Monthly Archives: April 2008

Simple, Lazy, Healthy Foods: Oatmeal

A few of the folks on Twitter will mention that they want me to come be their personal chef. First, I doubt they really do; they’ve never actually eaten anything I’ve cooked. Second, this makes me feel so good! I’m just your average “think how it will taste and throw it together” cook. Not trained, schooled or taught much.

In fact my mother started having me cook for our family when I was in 7th grade. I’d come home from school, give her a call, and she would tell me how to cook in about 5 minutes while she still continued working. So nobody every really stood near me and showed me anything.

I lived alone for about 7 years where I got lazy, then decided to learn a little bit about nutrition and eating. I’ve continued in very small ways since then. (very small = watching America’s Test Kitchen and Alton Brown’s Good Eats). I rarely consult a cookbook, and when I do, I’m often changing the recipe the first time I cook it.

So I’ll be posting some of my favorite simple healthy foods for a while. Let’s start at the beginning:

Steel-cut oatmeal.

I like the texture of this a bit better than the rolled variety. And I’m lazy.

Late in the evening, put 4 cups of water to boil. Just as it’s about to boil, add a little salt. Then add 1 Cup of steel-cut oats and stir them into the water for about 30 seconds. Cover the pot, turn off the heat and go to bed. In the morning, fully cooked oatmeal will be waiting. Scoop up one serving and nuke it. Put the rest away for the next 2-3 days.

Things I Love In My Oatmeal:

  • sliced fresh strawberries (hold the sugar)
  • spices: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves. These are supposed to help heal cell damage, but who really knows?
  • pears
  • bananas
  • walnuts chopped
  • almonds, chopped
  • maple syrup
  • liquid eggwhite or a whole egg. Add this after the oatmeal’s been heated, and it gently cooks it. When I need the extra protein that day.

I’ve gotten away from adding any sugar to this dish (shocking, I know), though I add a little Silk Unsweetened Soymilk to get a little more protein in there. This with a piece of fruit and coffee is my normal breakfast.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

One of my Faves

Thursday I got to do one of my favorite workout routines. I can’t say why I like it so, just know it makes me happy. It also tends to earn me lots of nods and looks from the guys I’m working around, so it can’t be all bad!

It’s all upper body all the time with a lot of Stable/Unstable Super Set combinations.

1. Assisted Dips. 3 sets/15. (Nice thing about assisted dips. You set the machine to counter-balance part of your body weight, so you don’t have to dip the whole thing. I’m actually working about 40-50# load).

2. Bench Press SuperSet. Move immediately from 2a to 2b without rest. Then give yourself about 45 seconds rest before starting again.

2a. Standard Bench Press, either flat or incline. 3 sets/15. I’ve started raising my legs up on the flat bench to get a bit more core work in during these moves.

2b. Unstable Bench. Sit on a swiss/exercise ball with an 8# weight in each hand. Roll down until the body is in bridge position with just your head/neck supported on the ball. Keep your hips up. 3 sets/20. Your hands come down slightly wider but not as low as on the stable bench. Do 1 arm presses. Begin with both arms over your head, lower only one arm and press up. Keep your body straight.

3. Row/Bicep Curl Super Set. Again, move from 3a to 3b without stopping and rest after completely both moves.

3a. I use the cable set-up to do one arm rows. 3 sets/ 15 reps each side. You can do seated rows, two arm rows, and stand on one leg to get lots of variety out of this.

3b. Standing One Legged Bicep Curls. 3 sets/10 reps on each foot. I use the 20# bar or 2 10# hand weights. Stand on one leg, straight and balanced. Squeeze weights up and slowly release the weight back down. If you concentrate on the curl, the balance seems to come more easily. Think about the balance and I can wobble fiercely.

4. Lat Pulldown/ Unstable Tricep Pushdown.

4a. Staying at the cable station, I do your standard Lat Pulldowns. Of course, 3 sets/15 most of the time. (I often like to finish this one up with a drop set and see how many reps I can complete before total fatigue).

4b. One legged tricep pushdowns. 3 sets/10 reps on each foot.Make sure the weight is fairly light (I pull the pin out and go with the lightest setting).

Throw some extra stretches in at the end to make sure you’re not too sore later. I’m usually walking down to the shower with a big honkin’ grin on my face after this!

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Mental Bench Pressing

I think it’s funny.

After my workout today, I paid a visit to my local library. Paid off my big, fat overdue library fine, and got my name removed from the “big, bad borrrowers list”.

It’s not my fault, really! I rely – rely – on the library’s email reminder that something is due. Somehow I got removed from that list. I don’t necessarily keep the checkout receipts, because I rely on the email.. so the books were all a little late. It’s the library’s fault for not reminding me, right?? Right? I know; grow up and act like a responsible adult.

Anyway, I checked out two books from the psychology section (155s?? is that psych?) in the library. One on identifying and using your unique gifts and the other making the right decisions at the right time. Harmless enough, and I may actually get something out of them.

The funny part? Their titles:

Pumping Inner Iron

Remember, I had just come from the gym.

Wonder what I would have picked up had I come from somewhere else, like my 2 hour dentist appointment or a session with the financial planner??
I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Queen of the Klutzes

Little known fact about me (or huge major fact depending on how well you know me):


Or, maybe I should say I have been Queen.

I am the gal who went white-water rafting, fell eating lunch and ended up on crutches for a week with a badly infected cut/sprained ankle.

I am the gal who walked her dog and broke her knuckle.

I am the gal who headed to the bathroom and fell on the patio, cracking nose, knees, hands and glasses.

I am the gal who a couple months ago missed the curb by Trader Joe’s and fell sprawling across a lane of traffic. (fortunately in the shopping center and nobody coming.) The scrape on my knee is still healing.

I’ve noticed, however, that most of my accidents occur because of inattentiveness. When I’m paying no attention to my physical surroundings, either because I’m focused completely on a situation or more typically because I’m anxious or depressed, I end up hurting myself.

Yes, I have less than ideal balance. That doesn’t help.

Yes, spraining the same ankle 5 times has screwed with my proprioception so my brain doesn’t always sense where I am in space.

Those things complicate the issue, but now I believe they are not the cause. Not being aware physically where I am. Not paying attention to my physical surroundings.

And this inattention is complicated by our “multi-tasking” society. Seems when we are thinking about what we will be doing in 5 minutes or 2 hours instead of what we are doing right now, our muscles can become tense; our movements, because of this tension, become more jerky and awkward, less smooth and graceful.

I’ve started to take a physical inventory each day when I bathe. Are there more bruises on my arms and legs? More small cuts and scrapes? Do I remember “close calls”?If so, I’ll take a little more time to study my breath, to slow things down a little. I’ll get just a bit more sleep.

I’m working on this.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday Workout

I figure I’m going to blog some of these just incase I lose my workout notebook. Atleast I have something to refer back to. I did not weigh myself this morning.

Tuesday Workout:

Cardio: treadmill. 5 minute warm up (-3 degrees, 3.5 MPH) Medium intensity 10 minutes: 4 mph/ 8 degree incline; 15 minutes medium high: 4 mph, 15 degree incline. 5 minute cool down: -3 degrees, 3 mph.

Stretch legs and hips.

Floor work for core/stability/balance (2 sets):

Bridge with extended leg. (an old stand by)
Swiss ball: Reverse crunch to push up. 10 reps (3 sets!!)
Wall Squats: legs wide/ legs close arms at sides 15 reps each.
Step-Up to Platform (One foot) with military press.
Done as a circuit with a 30 second rest before repeating.

OK.. we had to do the step ups on a stool for weight lifting. It was padded. I was wearing the wrong shoes. IT WAS FRAKING HARD. I kept unbalancing and getting frustrated. Guido made me do 10 on each side anyway. It took a lot longer than we expected. I hated it. I told him I couldnot do it anymore. He STILL made me do it. It was probably good for me.

Leg Press. One leg. 10 reps on right leg/15 on left. 25#/35# Only bring in until knee is at 90 degrees; no acute angles today.

Bench Press. (modified: barbells angled, even with nipples, lower until elbows are just greater than 90 degrees. Press up.)

We ran out of time to do the unstable bench press sets along with this. (sigh) I was hoping for some one arm unstable bench presses where someone else told me what arm to use when. Maybe next time.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tale of the Scale: week of 4/13

I finally thought I’d get my Tale of Scale piece worked out early in the week. I wonder if this means that by Thursday I’ll be itching to share something else with you? (I hope so).

I noticed last week that I’m physically running outta gas during some of workouts. Let me tell you, lying on a bench with 2 20# hand weights resting on your belly, knowing you’re going to press them over your body… and feeling your muscles seem shaky and weak is not the formula for confidence and success.

Seems like low blood sugar, so I guess I’m not timing my eating well enough. But wait.. aren’t I supposed to be entering stages where my body is using the energy I have stored to complete these tasks? (Note to self: read that slow twitch/fast twitch information again. This time until you understand it).

Today I made sure I had a good lunch about 1.5 hours before my workout. And as I was pumping gas on the way to the gym, I snacked on an apple and a couple almonds. Pleased to report that the shakes did not appear.

I entered the gym thinking that I wouldn’t do much cardio. Hah! I am so fickle! Instead of “not much” cardio, I went for some high-intensity interval training where I believe I determined my safe maximum heart rate. I’m not completely sure because at the point that I was killing, the heart rate monitor on the cross-track machine jumped from 150 up to 215 before settling down at a saner 165. One minute at that rate (lets pretend it was all 165) would be rated (by me) as a PE of 9 or 10. I could maintain that effort for one minute, two at the max.

Considering for my age the “prescribed maximum heart rate” for my age is 140, I will proudly say that I am aerobically about age 40! Now I have to remember to work to my potential and ignore those charts.

Sadly, after that point I let the mental defeated attitude take over too much of my workout. One of the tricks is to remember that our brains quick before our bodies do. The real secret to success is to push through when the brain is saying: NO, NO, NO. That’s where change happens.

Today, when my brain would say: No, I was pretty much saying: OK. Worked out but did not work to failure or complete fatigue.

I let myself down.

This mental part of the workout is the hard thing for me. I need help with this. The fabulous trainer, Guido, hasn’t been around for almost a month, or he would be coaching me through this, Instead, I’m on my own. And I will gladly take any suggestions offered.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tale of the Scale: Resources

As I continue along my fitness journey, I’m finding it fun to look for information on my own. Haven’t found the exactly what I want; but I’ve found enough to learn a few things and change up my individual workouts a bit.

What would be perfect? A workout template or workout plan that more closely corresponded with the workout I actually do.

Don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of workout plans online. I could choose to do many of them. However, most of the ones for women are designed to NOT use freeweights or cable machines. They are designed for workouts at home with light or no weights. The best of these workouts emphasize moves on a Swiss ball (exercise ball). Since 1/3 to 1/2 of each workout is floor work, at least I can pull on these for switching up some of my moves on the mat.

Other exercise templates are weight lifting plans. These appear (to me) to be designed for men who are working out to be buff and big. Yes, I can adjust these workouts by the weight I use, but it feels more intense than I normally want.

Since I’m not concentrating on my weight anymore, maybe I’ll start detailing some of my workout plans. That way I can see when/where I need to change things up over time.

In the meantime, some inspiration for other women who are exercise fans:

Mizfit. She blogs fitness in a funny, honest fairly bad-ass way.

FitnessFixation. Lots of great information, but obscenity-rich text so be forwarned. LOTS of information. Much of it for the professional, but also helpful.

Stumptuous. Serious weight lifting for women. I consume stumptuous.

Women’s Health Magazine

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.