Christmassy Things

Merry Christmas, everyone!

This very joyous day has finally arrived, and I couldn’t be more content just sitting here after all presents have been opened, stockings have been rummaged through and christmas cookings and feastings have been done, doing nothing.

Hudson agrees. Just chillin’ in his hoodie.

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As I get older, the holiday’s commercialization has become more apparent, and therefore so unappealing. All I really seem to care about is being with my family and celebrating what this day is really about, just how it should be. It’s actually pretty funny to look back at the 20-something long Christmas wish lists I used to make when I was younger. How times have changed!

Just my brother, Kyle, and I being goofy mid-present opening.

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Although Wednesday happens to be my scheduled rest day, I thought I would update you on my past few days of workouts, eats, and other little tidbits of my life.

On Saturday, I had a Sprints & Abs day, which consisted of

2 mile sprinting interval treadmill workout:

  • 0.0-.15 mi 9 mph
  • .16-.30 mi 4 mph
  • .31-.45 mi 9 mph
  • .46-.60 mi 4 mph
  • .61-.75 mi 8.5 mph
  • .76-.90 mi 3.5 mph
  • .91-1.05 mi 8.5 mph
  • 1.06-1.15 mi 3.5 mph
  • 1.16-1.30 mi 8 mph
  • 1.31-1.45 mi 3.5 mph
  • 1.46 mi-1.60 mi 8 mph
  • 1.61-1.75 mi 4 mph
  • 1.76-1.90 mi 9 mph
  • 1.91-2.0 mi 3 mph

Ab workout:

  • 4×10 hanging leg raises
  • 4×12 back extensions
  • 3×12 cable crunches
  • 2×10 ab wheels
  • 3×25 Russian twists

Stretching. I always end with lots of stretching. This is so crucial.

Monday was Leg Day (with my mother!),

  • 4×12 squats
  • 3×12 leg extensions
  • 3×12 leg presses
  • 4×10 Romanian dead lifts
  • 3×10 dumbbell step ups (each leg)
  • 3×20 walking lunges (each leg)
  • 2×12 leg curls
  • 3×15 calf raises (foward, in, out)

but it was also the day my boyfriend Ryan came to visit me all the way from Baltimore! It was a fun-filled day of holiday festivities to say the least.

We went walking around the bustling, well decorated Reston Town Center, ice skated (indoors, b/c it’s been too hot out 😦 ), and even went to a huge christmas lights display, Bull Run Festival of Lights, that’s known around the area, clearly…as we waited for about 30 minutes in traffic to actually enter. Fabulous day though!

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Tuesday was Chest & Triceps Day (also with my mom!) and boy were we worn out toward the finish of that workout. I still really need to strengthen my upper body, as I get fatigued super quickly for these workouts, and with such minimal weight.

  • 4×12 dumb bell bench press
  • 3×15 dumb bell incline press
  • 3×10 machine press
  • 3×15 push ups
  • 3×10 assisted dips
  • 3×12 push downs
  • 2×15 cable kickbacks

…which brings us to today, my break from the gym, and Christmas day! After a sleepy head morning in the Howell Household, my Christmas Breakfast looked a little like this. Not too different from my norm, but hey, I like what I like. Mother made her usual Christmas coffee cake for the rest of the fam.

[Steel cut oats topped with chia seeds, flax meal, cinnamon, walnuts, cashews & almond butter]

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My Christmas Lunch consisted of one of my mom’s delicious Spinach Chickpea Burgers pulled apart a top a spinach & tomato salad with my mom’s homemade Italian dressing, Italian seasoning, sunflower seeds, pepper and hummus.

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And now we wait for our Christmas Dinner, which I believe is a Tomato Basil Shrimp Scampi, but which my mom is transforming into a Tomato Basil Chickpea Salad for me! Can’t wait!

Today has been amazingly relaxing, enough so that I almost forgot I start back at work tomorrow. AKA tomorrow begins my 5:45 AM gym time. Yipee. You’ll be hearing lots about that, I’m sure.

See you all soon, and enjoy the rest of this festive day with loved ones. Again, Merry Christmas!

Be excepting our vegan Christmas cookie line up and our Christmas dinner in my next post!

Chow.

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Let My WBWL Begin!

WBWL? What is that?

I decided to abbreviate my “Winter Break of Weight Lifting” challenge to keep it short and sweet. I think it’s a little more catchy that way. Don’t you agree?

As I mentioned in my previous post, yesterday was my first day at the gym back home, and therefore the first day of my WBWL challenge!

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Since I began on Friday and not on Monday as planned in my schedule, I decided I wanted to do an unconventional combination: both legs and back, apparently the two most taxing of all the muscle groups.

I went around noon, which was such a treat, in comparison to when I will be going when I begin my internship again…5:45 AM anyone? Yeah, this is how you stay clear of gym buddies, haha.

Before I began my lifting, I knocked out some sprints, which I plan to do every day prior to hitting the weights. Instead of my long, drawn out, moderate paced cardio, I will be doing high intensity interval cardio. Sprints are a great way to build muscle fast, literally.

This was the workout I completed, prepared by Boyfriend-Trainer Ryan:

Cardio

  • 1 mile of sprints (every other .10 mi, I sprinted at 9 mph for .10 mi)

Legs/Back Workout

  • Squats 4×15
  • Leg press 3×15
  • Leg extensions 3×15
  • Hamstring leg curls 3×12
  • Romanian dead lifts 3×10
  • Upright rows 4×12
  • Lat pull-downs 3×10
  • Dumbbell rows 3×15 (each arm)
  • Lunges 3×20 (each leg)

One of the many things I love about weight lifting is that no matter which muscle group(s) you target, it always seems to be a total body workout. My arms were feeling pretty amped up after that legs/back routine, so I thought I’d snap a pic for my own record and my reader’s entertainment. 😉 And yes, these are plant-based muscles. #PlantPower

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I can’t wait to see all my progress to come!

Now I have factored in the holidays being a minor setback, but I don’t think it should take too much of a toll this year. Considering most vegan treats are not near as sugary/fattening as conventional desserts and such, I think I’m in the clear.

I’m also pretty determined to reach my goals, so I know what needs to be done.

That’s not saying I won’t have my fair share of holiday indulgence. This year, though, with my incredibly rewarding decision to go vegan, I’ve realized that indulgence doesn’t have to be harmful to you or your bod. You can treat your taste buds and nourish your body at the same time, all while benefiting society in more ways than most.

I’m coming up on 6 months, a whole half year, of eating entirely plant-based and I couldn’t be more satisfied. Everything you need you can get from plants, and so much more (amazing benefits). It’s no myth, and I think I’m living proof of that.

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Well I don’t want to veer away from my WBWL challenge topic too much, but hey, the very foods nourishing my body are what allow me to do what I do in the weight room.

I’m about to make some breakfast and then head to the gym again for a high-intensity sprint and ab day! Sounds like a blast, doesn’t it? I’m pretty excited.

Chow ya later!

Banana Walnut [Vegan] Muffins

Happy Friday, and happy first official day of winter break to my Hokies!

I couldn’t be more happy to finally be home and able to relax. Virginia Tech happened to have the latest finals week out of any university I know, so that wasn’t exactly thrilling, but all that is over and done with. Thank goodness. Too-duh-loo to Fall Semester 2013!

I posted a picture of some delicious Banana Walnut [Vegan] Muffins that I made last Sunday morning on Instagram [@Chowido] and said I would be posting the recipe soon, so here you go!

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Inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Banana Nut Muffins for Two.

This recipe only serves 2; per muffin.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used normal whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter, melted (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 small flax egg (1/2 tbsp flaxseed meal + t tbsp water)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp whole walnuts, more for topping if desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, lightly butter (coconut oil) two muffin holders in a muffin pan, and prepare flax egg to set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the banana, leaving some texture.
  3. Add brown sugar, baking soda, salt and whisk for one minute.
  4. Stir in flax egg, vanilla, melted butter (coconut oil) and stir.
  5. Add flour and stir with a spoon or spatula until just combined. Add walnuts after combined.
  6. Divide batter evenly into muffin holders (about 1/2 to 3/4 full) and generously top with walnuts (if desired).
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, remove from pan, and serve warm.

Today, I began my “Winter Break of Weight Lifting” challenge at my local gym. I went right around noon, and happened to be joined by the Fairfax County Fire Department. My lucky day, haha!

Be expecting a post soon about the start of my holiday fitness journey! I’m pretty excited about it. Not going to lie, I feel really intense in the gym now that I have a better idea of what I’m doing and always have a set workout routine to follow. I think I could get used to this. No wandering, clueless girl in the weight room here! 🙂

Enjoy your weekend, all!

Chow.

Boyfriend or Trainer?

Good evening, all!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently gotten more into weight lifting, and have been absolutely LOVING it.

I had heard of how great it was before, but, like most girls, thought that I would turn into a masculine looking body builder woman and that it was really only for the guys. It’s quite the contrare.

I have to give some mad props to my boyfriend Ryan for initially getting me into it. He’s actually been quite the trainer, literally guiding me through everything there is to know about weight lifting with his extensive knowledge about anything and everything with weights, muscle groups and the certain foods one needs to build and retain this muscle. I’m actually pretty lucky to have found a guy that is as into fitness and nutrition as I am, if not more. I’d say it’s a pretty good 2 for 1 deal.

Here he is with his blackberry glazed salmon, sweet potato and asparagus at my all-time favorite Blacksburg restaurant, Gillies! Although he isn’t vegan, he is an extremely health conscious eater. I love it.

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Here we are all spruced up for my sorority’s semi-formal date function!

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I only started weight lifting halfway through the semester, maybe 2-3 times a week, and have already noticed some great results. Yes, cardio is necessary and fabulous for you, great for slimming down and staying in shape, but once you’re there, there’s not much else your body will do once it’s hit that plateau. This is where weight lifting comes in! Everyone wants to be toned, and this is how you get that, I’ve learned! Muscles I haven’t worked in years (back to my cheer days) are being worked again and I’m continuously seeing more definition with every workout. It’s such an electric feeling!

Here’s a progress pic of where I’m at now. Hopefully there will be more to come as the winter break weeks roll by.

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But of course with all these new, intense workouts come new, intense sore muscles. I can easily say I’m sore 3/4 of the week, but I secretly love it. It’s the good kind of pain, the pain that brings so much satisfaction.

I feel even more empowered that I can call myself a “vegan weight lifter,” proving all those weakling vegan stereotypes wrong. Plant-based power is where it’s at. 🙂

Here is my updated Vegan Nutrition Chart, all colored in and laminated, incase you were wondering how I will ever possibly be getting all my “protein” or other nutrients for this weight-lifting thang, or just general nutrition.

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After a fabulous suggestion from my good friend, Kendall, my sorority sister and fellow health nut, and consulting with Ryan, my health & fitness guru of a boyfriend, I’ve decided that I will be doing a “Winter Break of Weight Lifting” challenge.  During the time I’m home for break (roughly 25 days), I will partake in almost strictly weight lifting 4-5 times per week and adjusting my diet accordingly to hopefully achieve all the toning work I’m going for.

Following a scheduled regimen, handcrafted by Ryan, my weeks will look a bit like this:

Pre-New Years (4 days/week)

  • Sunday= Off
  • Monday= Legs
  • Tuesday= Chest/triceps
  • Wednesday= Off
  • Thursday= Back/biceps
  • Friday= Shoulders/traps
  • Saturday= Off

Post-New Years (5 days/week)

  • Sunday= Off
  • Monday= Legs
  • Tuesday= Chest/triceps
  • Wednesday= Off
  • Thursday= Shoulders/traps
  • Friday= Legs
  • Saturday= Back/biceps

I also plan on incorporating Bikram [hot] yoga into my winter break (my fav!). I’m thinking weight-lifting and yoga will be the perfect cross training.

Oh and here is my lovely salad from earlier today from the Owen’s (Virginia Tech dining hall) salad bar post leg day workout, equipped with spinach, carrots, cukes, red onions, broccoli, cauliflower, quinoa tabouleh and whole wheat soba noodles, with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Delish!

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Well, it’s about time for me to get back to my studying. I think I’ve procrastinated enough at this point. Hopefully it paid off though and you all enjoyed reading!

Only 2 more final exams to go and I’ll be on my way back home Thursday morning to relax (when I’m not lifting 😉 ) and enjoy the holiday season with loved ones. The anticipation is killing me.

Until next time chow-i-do-ers! 🙂

My Ode to Beans

In lieu of finals week ahead and all my waking efforts dedicated to my studies, I thought I would share a poem that I wrote for my Spanish literature class. We were instructed to follow a model of one of the many famous hispanic authors covered in class this semester. I decided to follow after Pablo Neruda’s “Oda a la manzana” with my very own ode to a seemingly insignificant object. Now I realize majority of you do not speak Spanish, so interpret it how you please, and feel free to use a translating engine.

I don’t think I could have picked a more appropriate item, pertaining more to my life. Ask my roommates for confirmation. 😉

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Oda a los frijoles fieles 

A ellos, frijoles,

ellos son mi mundo,

quiero los honrar

por todo lo que hacen,

la boca y el estomago,

por todo lo que son,

el pan de cielo,

por todo lo que son a mí,

la comida alegre,

por todo lo que son a veganos,

nutrición.

Grita a Dios: gracias por esta creación.

 

Presente

en todos mis días,

relleno digerir,

rápido cocinar,

inteligente comer,

inexpensivo comprar,

se agradezca

mi salud,

sus nutrientes,

sus esfuerzos,

resolver

mi hambre

pese al tiempo.

Mi corazón y mi cuerpo,

palpitando,

juntos.

Vivo,

contento.

 

Su versatilidad

es increíble,

puedo comer

mil de ellos

sin pistas.

Hay muchas formas,

como un camaleón:

Hamburguesas jugosos,

Helado dulce,

Fajitas crepitantes,

Sopa relajante,

Chili especiado,

Salsa trozas,

Bizcocho de chocolate suculento.

 

Frijoles son la carne

de los veganos,

de los hispánicos,

de todo quienes son inteligentes.

Agradable

sin la grasa,

sin las hormonas,

sin los maltratos de los animales,

sin los emisiones carbones, 

pero

con todo la proteína,

con más fibra,

con la energía duradero,

con la salud para vida.

 

Me los como,

estoy alegre,

se domina mis sentidos,

mi vista,

los cilandros oscuros y pequeños,

mi sabor,

marcado y aburrido,

mi toque por mi lengua,

redondo y liso,

definido.

Mi nariz,

poderoso y amargo

antes el calor.

Yo mastico,

ñam, ñam

yo trago,

mi abdomen rellena a la cofa.

Estoy contenta.

El mundo esta contento.

 

Alright, well that’s all I have. I’m off to go study some more! Just over a week until I’m home for winter break! I think I can, I think I can.

Chow!