Sunday, January 25

Fit(ter) in 15: Week 4

January's challenge is:
  • Monday/Thursday: 100 push-ups
  • Tuesday/Friday: 100 squats
  • Wednesday/Saturday: 100 crunches

How did I do this week?

So... In case you missed last week's episode... we had an unwelcome household guest: a nasty stomach virus. Between last Saturday night and about mid-day on Friday we each had a round of serious stomach upheaval... and a shocking number of days required for recovery. (My sick leave bank at work is all but empty now. Ugh.)
  • Monday: Hurling, heaving, and general unhappiness
  • Tuesday: More hurling, heaving, and general unhappiness
  • Wednesday: Subsisting on bananas and oatmeal... but at least the food is staying on this inside!
    • 100 squats + 100 push-ups + 60 toe-raises (trying to make up for lost time)
  • Thursday: More bananas and oatmeal
  • Friday: Starting to sort of feel normal
    • 100 squats + 50 push-ups (The kiddo climbed up on my back and I decided it was time to go outside and play instead...)
    • 4 mile walk pushing the kiddo in a jogging stroller (That counts as arm work, no?)
  • Saturday:
    • 4.5 mile run (9:30 average pace)
  • Sunday:


No core work this week.

Not a single crunch, plank, or sit-up.

And I'm not sorry about it, either.

I did enough puking to absolve myself of crunch responsibilities.

I'll get back on track next week.

I will say, though, that I look forward to a normal week next week. Saturday's squishy wet run - while slow, and soggy - felt like a welcome return to normalcy after a week of digestive disasters in our house!

For more posts in this series see Fitter in 15.

Sunday, January 18

Fit(ter) in 15: Week 3

January's challenge is this full-body strength training I nearly forgot the push ups. Hubby reminded me just as we were about to head to bed.

  • Monday/Thursday: 100 push-ups
  • Tuesday/Friday: 100 squats
  • Wednesday/Saturday: 100 crunches

How did I do?

  • Monday:
    • 100 push ups (And I gritted my teeth through every single one of them. Why, oh why, is it so easy some days and so very hard on others?)
  • Tuesday:
    • 100 squat-to-leg-lift
    • 2.5 mile run
    • 20 minutes yoga
  • Wednesday:
    • 100 crunches
  • Thursday:
    • 100 push ups (Seriously, are these getting harder instead of easier?!? I  nearly forgot the push ups, but Hubby reminded me just before bed. Phew!)
    • 1.25 mile run
  • Friday:
  • Saturday:
    • 100 crunches
    • Playground  time! 
  • Sunday:
    • Baby threw up every hour last night and Mama got zero sleep. Which means mama ain't doing a damned thing today besides resting and taking care of the pint-sized patient. 

Sunday, January 11

Fit(ter) in 15: Week 2

January's challenge is this full-body strength training challenge:
  • Monday/Thursday: 100 push-ups
  • Tuesday/Friday: 100 squats
  • Wednesday/Saturday: 100 crunches

How did I do this week?
  • Monday:
    • 100 (modified) push-ups
  • Tuesday:
    • 100 squats (50-with leg lift)
  • Wednesday:
    • 180 cruches (100 regular, 40 bicycle, 40 reverse-crunches) + 30-second plank... and a massive round of muscle spasms the following day. I think I overdid it a little, no?
  • Thursday:
    • 100 (modified) push-ups
  • Friday:
    • 100 squats (40 regular, 40 with leg-lift, 20 with a 25-pound weight... erm... I mean toddler!)
    • 1.5 mile run + 20 minutes on the stationary bike... Baby it's cold outside! (And icy.)
  • Saturday:
    • 100 crunches
  • Sunday:
    • 5.25 mile run

This week the sidewalks in the DC metro area were icy and temps were in the teens on the "warm" days.

The cold actually doesn't bother me. But the sidewalks were better suited to ice skating than running this week. so while I did plenty of skating walking, my run miles are anemic.

Thursday, January 8

In my kitchen: Ultimate winter couscous

It's 9 degrees outside in DC today.
Perfect weather for dinner that involves roasting... (Really, any excuse to turn the oven on is a good excuse on a day like today.)

So I did what any good cook would do, and made Yottam Ottolenghi's Ultimate Winter Couscous.
Warm. Delicious. Hearty... and Vegan.

2 medium carrots
2 medium parsnips
1 butternut squash
2 shallots
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp hot paprika
¼ tsp chili flakes*
8-12 dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 can chickpeas
1/2 cup water
1 cup couscous
Pinch of saffron threads
1 cup boiling vegetable stock (or water)
1 (extra) tbsp. olive oil
Harissa paste
1 preserved lemon skin, finely chopped
Salt (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and dice (1/2 inch cubes) carrots, parsnips, squash, and shallots.
Place the vegetables in a large ovenproof dish.
Add cinnamon, bay leaves, ginger, turmeric, paprika, chili flakes, 4 tablespoons of the oil, and a pinch of salt and mix well. Place the dish in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables and return them to the oven for an additional 20-30 minutes (until the vegetables have softened while retaining a bite).
Add the dried apricots, the chickpeas, and water. Stir.
Return the dish to the oven and cook for a further 15  minutes, or until hot.
Prepare couscous according to package directions (including vegetable broth, saffron, olive oil, and salt in the preparation).
To serve, spoon couscous into a deep plate or bowl. Stir the harissa and preserved lemon into the vegetables; taste and add salt if needed. Spoon the vegetables onto the centre of the couscous.

I should note that these instructions above are a bit different than in the original. I cooked all vegetables at the same time, instead of adding the squash after the carrots and parsnips. I liked the way the squash got soft and caramelized while the carrots retained a bite.

I also skipped star anise because I didn't have any on-hand.

*And last, but not least, with a toddler in the house, I used mild harissa and served the chili flakes alongside the dish at the table instead of roasting the vegetables with lip-numbing spices.

Sunday, January 4

Fit(ter) in 15: Week 1

January's challenge is this full-body strength training challenge:
  • Monday/Thursday: 100 push-ups
  • Tuesday/Friday: 100 squats
  • Wednesday/Saturday: 100 crunches

How did I do?
  • Monday: not a challenge day
    • 3.7 mile run (9:30 pace) not a challenge day

  • Tuesday: not a challenge day

  • Wednesday: not a challenge day
    • 20 minute body-weight workout (including 20 walk-down push-ups)

  • Thursday: The official first day of the challenge
    • 60 modified push-ups*
    • 4.75 mile run (8:40 pace)

  • Friday:
    • 100 squats (50 with side leg lift)

  • Saturday:
    • 100 crunches

  • Sunday:
    • 4 mile run (9:00 pace)
While it's only 3 days into the challenge (4 if you count the rest day) I'm on track so far!

*If I had known that Day 1 of the challenge would be push-ups, I wouldn't have done a killer upper body workout THE DAY BEFORE.

Friday, January 2

Fit(ter) in '15! Twelve months of fitness challenges

Every year I set a list of goals. Last year my sole fitness goals were:
...join a local running group, and survive the first year of baby-hood.
(That second one is harder than it sounds.)

This year my baby has grown into a speedy little toddler, and while I fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans and my biceps are fierce (lifting a 24 pound child a hundred times a day will do that...) my middle is squishier than it needs to be and I ran a measly 225 miles in 2014.

It's just too damned easy to consider an afternoon at the playground a "workout."
I need a kick in the pants.

So... 2015 will be the
Year of the Fitness Challenge
1 year. 12 months. 1 fitness challenge per month.

Before we get started, some stats:
Weight: 143.8 lbs
Fastest* mile: 7:56 (Oct. 2014)
Longest* run: 4.9 miles (Oct. 2014)
Max pull-ups: 3
Max push-ups: 60
Max crunches: ?
Max plank: ?
*In past 6 months

I considered kicking this plan off with plank-a-day, 30-day yoga challenge, or a run-streak, but after querying my friends and running buddies, and spending waaaay too much time on Google, this full-body strength training challenge called to me...

I started yesterday with 60 push ups after a 4.75 mile run.

(Yes... I know the list says 100. And I'm not making excuses. But I did a full workout with 30 walk-down-push-ups on Wednesday. Thursday was supposed to be a rest day!)

Next up... 100 squats!