They’re Watching us…

They’re watching us…

As a parent, I feel strongly that living a healthy lifestyle is the best gift I can give my daughter. Lifetime benefits aside, working out regularly and eating healthy allows me to enjoy the little things like running around with her in the yard and carrying her when she gets tired on a walk. These little perks of being healthy make me happy, but another benefit is that she is learning what it means to be healthy without any pressure from me. It is becoming clear that, after being my workout buddy for almost 3.5 years (sorry Steve, you have been replaced), she is learning that working out is a normal part of everyday life, and she imitates my workout routine right down to the small details.

Before I press play on my all-access pass, I put on a long sleeved shirt (just until I warm up since I’m ALWAYS cold), so she puts on her fleece. I put my hair up in a ponytail, so she puts her hair up in a ponytail and sets her water bottle next to mine. She always join me for the warmup routine with me with some rather creative jumping jacks and stretching. After the warm up, sometimes she gets bored and scampers off to do her own thing, but sometimes she attempts a full workout.

Last week I caught her doing her version of pushups, which were definitely not up to military standard, but she was having fun. It makes me happy when I catch her randomly doing yoga, squats/lunges, or making her own weights out of foam blocks.

Hopefully being exposed to fun workouts at a young age means that working out will become a normal part of her life, but, for the moment I am enjoying every part of our daily workout routine.

Do your kids workout with you?

Thug Kitchen Cookbook Review

The best &$(%&# cookbook in the *%&#)$ #&%)#*&$ world!

Please excuse the profanity, but in this case I feel it is appropriate to describe my new favorite cookbooks. If the profanity didn’t give it away, I am talking about the Thug Kitchen series of cookbooks. At best I am a reluctant cook, forced into duty by my family, making basic meals commonly found in 1950 kitchens. For a number of reasons (there are some very compelling reasons that I won’t get into here, just google it), we have been trying to cut out meat for about half our dinners. Reducing meat consumption sounds easy, but it’s definitely not just not omitting the meat portion of the meal and serving as usual, but substituting alternate protein sources in place of the meat.

When it comes to these vegetarian meals I started out with a standard repertoire meals: stir fry related (mixed sautéed veggies over rice/quinoa/potatoes), burrito related (this can be anything wrapped in a tortilla), and omelets. Searching the internet for inspiration generally left me feeling inadequate; most of the recipes I found were complicated and had hard to find ingredients. But, the internet came through in the end and I saw the Thug Kitchen series mentioned on a fitness trainers fb page I frequent. The premise sounded intriguing, but to avoid jumping in and buying them outright, I cheated and checked them out of the library to make sure they would work for my family and cooking style.

The books are called Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F$@k; TK-Party Grub and TK 101-Fast as F&-K. As you can tell by the F bomb blurred out in the title, these books have a lot of swearing (I mean a lot, like every third word) so if you are cooking with children who can read, probably not the best source for vegan recipes.

Another nice part of each of the books is the “how to” aspect, they discuss how to cook basic beans, rice, quinoa, millet, barley separately from the recipes that use each grain. There are recipes for drinks, breakfast, appetizers, soups, main meals and of course dessert! The recipes are easy to follow, and even somebody with marginal kitchen skills can make a presentable and tasty vegan meal (I can say that because that is me). What I love is even though some recipes have a lot of ingredients and take some time, almost all the ingredients can be found at our normal grocery store. So far, I have only had to go to Whole Foods for two ingredients, and that’s over the course of making at least a dozen meals.

Besides trying to avoid meat, we are also trying to avoid fake food (like margarine, fake cheese etc.), and these books are great for that too. Since vegans don’t eat real cheese, I was wondering how they would deal with the missing dairy products. I am happy to report that they don’t use that weird fake cheese, but nutritional yeast (which I had never heard of), but have since learned has a ton of nutritional value (Google for more info). Most of the egg recipes substitute olive or grape seed oil for eggs, and there’s even a recipe for whipped cream which uses coconut milk. One substitution I haven’t made yet is using non-dairy milk (like almond) since we always have cow’s milk on hand. The recipes substituting cow’s milk for almond have turned out fine.

Did I mention the swearing? Well, the swearing combined with a spunky, yet helpful writing style makes this the first cookbook I have ever read from beginning to end. When choosing a recipe, or putting the book away, I catch myself reading the next page, either because the picture of a yummy new dish catches my eye, or the swearing looks extra intense….
After multiple renewals from the library, my husband the hunter/fisherman and all around carnivore bought all three books for me as a Christmas present, which I consider a pretty good endorsement.

In summary, just because I can’t choose a favorite, all three books are highly recommended as an addition to any cookbook library!

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All Access Pass

What if I told you that you could have access to EVERY SINGLE BeachBody program ever created? Probably you would laugh, snort empahtically and mutter something about “next time I win the lottery”. Up until recently, I would totally agree, after all, it has taken me years, and I don’t know how much money to fill a shelf on our DVD rack with just a small portion of the BeachBody workouts. But, something magical happened, and BeachBody has decided to offer streaming access to their workouts. If access to your workout from anywhere isn’t good enough, they took it a step further and opened up streaming access every workout ever published! Wow!
This wonderful new program is called the All Access Pass and includes my old favorites like P90X, Insanity: Max 30, Piyo, Body Beast, Country Heat as well as ones I would like to try like Chalene Extreme and TurboJam.  All Access also includes the just released Core de Force (a mixed martial arts that uses no equipment) and other new release workouts!
At this point, I bet you are still standing by the “win the lottery” comment because access to all workouts sounds really expensive and only really there for the upper 1%, but the best part is one year of access to the All Access Pass is only $100 for a whole year! Plus, add a month of shakeology, and it is just $199!
No lottery winning required!

A quick breakdown of the math shows that by a (cough *conservative*) average, I buy two workouts per year, totaling well over $100. So subscribing to All Access will simultaneously allow me to spend less money, access more workouts, and keep my workouts fresh. Plus having a DVD rack is so 2000’s…..what’s not to like?
Hit me up if you have any questions about the service, how it works or how to get the most out of your subscription!image

Dehydrator Review

Rewind a year to a summer with no fruit on any local trees and boy were we annoyed. A fancy new dehydrator sitting there, and paying $5/pound for organic apples at Whole Foods in order to give it a test drive. This year is quite the opposite in terms of fruit; more free, organic fruit than we can possibly pick, so our dehydrator that runs every few days. Mainly we have been dehydrating apples, which are very easy and turn out to be a great snack, for both big and small people.
They are so easy, there really isn’t a recipe, but two tricks we have learned are to make sure the apples are cut a consistent thickness and soak them in a lemon juice/water mix to avoid having them turn brown. To make sure the slices are all the same thickness we have been peeling them (I know peels are healthy, but they don’t dry consistently along the skin if they aren’t peeled. Plus we compost the peels!). After peeling, use a coring tool that cuts the core out of the apple, leaving cylindrical core. Then slice the apples about 1/8″ thick perpendicular to the core, leaving an “O” shaped slice. Dunking them in lemon juice/water is pretty self-explanatory, not even sure how much juice to water to use, but a couple glugs of juice per medium sized bowl seems to work well. No matter how hard I try to keep the slices the same thickness, they are always dry at slightly different rates, so check them periodically and remove the dry slices before they get crispy. I think these apples taste as good as the store-bought variety, but I know where they came from, and the price is right too!
Once dry, keep the bulk of the dried fruit in the refrigerator to maximize shelf life. This simple workflow applies to most fruits, just ask Google whether the lemon juice bath is necessary.
Another fun (or boring depending on age) product that can be easily produced in a dehydrator is fruit leather. It involves a bit more work, as it requires making applesauce from the apples, then drying. It is another tasty, healthy snack, but is also the subject of another blog post.

22 Minute Hard Corps Equipment

A few people have recently asked me what equipment I use for 22 Minute Hard Corps, and the other home workouts I enjoy so much. I have to say the minimal equipment requirements are one of the reasons I really enjoy working out at home; keeping it simple and free from complex machines, GPS input and other technology I don’t get along with takes stress out of working out. With that said, here is a list of all the workout equipment I own: weights, a sandbag, a pull up bar/resistance band, and a jump mat. Other important items are a towel and water.

Weights-I prefer dumbbell style weights in XX pounds per dumbbell. They are versatile and can be used as a substitute for the sandbag if you don’t own one or don’t want to use one. I prefer weights since there are a few moves where sandbag would be a little more difficult to use, but it is just a personal preference. Plus, with dumbbells, as each phase goes on, it’s easier to adjust the weight to keep my reps where they should be.

Sandbag-sandbags aren’t required, but they do make for a bit more dynamic workout with the swinging involved. The advantage is that it is easy (and cheap) to adjust the weight with changes in strength, goals or fitness. For those of us in colder climates, the sand can be used for adding grip to walkways in the winter when strength workouts get fewer and farther in between. Sandbags can be bought at any sporting goods store, Walmart, Target, teambeachbody, Amazon etc.

Jump mat-not a lot of people know what a jump mat is used for, or for that matter what it is. My husband gave me a quizzical look when trying to explain it to him. It is simply a good way to add a little bit of extra shock absorption while doing plyometric workouts. Since I work out in our living room, which is carpeted, I don’t feel the need to use mine on a regular basis, but if I worked out on hardwood or concrete, it would be a lifesaver. I suppose in a pinch, a yoga mat would be a reasonable substitute for a jump mat. But be sure not to confuse the two!

Pull up bar-pull ups are not one of my favorite workouts, so losing and/or breaking my pullup bar has crossed my mind more than a couple times. Maybe that’s why I like my lightweight, pullup bar that over a doorway since its small enough that I could easily “misplace” it. Unfortunately, even if I “lose” it, a resistance band will work just as well. Since the only way to get better at pullups is being able to complete the full range of motion, I used a chair, or pull up assist works quite nicely until I was able to do a couple pullups all by myself.

Resistance bands- can be used in place of most of the equipment I listed above, seems like every video has someone showing how to substitute a resistance band for most workouts. Just be careful to properly secure the end to avoid any painful snap back (don’t ask how I found this out….).

Hope you found this to be helpful. And one more thing…a towel to wipe off the sweat and don’t forget to drink your water, that’s the most important one!

Working Out With a Toddler

 

While doing my 22 Minute Hard Corps workout this afternoon, my daughter wanted to join in on the fun. 22 Minute Hard Corps requires a lot of jumping back and forth and up and down, which is quite hard when I have a toddler who is trying her hardest to mimic my movements. She is pretty good at mimicking, but is always half a step behind, ensuring she is going back when I am trying to go forth. While trying to do mountain climbers, it was the same story, she was crawling underneath me. What’s a parent to do while trying to workout with a very mobile child?

Here is what I find works best for us:

First, I try really hard to make sure there are plenty of toys, and other non-workout related activities readily available, but hard to since jumping around with mom is a lot more interesting than the same old toys. Since I workout in the living room, her toys, play kitchen and coloring supplies are available so I can keep an eye on her if she decides to play on her own. Sometimes she’s pretty good at not bothering me too much….

When toys don’t work, sometimes it is easier to have her join in! She already knows how to bear walk (there’s a move in the 22MHC, Cardio 1), she likes to do downward dog and jumps around when I’m doing some sort of jumping or running in place type move.

My final thought is that it can be difficult to workout with a toddler present, and working out while they are elsewhere (or sleeping) is very enticing, but I believe that having them around is setting a good example, plus watching her try to do some of the moves can be fun!

22 Minute Hard Corps Review

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Please indulge a moment of extreme de-motivational energy, but here goes:
I hate push-ups and burpees.
Whenever one of these two exercises pops up on part of my current workout, I tell myself, “burpees aren’t that bad…”, until I do a couple, and yup, sure enough, I was right, full on hate. Same with push-ups. I’m not sure why I hate them so much more than any other moves (some of which are more painful or harder), but that’s just the way it is.
That is all, now onto some positive workout related info….

Anyway, I am currently working out with a Tony Horton workout called 22 Minute Hard Corps. I decided to start this new program because for the past few weeks I’ve been feeling very unmotivated to commit myself to another 60 or 90 day workout with a program I have completed several times in the past couple years. I was randomly mixing up workout between P90X3, Piyo or a quick TurboFire HIIT, and (big surprise) I wasn’t feeling like the workouts were beneficial. I guess following a program is better than doing random workouts, who knew…

I have found that the best solution to solving low motivation is spending money on a new workout program, so I was looking around on the BeachBody.com website and found a new boot camp/military style workout called 22 Minute Hard Corps. I really like it so far, and the best part is that it’s only 22 minutes long! Don’t think that because the workouts are only 22 minutes long this workout is easy, it’s not.
While each workout is only 22 minutes, they definitely get the job done! 22MHC includes as a lot of basic moves we all remember from gym class like pull ups, squats, lunges, some plyometrics, bear crawls, gorilla crawls (a killer leg workout) as well as the afore mentioned push-ups and burpees.
I also really like the fact that all the people on the DVD are from differently military branches (nothing but support for our men and women in uniform!), and they do all the workouts wearing a 22 Min Hard Corps shirt, camo pants and combat boots. The workouts are done in a cadence reminiscent of military drills (at least the ones I have seen on TV), with everyone counting plus a little drumming music in the background. The cadence is something I had to get use to as I’m not use to doing a workout by this style. Tony goes around counting and motivating the others. There are three rounds with 5-7 moves and a 22 second break. During the first round, there is someone to show a demo of the move including a modified version. There’s also a killer ab workout that’s done on the cardio days.
I highly recommend this workout for its intensity and relatively quick time table – it’s quick and gets the job done! The change I made that helps me get through it is turning on upbeat music in the background because I don’t like hearing the cadences. If you’re someone who is short on time or has a toddler running around, this is a great workout. Another plus is the required equipment is very basic, just a pull up bar, jump mat, and weights (or a sandbag), plus water and a towel…..

Here’s a preview of the workouts!