September 2012


Recovery Week is all about doing the exercises at a slightly slower pace. “Core Cardio and Balance” allows you to focus on your abs on routines that are more about strength than cardio. You still get a good sweat and your heart rate gets going, but as Shaun T points out, you’re not supposed to be burnt out by the end of the workout.

With my in-laws visiting, my Recovery Week actually lasted ten days because I took more breaks than usual. I did 2 consecutive days of workouts, followed by workouts every other day. I also snuck in one day of Cardio Power and Resistance in the middle of my recovery week because I felt like I had to get some excess energy out of my system!

There is not much variation from one day to the next for me, but it was a wonderful change from the challenge of the past four weeks…with the slowed-down pace, I almost felt like I could match my pace with everyone on the DVD. There are still some challenging exercises depending on your level of strength and flexibility (like the one below was for me):

Your leg stays up and you bend at the knee…less cardio but just as tough! Image source: http://www.fitbomb.com.

My favorite move was the last one, because for me it was the “easiest” to do. With Hip Flexor Burners you are in a low pliet, arms extended straight out, and you move your arms up and down slowly (like slo mo flapping,) but keep your shoulders still. You then move your arms forward so they’re straight out in front of you, then straight out to the side, maintaining a low pliet. There are more arm movements, and this really work your shoulders AND your quads, but Leah Sarago’s Ballet Body workouts as well as Jazzercise’s Ballet Body helped with these moves:

For two minutes you maintain this pliet position while doing various straight arm movements. Great for the shoulders, quads, abs, and lower back. Image source: http://www.buildahardbody.com.

Anticipating Month 2 of Insanity…pretty nervous & excited! And the next Fit Test is coming up, wish me luck! :)

Happy WIAW!!! My apologies for the lack of food posts, I only had time to post my Insanity workouts (which are actually written 2 weeks in advance) and my husband’s parents are visiting from Germany! Our first official house guests in our new home, and it’s pretty fun and exciting. But in addition to receiving guests, we were also able to meet up with some newlywed friends from Hawaii, who moved to Germany, who were visiting family in Boston.

This month’s WIAW theme is making us Fall into Good Habits. Jenn at Peas and Crayons kicked it off with some incredibly delicious-looking photos of her healthy eating, and be sure to check out what other bloggers have to share as they take the fall, all in the name of habitual goodness!

I’m going to be sharing some stuff I did the past couple of weeks, and one good habit to have is to have FUN! We met up with friends at Catamount Adventure Park, located an hour’s drive south of Albany. We spent a good 4 hours testing our physical prowess and conquering our fear of heights (or should I say our fear of falling!) as we enjoyed traversing swinging bridges, pinky-thin cables and zooming across the forest on zippy zip lines!

View of the main platform where you start.

My friend balancing on the high wire!

My husband coming up the swing-like steps.

Zip lining!

We would definitely do this all over again so for any of our Hawaii friends that wanna visit Upstate NY during the summer, be prepared to be dragged to Catamount Adventure Park!

Later on we enjoyed some much anticipated and long awaited Vietnamese food at Vans in downtown Albany:

I had the Vietnamese pancake filled with veggies, my husband had beef pho (I couldn’t finish it.)

On Saturday we picked up my husband’s parents who are visiting from Germany. Since the airport was 3 hours away, we took advantage of this special trip to Newark and stopped at Ikea, The Wine Library, Costco (just to cash in on our reward$) and Sephora. We came home about 1am…and look at all the goodies they brought us!

Chocolates…..

28 bars of chocolate, 1 huge bar of Ritter Sport, two bags of daim chocolate clusters.

…and beer!

12 bottles of Augustiner…matches the glasses we brought back on our last visit.

Indulging in chocolates and beer may not be the best for this month’s theme of “Falling into Good Habits,” but gift-giving certainly can!

Another good habit you can fall into is to share a favorite recipe with friends and family. My in-laws cooked some dinner for us last week. This one is a rich, creamy, delicious avocado sauce with pieces of pork served with rice. My mother-in-law made this with chicken a couple of times, but the pork tastes much better:

Here is a dish I call “Quark Cakes” because I keep forgetting the German name, Quarkkäulchen. My father-in-law enjoyed it as a child and it’s one of those comfort foods that will sure to bring back cozy memories.

Some of us may be familiar with this kind of Quark:

Or even this kind:

But it’s actually made with this delicious creamy stuff:

Quark is a type of soft cheese, almost like cream cheese in texture as well as flavor. Here is the recipe for Quark Pancakes, or Quarkkäulchen. It’s rich and filling, and can be enjoyed with fruits for breakfast or with a green salad for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Quarkkäulchen have a soft, tender texture dotted with sweet raisins and a lightly sweetened batter, all contained within the crispness of the golden fried dough. Topped with a light sprinkling of sugar, Quarkkäulchen is an indulgent comfort food.

Quarkkäulchen, with and without sugar.

Quarkkäulchen
This recipe is courtesy of my father-in-law, who had the pleasure of enjoying his mother prepare it for him as a child…with lots of sugar and love. :)

Ingredients:
250 g yellow potatoes or red potatoes, boiled, peeled & cooled overnight
90 g flour, more if needed
1/2 tablespoon salt
50g sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
250 g quark
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup raisins
vegetable oil for frying

Directions (I have to make this up, since it wasn’t included in the hand-written recipe!)
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. With a potato ricer, process potatoes into bowl (alternatively you could probably use a pastry cutter to break apart potatoes into very small pieces.) Stir well. Add quark and eggs and stir to combine. Dough will be really sticky, like thick pancake batter. Add raisins and stir gently to combine.

Heat about 1/4″ vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. On a large cookie sheet, sprinkle flour and keep about 1/2 cup flour in a dish nearby. Flour hands and begin to form dough into small cakes (or patties) about the size of your palm and the thickness of your thumb. Place on floured cookie sheet.

When oil is hot, carefully add patties to the skillet using a large wooden or metal spatula. Cook on one side for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Using two spatulas, carefully turn patties over, being careful not to splash oil (I actually splashed myself on the neck and arm!) Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes more or until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel-lined rack or plate and repeat with remaining cakes. Change oil if it gets too dirty.

Sprinkle patties with more sugar and serve hot. Bon Appetit!

Soft, tender Quarkkäulchen dotted with raisins.

Most of us think of healthy eating and exercise when asked about having good habits. But what else can be a good habit? How about randomly picking up trash and disposing it properly? Spontaneously doing jumping jacks when you feel lethargic? Brushing your hairy cats so they don’t make tumbleweed-hairballs all over the living room? That sounds like a good habit to pick up. Will I stick to it? Only if it becomes a habit. ;)

a good thing to keep in mind!

image source: fitfoodieshealthylife.com

This is the final week before “Recovery Week,” which divides Month 1 from the even more intense Month 2 training. So far I’ve noticed I’ve gotten stronger, my cardio has definitely improved, and with my changed eating habits I no longer wake up with a bloated belly–what a great feeling!

Day 19: Pure Cardio/Cardio Abs – Weight loss concerns

Though my weight loss is taking its time, I’ve been really happy with my increase in strength and endurance. I came across this video clip at teambeachbody.com talking about seeing results. Though it’s aimed at P90X, I figure it can also apply to Insanity workouts: http://www.teambeachbody.com/connect/message-boards/-/message_boards/message/205114284. According to the discussion, day 19 would still be early on in the game to see results (but I do love that I can feel the results!) He mentions to cut out refined carbs and sugars to help lose weight, but I still love having some Orange Date Cake or Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins with coffee,  and peanut butter jelly toast for breakfast is my favorite!

Pure Cardio is a nonstop heart-bursting set, so again, very important to take breaks when you need to, and if you’re exercising on hardwood floors like me–mop up your sweat or move around to a dry spot, I still have a tendency to slip in my sweat, especially when doing the Level 2 drills (plank, 8 push-ups, knees in, jump up w/ arms up, back down to plank, etc.) At one point I had to stop to receive a package from the Fed Ex guy, and this gave me a nice break so I did better on the hooks w/ jump ropes (below) but it also strained my back a little! Long periods of rest feel good at first, but they’re not good if you’re doing Insanity!

Day 20: Cardio Power & Resistance – exercise, diet, and spankin’ new shoes!

I am getting better. I know this because:

1) I don’t hate Globe Jumps so much
2) Power Jacks (jumping jacks with a squat) are still tough, but I can do more
3) I can do more consecutive Power Jumps
4) I can do moving push-ups almost at the same speed at the people on the DVD!

Last week I was complaining that I wasn’t losing weight, and it’s because my calorie intake was too high. Doing Insanity may feel like you’re burning 500 calories in one workout, but for someone with a small frame like me, I only burn about 220, maybe as much as 300 if I’m doing Pure Cardio and Cardio Abs back to back. I decided to monitor my calories, not by writing down everything I eat, but sticking with low-calorie, nutrient dense foods as much as possible. I’ve been taking in 1200 – 1500 calories a day, avoiding post-dinner snacks and eating lean meats like chicken breast and fish. I know meat has protein and it’s good for your muscles, but eating more meat doesn’t always work for me (my stomach increases by 4 inches after eating red meats…it’s very uncomfortable and I get extremely tired.) So, I’m looking for alternatives. Not replacements, but just easy alternatives.

Veggie sources of protein are often high in fat and carbs (legumes, nuts) so that was not much help, either. Since protein is made up of amino acids, and amino acids can be found in lots of low-calorie and nutrient dense foods, I realized I could just eat a good variety of fruits, veggies & some grains to get the same building blocks that will eventually help my muscles grow. I don’t know if this will work for me, but it seems to make sense!

I am still learning about this stuff, and I think it’s great that I don’t have to worry if I don’t get enough protein per day…there’s always aminos! Here’s an article that I found very helpful, I hope you find it helpful, too:
http://www.rawfoodia.com/raw-food-protein.html
http://www.globalhempstore.com/hemp-food/raw-protein-lean-body.html

My new shoes came in! This is what I got:

Ryka Transition Women’s Cross-Training Shoe (image source: shopping.yahoo.com)

This is my second pair of Ryka shoes. The fit was really snug at first and I was worried that I had to return it. But the mesh stretches out, so it’s snug in a comfortable way. It fits well (I’m 8 1/2) but my toes tend to get scrunched up during the warm-ups. It’s super light and I really like the style. Here’s another look at my old pair of Ryka running shoes and my broken-in pair:

The gray parts are actually black, they look much nicer in real life!

Day 21/22: Plyometric Cardio Circuit/Cardio Recovery – chilly workout!

I took Saturday off and picked up with my workout Sunday morning, including the next day’s Cardio Recovery workout. The weather’s been cooling off, and at 7 a.m. it was 45 degrees! It’s 60 degrees inside, and I didn’t sweat as much as I normally do but it did feel like I was getting a little light headed. I’m not used to working out in cooler weather, but that’s no reason for me to wimp out…especially if I’m going to stay in shape during the winter!

I’m starting to feel like I’m better at keeping up with Shaun T and the gang, though I still am not nearly as fit as they are. I still need to take breaks during ski abs and in-and-outs because my quads just get incredibly fatigued. And guess what? I lost another pound! My eating plan is working with less calories and more nutrient-dense foods. I have to keep in mind that a calorie is a calorie, so if I give myself a daily allowance I gotta make the most of it, just like the allowances we got as a kid.  Spend it all on candy? Buy some comics? Save some for later? I definitely won’t use my calorie allowance all on candy, but I know I want to invest it in something that will give me future returns, like a stronger body, better concentration, less fatigue, improved health, and a better feeling about myself. And if I have some extra calories…I’ll probably spend them on a little indulgence. :)

Day 23: Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs – tired in the morning, restless at night

I didn’t want to get up this morning. Instead of getting up at 6:30, I slept until 9:30! I was glad that I did, because I was more focused on my work and saved my Insanity workout until the afternoon.

Pure Cardio continues to kick butt, and I still take frequent breaks. Aside from doing better with push-ups (my forearms, shoulders and upper back were aching this morning!) I think I’m getting better with mountain climbers (guava pickers) but still struggling with anything that makes you jump from a squat position.

I had a hard time sleeping, though. I had peanut butter jelly toast & coffee around 10:30am, no lunch (just drinking hot tea,) then had a small bite of something before my workout at 4 pm. I ate a lot for dinner (carrot sticks, cucumbers, chicken tikka & biriyani) and am wondering if it was the food or the late workout that made it difficult to sleep?

One of my favorite dinners: chicken tikka. Chicken marinated in yogurt mixed with tomato paste, coconut milk, Indian spices and other good stuff.

Day 24: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

I did a morning workout, 60 degrees inside and I didn’t start sweating until 7 minutes into the warm up…yes, I was THAT cold! The rest of the workout went well, challenging as always and I had a nice Vanilla Cucumber Smoothie right after. It’s the last day of Month 1, tomorrow begins “Recovery Week” and I’m sure it won’t be a vacation from Insanity. :)

Do it for YOURSELF!  image source: http://pinterest.com/vitacost/fit-spiration/

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