Category Archives: At-Home Fitness

HIIT and Kickboxing and Salad Day

My motivation and inspiration has been rather low lately. I’ve been less consistent with my postings (sorry!) likely because I’ve been stressed and busy, though I know that’s never a good excuse – we’re all stressed and busy. Yesterday I had a particularly awful day with the kids (misbehaving, fighting, yelling, etc) and with other current worries, like job-searching and the feeling of being totally over my current life as an au pair and life abroad, and worries about being pretty much broke, and homesick, and of course I haven’t really had time to exercise as much as I would have liked, so I think the stress and anxiety got the best of me last night and I nearly lost it.

You know that feeling when you just really want to punch the living shit out of something/someone? Well, I was at that point yesterday and that’s when I remembered the beauty of kickboxing! There really is no better feeling than punching or kicking a big heavy bag with all of your power, letting go of all of your frustration and rage and stress in the most cathartic and liberating way. Before moving to Paris, I did kickboxing about 2-3 times a week at a kickboxing gym, fully equipped with bags, dummies, pads, etc and there was nothing better than heading out of work and straight to the gym, wrapping up my hands, slipping them into my red gloves, and beating the shit out of imaginary people. Never have I been stronger, sweatier, or braver than during that year of kickboxing. I am so, so eager to get back into it when I move home.

Today when I finally got my ass up and went out to exercise outside, I tried to let go of everything that was awful about yesterday and start the day in a new way. I ran to my park (about 10 minutes), then followed this HIIT routine. (I don’t remember where I found this because I had it written down on a piece of paper that I found on my desk, so I apologize to whoever I am failing to give credit to for this workout.)

0:30 high knees

1:00 squat jumps

1:00 mountain climbers

1:00 burpees

1:00 jump lunges

Repeat 3x

Then I did about 10 minutes of kickboxing, which entailed shamelessly punching the air (aiming at a nearby tree) while tons of French people (mostly creepy French men) stared at me and judged me, probably.

Then some crunches of all shapes and sizes, side planks, lower back exercises, and then I ran… more like wobbled… back home. A nice long stretch followed, as well as a CLIF builder protein bar (gotta restore those muscle fibers!) and an apple, and I felt so good. Amazing how quickly you forget how great a good workout is.

(If I eat a food bar, I try to find one that is as natural and raw as possible. These are pretty good, though they tend to be too dense and ingredient-rich, but its better than other options out there. My favorites are Lärabars.)

Later, I made a delicious salad (I think I’ve gotten better at salads over the years. I lived a long time thinking a salad had to be nasty iceberg lettuce and croutons) with lots of my favorite ingredients, and a few things I just had on had to make it well-rounded:

photo 1

White beans

Kidney beans

Avocado

Almonds

Red and yellow bell peppers

Golden raisins

Sesame seeds

Spinach

Lemon juice, salt, pepper

 

photo 2

How pretty was this avocado?? Nature is so cool.

 

It’s been a much better day today than yesterday. Exercise always helps more than I realize. I feel strong, sufficiently sore and tired, and well-fed.

Dinner tonight will surely be a challenge, but I’m going to go easy on myself and not feel guilty after eating whatever it is that we’re eating. I can only control so much, right?

Here’s to another good day.

 

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I’m just posting this for my own reference. I did this work out last week and it was SO good, as Zuzana Light’s workouts always are, and I didn’t want to lose it. So, if you have 20 minutes, knock this one out and you’ll be sweating like a dog in the end. In fact, I might just go do it again right now.

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Killer Workout

Todays workout was killerrrrrrrr and now I’m a killer so watch out.
I ran to the park, about 10-15 minutes away, and found myself a nice spot on the big grassy area and spent probably an hour doing all sorts of body weight exercises. I had (following what my friend and I did in Brussels) previously written down all all the exercises in this Zuzana Light video (featured below), and after finishing all 3 rounds (barely!), I went wild and made up my own exercises. I did lots of kickboxing, earning me plenty of stares from the others in the park (apparently kickboxing alone in public is “weird” here? Anywhere?) and more push-ups, burpees, lunges, and as many ab exercises as I could handle. I hate doing abs. Absolutely hate it. Whenever I’m doing them, my brain is saying, “Stop! Keep the belly! Do not continue. It’s not worth it.” And, more often than not, I listen   :-/ . Any tips for enjoying ab exercises, or at least not wanting to kills self after 5 crunches?? I need to learn to like those.
Anyway, after about an hour of working out with a good level of intensity, I ran back home, this time challenging myself to do short sprint intervals. Not only were my legs feeling like lead after my workout, but the way back is slightly uphill and my legs hate it. But finishing felt SO good and when I finally got home, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride over my hard work. It was not easy, but so worth it. There’s nothing like feeling the sweat from your forehead drip into your eyes and your mouth, making you burn and cringe at the same time. Now THAT is hard work! I should make that a goal every time I exercise: “Sweat so hard your eyes burn and you go momentarily blind”.
This is the written version of Zuzana’s killer workout:

10 Dive Bombers (like downward dog pushups)

5 full burpees

20 (each side) squat leg lifts – squat, down, come up, lift one leg out, repeat on other side

5 burpees

10 side plank lifts (each side)

5 burpees

10 pistol squats (each side) – one legged squat

5 burpees
Repeat 3 times total

 

Sweat your heart out!

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Mid-Day Mind Munchies and Yoga

Sometimes I wonder if I think about food too much. Am I alone here? Or does anyone else ever feel like they just obsess over food all day, every day. I plan my whole day around my food and exercise, and I plan my food and exercise around each other, and its not because I’m some inspiring, intense, die-hard foodie or fitness goddess. I’m not. At all. I’m the laziest sonofabitch you’ll ever meet, and (as you know if you’ve been reading my blog), I seem to love stuffing my face with food until I want to cry. It really should be pathetic.

But, alas, I somehow still get myself to exercise, and since food already takes up 90% of my brain space, I inevitably plan my exercising around my food and my life around my food.

I FUCKING LOVE FOOD. And I think everyone out there does too, but some people like to act like food doesn’t consume their thoughts, because they think it makes them look cool. Or strong. Or healthy. Or who knows. But don’t kid yourself… I can see riiiiight past it. Your brain is salivating.

Anyway… What I meant to say was… Here are some pictures of my food today!

Because, I love food, and I take pictures of food and I don’t care.

photo 1

Lunch salad, which I ate out of a huge bowl, because spinach takes up a lot of space, and its easier/more fun that way if you’re savage and happen to be eating alone like I am. It kind of feels like I’m the guy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, eating an entire box of Lucky Charms out of a huge mixing bowl, like a boss:

Anyway… My salad consisted of spinach, chickpeas, corn, carrots, tomatoes, almonds, pine nuts, raisins, and for dressing, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

photo 2

[This part needs to be read in a snobby British accent.] As the second course for todays prix-fixe menu, we have featured our house specialty, the Artesanal Dry-Farmed Herloom Beta-Carotene Puree with an H2O Reduction Sauce.

In other words… microwaved sweet potato.

Literally the most gourmet thing you’ll ever find in nature. It blows my balls off.

Sweet potato is what happened when God had a lot of liberating sex on Saturday night with Mr. God (or Mrs. God, since LadyGod could have very well been a lesbian. Who am I to make that kind of assumption…) and was feeling happy and overly generous to Her children on the 7th day, so She said, here, kids, take all my gold and my money and my secrets and run wild. So they partied hard, got really drunk, and passed out in the dirt and all the gold got stuck somewhere deep in the soil, and months later sweet potatoes popped up. So now you know some agricultural history. You’re welcome.

Later in the afternoon, I was feeling hungry (as if my enormous bath tub of salad wasn’t enough), so I made myself a smoothie much like this one, but with almond butter instead of peanut butter. After it was blended, I added a little more almond butter, and right now, as I’m drinking it, I keep finding little chunks of heaven amidst this delicious smoothie, and I’m patting myself on the back for having such a brilliant idea.

photo (20)

So far, so good. I actually didn’t eat oatmeal for breakfast, because my almond butter needed attention (I can already see that my goal to not finish this jar by the end of the week is going to be really difficult), so I ate an open-faced sandwich: whole wheat bread, almond butter, banana. Bomb dot com.

After watching a bunch of TED talks and killing all the ants I found in my room (don’t ask… I’m pissed), I did half an hour of yoga, following a Jillian Michaels’ video:

 

And now at the early hour of 4:49pm, I’m finally getting my day started. Its Sunday, don’t hate. I’m going to the movies, and I’m making my promise ahead of time – I will not eat anything from the concession stand. I’m bringing a bag of almonds and maybe a piece of fruit, if I get hungry (though this smoothie should keep me full for a while), and tonight I’m eating the rest of my salad (yeah… I forgot to mention, I couldn’t finish it) and maybe some plain soy yogurt with honey for dessert.

HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE, okay!?

If all goes well, today will be another successful vegan day. Hooray!

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Healthy Weekend!

This weekend was such a success! I was traveling, again, this time visiting friends in Brussels, and overall, I’m pleased with my choices. This is one of the few times I’ve come home from a trip and not felt entirely guilty, so I’d call that a small but significant traveling accomplishment.

On the bus ride from Paris to Brussels, I brought a few healthy snacks with me, like a banana (note to self: bananas do not travel well) and some nuts. When we made a quick pitstop, I went to buy some food but of course, as with all gas stations, everything offered was pure filth. Chips, nasty pre-made bacon sandwiches doused in mayonaise, soda, candy… things that people have somehow been allowed to call “food.” (Honestly I don’t know how this stuff looks appetizing to anyone. It’s repulsive. It’s not food! Its like, hey, why don’t we go eat some concrete-flavored sandpaper and dip it in liquid mercury. Yum! Seriously… Unbelievable that processed food-like edible items exists, much less get eaten by billions. Barf.) I found some pre-sliced apples in a package (not ideal, as they have preservatives to keep them fresh… I hear these are often cancer-causing. Eek), but I figured sliced apples was probably my only safe-ish bet, so I ate that, and cringed at everyone on the bus fussing with that packaging that was keeping them from their wholesome, nutritious, life-giving Doritos.

On to the rest of the trip…

One of the friends I was traveling with (who reads this blog and shares many of my same feelings and goals – hello friend!! I see you!) was entirely on the same page as me the whole time, which helped both of us stay on track for the most part, while still allowing ourselves little indulgences along the way. We agreed before the trip to work out in the mornings and to share any heavy meals/treats we might consume, since often times all we really crave is just a bite and not the entire thing (like for example, with Belgian waffles), and we did exactly that. Our first morning we all got a late start so exercise didn’t happen, but at least we walked a lot that day and did not overeat. We shared one Belgian waffle between 3 girls, which was actually perfect (those things are so big and sweet anyway that eating a whole thing makes you feel like dying), we had a small burger for lunch (like, a correctly portioned patty, no bigger than 3 or 4 ounces) which my friend smartly ate without the bun (I ate half of the bun) and for dinner our friend and host made us some pasta with veggies and ground turkey and a little bit of red wine. That night, while out at a bars, we shared a beer and later a mojito (no need to drink the whole thing…), which was perfect. We got the taste, but none of the bad side effects. Not bad for a day of travel, where most of the time I spend too much money and calories on eating out and drinking at restaurants.

Day 2 was started off on the right foot when we set our alarms earlier and went outside to exercise, enjoying the surprisingly sunny weather in the process. We started with a short walk, then a 15 minute run to warm up. When we got to the park, we did a series of running sprint intervals, and after this exhausting set, we buckled down for a short HIIT routine before walking back home. (Our exact workouts are featured at the bottom of this post). After exercising, we bought some pineapple and water and fresh squeezed orange juice and refueled before setting out for the day. Our sightseeing was accompanied by a few healthy snacks (nuts, protein bars, green tea, etc) and of course, a few bites of a Belgian waffle. We shared our beers that afternoon, and all four of us in the group shared a few macaroons, and at dinner time, we allowed ourselves to indulge in our first and only true Belgian meal. I ate a chicken stew with veggies and potatoes and for dessert, a waffle. I’d like to think this was my only real indulgence of the trip, which is slightly amazing and really exciting that I didn’t indulge more than that.

Monday, day 3, was our last day, and I left at around 1pm. In the morning, my friend and I went out for another quick workout (featured below). Before leaving, I ate a panini (not the best choice, but also not the worst) and I took a banana and a raw, all-natural granola bar for the drive back to Paris. Dinner with my host family was, surprisingly, a healthy salad! I was so happy to be eating greens!

As I type all of this, I’m realizing that while its hard to have a perfect weekend, or a perfect trip (with regards to health), it is SO possible to make good choices given your constraints and to not completely blow it in two days. Surely traveling isn’t ideal for staying healthy, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! This is a big lesson I am just now starting to learn. After my travels through Belgium and Spain a few weeks ago (and my many indulgent moments therein), I’m seeing that it is still possible (though not easy, I admit) to be healthy while exploring the world and having fun with friends.

Another wonderful thing about this weekend was the power of friendship! Having someone who shares your goals and who understands your struggles is such a blessing. Not to mention, having that person be a great travel buddy… it makes all the difference. I know for a fact that I would not have worked out once if it were not for my friend, and its likely I would have eaten a whole waffle (or two, or three), several beers, plenty of fries, etc. But having someone to share the journey with (and to keep you accountable) was what truly made this weekend a success. Thank you, dear friend, for accompanying me on this journey!!

I feel proud and pleased. I had a great time, and food did not consume me nor did it cause me to feel any guilt, and that is something worth celebrating today. I hope all my trips can be as healthy as this one!

***

And now for a recap of our workouts, in case anyone wants to try it out. We came out sweating and sore in every possible way, so give it a shot, if you dare…

Workout 1:

Warm up: jog/run for 15 minutes

Jog (normal pace, resting pace) 1 minute

Sprint (all out, 90-100% effort) 20 seconds

Repeat 12 times

Then, do this circuit:

To warm down, walk or jog for 15 minutes.

 

Workout 2… We did both of these videos:

Then this one

To warm down, walk or jog 15 minutes.

***

Trust me, your ass will thank you after finishing these workouts. I know mine is.

 

Hooray for a healthy, fit weekend!!

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Free Exercising

I wrote in an earlier post about using the internet as my “gym”, since I don’t have money to spend on a gym and I’m not going to be living here long enough to want to spend money on lots of equipment. So, I have my convenient resistance bands that are light and compact (great for traveling) and versatile enough to provide some intense strength training, and I have YouTube, for a plethora of amazing exercise videos to give me inspiration.

This morning I was able to squeeze in a 30-minute HIIT run, and I found myself with an extra 15-20 minutes later in the day, so I took advantage and did another quick workout. I wanted to work my upper body today since 2 days ago I killed my lower body and I know its best to give each muscle group a decent rest after an intense exercise, so I went searching through the internet for good upper body resistance band exercises. I came across this great video below by Stuft Mama which gave me some new tips on how to use my resistance bands in a similar way to using weights or machines.

I then followed this brief work out with another DailyHiit workout:

I only went through this video once because I was running short on time, but even once felt great, considering I had already worked out quite a bit earlier.

Another successful and FREE workout day, with some great meals (so far… lets see how dinner time goes with the family) which were all easy, quick, and super healthy.

Feeling pumped on life! Woo, bring it on, bitches.

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Mix-and-Match Workout

Yesterday I didn’t run because I don’t run 2 days in a row (and I ran on Monday), so instead I did a mix of a few exercises in the family room, in front of my computer. Since I don’t have a gym (I’m broke as shit, yo!), my exercising has consisted mostly of running and free videos online. I want to become proof that exercising and getting in killer shape can be free and can be done at home, so stay tuned to see how my progress goes between now and summer, aka bikini season, aka every girls worst nightmare (except the rare few that can’t wait to show the world their abs. #hatethem, #wanttobeoneofthemoneday).

I was introduced to BodyRock.Tv and the sister site, DailyHiit by a friend a few months ago, and I just recently started incorporating these workouts into my routine, and I fucking love them. They push me (as long as I push myself, of course) pretty damn hard and they are efficient and quick, which I like a lot since my schedule doesn’t really allow for a lot of time to spend working out. You go through each circuit a few times (they will tell you how many), so you press play, do a short but intense HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) routine, and when its over, you just hit replay and continue until you’ve finished. You’ll come out dripping sweat and loving yourself for accomplishing such a great work out.

Yesterday, I did this video twice:


And then I did a variation on this Ham & Glutes workout by one of my favorite fitness bloggers, Muffin Topless. Since I don’t have a gym or any weights, I used my adjustable resistance bands that I bought at Target (before moving to France) and used a both medium and heavy bands at the same time to add enough resistance for those large lower-body muscles to really work hard. For the parts of her workout that required a machine, I did whatever variant I could come up with using my bands, and I ended up skipping some exercises altogether because I got lazy and wanted to be done (yes, I admit it). In between each set, I alternated between different cardio or strength exercises, like jumping jacks, high knees, push ups, speed punches, roundhouse kicks, fast feet, burpees, etc and in total, my workout lasted about 50 minutes.

I finished dripping in sweat and I felt amazing. I followed my exercise with my tuna lunch (which I posted about earlier), and a really long, guilty-pleasure shower. Felt great the rest of the day (minus after eating those 3 cookies)! Amazing what exercise can do for your spirit.

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