Hot Yoga!

Well, I went to my first yoga class this evening. Actually, let me correct myself. I went to my first hot yoga class this evening and actually really liked it! The idea of sweating in a room full of strangers always gave me the creeps before, but this was actually very fun. The studio fit about 25 of us pretty tightly, but everyone seemed to have room to grow branches during tree pose. The temperature read 91 degrees (Fahrenheit), but mid way through, I stopped even noticing it. The one thing I will definitely invest in is a towel mat. My hands and feet were slipping everywhere! All in all, I highly recommend it, but don’t go to a class where the temperature is higher. That’s just silly.

After yoga, I came home and heated up some of my leftover homemade Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque. I put extra pepper flakes in this batch, so I was on fire for the second time in the day. I chugged a Gatorade and hit the couch for some much needed cat time.

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Ok, now it’s time to get ready for American Horror Story: The Coven!

Power Yoga Morgantown

Well I finally enrolled in my first yoga class here in Morgantown. There are several studios around town, but I decided to try Power Yoga Morgantown first. Originally, I had contacted Suncrest Yoga, which I’m still not ruling out as a possibility, but decided to start slow with PYM’s $60 5-class pass package. I’ve been practicing for years, but I’ve never actually attended a real class, outside of WVU’s Rec Center, so I’m pretty excited. I’m off to get a new mat later today, since my cats use my current one as a scratching post.

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I signed up for classes, not realizing they had a 2 weeks for $25 deal, but I’m hoping maybe they’ll let me use that deal, in addition to what I’ve already paid for.

Now on to food. When I was in college, my roommate Micah would make this delicious dessert called “Grape Salad” for us on a semi-regular occasion. To say it was delicious doesn’t do it justice. It was heavenly. OMG. Anyway, I decided that it was time to try making it myself.

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So here’s the recipe.

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds red grapes
  • 2 pounds seedless green grapes
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until blended. Add grapes and toss to coat.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans just before serving. Yield: 21-24 servings.

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So good! I highly recommend trying this out.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got for you. I’ll now leave you with pictures of what my cats have up to since the shut down. Spoiler alert: it’s riveting.

Sleeping Girls

Curried Chicken Salad

Last night was veggie pickup, which meant at least 30 minutes in the kitchen getting everything cleaned and ready for the week. Last night’s vegetables included celery, two striped squash things, two bell/wax pepper hybrid things, a bundle of leeks, a giant clove of garlic, and bagged salad mix. Thankfully, this stuff was pretty easy to clean up, unlike the dirty, excuse me, Earth-covered, potatoes. I make this distinction, because when I worked the NASA tent at the Boy Scout Jamboree in southern West Virginia this summer, someone I secretly dubbed “Cargo Shorts Guy” politely reprimanded me for complaining about being covered in dust and dirt. “But it’s part of the Earth! That’s a beautiful thing! Don’t complain about Earth’s gift!” Uh yeah, whenever I have clods of “Earth’s gift” up my nose, you’d better be prepared for my constant complaining. Stuff it, granola man.

Anyway, after I got the vegetables put away, I started preparing dinner. I knew I wanted something low maintenance, since I knew I’d be making PBFinger’s eggplant medallions tonight, so I went with a simple curried chicken salad. I pulled the recipe from Food Network, but ended up putting too much mayonnaise in. I decided it wasn’t my fault and pointed the finger of blame at Ina Garten. (I also blame her for turning my mother into a lemon-juice-drizzling machine.) The recipe was simplified thanks to my lack of ingredients, so it took even less time than anticipated. I topped it on a bed of greens and sliced up some red pepper for the side. Delicious. I decided I needed something else, so I chopped up one of the bell/wax pepper things and sautéed it with some fresh garlic. Growing up, we would always eat sautéed wax peppers on buttered Italian bread, so I decided to follow suit. All in all, a great dinner.

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Following dinner I engaged in some much needed cuddle time with Karen. She’s a cat that  will pin you to the couch if you let her on your lap, so after about 30 minutes, I had to wiggle out from underneath of her.

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I hopped on to the floor to do a relatively quick yoga routine. I’ve really been digging this 30-Day Yoga series on Youtube lately, so I picked out a “continual flow” routine and got started. The girl who does these videos is very likeable and doesn’t come across as an arrogant yogi. I also really love her living room! After I did this, I did a few ab-strengthening moves, yesterday’s challenge and hit the couch. I must have gotten a great workout, because for the first time in my life, I slept through my alarm. I had pillow marks ALL over my face when I woke up! 

Ok, I’m off for the day. Before we part, let me leave you with another challenge to tack on to last night’s. Tonight, complete 15 lunges on each leg and 20 squats.

Curried Chicken Salad

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on (I used canned chicken)
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup chutney (Omitted this!)
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup medium-diced celery (2 large stalks)
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken into large bite-size pieces.

3. For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth.

4. Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.
Credit: Ina Garten, Food Network

Yogatastic

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting back to an old favorite: Yoga. It started as a way to help quiet my mind in the evenings before bed, but has turned into a great way to help build my mileage back up. Here are some reasons why:

  •  It improves strength and flexibility.  While on the mat, yoga practitioners begin to develop strength in areas, namely core and legs, that runners depend on for injury-free performances. Yoga also helps loosen and lengthen muscles, which reverse the muscle tightness most runners experience.
  • It helps with breathing. Yoga’s main focus is on the breath, so it’s no surprise that many runners find that the breath awareness they learn in yoga class helps them pace themselves and run more efficiently.
  • It can help a runner recover from a workout. Yoga can be both intense and restorative. Some of the best restorative poses are Legs-up-the-Wall Pose, Corpse Pose, Pigeon Pose and Child’s Pose. (See below)
  • It can strengthen the mind. Both running and yoga are activities that must be practiced regularly and that teach practitioners to focus on the present moment. Some find that quieting the mind while stretching and strengthening the body relieves the pain of muscle tension caused by long runs and daily stress.

Poses for Restoration:

Corpse Pose

Up the Wall Pose

Pigeon Pose

For more poses, check out https://cathaircoffee.com/fitness/yoga-poses/.

It’s Official

Today I finished reading all of PB Fingers blog entries. Although I’m so happy I’m caught up, I really feel like I just finished a great book that doesn’t have a sequel. (Think, the end of the Harry Potter series.) However, the best part of following a blog is that it doesn’t actually end; I just have to start reading it in real time!

Another official moment in the day was when I decided to pop in Love Actually to better get in the Christmas spirit. Well, partly that and because I need to get my Rick fix from Walking Dead.

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God I’m pathetic.

Anyway, before I got home from my day at work, I had to stop by Advantage Health and Wellness for my usual Wednesday appointment with Brad, my physical therapist. I got adjusted, a very deep massage and had to do some serious strength exercises. Here is my usual routine.

  • 2 sets of planks for 30 seconds
  • 2 sets of side planks for 30 seconds
  • 10 hip lifts for 10 seconds each
  • 25 calf raises with 10lb weights (1 set toes out, toes in and toes straight forward)
  • 4 sets of ~6 sneaky lunges (small space to do these)
  • 10 leg raises with toes pointed down (1 set each leg)
  • 10 swinging hip things (called “hip 2” at the office)
  • 30-60 second split squats (2 each leg)
  • JUST ADDED: squats on the bosu ball
  • (chair position) intense pose of sun salutation (HORRIBLE)

After all of this, my back does feel stronger, but man are my legs sore! Now if I could only get back to my usual running routine…

I’m off to finish Love Actually, but let me leave you with this: I don’t think Love Actually is in any way realistic and I couldn’t imagine living in a world where Hugh Grant was Prime Minister, but once a year, I like to pop this movie and pretend that two people acting as body doubles on the set of a sex movie could actually meet and fall madly in love.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Try meringue cookies this Christmas season and save yourself some major calories!

The Dixie Chicks Had It Right

“I’m ready to run.” Alright, so I’m not running away from the altar, but I am entering my second month of my newest fitness challenge, “Running to Rome.”

During the month of June, I was feeling sluggish from adjusting to a new work schedule and couldn’t find the energy to do anything when I got home from work. My diet was under control thanks to the My Fitness Pal app (look me up!), but I still needed a major cardio outlet. I debated my options and decided to give running another try.

I headed to the trail, but only managed to do 2 miles. After this painful run, I hobbled to my car and headed home to stretch. As many of you (or the very few who read my blog) remember, when I first started down the road to wellness, I was running almost 5 times a week. It was painful, but my body adjusted and I averaged almost 3.5 miles per run. As time progressed, I switched to indoor activities, such as P90X and the elliptical machine. Occasionally the mood would strike and I’d lace up my sneaks, but I always punked out when I started to feel those shin splints creepin’. However, this time, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this was the missing piece to the puzzle.

I took a few days to consider my options and decided to start on July 4th before heading to my parent’s for a holiday celebration. Unlike the many times before, I didn’t run hard or fast, but paced myself well. I was jogging at a moderate pace, and actually enjoying the fresh air and scenery. I finished three miles with relative ease and felt so proud that I had kept going. The next three-mile run felt even better! By the end of July, I’d traveled 23.65 miles and felt like three miles four times a week was definitely possible. For giggles I decided to map it. Heading north, via I-79, I mapped at a point just north of Waynesburg, PA, which made these 3 milers seem less mundane and routine. Trust me when I say that it makes all the difference to see that you are actually heading somewhere when you run. This thought immediately led to, “So, how far can I go?”

My “Running to Rome” challenge was originally supposed to be “Running to Maine,” however the mapping for that trip was a bit more complex. I had already started a map on MapMyRun.com and saw no reason to reroute. I looked at the possible destinations in my current path and landed on Rome, NY. It wasn’t an area I’d ever heard of, but it is home to the 3 mile long Woodstock Peace Wall. The distance averaged to about 465 miles from my base starting point in Star City and as of right now, I have 439.65 miles left. I should reach my destination by April 2012. (I’ll try to post a weekly update so you can follow along!)

Aside from a weekly mileage update, here are some things you can expect to see consistently over the next few months:

  • A weekly yoga pose
  • Healthy (and delicious) recipes
  • Daily health tips for better living
  • My healthy choice of the day

Since it’s almost Friday (the end of my week), I’ll go ahead and pick a pose of the week. Vrikshasana, otherwise known as Tree Pose is great to help open the hips and is thought to help improve deep concentration. Give it a try:

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office clip art

 
  1. Stand straight and keep your feet close each other.
  2. Bring your right foot up to your left inner thigh, creating a triangle (think The Graduate).
  3. Find your balance and slowly bring your hands up to your chest to prayer position.
  4. If comfortable, bring arms overhead to a straight position.
  5. Stay in this position for 10 seconds and remember to always breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

 As for my healthy choice of the day: Instead of having chocolate Kisses for dessert, I opted for a cup of my delicious Republic of Tea Vanilla Almond black tea.

“The great Gift of the Leaf is that it relaxes the brain, freeing it to float to its true home in the boundless and the inexhaustible – the sublime state we call Tea Mind.” -quote on the canister