healthy hacks

The Swap

The meal prep swap. How does it work?  What are the benefits?

This is another blog that is just a tidbit for anyone who can benefit.

Each week meal prepping can be boring or tedious. Time constraints could limit what you can make forcing you to eat the same chicken recipe for multiple days. Things could be worse, but what if there was a way to switch up the ordinary?

Grab yourself four friends who eat healthy. Set a side a day and place for the swap. Pick your menu and start your meal prep.

Instead of meal prepping 5 chicken dishes for yourself, you keep one and bring the other four to the swap.

One friend makes spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs with marinara. One friend makes Greek chicken with a cucumber, tomato and onion salad. One friend makes a chicken bowl with black beans, corn, riced cauliflower and veggies. And the final dish is a shrimp and avocado dish. These are just a sample but the picture above actually has egg salad full of veggies, turkey sausage and cabbage with cucumber side, riced cauliflower with beef sausage and hard boiled eggs, and spaghetti squash seasoned with Everything but the Bagel seasoning (a must have) with turkey.

You basically bring you 4 meals and trade with the other four participants. You end up with 5 different meals for the next few days (yours plus the other four). Variety is in front of you.

You may even try something you never would have made and loved it. You could also get a dud meal. That’s the little risk you take for escaping the ordinary. This may be too much planning week after week but here and there it can easily break up the cycle of boring meal prep.

Be sure to set expectations in your group about capturing all ingredients, measurements and of course sharing the recipe. For me it works great when a friend messaged me the details from Myfitnesspal. I just copy and paste and move on to the next meal.

Just a fun way to spend some time with friends, promote heathy eating and maybe even keep a friend accountable for tracking their eating or meal prepping.

More healthy hacks coming your way in 2020 from 2 Chicks and a Pen.

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Mileage Madness

Just updating the world on my 2020 mileage challenge. So far, so good.

At the end of 2 full weeks I logged 147 miles or 8% of the 2,020 miles. Doesn’t seem like much but it is all extra work. The miles are in addition to my normal daily training. I fit them in where I can.

I arrive early some days for a couple of miles. I stay late when I can for a few more. I add some longer stretches at home when my schedule allows. I’m getting it done and so are my friends.

I have 3 races booked so far for 2020. A 15k in February, a 10k in May and a mud run in October. Just a fun way to get some miles away from the ordinary training locations.

Variety definitely helps keep the task at hand easier. One friend is splitting up her miles by category. 10% by rower, 10% run, 10% ski erg and so on. Why? For one, it’s harder. A mile on the rower or the ski erg take longer. Each may even seem more taxing than bike, but in small doses it’s not too bad.

Enter a group text message early Saturday morning with a 7-mile variety workout of sorts for a group challenge. It looked challenging yet I wanted to put in 11 miles that day so I adjusted the numbers to get me to 11 miles collectively. I said it’s not much more time. Hmmmm…

The above workout was now a reality. It took a while. Over an hour but it was manageable and I wasn’t exhausted after. Maybe my extra miles are helping me build endurance. I had a friend doing the work with me which always help to keep one moving.

I shared my update with the 2020 group and *boom* some brilliant member suggests we do it AGAIN tomorrow. Sunday. 5am. Who in their right mind wants to do that on a Sunday? The one day I can actually sleep in. WHAT? Have you lost your ever loving mind?

And people say I’m the head of the Bad Idea Club! Well, in this instance I said “wait, I’ll be there.” Why? Because I’m just as crazy as the others on the group chain.

It’s 4:30 am. It’s cold. I’m still tired. It’s laundry day so my favorite gym clothes are dirty. Do I even want to do this? I check to make sure my pals are up and moving because it would be a sick joke to wake me up this early for nothing. And I’m secretly hoping nobody replies! I sigh as two chirps got my phone.

It’s Kim and Mindy who are clearly up and ready to go go go. Guess I got to get going too. Off we go again to rack up another 11 miles, or 11 miles, 60 pushups and 90 sit-ups to be exact. Will I have a better finish time? I doubt it. It’s at 5am and I will barely be awake. Now I have to figure out who I can get to drag themselves out of bed so we can be miserable together. Picture proof below.

6 souls rose in the 4 am hour to meet at the gym for a 5 am start. Over an hour of hard work. Running in the dark and cold. Cheering each other on. We even had a cheerleader there snapping pictures.

Bike, ski, row, run, push up then sit up over and over again. We did it!

Off to work the nurse goes. Off to the grocery store three others go as it’s meal prep day. One rushes out before the hubs wakes up and one just vanishes into the darkness.

Another day. Another 11 miles. A little closer to the end goal. A whole lot of fitness. A great time with wonderful women I call friends. Fitness can actually be fun if you make it fun with friends.

fitness and nutrition, friendship, healthy hacks

Monday Madness

Today’s post isn’t about a lot of words or wisdom. Rather it’s about practical and useful knowledge.

My day started like most: walking the dog and hitting the box for a sweat session. A little koala challenge to put my Monday in high gear with my gal pal Tashi. Maybe I will describe what a koala challenge is in another post.

Then the average ordinary case of the Mondays set in. It’s a not-so-fabulous word used to describe a Monday: WORK. How do you attack a Monday when it’s rainy and blah? Here’s a nice hack for you:

BUT FIRST COFFEE. And not just any cup of coffee. A protein-packed coffee that is good for your macros. You get the sweet taste and the caffeine but without the calories and creamer you get at the big coffee chains. And most likely you are saving a few bucks.

The hack is a brewed cup of your favorite coffee. Add your favorite protein, mine is, of course, Salted Caramel from Teamkattouf Nutrition. I may be partial just because they list KAT on their tub and those are my initials. Then all you have to do is grab your handy dandy frother and get to work. Actually it’s no work at all.

This little hack can turn a sour Monday into a productive day. Of course it can do the trick any other day as well. Hope you enjoyed my coffee hack this morning.

This post is dedicated to my friend Kim who taught me this trick a while back and let me sample her protein. Everyone needs a friend like Kim in their life.

dare to be different, inspire

New Year, New Decade, New Opportunities

I think I will start with writing something profound or brilliant in my mind.

2020 is upon us and like many I have goals to write, tackle and conquer but this year is different. It’s the start of a new decade and thus the magnitude of go bigger is something I want to do in many areas of my life. I want to escape the ordinary. Of course, my 2020 journal (pictured below) is perfect for cataloging my ebbs and flows of the year. #2020hereIcome

Lucky for me I have an amazing tribe around me willing to jump in on adventures, shenanigans and overall badass challenges I find intriguing. Some are extreme while others just take time.

Time is valuable to me. One of my most precious commodities. Where to use it? Who gets my time? What’s the value of my time and so on. Keeping this in mind I will share a few tidbits about my year of awesome!

It started in December of 2019 when I decided on a 2020 theme of me. What can I do 2,020 of to level up my fitness, for example.

Goal one was finalized: run, walk, jog, crawl, bike, row or ski erg 2,020 extra miles in 2020. This is in addition to any other regular daily workouts which is the kicker. It’s extra time. Who can commit? Who will commit? Who will cross the finish line?

Today I have about 10-15 willing participants tracking their miles along side me. Each for different reasons and each have their own path. Some have daily goals of extra miles, some weekly, some monthly and some want to count backwards. Whatever the method the miles add up to the same total of 2,020 miles. 365 opportunities await each participant. Each individual has to make a choice to put in work today, tomorrow and the the next day and stay the course of time.

Some will need a fixed routine to succeed. Others may need variety. Some may take big bites out of miles while others may take smaller steps. The power of choice. The power of self will and desire. The strength required to commit long term.

I started my first four days of the year with 7 miles a day and then jumped up to 10 miles and 9 miles respectively. Most of which I completed on my bike erg, which I love. (Thank you concept2). 47 miles down and 1,973 to go for those who like to count down. I may not keep this pace but as the hype is fresh I will bank those extra miles for the days I am traveling, sick or unable to hit my strides.

I’m pretty excited about this challenge. Will I finish? Will my friends finish? Will anyone join me virtually? Will I be able to push myself when times are tough? Can I manage my time? Basically this is a solo task. Only I can make it happen. Only I can decide if I finish. But as a bonus I have a tribe willing to attempt it with me. How lucky am I?

I am lucky, loved, blessed and all so appreciative of the opportunities I have and the memories I can make. You are also lucky as you have a front row seat to my adventures. This could be good or bad. I have not only set a lofty goal, I actually shared it with the world in this blog. How about that for a massive accountability partner?

This is not my only goal, rather one of many. Many more than others I know but for me this is a year of me. A way to launch into the new decade and see what I can really accomplish if I focus and prioritize. Dreaming big in most areas which will test me, but of course I’m ready.

What makes me ready? To start, I was invited to a vision board party. What in the heck is that? It’s a gathering of key influencers in your life who you feel inspired by. People you like to spend time with vs. those people you have to spend time with (or coworkers). You write your story so to speak on a poster board using words, pictures, objects and whatever other flair you can put your hands on. This was so in my wheelhouse. Why did I never do this before? Who cares, I’m doing it now. It’s a new decade and a new opportunity!

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I learned a ton about myself and those around me. It was empowering to say the least and fun. I don’t think I’ve used a glue stick, scissors and tape like I did that day for a long time. Talk about the memories of the good old school days before the internet became front and center.

One pal even bought magazines for the first time in ages and couldn’t believe how much they cost nowadays. See how old I am!

I will leave you with this glimpse of the sparkle we all shared that day. No need to name who did what rather it’s meant to provide a visual inspiration for others. Maybe one of my readers will feel motivated to host a vision board party.

Some chose to fill the board up while others left room to grow. Captivating just to see how folks approached the task and invested themselves into the outcome. Mine is posted prominently in a space where I can see it and be reminded of the mindset I had when I made it.

What will you do to make your decade launch special in 2020?

perspective

Soaking Up the Rays

It seems like it’s been raining for days and days. The days turn into weeks. The yard is muddy. There are puddles in the distance from every window.

Rain, rain go away. Come back another day. The childhood song plays in my head over and over again. The dog doesn’t want to go outside to play. The sky is grey. The wind is howling. The days seem long.

Is it napping season? Well, it seems like nap time comes with the rain days. Can the weather really impact your day? I think so. And when it rains over and over again the rut seems to get bigger.

Finally the sun peeks through the clouds. A small glimmer of hope. The grass starts to dry. The wind dies down. The dog gets to play in the yard. Stress level is down. Energy is abundant. I sit on the back porch to soak up the rays of sunshine.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Another childhood song full of memories pops into my head. The squirrels are running through the trees, rattling the branches. The puppy is attempting to chase endlessly. The birds are chirping away.

How today that song has so much meaning. My dad is ill. He is in the hospital. As I soak up the rays sunbathing I find the song soothing. I reflect on the memories of the good times. I feel the warmth of the sun. I feel the companionship of my dog as she lay along side me.

It’s not a spring day. Rather it’s a winter day in which I was able to feel the warmth during stressful times or worry. The weather indeed impacted my day, my mood, my environment. I’m soaking it all in.

Porch sitting. Sun bathing. Relaxing and reflecting. 1 hour today. No technology. Just a break from the ordinary. It wasn’t planned. It was whimsical. It became magical.

The sunshine made my day. The heat gave me reminders. The calmness that came with it all was heavenly. Sometimes we just need to slow our roll and enjoy life’s little gifts.

As my dear friend would say:

Looks like you enjoyed a sweet slice of life today. Or maybe it would be you found the magic in the mundane today. No wait, I think it’s the effervescence in everyday that came to light.

Enjoy today. Take a deep breath. You never know when it will be your last.

fitness and nutrition, friendship, perspective

What I Learned from Coming In Last

“It’s not a big deal to me how we do, as long as we’re not last.”

These words came from one of my amazing teammates at a recent competition. I nodded in agreement, and I’ve said them, too.

Flashback to my very first 5k “race.”  Run Your Cookies Off – a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts.  I was probably 80 or 100 pounds heavier than I am now, maybe more.  I had no idea what I was doing. I was a slow walker / jogger as I approached the start line in terror.  But as long as I am not last I’m ok, I thought.

I wasn’t last that day, but I was close.  I could see the last person behind me by maybe 30 yards most of the time.  I kept looking over my shoulder, fighting to stay ahead. I gasped and choked as I stumbled across the finish line, maybe 5th to last out of a few hundred runners.  But, not last.

Fast forward eight years or so to only a few weeks ago, the line comes into my head again. A CrossFit competition.  Looking around at some of the fitter people I’ve seen in recent memory, our direct competitors. Some twenty or more years younger.  But, we will be fine as long as we are not last.

After the first workout, we were second to last.  So, not last – a win!  And then, after that, for the rest of the day, workout after workout, it happened. We. Were. Last.

Yup, I was finally on the other side of the “as long as we’re not…”

And I looked at my teammates, two fierce, fit, incredible women, working their ever-loving asses off.  All three of us had been sick that week, with some of that sickness lingering on competition day.  All three of us were super nervous.  But we showed up, and we brought our best. And we cheered for each other.  And we pushed as hard as we could, pushed beyond what we thought we could do.  We pulled together and fought like heck for every rep, every lift, every jump and burpee and pushup and calorie.

And with all our fight, all our heart, all our effort, we still came in last.  (We actually tied for last with some of our good friends who made up another rockin’ team from our box, which made it all the more sweet.)

So, you may ask, what are the after effects of coming in last? Honestly, not much different than coming in higher on the board.

I’m proud of my teammates, as I should be.  One rocked her first competition ever, conquering move after move, challenge after challenge.  The other overcame huge obstacles to PR her snatch not just once but 5 times that day.  5 times!!!  I still smile when I pull out my team shirt and shorts.  We had a great and memorable day for our squad.  Weeks later, no one remembers what place we came in.

I’ve held onto a line I heard once many years back when I was just starting to get my health together.  It still serves me on crappy running days, and those inevitable afternoons when I just would rather not go to the gym at all:

As long as you show up…”you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”

No matter what place we finished in, we showed up. There are many who are less fit, and even many who are more fit, who didn’t have the guts or the gumption to just show up, put themselves out there, and see how they measure up.

There’s an old saying that nice guys finish last…now I also see that good people, people who work hard, train hard, and put forth tons of effort still do finish last sometimes. In fact, that effort may represent a huge personal triumph no matter what the leaderboard says. One that should be applauded.  Still, for better or worse, it’s just one day. One memorable day full of proud moments.

The real after effects of coming in last are what we choose to do moving forward. What matters most is what comes next. Nothing stops us from continuing to train and get better and cheer for each other. We’re already signed up for more races, more challenges, more adventures. Who knows where we will turn up next?

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

Jumping into 2020

I jumped into 2020 with my fitness. I did a challenging 2020 workout dedicated to the year 2020 (20 reps of multiple lifts and movements) with my workout pals and I was ready for a nap after a grueling 45 minutes of go hard. In a nutshell, my body was T-I-R-E-D with a Capital T.

I recovered for what seemed like a short time as my new work year picked up less than 24 hours later. Where did the holiday break go? Why does it feel like Sunday? Talk about lack of motivation to wake up at 5:30 am to work out.

Well, my puppy beat my alarm clock today. She had me up at 4:20 to potty and play. Good thing she is super cute. #teddie  Boy I wish I had her energy at that hour. I guess the day started earlier than expected so I had a little extra time to checkout the workout in advance. Sigh.

It’s pretty much a jumprope-a-thon focusing on double unders which is a skill I have not mastered and really don’t like to work on. Why don’t I like to work on it? Because I suck most days and it requires multi-step directions which can challenge me some days in the coordination department. Good thing the new year is upon us and I had literally just listed double unders as a skills goal to work on for 2020.

I guess I have to go. I guess there may be hope for me to get better at double unders aka dubs in this decade since I wasn’t so hot last decade! Hope can conquer most things I would say. Just not sure dubs are on the hope list this year.🤪

To my surprise Mute Sports put on a great dubs class. So many tidbits of information that will help me get better and we got to try out their cool ropes. I wasn’t optimistic going into the class but I really enjoyed it. If you are searching for a rope, these guys are very helpful and I love supporting local businesses.

I ended up getting a new rope and a cute little fastener to keep it from getting tangled. I opted for two different handles because I need flair in my life. I only got the black cable because I need that thickness since I am entry level on the skill side. I will definitely put this bad boy to use each week to hopefully build up some muscle memory and link more than four dubs together at once. I also picked up a neat little round stone-type callus remover that they sell. It’s got a cylinder shape and I can toss it in my purse. Another great little gadget to add to my CrossFit trinkets.

But before I sign off, I think I should show you some of my jump rope history. My first rope was a brand I can’t recall that I purchased online. I was clueless when I bought it and didn’t do so hot with it so I gave it to a friend when I got my second rope, pictured below. This one I opted for hot pink and thicker cable that was coated because the whip marks on the other rope about killed me.

This was a good rope for me to reacquaint my self with single-under jumping. I did many, many jumps with this rope and still keep it my car in case I have the need to jump somewhere. This is a rope I seem to see at my box and other CrossFit boxes I have visited in the past. For this I would say great starter rope based on my experience.

Not long after, I got a custom rope at some point as a gift. This was thinner, lighter and had a fun look to it. I used this one off / on but never really mastered the dubs skill with it. I do however use this at home when I have time to practice. This one may be a fav just because of the aesthetic look. #wonderwoman

Some time mid-2019 I had a competition that called for lots of jumping. Singles, but the faster I could do them the better off I would be so I invested in yet another rope that a friend had. This one I have and use it from time to time but it will make more of an appearance once I master dubs. This one definitely hurts when you get whipped as it’s bare wire. Some of you may like whip marks but I’m a little bit of a baby so I’ll just say I’m not quite ready for this bad boy full time! Maybe that’s why they named it Bullet and advertise it as the fastest rope. Maybe there should be a warning that says use with caution unless you like pain.

As I close out my jump rope history I am merely sharing my woes of up down, up down, up down again and again. Much like jumping rope there are many ups and downs to finding a rope that fits you physically but also makes you feel confident enough to rock those double unders over and over again.

I will be jumping up down and around through 2020 but now I know I have options in ropes and tricks to help me be some a better jump roper. Thank you Muse for that one-on-one attention today.

Don’t get me wrong I can jump for a while doing singles. I’m improving at one leg or even alternating but I haven’t mastered the cadence, the breathing, the jump motion and the patience to be a double under dynamo. Not yet at least.

I will however keep you posted on my progress over the year. Gotta go it’s time to jump back into some emails. Let’s hope the Muse techniques and rope help me meet my 2020 dubs goal.