Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Breakfast for dinner!

I totally wrote this post yesterday and had it all centered around gloomy Mondays. But now I’m posting it on Tuesday and the Monday humor would not make any sense. Hence! Time to write something new.

But really, it has actually been quite a gloomy Tuesday, too. Rain, rain, please go away? Luckily, this week, I have packed my schedule full of evening workouts (spoiler alert: cycle overload!) so the rain shall not bring me down. 

My favorite part about evening workouts is my post-workout dinner. Actually, who am I kidding? This is my dinner of choice for any evening, really. Breakfast for dinner!

Usually it involves some form of potato or sweet potato along with a one or two egg omelette with a sprinkling of cheese and something green (spinach, green onion, etc). Although the one pictured above was just cheese...so good.

Since this was originally supposed to be posted on Monday, here is last week’s workout schedule. Can you tell I kind of love The Fitnessista’s workouts? 

Sunday – Teach cycle

Monday – Low-ish impact body weight workout:

Warm up: Brisk 0.5 mile treadmill walk.

1 minute of each of the following exercises:
  • Push-ups
  • Plank
  • Squats
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Leg raises (Left leg only)
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Leg raises (Right leg only)
  • Bridge (Static hold for 30 seconds, Pulse for 30 seconds)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Pulse Lunges (Right side for 30 seconds, Left side for 30 seconds)
  • Wall sit
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Inchworm to plank, hop in and out, inchworm back to standing
  • Warrior 3 tap and lift (single leg balance, one leg comes all the way back, tap floor with same arm and come back up; 30 seconds for each side)

Cool down/stretch

Tuesday – This Tabata workout, which I did twice for some extra sweaty workout action!

Wednesday – A mish mash of cardio/strength:

Warm up: Walk 0.25 miles

Cardio: Run 1 mile

Strength: Repeated the following sequence twice.
  • 12 reps of one back exercise of choice
  • 12 reps of one shoulder exercise of choice
  • The below beastly leg circuit from The Fitnessista 
Cool down/stretch 

Thursday – Teach Zumba

Friday – Much needed rest day!

Saturday - This upper body strength video followed by a 20 minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) of 45 sec ON/15 sec rest with a random combination of the following exercises:
  • Squat jumps
  • Jumping jacks
  • High knees
  • Burpees
  • Plank jacks
  • Jumping lunges
  • Side lunges with hop

I like workouts that are short, yet pack a big punch… except when I teach Zumba and the 55 minute class somehow extends to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Time flies when you’re having fun?! 

To conclude, I wanted to share with you this interesting article I stumbled across. I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tales of a fitness instructor.

When it rains, it pours…I did warn you I had lots to say lately!

But first, can I please inform you of my new favorite weekend breakfast? Pancakes. Not only are they gluten-free, they are also grain-free with only TWO ingredients! Well, unless you want to get fancy…which I always do. 

All you need is one banana and two eggs.  I like to add cinnamon and ground flax seeds to the batter for fun.  To make the batter, mash the banana, beat in the two eggs, pour into a coconut oiled skillet, and cook them just like normal pancakes. They are obviously flatter than your typical flour pancakes; they remind me more of crepes, but regardless, they are PANCAKES! And the topping possibilities are endless! My favorite topping combination was the one shown above: almond butter, a drizzle of coconut butter, and “strawberry sauce” (frozen strawberries that I warmed up in the microwave. Fancy). 

So, I have been teaching fitness classes for many years now, and one of the best parts about it is that one class is never the same as the next. It seems like I always have some entertaining stories (if I say so myself) about various occurrences during my classes. My Zumba class last week, though, was unlike any other that I have ever had. 

I decided to switch up the usual pace of the class and allow some of the participants to help me lead different songs. I warned them before class started that I would pick on them randomly if I had no volunteers. I saw some mixed emotions on their faces when I announced this, but decided to proceed anyway. Luckily, I had volunteers for the first few songs. After that, I had no other volunteers and when I picked on others, they politely declined.

Post-Zumba selfie...very necessary

The ridiculously extroverted aerobics instructor in me did not understand this. If I were participating in a class like this, I would have run up to the front immediately. But afterwards, I realized that it takes a lot of courage for most people to even attend a class, let alone stand way up front next to the instructor for an entire song. There have been numerous occasions during which people have told me they are interested in attending a class but are too nervous or scared of others staring at them or judging them. But what I can tell you very confidently (because I always glance at where other people are looking when I’m teaching), is that the new people are looking at the instructor and the experienced people are looking at themselves. And this is also true at the gym outside of the group fitness classes!

So if you’ve been eying a new class or a new machine at the gym that you are too nervous to try, just do it! It makes me so excited when I get brand new attendees in my classes, and I try to make them feel as warm and welcome as possible, until my crazy instructor persona comes out in the middle of class (just kidding).

Have you ever experienced this? Are you too nervous to step outside the gym box? 

Monday, April 6, 2015

What motivates you?

Hi TFG friends!!

I know it has been quite some time since you last heard from me (I know, my past 100 updates say the same thing). But strangely enough, I’ve had more requests for a new post in the past few weeks than I have had in the past few months! So I thought it was finally time to oblige. And coincidentally, I actually have lots to discuss, which means that I’m obviously going to spread it over multiple posts! Hooray for more updates.

(Vegetable crudités from True Food Kitchen - pretty and delicious!).

Just a heads up: my next few posts are going to focus less on recipes and more on fitness. But of course, there will be some delicious food pictures sandwiched in between! The reason for this is because I have shifted my focus away the crazy recipe development I used to do. As I had mentioned in a previous postdue to some digestive issues, my diet had to change quite a bit. I still experience these and it is a tricky job trying to figure out my complicated GI system! As a result, I repeat a lot of meals, so the blog will show less of my same old meals, but will instead show some more random snacks and food finds, and will definitely show more fitness related topics.

Speaking of random food finds…one of my favorite desserts at the moment is a large spoonful of almond butter sprinkled with chocolate chips. And then I found THIS!

So much excitement. Although it’s more chocolatey and less almond buttery but I really have no problem with more chocolate.

I get asked a lot of workout related questions, one of which is how I motivate myself to do so. I think embedding it into the day’s schedule makes it a bit easier, rather than trying to fit it in on the fly. That way, it becomes a routine. And if you have a workout plan, that makes it even better! The plan could be attending a fitness class, or planning on following a workout video online, or just running outside when the sun is still out.

I’m going to start again with something that I used to do – post my workouts from the past week. I plan to do this every Monday. I tend to switch up my workouts every single day (except for teaching days), so hopefully this will give you some motivation, or maybe some new ideas in case you are in a fitness rut!

Sunday – Teach Cycle class
Monday – This HIIT workout (I modified it to 45 sec ON/15 sec OFF and did the whole workout twice).
Tuesday – A spontaneous cardio and strength circuit:

5 minute warm-up
Cardio: Run 0.5 miles
Strength: 3 sets of 12-15 reps of the following:
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Biceps curls
  • Alternating lateral and front shoulder raises
  • Tricep extensions
Repeat cardio/strength portion
Cool down.

Wednesday – At-home barre workout, with these three KILLER videos focusing on just legs. Thigh quiver for days (but seriously, for an hour or so afterwards, legs were still shaking!).
Thursday – Teach Zumba (My favorite workout of the week!)
Friday – Upper body barbell strength training (chest, back, triceps, biceps, shoulders)
Saturday – Yoga class

(My nice friend took pictures during our yoga class and I was too focused to even notice).

It was a pretty tough week of workouts! But fun nonetheless. It’s nice to look forward to something different every day.

So talk to me! What are your current favorite workouts? Any new ideas to share? What motivates you to get your workout in each day?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thoughts of a fitness instructor.

Hello! I've been gathering some thoughts that I wanted to share with you. But first, let's check out the outcome of my latest Trader Joes adventure:

Notable items include: rice pudding, frozen tamales, spinach and kale Greek yogurt dip, and coconut body butter. Also, if you can't tell, I really like melons.

I also got some gluten-free granola which is a winner because it reminds me more of cereal than actual granola. I like to use it as a topping for things like chia seed pudding in fancy glasses:

This particular chia seed pudding included chia seeds, plain full-fat yogurt, and vanilla coconut milk, all mixed together and left in the fridge to set overnight. If you're wondering, yes, that is sunflower seed butter drizzled atop it all. 

I'm trying to be more cognizant of chemicals and such in my everyday items, which is why I am a fan of the coconut body butter. I also picked up some natural shampoo and conditioner at TJs (I have yet to try it but I will keep you posted on that!). One other item I'm a huge fan is this natural deodorant which I got at Whole Foods:

It is made of mineral salt and it works well - even for sweaty workouts!

So, I wanted to discuss some observations I have had the past several weeks in some of my fitness classes. I was used to teaching only aerobic-style classes until recently when cycle became one of my weekly classes. And I quickly realized that cycle is a whole different culture of group fitness! 

I've found that people feel more comfortable in a cycle class versus an aerobics class, because there is no pressure to do everything exactly right. However, I've noticed that some people come into the cycle class, only to not actually participate in the class (listen to their own music/do their own routine). And they might even use a bike in the front row. It is definitely a bit odd to me to see this, especially because this is something that typically doesn't happen in aerobics classes, since most of the class is too focused on just doing the movements properly.

The other thing I have noticed is chatting in the middle of class. This is something I've observed in any fitness class, and this basically means one thing to me: the people in class are not getting a hard enough workout! In cycle class, this is an indication to me that the resistance is too low. In aerobics, it is an indicator to me that maybe the movements are too fast or confusing. Either way, while you should be able to still talk (maybe just a little) while you're working out, but not so much that it comes in the way of the workout. 

What do you think? Have you experienced any of these, even if just participating in a fitness class? 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Foodie finds.

It has been quite some time since the last edition of foodie finds...and lately, I have been finding some great stuff. Without further ado, let's get to it!

We can't have a foodie finds post without some gems from Trader Joe's. I think the frozen veggies are seriously underrated - when I go I always stock up on old favorites and pick up something new to try. I am so happy I picked this up a couple of months ago! This mushroom medley has quickly become a favorite:

I like to sauté it with other veggies, or eat it taco style with a corn tortilla and egg.

The last time I went on a TJs run, I picked up this zucchini and eggplant combo, and oh my. It is awesome.

One more TJs find - trail mix, which has become my new favorite snack. Nevermind the fact that this one shown here is how I found out I am allergic to cashews.

I found this at a regular grocery store the other day, and I bought it since I've heard so much about these juices. It definitely tasted like a green juice! But it was of course refreshing and energizing, and a super convenient way to get in some green juice action.

More snacks - I am always looking for snacks. I found these chips at Costco! They are gluten-free, and the first ingredient was beans, so I was sold. They tasted pretty good with some guacamole as well, so I am definitely a fan.

Yesterday, I really, really wanted some noodles, Asian-style. Today, my goal was to find some gluten-free oriental noodles. Lo and behold! I found some buckwheat and rice vermicelli. So exciting.

I had a vision about these noodles and prepared them as closely to this vision as I could. I cooked the noodles and added to them some napa cabbage, mushrooms, and tofu stir-fried in sesame oil and tamari (gluten-free soy sauce). I had also pan-fried the cooked noodles in some coconut oil to try to crisp them up a bit before combining them with the veggies. This will be my lunch for the week, so I will definitely be looking forward to lunch time tomorrow!

Have a nice week!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


The worst part about long weekends is that they feel like a vacation. And when you're on vacation, you eat like you're on vacation. And then you wonder why you just did that (or is that just me?).

Either way, I'm sure all of us are feeling the long weekend Sunday blues! Usually I beat those with my usual Sunday cooking session. The past couple of weeks I've discovered the gluten-free beauty of polenta. And baked polenta is even better! I just slice the pre-made polenta and drizzle with olive oil before baking until slightly browned.

Pictured below: baked polenta rounds topped with sautéed veggies, black beans, and salsa.

And then I decided to get a bit fancier and try some polenta "fries" which I also baked. This polenta was basil garlic flavored, and I dipped these in marinara sauce. So good!

Otherwise, I am still obsessed with weekend green smoothies. And now I am topping them with all kinds of stuff! Including this chia/hemp seed/buckwheat cereal.

So, it's been a while since we discussed fitness. I know I mentioned a video for this post, but in my opinion, this is even better.

As I'm sure you already know, I currently teach my two favorite forms of fitness: kickboxing and zumba. Recently, I obtained an indoor cycling certification as well. The irony of this is that cycle is not one of my top workout classes. 

Even more ironically, my teaching schedule is soon changing, and I will be teaching my own cycle class! I've been recently doing a lot of research for cycle class ideas, and I super appreciate when I see song ideas and routines posted online. The more classes I attend and the more ideas I see, I will admit, the more exciting cycle becomes. Yesterday, I subbed a cycle class and below are the songs/routines I used. I thought it was a fun one - and I think the class thought so, too :).

80s Themed Cycle Class:
1. "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"//Warm-up 
2. "Beat It"//Seated with moderate resistance, standing during chorus
3. "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"//Fast pace with sprints during chorus
4. "Don't Stop Believing"//Seated climb
5. "Bust a Move"//Downhill, gradually decrease resistance from previous song
6. "Living On a Prayer"//Seated with medium-high resistance, alternate between standing and hovering during chorus
7. "Vogue"//Seated climb
8. "You Spin Me"//Fast pace with sprints during chorus
9. "Love Shack"//Jumps during chorus; alternate between standing and seated for counts of 8, 4, or 2
10. "Holiday"//Moderate pace and moderate resistance
11. "I Love Rock & Roll"//Cool down and stretch

This can even be done on a stationary bike (although I do caution trying the standing position on those bikes - some of them are not meant for that). If you give this a try, let me know!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Veggie Love

If you didn't already know, I love food. The past several weeks have involved coming up with ways to still love food even if it doesn't include gluten! It gets better each day, but it definitely has taken some work.

I found it particularly difficult to come up with office-friendly snacks. Of course, raw veggies are always a great option, but I like being a bit more creative. Also, I'll get to the veggies in a second! 

Enter: homemade popcorn. With some nutritional yeast for bonus taste/nutrition!

Trailmix was my favorite snack last week. I will definitely be going to TJs for lots more of this:

About those veggies! Apparently my body has no problem with those, so my meals have been full of a variety of vegetables. One can never have too many veggies, right?

This was a green lettuce salad along with an egg, red peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and cauliflower cooked with coconut oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika:

My new favorite weekend breakfast food: green smoothies. The below included almond milk, mango, frozen banana, frozen spinach, and mint leaves. Delish!

And lastly, I found a new way to enjoy noodles. Tofu noodles! They take two minutes to cook, and I enjoyed them with marinara sauce with added vegetables (of course). 

This picture is the worst. It was late and post-kickboxing. But it was a great post-kickboxing meal.

No fitness videos for you today, but there will likely be one on the next post!