations and commercial businesses. We’re talking about the guy who’s made a living selling needlepoint kits, glitter glue, and artificial topiaries deciding whether his employees should have access to affordable birth control,” quotes an article from The Daily Beast. I really can’t believe Hobby Lobby, along with other businesses, are seriously contemplating this. I can’t believe they are wasting our courts time with this. I thought we’ve made progress. I thought we were finally reaching a point where people were allowed to make their own decisions-  who they want to marry, when to be sexually active, or whether one wants to have a baby or not. Apparently we need a lot more progress, a lot more change, and a whole lot more communication about the reality of these issues and struggles that many people are faced with every day.

I can’t even begin to fathom a rational answer to this one. I just don’t see how the owners of any business can seriously sit around and decide for their employees whether or not they should have access to birth control because it doesn’t abide with the companies beliefs. But what about the morals and beliefs of your employees? Part of running a business is making your employees happy, treating them like human beings, making them feel like they have a say, that they are making an impact. Part of paying back your workers for their efforts is to provide benefits of interest to them. Health insurance is one of these benefits that is very important to many people, in fact many people solely depend on their job just for the insurance. Birth control is legally part of that package. If you provide the health insurance, the access to birth control needs to be there too. Your employees rightfully deserve the whole package, they work for the whole pie not just for a piece.

Just because the access to birth control is there, doesn’t mean it needs to be used. If an individual is against birth control then they won’t use that part of their plan. That doesn’t change the fact that every employee has the right to take birth control if they so choose and they certainly should not be denied that right because their employer doesn’t deem it morally right. As an employee you have a right to those health benefits, you work hard for them, and are a conscious human being capable of making your own decisions. You are the only one in control of your body- not your job, spouse, partner, religion, or government. Only you. You have the right to choose.

Taking birth control is responsible. The woman recognizes that pregnancy isn’t the right choice for them at their current position in life. They might be too young, financially unstable, not in a committed relationship (gasps!), or just not ready to devote their time to and love another human being to their fullest potential. As a woman, we have the right to choose when to procreate. We have the right to say when it’s time, if ever. We have the right to protect our best interests and the interests of our future offspring. It’s not fair to bring a child into a world that isn’t ready for them and a mother is the only person who knows when that time is right.

The scariest part of this whole debate for me is to think that there are women out there, whether they are working for these companies or not, that are okay with this restriction. It’s not about what religion you believe in, if you support birth control use or not, or what your views on abortion/procreation are. It’s about the freedom to choose. To have control over your body. To have options, tools, and the education to make the best possible choices regarding your own life. It’s about creating a life that works for you. And most importantly, it’s about keeping the public out of your personal life. We need to support each other, to fight for the type of world we want to live in and not become comfortable in the world we are living in.

The use of birth control does not determine what type of person you are. It doesn’t determine your race, religion, or sexuality. It doesn’t determine your values, beliefs, or morals. It’s a choice, it’s an advancement. It’s a token of our freedom. And it’s about time that the rest of the world starts to catch up.

Book Review: How To Disappear Completly by Kelsey Osgood

Last night I finished reading an anorexia memoir titled How To Disappear Completely by Kelsey Osgood. Although I wouldn’t classify this book as one of the best books I ever read, I really did appreciate the subject matter. If you are looking for a really entertaining read with spotless writing then this probably isn’t the book for you. But, it definitely provides a lot of food for thought.

Before reading this memoir, I had read other anorexia/addiction memoirs. The stories are brutal and heartbreaking. The things they put their bodies through, the extent they go to to lie, to hide things, to become sicker is unbelievable. But usually in the end they persevere. They overcome their downfall and get on a road back to health. For me, these memoirs were never more than stories. If anything they made me want to eat more, be happier, and just love who I am. I couldn’t imagine going through what they put themselves through. For me, these stories were deterrents. It never occurred to me to look at the other side of the story. To think about the readers who aren’t as happy with who they are, who are struggling to stand out or fit in, to feel loved, or admired. Osgood makes a very good point- these very memoirs are enabling these readers to be anorexic, to get the attention they are striving for, to accomplish something that is worth noting.

I’m still not sure if I completely agree with what Osgood is saying but I do agree she has something there. She refrains from giving any specific details about her own disease, claiming that from experience this only encourages bad habits and behaviors. If she reveals her lowest weight, that gives another person something to strive to be. If she discloses the amount of food she used to consume, that only gives someone a plan. Osgood claims she became a “good anorexic” by studying other people’s memoirs, case studies, magazine articles, documentaries, and television shows. As a young girl she graved attention she didn’t think she was getting, she wanted to accomplish something people would talk about, she wanted to be known for something, to succeed in something. She wanted to be “perfect” and loved. With all this information readily available at her fingertips- in the libraries, the bookstores, on the internet, or on television, Osgood felt like becoming thin would help her reach those goals and desires. She was going to get thin the easiest way she knew how, the way she had seen many other girls get thin. And boy, was she going to get really thin- she would show them. She found a new purpose, a new goal, a new way to feel better about herself and she had a lot of helping in doing so.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Our society values being thin, pretty, and popular. We thrive to be successful, to accomplish something with our lives. We are bombarded with examples of “perfect” people and to reach their image seems nearly impossible. We can’t imagine a healthy way to look like that model in a bikini ad because we aren’t given the tools. Their aren’t many diet and exercise ads that say, “I ate this, this, and this today and I am still thin. I am still healthy.” But, there are many ads out there for unhealthy diets, their are many resources out there (chat rooms, internet forums, etc.) in which people encourage each other to get thin, to be the thinnest, and do it in the worse possible way. To be the worst is to be better, it’s means you are the “best.” I’m not saying that there aren’t any people, companies, or diet plans out there promoting the right things. But I do think they are harder to come by and aren’t as easily accessible. It’s easier to find stories about people who have suffered. It seems easier to starve yourself than to educate yourself on healthy eating and exercise.

This book made me stop and think- how about if we lived in a world where we didn’t talk about things like this? If no one ever shared their stories of eating disorders, drug addiction, or alcohol abuse. If no one ever revealed their greatest weight loss tip or the easiest/quickest way to get high. If we didn’t know the truth of people’s struggles, if we weren’t given that information to ease our own problems- would these diseases still exist? Would they be as prevalent? It’s a weird thought but something worth thinking about whether you agree or not. I personally think they would still exist. I don’t think these diseases or substance abuse would just magically disappear. And I certainly wouldn’t want to cut off an open dialogue about people seeking help and treatment. But I can’t help but think that maybe a little more privacy wouldn’t hurt.

After reading this book, I don’t know if I see the point in writing about your darkest, gruesomest days anymore. Publishing or filming the details of your life for the rest of the world’s entertainment. Why do we have the right to pry into your personal life? That’s your story, your personal intimacies, and no one should feel the need to publicize that information or even read it. I do believe that writing and coming to terms with where you have been, what you have done, and what you see your future to be are all huge parts of therapy and recovery but this can all be done, and should be done, privately. Your support should come from your family, friends, and loved ones. Not from people who don’t know you, who may encourage you to back track at any moment. In this age of social media frenzy, we all need to appreciate our privacy just a little bit more.

I always enjoy a book that forces me to think in a different way, to open my mind to new alternatives and ways of thinking. I like hearing different takes on the same subject, hearing all different sides before forming my own opinion. I will often stumble upon something I have never thought of before. How To Completely Disappear goes beyond anorexia. It brings to light a subject that everyone can relate to. It encourages you re-think what your version of “perfect” is, to re-evaluate what makes you happy, and to value your own personal life more. I think we can all learn something, whether we agree with Osgood or not, from this book. We should all stop to think about what we want to share before we share it- the effect it will have on yourself, on your loved ones, and those you don’t even know. Next time you go to write a status, post a picture, create a tweet, or even write a blog post just stop to think for a moment before hitting ‘enter.’ And maybe even put that smartphone down for a day. It won’t hurt, I promise. Censorship is a practice we should all partake in a little bit more.