Simplified Kale In The Kitchen

Back in the day, I had gazillion minutes on my hands. I had plenty of time to drive to Vineland, NJ, where a plethora of farms were located and I picked fresh kale, cabbage, and collard greens.  Local farmers welcomed pickers with open arms.

I took pride in the fact that my veggies were locally grown and that I picked them. How cool was that?  It was fun soaking and washing the crusty dirt from each leaf.  Then rolling the leaves pridefully, cutting them into tiny pieces only to build a mountain inside an oversized pot that cooked down to half the size.  Hehe! Oh boy!!  Those were the days.

Today my relationship with my veggies tell a different story. While my lifestyle today is healthier than before, and I continue to eat fresh (sometimes locally grown), the truth is:

Even if I had the time to pick fresh kale, collards, cabbage, or other produce from a farm, those beautiful leaves would sit in my fridge and slowly wilt and rot.  

Rather than make myself crazy with the process, my kale and collards enter my shopping cart looking like this.

kaleThe greens are already cut, tho not as small as I like but size doesn’t affect the flavor, so it’s really not that serious.  I buy these 16 oz. bags fom BJ’s and it works for me.  The greens are clean, but I soak and wash them again anyway.

One day when it’s just hubby and I, I can do the garden thing, but I know my current imitations.

label

Kale Nutritional Label

I typically cook two pounds at a time.  To ensure they are thoroughly seasoned, I cook them in a large pot and carefully season each layer. Sometimes I combine one bag of kale and one bag of collard greens.

Kale_in_pot

1. Add two handfuls of greens.
2. Chop and add half of a sweet onion.
3. Add spices: granulated garlic powder, black pepper,  crushed red peppers, and Lawry’s Season Salt (Only if you must have salt, I prefer without)
4. Olive oil.
5. Repeat until all of the greens are in the pot.
6.  Depending on the size, I use two-three onions.

Sorry, I don’t know how much; I measure by sight. I thoroughly cover with seasoning. Too much garlic or pepper can never be a bad thing–right?  Lol!

Stir them well and cook them slowly.  I like my greens with a light crunch to them, so I cook them until they are bright in color.  As soon as the greens are cooked to my liking, I remove them from the heat and transfer them to a pan to cook.  Don’t cover until them until they have completely cooled off.

If you do food prep like I do, this is an easy way to get your greens in for the week.

greens in pan

To add variety to my food prep for the week, I also cooked two pounds of brussels sprouts.

Soak the brussels, cut the ends off, slice in half. Toss them in a baking pan. Add olive oil, the same seasoning used for the kale and add about a half cup of water. Cover with foil. Bake in the oven at 350 Degrees for about 40 minutes (depending on how firm you like them). When the brussels are cooked and you remove them from the oven, don’t forget to keep remove the foil or they will continue to cook.

Neither the kale or the brussels are freshly gardened picked, but as I already said, no longer do I make myself crazy trying to incorporate a task that is unrealistic and will put me into a frenzy.

With so much going on in my life, simplicity is the goal.

I know it’s been some time since I’ve written regular posts, but I am back!!!  🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

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Weekend Wisdom

Training for a fitness competition is no joke!

At 4:14 a.m. yesterday, I woke up feeling like this! 



Lazily I walked downstairs to get my much needed caffeine fix and to start my day. Friday was a long day.  With all the ordinary engagements, the day came and went. 

This morning, without even a glimpse of the sun, I was out of the bed at 5 a.m.  

Fourty-five minutes later, my eyes were stinking from the sweat dripping in my eyes.  





Saturday, March 21st, is showtime!

I already know that the upcoming and final week will be filled with nothing but tests.

A test of my self discipline.

A test of my heart.

A test of my fortitude.

A test of my confidence.

And more!   

But I will not Waiver.  How do I stay committed?   

I keep my eyes focused on the goal and infuse myself with positive wisdom.  Enjoy!













Happy Saturday and make it a great day!  The choice is yours!  🙂  





This Is Why I Love The Summer

When I woke up this morning, it took me a bit more time than usual to get into the swing of things.  Why?

Because yesterday, I was determined to get weight training AND cardio in.  I walked on the gym floor at 9:50 a.m. and did back.  If I remember correctly, I did:

  1. Pull up assist – wide grip – 3 sets of 15
  2. Pull up assist – narrow grip – 3 sets of 15
  3. Body rows using the Smith Machine – 3 sets of 10 Ugh!
  4. Lat Pull down – wide grip – 3 sets of 12
  5. Lat Pull down – narrow grip – 3 sets of 12
  6. Barbell upright row – 3 sets of 10
  7. T-Bar row – 3 sets of 12
  8. Seated cable row – 3 sets of 12
  9. Face pulls on capable machine – 3 sets of 12
  10. Rope pull (standing) 30 sec. superset with 10 push ups x 4

My muscles were fried, but I got in my car and drove about 20 minutes to the Ocean City Bridge.  Although it was hot as heck out, the bridge stands high over the water so there was a constant breeze.

Oh yeah!  I did some ab work too!  Just three different exercises… all together about 310 reps.  All but 75 were using weights.  Lol!

bridge

The bridge has a nice walkway and fishing pier underneath. I thought this perspective was cool!

I changed sneakers and ran the bridge! “Running the bridge” means you run the bridge, turn around and run back over it again. Lol!  Some people say I’m nuts, but I am a fitness junkie, enthusiasts or whatever else you can come up with.  I love working out, especially when time is not an issue.

This is why I love the summer!  

I can workout for as long as I want to! 🙂

mapmyrun

The last time I ran the bridge was last summer. Since my summer break (June 26), I have wanted to run the bridge, so you can image how excited I was yesterday.  I think this was also my first real run (outside of crossFit) this year.

I took it slow.  Didn’t want to hurt myself.  My time was actually a little better because my iPod locked and I spent a few minutes fumbling with it.

Anyways… the run was heavenly!!  I felt free and on top of the world!  A hot sunny day, running across a bridge that, less than a year ago, I was terrified to run.  Thanks to my friend Nicole, the bridge isn’t an issue anymore.  Ha!!  How about that!!

So, today I did crossFit.  Yeah, my quads, shoulders, abs and back were sore, but I knew once I got moving, I’d be fine.

SWOD: 10-15 Min to work up to 1 rm Snatch – I worked on perfecting my snatched, so I practiced at 75 pounds which was plenty.

WOD: 18 Min – EMOM (Every min on the min)

Min 1- 20 m sled push
Min 2- 10 kb clean and jerk + Lunge 5L/5R
Min 3- 20 double under/ 5 HSPU (handstand push up)

My double under’s aren’t so hot, so to keep the momentum, I did 40 singles.  Using a box, I did my hand stand push ups.

So after the WOD, the coaches decided that we needed to do a buy out. Yuck!

Buyout

3 Rounds

20 Abmats
20 Russian Twists
20 Hollow Rocks

Stick a fork in me, I was and still am done!

I’m headed to bed now.  The “plan” is to workout early tomorrow morning. How early? Umm… 5 a.m.!

Sweet dreams and keep it movin’!


7 Takeaways From My First Figure Competition

 

Image credit:  Brian Zorn via Pinterest

Image credit: Brian Zorn via Pinterest

1. If you want something bad enough, you won’t make excuses. Instead you will   make the sacrifices & commit to go after it.”

It is one thing to set a goal and to say that you are going to do something. But it’s a totally different ball game to take action and to follow through day after day after day.

Standing in the kitchen cooking for five or more hours prepping food for myself and for my family, when I desperately wanted to blanket my tired behind over the sofa is commitment. For seven months, I did it.

Chugging down whey protein like a 560-horse power racecar sucks up gallons of gas and spending over $50 often on a 5 gallon jug for the sake of building muscle is commitment.  I’d much rather have spent the dollars on clothes or home décor, but my priorities shifted.

I have racked my brain to recall past experiences that required this level of commitment.

Only one period in my life compares. And that was my junior and senior year of college as an adult commuter student. I commuted 45 minutes to an hour to and from school. Some days I attended class twice a day; a morning class at 8 O’clock. Left school an hour and fifteen minutes later to attend work and then after work, at 5 p.m., I returned to school for a 3 hour class that ended at 9 p.m.

After class, I’d drive home, unpack, repack, and either read, write, or study until my 1 a.m. bedtime and repeat the cycle the next day.

When I look back on that time period, I wonder in amazement how I did it. Determination, faith, prayer and encouragement from family and close friends got me through it.

2. Proper weight training can reshape and sculpt the body.

Long distance running and eating healthy has kept me lean well into my 40’s. Before I started training for the competition, I was pretty much satisfied with my figure. Were there “hot spots” that I wanted to tweak? Of course! What woman is 100% satisfied with her body.

It took a good three to four months to develop strength. Gaining strength enabled me to lift heavier weight.

The heavier weight, weekly variation of exercise, and eating clean consistently, was the shock that my body needed to carve and develop muscle mass.

Not until colleagues, associates and friends being questioning and commenting about my body, that I realized changes were occurring.

What are you doing?  Your body looks different!  You look amazing!”

My clothes closet has turned into a huge stationary rack filled with jeans, dresses, jackets and more that no longer fit.

In seven months, we literally carved a new body. Weight, fat, and muscles are totally redistributed. My weight has slightly decreased, but I’ve dropped two clothing sizes.

3. You will do things in the future that you never imagined.

Lying bottomless on my side, holding a butt cheek while a technician methodically waxes the crack of my ass was NEVER on my to-do list. Seriously!  What public eye, let alone intimate partner care about what is back there?

I’ll tell you who?  The world of bodybuilding!  When you are on stage in that little thing called a swimsuit flexing and twisting, NOBODY wants to see pubic hairs peeking out!

Did I really have to go there with the wax?  Probably not, but… she was already down there and up close and personal in my Va-Jay-Jay (as Oprah calls it), so why get embarrassed now.  Besides, I thought she was finished, when she said, “turn over hon-ee.”  What?  Lawed!!  Did she want me to go on all fours?

She must have seen the terror in my eyes and said, “On yah side hon-ee!  Yah side!”  Obediently I turn, not realizing what was next.  She grabs my hand, slaps it on my butt cheek, “Hol tight right here!”  Umm… like a meek child… Okay.  Whoa there!!  Warm wax on the crack of the behind!  WTH!!  Surely I didn’t sign up for this.  LOL!!

The result?  Amazing!!

Do I recommend it?  Yes.

Why?  Swimsuit season is here and waxing last longer than shaving. The results are smoother and better. Gone are the worries of stuff slipping out from under the swimsuit.

4. Spray tanning is for ALL people.

I’m of medium/dark complexion and love my natural color.  Walking into a spray tan salon felt weird.  A guy and a girl, both white, were seated on the sofa.  I walk in.  They look at each other, and then look at me.  Could that have been imagination?  Maybe. I don’t know.

I’m eager to explain why I’m there.

“Hi, I have an appointment.  I’m competing in a bodybuilding competition…. blah…blah…blah.”

Okay.   Once I got that out, I felt better.   Why should I have cared? I shouldn’t have, but it just felt weird. You know; one of those awkward moments.

Do you want a guy or a girl?  Ha!!  Is she serious?  I’m comfy with my body and all, but I don’t need some young kid, my daughter’s age, all up in my stuff and critiquing my aging ta-ta’s.

Honestly, if they sat up like they use to, then I wouldn’t care, but that ain’t the case, so… give me a gal.  Besides she’ll know what her boobs will look after kids and 20 or so years.  She’d better enjoy them while they’re standing, because you cannot defy the laws of physics.  Ha-ha!  My mom says “aging is a bi***!” Lol!!

Anyways, once again I find myself naked in front of yet another stranger.  This time, I’m standing, legs and arms spread out. To achieve a complete and even tone, every nook and cranny has to get sprayed.  Who the heck knew? Never in my life did I think “I” would be doing this.

The spraying was kind of cool. The licensed technician used high-tech airbrush equipment to apply the tanning solution. She methodically sprayed my body from feet to face. The cool air that touched my body felt good, but did not stop sweat from rolling down my armpits and inner thighs.

After the spray, I was led up and into an enclosed booth where I’d “baked” under ultra violet lights for four minutes. The booth is not for the claustrophobic. I’m not claustrophobic but closed my eyes and told myself to breath and relax.  Only about a foot stood between me and lights. Tight quarters.

The result was gorgeous!! I was beautifully and evenly bronzed from head to toe.  And I didn’t even have to buy a plane ticket. Pretty cool. Will this become a habit? No, but I would do it again, if I were going to a nice affair during the winter, and wanted to wear my back out. It was ignorance on my part to not realize that people of color spray tan. Smh!

5. To achieve maximum fitness, you have to constantly “mix it up!”

All of the running in the world will not duplicate the muscle, definition, and tone that I have now.

Throughout the seven months of training, my body was in a constant state of shock.  No two workouts were identical but every workout was a test of my will.

I grew accustom to waking every morning with stiff and sore muscles. It’s par for the course.

Creativity and variety is essential to weight training. For each muscle to develop, every aspect of the muscle has to be worked.

My hour and half running sessions were reduced to 20-30 minutes of cardio, limited to a few days a week.

The change in my workout routine took some getting used to, but slowly I saw changes in my body and began to understand the process.

My thoughts of working out are forever changed. My new regimen will include weight training, crossFit, some jogging and yoga! I know better so I will do better.

6. Even the most confident person can become insecure.

Family, friends, and colleagues who know me, would never say that I lack in confidence. Though confident I am never over-confident, arrogant, or cocky about anything.

Weight Training definitely highlighted my insecurities. Walking on to a gym floor and seeing, what appears to be, fit and knowledgeable members can be overwhelming and intimidating.

As a result of my friend and trainer’s pre-planned vacation, I had to work out for one week alone. I was scared.   Afraid of what? I was fearful of people looking at me thinking I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Normally I don’t care what people think, but the new experience launched a bunch of new unexplored emotions. Would I lift the weights properly? Would someone be off in the corner laughing at me?

The answer to those questions and others are irrelevant because it really doesn’t matter! Unfortunately our society dictates the daily judging of others. Sadly, the current craze of trash reality TV is a good indicator.

For a week, I went to the gym alone, listening to music, glancing at my notes and doing my thing. No one paid me any attention, if they did, I didn’t notice because my focus was on my workout.

Walking on stage in five-inch stilettos and a tiny two piece in front of a couple of hundred people can rattle the most confident person.

As the Training Employee & Development Manager of a gaming hall, years ago, I instructed new hires to “fake it til you make it!” The “it” being the friendly and outgoing personality that all employers were expected to display while on “stage” meaning in front of customers.

I’d like to think that when prompted by my song, “Talk Dirty” by Two Chains started playing; I walked across the stage like I’d done it before. I think I did okay because I placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in three different categories.

7. Goals may change quicker than expected.

You know just as well as I that, goals change. However, I was very confident that I would compete in just one competition.

“One and done!” I said.

Even hubby wasn’t feeling a second show.   It took less than a week for me to resolve that I needed to compete again. I kept the thought to myself and didn’t say anything until a text exchange with my friend (trainer).

One day out of the clear, hubby says,

“If you compete again I’ll buy your next suit!”

Whiplash! That’s how fast I turned to look at him. Wow!! He’s been bit by the same darn bug!

The astonishment of what we accomplished in 7 months, has piqued my curiosity. Even my friend pondered, “Imagine what you’d look like with a year of training!”   Hmm…

So yes, I will compete again, but have not decided on which show. For now, I’ll continue to weight train, catch up on some CrossFit, get some spin in, and squeeze in a weekly yoga class.   Remember, all things are possible.

Thanks so much for stopping by. :0)

Y’all keep it movin’!


“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
-Patanjali

 

May 17th is rapidly creeping up on me. Six months ago, the date of the competition seemed like years away.  But today signifies that only three weeks remain until show time.

The week’s highlight was seeing the first version of my competition suit. It arrived by mail on Wednesday. I ripped the envelope open as if it were a special delivery from Oprah!

Like a kid, I was giddy and eager.  My seamstress lives over 2 ½ hours away in another state. We haven’t met in person, but thanks to technology we’ve had in-depth conversation about my suit. Her eye for quality fabric and intricate details is impeccable. I’ve seen her work firsthand and know that I put my trust into the right person.

This pic does the suit no justice as it is, but the quality of the fabric and the details of the stitching is amazing.  I cannot wait to see the completed suit!
This pic does the suit no justice as it is, but the quality of the fabric and the details of the stitching is amazing. I cannot wait to see the completed suit!

Thursday I tried on the suit. Eye popping!! Though I wasn’t quite ready for what I saw. Yikes! Cheeks and crack! Umm… baby’s got back and need more fabric in the rear.  I can’t bring myself to post those pictures.

All the nuances of figure competing are completely surprising to me.  As a little girl, I didn’t compete in pageants, cheer leading, or any of the girly stuff. I played football, wrestled, and fist fought my boy cousins—none of which required me to be on a stage. The tricks of looking good on stage is remarkable.

It turns out; my suit was too big and needed a few adjustments. I am still getting use to the idea of walking on stage wearing a skimpy two piece suit. But I am ready! Lol!

Friday I mailed the suit back to my seamstress for final alterations. Final alterations include the addition of a multitude of crystals and other delicate changes that will make me feel very special when I hit the stage.

I had to take a week off from the 30 minutes of daily cardio training because my weight loss was occurring too fast. Look at the numbers:

♥ March 31st – 147 lb.

♥ April 7th – 145.2 lb.

♥ April 14th – 142.9 lb.

♥ April 21st – 140.2 lbs.

At this rate of weight loss, I would have well surpassed my competition weight goal. Years of fitness training and daddy’s genetics have kept me relatively lean, so with minimal intensity, I can quickly drop weight.

This week, my training was limited to weight training. I missed the cardio, but remain focused on the goal.

Counting and winding down is more about increased intensity and momentum. This is a source of inspiration for me. Patanajali’s quote epitomizes the core essence of my project (fitness challenge).   It has been greater than a physical transformation.  My approach to fitness will never be the same.

My passion for running has shifted and my desire to lift weights has expanded. Wow! I never thought I’d utter such words. Post competition, I face determining how to balance my love for CrossFit and my urge and the need to throw up weights at the gym.

No, I am not going to stop running all together, but I doubt that I’ll ever return to running 40-60 miles a week that I typically do during the summer.  My body looks and feels better now than it did before the weight training regimen.  Amazing!

48 feels really good!  

Thanks so much for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

A Sneak Peek