What is Steff-stainability?

Living sustainably, my way. It's thinking about what you are putting into your body and how it affects you. But it's also indulging in a brownie cheesecake every now and then. It's making your body look the way you want it to and being proud of it. But it's not spending half of the day working out. It's about making small changes in your life to benefit the great earth on which we live. But it's also running your A/C in the summer and driving your car. It's about setting goals and living up to them. It's trying to make the world a better place. And as I am ever-learning and ever-changing, so is this definition.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Keeping fit on a tropical vacay!

One of the greatest things about being a military spouse is meeting other amazing, strong women in your same position. I was lucky enough to meet an incredible group of these women when we were stationed in Virginia for 6 months for The Basic School (or The Big Suck, The Baby Supplier, or The Bull Shit). We all came together about halfway though the training and by the end we were the best of friends. It was an amazing experience to be in such a big group of women, be able to plan events and all be together without getting catty, cliquey, or rude. But, all things must come to an end, as our time together in Virginia did. Some of us are still there, but others are in Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma... just to name a few. We decided that for one of our friend's 21st birthday, we would all come visit her (and a few other girls) in Florida for a weekend. Unfortunately, due to some factors such as pregnancy, jobs, and money situations, not everyone could make it. But 6 of us were reunited for this short time and it was so refreshing to remember what it was like when we were all together, to have some girl time, and to just forget about how crappy military life can be sometimes. We spent 4 days hanging out on the beach, boozin it up, staying up late and chatting, and we even went parasailing!

While on vacation, Kara suggested to me that I blog about keeping healthy on vacation. What a brilliant idea! So I thought I would gather together a few tips to keep yourself healthy while enjoying yourself. Keep in mind that I never follow ALL of these rules at once while on vacation. It's your vacation, so pick and choose which ones to follow!

My number one rule is the only one I always follow: INDULGE YOURSELF! If you have been sticking to a healthy diet, working out, and taking care of the environment, you deserve it! So go for it! Just don't overdo it.

The first thing Kara and I did when we got through security at the airport at 8 AM was grab an alcoholic beverage with our breakfast. I don't know about you, but drinking is always a big part of my vacations, and it's always an easy way to gain unneeded calories. A way to minimize this is to stick with liquor-based drinks. We all know that beer contains a lot of calories. I can even feel it after I drink one! So try and stick with liquor mixed with juice. Vodka tonics, and gin and tonics, are great low-calorie drinks. If you are making mixed drinks at home, try using fresh ingredients. Strawberry daiquiris are just rum, strawberries, lime juice, sugar, and ice. Pina coladas are just pineapple juice, coconut milk, and ice. Dole makes a really good pina colada juice; you can just add some rum and ice to it for a quick pina colada! To make the drinks more creamy, add a scoop of yogurt! My summer favorite, which has a little more sugar but still keeps your calorie intake low, is what I call a vodka soda. Mix your favorite flavored vodka (I like raspberry or watermelon) with either club soda or mineral water. It's really yummy and fruity, and it cools you down on a hot day! Not that I'm opposed to an ice cold Corona and lime on the beach, which I definitely did on my vacation. And what drink did I get at the airport? Why, a bloody mary of course!

Now, I know if you are vegging on the beach you are going to want to snack. Let's keep it healthy here! If you want something sweet, bring fresh fruit. We brought strawberries to the beach, and they were super yummy. We also brought various sandwiches, including turkey with pepperjack, PB&J, and tuna. If you are craving something salty, my dear friend Kaylie introduced all of us to Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips that come in a fully compostable bag! The bag is really noisy but the chips are great and it's good for the environment! Double whammy. All this food was enough to sustain us at the beach!

It's also easier than you think to exercise on your vacation. I am definitely guilty of slacking on this one, but it can be easily incorporated into your day. You can always go for a jog on the beach; that doesn't even require shoes. Kara even woke up a half hour earlier than the rest of us and went on a run! I was so excited for her. Then, there are the exercises that you can do while vacationing. First, dancing. I know, it's so perfectly obvious, right?! I'm not exactly sure how long we were dancing on our first night out, but we all worked up a sweat and I'm sure we burned off all the calories we consumed in our drinks! It's also a great way to get the toxins out, and with proper hydration, prevent a hangover the next day! The last great exercise is laughter. Laughter burns calories and works out your abs! I'm definitely positive that I got enough exercise from laughter over the weekend.

My last rule is one that I always follow if I can help it. That is, don't eat fast food. Even at the airport, you have the option to grab a sandwich or a fruit plate. Fast food is terrible for you, and it's responsible for the cheap, artificial, mass-produced foods that they now sell at the grocery store. Try and avoid it!

So those are my tips for you. The best thing to do for yourself is have fun and indulge a little bit, but when you get home, get right back into your routine! We gave ourselves one day to recoop, and then this morning we went to the farmers market and to the gym! Don't let yourself slide out of your routine; it will only take longer to get yourself back to where you were.

All in all, I had a great vacation. To our hostesses, thank you SO much for your hospitality. This was the most fun I have had in a while (I know, means a lot coming from the girl who lives in Lawton!) and it will be a weekend that I'll never forget! To all of my Quantico girls, especially those who couldn't come this weekend, I miss you all SO much! You are all truly like my family away from home, and each of you have inspired me in some way to be a better person. I love you all!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Farmers Market Feast: Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa, Tomato and Pepper Salad, and Roasted Red Potatoes

A dear friend of mine, Sonya, just got her wisdom teeth out today! Kara and I took her to the dentist and got her home in one piece, and I told her that I would cook dinner for her husband. Our husbands are super busy this week with some mystery acronym (you get a lot of those in the military) called the JCATS, so I figured that with Sonya all drugged up, poor hubby wouldn't get any dinner that didn't consist of a lot of grease.

I decided to make use of all the good stuff I got at the farmers market this weekend. So I went with Jamaican Jerk Chicken with mango salsa, an old standby that is super easy to cook. For sides, I went with another old standby of mine, roasted red potatoes with a special seasoning, and a new endeavor, Tomato and Green Pepper Salad. I got to use tons of stuff I got at the farmers market, including green onions, shallots, red potatoes, tomatoes, and green peppers. I hope you enjoy!

Note: The recipes are out of order from the order above. I'm listing them in the order I cooked them because it is the most efficient way to prepare this entire meal... aka I'm super lazy and also hungry, so this was the quickest way to get dinner on the table.

First, prepare the potatoes
3-4 red potatoes (bought these from the farmers market, this is enough to feed 3 people)
Olive oil
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Cube the red potatoes. Gold yukon potatoes also work well with this dish. To cube them, I cut them in half lengthwise, and then cut each half lengthwise down the middle. Then cut widthwise in about 3 or 4 cuts to create the cubes.
3. Line a baking sheet or pie tin with aluminum foil. I love lining everything with foil because it minimizes the mess, and you can also recycle the foil. Place the potatoes in the tin and drizzle with olive oil. Spoon the potatoes around so they get completely covered in oil, but be careful not to poke a hole in the foil!
4. Sprinkle the seasonings on top; use lots of chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper, but be careful with the onion and garlic powder. The amount of cayenne pepper is up to how spicy you want it; I sprinkle 2 dashes into my palm and then sprinkle it over the potatoes. Note: This spice mix is also delicious on corn on the cob, just rub some butter on the corn and then sprinkle the spices all around it!
5. Spoon the potatoes around again so all sides are coated with the spices. Cook for 45 minutes.

Second, prepare the chicken while potatoes are roasting
This meal is particularly quick if you create the spice mix in advance. I always have lots leftover so I save it in a spice jar for the next time I need it. You can put it on chicken or fish, or even pork.
Spice mix:
2 TBL coriander
2 TBL ground ginger
2 TBL brown sugar
1 TBL onion powder
1 TBL garlic powder
1 TBL salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
cayenne pepper

Mix these spices together in a bowl. Again, the amount of cayenne pepper depends on how spicy you want it; I usually do about 2 dashes.

Line a baking sheet with foil, and place chicken thighs on top. I usually do 2 chicken thighs per person. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning, making sure it is thoroughly coated. For a stronger flavor, flip the chicken over and coat the bottoms as well. Place in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes.

Note: You may want to prep the spice mix beforehand. I always have some on hand so I don't have to worry about it, but if you put the chicken in too late after the potatoes, you'll end up overcooking the potatoes.

Third, prepare the salad while the potatoes and chicken are cooking.

I got this recipe from Rachael Ray, but I tweaked it a bit for my ingredients on hand. The original recipe asks for an onion, but I used a shallot since they were available at the farmers market, and it also asks for red vinegar, but I used balsamic since I was able to purchase some from a local store in San Luis Obispo. It still turned out great.

2 green peppers, chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 shallot/onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
Lemon juice (fresh if you can, but I always have some in a bottle for a standby)
Balsamic vinegar/red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Ground cumin

1. In a salad bowl, mix together the green peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and parsley.
2. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Drizzle a small amount of vinegar over the top, and then the olive oil. It's always important to do olive oil as the last liquid to anything; otherwise it will prevent all the other liquids from reaching the vegetables.
3. Add the salt, pepper, and cumin.
4. Toss the salad and set aside so the vegetables can marinate.

And last but not least, the mango salsa

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
1/2 red pepper, roughly chopped
A small bunch of green onions, chopped from the white part to halfway up the green part
3/4 of a shallot, roughly chopped
Lime juice (maybe a 2 second squeeze)
Lemon juice (3 second squeeze, you want more lemon than lime)

Add all ingredients to the food processor. Pulse until it is the consistency of your liking.

When the chicken and potatoes are done cooking, place the chicken onto each plate and cover with the mango salsa, and serve the potatoes and salad.
The finished product!

The tastes of all the fresh produce was amazing. There is nothing better than a fresh tomato, especially when it's mixed with fresh green peppers and shallots! We couldn't help ourselves; with all these great flavors and the island livin mon, we had to wash down this tasty dinner with our favorite Jamaican beer, Red Stripe mon!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hey, can you put your sandwich down for a sec so I can punch you?

Ryan, the dogs, and I are back from Dallas (aka civilization) and ready to face Lawton (aka hell) once again. Wicked was AMAZING; I have wanted to see it for so long and finally got the chance to! I wanted to relive it so badly that on the way home today I sang my acapella version of "Defying Gravity" while Ryan was sleeping (so he wouldn't have to hear my mad skillz), after which I realized I should shove a sock in my mouth to refrain myself from butchering such a wonderful song. Next time I want to relive it, I'll just watch the episode of Glee where they sing it. They do it much better justice than I do.

Overall, it was a very pleasant trip and great to spend some quality time alone with my husband, away from all the stress of the military (although his conversations were littered with military terms, no matter how much I BEG him not to. Do I talk like a teacher when I come home from subbing? No. Honey, I know you are reading this and I love you. =). Anyway, despite our fun time, we saw something while we stopped for lunch that REALLY pissed me off, hence the name of this post, and directly relates to this blog.

Disclaimer: I'm about to get really fired up. In advance, pardon my French.

We stopped for lunch in this little town in the middle of nowhere at a Subway. I don't really like Subway, but we were starving and I'm pretty sure there wasn't anything else for an hour in each direction. We crack the windows, pour the dogs some water (it was REALLY hot), and go in. Some douchebag is at the counter taking his sweet time ordering his sandwich. It's like he's never been in a sandwich shop before. Asking all kinds of questions like "What kind of meat do you have?" and "Well the Subway I normally go to has a picture on the menu of the sandwich I always get, so I don't know what it's called or what's in it. Can you make it for me?" 10 minutes and 6 order changes later, he finally pays and sits down to eat.

We order our sandwiches and chips (I got Baked BBQ Lays, by the way, which has TWELVE less grams of fat than the regular BBQ Lays!), pay and go on our merry (and slightly annoyed) way. On our way out I notice that the car parked next to us is empty, but running. It took me a second to realize what was going on, and then it hit me. THIS ASSHOLE LEFT HIS CAR RUNNING BECAUSE HE WANTED TO KEEP HIS A/C ON SO IT WOULD BE COOL WHEN HE GOT BACK IN.

Are. You. FREAKING. Kidding. Me. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Do you realize how much you are wasting right now?!?! This was not my small, gas-efficient Corolla either. It was an EXPLORER. And so he doesn't have to endure one minute of heat, he takes his sweet time ordering his food, is a complete and total jerk to the "sandwich artist", and then SITS DOWN TO EAT IT while his oversized car emits pollution into our air! That is just completely unnecessary and selfish.

I mean, that thought would never cross my mind. "Hey I'm going to keep my car running while I eat my lunch so my car won't be hot when I get in. I'm such a genius!!" That thought never crossed my mind, and I had my dogs sitting in the hot car!! The plan was to get in and get out as fast as we could. This asshole was lucky I didn't realize what was going on until I got in the car or I might have taken his keys as a souvenir.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hungover Trip to the Farmers Market

Let me just start out by saying I'm hungover as hell today! A few friends decided we would celebrate the weekend, and a few margaritas, daiquiris, and vodka sodas later, we decided that we would get up early and go to the farmers market.

I LOVE farmers market. In our college town, San Luis Obispo, the city would shut down the main street downtown every Thursday and have a farmer's market. Half of the street had farmers selling fresh produce, and the rest had BBQ stands, bounce houses, cookie stands, and even political displays. I definitely took it for granted, growing up in California and having all the fresh produce I could ever need, year round. Then we moved to Virginia and I learned what it was like to have produce that was trucked all the way across the country. Everything was more expensive, it spoiled quicker, and it didn't taste as good.

Now, living in Oklahoma, we have a little more choice. Kara found out about the farmer's market a few weeks ago; it only happens in the summer here and they definitely don't shut down the main road to put up a bounce house. But the produce is SO good and the people are friendly. We went last Saturday and Wednesday, and again this morning. It was enough to forget that I was woozy and had sworn off drinking for the rest of my life.

Farmers markets are great for a few reasons. First, you haven't lived until you've bitten into a fresh tomato or zucchini. You can taste the difference from the stuff you buy from the store. I don't know if the all the produce at the farmer's market is organic, but as my friends who graduated with degrees in agriculture will tell you, organic isn't always better. But fresh IS always better. A lot of stuff at the grocery store is trucked from all over the place, but you know exactly where the food at the farmers market comes from. Most of the time, you are giving your money directly to the person who grew it. How cool is that?!

Farmers markets are also great because it's good for the environment. According to cuesa.com, the average meal travels about 1500 miles from farm to plate. To give you a little perspective, that is from the coast of California all the way to Oklahoma City. I've driven that route. It's a LONG way! Imagine how much money is spent on gas, and how much pollution is sent into the air, just to transport our food. I'd be interested to look into which areas "import" (for lack of a better term) the most food, such as big cities. Be on the lookout for that on here. Anyway, when you buy from a farmers market, the food has travelled a significantly smaller distance, having a smaller impact on the environment.

Buying from the farmers market is also CHEAPER! On an average trip to the commissary (grocery store on base), I spend about $115. This past week, I spent $80. On Saturday and Wednesday combined, I spent about $15 on produce, and that was enough produce for the whole week. That's a total of $95 altogether, saving me $20! I bought quite a bit of produce this morning, and I ended up spending $17.25.

Finally, you get to support people in your community. Everyone in politics is always talking about the people on "Main Street"; these are the small, local business owners that have to compete with the big, powerful corporations. So when you go to the farmers market, you are helping enrich your community and support your own local Main Street.

So food from the farmers market is better, cheaper, good for the environment, and good for the community! Why wouldn't you go? I strongly urge each of you to find out if there is a farmers market in your community and go check it out. You may be surprised; I'm pretty sure they even have farmers markets in New York City. It's so fun to go and buy all this yummy food! If you don't have a farmers market near you, you can grow your own food, but that is for another post.

Here is my loot for today!
A dozen eggs, a GIANT zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, 2 green peppers, 2 shallots (which I'll be using in my Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa, look for the recipe!), 2 tomatoes, a pound of peaches, and a bag of fresh basil. I can't wait to eat all this!

And can I just say I have the most amazing husband ever? While I was typing all this, he made me his famous french toast and cleaned the kitchen. What a guy! I won't be around for the rest of the weekend; Ryan, the dogs, and I are going down to Dallas to go see Wicked! I'm so excited! Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The First Attempt at a Total Body Workout

Let me give you a little background on what led to the Total Body Workout. Going to the gym has gotten really boring. I used to spin twice a week, which is my absolute favorite way to work out. I was essentially addicted to it when we lived in Quantico. But the gym on base here in Lawton does not really offer motivating classes. I mean, you can get a good workout from it, but it's really not fun. Especially when it came to the spin classes. Long story short (and I promise I'll tell the long story later, which involves Kara and me setting up computer speakers in the middle of the gym and conducting our own spin class), there are no spin classes I enjoy going to and especially none at a time I desire (6 AM, no thank you, or 3:30 PM after I have been stuffing my face all day).

So recently I've just been running on the treadmill, trying to decrease my run time. My overall goal is to be able to pass a woman's PFT (physical fitness test, for you non-Marine folk), which is 3 miles in less than 30 min, maybe less, I'm not sure, 100 crunches in 2 minutes, and 75 seconds of a flexed arm hang (where you hold yourself at the top of a pull-up position, and time runs until your arms lock). The female run time is a little easy so I'm trying to be able to pass the male run time, which I think is 24 minutes max. Anyway, so I've just been running on the treadmill and lifting weights. I HATE RUNNING. I recently started swimming twice a week, but the monotony of getting on the treadmill and hating every second of it was really getting to me.

Kara and I decided we would try a drill-style cardio workout. After doing a little research, I decided to do 1-minute cardio drills with strength training drills in between. Right now, the cardio drills are designed to be low-impact because Kara has shin splints, but as soon as she gets new shoes, we'll be all over the place! I got most of these drills on about.com and I'll include pictures if I can. The whole workout took about 45 minutes and MAN it was killer! My legs and arms are so sore, but it gets the stamp of approval and we will definitely be doing it twice a week!

Warm-up: 5 minutes of cardio and then stretch. I got on the elliptical and did what my old spin teacher Connie called a "weighted warm-up." You start off light on the resistance and very slow, and increase your pace until you feel your heart pumping. This should take about 1-1.5 minutes. Then, increase the resistance every 20-30 seconds. On the elliptical, I usually go up 2 levels, 4 times. If you are on a treadmill, you can increase the incline or your speed. After you have spent 20-30 second on your last increase, take all of the resistance off so you are back to where you started. You should feel a wash of heat over your body. This is good, it means your blood is flowing and your muscles are loose and ready for stretching. Do another 30 seconds at least in the original resistance level. Now you're ready to stretch! Make sure to do a quad stretch (ankle to butt and hold it there), hamstring stretch (prop your foot up on something, height depends on flexibility and lean over your leg, touching your fingers to your toes) calf stretch (heel on ground and toe in the air, bending your other leg and reach down and touch your toe). Also, shoulder rolls and stretch are good. When I get a chance, I'll post pictures of each stretch so you know what it should look like.

Now you're ready to work out! You will need:
  • two dumbbells that are on the lighter side of your ability. I curl 20 lbs in my normal workout, and I needed 10 lbers to get me through this workout.
  • a step, both for stepping on and for laying on
  • a medicine ball (if you don't have access to one, a dumbbell could probably work)
  • stability ball
  • a clock
Modifications can be made in absence of any of the equipment except the dumbbells

Ball squats: Stand close to but facing away from the wall, with legs shoulder length apart. place the stability ball in between the middle of your back and the wall and the dumbbells between your feet. Squat down and pick up the dumbbells and hold them comfortably at your sides, the ball rolling up and down the wall as you squat. Do 2 sets of 12-20 reps (we did 20). Modification: if you don't have a stability ball, you might be able to try it with a medicine ball. You can also just do normal squats.

Knee lifts with medicine ball: Hold the medicine ball up over your head. Lift up your left knee while bringing the ball down to meet it at your waist. Repeat on the other side. Alternate sides for 1 minute. Be sure to keep the pace up. The faster you do it, the better workout you get.

Lunges with dumbbells: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, plant your right foot in front of you. Bend your knees and lower your body until your left knee is almost touching the ground. Raise yourself back up, and then lower again. Do 12-20 reps on the right, switch to the left and to 12-20 reps, and then repeat so you do each leg twice. IMPORTANT! When bending your front knee, make sure your knee never moves further forward than your toes. You should try to make a 90 degree angle with your calf and thigh.

Front kick with squat: Stand with feet shoulder length apart. Squat, and when you come up bring your right knee up and kick in front of you. When you bring your leg back down, squat again, and then kick with your left. Alternate sides for 1 minute.

Dead lifts: Stand with feet shoulder length apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your back straight, your head forward, and your knees just slightly bent, bend at the waist and lower the weights to the floor. Drive your weight into your heels as you stand up. Do 2 sets of 12-20 reps.

Diagonal Knee Smash: This is a typical kickboxing move. Reach your arms up into the air toward the left side of your body. Upon bringing them back down, pull your knee up so it meets in between your arms. Lower your leg back to the floor and reach your arms back up into the air. Repeat on the right side for 30 seconds, then switch to the left side for 30 seconds.

Squats: Stand with legs shoulder width apart, feet parallel to each other, and dumbbells in your hands on top of your shoulders (see picture below). Bend your knees and push your butt back, as if you are sitting in a chair. Again, be sure that your knees don't bend over your toes. In fact, when you are in the squat position, your weight should be on your heels and you should be able to lift your toes off the ground. Do a set of 12-20 full squats, then a set of 12-20 pulses in the squat position. Repeat.

Side lunge with punch: Step back with your left foot and punch with your left hand. Then switch to the right. If you do this quickly enough, you should be doing it with a slight hop from one side to the other. Do this for 1 minute.

Plie squat: Stand like you would if you were doing a normal squat, dumbbells and all. Now turn your feet out so they are making a 45 degree angle. When you squat, your butt should go straight down, not back. Your knees should bend over your toes, outward, not forward. This will tone those hard to reach inner thighs. Do 12 squats, and 12 pulses. Repeat.

Side knee Lift and Kick: Bring your right knee up so it's next to your hip. Then kick straight to the side. Switch sides. Repeat for 1 minute.

Incline bicep curls and overhead press: This move is KILLER because it not only works your arms but your core as well. Sit on top of your stability ball with a dumbbell in each hand. Walk yourself forward so you are sitting on the side of the ball; your core and thighs should be engaged to keep you in place. Do 12-20 bicep curls. Walk backwards so you are sitting on top of the ball. Do 12-20 overhead presses. Repeat.

Front kick and low lunge: Do a front kick with your right foot. When you bring it down, pull it far behind your left leg so you go into a lunge, placing your fingertips on your right hand on the floor for balance. Stand up straight and do it on the left side. This takes a little coordination, so concentrate! Repeat for 1 minute.

One-armed row: Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left foot on the bench/step and your left hand on your thigh. Let the dumbbell hang down in front of you, and pull your elbow straight back so the dumbbell goes up to your hip. Do 12-20 reps on each side, twice.

Tae-bo kicks: Starting on your right foot, do a front kick. Then do a left front kick, and a right again. On your fourth kick, kick your left foot back for a back kick. When doing this you should turn your hips slightly to the left and look back at your left foot. So it should go, front right, front left, front right, back left. Repeat for 1 minute
(sorry, no picture of this one!)

Chest flies: Lay down on the bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Hold them up in the air directly above your chest with your arms just slightly bent. Then, without bending your elbows, lower the weights to they are even with your body, and then pull them back up. KEEP YOUR ELBOWS LOCKED, DO NOT BEND THEM! Do 2 sets of 12-20 reps. Modification: If you do not have a step, stand up, and let the dumbbells hang at your sides. Then raise the dumbbells so your elbows are in line with your shoulders, and your arms slightly bent.

Tae-bo kicks: Do the same thing as above, but start on your left foot. Front left, front right, front left, back right. Repeat for 1 minute.

Tricep dips: Sit on the ground in front of your step, placing your hands on the step. Lift your butt off the ground. Bend your elbows, lowering your body, but do not touch the ground. Raise and repeat. Do 2 sets of 12-20 reps. Modification: Hold one dumbbell with both hands so the weights are facing the ceiling and the ground. Bend your elbows so the weight goes behind your head, and extend.

Stairsteppers: Step on and off your step with both feet. Do this as fast as you can. Repeat for 1 minute.

Cool-down: Jog around your workout area, and slow to a walk, for about 4 minutes. Repeat stretch routine.

YAY! We made it! This workout is very tiring and it can be easily modified for all different ability levels. If you are more advanced, do the cardio drills for a longer amount of time, and do more reps or use heavier weights. If you are a beginner, take the drills a little slower, and do a small amount of reps. The other thing that can be modified is your recovery time. Use the time between your first and second reps of your strength drills to recover. Don't take too long of a recovery, even as a beginner. Never ever rest longer than 45 seconds, and if you do 45 seconds, spend the last 15 moving. We probably did 10-15 second rests in the beginning, and 20-25 second rests toward the end of the workout.

I hope you enjoy this workout!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Welcome to Steffstainability!

So this is my first post! First posts are always awkward because you never know where to start, and you usually spend at least an hour staring at the computer screen before coming up with some lame "hook" (as we used to call it in the teaching credential program) to get people to care about what you have to say. So I thought I would start by introducing myself, and then talk a little bit about the things I will be writing in here.

My name is Steffani, I'm currently 23 years old, originally from California, and I'm married to the most amazing man on the planet (although, don't we all say that?). My husband Ryan is a Marine and we've spent most of our marriage thus far moving all around the country. Currently, we are stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma at the Ft. Sill Army base for Ryan to train to be an Artillery officer. Ryan and I met in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where we were both acquiring our BA in History. I continued my education and got my teaching credential for middle and high school, but I haven't been able to teach since we have been moving all around. We have two dogs, Toby, a 3-year-old terrier/minpin/maybe dauschund mix, and Jackson, an 8-month-old chocolate lab.
I'm not very witty when it comes to blogging; in fact, I'm very blunt and to the point. I'm very active and many of my interests are physical activities such as snowboarding, dancing, and working out (obviously). I'm also obsessed with Harry Potter but I really don't like Twilight (Edward is a tool and Bella is a whore). I try my very best to stay positive and look at the brighter side of things, but on days when Jackson wakes me up at 6 AM, I can't find what I need at the grocery store because I live in the middle of freaking NOWHERE, my POS dishwasher doesn't clean my dishes, and I don't know why the military paid us X amount of dollars and nobody can tell me, I tend to lose my cool and have a bitch fest. I'm only human, I make mistakes, but I try and learn from them!
Oh, I also have a very foul vocabulary. I'll try to keep it to a minimum on here, but I'm not making any promises!

Now let's get into what I'll be writing about in this blog. For the most part, it will be about these three things: eating healthy, working out, and being environmentally conscious. There might be other random topics in here, but those three mostly cover it.

So where did the idea for this blog come from? Well, first, I am a stay-at-home wife for the time being and much of my day revolves around cooking. Being a military wife, cooking is one of the few things I can take with me everywhere I go. Whether I'm in a single family home in San Diego (SOON!!), or a tiny apartment in the middle of nowhere, I can pour my heart and soul into my dishes. It's also one of the few things in my life I can actually control (the government orders us to do everything else!). A few of my friends who share my love of cooking also blog, and I love sharing recipes. Second, working out is a huge part of my life. Dealing with my frustrations is so much easier in a great spin cycle session or when I'm lifting the same amount of weight as the soldier next to me at the gym. =) Since moving to Lawton, I've lost the advantage of the amazing classes I had at my old gym in Quantico, so I've been forced to take my fitness into my own hands. I thought it would be fun to track my progress and reflect on what worked and what didn't, and share my workouts with you!
The third and probably most important factor in creating this blog was a series of depressing events that are out of my control. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the fact that the politics of our great country are spinning out of control and nothing is getting done, and the horrible things people in this country do to each other just to make a few extra dollars. Ryan and I watched a few documentaries the other weekend: Food, Inc. and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. They both opened my eyes to the many wrongdoings of the people we trust to create our food and control our economy. Food, Inc. was exceptionally disturbing to me because I learned about how impure and unhealthy our food really is, and how the means of food production are negatively effecting our economy, our environment, and our health. Being someone who takes a lot of pride and care into what I eat, I felt like I had to do something. Sure, I can personally buy organic products and local foods, but I'm just one person. I need to get more people on the bandwagon. So my ultimate goal with this blog is to inspire other people to make small changes in their lives to be healthier and more environmentally conscious without, as I said in my tagline, being a total hippie.

Eating Healthy
There are a few aspects of eating healthy I will be blogging about. I will be focusing on foods that include fresh produce that is in season. Foods that are in season are more likely to be organic, fresh, and travelled a short distance to get into your kitchen. Most of these things can be purchased at your local farmer's market. I will also be sharing recipes with modifications for healthy choices. Sometimes I'm feeling indulgent and add a tablespoon of butter to whatever recipe I'm cooking (because butter makes everything taste better), but it's not absolutely necessary for the dish to taste good. I'll be denoting these indulgent but unnecessary steps/ingredients in my recipes by highlighting them in a different color.

My main goal with my cooking is to make foods that taste good and make you feel good. But the "taste good" part is VERY important. Which means to be healthy, you don't need do just eat lettuce, cut carbs out of your diet, or abstain from eating chocolate. But everything needs to be in moderation, and when there's a healthier choice, take it (for the most part)!

Being Fit
Naturally, I'm not a fit person. I've always been petite, but I've also always been a slow runner, had weak arms, and been low on endurance. Having asthma doesn't help much either. But I don't let that stop me from setting goals for myself, trying new ways to be fit, and having fun doing it. Exercise is imperative to our livelihood, and any exercise is good. But some (and lately, too many) people mistake what they call "exercise" for an excuse to indulge. "Oh, I walked my dog today, so I can eat half of this ice cream container." Ok, I'm being hyperbolic, but you get the idea. I'm not educated in kinesiology or nutrition, but I'm fairly gifted at doing research. So my goal for sharing fitness with you is to explore different methods of working out and educate myself and my readers on the most efficient and fun ways to be fit.
IMPORTANT: Losing weight does not equal being fit. I've been trying for 6 months to lose 5 pounds and be the weight I was when I started college, but in vain. BUT I can tell my body is leaner and stronger, my endurance has improved, and I'm in the best shape of my life. Being fit, to me, means setting goals for yourself, reaching them, and then setting more goals. It's a recipe for feeling really good about yourself.

Sustainable Living
This massive category will basically be my attempts to be more environmentally conscious. Just like with eating healthy, it means making smarter choices, but it doesn't mean walking everywhere (especially when you live in the middle of nowhere in 95 degree heat!) and sewing my own hemp clothes. I don't know how to sew.

WOW this was a long first post! Congratulations for making it this far! Tomorrow, my good friend Kara and I will be trying a new high intensity cardio workout, so look out for that soon!