staying hungry : two protein-packed meals

As we chatted about on Tuesday, I’m currently channeling my inner body builder and doing P90x. Which means that protein is my new BFF.

I’ve been upping doses of the usual suspects: egg whites, greek yogurt, beans, and all things carnivorous, for starters. But these two meals have helped to mix things up a bit!

This bowl is kind of like a thick smoothie you can eat with a spoon. Which means it’s basically ice cream you can eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner. And who isn’t on board with that?! Here’s the basic rendition:

The Beginner Bowl:

  • 1 frozen banana, cut up into chunks
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • sliced fruit for toppings

This is so easy: put everything (minus the fruit) in the food processor and blend until smooth. Top with fruit and you’re good to go!

But really…if you want to have a good day…you want to make this one:

The Real Deal:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate cocoa power (1 more gram of protein!)
  • 2 Tbsp powdered peanut butter (5 grams of protein!)
  • slice fruit for toppings

Same situation. Blend and enjoy!

Next on the list: quinoa! My lunch feels weird if there’s nothing green on my plate. I just really like vegetables, especially in the middle of the day. To up the protein quotient of my normal salad I made this savory quinoa to go along with it (if you’re feeling especially in need of protein you could add grilled chicken or fish, too!):

Lemon Balsamic Quinoa:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4-6 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook your quinoa as per usual. Once cooked, fluffed with a fork, and slightly cooled, add in the balsamic, lemon juice, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add to your salad and enjoy!

Do you guys have any suggestions for protein powerhouses? I’m always looking for new ideas! Shout ’em out in the comments!

staying athletic : P90x

So, I’m doing P90x.

For those of you who haven’t seen the turn-yourself-into-the-Hulk infomercials, P90x is an extreme at-home fitness program based on the principle of muscle confusion, which basically means your body never gets a chance to plateau.

It also means you will feel every muscle in your body in ways that you never have before.

I mentioned in passing to the family I nanny for that someday in the far and distant future when I am much more lean and muscular than I am right now I wanted to give P90x a try. Imagine my surprise when they answered, “Oh! We have it! You should totally take it home and try it!”

I think this is what the old sage meant when he advised, “Be careful what you wish for.”

But honestly, their generosity has been a huge (HUGE!) blessing. I LOVE P90x! Here are just a few reasons why:

  • I don’t have to pay for a gym membership anymore. Even though I love access to cable Planet Fitness and it’s 1/10th of the price of other gyms, it’s still nice not to pay a monthly fee. Especially since the only thing I do is run and running outside is free.
  • I don’t have to go to the gym anymore. Now, this one isn’t entirely a bonus because previously I had been meeting my friend Karen at the gym fairly frequently and that was the best part of the whole deal. But aside from that, it’s nice not to have to drive an extra 15 minutes, take the time to get changed, workout, get changed again, and drive home. Now…I just drive home and workout and when I’m done…I’m already home! Major bonus.
  • It keeps me accountable. There are 6 different workouts and one rest day for each week. If you miss a day, it’s doable to catch up again, but that prospect is so unappealing because it either means doubling up (basically impossible for normal humans) or rearranging the schedule (change a schedule?!) so you really don’t want to miss a day. There is no such accountability for the gym. What there is with the gym is a pile of “reasonable” reasons not to go. Too tired/not enough time/don’t want to spend the gas money/I’ll just run when I get home or maybe walk instead or maybe work extra hard tomorrow instead? Yep, I’ve used them all and then some! Before this I thought that I was working out consistently. I honestly did. But what I’ve learned since starting P90x a month ago was that I had been intending to work out consistently. What I was actually doing was making excuses consistently. With P90x, there is literally no reason why I can’t fit 6 workouts into 7 days, and no desire not to.
  • It gives me over an hour of uncluttered mental space 6 days a week. Tony Horton, the mastermind behind P90x and leader of each workout, is great at starting with a reminder to clear your head and get your mind right. I get to stay present in the moment: no thinking about to-do lists or tomorrow’s activities or what to make for dinner. It’s the type of mental discipline I’d like to achieve 24 hours a day, but an hour a day is a good start.
  • It’s HARD. For real…it’s hard. I started a month ago but because I’m crazy because I appreciate a job well done I restarted with Day 1 again last week. It took me the first 3 weeks to really acclimate to the workouts and the schedule and just figure out what I was doing so I wanted to start from scratch and start strong. What surprised me was how much of a difference those short first 3 weeks made even though they were full of stumbles; I even graduated from 5lb weights to 8lb weights! (Seriously…this was a big accomplishment for my cardio-lovin, no-weight-training-ever-please, self.)
  • I love the variety. You don’t have a chance to get bored because the program is always changing. There are 12 DVDs and a schedule that changes every 3 weeks!

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be doing jump squats in my living room until further notice.

staying inspired : easter edition

Things that made today so wonderful:

:: hope ::

“The Lord is alive and well in your heart. His resurrection resulted in Christ taking up residence in your soul and transforming your life. By faith you believed and God gave you grace upon grace. Because He has risen from the grave, He has given all who confess Him as Lord, abundant grace on earth and the promise of heaven with Him. “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” Romans 5:7. He is all you need.”

– Boyd Baily, Wisdom Hunters Devotionals

:: chocolate ::

(Which is loosely related to hope.)

:: running ::

no excuses

holiday

No excuse for my mom and me not to go for a little run around the block.

(Where she ran her FIRST, but definitely not last, outdoor mile!!!)

:: sports ::

1. Watching Bubba Watson win the Masters in “double overtime.” (Thank you, Mom, for that.)

2. Watching Moneyball : “He hit a home run and he didn’t even know it.” (Thank you, Jonah Hill, for that.)

Really, what else could you ask for? Faith, food, family, fitness and fun. All of my favorite things on a beautiful, meaningful day. Hope you guys had a great day, too! Happy Easter, everyone!

beka stays athletic : a lucky run

I’ve done a lot of interesting things on St. Patrick’s Day.

And no, not the typical interesting things that happen on St. Patrick’s Day. These are interesting things that are not under the influence of alcohol.

Having spent a large percentage of my life as a competitive Irish dancer I’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in a variety of ways: dancing in parades, dancing on morning shows, dancing in supermarkets…the list goes on and on. But one thing I’ve never done on St. Patrick’s Day?

Go for an 8.5 mile run.

Go for an 8.5 mile run in 60 degree weather.

Go for an 8.5 mile run in 60 degree weather in ROCHESTER. (This phenomenon rarely happens in May, let alone March.)

It was a revelation.

I’d like to thank the sun for deciding to shine, Dierks Bentley for singing “Free and easy down the road I go” during my half way turn around point, and my pants for continually falling down – establishing the sentiment early on that there was no pride involved in this run. Which really helped facilitate my legs continuing to move when I felt like I was going slower than molasses in January. No shame.

On top of that, I also went to the public market, got a package I’d been waiting on, did my taxes, spent time with a friend while we were both being productive, made homemade Larabars, and talked to my parents on Skype.

I also avoided stepping directly in vomit from the stream of people outside my window who are clearly enjoying the festivities of the day. Luckily there are plastic bags attached to everyone’s railings for special moments like that.

If only I were kidding.

All in all, the luck of the Irish was upon me. What a great day!

beka stays athletic : it runs in the family

This just in:

The woman who brought you lessons in geography, politics, and coffee keeping is now taking on a new endeavor:

Running a 5k.

Seriously.

Let’s talk about this.

For as long as I can remember my mom and I have gone on walks together. It’s a tradition that was passed down by my mom’s mom, who I also remember going on lots of long walks with (when she was in her 80’s!). The assumption is that after dinner on a nice night the question “want to go for a walk?” will be raised and answered affirmatively.

(Now that I live 3 hours away and no longer go home for the summer, going on walks with my mom (and then going out for soft serve with my dad) is by far the thing I miss most about home.)

But in all of that walking there has never been any running. Until the past year or so, when my mom would run short stretches whenever she felt so inclined – during a walk, on her way to and from her car in the parking lot, etc. And when she did feel so inclined, she always reported back with positive feelings about the experience.

So the last time I was home, I floated an idea.

“You know, I think I’m going to come home to do a 5k in June. We could do it together!”

The idea did not float. It sank like a boulder.

“Pshhhh. Yeah, right!” was the response I received.

Then there was some coaxing, some trial running around the block, some training plans, some more coaxing – all covered by the assurance that we could always walk it if running didn’t pan out.

I came back to Rochester and left her in possession of an easy walk/run plan (walk a minute, run a minute, adding one run minute per week) and the power to do with it as she wished – no pressure either way.

A week later, she had ditched my plan.

She was already running for 30 minutes straight.

And had only fallen off the treadmill once!

Now, the 65 year old woman who had never run a mile in her life, who laughed at the idea of ever being able to run a 5k, is taunting me with threats that she’s out to beat my time. Walking isn’t even a consideration anymore. She’s going to run this and run it well.

I couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m cut from that cloth.

(See you at the finish line, Mom. You’ll probably beat me to it!)

beka stays painfully honest : a new endeavor (and a new blog!)

Perhaps I’ve missed my calling. I may need to look into becoming a professional blog creator, because apparently that’s what I do.

But not to worry, there’s no need to change bookmarks or addresses in Google Reader. This blog, as per the title, isn’t going anywhere. I LOVE this blog; I could never abandon it! But I think I may have taken the “staying” part a little too literally as of late. Like as an invitation to “stay” in my sweatpants, “stay” huddled in front of my TV, “stay” away from anything that is not composed of sugar and/or chocolate.

You might say I’m in a health and fitness rut.

You might also say that it doubles as a general life rut.

And disclaimer: this did not start with not being able to run for over a month, although that didn’t help. It did not start with continued career confusion (which I’ll be sharing at a later date…because those posts are so few and far between for me…). It didn’t even start over the summer when I was working 80 hours a week and couldn’t remember my first/last/middle name.

Nope, I’ve been digging this hole for awhile, thanks to a keen sense of denial and an affinity for avoidance. I’m hardly in the depths of despair. (People, please. The Packers went 15-1 this season.) But I’m not living joyfully, up to my full potential, either.

My answer to these problems has been really exemplary: eat more, work out less; sigh more, act less; stay in sweatpants more, shower less.

I’m sure my badge of honor is in the mail as we speak.

Oh goodness, it’s time for a change. A big one.

So I’m doing a 24 Day Challenge and starting a new blog.

Clearly.

It probably sounds like the least plausible solution…but trust me, it all makes sense in the end. Just hop over to the new companion blog, beka thrives, for more details. For at least the foreseeable future, beka thrives will be the blog home of the 24 day challenge and my new endeavor to get into the best shape of my life. To make a mental change by way of a physical change.

And to stop looking for the answers to life’s questions in my pantry.

And to be painfully honest in the process.

And to do it all without coffee or chocolate or sugar for 24 DAYS…

Oh, Lord. Be near.

beka stays athletic : and stupid

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Anyone who has had the displeasure of my company this week knows that this is true.

I used to be a dancer. Part of that equation meant stretching on a regular basis. Once I stopped dancing I also stopped stretching on a regular basis. Which was dumb because since then I’ve taken up working out on a very regular basis…with no stretching to be seen before, during, or after said workouts.

Which is probably why running, jumping, and/or flights of stairs and I aren’t seeing eye to eye right now.

Rumor has it that my IT band is bearing the brunt of my bad decision making. It’s also the reason why I haven’t done any real workouts in almost a week…and why I’m such a joy to be around.

So my goal of running 1,000 miles this year has hit a bit of a bump in the road…but it’s FAR from over. Luckily it’s early enough that I still have time to catch up once I figure out how to get off the IT bandwagon. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Anyone have a one way ticket back to working form? Anyone?

beka stays authentic : you will still sleep tonight if you don’t read this [part II]

1. I’m craving coffee in the worst way right now. Not as a caffeinated entity, but just in all of it’s pure, freshly ground, good to the last drop glory. This probably has something to do with the fact that I’m obsessed with Finger Lakes’ Kranberry Kreme blend, but still, I seriously contemplated going to bed early because it would get me that much closer to waking up and making coffee.

2. I also contemplated going to bed early because I’m the kind of overtired that makes a person useless to the world. Literally: useless. Which may explain point number three…

3. I accidentally kicked my Nalgene bottle over tonight, spilling it’s contents onto the wood floors. Since my apartment is not unlike Pisa in that it leans significantly to the left, the waterfall began gaining momentum towards the wall where all of my electronics live. I responded by sitting there and watching the glug, glug, glug of flowing water for several moments before having the presence of mind to pick up the water bottle. Then, noticing the impending doom approaching my laptop/internet/hard drive/camera/printer, I did what any normal person would do.

I took off my pants. I took off my fleece pants so quickly you would have thought they were on fire and threw them and myself onto the floor to act as a barricade.

It was at this point that I started to wonder why a towel wouldn’t have afforded the same benefit with a less shameful result. Why this didn’t occur to me pre-stripping is a mystery only point number two can answer. And because I was a) wet, b) tired, and c) annoyed at the time I didn’t find this whole situation very amusing. But now that it’s just a few hours later I think it’s hysterical. I crack up every time I replay the moment when I decided that bolting out of my clothing was clearly the best answer to the problem at hand.

4. I’m going to Trader Joe’s in less than one week. I already have a list of a dozen items I can’t wait to bring home. Joy to the World.

5. 5 – as in the number of days until Christmas. This pains me. I need more time! I need more snow!

6. Today at the gym I was contemplative. I ran 6 ugly miles. They were ugly because I was SO not into them so they felt extra long and laborious. But that’s not the point. The point is that while I ran I looked around and saw many a female sweating it out on their workout machinery of choice. And I wondered, as I often do, what their ultimate goal was – to lose weight? to stay healthy? to be happy? And then I listened to conversations in the locker room – about Christmas cookies, how it’s not safe to bake them and keep them in the house, why it’s almost time to really buckle down for a new batch of weight loss resolutions. And then I wondered how much time we as a gender spend thinking about things like this – how we look in the mirror, how we look compared to the girl next to us in the mirror, how much weight we want to lose, how many calories are in our Christmas cookies, how many minutes on the elliptical equal how many Christmas cookies we want to eat?

And then I thought: what if we stopped? What if we stopped constantly (oh, constantly!) thinking about body image? Stopped degrading ourselves, torturing with comparisons, killing joy with calculations? What if we just stopped the insanity?

How much more brain space would we have for things that actually matter? Like being present in the moment, enjoying food and exercise as blessings and not punishments, realizing that life is bigger, better, more important than a number on a scale?

I am the guiltiest of the guilty. I need a change in my perspective. But those are just the thoughts I was thinking today. And I thought I’d share them with you too. Girls, what do you think? Have you ever been in this boat?

7. Along the same lines, I spent oodles of time pouring over this blog tonight. Andie’s story is filled with inspiration, honesty, reality, and – perhaps most importantly – kindness. It’s definitely worth stopping by and reading a few (thousand) wise words.

8. I’m going to bed now. (Which means only a few more hours until coffee!)

beka stays in rochester : hitting the streets

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pinned here via here

I love being outside. I always prefer outdoor seating at restaurants. I could walk around my neighborhood for hours without getting the slightest bit bored. Give me a camera to take along and the day is pretty much done. I’ll be out rolling around in the grass taking pictures of acorns until sunset.

But running outside? Yeah, I pretty much hate it.

This boggles my mind and frustrates me to no end. I enjoy running. I enjoy being outside. Therefore, one could logically conclude that A + B  = C. Except in my case A + B = I enjoy running inside and doing all other things outside.

I can think of three reasons for this conundrum. 1 – I like knowing the facts. I like knowing how far I ran, at what pace, for how long, and how many calories I shaved off in the process. This is highly control-freaky but I work best when I can see tangible results in all areas of life, workouts included. 2 – I like not having to worry about crossing streets/falling into potholes/tripping over trash…because we all know that lacking grace is one of my most developed spiritual gifts. The treadmill doesn’t throw anything unexpected in my way, and as someone prone to falling face first into the unexpected, I appreciate that. 3 – Let’s be honest. I can watch Sports Center and Giada at Home on the treadmill…and I appreciate that too.

So when the urge to throw on workout clothes and go for a run outside hit me last Sunday I took full advantage. I changed in the blink of an eye and headed out before I could change my mind. I listened to the Packers game until my phone decided it didn’t want to work and ran in silence the rest of the way. And then I remembered that I like running without audio distractions because I always end up praying. I ran in the dark sans phone/iPod almost every morning while working in Admissions and it was the best possible way to start every day. (A practice I was quick to forget once I left Admissions and selectively remembered only the waking up pre-dawn and running in the first 5 minutes of consciousness parts.)

On Sunday I ran down my street, turned onto East Ave, and went down to Main to see the flagpole-turned-Christmas-tree at the intersection before turning around and running back to my apartment.

It was just wonderful.

The sun was setting when I left and as daylight faded I got to see the city all aglow with Christmas decorations. I was so entertained by passing countless restaurants and stores and homes and people. And when I ran over the highway, with the sun sinking low and casting it’s last light over the city, I felt like I was in one of those scenes from a movie I’ve always wanted to be in. One with a girl living in a city who get a sudden burst of determination and goes out for a run against a breathtaking urban backdrop. Whenever I see a scene like that I always think, “I wish I could run in a place like that.”

Well it turns out I can! When I was running on Sunday I was (yet again) overwhelmed with gratitude for my little Rochester life. I’ve literally been given everything I wanted in a place to live and then some.

So with that in mind, along with incorporating more running back into my life (seriously, there’s a running revolution going on over here…quick calculation: I think I ran well over 25 miles this week – 8 on Friday alone!), I’m going to make a conscious effort to get off the treadmill and onto the street more often. It’s a good decision in all respects.

beka stays thankful

Bleeding, sappy heart that I am, I often wax poetic about things I love and am abundantly blessed by. But if I had to boil it down to the basics, I’d say I’m most thankful for the following:

(faith)

(family and (newly engaged!!!) friends)

(freedom)

(food)

IMG_8695

(football)

(flurries and fitness (especially when they coincide, as they did this morning!))

I love this day! And this life!

Hope you all are having a lovely Thanksgiving too. Hug your friends! Tell your family you love them! And please, have an extra slice of pie. Especially if it’s Coconut Cream.