Monthly Archives: August 2014

Early Morning Run + Core Combo Using Power Bands + Blueberry Bliss

As I mentioned yesterday, the morning weather in Charlotte has been unbelievable for some outdoor workouts. I’m cleared to run again, so I over the past three weeks, I have been easing back into a comfortable pace. On a good day, prior to being sick, I was running a 7:30 mile pace over 3-4 miles. Post sick/vacation, I am running 8:45-9:00 minute miles. I will probably not be the first to tell you that expecting yourself to be at the same physical level after several weeks off is not realistic. Trying to get back to that place too fast can result in a serious injury. photo 3-103

This morning’s run was three miles at a perfect tempo. As my watched beeped after each mile, I looked down to see my mile split hovering right at 8:45. Nice and relaxed. I followed up my workout with a few exercises using body weight and a power band. These bands are awesome for targeting core muscle groups while building strength at the same time (they are also cheap!). These exercises don’t take long to do and are great for building core muscles to not only make your running better, but they can also help prevent injury.

photo 2-120

I ran through the following exercises sequentially, doing 30 reps each. I then repeated the sequence of exercises doing 20 reps each (for a total of 50 reps).

Standard Crunches (no band)

Toe Taps (no band) – Knees raised to 90 degree angle, shins parallel to the ground. Lower your legs SLOWLY, until your toes tap the ground. Slowly raise your legs back up to start.

Hip Raise w/band – Lying flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, place the band around your quads. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders. As you raise your hips, make sure that your knees stay in the same position by slightly pressing the band apart and engaging your glutes. Lower to start.

Pushups (no band)

Squats w/band – Again, place band around your quads. Lower into a squat while squeezing the band outwards. Return to start.

Plank w/leg raise (no band) – Holding a plank, raise your right leg, and then lower it back to start. Repeat on left side, alternating sides. Complete 30 each leg.

Ankle Taps (no band) – Raise yourself up in a standard crunch position, alternating tapping your right and then your left ankle. Make sure that your feet are not too close. Make this hard! Reach.

Dips (no band) – I literally did these off the side of my couch.

Side leg raise w/band (30 each side) – Lying on your left side, place band around the bottom part of your shin. Your right leg should be elevated at the start so that there is no slack in the band. Raise your right leg 1-2 inches higher (stretching the band) and lower back to start (remember don’t let the band slack).

Whew! Within 40 minutes, I got a good cardio/core combo workout in. Fuel time! I mentioned last week that I had gotten a big sample box of new Luna bar flavors compliments of Clifbar. Let me talk about my first bar! I threw a few in my work bag to put in my desk drawer. Any of these bars are a PERFECT snack to hold me over during the work day.

photo 4-70 Victim #1 was the Blueberry Bliss bar. When I typically pick out a nutritional bar, I like to go for chocolate. I have a soft spot for chocolate, so I will be the first to say that I would likely never pick this flavor if I was going shopping at the grocery store. Coincidentally, I also have a soft spot for Pop Tarts, but I know how bad they are for me, so I only let myself buy them a few times a year (before I shamelessly throw half the box away when they go stale). This bar solved two problems! No joke, dare I say this thing tastes as heavenly as a blueberry Pop Tart (and I don’t have to buy a whole box!)? So no throwing away?

photo 1-117 The bar is by far healthier for me than a Pop Tart. Get this. Luna Bars are 70% organic. They are also high in calcium and folic acid (hence why they are good for the ladies). We all need a lot of this. Especially when we are pregnant! Did I mention 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber? You have completely lost the taste of those bland protein bars and fiber bars and replaced it with an almost entirely organic treat. I highly recommend!

photo 1-118I mentioned it earlier in the week, but I actually physically got my new FiA gear!  Under Armour pullover, tank and some koozies just in time for tailgating season!  This logo is going to be all over Charlotte just like F3 soon.  Get there!

Monday Morning Driveway Workout

Whoa! College football starts this week, and you better believe that the weather in Charlotte is gearing up for fall. With temperatures in the 60s the past two mornings, I have taken advantage of some outdoor workouts. Before I know it, I will be stuck in the basement doing workouts to stay warm! Today’s workout took approximately 30 minutes.

photo 4-7

I utilized two ten pound dumbbells and my driveway (which has a slight incline and is about 30 feet long). If you checked out my out of town workout, you should be able to follow what I did Monday morning pretty easy. The theme was “stacking”. That means I would start at the bottom of my driveway doing 5 repetitions, run up the driveway do 10, run back to start, do 15, run up the driveway, and finish with 20 (before restarting with a new exercise). Before starting the workout, place one dumbbell at one end of your driveway and one dumbbell at the other end of your driveway.

photo 4-19 Warm up – I utilized the length of my driveway to complete an active warm up. Start at bottom of driveway (where the incline begins).

  • Jog up the driveway and back.
  • Run up the driveway and back (so a little faster).
  • High knees up the driveway, jog back.
  • Side shuffles, left leg leading, up and back.
  • Side shuffles, right leg leading, up and back.
  • Butt kicks up the driveway, jog back.

Workout – Following the stacking progression described above, complete the following exercises sequentially. For clarification, I will go through the first exercise progression.

  • 5 pushups at bottom of driveway
  • Run to other end of driveway
  • 10 pushups
  • Run back to start
  • 15 pushups
  • Run to other end of driveway
  • 20 pushups
  • Run back to start

Complete the same sequence doing the following exercises:

  • Walking lunges – Hold dumbbell with both hands. I went up the incline of my driveway. Do the recommended reps for each leg, so 10, 20, 30, 40 total. You will likely have to turn around when you get to the higher reps. That’s fine. Run back to the designated spot (and yes, you will be running with a dumbbell in your hand).
  • Shoulder Taps
  • Squats (holding dumbbell with both hands)
  • Knee to Elbow Plank (5,10,15,20 each leg – 10,20,30,40 total)
  • Bicep Curls (5,10,15,20 each arm – 10, 20,30,40 total)
  • Triceps Extension (Hold dumbbell with both hands overhead. Lower dumbbell behind head until you get just below 90 degrees. Extend)
  • Kettlebell swings (with a dumbbell)

This is the kind of workout where I finished and my legs felt wobbly. I knew that I was going to be sore. As weird as this may sound, I love a good leg work out that makes me feel this way. Soreness at this level is my muscles getting stronger.


After following up a three day run of teaching at Flywheel with a tough strength workout, I was ready to pack in a protein filled breakfast. I have been asked in the past few weeks to post one of my breakfast recipes, so here we go.


  • 1 English Muffin
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1/2 slice pepperjack cheese
  • 1 banana (on the side)

I literally pour the liquid egg whites into a mug and throw it in the microwave.  Heat until cooked through (approximately 1 minute 30 seconds).  Slice english muffin in half. Using a toaster oven, place cooked egg evenly on open face of english muffin.  Layer with the cheese.  Toast until you reach desired crispiness (that means awhile for me).  You can clearly alter this recipe with toppings, cheese or even bread!

photo-46We are living off of one our summer chili recipes this week.  I posted a similar recipe when I first started the blog.  Lots of seasonings and extremely healthy!

photo 3-102I do want to take a second in this post to document a HUGE milestone for our sweet girl. She is walking!  Look at the pink sneakers:

photo 2-118I also want to share a funny moment from the weekend also involving my daughter.  I met my husband and daughter for breakfast Sunday morning after my Flywheel class.  That meant that my husband was responsible for getting our daughter dressed (including hair).  This was the result.  Bless his heart.



Playing Catch Up + Healthy Thai Recipe + Back to My Routine

I continue to play catch up with my blog. Since we got back from vacation, we have been going nonstop. We flew back late Sunday evening and went straight to work on Monday, so dinners last week were quick and easy recipes (which eventually turned into take out by Thursday night). I posted my “in a hurry” taco salad from last Monday, but I also wanted to share one of the other diverse meals that I made during the week (again taking less than 20 minutes to put together).

photo 1-115 My husband and I are big fans of Thai food (very spicy); however, if you aren’t careful Thai food can be very unhealthy for you. With just a few tweaks, I turned this recipe into a hearty, healthy meal. To save time, I bought two bags of premade stir-fry vegetables. In one of these bags, you typically get a decent portion of snap peas, broccoli, broccoli slaw and carrots. Regardless of how big the bag looks when it is in the refrigerator, the vegetables shrink as they cook. Two bags works in a large sauce pan. I also picked up the following ingredients:

  • A bottle of Sweet Chili Sauce
  • A bottle of Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Approximately 1-1.5 pounds of chicken
  • 1 package of Ready-To-Serve brown Rice (2 bowls)

To make this easy recipe, follow these steps:

  • Heat large saucepan on medium-high heat.
  • Add 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce and chicken. Brown chicken until it is cooked entirely through.
  • Add both bags of vegetables.
  • Add 2 tbsps low sodium soy sauce.
  • Add 2 tbsps sweet chili sauce.
  • Stir mixture, cover, and let cook for 10-15 minutes (or until vegetables are tender).

At this point I typically do a taste test to see if I need a little more soy sauce or chili sauce. Remember, if you are cooking for others who like their food more or less spicy, you can opt to add additional seasoning to their bowl upon serving. Sometimes, we will also throw some Sriracha sauce on top! How green and delicious does this meal look?

photo 2-117

I was certainly motivated to get my eating back on track last week. I was also motivated to get my workout routine back. Y’all, being sick added onto a ten day trip out of town, meant that I was off my routine for almost three weeks! Torture. If you follow my blog regularly, you know that FiA (Females in Action) and Flywheel are two of my key regular workouts. I was back at both last week.

photo 3-48

Wednesday I squeezed in a forty-five minute Tabata workout at the Metropolitan FiA bootcamp. Let me just say, I went to my first FiA workout only a few months ago, and I can tell that I have already made some lifelong friends. Over the course of me being out, I truly missed this group (and they missed me). I want to thank all of the amazing FiA athletes that not only noticed that I was missing, but took the time to reach out to make sure that I was okay. I am happy to be back with the group.

photo 3-101

If you are unfamiliar with what a “tabata” workout is, let me give you an idea. Two words – high intensity. Pick any exercise. Over 4 minutes, go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. Do that 8 times. After a quick warm up, we started our tabata workout, completing 4 sets of exercises over 4 minute periods each:

  • Box Jumps
  • Alternate mountain climbers with frog jumps
  • Run back and forth across the field
  • Alternate plank jacks and burpees

We followed this up with abs and hip exercises. Planning a tabata workout is not easy. The “Q” (person who leads) did a great job engaging the transitions through music. I have to admit that I was tired after this workout. It is funny how much harder you work when you are pushed by other people. I ordered some FiA apparel a few weeks ago that finally arrived! As soon as I get it, I look forward to sharing some pictures!


Finally, I want to finish this post (and wrap up about last week) by saying how great it felt to be back on the bike. I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous. Maybe not nervous, but I had the butterflies being back the first day. I really struggled over the time that I was out accepting that fact that I truly needed to take some time off from the job that I felt so passionate about. I never realized how much I enjoyed teaching until I was forced to take a break. With that said, the support from the riders at Flywheel has also been tremendous. Thank you for showing up to support me all weekend long! We have a lot of good times to look forward to.

Part 2: New York Trip – Horse Racing

Part two of our New York trip update will revolve entirely on the third main objective of our trip:  horse racing (if you missed yesterday’s post, I blogged about the first two:  food and family).  Since my husband was a child, he has spent days upon days researching jockeys, horses, and owners. It was through small bets growing up, that he says he actually learned how to do math.  I don’t doubt that his ability to analyze odds didn’t attribute to him eventually earning a degree in computer science.  Oddly enough, until I met my husband, the sport of horse racing was just an annoying sporting event that replaced shows that I wanted to watch on random Saturday afternoons.


It didn’t take much for me to be convinced that I was missing out.  I went to my first race at Saratoga during the summer of 2010 (see picture above).  It was the first time that I actually visited my husband’s home.  At the time, the track was only open during a few weeks in August (which is ultimately why we make plans to visit during track season).  Since then, the track has added some additional days to the schedule in July.  Even on a dreary day, the excitement and anticipation of every race is incredible.  Not to mention the people watching.

photo 4-75

photo 2-112It was around the time that I started going to races that my sister-in-law Lindsay also started becoming a fan.  Having her in town to go to some of the races while we were there made it a completely different experience.  The girl has style, and she wins!

photo 5-37

My first day at the track, myself, my husband, my father-in-law, and sister-in-law got to spend a beautiful afternoon betting horses, having drinks, and people/horse watching.  Over the years, I have started to figure out how to “handicap”, but let’s just say I have more fun checking out what horses look good in the paddock and who has the best name. If I miss betting on a race, no big deal.  Overall, the first day most of us came out as winners (I won’t name the loser)!

photo 3-99

Days at the track can be long, as well as the drive home.  We stopped for dinner at a unique pub in Ballston Spa called The Factory.  Everyone was hungry, so we ordered the smothered nachos appetizer.  I had to take a picture and share because it really hit the spot after a long day.

photo 4-77

My second day at the track involved less betting and more tourist activities.  After leaving my daughter the entire first day, we figured that we should probably take her with us the next visit.  With that said, we also wanted to go at a time that was less crowded, so that we could take pictures of her first visit.  The facility offers a trackside breakfast during morning workouts for the horses.

IMG_1337IMG_1340IMG_1361IMG_1364Instead of getting the fancy sit down breakfast, we grabbed Dunkin Donuts (also open in the facility) and took a seat in the boxes by the finish.  Not only did we have a great view of all of the activity, but we also snuck around into some of the restricted areas during race time.  Check out these views.

photo 1-111 My daughter was smitten by the horses.  The beautiful weather gave us the perfect opportunity to take several great family photos.  The photos didn’t stop at the track.  From there, we walked to Congress Park and took my daughter on her first Carousel Ride (we also took a family selfie).   What a trooper she was.

IMG_1369photo 3-90photo 2-105 At this point, my daughter, my husband, and I split from the rest of the group to head back to the track.  Would you believe that she was still tolerant of us?  We took her into the track just in time for her to check out the paddock and horses up close.  We even bet on a horse for her (based on the excitement she gave us when they walked by).  She ultimately was a loser, but she did witness her first race!


Although my husband made it to the track several other days, I only went back one more day.  Between the drive up and back and the time it takes to run all of the races, a day at the track, is a long day.  If you are there with someone who knows anything about handicapping, buying a full size program is worth the money.

photo 1-113 It is also worth taking time to walk over to the paddock.  There is nothing like a close up look at both the horse and jockey.  You also get to check out the owners that congregate in the middle.  Over time, I have learned that there are two important things to observe when watching a horse in the paddock.  One, is the horse “washy”.? Look it up.  TMI.  Two, is the horse “on its toes”?  Think prancing (like the way I run).  photo 2-115Spending quality time at the track with my husband (and now my daughter) is very special.  Not only do we get to enjoy exciting entertainment, but there is enough time between races to really enjoy each others company without using technology.  Pull up a chair, grab a cold drink and some snacks, and you are all set for a day at one of the most beautiful tracks in the 3-98