Thursday, December 23, 2010

ZZZZZZUMBA!

On Monday night, I went to PowerFlex with Ryan as planned. The class was painfully boring and I kept thinking about how I would spice things up if I were the instructor. The first thing would be to add some loud, fun music; it’s never a good sign when the instructor announces that he’s 60 years old and that the song playing came out when he was in high school. A little Rihanna could do the class a lot of good.

After class, we went home and I got ready to head out to zumba with Brenna. The zumba class is inside a bingo hall, which sounds a little strange, but it’s actually a perfect setting since over 100 people attend every class. There have been many nights where it was so crowded there was barely enough room to move. The instructor dances on a stage with several other backup dancers. The lights are dim. The music is loud and fast. The entire setting almost feels like a night club…only without the bar.

I love this zumba class for so many different reasons. First, it’s just simply fun and you don’t feel like you’re working out. I smile for almost an entire hour, either amused by my own dancing or by watching someone else in the crowd who is having just as good at time as I am. There is this one older man that Brenna and I absolutely love. He grins from ear to ear the entire class and is just amazing to look at; you can’t help but smile when you watch him. I also love the fact that not one single person in the entire place seems to be self-conscious about the way they look when they’re dancing. There are good dancers, bad dancers and terrible dancers, but none of that really seems to matter. I’m also struck by the fact that every week people of all races, ethnicities, ages, and body types take the class.

And most of all, I love the class because it’s time I get to spend with my girlfriends. This is especially important since I will be starting a new job on January 3rd and won’t get to see them on a daily basis any more. L While I'm so excited to start my new job, it is going to be a huge adjustment not to be able work with my good friends. I'm comforted by the fact that I've developed such strong relationships with these girls and that I'm sure the relationships will continue to grow even despite the fact that we will work in different places. I'm very lucky to have met such amazing friends in the workplace!

Moving forward, Tuesday night, Ryan and I met up with my friend Georgette and her husband Jimmy. Georgette and I worked together for two years right after college and developed a really wonderful friendship. She moved to NYC with her husband almost two years ago, so it’s wonderful to see her when the opportunity arises. We had dinner at Lebanese Taverna. Georgette and I split grape leaves, falafel, chicken and lots of bread (way too much bread...). The boys each got some sort of kabob. The food was great and it was absolutely terrific catching up- Georgette and Jimmy both incredible!

After Lebanese Taverna, we headed out to a friend’s birthday party at Co Co Sala. I think almost everything on the menu has chocolate in it, even the mac and cheese! Ryan and I went last year for Valentine’s Day and had a really yummy meal. On Tuesday, we stuck with drinks. I ordered a trio of small cups of hot chocolate. One cup was milk chocolate, one was dark and one was white chocolate. Dark was definitely my favorite by far, followed by milk chocolate. Ryan ordered the Co Cojito, which was a mojito with chocolate flakes. It took me back to our wedding in Mexico and all the mojitos we had there!

After the gym last night, Ryan and I did lots of packing. We’re heading to Rhode Island today to stay with my parents for two days and then we’re heading to Rome. I will have lots to report tomorrow since we are bringing Gilligan on the plane with us. I have a feeling that experience may deserve a blog post all to itself!

Stay tuned!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekend Recap

Ryan and I had a great time at happy hour at Kinkeads on Friday. I had two delicious glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. Ryan stuck with beer and had a few Stella’s. We shared 12 oysters, which were wonderful. They were from Nova Scotia, Washington State and Massachusetts.


Ryan and I also shared a small plate of onion rings, which were fantastic. They were super crispy, had coarse salt on the outside and came with two yummy dipping sauces.



After happy hour, we headed over to Tonic on GW’s campus. There was a 30-minute wait, so we made our way into the super crowded bar area to have a beer. We both had Shock Top since they didn’t have Blue Moon, our typical beer of choice. We actually both agreed that we preferred the Shock Top to Blue Moon! Once we were seated, I ordered a steak salad with red onions, blue cheese and tomatoes. Ryan ordered a bacon cheeseburger that came with tater tots instead of fries. We both really enjoyed our meals.

I had a pretty terrible headache on Saturday morning after mixing wine and beer. I skipped PowerFlex and ran errands instead. I also missed hot yoga since Pottery Barn was four hours early to deliver our new dining room table and chairs. Although I skipped my planned workouts, I was able to have a really relaxing Saturday afternoon.

Late Saturday afternoon I made apple crisp to bring to my friend Wellesley’s for dinner. The recipe was from Gourmet and was super easy to make. I thought it turned pretty well! Next time I think I will cook it for a bit less time so that the apples aren’t quite as soft. Dinner was great- good company, good wine and good food!


Sunday was yet another lazy day without exercise. I just couldn’t bring myself to put on my workout clothes. Instead, I got my daily steps in at the Pentagon City mall. J The highlight of my day was the afternoon trip Ryan and I took to Red Mango. I got Madagascar vanilla with pomegranate seeds. It was sooo good. We’re going to try and make tangy yogurt soon in our ice cream maker.

For dinner, I made a big salad with baby spinach, pears, avocado, roasted butternut squash and shrimp. I then took myself to see Black Swan while Ryan, Jim and Gilly had some boy time. I was really excited to see Black Swan, but I was disappointed. The plot was disturbing, and the movie was pretty graphic. However, I did think Natalie Portman did an amazing job. I thought she was really convincing as a dancer and she totally transformed her body. I could see her winning an Oscar.

To make up for my lack of exercise this weekend, I’m going to PowerFlex with Ryan at 5:30 and heading to Zumba afterwards with Brenna. Until tomorrow!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Giving in to food temptation...

First off, I need to admit that I did not go to cycling on Tuesday. As soon as I stepped out of work and felt how incredibly cold it was, I just couldn’t bring myself to work out and then stand in the freezing wind to wait for the bus home. Looking back now, I regret not going- despite my best intentions, I’ve indulged a lot this week!

On Wednesday, my boss took me, Jennifer and Amy, out to lunch at America in Union Station. Although I typically choose salads for lunch, I couldn’t bear the thought of eating something cold when it was so cold out. Instead of a salad, I opted for a mushroom and red pepper quesadilla. It was good, but it felt heavy in my stomach all afternoon.

Wednesday night, I had a work dinner at the Occidental, a steak and seafood restaurant next to the White House. The white wine Brenna ordered was delicious and the waiter had a knack for filling up my glass any time it looked any less than full. I started with a green salad with bing cherries, goat cheese and peppered pecans. For my entrée, I had the surf and turf, which was a petite filet and a crab cake. I was really excited for the crab cake, but it was loaded with dill, something I absolutely hate. The steak, however, was cooked perfectly and was delicious. When the dessert menu came, I had a debate with myself whether to get the chocolate dessert or order the chocolate cherry martini that I had been eyeing all night. I decided to go with the chocolate dessert since I already had my fair share of alcohol that evening. The dessert I ordered looked like a little pyramid. The consistency was mousse-like and the bottom was a bit like a chocolate graham cracker crust. And in the middle was gooey-caramel, which was my favorite part of the dessert!

When I got home, Ryan was heading out the door to play indoor soccer, so I settled myself on the couch to catch up on Glee. I’m not going to lie, I cried when Finn and Kurt’s parents got married. The episode landed among my favorites.

Now onto exercise. After eating more than I ever intended yesterday at an all day meeting (croissants and cookies galore!), I was determined to exercise. Brenna, her husband Jake, Ryan and I planned to go to boot camp at the same place where I go to zumba. Unfortunately, due to the snow, boot camp was cancelled. As a result, I decided I would go to Bally’s and try a new class. Bally’s was also offering a boot camp class, which Ryan and I took. The class was very challenging and I was really pleased. The teacher, Vince, split all of us into five groups. Each group did five minutes at five stations. The stations were:
  1. Wall sits with free weights for arm exercises
  2. Bear crawl to cone one, alternating lunges to cone two, 10 squats. Repeat.
  3. Abs
  4. Jump down a line of steps, high knees all the way back, 10 jumping jacks. Repeat.
  5. Alternating running up and down the step with four risers and burpees.
After we completed all of the stations, we did Indian Sprints for five minutes. By the end of the work out, my legs were shaking and I literally felt like I couldn’t do any more. It was great. I was especially happy that Vince pushed us to hard throughout the class. I spoke with Vince after class and talked a bit about how to become a PowerFlex teacher. It doesn’t sound too difficult, I just need to have the patience to wait until May.

Tonight Ryan and I are going to Kinkead’s for happy hour. Although it’s right on GW’s campus, I’ve never been because of how expensive it is. However, a few months ago, I bought a Groupon to the restaurant and we’re going to take advantage of the less-pricey bar menu. I have my eye on fried clam roll and a glass of white wine.

It will be an early night tonight, since I am planning to go to PowerFlex with Ryan at 9:30 and then hot yoga with Brenna. I’ve never done hot yoga after any other sort of exercise, so I’m hoping I have the energy to get me through the class. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Weekend Update

I’m a little tardy with my weekend update and there are lots of things I want to share, so this is going to be a long one!

Last Friday night, Ryan and I stayed in. There were soccer games on TV and I was reading a great book (The Help), so both of us were content to lounge around. I made a spin on a Greek salad for dinner that included baby spinach, shrimp, banana peppers, hummus, feta cheese, avocado and sundried tomatoes. It satisfied me enough to resist the big bowl of chips and guacamole that I set out for Ryan.

Saturday, Ryan and I got up early to go to PowerFlex. The class was challenging, but the teacher was annoying. She started the class late because she was talking, she “whoooo hoooooed” throughout the entirety of the class and didn’t stop talking. I love enthusiastic teachers, but she was a little over the top for my taste. Ryan and I laughed it off, but we also had a great conversation about me training to be a PowerFlex teacher once grad school is over in May and I’ve acclimated to my new job. This idea really excites me and it’s nice to have a husband who is so supportive.  I’ll keep you posted!

After PowerFlex, we quickly got ready to join one of Ryan’s friends for brunch.We went to the Café Dupont. They had some really delicious/indulgent things on the menu like Belgian waffles with dark chocolate and bananas, but I decided to take the healthier route knowing I would be pigging out later that evening. I opted for an arugula salad with beets, goat cheese and orange slides. I had a side of red berries. Ryan had a burger and fries that looked delicious. Brunch was really fun and it was great to meet Ryan’s friend and hear their hilarious stories from college.

After brunch, we went home and I got ready for a Sex and the City 2 party with my girl friends from work. For the party, I offered to bring gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese icing. For months, I’ve wanted to make these after I saw them on the Barefoot Contessa. I made the cupcakes on Friday night and was a little apprehensive about them since the recipe didn’t call for sugar or eggs. Out of the oven the cupcakes were delicious, but on Saturday they were really dry. I won’t pass along the recipe since I wouldn’t recommend them. On the other hand, the cream cheese frosting was incredible It would be fantastic on carrot cake or banana cupcakes (my next two endeavors).

Cream Cheese Icing (adapted from Ina Garten)
  • 1 block of cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1 stick of butter (room temp)
  • 1 box of powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla
       Mix all the ingredients together and you will have amazing icing.

Before I left for the party, I made ice cream for Ryan in our new ice cream maker that we got for our wedding (I wound up eating half!). If you have an ice cream maker, I highly recommend you make this soon! Here’s the recipe.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream (adapted from The Perfect Scoop)
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of cocoa
  • 1 scoop of peanut butter (I eyeballed)
      Whisk the half and half together with the sugar and cocoa and heat until boiling (stir frequently). Once the mixture starts to boil and foam, take it off the burner and add the peanut butter. Let it cool completely and put it in the ice cream maker.

My friend Dannielle hosted the Sex and the City 2 party and had an amazing spread of food prepared. Brenna brought all of the ingredients for cosmos (even fresh lime juice that she squeezed herself!) They were so good that I had quite a few J  While the movie was just okay, I had a blast giggling with my friends, drinking my cosmos. Ryan came and picked me up and was kind enough to drop Jennifer and Brenna off at home. It was such a fun night. I can’t wait to do it again!

Sunday was super lazy and the most exercise I got was going to Costco for our groceries. I got back into the swing of things yesterday and went to PowerFlex with Ryan. I’m going to mix things up tonight and go to cycling at the gym. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Changes!

I’m super excited to announce that I recently received a job offer at an amazing organization. My new job is located in Alexandria and is a 10 minute drive from our apartment. This means that it’s no longer practical for me to belong to VIDA. Last week, I called Globalfit, the company which my membership is under, and transferred to Bally Total Fitness, which is just a five minute drive from our apartment. On the weekends, if I’m really feeling motivated, I can even run there.

I anticipated that my divorce from VIDA was going to be an extremely painful one. I absolutely love the classes they offer and believe that I owe much of my weight loss to how hard the instructors push you. I fully believed that another gym just couldn’t compare. I was a bit wrong!

I took my first class at Bally’s on Monday evening called PowerFlex. I was pleasantly surprised because it was very similar to my favorite class at VIDA, Group Power. Both classes are 60-minutes long and use barbells to train all the major muscle groups in your body. The instructor at Bally’s definitely did not push the class as hard as the instructor as VIDA; he was much more conservative in the amount of weight he suggested the class put on  The equipment at Bally’s was also much older and some of it was even falling apart. The last difference was that the music was pretty soft and a little bit outdated. Despite these things, I was happy to know that Bally’s offers a weight training class that I’m both familiar with and love. Weight training is really important to me because of the benefit it offers for weight loss/maintenance, but also for bone density. My big takeaway from Monday night was that I will have to push myself rather than having someone else push me.

The other happy thing about joining Bally’s was that Ryan joined too! He came with me Monday night and we plan to go to PowerFlex together regularly. This is something I’m really looking forward to. Ryan and I used to run together when we were training for a half marathon (which we never actually completed). The time we spent together working out was really nice and I’m glad to have that back!

On another note, I’ve struggled tremendously this week with healthy eating. There have been so many temptations that I’ve found it really hard to resist bread and sweets. I think now that the wedding is over with, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit with my discipline. I resolved yesterday to get back on track and to save the bread and sweets for the weekends or special occasions and to keep up with my work outs. I’m at a weight that is both healthy for my body and mind and I want to keep it that way!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Party at Acadiana

On Friday night, the organization I work for held its annual holiday party. I look forward to the holiday party every year because of the excellent restaurant choices; last year the party was at Charlie Palmer and the year before it was at Morton’s. Also, I really enjoy the company of many of my coworkers and their husbands/significant others. Several of my coworkers have grown to be some of my closest friends. Needless to say, with good food and good company, the holiday parties are always fun!


Ryan and me at dinner.

This year dinner was at Acadiana which serves “Louisiana cuisine.”  The dinner menu was as follows:

1st Course:
Jumbo Lump Crabcake with creamed corn maque choux, benton bacon and green onion remoulade

2nd Course:
Mixed Green Salad with Cajun spiced pecans, crumbled goat cheese and Creole molasses vinaigrette

Entrée:
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Filet with buttermilk mashed potatoes, asparagus, tasso marchand du vin and blue cheese

Dessert:
Bourbon Vanilla bean Crème Brulee with apple butter and toasted brioche

I thought everything was very good, but nothing blew me away. I just didn’t think that the meal possessed that extra something special that would cause me to choose Acadiana over another restaurant for a future meal. My friend Amy had a bit of a better experience and thought more highly of the meal ;)

During dinner, I wound up having a really great conversation with one of my coworkers and his wife about running. They both do 10-mile races and half marathons regularly. They definitely inspired me to work harder on my running and to sign up for a race this spring. I’ve been thinking about it for the last few weeks and talking about it with my friend Amy, but the couple gave me the extra push to do it (especially because the woman I was talking to is a mother of two young children and she looked fantastic!). I entered the lottery for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and will find out if I got a bib on December 13th. Cross your fingers!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Back to Reality

I'm returning to my blog as Mrs. Pamela Rich after getting married on November 26th in the company of our closest friends and family. Ryan and I spent the week of Thanksgiving at the Riu Palace Riviera Maya. We picked out the hotel back in April based on a few pictures and hit the jackpot. The hotel was beautiful and elegant, the staff was kind, the food was delicious, the beach was breathtaking and drinks were both strong and unlimited ;).

We had 27 guests come to our wedding and the group was fantastic. Everyone seemed to truly enjoy one another's company and it was an incredible experience to have our friends and family mix so well together. The wedding ceremony itself was everything I could have wanted and more. It was emotional, humorous at moments, sweet, and above all, deeply meaningful. The catamaran cruise afterward was a perfect way to celebrate and I cannot say enough wonderful things about Holly and Jim's speeches. Ryan and I are truly lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives.
Here are a few of my favorite photos from the wedding.
Me and my favorite women.

The new husband and wife.


So happy to be married!


So sweet.

Enjoying our forties :)
Aren't they handsome?

Due to my week in Mexico (which was easily the best week of my entire life!), my new blog has been sadly neglected. Other things that have been neglected while Ryan and I were off having the time of our lives: healthy eating, exercise and Gilligan.

Fortunately, my gluttonous eating and lack of exercise didn’t cause too much weight gain. However, Wednesday night was my first time back at the gym and I definitely felt weaker during my toning class. I’m also really sore today. It’s amazing how long it takes to get into shape and how quickly it seems you can get out of it!

The repercussions of leaving Gilligan for a week have been far greater. The first night we got back (1am on Monday and we had to be at work at 7:30am!), I don’t think I got even one solid hour of sleep. Gilligan meowed in my face, ran across Ryan’s head, chewed my hair, leapt in and out of the bed, curled up on my pillow and stared at me, and generally did everything and anything to make sleep impossible. The last two nights have been similar, although each night has gotten a little better. Hopefully, he’ll be back to normal tonight and we’ll get a solid night’s rest.

My eating is slowly normalizing and I’ve weaned myself off carbs. Breakfast was greek yogurt with ground flax seeds and honey. My mid-morning snack was cashew clusters. Lunch was a big bowl of butternut squash soup (not very good- I would not recommend the V8 brand) with a small scoop of greek yogurt on top and a banana. My mid afternoon snack was mixed veggies. Dinner was a big spinach salad with shrimp, tomatoes, grapes, roasted butternut squash and blue cheese. Before bed I ate a few more cashew clusters (they are addicting) and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. Thankfully the huge tub of brownie bites at work is gone so I wasn’t tempted by those today!

After school I went to Zumba, as I do most Thursdays with Brenna and Jennifer. I won't share much more about that, as I plan to do a full post on Zumba soon.

Tonight is my work holiday party. The dinner is at Acadiana, which I have heard wonderful things about. I'll be sure report tomorrow if the restaurant lives up to the hype.

Adios!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Houston, We Have a (Roach) Problem

Last night there was a super intense thunderstorm that woke me and Ryan out of a sound sleep. I got up to close the window and get a glass of water and had a nice surprise waiting for me in the hallway... a roach about half the size of Gilligan. From the looks of it, Gilly had already half killed it, but I squashed it with a shoe anyway and headed back to bed. Upon getting up this morning, I was horrified to find Gilligan swatting the roach carcass around the living room. I picked it up with tissues and threw it in the trash.

I started having some anxiety on the way into work about the roach. Don't people say that you never just find one roach? That one roach means there is an entire colony living somewhere in your house or apartment? Sure enough, the first thing I did at work was google "Roaches in apartment" and all of the pages that came up confirmed my suspicions and worse... It turns out I did several things wrong in killing the mammoth roach with a shoe. Apparently when you do that, you just spread out the roach eggs on the floor where they can hatch. Also, you're supposed to flush the dead roach down the toilet so that eggs on it can't hatch in the trash can. Fabulous. The exterminator is coming tomorrow, but you bet that when we go to Rome, I'm fumigating the apartment with roach killer.

Work flew by today and because I ran errands this afternoon, I wasn't able to make it to my Wednesday night toning class. Instead, I checked out the gym at our new apartment. I was pleasantly surprised; it's definitely bigger than the gym at our old apartment with more machines. I got on the treadmill and ran a little more than four miles. My pace was pretty good (around eight and a half minutes) and I worked up a really good sweat. If I don't sweat during a workout, I just don't feel like I'm doing anything for my body. I know this isn't true, but that's just the way I feel. This is partly why I'm not a huge fan of regular yoga, but love bikram yoga (hot yoga).

I was absolutely starving after my run and immediately made myself a large protein shake (milk, chocolate protein powder, berry juice, berries and bananas) and put a cookie sheet worth of butternut squash in the oven to roast. I'm heading back for my second dinner in a few- leftover slowcooker pot roast that Ryan is currently digging into.

One of the highlights of my day was the cherry chocolate Larabar that I enjoyed this morning. For those of you looking for a yummy, healthy snack, definitely check out Larabars! I like them so much, I think I may bring a few to Mexico for healthy afternoon snacks. Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First Blog Post!

Hello and welcome to my blog! I suppose I should start by telling you the reasons why I've created this blog and what you can expect to read about in the future. So here goes!

Not too long ago my friend Amy introduced me to a few blogs written by women in their twenties who discuss the delicious food they eat and the ways they stay fit and healthy by exercising regularly. Before long, I found myself hooked to two blogs in particular (http://www.peanutbutterrunner.com/ and http://www.thefrontburnerblog.com/) and have to admit that I check them daily.  In a way, through reading the posts of these two women, I feel a bit like I know them. But most of all, I feel inspired by their seemingly tireless motivation to be active and fit, yet not deny themselves of the foods they most love.

I think these blogs resonate with me so strongly because I've seriously changed my lifestyle and diet over the past year. I joined a gym (VIDA Fitness) that I absolutely love because it both motivates and challenges me. At VIDA, I started taking weight lifting classes which have changed my body; I now have muscle definition which I never thought possible. Furthermore, as of July, I altered my diet in preparation for my wedding (which is next week!). I stopped eating bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes during the week and began eating more fruits and vegetables. Over the past year, I've successfully lost 10 pounds and feel healthier and possess more self-confidence than I ever have had before. As a result, I've started trying things I never thought I would, like hot yoga (which as it turns out I really love!).

It recently occurred to me that I might find it satisfying to start by own blog about fitness, food and the many other things I have going on like getting married, working full-time and going to school to get my Master of Public Health degree (hence the full plate and title of this blog).  So as I sit here, with a glass of red wine in hand (which may be a re-occurring theme on this blog), I'm embarking on my own attempt at a fitness and food blog, with other fun life events sprinkled in. I hope you enjoy!