Sunday, April 21, 2013

Injuries are NOT good for my mental health

I mentioned in my last post how I was kind of burned out on the gym since my 11 day streak, so I won't really discuss that much. All I have to say is not much has changed in that department....

But I did force myself to go to the gym. So that's good. Well, in theory. 

2 weeks ago I was doing a workout I found on pinterest. 
This one to be exact!
Right as I posted this, I noticed the disclaimer on there. Now, I've never really thought of myself as someone who had knee problems. But I do now. 

Now, I've done this workout a handful of times and it's been okay. Although, my lovely glutes have NEVER been sore following them so I'm not sure it really does what I want it to. Anyway, I digress. 

Upon completing this one 2 weeks ago my knees kind of hurt, which I thought was weird but not a big deal. The next time i worked out and tried to run my knees kind of hurt and when I was in aqua boot camp and we were doing a flutter kick I felt it in my knees which was weird. I was taking it easy at the gym (when I did go, and let's face it that wasn't much because I was mad at the gym for smothering me) but this was weird. 

So last Sunday I said "Okay, we're starting today. We're gonna go hard, get back into our routine whether we like it or NOT!" I'm such a toughie. As always, day 1 is leg day. I figured with the slight knee pain, my intense leg day was probably not in my best interest (90 walking lunges, 3 minutes mountain climbers, 3 minutes wall sits, 34 laying leg curls, 45 squat jumps, 300 jumping jacks, scissors and bicycles) so I opted for my "easy" leg day. 

As I was doing leg presses I thought "wow this is really easy, maybe I should up the weight." My usual is 75-80 pounds. I upped it to 115. It was more just to see if I could. I really didn't think I'd even be able to move it and hey guess what? I could! And I still didn't think it was that hard. I was pretty stoked about it. I do recall being in a really bad mood that day. I'd attended a memorial service the day before and it was a pretty emotional day for me and I still wasn't quite back to the happy me. And let's face it... I still really didn't want to be at the gym. 

Monday, my right knee was hurting pretty bad. After a long day at work, I spent the evening icing it. Tuesday it was both knees. Wednesday it was back to only the right. I had really intended on going to hip hop and just suffering through the pain that night, but it happened to be cancelled because of the weather. Probably for the better. Thursday, though I was in quite a bit of pain I told myself to go to aqua boot camp. I sat in the hot tub for quite a while before class and told my instructor about my knees and said that I may not last all of class. I started out taking it easy and made it through all of class with pretty minimal pain.... Until I got home and it hurt REALLY BAD. I iced it like usual. Friday I woke up and it was reallllly painful. And this is when I started to get worried. 

When I was young (somewhere from 8-10 years old), my mom's knees randomly swelled up to the size of grapefruits. She couldn't walk. And no one could figure out what was wrong. For a very long time. They finally diagnosed her with HLA b27 (ankylosing spondilitis). It's a form of arthritis that is hereditary.... and the highest percentage of people who have it? ESKIMOS. Hey guess what, we're not eskimos. Since I was pretty young, I named it Eskimo Arthritis and have called it that ever since. I've always been really scared that I would inherit this, which is a large reason I didn't run for most of my life. So as my knees hurt I'm starting to really fear this. 

It's probably pretty unlikely that is what has happened. But SOMETHING is wrong with my knees. It hurts to walk, it hurts to stand. My knee freaking hurts!And it doesn't seem to be getting better. 

I spoke with my lovely trainer about it and she gave me some great ideas. Ice/heat for 10 mintues. Start taking Glucosamine Chondroitin (but it'll probably take about a month for it to really start working with my system)
New supplement for my joints. Probably good for my hip too
I'm also taking ibuprofen for the pain. Gotta call my chiropractor to make sure my knee isn't out of alignment. And as far as working out...for now I get to bike. And stretch. 

I am not a big fan of biking. Why? Because it doesn't burn nearly as many calories as the treadmill or elliptical do. Even when I do random hill. It's pretty pathetic. 

So I was excited and this morning I went to the gym. Knee was pretty sore (it's mostly my right one. left sometimes, but mostly the right) and it hurt pretty bad while I was riding, and I was going pretty slow. So slow in fact, the bike kept saying "paused" and that annoyed me. But I managed to do that for 30 minutes. Funny thing is I felt SO pathetic. And I felt like everyone at the gym was looking at me and judging me. Thinking "wow, that girl isn't going to get anywhere like that." I feel like I should have a shirt that says "in rehab." or something like that. Although I have a feeling the look of sheer pain on my face probably said it all. 

So basically... I can't work out right now. Which sucks. I was reading my Fitness magazine while I was suffering on the bike and there's a section about training for a triathlon and it made me so sad because I feel like my ultimate goal is never going to happen. :( And after I was finished working out, I had a message from Team In Training wanting to get me signed up to join them... for a tri. So that sucks. Also, I wanted to do my personal training session with the TRX on my birthday (in exactly one month) and now I'm scared THAT won't happen. 

I'm feeling very discouraged. And terrified. That I'm going to gain weight again. That is, hands down, my BIGGEST fear in life. Since I'm pretty incapacitated right now I'm going to have to really focus on eating super healthy and STAYING AWAY FROM SUGAR!!! (For some reason this has been realllllly hard lately)

Since I'm trying to stay off my knee, I didn't really food prep. I didn't want to do a big grocery shopping and didn't have a meal in mind, but I did get a few things. It's kind of a weird combination. 

1. Chicken breasts
2. Quinoa and Brown Rice
3. Yogurt (as always)
4. Strawberries
5. I have 1 apple left over from last week
6. Cantaloupe
7. Broccoli

So, I've kinda been slacking on the fruits and veggies lately so I'm trying to fix that. And I really need to work on drinking lots of water. I've been failing with that too. I need an alarm to go off once an hour that makes sure I'm drinking lots. 

Since I haven't been working out like I should. And I haven't been eating as great as I could (seriously, I'm a TERRIBLE example) it's gone to my head and I've been feeling fat lately. Now this happens fairly often. And usually all it takes is 1 workout to rectify that. But guess what? I CAN'T DO THAT! So I'm trying my best to make good healthy decisions and tell myself that it's just in my head, it's not the truth. 

So bare with me friends as I deal with this injury. I have a feeling this may be a long recovery which does not make me happy as race season approaches. :( But, I WILL overcome it. And I WILL meet my goal weight (which usually isn't that far off. 3-7 lbs) and I WILL get back to where I was. 

Trying to stay optimistic. 

Also, I decided to try tilapia this week and was talking to my mom about it who said to get wild caught and not farm raised. Guess what is IMPOSSIBLE to find?! I did some research and Whole Foods has a farm raised, but "responsibly" tilapia so I'll be getting that tomorrow after work and testing out this recipe. :) 

Make great choices, friends. Better than the ones I've been making lately!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Life and love

In a little over a month, I will be 29. As I'm about to enter the last year of my 20s, I've become very reflective. I can't help but be discouraged with the state of our world today. Let me give you examples of events that have happened in my lifetime and have shaped who I've become today.

  • Matthew Shepard Murder 
  • Columbine High School Massacre
  • 9/11
  • Aurora Theater Shooting
  • Jessica Ridgeway Murder
  • Newtown
  • and now Boston
Not to mention the many friends I have who have lost their parents much earlier than should happen. I'm reminded of the boy I went to high school with who took his life when we were sophomores. I think of the young man who thought texting and driving was harmless and that's what ended his life. I am reminded of my dear friend whose daughter's life ended far too soon because of a freak car accident. I think of my dear friend who lost his father and 2 siblings in one car accident. I am reminded of my friend's girlfriend who took her own life after not being able to cope with the effects of being raped.

I think of my own car accident. How lucky I was to survive. 11 years later and I'm still not sure why I survived that, but so many good people didn't survive various things in the world.

What has happened to our world???

As I think about the explosions, my heart breaks. It is absolutely tragic that someone would plant something like this. What breaks my heart the most is that this is so similar to the Aurora Theater Shooting. Harming innocent people. People who have worked SO HARD to get to this marathon. Seeing as how I only do 5ks, I can't even imagine what sense of accomplishment it would be to finish running 26.2 miles.... Only to encounter such a senseless act of hate. And honestly, it makes me very angry.

Children can't walk to school without fear of being abducted. People can't go see a simple movie without fear of someone opening fire. And now people can't even run a freaking race. It's ridiculous.

I am sure everyone has seen this, but I found it to be a light of hope:

 Boston. Fucking horrible. 
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."
But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. 
But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness. 
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago. 
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will." --Patton Oswald
As we start to pick up the pieces, I look forward to hearing the stories of bravery. The stories of those helping, for when it really comes down to it, I believe people are inherently good.

Here in Colorado we have a bit of snow today. I have a 40 minute commute most days. Today it took me and hour and a half. Right as I was about to leave work, I had a parent of a former student come in my room and offer up their guest bedroom. Such a sweet gesture. Totally unexpected and helped restore my faith in humanity a bit.

A lesson I feel like we are trying to be taught all too much: Life is fragile. Anything can happen at any given moment. So I beg of you: LOVE. Love your friends. Love your families. Love strangers. Just love each other. Help those in need. Smile. Hold a door open for someone. Just please remember to love.

United we stand. Though we have different stories, different experiences, we are all a part of the human experience. Until next time my dear friends.

<3 Jessica <3

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Endless Hours In My Kitchen

Good news! My amazing cousin Steve worked SUPER hard on making my video awesome and I was able to post it on Thursday. Pretty exciting stuff. Here it is!

Many thanks to the Fort Collins 24 Hour Fitness Staff for helping me with this project! Especially Eric and Greg for helping me set it up, Amanda for pointing me in the right direction and Jourdan for listening to my story, helping me come up with the perfect words to say and for filming it. But mostly, thank you to Megan who helped me get to this point- for being the PERFECT trainer and for becoming such a wonderful friend.

Okay, before I start to cry....

Leading up to the video shoot, I was pushing myself really hard at the gym. This led me to my longest streak to date, of going to the gym 11 days in a row. I know, I know: "you should always have at least one rest day a week". And usually I do. But for one reason or another, I didn't want to. I was on fire, so back I went. One day actually, I was going to call it my rest day. It was the Saturday I was supposed to shoot the video. Lucky for me we had a nice blizzard that day, and despite it all, I trekked out in the snow to the gym to shoot the video. After realizing there had been a lack in communication and the video shoot was not happening, I thought, "well.... I came all the way here. I might as well work out a little bit." So that could have been my rest day, but wasn't.
I probably would have kept working out after the 11 days, but in the following days I had a concert after work, followed by sleeping (working 9 hours on 4 hours of sleep is not fun), followed by going home for Easter. I WAS GYMMED OUT. They say too much of a good thing can be bad. Well guess what?? My 11 day streak at the gym... BAD. Even after a few days off, I still felt like we needed a break from each other. And between that among other things going on in my life, my love for the gym hasn't really returned. I still go, but for some reason my passion and drive isn't there.
And therefore, I feel like a bit of a fraud.
All these things I preach about making yourself go and you'll love it. And some days I do make myself go. But I'm not currently loving it.
I'm sure it will return, just gotta give it some time I suppose.
So there you have it, I am a fitness fraud. At least I never claimed to be perfect. :)

Okay, moving on... Since my gym time has been cut considerably lately, this entry is going to focus on food. Oh, I do love food. I've been testing out some new recipes and let me say they are all AWESOME!

I got this recipe from my cousin, who just eats these because they taste like candy. I wasn't sure I believed him. But boy, was he right! Super easy to make and I just keep them in the fridge, both at home and at work and eat them before I hit the gym, or if I need a little snack. :) 
1 C. Old-fashioned oats
2/3 C. toasted coconut flakes
1/2 C. Peanut butter
1/2 C. Flaxseed or Wheat Germ
1/2 C. Chocolate Chips
1/3 C. Honey
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in refrigerator 1/2 an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you like. Store in airtight container and keep refrigerated up to 1 week. Makes 20-25 balls. 

I may have mentioned this before: I LOVE the peanut butter/chocolate combination. Whoever introduced me to that should be hurt, because it is my biggest downfall. :) These have that combination and are quite delicious. Here's another secret: I don't even like coconut. Love these! They're like a miracle. Also good to make rather than getting the protein bars that are filled with junk.(Remember when I used to swear by Clif Bars? Yea, apparently they're not as good for you as I once thought. oops)


Sorry to say I don't have a picture for this one. I was slightly skeptical about this one. You say Squash and I say RUN! I clearly remember being in 2nd grade and studying the book "Stone Soup" and making our own stone soup, which included Squash. I remember being "encouraged" (forced maybe?) to try the squash and promptly spitting it into the trash. And from that moment on it has been ingrained in my brain that I don't like squash. A few years ago I got a recipe from Megan (awesome trainer that she is) for butternut squash quinoa chili. I tried it and hey guess what? I LOVED IT. 
Still, spaghetti squash had me unsure. How could squash taste like spaghetti? Totally impossible. And I love me some spaghetti. I had been contemplating trying it. I'd been having a few conversations with my boss about it. And then I discovered a recipe for Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs and decided now was as good as ever to try this. Plus you get to make it in the crockpot. I love my crockpot. 

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
1 lb ground italian sausage (I have an extreme dislike for italian sausage, so I used 1/2 lb of lean ground turkey breast)
1 can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp hot pepper relish (optional)
4-6 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning
Dump into slow cooker tomato sauce, olive oil, garlic, hot pepper relish and italian seasoning and stir well. 
Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. 
Place 2 squash halves face down into the slow cooker. 
Roll ground sausage (or turkey breast) into meatballs, fit as many as possible in sauce. 
Cook on high 3 hours or low 5 hours. 
Use large fork to pull spaghetti out of squash. Top with meatballs and sauce. 

*NOTE: It helps if you have a really big crockpot to do this. I don't, so I had to cook one half of the squash at a time.*

I was excited but nervous to try it. I swear to you, it was just like I was eating spaghetti. I may never go back. I'm excited to try my pasta recipes using spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Woohoo! :) 

Source: Paleo Pot

4 C. chopped Vegetables (I used peppers and onions, and corn. Other suggestions: sweet potato, mushrooms, whatever you want)
8 Corn tortillas
2 cans (3 C.) black beans
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 C. shredded mexican cheese
1 can enchilada sauce

Chop vegetables into similar sized pieces. Spray crockpot or use liner. 
Cut tortillas into strips. Spread 1/3 strips on bottom of crockpot. Top with 1/3 veggies. Add 1 C. black beans. Top with 1/3 can enchilada sauce and 1/3 C. Cheese. 
Repeat layers 2 more times, but don't put cheese on top layer. 
Cook on low for about 4 hours. 
Add remaining cheese and serve warm, top with avocado and salsa. 

Okay, so you may have noticed, the recipe doesn't say when to add in the cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper. I actually didn't notice this until after it was all in the crockpot. So I didn't use it. Next time, I'll probably mix it with the enchilada sauce. This was still quite delicious!

My favorite food in the WORLD is pulled pork. And I LOVE sweet potatoes, so when I saw this recipe I pretty much knew it was a MUST try. It's slightly time consuming, but worth it. It has 2 components. 

COMPONENT I: SKINNY BBQ SAUCE (Obviously this is optional, but I figured homemade skinny bbq sauce sounded like a genius idea)

2 C. Ketchup
1 C. Water
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 C. Apple Cider vinegar
5 Tbsp light brown sugar
6 Tbsp Splenda
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp ground mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer. 
Cook uncovered, stirring frequently for 1 hour. Serve immediately or store sauce in refrigerator or freeze for later use. 

**NOTE: When you're at the store and think that you'd rather save a dollar and buy the splenda that's in little packets rather than the splenda that's just in a big bag, say it's worth the dollar. For to get 6 tbsp, you have to empty 48 packets. Yea you read that right... 48.**

1 2 LB. pork tenderloin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
3.5 C. skinny bbq sauce (or other kind) NOTE: the recipe for skinny bbq sauce doesn't make enough, so you're going to want to double it!
8 small sweet potatoes

In a small bowl, combine salt, black pepper and onion powder and mix to make a rub. Rub pork tenderloin on both sides with mixture. Place pork tenderloin in slow cooker. Cover pork tenderloin with 2.5 cups of bbq sauce. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. 
Pork all finished! 
15 minutes before pork tenderloin is heated through, place sweet potatoes in microwave until heated through. 
Remove pork tenderloin from slow cooker. Using 2 forks, shred pork tenderloin and mix with remaining 1 C. bbq sauce. 
Using a knife, slice sweet potatoes down the middle, creating an open center for pulled pork. Top each sweet potato with pulled pork and serve any additional pork on the side or save for later. 

**Changes I made: I used a 1.5 lb pork tenderloin and I cut it in half before putting it in the crock pot so it would fit better. Since this is for dinner this week I have yet to cook the potatoes, but I tried the pork and it's quite delicious. I omitted using the remaining 1 c. of bbq sauce because there as more than enough in the crockpot when the pork was finished being cooked.**

Source: Skinny Mom

I've seen Lindsay post about these a few times lately and I knew I wanted to try them and I figured now was as good a time as ever. 

1/2 C. Cooked and mashed sweet potato
1 medium banana
1/4 C. peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon, to taste
Chocolate chips (optional)
Smash the sweet potato and banana together in a small bowl.  Add the peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and spoon into mini muffin tins. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until firm. 

DELICIOUS. The recipe actually calls for dark chocolate chips, but I just can't get on the dark chocolate train- not a huge fan, so I used semi-sweet and put in 1/2 c I believe. I didn't measure out the sweet potato either, I just used 1 baked sweet potato. Sue me. :) 

That's about all the cooking I've been doing the last week or so. I have a recipe for mocha protein balls I want to try. I just have a few more ingredients to get. I'm sure they will be delicious and then I will post that recipe as well. :) 

Have a great day and make good, healthy choices. :) 
<3 Jessica <3 

Monday, April 1, 2013

March Foodie Pen-Pals

This was my first time ever doing Foodie PenPals. When I heard about it I thought it sounded like a GREAT idea. It surpassed everything I ever imagined!

I received a box from Adrianne. It was also her first time doing FPP. I was super excited to receive her box! :) I'd had a really bad day, so arriving home to my box was such a mood lifter.

You can see in my face it had been a rough day :)

Adrianne had put together a beautiful St Patrick's Day box for me. Do you see all that green??


Look at all that!!!

I was AMAZED at all the things she fit in that box. So many great things that excited me SO MUCH. :) 

The first was Azteca Granola made by Adrianne. It was delicious! The mixture of sweet, salty and spicy was wonderful. I will be making this in the future. It would be great as a present for friends or something to bring to a potluck (I'm thinking Super Bowl). So good! I took it to work with me so I could have it as a snack rather than turning to cookies. :) 

Next came these lovely little ones! I haven't eaten them yet because I am saving them to use in a recipe for protein balls. I have a couple more ingredients to grab before that can start. I've never seen them before, but since receiving them have noticed that my local grocery store carries them. Score! :) 

Next was the askinosie! I have a chocolate obsession. And these were delicious!!! Perfect size for when you're craving just a little bit of dark chocolate. :) Yummmm!

Okay, obviously this is primarily a health and fitness blog, which means there shouldn't be time/room for this but it's confession time: I have a HUGE sweet tooth. Even bigger is my peanut butter/chocolate tooth. Adrianne sent me a package of cookies. The one shown was peanut butter and chocolate and was DELICIOUS. I ate it on a snowy day and I thought I was going to die it was so good. Probably good that I couldn't find them at my Whole Foods. :) Underneath was a pink cookie with raspberry (I think) filling. That's not something I would typically pick but it was also quite delicious! 

I had mentioned to Adrianne that I'm somewhat OCD about low-cal stuff, but I loved chocolate. So she sent these! I am saving them away for a day that I'm craving chocolate but am low on calories left for the day. I am quite excited for that day- chances are it will be here sooner than we know. I only hope once I try it, I am able to find this in Colorado! :) 

The funny thing about receiving this spice was that just before I had received my box, I had run out of Cumin and it was on my shopping list. Adrianne didn't know that, but it was like she read my mind! Hooray!

I rarely have fish (not because I don't like it- I just forget about it) and since I'm getting a little tired of eating the same thing over and over again, this is DEFINITELY going to come in handy when I start making new things!

Remember how I said I love peanut butter and chocolate??? Adrianne sent me 2 buckeyes (chocolate goodness filled with peanut butter). And I saved them and saved them and finally ate one after I shot my success video and let me tell you: SO GOOD! And definitely worth the wait. If you love peanut butter and chocolate as much as I do, I definitely recommend eating them. SO GOOD! Now I'm sad that they are all gone. Probably for the better though, haha

I have an obsession with sharing recipes and these recipe note cards are awesome! I actually used them for the FPP box that I sent! I will definitely be using these for potlucks, presents, secret santa, etc. 

Adrianne had this book in her home library and has never used it, so she gave it to me! So nice, right?! There are TONS of great recipes in there that I am excited to try. I did use it already to make salsa for a couple guys. I'm still waiting to hear what they thought of it. I was too afraid to try it- but I can still smell it in my kitchen. :) 

You'll also see some NOLA St. Patrick's Day Parade 2012 beads! I wore them to work on St. Patrick's Day and am very excited to have them in my possession. 

You were starting to forget that I'm a health and fitness nut weren't you?! She also included some healthy recipes which I am super excited to test out. :) 

               Penzey's catalog I'd mentioned above. Apparently there's a Penzey's in Colorado! Who knew???

I'd say Adrianne overdid herself, what do you think??? What a fantastic experience for my first FPP! I will definitely be doing this again! And congratulations to whomever is paired up with Adrianne next month- she's the greatest! :) 

In my original e-mail I had told Adrianne that I LOVE mexican food and she did NOT disappoint. I've never heard of this company, but she supplied me with the spices for my favorite kind of food as well as a catalog, so I 
know where to go to purchase more! Awesome. I am excited to use this one.