Friday, May 24, 2013

Beginner Arm Workout

I just found a fantastic resource for everyone wanting quick workouts.

BackOnPointe is the blog of a dancer working on improving fitness.  She has amazing ideas with fun images ready to share on facebook or other places.  Check it out and enjoy BackOnPoint's Beginner Arms workout.

Photo: Beginner arm workout!  You can do it!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lazy Day BBQ

Saturday I was too lazy to barbeque outside.  We were making some yummy sausage potato kebabs, but I was just to tired to get out the skewers and walk outside to turn on the grill.  In my defense, the wind WAS blowing and clouds were overhead.  So instead of walking outside, I fired up the oven and broiled my kebobs minus the skewers and it was FABULOUS!  And less work.

For all you lazy barbequers out there, here is the recipe.

Sausage Potato Kebabs
10-12 small red potatoes
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/8 tsp each salt and pepper
1 red onion, wedged
1 each, red & green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 lb smoked sausage or pre-cooked bratwurst

Cut the potatoes into large wedges.  Place potatoes and water in a microwave safe bowl;  cook potatoes for 5 minutes on high.  Drain water. 

Cut onion and peppers into large chunks.  Set aside.  Slice the sausage into 1 inch lengths.  Set aside.  Toss potatoes, onions, peppers together with the oil, salt, pepper and garlic.  Spread all ingredients on a large cookie sheet (I used 2).

Adjust the baking rack to the highest level.  Set the oven to broil on High.  When the oven is hot,  broil the "kebobs" for 6-8 minutes, stirring as needed or until the onion is soft and the peppers and sausage are lightly blackened.

Serve with a mustard sauce.

Mustard Sauce
1/4 cup greek yogurt
3 Tablespoons mustard (spicy brown is my favorite)

Mix together.  Chill.  Enjoy

Friday, May 17, 2013

Depression, Vitamins and Health

School is ending. Are you ready for your TriHarderLiveBetter final quiz of the term? 

One question-- Pass or Fail...  True or false.
The categgory: How well do  you know Erica?

Depression never keeps Erica down.

Did you get it right?  (Answer: False)  I hope you know me well enough to know that I have struggled with depression from time to time.  I have been to therapy, been medicated, sought religious council and help.  Been there, done that. They all helped.

Everyone's path to mental health is just that.  Their own path.  Some people (me and maybe you too) struggle with feelings of depression, low self worth, fear and anxiety on a regular basis.  Some people manage with exercise, medication, meditation, therapy, or a host of other solutions.  Each path is valid and helpful if it is helping an individual.

The biggest help for me in the past few years has been discovering the world of vitamin supplements and the contribution they make in my mental and physical health.  I am kind of a vitamin junkie now.  Want to know what helps me the most?  Here's a quick summery of the vitamins I take in addition to my prescription anti-depressant, and their health benefits for mind and body.

Remember, this is what works for me.  Please consult your physician, psychiatrist, pharmacist and all other medical professionals to determine what might work best for you.
Disclaimer DONE

My Dailies: Clockwise, Vitamin D (small oval), B-100 (orange), Fish Oil (large oval),
Magnesium (green oval), Daily Multi Vitamin, (beige),  Potassium, (white oval)
Vitamin B-100 complex- contains between 100-5000% of the daily recommended dose of all your B vitamins.  Research shows that seratonin (the happy chemical in your brain) is composed of B vitamins.  If your body is deficient in B vitamins or doesn't process them adequately you will not have enough seratonin in your brain.  I feel the difference in my energy level and mood stability when I consistantly use my B-100 Complex.  B vitamins are water soluable, so any unused vitamins are washed out of your system with your urine-- magic color change.

Vitamin D-  Another happy chemical needed in your body.  Most adults garner their daily recomended dose of  vitamin D with only 20 minutes exposure to the sun.  Vitamin D is essentail to brain development and health-- you want your brain to work well, make sure it has enough Vitamin D.

Omega 3 (Fish Oil) Japanese researchers found "fish oil may help activate serotonergic neurons (or neuropetides), which are partially responsible for controlling your mood, your appetite, and even how much anger you feel."

Magnesium plays a crucial role in the body.  As an electrolyte it helps nerves send information to vital muscles-- in fact magnesium is necessary for muscle relaxation.  I began using magnesium to stabilize my asthma and help relax the bronchial tubes, but it has been helpful in reducing anxiety too.  Just a caution, too much magnesium can relax the bowels too.

Potassium-  A recent discovery for me.  It helps me balance my water levels the body.  I no longer feel crazy dehydrated after workouts and my energy level is more stable though out the day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

7 Minute Workout

HICT-  Have you heard of it?  High Intensity Circuit Training.  According to a recent article in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal, High Intensity Circuit Training can speed fat loss, decrease insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes) and give you the benefits of weight and aerobic training in one short session.

The journal recommended alternating toning the large muscle groups with cardio intervals.  So while the legs are working, the lungs and core rest.  While the arms are working the legs get some time off.  By moving quickly from exercise to exercise, you keep your heart rate up.  By keeping each exercise set short you fatigue muscles without exhausting them.

ACSM's 7-Minute Workout consists of 12 exercises each done for 30 seconds.  Allow yourself 10 seconds to transition to the new exercise and you still are finished with the set in 7 minutes.  The circuit can be repeated 2-3 times as desired.

We did this workout on Monday, and it was a blast!  The quick sets helped me keep good form on each set.  I was excited that while the workout was intense fun, I was not sore-- even after repeating the circuit 5 times!  Call me a glutton for punishment... Maybe it was because I spent the afternoon at the pool relaxing?  Nah it was a good workout without the extreme muscle fatigue, I have become acquainted with in traditional weight training.

Now to the workout... Remember, the key to the success of this workout is intensity.  If 10 is all out effort, and 0 is resting on the couch, aim for an 8-- uncomfortable, but doable.

Image from New York Times Magazine, 5/12/13

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Zumba Playlist

I haven't been good at posting the new routines we have been adding to our Zumba Classes, but I thought at least I could post our Zumba Play List.  It is frighteningly LONG-- over 2 hours of music-- don't be daunted.  COME DANCE WITH US (class is only an hour long)... or just enjoy some fun music as  you clean your house! 

I've included the album, artist, and song length so you can dance along at home!
Recently Added Songs are at the bottom of the list.
Check out this website for discouted music prices.

Zumba Playlist
Song Length
Break your heart
Taio Cruz Featuring Ludacris
Hips Don't Lie (Fifa World Cup 2006 Mix)
Bamboo & Shakira
Voices from the World Cup
Let Me Think About It (Radio Edit)
Ida Corr vs Fedde le Mac
Bravo Hits Vol 61
Whine Up (ft. Elephant Man)
Kat le Luna
9 Lives
Jai Ho (You are my destiny)
A.R. Rahman & the Pussy Cat Dolls
Doll Domination: The mini collection
Drop it on Me (ft. Daddy Yankee)
Ricky Martin
She Bangs (English Version)
Ricky Martin
Best of Ricky Martin
Mas Que Nada (ft. Black Eyed Peas)
Sergio Mendes
A.B. Quintanilla il presenta K
Ayer Fue Kumbia Kings Hoy Es
Pam Pam
Wisin & Yandel
Reggaeton: Simply the Best
Que te Pica
Raised by the People
Ojos Asi
Antologia (Best of)
Calabria 2007
Enur & Natasha
Dance 2007 Summer Session
Daddy Yankee
Now Latino
Do You Know (ping pong song)
Enrique Iglesias
Greatest Hits
Ari Ari Part 2
Bombay Rockers
Cha Cha
360 Degrees
Kumbia Kings
A.B. Quintanilla/ Kumbia Kings Present Greatest Hits
Cotton Eye Joe
Various Artists
Cardio Boost
Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)
Sale El Sol
Party Rock Anthem ft. Lauren Bennett & Goonrock
Sorry For Party Rocking (Edited Version)
Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)

Ron Hardiman
Lord of the Dance

Gangnam Style
Six Rules Part 1
Perfect (Radio Edit)
DJ Got Us Fallin In Love
Usher Ft. Pitbull
Radio Edit
Boney M
Gold-20 Super Hits
Asian Freak Show
Super Junior
1st Asia Tour Live CD 1
On the Floor (Radio Edit)
Jennifer Lopez Ft. Pitbull
On the Floor
Up Up & Away
Shake it Up: Live 2 Dance
Let’s Go
Calvin Harris Ft. Ne-yo
Let’s Go
Tumba El Fronte
Alexis & Fido
So Fine
Sean Paul
Imperial Blaze
I Do
Colbie Caillat
All Of You
El Principe (Ghost Edition)
Baila Baila (Radio Edit)
Jencarlos Canela Ft Pitbull
Pop Latin
Livin La Vida Loca
Rickey Martin

Les Jumo
NRJ Hits 2010
All Around the World
Justin Beber ft. Ludacris

Practice Makes Permanent

I like to remind myself that new adventures bring with them new muscles.  But sometimes building new muscles leaves me tired and achey and just plain grouchy.   Sometimes injury is added to the insult when the growing muscles aren't prepped properly.

I will be the first to admit that  I never really learned how to run.  Yes, I "ran" track in junior high (they let me throw the discus) and I "ran" in high school P.E., but I never did run-- with good form.  So, when I picked up running in college I just went with it-- I moved in a running like fashion and called it good enough.  Sadly, I embraced that philosophy for far too long and injured myself because I hadn't strengthened the muscles required for good running form.

Repeating essential skills creates the muscle memory, control and strength required to perform the desired feat-- Piano players, ballarinas and even runners repeat exercises daily to strengthen their bodies.

I was first introduced to running drills when I was training for a triathlon.  The program I used recommended 11 skills to practice to prevent injury and strengthen and balance the leg muscles.  When I began using the drills, I was surprised at how weak some of my muscles were.  New adventure=New Muscles = Sore!

But don't let that discourage you from trying.  Maybe the good form will help heal that nagging injury-- or maybe you need some good rest.  Just listen to your body.  If your body is ready for the challenge try adding 4 drills before short run workouts (30 minute runs).  Or for a smashingly awesome time try all 11 drills for one focused workout.

Run Drills
NEVER try to do these on a treadmill!  I promise it is not pretty!!!!
Do desired exercises for 50 meters-- build up to 100 meters

Walk on Toes (works the muscles in the shin, prevents shin splints)
Walk on Toes (Heels in, Heels Out)
Walk on Heels (Strengthens/stabilizes the calf muscles and Achilles tendon)
Walk on Heels (Toes in, Toes out)
Strides (loosens muscles & cements in good form) how to
Butt Kicks (tones the hamstrings, releases the quad muscles)
High Knees (tones the quads and abs, releases the hamstrings)
Karaoke (hip flexor strength and flexibility) how to
Skipping (works calf muscles, hips & quads)
High Knee Skips (Think skip but with as big a hop as possible rebounding)
Run Backwards-- pushing from your fore foot (forces the workload into the quads)

Happy Wednesday Workout!!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cookie Dough Cup Cakes

As promised, I give you....

Sonya's Cookie Dough Cupcakes
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Whisk 3 cups flour, the baking powder and salt in a bowl until combined. Beat 2 sticks butter and the sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium; beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. (The mixture may look separated at this point.)

Mix 1/2 cup water with the cream in a liquid measuring cup or bowl. Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour, until just smooth.

Divide the batter in cupcake pans. Bake until the cakes are lightly golden on top and the centers spring back when pressed, about 19 minutes.  Cool.

Using a small knife cut a cone shaped piece out of the cupcake out of the center.  (about an inch in diameter).  Remove the cone shaped piece and discard-- or eat.  Place a scoop of Cookie Dough Filling* in each cupcake.  Pipe Cookie Dough Frosting* over the top of the cupcake to hide the cookie dough filling.  Garnish with mini chocolate chips.
*recipes bellow
Makes 30 cupcakes

Cookie Dough Filling
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup mini choc. chips

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Mix in flour, condensed milk and vanilla.  Divide dough into 30 balls-- each ball will be about 1 tablespoon.

Cookie Dough Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanila
2 tsp milk
2-3 cup powdered sugar

Cream the butter and the brown sugar together.  Add the flour, salt, vanilla and milk.  Mix until fully integrated.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time.  Whip on high until the frosting is fluffy and smooth.
Pipe onto cupcakes.  Decorate with mini chocolate chips.

A Bridal Cupcake Creation

I have been up to my elbows in cupcakes this week.  I saw on facebook an adroable picutre of a wedding dress cupcake creation, and I had to duplicate it!  I had a good excuse... a bridal shower.  Reverse that order.  I threw a bridal shower (with an amazing friend) because I saw this adorable picture and needed an excuse to bake cupcakes.

That said, I ate way too many cupcakes last week.  But boy were they good.  And here is what the wedding dress creation looked like. (feel free to post compliments... yes I am amazing, thank you!)

Now for the recipes.  Honorable mentions go to Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes (divinely dangerous and ridiculously easy to duplicate) and Chocolate Stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes (I could never get the stuffing to stay in the middle... it always coated the bottom of the cupcake-- still delicious-- and I loved the methodology used in making the cupcakes).  I adored Sonya's Cookie Dough and Orange Blossom cupcakes too. (I"ll link to the recipes when I find them...)

This recipe comes from a friend.  It has always turned out beautifully whether I used it as cupcakes or baked it as a cake.  My favorite frosting to pair with it is an egg white fluff frosting.  Its shine was perfect for making a wedding dress texture, and the subtly sweet flavor didn't compete with the chocolate.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes
1 devils food cake mix
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup water
1/2 vegetable oil
4 eggs
8 oz sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips
Combine ingredients.  Bake at 350 for 18 minutes.

Fluffy Puffy Frosting
1 cup granulated sugar
1 chilled egg white (can used dehydrated egg white if desired)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer.  Beat on high for about 7 minutes or until medium-stiff peaks form.  Stop beating before the frosting looses its sheen.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Submitting to the Run

I was so excited the other week.  I went on an "easy" 2 mile run and at the end I realized I hadn't stopped once to catch my breath.  I felt fantastic after the run  and to my astonishment I had even felt good running.  A foreign concept for me and running the last couple years.  Even just a week previously, running felt hard!

What was the change?  What was different?  Were my legs just back?  Had weight loss contributed to the ease of the run?  Was my physical conditioning significantly improved?  Asthma miraculously healed?

After much analysis, I realized my attitude has changed.  A year ago my runs were goal oriented-- you know pushing because I want to be a better me.    I embraced the philosophy of CAN DO and pushed myself to reach specific marks of accomplishment.  (For the purpose of full disclosure my goal was a 10:30 mile pace over 3 miles ... not insane but a big push for me.)  With this attitude I would "buckle down" and mentally focus on the outcome and force myself through my run.  You know... Power Through the Pain...  I am sure you are not surprised to hear that after the passion of the push wore off, I avoided my runs as much as possible.

The last few runs this year reflect my focus on surrender; to release my desires (catch my breath, stop and rest, turn around and go back home, call for a taxi) and relax into the motion of running.  The goal-- and I am far from perfect at it-- is to acknowledge the thoughts and feelings (stop you crazy person you-- you can't run this far), but to gently direct your mind to a positive place (I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me) and just let the body do its job (running).

This week's Workout Wednesday Tip  :   
Submit  Relax  Enjoy
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc