Don’t Talk to Strangers at the Gym

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In the spirit of Don’t Fart in Spin Class, this post is brought to you by an irritating personal experience at the gym this morning and regards gym etiquette. Let me set this up for you: I have a membership to the very nice, newly renovated fitness center on campus. I arrive the moment the doors open at 6:30 am so I can get my workout in before I start my day (also because I have to compete with the frat bros for my favorite squat rack, so there’s that too). This morning I was doing a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sequence to work on speed, power and agility. I was doing the second half of my workout, currently in the third and final round of:  Continue reading

Little Miss Booyah Goes to Fat Camp

When I was in the midst of half-marathon training, push-up crushing and generally owning life, I donated all my fat pants. You know, those pants you wear when your muffin top is busting out of your normal clothes, after holidays and vacations or extended breaks from the gym. I was so deep in Booyah that I was totally in denial of thinking I would ever need those pants again. Why would I ever stop working out consistently? It made me feeling amazing, strong, empowered – I slept like a champ, I could fit into all of my clothes with room to spare. No need for those pants now that I was firmly planted in Booyahville.

Wrong, oh so wrong. When do you need your fat pants? Maybe when you stop working out because you’re in grad school and have no time or mental energy to devote to staying fit. Or maybe when you stop eating fruit/vegetables at every meal and replace your meals with Earth Balance Mac N’Cheeze and waffle fries because you just don’t have it in you to cook up something healthy that actually takes time, planning and thought. Basically, when you give up just so you can make it through your semester in one piece. Yeah. I’m there!

I did in fact make it, and crush my first semester (with only one A- ruining my perfect 4.0, 3.95 isn’t too shabby, though). And I’ve made it to summer, where my only focus is on my thesis project and doing research during normal work day hours, and my free time comes back to me in spades. Since I had only really been wearing Lulu pants, it didn’t dawn on me that I gained weight until I tried to button my favorite skinnies and it wasn’t going to happen. Well, sh*t. I made some half hearted attempts during the past two weeks to getting back on track, but this is it: I’m not going to magically recover my upper body strength or running stamina by giving it 50%. Oh no sir – we are going for it, Booyah-style.

The confounding factor here is that my asthma and allergies are at an all-time high: I get winded quickly, and now that I live in the woods the pollen is about 153198% worse than it was in Boston, so this will be an uphill battle. But I’m stubborn AF and this is happening, dammit.

With no big races on the docket, the only thing I’m training and eating for is a better and healthier ME. One that can run a 5K on a dime, do manual labor without being sore to the touch the next day and feel glow-y inside and out. So here we go, Booyahs. Get pumped. I will be tracking my meals and workouts, and focusing on being active every single day in some way, and planning my meals in advance. Back to Booyahville we go. Buckle up!

With warmth,

L

Simple

It’s past 11 pm. According to my calculations, I should be deep into REM sleep by now. All of my things are ready: my gym bag is packed, my breakfast and lunch are sitting side by side in the humming darkness of my refrigerator. My teeth are brushed. But here I am. Wide awake.

Sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to. I could fill this white page with the clichés: you make plans and the universe laughs at them. Or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt a true aching need to tap tap tap on my keyboard, illuminated by the glare of my computer screen in my dark bedroom and let the words flow out of my fingertips. A loooong time. I’ll tell you something: I used to write a lot. When I couldn’t sleep, I would sit propped up in bed, a spiral notebook and a ballpoint pen, writing until I finally fell asleep, hoping that I didn’t wake up with ink stains on my bed sheets. When the words built up behind my tongue and buzzed up and down my nerves trying to tumble out, I would commit them to paper. When it seemed nothing made sense, or my mind wouldn’t quiet itself, with unspoken phrases pressing on my temples, I had to liberate my thoughts and manifest them somewhere physical. Spew them out. So let’s do this.

While I was walking to retrieve my laptop out of my impeccably packed work bag, I was thinking of what to write to all of you. Part of me wanted to apologize for not creating new recipes frequently enough. Or providing my detailed workouts on a weekly basis to inspire your own workout/activity. Instead I want to climb right outside of the box and share a (non-vegan, non-active) slice of my real life: change.

Let’s recap. At the end of 2015, I quit my job, left my life behind in Boston, moved to a new state and started graduate school. The first and most immediate adjustment was not being in a real job anymore. No one here cares if you wear a t-shirt that last came out of your dresser in 2006, or roll into class without showering after taking an 8 am spin class. It is so unnatural to not be Ms. Bostonian Senior Scientist anymore – my hands were constantly fiddling, looking for some work to do. The first few days I was here I felt like I was playing hooky from work and would eventually get caught, my manager calling me into his office. Just typing it out – that I’m a student – continues to be so weird and so foreign to me. I still consider myself a working professional, and have to fight the ingrained need to dress in business casual in order to attend Dairy Foods Processing Lab just to learn how to make yogurt. The second, and much deeper adjustment was the quiet. No, I’m not just talking about the fact that I packed up all my sh*t and moved to the woods (I did, in fact). I’m talking about the time available to reflect. My days were always full in Boston, a constant, reassuring cycle – I had my friends, my job, my home – that I took great pleasure in. Leaving all of that was a jolt, a break in a comfortable routine, making room for something new to arise in its place. Here there is time, quiet, and space to reflect on where I am heading and the present that I am creating for myself. My main man Alan Watts really says it best. It has been ages since I’ve read any of his work, until I came across this quote:

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everyone rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. 

Raises hand* Guilty as charged. For the past two and a half months, I was running around in a panic feeling the need to do, I forgot to just let go and immerse myself in the change. Sometimes we forget that. All of the things swirling around us – over analyzing, over thinking each and every one of them – cloud what is really in front of us (it’s simply us). We are only a tiny speck in the universe. We forget to embrace it, to go out and simply enjoy this beautiful experience.

Life is not so serious. If there is any way to do it right, it is simply to live life joyfully, and not worry so much about the other stuff. Create a present that you love.

 

With booyah zen warmth,

L

In it to win it.

I had a very inspiring conversation with my trainer/bff/soul sister Sarah about moving far from Boston, aka my home for the last 6.5 years, and starting up my workout/athletic creative outlet/training in a whole new place. If you didn’t catch my previous post Well, hello there then you should check it out – I open up a big Can of Feels and tell you all about how I was feeling uninspired, frustrated and bummed out about starting a whole new workout routine after having such an amazing, supportive, kick ass group of women (and a few men) to get my Booyah on with. Sarah drew attention to the fact that I was lacking a few key components of a successful workout routine:

  1. Now that I had moved, I was on my own! I have spent the past few years in Boston doing small group training, participating in 5 am workout classes, and coming up with my own workouts with the same solid, core group of women. We inspired and encouraged each other through tough days/moments (whether real life or physical challenges). We were approximately at the same fitness level, were familiar with each other’s limits and could push each other within a comfortable and known range. All of a sudden, my support network was only via group text (super funny group texts, but group texts just the same). I must say that is it so understated how important it is to have a supportive network around to keep you motivated and encourage you through tough times – it is indispensable. Luckily for me, there are other graduate students who share the common interest to be active and fit, as well as running groups in the area, so I am able to take some time to find my tribe of fitness freaks.
  2. My routine was disrupted. It’s hard to get your gears moving when they have ground to a halt. When I finally got back to the gym, I felt there was no balance: I either pushed myself so hard that I walked like an arthritic robot the next day, or I left the gym barely sweating. I couldn’t edit my workouts and put them together in a way that had flow and made sense. I needed some organization in my life. Cue Sarah’s tip: “You already know what to do.” She was right: the fitness library contained in my brain is immense, I have a huge pool of things to choose from. She suggested to check out the Spartan WOD for some inspiration. They have a ton of workouts to chose from, some are super intense and beyond my capabilities, but just reading through them gives you some ideas of how to put a workout together. You’re able to edit and adapt their plans for your fitness level. Cha-ching.
  3. I needed some motivation. Filling in a box in my training journal only motivates me so much; I needed to tap back into the why behind my workouts. It took me some time and energy to push through a few blah workouts to get that reward center in my brain to light up again and remember that, hey…these workouts are really fulfilling! A good run or a solid workout makes me sparkle from the inside out (da daaaa!). It makes me remember why I like feeling strong, capable and empowered – the whole world domination/I’m the queen of the universe feeling that comes after accomplishing something that seems impossible (lifting heavy things, running really far, doing that one last burpee). Once you’re in a routine, working out regularly is a piece of cake – it’s pushing past the mental hurdle it takes to jump from zero activity to regular routine that is the real challenge in staying active. It takes an immense amount of mental toughness and grit to force yourself to throw off the duvet at 5 am and put on your sneakers to workout, before 99% of the people you know are awake. You’ve really gotta dig deep and tap into that why. And you really have to believe it, or it just won’t stick.

As much as it would be great for everything to automatically fall into place when you pick up and move your life a thousand(s) miles from where you were before, it’s just not realistic. The key to successful change and adapting to a new place is knowing that you will find your place. It’s easy to place a lot of pressure on yourself and tell yourself you will have everything figured out immediately (guilty as charged), but it’s okay to take your time to get your jazz together.

So take my dad’s advice: be your own best friend. Take some time to get used to your new surroundings, and if you keep chipping away at it, it will eventually fall into place.

With warmth,

L

Well, hello there.

I am still alive.

In the past month, I’ve quit my job, moved out of Boston, moved to a new state and started graduate school at a top school to get my Masters in Food Science (we are getting serious up in here about food chemistry, people). It has been a huge change to say the least, and it’s taken me some time to get settled, find my sneakers (and pots and pans) and get back into it. Here are some changes you will be seeing around here:

  1. No more fancy gym. I will be working out with the 19 year old undergrads at my campus’s very impressive and million (billion?) dollar gym, and I will be coming up with all of my workouts by myself. So far, this has ended up with mixed results: from feeling like I barely worked out when I left the gym, to pushing myself so hard that I can’t lift my arms above my head to wash my hair the next day. Hopefully my workouts will get more consistent as time goes on, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. Also, all of you guys will be my new gym buddies since my gym group of Booyah Babes remain in Boston. 😦
  2. Sunday Training Log Update. My parents got me an awesome training journal, as I am taking on the hardest race ever coming up in May. It’s a trail half marathon that climbs straight up a mountain for 8 miles and then goes back down. (Side note: Holy hell, what have I done?) Regardless, I’ve been logging my workouts in this sweet training journal and I will share them with you here at the end of the week.
  3. I am cooking on a budget! I am pretty much living on a graduate student stipend, which is like someone taking your paycheck and taking a zero off the end of it. So, I will be saving saffron and cardamom for special occasions. Every time I see my bank account I just remind myself it’s for the greater good, and I will be able to purchase new Lulu again someday. *sigh*

Okay, now that we got through the semi-painful aspects of becoming a graduate student, here are the exciting ones:

  1. I’m studying wine! Yup, I’m stoked.
  2. Since I’m in the food science department, everyone is pretty much firmly divided into two groups: the people who could care less about food, and the people who are literally obsessed with food and all they want to do is make delicious things and do experiments in their kitchen. Guess which group I’m in? 😉 This will make for some exciting inspiration!
  3. I now live in the woods! Hello, trail runs, hikes and all of the outdoor things. (Side note: it’s very quiet and very dark here. Still getting used to it.) ❤
  4. Learning about food chemistry is probably the most interesting shiz ever, and hopefully I can share some of what I learn and tell you guys some seriously cool stuff about food. Booyah.

So, there’s all of that. We’ve gone over why I don’t do resolutions before, and I’m still in that boat (summary: you don’t need a special day to start taking good care of yourself, just do it now). But with all of these changes happening, I am focusing on living less out of habit and more out of intent. We are fueling happiness in 2016, folks. Buckle up!

With warmth (and a whoooole lot of food chemistry),

L

 

 

Practicing Self-Compassion

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One very important aspect of training and moving towards a goal, whether personal, work-related or athletic, is self-compassion. Instead of beating yourself up over mistakes, set backs or bad days, cheering yourself on is a key feature of achieving your goals. My dad once told me, “Be your own best friend.” This tidbit of fatherly advice has stuck with me over the years and helped me pull myself out of a whirlpool of self-doubt on my darkest days. Responding to your inner critic as you would speak to a best friend is a great way of defeating the downward spiral. Being able to forgive yourself for mistakes and cheering yourself on as you work toward your goals is so important in all aspects of life.

This morning, on my normal hump day run, it seemed as if nothing was going right. My GPS watch couldn’t find the satellites, I misjudged the temperature and wore the wrong running apparel, and my legs were absolutely done-zo from box-jumping two days in a row. My mood on the run was flirting with miserable. I had to stop and walk, something I rarely do, and even repeat my mantras out loud (also something I rarely do, as I’d like to be seen as mostly sane when I’m out in public) to get through the miles. I finished, with my slowest pace on record and a frustrated pit in my stomach. Instead of feeling exuberant and refreshed from my run, I felt exhausted and beat down. When I went to make a post-run smoothie, a “treat” and departure from my usual overnight oats for breakfast, my NutriBullet jammed and I had to exert all the leftover strength in my muscles to pull apart the mixing cup from the motor. I was about ready to lose my sh*t as I sat on the kitchen floor covered in Purple Power Smoothie.

I took a deep breath and I focused on the fact that I finished. I didn’t give up and walk home halfway through my run, I finished the five mile loop that I normally do. It was slow, and it was hard, but I did it. I didn’t quit.

I feel when things don’t go necessarily how you want them to, it’s easy to get on the Debbie Downer train and beat yourself up. But the fact of the matter is, each step you take – regardless of the perceived “good” or “bad” outcome, is a step toward your goal. Each attempt is a learning experience. Today was a good practice on not jumping on the self-bashing train and throwing the baby out with the  bathwater. Hey – even if they weren’t perfect, I still propelled my legs forward for five miles – and that is still an accomplishment.

So in the spirit of self-compassion, be nice to yourself today. You’re the only you that you’ve got. And hey, I’m human. I may not be jumping for joy after that less than great run, but at least I can willingly employ self compassion to mentally steer myself away from being a total Negative Nancy today, based solely on my running performance.

Happy Hump Day! Spread some peace, love and booyah.

With warmth,

L

Bubbles and Booyah Turns 1!

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Hooray! My baby has turned one year old! I can’t believe time has flown by so fast. Wow! Just over a year ago on October 5, I created this fun space in order to share my veg recipes, half marathon training highs and lows, and active lifestyle with the world. And here we are! With over 1,000 followers and over 30,000 views later, I count B & B a success. It brings me joy to hear when friends, family and my readers tell me that they tried a recipe/workout/tip that I’ve shared – that is why I am here! It is your comments and feedback that make this whole thing fun and inspiring: you, my dear readers, are my inspiration when I put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard). Just like you, my life is busy – I have a job that clocks in over 40 hours a week most of the time, plus an hour of training almost every day, so I wanted to share and create recipes that are easy, flavorful, filling, nutritious and a piece of cake to pull off after a 10 hour day. I also wanted to share my own personal experiences as I strive to maintain an active lifestyle and train for upcoming races, to show that you that you can be healthy without being monomaniacal, and incorporate nourishing plant-based food, fitness, mindfulness, laughter, joy and a little bit of bubbly into your daily routine without feeling like a workout and calorie counting obsessed robot. Because life is about having fun, yes?

Over the past year I’ve learned a lot. The feeling of trying to maintain a balance is not going to go away. Some days, you will wake up and feel perfectly at peace and like life is peaches; other days you will wake up in a mental rain cloud struggling to get your shiz together. That is what life is: ups and downs, highs and lows, PRs and struggle buses. And while it may be difficult sometimes to keep that balance in check, it is reassuring to know that we are all striving to find our balance, and if we keep it up together, support and encourage one another, we will get through the hardest of hard times together, and hopefully laugh about it along the way.

So, I would like to thank you, dear readers, for sticking it out with me. Your comments and encouragement when I’m in the middle of training, pre/post race and when I’m having a rough day mean the world to me. I highly value your feedback on the recipes, fitness routines and “Dear Diary” entries I post. You make me laugh, smile and sometimes secretly get a little misty-eyed and touched (but don’t tell anyone – that will ruin my image). Basically, I love you guys! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ Here’s to many, many more years of deliciousness/ridiculousness/fun coming your way.
With so much warmth,

L

PS: To celebrate my one year birthday, last night I made the first recipe I ever posted on B&B: Stuffed Carnival Squash Stuffed with Maple Dijon Quinoa. DAMN, that shiz is still flippin’ delicious. I substituted green onions for leeks, and added 1/2 cup of dried sprouted lentils to the stuffing mixture. If you want to celebrate my blog-o-versary with me, you should make this recipe too because it’s really got-DANG delicious. 😛

Top view of stuffed squash