Monday, January 31, 2011

My response...

I should have known my husband was up to something when he offered to write his blog post when I ran out to the grocery store.  I came home and he was still writing, hiding the computer from me while I drank coffee.  

After nap time was over, he asked me to read and edit it and (through my tears), I yelled out, "Really??  A lesbian?!  You're just going to throw that out there??!"

But seriously, I know that I am so lucky, blessed, thankful, honored and loved.  For him to take the time to write all that about me...well, I just can't put it into words.  We really have a lot of fun writing this blog and keeping a finger on the informative and motivational side of coaching that we both miss.  

It leads to fun conversations in our house like last night's dinner debate over whether your palms are up or down when jumping rope (we chose to disagree on this one...I still don't understand how you can jump palms down) or last week's hour long discussion on the most optimal time to do cardio.  

Thank you for reading and commenting...for joining us on Facebook and sending emails.  Please let us know if there's anything you are especially interested in reading about - because we really are all in this journey to health together!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Husband's Thoughts: Iron Sharpens Iron

By Scott

As Annie begins her series on inspirational mom’s for this blog, I wanted to add my contribution to this new section on her site.  I’ll finish up my excuses discussion next week.  I have been listening intently to Annie over the past few weeks as she has been describing the real-life stories of the many women who inspire her.  Listening to her speak about the moms who have inspired her got me thinking about that same subject in my  own life.

I consider myself to be the most blessed person on the planet.  I get to wake up each morning (early) and go to sleep at night (usually not so early) next to the most inspirational, smart, driven, organized, patient, and loving women God has ever placed in this world. 

As many of you know, Annie and I met in graduate school at Gardner-Webb University sometime in the  summer of 2002.  I had just finished a 3-year run at trying to become the toughest man on the planet and Annie had recently decided to give collegiate coaching a try.  We were both Graduate Assistant coaches at GWU, majoring in the new Sports Science and Pedagogy program. 

Us as graduate assistants.  Yes, this is me with a fu man chu...I was going for a look.  It was almost the 4th of July and I was going to sport a "these colors don't run" t-shirt at the fireworks festival, with the "guns."
We had a small class of students and all got to know each other pretty well in the 2-4 nights a week we spent together.  I could tell immediately, through our class interactions, that Annie was incredibly bright, personable, always prepared, and most likely a lesbian…

In my defense, for the first few months that I knew Annie:
1-      I never saw her wear anything other then sweatpants. 
2-      She coached softball.
3-      She just left a job at the NCAA.
4-      Every one of her class presentations involved one of the following subjects (Title IX, Gender Equity, lesbian sport participation, the sexualization of women in sport, and one less-than-flattering editorial on working the NCAA DI Wrestling Championships)

What conclusion would you draw?

We did cross paths in the weight room occasionally and I did know that she was an avid runner – which brings me to the story of how we began our relationship and why physical activity has been a key foundational part of our relationship.

Insert Coopers Test story.  

During the summer after our first full year, we ended up with a health and wellness class in which we were actually performing some traditional physical fitness assessments.  One warm, Wednesday night, during the last half hour of class, we went out as a group to run the infamous Cooper's Test.  For those of you who don't know, the Coopers Test is a standardized test to gauge aerobic fitness...basically a one and half mile walk / run where standardized proficiency levels are given for gender and age.

We knew in advance that we were doing the test this day and all came prepared wearing our running shoes and training apparel and I had determined, earlier in the day, that I was going to run fast enough to get the top standard for my age and also to make sure that I finished first in the class.  As we took off, I moved out into the lead pack of about four people.  This group continued at a pretty good pace for the first mile and I began distancing myself from the group.

With one lap to go, I was well within reach of the top age group standard.  I was coming around the last curve of lap number six and took a glance over my shoulder.  I saw our strength coach, who I expected to be my main competition, approximately 100 meters behind me.  I considered both of my goals for the night to be easily within reach and had just shifted my pace down to a comfortable fourth gear when, like a ninja, my future wife sprints past me on the outside with about 200 meters to go.

To be completely honest, I'll borrow a line from one of my favorite movies of all time Let it Ride, she "ran past me like I was sitting on a bench at a bus stop."  Let me stop here and say that, in my entire life, I had never been beaten in any physical activity by a female.  I had no idea that Annie had been race-stalking me since early in lap one.  Because of my limited back flexibility, she had run most of the race in my blind spot.  

As she passed me with about 200 meters to go, a cheer arose from our professor (female), as well as every other female in the class, who apparently had been watching this with Title IX interest.  So now the moment of choice had arrived.  As Annie ran past me, my competitive juices went into overdrive and my immediate instinct was to grab her ponytail and catapult myself past her to finish first.  However, since arriving at Gardner-Webb, I had also been fighting the image that I was a bit of a cromagnon man.  Did I really want to be THAT GUY...when actually, I DID really want to be that guy.  But, as Annie continued to accelerate, I put my ego in check and ran across the finish line...


to a girl...

Now, Annie played it cool and just continued to walk ahead of me for the next 50 yards or so.  So I caught up with her and caught my breath and told her what a nice run she fun that last lap had been (even though I didn't mean that) and that maybe we should get together to run sometime.  

Turns out, we've been running ever since.

Our training together has never stopped and Annie’s toughness has never ceased in amazing me. Annie push-mowed our grass in SC on July 31, the day before Elizabeth was born and walked out of the hospital on August 2 after a long and difficult delivery.  Just yesterday, she completed the Spartan “300 workout” with me at the gym. The workout specifics are listed here and honestly, not many couples would have been able to complete this in the time or manner that Annie and I did on Saturday.

Sauna warm up – 5 min
1 mile treadmill run (fast) – Annie @8:15, me @ 7:30 (ha- beat you yesterday my love!)

300 workout
Pull ups -25 reps (Annie used the assisted PU machine with failure at 8 reps)  It took both of us 3 sets to complete the 25 reps.

Deadlifts -50 reps (Annie used a barbell totaling 65lbs, me 135 lbs) Again we completed the 50 reps in 3 sets each.

Push-ups – 50 reps (Annie completed all reps in 4 sets, me 2 sets)

Box Jumps – 50 reps on a 30 in box (we completed all reps in 3 sets)

Floor Wipers – 50 reps (Annie held a 45 lb barbell and I used 135lbs)  In this exercise you hold the barbell at extension (like the top of a bench press) with your feet in a neutral position extended straight in front of you.  Keeping your legs straight – you bring your feet to touch the left side of the barbell, back to neutral, then back to touch the right side of the barbell ( 1 rep).  This exercise took 5 sets each to complete.

Dumbbell Clean and Press – 25 reps per side (Annie a 15lb DB and me 35lbs).  Each rep starts with the DB on the floor, explode up and bring the DB to your shoulder, then press overhead.   We both completed this exercise with no breaks.

Pull-ups -25 reps (Annie finished in 3 sets and I finished in 5).

This 300 part of the workout took us 44 min and we had ERS and RLS in and out of day care in a total gym time of 60 minutes.  This was a pretty impressive workout and I left the Y feeling spent and incredibly inspired by my beautiful wife.

Annie is occasionally frustrated by the fact that her current body is not her pre-baby-body.  I am writing this today to publicly acknowledge that I love her (and her current body) more today then I ever did in our life before Elizabeth and Rachel.  Physical activity has always been and will always be a part of my relationship with Annie and my girls.  We both believe it is one of the reasons that our marriage is so strong.

I have Proverbs 27:17 tattooed on my left arm.  As Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens the continence of another.  When I had this verse put permanently on my body, I had no idea that it would come to have such meaning for me about the woman who chose to have me as her husband.    Annie – you inspire and motivate me every day and I will always love you for that.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scott + Me + 300 Workout = Down for the Count!

Today, Scott and I did the workout that the actors used to train for the movie 300.  I would type more about this, but even my fingertips are sore tonight!  

We sat in the sauna for five minutes, ran a mile on the treadmill as fast as we could and then went into the workout.  We were done in an hour.  I think these guys from 300 had to complete the workout in ten minutes.  Shew!!  (Now they would have been working as individuals and partnering up takes you a little longer...although I have no idea how you'd do this without breaks!)

Here is the link to the workout with an instruction video.  Let me know if you try it!

I'm going to collapse now...  Good luck!

Saturday stumbles

I'm so glad I compiled this list as I read through my random stops all week.  Currently, Elizabeth is running in circles around the living room while stomping crayons into the rug...must have mixed some caffeine into the eggs again.  

Enjoy!!  And thanks Simply Staci!

So the other day, I bought 8 whole roaster chickens at Kroger (manager's special on all natural Tyson...hello, freezer!!) and the check-out lady made the comment, "Ugh chicken...there's just so much you can do with chicken..."  Are you kidding me, lady?  There IS so much you can do with one chicken!!  Very funny that I saw this link later that day.  

Amy was back this week with her 21 Toddlers blog, trying to talk me out of saying "No," to my kids.  I'm hoping these stupid rubber band welts aren't permanent.   However, I did catch myself...a lot...(I refer back to Exhibit A and the crayons being ground into my carpet...)

We buy into Dave Ramsey when it comes to financial advice and are currently working on our debt snowball.  He featured this article this week and I'm just curious if anyone has ever purchased identity theft insurance?

I don't scrapbook or craft, yet I love looking at these crafting websites.  I think in my perfect world, I could do this stuff, but I just don't have it in me.  However, I was so excited to run across this tutorial on how to make a blog banner...because some of you have such cute ones and I didn't have a clue.  So, maybe I shall attempt this when I have a spare hour...or six...

This one needs no cute!  I think I'll try these to send into Scott's office.

This was one of the cutest blogs I follow and her pictures are really incredible.  Check out this collection of spring flowers - especially the orange mama and baby...just precious.

Enjoy!  And don't be afraid to leave them a note if you enjoy their posts...everyone loves comments for their hard work!

Now, to dig out my steam cleaner...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Intervals - the hill edition

Last week, my sinuses had me down for the count.  I still went to the gym, but it was pathetic.  Basically, I sat in the steam room to try to get a sweat going and then rode the bike or jogged a little bit to see if that would make me feel better.

It didn't.

So this week, I'm a new woman.  Back to the grind.  Excited to run.  So I get on my good ol' trusty treadmill, plug in my headphones and get to work on my favorite, standard interval speed workout.  You know, the one I've been doing forever.  

My body hated me.  My lungs burned, my legs ached and I was dying from the word go.

Now, a long time ago, Coach O (my high school softball coach who, to this day, I look up to) told us that a woman can lose her physical conditioning after two days.  It was the excuse she gave us for why we wouldn't be getting the entire weekend off.  (ha!)  I believed her then... But holy moly, I really believe her now!

Therefore, I just couldn't face sprints today.  But my stupid schedule said, "run."  Fine.

So run I did - with hill intervals.  If you've tried the speed intervals and liked them, give the incline-first cousin a shot.  Here's how it goes:

Pick a standard speed - this should be an easy jog (5.5 ish) for a runner or a strong pace (4.0 ish) for a walker.  Begin your warm up and get up to your set speed by minute two.  You're going to stay at this pace the entire time.  At minute two, increase your incline to 2.0.

Time     Incline     Speed
0-2       0             warming up
2-3       2             5.5 for run, 4.0 for walk
3-4       3
4-5       4
5-6       5
6-7       6
7-8       7
8-9       8
9-10     9
10-11  10
11-12   9
(Continue all the way until your incline is at zero)  

Once you are at 20 minutes, begin your cool down.  If you are running outside, you can still do these, but you have to find a good hill.  Look around your house or around a school (normally bleachers are built on a hillside and you can find a good one there) - just make sure you're wearing good shoes.   Run up the hill and walk down.  Take a 15 second break and head back up again.  If you're in good shape, aim for 10 of these.  Then jog the rest of your time on your normal path.

You are welcome, my friend.

Good luck!  Let me know what you think!

Pregnancy workout

3 x 10 ball against the wall squats with bicep curls
3 x 10 shoulder presses - on the ball
3 x 10 chest press with leg extended
3 x 10 ball sumo squats alternated with
3 x 15 big ball rotation
3 x 10 wall pushups (with ball or without)
3 x 15 hip circles with arms out - each way

Sharing a thought...No such thing as Perfect

I love being able to subscribe to blogs because sometimes I get to read such wonderful and insightful pieces of work.  This one in particular, I just have to share.  I've had this thought of perfection on my brain for a while now...people (women especially) who avoid becoming healthy or adopting a healthy lifestyle because they feel like they are being forced into someone else's definition of what they should be or how they should look.  They may try for a bit, and when they don't 100% succeed, they back off in order to avoid being termed a failure. 

I don't know Tomianne (she is a friend of a friend and has sucked me into her blog), but her perspective on "fitting yourself in a glass box" is really...well, perfect.

Maybe it's the words you need to hear today to get you moving in the right direction...if so, then far-be-it for me not to share:  No Such Thing as Perfect.

If it speaks to you, please don't hesitate to leave her a note.  It's hard to lay your heart out on the Internet and not get feedback.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Husband's Thoughts: Effort and Excuses, Part 1

It's amazing how life works sometimes.  Between Annie's blog, my new circle of contacts, and my ever-changing lifestyle/fitness/training schedule, I've been fielding more questions about weight training, nutrition, and body modification than I have since I left the coaching profession.  

Many of the questions I've been hearing regularly revolve around "secrets" to losing weight, getting in shape, winning championships or modifying some negative habit in a current lifestyle.  I'd like to start a short series in my rant corner, wrapping up the excuses series Annie started in January.  

For anyone with any interest in getting in shape, one key acknowledgment must be made. This acknowledgment will be the jumping-off point for all efforts and will also be the main cause for any excuses as well.

Here's the acknowledgement:  The human body is designed and has evolved to be a mechanism for physical work.  My Gardner-Webb wrestlers will remember one of my more readily-used statements to them regarding this... that man was designed to walk 50 miles a day and kill saber tooth tigers. 
So what does this mean for human beings living and functioning in 2011?  

We live in a time where 99% of us eat way too much and do way too little.  This is the main reason why most people fail at their long-term fitness goals.  People will start an exercise program and question why 45 minutes of general movement does not result in abdominal muscles resembling our caveman ancestors.  

There are many of us with desk jobs or careers that don't require any physical activity.  Without a committed workout regiment, we may find ourselves in a bad situation where our work and life-related daily energy expenditure is not much higher than the energy expenditure required to do normal body functions, such as breathing, digestion, making your heart beat and a few other very rudimentary, but essential things.  

On the other side of the coin are the people in 2011 who lead active to very active professional lives.  This group of people are in jobs that require manual labor - constant walking or physical activity.  Many take for granted that we are in a better situation than some of our peers who have to sit at desks all day.  The cruel irony is that those of us who do lead pretty physical work lives are really not much better off than someone sitting at a desk all day, if that's all the activity that we do.  

Please refer back to acknowledgment 1:  the human body is designed to walk 50 miles a day and kill saber tooth tigers.

One very common excuse from people who lead relatively active careers is that, "I'm active all day.  When I get home, I'm tired and I don't feel like working out."  Unfortunately for this group, your daily energy expenditure is not much higher than the group that sat at the desk all day.

Why?  Because all you're doing is living slightly closer to our cornerstone acknowledgement:  that we were created to perform physical work.

The greatest thing about the human body is it's ability to adapt to stressors.  So if you're in an activity or a career where you do basically the same thing day after day, you are forcing no subsequent changes to your body.  Your baseline ends up being about the same as someone who's body is used to sitting around.  And this is the reason why calculating daily calorie expenditures for a given population is not that hard to do, based on statistics.  The difference in energy usage between someone (of the same age and gender) who sits at a desk all day, someone that lays block for a living, or someone that runs a household  is not very different.  The difference is probably only 10-12 percent.  

So the answer in 2011 is physical training. 

If you want to be fit today, regardless of definition, training is essential.  There are no secrets.  In my specific case, I consider training and time with my family to be on the same level.  In a perfect world, quantity of time is almost always better than quality of time.  I would much rather spend every day with my children than one day a week of "quality time."  Likewise, you will do better working out every day than having one super workout a week.  There is no secret.  There's no special exercise.  There's no special food sequence or supplement that will short-cut what our bodies were designed to do.  

Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to address two other main excuses to lack of training:  "No time" and "My genetics."  If you're motivated this week, my recommendation for a weekly challenge is to work out every day.  7 straight days...Monday to Monday.  Train this week with a you were created to do it. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Stumbles

Again, some random readings and thoughts from the past week.  Enjoy!!

21 Toddlers - Putting the Sense in Sensory
Amy is a high school friend of mine and the mix of humor and information in her writing is really great.  She has just started this blog, but I've loved everything I've read so far.  If you have little ones, check her out!

Unsophisticook - Homemade Bisquick Mix
So excited for this because she uses butter and not lard or Crisco!  As soon as my present box empties, I'm going this route.

Once a Month Mom - Tilapia with Spinach, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Herb
We are trying to have fish at least once a week, and this sounds so good and easy!

The Happy Housewife - Five Simple Ways Not to Have a Car Payment
Because this is one of our financial goals this year!

Little Magnolia
My friend Liz, from college, has started this site and has some of the cutest things!  We just sent one of the blue and green baby blankets to Elizabeth and Rachel's new little cousin this week.  Definitely worth checking out!

Plus, we need to send a huge shout-out to Amy from May All Beings Be Well, who is running in her first 5K today!!  Good luck!!

Have a great weekend, guys!

And go to Simply Staci or itscome2this to see more Saturday Stumbles!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday!!!

I swear, I get more excited about Friday than any other day...I think it's just the anticipation of having the entire weekend ahead of you.  

How are you doing on your wellness goals?  How can we help?  We've been getting great emails and feedback and are excited about the opportunity to continue on this journey with you.  

In fact, if you need a little pat on the back, Rachel learned to clap this week.  So I thought I'd share...because sometimes we all need a little round of applause!!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My little cereal problem

I feel like we're close enough now to talk about some of our biggest issues.  It's really time I got something off my chest.  I'm not proud of it...


My name is Annie and I have a cold cereal problem.

I'm not kidding - I love it.  Given the opportunity, I could eat it for every meal.  I've given it up many times, have endured much teasing from my husband (who knows exactly how many boxes I can go through...since he takes the recycling...dang planet in need of saving) and resist the cereal aisle all together in the grocery store.  

However, during a *slight* moment of weakness, I now have four boxes of Cheerios, four boxes of Special K and one box of Rice Krispies in my stock pile.  Now, my kids don't eat bowls of cereal yet...they have dry Cheerios and that's about it.  So normally, I'm able to just have what they're having.

But the other morning, pancakes really didn't sound that good to me and Special K is diet food, right?  What would it hurt?  So...pouring my bowl, I caught site of the nutritional information and pulled out my handy-dandy measuring cups and what I saw may have just scared me silly enough to make the rest into treats for Scott's office. 

Ok, here was the nutritional information, so just for grins, I poured a cup = 1 serving size.  This is not what I eat.  I have always filled up the bowl to the when you add the milk, you spill most of it on the floor to the way to the table.  My mom loved this little habit of mine growing up.

Ah, this is more like it.  But this was two cups = 240 calories...and I haven't added milk yet.

Added, one cup of 2% milk = 120 calories and 1/2 banana = 50 calories.

So all in all, my breakfast was about 400 calories and around 15 grams of protein.  The protein part isn't bad, but 400 calories for cereal?!  And this wasn't even whole grain! let's compare to my normal oatmeal breakfast (sorry, no pictures for this one)...

1/2 cup oatmeal = 140 calories
made with water = 0 calories
2 egg whites = 100 calories
1 tbsp honey = 60 calories
1/2 banana = 50

So calorie-wise, my oatmeal breakfast is about 350...maybe a little more when you add wheat germ and ground flaxseed (which we do).  But NUTRITIONALLY, you're dealing with a lot more good stuff than the processed, cold cereal.  In my oatmeal breakfast, my body is working with whole foods (which is a lot easier to breakdown and use than food that is processed).  My oatmeal has more fiber - almost 6 g compared to Special K's less than 1 g.  (Now, let me say here that I use the oatmeal out of the big container...not the little packets.  In order to make it faster-cooking, they have to break it down, which takes some of the nutrient content out.  So opt for the longer-cooking oatmeal when you can.)

Why does fiber matter?  Because that's what fills you up.  And it's what cleans out your arteries and your intestines.  Two egg whites give me almost 20 g of protein, which is the perfect little boost my muscle cells need since they are practically starving after a good night's sleep.

If you have little kids (like mine) you can always add a little unsweetened applesauce for a little more fruit.  Elizabeth and Rachel like theirs with just a little natural maple syrup.

Therefore, the oatmeal wins, hands down...and I really need to retire my cold cereal.  Wow...fastest cure of an addiction ever.  ;)

Let me know YOUR food weakness and how you solved it!!  Or maybe you're still looking for a solution?  We're all in this together, friends!!

Interval Training: Made for those of us with no time!!

I used to run distance.

Back when I was single, dogless and childless, it would be nothing for me to tie up my shoes and put in my headphones and go.  I loved running in neighborhoods.  Sometimes, I'd stop and walk a little and look at the houses and plan what my dream house would look like one day.  By the time I'd get home, an hour may have passed and I'd have gone several miles.

I wasn't that versed in how to get fit - but I knew that I wanted to be fit.  And I knew how to run (no matter how ugly my gate was) and I knew that it would help me be skinny.  So run I did.  

And when my normal route began to get easy, I would just extend it a little bit further or add another neighborhood into my trek. life has changed!
Today, my time is very rarely my own and, when it is, I certainly don't feel like lacing up my shoes and taking off anymore.  I have a very specific time set to workout and I need to stay within those parameters.

Yet, I still want to be skinny.

So what's a girl to do?  INTERVALS, my friends!  Intervals!!  These are by far the best way to get the most bang for your workout time.  The great thing is that you can do them on any piece of equipment or even at home.

The idea behind them is similar to your car burning gas.  When I was younger and driving "everybody's-favorite-little-white-Chevy" (my white, two door Cavalier coupe), I would come off a stop and completely gun the engine.  Now, she was a stick and this was a ton of fun.  My mom didn't think it was so great and would lecture me about the amount of gas I was burning during my fun and "if I would just gradually increase my speed, I would save gas." 

Well, the same idea applies to our bodies and the fuel (calories) we would like to burn during a given time.  If you have 30 minutes and you choose to scoot along on the elliptical or jog at a 5.0 for the entire time, you will be just like my mother driving (ha!)...putzing along, trying to conserve your gas.  However, if you alternate your levels (this could be speed, intensity or incline) then you're going to burn more calories in the same amount of time.

If you have a piece of equipment, get on and plan to go 20 minutes.  Now, you need to either have a running time showing on the equipment or a clock on the wall with the second hand. 

So say, you've chosen a stationary bike.  Get settled and get your Walking on Sunshine going (or whatever music inspires YOU) and take the first two minutes to get warmed up.  Get a steady rhythm going...adjust your seat, pick  your what you need to do now.  As soon as minute two is over, you are going to sprint (i.e. peddle as hard as you can) for a minute.  

Now here's where you have to be honest with yourself.  This sprint should have you watching the clock and thanking God when the minute is over.  You shouldn't be able to talk, look around, read your Kindle or do anything but peddle during this minute.  You are in full intensity mode.  After the minute, you're back to slow, turtle pace.  This is your recovery...for a full minute.  

The first time you try this, just aim to go intervals for ten minutes - with a minute on, a minute off.  It will go like this...

1 - 2:00 Warm-up
2 - 3:00 Sprint
3 - 4:00 Recover
4 - 5:00 Sprint
5 - 6:00 Recover
6 - 7:00 Sprint
7 - 8:00 Recover
8 - 9:00 Sprint
10 - 12:00 Recover
12 - 20:00 Moderate

This will give you four total sprints and then eight minutes of your normal pace at the end.  If you have a 30 minutes block, you even have time for some abs at the end.  The beautiful thing is that you're going to be burning more calories in less time as long as you're honestly sprinting.

I would recommend these for a bike or treadmill or the rowing machine. I just can't seem to get an adequate sprint on a standard elliptical.

If you are walking or running on the street, my favorite way to incorporate these are with mailboxes.  Use your landmarks..."I'm going to jog to the red mailbox and then sprint to the house with the yippy dogs barking and then walk to the stop sign."  ...for 30 minutes.

Try these and let me know what you think!  Good luck!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Healthified Ribollita

Sometimes, I just don't have it in me to plan meals out for the next week.  So in this spirit, I hauled my circus to Kroger last week and just got what I needed, plus some produce on sale and figured I'd roll with our meals  this coming week (don't you just feel sorry for my husband?!).  So Sunday morning found me searching for some kind of soup with cabbage, tomatoes and six cups of chicken stock (all I had left in the freezer).

I ran across this recipe for Ribollita, which I had never heard of before, but I am never disappointed with the Barefoot Contessa's work so I thought I'd give it a go.

Now, I wasn't planning on having dried beans, so I didn't soak them overnight.  I boiled them in a pot of water for 10 minutes and then pulled them off the heat and left them covered for two hours.  The result was the same as soaking (shew!  *wipe forehead*).  

I "healthified" Ina Garten's version by adding turkey bacon instead of panchetta (I know, I know...a sacrilege unless you're watching your weight!) and I used spinach instead of kale, because I had some I needed to use.  I also chopped up a head of cabbage that I had (cue initial recipe search) instead of napa cabbage.  We bought a loaf of crusty bread to replace the sourdough and the leftover crusts came in handy to silence a squalling baby.

And her older sister, Princess Cranky Pants...

100% approval rating by all members of the family!  My husband asked to keep it "in the rotation," which definitely makes it worth sharing!

Special K French Toast

Because sometimes, you just need breakfast for dinner...

And I obviously need a larger counter-top!  I mean, many gadgets do I need running at one time?!  I got this electric griddle for Christmas and LOVE it.  Scott and I were watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives the other night and saw a place that served french toast dipped in Captain Crunch.  Since I now have enough Special K to last a year, I thought I'd try a healthier version...and it came out great!

Special K French Toast
Let your bread sit out so it becomes a little stale.  Mix up your french toast batter as you normally would.  I used two eggs and milk, a dash of cinnamon and a little vanilla.  Dip your bread into the mixture.  In a separate bowl, put your cereal (I used Special K) and crunch it up a little with your hand.  Place the just-dipped bread into the cereal to coat.  Apply directly to griddle.  Flip after a couple minutes and serve.

This, of course, had 100% approval rating from both kids.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My husband's thoughts: Excuse 16

Our actual excuse today:  We went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast and the NFL Playoffs are on...

We decided this morning to use a gift certificate for CB that my mom gave to Annie for her birthday this past week.  We rarely eat out as a family and Annie thought it would be a nice (ha) adventure. We made it to the restaurant by 8:30 and here is a quick ranking of our breakfast choices by Shipman family member (listed best to worst).

1- Annie - She won her internal fight against the Apple Struessal French Toast and went with the very sensible egg sandwich (with tomoto), baked apples, water and coffee.  She has been working very hard at regaining her pre-baby body and she showed great dedication this morning.

2- Rachel - A close second to Annie with 1 scrambled egg and a sampling of a biscuit.  She did receive the Messiest Diner in the Place Award though, and we apologized to the wait staff on the way out.

3- Elizabeth - 2 eggs and a biscuit (initially) -which would have gained her second place until she stuffed entire second biscuit in her mouth while we were attempting to get Rachel's jacket on before leaving.

4 (Dead Last)- Me - I went with the Old Timers Breakfast, and for those of you who do not eat at CB, here is a summary:  3 eggs (over easy), fried sirloin steak (I usually go with pork chops here, but today, I felt like beef), potato casserole, 3 biscuits and gravy, baked apples, and because I needed to a vegetable - a large tomato juice. Conservatively, a 1200 calorie breakfast for me (who is also trying to drop a few pounds).

We then took our traveling circus to Publix, through the car wash, and finally returned home around 11:45. Annie got the girls down for naps and I made two trips to the dump before returning home to get a little work done on the computer.  Once the games started - my workout motivation was gone until our afternoon coffee.  I made the decision to hit the garage for this at-home, fast paced, leg workout.  I was able to get back in before the end of the first quarter of the Pats and Jets.

Warm up - Jump rope - 5 x 1 min go's with 30 sec break between sets.
Chair Lunge (back leg balanced on chair or stool) - 3 x 15 each leg with 30 sec break between sets.
One Leg RDL - 3 x 12 each leg with 30sec break between sets.
DB Front squat (lt db on shoulders) -3 x 15 with a 30sec break between sets.
Split squat leap - 3 x 8 each leg with 30 sec break.  For beginners substitute squat jumps here (3 x 5)
Cool down - Jump rope 5 x 1 min go's with 30 sec break.

All you'll need is some light dumbbells, jump rope, and about 30 minutes.  Substitute calisthenics for jump roping if you want.  Thanks to this workout I was probably able to work off 30% of the calories I ate at breakfast!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Stumbles

Ok, so I just "stumbled" upon this (no pun intended) and thought it was a neat idea.  Because it's late and I don't have a ton of fitnessy stumbles, I'll just share my favorite things that I've read this week.  Check them out when you get a chance!  They are random, but great!

It's Almost Naptime - Parenting a Feral Child = Made me laugh out loud.  

$5 Dinners - Gingered Pear and Blueberry Cobbler = I have placed pears and blueberries on my shopping list because this sounded so yummy!

Once A Month Mom - Healthy Tuna and White Bean Pita = Looks so yummy and I have a ton of tuna stocked up.  This woman's site is great...her baby food section is incredible!

The Cozy House Crafter - Ballet Slippers = I thought these were so cute that I bought the tutorial Tonya listed.  In my dreams, Elizabeth would wear these!

Thanks, Simply Staci and It's Come 2 This for the idea!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Elvis Shake

So sue me for being creative here...but wasn't it Elvis who liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches?  Well...if he liked them with strawberry jelly, then he would probably LOVE this shake.

Now, my husband tells me that in order to call it a "super shake," it has to have at least three additions to protein powder...which this does.  Normally, he is the shake maker in the house.  So the fact that I did this on my own accord is saying something...and I was pretty pleased with it!

Elvis Shake
In your blender put...

3/4 of whatever glass you're going to use of water (or milk, if you're trying to gain)
A couple ice cubes or a handful of frozen strawberries, if you have them
A scoop of strawberry whey protein (I used BSN's SYNTHA-6 in Strawberry Milk Shake) - or, if you used  strawberries earlier, you could use vanilla whey here.
A spoonful of peanut butter
A whole (peeled) banana
1/2 tbsp of ground flaxseed

Blend away and enjoy!!

Our life in pictures

Because sometimes there's no better way to describe our kids!

Our little happy bath-taker.  I told Scott that she is bound to be a swimmer - because she can stay in the water and she doesn't have to wear shoes or socks!

Playing with the Elmo remote...I just crack up at Rachel's face here.  I'm pretty sure Elizabeth took it from her.

Why yes, we have a slide in our living room...don't you?

Angry that mommy is making her clean her crayon masterpiece off the floor.  If you look closely, you can see it.

In the process of "exercising!"

This day, Rachel woke up a good 30 minutes before Elizabeth did.  My baby found every single toy that Elizabeth won't let her play with.  Here she is with the crying baby doll, the princess box and the Teeny Tiny Baby book...all favorites of her older sister.  It is scary how smart this child is!

She told me that this picture on the singing Crayola pad is of Daddy, Rachel and Juno (from Juno Baby).  Nice to see where Mommy ranks, kid...

I love my sister so much...I just want to squeeze her neck...

And topple her onto the floor...

And sit back up when I realize that Mommy is watching...   

And then take her shoes off...(not that Rachel cared!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why I must workout today...

Two words...GiGi's cupcakes. 

My sweet, dear, happy birthday-singing husband brought home GiGi's Cupcakes.  These are easily the most delicious and sinful cupcake you've ever seen.

Even Rachel was excited.

Of COURSE I chose the chocolate on chocolate!

When asked which one she wanted, Elizabeth said, "That one!" and pushed away the rest of her tuna melt (Exhibit A).  We let her have half of it and I swear, she didn't leave a crumb.
So today I lifted a little harder, ran a little more and have eaten a little cleaner...especially because..well, you saw that beginning picture...there are still three and a half more cupcakes in my refrigerator...

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Fish Tacos

Ok, you are seriously going to have to just trust me on this one.  Scott and I love fish tacos and have a summer recipe with mango salsa and lime that we make about every other week.  I can't even remember where I got it.  One day, I'll find it and share it with you. 

So, I was reading a recipie for a chicken taco that called for acorn squash and I thought that might replace the sweetness the mango salsa offered for a more wintery fish taco.  

Wait!  Don't close out the window just yet!

Can I just tell you, it was amazing?  Really.  My husband even finished off all the food on the table - you know, so we wouldn't have any left-overs. 

And I haven't even told you the best part...BOTH OF MY CHILDREN ATE IT!!  100%!!  Two for two!! 

So I have to share...

Winter Fish Tacos

I used a pound of tilapia for this and it would probably feed four average eaters.  I love using tilapia because it's relatively inexpensive and doesn't have bones.  Plus, it's very mild tasting and works in most dishes.  

Take an acorn squash, split it down the middle and scrape out the seeds and pulp.  Place cut-side down in a baking dish with a little water.  Bake at 350 for about an hour.  

After the hour, take out your squash (leave your oven on) and spray a cooking sheet.  Cut your fish on the diagonal and place on the sheet.  Then (once your squash is cool enough touch) peel your squash and chop into cubes.  Divide them around your fish on the same sheet.  Sprinkle the whole thing with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt and pepper.  Throw back in the oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes (just watch the fish cook).

While this is cooking, chop one good sized tomato, an avocado and make some slaw with some chopped cabbage, a little mayonnaise and salt and pepper.  Throw your fixings into separate bowls.  Heat 6-8 flour tortillas between two damp paper towels in the microwave for 45 seconds.

Assemble your tacos and add salt and pepper (or hot sauce, if that flips your skirt).  We had this with steamed broccoli and cauliflower. 

Seriously, it is so yummy.  Something about the sweet of the squash with the fish...oh, stop wrinkling your nose! Try it!


I love soup in the winter time.  There is just something about the warmth and the smell in the house that makes me feel all domesticated.  It also offers us a major bang for our buck in the vegetable department.  

I'm known for my "dump soups" = just throwing stuff in a pot and seeing what we get.  (And when I say "known," I mean in my house...ha!)  Sometimes my "dump" isn't too shabby, as was the case Sunday when I decided to make bean soup.

This was so random because I've never even had it before but something got me thinking on the line of beans so I bought a bag and started dumping.  I started off with a mind to use a left-over ham bone, but ended up in a more Italian direction.  If you decide to try it, let me know what you think!

Italian-y Bean Soup

Take a 1 lb bag of beans (I used white beans) and set them to boil in 12 C water.  Let them go for an hour.
Towards the end of the hour, take your Dutch oven (do you have one of these??  I LOVE mine!) and heat a little olive oil.  Throw in one chopped onion and some minced garlic (I used a clove).  Then add three chopped stalks of celery (with the leaves) and a couple chopped carrots.  Then add 1 C smashed tomatoes and 1 can of diced tomatoes (with the juice).  Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, rosemary and a bay leaf.  Then dump in your beans (with remaining water) and let cook for another hour.  Before serving, add a half bag to a bag of fresh spinach to the top.

Don't let your kids see you do this or they'll freak out.  Just give it a second...

And it'll cook right in there!  Spoon into bowls and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over the top and you've got a supper healthy comfort meal with very little to no fat!  Of course my husband (who agrees with Emeril in the necessity of using pork fat) commented that Italian sausage would have been excellent in here and it would have.  But I didn't have any.  If you want to add that, just cook it up in your dutch oven in the very beginning...remove the cooked sausage and cook your veggies.  Then add back in your sausage with the beans.  

50% of my children enjoyed it immensely.  I'll let you guess which one...the white beans got soft enough that she could feed herself...which she obviously loves!  You could serve this with crusty bread but that's really all you would need.  It's very filling!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day!!

We woke up to 6 inches this morning!  Everyone was excited...except the dogs.

Well, and except for ERS in her snowsuit.  In her defense, it is an 18 month suit and was way too big for Rachel.  So we rolled with it.  She looked like a little Maggie Simpson impersonator.  You can see her pants sticking out of the bottom.  Oh, we have no boots or gloves either.  Scott is going to stop by Target on his way home.  ha!

"Here Rachel, let me take your boots off."  You can see RLS was less than thrilled about the mittens.

I'm not really sure about this stuff mom...but it has me distracted from the snowsuit.

Rachel enjoyed the snow for a little bit.  Why yes, that is a snot rocket, thank-you-very-much.

Getting braver...

Well ok, if Rachel likes it.

Back inside, we all enjoy hot chocolate.  My two little birds drink it off the spoon.  Here is Rachel straining across my leg for another spoonful.

Elizabeth, wanting to know who ate all the marshmallows.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My husband's thoughts: Get the most out of your Gym time!

Admittedly, I was a little surprised to receive the invitation to write an occasional post on Annie's new site.  I have enjoyed reading her family blog and have supplied some back office support for her newest writing endeavor, but never anticipated putting my occasional life and training rants out onto the blogosphere.  

I'm interested in the chance to occasionally jump in some areas where Annie gets questions.  She seems to think that some people may enjoy reading my "off the cuff" training theories.  

I have a slightly different, maybe more scientific background than Annie's, but we both are very passionate and sold on the value of physical fitness and the lifestyle that accompanies it.  I've enjoyed the chance that we've had to be a part of each other's physical fitness lives since we met in graduate school.  We always have enjoyed training together, planning meals and trying to demonstrate good habits for our girls. 

That being said, Annie and I were talking on Saturday about the amount of people at the gym - as we were looking at more than double the crowd for a typical Saturday morning at the Y.  A lot of gym-goers hate the first three months of the new year because the resolution crowd is at the local training center.  I went through that phase at one point in my life, but I'm now on the other side of the coin.

I enjoy seeing and meeting some new people and maybe thriving a little bit on the new energy of the people who have all decided to make a change in their life for the new year.  The gym's going to be crowded.  Treadmills are going to be used.  All the cool gadgets are going to be taken.  It's a great time of year to do something different.  If you're a treadmill runner, this is the perfect time to introduce yourself to the squat rack.  If you always are a "Monday bench presser", maybe this is the time to switch your workout to doing pushing movements on Wednesday instead of Monday (like everyone else).  

Over the course of my traning life, whether it be at my current local family YMCA, a college strength and conditioning center, a trendy suburban gym or the most hard-core basement training dungeon, usually the most effective equipment for true body modification are never being used.  The advanced, trendy "butt-blasters," NASA inspired elliptical machines, or some $28,000 piece of Nautillus equipment will all have 30-minute wait times for use right now.  It's now a great time to learn to create your own workouts with dumbbells, barbells or body weight.  You can get the most efficient strength training and cardiovascular training done with a few simple tools.  

As we move through this writing process, we'll start to throw out some specific circuits and workouts that may get you out of the local gym rat-race January through March.  This week, do yourself a favor and instead of being a little mad because you can't get on the treadmill one morning, try to see how long it takes you to do the following simple circuit:

4 exercises, 4 sets of 20 each with a 30 second break after the end of the set
Body weight squats
Bent row (with barbells or dumbells)
Back step lunges

This circuit will work all major muscle groups, should get your heart rate up into the correct interval, fat-burning range, and you should sweat.  These are all key factors in any good workout.  

I once heard Dan Gable say that we as humans waste a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to figure out the easier way to do something.  This happens all the time when we're at the gym.  I challenge you this week to try to fight that urge instead of obliging it.  Find those unused tools in the gym.  Don't over-think and go to work!

Got questions for Scott?  Email us at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tuesdays with Daddy

Tuesday evenings, I give a couple lessons and Scott gets home early and takes care of the girls.  Normally, I have dinner ready on the stove and the house semi-picked up and he feeds them and gets them ready for bed.  NORMALLY, it is a pretty seamless process.  Tag-off!  Daddy in for Mommy!

The past two Tuesdays, Elizabeth has had other plans.

We went great for about a month and then last Tuesday, the wheels fell off.  Dinner was over and the girls were playing.  Scott was cleaning up the kitchen and got a phone call.  During the call, Rachel crawled past him and he noticed a massive poop stain up the back of her onesie.  Rushing off the call, he scooped her up and took her to her room to clean her up...not noticing Elizabeth passing him with the stool from the bathroom.  It was bath time, so he left Rachel naked and walked out to find Elizabeth, standing on the stool, dumping dirt out of the Christmas cactus all over the floor.  (She has NEVER messed with that plant!!)  

Then, as he was filling up the bath tub, the sound of water was too much for naked Rachel and she peed all over him.  So I walked in the door to a living room floor of cactus dirt, an unhappy (and wet) daddy and two bathing beauties in the tub.  

We really thought it was a fluke until last night.  To hear Scott tell it, the evening was going great and the girls were both in good moods.  Elizabeth was an angel, reading her books in the living room, so he decided to go ahead and give Rachel her bath.  He was rinsing her off when he heard Elizabeth behind him.

"Daddy, wite walls."

"What, honey?  You like the water?  Do you see Rachel in the water?"

"Daddy...wite walls!"

It was then that he noticed the orange crayon in our two-year-old's hand.  (Now side note that we color every day and EVERY DAY I make sure I pick up all the crayons so Rachel doesn't eat them.  She has never gone towards the walls.)  Who knows where she found this crayon...under the bookcase or something.  He turned around and the lid and seat of the potty was orange.  He put Rachel in a towel and walked down the hallway and there were big, loopy squiggles all down the walls in the hallway.  

Elizabeth, during her color time...I have no idea how I could have lost track of a crayon!
"Wite walls, Daddy!!"

So he got Rachel dressed and found the Magic Eraser (which has saved our lives many times!) and cleaned the walls.  When I walked in the door, Rachel was happy and Elizabeth was in the tub.

"How did it go?" I asked my husband.

"Did you notice anything when you walked in the door?" he asked.


"In that case, it went great!"