Two Quick and Easy Recipes

As promised, here are two simple recipes I tried out (successfully) this week:

1. Skillet Salmon and Parmesan Potatoes
I love salmon. I like it with all different kinds of flavors, sauces, and sides. I stumbled across a list of 20 easy salmon recipes, and I decided it was time for me to experiment cooking salmon myself (I always make Josh do it). I picked this specific recipe because I already had all the ingredients on hand.

-Salmon fillets (I cooked 4 for my family)
-Cooking Spray (I used an awesome Tuscan Italian Herb flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil from a local shop in the pan instead)
-2 medium potatoes
-Parmesan cheese (I used the shaker stuff because I didn't have any fresh Parmesan on hand)
-Salad greens (Just romaine for us)
-Tomatoes (I substituted chopped carrots and celery)
-Low-fat balsamic vinaigrette
-1 Lemon
-Salt and pepper

1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add Olive Oil to pan. Add fish to pan and cook for 6 minutes on each side.
2. While fish is cooking, pierce potatoes with a fork and microwave for 5 minutes. Rearrange potatoes and microwave for another 3-5 minutes. Then let stand for another 5 minutes.
3. Cut cooked potatoes in half and season with cheese, salt, and pepper.
4. Add chopped carrots and celery to lettuce and toss with vinaigrette.
5. Squeeze lemon juice over salmon and serve. I also added a touch of butter.

Nutritional Information (per serving, according to health.com)
410 Calories
12 g of Fat
30 g of Protein
49 g of Carbohydrates
7 g of Fiber
50 mg of Cholesterol
800 mg of Sodium

Yum! This is the perfect recipe to make when time is short (I made almost the whole meal during half-time of a soccer game on tv) because you can easily do the prep work while the salmon is cooking. It only takes about 15 minutes and it is simple and healthy!

2. Triple Berry Banana Yogurt Smoothie
Josh surprised me this week with a single-serving blender! I had to try it out right away. I searched for a recipe that included yogurt (I had a big container I needed to use up) and fresh/frozen fruit.

-8 oz. frozen mixed berries
-2 small bananas, peeled, frozen and cut into pieces
-6 oz. vanilla yogurt (I used Fit & Active Non-fat vanilla yogurt, but you could easily substitute Greek yogurt or a flavored yogurt)
-1 cup milk (Although the recipe calls for whole milk, I used skim milk and it was great)
-1 to 2 tbsp. honey (I added some honey, but not that much. It really doesn't need the added sugar)

This smoothie was SUPER creamy and thick. It tasted really great, and it has pretty good ingredients. I know there's some sugar and fat in it, but it's better than eating ice cream (which would be my normal choice). The thing I didn't like about it was that it was crazy seedy. I know, I know, what did I expect when it's full of raspberries and blackberries? Anyway, I think next time I might try to strain out some of the seeds.

I'm still keeping up with trying out new workout routines. I've also been doing Cassey Ho's Bikini Blasters every few days and I am loving those. My mom had mentioned that she is wanting to start toning up, so I am going to start making up short and easy routines that she can do in our living room. Super excited about that!

The other thing I'm super excited about? My new shoes! My best friend and her fiance are in town this weekend, and we all went shopping at the outlet mall. We went to Nine West because she was looking for shoes to wear to a wedding. The whole store was BOGO, so she forced me to get something. These are so summery, so cute, and so perfect for the 4th of July (and only ended up being 10 bucks)!

(Sorry about the lame cell phone picture, I couldn't find a pic online)

Lots more to chatter on about, but I will save it for another post. Have a great weekend!


Crafting a good workout playlist

Even though I haven't talked about it on this blog yet, I'm obsessed with music. I loved everything, from country when I was younger, to pop-punk and more indie stuff. When I met Josh, he introduced me to a whole new world of music (hello, Avett Brothers) and we regularly burn mixes for each other to share music we love. We also listen to the radio ALL THE TIME (partly due to the fact that both of our CD players were on the fritz). Since we don't get a lot of variety in Columbus, Indiana, we even listen to country. And Radio Disney. I don't believe in guilty pleasures. If you like something, like it and be proud. I will belt Bieber, Kenny Chesney, and Mumford & Sons in the same sitting. So what do I listen to when I work out?

I lived at home during my second year of college, and since there was never anything to do, I went to the gym quite a bit. I always ran on the treadmill, and my go-to running playlist was a simple shuffle of Panic at the Disco's first album, Paramore, and Fall Out Boy. It was the perfect tempo for a fairly well-paced run. No matter how many times I went to the gym in a week, I never got sick of this playlist. Those were simple times.

A few years ago, my sister gave me an Ipod shuffle for Christmas (best present ever). Around this time, I also started following podcasts and getting a bunch of free playlists of unknown bands. I'm really bad at listening to new music (I get caught up in my old favorites), so I decided to load all new music onto my shuffle and listen to that in the gym. This worked well for a while- I just skipped over songs that weren't my style or weren't the right tempo. Eventually I got tired of this because I didn't know the track titles or band names, and I couldn't keep straight what songs I liked.

Now, I fill my shuffle with a crazy mix of songs- country, pop/radio hits, rap, and old favorites. It works well because I know I like the songs, so I only have to skip over songs that aren't fitting what I'm doing. I throw some slower songs on for strength training so I remember to focus on my movements. So without further ado, here are 2 quick playlists- 1 for cardio and 1 for weight-lifting.

What do you think? Any suggestions?

Keep your eyes out for a few recipes I'll be sharing soon. I tried some new ones today!


The best Nike commercial I've ever seen (Title IX)

I'm not sure whether I was watching a soccer game (either Euro 2012 or MLS) or Olympic trials on tv today, but I saw this seriously awesome Nike commercial. It gave me goosebumps.

It came out at a perfect time, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX- "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..." As a female athlete and tomboy, I know what it's like to deal with boys who won't pass you the ball. I'm used to being picked last for sports when I'm playing with guys. And I savor the looks of amazement on their faces when I kick their asses. So, girl power! I'm so thankful for the women and girls who led the way and are good role models for female athletes today.

I had a pretty lazy day, but I decided to try one of the many workouts I rip out from magazines but never get around to trying. This one is the Beach Body Circuit workout found in the June 2012 issue of Fitness magazine, and you can find the slideshow of it on their website here. Just looking at the pictures, I had no idea how challenging it would actually be (except for the Plank, Row, Flye. I knew that one would be suck suck suck). Some of the moves were fairly simple and I wish I had heavier weights to use with them. I liked the short cardio bursts between sets and I definitely worked up a sweat. I was even able to do this in the living room while Josh was watching a soccer game without disturbing him too much. When I plugged it into www.weighttraining.com, it said I burned something like 600 calories. Pretty sure that's still too high of a number, but I feel good, and tired. Doing 2 complete circuits took about half an hour.

This workout also led me to this week's Workout Move of the Week: The Wraparound
You start lying face up with your legs extended and arms extended behind your head holding a weight (I used 8 lbs). You raise up your right leg to 90 degrees and raise your head and shoulders at the same time, passing the weight around your leg. Then you return to the starting position and do it again but with your left leg. 20 alternating reps.
I loved this move because there were lots of things going on at once, and I could feel my abs and obliques working hard.

I'm getting up early tomorrow to go watch Josh's 5 and 7 year old niece and nephew, so I'll be starting my day running around A LOT. Wish me luck!


3 Things

1: Workout Recap
I found two more Jillian DVDs at the public library (Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism and 30 Day Shred). I did Level 1 of 30 Day Shred on Thursday morning. It's the same setup as my fave Ripped in 30, but I didn't like it as much. I'll be putting up a full review soon (as soon as I have made it through all 3 levels a few times. I did four 6 minute circuits of Boost Metabolism today (all cardio, all high intensity, with each circuit focusing on a specific area). It was pretty killer, but the 30 second bursts of different exercises kept it fun. I'm hoping to post a review of the entire DVD (which has 7 circuits) sometime this week.
I am really getting into logging my workouts on www.weighttraining.com. It's a great boost to look at all the calories I've burned, weight I've lifted, etc. Even if I'm not completing a full workout or I can't do as much as I wish I could, I still log what I do and I can focus on what I can do. It's definitely helped me think more positively about myself and my workouts. There are also cool features like challenges and competitions that offer even more incentives for doing work.

2: Peaches
Can I just say how ridiculously excited I am that peaches are finally in season? I imagine heaven is comparable to biting into the first ripe peach of summer.

Hello, you beautiful thing. My dad refuses to eat peaches because when he was a kid, he ate a peach from a tree and there was a worm in it. More peaches for me!

3: Zionsville, Indiana
Josh and I went up to Zionsville on Friday. I had a job interview here:
This picture does it no justice. It was literally breathtaking. This is a MIDDLE SCHOOL, by the way.
After my interview (not holding my breath), Josh took me downtown to Main St. so we could walk around. It was the happiest place on earth. Brick paved road, houses from the 1800s, shops and restaurants, gardens in alleys, character. I was "awww-ing" up a storm.

Bumming around home for the rest of the day (and probably weekend). I have had 13-14 hour days recently and I am happy to be home and relaxing!




HIIT a.k.a. High Intensity Interval Training. My workout today. This is the same workout I tried to do a few days ago, but this time I was more prepared for the insanity. Here's what I did:

Warm-up: 15-20 reps of bodyweight lunges
Superset (each exercise flows into the next without any breaks or rest):
-35 reps split squat jumps
-30 seconds narrow stance static squat
-10 burpees
-30 seconds plank
-75 mountain climbers
-10 push ups
-40 reps spiderman planks
-8 reps downward dogging cobra (this is "recovery". ha!)
-15 reps plie squats
-15 reps in-and-outs
-15 reps out-and-ups
-30 seconds static squat
-10 burpees
 ANDDDD a 90 second break before doing it all again (THREE more times actually).

At least that was the plan. I did manage to do 2 sets. Each set takes about 10 minutes, and after 20 minutes of HIIT, I was ready to die. When I logged my workout into www.weighttraining.com, it said I burned something like 800 calories. While I'm fairly certain this is way too high, I know I burned quite a few calories. So much sweat. And as I'm writing this an hour later, I still feel shaky. It's a good thing, right?

I spent the rest of my day swimming at the lake with Josh, watching Euro2012 games, and (ugh) going to the dentist. I don't hate the dentist as much as some people (i.e. my sister- check out her blog), but I certainly don't enjoy it. This trip was special though. While in the waiting room, a little boy with Down syndrome took a shine to me. I said hi and he sat down right next to me. First question: "Are you married?" When I told him not yet, he grabbed a pamphlet off a table, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him (and gave me the pamphlet). What makes this moment even better? "Single Ladies" by Beyonce was playing in the background. Yes, please. As he left, he even gave me one of these:
Only he was way cuter.
I mean, seriously. This really happened. I love my life!


The overwhelming need for Icy Hot

Consider yesterday my most hodge-podge workout day of all time. Let me recap my day:

1. I wanted to try this new workout guide for the month of June featured on one of my favorite blogs, Blogilates. This girl's motto is "Train insane or remain the same". Yes. I did one of her videos which is a muscle-specific challenge set to a pop song. My choice: Glad You Came Calves Challenge. Basically, your heels don't touch the ground for 3ish minutes and you do calf raises and pulses. Torture. Even more torturous? The way my calves feel today. I am limping around like Forrest Gump with his magic legs.

2. I also tried to do a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout found on the same blog. You're supposed to go through the circuit 4 times. I didn't even finish one. Whoops. I did some random arms moves with dumbbells while watching TV- concentrated curls, one-arm rows, butterflies, etc.

3. Josh and I went out to the lake, and decided to take my dog Maggie with us.
Totally my favorite picture of the 2 of us.
It's fun to take her out to the lake and watch her frolic in the water. She leaps like a gazelle and chomps on the water like she's eating it. We kept her on the lead because she's not a very well-trained dog... until she just looked so darn cute jumping around that we decided to let her off the leash. It worked for about 2 seconds until she decided to go explore the shoreline, and then poop in the neighbor's lawn. As Josh headed up to the car to get a plastic bag to clean it up, Mags took one look at us and sprinted up the driveway like an unruly teenager. Almost no one was out at the lake on midday Friday, so it was just the two of us searching the roads and woods for my crazy dog. Luckily, I heard her exploring the woods and I was able to follow her close enough that I could at least keep track of her. She eventually worked her way back to our cabin (after leading me across a creek and into multiple people's yards and back) and acted like she was going to jump in the car. Fooled us again. She ran off down the drive AGAIN. By this time, I was fed up. She stopped to sniff a plant and I got real with her. Dog whisperer and stuff. "MAGGIE COME!" And she listened (or she was just tired and knew I would give her water). So there was another workout for the day. Did I mention that this dog is "AKC Good Citizen" trained? Pshhh.

4. Last but not least, Josh and I went to his parents' house to water the plants and take care of their dog. They have a trampoline, so I decided to try to make it like a workout. I'm not sure how effective it was, other than cardio, but I'm pretty sure I looked like this:
Maybe I should have mentioned this at the beginning of the post, but I joined Weighttraining.com. It's pretty cool- you start with a Fitness Report Card, log workouts, and compete in challenges. Just another factor that I'm hoping will motivate me. I'll have a more detailed post about this in a few days.

Now, back to the heating pad!


And now, for something completely different...

It's me! I haven't disappeared... I've been on vacation in the lands of Iowa and Minnesota for the past 10 days or so. I have always been bad about keeping up with exercising and healthy eating during vacations (why run on the beach when you can lay on it??) and this trip was no different. If I'd have thought ahead, I would have come up with a doable vacation workout plan. But the trip came up before I knew it, and when the time came, I was just not prepared to try to workout on top of everything else (you know, sleeping in, spending time with family, checking out new places).

So instead of making this a typical post, I decided to share some highlights of my trip:

1. We visited my sister and brother-in-law in Iowa. Not only is my sister my favorite person, but we got to spend a lot of time planning out DIY projects for my upcoming wedding! I also found a cheapo dress at Old Navy to wear in the engagement pics (more on this in a minute)...

2. The first thing we did in MN was visit the Mall of America. I like shopping, and this place is one hell of an experience. I usually run out of steam by the 2nd floor, which I'm sure suits Josh just fine. At Barnes and Noble, I did pick up a bargain priced Pilates book called Pilates Practice Companion. I haven't had much of a chance to explore it, but it starts with an introduction to the benefits of Pilates and a "baseline"- record of your beginning strength, alignment, breathing, stability, flexibility, etc. I am hoping to start trying some of the Pilates in this book beginning next week after I record my baseline. I'll measure it again in 6 weeks and see where I stand!

3. Engagement pics! Josh's cousin is a photographer, and it recently occurred to us to ask her to take our pictures. Here's just a preview of the end result:

So cool, right? She takes some ah-maz-ing portraits (especially of her super cute kids) so go check out her Facebook page!

4. I got to explore downtown Minneapolis for the first time. I love spending time in MN and I love Josh's family (they have an annual family reunion each summer). Josh and I have seriously discussed moving there. We shall see...

5. Getting out of the car after the 11 hour trip. There's no place like home.

Josh and I are planning to go out to the lake tomorrow, which means I have an opportunity to be his drill sergeant for another workout. Yay!


Four star chicken recipe!

So instead of going on and on about working out, I'm going to share my new favorite chicken recipe with you. It's part of Jillian's Ripped in 30 Diet Plan, so it's really healthy AND easy to make.

Nut Encrusted Chicken Breasts

-1/2 cup unsalted almonds, toasted
-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
-3/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
-1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
-3/4 tsp. dried rosemary
-1 garlic clove
-1/4 tsp. salt
-4 (4-5 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In the work bowl of a food processor, place the almonds, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, garlic, and salt. Process until coarsely chopped; the mixture will be a thick paste. Arrange the chicken breast halves in a baking dish. Divide the almond paste and spread on the breasts; pat down to cover each breast completely. Roast in the oven until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 165-170 degrees, about 10 minutes. Loosely tent with foil and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Servings: 4
293 Calories per serving
17.4 grams of fat
4.3 grams of carbohydrates
194.2 mg sodium
30 grams of protein

I wish I had a picture to include, but I don't. I've found that I've had to cook the chicken more like 20-25 minutes for it to cook through (probably because I've used bigger pieces of chicken). We ate this chicken this week with steamed broccoli. Delish!