Upper Body Workout and Paleo Workout Fuel

  One of the bloggers whose posts I love to follow closely is Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers. Her blog is simple, open and honest, and full of some great workout ideas! I completed one of her upper body workouts today, and I’ve had jelly arms all day. It’s posted below so you can feel as exhausted as I do! It was awesome =) 

upper body super set workout

I made a few revisions. Instead of doing 15 reps of everything, I did 10 reps with heavier weights. Except for the pushups and tricep dips…I did extra reps of those! (www.pbfingers.com)

 My workout today was also supposed to involve a run, but last night while playing frisbee with Ryan, I felt an old ankle injury flare up. About two years ago, I started feeling this weird twinge on the outside of my right ankle. It felt funny early on during my runs, but I didn’t feel it so much after a few minutes. Well, I ignored this twinge from September all the way through a half-marathon in March. The pain was sharper by then (duh, Clare), so I went to an Orthopedist to get it checked out. After viewing a couple of x-rays, he told me I had a stress fracture and needed to take it easy for a while. My initial doctor’s orders of six weeks rest turned into three months. Even after waiting three months, I couldn’t run pain-free for nearly six months. The silver lining was that it forced me to look into other ways to stay active. I joined a gym so I could take group strength classes, which I quickly fell in love with. Being strong is important! 

  So now to my actual point: my workout today consisted of a hill-interval bike ride (which kept pressure off of the spot of the fracture) and the upper body workout from pbfingers.com. I warmed up on the bike for a couple of minutes, and then I alternated the resistance every minute between levels 12 and 17. I had to literally wipe my sweat up off the floor when I was done. 

So how do you fuel a workout when wheat bread, granola bars, and lowfat dairy are off the table?On this lazy Saturday morning, Ryan and I ate breakfast (and watched NatGeo) before working out. I knew we were going to sit around for a while before heading to the gym, so I ate more than I usually would before a weekday morning workout. 

3 potatoes

Yum. Breakfast.

I had some leftover honey cinnamon sweet potatoes from last night’s dinner, so I mashed those up, mixed in an egg, and made somewhat of a sweet potato fritter. Add a small handful of almonds, and you have a fuel-packed Paleo breakfast. (Yes, potatoes are paleo!) Before you get confused about my inclusion of carby sweet potatoes after shaming my own bowl of cheerios yesterday, just remember to look at your day as a whole. And if you’re about to go sweat your butt off in the gym for 45 minutes, it’s okay to include some Paleo friendly carbs! You also need to test the waters and see how you feel. My stomach did not like working out after cheerios and milk. I have yet to experience problems after paleo breakfasts. 

Because I had a small meal before I worked out, I did not eat immediately after leaving the gym. I don’t think it’s necessary. Unless you’re looking to really bulk up, there’s no need to pound a protein shake mixed with peanut butter after a workout. I don’t eat again until I’m hungry. Hunger struck a few hours later and I made lunch. I loved my lunch today. Eating delicious food makes me happy. I had to finish up some leftovers, so I sort of threw a bunch of things together. I had spaghetti squash with paleo meatloaf covered in tomato sauce and carrot sticks dipped into a homemade ranch dressing. 

paleo lunch

No, that’s not a bowl full of meatloaf. Beneath the layer of meatloaf is an enormous serving of spaghetti squash. Just try it one day. It’s delicious.

So I didn’t exactly need special workout fuel for my schedule today. In general, I think it’s a good idea to plan workouts around meals. Plan to eat an hour before or eat shortly after you’ve finished your workout, if you’re hungry. However, I know life gets in the way and that’s not always possible, so here are a few ideas I’ve tried and had success with:

paleo workout fuel

Some of the choices (like sausage for a pre-workout snack???) may seem strange, but I prefer them to specially marketed workout foods that are only a waste of money and calories. I won’t eat granola bars (please don’t waste your money on Special K bars in any shape or form), Cliff Bars, protein powders, Gatorade, Belvita, Fiber One, lowfat waffles, or anything else that appears gimmicky and isn’t made of real food. This morning, I simply grabbed something leftover from the fridge and decided it would be breakfast. Our olive oil roasted broccoli would have been a good choice, too, and it would have required no more work than popping it in the microwave. 

Gosh that paragraph sounds too preachy. I’ve just found what works for me, and if it works for someone else too, then that’s great! I’m also a real person who drinks beer and eats ice cream with my husband on occasion. (Has anyone tried the new Magic Cookie Bar by Blue Bell? So good.)

So tomorrow, I will have to get creative with my workout because I need to avoid irritating my ankle for now. I’m not a big fan of doing most of my cardio inside of a gym, so we’ll see what I can come up with. 

Good night!

Question: What is your favorite pre/post workout snack?


Impending thunderstorms mixed with a little bit of crazy make for a good run

I run…and more often than not, it’s a positive experience. Running is good for you–we all know that. It’s not only good for you physically, but it has a very therapeutic quality as well. My first year of teaching was a solid reality check, and to say that I was under-prepared is quite accurate. That year, I signed up eight months in advance for the Rock N’ Roll half-marathon in New Orleans. I used to tell myself on my long runs that if I could deal with that third class of terrifyingly challenging kids, then I could certainly make it through this run. That year, running provided me with a daily opportunity to sort out what happened each day and how I would most certainly not get so frustrated with the kids tomorrow.

Upon reflection, I like running. Don’t ask me mid run. And I will never be on the same page as those mutants running enthusiasts who run six or seven days a week. Some weeks I enjoy 3 or 4 runs combined with strength training. Other weeks, I’m just really not in the mood to run. Today, I did not want to run. I didn’t sleep well, I woke up early, and once Ryan left for work all I wanted to do was get back in the bed and go to sleep. But I also have two papers due on Monday. Write a paper or go run? I tried to talk myself out of it. I began with my typical I’ll run later thought process, which was promptly crushed by the mid-morning thunderstorm warning lurking at the bottom of the TV screen. Then I told myself that I didn’t have time for a 30 minute run because those two papers were due Monday, and losing 30 minutes would truly be a tragedy. So I opened my computer, re-read what I wrote yesterday about Rachel Carson, and got up to put my running shoes on. I didn’t want to write that paper either, so today running won.

buffalo bayou

I’m getting too wordy, so it must be time for a picture. This is my running path along Buffalo Bayou in Houston.

Don’t you hate those articles that tell you “Getting out the door is the hardest part! Just lace up those shoes and you’re 90% there!” Unbelievably false. I could still just walk. I could make it to the bottom of the stairs and turn around. I could walk to Dunkin Donuts. Today really wasn’t my day, but I managed to push through it. If you’ve made it out the door (congratulations) but you’re still feeling like going for a run would too closely resemble torture, don’t let your sluggish state bring you down. Even if you don’t run the whole time, you can throw in bursts of speed that will actually help you improve your stride and average speed. Here are a few tips and tricks that I tried out on my run today:

bizarre running tips

I need to download better fonts.

NUMBER 1: Bring music. It really helps, until that Waka Flocka song you hate comes on. 

I was listening to Pandora Fitness, which is a great station if you need fast-paced songs throughout your workout. But it’s a real bummer when that song you hate comes on. So here’s how I handled it. I pictured myself racing Waka Flocka Flame at the end of the Greek Fest race in City Park. I won. He lost.I cheered, internally. Don’t be afraid to actually cheer ( or at least crack a smile). Other people on the path may think you’re nuts, but now you’re having more fun than they are. (You can apply this same strategy to anyone who’s not your favorite person. Yes, it’s weird, but no one will know.)

NUMBER 2: See that person in front if you on the sidewalk? Don’t let him win. 

Now this sounds ridiculous, but no one can read your mind so it’s really okay. Look up at the people in front of you on the sidewalk. You’re better than at least one of them, I promise. The race is on, and you’re going to win because that unknowing individual isn’t expecting you to fly past them in an imaginary race.

NUMBER 3: There’s a wasp and I hate wasps. 

This tip is brought to you by the enormous wasp (or bee…I didn’t feel the need to get a closer look) that followed me all the way across the bayou bridge. I accidentally brushed up against some flowers, and a waspbeemonster followed me. Nothing will make you run faster than fear, especially childish fear.

NUMBER 4: Take your mind somewhere completely different.

This one isn’t bizarre unless your wandering mind gets a little weird. One of my favorite songs to run along with is Usher’s Yeah. When that song comes on, (please don’t judge too harshly) I simply pretend I’m up on stage with him at a concert doing some super complicated, fancy choreography. TRY IT. If Britney is your thing, I’m sure your imagination can come up with some fantastic Vegas costume and choreography combos. The song will be over before you know it, and you just ran for 4 minutes completely forgetting where you were.

NUMBER 5: If your run still didn’t go well, throw in something challenging at the end.

I felt good about my run today. I had a steady average pace with random bursts of speed when I was mentally chasing someone down or running away from a bug. There was one last obstacle to overcome. The end of any run along Buffalo Bayou always presents a challenge because there are some daunting sets of stairs where at least one person with a total of 5% body fat is sprinting up and down like a maniac. I didn’t feel the need to add anything too intense, so I ran up and down twice and went on my way, leaving the stairs to those who enjoy suffering.

And that concludes my strange collection of running tips. I’m not a physical trainer or a coach (heads up, neither are Shape, Fitness, and Women’s Health Mag), so I probably won’t ever suggest a particular training program. I’ve never followed one, myself.

After my run today, I did a quick strength set:

15 push ups

20 supermen (Lay on your stomach with your arms above your head. Arch your back, lifting your arms and legs at the same time, and try your best to resemble a flying superman. Seriously. Lower back down and repeat).

15 crunches/bicycles/leg raises, whatever ab work you’re in the mood for

Repeat above exercises 4x each

Before I leave you with this inspiring video of a 5 foot, 100lb gymnast who completed an amazing feat, let me pose a question:

What does it take to get you outside or to the gym when you’re feeling sluggish? Don’t be afraid to be completely honest =) To comment, scroll ALL the way down.




Working Out with Rachel Carson

rachel carson

This book is perhaps the only interesting thing to come out of my graduate program so far.

  To be honest, I’ve found my graduate school program a little dull. My degree is in educational psychology, focusing on gifted/talented students. Right now I’m taking somewhat of a statistics class and another class on the characteristics of gifted children. I have never once found teaching children dull. That would be impossible. But I’m sure teachers can be honest with each other….the classes leave something to be desired. So when a project came up allowing me some flexibility, I chose to read a biography of a gifted individual and write a 7-10 page paper on that person’s gifted characteristics and eminence. I’m not exactly looking forward to the paper, but the biography is fascinating. I’m reading The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson. The title is actually misleading because about half of the book is devoted to the environmental history of the United States, which is fine by me. The author, William Souder, creates a genuine connection between the reader and Carson. Already knowing how her story turned out, I still cried when she died at only 56 years old. (I suppose that’s an overshare.) I enjoyed learning about Carson’s perspective on the parallel between radiation and pesticides. On one hand, certain populations were suffering from radiation fallout that wasn’t anticipated by the government when conducting nuclear and hydrogen weapons testing; on the other hand, Americans were also unaware of the harm that pesticides, DDT in particular, were doing to their bodies and to the surrounding ecosystems. Commercial airline pilots essentially earned a commission to spray pesticides across the country.  There was an eerily familiar article on a similar issue posted today by BBC. You may disagree, but I find these topics to be much more interesting than Renzulli’s Three Ring Model of giftedness.

   Because I dilly-dallied a bit too much this morning, I needed to be efficient during today’s workout. My solution was to read about Ms. Carson while I was on the bike. Whenever I multi-task on the bike, I have to be careful to keep up the speed and resistance. Nobody has time for wimpy cardio. I followed my 30 minute, hill interval bike with a 15 minute circuit.

Quick Circuit 

15 Push ups

20 Straight leg raises

15 Lunges with 15 lb weights, bicep curls at the top of each lunge

15 Squats with 15 lb weights, with shoulder press at the top of each squat

30s Mountain climbers

Repeat the circuit 3x, and adjust weights as needed


  Dinner tonight was simple and delicious. We love roasted broccoli, so today I threw in a few other items: butternut squash, red peppers, zucchini, yellow summer squash, and onions. I started out with a recipe, but I wasn’t too keen on the lack of rosemary. 1 1/2 teaspoons of rosemary? More like 4 tablespoons. Rosemary is wonderful. In addition to the rosemary, I also added olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and an Irish seasoning salt (which I believe to be salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic powder). I roasted them at 425 for 20-25 minutes. 


This should last us a while.

  Now the chicken. I was excited about this honey mustard chicken recipe that’s been sitting patiently in my Pinterest board. It took no time at all for me to replace half of the ingredients with my own choices. Here is the resulting recipe: 

Maple Dijon Chicken 

(Serves 6 if you aren’t a big meat eater. Serves 2 if you eat as much as we do.)

3 large chicken breasts, each cut in half lengthwise

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup all natural maple syrup (don’t be tempted to buy any sugar-free crap)

1 tablespoon of pomegranate vinegar (found at Trader Joe’s)

salt and pepper to taste

rosemary, as garnish

Instructions: Preheat your oven to 350. Mix together chicken, mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place in a baking dish and cook for 30 minutes or until chicken has reached 165 degrees. Garnish with rosemary. 

dijon chicken

Simple ingredients with, of course, much more rosemary than originally planned


Happy eaters!

happy eater 1

Quinoa, balsamic roasted vegetables, maple dijon chicken, and a mint IPA. And a Ryan.


Many blogs I have read include a question at the end of their posts. So feel free to respond or talk about something entirely different. 

Do you have a go-to efficient workout when you’re crunched for time?

Introductions and Sloppy European Yogurt


Beautiful Hawaii!

I suppose I like writing. As I’m cooking, running, and even teaching I think about how I would describe a particular situation in a journal entry. I’ve tried journaling…it didn’t work out. I’ve also tried blogging, but I think I chose something too specific to talk about–dealing with what I can only describe as disordered eating behaviors in college. I didn’t really want to write about it all of the time, and I doubted many people wanted to read about it all of the time. I’ve thought about writing a food blog, a fitness blog, and a teaching blog. I’d get bored with myself after a while. So I suppose this could be a lifestyle blog? Is that a category?  I can’t offer much in terms of beauty tips…most people who have conversed with me only once could easily assume as much. But I do love food, and I have a healthy relationship with exercise.  I also read nutrition articles that I’m not sure I’m qualified to adequately analyze, but they interest me. I’ll become “that girl” who takes pictures of food, barbells, and running shoes. So I’ll just write and see where it takes me.

After watching an exciting World Cup final with friends (poor Messi), Ryan and I came home to our mostly empty fridge. When we’re low on supplies, salad is usually the way to go. We’re not big on ordering pizza, getting fast food, or microwaving frozen TV dinners. We had some ingredients for a salad and a massive bag of frozen chicken breasts from Costco. We also had some funky yogurt from Trader Joe’s. I was looking for plain yogurt and picked up the cheapest carton without reading very carefully. Apparently I grabbed European style yogurt. Has anyone tried it? It’s very liquidy. Yogurt water, perhaps. It didn’t appear very appetizing to me or Ryan, so I put it in the freezer hoping to come up with something useful later. Fortunately, we’re also low on salad dressing. So out came the funky yogurt so I could make my own ranch dressing.

For the dressing I used a giant glob of European style TJ’s yogurt, some milk, dried parsely, onion powder, garlic powder, dried dill, dried chives, salt, and pepper. It turned out nicely; maybe it was a tad garlicky. So into the salad goes chicken, peppers, cabbage, and the ranch dressing. Oh and there was also some leftover garlic sauce on the chicken. (I don’t like wasting food.)

blog pic 1

Yay amateur food photography! You can thank the iphone. (And the dressing isn’t actually on the salad yet. Oops.)

Tomorrow I’ll restock the kitchen and have some new recipes to try out. I’ll also have a workout to share. I know… you can’t wait.