Sunday, February 23, 2014

10 Miler Training: Week 11

Monday, February 17th:
I started this week off right - with yoga. I've been saying for a while that I want to start doing yoga at home. I finally went through my pinned yoga sequences, and picked a few to try. I picked two that were listed as good for running, one for abs, and one that was restorative. I went through a lot of sequences that I didn't use, some that had poses I wasn't familiar with, and some that didn't fully describe how to get from one pose to the next.

I printed out the full sequence for all of them, which included a large image of the pose, as well as a little description of how to get from one pose to the next. The text wasn't very large, which was the first problem. I am used to following a yoga instructor, who will give the necessary directions, and I found that I kept having to refer to the text to see what to do. In some cases, I just came out of the pose and found my way into the next.

I think that I may try to find some videos or podcasts, so I can get some verbal cues, while I'm trying to refresh my yoga skills (whatever skills I had after a few months of it, at least). I did like the sequences that I did, and I think that they may be easier to get through the next time I try.

Complement Your Cardio: Long and Lean Yoga Flow: Down Dog, Warrior 1, Rotated Side Angle, Reverse Warrior, Half Moon, Bound Extended Side Angle, Wide-Legged Forward Bend, Open Lizard, Pigeon, Seated Spinal Twist, Half Wheel, Savasana

Lengthen and Strengthen Your Runner's Legs: Three-Legged Dog, Extended Table Top, Intense Side Stretch, Revolved Triangle, Rotated Side Angle, Reverse Warrior, Bent Standing Split, Burning Lunge, Open Lizard, Pigeon, Camel, Reclined Hero (couldn't do this one), Wide Straddle, Butterfly

Flatten Your Belly with Yoga: Down Dog, Arching Three-Legged Dog, Knee Up Plank, Warrior 1, Warrior 3, One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff, Side Plank, Balancing Star, Quarter Dog, Child's Pose, Boat, Intense East, Extended Squat, Crow (my favorite)

Seated Relaxing Yoga Sequence: Extended Wide Squat, Happy Baby, Figure Four, Reclining Twist, Child's Pose, Pigeon, Sphinx, Head to Knee Pose, Wide Straddle, Plow (I don't like doing these), Savasana

One weird thing - once I got home from lab, I was looking at facebook, and saw that there was something on my page that I had apparently pinned 40 minutes ago on pinterest. I knew I hadn't (it was pretty obvious because it wasn't food or exercise), so I went onto pinterest to check it out. It told me that something was fishy with my recent activity (I'm glad it caught it so quickly), and I had to reset my password. I took care of that, and then when I went to check it out, I saw that someone had changed my profile information, and had created a new board and pinned one thing to it. So strange! Hopefully it's all worked out, but it makes me worry about the security of the site, and I really hope someone didn't figure out my password. Plus, who would want to hack onto a pinterest account, and why??

Tuesday, February 18th:
This was another hard interval treadmill workout. The original plan was to do something similar to what I've done before - 1 mile warmup (5.7mph), 4 miles at goal pace (average of 6.1mph), 1 mile cooldown (5.7mph). I asked Joey what he recommended, thinking he was just going to play around with the distance, since the actual half marathon training said to do a 2 mile warmup, and 5 miles at goal pace. He then asked what I was hoping to get out of the training program - to do the 10 miles, or to get faster. I had to think about it for a minute, but then answered that I wanted to be able to run 10 miles comfortably, that was my main goal, but I also wanted to get a bit faster. He suggested that I increase the pace during the 4 miles - that instead of staying comfortable at 6.1, that I should try to keep it between 6.2 and 6.3. Not a huge difference, but enough to make the run more difficult.

I decided to do what I had done on Sunday, with going up and down every quarter mile, just to change it up. In order to keep my average pace between 6.2 and 6.3, I ranged from 6.1 to 6.4. The last mile was definitely hard, since I was climbing up in pace the whole time. I did my warmup and cooldown at 5.6, to make it a bit easier. While it was a hard run, I finished the whole thing! I'm hoping that it's just one more thing that will make me a better runner.

Wednesday, February 19th:
I did my first kettle bell workout in weeks! Literally, it's been four weeks. And oh man did it hurt. I did the workout with Joey, which of course meant that it was going to be crazy hard.

We did two century-style sets, but went through them in different ways. The first set, we did it as a "you go, I go" workout, so we had built-in breaks. I managed to go fast enough for Joey's liking, and we went through for a total of 5 times! We took a 10 minute break to get water, etc, and then went into the second set. With this set, we each went at our own pace, and tried to do as many times through as we could in 20 minutes. We were both in the middle of a set at 20 minutes, and finished in just about 23 minutes - me with 3 times through, Joey with 4 times through. Let's just say that set #2 was WAY more difficult than set #1.

After we finished with the KB sets, we each did some extra things. Joey did some tabata sets with squats and pullups (I think). I decided to get back into my assisted pullups. I basically had to start from scratch. I started with the assistance at 90lbs, and barely got 8 pullups. My grip must have been giving out, since I kept slipping. I rested for 2 minutes, then moved the assistance to 100lbs and just barely did 10. Then I rested another 2  minutes, and did another 8 at 100lbs. Hopefully it won't take me too long to get back to where I was - I think I was at 60lbs last summer (for 3 sets of 10), and was getting close to being able to do one unassisted.

Then I decided that I should do some wall sits, since I read that they're good for runners. I did 3 wall sits, for 30 seconds each. My quads were actually shaking, by the end of each one. Joey had to help pull me out of them, since I couldn't stand on my own.

Thursday, February 20th:
EVERYTHING hurt today. Everything. I'm so glad that my run was just supposed to be an easy 5 mile run. The weather has gotten much nicer this week - it's been at least 50 every day since Tuesday. A lot of the snow has melted, so I took a chance and went on my run outside. There were some areas where I had to jump off the sidewalk into the street, where there was a patch of snow, but it was mostly okay. My legs were just so sore and tight, I moved really slowly in the first couple miles. I started to loosen up toward the end, but once I got home, everything tightened up.

Saturday, February 22nd:
This was another run that we modified slightly. The plan was to do 1 mile warmup, 4 miles at marathon-marathon+30sec pace, then 1 mile cooldown. Joey said that I should try to do the 4 miles at goal pace + 15-20 sec, meaning about 10:15-10:20 pace. That I certainly didn't need to really push the pace, but that I should try to do it a little faster than my easy slow pace. For some reason, that made me nervous. I knew I would be running 11 miles the next day, and I didn't want to destroy my legs, even though that wasn't a really fast pace to keep. I decided to do the warmup mile really slow, so I would have plenty of energy to go faster in the middle.

I started out definitely feeling really slow, especially since my legs were still hurting from Wednesday. Imagine my surprise when the first split was 10:24, and then the next one was 10:00. If I did mile 1, which should be my slowest mile in 10:12, then I should probably kick it up a bit for the rest. Which is exactly what I did. Besides the 3rd mile, every other split was under 10:00. I think the 3rd mile is mostly mental. Even though the elevation map shows that it clearly isn't the biggest or steepest hill, it seems like it is. Since I was pushing the pace, I kept telling myself that I only needed to keep it up until I hit 5 miles, then I could take it down a notch for my cooldown mile. Even though I tried to do that, I still kept up the same 9:30-9:40 pace, and ended with an average pace of 9:45 min/mile. Not too bad for just a steady run.

Oh and btw, the weather was amazing. 55 and sunny is seriously my ideal running temperature. After I got back from my run, I showered and ate breakfast, and then went to the UVA/Notre Dame basketball game - go Hoos! The first half was disappointing, but we came back and dominated during the second half. This season has been an exciting one for us!

Sunday, February 22nd:
I was REALLY nervous about this run. 11 miles is a lot of running! My legs were really sore from the whole week of working out, and from the run the day before. Joey planned out a run for me, according to the specifications I told him. I didn't want any huge ups or downs, which meant I didn't want to run by the river. I wanted to have bathrooms/water easily accessible, especially once I was about halfway through. In the end, Joey came up with two loops, so I would pass back by our place about halfway through. I stashed a water bottle in the bushes outside our place, and decided to stop at that point to have a few pieces of GU, drink some water, stretch. The second loop was exactly what I did on Saturday, which made it a bit easier psychologically.

Unlike my run on Saturday, when I felt that I was moving really slowly at first, I actually was. In the end, the average pace wasn't all that bad. The three splits that were over 11 minute pace were all really hilly. I tried to pick it up at the end, and once I was done, felt completely drained. Joey had a glass of ice water waiting for me, and made me breakfast once I showered. Nothing like scrambled eggs, sauteed veggies, and incredible french toast made with the best cinnamon raisin bread ever, to make you feel better :)

Week Total:
Tuesday: 6 miles (treadmill)
Thursday: 5 miles (outside)
Saturday: 6.02 miles (outside)
Sunday: 11.01 miles (outside)
Weekly Total: 28.03 miles

One last thing - Joey requested another batch of those delicious dinner rolls I made on his birthday. This time we didn't have any green onions so we just upped the other herbs. I was nervous at first, since it required a lot of extra flour compared to the first time I made them. This could be because Joey measured the flour last time, or maybe their air was more humid this second time. Either way, it ended up working out really well - the total dough weighed less than an ounce less than the first time I made it, and the resulting rolls were just awesome.

Weekly Finds - 2/23/14


Caprese Shakshuka Breakfast Casserole This is awesome - kind of a meeting of the worlds for Italy and the Middle East - a Caprese version of eggs in purgatory


Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake The next time you want to make blueberry muffins - make this coffee cake instead!

Pear Cardamom Caramel Oh my, this flavor combination sounds incredible. I once made a pear upside down cake that had a cardamom caramel, and it was divine. It makes several jars that don't last crazy long, so be prepared to eat lots of it (or give it away to some very lucky friends).


Sweet and Sour Onion Focaccia This recipe, originally from Martha Stewart, is provided here with some really helpful tips and changes

Pain Brioche This recipe will give you authentic French brioche. It's pretty simple to make, but requires several rises, including one that is overnight in the fridge.

Cinnamon Crumb Breakfast Bread I had this recipe open when Joey was looking at my computer, and he immediately asked "What is that???" I knew I should probably add it to my recipe queue. The bread is sweet and moist, and swirled with cinnamon.


Butternut Squash Lasagna with Spinach Parmesan Sauce This spinach sauce looks so creamy and delicious. This recipe mentions using fresh lasagna noodles, which I haven't seen before. I'll have to look for them the next time I'm at the store (they would be in the refrigerated pasta section, with fresh tortellini and ravioli).

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Risotto This incredibly creamy risotto has two flavorful additions - butternut squash, which is shredded so it cooks with the rice, and goat cheese, lots of it.

How to Make Fresh Pasta A really nice tutorial on how to make fresh pasta, with specialized instructions based on your pasta purposes

How to Make Homemade Frozen Pizza This is perfect if you want the convenience of frozen pizzas, but don't want all of the preservatives and sodium that come with it.

One Pan Baked Ziti This really is one pan - even the pasta is cooked in the same pan as it is baked. This also looks incredibly creamy and cheesy without using all that much cheese.


Roasted Garlic and Shallot Dressing This salad dressing would be great to top any salad. You roast both the garlic AND the shallot. You could even top cooked vegetables with this delicious mix.


Banana Crumb Cake This uses pureed banana in both the cake and the crunchy topping. Make this cake the next time you have leftover bananas! (But warning - it will serve a crowd!)

Soft and Chewy Triple Peanut Butter Cookies Wow - so much peanut butter! These soft peanut butter cookies are topped with peanut butter chips and mini peanut butter cups. The good thing is that the recipe only makes 8 cookies - much less guilt when you eat all of them!


Post-Run Yoga Sequence After a tough run, this yoga sequence is the perfect way to cool down. By targeting the legs, lower back, and hips, these poses stretch all the areas that need special attention after running. Since the muscles are already warmed up, it's the prime time to work on extending flexibility.

2 Week Crunch Challenge This challenge will get you all the way to 100 crunches in 2 weeks. It includes five different crunches, that all target different parts of your core.


Why Runners Should Strength Train A really good article describing why it's important to cross-train and strength train when you're preparing for a race (besides the fact that it's just tons of fun), with examples of things to do

Friday, February 21, 2014

Homemade Trail Mix - A great pre-running (or anytime) snack

When I was in Salt Lake City with Joey and his family, his mom had bought two packages of trail mix to snack on during the day. They were both good, but one of them just disappeared, we all liked it so much. It has dried cherries, dried cranberries, almonds, peanuts, cashews, and dark chocolate chunks. The combination worked really well together.

Once we got home, we decided we wanted to try making our own trail mix. We went to Whole Foods, and went crazy in their bulk food section. We bought roasted (unsalted) peanuts, roasted (salted) cashews, pistachios, dried cranberries, banana chips, and Joey got a medley just for snacking on its own. Joey found some fantastic cinnamon almonds from Walmart, and bought some dried cherries at Trader Joe's. Lastly, we found dark chocolate chunks at Kroger, in the baking section. Since then, we used up the cashews, banana chips, cranberries and almonds, and bought all but the cranberries (got those at Kroger) at Trader Joe's. Surprisingly, the cinnamon almonds were better from Walmart.

I've just been making up a bag each day to bring in, and haven't been weighing or measuring anything. I'm sure some days I get much more than others, just based on the small handful I take of each ingredient. Last night, I was curious to see how much I was actually taking, and how many calories that equaled.

So, here it is:

Dark Chocolate Chunks

Dry Roasted & Salted Cashews

Cinnamon Almonds (still good, but not as good as Walmart's)

Organic Banana Chips

Dried Tart Cherries

Craisins (Original)

Dry Roasted (no salt added) Peanuts

I weighed each ingredient out as I added (in grams), creating the following:


Finished product!

In case you don't feel like reading the small numbers in the pictures, this is what I added:
15g dark chocolate chunks (1 serving)
14g cashews (~1/2 serving)
13g cinnamon almonds (~1/2 serving)
10g banana chips (1/3 serving)
10g dried cherries (~1/4 serving)
8g dried cranberries (1/5 serving)
13g peanuts (~1/2 serving)

The amount I created here had the following nutrition:
406 calories
8.7 g protein
6.0 g fiber
25.9 g fat

While this is relatively high in calories and pretty high in fat, it's all good fat (from the nuts). It's also pretty high in protein, and really high in fiber, so it'll keep you full for hours. This was probably a pretty large version, and I could easily shave off some calories and fat by making it a bit smaller, or not using all of the nuts. This version has roughly 1.5 servings of nuts, 1 serving of chocolate, and 3/4 serving of dried fruit. I love that I can customize it to include whatever I want that day, and that I can eat it before running, without worrying about how it's going to affect my stomach. Best of all, it's so much less expensive than buying the prepackaged versions!

Monday, February 17, 2014

10 Miler Training: Week 10

It's kind of hard to believe that I've already completed 10 of my 16 weeks of training for the 10 Miler. Even harder to believe is the conversation I had with Joey this morning - I actually voiced the thought I had been having, of potentially doing a half marathon a month after the 10 Miler race. Obviously that will 100% depend on how the rest of the training plan treats me, and how I fare in the race. I may end up needing a serious break from running after all of this training. Another thing we talked about this morning, was that I decided I want to try out calf sleeves for recovery post-running. He has some that he wears a lot after running or after ultimate frisbee, and he says it helps a lot with recovery. My left calf in particular has been hurting a bunch, and I think that calf sleeves could help. Does anyone have a brand that they recommend? I don't plan on wearing them while running, just after, for recovery.

So, here is the running I did this week:

Wednesday, February 12th:
I was supposed to do my interval run on Tuesday the 11th, but that was the day of my big bad scary committee meeting that I've been working my ass off for the last few weeks. I came home around 3, ate a really late lunch, collapsed on the couch, and basically decided there was no way I would be doing a run that day. Thankfully, I was feeling better the next day, and worked it in then.

This run was HARD. The last interval run I did was a lot of fun - 12x400 at 3k pace, with 2 minute breaks in between. Switching out the 2 minute walk breaks with 1/8 mile jogging made it so much harder - not only did I have to continue moving during my recovery, but it was also a much shorter time between intervals. This time, the intervals were at 10k pace, so not nearly as fast. Regardless, it was still really hard! I did the 400m running intervals at 6.6mph, and had my recovery jogs around 5.2-5.5mph (I'm pretty sure they got slower and slower throughout). I turned one of them into a walk, and took a bathroom break for the other, so I ended up doing 5.75 miles instead of 6.00.

Friday, February 14th:
Switching my Tuesday run to Wednesday threw off the rest of the week. Plus, we got a ton of snow Wednesday night/Thursday morning, and I ended up being a total bum on the couch for the second half of Thursday, after coming back from my trek into work. The run I was supposed to do on Thursday was just an easy 5 mile run, so I figured it would make more sense to just skip it, and still do Friday's run.

I was nervous that this run would be even more difficult than Wednesday's, but it actually wasn't nearly as bad. Having a full half mile recovery between intervals really gave me the time to, well, recover.

Sunday, February 16th:
This ended up being another 8 mile run that I was forced to do indoors. We still have a ton of snow, and very few of the sidewalks have been cleared. Any space that isn't covered in snow is very likely to be covered in ice, especially first thing in the morning. We had a lot of snow melt yesterday during the day, and all of that water froze last night. Because of this, I did my run inside. Surprisingly, it ended up being a lot better than the last 8 mile run I did indoors.

This time, I started out with 3 miles on the indoor track. I started off with a slow pace, and got slightly faster with each mile. I took a few minutes to use a bathroom and fill up my water bottle, then went off in search of a good treadmill. I don't know why every gym has "good" treadmills and "bad" treadmills, instead of just having a ton of the same "good" kind. There is one particular area with two kinds of treadmills, and they're all the ones I prefer. They are also usually always in use. I walked by that area three times over the course of ~5 minutes, once I came out from the track, and one of them had a girl on it, who was just standing there, talking to some guy who was right next to the treadmill. The first time I walked by, I thought that it looked like she was either just getting on, or had just finished and was about to get off. I stood there for a minute before deciding she wasn't getting off. The next time I walked by, she was still there. By the time I walked by for a third time, and saw that she still was making no signs of either leaving the treadmill, or actually starting to use it, I was mad. I walked over to it, and said to her "you know, there are people waiting for treadmills while you're not using that one." Immediately, the guy answered for her saying "oh, she is using it." I looked at him for a second, trying to give him a look that told him that I thought that sounded like bullshit, raised my eyebrow, and just said "...o-kay..." and walked away. If her definition of using a treadmill is to just stand on it while talking to someone, she doesn't belong in the gym. I got a lot of satisfaction out of noticing that as soon as I walked away, he walked away too and she started doing something on it. Maybe it was a bit bitchy for me to say anything, but she was on one of the few decent treadmills!

The funny thing is that in the end, the treadmill I got on actually isn't a "bad" treadmill. There are a few that just look kind of strange, and are very rarely being used. I just assumed that meant it was a bad one, but I thought it felt pretty nice. Because of that, I did all of the 5 remaining miles on that treadmill, instead of switching after a few, or going back on the track. To keep from getting too bored, I switched the pace slightly every quarter mile. Not enough to noticeably speed up or slow down, but enough so I wasn't really thinking about the total mileage, but only how much I had left until the next pace change.

Week Total:
Wednesday: 5.75 miles (treadmill)
Friday: 5.5 miles (treadmill)
Sunday: 8 miles (indoor track and treadmill)
Weekly Total: 19.25 miles

Besides all of the running I did this week, I also did a lot of eating! I posted my recipes for Joey's birthday dinner/dessert, plus we went out to a few places. Saturday night, we went to Three Notch'd Brewery, which is our new favorite place for beer in Charlottesville. They opened in August, and already have a pretty big following. Their tasting room/bar is a 5 minute walk from our place, which makes it so convenient to get to. Plus their beer is just really good. My favorites so far are the Sweet Winter Ale (seasonal) and the Hydraulion Red (year-round). Joey really likes their IPAs (so not my thing) and their beers that are flavored with some coffee - the No Veto English Brown Ale and Jack's Java Espresso Stout - both offered year-round. The really cool thing about their bar, is that at least as of now, they don't offer food - but... they let you bring your own! You can either bring food, or have it delivered there, and they have a bunch of takeout menus for places close by. I didn't realize that until last night, when we saw it happen, and I really wish I had baked a cake or something to bring for Joey's birthday celebration. Either way, we all had a great time, and I was surprised by how many people came out, despite the bad weather.

This morning, post run (and Joey did a bunch of stuff at the gym as well), we went to Bluegrass Grill & Bakery, a breakfast spot that's pretty famous in Charlottesville for fantastic food and really long waits. They are just off the Downtown Mall, and because they have such a small space, they're always packed. This was just our second time going, and everything we've had so far has just been incredible (and decadent). Last time we went, I'm pretty sure it was also after an 8 mile run, it was during the fall, and they had a pumpkin pancake special that was so delicious I don't even know how to describe it. It was like a plate full of the best pumpkin bread you're ever going to eat, topped with cream cheese frosting. But still tasted like pancakes. I wasn't sure if anything was going to taste as good after that experience, but this time I got their bananas foster pancakes and WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. I ended up eating them way faster than planned, since I was starving by the time our long wait was up. All of the sugar made me feel a little sick toward the end, and I definitely didn't finish. Although I ate all of the home fries I got on the side.

Speaking of eating, what should I bake/cook for my birthday? Joey started asking me about that, and I have no idea what I want. Last year we made a ton of stuff - birthday breakfast was baked eggs in ramekins with herbs and goat cheese plus baked pancakes with berries, and birthday dinner was baked stuffed artichokes (disappointed with how they turned out), lightened up shrimp scampi, and french onion soup. I actually don't remember what we made for dessert, which just seems crazy. I've thought about making the Big Girls, Small Kitchen giant layered cookie cake, but part of me is really afraid that the cookies won't turn out well. I'm a huge cookie snob, and hate when they're anything other than chewy. I also am very intrigued by "cinnamon pie," mostly because I just love cinnamon, and partly because it was featured in an episode of Psych. I've looked a bit online, to try to find a recipe, and nothing I've seen matches what I have in my mind. I'll just have to keep thinking about what I want. What would be your ideal birthday meal? 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekly Finds - Miscellaneous

Cooking Tips:

Food for Thought:

How to Deal with Depression in Your 20s

The difference between men and women

The pug factory So cute!

Running vs Walking - how many calories will you burn? Someone scientifically showed the difference between running and walking in terms of the number of calories burned - very interesting results

Can people really be "fit and fat"?

Impossibly difficult situations for an indecisive person

How to walk on ice Basically - walk like a penguin

How to Make (and Keep) Friends I thought this was really interesting - in today's digital age, everyone has hundreds of "friends" on facebook, but how many of them do we actually know? Even though we have a ton of ways to interact with people online, sometimes it seems like there are fewer people we can truly call our friends. 

Weekly Finds - Fitness Edition


Lower Body Workout These four simple moves help lift, shape, and define every muscle below your waist while also challenging your core.

10-Minute TV Tone-Up No excuses, the workout you can do while watching tv!

Full Body Circuit Workout Combine cardio with strength-training in this 10-exercise workout

22 Kick-Ass Kettle Bell Exercises Kettle bells are great for cardio, strength, and flexibility training.

6 Ways to Tone Your Butt with Dumbbells Exercises that target your backside not only add shape and lift in your jeans and leggings, but they can also make you a stronger, faster runner. 

30 Minute Elliptical Workout The perfect workout for when you get to the gym, and all of the treadmills are taken. This one feels like running!

Total-Body Stair Workout All you need is a set of stairs - inside or outside.

5-Minute Leg Workout 5 moves that require no equipment

5-Minute Back Workout Take your posture from poor to perfect with this quick back workout

The All-Abs Workout 9 exercises to work every part of your core

Best Arm Exercises for Women 8 exercises to really tone your arms

Head-to-Toe Strength-Training Routine This 8-exercise routine requires dumbbells, a bench (or chair), a stability ball and a block

10 Fitness Gifts Under $10 I want Mr. Tea, the yoga cookie cutter, and the strobe light! Oh and the headbands and Burt's Bees as well :)

5 Barre Moves You Can Do At Home Barre studios are really popular right now, but expensive too. Here are a few moves you can try yourself at home

2-Week Plank Challenge Build your way to a 5-minute plank

Hero Abs Workout "Even if you lack superpowers, you can still build a core of a hero with this workout"

Spartan Full Body Circuit Train like a warrior

Grimm Reaper Full Body Circuit Called the grimm reaper since it's a killer workout!

The Commercial Break Workout This is pure genius - now you have no excuse to sit on your butt and not exercise. You can exercise during commercial breaks while watching tv!

The Santa Claus Workout Spartacus-style workout, with 12 stations.

12 Minute HIIT Workout You can do all of these at home, no equipment needed!

Core Circuit Workout 9 exercises to sculpt your abs!

Pyramid of Pain Full body workout with a big focus on your legs

No Equipment Circuit Workout With this bodyweight workout, you can tone your entire body anywhere

Fire Up Your Core Circuit Workout I tried this core circuit workout, and my abs were sore for days!

Melt Fat, Build Muscle Dumbbell Blast Circuit Workout This workout is really great - I've tried it out myself. It's deceptively hard!

Best Recovery Stretches I'm definitely guilty of not stretching after a hard workout. Here are some of the best stretches, all in one place


Yoga Sequence to do Your Tight Pants Justice The perfect 14-pose yoga sequence for strong legs

Thigh-Slimming Yoga Sequence Sculpt and lengthen your thighs and tush with this 12-posture standing sequence

Inner Thigh Yoga Sequence for Beginners If your inner thighs could use some attention, here are nine yoga poses that'll fire up this area. 

Best Yoga Poses for Office Workers Shake off the tightness and stress of the day by stepping onto a yoga mat, and doing this relaxing yoga sequence to target all those oh-so-tight areas.

A 20-Minute Yoga Sequence for a Tighter Backside Looking to tone up your backside? Move through this 20-minute yoga sequence that kicks things off with a little cardio before a series of poses designed to tone and lift your bottom.

Burning Squats Yoga Sequence This will seriously tone (and set on fire) your lower body

Thigh-Strengthening Yoga Sequence This quick sequence will bring on the burn

Basic Yoga Sequence This full-body flowing sequence will open and strengthen all of your major muscles

Relaxing Seated Yoga Sequence Relax and stretch your whole body out with this low-key, restorative yoga sequence that will leave you feeling calm yet energized

Flat Belly Yoga Sequence This yoga workout is designed to target the abs

Yoga Sequence for Tight Shoulders Open up tight shoulders with a quick yoga sequence

Yoga for Runner's Legs This yoga sequence is designed to strengthen the quads, hamstrings, and glutes for hill climbs and speed work, as well as increase hip and hamstring flexibility to prevent injury and pain


Fat Blasting Interval Treadmill Workout This workout has three different versions, and you can choose which one fits your fitness level and goals

Metabolism-Boosting Treadmill Run This interval workout will push your endurance and raise your heart rate

Ultimate Interval Mashup Kicking your cardio up a notch and adding different types of intervals to your run, like in this treadmill workout, will battle belly fat and increase your post-exercise calorie burn

Bursts Intervals Treadmill Workout Adding sprinting bursts to your treadmill workout helps you burn more calories, stokes your metabolism to burn more calories after your workout, and increases your speed as a runner

Weekly Finds - Dessert (and Drinks) Edition


Cinnamon Apple Pie-Cake Is it a pie or is it a cake? It's baked like a cake - with a cake batter and apples inside, but the ratio of apples to cake is so crazy, it's almost pie-like. I'm saving this recipe for Rosh Hashanah next year, but I'll have to test it out before then!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Dulce de Leche Bread pudding that tastes like pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar Streusel A rich and moist pumpkin coffee cake, with a streusel middle and topping, drizzled with vanilla glaze

Pumpkin 7 Layer Bars This takes the basic 7 layer bar, and doctors it up a bit. It has pumpkin, shredded apple, roasted salted almonds, and a bit fewer chocolate chips.

Dark Chocolate-Espresso Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce This sounds insane - you take dark chocolate-espresso pumpkin bread, and then make bread pudding out of it!

Caramel Pumpkin Pot de Creme This is a no-bake version of pot de creme, pretty awesome

Oatmeal Jam Bars Really simple - a crumble is made that is used as both the base and the topping, and jam goes in between.

Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes Coconut both inside and on top of the pumpkin cupcakes

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake This cake is SERIOUSLY impressive. There's a brownie layer, then a chocolate mousse layer, a raspberry mousse layer (with fresh raspberries), a vanilla mousse layer, and finally chocolate ganache.

Pumpkin Ice Cream - Three Ways One of these recipes has to meet your craving

Brown Sugar Tart This sounds incredibly rich - with a deep brown sugar flavor and browned butter nuttiness. The cinnamon is definitely not optional in my book.

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart A buttery cornmeal crust is topped with a pumpkin pie cheesecake filling and a bourbon salted caramel candied pepita topping.

Roasted Banana Pudding This isn't your typical banana pudding - it roasts the bananas for extra flavor, and actually puts them in the pudding, not just layered on top

Pumpkin and Fudge Layer Bars with Salty Crunchy Streusel These treats are layered with dense spiced pumpkin cake, thick fudgy chocolate, and salty crunchy goodness.

Pumpkin, Chocolate and Brie Grilled Cheese This seriously sounds like the best grilled cheese ever! Oh gosh

Pumpkin Butter and Caramelized Fig Rugelach I LOVE rugelach. This recipe uses homemade pumpkin butter and caramelized fresh figs as the filling.

Chocolate Chunk Coconut Cake with Coconut Drizzle This is a no-fuss, simple one layer cake – perfect for those times when you want cake but don’t want to mess with lots of layers, fillings, and frostings. 

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies Cinnamon both inside the cookies and sprinkled on top

Pumpkin Bread Pudding A super decadent pumpkin bread pudding topped with a nutella glaze

Greek Yogurt Brownies These brownies use full-fat greek yogurt instead of butter, and still manage to be extremely fudgy

Apple Slab Pie Kind of a portable pie, like a poptart, so it's heavier on the crust than the filling.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts with Brown Butter Glaze Shredded apple, freshly grated nutmeg, buttermilk, and then topped with a thick brown butter glaze

Browned Butter Cookies with Cider Caramel Filling There really is nothing bad about this recipe. Nothing.

Pumpkin Praline Pie This somehow combines pumpkin pie with pecan pie

Chocolate Pot de Creme This looks so smooth and velvety, and of course, chocolatey

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake The three layers of this cake are each distinct - different kinds of chocolate and different textures. It gets lighter as you go up, and just sounds divine.

Really Good Brownies With a name like this, they have to be really good, right? They look so dark and rich and chewy

Lavender Panna Cotta with Honey Poached Pears Truly such an elegant dessert

Chai Cupcakes with Maple Whipped Cream These are super light - not a lot of refined sugar, but tons of spices

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple Glaze This bread pudding has a special touch - roasted pumpkin instead of canned

Perfect Apple Pie This is the apple pie you put on your Thanksgiving table

Caramel Spiked Pumpkin Pie Light and smooth pumpkin pie that's spiked with caramel flavor

Browned Butter Pumpkin Spice Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting This cake is impressive - 4 layers of awesomeness.

Polka Dotted Chocolate Pecan Brownie Tart with Chocolate Ganache This is beautiful. It is super fudgy, thanks to the secret ingredient of cream cheese

Cranberry Orange Cheesecake This is a lightened up cheesecake, using low-fat cream cheese and greek yogurt. You can also use up your leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving

Overnight Apple Fritter Monkey Bread This combines Joey's favorite dessert, and my favorite donuts. It's also super easy to make, since you can let it hang out in the fridge overnight, and bake whenever you want the next day.

Gingerbread Caramels Homemade caramels, but spiced up

Perfect Every Time Cut-Out Cookies This dough is supposed to be fool-proof. I will definitely be using it next holiday season

Hot Chocolate Pudding Cake This is basically a gluten-free molten chocolate cake, that can even be made ahead!

Fresh Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Brown Butter Cookies I've seen a lot of cookies that use dried cranberries, but these use fresh ones! Such a cool idea

Flourless Chocolate Cake This is gluten-free without ANY strange ingredients - just sugar, butter, eggs and of course CHOCOLATE. Perfect recipe to use when you are hosting a friend with gluten issues. Or just when you want good chocolate cake!

Mixed Berry Mini Pavlovas This is the perfect recipe to make just a few, that can easily be scaled up for a crowd

Challah Monkey Bread This uses a challah bread dough, which means it's eggy and super rich and delicious. You dip the dough balls in brown sugar, which gives it a caramel flavor

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies Really simple, these super light cookies are also light in calories

Creamy Lemon Crumb Bars These are super bright, and give us something to bring us out of the winter blues

Chocolate Brownies with Vanilla Salt Homemade brownies that are as chewy as the ones made from a mix!

Chewy Brown Sugar and Brown Ale Cookies This is the first time I've ever seen beer in a cookie recipe!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Trust Deb to come up with a ridiculous chocolate and peanut butter combination, and post it the day before Valentine's Day!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies Like the recipe above, this uses the ever-loved combo of peanut butter and chocolate, but in brownie form


Homemade Chai Tea Make your own chai tea concentrate with whole spices

Vanilla Hot Chocolate Homemade hot chocolate mix, that tastes like real chocolate

London Fog Tea Latte This sounds like a really interesting drink - earl grey tea brewed with dried lavender

Weekly Finds - Dinner Edition


Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls  Lasagna rolls stuffed with spinach and cheese, then topped with a creamy butternut parmesan sauce and baked in the oven with even more cheese!

Kale and Quinoa Patties Healthy because of the quinoa and kale, but loaded with flavor thanks to panko, parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, lemon and herbs. 

French Onion Soup Macaroni and Cheese Gruyere mac and cheese topped with caramelized onions and croutons - all of the components of French onion soup.

Marcella Hazan's Parmesan Risotto Simple, creamy and cheesy

Lazy Pizza Dough + Margherita Pizza Easy pizza dough that can be adapted to your schedule; it has instructions for three different rise times. 

Quinoa Chili Vegetarian, but still loaded with protein thanks to lots of beans and quinoa

BBQ Chicken Pizza A copycat of the popular CPK pizza. 

Crispy Autumn Veggie Burgers with Apple Cider Slaw These little babies are loaded with leeks, apple, brussels sprouts, balsamic vinegar, quinoa and chickpeas, and then are topped with havarti cheese and a deliciously cider-filled slaw. 

Baked Pasta with Pumpkin, Caramelized Onions, and Chevre Really short list of ingredients that basically includes everything in the title. Seems pretty simple to make, too, especially if you've made the onions in advance. 

Farro Risotto with Mushroom Medley Everyone's been making risotto with farro lately - I should probably give it a try. This recipe has a ton of mushrooms, which I think is awesome. 

Fennel, Kale and Spinach Risotto This risotto is filled with healthy greens, and the fennel must give it great flavor. 

Butternut Squash and Kale Stuffed Shells Pasta stuffed with mashed butternut squash, kale and cheese? This is a healthier version of most stuffed shell recipes, and perfect for carbo loading before a big run or race.

Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli Pumpkin in a savory dish - pumped up with goat cheese, ricotta and fresh sage. 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic-Sage Brown Butter The gnocchi are made with both russet and sweet potatoes, and this sauce just sounds awesome! Shallots + Balsamic + Sage + Brown Butter + Parmesan = Happiness

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pies These pot pies will make non-vegetarians jealous. Black pepper and rosemary crust covers a medley of roasted carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Plus there's a fantastic creamy base made with onion, garlic, mushrooms, bay leaves and lots of herbs. 

Creamy Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Lasagna This looks like a crazy creamy lasagna - each component is made into a creamy sauce. 

Slow-Cooker Mushroom and Chicken Farro Risotto I might try this without the chicken, but the idea is awesome - risotto you don't have to stand glued to at the stove??

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake Creamy sauce made from pureed butternut squash and vegetable broth, and then layered baked ziti-style with whole wheat pasta, lots of ricotta, and topped with mozzarella cheese.

Cheesy Brussels Sprouts Lasagna Another lasagna recipe with brussels sprouts and mushrooms? Yes. But this one is definitely different, with brussels sprouts kept in larger pieces and cooked with shallots and balsamic vinegar, and sliced mushrooms cooked with garlic.

Pumpkin Mac 'n Cheese YES! Roasted pumpkin, and two of my favorite cheeses - fontina and gruyere. And the whole thing is cooked in the pumpkin...

Mushroom and Onion Mac and Cheese Three types of cheese + mushrooms and onions = my kind of meal

Mexican Quinoa with Lazy Guacamole One pot meal that's packed with Mexican flavors

Braised Short Rib Beef Stew This one's totally for Joey

Savory Bread Pudding How to use up old bread - with lots of delicious add-ins

Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake This sounds super healthy, really filling, and delicious

Cheesy Butternut Squash Enchiladas Creamy, cheesy, filled with veggies

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese with Spicy Garlic Swiss Chard Swiss chard is my new favorite leafy green, and I think its flavor would pair perfectly with creamy mac and cheese

Roasted Shrimp with Feta Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa, this is almost like a Greek version of Shrimp Scampi

Creamy Parmesan White Bean Stew with Spicy Greens This sounds perfect for the cold weather we've been having, and is also the perfect thing to dip bread into

Hearty Vegan Mushroom Bolognese You seriously won't even miss the meat in this dish (although I may be biased since I never miss the meat...)


Baked Quinoa with Roasted Kale and Chickpeas Bright dish with roasted earthy kale, fresh tomatoes and lemon, and of course super healthy quinoa.

Butternut Squash and Provolone Bread Pudding I almost made this for Thanksgiving, it sounded so yummy!

Creamy Rosemary Polenta + Maple Sea Salt Roasted Winter Vegetables Really flavorful polenta, made with good quality butter, rosemary and parmesan. If you have access to Vermont Creamery butter, use their maple and sea salt butter for the roasted veggies for the best flavor.

Skillet Cornbread Make this in a castiron skillet, and you'll have a tender cornbread with a buttery crust.

Brussels Sprout Gratin with Spinach and Potatoes Brussels sprouts cooked with potatoes, onion, garlic and spinach, and baked under a lacy roof of grated cheese and coarse bread crumbs. Definitely use gruyere cheese.

Cauliflower "Couscous" Fresh cauliflower is chopped really fine until it is the size of couscous, and then cooked with a lot of great mix-ins. You have two options for what you want to add to the recipe.

Terikyaki Glazed Roasted Brussels Sprouts Homemade teriyaki glaze that would be great on anything, but especially these roasted brussels sprouts

Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme If you've never cooked with parsnips, this is the perfect time to try them out. Here, they are treated like potatoes in a flavorful gratin.

Honey Biscuits A slightly sweeter version of flaky biscuits, made with honey.

Spicy Tomato Corn Bread An interesting take on corn bread - spiced up with cayenne pepper and cherry tomatoes.

Fresh Herb and Gruyere Gougeres This is a great base recipe that you could add any cheese or flavorings to. Here, gruyere, mustard, lemon zest, and lots of fresh herbs are added.

Classic Cranberry Sauce Classic cranberry sauce, nice and tart. It has a nice combination of both white and brown sugars, with orange juice and zest, vanilla, fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, and star anise.

Baked Potatoes with Mushroom Ragout A twist on a loaded baked potato - topped with creamy mushrooms instead of chili or sour cream.

Cheesy Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes An awesome way to use up leftover mashed potatoes

Cheesy Brown Butter-Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes Loaded with brown butter, buttermilk, shredded cheese and fresh herbs

Spinach and Feta Quinoa Bites Yummy little bites loaded with flavor

Hasselback Potato Gratin Thinly sliced potatoes are lined up in the shape of a potato, instead of stacked out flat.

Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Dressing Healthy salad with a delicious homemade salad dressing

Charred, Oven-Roasted Carrot Salad with Feta Cheese Oven-roasted, lightly charred carrots benefit from a blast of vinegar, lemon, and salty, crumbled feta

30 Minute Portobello Fried Brown Rice I love making fried rice at home, but usually end up with the same version over and over. I'd love to give this one a try

Oven Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad I've made the Barefoot Contessa version of oven-roasted caprese salad, but this sounds completely different. I'll have to give it a try

Smoky Kale Caesar Salad Caesar salad is one of those things that I'm never all that excited about. However, this version sounds so unique and delicious, it may change my mind.

Beer and Cheddar Cheese Gougeres Really, any reason to use both beer and cheese in a recipe is just a good idea

Weekly Finds - Snacks and Bread Edition

While the most appropriate time for snack food (football season) is over, we'll just have to think of new reasons to make these yummy sounding snacks and bread. 


Balsamic Onion & Roasted Garlic Jam I would totally put this on a grilled cheese sandwich, or just eat with crackers

Apple Granola Double apple, with apple cider and dried apples

Baked Apple Cider Donuts These donuts are dipped in melted butter and cinnamon sugar

Honey Ginger Pumpkin Butter This pumpkin butter also includes shredded apple and apple cider as well as grated ginger

Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Ginger Potstickers These sound AWESOME - brussels sprouts with sesame, lime and ginger all wrapped up in potstickers

Earl Grey Lemon Muffins Use loose leaf tea for the best flavor

Perfect Winter Scones These scones include dried figs and roasted chestnuts

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Bread This includes three combinations of great duos - peanut butter + banana, banana + chocolate, peanut butter + chocolate. Those three always work. So why not put them all together? Genius

Easy Homemade Chocolate Biscotti Cookies This recipe got RAVE reviews, I should try it out

Balsamic Onion Rosemary Jam Kind of like caramelized onions, but taken even further, and made super sticky with balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and rosemary

Eggnog Cranberry Scones Super simple scones, with the addition of eggnog and dried cranberries to make them holiday appropriate.

Green Chile Queso Dip Nothing artificial in this dip - tons of cheese, roasted poblanos, and spices.

Lighter Spinach and Artichoke Dip My favorite dip - made lighter

Cheese Stuffed Pretzel Bites with Rosemary Salt This sounds incredible, I'm definitely trying it out with my favorite pretzel recipe. So easy - just cut up some string cheese and then top with rosemary.

Rosemary Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's, which is my favorite. It adds fresh rosemary and cheddar cheese to the pretzel dough, plus includes a recipe for a homemade honey mustard sauce.

Shrimp Nachos with Tomatillo Salsa I love that there is a nachos recipe that uses shrimp instead of meat. I also am obsessed with tomatillo salsa.

Blue Cheese and Brie Nachos with Mushrooms and Spinach This takes veggie nachos to a completely new level

Mixed Berry Cocoa Jam This sounds incredible. It makes a small batch of jam, so you don't need to do any canning.

Lemon Ginger Scones I never would have thought to combine lemon with ginger, but it sounds like a really yummy flavor combination

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Scones At first I misread the title of this recipe, thinking that there was a combination of cinnamon chips and chocolate chips. Now I think I may swap out some of the chocolate chips, just to make it that way.


Raisin Walnut Pumpernickel Bread This bread is SERIOUSLY beautiful. I need to get some rye flour so I can make this.

Pumpkin Cinnamon and Chocolate Swirl Bread Make sure to use a chocolate bar with orange and ginger in it for a fantastic flavor combo

Homemade Naan I trust this recipe, since it's from America's Test Kitchen

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Twists The perfect bread sticks for your Thanksgiving dinner...maybe next year

Pumpkin Cranberry Twists These were amazing - I made them for Thanksgiving dinner this year, and they were soft pillowy twist of goodness. Seriously. I'm just sorry I didn't share the recipe early enough for you to make them for Thanksgiving.

Cheesy Roasted Garlic Rolls Rolls stuffed with roasted garlic, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Yum

Italian Herb and Cheese Pull-Apart Bread Everyone's favorite pull-apart bread, but with a savory twist

Simple Cinnamon and Cranberry Dinner Rolls Another perfect addition to your Thanksgiving meal, and not too sweet

Mini Panettone The cutest panettones I've ever seen. Such a good idea - the big giant panettone usually gets stale before you can eat it all