squash and spin

I made some good butternut squash soup last night. Well, it was good to ME, but my husband and son wouldn’t eat, the little boogers. So, I have still have a few servings of soup to eat. Let me tell you, peeling and cutting up a butternut squash is not an easy feat, but it made a good meal. I had the soup with a grilled cheese on whole wheat bread. Yum!

Then, I taught a kick butt workout in my 8:30 spin class this morning. It was inspired by IDEA Fitness Journal (Nov – Dec 2013). Went something like this:

  • 5 minute warm up
  • Progressive climb – every 30 seconds, add resistance until you end up in a standing climb (total of 3 minutes)
    • Round 2 we went 45 seconds each interval
    • Round 3 we went 1 minute each interval
  • 1 minute recovery
  • Seated speed work – start at 60% of your maximum effort, then add 10% each 30 seconds for a total of 100%. Go back down to 60% for the last 30 seconds.
    • Round 2 we went 45 seconds each interval
    • Round 3 we went 1 minute each interval
  • Hill plateaus – standing climb for 1 minute, then 30 second fast seated flat (plateau). Repeat twice for 3 minutes.
    • Round 2, we extended the flat to 45 seconds, leaving the hills at 1 minute
    • We ended up running out of time for round 3 since the class is 45 minutes and this workout is about a 60 minute one.
  • 8 minute cool down (slowing down pedaling, stretching, etc.)

I was happy that there was NO snow when I woke up this morning. I don’t mind snow when I have nothing to do, but when I have to be at work early, I’d rather it wait until the weekend!


early autumn fishing, biking, and photos

It’s officially autumn for a few weeks now, but it feels like summer all of a sudden. Well, at my house, at least. It’s been in the 80’s for days and the nights have even been warm. But, it looks like tomorrow brings the 60’s and it will feel like fall again.

My husband and I took our son to a local pond the other day for some fishing. It was fun, but it was HOT! My husband caught one small mouth bass, which we threw back. It was funny, because our toddler wouldn’t have anything to do with the fish or the worms. He’s all boy, but he’s started to become hesitant of touching everything he sees. When he was smaller, he’d pick ANYTHING up and stick it in his mouth.

I took a 25 minute spin on our homemade cyclocross course a while ago. It is such an intense workout! After that, I did some triceps dips, lunges, squats, and push ups since I’d been lazy the past two days. I still need to practice before the race on the 19th so I can be somewhat ready. I intend for it to be something fun the hubby and I can do together, but it sure would be cool to place, eh?!

food allergy theory & the shutdown

So, I got my car radio fixed yesterday (my speakers have been jacked up for about two years now) and I was listening to NPR on my way home from riding bikes. I heard an interesting story where this guy was talking about the human body. One of the topics he brought up was something I’d not yet heard of. He mentioned that food allergies could be caused by the use of too many antibiotics and it makes a lot of sense. I found an interesting article (I’m sure one of many) if you want to read more about it – http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/780023. So thankful that my son only had one round of antibiotics in his first year of life (almost going on two years).

Speaking of being thankful for a healthy kid…I’ve been lifeguarding for the 4th grade water safety program for the past few weeks and today I was astonished to see a little boy with one leg. He hopped out of the water and put on a life jacket all by himself while the other kids with all their limbs were asking for assistance. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for a healthy child (and self, for that matter).

Have you seen Google’s home page today? If not, it’s celebrating the 123rd anniversary of Yosemite Park. Wonder if there is a hidden meaning to that?


As I mentioned before, I rode bikes with my friend Nancy yesterday who owns this great candy factory in beautiful Meadows of Dan, Virginia (right off the Blue Ridge Parkway). October is her busiest month each year and if/when the Parkway closes due to the government shut down, I really think it could wreak havoc on her October sales.

All this government shutdown stuff reminds me of one of my favorite movies, “V for Vendetta”“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” 

mandy’s top 10 ways to stay “exercisingly” motivated

I just finished a 10 x 10 workout that’s kick butt. My goal this fall/winter is to do more strength training since I feel burnt out on running and the same old triathlon training.

I’ve been working out regularly for 9 years and I’ve only missed a few weeks during that whole time span (due to illness or recovering from childbirth). I’ve come to find that these are the 10 things that keep me motivated to exercise and stay healthy:

  1. Feeling Good – I promise that once you get into an exercise routine, you will feel much better than you do just being a couch potato. It may take a few weeks or even a month to feel better (you may even feel worse to start), but after you get into the HABIT of working out a few times a week, you’ll be addicted. It makes me sleep like a baby at night.
  2. Looking Good – Now, I’m not saying I’m fitness model material, but I’m 5’7″ and a healthy weight of around 150. Having muscle tone makes me see the fruits of my exercise labors. I need to say here that it doesn’t matter what your size is, but you will look better if you break a sweat on a routine basis!
  3. 0911-workout-clothesWorkout Clothes – I like fitted, breathable workout clothes. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on expensive brands, either. There’s a good selection of workout clothes at places like Wal-Mart and Target. I’ve had some of my same pieces for nine years! When I’m dressed in something besides and old, baggy t-shirt and shorts that are too big, I just feel more like a real fitness person (and it makes me perform better).
  4. Music – Find the music you like and listen to it while you exercise. I don’t have an iPod, so I just listen to what’s playing at the gym. I do find that when I run outside, though, I don’t listen to music, but the nature sounds instead. When I run or ride on the road, I pay attention to the sounds around me to be more aware (and safe). There are lots of studies that show much music can boost your workout performance.
  5. Variety – I actually enjoy exercise and I vary it so I don’t get bored. For example, I normally swim, bike, or run but yesterday, I felt like taking a brisk walk through the woods…so that’s what I did. You don’t have to run 5 miles to get a good workout. Just chase your kids or dog around in the yard. If you find you’re bored, for Pete’s sake, Google something and find a new workout or sport.
  6. Competition – Yep, I’m a bit competitive and signing up for events helps me have a goal to work toward. For example, 5k or 10k races, sprint triathlons, or fun walks are all good ideas and they are ALL over the place ALL the time. Try active.com for examples of events in your area.
  7. Friends – Hang out with like-minded people or be “friends” with them on social media sites. I have found some really cool workouts on Pinterest (and I don’t even Pin that much). They can help you stay motivated and you can swap ideas.
  8. Kim-Dolan-Leto-Fitness-Magazine-Cover-e1361635784313Media – I have a subscription to Fitness Magazine (cheap, but loaded with exercise ideas and health tips) and I pick up other magazines that folks bring to the gym where I work. It’s amazing the neat stuff you can find in magazines. I rip out the pages and add them to my workout binder.
  9. Family – My son is almost 20 months old and I want to be a fit mom for him. I want to be able to keep up with his constant movement and also be a positive role model to him as he grows. I want him to be proud that I’m his mom. Same goes for my husband – I want him to point me out in a crowd and say “That’s my wife – doesn’t she look good/healthy?”. Maybe that’s vain, but he didn’t marry an unhealthy chick!
  10. acepersonaltrainerProfession – About a year ago, I decided to change jobs, going from an IT/sales professional to a personal trainer. I work at a gym where I can exercise a few times a week on the clock and help people by creating workouts and motivating them. I know this isn’t a luxury for everyone, but if you’re passionate about it, think about making the career change. It’s been a positive change for me. Oh, and hire a personal trainer if you need to – we’re worth the money!
  11. BONUS TIP: Blogging – HA! If I didn’t workout, I wouldn’t have a very interesting blog. Fitness is such a big part of my life now and I want to share all the tips and tricks I can! Maybe that would work for you, too.

My final thought for this fine Friday is something I just read in the July/August 2013 issue of Women’s Health magazine:

Research suggests that extroverted, open-minded people also have a higher aerobic capacity, meaning they can go harder for a longer period of time. It could help explain why these same traits are linked to better health and longer life, note researchers in the journal PLOS ONE. Quiet types have equal potential but may need to focus on their attitude toward exercise, not just the workout itself, say study authors.

I’m fortunate because I’m one of those “extroverted, open-minded people” they mention in the article (if you’ve not yet gathered that).

apple butter success

I’ve never made apple butter and I’ve never canned anything…until now! I blogged a while back about the apple tree beside our house that is loaded with ripe, fresh, “organic” fruit and I wanted to try my hand at apple butter. It turned out really well. I brought a jar to give to my mom this morning and it sealed on the way – I was so tickled! If you’ve never heard a canning jar seal, it’s an unmistakable “swhoop” noise. Very neat! If you like apple butter, try out this recipe.

I was feeling frisky last night (not that type of frisky), so I got out my bike and made a round on our homemade cyclocross course. It’s hard! My father in law was nice enough to bushhog us a path through the field so my husband and I can practice before our race in October. I forgot how challenging it is to ride a bike through a grassy field and the woods. I never mountain bike, so it’s mentally and coordinately difficult for me. I only ended up with one bruise where my pedal whacked me in the back of the calf.

Tomorrow, I’m excited to go pick up my chickens from a local farm that raises organic, hormone-free meat. It will be about an hour drive each way, but it’s a pretty drive and it will give me time to just chill out and let my mind wander. Sunday, I’m taking a wire bending jewelry class and hopefully seeing a high school friend for a few hours while letting our sons play. Cheers to the weekend!

getting ready for cyclocross

A few years ago, I competed in a couple of cyclocross races. Let me tell you, it’s mostly a man’s event. I was one of maybe three women that competed those days (two Saturdays in October), but I won the coolest trophies! They were hand made things and I was so proud. If you’ve never done cyclocross, it’s very intense. The course is normally made up of grass, mud, gravel, and you have to jump off your bike and take it over small obstacles. There was even a part that went through the woods. You go around as many times as you can in 30 or 45 minutes (depending on how much pain you want). I honestly think that short amount of time is harder than an entire triathlon.

I started digging around trying to find out if they are doing those races again this year and they are going to do a one day race as part of a big outdoor festival. I’m excited! I can’t say I’ve trained, but I have several weeks to practice (which will probably consist of riding my bike through the field a couple of times). My husband even says he’s going to do it! I think the whole festival will be fun.

Here are some pictures a guy took of me back in 2010 – I look like such a goof ball! The entire collection can be found at http://colorspectrum.smugmug.com/Sports/Cyclocross/Freak-Out3/14337582_ZC92Rn#!i=1061954322&k=X7RxtD5



getting uncomfortable

I swam a good little workout today – something different.

From the editors of Fitness magazine

Hit the pool and burn close to 300 calories in just 22 minutes with this workout from Dave Thomas, USA Swimming sport-development consultant in Colorado Springs. Performing drills in the water is the best way to improve form and prevent boredom. This routine is based on a 25-yard-long pool lane; we’ve given times to shoot for, but go at your own pace. If needed, take 20-second rests between each segment.

Stroke Lengths Minutes
1. Freestyle 4 2
2. Alternate freestyle and backstroke 8 4
3. Use a kickboard 4 4
4. Freestyle using a pull buoy floating device held between legs 4 2
5. Repeat #2 8 4
6. Your favorite stroke (moderate pace) 8 4
7. Sprint (favorite stroke) 2 1
8. Freestyle (cool down) 2 1

Originally published in Fitness magazine, May 2006.

While I was swimming, I tried to breathe to the LEFT when coming off the wall and it felt so strange! I am used to automatically coming up to breathe on my right side after my turns during freestyle. It made me think back to before when I couldn’t flip turn or breathe to both sides.

It took me quite a bit of time to learn how to flip at the wall, which ultimately made me a faster, better swimmer. Then, about 3 years ago, I decided to become a “bilateral” breather so I wouldn’t end up working my neck just one way while breathing. That was a challenge as well!

Getting out of our comfort zones is hard, but look at what you can learn to do if you just try something new. Another example is clipping onto my bike pedals. I refused to do it for years for fear of falling over, but now I’ve been clipping for at least 5 years. It’s funny, because this year was the first time I’d ever fallen over and it wasn’t that bad.

So my challenge today is to try something you’re not used to do or that scares you. You might find that you really like it!