Z is for Zumba

This evening quickly became a whirlwind of activity.

Chloe and I had made plans to crash our parents’ Zumba class tonight! Zumba is actually one of the few group fitness classes that I had never attended until tonight.

Prior to the class, Chloe and I made a mad dash to my gym for a quick cardio workout. It was about 500% more crowded than it was the last time I said that it was over-crowded. I love my gym so, so much, but I seriously can’t handle these crowds. First of all, it is ridiculously LOUD. On top of that, it’s impossible to find space for my favorite circuits/ mat workouts. It is nearly impossible to get machine time. The parking lot is ALWAYS full and finding a locker is like finding a truffle without a pig.

I am seriously hoping that the madness dies down once people settle back into their normal schedules and once the novelty of New Year’s resolutions dies down a bit. I so loved my gym time up until the past week or two and I would really hate for it to become a nuisance. We shall see!

Next, it was time to Zumbaaaaaaaaa!

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The class that we dropped in on is one that was friendly for all ages so it was very low-impact and relatively low-key, but that didn’t mean that it was easy!

I couldn’t believe how much trouble I was having keeping up with some of the moves! There was quite the combination of merengue, African dance and even some Gangnam Style!

I must confess, my coordination level is next to zero. Apparently, I left even the faintest ability to follow any beat whatsoever behind me at those college senior nights.

What I really loved about this class was the fact that the instructor didn’t push too much. She wasn’t one of those ridiculously loud, up-in-your-face sort of instructors and I really enjoyed that. The class was simply about having fun and moving which I think is such a great message to send to a class with such a wide range of abilities experience! Time and time again she said “It’s all about staying active and having a good time while you’re doing it.”

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Time to Zumba! (Why are my pictures always so dark? I should really work on that…)

I have been in ten zillion different fitness classes and the ones that I have enjoyed the most have had that same air of fun and positive motivation. Also, despite the fact that it was a toned-down version of the class, my arms were feeling the burn from the five-pound dumbbells that I was holding throughout most of the class!

It was also a lot of fun to be there with a bunch of people I knew. It really was like a party! (Ya know, the motto is “Zumba: Join the party!” Ha!)

Since my earlier post covered my CPR class and not any of my edible endeavors, I have to quickly share my mid-afternoon snack with you. It was oh-so good.

Now we all know how much I love my oatmeal toppers, right?

Well today I thought I’d jazz things up a bit and try something new:

photo (7)I got this jar of Mocha Espresso Sauce for Christmas and let me tell you, this stuff is the greatest. It can be used in coffee, on ice cream, and apparently it even makes a fantastic oatmeal topper. The sauce is actually intended to be heated, but instead I took a small spoonful and set it in a bowl of oatmeal along with my usual scoop of peanut butter. I typically add a little too much brown sugar to my oatmeal and this provided just the right amount of sweetness with an extra kick from the mocha flavor!

oatmealI could eat this stuff for three meals a day. Sure, it looks a little like garbage, but it was delicious. Find yourself a jar of this Stonewall Kitchen sauce and go to town.

I hope you have a great night and I’ll see y’all tomorrow!

 

 

 

Armageddon??

Hello friends!

So this happens at least once a year. Every news program is overrun by reports of an extreme storm that is headed in our direction. Oftentimes, at some point in the winter, Western New York is threatened by some major “NorEaster” storm that promises to dump 5,000 inches of snow in less than an hour. Usually, they end up downgrading the storm and nothing significant ever happens. I don’t usually get caught up in this sort of stormy hype, but I must say, this FrankenStorm feels different. Everyone who knows anything seems to be in total disaster-preparedness mode! Even at work, people who are normally very leery of overzealous weather reports were preparing for the very worst.  Earlier today, I made my way to the grocery store and not only were the managers in complete panic mode, but nearly every “staple shelf” was empty! The bottled water was sold out, the bread was gone, the stock of canned goods was nearly annihilated! I don’t know what is going to come of this, but let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be anything too monstrous. Stay safe everyone!

This morning was definitely a sleep-in sort of morning, but Katie and I had made rough plans to hit the gym this morning and I remembered that my favorite Total Body Conditioning class is on Mondays. Since I’ve missed the gym for the last two days, I figured I might as well go. Also, staying in and hibernating all day today was out of the question anyway as I had a dentist appointment at noon!

Prior to TBC, I hit the elliptical for an interval workout that ended up totaling around 2.3 miles (and according to the calculator on the screen, scorched nearly 300 calories in just 25 minutes!). Even though my legs felt a little like Jello afterwards, TBC was a lot of fun and was filled with new moves that the instructor hasn’t really used before. It was also great to have Katie there as I usually attend those classes all by my lonesome.

Next I made my way to the dentist (is it just me, or does it seem that every Monday post I am talking about a dentist appointment?!) Today we were discussing a plan to fix a tooth that has been uneven for as long as I can remember and is a rather prominent spot. He did a composite “mock up” of what it will look like when he is all done and I am thrilled. So fortunately, no drilling today, unlike last time. 😉

Today’s lunch consisted of a bowl of my new favorite soup: Progresso’s Reduced Sodium Tomato Parmesan.

Tomato Parmesan Soup Progresso

It wasn’t until VERY recently that I decided that I am a soup-lover. I have always hated any and all soups (aside from maybe one or two of my mom’s homemade varieties), but other than that, I just couldn’t get behind it. Apparently I have chand my mind 100% and jumped right on board because now I can’t get enough of it. It’s the perfect lunch and if you choose wisely, it can be a pretty healthy option as well! Today I broke up half of a small dinner roll into the bowl and it was as tasty as could be. It is also nice that this particular variety is reduced sodium. I’m generally not too worried about sodium (unless we’re talking Chinese take-out or Ramen Noodles), but I do try to make myself aware of my intake. I once did a 10-day, VERY low-sodium “diet” around New Year’s. I lost about quite a bit of weight in less than two weeks. It was certainly a good New Year’s resolution jumpstart, but overall, that turned out to be not-so-helpful. I gained the weight back immediately after I started eating normally again (it was almost all water weight from the salt), but it definitely served to show me that sodium may be a good thing to at least be conscious of! Since then, I’ve read several articles suggesting that it is unnecessary to be too much of a sodium-stickler at my age if you are in good health and maintain a healthy lifestyle/ eat well otherwise, so I have definitely loosened the reins on that rule.

As it turns out, today has been the perfect combination of activity and hibernation. I really don’t like staying in all day anyway, but now it’s time to hunker down with a dog, a blanket, and a book and wait out this storm!

Stay safe, my friends! I will see you again tomorrow.

Happy October!

October is here and fall is in the air! Today was yet another beautiful fall day. October has always been one of my favorite months between the weather and the seasonal fun. I love that from now until December there is an exciting and seasonal holiday every month!

This morning, I (once again) managed to crawl out of bed in time (barely) to make it to my conditioning class at the gym. I actually considered heading out a little early so that I could hit up the treadmill before class, but that didn’t happen. I also decided to cut out the RPM class that is scheduled just before conditioning as I didn’t find it particularly inspiring or energizing last week.

One thing that I really like about this class is that it could easily be replicated at home (that is, if I could ever remember a single move for the life of me). The routines are very easy to follow even with limited space. This is what the set-up for a typical class looks like:

 

(I don’t think you actually need two sets of dumbbells… the instructor always differentiates by saying “pick up your lighter set of dumbbells”… I use an 8 lb. set and a 5 lb. set and I am pretty sure that I could use the 8s for all of the moves). Also, a random side note: do you see that resistance band? That thing tried to attack me last week. It SNAPPED on my KNUCKLE and hurt like crazy for the remainder of the class. I still have a teeny tiny little cut there :’-( )

I really like that this class hits every major “problem” area within an hour and by the end of a set, your muscles are pretty much screaming.

We also used a tight resistance band around the ankles to target the thighs (it worked. Too well.)

 

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Try 64 reps of that move on EACH LEG. Oh my goodness. Ouch!

I definitely liked the combination of sets that the instructor used last week better than this week, but it was still tough and enjoyable!

After the gym, it was time to run a few errands which included stopping at a new bank to open a new account. The conversation with the banker began like this:

“Do you work yet?”

“Yes.”

“Ok. Does your employer have direct deposit?”

“No, they actually don’t.”

“Ok. Well, what I was going to say is that if you have a parent who is able to go ahead and sign on along with you, you could get a CHECKING ACCOUNT!!!!!”

….silence. Dirty look. Deep breath.

“I’m twenty-two years old.”

“OHMYGOODNESS! I’m so sorry! I thought you were sixteen!”

There are a few things wrong with this. A) It was 12:30. If I were sixteen, shouldn’t I have been in school on a Monday at 12:30? B) I know I may not look 22, but I’m almost 100% positive that I don’t look so young that I haven’t had a solo bank account yet. I am also 100% positive that I don’t look 16. C) You should never, ever. And I mean NEVER. EVER. assume that anyone who looks to be under the age of thirty is a teenager without very good reason. Especially a customer. Especially me. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

After I managed to convince the woman that I am a big girl who has not only graduated from college and purchased their own car, but that I have also had both a job AND my very own bank account for seven years now, it was time to meet Katie for an afternoon outing!

First we hit up one of my very favorite local restaurants for lunch. I love the breakfast options at this place and they serve it until 5:00 so I couldn’t resist my favorite breakfast combo.

Next it was time for a froyo treat! And much to my excitement, they were featuring two new flavors: Pumpkin Spice and also “Pumpkin Roll” which was a combination of cheesecake-flavored yogurt and the pumpkin spice one! You know how I love fall-flavored treats and I couldn’t pass this one up! Plus, there were only 120 calories in a serving. After circling around the topping tables about 2,000 times, I finally settled on graham cracker crumbs and dark chocolate curls.

 

Tasty and under 200 calories! Also, I might point out that I made it out of that store for only $3.09 this time! I think the first time I tried it, my dish came to over $10. It’s a pay-by-weight thing and with a zillion toppings to choose from and over a dozen flavors of yogurt, it is way too easy to get carried away. I was quite proud of myself today. 😉

We also took a walk outside in the beautiful weather. At one point, I also stopped and demonstrated a proper “burpee” for Katie in the middle of the walkway. The onlookers probably thought that I had lost my mind. Or that I had a sudden urge to breakdance. Heh.

Our last stop for the afternoon was the bookstore where we wandered around for quite some time. Katie and I both decided that it was time for us to start reading more avidly once again now that we’re done with school and I still had a gift certificate for the bookstore from my graduation. After perusing many different books, I finally decided to cave and follow along with the rest of America. I purchased Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Since it is a bestseller, it was 30% off so I figured this was a good time to go for it.

 

This book has been on just about every “must-read” list that has cropped up recently. It has been on the New York Times Bestseller list forever. It has been the choice book for countless book clubs and reading groups. After Katie told me that both she and her mother finished reading it in less than two days because they couldn’t put it down, I was sold. I will let you know what I think of it. I am finally almost finished with Defending Jacob.  I was reading that one on a Kindle and as much as I love the Kindle, I definitely enjoy reading an old-fashioned book every now and again. It’s just completely different!

First RPM Class

I did it. I actually woke up in time to make it to the two group exercise classes that I wanted to try out this morning! (Granted, I had approximately 20 seconds to get ready and blasted through the door of the gym about one minute before the class began, but those are all very minor details. 😛

The first class I took was a shortened RPM (aka Spinning, Les Mills style) class.

 

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The first spinning class I ever took was an hour and fifteen minutes long which was WAY too long, I liked that this one was just half of the typical length. Additionally, the class used the official RPM stationary bikes rather than the typical exercise bikes you see at the gym.

I never really know what to do on cardio machines at the gym other than the treadmill (and if you read my post from a few nights ago, apparently I don’t even know what to do with those sometimes. 😛 ) So I definitely liked that this was an organized biking workout.

However, I wasn’t crazy about the class overall and I don’t know if I would make it a point to go again. First of all, I really didn’t like the “dial” on the bike. This is how you change the resistance, but instead of a spinning class that will tell you exactly where to set your numbers throughout the whole workout, the Les Mills style of biking is “TURN IT TO THE RIGHT!” So you kind of just hope that you’re adjusting your dial correctly. I think I got quite mixed up and I was never really sure I was doing the right thing. Also, the music tracks for the class were set by the company and were not particularly motivating. It was playing very, very loudly, but that doesn’t mean the jams are good workout ones.

The second snafu was definitely circumstantial. The class itself certainly can’t be blamed for this.  I was torn between sitting in the first line of bikes in CLEAR view of the instructor and in the back row where someone could theoretically sit in front of me. Since we were about twenty seconds away from the start of class and there were still over half of the bikes available, I decided to sit in the back row. No one would sit in front of me with so many other non-invasive options, right?!

Wrong.

About three minutes into class, a very, very tall man with very, very long hair sat on the bike DIRECTLY in front of me. Not only could I no longer see the instructor, but he also frequently flipped his hair to his back and (ZERO EXAGGERATION), it almost hit me in the face every. single. time. Should I decide to ever go again, I’ll be SURE to sit in the front row. No question about that one! I am sure that it probably takes a couple of classes to get used to everything (including the bike operation), so maybe I’ll give it another shot. We will see.

Next, I made my way to a conditioning class which I LOVED. It was about an hour long, but the time flew by. The instructor hit on just about every muscle group and worked it for just long enough to feel the burn, but without making me feel like I wanted to die! The equipment used was very basic– two sets of dumbbells, a mat and a resistance band. I had never used a resistance band before, but I really liked it. Although the one that I chose I found out was quite light– next time I’d definitely pick a different one. I didn’t realize that they were color-coded (or I should say, I didn’t realize what the different colors meant.) The instructor also had the perfect level of energy. I’m not a big fan of the screaming, overly excited ones. My favorite group exercise instructor I’ve ever had was definitely my sensei who was motivating and supportive and funny, but not over the top in any way.

After a jam-packed morning at the gym, I headed home for breakfast which was easy and delicious.

Don’t forget the most important part!

 

And now, I’m rearing and ready to go. Time to run some random errands, hit up the personal training session, (Is it possible to fit an entire week’s worth of exercise into one day?) and head out to see the lovely Miss Chloe for dinner tonight!

Please do come back later to read about the PT session!