Setting Workout Goals

For this past New Year's, I did not make a new years resolution, but rather I made some New Year's goals.  Resolutions sound like you are trying to resolve something.  I found this definition online:
A course of action determined or decided on
Now, this sounds like what you are doing with a NY resolution, but I think that they idea is not to actually solve something, but rather make a positive change that you continue with throughout the years.  Resolving to me sounds like you fix it and move on and I think goals are an ongoing process that can be worked on, met and then revised to fit your current needs. 

So, for my goal this year, I decided to focus on physical activity.  

Here is how I got to this point:I have worked at gyms in the past and it was easy to fit a workout in because I was always there.  Then, I would go to the gym near my apartment after work.  This was working well, but then I went back to school.  So, between school and work, I was busy.  But I was not just your average busy, I was intentionally loading my schedule full,  I was actually working 2 jobs, all 7 days of the week and some days I worked 2 jobs, plus I was going to school.  Soon, the gym too a back seat.  With my gym membership only $20 a month, I thankfully did not cancel the gym membership.

Once school finished, I was still working 2 jobs, but waitressing was replaced with teaching at UNLV, and this was less hours a week, so it was getting better.  

Then I found a coworker to go to the gym with me.  Luckily we had a location of our gym right across from the hospital.  How silly is that?  I was barely able to fit in a work out, but the gym was on my way home.  No more excuses, it was time to put it in high gear.  Ok, gym was a must and my wedding was fast approaching.  I am sorry to say, that I although I fit workouts in here and there and improved on my never going to the gym, I was not able to go as many times a week as I wanted.  See, I spent so much of my day counseling on weight management and diabetes and teaching people how to eat properly, that at the end of the day, I just wanted to go home, eat dinner, take a shower, hangout with Ryan, do a little work, and go to bed.  Now, where was the gym time in there.  It was obviously no where to be found.

How could I have let this happen?  I loved working out.  I loved exercise.  Oh well, that is all in the past now.  But this brings me to January 1, 2010.  I actually start my goals right after the new year because there is so much pressure those first few days.  So, I always start with the first weekend or Monday of the new year.  It's just my personal preference.

This year my goal was: physical activity (or working out) at least 4 days a week.

Now, how did I choose this?  I thought about my minimum and not setting my goals too high.  You can always go above and beyond your set goal or target, but it is easy to feel like you did not succeed if you do too little.  So, never set your goals to high, but do make them a challenge.  As I was not working out regularly, 4 days a week was a challenge, but it was just more than half of the week so it was not to lofty.  I also told myself may physical activity counts because hiking and biking, while not in the physical gym location, are actually good means for exercise.  I also left this open to include working out to exercise videos in my house.

You may also notice that I did not set a daily time goal.  I did this on purpose because I wanted to keep this flexible.  If one day all I have was 20 minutes, I didn't want to feel like this was not good enough.  If I have an hour to go workout, then that is great too.  I just wanted to make sure I physically put myself in the situation of doing some form of exercise at least 4 times a week.  This was going to be a stretch because I had not been doing this regularly for about 1.5 years.

So, I bet you are wondering how I am doing with this goal.  I am happy to report that since the start of January, I have been going to the gym (sometimes using the track or jogging outside) at least 4 times a week, even when on vacation.  Actually, most weeks I go 5 days a week.  It seems that when I am on vacation is when it gets down to 4 days a week.  If I only get 4 days in, I do not beat myself up about it because that was my original goal.  When I exceed my goal, and go 5 days a week, I feel really good about making the time to get in the gym.  Ah, I almost forgot to mention that I do cardio for 50 minutes most days that I am working out.  Occasionally if I am pressed for time, I do 40-45 minutes.

Since I was successful in sticking to this plan, I decided to revise my plan to include a goal for weight training because my initial thought was just do cardio in an effort to get back into the swing of things.  I did really well with that, so when I returned to the island from Baltimore, I decided to add a goal of weight training at least 2 days of the week, in conjunction with the 4 days I would be working out.

Now, how am I doing with that goal?  Since mid-April I have been able to do 4-5 days a week at the gym with 40-50 minutes of cardio and on 2-3 of those days I do strength/weight training.

I can definitely see a difference in my energy level and body composition, although I still have a ways to go to get back to where I was a few years ago.  My main focus is just getting in the habit of exercising and staying healthy.  It is so easy to have a good habit and then let it go right out the window.  It can be tough to get back into these good habits, but sometimes you just have to give it a shot.  Always set goals and know what your time line is.  Never make an open ended plan because it is easy to push things off until later.  Short term goals are a great way to do this.

My next step is to change things up after 6 months into this goal.  This means around July I will be looking to add something in to my bland routine of the treadclimber for 50 minutes and the same weight machines I am currently doing.  I am asking everyone for suggestions on how to change up my workout or what you think I should add/change to my current plan.

I am really looking forward to the warm weather and no rain so that I can go outside and ride my bike.  I have only ridden it twice since I bought it last fall.  Right after my bike was shipped here, the rainy season started and I was so sad!

It is nice that I am now in the gym most days of the week, doing about 200-250 minutes cardio each week, because I have no intention of giving up a dinner out once or twice a week.

Like this last minute decision last night to go to La Barca for some Italian food.
It was just one of those nights.
Ryan got the tortellini, as usual, because it is just that good.

I also got the same dish I always order, the primavera with tagliatelle.  There is so little oil here and tons of great veggies, so I can't help but always get this dish.  Last night the server suggested adding shrimp, and like I said, it was one of those days, so I thought, what the heck, toss in some shrimp.

Oh yes, dessert time.  Now, I think we really went because they have a great chocolate cake, but when it was time to order dessert, they were out of the cake.  Oh well, no worries.  I went with this ice cream filled crepe instead.
Ryan went with the tiramisu.
The was a nice end to a super long day.  If anyone is wondering, no, I did not eat all of my entree or all of my dessert.  Both were delicious, and believe me, I would have finished them if I could have, but there was just no way.

QUESTIONS:  Have you stuck with any of your New Year's resolution/goals?  What do you do for physical activity?

Tortellini Stew

One of the traditions we have with our grad classes on base is that we serve food during our classes.  When the professor is here, the class is Tuesday-Friday 6:00-9:30 pm and then all day on the weekend.  So, dinner during the week, breakfast and lunch on the weekend.  The past 2 classes I brought breakfast on the weekends, so I thought this time I could try out a dinner.  Since most of the class eats meat, I feel bad sticking them with vegetarian meals, but I know they are alright with this.  They even make sure that when they bring in food there is something on the side that I can eat.  I really appreciate this.

I used my Vegetarian Times cookbook and selected this recipe for tortellini stew.
What was nice about this was that it is a quick and easy recipe using both prepared foods and fresh ingredients.  I made a double batch to ensure everyone got dinner.  The original recipe said it made 6 servings and there were 10 people in my class.

It started with chopped peppers and onions.

I was able to buy some frozen tortellini at the commissary.
Here are some of the other prepared ingredients.  These are not all of the cans, but these are all of the additional ingredients.
Veggies in the pot with some oil.
Tortellinis getting ready to go.
With all the ingredients added and then it was time to cover and simmer.
The finished product.
Wow, this was really good.  Even male meat eaters complimented this dish.  I think everyone really liked it because of the flavorful salsa added to the dish.  Either way it get much better reviews than I anticipated, although I knew that I personally really liked this dish.  I would definitely make this again, especially for a party.

QUESTIONS:  What is your favorite kind of stew?  Have you ever used salsa other than as a dip or burger topping?  

I am also taking suggestions for what to prepare in June for my next class, so let me know if you have any ideas.

Dinner and Jazz

Sometimes it is just nice to go out to dinner and enjoy the evening with people you know.  Whether it is family or coworkers, or a special occasion or just getting out of the house, either way, it is nice sometimes to do something different.

In this case, it was not that it was a different restaurant because we eat at Os Moinhos, or the Mill, on a regular basis.  Ok, as regular as you can get around here.  Actually, the waitress remembers us and knows what wine we like and even remembers my purse and that I have a matching wallet.  Now, in the US I would assume she might want to steal it since she has obviously paid attention to it, but here, it didn't seem too out of the ordinary.  I think it might just seem American and that is why it stuck out in her mind.

The school was having an evening of Jazz music (for their group that raises funds for student scholarships), complete with a presentation on the history of jazz and some singing.  The dinner was 20 euros and included multiple courses.  Since one course was pork, they decreased the price for me (shhhh).  Here is what we were offered:

Cheese and olives
Wine, wine and more wine.  If you could drink it, they would bring it.  We had this red wine, and they also gave us some white wine.  In this picture you can see the screen for the presentation in the background.
The first entree was fish.  It was lightly breaded and fried.  I love that when they bread and fry it here, it truly is lightly breaded and lightly fried.  It is never oily.
Next up was the pork.  Ryan really enjoyed this.
Dessert was chocolate mousse.
We ended out dinner with a coffee and sat back to relax and enjoy the singing of one of the teachers from the American school where I work.
It was really a lot of fun, but it was on the late side when we returned home and I had class the next morning.  Oh well, we still stayed up and watched a movie.  So much for sleep!

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever attended a function like this?  When was the last time you participated in a fundraiser?

GIVEAWAY ALERT***  Go check out Julie's giveaway for that ever so awesome spiralizer.  I bought one for my sister recently and she LOVES it.  I want one now maybe you shouldn't enter...

Sushi, From Scratch

Happy Monday everyone!

This weekend was busy because I was in class all day Saturday and all day Sunday.  Then, on Saturday night we had a dinner/event to go to (more to come on that) so Sunday was the night to do a From Scratch meal.  Since some prep would need to be done while I was in class, Ryan did the menu selection and got started on the key ingredient for sushi...the rice.

For our wedding we were given this great sushi cookbook and we also got a sushi press.  Although there is an abundance of fresh fish here, it is tough to know if it is safe to eat raw or not since they do not eat sushi here.  I am sure it may be fine, and a local man who works in our commissary said as long as we buy the fish by noon, the fish was fresh caught the night before and will be fine to eat raw.  Well, with all the being said, we stuck to no raw fish this time around.
Here are the recipes:
We selected this, and then made some modifications based on available ingredients and person preference.
We lucked out because the commissary sells nori.
Ryan did a wonderful job on making the rice.
What is sushi rice without the rice vinegar?
Salmon would have been a great option and I thought about using lox, but we selected the fake crab (AKA surimi) instead.
Ryan cut up some ginger.
Cucumber is a must for the sushi.
Too bad the avocado was not ripe.  It was hard and bitter.
Of course some cream cheese too.  
I made nice strips of all of the ingredients.
Here is the mat for rolling.
Sushi seaweed paper time!

The rice was placed on the sushi mat, which was covered with plastic wrap to avoid sticking.
Spreading the seaweed everywhere on the paper.  
And then we realized that we were supposed to use a half sheet for each roll.  No worries, we used kitchen shears and cut the paper and rice in half.
Here is the press.
The rice side was put to the outside of the roll and then the ingredients were placed inside.
With the press, the sushi winds up a little on the square side, but then it can be rolled out with the mat after it is pressed tight to lock in the ingredients.
Here is Ryan rolling the sushi after the press.
The finishing touch...
Plating up the sushi.  
Oh, and I couldn't forget the edamame.  It is so necessary to eat edamame when enjoying some sushi.  I am sorry to say that it had to be frozen or there would have been no edamame at all.  This is not a common food to find on the island.
Dinner is served!
We used sea salt just like at a restaurant, but some had way too much salt and others had none.  Oh well!
Sushi anyone?
Doesn't it look great inside?  I am really impressed with how easy this was.  Ryan did most of the work with this and I think he did an awesome job making it look just like if it was ordered at a restaurant.
QUESTIONS?  Do you like sushi?  What is your favorite kind?  Have you ever made sushi?

I want to give a big fat shout out to my dear friend Mer and her husband Matt who always have done awesome work in the kitchen, but they are now taking nice pictures and posting about it too from their own From Scratch Weekends meals.  I love you guys!