Category Archives: Strength training

NROLFW update & more mango

I’m halfway through the first stage of NROLFW and wanted to do a quick update on my thoughts/progress so far with the plan.

Stage 1 calls for 16 workouts, alternating between workout A & workout B. After 3 full weeks, I’ve completed 8 of the workouts at the “2 set” phase and just today moved into the second half of stage 1 which increases the sets to 3.

I’m not going to do any updates on measurements yet, I’ll wait until the end of stage 1 for that. Sorry, no awkward full body muscle pictures today. Winking smile 

In general, I love it! In these 3 weeks, I’ve learned to live and function in a perpetual state of soreness (in a good way!). This is the longest I’ve ever stuck with a strength training program before. I seriously look forward to each and every workout. I think a few things are contributing to that:

  • The way the program is structured it encourages you to add heavier weights as the workouts progress.
  • It gives you “beginner” moves when necessary so it’s easy to tell when you’re gaining strength because they start to feel easy and you move onto the “real” moves (push-ups are an example here).
  • I think the emphasis on dumbbells and barbells instead of machines makes it more easily recognizable when you can handle increased weight.
  • I already see a difference in muscle definition. Positive reinforcement baby!


These are me not flexing. I’m going to call them my “rolling hills” and I’m pretty sure they weren’t there before. Winking smile Well on my way to looking like the book cover.


Click here for before pictures (granted, I am flexing in those so they’re not totally comparable).

A few fun facts:

Prone jackknife is my favorite move of this stage.

Step-ups are my least favorite (boring and tedious)

-I can now do 3 sets of 10 full push-ups!

-In general this is how I feel about deadlifts:

Diet wise I haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary besides being more cognizant of my protein intake. I will try to have a protein smoothie or something high in protein after each session. It doesn’t always happen, but I’d say about 75% of the time.


Today’s smoothie, which overflowed the second I put the camera down and which Ginger promptly licked up.

Stay tuned after another 3 weeks for a full Stage 1 recap.


Now, let’s talk about mangoes. Again.

I actually bought 2 mangoes for last week’s Mango black bean salad but only ended up using one because the other was hard as a rock. 6 days later after hanging out next to the bananas getting all ripe, it was begging to be used. After reading Jenna’s recap on her fruit detox, I had been craving fruit and couldn’t even think about “real” dinner foods. I just wanted fruit. The practical side of me kicked in though and somehow I ended up with this.


Quinoa, mango, spinach salad.


With a piece of whole wheat sunflower seed bread. Delicious, light dinner.

Quinoa Mango Spinach Salad

Makes 2-3 full dinner servings or 6 side dish servings

  • 3 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 mango chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper


Rinse quinoa and toast with coconut oil before adding water and cooking normally (optional, but recommended). Combine next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. When quinoa is finished cooking, add to bowl and mix to combine. Whisk together last 5 ingredients and pour over salad. Toss. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.


What’s the weirdest craving you’ve ever given into for dinner (or any meal)?



Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Strength training

Not your ordinary pesto


Looks good right? Recipe to come, but first you’ll have to read about my day. Smile

First of all, thanks for all the nice comments on the dresses! The majority of you picked dress #1 and that’s exactly what I went with. Wasn’t a huge fan of the fabric that trailed off the back on the 1 strap dress. Felt a little too Greek Goddess for me. Works out well too because there are 7 of us as bridesmaids. 5 of the girls had already ordered their dress and 4 of them picked the 1 strap option, so I’ll even things out a bit more with my choice.

After Friday’s sore, slow run I was itching to get out today to redeem myself. The weather was overcast and barely 70, perfect for a run. I filled up the camelbak and hit the bike trail for 5 miles. Awesome run. Even if my face doesn’t exactly scream “yay!”. It was good to know that I just needed some rest and fresh legs.


5 Mile Stats: (8:34 average pace)

Mile 1: 8:42

Mile 2: 8:36

Mile 3: 8:26

Mile 4: 8:47

Mile 5: 8:20


Came home to do workout 1A of NWOLFW which I was technically supposed to do yesterday but I was still so sore that I ended up taking a complete rest day instead. <—worth it! I still got my 3 workouts in for the week. Hopefully next week the lunges won’t be as bad!

After the workout, I attacked my car which badly needed a cleaning. Inside and out.


Dad would be proud, I even did the tires. I don’t think the outside of my car had been washed since before winter. It’s just not worth washing in the spring here though because there is a constant film of green pollen on everything until about now.

Up next was dinner. My basil had already almost gotten to the point where it was bolting so I decided a pesto was in order. I didn’t have enough basil for a true pesto so it quickly became an “anything you need to use up that’s green pesto”.  I ended up using basil, parsley, arugula and baby spinach as the greens. I knew I didn’t have any parmesan at home either so instead of the creamy, hearty route, I added lemon to give it a nice citrus kick.



As well as some garlic and pine nuts like a normal pesto.


I love how green it stayed without the parmesan mixed in. Seriously, isn’t that the greenest pesto you’ve ever seen? Pesto > marinara sauce any day in my book. This one was a winner. Even better when served with whole wheat linguine with sautéed mushrooms and zucchini.


The pasta was simple. I sautéed some shallots and garlic then added sliced baby portobellos and the zucchini which I peeled into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Once the pasta was cooked I added it and the vegetable mixture to a bowl and tossed with the pesto. If anything, it needed more salt but all in all a great, fresh tasting dish. The citrus was mellow enough but you could still taste it in the background.

Next time you have a random assortment of greens laying around try making it into a pesto. It’s an easy, tasty way to use up your leafy greens and there are so many variations to play with.


Everything Green Citrus Pesto

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1 cup packed baby arugula
  • 2 cloves of garlic (if you’re not a huge garlic fan, 1 clove will do)
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper


Place everything except evoo into food  processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Scrape down sides. Process again while adding evoo through top. Season with salt & pepper to taste.


Do you make your own pesto? What’s the best thing you ate all weekend?


Filed under Around the house, Dinner, Recipes, Running, Side Dishes, Strength training

New rules of lifting for women

I picked this book up after Kelly mentioned on her blog that she was reading it a month or so ago.


I finally had the chance to finish it while on the plane back from Ireland (nothing like a little vacation guilt to get you jump started on a workout plan!).  I liked the book for a few reasons. It was concise, it explained the rationale behind the plan, and the workouts are simple with incredibly easy to follow descriptions and drawings. I’ve been a photocopying fiend these past couple of days (the book is from the library) trying to capture all the moves to get me through the 6 or so months of the plan. And then finally, yesterday we got the “piece de resistance” to complete the home gym and make this plan possible to do from home.


Notice how most of the weights are on the floor, not the bar. Baby steps. Winking smile

I priced out the cost of buying a similar setup at Walmart and it was going to run over $300. This came from craigslist, 15 minutes from my house. Cost? $50. Can’t beat that! I make fun of Ulysses all the time for his craigslist addiction (it’s bad, seriously) but I’m not sure I can blame him anymore with deals like these. 

I really wanted to be able to do these workouts at home.

1. We already have the home gym (another craigslist find!) with the lat pull down and cable attachments + dumbbells.

2. It’s super convenient with about a 20 stair commute to my basement.

3. It’s cheaper than paying for a gym membership.


One of the book’s main points is that machines just don’t cut it when it comes to strength training, so I knew with just a few additions I’d be able to do this at home. In fact, the book even gives a few variations for people using a home gym. Score! I’m still missing a chin-up bar but, that move doesn’t come into play until the last stage of workouts many weeks from now. I’ll be scouring craigslist between now and then. Winking smile



That one on the bottom right is fun! It kind of feels like gymnastics.

I’ve been casually lifting weights for the past year or so. I say casually because just as the book discusses, I’ve been doing what we’ve all been brainwashed to think are the “right” exercises (bicep curls, tricep extensions, etc.) but in reality these are only working small, isolated muscles and force us to use our muscles in ways our body would never naturally need to do. I actually believe the book’s viewpoint on these moves not being truly effective because even though I definitely saw an improvement in muscle definition since doing those moves, I didn’t feel any stronger. Pushups still own me and I can’t do a chin-up to save my life.

The book also has a detailed diet plan. Not a diet in the sense of restrictions but, more so about what combination of macronutrients your body needs and performs best with when doing strength training. I don’t plan on following the diet plan strictly but I did take away a few good key points (like being more mindful of my protein intake to make sure it’s enough and what I’m eating after workouts).

So, I’m jumping on the New Rules bandwagon. I’m excited to finally have a “legit” plan in place (I’ve never even used a barbell before!) and to see what the results will look like. The plan ideally calls for 3 workouts a week. I’m not going to recap the entire thing but, Meghann has a great post on more of the specifics. I still plan on running about 3 days a week as well (one interval, one mid mileage (3-4 miles) and one long run day (5-7 miles)). I’m curious how this will affect my running. Not sure if I will be too sore or tired to run my best or if the increased strength will complement running and make me a stronger/faster runner. I guess time will tell and I’ll adjust if need be.


I never thought I’d post measurements or pictures on the internet but I really want to hold myself to this so here they are…

Measurements as of 5/31/2011:

Chest: 36 in (apparently I’m true to size here!)

Waist: 26 1/2 in

Hip: 36 3/4 in

Left bicep: 10 1/2 in

Right bicep: 10 3/4 in

Left thigh: 21 3/4 in (so that’s why jeans sometimes feel tighter on my left leg!)

Right thigh: 21 in

*Weight: 131.5 lbs

*curious to see how/if this changes with strength training

Side note: I can’t find measuring tape anywhere. I used bakers string, marked it and then lined it up against a tape measure!



It’s totally more hard core when you don’t smile.

I’m going to try and update these after each “stage” of the plan which vary in length. The first update will be in about 5-6 weeks when stage 1 is complete (16 workouts in total, 3 a week).

Here we go…

Anyone else reading this book? I know Kim is. We have almost identical posts today, completely unplanned!  I feel like it’s spreading like wild fire in blog world.


Filed under Strength training