Post-Thanksgiving Ab Workout!

Thanksgiving is often looked upon as an opportunity to throw all semblance of a diet caution to the wind and enjoy every fattening food you can possibly imagine. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with indulging as a special treat and eating some things you might not want in your diet every day. Enjoy the special time with family and friends – and enjoy a piece of pie if you want!

For Thanksgiving this year, my family had another family over for the midday feast. They are lifelong friends that my siblings and I pretty much grew up with, and we are still great friends to this day! Their family brought over a few dishes for the meal and we my mom made a few as well. The result was an enormous spread of delicious casseroles, green beans, stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes, rolls, corn, and cranberry jello. Yummm!

Since I eat gluten-free, I filled up on the sweet potatoes, green beans, and spinach casserole. I’m pretty sure I had 4 helpings of sweet potatoes. My mom cubes them and bakes them in the oven with some olive oil and rosemary and they are so delicious!

I had time for a quick workout this morning and decided to knock out some abs exercises! I don’t focus a lot on my abs because they get worked in a roundabout way by other weight-lifting exercises I do throughout the week. I also find that running keeps my abs pretty naturally flat. However, I love creating ab workouts and challenging myself to “feel the burn.”  😉

Here’s the random medley I created today:

60 Second Plank on Elbows (add variations such as lifting one leg and then the other, if you desire!)

50 Crunches on Stability Ball

40 Knees to Elbows, hanging from chin-up bar

30 Russian Ball Twists, holding 15lb dumbbell

20 Scissor Legs (10 on each leg)

10 Dumbbell Side Bend with 40lb dumbbell (10 on each side)
Repeat this sequence 3 times for a great overall ab workout!

And, just for fun, I had to include some hilarious “abs ecards” that made me laugh today…

 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 🙂

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few of the many things I’m thankful for today:

– My family, who loves me unconditionally and brings me so much joy

– My friends, who put up with my craziness and always support me and stand by me

– My adorable Beagle, Cocoa, who makes me laugh with her expressions and antics

– A safe, comfortable place to come home to

– Abundance and variety of food

– The ability to run, be active and fit

– Good health

– Hot coffee after a morning run

– Sunrises and sunsets

– The changing colors of leaves in the fall

– Huge tumblers of water to keep me hydrated

– Sleeping in and reading in bed

– Making cookies and smelling them while they bake

– Our new screened-in porch that’s perfect for summer evenings

– Technology. Enough said.

– Meeting new people and making new friends

– Celebrating the holidays with people I love!

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday with lots of fun times and delicious food!  Goodnight!

Fueling After a Workout

Over the weekend, a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile was asking me for some health eating advice. We got talking about what to eat after a workout, and he asked me what I typically go for to refuel after a workout.

Refueling: What to Eat

My refueling food of choice definitely depends on what kind of workout I’ve just completed. Simply speaking: if it’s a weights day for me at the gym, I focus on protein in my refueling meal. If it’s a running day or some other form of cardio, I’m more intent on getting some good carbs in my system post-workout.

Lately, my favorite refueling protein snack is an amazing combination of Greek yogurt and fruit. I start with about a cup  Greek yogurt in a bowl and mix in some cocoa powder and a dash of Stevia…which makes it taste like chocolate mousse…yum! Then I dice an apple (Fuji is my favorite at the moment) into small pieces, toss it on top of the yogurt chocolate mousse, and sprinkle on some cinnamon. To add a little healthy fat and some delicious crunch, I top the bowl with a few peanuts or cashews and munch away!

Greek yogurt is a great source of protein – one serving can contain anywhere from 13 – 22 grams, depending on the brand. Greek yogurt has less sugar, less carbs and more protein than regular yogurt, and it’s now sold in most every grocery store. I’ve tried several different brands (here’s an article comparing the various options out there) but my favorite is definitely the Trader Joe’s brand, because of the consistency and creaminess!

For my post-run carb fueling, I usually opt for a bowl of oatmeal, with some frozen blueberries, cinnamon and peanut butter mixed in. There are lots of other good options for post-run refueling options – generally anything with (approximately) a 3-1 ratio of carbs to protein is  best! In the past, I’ve tried everything from toast with peanut butter to sweet potato fries dipped in Greek yogurt (sounds weird but tastes delicious!)  Don’t worry about getting the ratios exactly perfect…just focus on getting some healthy carbs into your system!

Refueling: When to Eat

Generally speaking, it’s best to refuel as soon as possible after a workout.  A lot of fitness experts even suggest that you start sipping on a protein shake toward the last 15 minutes of your strength training workout to get a jump-start on the refueling process and get the protein to your muscles as soon as possible. As for post-run/cardio refueling, it’s best to get the carbs (and a little protein too) into your system within 30 minutes because your muscles are best primed to assimilate and utilize the nutrients directly after a workout. Your goal is to replace the glycogen stores in your muscles that were depleted during the run, and the first hour after the workout is the best time for that! Here’s some more information about this optimal refueling window of time: Refueling at Its Best!

Refueling: What NOT to Do

Refueling can be a downfall for some people because they can easily go overboard with their post-workout feast snack. If you’re truly wanting to see results in your fitness and weight, you can’t go blowing all the progress you made during a workout with a refuel meal that sends you into a food coma! I’ve talked to a lot of people who are frustrated because they’re not seeing results from their workouts. Often, I find out that they’re going home after burning 300 calories on the elliptical and devouring a whole box of Girl Scout cookies or a huge plate of mac and cheese! Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional Girl Scout cookie or other indulgent treat, but again, if you want to see RESULTS in your fitness and weight, you need to be smart about refueling! You may feel ravenous after a long run or strength training session at the gym, but start by just consuming an average refuel meal, sipping some water or tea, and waiting for your food to start digesting. It’s easy to scarf down a lot of unnecessary calories as soon as you get home because you feel like you could eat the whole fridge. Pace yourself, eat slowly, and chew well. Listen to your hunger cues and stop when you feel satisfied – not stuffed. And in general, choose healthier options for refueling like whole-grain toast, milk, oatmeal, yogurt, and eggs, rather than hitting IHOP for a huge plate of flapjacks. 😉

Another mistake that is on the other side of the spectrum, but just as easy to do, is the mentality that because you just worked out (i.e., did something healthy) you’re going to continue your healthy habits by not eating AT ALL after your workout. FAIL. This isn’t going to help you in any way! You’ve just finished exhausting your muscles and pushing them to their limits…the best thing you can do now is give those muscles some protein and carbs to help them rebuild and grow! Don’t think you’re being “healthy” by denying yourself food for hours after a workout – get some good calories in your system ASAP so your body can start the rebuilding and refueling process.

Wedding Pics!

There’s always more to say and write about this topic, but I’ll end here and leave you with some pictures from my sister’s wedding last weekend! It was a blast…everything went so smoothly and we had a great time party-ing it up! 😀 So happy for my sis and her new husband!

My family!
My sister and I right before she walked the aisle!

 

Goin’ to the Chapel…

My sister will be tying the knot on Saturday! Wedding Countdown: 4 days!

This past week has been crazy – a frenzied mixture of cleaning, running errands, making phone calls, and other last-minute details! I can hardly believe my sis’s big day is almost here!

The beautiful bride-to-be!

Saturday night, the bachelorette party commenced! First, the girls all gathered at our house and we started with wine and presents:

Around 6:30, we headed over to Maggiano’s for dinner, which was delicious! My sister and I both ordered the Grilled Salmon Salad and were delighted this meal! A lot of the girls ordered pasta dishes and we all raved about how much we enjoyed our dinner. Maggiano’s is a great restaurant with a very peaceful and elegant atmosphere – perfect!

One side of the table!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a couple hours of giggling, wedding discussion, and delicious Italian food, we hit the road again and ended up at Bailey’s Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square. I had never been there before, but so many people have given it great reviews. My sister is a huge chocolate fan, so this was a perfect place to get dessert and drinks! The menu at the Chocolate Bar is amazing – unique, homemade desserts, fun drinks like Dark Chocolate Martinis, and much more! The lower level is more of a bar atmosphere but upstairs is very quiet more of a restaurant feel. The Chocolate Bar does also have a full dinner menu, although we stuck to dessert and drinks. I split the Flourless Malt Cake with my friend Sarah; it came with a scoop of coffee ice cream in the middle! I nibbled away at the cake for the most part, and Sarah took care of the ice cream – perfect set up for dessert sharing! The cake was rich and filling…just the way I like it! 🙂

Sporting our tiaras at The Chocolate Bar!

We made it home around 11:30…not the latest bachelorette party in the world, but we were all pretty tired and had almost lost our voices from talking and giggling for 6 hours! Sunday morning, I woke up with the worst headache, even though I didn’t drink at all at the party! (I was one of the drivers) I joked with my dad that it was a hangover without the alcohol. Not fun at all! I lazed around most of the morning and finally got dressed to join my family for lunch at Senor Pique. I felt so out of it during lunch and my stomach felt a little off, so I stuck with a marinated tilapia appetizer dish that was served with pico de gallo and avocado.

I knew I would feel better if I got in a short workout, so after lunch I headed to the gym to spend a little quality time on the

Spinach smoothie

elliptical. I ended up feeling inspired to pump some iron, so I knocked out a great upper-body workout that I made up as I went along. It felt so good to sweat and clear my head!

I came home and made another great spinach smoothie!These are my new go-to refreshment!

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Despite the craziness with the wedding preparations, I’ve still found time to take pictures of the Beagle…

“Are you seriously taking ANOTHER picture of me?!”
Squirrel Sighting!

I’ve also managed to get my health coaching website set up! Check it out: HopeDarby.com!  I’m accepting clients now! So excited. 😀

I’m off to edit and finalize my Maid of Honor speech for the reception on Saturday! Eeek!

Sneaky Spinach

For several years now, I’ve read post after post from bloggers who swear by the awesome “green smoothies” that they drink all the time. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical. Partly because these “green smoothies” include SPINACH, which sounded rather disgusting to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love spinach; I eat spinach salads quite often. But, putting  spinach in a SMOOTHIE? That didn’t sound very tasty to me. Every blogger that wrote about these wonderful green smoothies would always promise, “You can’t even taste the spinach!” and I always thought, “Oh reeeeeally?”   😉

Despite the odd color, this really was delicious!

Well, I finally decided to put my fears aside and give these spinach smoothies a try! I’d read somewhere on a blog (I think it was Julie’s) that the key to “not tasting the spinach” was to include a banana in the concoction.  With some trepidation, and a whole lot of skepticism, I threw some raw spinach into my blender, added some water, and sliced half a banana on top. After I’d given the blender plenty of time to completely liquefy the mixture, I added some frozen blueberries (just for fun) and some of my favorite vanilla protein powder.

After another minute or two of blending, I poured the green somewhat purple smoothie into a tumbler and dove in for a taste test! And      it was surprisingly delicious! I truly  couldn’t taste the spinach at all, and the smoothie basically tasted like banana-blueberry, with a hint of vanilla. Yum!  The best part of the whole creation was that I ingested about 2 cups of raw spinach, without even tasting it. Not that I mind the taste of spinach, but if I can eat it through a delicious banana-blueberry smoothie, why not? 🙂

So, there you have it! I’ve officially jumped on-board the green smoothie bandwagon.  😛  If you’re looking for a simple and delicious way to sneak some extra greens into your diet, give this a try! I promise, you really can’t taste the spinach.  😉

BASIC GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE:

      – 2 handfuls/cups of raw spinach

      – 1/2 banana

      – 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or other frozen fruit)

     – enough water to liquefy 

     – 1 scoop protein powder of your choice

      Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into an awesome tumbler of your depressing hometown football team, and enjoy with a straw!  😉

 

 

In other news…

– I got my VOTE on today! And I have a sticker to show for it.  😀  I went around 2pm and only had to wait 5 minutes in line! Win, win!

   – I’m going to knock out a couple more hours of studying and then I’m off to the Neon Night Run with Big River Running Company! A is going to meet me there and then spend the night afterward. Some hot tea and election-results viewing is definitely on tap for tonight!