Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Balancing Act

Please hire me!

Business is picking up for me. For those of you unaware of my occupation, I am a graphic designer. I have a full time design job in New Jersey by day and by night I try to do as much freelance as possible. When the latter business is slow, I find it relatively easy to make time for exercise and cooking. When it's not slow (which is ideal), fitting it all in without going mad is a struggle.

Somehow, exercise so far this month has included:

Tuesday, March 2: Arc Trainer (30 min) + No More Trouble Zones (30 min)
Wednesday, March 3: Arc Trainer (30 min) + Yoga Meltdown (35 min) + Back 2 Bollywood (30 min)
Thursday, March 4: Arc Trainer (30 min) + The Shred (25 min)
Friday, March 5: The Shred (25 min) + Brisk Walk (45 min)
Saturday: REST
Sunday, March 7: Bicycling as transportation (15 minutes) + The Shred (25 min)
Monday, March 8 : Arc Trainer (30 min) + No More Trouble Zones (55 min)
Tuesday, March 9: Banish Fat Boost Metabolism (55 min)
Wednesday, March 10: Arc Trainer (30 min)
Thursday, March 11: The Shred (25 min) + Stationary Bike (30 min)
Friday, March 12: Arc Trainer (30 min) + Hip Hop Cardio (20 min)
Saturday, March 13: REST
Sunday, March 14: REST
Monday, March 15: Arc Trainer (30 min) + The Shred (25 min)
Tuesday, March 16: The Shred (25 min) + Brisk Walk (40 min)

Looking at that recap, I feel pretty good. It looks like most days I get almost an hour of activity in. I'm not sure HOW, since I feel as though I've constantly been behind a computer screen lately.

However, this past week I've had some pain in my right knee as well as my left ankle. It's quite discouraging and I don't want to stop being active. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do that won't put further stress on these areas? I'm feeling like The Shred might be the culprit, though I'm going to switch from the Arc Trainer to the elliptical for a week and see if less impact helps.

Evidence of upping my calories. Meal courtesy of the gentleman.
Disclaimer: This is not my typical breakfast!

I've upped my calories substantially to balance with the exercise and feel like my energy level has improved, so all is well on that front. I'm not weighing myself at the moment to prevent discouragement. I'm eating healthy and feeling good and realize that this is all that matters. Since I started eating more substantial, well-balanced and satisfying meals I've noticed my post-work kitchen raid for snacks has subsided. I'm also a lot nicer to everyone. That's a perk, right?

Reflecting, I feel like I'm doing an OK job at balancing everything out between work and wellness. I need to work on fitting my social life in there, as I've been pretty impossible to hang out with lately. How do you find a balance between everything?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Recipe: Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins

whole wheat blueberry banana muffins

I bake a lot for others but for the first time in a very long while I baked something for me to keep in my apartment. I didn't want to go grocery shopping for more food (it's a Sunday ritual of mine - why rock the boat?), and since I have upped my calories a bit I needed some more portable snacks for work. I decided to journey onto dangerous territory and try my hand at self-control. Like Diane at Fit to the Finish recently posted, I too have had struggles with having "just one" of something I bake. Does anyone else have problems with this?

I successfully kept myself in check, only eating one right after they cooled a bit. I attribute this to the fact that I'm eating more throughout the day. I don't think I have felt the need to stuff myself these past few days because I'm not constantly hungry.

But less about me and more about these muffins! Mark Bittman did a write up a while back on how to make whole wheat muffins more palatable without adding a ton of white sugar. His secrets are a.) use whole wheat pastry flour because it yields lighter results, b.) use a cup of pureed or mashed fruit/vegetable (I opted for banana as I always have some extra ripe ones in my freezer) and c.) don't over mix!

I decided to take his tips and work with them to make the following:

Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup frozen blueberries tossed in a few pinches of flour

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and place 12 paper baking cups in muffin pan. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl.

  2. Mix beaten egg, brown sugar, greek yogurt, oil, banana and vanilla in a separate bowl. I used a hand-mixer here to make sure it was really well combined. Add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. It is important not to over-stir. Lightly fold in blueberries and divide batter among muffin cups.

  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned and toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Benefits of Chopsticks and Other Realizations

I'm still waiting for life to settle down. I thought last week would be calm, but I thought wrong. Threats of snow storms and traveling from here to there have kept me busy. Because of this, my dinners have not been glamorous. I am the type of person who will throw random things in pots and pans and eat whatever comes out of it as long as it's warm and satisfying.

My go-to this week has been veggie stir fry.

diet tip #302859879
I tend to eat dinner with chopsticks because it forces me to eat slower and, therefore, more mindfully. I almost never finish everything in the bowl when eating with them mostly because I can't get at all the little bits in the bottom!

All I do is fire up my non-stick skillet, heat up some oil, throw in some chopped veggies (carrots, broccoli, green beans, edamame and mushrooms in this case) and vegetable stock and let it all cook. I then add a few drizzles of soy sauce and sesame oil, serve it over some brown rice and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top. This particular night I also added in a scrambled egg for protein. I rely a lot on those, but have decided to start cooking more meat at home. I'm taking baby steps back into this and bought a fillet of salmon that I'll experiment with this week. I was eying up the organic chicken last night at the grocery store but I'm going to see how the salmon goes first.

This past weekend was pretty interesting. I was able to work out with my mom for the first time maybe ever. We did Jillian Michaels' Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism workout in its entirety and we were laughing almost the entire time. The next morning we were also able to do Level 1 of The Shred. It's really amazing to see my mom, at 51-years-old, so fit and able to keep up with these DVDs. I can only hope to be as in shape as she is at her age. She was giving me a run for my money during some of the exercises.

twentyten // 057 // not your mother's workout
Mom During Cool Down

There was also a downside to my weekend and the past week in general. Though I've been successfully strict with my activity levels, I have been lax on eating again. For a while I was eating around 1200 calories/day, but I don't think it is sustainable and began going overboard on anything I could get my hands on at home (especially carbohydrates). I'd come home from work and lose control before I even ate dinner. To prevent this from continuing to happen, I've decided to cut myself some slack and be more realistic with my diet, bumping my calorie-intake up to about 1400/day.

At the end of the day, I need to remember that I'm not trying to lose weight - I'm trying to get fit. And if I'm not fueling my body correctly, there's no way it's going to be able to keep up.