Weights Make Women Huge?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Today's Inspiration:

It's no secret, the number one reason women give as to why they don't lift weights is they don't want to "bulk up" or "get big". 

Here's the less known secret - that's a lie.  The women with muscle laden physiques you have might have seen in a body building magazine did not get that way by lifting weights three days a week.  They are a product of extreme dedication, calorie loading, and probably a supplement or two.  In fact, it's probably insulting to them that you think you can achieve their physique simply by hitting the gym a few days a week.

The truth - weightlifting will actually help you lose weight.  Muscle burns more calories than fat; so the more muscle you build, the faster your metabolism will be.  Not only that, developing muscles will give your body a firm, tight appearance that you'll never achieve from cardio alone regardless of how many hours you spend on the elliptical machineSo, ditch the mind-numbingly boring hamster wheel and pick up some weights!!

Today's Workout:

Today's workout was a CrossFit style.  We started with front squats and rows.  For the record, if I have a choice between front squats or back squats, I'm picking the back squat every time.  Front squats KILL my wrists.  I'm sure that's just a sign that I need to work on my form, but nevertheless, my wrists feel like that are splintering. 

Obviously, I didn't have a choice today.  I dealt with the pain, and knocked out this circuit.

Afterwards, to get the heart pumping, we did a quick three sets of 350 meter sprints on the rower, followed by a heavy farmer's walk.  This circuit was done with a partner, so while one person rowed 350 meters, the other completed the Farmer's walk.  If you are doing this sans partner, time yourself on the 350 meter row, and then farmer's walk for the equivalent time.  

Weekly Menu 9.29.13 - 10.5.13 and Weekly Wrap-Up

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekly Menu

Sunday: Dinner at Grandma's

Monday: Bruschetta Chicken

Tuesday: Thai Shrimp Salad from Bev Cooks (recipe here)

Wednesday: Garlic and Herb Crusted Pork Loin from Sunny Side Up (recipe here)

Thursday: Beer Marinated Flank Steak from the Beeroness (recipe here)

Friday:  Plank Grilled Fish (cooking method here)

Saturday:  Date Night

Weekly Wrap-Up

Taking an advantage of a laid back Sunday.

Realizing we created a monster on Monday. 

And again on Tuesday. 

And again on Wednesday.   Rotten.

Shedding a few tears as a result of my stupidity.  Something tells me I will triple check the freezer door from now on.

 Hitting a 195 pound PR on Friday.  WooooOOooo HooooOoo!!

Celebrating Mr. and Mrs. Zann Smith on Saturday.

Lifted Higher

Friday, September 27, 2013

Today's Inspiration: 

I was truly humbled from the support and praise I received from friends and family today after my favorite sister-in-law shared an article about Barbells and Bellinis that was recently published in a local magazine.  It quickly put yesterday's "annoyances" ('cause let's be honest, those blips were nowhere close to actual catastrophes) into perspective.  I am blessed aeons beyond what I could ever possibly deserve.  I have family who jumps at every possible opportunity to lift one another up; I'm about to marry the man of my dreams; my fabulous friends are right by my side at every turn I make in this crazy life;  I have the career I've been gunning for since first grade; and I have recently found a creative outlet and so many inspiring new friends through this blog. 

Wow.  Just wow!  Sending many thanks above today and every day.

Please forgive me for the sappy shpeal, I just had to get that out.  On to the heavy stuff...

Today's Workout:

I started with some stretching and foam rolling as usual.  After waking up, I went through this quick core circuit:

          Plank x 2 minutes
          Leg Raise with Hip Lift x 20
          Side Bends 50 lbs x 10 per side

The primary movement on the board for this Friday was dead lifts - really freaking heavy dead lifts.  I warmed up with 10 reps on the bar, 8 reps with 95 pounds on the bar, and 5 reps with 145 pounds on the bar.  I then immediately went into the following work sets:

           165 lbs x 2
           175 lbs x 2
           185 lbs x 2
           195 lbs x 2 (PR!!) 

I actually missed the second rep of the 195 lbs on the first try because I couldn't hold onto the bar.  Luckily, Scott showed me how to do a hook grip, so I was able to get the PR on the second attempt.  Wooooooohooo!!

Dead Lifts

Feeling pretty drained from the dead lifts, I finished the workout with one hundred 35 pound kettle bells swings in about 4 minutes.  

I then proceeded to do about fifty more because my photographer was asleep at the wheel (pretty sure he did that on purpose).

Kettle Bell Swings
We are off to dinner (Bistro 217 if I get my way), and to prepare for a busy weekend.  I have a wedding shower tomorrow morning followed by a wedding on Saturday night.  Sunday will be dedicated to last minute wedding prep and an attempt to begin restocking the freezer before we head to family dinner at my Grandma's house.  Hopefully I will cram some much needed catch-up sleep in there somewhere!  I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!!

Hog Snapper with Blueberry Tarragon Sauce

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Note:  This portion of the post was written at 7:00 a.m.  

It was bound to happen.

I'm not exactly what you would call "tech savvy".   

This morning I realized I somehow managed to delete over 500 pictures from my camera without saving them.  Three different recipes to be exact.

I was devastated.  I lost all of the pictures from the amazing stuffed meatloaf we had on Sunday and all of the pictures from the Caprese Meatballs earlier this week.  Lucky for me I made two meatloafs on Sunday and froze one, so at least I have a second shot with that one.  And you don't have to lose sleep wondering how you'll manage to find your way in this world without the recipe  for the Caprese Meatballs. These will be making a reappearance on the menu again very  soon, they were just too damn good (and healthy) not to share.

The one saving grace to my techy-catastrophe was this recipe.  You see, I only deleted half of the pictures from this hog snapper recipe.   I danced around the living room like a crazy  fool when I saw that ONE picture of the final dish was downloaded to my computer, AND it wasn't all blurry looking like I had just rubbed the camera lens with a butter coated finger (you'd be surprised how many pictures turn out that way). 

A small stroke of luck.

Note:  This portion of the post was written at 9:00 p.m.

Scratch that whole luck thing.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I've landed myself on the top of Lady Luck's hit list.

Have you ever done something so incredibly stupid it calls into question your mental health.  Well that happened to me today - three times.  Not only did I delete pictures from three different recipes without saving them, I realized at work this afternoon that I somehow failed to save a document I spent the better half of Wednesday drafting.   Poof.  Gone.  Not a trace remaining of 4+ hours of mind numbing brain power.  I about lost it.

Icing on the cake?  I came home to find that I had left the garage freezer door open last night when pulling out the chicken breasts for tonight's dinner.  Everything in the freezer was ruined - the extra meatloaf mentioned above, two huge bags of shrimp (Ryann, I need more), an entire ten pound beef tenderloin, six bags of Mexican chicken, two containers of stuffed peppers, four containers of bolognese, a lasagna and ten chicken breasts.  I'm pretty sure I hollered every expletive known to man, and even created a few of my own. 

My mom happened to be here at the time.  Poor thing. She's probably traumatized.

So please excuse me while I go pour a strong one.   It goes without saying, it's been one of those days.

Hog Snapper with Blueberry Tarragon Sauce
Serves: 4
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Total Time:  35 minutes

2 pounds of hog snapper (or other white fish)
1 cup of frozen blueberries, thawed (or fresh if in season)
1 shallot, halved and sliced
1/2 bunch of tarragon
1 lemon
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of oil, divided (I used coconut oil)
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder for seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Heat a medium sauce pan over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, shallots and half of the tarragon leaves, turn heat down to medium high and saute for 10 minutes.  Add blueberries, white wine, and the remainder of the tarragon to the sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes until reduced by a little over a half.  Pour blueberry sauce into a blender, blend for about a minute (or use an immersion blender), and return sauce to saucepan over low heat to keep warm.   Heat a large oven proof skillet over high heat (allow to heat for about 5 minutes to get it really hot).  Meanwhile, dust fish filets with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides.   Add remaining tablespoon of coconut oil and spread around in the pan.  Add fish filets and allow to cook for 5 minutes undisturbed.  Flip fish filets and immediately transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the fish for an additional 5 minutes (depending on thickness of the filets).  Serve fish immediately with Blueberry Tarragon Sauce. 

It's Not Impossible

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Today's Inspiration:

via www.makingtheworldcuter.com
There are certain workouts that fill me with dread the minute I see them on the whiteboard.  Pullups are one of those workouts.  Scott calls them the ultimate test of strength.  I call them a pain in the ass.   The sets prescribed always seem impossible at the beginning, but I always manage to complete them.  Moral of the story:  don't sell yourself short; if you never try, you'll never know.


I started the workout warming up with this core circuit:

Monday's workout focused on the lower body, so today's workout was all about the upper.  My primary work circuit was made up of overhead presses, and, my all time favorite, pullups (lots and lots of sarcasm intended).

Overhead Press
I then went into a quick total body circuit of thrusters.  Holding two 15 pound kettle bells, I completed three one minute sets with one minute rest in between (for a total of 5 minutes). 

Thrusters (Squat / Overhead Press)
Finally, I finished this hump day workout with five 30-yard reverse sled drags: 45 lbs, 70 lbs, 95 lbs, 70 lbs, 45 lbs.

Sled Drags
My thighs were on fire!

Don't Quit

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Yesterday's Motivation:  

Via Pinterest

Right now, this is more applicable to my eating than my workouts.   I'm used to the workouts.  I'm used to pushing myself until I literally don't have any reps left in me.   I'm used to being sore - every day.  I am used to waking up at 5:00.  I'm used to minimal sleep.  What I may never get used to is avoiding bread, passing on desserts, and (gasp) abiding by a "wine only on the weekends rule".  It's hard.  It's absolutely miserable at times.  But, in the end, it's worth it. 

Yesterday's Workout: 

After stretching and foam rolling, I started the workout with this core circuit to warm up:

After the core circuit, I moved into squats.  I warmed up with 10 reps with the bar, 8 reps with 75 pounds, 5 reps with 95 pounds, and 3 reps in 115 pounds. 

For my work sets, I did three sets of 135 pound squats.   Slightly difficult.  

I finished the workout with this full body circuit:

Confession:  This workout kicked my butt.  For real.  I could barely walk today, which tells me I did something right.

Buffalo Shrimp Tacos

Monday, September 23, 2013

Two words: Flavor.  Explosion. 

Or, four words: Party. In. Your. Mouth.  

No seriously, you'll want to do a little happy dance when you take a bite of these, they are THAT good.  I opted for an imaginary happy dance in my head instead of an actual dance because I'm a terrible dancer.  Just ask the girls who were in NYC for my bachelorette, I'm pretty sure I embarrassed the hell out of them.

This recipe combines two of my all time favorite party foods - buffalo wings and seafood tacos.   With a combination like that - these tacos are destined to be amazing.  And, they are unbelievably fast.  I'm talking start to on the table in 20(ish) minutes, fast.  That's a Monday recipe if there ever was one. 

Speaking of Mondays, I typically don't post recipes on Monday, but I have a really, really good reason to stray from the schedule.   Jessie, from Life as a Strawberry, asked me to join as a blog partner for the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project. She didn't have to twist my arm to jump on board, I'm all for ensuring generations to come have a healthy supply of seafood to enjoy.  Not to mention, I'll take any excuse to post yummy seafood recipes!

Jessie started the Sustainable Seafood Project as a medium for food bloggers and businesses to encourage sustainable fishing practices and to provide resources to help consumers (us) incorporate sustainability in our day to day lives.    The goal of sustainability isn't to force us to stop eating seafood all together; it's to educate us so that we can make smart, responsible choices when buying seafood in effort to protect the ocean's ecosystem.  One of the many resources you can find at the Sustainable Seafood Project website is the infographic below, which offers a snapshot of the devastating toll irresponsible fishing practices have had on our oceans over the past century.

It literally broke my heart to learn that 70% of the worlds fisheries are in collapse or decline.  I cannot imagine a life without our water-breathing friends.  I was instantly fired up and ready to do my part.  

The key is to find a way to make sustainable seafood buying easy.   If you're anything like me, it's hard enough to remember the items you need from the grocery store, let alone remember what foods are considered "good choices" for sustainability.  Luckily, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers many easy-to-use resources to help you select seafood that supports sustainability and avoid those that are in danger.  For example, in the Seafood Recommendations section of their website, you can quickly look up what seafood is ocean friendly in your geographic region, and even download pocket guides and mobile apps to carry with you to the store.  Pretty darn handy.  

I'm a self-confessed app hoarder, so I immediately downloaded the app.

These Buffalo Shrimp Tacos are a good choice for sustainability.  As a general rule, wild-caught South Atlantic Shrimp are considered a "good alternative" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  According to their website, "U.S. shrimp trawlers are required by law to use bycatch reduction devices to limit the amount of unwanted catch, and must carry a turtle excluder device to release sea turtles."  I did one better and purchased these shrimp from a friend of mine whose husband caught them earlier this week.  Supporting sustainable seafood practices AND local business at the same time:  win/win.

If you're looking for some more sustainable seafood recipes ideas, hop on over to the other blog partners joining the Sustainable Seafood Project this week:

Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
Once Upon a Cutting Board

I'll be back tomorrow with today's workout, and then back to my regular schedule on Wednesday.

Buffalo Shrimp Tacos
Serves:  4
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

1 1/2 pounds wild-caught South Atlantic shrimp 
1 cup of Frank's Red Hot Sauce
8 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons of olive oil 
4 stalks of celery, diced
4 ounces of blue cheese (I used Blue Stilton)
Greek Yogurt, Hot Sauce, Avocado, Tomatoes, etc. for garnish 
Skewers (metal or wood soaked for an hour)

Preheat oven to 375 F.  In a bowl, combine shrimp and Frank's Red Hot sauce and allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Heat the grill to high heat.  Rub both sides of the corn tortillas with olive oil.  Drape tortillas over the two bars on your oven rack  and cook for 15 minutes until lightly browned and slightly hardened (gravity will pull the tortilla into the perfect taco shell form). Meanwhile, skewer shrimp, reserving the remaining Frank's Red Hot sauce for basting.  Place skewers on grill, baste top of shrimp with reserved marinade and grill for two minutes.  Flip skewers, baste shrimp with marinade, and grill for two more minutes.  To assemble tacos, put a handful of celery in the bottom of the taco shell, top with shrimp, blue cheese crumbles, Greek yogurt, hot sauce and whatever other toppings you desire.  

For you low carb and paleoers, these are really good on lettuce wraps too.  But, whatever you do, don't skip the cheese.  Life's too short to not eat blue cheese.

Weekly Menu 9.22.13 - 9.29.13 and Weekly Wrap-Up

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weekly Menu

Sunday: Cheeseburgers with Sauteed Mushrooms, Arugula and Dijon Aioli from How Sweet It Is (recipe here)

Monday: Chopped Thai Chicken Salad from Pinch of Yum (recipe here)

Tuesday: New York Strip with Grilled Asparagus 

Wednesday: Shrimp and Zucchini Stir Fry from Cookin' Canuck (recipe here)

Thursday: Chicken Parmesan Meatballs (recipe to come)

Friday:  Shrimp Quinoa with Fresh Herbs, Vegetables and Feta Cheese

Saturday:  ~ Zann and Austyn's Wedding ~

Weekly Wrap-Up:

Burning the first fall candle of the season on Sunday.

Catching a breathtaking sunrise (and apparently, trespassing) on Monday.  

Enjoying a night off from cooking thanks to my handsome fiance on Tuesday. 

Enjoying some lazy time with these handsome fellas on Wednesday.

 Doing our best to avoid the Prowler on Thursday.

Relaxing with a glass (or three) of wine from one of the wineries we visited in Napa on Friday.

Whipping up some Chocolate Chip Cookie Bourbon Cheesecake Parfaits from How Sweet It is on Saturday (not surprising, I came up with the Bourbon addition).

Embrace the Suffering

Friday, September 20, 2013

Today's Inspiration: 
Via Pinterest
Just this morning, I was having a conversation with a friend at the gym about training and our opinions on the workout induced soreness.  Truth is, if I don't feel sore the day after I workout, I don't feel like I had a good workout - I feel like I completely wasted that hour in the gym. The soreness is my signal that I pushed myself to the limit and left everything I had in the gym.  As a testament to Scott's training, I have felt sore every damn day for the past 5 years  I have been training with him.

Today's Workout:

This post will be a little shorter than usual because I have no pictures to share.  Scott is in the process of moving gym locations and arranging equipment, so snapping pictures of me working out was not on the top of his list of priorities this morning.  Can you blame him?

Continuing with the return to heavy lifting, I started with a work set of dead lifts.

And I finished with a leg and arm circuit.

Hope you all have a fun filled weekend!!

Chicken Sausage, Apple and Onion Stuffed Chicken

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More stuffed stuff... as promised (or warned, depending on how you look at it).

And to really kick things up a notch, I delved even deeper into my monotonous-of-late cooking M.O. and decided to stuff AND sear the chicken for this one.  Groundbreaking, I know.

BUT, I am giving myself major props for this one.  

Why you ask?  Because this dish oozes fall.  It's poster-child material for cooler weather.  Which is perfect because we are currently having the most ah-mazing fall weather here in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.  For a place that rarely gets to experience the full  range of the four seasons, this is a  huge deal.  It makes you want to pull out the cozy blankets, light a fire, whip up a big ole' pot of chili and spend the weekend watching football.

The only problem is, the "fall" weather here in the south still brings us highs in the 80's, afternoon thunderstorms, an a steady flow of straggling tourists,  so we aren't quite ready for all of that autumn awesomeness you northerners are blessed with. 

Luckily, this recipe is perfect for those "kind of fall" days. The combination of caramelized onions, apples, walnuts and sage screams quintessential fall flavors without the typical heavy or hearty feel of the usual comfort foods of the season.  The sausage is just a bonus (and a phenomenal one at that, which made me think of pork, even though this is chicken sausage, leading me to make a mental note to add bacon next time).

And now I want bacon.  

At 7:30 on a Thursday night.  

And we haven't eaten dinner. 

There's a 99.9% chance we'll have bacon for dinner.   Just bacon, no frills necessary.

Chicken Sausage, Apple and Onion Stuffed Chicken
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time:  About 1 hour

4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
2 Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage, diced
1/2 large onion (or one small), diced

2 apples, diced
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1 bunch of sage (about 20 leaves)
1 cups of walnuts 

Salt and Pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Butterfly chicken breasts by slicing into the long side of the breast, stopping just about 1/4 of an inch from the opposite side.  Heat a large oven proof skillet with raised edges over high heat for several minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and allow to heat before adding the diced sausage to the skillet.  Cook sausage until browned and stirring occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Remove sausage from pan and set aside.  Add onions to skillet an saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add diced apples, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper to skillet and saute for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove pan from heat, add sausage back in and stir to combine.  In a food processor, pulse walnuts and sage until coarsely chopped.  Stuff chicken breasts with sausage, apple and onion mixture, secure with tooth picks, and season with salt and pepper.  Wipe out the skillet you used to cook the stuffing and heat over high heat.  Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and allow to heat before adding stuffed chicken breasts to the skillet.  Sear chicken breasts for 5-8 minutes (no touching).  Flip chicken breasts, sprinkle with walnut and sage mixture, and place skillet in oven for 20-25 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 F.

Find Something You're Passionate About

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Today's Motivation:

Via Pinterest
That Julia was a wise woman, and I'm not just referring to her crackerjack cooking skills.  She had a way with words.  Just Google "Julia Child's quotes" and you'll easily find about a hundred different examples of her quirky personality and witty philosophy on food and drink.  In fact, she is responsible for one of my favorite quotes of all time:  "People who love to eat are always the best people."  Truer words have never been spoken.

As for this quote, I find it applicable to every aspect of my life.  It's hard not to burn out on something that you do every day.  Whether it's working, volunteering, painting, working out, blogging, running, music, fashion, or cooking, you have to consistently endeavor to find new elements that pique your interest in order to fuel your passion.  With cooking, I do this by constantly challenging myself to create new recipes.  With working out, Scott and I change up my workouts every few weeks and incorporate new moves as frequently as possible (see ring dip hold below - ouch).  What works for you?

Today's Workout:

Leg Raise with Hip Lift
Side Bend

Overhead Press
Band Assisted Pull-Ups

FYI:  Ring Dip Hold = Hard as Hell.   It was my first attempt today and let's just say I am going to have to work on those.  I might have made it 20 seconds, but I think that's a stretch.

Step Up
Ring Dip Hold
Back Raise
TRX Face Pull

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