Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Well(ness) Underway

I have undertaken my wellness journey, aka utilizing our 2014 health benefits!
Last week, I saw a Colorado dentist for my first of two hygiene appointments per year.  Dr. Ashley Niles, whom we met while on our flight back home after our May 2011 Boulder trip, and her staff took excellent care of me (us, really).  I got a glowing review ~ Ashley said my mouth was boring, which to a dentist is blah, but to the patient is aaaaahhhhhhh!! 
This morning, I visited a local optometrist.  My last exam was August 2012, I believe.  I didn't feel I had any problems or issues, but I believe it is very important to keep tabs on my eye health.  I did feel my left eye may have changed slightly...and I was right!  The change is minimal and no new glasses are necessary, until I want some new frames, that is!  As with my dental health, my optical health is superb!
Check & check!!
Next up, I was able to schedule an appointment with an Internal Medicine nurse practitioner for this Thursday morning.  This will be a wellness visit to discuss my current health interests and to request labs: comprehensive wellness, thyroid and hormones (for antiaging)...plus any others she feels may benefit me.  WooHoo!!
Our diet is still on point and my fitness stays a primary focus five days a week.  We take a variety of vitamins and supplements to keep us on track, too.  Neither of us is consuming coffee as much as in the past, for digestive reasons we are trying to pinpoint.  While water has been one of the beverages we drink most, I am making sure to drink, at least, 40 ounces each day, if not more (preferably, I would drink 65 oz...about half my body weight). 
My birthday is just around the bend and I always like to use it as somewhat of a gauge for where I am in life, what my health is like and what I would like to see for the year ahead.  Right now, my "scorecard" is looking brilliant!  I feel & look great, I am having fun with the kickboxing classes, I will be engrossed in a fitness boot camp for two weeks in May, I am moving forward with my fitness certification, we are volunteering for two new organizations in June, my mom is visiting in July and I get to visit my Florida family when I fly back with her....and we will be searching out a new pad in Denver for our move in August!  All the while, we will continue to enjoy the beauty of Colorado that surrounds us night & day!
Life is ... an adventure, not a destination!  Enjoy the road trip!  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

It Was , Like, Totally Rad

On Friday nite, we had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser for Rainbow Alley of the GLBT Center in Denver.  The "event" was at Club M, part of Hamburger Mary's.  And.......it was 80's themed!!!
I knew when I first saw The Center's post on Facebook that Chris and I had to go, like, totally!  (For those who may not know, I threw myself an Awesome 80's party for my 40th birthday two years ago.  Chris, my DJ, dressed as Adam Ant!)
I didn't want to wear the exact same outfit as two years ago (I don't even think I have the black shirt anymore, anyway.), which meant a trip to Goodwill to see what, if anything, I could find.  I visited the store in Longmont a couple weeks ago and wasn't finding anything inspiring.  A few things were maybes.  I kept looking, tho, and what did I stumble upon (finally!): an AC/DC tee with "Back in Black 1980" on it!!  I knew it was a shirt which I could cut up to "vintage" 80's style ~ you remember, off-the-shoulder and slits cut into the back!!!  And it was only 3 dollars and 99 cents!
I paired my new shirt with a zebra-striped bra, black leggings, a gray & black leopard skirt, black mesh glovelets, zebra earrings and bangle bracelets, a black & gray zebra and rhinestone wrist cuff, black heels, bright makeup and hot-pink tipped spiked hair!!!!  I carried my black & hot pink leopard Beverly Johnson purse, which held a pair of black Rayban-style sunglasses, which I wore for a photo at the club! 
Chris and I enjoyed some drinks at the bar before the party started at 10PM, where we made a new friend, Liz, then switched to our flask for the nite.  We listened and danced to some of our favorite 80's tunes!  We even enjoyed some free grub: sliders & fries!!
It seems the party was also some kind of reception for a coronation of sorts for the gay & lesbian community and drag queens, but we really have no idea.  No matter, we were there for the fundraising and frivolity!  As always, the people watching with drag queens and kings is a joy!  Some of the queens were pretty good.  Then, there is always the one with the very unique sense of style, the early Sharon Needles (one of my top favorite queens) or Milk.  This event was no different with one dressed somewhat Asian (dress & fan), somewhat Egyptian (face and veil), somewhat Frankenstein (boots).
We look forward to when we live in Denver (moving later this year) to spend more time at the bars & clubs and meeting more people dedicated to living the fabulous life!!

Back to "School" for Me

Materials were ordered & received, my studies have begun, the CPR class has been scheduled!
I need to schedule the test date, which I believe I will do for the end of May.
I am underway to getting my Group Fitness Instructor certification!!!
From there, I plan to take a Kettlebell workshop in July!!!
I love boxing, kickboxing and circuit training, so I cannot wait to be more involved in the health & fitness environment where I get to continue to improve myself while helping & encouraging others along their journey!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Holiday Weekend & Recipe Updates

Another holiday for the two of us (well, 4 really!) and we spent it quietly "at home."  We both went our separate ways first thing in the morning to get our fitness in: Chris running, me lifting.
After showering, we were in the kitchen preparing the 2 new recipes I mentioned in a previous post.  While I usually make a recipe exact the first time, I made a couple tweaks to the oven-baked omelette this first attempt.  Rather than the traditional orange sweet potato, I used the lesser known white (not that this is a big diversion from the recipe, it's just that we have discovered them out here and like the taste better).  I used frozen broccoli that I microwaved a bit before chopping and because we have access to the most delectable bacon at a local grocery store, Lucky's, we used bacon rather than sausage.  We could not be more happy with this recipe!!!  And, we didn't get the sundried tomatoes.  Should I need them in the future for more recipes, I might want to have them on hand, as I am sure they would have imparted just one more layer of flavor to this incredibly tasty dish.  It makes 2 pie plates, so we baked both and wrapped one to place in the freezer for another weekend ~~ when we will get us some more of the Lucky's bacon to enjoy on the side!  As I always suggest, make this recipe your own.  Use the vegetables you have on hand or the ones you like better than red pepper, onions, broccoli and sundried tomatoes.  Oh, I almost forgot....I did forget that the recipe called for about a 1/4 cup of cheese; fortunately, I bought cheese for the other recipe, but it was a nacho and taco flavored.  However, it completely worked!  So, use whatever shredded cheese is your favorite or goes best with the veggies and meat you select.  Change it up every time you make it to see what you like best!!!
The second recipe was the southwest quinoa muffins.  They were pretty easy to put together.  I didn't buy the ingredients to make the salsa and I believe it was a mistake.  I don't find the muffins to have enough flavor on their own.  I did pick up some salsa yesterday and we enjoyed another muffin with our dinner.  I do think that if/when I make them in the future, I will add taco-style seasonings, like cumin & garlic.  I make a killer cornbread casserole which has shredded cheese in the mix as well as on the top...perhaps these muffins could benefit from cheese inside, too.  If you make them and add other spices, let me know how it turns out!  I would love your suggestions.
Our weather the whole weekend, save for a bit of rain late Saturday afternoon, was gorgeous!  So unlike what we remember from Indiana (they, however, had an 80+ degree day on Easter!!).  We needed to get outdoors, so we took a walk around the neighborhood houses, in shorts and tank tops!  I did have my SPF55 on, but still managed to get a slight sunburn on my chest! 
Chris was off work on Friday, for the holiday, so after his dental appointment, we made a beeline for Boulder.  It was another gorgeous day, close to 80 degrees, I believe, and we wanted to be outdoors for a bit.  We enjoyed lunch on the rooftop deck of the Lazy Dog on Pearl Street.  While waiting for our meals, we each drank an Angry Orchard cider, which hit the spot on the warm day, after a short walk from where we parked (the free parking is a little further from the action but not too far).  Our meals were pretty good, too.  Chris tried the Reuben sandwich with sweet corn fritters (holy, yum!) and I got a turkey on focaccia with fries, probably the best fries we have had in awhile. 
We then walked around the 29th Street Mall, because it is outdoors, before heading over to Barnes & Noble to peruse a few magazines.  B&N was our staple hangout for so many years, before they closed the one in Hobart.  We would go to the Valparaiso location on occasion, but it just didn't hold as much charm.  We visit the one in Boulder, maybe, every other time we come down here.  It's like slipping on an old, comfortable, reliable shoe. 
I hope everyone enjoyed a lovely & leisurely holiday weekend, with family & friends, and got the chance to be outdoors to soak up some sun (the necessary Vitamin D in which so many are deficient).  It's so important to maintain social connections/bonds, to take time for fun & relaxation and to eat good, healthy foods.  Your body will love you for it and reward you with a long & vibrant life!  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

At-Home Workouts

Exercising at home, for the most part, I have been learning to be creative with my workouts.  As I have written, I mix things up: running, both outside and the treadmill; elliptical; strength training, circuit-style and regimented sets; kickboxing; and soon, a 2-week boot camp.
I decided that I would like some cardio at the beginning of my strength training, so I have created a quick warm-up, which I would like to share with you. 
Each exercise is 12-15 reps for 3 sets:
Jumping Jacks, High Hands/High Knees, Mountain Climbers
Squats, Lunges, Burpees
I am going to switch in different variations, like Scissorjacks and Double Mountain Climbers, plus Jump Squats and Sprawls.
So, my warmup will look something like this:
{Set 1/Set 2/Set 3}
~Jumping Jacks/Scissorjacks/Jumping Jacks
~High Hands/High Knees
~Mountain Climbers/Double Mountain Climbers/Side to Side Mountain Climbers
~Squats/Jump Squats/Sumo Squats
~Front Lunges, Side Lunges, Reverse Lunges
~Burpees/Sprawls/Reverse Burpees
If you are just beginning on your fitness journey, or if you don't have much time for a full workout, this can be your workout.  I would also add an ab/core of 3-5 exercises, same 12-15 reps for 3 sets. 
Here are some ab/core exercises to try: planks, side plank crunches, one arm-one foot planks, bicycles, X-ups, flutterkicks, Russian twists, plank twists, Pilates 100s, lemon squeezers (aka jackknives), plank to pushup (up-downs). 
Also, it is very important to stretch, to get your lymph fluids moving, especially in the morning.  When I wake up, I am now stretching my arms, legs & back as soon as my feet hit the floor getting out of bed.  I also do stretching before and after my workouts. 
 If you are a practitioner of yoga, I applaud you!  I know we have several options on DVD and I plan to review them to find one that is very basic, as I feel very tight and not as flexible as I once did when I was a member of my gym.  Perhaps I will find one that is only 15-20 minutes that I can pop in first thing in the morning (and anytime I need the mind-body connection that yoga so adequately provides). 
I know how important it is, for me, to find fitness activities I enjoy, that I look forward to, that will keep me coming back several times a week.  I'm figuring mine out and getting good at avoiding a stalemate.  It's not the easiest thing for me, but I know how great I feel when I exercise, how important my health is to me and how fantastic I look when I workout and eat right! 
May you stay the course on your journey to vibrant health! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Breakfast or Brunch

The Easter holiday is upon us. 
Will you be spending the day with family?  Are you hosting?  Are you house-hopping (pun intended!)?  Do you need to make a couple/few dishes to pass? 
I am going to share one of our favorite recipes, in two versions, to help get your Easter morning started on the right (rabbit's) foot!!
Apple Oven-Baked Pancake
Version One
2 T butter
1 egg
3/4 c pancake mix
1/2 c milk
1/4 t vanilla
1 small apple, sliced very thin
1 1/2 t cinnamon-sugar
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  While oven is heating, melt butter in 9-inch glass pie plate in oven.
Beat egg in small bowl.  Add in pancake mix, milk and vanilla. 
Remove pie plate from oven, swirling melted butter around and up sides.  Pour batter over melted butter.
Arrange apple slices over batter, scallop-style.  Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
Bake 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool 1-2 minutes before slicing in wedges.
Serve with warmed syrup.
Version Two
2 T butter
1 egg
3/4 c pancake mix
3/4 c milk
1/4 t vanilla
1/2 - 1 T cinnamon, depending on taste
1/4 c chia seeds
1/4 c flaxseeds, finely ground
1 small apple, sliced very thin
1 1/2 t cinnamon-sugar
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  While oven is heating, melt butter in 9-inch glass pie plate in oven.
Beat egg in small bowl.  Add in pancake mix, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, chia seeds and ground flax. 
Remove pie plate from oven, swirling melted butter around and up sides.  Pour batter over melted butter.
Arrange apple slices over batter, scallop-style.  Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.
Bake 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool 1-2 minutes before slicing in wedges.
Serve with warmed syrup. 
Version Two will be much more dense than Version One.  You can add more milk, to either. 
You can use cinnamon in Version One or eliminate in Version Two.
Feel free to only use chia or only use ground flax. 
Make this recipe your own, as I have done! 
And don't forget to add a protein: eggs, sausage, bacon. 
We will be spending this holiday just the two of us and have decided to make brunch foods (again).  I like to do brunch because there are so many options that you can munch on throughout the day, usually without getting too full.
We will have fresh fruits & veggies, which we enjoy most everyday, plus we are going to try some new recipes, OF COURSE:
Oven Omelette with Sweet Potato Crust from The Spunky Coconut
Southwest Quinoa Cakes (which I will tweak a little) from Eating Well.
Chris will be looking for some kind of healthy sweet treat, too.
Wishing you a Happy & Healthy Easter weekend!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fitness Finds

I have been missing my gym, like crazy!!  Since we have moved to Colorado, I have been exercising, just not with the same intensity as UFC Gym.  I would run on the treadmill and, when both the treadmill and the weather broke, I have been running outside.  I have been using the weight machines in the fitness room, switching up moderate weights with more reps and heavy weights with fewer reps. 
Just last week, I decided I needed to mix it up more and make my own circuit-style strength training.  I warmed up here with 3 sets of 12 reps: jumping jacks, high hands/high knees, mountain climbers, squats, lunges and burpees.  I did a circuit of two sets of moderate weights for 30 seconds.  One time I warmed up before with 12 reps and another I finished with a heavy set at six reps.  I cool down for 10 minutes on the bike before returning home to do several ab/core moves, also 12 reps or 30 seconds each.  Whew! 
One day, I received an email from Amazon deals that said I had $10 to spend, which was about to expire.  I decided to see what fitness-related deals were available in our area.  I completely lucked out when I found 10 kickboxing classes for $29, which with my credit only cost me $19!  Less than $2 a class!  Sign me up! 
Monday was my first class (and so far the only one I took for this week).  While it was no where near the intensity or length as my gym, it was a good workout after seven months out of the loop!  It felt so good to be in a group fitness class!  When the time came to partner up, for one-on-one knees, I picked the young, fit guy because he reminded me of one of my former gym-mates and I like the challenge!  Having never held pads for someone, it was different.  And the first time he kneed me, I thought I might pee myself!  The instructor gave me a tip, to lean into the knee, which made it far better!  I wasn't ready to be done when the class was finishing!  I will take the Monday and Wednesday classes at 9:15 for the next 4 1/2 weeks. 
Chris and I went on a 3 1/2 hour hike on Wednesday in Boulder.  Our last (& first) time there was during our visit in May 2011, when we hiked to the Flat Irons and the Royal Arch.  This time, we took a different route, partly because the 3rd Flat Iron and Royal Arch were closed, and so that we could have a different experience.  We walked from Chautauqua Park to NCAR, taking some side trails along the way, like Woods Quarry and Mallory Cave.  Apparently, at the end of Mallory Cave trail is a BAT cave!  The cave was closed to protect the bats at this time.  The day started cloudier than predicted, but ended sunny & breezy.  It was the most perfect way to spend Chris's mid-week day off !  We were both pretty pooped and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying episodes of "Northern Exposure" from our DVD collection.  I can tell I got a good workout from the hiking because the sides of my booty got sore!  Yes!
While relaxing that afternoon, I flipped through a Longmont magazine, where I found an article about fitness programs in our area.  I looked one up and found I can take a 2-week boot camp trial!  I can also add in yoga, zumba, kickboxing and their extreme boot camp (only on Saturdays), if they fit in my schedule.  From May 19th-31st, I will take 30-minute boot camp classes in the mornings, either 8:30 or 9:30!  One morning, I believe, flow yoga immediately follows boot camp, so I think I will stick around for the stretch.  I am going to love it, I know!  However, their pricing structure is high, though probably fair because it includes so many classes.  It's the kind of place where I would like to work (maybe own, someday)!!  But I prefer a place that includes men & women because my four years experience at LAB/UFC taught me how we can push one another and learn from one another, while retaining our unique fitness goals & styles. 
I have been re-inspired to get a Group Fitness Instructor certification, along with Nutrition & Wellness.  I want fitness as a major part of my life!  I want to encourage others, while also keeping myself healthy.  Eventually, I would like to add certifications, like Strength Training and Yoga.  I would love to teach TRX, boxing & kickboxing, lifting and have them all rolled into a circuit-style boot camp!  What I fell in love with and saw my body changed by is what I want to live and share!
Additionally, I have begun reading library books about nutrition, health, hormones, aging and how all those work together for a vibrant life (and marriage)! 
So, I am starting down the path to my next career! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hamburger Mary's

So, about a month ago, we ate & drank at one of our favorite chains, Hamburger Mary's!  We have been to the one in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood and, now, in Denver! 
As part of our Denver weekend of belatedly celebrating Chris's birthday, which included attending a concert at the Fillmore Theatre, we dined on, what else?!, burgers while enjoying $4 mimosas and Long Islands!!! 
The burgers are always fresh & delicious!  You can get fries or pay a buck more for tatas, which are the house tater tots and Chris's favorite side!! 
I started with a mimosa and switched to a Long Island after taking a sip of Chris's drink.  We both thoroughly enjoyed our adult beverages! 
And, lucky us, we were joined by our new friend, Mark!  Mark is a college buddy of my cousin/brother, Kyle, who moved to Denver in November with his brother, a doctor.  Mark is hoping to snag a food truck to sell his fresh pasta, with the ultimate goal of opening a restaurant and small market.  I would work for him!!!  And, then, if there are any "research" trips to Italy, yeah, I could do that, too!  (Mark spent alot of time in Italy and I am SUPER jealous!  So, if he goes back, he would be the pen-ultimate tour guide for us!!!)
We'll be back to Hamburger Mary's Denver when my mom visits in July.  It's on her To See list and who are we to deny her!  We are hoping she arrives in the evening, so that we can be there for the nite ambience: the lighting, the drag queens, the outdoor seating!!!
When you get the chance, don't miss visiting a Hamburger Mary's near you!  Go for the food and drinks, stay for the Drag Bingo! 

Friday, April 4, 2014


Have you heard of it?  Are you eating it?
If you haven't and you aren't, I hope to change that!
"Quinoa was important to the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations.[15] Quinoa has been called a superfood.[16] Protein content is very high for a cereal/pseudo-cereal (14% by mass), yet not as high as most beans and legumes. Quinoa's protein content per 100 calories is higher than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet, but is less than wild rice and oats.[17] Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein.[18][19][20] Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.[21] Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest."
Quinoa is a robust health food!  It is so versatile and can be used both sweet & savory for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks!  You can sneak it into most anything.  We put it in our oats and our eggs.  I recently added it to an already super-healthy muffin recipe.  We use it in place of rice and sometimes pasta.  It can be added to smoothies, too ~ along with all of its health benefits, it will add a chewable element to your drink! 
Here is a link to 25 quinoa recipes from Cooking Light.   Please share any of your favorites, too!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

MMMMMmmmm, Smoothie!

After today's strength training workout (which was my own version of circuit training!!  woot!!), I needed something healthy & satisfying to eat.
We have plenty of spinach, so a Green Monster made the cut!
Our spinach smoothies generally contain the following:
frozen strawberries
frozen banana
almond milk
They may also contain (when Chris makes them):
Greek yogurt
If Chris is not drinking it, then I like to add a heaping scoop of peanut butter for protein.
Well, let me just tell you that today's spinach smoothie is da bomb!!!! 
Frozen banana
1 cup Vanilla Almond milk
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Heaping scoop of Peanut butter (chunky)
1 tablespoon of Hershey's Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Coconut cream concentrate (which is 70% coconut milk)
I get my healthy drink, plus the crunchy peanut butter gives me a little something to chew!  Next time, even more coconut cream concentrate to really give me the flavor!!
You gotta give this one a try!  If you are allergic to peanuts, like Chris, sub in whatever nut butter you have.  If you don't like coconut, just omit that ingredient. 
If you use banana, strawberries and cocoa powder, it could be like drinking a banana split sundae!!!  (just remember to add in some form of sweet, either vanilla almond milk or honey)  You could sprinkle the top of your drink with some shredded coconut for that extra flair!
Who needs to go to Dairy Queen!!!

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

...the more you eat, well, you all know the rest, right??
Chris and I try to eat healthy, at least 80% of the time.  We want to fuel our bodies with nutrition.  We move our bodies through a variety of physical activities.  We drink lots of water.  We consider ourselves "flexitarians," and don't restrict our diets.  I try to stay away from most dairy because it aggravates my acne and, sometimes, gives me an upset stomach.  Chris avoids peanuts because of a diagnosed minor allergy.
We don't eat much red meat, but we don't avoid it.  We'll eat chicken, pork and seafood.  Though, the toxic waste coming across the Pacific Ocean from Japan's nuclear reactor has made us question our seafood choices. 
We don't strictly eat organic.  If the price for organic is similar, then I will reach for it (more now since I have been learning about the effects to our bodies' entire network of systems when our hormones are off, which is greatly triggered by environmental toxicities).  But I need to make the best choices for our bodies and our bank account! 
We eat fruits & veggies everyday.  We eat oats (usually bolstered with quinoa) several times a week, mostly breakfast but the occasional dinner.  I make scrambled eggs filled with whatever veggies we have on hand and several spices.  We get HUGE bags of fresh kale and spinach at Costco.  We like spinach smoothies, full of frozen strawberries and bananas, cinnamon, almond milk, sometimes Greek yogurt. 
We have tried protein powders, especially when we were members of our gym in Indiana and wanted & needed a healthy post-workout meal .  However, we were suffering from bloating and gas and believe the protein powder to be the culprit.  It was soy-based and, perhaps, that was the issue.  Maybe we shouldn't have used the full serving size (altho, we would only use the serving size for one person when we added it to the blender).  Would plant-based proteins work for us?  Maybe.
We like the protein in beans, legumes.  I have several chickpea recipes, some for black, great northern and kidney beans, too.  We like black bean burgers; they are fantastic broken up and added to scrambled eggs!  Again, tho, the gas & bloating. 
I understand the digestion process and know some foods require a bit more work for our bodies to break down.  We tried Beano, but without success. 
So....do any of you have experience with this?  Can you give me some suggestions of how we might still be able to enjoy legumes as an excellent source of both protein and fiber, but without the eventual discomfort??  I can't begin to tell you how much I would appreciate it!!! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

High Stepping!!

In keeping up with our desire to volunteer more AND to have fun, this morning we registered to be parade volunteers at Denver PrideFest in June!!!
We will be walking, high-stepping it, the entire parade route, doing whatever it is that the volunteers get to do. 
I am pretty excited, I must say!
We attended both the Key West and Chicago Pride parades last year.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Key West's ~ it was small and kind of intimate.  Chicago, well, as you would expect, was crazy & crowded!  I would only want to do it again in one of two ways: as a parade participant or watching from someone's balcony!!!
We will get to be right in on the action this year!  And then we can go out to the rest of the fest and enjoy ourselves "among friends"!!!

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