Friday, November 29, 2013

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday to you!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Short and sweet, here's my top moments this week:

1. Interviewed and was hired at another gym this week.  This is particularly exciting because it's a place where I really can see building my full-time fitness career, both teaching group classes and working as a trainer.  I can't wait to get started and see what the future holds!  Plus, it's super close to my house, a major win.

2. Killer spin class this week.  It's such a treat these days when I get to attend a class.

3. Both kids had their checkups this week at a new pediatrician's office.  I wasn't in love with our old one for James, so I started looking for a new one and I really liked where we went.  James and Makenzie are healthy and doing well!

4. On a related note, after many, many less than wonderful days behaviorally-speaking, the kids have been awesome these past few days.  AWESOME!

5. Of course, topping the list is Thanksgiving.  This one is the best.  We've been enjoying some great family time, we had a spectacular meal yesterday, and everything that Makenzie tried yesterday was "the best I have EVER had!" in her words.  It was indeed the best turkey I've ever made.  Hands down.

Today Chris and I are going to Pump together, and then we're going to brave a couple of places on this Black Friday.  When we get home, we'll put up our first Christmas tree together.  It's going to be a great day.

Linking up with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia on this great Friday.  Whatever you're doing today, I hope you have a great day and weekend!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Menu!

Friends, it is almost Thanksgiving and I am so excited!

This is just a quick post to share with you what will be on our table come Thursday afternoon!

We will start our day with these cake batter cinnamon rolls.  We almost always have a special breakfast on a holiday, and these are what Chris asked for this time.  When I make them, I cut the butter down by half and they still taste awesome!

For the big meal, I've been making this apple cider citrus turkey brine today.  Tonight after dinner I will have Chris help me actually assemble the brine.  Its so beautiful and smells heavenly!  I've never used whole allspice or star anise pods, but they make everything so pretty.

I'm not doing a stuffing this year because Chris rarely eats much of it, and neither do the kids.  But if I were going to make one I'd be doing the Pioneer Woman's cornbread, sausage, and apple stuffing.  I made it last year and I could seriously bury myself in it.

For bread, I'm making an herbed oatmeal bread that I've made before.  It's so delicious.

We'll also have corn on the cob and green beans, but honestly, those are delicious but unexciting.

What would Thanksgiving be without a pumpkin dessert?  I asked Chris if he might like something different this year, and he was adamant that he wants our now-traditional pumpkin cheesecake from the Magnolia Bakery.  I've been making it each year for a while now, and it is nothing short of wonderful.  I've only been able to make it without it cracking on the top ONE time, but cracks or not, it is a slice of heaven.

And just for fun, currently in my oven is this cranberry orange bread from Joy the Baker.  I've made this only once before, but this time I'm experimenting by using flax eggs and cutting out a little sugar.  Pretty sure it's still going to be awesome.

Needless to say, it smells wonderful in here.  I can't wait for actual Thanksgiving.

What's on your menu?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Five!

It's Friday, glorious Friday!!

Today will be a busy day - teach, attend Pump, pick up produce from the co-op, and get ready for our favorite Friday with Kaitlin.  But here's my list!

1. I got a call early this week from another gym!  It's a really nice one and, after checking out its class schedule, I learned that it incorporates a ton of HIIT training... so my niche!  I go in for an interview next week.  I'm excited!

2. On Monday, I had to take James into the locker room with me after my class to change his diaper because the bathroom in the childcare room is out of order until who knows when.  I finished changing him and was chatting with an instructor friend, and all James wanted was to press his cheek against mine and let me cuddle him.  It was heavenly.  Oh, how I miss that.

3. Right now, as I type this post, James got up extra early, and is sitting on my lap and its just us and Chris in the kitchen enjoying some quiet time.  And James isn't being crabby for 5:45am.  Oh the random moments you get!  It's so hard once you have two kids in the house to enjoy one-on-one time with each of them.

4. I now have had 2 nights of uninterrupted sleep.  Oh how wonderful that's been!  It could change tonight, but who cares?  The past couple of nights have been awesome!

5. Makenzie wants to be "strong like her mommy."  Apparently, I also make the "BEST!" mac and cheese and the "BEST!" quesadillas.  Statements like that melt your heart and (sort of) make up for those less-than-wonderful moments that involve questioning your sanity.

Linking up of course with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia for Five for Friday - go check out their blogs!  And make sure to congratulate Courtney on completing her first marathon!

What's on your list this week?  Are you looking forward to any fun Thanksgiving plans?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom and Uncomfortable Transparency

Yesterday I went to Tuesday spin class.  It's always a great class, taught by one of the most wonderful women God could have ever placed in my life.  Just like every other class, yesterday was a great ride.  I can tell my anaerobic base is growing back to its Insanity levels, and I love it.  I live for that amazing feeling.

But this post isn't about how awesome Tammy's classes are.  This is about the post-spin conversation that almost always occurs.  There's usually a few of us who hang around after class who have become pretty good friends, and sometimes our chats after class go on for 30 minutes to an hour.  I love this time of community.  Our conversation about a lot of random things eventually turned to body image and our own observations from the gym.  Something that was said has been in my head since yesterday morning and I feel it needs to be shared.

As women in today's society, no matter what, we are 99.9% likely to, at some point or another, be unhappy with one or more parts of our bodies.  But if we are truly making an effort to take care ourselves and we're healthy, truly, what does it matter if we don't all have fitness-model bodies?

As Tammy pointed out from observations we have all made, and I agree, I do not want to be in my 50s, 60s, and further, still killing myself in the gym.  Now, don't confuse my words.  I do still want to be taking care of myself in the gym, teaching, training, motivating others.  But I don't want to be killing myself.  I just want to be happy, loving life!  Don't you?

It's a much finer line than you think.  And I know it well from experience.

It is true that I have never had a "real" weight problem.  However, I know what it feels like to look in the mirror every single day and hate what you see.  I know what it is like to to strive for eating one meal a day and to hate yourself if you have more than that.  I know the pain of comparison.  Everyone looks at a picture of you and comments on how great it is, yet all you can see is imperfection.

And here's a huge thing I have learned recently - I GET the control-freak aspect of it now!  Back in my days of extremely restrictive eating, and weighing myself a thousand times a day, I never understood why people with eating disorders usually said they had issues with control.  I practiced my awful eating (or lack thereof) behaviors because "I didn't want to be fat."  Now that I have NO control of pretty much anything in my day-to-day life, I get it.  When our "big transition" of becoming an unexpected family of four happened, suddenly I was back to obsessively counting my calories, down to the 10 calories of soy creamer that I put in my tea at night.

And that's when it hit me - everything in my life feels out of control, so I'm trying to control even the smallest things!  And for what?  I would never want my children to do this.  I would never let them catch me looking at myself in the mirror, trying to analyze if my "tummy pooch" is getting bigger.  Is that really the most important thing in life?  When I'm in my 50s, 60s, and beyond, will it matter if I had 6-pack abs in my 20s and 30s?  Will my kids look back and think, 'jeez, if only mom had been thinner'?

The answer to all of those, of course, is a resounding NO, NO, and NO.

I'm sharing all of this because that simple statement - I do not want to be in my 50s, 60s, and further, still killing myself in the gym - has been in my head since yesterday morning, and I find it kind of liberating!  I am so hopeful that it could motivate another woman who struggles with body image issues.... and let me tell you, it doesn't matter if you're a size 2 or 22, your feelings about your own body are real and valid.  Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Especially with the holiday season almost being upon us, I would challenge you to just focus on loving yourself.  Give yourself a break.  Focus on the awesome things about yourself.  If you have a worry, ask yourself, 'will this matter in 20 years?'  If the answer is no, work on letting it go.  If you need help with this, please feel free to send me a message.  Let's build each other up this season!

Happy hump day!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Time for Instructor Confessions!

In my short time thus far in being a group exercise instructor, I have learned a lot - do's, don'ts, the good, the bad, how to avoid burnout, how to say no.... but sometimes there are other truths that need to be shared.

-It's frustrating when you go to sub a class and the participants are upset that the regular instructor isn't there, and yet... I've been guilty of being a less-than-thrilled-about-a-sub participant.  Few of us like change, and I am one of those who detest it.

-I don't like being asked by another instructor or trainer who I certified through.  So far in my experience, that question has only been asked out of competition and I just wanted to remind a specific person that we both were hired to the same place, so what does it matter?

-I really don't like when people stop to put equipment away before we're done with class.... except that I am so guilty of doing this when I take other classes (like BodyPump).... oops!

-I get nervous when another instructor is watching me, unless I know said instructor and we are already friends or friendly acquaintances.

-I hate it when I try to interact with my participants and all I get is..... nothing.  Come on, people, even if you have to fake it, give me something!

-It can be hard to get excited about subbing another class now.  When you're new, you jump on every opportunity.  Then you (if you're me) have a few experiences that show you that sometimes people treat you like they treat a pregnant woman at times - they speak to you with no filter.  And it can really hurt.

-It doesn't bother me so much now, but I used to get really irritated/distracted when people would come to my classes and rarely do anything that I was leading the class through.  Now I've come to understand that there are tons of reasons people will continue to do this, but I couldn't wrap my head around it at first.

-I enjoy it immensely when I say something like, "okay, time for pushups" or "we're moving into 1 minute of burpees!" and people groan.  I love making participants do something that otherwise makes them uncomfortable - that's why you're in my class, people, to get out of your comfort zone!

-I think it's hilarious when someone says, "oh you teach 8 or 9 hours out of the week? you must be able to eat anything you want!".... no, no I cannot.  I am human just like you.  I wish I could, but alas, even an instructor cannot out-exercise a lousy diet.

To finish up the list on a positive note:

-There is nothing better than someone thanking you after class, especially when that gratitude comes from someone you previously thought might not be enjoying your class.  We all like to be appreciated.  Most of us do put a lot of effort and planning into delivering a great class, and a simple thank you is wonderful.

There you have it - my confessions list - what's on yours?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Five for Friday! (a day late....)

I at least started the post on Friday morning.  I'm still trying to figure out our new normal.  But here's my list!

1. My in-laws came to visit last weekend.  We had a great time.  It was the first meeting between them and Makenzie.  We had a lot of typical little kid I-just-met-you-so-I-need-to-show-off behavior, but overall it went great.  Plus, Chris and I got to have not one, but TWO nights out.  I don't even care that those shoes were horrendously painful after about 20 minutes.  We were free for a little while, and the kids had fun!

2. I was getting ready for my Wednesday night PiYo class and Makenzie asked if we could practice.  She made me do the power section at least 4 times!  It was fun and gives me hope of instilling health and fitness into her at a young age.  I have an entire soap box of fears with raising a daughter because of a lot of things I went through growing up, things no girl should ever think or feel.  I want to teach her to be strong, fearless, and undefined by numbers on a scale or clothing tag.  Look at that awesome plank form!

3. This week I found out that my Tuesday/Thursday night groups really like me.  Let me just bask in this one.  As an instructor, you eventually have to accept that you can't make everyone like you.  This one is very hard for me.  I have a lot of issues with being a people-pleaser and trying to get everyone's approval.  I told my Tuesday night class that one of their nights with me may get changed up after January and they were not happy.  They said the classes are perfect the way they are.  I also introduced one of my regulars at the express classes to Wednesday PiYo and she loved it.  Highlights of my week for sure!

4. My brother-in-law is in town!  He got in very late on Thursday night.  My bestie Kaitlin joined us for our usual Friday night fun and the 4 of us had an awesome time.  Before bedtime, here's Uncle Jeff getting ballet lessons from Makenzie:

5. These past couple of weeks have been all about, as my friend Kristin said, "giving myself permission" to let go of a lot of things in my life that I cannot change or fix.  Again, as a people-pleaser, that's easier said than done!  But I'm doing better with it, and while that might sound slightly secretive, it has to be on the list because it is huge for me.

Linking up (albeit a day late) with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia for Friday Fives.

Have a great weekend, friends!  What's on your list for this week?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

Joining the pumpkin bandwagon here!

The kids got up very early this morning and were very much in need of some quiet time in order to make it through the rest of the day.  So I'm sitting here drinking my Trader Joe's pumpkin coffee (amazing), and just finished snacking on my favorite pumpkin bread recipe ever.  In this beautiful silence, I thought I'd share.

I even made it a smidge healthier..... really, just a smidge, but come on, it all counts, right?

I used to make this bread all.  the.  time..... so much so that I got really sick of it.  But now, with fall upon us, and remembering my love of all things pumpkin lately, I needed to make it.  Plus, one of our very sweet neighbors across the street made us a lovely welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift when we first moved in, and I wanted to bake something for him and his wife.  So, they will be getting a loaf of this delicious bread in a few hours.

I only made a few changes to the recipe, very minute in the grand scheme of things.  I used flax eggs (you don't have to, but it its half the calories), and I only used 2 cups of sugar instead of 3.  I think you could even cut it down more.  I also used Smart Balance instead of oil.  Here's the recipe the way I made it:

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
4 flax eggs
1 cup Smart Balance butter (melted)
2/3 cup water
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 2 loaf pans (whatever size, I used a 4x8 and a 5x9 because that's all I have, trust me, it's fine).  Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips and mix (or stir) on low until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and divide between the loaf pans.  Bake for 50-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, or with moist crumbs.  Enjoy!

I love, love, love this recipe.  Hopefully our neighbor will love it too!

What about you?  What's your all-time favorite pumpkin recipe?

Recipe from Runner's World

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday, friends!

I hope the week has been good to you.  My list this week really should have a minimum of 10 things, but I'm wrapping some together, check it out!

1. We had yucky weather for most of the day yesterday, and I was afraid that we were not going to be able to do "traditional" door-to-door trick-or-treating.  After getting drenched in our first planned location, we put a bowl of goodies outside our door at home and waited to see if anyone was venturing out.  We got a couple of trick-or-treaters and the rain had stopped!  To say that our kids were excited to go out is the understatement of the year.  If that excitement was for Halloween, I can't imagine what Christmas will be like..... the best part about getting out last night was meeting some of our neighbors, all with similar-age kids, and one of whom was carrying around a tote bag of beer - 2 bottles went to Chris.

2. What started as a possible failure this week turned around.  I picked up a couple of new weekly classes to teach, got all of us out the door on time if not early, only to find that my usually clear route of travel was crawling due to an accident.  This was my first time starting this class, and you never know what to expect anyway when you're newly taking over a class.  Fortunately, those ladies, who waited for me to be 15 minutes late due to the traffic, were some of the sweetest I've ever had in class.  Relief!

3. That same night, I began teaching my now-regular Wednesday evening PiYo Strength class.  I had a handful of ladies, and they loved it.  You never know how true PiYo Strength is going to go.  The format is still new to some, and many people show up expecting a yoga class (I had one girl leave because of that).  I nailed almost all of my counts and it was just a great evening.  Instructor win!

4. Random, and not that important in the grand scheme of things, but I got my Starbucks gold card.... I went there so much while studying for my certification, and while teaching that very early Friday class recently, it was all bound to add up!

5. This week was such a week of receiving good wills - when I had no cash for a hot dog at Costco this week, the man behind me told me that the kids and I "looked like a nice family" and bought our lunch, two instructor friends gifted a ton of fun girly items to Makenzie, all of which she adores, Chris surprised me and got the kids to bed by himself on Wednesday even though I should have been home in time to help, and then in the mail yesterday was a sweet encouraging card from one of my dearest friends here.

Our life right now is seemingly up and down, with good days and less-than-good days, but when I sit back and think on all the good that FAR outweighs the less-than-good, I realize how blessed I am.  I realize that 99% of my "problems" are in fact not problems.

So that's it for me, friends.  Pretty sure I could add in another list, but we'll keep it short....ish.  I hope you're getting ready for a great weekend.

What's on your list for today?

Linking up with Courtney, Marlesa, and Cynthia for Five for Friday and Michelle M for Fit and Fabulous Friday - make sure to stop in and see these ladies too!