Temptation, such an aggravation

Temptations abound as I walked into work! What snacks I have surrounding me…

Directly in front of me I have Oreos.  You can also see the fruit that was part of my lunch that I ate a bit early as my healthy snack to prevent me snacking on the sweets…  (sorry the lighting is a bit drab, but I only had the camera on my phone)

To my left, I have carrot cake.

Finally, behind me I have the rest of the stash.

Note the samoas. Yes, they made their presence immediately known to me.  They are behind me currently as I type are are boring a hole in the back of my head.  …I will refuse! I might stick them in a drawer or something…

Today is a bit different for me at work. We have some environmental tests going on in the lab and the test articles need to be babysat 24/7 until the end of the week. That means all the folks from the midnight to 8a shifts have brought in “snacks” to quell their hunger during the wee hours. Normally avoiding snacking wouldn’t be too difficult a feat, but coming in earlier than normal and running on less sleep makes me one snack prone lady…

Any tips or tricks out there that would help discourage snacking?



Possibly Brutal Leg Day, 2/28/2012

Circuit 1 (four times)

  • Stability Ball rollouts, see video (x10)
  • Turkish get-ups with 10-15 lb kettlebell (x10, we can do this Kara!)
  • Sumo squats with two 10-lbs dumbbells (x15)

Circuit 2 (four times)

  • Front squats with bar (x10)*

(Replace with back squats, if you’re uncomfortable.  Be safe.)

  • Walking lunges, back and forth in hallway, with two 10-lbs dumbbells
  • one-legged deadlifts with two 15-lbs dumbbells/kettlebells (x10 each leg)

Circuit 3 (four times)

  • Run!

30s walk
30s jog (level 5-6)
30s sprint (level 7-8)
30s jog
30s sprint
30s jog
30s walk

  • Crunches, elbows between lifted knees (x20)
  • Kettlebell swings, 20lbs (x15)*

*New moves from CrossFit!

So yep, Kara called it, with her last post.  I am adding some CrossFit moves, little by little.  I don’t want to scare away our other workout buddies, but I also want to keep improving.

Update: Yep, this was definitely brutal, especially after CrossFit the day before.  I can tell my legs are going to grow some serious muscle from just those two days.  We did some hard work!  I burned 800 calories, according to my trusty heartrate monitor.  Boom!

Say hello to my little friend…

… Cindy.  Well a half Cindy that is.  A half Cindy is precisely how Amanda and I finished our third and final crossFit elements class.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cindy, a Cindy is as many rounds of 5 pulls ups, 10 push ups and 15 squats that you can do in 20 minutes. We did a half Cindy, so we did as many rounds as possible in only 10 minutes. Both Amanda and I finished with a respectable 8 rounds completed.

In addition to the Cindy, Amanda and I learned how to squat today! The crossFit class that we attended performs more of an Olympic style squat with your legs a little further than hip width apart and your toes slightly out-turned. See below.

First we learned the back squat. Start with you stance like the woman in the image above is performing. When you squat down you want to make your butt is out pushing back, you push out from your knees as you go down and the weight stays in you heels. The bottom pose is below:

You want to rest the bar in the middle of your back. The important thing that I learned today was to make sure your shoulders back and with your shoulder blades squeezed together and then hunch them up a bit. This creates a nice “shelf” for the bar to rest on. Previously when I would perform this move, I never had the right shoulder position. After two sets the bar would be pressing weirdly on my spine and it would just be uncomfortable for the lasts sets. With my new and improved stance however, I had no back issues at all. 🙂

The next was the forward squat:

The squat down is the same, only this time the bar is in front resting again on your shoulders. You should have your elbows out as high as you can with the bar in your fingers. It should be resting on your shoulders. If it feels like it might choke you this is a good sign. Please be careful though!

Finally, and most difficulty, we learned the overhead squat

..is she wearing bowling shoes in the pic!? I can’t tell… Anyway, You start by approaching the bar like a front squat. You jerk the bar up into the overhead position. You want your hands a little wider than normal with your elbows locked at the top. Your head should be a little forward, but its most important to maintain the bar position in line vertically with your feet. Again, you squat down with your butt back and knees pushing out until you break parallel with your butt. Definitely not as easy as it looks. Amanda was super quick to pick it up, but it took me a few times with a lighter bar to perfect my form before I tackled the 45lb bar.

Tomorrow we may have to work in some of our new moves to the work out. Hopefully our other work out buddies are ready for the challenge!

Picture Sources – One. Two. Three. Four.


CrossFit Elements Part II – Snatch, Clean

On Friday, Kara and I went to our next Elements Class at the CrossFit in Los Gatos.  Kara was totally tough — she was pretty sick last week, but didn’t want to lose the class due to cancellation, so she showed up!  I was very happy to see her.

We learned the snatch and the clean.  Of course that makes me giggle, but after 10 minutes or so, I got over it.  😉  OK, maybe 30 minutes.

First, the snatch.  This is a really complicated lift, with several distinct movements.  However, I’ve usually found that practicing entire movements makes them easier to commit to muscle-memory.  Maybe that’s just me.  In class, we went over each step of the move, and I think most people find this really confusing.  It’s hard to think specifically about what your hips, and knees, and shoulders, and elbows are doing all at once.  I do think it’s necessary to go over it, though.  Because once you’ve got the idea of the entire movement, you can refine your form by going back and thinking about each step. I guess the important thing is to do low weight while you’re learning, so you don’t get hurt.  This video does a great job of explaining the details of the lift, and it shows you the front and side views in suuuuuuper slowwwww motionnnn.  Also, it’s a girl, and I like that.  She’s strong, and I am inspired!

Next we learned the clean, which to me seems basically like the snatch, except that your hands are closer together on the bar, and you only bring the bar to your shoulders.  This video is similar to the other.  It shows the clean (the part that gets the bar to your shoulders) as well as the “jerk,” which we learned last week.

This is the “clean and jerk” you may have heard of (This also makes me giggle).  There is a difference in her “jerk” form.  She’s doing what I believe is called a “split jerk,” where she catches the bar while in a lunge position, instead of a squat like we did last week.  I think they taught us the squat way because it is less complicated (which leg forward?  one is bent, one is straight, etc.).  However, the split jerk looks a lot more stable to me.  When you are doing a jerk and lifting heavy weight above your head pretty explosively, there is a tendency to get thrown backward a little bit if you’re not perfectly balanced.  The lunge position would definitely prevent that from happening.  But it occurs to me now that maybe you wouldn’t be as stable side-to-side.  I wonder…  We’ll have to try adding some of these exercises to our normal circuits and see what works for us.

Anyway, until Leg Day…


Bill’s Cafe & White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

Check out this awesome sandwich I recently had at Bill’s:

I made that picture extra large, so you can see all the delicious goodness!  For those of you in Silicon Valley, Bill’s is a GREAT place for breakfast, and also for lunch.  We typically go there on weekends, though we try to resist, because it’s easy to overeat with all of the yummy pancakes and cheesy eggs.  But they do have some healthy options — this is their Light Garden Sandwich, and I substituted cream cheese for goat cheese.

So, top to bottom we have goat cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, walnuts, and more goat cheese!  Go with the side of fruit like I did, and this is a really healthy meal!  It tastes so good that it only occurred to me after eating half the sandwich (note the crumbs) to take a picture of it for the blog.   I should do this more often!

Last night I had leftover White Bean & Butternut Squash Soup for dinner.  I’ve made this soup twice, and then frozen it for later consumption, and it’s come out really good both times.  The boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind it either, but I think he might prefer something spicier or more tomato-ey  — just a note for those who like hella spiciness, this is definitely on the mild/subtle side of the flavor scale.  Anyway here’s my “recipe.”  I’m thinking I might have added some water at some point, but you can adjust for that when everything’s in the pot.  It should look like a stew.

  • 2 cans white beans, rinsed
  • 3-4 cups butternut squash, in 1/2” cubes (this is a loose number)
  • 2 cups kale or spinach or collard greens
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1-2 T garlic
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • parmesan rind (key ingredient!)
  • shredded parmesan cheese
  • lots of chopped rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves

In a large pot, sautee garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. Add squash, vegetable stock, beans, parmesan, and bay leaves.  If the squash isn’t covered by the liquid, add more stock, or some water if you’re out of stock.  Cook for 30-40 minutes on low-med heat, until you can poke a fork easily through the squash.  Fish out the parmesan rind, and the bay leaves, and discard.  Add the kale in small handfuls, and mix in gently to wilt the greens. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, until the ribs of the greens are softened.  Serve in bowls, topped with about 1T chopped rosemary, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Or freeze for later, but make sure you don’t add the rosemary/cheese until you’re ready to eat!

I think the parmesan rind is genius.  Wasn’t my idea, but it definitely kicks up the flavor.  The other essential ingredient is the rosemary topping.  In case you were wondering about what NOT to skip.


“Token” Arm Day, 2/23/2012

I’m feeling kind of sick today — hi sneezes, and runny…eye?  I don’t understand the eye watering thing.  Seems like allergies, but I’m not really aware of any allergies that I have.  ANYWAY, because I’m feeling pretty bleh, I thought I’d just get in what I like to call a Token Workout.  It’s one of those where I just give myself some credit for showing up, and not worry too much about how hard I’m working.  Although, looking at this workout, it’s not exactly going to be easy.  It just won’t be that hard.  I like the idea of finishing a little quicker than normal too, so I can get home and sniffle under a blanket.  😉

Here’s the plan:

Circuit 1 (three times)

  • Bicep curls, 10 lbs (x15)
  • Tricep press balanced on Bosu ball, 15lbs (x15)
  • Oblique twists with 8-lb medicine ball (x20)

Circuit 2 (three times)

  • Star jumps (x10)

Holy crap, check this chick out — she’s super strong.

  • Upright rows, just the small bar (x15)
  • T-pushups (x10)

Circuit 3 (three times)

  • Flye machine, 30lbs? (x15)
  • Explosive squat and press, 10 lbs (x15)
  • Lat pulls, 60 lbs?, x15

What I tried to do here was still work all of the major muscles that I normally would for an arm day, but I took out a lot of the stuff that makes it really draining — walking lunges (with a press), crazy cardio blasts (although those star jumps look tough), and heavy-heavy weight.  Also notice that we’re repeating the circuits 3 times, instead of 4, like usual.  There is still a decent amount of cardio in there, but there are lots of breaks.  For example, it’s pretty rare that I would ever do JUST bicep curls (without lunges or squats of some kind), or the rather isolating flye machine, because my heart rate is going to go down for those parts.  But that’s ok for today — I’m cool with it for Token Workouts.  Just trying to let my muscles know they still have to be strong!

Do you workout when you have a cold?  Do you think it’s completely disgusting and rude that I’m going to the gym when I’m probably coming down with a cold?

Snack Attack

I find myself often fighting cravings mid morning and mid afternoon. Last week in particular was a tough one and actually inspired this post.  It’s almost like clockwork when 3pm rolls around and I search my desk for signs of edible objects. I can be pretty good about saying no to snacks, but I do find myself caving in more often than I’d like.  Through my own trials, I’ve found a few ways that help me stop my extraneous eating. I put together a few ways in the list below that have worked for me and will hopefully work for you too.

Five ways I’ve learned to curb snacking:

  1. Brush your teeth.  Absolutely nothing tastes good immediately after brushing your teeth.  If you don’t have a toothbrush handy or feel awkward brushing your teeth in front of your coworkers, you can always swish some mouthwash or pop a mint.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind.  Keep you snacks off your desk in a drawer or in your bag.  I actually hid my dove chocolate piece behind my computer screen today.  I would have completely forgotten it until a co worker asked me about it…  then, yes, I ate it.
  3. Drink more water.   I always try to keep a bottle handy.  When I get that urge to eat something I take a sip instead in attempts to quell any eating desires.
  4. Take a break and do something to occupy your mind. I sometimes have mundane tasks to accomplish, like filling out paperwork or organizing data, and that’s when miscellaneous eating hits me hard. A pretzel here, a peanut there and next thing I know the bag is empty. To squash my hunger desires and challenge my mind, I keep a rubik’s cube and some brain teasers about.
  5. Keep those wrappers as a reminder of chocolate carnage.  If and when I do give in to the secretary’s stash of chocolate delights, I leave the wrapper on my desk.  Clutter, yes, but seeing all I have eaten tends to be the reminder I need to not make a bad day any worse.