Fitness: Pure Barre Class & DOMS

Ouch! Today I am super duper sore.

My friend Mary and I went to a Pure Barre class on Friday during our lunch hour. We’d bought a Groupon deal for 3 classes and this was my first class at this studio. I’d been to a similar class once before at Bar Method so I knew kind of what to expect but I still wasn’t prepared for how TOUGH these classes are!

What is a Pure Barre class? From the Pure Barre website:

“Pure Barre is intelligent exercise. The technique protects your joints as it does not involve any bouncing or jumping. Each strength section of the workout is followed by a stretching section in order to create long, lean muscle without bulk. The workout launches a full blown attack on the areas of the body all women struggle with: abs, hips, seat and arms. It defies gravity by tapering everything in and lifting it up.”

It’s a low-impact, ballet inspired fitness class that uses mostly body weight (some light hand weights) to achieve a full-body burn. This class is all about tiny movements to work those little muscles that we rarely use in everyday life.

It’s definitely a tough class but it’s a class that all levels can do. The instructor describes what to do and walks around to help re-position participants, there is energizing music that helps keep your energy and spirits up. As our instructor told us at the end of class, the great thing about Pure Barre classes is that it never gets ‘easier’. The class will always be challenging and you will always be learning and feeling the burn. I’m not sure if that’s a great thing.. but it’s nice to know that you can keep coming back to class and keep toning and firming your body.

Pure Barre is a great lunch-time workout because it’s not a high-cardio, high-heat class so while I definitely sweat during the class, it wasn’t so much that I needed a full shower before heading back to work. I just used a baby wipe while I changed back into my work clothes to freshen up.

But today, my arms, shoulders, thighs, hips, booty, EVERYTHING is sore! It’s the best kind of sore – when you know you worked hard the day before. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a real thing (more here) but man, isn’t the day after always the worst?

To me, a sore body means only one thing – it’s time for yoga!

Fun: Fun. Concert & Obama Sings Sexy And I Know It

Fun. Concert @ The Ogden

Like I mentioned before, I absolutely love music and concerts. So far this year, I’ve seen Ryan Adams, Mat Kearney, The Fray, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Last night, I added another one to my list: Fun. You probably know their song, We Are Young. At least in Denver, it’s all over the radio.

The moment I heard this song, I instantly recognized the singer’s voice – Fun.’s lead singer used to be the singer for The Format! Anyone else listen to The Format years ago?

My friend Kristen asked me if I wanted to go with her last week – unfortunately, the show was sold out so she spent a lot of time trolling Craigslist for tickets. Somehow, she was able to find someone selling for $35 a piece – most were selling for 50+ a ticket – and considering the original ticket price was $25ish, she immediately jumped on buying tickets.

We saw just a few songs of the opener, Sleeper Agent, before the Fun. started.

The show was rockin’. So much energy, so much personality! I didn’t know too many of the songs but it didn’t matter – each song was such a joy to watch and experience live.

During the encore, the lead singer, Nate, sang a somewhat emotional and empowering song and took a pause at the end of the line for emphasis. Well, Denver got the emphasis. For probably 5 whole minutes, the ENTIRE Ogden Theatre was cheering and clapping louder than I’ve ever heard before – it was fervent and full of love for this band. I’ve never seen anything like it!

After the encore, the theatre erupted in applause and more cheering and would not stop! Fun. came out for a DOUBLE encore. It was incredible! This band has so much heart and passion – Nate sang his lungs out and gave such an enthralling (and fun!) performance.

It was absolutely one of the most fun (Fun.) shows I’ve been to in a while.

Obama Sings: Sexy And I Know It

And this, my friends, is pure silliness. I saw this on Twitter last night and had to share. It is too good!

This is President Obama ‘singing’ Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO.

No matter which side of the political spectrum you align with, you can’t tell me that you’re not smiling now.

Do share! What fun music or videos have you found recently?

 

Food: How To Make Stove Top Popcorn

Holla to my popcorn lovers! A few asked for tips and tricks for popping popcorn on a stove so this morning, I’m going to share just that.

Popcorn can be a really healthy snack if done correctly. We’re not talking movie-theater-extra-butter popcorn or most of the pop-in-a-microwave-bag variety. I’m talking about the very simple, very basic homemade popcorn. It’s inherently low in calories and fat when cooked solo. Where as most microwave popcorn bags are covered with chemicals, seasoning and ‘butter’ flavor plastered to the inside, you free yourself from that when you make it at home.

So whether you’re like me and don’t own a microwave or are looking for a healthy alternative to your commercial popcorn, popping on the stovetop may be your answer.

Stove Top Popcorn

Ingredients you’ll need are:

  • 1 Tbsp of Oil
  • 1/4 c of basic popcorn kernels
  • Salt, to taste

For equipment, you’ll need:

  • A stove burner
  • A pan – I use a medium sauce pan but anything with a wide surface area and is a bit deep will work
  • That pan’s lid

To start, you’ll add your oil to the sauce pan and turn the oven on to medium-high heat (I use setting 8 or 9 out of 10).

Then add 3 kernels to the pan. These will act as your ‘alert’ kernels. Cover the pan with the lid – the lid will be on for the rest of the cooking time.

As the oil heats up, these kernels will pop to alert you it’s time for the rest. Once the first kernel has popped, the other two will be right behind it.

Some people prefer to add all kernels at the beginning so they’ll heat up together – I’ve never tried this but I’m sure it works the same. I prefer to do 3 at the beginning so once they pop, I know the heat is right to pop the rest.

Now it’s time to add the rest of your kernels! I use 1/4 c for just me. It’s kind of a lot but I really love popcorn.

And now, you wait! Since you’ve added the kernels once the oil is already hot, it will only take a few minutes for the popcorn to fully pop.

As it’s popping, I like to shake the pan by holding the lid down and tossing the kernels. To me, this helps keep the already popped popcorn from getting stuck on the bottom and burning.

Just like with a microwave bag of popcorn, once the popping has slowed down, it’s time to remove it from the heat.

Next, I add a quick sprinkle of table salt to the pan and shake a few more times to move the salt around.

Once you’ve shaken your popcorn with salt, dump into a serving bowl and enjoy.

I’m enjoying this popcorn this afternoon at work. Yum!

A few additional tips:

  • Popcorn for more than 1. This is how I make popcorn for just me. If I’m making popcorn for me and a friend, I’ll use 1/3 or 1/2 c of kernels. But be sure that you up your oil and pan size too – you need enough oil to coat all of the popcorn kernels and the pan should be big enough to give them ‘breathing’ room. If not, as your popcorn pops, you’ll wish you had more space!
  • Fancy vs. store brand kernels. I’ve tried both Orville Redenbacher’s kernels and Kroger brand kernels and there really isn’t enough difference to justify the price for me. I only buy store brand now.
  • Buttery taste. We all know and love the buttery popcorn of movie theaters. After you’ve popped your popcorn, you can make your popcorn buttery but still be healthy.
    • Usually I use canola oil in the pan but if I’m feeling frisky and want a slightly buttery taste, I’ll use Orville Redenbacher’s oil. This can be used to cook the popcorn and as a buttery adhesive for the salt, post-popping. Use in moderation, post-popping. You won’t need as much as you think. 
    • Another way to get that buttery taste is to melt down a bit of butter in a sauce pan and pour over the popped corn. For me, this takes too much time and I don’t care too much about the butter taste so this step isn’t really worth it for me.
  • Add your favorite topping! Go crazy here! You can add spices and seasonings to your popcorn to add interesting taste without adding calories – use cinnamon, pepper, buffalo seasoning, ranch seasoning, etc. You can also add sweet toppings (but usually not sans calories) – chocolate chips or candies, melted caramel, syrup or sauces, etc.

That’s it!

Now, go pop and top your corn and enjoy your healthy snack.

Food: Buffalo Popcorn & Fitness: 2 Mile Run Again

A few weeks ago, I got a very special surprise from one of my best friends, Sarah.

This is a combination of two of my favorite things: buffalo sauce/seasoning and popcorn!

Sarah and I share a love of buffalo sauce – on chicken and on french fries. She also knows that popcorn is one of my favorite snacks – I eat it for ‘dessert’ most nights at home. I was so excited when this little gem showed up in my mailbox!

I broke it out tonight to give it a shot.

First step – make popcorn!

I make my popcorn on a stove because I don’t have a microwave.

I usually make 1/4 cup of popcorn (measured from unpopped kernels). It makes a full mixing bowl of popcorn. I lightly salt in the saucepan before dumping into my mixing bowl.

All for me!

I sprinkled in some buffalo seasoning, mixed it around and devoured!

The seasoning was tasty! It added a hint of spicy to my salty popcorn. I won’t use it every time I make popcorn – sometimes I just need a salty treat – but I love the slightly spicy popcorn.

FITNESS

In other fun news – I ran 2 miles last night! It took until today for my legs to not feel ridiculously sore. I’m getting that muscle strength back! Same route as Sunday and I felt a lot stronger than Sunday. Slowly but surely!

It’s amusing that once upon a time, 10 miles was a long run to me. Now, 2 miles is a long run. It’s all about perspective.

PS – Are you on DailyMile? I’m using DailyMile to log all my workouts – yoga, swimming, running, hiking, etc! Let’s be friends – I’m here!

Food: Adventures in Gluten-Free Baking – Pizza Dough!

Last Friday, all I wanted to eat was pizza! It had been so long since I’d eaten pizza that the craving was out of control.

In an effort to try new things (hello, Adventurous April!), I picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Dough Mix at the store. This mix is made from rice flour. Usually, I like to make pizza dough from scratch and use a whole wheat flour recipe. But I’ve had gluten-free pizza at a few restaurants in Denver and wanted to see how hard (and hopefully tasty!) it would be to do myself.

Turns out, it was really easy! Just a few ingredients outside of the package (water, egg, milk and butter) and just a few steps to combine everything.

When I laid the dough out to make the pizza though, I noticed that this dough is a lot thicker than a regular wheat flour dough.

 

The dough was also stickier – I had to keep adding water to my hands to keep the dough from sticking to my fingers and hands. I managed to spread the dough enough for 1 large pizza.

We topped with pizza sauce, hand shredded mozzarella and hot pepper jack cheese (yum!), hard salami pieces, pieces of cooked turkey bacon, mushrooms and jalapeno. Baked for 20 minutes and we had this beautiful pizza!

The crust and pizza were pretty spot on. The crust is a bit crumblier than the usual crust I make but that could be operator error. Neither Alex or I have a gluten sensitivity so this experiment was more for taste. And as we try to keep paleo principles in mind with our food, we decide that gluten-free was more paleo than whole wheat flour. (Note: this pizza and pizza crust are definitely NOT paleo)

I will buy this crust mix again. The fact that it took 30 minutes total to make (compared to an hour + for whole wheat) and that it tastes pretty much like a ‘normal’ pizza crust makes it a winner in my book.

Fitness: 'Official' Yoga Wear

My body was SO SORE yesterday from my tiny little run on Sunday. My arms, my shoulders, my legs, my core, EVERYTHING! I hit up a hot yoga class to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out and get that lactic acid moving.

Last night’s class was packed – as in: we had to form 4 rows in the studio and my row had 11 people in it. That’s a lotta people!

I don’t think I’ve been to a yoga class at CorePower Yoga and been disappointed yet – each class is a great workout, great sweat and I leave with a happy body and mind. But last night’s class was particularly fun – the instructor MADE it fun!

I feel like most classes are serious – and generally I appreciate that – but last night, I appreciated this instructors light hearted comments and guidance. He kept reminding us to ‘engage in our non-competitive yoga practice.’ And he played Fleetwood Mac before our final shavasana. Amazing!

Last night, I wore ‘non-yoga’ clothes to yoga.

Usually when I do this, I feel really out of place. I don’t any Lululemon outfits, I don’t have any ‘official’ yoga clothes. I usually wear longer running capris and a running tank and feel like I ‘fit in’. But those clothes weren’t clean so I wore my favorite Nike Tempo shorts and a running tank. When I look around at my fellow yoga friends, running shorts feel taboo in the studio.

But last night in the jam-packed class, I’d say about 25% of the yogis were in clothes like me! Not in expensive yoga wear but in active, comfortable sports clothes. Other girls in running shorts, in non-moisture wicking clothes (I sweat too much for those) and some in cotton tank tops. I felt like I was in the right class.

I really *want* the high-tech, super fancy yoga clothes but it’s not quite in my budget right now and my current clothes are working just fine. I know there are many people at CorePower wearing the same clothes, as I found out in Monday’s class, but I can only seem to notice the lulu logos surrounding me.

I think I just need to engage in my non-competitive and non-self-conscious yoga practice and work on my elusive Crow pose. I cannot figure that one out!

Do you practice yoga? What’s your typical yoga class outfit?

Fitness: 2 Mile Run!

You read that right – I ran 2 miles yesterday!

A few weeks ago, I attempted my first outdoor run and it was not pretty. I was really frustrated with myself and my body, realizing it had only been a 5 weeks post-crutches but expecting my body to somehow magically have endurance and strength.

This weekend, after a week and a half of sickness, allergies and coughing, I wanted to really work my body – to feel active after so many inactive days.

Sunday morning, I got dressed grabbed a magazine and decided to head to the gym to use the treadmill or elliptical. As soon as I walked outside, into the 70* warm Colorado air, I knew I had to stay outside. I swapped my magazine for my Garmin and decided to take an easy run down my familiar route from more than 1.5 years ago, the last time I was running.

The route I took used to be a short 3 mile run for me. I was smart enough to not try to run 3 miles right out of the gate and instead, ran 2 miles: 1 mile out and 1 mile back.

It felt GREAT to run! I took it slow and steady, walked to cross streets, and just let my body get into the groove. After 1 mile, I felt a strong stitch in my side so I walked for a bit. At 1.27 miles, my body felt normal again and I picked my pace back up.

This run was really hard physically on me – After that first mile, my quads, hamstrings, calves and ankles were feeling really tired. But I pushed through (slowly!) and made it home in one piece. And most importantly, NO KNEE PAIN!

Today, my body feels like it did after my first half marathon – tired, sore and just needing to foam roll and stretch!

I know for some people, 2 miles is not a celebrated accomplishment. And that’s fine! But for me it is and I was (and still am!) on cloud nine. This run was a direct inverse of my first outdoor run and showed me that I can do it!

Today, its gray, rainy and a high of 46* outside – a far cry from the sunny, 70* weather yesterday! It’s a great day to stay inside and practice some hot yoga after work.

And now for some FUN!

Last week, I told y’all about popchips, who was kind enough to offer 1 reader a 30 day supply of chips. Today, I have a winner to announce!

As picked by Random.org, the winner is Georgina!

Thanks for playing, everyone!

 

Fitness: Allergies

After 7 days of coughing and sniffing, I finally have an answer to my sickness. Allergies.

Yep, allergies!

For all of you regular allergy sufferers, I commiserate with you now! I get it!

Last week, I really was sick with a cold (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). Then I started to feel physically better but this cough and nose stuck around… and really gets worse in the evenings when I’m at home. I’ve coughed my throat raw and decided it was time to see the doc. Day and Nyquil weren’t fixing it.

She told me it’s allergies – the mucus keeps producing which keeps the cough going. I knew this but couldn’t figure out how to stop it. Zyrtec, Allegra or Claritin, she said. Zyrtec was on sale so I popped a Zyrtec last night.

It dawned on me that it absolutely MUST be allergies – from Philly! The dog! When we give her a bath or if I pick her up or snuggle up to her, I get really itchy and red bumps appear on my arms (or wherever touched her). So my cough getting exponentially worse at home, in the evening makes perfect sense. Dog hair.

So today, I’m *really* feeling a million times better. Residual coughing as I deal with the last bit of crap in my throat but that’s it. Hooray!

I feel well enough to sweat out the last toxins with a yoga class. My body has been aching (literally) to get moving again – my muscles are tight and need a good stretch! And a mid-day yoga class is just the solution.

To allergy sufferers everywhere – how do you deal with this all every season change?! Will I be taking Zyrtec all spring and summer now? Please say it isn’t so! 

Colorado Fire Season Comes Early

Since living in Colorado the past (almost) 3 years, I’ve come to learn that wildfires are more-or-less a ‘normal’ occurrence here. Most occur as the weather and ground gets drier – later in the spring. This year, fire season came early.

We’ve had so little snow or rain this year that everything is super dry – ground, tress, grass. Paired with the extremely high winds blowing through Denver yesterday, a tiny ember from a controlled fire burned by the Colorado Forest Services last Monday reignited.

This is what I saw when I walked out of work last night at 540 p.m. At first, I thought the wind blew in a rain storm. Then the smell of smoke hit me in the face. The fire is many miles away but almost directly west of my office.

The smoke in front of the sun gave a very eerie, red orange hue. My cell phone doesn’t do it justice.

And as I walked the dog last night, nearly 10 miles north of my office, the billowing smoke trail was looming over south Denver.

(click on this photo ^^ to see it full size)

Last night after work, I’d heard that the fire had burned more than 200 acres. This morning, the fire is burning more than 3000 acres strong and is not contained. Housed have been burned, people have been evacuated. Hopefully we have much less wind today and fire crews can work to get this fire under control.

If you live in Colorado or other area prone to wildfires, here are some important fire safety and fire evacuation tips to help keep you safe:

 I’m sure this isn’t the only fire we’ll see this spring and the best thing we can do is to be prepared.

Stay safe, Colorado!

Fun: Making Monday More Fun

I know a lot of people really dislike Mondays but I don’t mind them too much. Yes, I’d still love to sleep in on Monday but, really, I’d love to sleep in any day of the week. I’d love an extra weekend day to play but I still pack fun into my weekdays too. However, like everyone, I love it when Monday comes with a few extra perks.

Monday is more fun with new clothes.

This past weekend, one of my favorite retailer, The Limited, had an incredible sale – 40% off EVERYTHING, including mark downs! I shopped yesterday and came away with 4 basic t-shirts that my wardrobe has been seriously needing (gray, black, white, peach), 2 necklaces and 1 set of 4 pink bangles.

Today, my outfit is brought to you by The Limited.

This shirt and necklace are new. The pants and jacket are not – I used to work at The Limited part-time in my early days of living in Denver and spent much more on clothes than any paycheck I made there.

This is my ‘Please stop coughing, Lynne!‘ face. I’m still coughing, still sick.

Another fun accessory I’m wearing today is a bracelet I was given for my birthday.

This bracelet comes from a very cool store in Denver called Revampt - everything in Revampt used to be something else. Do you recognize that design? It’s a repurposed Arizona Tea Can!

 Monday is more fun with FREE POPCHIPS [GIVEAWAY!]

Last week, a beautiful box of popchips was delivered to me.

Popchips is a sponsor of the upcoming Blend Retreat that I’m attending, the Denver sales rep contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in trying some new popchip flavors. Since I’ve been focusing on cleaning up my eating (during the week), I was apprehensive at first – chips? We stopped buying chips months ago (except for special occasions).

I looked into the ingredients and nutrition of popchips and was very surprised at what I found! Check out Original:

Excellent! 6 ingredients!  A non-fried, non-baked chip! Popchips applies heat and pressure to a potato slice until it *pops*. They’re super tasty and a million times* healthier than traditional potato chips. (*lgsmash qualification - not official stat)

Alex and I have been trying the flavors over the past few days. I’m REALLY digging the Chili Lime flavor and Alex has been enjoying Parmesan Garlic. I think my *favorite* part of these individual sized bags is that each is only 100 calories – and unlike other 100 calorie snack packs, this actually feels like you ate something. Mindless healthy munching, FTW.

SO! Here’s where Monday gets fun for YOU. Popchips wants one of you to enjoy 30 popin’ days of chips too!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment telling me how you’re making Monday fun or your favorite flavor of chips. (My all-time favorite is Sea Salt and Vinegar)
  2. Tweet about the giveaway on twitter and leave me a separate comment letting me know! To make it brainless: ‘I want to win 30 days of @popchips from @lgsmash! http://wp.me/p1oGVP-zC’

That’s it! 2 comments, 2 entries for 30 days of chips. Giveaway will run until Friday, March 30 at 11:59p.m. Winner will be chosen on Saturday, March 31 using Random.org.

**Disclosure: Popchips sent me these yummy treats and are hooking me up with this giveaway. All opinions are always my own.

Monday is more fun when you register for the Blend Retreat!

Like I mentioned above, I’m registered for the Blend Retreat in 1 short month, May 4-6, held in nearby Boulder!

This retreat is for bloggers, readers and friends to become ‘blends’ (blog + friend = blend). It’s a weekend to hang out, get active and make new friends.

So many of my favorite bloggers are registered already and I can’t wait to meet everyone ‘in real life’. Check out the list of who’s coming!

If you’re a blogger or reader who wants to come but hasn’t registered, it’s not too late! Tickets are still available and only $75 until April 1. After 4/1, tickets increase to $100. We’d love to see you there!

How are you making Monday more fun?