Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Protein Packed Summer Salad

Hey howdy hey!

I am excited to announce the success of one of my very first self-designed dinner recipes.  I read in some magazine about melon soup, and was somehow seized with the desire to make salad with melon and shrimpa and quinoa. 

It's easy and fast and tastes super summer-y.  Here's how to do it:

1. Make quinoa according to the directions on the box (genius, I know).

2. Get out baby pre-cooked shrimp, half a honeydew melon, fresh mint, and walnuts.

 3. Snack on something delicious while you are doing the prepwork for the salad.

Pre-dinner snack...
brie and FSTG multigrain chips!
 4. Ball up about half of the half melon.  So 1/4 melon total.

5. Cook up the shrimp a little with some canola oil (actually better for you when cooking than olive!)...although this part is optional altogether.

6. Combine all previously listed ingredients with some romain lettuce.

7. Pour a glass of white wine, get something good to read, and squirt some fresh lime juice onto the salad.  Voila!

Monday, May 30, 2011

REVIEW: barre3

I first heard about barre3 through PopSugar (think Groupon type deals), and was intrigued.  I like the yoga and pilates I've tried thus far, and while I was never a ballet-type gal growing up, thought it would be fun to try something new!  We bought 2 of the vouchers (3 classes each), since my husband's clients have asked his opinion on barre3...I love it when we can workout together!

Inside the studio...
The staff was very responsive via email and got spots reserved for us at a Saturday morning class.  At the last minute, Jared couldn't come due to work, but barre3 was very flexible and let my mom come with me instead. 

When we showed up, I realized why we'd had to reserve our places: it was packed!  Every spot at the barre was taken...the class was all female, ranging in age from early 20s to mid-50s.  Almost all the women present were sporting lululemon workout duds and lots of lean, toned muscle.
My little torture chamber...er, station
The workout, as touted on the website, was indeed a combination of yoga, pilates, and ballet barre moves.  Think light (1-2 lb.) weights or body weight with LOTS of repetition.  Except for the few "cleansing breaths" at the beginning and end of class, I spent most of the time shaking as I tried to crank out the final reps of each move. 

Sports bra: Champion/Target, top: lululemon,
skort: Champion/Target
The instructor, Heather, gave plenty of detailed instruction (soften your shoulders, keep high on your toes, lower just one more inch) without seeming like a drill sergeant or a cheerleader.  My mom and I were pretty excited about the workout...never have I been that shaky and enjoyed myself so much!  (Did I mentioned we were both sore for the next several days?)

I was really curious to get Jared's opinion, since with all his background and knowledge base, he's got a better sense than I of the specific value of different types of workouts.  We came a few weeks later as part of our quarterly date weekend.

Not only does he come try girly workouts with me,
but he lets me take constant blog photos, too!
Here is my review of barre3 (with husband/trainer feedback in mind):
  • Environment: 5 out of 5.  The orange accents, cute lights, and the clean & well-organized studio all make it easy to relax and focus on your workout.
  • Instructor: 5 out of 5.  We've had Heather both times so can't speak for all the instructors, but if she's any example you'll be well pleased: friendly, well-prepared, and clearly loves what she does.  (It's always motivating to have someone so toned (but not guy-buff) leading your class.)
  • Affordability: 1 out of 5. See here for the Bellevue pricing...a one year commitment is the best deal (except for newbie offers).  It will get you 6 free guest passes (a nice perk) but will set you back $1500 ($125/month).
  • Convenience: 3 out of 5.  Although barre3 is not open all day like a gym, the Bellevue schedule provides a nice variety of class times, Monday through Sunday, from as early as 6:15am to as late as 7pm.  Child care is provided at many classes (especially late morning slots) for a fee.
  • Cardio/endurance: 1 out of 5.  You'll sweat a little, but the focus really isn't on lung power.
  • Muscle building/fat burning: 2 out of 5.  This was the shocker for me: as much as you will be shaking through these moves, they actually won't do a whole lot in helping you lose fat.  The best way to burn fat is to build muscle, and the best way to build muscle is to fatigue them through lifting heavier and heavier weights, not doing the same move 30 times.  (The pushup series was fairly effective, however.)
  • Flexibility: 1 out of 5.  You will get some yoga spread throughout the class, but to really gain flexibity, each stretch needs to be held for a minimum of 20 seconds, and repeated at least once...so the yoga here mainly provides a break from the harder sections of the class. 
  • Body awareness: 4 out of 5.  The upside: You are constantly reminded to think about all the little details of each move: relaxing your shoulders, tightening your core, lengthening your spine, etc.  This skill is hugely helpful in all areas of fitness.  Focusing on the little details rather than just the "main move" is an excellent way to work more efficiently and prevent injury.  The downside: most of the excercises are not functional movements.  In barre3 you are training yourself in a way that is contrary to how our bodies naturally move, unlike squats or farmer carries, which humans perform constantly in everyday life. 
  • Fun factor: 5 out of 5.  I really, really, enjoyed this workout.  The amount of mental focus required to stay balanced and persevere through each set of moves is incredible.  This is very stress relieving as you really can't sit there thinking about your to do list or a relationship snaffoo with a friend.  You HAVE to focus on the moves, since most are unlike anything you would normally do at the gym.  Plus, who doesn't enjoy working out in a pretty room with mirrors and a barre and a squishy blue ball?
Final verdict: Use barre3 once or twice a month as a supplement to regular strength training, cardio, and yoga/stretching to increase body awareness, prevent injury, and provide variety.

Interested in trying barre3 for yourself?  They offer classes in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Oklahoma, Washington D.C. (coming soon), and the Philippines. 

No barre3 in your area?  Price point out of your range?  (Mine, too!)  Check out the barre3 DVD!  It comes with a ball, so you're all set to fatigue those muscles right in your own home.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Farmer's Market Date

Out of good date ideas? 
Check out your local farmer's market! 
PNWers, here's a list of markets near you.

These Danish pastry balls were AMAZING. 
All kinds of fillings (raspberry/walnut, lemon curd/blueberry...)

We REALLY like pastries

Pasta titles at this place indicate ingredients, not just flavor!

Our pick for this visit

Me with my Fitness-Face-off reward!

Seriously...one of the best things you can do for your marriage is make time to keep dating each other.  The stress of work and alarms and laudry is REALLY unromantic and turns even the most devoted lovers into tired, cranky roommates.  When money/time is tight (it's always one or the other...or BOTH), get creative!  Keep it chill and just focus on enjoying each other's company.

Obviously flowers and sweets never hurt.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kettlebell Sunshine/Musical Madness

Howdy folks.  Miss MIA is hopefully back in business.  I've got some killer excuses for my recent silence.  Want to hear?  Oh, good!!!

1.  Sunshine.

Here in the Pacific NW, what kind of fitness blogger would I be if during a busy but sunny week, I stayed inside to blog about my food and my clothes AND DIDN'T WORKOUT IN THE SUN???  A preposterous imposter kind of fitness blogger.  That's what kind.

Included in my sunshine exultations:

I took an hour+ walk to meet the hubby for dinner out.  He was coming from work and obviously could have picked me up.  But THE SUN WAS SHINING.  And I wanted to wear shorts since I can't wear them to work.

Shorts: Target, shoes (which you can't see): Nike, black tank: Gap, tunic: Papaya (the hubby picked it out), zip-up: lululemon (also from the hubby)

And here's my cute sweat-avoiding hair!
Walking an hour for this date was WAY worth it (besides the fact that the walk itself was delightful...phoned a dear friend and bemoaned the state of modern pop literature):

Unbeatable service, esp for an order-at-the-counter place.  The gal kept checking on us and finally brought us soup as a "so sorry your food is a little slow in coming."  Very impressive!

Fish tacos


Hot date
I finally did this full-body kettlebell workout from Shape

You can use a bench for the planks and box jumps in this workout: 

Seriously...2x through takes about 20-25 minutes.  I only have a 10lb kettlebell and this kicked my butt.  I had to improvise a little on the farmer carry since I only have one...and I don't own a medicine ball so I improvised some ab work on the last step of the workout.  (Now I totally want a heavier 'bell!)

Had lunch with a dear friend at the park:

Whole grain...awesome excuse to eat fishies.

My turquoise on navy on turqoise...

Bekah with her healthy water

2. Musical Theatre.

You may think this has nothing to do with eating well or sweating hard.  But here's how it ties in...this week found me striving to keep up with my healthy food and my workout regimen.  I had to be a little flexible, but somehow God got me through it.  I got in all my weight-training and some good cardio and yoga...there was one day where I only squeezed in 5 minutes of abs, but 5 minutes of working out is ALWAYS better than nothing. 

If you are like me, you have perfectionistic tendencies, and you do great with staying fit...until you "fall off the bandwagon" a teensy bit.  Then you get frustrated/discouraged/etc. and decide if you can't do it right, it's basically hopeless anyway.  This is the difference between goals and lifestyle.  Ultimately you have to see fitness and health as simply a lifestyle, realize it won't always be perfect, and do what you can to work it into the everyday chaos of life.

Enough soapboxing...

Set at Seussical

My buddy Carson...known this dude his whole life

He played Jojo and rocked the show!

I swung through Trader Joe's on my way to the show!
And here are "my" kids at last night's 5 hour dress rehearsal.  You better believe I packed a ton of healthy food ahead of time on Monday since I knew I'd be starved.

It's a revue about a show within a show.  Think Chorus Line.

It's going to be a great show...I'm very proud of all their hard work, particularly on some of the dance numbers!  A huge privilege to be back helping the director for this class.  If you don't hear from me tomorrow, I'll be off cheering these kids on!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Amazing Culinary Escapade

As you may have figured out...I'm kind of a freak about health/fitness magazines.  I LOVE them.  The low-down on nutritious veggies, fun new workout ideas, cute gym clothes and gear...etc. 

I currently subscribe to:
I also recommend Self and Health.

A month or so ago, I was reading my monthly copy of Fitness, when I ran across "6 Light and Healthy Summer Recipes."  Now, I'm the queen of brown bag lunches, but dinner and fancy desserts often find me leaving out ingredients, timing various steps poorly, and frantically improvising to earn the stamp of "edible."

But these recipes looked so friendly and chill that I was emboldened to try one out.  I asked my husband to pick his poison, and the verdict was Pork Scallopine with Sugar Snap Peas.

I was mildly concerned because when recipes say, "Total time: 30 minutes," it translates to 60+ meghaminutes.  This recipe gave me 20, and by the grace of God I did it in 30.  Can you PR in cooking?

Dredging pork.  Sounds gross...like dreadlocks.

I love vegetables that have "sugar" in their name.

I did everything all by myself - even opening the wine!!!

Bloggers often totally overlook the less-glamorous side of cooking...the dishes:

But thanks to my mad FlyLady skills (seriously, they will get their own post soon!), it didn't take me too long after dinner to clean up the craziness.

I seriously can't believe that no tastebuds were harmed in the making of this meal.

Maybe the colors didn't turn out quite as pretty as the magazine...but otherwise it was a pretty insane dinner.

My hubby was impressed.  Not just proud of me for trying.  Legitimately impressed

No wonder after that I stayed up all night baking cookies...