Tag Archives: exercise

Check Out the Leaner, Meaner You

weight-lossSo, it’s about that time when we all start thinking about what it might be like if someone asked us to don a bathing suit right this very minute. But instead of it being just a mere thought, the truth is that the skin revealing time of  year really is just around the corner.

And, yes, setting weight loss or get-in-shape goals really are key to achieving the swimsuit bodies we all desire. But wouldn’t it be much more helpful if we had a clear vision of what results our hard work might churn out? Like, a photo of our brand-spanking new, buff bodies?

Well …. you CAN have it. Just check out WeightView.com, a site that allows you to upload a photo of your current self and plug in your weight loss goals. The result? A specially altered picture that allows you to see what your fab self might look like should you commit to eating healthier and pumping some iron.

Talk about inspiration, right? In the April issue of SELF magazine, one writer hung the photo at her desk as a reminder to hit the gym after work.

Technology … whatever will they come up with next?

(Hmmm … something that involves calorie-free, chocolate lava cake … please?)

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Filed under Eat, March 2009, Pray, Run

Funky Tie-Dyed Yoga

I have had several readers ask me to continue sharing my workout plans and fitness tips, so I figured I would fill you in today with a new DVD that I tried this morning.

I kicked off this morning with a 30-minute yoga workout via my new Power Yoga: Strength and Flexibility with Rodney Yee. The DVD is broken into two workouts — strength and flexibility. So, I did the strength section of the DVD.

I liked this workout because it definitely helped me break a sweat, but it was not soooo difficult that the novice yogi could not participate in the workout.

Here’s my question for you: Would you workout next to me in yoga class? These are the funkiest exercise pants I have ever owned, but every time I wear them they make me smile.

After yoga, I went for a run, and I really had to take it slow. I was hurtin’  from a couple days of tough exercise, so I just decided not to push it and move slowly, focusing on my foot movements and swinging my arms. I ran 3.6 miles in 32 minutes which is about 9-minute miles. It felt good to get outside and enjoy the fall weather. Autumn is my favorite season . . . not too cool and not too hot! Just right. (;

But, given the looming winter weather, I am curious: What is your favorite way to stay fit in chilly conditions? Share them here, and I will lend you a few pointers tomorrow!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Lisa! I just love you.

6 Comments

Filed under Eat, Pray, Run, September 2008

Weekend Wiffle Ball and Sushi . . . Oh, Geez!

Wow! What a busy weekend. I did one thing after the other and, before I knew it, it was over. It’s always a bit sad to say goodbye, but it is also nice to start the week off having had a great weekend.

On Thursday evening, I went for a run with my brother, Luke, and sister, Amanda. We hit the trails in Schenley Park and had a fun, albeit sweaty, time. It was hot! I had a bit of trouble breathing the thick air, — even at 6:30 it was still in the high 80s — but made it through the 40-minute workout anyway. Luke is training for soccer and Amanda is gearing up for a marathon, so I was traveling with quite the athletically-inclined pair!

Thank goodness for Anthony, my sister’s boyfriend, who greeted us at the end of the trail with water bottles and Edy’s Whole Fruit popsicles. Yay, for Anthony!

After our run, we hit the Squirrel Hill sidewalk sales where I got a cute sleeveless shirt for $1.00 (Yes, $1.00!!) at Avalon and a used copy of one of my favorite movies, Now and Then, at the Exchange. Both stores are places where you can trade clothing and accessories (Avalon), or DVDs, CDs and records (the Exchange) for money or items of equal value. You can also go in and check out the many items that people have traded in, purchasing them at a much lesser cost than you would if you were to purchase them new. I love the idea of reusing everyday items, and the sidewalk sale fulfilled my recycling dreams! (;

While we browsed, I had a honey green tea with tapioca pearls (boba) in the bottom. If you have never had these babies before, they are quite tasty. They are also pretty high-calorie, –about 100 calories every seven — so I do not drink boba tea often. I did not finish this one because the tea was a bit too fragrant for me.

Friday morning and afternoon was work, work, work and then, pack, pack, pack. I cannot believe we are already moving this Sunday! After many hours spent with the computer and boxes, Dan and I decided to take a short walk (about a 1/2 mile) and do some quick shopping at Whole Foods. We also sat down at one of the tables indoors, cooled off and ate some sushi. Mmmm … this was so yummy.

Saturday was another exercise session on the trails. This time my sister and I walked, and my brother, Isaac rode his bike along side of us. We made a plan to meet on the trails, but completely forgot there was a grand prix this weekend. The event caused some major blockage of the entrances to the trails, and it took about an hour for me to finally get to my brother and sister. I was on the trail and they were not allowed access it. So, I walked by myself until they found me. It was frustrating, but also quite humorous when my sister told me she feigned tears to woo a security guard into letting her on the trail — it didn’t work. (Giggle.) Oh, Amanda! Once I met up with them, we walked for about 45 minutes. My bum was a little sore after almost 2 hours of walking!

Sunday was more packing. I packed the entire closet! I also got rid of a lot of clothing that I haven’t worn in ages and it felt good to purge. Later that night, Dan and I made our way over to my parents’ house for our traditional Sunday night dinner. After dinner, we geared up for a new Shannon family tradition — wiffle ball! I have been a cheerleader the last few times, but this time I joined in and, boy, did I work up a sweat. I typically completely stink at all sports involving a ball, so I was completely surprised when I actually hit the ball! I even made a few runs into home plate. Go me! (Sorry for the dark picture.)

I wanted to focus this post on fitness because I promised to show you more of what I do for exercise. I used to be a hardcore exerciser and, while I am still pretty adamant about it, I have learned a few lessons along the way. One being that it is OK to slow down every now and then. When I was younger, exercise had to be my way or it didn’t count. Now, I have learned that it is OK to not always take fitness so seriously and have some fun à la a wiffle ball game!

I am curious: What is your favorite way to exercise? Has your philosophy changed over the years?

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

Final Day of the Challenge!

Yes, yes . . . the final 30-Day Challenge post has come. But don’t fret, I will still be blogging about food choices and recipes, reviewing new food items, and, of course, filling you in on my exercise progress. But before I give you a run-down of what I have learned, let’s go over yesterday’s meals.

Breakfast was two slices of whole grain bread with about 1 Tbsp. of almond butter and 1/2 Tbsp. of jam on each. I also had some more green grapes and blueberries. Can you tell what fruit was on sale this week? (;

I had a ton of work to do in the morning and time just flew! So, when 2 p.m. rolled around and I realized I had not yet eaten lunch, I decided to roast a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables in the oven. Everything you see is frozen except for the portobello mushrooms; those were left over from when Dan marinated them the other day. I threw a bit of olive oil on top, put the oven on 425 degrees and roasted them for about 12 minutes. I sliced some Trader Joe’s teriyaki-flavored baked tofu and put it on the side.

After lunch, I did some more work, and then went for a walk with my sister around 4 p.m. We walked (and talked) through some serious hills — yep, the one-miler! — for a little more than an hour. It was good to get out and sweat and, of course, spend some time with my sister. I will miss those impromptu walks when I move. ):

Dinner was a Boca Savory Mushroom Mozzarella veggie patty on two slices of whole grain bread. I added about 1 Tbsp. each of ketchup and Lemonaise Light, along with a few leaves of Boston bibb lettuce. This was the first time I tried this kind of Boca patty, and I really enjoyed it. I was hoping for some bigger chunks of mushrooms in the patty — I love them! — but there was a really great mushroom taste to make up for it.

So, that’s it! My last day of the Challenge. But don’t think that the everyday “challenge” stops here. I will continue to work toward living a healthy life, and I will be sure to share it here with you. But, in the mean time, a few things I have learned along the way:

1.) Portions, portions, portions! I was much more conscious of portion sizes when I knew I was going to be sharing my dietary habits with the World Wide Web. Even when I splurged, I tried to watch what I was eating for the rest of the day and/or limit my intake of whatever it was I was enjoying — except for those dang s’mores! It’s a factor I am still working on, but this experience helped me to pay more attention before digging in.

2.) Fitness is key. At least, for me it is. On the days that I got up and got moving, I ate better, was more focused at work, felt better and slept sounder. I already knew all of these things, but the Challenge helped me to reaffirm the importance of physical activity in my daily life. Even if I take a break from computer work and only go for a 10-minute walk, it helps me. I do wish, however, that I would have shared more of it with you. I feel like I was so focused on food, food, food, that I missed the emphasis on exercise in the process. Perhaps, I will to share more of that with you over the next few weeks . . .

3.) More fruit and vegetables. Seeing all of my meals on display throughout the last 30+ days has really allowed me to see food aspects that I still need to improve. For example, when I see a day with little or no color, I know that I really skimped on fruits and vegetables. I may not have eaten unhealthy per say, but I did lack produce. This is one thing I am still working on which, technically, should not be too hard because I love fruits and veggies. I will keep you posted on that progress!

So, I am curious: What is one of the best changes you have ever made? Let me know, and we can chat about it in the “Comments” section of this post.

Ready to take on a new change? Check out First30Days and make the change of your choice, including “Go Green,” “Dealing with Depression” and “Living Healthier.” Want to read about it? I am loving Ariane De Bonvoisin’s The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change (and Loving Your Life More).

Well, I am saying so long to the Challenge, but hello to a healthier life! I look forward to continue sharing with you all of my efforts toward a better, well, . . . me! So, stay tuned. (:

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

Recycle, Reuse and Drink Cranberry Juice!

So, Wednesday night did end up coming to a close with two of the chewy-licious brownie cookies from Whole Foods. (; I also had a glass of water with about 1/4 inch of 100% cranberry juice at the bottom.

Just a note: The cranberry water is just my way of jazzing up my water a bit. The pure juice is sooo thick that it only requires a tiny bit at the bottom to give the water some extra punch! Something about the cranberry juice is so refreshing and I really enjoy it added to my water once or twice a day. In addition, it’s super high in vitamin C, and research shows that it helps to prevent urinary tract infections. Not that I am particularly concerned about that, but, hey, it’s good to know!

Yesterday morning’s breakfast was a bowl of my favorite . . . Quaker Oatmeal Squares! I love this stuff — just in case you didn’t know that already! I had it with about 1 cup unsweetened soy milk. (P.S. You might notice the Coke bottle way back in the left corner there. Don’t worry — that’s from my younger brother who was visiting on Wednesday. Coke is not a part of the 30-Day Challenge! Plus, I hate most soda. Every now an then, I will have a Diet Coke, but that’s about it.)

Lunch was a small bowl of leftover mac & cheese. This was a really yummy, creamy batch if I do say so myself! But I didn’t have too much of an appetite, so I did not go overboard.

Of course, I did save room for one more cookie after lunch! I have a love/hate relationship with these treats. They are so delish, but I hate having them in the house because they are hard to resist!

After lunch, I continued working until Dan got home. We had a date to go to FreeRide, and left around 5:45. Now, let me explain to you a bit about FreeRide: I had heard about the bike co-op program from a conversation I had struck up with a girl at a coffee shop one day. I told her I loved her bike and wanted one, too, and she told me about FreeRide, a Pittsburgh co-op program where people can go and use old bikes and bike parts to build a new bike. Cha-ching! “That sounds awesome!” I told her. And it was totally up my alley — I love the idea of reusing otherwise discarded bikes and bike parts to make something new.

So, Dan and I — two people who desperately want to start using bikes instead of cars to get from A to B — made it a goal to build bikes before we more to Ohio. Well, once my brothers, sister and her boyfriend, Anthony, heard of the idea, they just had to do it, too! So, now we are all putting together and fixing up bikes, and we are so excited. They went and picked out their bikes on Tuesday evening, so Dan and I high-tailed it to FreeRide last night, so we could get the process started, too.

But don’t go thinking it’s all for free! The program works like this: There is a $15 entry fee, or you can volunteer for three hours before you walk through the shop and pick out your bike/bike parts. Then, once you pick a bike, you take it to one of the volunteers and he or she appraises it for what they think it is worth. Now, you can either pay the price, and then take your bike into the shop and fix it up, or you can “earn a bike.” This means that for every $8 your bike is worth you must volunteer for one hour in the shop.

Pretty cool, huh?

Dan and I paid the $15 entry fee because we wanted to pick our bikes out ASAP! After much looking and deciding, I found the bike of my bicycling dreams. Look how cute she is! I love that there is a rack already attached, so that I can add a basket for transporting groceries and things of the sort. She is definitely going to require some work — I need a higher seat, the wheels need a tune up, etc. — but I am psyched!

Goldie Jr. (I used to have a car named Goldie … Ha, ha!) was appraised at $30, so that means I can pay the fee or volunteer for about four hours. Dan and I decided that we are going to volunteer to pay for our bikes, and that means we may be recruited to do a number of things, including help other people fix their bikes (I better brush up on my bike knowledge!), make phone calls or sort bike parts.

Dan’s “bike,” on the other hand, will require a lot more work than mine, seeing as how it is only this as of right now . . .

See the orange and blue parts of the frame? Yeah, that’s his. Of course, he had to pick the most challenging project — Hee, hee! (:

After spending a bit more time checking out the shop, we decided to head home. FreeRide gets rather crowded after about a 1/2 hour of being open (they were open 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. last night), so if you don’t start working right away, then most of the bike stands are filled pretty quickly. So, since we took time to pick out our bikes, we decided to go back tomorrow afternoon and start working. All you have to do it tag your bike with a number given to you and leave it in to shop for next time.

I am so excited to be able to take Goldie Jr. home!

I am not sure if there are bike co-op programs in your area, but it is definitely worth looking into. What a great way to recycle and reuse, cut back on gas emissions, get a good workout, and have fun!

We didn’t get home until about 8 p.m., so that meant a late dinner. I hate eating that late, but I was happy with our night at FreeRide, so I dealt with it. I did some more work while Dan cooked up something delicious. We had mahi mahi with some sort of wonderful marinade, sautéed veggies and sliced baked potato “chips.” This was a superb dinner and a great way to end a fun night.

After dinner, I could not wait to get to bed — whew, I was tired! It was one of those nights where the distance from the couch to the bedroom seemed like a marathon. But I made it there and totally crashed! I slept for about 6 1/2 hours — still working on doing better with sleep.

And now, here I am typing away to you. That’s the update for now — I gotta go get some breakfast! Until later, have a great day . . . wherever you are!

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

I’m Doing the Vacation Happy Dance!

V-ee are here! (That one was for my future father-in-law!)

I know I have already told you all about how fabulous this place is, but, seriously, it is really freaking fabulous.

This is my view every morning from the kitchen table . . .

Totally fabulous, right?

So, anyway, lets kick this Monday off with a little run-down of my weekend:

I left you last on Friday evening, before I had eaten dinner. I can’t really even talk about the modge-podge of a dinner that occurred, but all I can tell you is that it involved leftover soba noodle salad and a few more pierogies — I shudder at the thought of eating another potato-filled noodle pocket any time soon.

Saturday was mostly spent in the car — it takes about eight hours to get to our cottage. Dan and I met my parents at their house and brought McDonald’s Egg McMuffins for everyone (my Dad had a craving). In case you did not know by the way, Egg McMuffins, while not that ultimate breakfast choice, are not a bad option when on the road. At 300 calories, 12 grams of fat it is an Eat This! choice in my favorite Eat This, Not That! book.

I, of course, also had some coffee from my all-time favorite Pittsburgh-based coffee shop, Coffee Tree Roasters — it was much needed after only about 4 1/2 hours of sleep the night before. Packing and my obsession with cleaning before I leave to go anywhere for an extended period of time kept me up a bit later than I would have liked. (Again, please ignore the chipping nail polish . . . my nails have been neglected these past few days).

Also on the road were some Peanut Butter M&M’s, cheese and rye crackers, 1/2 a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich on whole wheat and a few Sour Cream & Onion Pringles. One thing I hate about road trips besides a sore ass from sitting so long — the junk food that often gets mixed into the trip.

The plus: Listening (and dancing) to music from the 90s, playing “I Spy…” and, of course, creating inside jokes that will last the entire vacation.

When we arrived at the cottage, we unpacked and ordered pizza from none other than CAVALLARIO’S!! Now, I know you cannot understand the glory involved in this pie. But, I swear, if you were here to taste the cheesy goodness of it all, then you would get it. I went for two pieces of one of my faves — Pesto, Artichoke and Feta Cheese pizza. Mmmm … I am getting hungry now!

Breakfast the next morning was a small bowl of about 20 Frosted Mini Wheats with about one cup of 1% milk, followed by a sliced apple and coffee.

After breakfast, my mom, sister and I did the leg segment from one of my most favorite workout DVDs, I Want That Body!. Of course, I have only ever done the leg section on the DVD, but, lemme tell you, it is one heck of a workout! I can feel leg muscles today that I didn’t know I had yesterday. All three of us are so pathetic; every time we go to move, we all say, “Oh, my legs! Oh, my butt!”

Following that sweat-session, I slathered myself in SPF 50 and hit the deck with my sister to sunbathe and read for a bit. Of course, I am still white as hell, but the sunshine felt nice. I am currently reading about five books, but the one I am so much enjoying right now is Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott.

A passage to enjoy from this incredible writer:

“For some of us, books are important as almost anything else on Earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don’t get in real life — wonderful lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of day, but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift.”

I love that part of the book– and I have read it over and over again — because I could not have put better into words exactly how I feel about the gift of books and writing and language. I cried the first couple of times I read through Ms. Lamott’s words.

After being out in the sun for awhile, I was really quite hungry, so my mom, sister and I made some tuna fish with light mayo, sprinkled it with light cheese and put it on whole grain bread. It was so yummy, but I was stuffed! Something about being in the sun for a bit makes me not as hungry … who knows.

Lunch was followed by my brother, Luke, convincing me to go kayaking with him. He had already spent about two hours and three miles on the thing with Dan, but he wanted to keep going.

Now, lets get one thing straight here: I am not exactly coordinated. I never played a sport that involved balls, bats, sticks or paddles — or anything of the sort — and did it successfully. I was the girl in volleyball class who tossed the ball in the air before my hand hit it just so I could avoid serving the ball the proper way.

So, I was not immediately gung-ho about the event. But I love my brother, so I decided to be a good sport. Truth be told, however, once I got out there I was totally fine. We went about 2 miles and I got an awesome arm workout. Of course, I cannot move too well today, — especially after the dang leg workout — but we had a great time. I love spending time with that kid; he is just hilarious and one of my most favorite people on planet Earth.

I came in and had a few Triscuits with hummus and a small handful of peanut M&M’s while we made dinner. Dinner was grilled ahi tuna and chicken with salad and baked beans. I had a small piece of tuna and chicken; salad with dried blueberries, spicy pecans, apricot cheese and a low-calorie, Trader Joe’s Cranberry Walnut dressing; and a scoop of baked beans.

Later, I had a small bowl of Trader Joe’s Oat Bran Swirls with skim milk for a snack.

I was so pooped by the end of the day that almost as soon as I hit my pillow, I passed out. I slept for about seven hours — a nice change from the usual five.

Today is another beautiful day. So far, I have had a bowl of Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Oats and 1/2 of a semi-sour grapefruit.

And, now, I am just enjoying a cup of coffee (I always drink it black and bold, by the way) and writing to you!

I hope you are all having a fabulous Monday. Enjoy the day wherever you are — it is a fantastic one!

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Filed under Eat, June 2008, Pray, Run

Eating, Working, Packing, Eating, Work Out, Eating . . . Whew!

OOOOOK……. so, where did I leave you last? I feel like I have done so many things since I blogged about my walk/run session last night.

First off — Last night’s snack. I was too hungry to wait until dinner, so I had some Fage Total 2 % Peach Greek-Style yogurt to hold me over. Mmmm … I love this stuff!

Next — Dinner. I had a severe craving for something semi-naughty, so when Dan called to say he was picking up a few things to make our next couple meals at least a little interesting, — finishing up stuff has become extremely blah — I said, “I think I want pierogies.”

I know, weird, huh?

But a super Polish indulgence it was! These guys were 200 calories and 3.5 g fat (1.5 saturated) for every three; I had six, so do the math and that’s 400 calories! I dipped mine in Kraft Catalina dressing, a total weird pierogie-eating habit of mine that is all my dad’s fault! (; We also added some Trader Joe’s Prig Kring Green Beans — the usual green bean with a spicy twist. One of my favorites, and only 70 calories per cup!

Dinner was followed by a treat, and it’s one of my faves … drumroll please … Chewy Brownie Cookies from Whole Foods!! Oh. My. Gosh. I love these things. If you pick ’em just right, you can find ones that taste just like brownie batter, and for anyone who has ever eaten it straight from the bowl, you know just how luscious these cookies are! And the best part? Every two are only 160 calories, and they’re low fat. Now, that’s a win-win situation! Except for my chipped nail polish that is … ):

I did a little better with sleep last night, but still only about six hours. The best part was, however, that I slept really sound which can be a tough thing for a light sleeper like me to accomplish. So, all was well, especially since I got up early and got a ton of my writing work done!

Breakfast was the same as yesterday — a lot a bit of All Bran Strawberry Medley and a little bit of the icky Cascadian Farms Raisin Bran with about 1 cup of skim milk.

I also had a sliced apple on the side which lasted through my mid morning coffee ….

Lunch was another attempt to finish up some food, but I was OK with that because it was one of my favorite kid-like sandwiches — PB and banana on whole grain bread! I love this combo, and if you have never tried it, then you just gotta! I have Dan totally hooked. I also had a pre-lunch snack — more peanut butter!! It’s probably a bit of overload, but I am a peanut butter freak and once I start it’s hard to stop!

After lunch, I did some running around, and a little bit of packing . . . But I only got as far as my books — about 70 books and magazines! Do you think I have too many? (-: I have a bit of a book problem. If there is the slightest, tiny chance I might need it, then I just have to take it with me. Oh, well. I guess everyone has their “thing,” right?!

Good thing I always end up wearing the same few things on vacation ….

All that book packing had me bored with vacation prep, so when Dan got home from work, I asked him to go for a walk. He wasn’t too keen on the idea — I walk really fast! — but I was totally pumped to go! Aha, ha, ha, ha! … I tried to make a “Grr!” face, but I kept laughing. We ended up having a great time, however, like we always do once we get out there!

We walked for a little more than an hour, and now it’s time for more packing, a little bit of work and dinner!

Voila! Whew …. what a busy day!

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Filed under Eat, June 2008, Pray, Run