Exciting News! Adding a new class to the mix…

Hi, friends! TGIF, right?! I have literally had pretty much zero extra time this week due to my work trip to Dallas on Monday and Tuesday and a crazy hectic couple of days after. My bag is still unpacked, my dishwasher just got emptied and I haven’t put away my recent purchases… all of which are VERY unlike me.

BUT, I wanted to pop in today to share some exciting news on the fitness front:

I’m starting to teach a Muscle¬†Work class at Fitness International, located within International Place in Boston’s financial district.

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My company moved into the building in December, and when I heard that the on-site gym offered classes, I immediately went down to chat with them to see if there were any open opportunities… partly because I wanted to have access to the gym (which is otherwise pretty pricey), partly because I wanted to get experience teaching at other gyms, especially one that is located IN my office building. Once I checked it out, saw the locker rooms (with towel service, a sauna, steam room showers, and everything else you’d need to get ready for a day in the office), saw the class sizes (averages 15 people during the middle of the day!), and found out they pay $15/hour MORE than the BSC does, I realized it was a perfect fit.

Granted, I may not really NEED to add another class to my already busy schedule, BUT here are the reasons I decided to take it on:

  • It’s an every other week schedule, meaning that I don’t have a weekly commitment.
  • It is a much more relaxed environment compared to the BSC and YMCA in terms of needing subs and getting subs.
  • It’s a 6:10 am class, which will be a nice change from my evening class schedule. I definitely don’t want to add more classes after work, but having an excuse to get up and workout before work will be really nice- I’m looking forward to having every other Monday evening “off” from the gym!
  • It’s an hour of strength training, which is different from any other class I teach. I’ve been really into strength training over the past 6-8 months, so I’m looking forward to having a whole hour dedicated to it!
  • I’m always looking to get my name out around Boston more, and the more places I teach, the more people and connections I can meet and make!
  • Did I mention it pays more than my other gyms and there’s lots of room for expansion if I decided to do it?

So, I think I made the right decision and I’m excited to see where this will go, BUT I’m a little nervous for my first class on Monday: will they like me? Will I have the energy I do when I teach after work? Will I teach like the other instructor? Will it be too hard or too easy for them? Will they like the format and feel like it was worth their time? I feel like there’s more pressure when teaching a morning class because not only are people taking an hour out of their day for you to give them a good workout, they are getting up EARLY for it. Yikes!

Here’s where I need your help!! Fitness instructors- how do you make sure you have enough energy to teach a morning class? Any tips to make my first class go a little more smoothly? If you teach a strength-only class, what are some “go to” formats you use to take up a full 50-60 minutes? What about energy levels- do members like high-energy instructors or prefer quitter ones since it’s early in the morning? Class goers- what’s something about a strength-only class that you love? What makes you not miss cardio?

Do any of you belong to that gym, work in the building or have friends who belong to the gym? If so, let me know ūüôā I’m definitely going to have to follow my Wednesday Workout: Tips for getting out of bed before work to¬†workout post for a reminder on how to get up and workout before work… I’ve been so lazy when it comes to that since I teach primarily after work ūüėČ

Enjoy your day and weekend!! I’ve got a fun giveaway going up on the blog next week- so keep your eyes on the lookout!

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Wednesday Workout: The Low Impact, No Equipment, No Contact Workout

Aka, the workout I came up with so that I could get some movement in, but not be in any pain. I did this Wednesday night when my hands and feet were in so much pain that I couldn’t really do much that involved moving them. I knew I wanted to get some movement in, so I thought of a workout I could do that would get my heart rate up, yet still be low impact.

Although I didn’t use weights for this workout, if you wanted to intensify it, feel free to use weights- totally up to you. I did each mini set three times through before moving on to the next, but if you wanted to do each mini set once and work through all four of them before you repeated anything, that’s fine, too. The video I filmed will allow you to go through the workout like that- you’ll do each set once through and then you can repeat the circuit one or two times through.

Low Impact, No Equipment, Little Contact Workout

As you can see, there aren’t any crazy moves here- just the basics, but you know what? They are effective if you do them deliberately and if you think about the muscles you’re using for each move. Since a bunch of you asked for more workout video’s/demo’s, I decided I’d try it out with this workout. I definitely lost count more than once (happens every time in my classes- it’s hard to count, instruct and cue!), but hopefully it will help guide you through the workout and feel like you’re with me in class when you do it! I have a lot of work to do in my video’s, but it’s super fun to do them so I hope to get more on the blog this year!

Let me know what you think of the workout and video. Remember to warm up and cool down properly!

Questions for you: Do you like following workout videos? What types of videos would you like to see more of?

Sometimes Workouts Have To Take A Back Seat

As I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to spend some time today sharing a little bit about what I’ve been dealing with over the past week or so. It’s certainly been a frustrating time for me, but it’s given me time to think about a lot of stuff!

So. Let’s talk about health… and how much I (and I’m sure some of you can agree) take it for granted on a day to day basis. It’s not uncommon for me to workout at least an hour or two a day for 6 days a week. It’s just become part of my normal daily activity. I love it, I love the endorphins I get during and after a good workout, I love the feeling of sweat dripping from my face (and arms… and legs… and knees… and hair…), I love the feeling of working out with others, I love the feeling of teaching a class full of hard working members… you get the idea. Working out has just become a huge part of my life, so when that is taken away from me- even if it’s only for a few days- it’s really hard on me.

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I’m not worried that I will gain 5 pounds or lose all my muscle definition and cardio endurance I’ve gained over the past X number of years of working out. It’s more than that- it’s my source of stress relief, it’s¬†my “me” time to think or not think, plan or not plan, it’s something I do for myself each day that helps me relax, get centered and appreciate my body and its abilities.

Last week, over a short amount of time, I came down with a weird skin condition (for the sake of privacy, I’m not sharing what I was diagnosed with) that literally made me the most uncomfortable I have ever been. My hands and feet were incredibly painful and so swollen I couldn’t bend my fingers and it hurt to put on sneakers or brush my teeth. My arms/legs were covered with spots as well, and although they weren’t painful, they were itchy as hell. Needless to say, my number one priority and concern during the first part of the week¬†(ok, actually most of the week)¬†was, “what the F*** (pardon me) is going on with my body right now? When will it stop? What is causing this? Who will be able to tell me what it is and how fast it can be healed”. Working out was such a distant thought in my brain, which never happens.

However, as the medication started to have positive effects on me and I started to feel a little better, I was getting antsy. Working from home all week with pretty much no social interaction is such a foreign thing for me, and is not something I enjoy, so when you pair that with having physical limitations inhibiting you from working out, it makes for a cranky Monique. Actually, more than cranky, I was frustrated. Why me? What have I done to make my skin react on me like this? Why do my hands and feet hurt so bad? {Cue the “woe is me” music…}

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After I spent some time (ok, a lot of time) feeling bad for myself, stressing myself out and crying to my¬†parents, I realized I had a choice: I could wallow in self pity and be miserable, OR, I could appreciate the fact that what I had was likely nothing TOO serious, and certainly nothing fatal. Yeah,¬†it’s super¬†uncomfortable and annoying, but it would be so much worse.¬†So, I did my best to keep myself busy with work, blogging and talking on the phone to take up some of my abundance of “free” time (it’s so annoying that when I actually HAVE free time, I never remember all the things I want to do when¬†I’m busy and don’t have time. Anyone else have this issue?).

And, you know what? It wasn’t the most miserable thing. Sure, I got bored and certainly got cabin fever, but I think the fact that I knew, physically, that I couldn’t be as¬†active as I normally am¬†and really couldn’t be in public helped me accept it more…. Until things started to feel a little better. At that point, I was getting restless from lack of movement. Even if I don’t work out on a particular day, I can usually bank on walking at least a few miles in my normal commute. That doesn’t happen when you don’t leave your house for 48 hours… just saying.

Thankfully, I was able to come up with a very modified, no-contact, no impact workout on Wednesday that I did (going to post for you this week!), and then on Thursday, after g-chatting with Athena and asking her for more suggestions for exercises that didn’t require any touching with my hands (planks, push-ups, tricep dips, anything with weights, etc.) or jumping, I got in a really good- and fun- workout on Thursday after work. An hour passed within a blink of an eye and I think I smiled the whole time (my 3 mile walk during the day in 50*, sunshine weather didn’t hurt my mood, either). Granted, it wasn’t high impact, but you know what? It left me sweaty and sore and gave me that boost of endorphins that I was really craving.

So, what’s the point of this long rant, you may ask? Well, I wanted to catch you up with what’s been going on and I wanted to show you that if you want to make something happen, you can. I knew I physically needed to let my body rest for a few days (Sunday- most of Wednesday), which I did, but I also knew that for me, I needed to figure out a way to get some endorphins flowing once things started to clear up. And, you know what? Having to step outside of the box and my “normal” workout regimen was actually kind of fun. I was able to do things I hadn’t done in a super long time and, because of that, I felt the effects of it the next day. Our bodies get used to doing the same things day after day, week after week, so when you throw in “new” moves or variations, it wakes up some muscles that may have been dormant for a bit (Athena wrote up a great Sunday Sweat Talk on this topic on Sunday- couldn’t agree with her more!). Next time you find yourself with injuries or something else that’s limiting you from doing your usual workouts, I challenge you to talk to friends and try to find “new” exercises that you can do- you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results AND probably won’t be bored because it will be new to you.

Your turn to talk! When’s the last time you changed up your workouts? How do you deal with being cooped up at home for an extended amount of time? Who do you go to when you need fitness advice, ideas or motivation?

Workouts and Weekending

Morning, friends! I hope you had a great weekend! Thank you so much for your awesome comments, Twitter shares and Facebook shares on my ‚ÄúYou workout‚Ķ you can eat what you¬†want‚ÄĚ. I had a blast writing that post and was happy to see that so many of you could relate to it!

I’d love to say that both my workouts last week and weekend activities over the weekend were mind-blowingly awesome, but, they weren’t. On the plus side, I got out of the house which was a very nice treat after having been cooped up inside my little apartment by myself all week!

Friday night after work, I headed up to my friend Lisa’s apartment for a glass of wine and social interaction. It was perfect!

Saturday morning, I got up, worked out (mostly back to normal!) and then hit the road to head north. Although I was feeling and looking {mostly} better, I knew I didn’t want to go out, so I thought it was best to swing home for a night. I stopped in Kittery to “look” quickly at Banana Republic and ended up scoring BIG TIME. Can you guess how much I spent on all of this? 1 dress, 1 pair of pants, 1 skirt, 2 shirts, a necklace and perfume? Hint: It’s under $100!!!

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Apparently I was into leopard print…

Once I got home, I showed my dad an incredibly sore, swollen area on my back and we decided to go to a walk-in clinic to get it checked out since I’m in Dallas Monday and Tuesday this week (really not great timing…). Turns out I had a staph infection and was put on antibiotics. Great. Just what I needed after my week!

Needless to say, being home with my parents to take care of me couldn’t have been any better. I got to have wine, snuggle and play with the cats and even got some “get better” flowers from my mom’s friends. They sure know how to make a girl feel better!

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Charlie’s “sleeping like a log”… get it… in the wood bag, haha I thought mom was pretty funny for that one!

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Sunday was a relaxing day around the house. I filmed a workout video, napped (I didn’t sleep Saturday night, I think because of the Prednisone… sucks), blogged and just tried to relax. I’m nervous about this quick trip to Dallas because being tired and run down is really the last thing I need right now!

Let’s talk about workouts…

I have a whole post going up tomorrow about my mentality towards working out last week (and physical inability to do what I usually do), which was definitely a struggle for me at times, but at other times it was literally the last thing on my mind. Although I wasn’t able to DO most things because of how painful the sores/bumps were on my hands and feet, I was able to get creative with some workouts, which allowed me to get movement in without pain- made me feel so much better!

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- Nothing
  • Tuesday- Nothing
  • Wednesday- I came up with a “no contact, no impact, no equipment” workout that took me about a half hour to finish, including a warm up. I’m posting it on Wednesday for you!
  • Thursday- I g-chatted with Athena during the day and voiced my frustrations about my physical limitations and she gave me a bunch of “doable” exercises to do. I ended up playing around in my apartment for an hour after work and got in a great sweat sesh with no pain! I also walked 3 miles in the day since it was warm and sunny (and I hadn’t stepped foot out of the apartment in over 48 hours…).

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  • Friday- I was able to jump and make a fist with my hands on Friday!! So I did about 30 minutes of different exercises in my apartment since it was raining outside (meaning I couldn’t walk).

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  • Saturday- I had a great workout in my apartment before leaving for Maine. I did about 35 minutes of kickboxing and 15 minutes of core strength, no-weight arm exercises and some squats/lunges.
  • Sunday- I filmed my workout from Wednesday, which was about all I did. I had intentions of going snow shoeing, but due to lack of sleep and time constraints, it didn’t happen…and that’s ok!

This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- If I slept last night, my plan this morning was to get up early and do a quick 20-30 minute workout before heading to the airport. I know I won’t have time on Tuesday to workout, so I’d like to get something in today if possible.
  • Tuesday- Nothing
  • Wednesday- Finally back at the gym (I hope!!!). I’ll probably take it easy and do some light, no-impact cardio before I teach pending on how I feel. I missed these guys last week!
  • Thursday- Teaching my SHRED and Kickboxing double… Hope I’m feeling back to normal at this point!
  • Friday- Not sure. I may try to get something done in my apartment or it could be a rest day since I have plans after work.
  • Saturday- Teaching kickboxing at the Oak Square YMCA
  • Sunday- Not sure… it will probably depend on how my workouts for the week went.

And, that about sums it up!

Questions for you: When’s the last time you had a limitation inhibiting you to workout like you wanted to? What do you do when you can’t do your usual workouts- skip a workout all together or try to improvise and come up with something that is doable?

Grain Free Granola

It seems like grain free/gluten free is all the rage these days. I’m stumbling across recipes using almond meal or coconut flour in place of white or whole wheat flour almost daily, so last weekend I decided to stock up on some Bob’s Red Mill items while at Ocean State Job Lot (they have the best selection!!) so I could have the necessary ingredients to make some of the recipes I’ve been drooling over.

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I had 2 grain free recipes on the dock for last weekend:

Grain Free Granola

Grain Free Upside Down Apple Bread

While I followed Gina’s recipe for the Grain Free Upside Down Apple¬†Bread to a T, I did change up the Grain Free Granola recipe a bit so that’s what I’m posting for you today!

Grain Free Granola

Ingredients

1 cup raw pecans (or walnuts)– I used raw cashews
1 cup raw pistachios (or almonds)– I used raw almonds
1 pinch sea salt
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons butter, ghee, or coconut oil– I used coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut I ran out of this so I skipped it. Next time I’m adding it because I think it would make a great addition
2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)– I used these- chia seeds make everything better!
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots I added these because I love dried fruit in my granola!

Directions

1. Soak the nuts in water with a pinch of sea salt for 8 hours. Apparently this helps release enzyme inhibitors that make digestion difficult. I don’t have an issue with digestion, but wanted to follow the recipe so I did this. I think you could leave this step out since it does add a lot of time to the recipe.

2. Place the nuts on a cookie sheet and let them dry in a warm, dry space for another 8-12 hours.

3. Heat oven to 225*. Place the nuts in a food processor or blender and process until nuts are roughly chopped.

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4. Combine the coconut oil, honey and vanilla and heat until the oil is melted. Add to the chopped nuts. Add in the chia seeds and coconut. The directions said to pulse these in the food processor again, but I didn’t think that was necessary as I like my granola crunchier.

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5. Bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add in your dried apricots (or other dried fruit) once the granola has finished cooking. Serve with almond milk/milk/on it’s own.

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I think I could’ve added a little less coconut oil, as the end result was a bit oily, but otherwise, I thought it was delicious! The beauty of this recipe is the fact that you can change it up based on what you have on hand- nuts, dried fruit, other additions, using maple syrup or agave instead of honey… I love that part of the recipe! Next time I would try using maple syrup instead!

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I’m looking forward to putting this in my yogurts all week!

If you’re looking for other granola recipes, check these out:

I have a granola obession…

Quinoa Granola

Granola is one of my favorite snacks and I’m happy to add this recipe to the rotation!

Also, here’s a pic of the apple bread- it is delicious! I was very surprised… it’s got just the right amount of sweetness and doesn’t taste “healthy” at all. I love it!

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Questions for you: Have you made any grain free changes in your life? Any grain free “must try” recipes you want to share? What’s your favorite dried fruit?