Monday, January 25, 2010

Before pictures for P90X.... have not been taken yet....

I said I would try to post before pictures on here for P90X, and I have failed. :/ Sorry! You see, my camera is in my hiking backpack, which is in the trunk of the car, that is parked kind of far away and it's really cold out and, and..... I am full of excuses. I am still sticking with the program though, and I finished my first week! that is what's important! I do still plan to take a picture. Tomorrow I am off work, so that would be an opportune time.

I did the Kenpo workout the other day, and that is far and away my favorite disc! I have done a fair amount of kickboxing in my time, and it is always a fun cardio workout. Doing the Kenpo disc made me want to take a kickboxing class again, or buy a heavy bag! Shadow boxing is all well and good, but nothing is as satisfying as that loud thwack you get when you connect with a pad or bag with a strong kick. My ideal home gym definitely includes a heavy bag!

Today was Core synergistics, and it's a great core workout! When they say core, they really mean your entire core, not just abs. The core is what holds everything in, and keeps your back strong. A strong core also helps prevent injury. Some of the moves are quite awkward for me, but I am sure they will become easier with time as I continue the program! That is definitely the theme for the first week. Just stick with it and I'll get better and more fluid!

Look forward to a before picture and some point, and keep checking back for more updates and reviews about P90X and my progress.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Product review: Magic Bullet and Protein Shake recipe

I have always liked protein shakes. They make a great quick breakfast or post work-out snack. It is said that eating 5 or 6 small meals a day boosts your metabolism and keeps it at a higher level than eating 3 big meals a day. Protein shakes make great "in-between" meals. However, many people may not enjoy the benefits of the protein shake because they can be such a pain to make. My full size blender was such a hassle to clean, it wasn't even worth it. And if I accidentally made too much and stuck it in the fridge, it inevitably separated and got all nasty. But now, everything has changed. The world, as I know it, will never be the same (overly dramatic?)! I now blend all of my smoothies in the Magic Bullet! Here I present to you my review of the Magic Bullet, followed by a healthy, nutrient packed smoothie that tastes awesome!

The magic bullet is a great little mini blender/food processor. There area few methods to buy this thing and it's not cheap. It sells on TV for $99, but you get one free (feign enthusiasm here). I don't know why you would want two magic bullets (aside from offloading one to a family member who really wanted Guitar Hero for Christmas) but I guess whatever floats your boat. Or you could do what I did and get one at Target for half the price, and split the cost with my boyfriend. Now that's more like it!

The Magic Bullet takes up very little space on the counter top, however the attachments and accessories take up an entire shelf in the cabinet. There are two blades (one for blending, one for chopping, grinding and whipping) a small and large sized blending containers, a pitcher attachment, four cups with threads, colored rings for the cups, a shaker lid, a strainer lid, and some solid lids. The lids are great because you can make pancake batter or whatever, use half of it, then screw on the lid and throw the container in the fridge. The containers are microwavable, so if you are making nacho cheese or Alfredo sauce, you can microwave it right in the container you blended it in! Hooray for less dishes while cooking!

There is also a recipe book. Some of the recipes work better than others, but it is fun to try them all. To use the magic bullet, you attach the blades directly to the container you would like to blend in and just press down. The pressure activates the motor and spins the blade. It's quite cool. It is great at blending, and does really well with certain foods, though for some it under performs (destroyed onions and garlic to a chunky mush, and salsa became frothy weirdness). We grind whole bean coffee with the flat blade in the small cup every morning, and it grates a killer nacho cheese! Though in our attempts to make guacamole usually some of the chunks never get mixed. I have found guac is easier the old fashioned way (smash avocados and other stuff with a fork).

The cool thing for shakes is that the cups are threaded, so you can make smoothies by twisting the cup right on the blade and blending them one cup at a time. That way you don't end up making a way too massive smoothie that then gets funky in the fridge. You know exactly how much your serving size will be. Also, once a blade is screwed on a container it completely seals (except for the pitcher). This means you can take it off and give it a good shake if you need to! No more trying to scrape honey or chunks of protein powder off the side of the blender with a spoon or knife. Just shake it up!

Here is what I put in my Very Berry Vanilla Protein Shake:

A handful of fresh or frozen berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries)
2 cups Vanilla Soy Milk
1-2 oz. Acai puree
1 oz. liquid multi vitamin
1 oz. liquid glucosamine
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (Whey or soy. Muscle Milk, Myoplex, or just your standard store brand protein is usually whey (dairy) based. For a vegan and non-dairy alternative, be sure to use soy protein!)
1/4 cup of raw oats

(To make a chocolate version, simply add 1 - 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder!)

Screw on blending blade (four prong) press and hold down until shake is mostly blended (5-7 seconds). Take the cup off of the magic bullet base and give it a vigorous hand shaking (three or four shakes) to mix up any liquid or powders that are stuck to the bottom.

***A note on the order of adding ingredients: It doesn't really matter, as the magic bullet is a powerful blender, and the shaking step I include usually mixes any straggling items. That being said, I like to add frozen fruit first, then liquids and liquid supplements, followed by any dry ingredients. This way when you screw on the four prong blending blade, the dry ingredients will get blended completely as they are closest to the blade. And we continue....

Return the shake to the base and blend a bit more (around another 5 seconds). Now take your smoothie off, unscrew the blade and rinse it (for next time), and screw on one of the little colored cup lips. You can drink your shake right out of that cup without dirtying another dish! This is huge!

Why do I choose these ingredients and supplements?

-Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all rich in antioxidants, not to mention totally delicious. Strawberries are packed with vitamin C
-Vanilla soy milk is full of healthy soy protein. It is also rich and creamy while still dairy free. You can use plain soy milk for less added sweeteners.
-The Acai berry is an antioxidant super food. It is said to have 1000 times the antioxidant power of blueberries. This means it scavenges free radicals in your system that can lead to premature aging and cancerous cells. All I know for sure is that it I feel good when I drink it, and it tastes good too!
-Liquid multivitamin is more easily and readily absorbed than solid multivitamins. Think of it this way, how would you vitamin pill do in the dishwasher? Now imagine how much work your stomach has to do to break it up. Liquid is much easier for the body to process, thus you get more nutrient benefits.
-Glucosamine supports the natural lubrication and elasticity of your joints. In a liquid form it is quickly absorbed and put to work helping your tired knees or creaky shoulder!
-Protein is needed to build and maintain muscle. If you work out vigorously, or are attempting to reshape your body, adequate protein will help you gain and maintain lean muscle and achieve your goals.
-Raw oatmeal is a whole grain. It is loaded with soluble fiber and helps maintain proper digestion. It also aids in lowering cholesterol, and is said to be a natural antidepressant. It ads a great flavor and texture to the smoothie!

The overall result is a creamy, rich, delicious healthy protein shake packed with vitamins and essential nutrients! If made with soy protein this shake is also 100% non-dairy/vegan.

I hope you enjoy the shake! I am going to go make one right now!

P90X Lean, Day 4: Yoga

I just finished the P90X Yoga DVD (Well, not finished per se....) and it is rough. Flexibility is definitely one of my weakest points. I made it through the first half or so, and then the poses became quite difficult for me! But hey, hopefully by the end of the program I will be able to finish the whole DVD. That's a great goal to have!

The Yoga DVD starts with some breathing and warm-up stretches, then dives in to sun salutations. These sun salutations are the foundation of the entire yoga video. A sun salutation is performed between every single sequence, which can get a little old. They start out simple with basic downward dog, plank and upward dog, then adds warrior one and two. The program continues with triangle poses that then started to tweak my back a bit.

The twisting poses are uncomfortable for me, but it should get easier as I get more flexible. I don't want to push it too early and pull something, so i am taking it easy and stopping when it seems too much. Right now my downward dog is definitely not a pretty picture. My heals are nowhere near the ground. Man the yoga is tough! I have a lot of work to do on this one!

I have decided that I will take my "before" picture on Sunday, as that will be exactly one week in. I can then continue to track my progress at 30, 60, and 90 days.

Today is also my first day of work at GNC. I suppose I should go get ready!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

P90X Lean! Here we go!

Everyone has seen the infomercials about it, and a lot of folks have finished with fantastic results. Sadly, many more have attempted this program and encountered road blocks like injury, fatigue, and time constraints. I am not going to say they failed, just that they have yet to succeed. Yes, I am talking about P90X!

Last summer Erik and I purchased P90X and began the P90X classic program. We lasted about 2.5 weeks before my knee started bothering me, and his shoulder started to hurt. To avoid further overuse injury we put the program on hold, vowing to return to it and complete the full 90 days. Now it is winter, and with no lovely weather drawing us outside and away from the workouts we are back in action and ready to take on the challenge with P90X Lean!

Three days ago we decided to give P90X another go around. Here is our progress so far!

Day 1: chest and back +ab ripper
Man, I could barely lift my arms yesterday because my chest muscles are so sore. Killer workout!
Day 2: plyometrics
My legs are definitely sore today, but not as brutal as the chest and back
Day 3 (Today): Shoulders and arms + ab ripper. And we came to a decision regarding the program....

The last time we tried P90X classic and ended up injured, so this time around we will be completing P90X Lean. Lean is a higher cardio, lower impact workout regime than the Classic. instead of Plyometrics (which is all jumping) they swap in Cardio X. There are also less push-ups and pull-ups in the first month of the Lean program. By doing the Lean, we hope to avoid overuse injury and complete the full 90 day program. If at some point Lean is no longer challenging enough, or if Erik wants to lift more and develop his chest (I could care less about developing my chest, lol), he can sub in the Chest and Back disc for some of the core synergistics days in the Lean program.

To be successful in this program I need to get my nutrition back in gear. With winter upon us we have been making really yummy, but kind of rich food. Erik made a huge pot of fabulous chili that is amazing on a piece of wheat toast, but we have also been making a ton of rich Indian food and probably overdoing the tacos/burritos. We plan to make a lean beef stew and freeze a bunch of it. Now that we have started P90X I should be more motivated to eat leaner and healthier. Especially since working out after eating junk feels so nasty. I am totally amped about this endeavor!

I also start a new job at GNC tomorrow, so I will be able to get discounts on various supplements that will help us through the program. I have another interview in the morning with a new gym in town. If all goes well I will land that job as well (+ free gym membership). So I would work part time at GNC and part time at the gym. I will have everything set up for an awesome winter of indoor fitness to pair with snowboarding and snowshoeing, and get super fit for the spring/summer!

I will try to post some before pictures on here at some point. I want to post progress pics at 30 and 60, then after the 90 days I can throw some after pictures up. How exciting!