July Happenings

Happy Monday, and hello from sunny Victoria, B.C!

I got home late Friday night and have been busy biking, playing squash, and spending time with family since the moment I arrived! The weather is so beautiful right now, it’s hard not to want to go bike, run, and walk outside. I actually have to restrict myself from spending too much time outside, or I’m worried I will get too worn out to do my actual training.

Saturday

I had the best first morning back I could have asked for. I biked to the squash club, taught the spin class, played squash with Giselle, and then biked home!

Heart rate summary for all of the training. I kept it on the Indoor Cycling setting so it wouldn’t use up data.

It was a bit of a marathon, and I loved it! I was especially surprised at how good I felt despite only 5 hours of sleep… Also, check out that calorie count… nearly 1700 calories- whaaaaat?!?!

Sunday

Yesterday started out on an active note as well!

My cycling mentor, Ken, has been riding at the Velodrome for a couple of months now, and insisted that I try it out. There are some very important rules and also skills to be learned (mostly for safety but also etiquette), so I participated in a 2-hour Intro to Track Riding class to get hold of the basics.

Took this picture once we were about to leave, which is why I don’t have a helmet or cycling shoes on…

The bike was the first thing to get used to. It’s even twitchier than a normal road bike, and doesn’t have any breaks or gears. To stop, you simply pedal slowly and eventually come “down track” to clip out of your cleats and get off the bike. To go faster, you increase your cadence!

In the two hour lesson, I learned:

  • how to get on and off the bike
  • what all the different lines on the track mean
  • …and how/why to ride along which lines
  • to yell “STICK!” when passing a rider
  • how to accelerate down the bank

I couldn’t get the hang of riding in the drops (the low handlebars) or riding out of the saddle, so that will have to wait until next time. Still, it was a great first time out on the track, and I’m really glad I went!

Breaking out the cycling gear!

I got home from the Velodrome around noon, and after hovering down some lunch, was quickly out the door about 30 minutes later to play squash with Gavin and Rob. The ball was really bouncy, and I had difficulty holding my own out there, but had fun nevertheless.

Lunch! Slightly crispy egg + egg white omelette with broccoli, squash, and parmesan. Plus a (sadly) rotten avocado on the side which I didn’t eat.

On the way home, I stopped by my grandparents’ house to say hi and catch up for a bit. I’m sure I’ll be back around to see them soon!

Catching Up…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so today’s write-up is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge as I recount events from the past month and a half or so.

Being Sick

I’m pretty convinced that almost everything happens for a reason. As I talked about in my earlier posts, I needed a break from squash once the season ended. I had planned on “coming back” to squash around June 16th, which would have given me a solid 4-week break, but my body rebelled. Mentally, I still wasn’t quite ready to jump back on court, and my body seemed to know that. I was sick off and on for about a month (mid-June to mid-July), mostly with a pretty gross cough. I was able to work out for the better part of that month, because energy-wise, I felt okay, however, as soon as my body temperature increased, I would sound like I was hacking up a lung. After about a month of this, my body completely rebelled, and knocked me out with a fever for a couple of days, which forced me to take some medicine and rest. Only then did my cough begin to subside.

Snapshot from one of my Instagram stories. Track intervals are a love/hate thing!

Anyway, I know this isn’t the most exciting or lovely thing to write about, but being under the weather for so long certainly gave me an appreciation for my health, which can sometimes be taken for granted. I’m happy to report that I’m back to full-strength now, and am really enjoying my workouts and squash!

Off-Court Training

Although I was banned from the courts for a little over a month (okay, banned might be a strong word), I kept my off-court workouts strong. I used this as a chance to assess the weaknesses from this past season season and reset, in order to recover and build my base back up. Pushing through at least 2 workouts a day during the season definitely took a toll on me both physically and mentally. During this early off-season/reset phase, I enjoyed working out once a day, not worrying in the back of my mind if I was working hard enough to get ready for an upcoming tournament. I was able to re-appreciate exercise, without so much self-imposed “pressure”.

My workouts varied from track sessions, to strength sessions, to a mixture of both. I spent a lot of quality time on the sled, AlterG treadmill, and Air Dyne bike. I also spent a lot of time researching the training methods I wanted to include into my next phase of training, which would also transfer into my in-season regime. (There’s no way I can describe in depth the methods in a single post, but in case you’d like to check it out, go to www.8weeksout.com. Joel Jamieson, the founder of the site and Endzone Athletics, has a bunch of articles online that cover topics related to strength, conditioning, sports-specific training, and even nutrition).

Keto Diet (and food in general)

In early May, I sought professional help for my nutrition. I understand the principles of “healthy eating” just fine, however I didn’t feel that I was optimizing my performance. Sure, I wanted to lean out a bit, but I also wanted to feel and perform better.

A delicious and typical “keto” meal: Spinach w Olive oil and lemon dressing, avocado, and salmon.

My nutritionist recommended I try a keto-esque diet, where I would decrease my carbs (and calories) depending on the intensity of my training day. Within a week I lost about 6 pounds, which I’m convinced most of was water weight due to the minimal amount of carbs. However, based on the plan I was given, my calories were also decreased significantly compared to what I was used to, so this also helped me shed some weight. For the first 3 weeks or so, I felt amazing, with the exception of about two days where I felt like I’d “bonked”. I’ve since increased my calories (consistent 2x a day training on 1500-1800 calories is not possible for me…), but have remained pretty low carb. Sometimes I eat blueberries and dark chocolate :).

Volleyball

I joined a ZogSports beach volleyball league this summer with a couple clients/coworkers from Body Space and some of their friends. It’s been so much fun to get out and play a team sport, especially outdoors! Tanning + fun combined!

Oof! That was a lengthy catch up. Time to work get ready for a big training day today! 😀

 

A Day of Thesis(Eat)ing {WIAW}

Hello! This is going to be the week month of pictures with minimal text because writing pages of schoolwork (ahem, thesis) followed by blogging just muddles everything up in my head.

So, I thought a nice change of pace for today would be to let you in on what I’ve been eating (or some of what I ate one day) while stuck in libraries! (And by libraries, I mean the same, single library. I like working in one exact spot for a single specific project). Also, thanks to Jenn from Peas and Crayons for creating this link up, to Laura for hosting hit this week!(Ps. Laura has a recipe for Banana Walnut Protein Pancakes up on her blog today!) It’s been a while since I’ve participated, and I’m so excited to hop back on the bandwagon this week!

Thesis Eats {WIAW}

Sunday I was cooped up in the library all day, so I grabbed lunch and dinner to eat at my table while I worked.

I think I started off the day with a Greek yogurt before my run, and a bowl of oatmeal afterwards!

Breakfast

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IMG_6207Lunch

My breakfast held me over for quite a while, but that didn’t stop me from snacking on some carrots and hummus!

IMG_6437This actually ended up being my “lunch time meal”, since it occurred around 1:30 ish pm.

I finally felt the “real” hunger arise around 3 pm, so I went to Olives to grab some sustenance. I began with a sweet potato jalepeno soup and an apple (not pictured).

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IMG_6439Dinner

I thought I would be satisfied until pretty late (like 8 or so), but ended up eating around 6:30-7 pm. I had the “protein” wrap from Olives, which consists of spinach, grilled chicken, egg whites, and avocado on a whole wheat wrap.

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IMG_6442It was deeeeelicious! I think I also had some snacks later but I cannot for the life of me remember what they were. Oh wait, I do.

IMG_0004Cinnamon teddy grahams!!! These guys are the best.

Ugh, truth be told, I actually wrote this post last night before going to bed, and I was famished writing it (it was almost 1 am), so putting up these pictures/writing about food was torture. I sure looked forward to breakfast this morning!

Questions:

What’s your favourite thing to eat while you’re studying or working on a project? 

I try to eat healthier when I’m working on big projects so that I can stay mentally alert. Drinking a lot of water and coffee helps too!

 

Spring Break Recap

Happy Monday! I wish I’d been able to find time to publish a post before today, but between thesis, hanging in the sun, and just taking a break in general from technology, blogging was pushed to the back of the list. Sadly, thesis is going to be taking over much more of my life for the next month, so I will be blogging when I can, but it could be sporadic. You have been warned! (Again…)

So, speaking of busyness due to thesis, let’s catch up the past week in bullet-point form! I’ve written way too many words the past few days, so today’s post is going to be mostly pictures :).

  •  Getting sun in Florida

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  • Thesis work in the sun (and on the plane…)

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  • Bike rides

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  • The beach with Bits and Alex

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  • Eating and using a real aloe leaf!

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  • Delicious chopped salads at lunch

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Aaaaaand now I’m back in Princeton, in the cold spring weather. Time to run to class, but I will have a post tomorrow about my experience as a female student-athlete coming up this week :).

I am so ready for spring weather!

Questions:

Has spring sprung where you are? Are you looking forward to the spring weather? 

 

Back to Philly for a Day

Things are in kind of a weird state right now. Squash season is kind of over, because all of our team play is done, however about half of us are still training for this upcoming weekend’s individuals tournament. Nevertheless, having a weekend “off” from competitions this weekend left me feeling like I all of a sudden had all the time in the world! So what do you do when you suddenly have a life again? You do work! Well, kind of…

I had some school and thesis business to do in Philadelphia on Friday, so I drove down there Thursday night in order to get a full day’s of activities in. My friend, Nabilla was kind enough to let me crash with her (I stayed at her place for a couple weeks at the end of the summer, too!), and after chatting for about an hour or so, we decided to call it a night in order to get some rest for the busy day ahead!

Unite Fitness 7:30 am

Friday morning started bright and early with a 7:30 am Unite cross training class. As much as I hate it when people say things like, “the obsession is real”, or “the struggle is real”, that is the first sentence that comes to mind when I think of Unite. The obsession is so, so real.

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The pain cave

I went through a huge withdrawal at the beginning of the fall semester when I came back to campus, and the feeling was only reinforced when I got another small taste last Friday.

IMG_4109The workout focused on upper body, and I was still sore yesterday- a sign that I definitely need to get some upper body lifting (and lifting) back in my regimen. That’s a post-season project :).

Breakfast

Upon returning to Nabilla’s place, we made a quick breakfast before I had to rush off to my next appointment. On the menu?

Dark chocolate and cherry chunk toast, topped with almond butter.

IMG_6236And strawberry Greek yogurt, banana, and cashew butter.

IMG_6238Well fuelled for my busy day!

Penn Museum 10:30 am-1pm

Although Unite was probably one of the highlights of my day (actually, it was a great day altogether, I cannot lie), the main reason I was in Philly was to work on my thesis.

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This picture was taken this past summer. Right now this is all covered in snow.

 

I am writing my thesis on the Hasanlu people, a group of Iranians who lived during the late Bronze and Iron ages and whose skeletons are stored at the Penn museum.

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Can you see the resemblance?

 

After about 2 hours of looking through skeletons, I called it a day and broke for lunch with some colleagues. The museum’s cafe was surprisingly good and reasonably priced, and I opted for a mediterranean salad with shrimp, which was only $6! Granted, there were only about 3 shrimp on the salad, but still- it tasted good!

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shrimpy salad

 

I also bought a small packet of Nourish’s Mocha-mazing. These snacks have been popping up everywhere and I love ’em! They’re perfectly portioned, and tell you how much fiber and protein is in each little bag. Oh, and they taste pretty good too!

IMG_6264I had no trouble finishing this little packet off!

After I had finished checking out the Hasanlu skeletons at Penn, I headed back to Nabilla’s to drop the car off, and then bus into Center City to the Franklin Institute. Parking is difficult to find as well as expensive in the city, so I opted for a $2.50, 10 minute bus ride instead.

Franklin Institute: Body World’s Exhibit

The Franklin Institute is currently showing the Body Worlds exhibit, which showcases the inner workings of animals and humans. My Comparative Physiology class offered this trip (on your own time with your own money) as a way to get extra credit, and since I was already in Philly, I figured why not!

IMG_6265The exhibit itself was pretty short, but was still very interesting. In fact, it was probably a good thing that it was so short, because I was starting to tire around 3:30 pm, desperately in need of sustenance- or sleep!

I wandered around the rest of the museum for a little while, noticing towards the end that I was the only person my age there. The rest of the museum-goers were either ages 6-10, or 40+. In other words, kids with their parents. I was just that strange young adult female who seemed to have nothing better to do on a Friday afternoon.

On my way out, I couldn’t help but take some time to marvel over the amazing architecture of the building, inside and out. I especially liked how the Franklin Institute displayed some famous quotes on the walls, by none other than of course, Ben Franklin himself.

IMG_6267I found the following quote pretty motivating and worth remembering.

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise. 

IMG_6283Well said, Ben Franklin!

Squash

After the Franklin Institute, my museum-ing was finished for the day! Following a quick trip to Trader Joe’s, Nabilla and I headed to Penn to play some squash! We hit for a couple hours before calling it quits, and grabbing some dinner at Whole Foods.

Dinner: Whole Foods

Have you ever seen the hot bar specials at Whole Foods? They’re actually pretty great, and really well priced! I got a chicken breast with two fantastic sides for only $6! Pretty hard to beat that!

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Chicken, kale salad, butternut squash panzanella

 

After dropping Nabilla off back at her apartment, I said goodbye and drove back to Princeton, arriving around 10:30 pm. I had considered staying another night and coming back the next day, but I’m sure glad I didn’t, because it snowed like the North Pole Saturday morning! It was hard enough walking around campus, let alone driving places. In fact, one of my teammates was driving back from Philly on Saturday, and she said that it took her 2.5 hours to get back, rather than the usual 50 minutes. Yikes.

The rest of the weekend

The rest of the weekend was good. We had an Oscar’s themed party Saturday night, where I was assigned the costume of Katniss Everdeen. I didn’t take many pictures, but I did manage to find one or two on my camera!

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Now it’s Monday morning, and I’ve got some work to get done before class. Have a great Monday!

Questions:

Did you watch the Oscars?

What did you get up to this weekend? 

 

Warm Winter Squash Kale Panzanella

When I think back to all of the delicious food I ate this 2014 holiday season, one thing stands out in my mind. No, it’s not the Christmas turkey or ham, nor is it the sweet potatoes and stuffing.

It’s a salad!!!!

Okay, before you start making faces at me and turn your nose up in disgust, you’ve really got to take a look at this recipe. I liked it so much, I made it twice more after its original (and thankfully successful) attempt. When I made it for our second Christmas family dinner on the 27th of December, it was the only dish that was polished off! (And to put this in perspective, four days later, we are still working on the leftovers from the dinner). When a few relatives asked for the recipe, and my mom asked me to make it again a couple of nights ago, I knew I had to post the recipe for you all. So, what is this great salad I speak of?!?!?

Friends, I present you with… Warm Winter Squash Kale Panzanella. 

IMG_5827Right now you’re probably thinking: what in the world is Panzanella? Well, I had no idea, but after having found this delicious recipe by Cookies and Kate on Pinterest, I knew I had to give it a shot.

IMG_5828The most unique part about this recipe is the rosemary. Along with the goat cheese, it adds so much flavour to this salad dish! It honestly reminded me of a healthier version of stuffing.

I also loved how easy it was to substitute certain ingredients to make the dish customizable. For example, the first time I made it I used some type of winter squash, the next time a butternut squash, and the final time a sweet potato!

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squash, onions, croutons, seeds

If you’re looking for a hearty, delicious winter salad, you’ve got to try this. My family and I loved it, and if you like kale and balsamic, I have a feeling you’ll love it too!

Warm Winter Kale Panzanella

Adapted from Cookie and Kate’s Balsamic Butternut, Kale and Cranberry Panzanella

Serves 2-4 people, depending on whether served as a side or a main dish, and on how hungry you are!

Ingredients

Cold: Salad

  • 2 large bunches of kale, washed, and torn into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (add this on only at the very, very end)

Hot: Squash, seeds, and croutons

  • ~3 cups winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc will all work), baked until slightly crunchy and cut into approx. 1 inch cubes
  • 2 slices of bread, sliced into bite size pieces (should make about 50 pieces in total, if you slice 5 by 5)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped into long, thin, ~2 inch pieces (not chopped finely)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (a few shakes each)

Dressing (should make ~1/3 cup of dressing)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or honey (I used maple syrup the first time, and actually omitted it the next two times- it works fine without)
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Hot

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Place mostly baked squash, bread, seeds, and onions on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top and toss until all ingredients are evenly coated, and then sprinkle rosemary and salt/pepper.
  • Bake for roughly 10 minutes, before removing from heat to flip ingredients, and baking for another 7-10 minutes or so, until bread is well toasted.
  • When bread is toasted to your liking (and they resemble croutons), remove pan from oven.

Cold

  • While the “hot” items are in the oven, massage kale in small batches. This will make the leaves much less “rough” and will also decrease their volume by a lot. If you need a tutorial on how and why you should massage kale, check out this article by the Huffington Post.
  • Add dried cranberries to the kale. Do NOT add in goat cheese yet!

Dressing

  • In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until thoroughly mixed. You may wish to taste the dressing to make any necessary adjustments to suit your liking. For example, I much prefer balsamic over mustard, so I tend to use more of it.

Assembly (right before serving)

  • In a large salad bowl, combine cold and hot ingredients. Drizzle dressing over salad, and mix well until all leaves are well coated.
  • In an oven or microwave (make sure the bowl is microwave-able safe!), heat salad until lukewarm. This should take about 5-7 minutes in the oven (watch it carefully), and 1-1.5 minutes in the microwave.
  • Remove salad from heat, and crumble goat cheese on top immediately before serving.
  • Serve salad immediately when warm. Enjoy!

Also, it is WEDNESDAY, which means I can also combine this recipe with some awesome What I Ate Wednesday eats! I’m liking up with Jenn for WIAW from Peas and Crayons! Be sure to check out her website for not only her WIAW eats, but also others’!

What I Ate Wednesday

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organic greens, kale, grapes, and feta salad from the Parsonage cafe
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Breakfast sandwich from Parsonage cafe {creamed spinach, egg, tomato, bacon and cheddar on whole wheat bread}
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Coconut flakes, which I turned into coconut CHIPS by baking them!
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Christmas dinner #2: ham, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, broccoli quinoa dish, more sweet potatoes

Happy New Year!

And, last but not least, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all! I hope you all have a fabulous time celebrating, whether you’re staying in, going out, or doing absolutely whatever 🙂 . Here’s to 2015!

Questions:

Do you like kale? Do you cook with it much?

I love love love kale!!! I absolutely adore how robust it its, and how it can withstand dressing without wilting!

Do you know what “panzanella” is? Have you ever made it?