August 5, 2014

1,500 Minute Challenge - Results

It took me 32 days, but I finished my 1,500 minute challenge! I prioritized exercise and noticed some significant changes:
  • My recovery time is much faster. While high intensity routines are still challenging--as they should be--I need fewer breaks and I can maintain constant movement during the active rest breaks. At the end of a full body routine, I still had energy to do a short strength-building set.
  • I missed working out! It took me 32 days because there were some days I couldn't fit it in and when that happened my body noticed. I craved the movement.
  • Working out is not a chore! This is about mindset and proves a lot of the habit-making theories. I'm now one of those people who likes to workout out! The Whole 30 Challenge helped, especially the group support and accountability, and this solo challenge has solidified the habits.
  • My metabolism has improved. After a week-long trip to Argentina where Mr. Crying Cook and I indulged in excellent wines, a lot of fried empanadas, and even more steaks, I'm still feeling great. Yes, the siestas helped along with the average 5 miles walking around Buenos Aires every day, but it's the fact that my body knows a new normal now. Can I also brag that we worked out on vacation too!? I just did!

Delicious Empanadas de Lomo

Unrelated, the blog hit a bit of hiccup last month when I went on a digital cleaning spree which resulted in my accidentally deleting all the blog's photos. I was able to restore them, but please leave me a comment if you find a post with a broken image or link.

July 3, 2014

1,500 Minute Challenge - Day 15

It's the half way point through my solo challenge and there are so many workouts I look forward to and there are some I dread. I don't ever want to dread a workout and I had an epiphany: I don't have to do workouts I hate. I am trying to differentiate between ones that are just really challenging from those that make me feel frustrated. I want these 1,500 minutes to make me feel motivated to workout in some way every single day, so reflecting on the differences is so important.

Here are two moves that challenge me:

My form on toe touch crunches needs a lot of improvement.

My split leg downward dog creates about a 45 degree angle.

When I bought running sneakers, the super-smart-sounding sales associates told me my tight hips probably caused my feet to roll inward. I wonder if those tight hips makes these moves hard for me. I just have to keep practicing. Stay tuned.

June 26, 2014

1,500 Minute Challenge - Day 8

Somehow as finals creep up on me again for this summer semester, I have worked out for 403 minutes and 50 seconds. Don't take those 50 seconds away from me--I earned them! Eight days into my 30 day challenge and I'm +3 minutes and 50 seconds to meeting my nearly ridiculous goal of 1,500 total workout minutes. If this were golf, I'd have an eagle. I'm an eagle!


I have done a great variety of routines and I'm feeling pretty smug because some have felt "easy." What I realize has actually happened is that my baseline fitness level is higher than it's ever been in my life. Cheerleader me at 17 years old has been surpassed and that feels really good. That cardio workout below felt like the proverbial walk in the park.

Bodyweight Cardio Calorie Blaster

Of course, I'm no where near feeling like a HIIT routine is anywhere near easy. I doubt it could actually be called high intensity interval training if it were anything but, well, high intensity.

I did this routine again and I'm not at double butt kickers yet. I'm still on four beats, but I feel myself getting stronger and I have much better stamina.

Barre Workout

If you're looking for something lower intensity, I liked the barre routine above. Tiny ballet pulses really burn during round two, as did the flutter kicks. Barre workouts seemed to explode last year--at least in New York--but I haven't heard much about them lately. Well, you can try a year old trend for free thanks to Fitness Blender.

June 21, 2014

1,500 Minute Challenge - Day 3

I've worked out for 176 minutes and 50 seconds over the past 3 days and I'm feeling good! Getting it done first thing in the morning works best for me. The weather in Brooklyn has been incredible, so I see more running in my future too.

I've tried two new workouts: a lengthy, full body routine by in-your-face trainer Jillian Michaels and a much-needed hip opening yoga class. When that woman has her knees practically flat on the ground in butterfly, mine are a good six inches hovering above the floor. I'll be returning to this one often.

I recommend both of these routines, probably best for a weekend morning when you have more time.

Jillian Michaels: No More Trouble Zones

Ekhart Yoga: 45 Minute Hip Opening Class

June 18, 2014

1,500 Minute Exercise Challenge Take Two

At the start of the month, I set out to exercise for 1,500 minutes. Then, reality struck. I had to press pause and focus on work and grad school. Fortunately, I'm over a big hump with a truly gargantuan amount of work, so I'm trying again.

The summer semester isn't over, neither is my teaching school year. Still, I'm ready to try again. Falling off completely made me feel pre-Whole 30 sluggish and added to my stress. I hope getting back to regular exercise even in the midst of more moderately busy schedule will help with that.

I worked out for 57 minutes today--cardio and yoga. It felt great to focus that time on my body. I'm thankful my body is fully functional and capable of so much more than I'm doing now.

1,443 minutes to go.

June 14, 2014

Hitting Pause

The 1,500 minute challenge just isn't happening. I have to admit, it was just to ambitious while working and taking two classes. Instead of feeling motivated to get that number, I started to feel guilty about falling behind. That's not the objective here.

I'm going to let myself off the hook until the school year ends and start again at the end of this month. Just writing that makes me feel better.

Now I'm off to write about teacher observation skills, do this workout for the first time, and head to brunch with family.

June 7, 2014

137 Minutes Short

Ouch. Week one of my 1,500 Minute Exercise Challenge is in the books and I'm looking at a deficit. To meet the goal, I have to hit an average of 50 minutes per day, or 350 per week. There were two days this week when I put up goose eggs for getting in any kind of movement. The end of the academic year has only been ramping up, so I'll need to take some serious action to close this gap.

The moral here: Don't Give Up! I'm still aiming for the 1,500 minute mark. I'm just going to have to get more crafty.

Yoga with Adriene

There were many positives this week on the exercise front. I got in a total of 213 minutes and 57 seconds. That included a 3.61 mile run, this awesome arms super set that I'll be adding to my rotation, one HIIT routine, and three short yoga routines.

I subscribed to a new YouTube Channel: Yoga with Adriene. While I have only done two of her workouts so far, I really liked them and she has a ton! So, to make up for the missed minutes in week one, I'm going to prioritize yoga everyday. I'm also going to take advantage of this beautiful spring weekend in Brooklyn and walk a lot. I'll be easy on myself because I'm doing the best I can. Sometimes that's easier said than done.

June 1, 2014

1,500 Minute Exercise Challenge

So, it turns out I really like challenges. Different folks are motivated by different factors. I've found mine.

Unlike the Whole 30, this competition is just against myself. In the next 30 days, I'm looking to exercise for 1,500 total minutes. There are no strict rules. Any deliberate movement counts as exercise. I'll continue my love affair with Fitness Blender and start running more regularly. While I won't count a walk to the subway or a trip up a flight of stairs, I will count a thoughtful decision to go on a walk after dinner or playing a sport with friends.*

This works out to 50 minutes of exercise a day. That's a lot! I'm also in grad school twice a week, so on those nights I'll likely only get in about a 20 minute routine, if anything. I'm going to have to get creative.

Think about joining me. Your goal doesn't need to be the same as mine for this month. Perhaps you want to shoot for 500 minutes or something that feels like a challenge for you. I'll keep track of my progress here a few times a week. Come back and see how I'm accumulating minutes.

*I guess I should start playing a sport of some kind. Anyone?

May 29, 2014

Whole 30 Challenge Results

Here's 30 days of cleaning eating by the numbers:
  • Weight: dropped 9.6 pounds
  • Inches: dropped .35 inches around my arms, .62 inches around my waist, and .75 inches around my hips
  • Exercising: exercised for over 1,000 minutes
  • Points: came in 3rd place overall, but my team won!

These numbers only tell one part of the story. As I proclaimed early on, I feel really great after every meal. Gone is the bring-on-nap-time, sluggish and kind of sad feeling I had after really indulgent meals. These were usually ones that contained a lot of grains. Now I feel energized after eating; that makes a lot more sense.

I also feel much more informed, but that's isn't something I can measure. I wrote throughout the challenge that there are some parts of paleo that are not for me. And that's okay. The major lesson learned over the past month is to make the better choice and eat real food. I'll probably never choose bread, but I will choose beans. I'll rarely choose white potatoes, but I will drink wine. I predict dark chocolate will satiate my sweet tooth in a way that only milk chocolate had in the past.

You've probably gathered that I really love my work and the people I do it with. Aside from being intelligent and talented, there's a spirit of constant improvement there that bleeds to all parts of our lives. I'm really grateful that folks at my school started this challenge and that we supported one another while doing.

To a lifetime of better choices!

May 26, 2014

Shrimp and Broccoli Recipe - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 29

It's hard to believe tomorrow is the last day of this challenge. I'm looking forward to getting my physical results--inches and pounds lost--but the health results are already known to me. I feel really great and I've already learned the lesson for me: eat real food and always make the better choice. The better choice will never be processed, packaged foods, weight-loss shakes, or the latest fad. Everyone looking to lose weight and get stronger knows that, but quick and easy is a tough message to resist.

I'll start reintroducing some foods in the next few days and see how I feel. In the meantime, here's a very simple recipe that's a take-out fake-out. Mr. Crying Cook cannot eat peanuts, but you can add that to this recipe to make it more Thai-like. Brown rice is also an option for those not eating the paleo way.

Fake out take out

Ingredients & Tools

  • a crazy ton of broccoli or 3-4 large heads
  • 1 lbs. shrimp
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons of chili garlic sauce or to your taste
  • salt
  • large pot with lid
  • large bowl
  • potato masher or large slotted spoon
  • cutting board
  • chef's knife

Fake out take out

The wonders of coconut milk. I've made this many times and it took me too long to realize that I needed to make sure that the coconut milk was well mixed before adding it to this dish. The fat from the coconut milk separates in the can, so you'll open it and realize there's coconut water and very chunky/solid coconut. 

Empty this out into a large bowl and mash or mix it really well. Shaking the can won't do the trick and skipping this step results in separated coconut milk in the dish. It doesn't affect the taste, but it's isn't visually appealing.

Fake out take out

Add the chili garlic sauce. You can find this with Asian foods in your supermarket. As you experiment with this recipe, determine the precise amount for your taste. For me, 2 tablespoons is the perfect balance for the sweet coconut milk and the huge amount of veggies.

Stir well.

Fake out take out

Speaking of vegetables, this is a lot of broccoli, but there's no rice in this dish and more vegetables never hurt anyone. There's no portion nitpicking on paleo and no calorie counting. Go nuts with the vegetables!

Add the now mixed coconut milk and chili sauce combo to a large pot. Add the chopped broccoli, season with salt, and stir.

Cover and cook over a low flame for 10 minutes.

In that time, prep the shrimp.

Fake out take out

Add the raw shrimp to the tender broccoli, cover, and cook over a low flame for 10 minutes. I like to give the pot a good shake with the cover on about half way through.

Fake out take out

A super simple and really healthy, not all Thai, dinner.

May 25, 2014

Soft-shell Crab Recipe - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 28

Last summer, I ate this salad for the first time. It's a bit bizarre to crunch through the entire crab at first, but it's incredibly tasty and, again, accidentally paleo without the flour.

Yesterday, I featured my father-in-law's swordfish and today it's my mother-in-law's soft-shell crab. Of course, it helps when you have great access to local seafood.

summer recipes, crab recipes, paleo recipes
These are not the most attractive guys,

Ingredients & Tools
  • 3-4 soft-shell crabs per person
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning 
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • tartar or cocktail sauce (your preference)
  • large plate
  • large pan
  • tongs

summer recipes, crab recipes, paleo recipes

Mix the flour and Old Bay seasoning. Adjust the amount of the Old Bay to your taste. If you're father-in-law Crying Cook, the more seasoning the better.

Dredge each crab in the mixture and shake off the excess. The objective is to lightly coat, not smother. My mother-in-law was nice enough to indulge my 30 day challenge by not dredging mine. 

summer recipes, crab recipes, paleo recipes

Heat a large pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.

summer recipes, crab recipes, paleo recipes

They should look golden and crispy.

summer recipes, crab recipes, paleo recipes

We had ours with shrimp over Romaine lettuce.

summer recipes, crab recipes, paleo recipes

My lunch, sans the flour and the sauces, but it was still delicious with a squeeze of lemon.

May 24, 2014

Swordfish with Garlic Tomato Sauce Recipe - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 27

My father-in-law has been making this dinner for a few years and it's simple and tasty. By eliminating one thing, it's suddenly paleo. They had it with pasta, but the sauce and fish were a substantial dinner for me.

Ingredients & Tools
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 5 pints of grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs of swordfish
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • spatula
  • large pan
  • grill pan

Swordfish Recipes

Add olive oil to a large pan and place over medium low heat. Chop and add the garlic cloves. Cook for 3-5 minutes until fragrant, but don't allow the garlic to brown.

Swordfish Recipes

Add all of the cleaned tomatoes. There's no need to cut them. Sauté for 20 minutes.

Swordfish Recipes

Some may have popped--this is a good thing. Use a spatula to squish the tomatoes to create your sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat.

Swordfish Recipes

Prep the grill pan with a little olive oil over a high flame. Cook the swordfish for about 4 minutes on each side.

Swordfish Recipes

I was absolutely useless in cooking this dinner. My father-in-law did all the heavy lifting while I drank tea and took pictures. He's a really good guy and this is a really good dinner.

May 23, 2014

Banana Pancake Fail - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 26

A few days ago, I was inspired to make some paleo foods like this chia pudding. While that recipe was a success insofar that the result was what it was meant to be, it's not something I'll eat regularly, especially considering how expensive chia seeds are.

I also found a two-ingredient recipe for banana pancakes. The pictures on paleo blogs of this grain-free breakfast classic were beautiful. Surely, I could do the same thing, right? No such luck. They stuck to a cast iron pan prepped with butter and a nonstick pan with Pam. They were flat like crepes and not worth the effort. I don't even have pictures of this failure because after photographing the prep, I was too frustrated with the stickiness to remember to shoot this kitchen disaster.

Breakfast: More paleo granola with almond milk and this time strawberries. I had left over zucchini "pasta" with sausages in a red sauce. For dinner, I had a spinach, tuna, and avocado salad. I also ate the sad remains from this banana pancake adventure.

Somehow, I got in 10 minutes because I was really exhausted yesterday. I did this Tank Top Arms workout and felt pretty triumphant.

It didn't happen.

Two points.

I read more of Justice Sotomayor's autobiography.

May 22, 2014

Quick Post - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 25

I had more paleo granola with almond milk for breakfast. I really love this stuff. I had leftovers for lunch: roasted turkey breast, green beans, and a baked sweet potato. It smelled like Thanksgiving. I had sausage in a homemade tomato sauce over zucchini. I made this for my dad and stepmother on Mother's Day. There's no pretending the zucchini is pasta, but that's another group of foods I don't miss.

I did this HIIT workout and my legs... my poor, tired legs.

I got it done right after laying on the floor for five minutes.

Two points.

I'm finishing My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor. My dad asked me to read it months ago and I can see why. Her immigrant-from-Puerto-Rico-landing-in-New-York story feels the same to the ones I've heard from my own family.

May 21, 2014

Beautiful Run - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 24

I ate paleo granola with almond milk for breakfast, shrimp and broccoli for lunch, and chicken vegetable soup for dinner. It was a day of leftovers, but they were all really delicious. I also ate a banana and a coconut Larabar as a snack. Good eats today.

My Beautiful Brooklyn Neighborhood

I ran 3 miles, interval style. I do 10 minutes steady, 2 minutes fast, 5 minutes steady, 2 minutes fast, and then continue in 2 minute intervals. There are times when I'm running the fast interval and I'm sure I'm about to break an Olympic record or near a 6 minute mile. It's more like 8:40, but it feels great.

The run felt wonderful and I wasn't feeling very motivated when I came home from work. I never regret a run, but today was a long and busy work day.

I used Rock My Run again and jammed out to a Katy Perry remix. Out of breath on my stoop, I looked at my data from Run Keeper from the last year. I ran my 8th fastest overall time today.


Post-run stretches are so, so good. I hung out in butterfly for a while.

I had green tea and a lot of water.

I read the newspaper on a weeknight. My brain thought it was a Saturday morning. This article points out what nearly everyone in education knows: America does not have the best teachers. Tomorrow, I need to read something lighter before bed.

May 20, 2014

New Workouts - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 23

Warning: There's a brief rant below.

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

I had strawberries and chia pudding for breakfast with green tea. I had an apple while unit planning and leftover chicken and vegetable soup for lunch. I brined a turkey breast and had that for dinner with green beans--which are a go on this challenge--and a baked sweet potato. Mr. Crying Cook had the devil's white potato.

I did two new workouts today. I did this Low Impact Lower Body and Core Tabata Routine. It wasn't challenging for me, so I won't be coming back to this. A routine certainly doesn't need to be primarily cardio for me to break a sweat. There are quite a few body weight workouts that give me a run for my money, but this one was just too far below my current fitness level.

I also did this Tracy Anderson Arm Series. I've done another Tracy Anderson arm workout because they're straightforward, but challenging. I also want to tone and strengthen my arms, but I don't like her messages. I hate the phrase "problem area." I don't have problem areas. No part of my healthy, fully-functioning body is a problem. Please get it straight. I'm not 100% confident 100% of the time, but my body is not a problem. She also wants to help us make our arms "teeny tiny." You're a grown woman. Please don't talk like that. Perpetuating the idea that healthy and beautiful means skinny makes things like the Dove campaign necessary.

Semi-related, listen to Daniel and Kelli from Fitness Blender rant about thigh gaps.

Two points.

Two points. I drank green tea, lemon zinger tea, and a lot of water.

I finished It Starts with Food. Here's the review.

May 19, 2014

Chia Pudding Recipe - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 22

On day 19, I wrote about trying some new recipes. Now that I have a week break in between semesters, I can do some experimenting and I started with this chia pudding. Now, please know the word pudding here may lead you to imagine the product Mr. Cosby was selling two decades ago. This is not that. Still, it's interesting and Pinterest is stocked with ways to change this standard recipe into many different dessert variations. I just described this recipe as "interesting." Please keep reading.

Chia is definitely all the rage on the Internets. Every post includes that this tiny seed can absorb 10 times their weight in liquid. And, look, now I did it too.

They're an excellent source of protein, omega-3, and fiber. This also means I can have something a bit more breakfast-y to eat in the morning. It's also a part of your childhood.

Whole 30 Challenge Ingredients Paleo Breakfast

Ingredients & Tools
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 2 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp real vanilla extract
  • large bowl
  • whisk
  • plastic wrap

This is very simple. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir.

Whole 30 Challenge Ingredients Paleo Breakfast Seeds Almond Milk

You'll get a bowl of vanilla-y smelling slush. Cover it and let it set in the fridge overnight.

Whole 30 Challenge Rasperries Breakfast Paleo

The consistency takes getting used to, but this makes a great snack and I bet a good breakfast with a more substantial helping of fruit. I will definitely try this again using some of the variations I've found online.

I had this chia pudding with a lot more raspberries in it for breakfast. My husband and I had a great brunch in Cobble Hill and I ate a western omlette with a green salad. We were supposed to head to the movies, but he started to feel sick. I was going to make roasted chicken with a variety of vegetables for dinner, but I changed it to chicken soup with carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach instead. I earned a bonus 10 good wife points. I had some chia pudding and fruit for dessert.


Two Points.

I can't believe it's the final week already! For the lifestyle challenge, we need to read for pleasure for 30 minutes a day. The timing could not have been better with my break from school.

May 18, 2014

It Starts with Food Book Review - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 21

I am nearly finished with It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. The book ends with  a "how to" for the Whole 30, but more than the first half is the science behind paleo concepts. My main take-away as they share it: paleo is not about trying to be a caveman, but choosing the most efficient energy source in your food. The purpose of the Whole 30 is to eliminate food groups that research indicates are less than ideal for our bodies. After the 30 days, you reintroduce food groups and determine how they make you feel in comparison to your 30 days of clean eating. It's all pretty straightforward, until it's not.

There are lot of contradictions in the book. The authors themselves acknowledge that one study supports one claim and then a host of others support its opposite. This goes back to the individualism they support once the 30 days are over: you have to figure out what works for you.

Some parts of their logic made me shake my head. In the section about dairy, they italicized to emphasize that drinking cow's milk is completely ridiculous because it's meant for newborns of a different species. Well, paleo food includes organ meats. You could easily put that in bold letters with a double underline to emphasize you're eating the liver of another animal! Those carnivores eat pigs' heart--PIGS' HEART! That sentence is probably in some vegan book somewhere. Why are humans somehow meant to eat this part of an animal and not that? I'm not convinced.

Yet, here's my own contradiction: I doubt dairy will be a major part of my diet after my 30 days are over. Yes, I love cheese--the stinkier the better [see below]--and ice cream is pretty much the perfect dessert, but I used to drink hot chocolate and eat grilled cheese sandwiches regularly and I never felt particularly great after those eats. I feel slowed down after a major dairy session and that's a pretty bad feeling. I want the food I eat to make me feel liking going, not napping.

The authors make a good point about grains and legumes. Using the fact that people have eaten these foods for thousands of years is not a good justification to keep eating them. They point out these were the foods that were eaten because they were readily available and needed for survival, but were not ideal for thriving. And, again, they assert that while beans, for example, are a good source of fiber, many vegetables are a better source. I can agree there, but I'll also be returning to some legumes next week.

They talk about the overconsumption of grains and legumes, but that's not a problem for me. I can guess that for some cultures it could be a problem because of limited food sources and limited money. Black beans will never be my entire dinner, but I do believe they are good source of nutrition and I cannot continue to eat as much animal protein as I have for the past 3 weeks. I want more of a balance in my diet and I also resent how the challenge calls for such expensive foods. The ideal animal proteins are local, organic, pastured, grass-fed, and on and on. 

Overall, the book is worth a read, especially if you're interested in their view on how food reacts in your body, both physically and psychologically. Of course, the most important thing is how it reacts with you as an individual. I am my own research.

I had bacon and eggs for breakfast. For lunch, a fall salad in the middle of spring with arugula, apples, pears, fresh cranberries, walnuts, and blue cheese. Minus one point. I had shrimp and broccoli in a faux coconut curry sauce for dinner.


Two points.

I downloaded an app that coaches you through a seven minute meditation. It was nearly impossible for me to focus. 

May 17, 2014

Quick Post - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 20

I had two hard boils egg for breakfast, quickly followed by an apple and a blueberry Lara bar. I had a massive and delicious salad of mixed greens, grilled chicken, walnuts, beets, and avocado. Dinner was trout and kale.


It happened right after the workout. I'm pretty impressed with myself that I got this and the workout in among the chaos.

I'd like a latte to wash down this final much more than wine, but I had neither. Two points.

I took several work breaks and counted breaths. To be honest, it stressed me out.

May 16, 2014

Busyness & Food Boredom - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 19

I need to make more food! You already know I'm knee-deep in a final. I'm nearly finished, but this has meant that the evenings after work have been packed: workout, final, eat something, quick blog post, sleep. I've had the work on my mind so much so that I woke up at 4:30 this morning and wrote yesterday's post. I'm getting bored of eating the same things over and over, but I feel too busy to really do anything about it.

During a break from strategic special education action plans, I went to Pinterest, looking for new things I can eat on this challenge. I found two very yummy looking options: banana pancakes and chia seed pudding. After a quick text to my paleo-knowledgable friend who is heading up this challenge, I got the green light on real maple syrup, which I'll need for both recipes. I hope after noon on Saturday I can make these. I'll report back.

Domesticate Me

I had golden raisins, dried apricots, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, pepitas, and cashews in a "high energy mix." I ate an apple shortly after and was starving by the time my bunless bacon burger arrived. I swapped the fries for sauteed garlic spinach, but it was just meh. I had eggs and more spinach for dinner. Snooze Town.

I did the first round of Jillian Michaels 6 Week 6 Pack Abs. This was more than 10 minutes of a workout, so I still get two points. In obsessively talking about this challenge at work, many of us think we should earn more points for working out longer. A 40 minute routine really should earn more points than a 10 minute workout.

In bed.

Two points, not pints, NB.

I'm getting into the editing phase with my final and I've looked at these words for too long. The five minute breathing break helped me push on.

May 15, 2014

Creating a Google Exercise Calendar - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 18

Another weird breakfast: baked salmon and spinach. It was delicious, even at 7am and I felt full until well after noon. I had a banana, a Lara bar, cashews, tea, and coffee with almond milk throughout the work day. I haven't been adding it to my posts, but I've also been drinking a lot of water.

Fresh Direct, the food delivery service in my area, forgot my pork chops in the last delivery. There was nothing to cook, so Mr. Crying Cook got us take out. I had blackened catfish and sweet potato fries for dinner; very satisfying.

I did a Fitness Blender workout that I'd never tried before because I wasn't pumped about the one scheduled on my exercise calendar. If you've read my posts on how obsessed I am with Evernote--like using it for menu planning, adding browser extensions to increase efficiency, e-mailing directly to Evernote, or that time I was featured on teaching a blog because I just heart Evernote so damn much--you won't be shocked to know I have a Google calendar with the workouts I'll do daily. I'm deeply invested in the Google ecosystem since it's my e-mail provider, I use Blogger, I have an Android phone, and it's just really good. Sure, they're watching everything I do, but that's another post for another time.

I have a calendar called professional and I use it to schedule all work- and grad school-related events. I have an app on my phone called SmartActions, which is an "If this, then that" logic app. If there is an event in my professional calendar, then my phone goes on silent and the background data is disabled. No embarrassing ringing phone or text alerts while in a meeting and no unnecessarily depleting battery.

I also share a calendar with my husband called Mr. & Mrs. Our Real Last Name. He's subscribed to it and we add all the things we need to do together. The events show up on his Google calendar too.

And then there's this exercise calendar, called just that. Each calendar can have its own rules, so this one sends me an e-mail reminder 10 minutes before the event and I can click on the YouTube link right from the e-mail. I usually workout using my iPad, but on early mornings if I left it in the bedroom and don't want to wake up my still slumbering husband, I use my phone or laptop.

For the workouts I really like, I create repeating events. They can repeat at many different intervals and expire after a certain number of events or on a specific day. This was not at all labor intense and just the geeky thing I like to do on a Sunday morning.

As another digression, I really like the two week view best on the calendar. One month is too much; I really don't need to see what happened on May 2nd on May 15th, but one week is not enough. To get the two week view, click on the gear and select settings. Scroll down to default view and select custom. Just below that, select two weeks on the drop down menu next to custom view. Voilà!

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

This At Home HITT Training workout was posted to the Fitness Blender YouTube channel more than two years ago, so I don't know how I missed it. It was very challenging for me. I couldn't keep up with Kelli's double butt kickers. They were more like quadruple butt kickers, but that's where I am right now and I was exhausted after this 24 minute routine.

I listened to Elvis Duran and the Morning Show on the iHeartRadio app while stretching. I've been listening to this show since the late 90s!

Two easy points.

I found a bit more success today looking at one object rather than having my eyes closed.

May 14, 2014

Moderation - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 17

I've been eating a lot of nuts on this challenge which means I've been brushing my teeth a lot. Mr. Crying Cook is allergic to nuts and I don't want to delivery a deadly kiss. My nut consumption happens in snacking through Lara bars and my buddy's excellent banana walnut muffins (made with almond flour). At breakfast I've been eating nuts since that paleo granola is mainly comprised of almonds. When I get salads, I like adding nuts for the crunch.

As I searched for another kind of paleo granola online, I found a ton of links--mostly paleo blogs--warning me that nuts would kill me. Okay, that's hyperbolic, but I came across post after post about how too many nuts could wreak havoc with my digestion. So far, no complaints, but this is the kind of information that drives folks to ignore most nutrition "news." One day coffee will be your demise, the next it'll cure all your ailments.

I wonder what paleo enthusiasts would say about the environmental impact of consuming so much animal protein. The energy it takes to produce beef is significantly more than it takes to produce a vegetables. Paleo is not perfect.

Once this challenge is over, I will return to some of my eating ways, but some things are permanent changes. I'll go back to eating beans, quinoa, oatmeal, farro, barely and the like. Those foods make me feel good. They're also inexpensive. While I can afford to do this challenge, I resent how expensive it is. It feels elitist.

I'll eat a lot less red meat. Besides the price, I've been eating a lot of beef and I have yet to come across a neutral source that tells me this is what a sustainable diet looks like. 

The biggest change, and I've written about this before, is how this challenge has curbed my sweet tooth. I am shocked that I can have coffee with one sugar. I don't have the crazy need to have a dessert after dinner. Basically, moderation, moderation, moderation. Eating a lot of one category of food is not for me.

I had grilled turkey and roasted veggies for breakfast. For lunch, I grazed on a salad and had a Lara bar. It was grad class night, so I treated myself to a steak Chipotle bowl and made the choice to have beans. They were delicious, but I lost one point.

Two points.

Two points.

The meditation is less about a focus on breathing so far and more about paying attention to my thoughts without judgment.

May 12, 2014

Mother's Day - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 15

I spent a beautiful Mother's Day in sunny Brooklyn with my father and step-mother and remembering my loving grandmother. The weather seems to have permanently turned and I took the warmth and crystal clear blue skies to be the embrace I've missed for almost 14 years.

I had another banana and another Lara bar for breakfast. Perhaps I should get back to the frittatas. I made a spicy tomato sauce with carrots and sausage for my parents. Mr. Crying Cook, my dad, and step-mom had their sauce over spaghetti. You know, like normal people. I had mine over raw zucchini. It was good, but I was hungry again very soon afterwards. I'm guessing the serving of sauce had little protein by way of the ground sausage, so I ate the portion I saved for tomorrow's lunch for tonight's dinner. I'll need to boil some eggs and get some vegetables together to have enough to eat at work tomorrow.

It's been awhile since I've done a pure HIIT routine and I had limited time to workout, so I did this HIIT Workout for Fat Loss. I still hate sidewinder mountain climbers.

Two points.

Apparently, Mr. Crying Cook picked an excellent red wine for lunch. I wouldn't know.

Since it's the start of a new week, we have a new lifestyle challenge: meditation. I've never actively meditated before. I tried to sit and focus on just my breath. It was incredibly hard, as what felt like a fourth of July fireworks show of thoughts and emotions came to mind. I paid attention to them, but it's hard to know how "successful" I was at meditating.

I have a very strong memory of riding in the back seat of my father's beige hatchback with my grandmother. When I was very little, she was always in the back with me. I can only guess that I requested it and she obliged. That's a good summary of how she took care of me. 

On longer rides, I'd get tired and she'd let her black leather purse be my pillow. She'd stroke my hair and created a safety only a child can know. It's impossible to thank someone for that. I look forward to creating that sense of security for my own children someday. 

May 11, 2014

Picture Post - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 14

Quickie Breakfast
Spinach, Mushroom, and Bacon Omelette
with Overdone Sweet Potato Fries
Hemp Latte with One Sugar and Minus One Point
Lobster Roll with Zero Roll and All Points


Yoga for Better Sleep

Two Points
Thank you to my family for great seats at
Game 3 of the NBA Playoffs--Brooklyn wins!

May 10, 2014

I ate bread! Gasp! - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 13

Today was not a perfect point day, but the world kept spinning. Teacher appreciation week came to an end and it was tremendous. We were showered with gratitude through A LOT of food, but I honored the challenge consistently. Well, at least I did until today.

The culmination of our week was at a bar and we were treated to food and drink. I lost points for the first time by ordering wine [not really worth it], empanadas and fried calamari [worth it], and a grilled chicken sandwich [the bread wasn't worth the point].

So, I've learned my need for sugar has been considerably curbed. I would have predicted that bread would have felt more like a sacrifice, but it isn't. When I'm prepared with my own food, I don't feel tempted by other offerings.

I had more of my paleo granola with almond milk for breakfast and turkey tacos without the shell or cheese for lunch. See above to understand why I lost three points.

I have not been this consistent with exercising since my high school cheerleading days and my muscles are making me very aware of it. This routine was definitely needed.

I think my workout counts here too.

One point.

I wrote another note to friends. I have nice stationery, but if money was no object, I'd like hand engraved stationery from Cranes.

May 9, 2014

Quick Post - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 12

My all-paleo-all-the-time friend ordered me something from Kettle Bell Kitchen. I got this Pamanian Paleo Granola and it was really good with almond milk. I was really happy to be eating something other than 'dinner' for breakfast today.

I went out to dinner with two friends and talked about this challenge a lot. We had Israeli food, which meant I had to avoid hummus, pita, and probably half of the menu because the dishes had feta. I managed to make a delicious dinner of meze: roasted eggplants, beets, merguez, and fried cauliflower.

I really like this total body workout.

I want to try to get some stretching in during the work day, but I haven't been successful so far. I paid close attention to my chronically tight hips after my work out.

Two points.

I put my stationery to use and sent a friend a note. On actual paper.

May 8, 2014

Appreciation - Whole 30 Challenge - Day 11

Teacher appreciation week keeps getting better and better! Not because today we had a cafe with coffee to order, paleo cookies, sugary treats [not for me, but others]. Not because we went to a Soul Cycle class or because today is my work buddy's birthday. Teacher appreciation week keeps getting better because I'm appreciating my fellow teachers even more.

As the normally busy day wound down, a few of us met in a conference room to head to our school-sponsored spinning class. I've been spinning before, but never to this particular chain. It was an incredible time because I went with these incredible people.

My school is atypical. We work longer, harder, and more seriously than most. I know because I've been around the block with public education. My colleagues are fiercely intelligent and dedicated. They are all just good people. In case you needed a reminder of why I'm a crying cook, I'm getting a bit emotional writing about these people I feel honored to work with and who make me happy to show up and give it all I have.

Selfie with my
Gorgeous Buddy

I had my Chipotle teacher appreciation deal for breakfast: a beef salad. Whoa, that kept me full all day long.

There were so many treats in the cafe my school organized: cannoli dip [hello, actual dip made of the cannoli filling], danishes, brownies, you name it. A dedicated paelo-enthusiast made chocolate and coconut paleo cookies that were so good. I am really impressed with myself that I only ate one.

Later in the day, a huge fruit basket showed up in our cafe [by the way, the cafe is usually the PE room] and I made this delicious lunchtime snack.

I had a banana before our spinning class and then made a pretty tremendous dinner, if I do say so myself: steak, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts with bacon.

Alright, I am sad to report that I lost one nutrition point today. I confessed to my teammate by the copy machines. I had a latte with almond milk and a tablespoon of sugar. Now, if you know me, you realize this is comparatively less than the amount of sugar I usually put in my coffee. I took the one point hit and enjoyed every sip of that latte. And here's the breaking news: that was enough sweetness for me to enjoy the drink. This seems to be another excellent consequence of the challenge; I may have recalibrated my need for sweet tastes.

My experience at Soul Cycle fell in line with those before: a really energetic teacher, loud, good music, and upper body moves that really test my coordination. What Soul Cycle really has going for it is super clean facilities and friendly folks behind the counter. Still, I can't pay $34 for one class.

I was really tested as a student because I was trying to distract my friend with my loudly obnoxious singing, but she was too in the zone. My favorites were oldies that took me right back to middle school--two very different ends of musical tastes from the 90s.

My legs were SCREAMING at the beginning of the spin class. I stretched for 10 minutes before bed and could have probably used another 20.

I almost forget to add this everyday because it's a non-issue.

I think this post qualifies. I love you, Lions!