Thursday, July 31, 2014

Workout + Volleyball

I had a very active day yesterday! I decided to use my gym bag (which had been packed and sitting in my office since Monday...) and changed at work, prior to taking the bus to Carr's Hill field, where Joey was doing a track workout. I started by running 2 miles around the field. Each lap around was just about 1/4 mile, and I alternated between running a lap on the turf field, and running on the asphalt surrounding the field. I did the 2 miles in 19.5 minutes, which was a pretty good pace for me! I'm pretty sure it's the longest distance I've run straight, without any breaks.

After I cooled down from running, I did 3 sets of bodyweight exercises.

50 crunches (legs down, lifting the shoulder blades and upper body straight up)
50 crunches (legs up, lifting the shoulder blades up and forward, kind of like a sit-up)
10 pushups
10 walking forward lunges (per leg)
10 triceps dips
25 side crunches (per side)
20 calf raises (per leg)
10 V-ups
10 walking reverse lunges (per leg)

For both sets of walking lunges, I tried not to put my foot down between lunges. For example - with a forward lunge, if I stepped forward with my right foot, I would push off the right (front) foot to bring the left (back) foot forward, right next to my right foot. I would try not to put the left foot down, and would only gently tap my toes down, if I needed to catch my balance. If my balance was okay, I would just hover the foot in the air, right next to my right foot, and then step forward with the left foot, continuing the process. I found that if I really used my front foot to strongly push off, I could get better balance and not need to touch down. I had a much harder time keeping my balance with the reverse lunges!

After we finished up our workout, we drove over to Foods of all Nations to pick up some sandwiches and drinks for dinner. Then we drove back to Nameless Field (pretty close to where we originally were), to meet up with some friends. There, we played volleyball for almost two hours! This was the first time I had played volleyball in probably 10+ years, and I had a blast! Back in middle school and high school, I tried almost every sport out there, and failed miserably at all of them. I lacked the balance and hand-eye-coordination that were required for most sports. At the time, I also lacked the general athleticism that helps when you don't have talent. Now, I have gained some athleticism from my running and workouts, and have also gained confidence in my body and its abilities. I think that has made me feel a lot less self conscious about trying new things out in front of other people. Before everyone else got there, I even threw the frisbee around with Joey some. With both frisbee and volleyball, I wasn't great, but I definitely wasn't the worst person there! It's something I would consider doing again. I had a great time, got to see some people outside of the typical work environment, and was active for hours without it feeling like an actual workout.

Coming up soon - I'm going to post about my experience in the Downtown Mile - I promise! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Zucchini Boats (and Instagram)

I joined the instagram movement. I don't know why it took me this long, but I'm hooked now. I constantly take pictures of my food, but unless it's a new recipe, it's unlikely that it'll show up here. Now I actually have somewhere to put all of my pictures! Of course, I managed to mess up the first few pictures I put up. How does one mess up an instagram picture? I didn't include any hashtags, which apparently is the only way to get anybody to pay any attention to it. My sister had to point that out to me. I've been really against twitter and anything hashtag related in the past, so Joey had to tell me how to even use hashtags (which was embarrassing to him, that he did know how to).

This meant the first picture had a ridiculous caption

Then I started to get the hang of it

Unrelated, I also finally updated my phone to iOS7, not sure yet what I think about it. 

The last photo above (zucchini boats) got a lot of likes, and someone requested the recipe! That made me realize I couldn't completely abandon the blog, since posting pictures alone doesn't really give much information. 

These zucchini boats are seriously amazing. They are the perfect way to take advantage of giant farm-grown zucchini, and many other kinds of summer produce. Joey came up with this recipe, and it is a great one. We have made them twice in the past week.

Notes - Use your favorite vegetables, don't feel restricted to the ones in the recipe! The cheese on top is optional (but not really, I mean c'mon, it's cheese). Use your favorite there, as well. The first time we made these, I believe we used raclette. This time, we used pepper jack. 
These would make a great appetizer or side dish for a dinner party - each person could get their own. It also works well as a meal for two people (or in our case, an appetizer for two people because we wolfed down a whole pizza after we ate them). 

Recipe: Zucchini Boats
Yield: 4 zucchini boats
Adapted from - nothing! A Joey original

1/2 large onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, diced (4 cremini + 4 button)
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt-free seasoning blend (we use Trader Joe's 21 seasoning blend, which is similar to an Italian seasoning)
2 large zucchini (about 1 lb each, uniform size)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (raclette, mozzarella and pepper jack all work well)

Preheat oven to 375 F and line a sheet pan with foil, then spray with Pam. 

Heat oil in a medium pan on high heat, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Cook onions ~2-3 minutes, until they have started to soften. Add in mushrooms and peppers, another 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp seasoning blend, and reduce heat to medium. Once they have all softened (another 4-5 minutes), add in corn and garlic. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent sticking. Add more salt or seasoning if necessary.

While the veggies are cooking, prepare the zucchini. Slice off the top and bottom, then cut in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, score the middle flesh of the zucchini down to ~1/4 inch. Using a spoon, scoop out the middle flesh of the zucchini, being careful not to cut through. Roughly chop the flesh that comes out, and add to the cooking veggies. Cook on medium until soft. If at any point the pan becomes too dry, add a little water to prevent sticking/scorching. 

Put the 4 zucchini halves on the prepared pan, and spoon on the filling. Mound it up as necessary so all (or most) of the filling is used. Bake the stuffed zucchini for 35 minutes. Remove pan, and check the zucchini for doneness - at this point, it should be soft, but not completely done. Spread the shredded cheese over the zucchini, ~2 tbsp per boat. Put back in the oven for 10 minutes. (If your zucchini was still hard when you checked, you can either put it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes before adding cheese, or increase the oven temperature to 400 F for the last 10 minutes.)

Let cool for 5 minutes, and sprinkle with more cheese if desired. Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Michie Tavern Downtown Mile

I decided to do a race*! This was a last minute decision, considering both the nearness of the race, and the lack of training I've been doing lately. This Thursday (July 24th), the Michie Tavern Downtown Mile will take place as part of the Runners Love Yoga Healthy Expo. I'm pretty excited about it! The Expo goes from 5-8:30 at the Downtown Pavilion in Charlottesville. It will include vendors, food, the race, and a FREE post-race yoga class led by Ann Mazur, the founder of Runners Love Yoga, and my favorite yoga instructor at the UVA Aquatic & Fitness Center. The entire event will benefit the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, and it is being organized by Notus Sports.

One great thing about the race, is that there are different start times for different groups of people. This will make each start time much less crowded! The Team Relay will start things off at 6:30. Next includes the non-timed events of the Family Race and the Non-competitive Run/Walk at 6:50. The Middle School Mile starts at 7:10 - this is such a great idea to get kids out and running. Finally, the Elite Downtown mile for competitive runners starts at 7:30 for women and 7:40 for men. This set of races comes with cash prizes for the first finishers!

As I mentioned, I have NOT been training. I've gone on maybe one run a week in the past few weeks, and before it was even more sporadic than that. Every time I've run outside, the heat and humidity just kill me. Last week I planned a 3 mile run outside, and told myself that I would walk whenever I needed to - no judgement. I ended up walking for 2 minutes after the first mile, and for another 2 minutes somewhere after the second mile. Last night, I ran on the treadmill, since the air basically felt like pea soup outside. Lately I've been listening to books on tape while I run, but I had unfortunately just finished the book I had on my phone. So instead of going at a steady pace while listening to a book, I did what I used to do (before I knew anything about running) - I just listened to music and let that dictate my pace. During a faster part of a song, I would increase the pace, and then bring it back down to recover. We all know that intervals are good for us, but sometimes we get caught up in the intervals being a specific amount of time at a specific pace. I just did what felt right, and I think it worked out well for me. I wasn't keeping track of the time, but my steady pace was 5.6mph, and my fast pace ranged from 6-7mph. I did 1.25 miles running, walked 0.25 miles, did another 1.25 miles running, walked 0.25 miles, and ended with a 1/2 mile jog at my steady 5.6mph. I left the gym feeling wiped!

My plan is to do a light run/walk outside on Wednesday, and not much more than that. I don't want to wear myself out too much with running, since I haven't been doing much of it lately. I'll probably try to do some light lifting as well, to help strengthen my muscles.

For the race itself, since I haven't been training, I don't want to have any major goals in mind. I know that I'll only end up disappointed if I hope for a time that I don't succeed in getting. I think that I'll say that I hope I can finish in under 10 minutes. That sounds completely doable (it isn't much below my steady pace).

All in all, if you're in Charlottesville this Thursday, you should come out for the run! Whether you are an experienced or novice runner, a mile is such a good starting point. In conjunction with the Healthy Living Expo, the Downtown Mile will be a remarkable event and a fun way to spend a Thursday evening. Plus, you get a shirt for doing the race (tech tee for the last events, I believe a regular shirt for the others), and who doesn't love shirts??

*Disclosure: I am being offered a free entry into the race, if I promote the event and write about my experience here. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Treat yo' self right

I'm going to go ahead and admit that I haven't been treating myself all that well lately. I don't think it's that I've been doing anything horrible, it's just that I haven't been doing anything great.

I've let my workouts slip a bit, and that always affects multiple aspects of my life. There's the direct effect of just feeling lazy and out of shape. Working out usually makes me feel strong and healthy, and I'm always proud of myself once I finish. I think that I've also been feeling more stressed lately. That's part of the reason I haven't been working out as much - I've just been really busy in lab, and haven't had as much extra time. I do think though that working out generally helps to lower my stress levels, which means it should be even more of a priority during high stress times. The last thing is eating. In the last few weeks, I've been bouncing back and forth between days when I barely remember to eat (busy busy in lab) and days when I don't eat anything real (potato chips and snacks all day long). When I have a workout routine, I am pretty strict with what I eat and when I eat it. I make sure I get enough fuel for my workout, which means I don't let it get to 4:00 by the time I remember to eat lunch. That just won't work if I'm trying to go on a run or do a kettle bell workout an hour later.

All of this has been going on for a while, but I think this past week has been the worst. I was away this past weekend, and ate crap the whole time. Saturday night, I woke up in the middle of the night and was physically sick. I don't know if it was what I ate, or something else, but I was miserable. The worst part was that once I stopped being sick, I completely broke out in hives. You would think that this would give me the kick in the butt to take care of myself a bit better, but I've already had two days this week when I didn't eat lunch until 4pm or later. Yesterday, I was so hungry when I came home at 4, that I ate my lunch, followed by cheese and crackers, followed by a muffin (that probably had almost no redeeming qualities), and then wasn't hungry at all for dinner. I developed a bad headache between the cheese/crackers and the muffin, that came back right before bed.

By now I know that this sounds ridiculous. I'm whining because I forget to eat my lunch sometimes. I'm just realizing that I need to make some changes. Stress from lab/work isn't going to go away, and is probably going to get worse now that I'm getting closer to graduation. I need to make sure I have a proper outlet for it, and that I'm doing everything I can to make sure I'm healthy.

What do you do when you're stressed out? Better yet, what do you do to relieve that stress?

On a different note, the blueberry muffin I had yesterday was kind of disappointing. I've had some delicious bakery-style blueberry muffins lately, and this was just not one of those. It put me in the mood to bake some muffins, and I realized that I've never made blueberry muffins before. What is your favorite blueberry muffin recipe??