Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bodypump and awesome dinner. Good day!

I'm feeling strong today....I went to Bodypump this morning with my friend Steph, and it was pretty awesome. This is my second time to Bodypump, and I enjoyed it a lot more this time - I think I had a better instructor, she was good about explaining the different moves and she had a lot of energy. I have never thought of myself as a person who was able to do a class like Bodypump (which involves doing things like squats, lunges, etc while lifting a barbell) so being able to complete a class, even if I have less weight on my barbell than other people, is really rewarding. I look forward to one day having a gym membership at Goodlife so I can partake in their classes more often, as well as use the exercise equipment. Right now I find taking the bus there and back too much of a hassle to go all the time, but once I own a car, I will be all over it.

After class I had a fantastic lunch at The Scone Witch (unfortunately I didn't have my camera to take pics of lunch!) then came home and started preparing (also fantastic) dinner:

Sorry for the not so great pic, but this salad was too good to not post about. It's always a little unnerving making new recipes...especially so for me when I'm cooking for the BF. You see we normally cook separate meals...our eating habits are just far too different. I'm not worried when I make a tried and true recipe for the two of us, but making something new always has me a little worried...if it doesn't turn out, I don't want to ruin someone else's dinner!

I didn't need to worry this time though. As soon as I started chopping up the fresh dill to add to the chicken marinade, I knew this recipe was going to be good...and oh man, was it ever. This salad was restaurant quality (by which I mean it was as delicious as something you would get at your favourite restaurant, not that it was a restaurant-type salad, which often means iceberg lettuce, a tomato wedge and a slice of cucumber), and two bites in, the BF proclaimed, "I like it." Music to this cook's ears!

Dilled Chicken Salad with Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Canadian Living Magazine

For the chicken:

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 shallot, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

For the salad:

1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
6 radishes, sliced
(This is all that was in my salad because I was keeping it BF friendly, but feel free to add more veggies - shredded carrot and chopped bell peppers would be awesome additions. The original recipe called for mixed greens but I actually really liked this salad made with romaine, it gave it a good crunch).

For the dressing:

1/4 cup plain Balkan-style yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice (squeeze the juice out of the lemon you zested for the marinade and you will have enough!)
2 tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

Combine marinade ingredients in casserole dish (or whatever you will be marinating your chicken in.) Add chicken and coat with marinade. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 4 hours, turning chicken at least once.

Grill the chicken on your bbq or George Foreman grill. While it's cooking, get your salad ingredients ready and make the dressing - just whisk all the ingredients together. Add chopped grilled chicken to the salad and toss with voila! (You may have more dressing than you need for the salad - save the leftovers, this stuff would be yummy on all sorts of salads, or as a veggie dip). Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why I Love 30 Day Shred

The first time I did it I could barely walk up my stairs to take a shower afterwards. It's made me think terrible thoughts about Jillian Michaels and turn redder than most tomatoes. Despite that, I love 30 Day Shred and would encourage anyone looking to get into shape or just looking for a new workout to try it. Here's why:

20 Minutes. I love that even though I feel like I've worked out for an hour after doing Shred, it's really only 20 minutes. Very easy to fit into the day. I usually do it as soon as I get home from work and then I can relax for the rest of the night.

Simple. I was first attracted to this workout because all I needed to do it was a mat, running shoes, and hand weights. Also, the moves are pretty basic fitness moves, and there are modifications for beginners (not that these will completely save you from feeling like you're going to die).

Improved Endurance. 30 Day Shred has 3 levels of increasing difficulty. The idea is to do Level 1 for 10 days, then Level 2, etc (although I've only attempted to do a full 30 days in a row once). When I first started doing Shred I had to stop and rest so many times during Level 1 that it was embarrassing. Now I do Level 2 and usually only have to stop once for a few seconds.

Variety. The workout combines strength training, cardio, and abs exercises, so even if I only do Shred 3 times a week, I feel like I've covered all the workout bases. I find the fast pace, variety of moves, and the ability to switch between levels helps to keep me from getting bored.

RESULTS. This is what you really want to know right? "Does Shred work, or will I just be killing myself for nothing?" Well don't worry - it works. I can't say anything about the "Lose up to 20 pounds" claim - I have lost some weight since starting Shred but I've also been watching what I eat and doing other workouts. I have definitely noticed changes in my body from Shred though. To my surprise, I've noticed the biggest difference in my abs. Jeans that have always made me muffin-top, even at the same weight, now fit perfectly! Pilates may have helped with this as well, but I really think doing Shred is a big part of it, especially Level 2 with all its plank moves. Speaking of Pilates, I've noticed that the more I do Shred, the more my flexibility is improving - another important result to me. On top of that, my legs feel stronger, I look more toned overall, and I have more energy!

I'm currently trying to do Shred 3-4 times a week. I'm hoping to move up to bigger weights soon - I currently use 2 pound weights, I think 5 pound ones are actually recommended for Shred, but I'm weak! But heavier weights will equal stronger Laura, and someday I'd like to be able to do a pushup without falling on my face.

Have you ever tried 30 day Shred? What did you think of it? What about any other of Jillian Michaels workout videos?