Summer Shape Up: Week 2 Update

How is week 2 already over? The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. Week two was great in terms of the weekdays but the weekend was not good at all.I am posting my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable, feel free to read and follow along if your interested.

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Food

To access the recipe suggestions provided by Gina this week, visit her site!

Breakfasts: Honestly, I’m not sure what I ate for breakfast this week. One day it was a protein smoothie popcicle, one day it was an egg, one day it was a left over quinoa burger, one day it was a protein milkshake, one day it was a cinnamon bun. This chaos was the result of absolutely no planning and a strong desire to sleep in for as long as possible.

Lunches: I’m still stuck on the grain bowls, as per this recipe. This time i made a large batch of quinoa. I also baked some sweet potato. Essentially it is a layer of rice/quinoa, a layer of spinach (or whichever green leaf you like), some chic peas and whatever else I could find in my fridge. This week I used the avocado, sweet potato, tomato combo. I’m going to need to get more playful with the dressing or else I risk getting sick of the meal but it is delicious and I feel full and great after I eat it.

Dinners: I had two nights of super healthy salad meals and then another night I had fried progies and another night I had cream sauce pasta… Once again a result of poor planning.

Saturday & Sunday: This weekend we were up at the cottage so it was a lot of BBQ meat, bread, cheese, ect. All the things I’m trying to avoid. Delicious in the moment but I’m becoming more and more aware of how much this food upsets my stomach, so I am going to be really adamant about eating well for week 3.


Exercise

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Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene

Monday: Dance Recital

Tuesday: Workout # 3 (x2) + HIIT (x2)

Wednesday: High 5 Run

Thursday: Short 2km Run

Friday: Workout # 4

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

The week started off so well & then it spun wildly out of control. I had so many high hopes for this week and some how it just all got away from me. On Thursday I had plans to do Workout number 4, but I ended up purchasing some furniture off of a friend. She is moving and had to get everything out of the old place asap, so I went there will a trailer on Thursday night and the whole processes took much longer than anticipated. I don’t mind working out in the evening but 11 pm was far too late. Then on the weekend I was up at the cottage. The plan was to do yoga by the water, on the dock, but it poured rain all weekend. So I didn’t get the chance to go outdoors and I wasn’t going to workout in front of my family members, indoors. No thank you. So the second half of the week ended up being rather lazy. I’m really hoping to turn that around and catch up this week.


Summary

Still haven’t noticed a difference in my body in terms of size or shape, if I keep being so non-committal with the program, I don’t imagine I will. The whole clean eating this is really only effective when its a lifestyle not just a one meal a-day thing. Also, as I mentioned last week I need to do way more strength training if I’m going to see results. I did manage to drink more water during my work day because I got a nice big reusable water bottle to lug around. Although I didn’t touch the water bottle on the weekend so I’ve still got work to do there. I think I did well in reducing wheat and dairy until the weekend rolled around. Damn those easy BBQ dinners. The plan for this week is to wake up a bit earlier each day and do as much as I can in the morning. Then I can’t use the “I didn’t have time in the evening” excuse. Speaking of which, goals for the week:

  • Continue to drink a lot more water
  • Reduce wheat & dairy & sugar intake
  • Complete all workouts on the schedule
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My new yoga mat! Feeling so zen with the teal blue!

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Summer Shape Up: Week 1 Update

Well, it has been one week since I started participating in The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program. This is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. I think I did alright for my first week. I figured I would post my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable.

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Food

We all know that my kitchen skills are weak at best so it was a relief to see that most of the ideas that Gina suggested are pretty simple. Basically, she is just promoting wholesome and healthy eating. To access the recipe suggestions provided by Gina, visit her site!

Breakfasts: I had a protein smoothie for breakfast from Monday to Friday. I usually have breakfast around 7:00 am, so with the right amount of protein powder and healthy fats, the smoothie kept me full until at least 11:00 am when I had a small snack. My smoothies contained cranberry juice, almond milk, spinach, raspberries, blue berries, vanilla protein powder and hemp hearts.

Lunches: Remember my story about the super salty brown rice, well I ended up using it to make grain bowls, as per this recipe. Essentially it is a layer of rice, a layer of spinach (or whichever green leaf you like), some chic peas and whatever else I could find in my fridge. So one day I added salmon and red pepper, another day it was avocado and red pepper, another day it was cucumber, tomato, and feta cheese. So so soooo delicious, filling and healthy!

Dinners: I didn’t do quite as well with my dinners. One night I made spicy shrimp and rice (healthy), another night I had salmon and sweet potato (healthy), but then one night Lucas and I ordered burritos (not so healthy), and another night we had a BBQ (really not healthy at all but oh so delicious). Ya win some, ya loose some I guess.

Saturday & Sunday: While I managed a pretty successful first week, my first weekend was a hungover mess of two-bite cinnamon rolls and mini-pizzas. Note to self: stop ending your nights-out with vodka shots, it is never a good idea!


Exercise

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Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Workout # 2

Wednesday: 4 km Run

Thursday: Workout # 3 + 20 minutes of Cycling on the stationary bike

Friday: Workout # 1 + some labour intensive household chores

Saturday: Dance recital rehearsal

Sunday: Dance recital show x2 (matinee & evening)

All in all I am pleased with the amount of physical activity I got over the past week. I didn’t exactly follow Gina’s plan, especially on Sunday but the dance recital this weekend ate up a lot of my time. I think I would have enjoyed the plank burner so I am going to do my best to fit it in somewhere this week. I also had a dance show on Monday night so I am jumping back into the week 2 schedule today.


Summary

So far I haven’t noticed a difference in my body in terms of size or shape, I think a lot of that has to do with my diet. Also, the Shape Up has made me very aware of how much I am lacking in the strength training department. My running training has helped me become very good at cardio and heart rate management but my muscle tone just isn’t there. This makes the strength workouts super challenging (I wanted to cry while doing workout #2 on Tuesday) but it also a very welcome change for my routine. The greatest part about this program, I feel, is the facebook group. Essentially it is a closed community for people who are participating in the Shape Up to ask questions, check in, provide support, ect. Seeing other people’s check in posts have motivated me in ways I didn’t think possible. They have even motivated me to set some goals for this week:

  • Drink a lot more water
  • Reduce wheat & dairy intake
  • Complete all workouts on the schedule

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Kitchen Experiment: Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Yesterday evening I came home to an empty house. This is a very rare occurrence for me. In fact I cannot even remember the last time I was alone for an extended period of time (other than yesterday) and that is exactly the way I like it.

When I am alone I only have 3 possible states of being: Antsy, depressed, snacky. Being antsy isn’t so terrible, sometimes it can result in uber amounts of productivity. But feeling sad and sorry for yourself is not pleasant at all. And being snacky totally defeats the purpose of all the hard work I’m doing at the gym.

Last night I was feeling antsy. I am in the market for a new pair of sunglasses so I thought about going to the store and trying some on. But the store isn’t exactly close and with no one home I’d be using public transit which is slow and frustrating. Then I tried to convince a friend to come with me (she has a car – I know I’m a terrible person), but she wasn’t up for it. So I scratched that plan and moved onto fitness!

After perusing the group exercise schedule I decided that if I had a quick dinner I could make it to the 7:30 pm BODYPUMP class. This is a weight class based on the concept of lighter weights and more reps. I decided to try it out because weights training is being hailed as the best way to get strong and lean ect. ect. But I am clueless when it comes to anything other than the treadmill so attending a class seemed like a good idea. Well let me say this, that class was a challenge but I loved it (except for the squats – nobody likes squats)! I used the lightest amount of weight possible but my body was still aching! This obviously means that I am not strong and I must continue to go to this class.

Anyway, the title of this post is Kitchen Experiment so let me get to that (finally – gosh I love to talk). As I said I needed a quick dinner: Leftovers! Except NO! The only leftovers in the fridge was pizza which is delicious but covered in cheese (which I am not allowed to eat anymore) and it is not good pre-fitness food. Eventually I decided to make a tuna salad sandwich. Normally this would mean mayonnaise and cheese and tuna, not this time, healthy Alex is here to stay. So I made a healthy, dairy free, tuna salad.

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Most exciting part?! I didn’t follow a recipe. This baby was all me. I just did what felt right. Usually this heads disastrous results but my tuna salad was a huge success! Creamy, healthy, fueling power food.

Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Ingredients

1 can of tuna

2 table spoons of olive oil

1/2 tea spoon Basil flakes

1/3 tea spoon Garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice from 1/4 slice of Lemon

1/2 an avocado

 2 slices of your choice of bread

Instructions

  1. Open your can of tuna and drain. Place in a medium sized bowl and mix using a fork.
  2. Mix in the olive oil, basil, garlic power, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. There is no need to follow the measurements exactly, adjust according to your taste buds. For a creamier tuna salad, add more olive oil.
  3. Toast your bread, I used 12 grain.
  4. Mash the avocado in a bowl using a fork. After the bread is toasted spread the avocado mash onto the toast. Pile your tuna salad on top of the avocado and enjoy!

Notes: From here you can do whatever you’d like. I added hot sauce to one of my slices and it was fantastic. Next time I am going to experiment by mixing the avocado in with the tuna. I also toyed with adding some little baby tomatoes. Also, eating the tuna on its own is an option. The opportunities are endless. In total this mean only took about 5 minutes to put together. Enjoy!


How would you dress up your dairy free tuna salad? Share in the comments!

Salad in a Jar

This is revolutionary. Seriously, lunch at the office just got a whole lot healthier.

Do you ever stand in front of your open fridge thinking “I should have a healthy salad for lunch… but the lettuce leaves will be all wilted from the dressing by lunch. ew. I’ll just take this Tupperware container filled with spaghetti instead…” Because I do. A lot.

Sometimes preparing a salad seems like a lot of work in the morning and its especially disappointing when you do go to all that work and end up eating a soggy, wilted salad at lunch time. So more often than not I eat the left over pasta. Maybe it’s because I live with Italians but there is almost always some left over pasta in the fridge.

I had resolved to a lifetime of timmy’s bagels and wilted salad when pinterest helped me to stumble across this gem of an image.

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Found on Scholastic.com

There you have it folks, salad in a damn jar. If you’re still not sure why this is such a big deal, let me tell you. The dressing goes in first and therefore sits on the bottom of the jar. The hearty bits go in second, heavy veggies and such. The lighter bits or softer veggies, nuts, seeds, cheeses, ect. go in after that. Finally, the lettuce goes on top. Pack the lettuce in there real tight. If there is some extra space fold up some paper towel and pop it in the top before you put on the lid (this helps absorb extra moisture). Now all you need to do is keep that jar up straight and your lettuce wont wilt. I’m sorry, did yo get that? YOUR LETTUCE WONT WILT!!!

Putting everything in an airtight jar keeps it fresh and wilt free. As I said earlier, revolutionary. Then when you get to work dump the contents of your jar into a bowl and enjoy! I’ve had 3 jar salads this week, each with different veggies and dressings. I prefer to use smaller jars and bring something else as well, soup or a sandwich or something. But you could always use a bigger jar and have a bigger salad. The options are endless.

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What do you like to put in your salad? Share in the comments!

Exciting Announcement!

I am so thrilled to share some super exciting news! Today, I signed up to run in my first ever 5K race! This is big news because I’ve never done anything like this before and also because it is one of my new years resolutions. run2Now that I have put down some money and registered, I know that I will be more motivated to train. I am not the type of person who does things half-assed. If I am going to put my time, money and energy into anything, I am going to do it right! I’m not saying I’ll be the fastest or the best but I am going to set some personal goals and I am determined to meet them.

The race I am participating in is the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon – 5run4K Run. This is a massive event which will take place on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015. There is a marathon, a half-marathon, a 5K run and a 5K walk. I think it will be quite nice. Early May means it wont be too hot and the route is right along the Toronto waterfront.

I think my biggest challenge will be moving from indoor running to outdoor running. Usually when I run (which is less often than I’d like to admit) I run inside on a treadmill at the gym. Can you blame me? Canadian winters are quite brutal. No joke, its negative 17 with the windchill right now. Also, I have mild asthma so heavy breathing in extreme temperatures is not doctor recommended. So generally I stay indoors. The challenge is that running on a treadmill and running on pavement is very different because the treadmill helps to propel your weight forward, whereas your all on your own in outdoor running. My plan is to do lots of interval and long distance training on the treadmill and when the temperatures improve in the early spring I’ll hit the great outdoors.

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Some of my friends may join me and participate in the race as well and Lucas has promised to come cheer me on. I am so excited for this upcoming journey! Stay tuned for updates on my training!

Have you ever participated in a 5K? What did your training program look like?

Holiday Truths & Traditions

Well it sure has been a while since I sat down to write something. Christmas break was wildly busy and when it wasn’t… I was sleeping. Because there is nothing better than a well deserved break.

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My Christmas tree on Christmas Morning!

Let me start by sharing a basic fact of life: Health and fitness is nearly impossible to upkeep during the holiday trifecta. (Definition: the holiday trifecta is the three days of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). That is a proven fact. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a liar or they don’t know how to enjoy life. Either way, don’t trust em.

I had pretty much accepted and embraced the fact that I wasn’t going to be visiting the gym during the holiday trifecta. But for some deluded reason I thought that I was going to stick to a relatively healthy diet. Oh how wrong I was!

Firstly, my 30 day green smoothie challenge didn’t happen. I just couldn’t find the time to chop and blend and clean. I was too busy wrapping and unwrapping and cleaning. Since I skipped a day in week one, and 3 days in week two and I’ll be away in Cuba for all of week three… I’m going to be starting the challenge fresh from day 1 when I come home from my trip. In the meantime, I’ll still be drinking daily green smoothies but they wont count towards my 30 day challenge. giphy

Secondly, between multiple turkey dinners and countless shrimp ring trays health conscious eating didn’t stand a chance. No joke, on Christmas Eve my breakfast was a garlic and cheese flavored pretzel, my lunch was movie theater popcorn and my dinner was  mashed potatoes. Haters gonna hate…

Now, the quick witted among you should be wondering why one of my poor meal choices was movie theater popcorn. I have one word for you, TRADITION! My family, like many others, has a very strict series of holiday traditions. Some of them are tried and true, some of them we invented ourselves. Here is the all inclusive list of Folkes Family Holiday Traditions:

Christmas Eve Afternoon Movie

  • What: Exactly what it sounds like, all 6 of us see an afternoon movie together. Usually the movie is animated and it is always made for kids and families.
  • How it started: When my mother had a 10 year old, an 8 year old, a 3 year old and a 1 year old she decided taking us to a movie was the best way to keep us all quiet for over an hour… at the same time.
  • How long as it been a tradition: This was year number 13. An inclusive list of the movies we’ve seen might find it’s way up here in a few days (stay tuned).
  • This year: We saw Night at the Museum 3. I give it two thumbs up!

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Christmas Eve Family & Friends Potluck Dinner

  • What: Once again, it is exactly like it sounds. A potluck dinner with family friends. Most of the people who come to this thing have been in my life for literally my entire life. We go way, way back.
  • How it started: My mum invited the neighbours over for dinner one Christmas Eve and they have been coming over ever since. As the years went by more and more people were invited. There is now a solid group of 4 families who make an appearance every year.
  • How long has it been a tradition: As long as I can remember.
  • This year: Since most of the “kids” are now legal adults we decided to spice things up and play some drinking games! It was a blast. My siblings and I formed a flip cup team and we cleaned house. To be fair my brother wasn’t drinking because he is still a tween, but we still kicked ass. 10891667_10152689839603558_7674013841727582393_n

Christmas Eve Pajamas

  • What: Every year we get new PJs on Christmas Eve. It is mandatory for all kids who attend the potluck to get Pajamas. After we open them we put them on and take pictures.
  • How it started: The idea was that we would be nice and clean for Santa.
  • How long has it been a tradition: As long as I can remember.
  • This year: I got a onesie and it is the most comfortable article of clothing known to man. Also, it has polka dots. Check out how great we look in our nice, new PJs. 10408145_10152682773483558_1365065641968790037_n

Christmas Morning Stockings

  • What: In my house Santa leaves the stocking at the foot of your bed. In the morning (around 8 am or so) we all get up and pile into my parents bed to open them together.
  • How it started: As children, my sister and I liked to show our parents what Santa brought us, and we are still doing that.
  • How long has it been a tradition: Since I was about 5, probably.
  • This year: We discovered that we are too big to all fit in the bed, so we moved the party downstairs to our tv room. With the yuletide fire place station on the tv it was one of the most festive stocking opening sessions we’ve ever had.

Christmas Morning Pictures

  • What: After stockings we set up the self-timer and take a group shot in front of the tree.
  • How it started: Someone said “lets take a picture” and we did.
  • How long has it been a tradition: Four years at least.
  • This year: Grandma took the picture because she has figured out how to touch a touch screen. It was a technological miracle.

After the pictures we eat breakfast and open presents when my grandparents arrive. Then its a leisurely day of fiddling with our new things and playing games. This year we really enjoyed the Ellen App, Heads Up.  The day ends with a delicious Turkey dinner prepared by my mum. And the 26th is dedicated to sleeping and eating leftovers.

Share in the comments: What Holiday traditions does your family have?

Green Smoothie Challenge Update

I may have underestimated the difficulty of this challenge. Actually, difficulty is the wrong word, that implies that this is hard when in reality its just kind of annoying. I’m still sticking it out, I haven’t given up yet, but I’ve got some serious kinks to work out.

On the first day I felt great! Lots of energy and I was super busy so I didn’t notice any hunger pangs. By the end of day one I thought I was queen of the smoothie kingdom… I was wrong.

Day two was tough, I drank my smoothie at 7 am for breakfast. By 9:30 am I was starving. I couldn’t concentrate on my work. I could barely keep my eyes open and I was so hungry! I ended up eating my lunch at 10:30 am and then I was starving again well before I got home for dinner. Moral of the story, pack snacks!

I ran into some trouble on day threewell I suppose it is more honest to say that I was an idiot… I forgot to take my smoothie out of the freezer the night before, thus it was solid as a rock on Tuesday morning. So I had some toast and brought the smoothie with me, it took 8 hours to thaw out and I ended up drinking around dinner time. But let me tell you, a smoothie at dinner time is extremely unsatisfying. It is like waking up on Christmas morning to find that Santa didn’t come. Anyway, I wont be making that mistake again.

When I took my smoothie out of the fridge on day four it was still half frozen, which was annoying at first but it ended up being incredibly convenient. As it forced me to drink the smoothie really slowly as it thawed out. This mean’t that I wasn’t starving by 10 am, and I was able to eat the rest of my meals at a normal time. wooo!

On day five I tried out a new smoothie recipe: I used 2 cups of spinach, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of pineapple, 1 banana and 1 apple. The taste was great! But the texture was weird, very grainy. I think this was because the apple didn’t break down enough. But hey, there are worse things. 

I fell off the wagon on day sixyup, you heard correctly. I didn’t have a green smoothie on Friday. Let me explain, after vowing not to forget my smoothie in the freezer… I forgot my smoothie in the freezer. Instead I had a protein powder shake because I had the day off and I made plans to go to the gym. I attended a fantastic hot yoga class, it really worked my whole body. Then my mum and I ran errands together. By the time I got home I had completely forgotten about my smoothie, instead I prepped for my wild rager of a Christmas party and then I partied with my friends.

This little bump in the road ended up being a good thing because on day seven I needed all the nourishment that I could get. I was seriously hungover and I had a big day ahead of me, so at 6:15 am I chugged back my entire green smoothie in just over a minute. I’m pretty sure it is the one and only reason I survived the remainder of the day. Thank you green smoothie gods.

It was definitely a week filled with bumps and hiccups but I think it has been worth it. I don’t know that I’ve lost any weight yet but I feel pretty good. More energized and just healthier in general. As long as I remember to take the smoothies out of the freezer and I can manage the hunger pangs then I think I’ll be able to make it through the remaining 23 days with no problems. Check back in a week for more details.

Share in the comments: Got any green smoothie advice for me? 

The Green Smoothie Challenge: I’m All In.

So, over the past month and a half I’ve been making a decent effort to “get into shape”. I generally go to the gym 4 times a week and I eat alright. So far my legs have definitely slimmed down but not significantly, I also haven’t dropped a single pound. Which is frustrating. I know people say that muscle weighs more than fat ect. But common body, not even one pound?!

I think the issue is my eating habits. Don’t get me wrong I love me some veggies but I also love pasta and bread and cheese and sugar. In addition, the veggies I eat are always cooked, I can’t remember the last time I ate raw veggies. So this morning I had an epiphany: that’s what needs to change. I need more raw and more green. Realistically overhauling my diet at this time of year is virtually impossible. So I’m not going to do that. I’m not cutting out life’s pleasures at christmas time. Instead I am going to add raw and green to my diet by taking the Green Smoothie Challenge!

Here is how it works. Drink 1 green smoothie every day. It is that easy.

Nothing else has to change. Drink your smoothie and eat normally. If there are cookies at the staff christmas party, have a cookie. If mom makes pasta for dinner, eat the pasta. The idea here is not to cut anything out but to add goodness. Green smoothies are packed with vitamins, water and all things wonderful. So by adding a green smoothie to your daily routine you are just adding extra goodness.

My plan is to have a green smoothie everyday for breakfast. Since I am always super rushed in the morning it is easier for me to commit to this if I prepare ahead of time. So today I spent half an hour blending for the week. All the smoothies were then poured into Mason Jars and placed in the freezer. The night before I’ll move one to the fridge and it will be all ready to drink when I wake up!

So what exactly is a green smoothie? Essentially it is a blended mixture that is one part green, one part liquid, and one part fruit. Check out this fantastic how to guide from simplegreensmoothies.com.

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The green smoothie that I made for myself today and for the rest of this week is a tropical flavour inspired smoothie:

2 Cups Spinach

2 Cups water

1 Cup Mango

1 Cup Pineapple

2 Bananas

IMG_0066.JPGFor the smoothest consistency blend your water and spinach first and then add your fruits. If you are nervous about drinking spinach, don’t be. The flavour from the fruits completely counter act the taste of the spinach and the colour of these things are stunning.

I am so excited to start and share this journey. Check back for more updates on my Green Smoothie Challenge.

Share in the comments. Are you interested in taking part in the Green Smoothie Challenge?! What is your favourite green smoothie combination?