Monthly Archives: October 2011

Dash Fitness Challenge WEEK ONE

October 27, 2011

This is me after one week of the challenge.

Well, not really.

But I have been in mad pursuit of some bright pink leggings to wear to Obisidan class. I’m also smiling that big approximately 87% of every day. And that’s an upswing.

Week one was big, but I haven’t wanted to write much about it until I had some kind of proof that it was working.

It is.

My first weigh in was Tuesday morning. Technically I’ve been following my eating/fitness plan longer than 1 week, because the day I started was actually a few days before the actual start date. But great news:

1. I have now completed THREE Obisidan classes without:

  • a) puking,
  • b) slipping on one of my little booties
  • 3) using inappropriate language

Wow those classes make a difference. And I’ve loved trying something new, because I’m excited to go, even if I’m crying a little bit at the end. There was one move today (helicopter?) that involved a figure skater spin that made me all kinds of happy.

2. I lost weight.

About 3 pounds. And I’m eating more than I used to. (Winning, Charlie Sheen. Winning.)

3. For the first time in a long time, I’m not fixating on my weight.

I am totally content doing my work and allowing the results to show up without obsessing over them. I feel an awful lot healthier in my head about my diet and exercise than I ever did on Weight Watchers, South Beach, or any of the other things I’ve tried.

4. I can sort of see some muscles.

I was doing mountain climber this afternoon and looked up in the mirror and saw a TRICEP. And it wasn’t on the guy next to me. It was on me. Holy bonanza.

In other news:

I went clothes shopping this week and the lady at the store told me my jeans were way too big and I needed to buy some new ones. I told her absolutely not. These things are going to be getting an awful lot bigger by the time January rolls around. I may have to channel my inner 90′s teenage boy and buy some really cool boxer shorts to wear under my sagging jeans.

My husband claims my butt is getting bigger. But in a good muscley way. I let it slide. (One day I’ll write a post on things he’s said to me that were meant as compliments but completely backfired. “You could be a Gen X model” is one of them. Oh I love that man.)

I (sort of) kept up with the Step Class Queen. If you’ve ever been to Step at Dash you’ve seen her. She is extremely good. She gets all the combinations right away and manages to have loads of energy at 6 AM on a Tuesday. I put my bench right next to her so I could feed off her energy and coordination. Step Class Queen, you know who you are. Body Pump Queen, I’ll talk about you another time.

I have been cooking like a crazy lady. Really really good healthy things, mingled with things like dark chocolate covered pretzels and healthy-ish chocolate chip cookies. More on this later.

I am loving this fitness challenge. I really really am.

 

 

My Oatmeal Problem & A Recipe for Oatmeal Pancakes

October 22, 2011

I just pulled 4 different boxes of oatmeal from my pantry. I may have a problem. An oaty one.

But really, people, is there anything better than a hot bowl of oatmeal, sweetened with brown sugar and topped with milk? Only if you add walnuts. And maybe throw in a gift certificate to a spa.

I am a firm believer that anyone who doesn’t like oatmeal was 1) forced to eat something masquerading as oatmeal in their youth (think porridge) or 2) has given up on life.

As I write about this I am realizing my passion. Or is it a problem? I guess I don’t know the difference.

I’m just encouraging you to give oatmeal a try. Particularly if you’ve been eating that gross instant stuff that comes in little envelopes with dried up bits of fruit in it. (Okay, that stuff is pretty good too, but now I’m a purist.) This stuff is so good for your blood sugar. It’s good for your digestive system. And it sticks to your ribs on a cold October morning when you are leaving the house to fulfill your duties as a lumberjack. Or whatever it is you may do.

And there are so many different kinds! Instant, old fashioned, steel cut…

This is my current favorite:
I discovered this one at my favorite place for breakfast in SLC–Millcreek Cafe. Their oatmeal is legendary. The last time I was there I badgered our server until she’d given me all the info she could on my particularly delicious bowl. It is Quaker Steel Cut Oats (these take longer to cook) cooked in a sauce pan, and topped with candied walnuts, milk, and brown sugar.

I think a tear just dripped down my face.

Or maybe I’m crying because of how bad I smell after my (very) hard Bodypump class this morning.

This morning I wanted to get creative with my oatmeal. I was also starving from my very hard workout. (Did I mention that already? Did I just hear someone ask for a photo of my now impressive biceps? Maybe later.) I made some pancakes from a recipe in my new favorite cookbook: The Best of Clean Eating.

Oatmeal Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/4 cups Old-fashioned oats
  • 1 & 1/4 cups 1% milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBSP canola oil

Directions:

Mix oats and milk together and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in oil and egg. Add flour and baking powder. Spoon out 1/4 cup sized pancakes onto hot pan. Let sit until browned on bottom, then flip. Serve with butter.

This made 9 very filling and delicious pancakes. (I could only eat 2.) Just the kind of fuel I needed. Please have one in honor of me.

Yesterday Was a Bad Day, But I Do Love Book Club

October 21, 2011

Some days just don’t work. Yesterday was one of those days.

It started at 3:30 AM when Giacomo (our 12 lb. shihtzu with an Italian name) started wigging out. The day before I’d taken him to the groomers/vet and asked them to check and clean out his ears because I’d noticed he was shaking his head. They ended up finding 2 foxtails (the plant kind) in his left ear that have been there since who knows when, and causing him all kinds of pain. They ended up having to put him under to remove them.

When David picked Giacomo up at the end of the day he was a bit woozy, which I have to admit was kind of nice because normally he is racing through the house terrorizing pens, couches, house guests, and any unfortunate bug who manages to get in his way, like some kind of miniature godzilla. However, in the middle of the night he started crying and getting upset. David had a long day of work ahead so I decided to just get up with him and let him terrorize for a while so at least one of us could sleep.

At 6:00 AM I decided to go to my Body Combat class at Dash. I normally love this class–it makes me feel rather tough–but I was so off my game. Now I was the woozy one. I seriously considered ducking out early a few times but I stayed with it.

By the time I got home at 7:30 David was heading off to work and I got back in bed. I didn’t wake up until 11:30 and even then felt really crappy. I had a late breakfast, and forgot to eat much of a lunch. Then for dinner I decided to make Skinnytaste’s Slow Cooked Sweet Barbacoa Pork, which sounded amazing. However, there was a bit of a meat error: apparently a pork roast and a pork tenderloin are two very different things. That meat would not shred. I was really bugged. I was already feeling really crappy, and this minor annoyance turned me into what Jack Sparrow (and my husband) would call

A Terrible Beasty.

Finally it was book club time. David suggested I stay home (perhaps to minimize the effect my terrible mood was going to have on the world), but I insisted I had to go.

Oh  I love book club. I need that girl time every month.

Here are the things our club talked about last night:

  • Ghosts
  • Squash
  • Weird stuff we’ve done under anesthesia
  • High school boys who were creepy
  • Whipped cream
  • Psychics
  • Blogs we hate because the girls who write them weigh 90 lbs and make gigantic chocolate cakes every day
  • Whether or not dressing as Lucy and Ethel in the factory scene works for a Halloween party themed “1940′s Hollywood Red Carpet”
  • Which of our friends had the scariest big sister in the history of the world
  • Who hates dressing up for Halloween
  • What to call cookie dough dip made out of chickpeas (it was delicious)
  • How Ali Fife’s brother looks like Jesus
  • Medical literature
  • Pinterest
  • Over the counter drugs
  • Illegal drugs
  • Whether or not we are part of the “cool group” at work/school
  • Weddings we didn’t love
  • Mothers in law
  • How your astrology sign affects your sex life
  • Socks

Oh yeah, and:

  • Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden (If you have not read this, then 1) go get it, 2) cancel everything else this weekend. That is all I’m going to say.)

Book club makes everything right.

By the time I got home I was only a moderate beasty. And that is a huge improvement. But at 10:30 PM I was starving. I hadn’t eaten my protein. I hadn’t had my water. I hadn’t eaten regularly, and I really hadn’t had a great breakfast. I ended up eating a couple of pork tacos and some highly salted rice crisps. This morning I woke up with a stomach ache and awful heartburn.

Which means that today I must TRY AGAIN.

Thank heavens every day is a new chance.

Eat Your Breakfast or be a Sumo

October 20, 2011

At the Dash Obsidian Challenge kick-off I learned something rather interesting:

When sumo wrestlers want to put on weight the first thing they do is skip breakfast. This helps keep their metabolism low, and let’s them glory in all their hefty good looks.

So if this is what you’re going for, then by all means skip your breakfast.

As part of my fitness challenge I am eating 6 times a day (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack), eating a mix of carbohydrates and protein, and making breakfast my biggest meal of the day. I’m aiming for about 400 calories for breakfast. Here are my favorite breakfasts so far:


Yogurt with Granola, Grapes & Honey 

  • 1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup granola (try Udi’s Original, it’s divine)
  • 1 cup halved grapes
  • 1 tsp. honey


Breakfast Burrito

  • whole wheat tortilla filled with:
  • 1/8 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg scrambled in 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup sauteed veggies (mushrooms, bell peppers, green onions)
  • Add hot sauce or salsa

Delicious. I think my fellow-athlete would agree.

Or maybe not. But I definitely don’t want to disagree with this guy.

He is fearsome in his diaper.

How I’m Getting Fit, Losing Weight, and Becoming All-Around Awesome in 90 Days

October 17, 2011

“The only difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline.” –Steve Smith.

Yes, you read that correctly. I just began my post with an inspirational quote that did not involve The Diary of Bridget Jones. I think a storm is brewing.

In fact, it is. I’m about to get fit in 90 days.

A few months ago I joined Dash Fitness Studios in Salt Lake City. It’s basically Disney Land for really fit, pretty people. It’s a 2 room studio that offers Les Mills classes (body pump, step classes, kick boxing), yoga and zumba. The owners, Lacey and Erin, also created a program called Obsidian—something I’d heard whispers of around town. All I knew is that it’s really, really hard, so it took me several weeks to build up my courage to try it.

These two gorgeous ladies are Erin & Lacey. You can see why people would want to follow their lead.

In an Obsidian class, every participant is assigned a yoga-mat sized “slider,” which is basically a really slick surface with ledges on either end to keep you from flying off it, banana-peel style. After a few minutes of jumping up and down in a rather enthusiastic warm-up, Erin had us put booties on our feet and mitts on our hands and began a series of exercises using the board. We skated side to side (harder than it looks and sounds), slid from plank to down-dog, and ran our legs up and down (mountain climbers).

When I got home from that first class David sent me an IM asking how it went.

I told him I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet.

Can I just qualify this? I ran all summer. Earlier this year I ran a half marathon. I’ve been working out (hard) about 4 days a week for at least a year now. But apparently there’s in shape, and then there’s Obsidian in shape.

I want to be Obsidian in shape. And this is how I’m going to do it.

A few times a year Dash Fitness does this great thing called the Obsidian Challenge. Basically you pay a $35 entrance fee and compete for 12 weeks against all the other entrees to lose the most weight and inches. The transformation pictures and stories are very inspirational, and they’re very real. One of the ladies is occasionally in my step class and I always want to shimmy on over to her bench to ask if she’ll sign my unitard. (You’re right, I don’t actually have a unitard, but I did once in 5th grade and not a day has gone by that I don’t miss it.)

Weigh-ins are once a week, measurements are every few weeks. If you gain a pound you owe $5. You also have to take one Obsidian class a week and send in a food diary every week day.

But here’s the best part: The winner gets all the pooled money. That includes entry fees and weight gain money. There are also several other winners (2nd and 3rd place, and whoever loses the most inches) who I’ve heard get spectacular prizes as well.

It appears I can be very driven by money and/or undisclosed prizes.

So here it is:

 I, Jenna, am hereby committing myself to the Dash Holiday Challenge, which begins October 15th and ends January 7, 2012.

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t the world supposed to end in 2012? Believe me, I’ve taken that possibility into account. If the world ends as predicted, at least I’ll go down with the knowledge that I can get through an Obsidian class without gazing longingly at the emergency puking garbage can.

I will be writing about this challenge quite often. What I eat, how my workouts go, what progress I make. If I can muster up the courage to go all Sheryl Yvette I may even post some pictures of my progress along the way. You may even see an additional inspirational quote or two, but let’s not promise anything too crazy, shall we?

 

This Is Going to Make You Wish You Had A Blog

October 14, 2011

Comments on a blog are a big deal. You spend hours working on a post before releasing it into the wild like some kind of wordy boomerang, hoping you’ll get some feedback. You’ve heard the phrase “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back it’s yours…”

There was absolutely no purpose to my having quoted that. It just sort of happened.

Anyway.

Comments are great because they let you know someone is reading. They also let you get to know your readers a little bit. For example, I know that Twana has a bad habit of sucking up Barbie shoes in her vacuum, and that one of Lori’s twitter followers is Steve Martin (So. Jealous.)  However, if you’ve ever had a blog you know that you’ll get lots of rather interesting comments. Like Martin Dumont (damn him) who gave me a glimpse into blogger stardom and then cruelly dashed my hopes by being spam. Here’s another little gem that popped up under my pending comments this week:

I HEARD THAT NANDOS IN TURKEY CLOSED. SORRY TO HEAR THAT. I KNEW NANDOS’FOODS. I HAD EATEN FOOD TWICE THIS SUMMER. IT WAS VERY DELICIOUS. I BELIEVE THAT TURKEY IS A GOOD MARKET FOR NANDOS. BECAUSE TURKEY IS EMERGING MARKET AND ITS POPULATION IS INCREASING. IN ADDITION, NANDOS CAN GIVE NEW MARKEST THROUGH TURKEY. AND NANDOS PRODUCTS ARE AVAILABLE TURKISH TASTE. I WANTED THAT YOU MUST KNOW THİS. YOURS SINCERELEY. OSMETOZ

You see the value of this particular comment? Without Osmetoz I would have no idea that Nandos in Turkey is closed. I’d possibly have no idea that it even existed. And how else would I know that Nandos products are available Turkish taste?  It’s hard to imagine life without this information. I’m so glad he wanted that I must know this. So thoughtful.

If any of you have any information regarding foreign grocery stores that you think should come to my attention, please comment below.

Thank you.

 

Adventures in Vacuuming

October 13, 2011

Dear Whoever Sucked Up My Husband’s Computer Mouse Last Night,

I have an idea of what happened. You were probably trying to do a good deed–vacuuming our sorely neglected little apartment– when you got to the scariest room in the place: the office. You were probably in a hurry because America’s Next Top Model was on soon, so maybe you neglected to lift the spiderweb of computer cords out of your Eureka 300′s way. Then perhaps the cord to the mouse got sucked up and made a horrible sound and you panicked and had to pull the cord out of the mean little machine’s mouth. The wires were stripped and the whole thing was ruined.

It’s okay. I forgive you. And so does David. Particularly after the wonderful tomato soup and grilled sandwiches you made last night.

Sincerely,

The Person Who Will Not Admit to Doing Such a Thing

Twenty Meals / Thirty Days: Salmon with Gingery Asparagus & Bok Choy (#1)

October 11, 2011

“Have sneaking suspicion am also something of a genius in the kitchen.”

   —The Diary of Bridget Jones.

I need you to appreciate the will power it requires to avoid quoting Bridget Jones in every post. One day I’ll give you 1000 words on why I found The Diary of Bridget Jones to be completely inspirational. But today I am going to tell you about my latest endeavor, the idea of which came from Real Simple Magazine: Life Made Easier.

I love magazines. They promise all kinds of things that I simply can’t resist: a ripped bod, a better sex life, an organized house, and the secrets behind Brad Womack’s crazy temper. In other words, for $4.99 my life is about to get a whole lot better.

This month’s Real Simple “Month of Easy Dinners” got me. I’d been on the road for about 8 days and the promise of easy, homemade meals that didn’t require thought made me swoon. (I swoon a lot—thank heavens for smelling salts and a husband who is rather good at catching me.) Basically the article consisted of some gorgeous food photos accompanied by simple(ish) recipes and a grocery list that lets you shop for the whole week. The meals are organized so you use the most perishable items first, thereby negating the need for another trip to the store. All the info is on Real Simple’s website.

My plan is to show you how I make all of these meals. I rarely cook exactly the way a recipe describes, but it usually works out. That is why I love cooking. It doesn’t require me to color in the lines.

This is the plan for this week:

  • Monday – Salmon with Gingery Green Beans & Bok Choy
  • Tuesday – Tomato Soup with Roast Beef, Cheddar and Horseradish Panini
  • Wednesday – Pork Chops with Roasted Beets and Oranges
  • Thursday – Chicken with Potatoes, Bacon and Cabbage
  • Friday – Tortellini with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, and Fontina

I did the week’s grocery shopping Monday afternoon and spent about $75. I think the money was well spent, because each meal serves 4, which means David will have plenty of leftovers to taunt his coworkers with. (Sorry, coworkers.)

Meal #1: Salmon with Gingery Asparagus & Bok Choy (serves 4)

Bok choy was confusing. Shopping for it consisted of me holding up several large leafy green items to the guy stocking the produce section and asking “Is this a bok choy?” “Is this?” He kept looking over my head when he answered me which was very misleading–was he talking to me? Then I had to YouTube which part to eat and how to cut it up. Doesn’t it look  lovely and healthy? All right, let’s get on in with it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 T + 1 t canola oil
  • 1 & 1/3 lbs skinless salmon fillet, cut into several pieces
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 T chopped ginger
  • 1 large bunch asparagus (I used this instead of green beans and it was a  good choice)
  • 3 carrots, cut into long, skinny strips
  • 1 bunch of bok choy, (or whatever the produce guy sent me home with) washed within an inch of its life and chopped into small pieces
  • Sriracha (or other Asian chili-garlic sauce)

Directions:

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in large skillet over medium high. Season salmon with salt and cook 4-5 minutes per side, until cooked through.

Heat 2 T canola oil in large skillet over medium high. Add scallions, garlic and ginger and cook until things smell really good, about 30 seconds. Add the asparagus, bok choy, carrots plus 1/4 c water and some salt. Cook until all veggies are tender. Season vegetables with sirachara.

Yes, we have a spare bedroom.

And with all these veggies I felt perfectly justified in making brownies using a whole bar of Ghiradelli 60% cocoa chocolate. As usual, I ate my brownie in batter form.

 

 

 

Changes Are Coming…

October 10, 2011

Hi there.

It’s been awhile. But I have a good reason–its called How My Brain Works, and this is how it shakes out. Ideas generally come to me slow. I get a little spark and then mull it over like wine or something. Okay, I don’t know anything about wine.

But anyway.

I really love writing. And I really love blogging. And I really love hearing from all of you. It’s been amazing to walk into places and meet people who have ACTUALLY READ MY BLOG. People I don’t even know. In fact, I connected with a lovely lady in Missouri last weekend who told me she could told relate to the Kitchen Sink Grope, and it tickled me pink.

But its time for the blog to evolve. Big time.

A few months ago a VERY nice artist contacted me and asked if he could put together some artwork for The Green Lemon. His comment he left was actually:

My wife and I just started reading your blog. Love the subjects you address and the writing style. Looking forward to more. Anytime you feel like you need anything a little more custom than Microsoft Clip Image 427772 to adorn your post let me know. I’d love to pair some of my illustration with your writing. See a wide range of samples on http://www.snarrfish.blogspot.com. And no, this isn’t spam, I’m not selling anything. I’m sure that if you find the idea the least bit strange, I’ll be reading about it in a future post.

This made me laugh.

So then I went on his blog and really liked what I saw. And he started sending me stuff. And I liked it even more. Long story short, I have a really really wonderful new blog design in the works. My spectacular husband has been clacking away on his nerd box all weekend putting it together and I am really really excited. Here is a little preview…

Can you stand it??

I also realized something else: My daily life is not really echoed in this blog. And while I know I simply won’t be able to refrain from wordy orations on the magic of pulp fiction covers, praying in tanning beds, and my childhood goldfish, I am going to try to bring my focus in a little. This is the stuff I really really love and will be writing a lot about:

  • Books
  • Cooking
  • Fitness
  • Marriage

And people, its time for me to write more. A lot more. Like daily. I’m not promising anything, but things are about to get crazy up in here. (Yes, that was meant to be gangster.) Particularly because I start a rather intense fitness challenge on Saturday. And I have plans to make 20 gourmet meals in 30 days. I know. These things don’t seem to go together. Or maybe they do.

But the real reason for this post is I wanted to say the following:

THANK YOU so much  for reading my blog. If I knew where you lived I would send you some balloons. And maybe show up in a gorilla costume to sing you the last line of my 137th favorite song:

“Yes, I can tell that we are gonna be friends…”

I won’t be offended if you don’t immediately send me your address.