Surviving the Mondays (in a Polar Vortex)

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So one of the things that the BOY and I have been figuring out is adjusting to a new schedule.  We adapted when I started my new full time job in December, but then shortly after he began winter break.  Now, it’s a new semester with a new schedule and that changes meal planning.  Especially since the BOY had 2 night classes this semester, which means 2 nights that I am on my own.  The other thing going on this week is we are back in extreme temperatures with cancellations, cold cars, and frost bite warnings.  Even the BOY’s law school classes got canceled today and tomorrow.

 

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The good thing about today is that after a busy, rather sleepless but super duper fun, weekend, I had a quiet Monday.  I was so tired that my eyes were closed and I was passed out with Cooper on my face (no joke!) last night at 9pm.  I slept blissfully until after 8am this morning, at which time Cooper returned to pouncing on me.  The BOY got dressed and headed off to work. I made some breakfast and threw the first of 2 recipes into the crockpot, trying to avoid hitting a curious Cooper with my knife.

 

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This recipe for Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry is really easy and was in the crockpot before 9am.

 

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So I had some time to warm up before having to leave the house.  I had an 11am workout scheduled with my new trainer.  As I was getting out of the car, I realized that I totally forgot my shoes.  After 2 days of yoga, I didn’t even think about bringing along gym shoes.  My trainer is creative and it worked out just fine.  My arms were tired after this weekend and we worked my back hard.  I’m hoping for improved posture!

 

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I had to make a return at the mall, so I decided to try Protein Bar for lunch.  I’ve heard wonderful things about this place from everyone who gets to go there in the city.  I was excited that we finally got one in the suburbs and extremely impressed with my Spinach and Pesto Quinoa bowl for lunch!

 

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I braved the mall (filled with kids since there is no school today) to make my return and in the mean time picked up a few pieces of Gap Fit workout wear on sale (including running capris for only 15$).  When I got home my lentils were soft and fragrant.

 

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I made this for lunch for the week ahead, and it was a quick turn around as packaged away the lentils and threw tonight’s dinner into a cleaned crockpot.

 

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Meanwhile, Cooper kept himself busy and out of trouble (yea…right?!)

 

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Cooper and I then curled up for an hour and a half nap before having just enough time to get ready and head out the door for tonight’s tennis lesson.  It was hard to determine if it was still on, but I was excited to find out that we were.  I think I’ve learned a thing or 2 and am getting maybe a wee bit better…maybe!  Tonight was cold but fun and I learned how to serve, which is exciting!

 

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We came home and had dinner (recipe coming tomorrow) before relaxing back on the couch with some tea and a new TV show called Black Sails.  Has anyone seen it?  The BOY is off tomorrow and I am crossing my fingers once again that my car starts.  The brutal cold has already rolled in and we can hear the wind howling through the trees.  We have plenty of warm food for the week ahead…perfect to beat any case of the Mondays!

 

How do you survive Mondays?

 

Cooper’s Answer: With warm, cozy naps!

 

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Meal Plan 1/27/14

Sunday: Turkey Tacos

 

Monday: Crockpot Cashew Chicken

 

Tuesday: Burgers (premade from Mariano’s) with mushrooms and asparagus

 

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: TBD

 

Lunch: Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

From Hello Little House

 

Ingredients

2 tbsp curry paste

2 cups low sodium chicken or veggie (to keep vegetarian) stock

1 tsp minced ginger

3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Spray your crockpot with cookie spray.

Add in potatoes, onions, and lentils to crockpot.

Stir together stock, ginger, and curry paste until well combined.  Pour over sweet potato mixture and stir.

Set crockpot to high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

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A Sick Staycation

I guess it was inevitable…

 

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Between working the kids, 2 airplane rides, and that temperature drop from Florida to Chicago that I would end up with a cold.  And now, my cold has escalated into a lovely sinus infection.

 

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I spent Wednesday night getting cozy with the Kleenex boy, sipping my green tea, and dressed in my favorite flannel jamies.  ‘Flannel…’, the BOY said.  ‘You must not be feeling well.’  He knows me so well.  The saddest part about this illness, besides the fact that I get cranky when I don’t feel well, is that I have less than a week before I go back to work and big things planned.  For example, Date Night at Joe’s downtown.

 

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The BOY and I have been looking forward to this night for 2 months since I made the reservation.  Since I wasn’t feeling great, we made a few modifications, heading into the city a little later yesterday so that I could rest.  We took the train downtown and checked into our hotel room.

 

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I love this city!

 

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The streets were wet from a light snowfall, so my pictures picked up the glare.

 

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But, I wanted to share the beautiful city lights and decorations.  The weather was mild, so I convinced the BOY that we should walk.  Our first stop was POP’S for Champagne.

 

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We were so excited for dinner that we arrived at Joe’s early.  Neither of us has ever eaten at Joe’s and it has been on our bucket list for awhile.  We were not disappointed.  Our meal was incredible!  We had sea scallops for an appetizer and shared a mushroom mac n cheese with the main dish, some many-day-aged steak for the BOY and sea bass for me!  I packed a pocket full of tissues and made it through the dinner despite my stuffed up sinuses.  We had some plans to meet friends for a drink after dinner, but by 10:30pm, my head was heavy and I was ready for bed.  It was another fantastic night in the city, and I gladly collapsed into the soft, fluffy bed! 

 

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We woke up this morning to find big snow flakes swirling right outside our window.  We braved the cold and made our way to Michigan Avenue for breakfast (and a quick trip to the GAP) before heading home to the suburbs.

 

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Where I have changed back into my flannel and permanently attached myself to the couch.  I am on Day 2 of an antibiotic and hoping that this feeling worse is what needs to happen before I am feeling better.

 

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I had some homemade Mushroom Barley Soup for lunch.  The BOY and I watched Rock of Ages (he was just as happy to lay low today as I was), and now I am moving on to a Law&Order marathon before the Indiana Basketball game tonight. 

 

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Law&Order always makes me feel better : )

So does looking at these adorable little cake balls (you may have seen them on my Christmas post) made by my close friend A!  She is so amazing, talented, and creative, and these taste just as good as they look.  Next time she is in town, I definitely want a decorating lesson!

 

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Hopefully tomorrow I won’t be blogging but will instead be out and about, detached from my Kleenex box, enjoying the last weekend of the year!  Optimism should work as medicine, right?

Day Off

Sunday, Sunday!

Oh, how I love waking up with no alarm to a full day ahead of me.  Truth is, I purposely made NO plans for today. I knew that Wednesday through Saturday were going to be pretty busy, and I wasn’t sure how sore I would be after yesterday’s half marathon.  I wanted to a day to chill out, get a few things done around the house, and hang with the BOY before I lose him to finals prep.  I’m adding in a few shopping stops, but mostly, I just wanted a lazy day off!  Can you blame me?

 

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Yes, this was last night’s big event laying around in my PJ’s and compression socks, eating my favorite snack (popcorn with olive oil), and drinking a little bubbly out of my congratulations glass.  Only fitting after yesterday’s race!

 

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I woke up starving and although I really wanted something rich and sweet like pancakes, I had the perfect leftovers to make a flavorful Breakfast Stirfry.

 

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It was exactly what I needed to get my day started.  Although the first half of my day involved sitting on the couch, looking for recipes, and watching Law&Order (I swear if there was an L&O Anonymous, I would be a founding member).  Around my 3rd episode, I was actually starting to feel hungry.  Usually this happens to me the day after an intense workout, all I want to do is eat all day. I was snacking on an apple with almond butter when the BOY mentioned heading out for lunch.  I convinced him to take me to Which Wich? since I was totally craving a veggie sandwich with pesto and hummus!

 

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This is seriously the BEST sandwich place EVER!  If you have one in your neighborhood, I highly recommend checking it out.  Afterwards, I made a quick longer than expected stop at Michael’s.  I still haven’t framed my Marathon poster, and for the past year, I have been wanting to hang it in the office.  Who knows…there may be more to follow!

 

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With the BOY at the library, I finally had a few quiet hours at home.  I threw some banana bread in the oven and FINALLY sat down to watch last week’s Grey’s Anatomy.  What can I say…I’m still hooked on this show!

 

(Source)

 

The house started to smell incredible, which the banana bread gets credit for.  I had some over ripe bananas and wanted to try something new and fall-tastic. 

 

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This isn’t easy considering all of the banana bread recipes I’ve made, but after a few minutes searching online, I came across this recipe for Maple Banana Bead on Baker By Nature.  She used oat flour, so I just subbed in white flour.  And because the only Greek yogurt I have is pumpkin flavor, I used that too.  It goes with the fall-tastic theme!

 

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I debated whether or not to add in some nuts for crunch, but in the end placed a few pecans along the top of the bread.

 

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Taste Test?  Of course!

 

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The batter was tasty, but not as maple flavored as I expected BUT my house is overflowing with sweet maple aroma.

 

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I can’t wait try it.  Because let’s be honest…along with some wine in a Congrats glass, banana bread is perfect for recovering from a race on your Day Off.

 

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Now I just have to wait for the BOY to come home from the library to watch the DVRed Bear’s game!

 

 

What do you like to do the day after a race?

 

Because this week was so crazy, I loved laying low today. 

But…tomorrow I have a 90 minute full body massage.  Hooray!

 

 

Maple Banana Bread

From Baker By Nature

 

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup maple syrup

2 eggs, room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

4 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Spray the bottom and sides the loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, set aside. In a separate large bowl, beat maple syrup and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add melted butter. Add mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, and vanilla. Gently mix in dry ingredients. Pour batter into the lined loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour.

Cool before cutting.

UnCommon Race

Thanks everyone for your support and encouragement with my 10 Healthy Habits!  It’s been a rejuvenating weekend, allowing me to make some much needed deposits into my sleep bank, attend a yoga class, and participate in a fun and unique bike ride.

 

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A coworker of mine found a Groupon for the Chicago Urban Assault Ride sponsored by New Belgium.  It is a 2 person team race, and I was so excited when she invited me to join along.  Who doesn’t love a day of beer, bikes, and big wheels? 

 

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The race began right across from Wrigley Field.

 

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By the time we arrived, the parking lot was full of teams with bikes wearing great costumes!

 

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We arrived in matching TMNT Tshirts representing our team, the TENACIOUS TURTLES!  Our Tshirts were super popular throughout the day getting numerous comments and much respect.  Turtles in a half shell…

 

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When the race began, we all ran to our bikes.

 

 

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Hopped on our bikes and made our way east to the lake.  The lakefront was busy with the Air and Water Show, so we wanted to go there first before it got too busy.

 

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The purpose of the race is to make it to all the checkpoints (including 2 mystery checkpoints) and complete the challenges, earning beads before making your way back to the start.

 

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My favorite was the one where I had to ride on my bike holding a pool noodle while trying to catch rings thrown to me by my partner.  It was awesome (and I somehow managed to stay on my bike without falling off).

 

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We used the map as need to find the most direct routes.  In the end, we rode almost 20 miles (not including our ride to and from the race) making our way all over the city.

 

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After completing all of our obstacles, we rode back to Wrigley with a final sprint to the last challenge.

 

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The big wheels!!!

 

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We made our way to the finish line completing the race in…well actually, I have no idea how long it took us to finish, but it was probably the most fun 20 miles that I have ever done.  Even with road rash on my leg.  Ps, that is from the Big Wheel : )

 

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After the race, we went straight to the beer tent for a SHIFT!

 

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And then the real celebration began!!!  There were raffles, costume contests, and the famous mustache man dance competition.

 

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By the time the festivities were over, we were all starving!  On the way down to the race, we rode past a restaurant called UnCommon Ground that I have been wanting to try.  We decided it would be the perfect stop for lunch on our way back home.  It was the most beautiful (almost fall feeling day), and we got to sit outside for a fantastic lunch while the jets blazed overhead!

 

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Tell me this isn’t the coolest bathroom that you have ever seen?

 

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UnCommon Ground is known for using local produce whenever possible.  They even have their own patio garden with a huge variety of veggies and herbs.

 

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It was the perfect way to end the day!

 

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Have you ever done a fun or unique race?

 

The Urban Assault Race was incredible and my family just completed a mud run too!  My friends and I are already looking for next adventure race…any suggestions???

The Story of the Hummus

 

When you visit Florida (or at least the area where all of my relatives live), you tend to stay in a ‘community’.  This area looks nothing like your typical neighborhood with houses, parks and schools.  This is a gated development complete with housing (mostly townhouses and condos), recreation (tennis, pools, golf, and card rooms), and a large social gathering area that tends to have a restaurant, a bar and a banquet or social hall.  The landscaping is always pretty impressive!

 

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In my aunt’s community near Boca, each mini development even has their own mini clubhouse, which have FREE soda and coffee.  For this reason, breakfast is considered B.Y.O.C. and you should pick up your coffee on your way to my aunt’s place for bagels.  If you’ve grown up visiting Florida like my brother and I have, you are used to these golf and retirement communities.  In fact, I even joked in January when I was down that at night the streets look like Las Vegas with bright spot-lit buildings, fountains, fences, and pillars.  However, if you are new to the area, you might get a little stir crazy hanging out in what we kindly nicknamed the ‘compound’ this weekend.  Especially when you really are stuck there without a car and the skies are poring buckets of rain, so your planned day at the pool happens to be cancelled. 

 

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I share this with you just to paint the picture of why this hummus not only warranted a picture, but also got its very own post.  After a lazy morning indoors spent watching the rain from the lanai, my brother, his gf, and I were over tired, slightly hung over, and beginning to get VERY hungry.  When my dad, mentioned lunch at the deli, we perked right up and waited excitedly for someone to return to the compound to retrieve us for lunch.  Interestingly, there are not many delis in Chicago (I know…I find this weird and the BOY suggests opening one after every trip to NY and FL), so deli food is always a fun east coast treat.

 

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I knew immediately that I wanted some matzah ball soup which is perfect for a rainy day, but continued to look through the 9 page menu which is common at the deli.  While deciding on a sandwich, my brother’s gf and I decided we wanted a hummus appetizer, but because we were already ordering soup AND a sandwich, we told my brother to order the hummus.  He placed his order adding in the ‘hummus plate’.  After the waitress finished taking everyone’s orders, she came back and asked us, ‘So you just want a bowl of hummus?’  My brother looked at us like we were planning a joke when in fact, the hummus was listed on the menu.  When she left we all started to laugh.  I figured there would be bread on the table (a good bialy or roll) and that the hummus would come with something.  The table started to joke and laugh about what someone would do with just an order of hummus…in a bowl…as their appetizer, when the waitress came back and delivered…

 

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Just a bowl of hummus!!!  She said that she brought us some saltines too at which point, we all broke out in hysterical laughter.  Somewhat because the thought of saltines and hummus was funny, but mostly because we were seriously stir crazy with a major case of the giggles.

 

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We decided that the hummus bowl deserved its own picture before digging our saltines right into the hummus.  We HAD to try this combination, pausing only for a staged photo op.

 

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‘How’s the hummus?’ my mom asked to which my brother’s gf replied, ‘it’s hard to tell when all I taste is salt’.  When the waitress returned, we asked if we could have some bread or pita to eat with our hummus.  Again, she looked confused…was this an odd question?  ‘It will be a charge,’ she said and we chuckled a bit as my brother told her that we’ll take it!  In the end, she brought out a few plates of warmed pita bread, which was perfect and paired so much better with our bowl of hummus. 

 

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Needless to say, we were still laughing about our adventure outside the compound all through lunch and even when we made it back to my aunt’s house.

 

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As we conveyed the story of the hilarious hummus to my dad, who most of the humor was lost on, he told us that this is why it is safer to stay ON the compound.  Plus, once we were back, there were plenty of treats (black and white cookies, leftover birthday cake and my personal favorite…the pudding pie) to stick our forks into.

 

Tell me…do you know what I am talking about?

Who has stayed in a Florida community? Any funny restaurant stories to share?

Sushi and Life

Since the BOY and I were total bums last weekend, I insisted that tonight’s date night involve leaving the house.  There are a few movies out that we want to see, but the times didn’t work.  We went back and forth about what to do and finally decided on going out for dinner.  I have been talking about sushi since our new friends in St. Kitts recommended a Chinese/Japanese place nearby and it was easy to get a reservation this afternoon.  We drove 10 minutes down the road to TL’s.  The restaurant was busy, always a good sign, and the food looked amazing.

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The menu was full of options ranging from Chinese food to sushi.  The TV flashed pictures of some of the specials and although the Chinese food looked fresh and delicious, I had to feed my sushi craving. I ordered a glass of Argentinian Malbec, and the BOY ordered an Asian beer.

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We started with an octopus salad which was and spicy and fresh.  For dinner, I ordered a special roll called the Snow Angel (I thought this was fitting for the winter weather) that had avocado, crab, eel, and salmon, and the BOY and I split a BBQ eel roll as well.

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We were both really happy with the sushi that we ordered and it really was a great meal.  I can’t wait to return to try some of the Chinese dishes.  When we got home, we decided to play a game.  The BOY through me for a loop by suggesting LIFE.  I can’t say that I have played this game since I was a kid and even then we used to just drive the cars around the board and collect people.  I was really more of a Sorry or Trouble fan.

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While we played, the BOY and I snacked on the White Chocolate Puppy Chow that I made for my office’s Family Winter Party tomorrow.  One of my coworkers suggested that I make it again after my Treat Day because it looks like snow.  And the BOY declared it absolutely addicting (and I must say I agree)!  At the end of the game, I had a husband, no kids, a luxury car, and a yacht.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

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I’m a bit sore after my double WOD this morning and happy with my sushi-filled tummy. I guess it’s time for bed.

See you in the morning!

WOD

Another Saturday, another car full of ice and snow.

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At least this week, the sun is shining, which makes me much happier!  My first Workout of the Day (WOD) was scraping ice off the 6 windows of my car, which proved to be quite an arm workout.

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The term WOD is a CrossFit term used to explain the prescribed workout for that day.  For those of you not familiar with CrossFit, it focuses on using varied, functional movements at a high intensity that are adjustable to ANY fitness level (Source).  The days accomplishments are often based on time and posted for the group on a white board.  It is an up and coming workout that is becoming super trendy right now.  Reebok has just become the national sponsor.  People who do CrossFit swear by it and report good results.  Just a side note, many of the CrossFitters that I know also follow a Paleo Diet.  I have been reevaluating my current gym situation.  There are not group classes that fit into my day during the week and I am not a fan of the overcrowded weekend classes.  I thought CrossFit would appeal to my competitive side and wanted to check it out.  A friend recommended her gym which does a free trial class on Saturdays.  Although it is not in my neighborhood, I ventured out this morning to check it out.

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The gym is a large industrial looking no-frill room with lots of CrossFit-specific equipment.  We started with a 15 minute warm up written on the white board geared to work strength, range, and balance.  The CrossFit people say that their warm up is other people’s workout, and I can see why.  After the warm up, we split up.  There were 4 of us doing the free trial and the rest of the group went into their WOD.  We got some interesting background on CrossFit and how this specific gym trains.  Then we did an 8 minute workout consisting of 10 squats, 8 situps, and 6 squat to ceiling arm raises with a huge medicine ball.  The goal is do as many sets as possible in 8 minutes.  We used chalk to keep track of our reps with check marks on the floor.  The workout was challenging, but I did pretty well.  We finished with some assisted pullups.  I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t do a full out workout, but I was happy to learn a little about how CrossFit works.  The people were super friendly and welcoming, and I ended up chatting with a few of them before I headed home.  I was really impressed with the gym and the people.  I’m not sure I will be able to fit a weekly CrossFit class into my schedule (mostly because of the location and the fact that some of the classes start at 5:30AM), but if it were in my backyard, I could see myself as a regular.

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The sun was shining when I got home and although my phone said it was cold, I decided to try out a snowy run.  I have been wanting to get my feet back into these waterproof trail shoes and today seemed like a good day to try it. 

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I headed out to the trail which was covered in a thin layer of snow.  The trail was quiet and the trees were beautiful.  Even with the sun shining, I started off chilly.  I warmed up quickly, enjoying the quiet forest and bright reflection of the sun on the snow.  Four miles later, I walked in the door and was immediately greeted by the kitten.  I thought she was happy to see me, but really, she just wanted to eat some of the snow off of my shoes.

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For lunch the BOY and I went to check out a new sandwich place in town called Which Wich?.  They have a creative way of ordering and a variety of vegetarian sandwiches.

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Each sandwich has a brown paper bag.  Using a sharpie you fill in all the details of how you want your sandwich made (white or wheat bread, cold or hot) and any extras that you want.

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I ordered a tomato and avocado sandwich (a rare option that happens to be one of my favorites) with hummus and mushrooms.

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The BOY was happy with his Italian sandwich with a side of homemade chips.  My warm and toasty sandwich was delicious and full of avocado.  The hummus was a fabulous addition.  There aren’t many places that have hummus as an option which is one of the reasons that I am now a HUGE fan of Which Wich?

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The BOY and I both agreed that this is a place that we will come back to.  If there is one popping up in your neighborhood, you should give this unique sandwich shop a try.

 

What was your Saturday WOD???