New Headphones! Yurbuds Inspire for Women

I finally got new headphones!

Last week I was mid-run when suddenly… my headphones completely died out. Talk about terrible timing. I am one of those people that HAS to have music when I workout, or else I will be utterly miserable and lose motivation. The only exception is when I am working out with someone.

I had been using Skull Candy headphones for a while and at some point last week, one of the ear buds started fading in and out.  I dealt with it because hey, I could still hear the music in one ear and half the time I am removing one bud to talk to all the Chatty Cathys that frequent my gym. This lasted for a few days, until the funky one stopped working completely and the good one started being choppy. Then on Thursday, mid-workout of course, they completely died. I didn’t have them for too long either.

Two of my siblings had the same issues with this brand of headphone so I would advise against purchasing them!

I did a workout and a half with no music and that was enough for me to go crazy! SO, Saturday afternoon (after a kickass 6AM hike – productive!), I set off to Best Buy to buy some new gear. After much deliberation, I walked out with the beauties below:

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I got Yurbuds Inspire for Women earphones. I have only used them once and already love them!

One issue that I seem to find myself having with earphones (including Skull Candy and the ones that come with iPods) are that they are too big and fall out of my ears – particularly when I am running. The Yurbuds that I purchased are designed specifically for use during exercise AND for women with this exact problem! They are smaller, and they “click” into your ears by rotating them in. First workout – no problems! They sound excellent too.

Now, it’s possible that I was just excited about a new product and may run into problems down the road, so if that is the case I will say so! But for now based off of my first impression, I would definitely suggest getting a pair!

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I lifted how much?!

CHALLENGE NUMERO UNO:

Squats: 155lbs (3 reps); Deadlifts: 135lbs (4 reps)

Last Thursday I gave the squat challenge a try! Somehow it turned into a squat AND deadlift challenge. It was painful and awesome.

A trainer at my gym asked me if I would be interested in completing a fitness test to see what my 1 rep squat max is. This was to be found by squatting the barbell, and gradually adding weight while doing fewer reps, until we reached my 1 rep max.

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Because this was the preliminary test, we spent a lot of time focusing on my form. He made me do a TON of squats with no weight on my shoulders while watching myself in the mirror from the side. I have a bit of a bad hip so getting the form just right was a little hard for me, but the practice definitely helped. I need to focus on keeping my heels flat on the ground and leaning my hips further backward. I did so many free squats that my thighs and butt were burning before I even started lifting.

We started with just the barbell so he could check out my form, then added weight with each set. I noticed that he was increasing the weight in larger increments than I do on my own. While I usually add an extra 5lbs to each side of the barbell with each set, he was increasing by 10-15lbs! With each set, I did 1-2 fewer repetitions. The more weight added, the longer the rest in between.

Again, because form was the primary concern the first time around, we only made it as far as my 3-rep max squat weight. This ended up being 155lbs (two 45lb plates and two 10lb plates)! Prior to that I had only squatted 135lbs. The trainer is certain that I can do about 175lbs. We’ll see about that.

During my workout, I had about 5 different guys that I don’t know stop and watch us work. I don’t think they are used to females in the weight room. Between my sets – I think I was at 135lbs – one came over and said “how embarrassing, I can’t even squat the 45lb bar and here you are doing 3 times that. Impressive!” Obviously this excited me.

After squatting, I thought I was off the hook. But no, the fitness instructor got me again! He asked me what I had next on my agenda and I told him I was going to do chest presses and bicep curls – my normal Thursday routine. “WRONG!” he said. Instead, we set off to see what my max deadlift weight is.

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What I used to use.

When I deadlift, I usually use weights similar to the one on the right. The most I had ever lifted was 60lbs at 10-12 reps per set. For the challenge, we “warmed-up” with the 50lb one, before he said that I had graduated from that style and was moving on up in the world to the barbell that you manually add weight to. The barbell is MUCH longer than the one I am used to, making balance difficult. Scary!

Set one, like the squats, was just with the barbell to check on my form. The three sets after that were with 10lb increases. By the time I hit 105lbs (three 10lb plates on either side) at 4 reps I was BEAT. I was kneeling on the ground after I completed the set and was sure that I COULD not and WOULD not do any more.

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Then I saw him make a Dr. Evil face while removing the 10lb plates and replacing them with a 45lb plate on each side. I’m sure you can imagine how much my eyes bugged out of my head, but if you can’t, this baby’s face is pretty on point. I asked if he was out of his mind. 135lbs?? Are you joking? I know that deadlifts are performed with your legs, but I was exhausted and it isn’t the same as carrying the weight on your shoulders! Gripping that much in your hands is hard!

I ended up deadlifting the 135lbs four times. This is WAY more than I had ever thought I would be able to do. It was more than twice the amount of weight that I have ever done!

I completed the workout with a 10 minute jog on the treadmill. Killer!

Healthy Quinoa & Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

I have been thinking about making stuffed peppers for weeks now, and I FINALLY did it tonight. Best decision ever. This was one of the yummiest meals I have ever made.

I perused a whole lot of recipes online and finally came up with a combination of many that seemed satisfying to me. The end result was to die for. I am already daydreaming about the leftovers I packed for lunch tomorrow.

Oftentimes people make stuffed peppers with beef. I substituted ground turkey. I also substituted regular rice with a quinoa and brown rice combination. This makes for a healthier meal.

Ingredients: Bell Peppers, Ground Turkey, Quinoa (with Brown Rice, optional), Chopped Onion, Garlic, Canned Diced Tomato, Tomato Paste, Worcestershire Sauce, Olive Oil, Cheese (optional), Salt & Pepper.

First and foremost, preheat your oven to 350-375 degrees. I often forget to do this and kick myself when I am halfway through food-prep and realize that I am going to have to wait while my oven heats.

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Heat your quinoa in a sauce pan. I used a quinoa and brown rice combination. Many recipes call for oil or chicken stock, but I just used water. Quinoa is a seed (rather than a whole-grain) and is a great substitute for rice, with a higher amount of protein and fiber.

In the meantime, cut the tops of your bell peppers off and remove any additional seeds. Place each hollowed-out pepper into a dish… I would suggest spraying the bottom of your dish with a cooking spray. Be sure not to toss the tops of the peppers, because what’s left can be used for the meat mixture, depending on your taste. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and sauté your garlic. While your quinoa is heating and your garlic browning, chop up your remaining pepper tops and onion. I chopped mine up pretty small so that I wouldn’t find any huge chunks in my mixture. Add your pepper and onion combo to the garlic and let sit for about 3 minutes, stirring every so often.

20130501-214631.jpgNow you are going to want to add the ground turkey, the worcestershire sauce (at your discretion), salt and pepper to your garlic, pepper and onion mixture. Many of the recipes that I came across required 1/4-1/2 cup of the sauce, but I would adjust that depending on your taste. I ended up using a little less than 1/4 cup and used a sauce that was low in sodium.

Once your meat has browned, add your tomatoes and tomato paste. I used Hunt’s Tomato Paste and Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies for a little bit of a kick. If you don’t like spicy, I would advise against this. If you do, Rotel is the best!

Once all of the liquid from the meat and the tomatoes is absorbed, add the quinoa (and brown rice if you so choose) to the mixture. Make sure to stir it thoroughly so all of the tomato paste is evenly distributed. 20130501-214420.jpg

When all of the above is complete, fill your hollowed-out peppers with spoonfuls of your mixture.

I cooked my peppers for about 20 minutes before switching it over to convection bake for 5 minutes. I then added the shredded cheese to the top of each pepper (I was careful to be light on some, regular on others) before heating the dish for another 5-10 minutes. Cheese is optional for this recipe. Because it is relatively healthy as a whole, I figured… why not?? I used a 6-cheese Italian Combination that included Parm and Asiago. The total cook time is about 30-35 minutes, depending on how brown and crisp you like it.

The final product was AMAZING and filling! I was sure that I was going to have to eat more after I finished my first pepper but almost didn’t make it through one! This is such a yummy meal and I am definitely going to have to save it for future reference. Let me know if you try it!!

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Squat Challenge – Accepted!

20130501-144200.jpgAfter a grueling leg workout yesterday, one of the fitness coaches at my gym asked me if I would be willing to give his squat challenge a try. I was surprised and excited to hear that he thought I was one of the only females at our facility that was physically capable of handling a decent amount of weight if I put my mind to it. Now, there aren’t exactly many females at my gym that lift weights at all, but I am still going to take it as a compliment and let it boost my ego a bit anyways.

As soon as I heard “challenge,” my ears perked up. Maybe I should have waited for him to explain what the challenge was before I enthusiastically agreed. But hey, it’s only going to help me!

He wants to do a pyramid workout, where the end result is to see what my one-repetition maximum squat weight is. If I understood correctly, we would start with a small amount of weight – maybe just the barbell, or the barbell plus 20lbs (10 on both sides) – and do my regular amount of reps (about 12). Every time we add weight, he would have me do one less rep, thus ending at 1 rep with my max weight. Based on what I have been doing, he believes that my minimum weight is probably 145lbs, which is already 20lbs more than what I have done so far.

Yesterday I squatted 6 sets of 12, beginning with 15lbs on both ends of the barbell and ending with 40lbs, making my highest weight 125lbs. I probably could have done more if my legs were not already exhausted from my single leg presses. He advised me to begin my workouts with the squats so that I can give it my all, so I will have to try that next time. The rest of my workout consisted of weighted step-ups with two 15lb dumbbells, and a quick 10 minute run on the treadmill.

The great thing about this challenge is that it will give me an idea of just how much I can lift, so that I am not taking a wild guess and starting with less weight than I could be. I am looking forward to it and nervous just the same! He tells me that he has been wanting to work with a dedicated woman to see just how far they can be pushed, but that most people that he has approached are afraid of extreme muscle gain. They don’t trust that the female body simply can’t gain the muscle mass that men do. So, here’s to hoping that the end result is a nice bikini-ready bottom!