Monday, November 26, 2012

Weeks of Eats + My Current Favorite Cardio

So it's now been two weeks since I last blogged. Sheesh. I am not so good at this, apparently! The thing is, I love to blog, I love to share what's going on in my life, what I've learned, etc. The catch, however, is that I am a wife, I am a mom to 2 young kids, I have a full-time job, I struggle to fit in my quiet time, I cook, I exercise, I clean, I run errands, I make lunches, I do laundry, and I'm supposed to sleep in there somewhere too. Yep, life is full. I'm lucky if I get to sit down while I'm at home, much less blog. But (yes, there is a but), I LOVE to blog. So I'm just making time when I can. And today, I can! Tomorrow, who knows? The fact is, when I'm home my role as a wife and mother come first. And I never want anything to interfere with those roles.  So if I'm absent from the blog world for a few days (or weeks) at a time, please know that I'll be back. And please keep reading! You can always follow me on Instagram under brookeeking. And now I'm also (finally) on Twitter under @milkandhoneyfds.  Please check in with me there, and follow me! Leave me your comments on those networks and on this blog so that I know that you're reading!!

Trying to catch up on the last few weeks would be the longest post ever.  So, here are some pictures of meals and snacks that I've been enjoying!

Thanksgiving dinner! I contributed roasted vegetables and Harvest Quinoa Salad (recipe from Heather here.) Yum! Also had my mom's salad, and a bit of cheese grits and sweet potato casserole (it had gluten, unfortunately, because it was delicious!).

 Ian and I went to Austin over the weekend and ate lunch at Whole Foods, dinner at Bess Bistro (Sandra Bullock's restaurant...that's where the amazing vegetable board was consumed), and another lunch at a small vegan restaurant. Yeah. It was good.

The stuffed acorn squash was dinner tonight. I based it on a recipe from Kasey's website (you can find the original here.) I didn't have tomatoes, so omitted those and added some corn. I also added in some green chiles and black olives (in my husband's anyway...I can't stand them!). This was a wonderful, filling meal, chocked full of protein, fiber, and some healthy fat. Yum!
 As you can see, I've eaten well. I've eaten a bit of gluten here and there (couldn't resist a couple of bites of Whole Foods' vegan cookies!). And even tried a little turkey on Thanksgiving. Honestly, it just didn't appeal to me. I like the way I feel so much better without eating those things!
This was actually the first Thanksgiving in recent memory that I haven't been miserable after the meal. I was actually able to enjoy the day! Yay!!
Despite a wacky schedule, I've pretty much kept my workouts on track. Sometimes I've had to cram things in at odd times, but I feel so much better mentally and physically if I get something in that I make it work! I find that when my schedule is crazy and I"m stressed out, I crave a workout even more. As I've mentioned before, exercise is a huge stress reliever for me. I think my stress must be stored in my sweat ;).
One night, I ended up working out in the living room at 9:30 p.m. It was a quick one, Zwow #43 and a Tara Stiles 7-minute yoga video. It felt great!
 Berkeley was exhausted just watching me, apparently.

 Thanksgiving morning, I participated in the annual Run Thru the Woods, a local 5-mile race. This year was a PR for me...43 minutes, and some seconds (can't remember exactly!). I still can't believe that my pace was under a 9-minute mile. Honestly, the last mile was rough. I stopped and walked a few times, but I'm incredibly happy with where I finished. My time was actually around 5 minutes faster than last year. My natural pace has gotten quite a bit faster over the last year...something I attribute completely to weightlifting and interval training. I don't do speed workouts, I don't have a goal pace, I don't watch my heart rate...I just run. I have no desire to take the fun out of my running!
Speaking of interval workouts, I wanted to share my current favorite one with you. Lately, I've developed a fixation with the Stepmill. Not sure why, but I love to hate this beast. It makes me sweat like nothing else, and I love how I feel it in my butt the next day!
So, without further adieu, my 30-minute Stepmill interval:
  • 0:00 - 2:00        Level 7
  • 2:00 - 4:00        Level 8
  • 4:00 - 5:00        Level 9
  • 5:00 - 5:30        Level 16
  • 5:30 - 6:00        Level 9
  • 6:00 - 6:45        Level 16
  • 6:45 - 7:15          Level 9
  • 7:15 - 8:15          Level 16
  • 8:15 - 8:45         Level 9
  • 8:45 - 10:00      Level 16
  • 10:00 - 10:30    Level 9
  • 10:30 - 12:00    Level 16
  • 12:00 - 12:30    Level 9
  • 12:30 - 14:30    Level 16
  • 14:30 - 15:00    Level 9
  • 15:00 - 17:00    Level 17
  • 17:00 - 17:30    Level 9
  • 17:30 - 19:00    Level 17
  • 19:00 - 19:30    Level 9
  • 19:30 - 20:45    Level 17
  • 20:45 - 21:15     Level 9
  • 21:15 - 22:15      Level 17
  • 22:15 - 22:45     Level 9
  • 22:45 - 23:30    Level 17
  • 23:30 - 24:00    Level 9
  • 24:00 - 24:30    Level 17
  • 24:30 - 25:00    Level 9
  • 25:00 - 27:00    Level 17
  • 27:00 - 30:00    Level 8
Adjust to your fitness level and desired effort. That's the beauty of a workout like can make it yours! If you try it out, let me know what you think :)
Okay, so that's all for now. It's late and I still have lunches to make!  Have a wonderful, blessed day!
Verse of the Day:
"...having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints,...."  Eph. 1:18 (ESV)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Holistic Fitness

So, another fail. I've been shooting for 3 posts a week and making 2. Maybe I should shoot for 4 posts a week, and then I'll make 3. This sounds like a good plan, right? The trick is to out-psych yourself.

A lot has happened in the last 5 days. A lot of meals have been consumed. A lot of workouts have been completed. Here's a taste of what I ate in the last 5 days. (Get it? Taste?? That was completely unintentional and awful!)

Here is the recipe for the pumpkin protein pancakes (pictured above). I have about a zillion GF pancake recipes, though I normally stick to one, but tried this one for the first time yesterday. It was really good! Best of all, it make 2 pancakes, which meant 2 different toppings! I topped one with chocolate protein "frosting" and raw pumpkin seeds, and the other with raw almond butter and Chobani apple cinnamon yogurt. I could seriously eat pancakes for every meal.
Other blogger recipes that I've tried (and loved) lately:

One of the best things about find recipes is tweaking them to make them my own. Aka to "Brooke-ify" them. I highly encourage making dishes your own. Take ownership of your kitchen and of what you make in it!

My workouts have been the usual. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are gym days (20 minutes of HIIT or 30-40 minutes of cardio plus 40 minutes of weights). Tuesdays and Thursdays are work-out-at-home days. Last week, I did bodyweight exercises in the morning (legs on Tuesday and core on Thursday), and then went for 4 mile runs in the afternoon. The weather here finally cooled down and dried out a little, so I was loving my runs!
On Thursday, the air was warm and sticky but the breeze was cool and strong. I was tired, but the wind energized me. About a mile into my run, I started praying and kept praying for the remainder. Something about the wind in my face, the leaves blowing around, and the water being whipped up on the lake spoke to my soul. I feel closer to God when I'm outside than almost any other place. This is one of the reasons I love to run outside--it calms my spirit and quiets the noise in my head. I am forced to be present in the the moment and still.

Lindsay's post on Friday about "Soul Muscles" got me thinking. Sometimes my only "alone" time during the day is during my workouts. I often listen to the Pandora worship station in the morning at the gym (and then realize that I'm singing out loud! oops!), and I love to pray during my outdoor runs. Spending quiet time with God, during or outside of my workouts, makes my soul and body feel freer, lighter, even stronger. I used to love going to Group X classes, but I've gravitated away from those lately and am really loving my solo workouts. Granted, I'm often "solo" in a gym full of people, but my headphones block out some of the noise and I get in sort of a "zone". I even feel like I've been using my outdoor runs less as physical exercise and more as spiritual exercise.  I feel incredibly refreshed and renewed after my workouts, physically and spiritually. And so thankful! It's so hard to block out noise...whether it be work stress, family obligations, personal struggles, or even those nagging voices (both internal and external) that tell you you're not good enough, not strong enough, not thin enough, not....enough. USE this quiet time to shut those voices up.  Exercise yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually at the same time. Yes, you should take time out to exercise your spiritual self alone, but why not work them all together too?

I challenge you, the next time you're in the gym, don't put on your typical workout mix. Put on music that soothes your soul. And if you're outside or at home for a workout, try just working out in silence. Be thankful of what your body is capable of, of it's growth and the positive changes you see and feel. Be greatful for the peace, for the break. Just be still.

Question: What do you think of the idea of "holistic fitness"? Do you think that your mental, spiritual, and physical fitness are all connected?

And, my question to other BLOGGERS:  Any advice on how to clean up my blog, spread the word, etc.? (Obviously I need some web design help...but don't have the resources for that right now!) My goal with this blog is not to make money off of it...I just want to encourage and inspire as many people as I can. This has been a long and difficult journey for me to wellness, and I want to use that, and my passion for nutrition and fitness, to help others! Your thoughts? Advice? Thank you!!! <3

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


via Pinterest
I had some great news yesterday.

No, it did not come via the news. That's for another blog and another blogger. I'm not even going to go there.

Mine actually came in the mail. Last week when I went to the doctor for my sinus infection, I asked him to run some blood tests for me. I have been anemic for as long as I can remember. I actually remember taking little green iron pills when I was in elementary school. (I actually remember this because the coating tasted sweet!). Throughout my late teens, 20's, and now early 30's , my iron as always tested low. Doctors have ordered more (very unpleasant) tests, I have been told to take iron pills, to eat red meat (which I haven't done in 18 years), blah blah blah. It seems that no matter what I did, my iron would not come up. I pretty much had the medical community stumped. (I'm going to leave that one alone too!)

Well, guess what? My test results from last week showed that my iron was NORMAL!! The normal range for iron is 32-120; mine was 82!!! It seems that my body couldn't even absorb the iron that I was getting from grains and meats. Again, I was listening to the external noise and advice instead of listening to and trusting my own body. I have to admit, I am amazed. I feel so blessed that I have discovered a way of living that honors my body. That just confirms my choices about my diet, and my reasons for writing this blog. I SOO want to help others to honor their own bodies as well!!

Here's a glimpse of what I ate yesterday to keep my body going strong:
This deliciousness was my lunch at work. (My food pictures never look to pretty because a) my food is in a tupperware container at my desk, and b) I get my photo skills from Instagram).

Baby kale is on the bottom, and it's topped with my roasted veggies of the week, 1/4 of a large avocado, sundried tomatoes, raw sauerkraut (great for digestion), torn nori (roasted seaweed) pieces, nutritional yeast (aka "nooch", aka my favorite thing), and apple cider vinegar. So stinkin' yummy.

I worked out at home yesterday morning, doing Tone It Up's Surfer Girl Workout for the first time. It was great! A good, quick, full-body toning workout that you can do with no equipment and makes you sweat. Check!

(Pinterest again)
I wanted to go for a run after I did the DVD, but I didn't get up in time. So after work yesterday, I headed out for a quick 4-miler. I am  so very happy that the Houston heat and humidity has subsided for a little while. I so missed running outside. It just makes me happy.

This morning I hit the gym again before work for 20 minutes of HIIT on the stepmill and a chest/tricep weight session.

Question: Do you ever have days at the gym when you feel weaker than normal?

 Today I felt like I just couldn't lift my normal amount. So frustrating! I have days like that now and then, but they pass and it's not a big deal; I just do what I can and know that I'm still getting a good workout :)

I so love working out first thing in the morning. One of my favortie things to do is listen to a worship station on Pandora.  It puts my mind at peace and gets me focused for the day ahead.

Verse of the day:
"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!"
Psalm 34:8

Have a blessed day!

P.S. If you read this, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Or comment on anything you've read, answer my question above, etc. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Catching Up!! (and a recipe!)

Wow, time got away from me big time. I've made a commitment to blog at least 3 days a week, but I fell a day short last week. I actually had written 3/4 of a post on Saturday, but my stupid mouse on my laptop is super sensitive and I apparently somehow told it to delete my entire post. Yeah. Nice. Since the fam was waiting for me to go out to dinner, my blog time ended at that point. And I also vowed to always turn off the mouse when blogging. Lesson learned.

So, to recap the Hallo-week:

We enjoyed some trick-or-treating with our little bear and ballerina.
How cute are they? I mean, I'm obviously a bit bias, but seriously.

A few pieces of candy may have been stolen from those pumpkin buckets, I'm not going to lie. However, my stomach is not a big fan of sweets, so I stayed out of the buckets after Halloween night. It was worth the pain for a little fun-size chocolate love.

Thursday evening, I decided to take my son out for a jog to "practice" for his 1-mile Thanksgiving race. After we both changed and got the little one settled with daddy, we hit the sidewalk. After, I swear, 20 feet, he stopped and said, "Mom, I'm tired. Can we run around the circle (cul-de-sac) instead?". Ohhh-kay. We jogged back to where daddy and the little peanut were practicing her scooter skills, then I decided that I would go for a quick run alone. Hey, I was already changed! I did a 1.5 mile loop around our neighborhood at the fastest pace I could maintain (just not sure what that was as I didn't have my iPhone), then ran into the house to get dinner on the table. Short, sweet, and sweaty!

Friday was a 20 minute HIIT on the treadmill followed by a 45/15 tabata-style workout starring biceps, shoulders, and abs. I did two sets of exercises each for bi's and shoulders and four sets for abs, and then repeated the whole series, so the whole workout came in at 16 minutes. An intense cardio and weight session in under 40 minutes? Yes please! Love my HIITs!!!

Breakfast was my usual post-gym meal at work.

I love this protein pudding because I can make it the night before and it's even better the next day.  And it couldn't be easier! I start with 1/2 a container of plain coconut milk yogurt, and add 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use Sun Warrior), 1 T chia seeds, 1 packet Stevia, and enough unsweetened almond/coconut milk to mix it and give it a pudding-y texture. Then I throw in whatever I'm in the mood for--lately it's been cacao nibs and unsweetened coconut flakes. Before I eat it, I top it with raw pumpkin seeds (high in iron, which I'm chronically low in) and goji berries. YUM!!

Saturday morning was another HIIT session on this machine:
So, who can guess what it is?? Anyone??

That, my friends, would be the stepmill. It's a torture machine that gives an amazing workout. Now, you shouldn't actually do HIIT workouts more than 3 times a week, and you should ideally take a day off in between. However, I broke the rules. Why? Because I wanted too! I had lots of energy and didn't feel like a steady-state cargo session. After the stepmill, I did a great leg workout. I LOOOVE leg days. They make me feel tough! Plus, I'm really self-conscious about my legs/bootay, so I'm really working on leaning them out :)

My post-workout snack was a special treat:

 Do you see that red cup? Oh yeah, it's officially Christmas time! I swear, no matter what you put in that cup (a double tall one pump sugar free peppermint one pump mocha soy latte, no whip), you're drinking Christmas. It's happiness from cup to tummy!

Saturday afternoon, my little peanut and I decided to try a new recipe while the boys were getting haircuts. I made my own coconut butter! (I swear, coconut butter should be illegal. Holy cow.)  So easy--just dump some unsweetened coconut flakes into your food processor and let 'er rip. It will take a few minutes (it took about 5 in my mini food processor), but it will eventually start to get creamy and smooth (think natural PB texture).
Then, I put my homemade coconut butter into this recipe by Lori and Michelle for healthy pumpkin "fudge".  I swear this stuff tastes just like pumpkin pie filling, except maybe better! It was a winner in my house for sure. (Side note: Every time I say "winner", I always think, "...winner, chicken dinner" in my head. Anyone else watch Guy Fieri?)
Coconut butter heaven
Healthy Pumpkin Fudge
 Okay, I'll conclude 5 days of catching up with a recipe. Then I really need to get back to my real job!

I love granola, but good gluten free, low sugar, high protein, all natural granolas are hard to come by. And expensive! So, inspired by this recipe from Julie at pbfingers, I made my own! (Then put it in a jar to make it fancy.)
Cocoa Pecan Protein Granola (gluten free)
2 cups gluten free old-fashioned oats
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T (or more) sweetener of choice (I used 1 T coconut palm sugar and 1 T honey, buy my husband wanted it sweeter; next time I may double the honey or use coconut nectar instead)

 3 T water (decrease for each additional T of liquid sweetener that you add)
1 t. coconut oil (melted to liquid)
1/2 t. vanilla
Toasted pecans (could also use almonds, cashews, or hazelnuts)

Mix cocoa powder, sweetener, water, coconut oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir until well combined. In a larger bowl, combine oats and protein powder, mixing together well. Pour the cocoa mixture over the oats and protein powder and stir until oats are coated. Spread mixture out over a greased (I used coconut oil) baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes (the granola will crunch-ify!), then mix in your toasted pecans (I toasted mine in the oven while it was pre-heating).

I haven't eaten a whole lot of grains lately and I had about a 1/4 cup serving of this yesterday. It's really good, but I did have a little bloating afterwards. I'm really hoping it wasn't from the oats! I love them!! (I'm actually hoping the bloating came from the ice cream that I also had last night. Warning: If you live in TX, stay far away from HEB's Light Malt Fudge Swirl ice cream unless you are okay eating large amounts of it. There is a reason I only buy it every couple of months!)

So did everyone get an extra hour of sleep over the weekend? If you have small kids like us, I'm guessing that your answer, like mine, is Heck to the NO! Apparently kids don't live by the calendar like we do. However, I did make it to the gym early this morning so I ddin't have to rush for once! Hooray!! (Today was 30 minute elliptical interval and back.)

I'm working on a new protein pancake recipe using quinoa flakes. I've seen quinoa referred to as a grain and as a seed, so it may or may not be on the Paleo diet (for all of my Paleo friends out there). But it is incredibly good for you, so I'm trying to incorporate it when I can. It is the only plant-based source of all 9 amino acids! I recently discovered quinoa flakes, so I'm trying to work out some new uses for them. I haven't quite perfected it yet, but I'm eating lots of yummy protein pancakes in the process! It will be up on the blog as soon as I get it right ;).

Today's YouVersion verse of the day:
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you,...."  1 Peter 5:6

Have a blessed day!!