Friday, March 29, 2013

weight lifting tips for beginners

Today, a little something different - a guest article with weight lifting tips by Bridget. As you all know, I am a HUGE proponent of weight lifting for building a healthy and strong body so I love these tips. Bridget is a real life freelance writer for Thanks Bridget!

How to Get Started with Weight Lifting

Weight lifting is one of the best ways to get in shape and to really change the look and health of your body. Many women are afraid of weight lifting because they think it will cause them to bulk up, but weight lifting is actually one of the best ways to slim down because it radically alters your metabolism and helps to burn fat faster.Many newbies are intimidated by weight lifting and are unsure of where to start. Here are a few tips for how to get started with weight lifting so you can start reaping the benefits of this exceptional exercise:

1. Learn How to Do the Exercises. The most important first step is to learn how to do the exercises. You can easily injure yourself if you have bad form when performing the exercises, so it is important to learn how to do them right. You can do this by signing up for a tour of your gym or by meeting with a personal trainer for one or two sessions. You can get a run through of each of the machines and information about how to do some basic exercises with the free weights. It is much easier to learn how to do the exercises when seeing them done in person, as opposed to watching a video or reading an article.

2. Always Warm Up. When you are ready to get started working out, remember to warm up. You may not think you need to warm up since you aren't doing cardio exercise, but it is just as important to warm up your muscles even when you are doing static exercises. You must warm up your muscles and get them feeling limber in order to avoid injury. If you don't warm up, you could pull a muscle or overwork a muscle that isn't ready for it, leading to serious and long-lasting injury.


3. Start Light. There's no need to try to show off how much you can lift when you first get started. In fact, it is best to start out lifting less than you can when you first start. This will allow your muscles the time to get adjusted to your new exercise. You can then slowly add weight as your muscles become used to being trained and start to grow. Just don't add too much too soon, or else you risk injury.

4. Rotate Workouts. Every day, you should focus on a different muscle group or combination of muscle groups. Many people prefer to focus on back and shoulders on the same day, while devoting individual days to arms and legs. You can decide what works best for you. However, it is key to rotate your workouts so that you get the best workout per muscle group and so you end up working all your muscle groups.

5. Keep a Log. A workout log can help you keep track of your progress. Not only will it help you to make sure you are rotating through all your muscle groups, but it can also help you to monitor your growth. You can see how much you are lifting in each workout and how many reps and sets you do so you can carefully add to the weight and the frequency as you grow stronger. This can help you to push your fitness goals without risking injury.

Weight lifting is a great way to burn fat and to get in shape quickly. Though weight lifting may seem intimidating at first, these tips can help you to get started and be well on your way to becoming a weight-lifting pro.

Do you lift weights? Share your tips for success for getting started in the comments!

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance writer and researcher for, where recently she’s been researching health and nutrition for kids. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

what i ate wednesday: issue 74

 Figure 1. Breakfast AKA my bowl of slop: puffed wheat + All Bran + cocoa powder + banana + milk.

Figure 2. Morning snack: cottage cheese, applesauce, slivered almonds, and cinnamon.

Figure 3. Lunch: Amy's frozen vegetable korma on top of raw spinach.

Figure 4. Lunch dessert: a slim-fast snack bar, double-dutch chocolate. Judge away, if you want, but these are 100 calories of candy bar goodness that satisfy my ever-present and raging sweet tooth without too much caloric damage.

Figure 5. Dinner: baked chicken topped with leftover red pepper pesto, roasted eggplant, and leftover polenta.

 Figure 6. Dessert: 130 calorie chocolate peanut butter mug cake topped with whipped cream. Delicious!

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Monday, March 26).

Monday, March 25, 2013

weekend review: polenta fail & spinach pie win

Figure 1. Friday night's dinner: sausage, tomato, and arugula fettuccine alongside roasted Brussels sprouts. I roasted these sprouts (1 lb tossed in 1 T of coconut oil, salt, and pepper) at 400 degrees for 25 minutes tossing halfway through.

Figure 2. Saturday night's dinner: salmon with red pepper pesto, pepper-spiked polenta, and an arugula and mushroom salad. This salmon is one of my favorites and I love the idea of making my own pesto. This polenta, however, was a fail - the recipe instructed me to make it in the microwave - and it was so runny I had to serve it in a bowl.

Figure 3. Sunday night's dinner: roasted Sriracha butternut squash (inspired by this recipe), easy crust-less spinach and feta pie from Skinnytaste, and a fried egg. I may be obsessed with this spinach pie - you can eat 1/4 of it for ~180 calories and it is fantastic. I recommend splurging on the fresh dill.

Friday, March 22, 2013

weekend review: better late than never

I usually post my 'weekend reviews', which document my weekend culinary creations, on Monday. Looks like this week I forgot. Here they are, better late than never...

Figure 1. Spring Break baking: banana nutella bread. Holy freakin' crap. I ate this for breakfast, lunch dessert, and real dessert over ice cream and then left the remainder at my parents house before I decided I wanted to live my life eating this bread and this bread alone.

Figure 2. Friday night's dinner: Dijon almond crusted tilapia, roasted asparagus with Dijon-lemon sauce, and rice pilaf (Near East). This tilapia is a must make.

Figure 3. Saturday night's dinner: sesame soba noodles with slivered Brussels sprouts and shrimp. Amazing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

what i ate wednesday: issue 73

 Figure 1. Breakfast: puffed wheat + All Bran + cocoa powder + banana + milk.

Figure 2. Morning snack #1: a sliced Gala apple sprinkled with cinnamon.

Figure 3. Morning snack #2: one of Chobani's new Flips. Yum!

Figure 4. Lunch: a spinach salad topped with leftover baked eggs and ketchup (baked with cottage cheese, feta, bacon, and green onion).

Figure 5. Dinner: a Quorn 'chicken' patty, leftover rice pilaf, and roasted broccoli.

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Monday, March 18).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

a serious interjection: on solitude

I found myself craving their voices, laughter. I wanted to be in a room and know someone was near me. I wanted my nephew's loud, yet shockingly beautiful voice to fill my ears. I wanted my mom in the kitchen and the smell of her cooking to fill the house. I spent a week surrounded by my family and I loved it.

But then I get this ache. This ache in myself of which part of me feels ashamed. I lovelovelove my family, but after a few days, a piece of me starts to need solitude. This is who I am.

So I bid farewell to my favorite people in the world and said I had to leave for no other reason than to relax, alone. They love and know me well enough to understand and let me go.


I drove home and entered my beautifully quiet house. I threw my bags on the ground and laced up my running shoes and clocked 4 easy, sunny, relaxing miles. I didn't have to explain to anyone how I needed these miles - I just did them. I planned 3 ambitious (but not too ambitious) and healthy (but not too healthy) meals for myself. I headed to my favorite food stores where I took an obscene amount of time to browse the produce aisles and comment to complete strangers on the beauty of the apples. They agreed.

I chatted with the man at the fish counter and told him I needed tilapia for one. He picked out the best filet for me. I know the folks at the bakery. They laughed when I told them how much I enjoyed the last cupcake I bought there and offered me free samples of Irish Soda bread drowned in butter while we decided what cupcake I needed tonight. Double chocolate for the win. I lingered, picked out a nice bottle of wine, and headed home alone. I showered, threw on my rattiest and comfiest pajamas, and turned on HGTV. 

When alone, I do these things without thinking. They bring me joy, despite their ridiculousness. When I'm around other people I worry about what they would think that I wear my PJ's and pour myself a glass of wine at 5 in the afternoon. Alone, I do it and I am happy.

After an hour on the couch I rise to start the slow and therapeutic process of cooking myself dinner. There will be too much food and most people would probably just get take out, but I love this process. Chopping and whisking. Transforming separate ingredients into something wonderful. I have a chocolate cupcake waiting for me and I don't have to share it. This is the perfect evening. I need this.

A Serious Interjection: there is nothing wrong or shameful about needing moments alone. They refuel me, refresh me, and most importantly, make me happy. As I write this post I am still reveling in my alone-ness. And, when I turn on the TV to watch the Pioneer Woman at 10 on a Saturday morning while baking unnecessary treats and drinking too much black coffee I will not feel ashamed or guilty - I will simply feel happy.

Previous serious interjections:
on perfection 

on disappointment 
on persistence

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

what i ate wednesday: issue 72

 Figure 1. Breakfast: puffed wheat + All Bran + cocoa powder + banana + milk. My snack (un-pictured) was a sliced Gala apple sprinkled with cinnamon.

Figure 2. Lunch: a version of my favorite green smoothie without the peanut butter and with a little added xanthan gum for thickening power (~1/4 tsp) with a side of carrots and peanut butter.

Figure 3. Afternoon snack: pretzel sticks and an (un-pictured) Red Gala apple.

Figure 4. Pre-dinner munchies: my favorite beer (Sierra Nevada pale ale) with a handful of blue corn chips and salsa. I am on Spring Break, after all, and that calls for beer on a Tuesday....

Figure 5. Dinner: shredded chicken tacos in a whole wheat tortilla topped with cheese, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, onions, salsa, and Greek yogurt alongside roasted broccoli. I also had chocolate-peanut butter Arctic Zero (un-pictured) for dessert.

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Tuesday, March 11).

Monday, March 11, 2013

weekend review: the zero calorie margarita

Figure 1. Friday night's dinner: balsamic salmon, roasted butternut squash with rosemary and balsamic vinegar, and roasted broccoli with Parmesan.

Figure 2. Sunday night's cocktail: a margarita made with this Stevia-sweetened zero calories mix. I was skeptical, but this was delicious!

Figure 3. Out of the oven: a ham, cheese, and green onion quiche with a hash brown crust courtesy of mom.

Figure 4. Sunday night's dinner (please excuse the awkward half-eaten extreme closeup): ham and cheese quiche, a salad with homemade tarragon-mustard vinaigrette, and a french baguette dipped in olive oil and spices.

Friday, March 8, 2013

my current blog crushes

I have this list of blogs that I visit everyday. My favorite part of the day, in fact, is a quiet morning spent reading blog posts over black coffee and cereal. At any given point in time, however, I have a handful of blogs with which I am completely obsessed and quietly stalk from the comfort of my laptop. Here are my current blog crushes....

{never} homemaker

healthy + balance + whole living

This lovely blog includes delicious recipes (always vegan, always healthy, sometimes indulgent) that are creative and practical and healthy living and running advice from a seasoned and self-made marathon runner, Ashely.

Back to Her Roots

This blog is so real I can't get over it. Its author, Cassie, lost a remarkable amount of weight through healthy living and started this blog to document her journey. Back to Her Roots includes healthy recipes (which I make regularly), Cassie's weekly accountability updates, hilarious confessions, words of inspiration, and beautiful photography.

How Sweet It Is

for people who, like, totally love food

Jessica of How Sweet It Is is a genius. I secretly wish I had her life, which consists of creating extravagant and creative dishes and desserts and documenting them daily in her blog. Her recipes aren't always the 'healthiest', but they are always (always) absolutely delicious. I mean just look at these cupcakes....

Pinch of Yum

Pinch of Yum is a fairly new blog love of mine. This blog is created by Jessica, who lives in the Philippines with her husband and shares her healthy and creative, easy, and delicious creations. Not to mention her kick ass photography and intermittent stories of her international journey.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

what i ate wednesday: issue 71

 Figure 1. Breakfast & mid-morning snack: I fear I forgot to take pictures yesterday morning, but here are the empty dishes for proof. For breakfast I had puffed wheat + All Bran + cocoa powder + banana + milk. My snack was a sliced Gala apple sprinkled with cinnamon.

Figure 2. Lunch:a spinach salad topped with tomatoes, mushrooms, sprouts, cottage cheese, slivered almonds, and golden raisins.

Figure 3. Afternoon snack: a cocoa loco chewy bar.

Figure 4. Dinner: a couscous-veggie-sausage (delicious) mess. I browned I link of spicy chicken sausage, sauteed an onion, mushrooms, zucchini, and yellow squash in the same pan in a bit of olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. When tender, I added ~1/2 cup marinara sauce and a cup of cooked couscous and mixed it all together. Yum!

Figure 5. Dessert: chocolate Chex.

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Tuesday, March 5).

Monday, March 4, 2013

weekend review: a new dinner favorite

Figure 1. Friday night's dinner: spinach and cheese quinoa casserole and healthy collard greens.

I froze half of this casserole last time I made it and reheated the remainder for a quick Friday night dinner - it reheated wonderfully. And, I finally finished making the infamous collards that were the cause of last week's finger injury. All fingers remained intact this time around...

 Figure 2. Sunday night's dinner: chicken and mushrooms in garlic white wine sauce and brussels sprouts roasted in coconut oil.

This is one of Cooking Light's best 'Superfast' dishes and I agree. It is certainly going into the rotation and completely worth splurging on fresh tarragon and a bottle of white wine - it makes the dish! A new dinner favorite.

Friday, March 1, 2013

confessions of an imperfect perfectionist

Confession 1.

I cut off the tip of my finger cooking dinner on Saturday night. I kid you not. A trip to urgent care, tetanus shot, and two near-passing out episodes happened. Wine, careless collard green chopping, and a freshly sharpened knife do not mix well.

Confession 2.

I have the most amazing family. During this fairly traumatic experience:

  • My mom coached me through the immediate post-cut procedures (apply that pressure!).
  • My boyfriend drove me to urgent care and held my (other) hand through the pain of wound cleaning.
  • My dad stayed on the phone with me while I changed my wound dressing to ensure I didn't pass out.
  • And my brother and sister-in-law sent me this finger guard in the mail last night. Hilarious (and practical, apparently).