V&B Workout Plan

V&B WORKOUT PLAN OVERVIEW:

Bradley and I created a plan that attempts to meet both of our interests and goals.  In creating this plan our primary goals were:

  1. Strength building
  2. Cardiovascular training/maintenance
  3. Stretching and muscle recovery
  4. Efficiency to reduce time spent in the gym each day

The plan is a four-day split

  1. Lower Body
  2. Upper Body Pull
  3. Upper Body Push
  4. Full Body

Plus 2 Cyclebar spin classes and 1 yoga class

WEIGHT LIFTING ROUTINE:

BB=Barbell, DB=Dumbbell, R=Rep

V&B WORKOUT PLAN UPDATE:

We are three weeks into this plan and so far, things kinda went to sh*t.  As I write this I am struggling to remember what the heck we even did.  Getting a new puppy the week before embarking on a new fitness routine may have been ambitious!  Sorting out our new schedule to ensure we are home with the puppy multiple times a day has been trying.  Housebreaking, training, and feeding, coupled with unexpected vet visits, house guests, unusually long work hours, travel, and dance classes threw a very large wrench in our plans.  As lovingly pointed out by my Dad over the weekend, this also resulted in some pretty dark eye circles 🙂  Add to that quite a few dinners out, too many bottles of wine (if there is such a thing), and lots of treats, we are not on track to accurately report the effectiveness of this plan in meeting our goals.

It is hard not to be disappointed when I do not meet my goals, especially if I am missing workouts for work!  I am making a conscious effort to prioritize other aspects of my life that bring me joy and not let work dominate.  It is much easier to swallow when I miss workouts to spend time with friends and family or to take care of our adorable new puppy.  I realize life is too short to beat myself up about it.  There are only so many hours in a day.

So, what did we manage to do:

Week 1 (March 4-10):

The first week I completed three of four lifting sessions, pull, push, and lower, one Cyclebar class, and did not make it to a yoga class.  This week ended up being a bit of a trial run as we realized there were a few kinks in our initial plan that we ironed out.  For example, I am not a fan of cable machines.  I find them awkward and challenging to target the right muscles.  This probably means I need to do them more to improve, but if we have a day filled with cables, I get frustrated (sorry B).  Initially our push day had three cable machine exercises so I made the executive decision to swap cable lateral raises with dumbbell lateral raises.  Aside from the minor tweaks, we were happy with the plan.  We are targeting each muscle group and are pretty wiped after each session.  The routine on average took 1 hour a day, including a 5-minute warmup.  One consideration in creating this plan was efficiency.  I enjoy the gym, but when our routines get too long, I get antsy. 

Week 2 (March 11-17):

Week two I also only completed three of four lifting sessions, full body, pull, and lower.  I did not make it to a Cyclebar or yoga class.  This week was challenging because we had houseguests and I travelled home to Vancouver Island for a few days.  Ordinarily when I travel I squeeze in some workouts, but on this trip I was sitting on the porch drinking gin and tonics 😉 I wish… I actually locked myself in my Dad’s basement to cry with my sister while sorting through childhood belongings.

Week 3 (March 18-24):

Week three started when I was still on the island. I squeezed in a 5-mile run, but I did not make it to the gym when I was there.  When I got back to Edmonton, we were dealing with a sick puppy all week and had company over the weekend.  I only completed two of four lifting sessions, push and full, and went to one Cyclebar class.  

The reality is, our schedule is not opening up in the next few weeks.  When we created this plan we were going to the gym 6-7 times a week and it seemed feasible.  This is not the first time our schedule has been hectic and interrupted workouts and it surely will not be the last.  At the end of the day, fitting in 3-4 workouts a week is pretty good.  Depending on how the next few weeks unfold, we may have to give this another shot when things mellow out so we can really track how effective it is.  For now, we will keep at it as best we can and are grateful that we are happy, healthy, and exhausted 🙂

I can’t be mad at this adorable face for taking up some of our time!

Chicken & Yam Madras Curry

This recipe was inspired by a jar of Mini Kitchen Madras Curry spice that I picked up at a holiday market in Edmonton. I decided to attempt a chicken curry and added some yams as well. It turned out really well and a friend asked for the recipe. I had not followed a recipe, but jotted down what I did for her. It is a simple recipe with few ingredients that we usually pair with cauliflower rice or farro.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Cut chicken into cubes and cook in 1 tsp of coconut oil until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan.

Sauté onion for about 5 minutes in 1 tsp coconut oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Add chicken back into pan with spices, tomatoes, coconut milk, chicken broth, and yam. Bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer until yam is soft but not mushy.

Add chili pepper or jalapeño if you want extra spice. Use a cornstarch and water mixture if you need to thicken and add more broth or water if you need more liquid. Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, farro . . .

Enjoy!!

Why I Lift

Fitness is a big part of my life whether it is spinning, running, yoga, barre, or weight lifting, I have always done some combination of the above.  I generally do not have specific goals but getting out and moving makes me feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically.  When I was in NYC my fitness routine involved a lot of cardio: running in Central Park, spinning, and barre classes when I could fit them in.  During my last year in the city when I was working non-stop, getting on a bike at Soul Cycle for 45 minutes was my one outlet, it helped keep me sane!  In addition to cardio, I would try to squeeze in barre classes or weights at home, usually a daily burn video – https://dailyburn.com/landing or a tone it up workout – https://www.toneitup.com/.

I did not start lifting weights regularly until I moved to Edmonton.  Prior to moving, when I visited Bradley in Edmonton I would join him at the gym and would struggle through his weight lifting routines.  It was tough and uncomfortable, but I enjoyed the challenge and was motivated to improve my form and build strength.  I started to incorporate a bit of weight lifting into my routine in New York, but it was sporadic.  Years ago, I had a trainer for a summer and learnt how to lift properly so I was able to pick it up again fairly quickly.  I highly recommend having someone teach you to lift properly before diving into serious weight training to avoid injury and prevent bad habits.

Bradley always says regardless of your fitness goals you should pick up heavy things and put them down.  As usual, I think he is right.  I feel stronger than I have in years, maybe ever, now that I have incorporated consistent weight training into my routine whether it is low weight and high reps or high weight and low reps.  I notice a difference in my strength and endurance in spin classes, when hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and in day to day life.  I feel like my body can tackle anything with relative ease.  I think maintaining a consistent cardio routine is also important and contributes to my overall health.  Bradley shies away from too much cardio (interferes with building mass or something ;)).  I notice when he is not including cardio in his routine, he does not have the same level of endurance and struggles when spinning, hiking, or when we incorporate HIIT into a weight routine (sorry for calling you out).  For me, a combination is the best of both worlds. 

Typically, Bradley is doing some sort of weight lifting plan 5-6 days a week and will join me once a week for spin.  I join him a few days a week weight training and spin the rest of the week.  Working out together is our “thing”, we enjoy having that hour or two together, but have yet to establish a routine to do together.  So, we have been working on a schedule that incorporates both spinning and weight training.  This is an effort to incorporate both of our interests and a goal of building strength while maintaining cardiovascular health and endurance.  We plan to incorporate yoga as well, something we currently are not doing, as we both need to stretch more and yoga has many other health benefits that will add to a balanced fitness routine such as toning, muscle strength, flexibility, and posture. 

Why are body weight exercises so hard!?

We are starting our plan the first week of March.  The plan will be six weeks, as we want a few weeks afterwards to trim for vacation.  In order to accommodate life and unpredictable work travel, the weekly routine will cycle through four workouts, instead of dedicating a week day to a particular workout. I.e., instead of Monday is chest day, we will start the program off with the first of four workouts, and cycle through them. If we miss a day, we will just do that workout the next time we are in the gym.

The lifting routine will follow a four-day split:

  1. Lower Body
  2. Upper Body Pull
  3. Upper Body Push
  4. Full Body

This allows for targeting individual muscle groups once per week with a couple dedicated compound exercises and a few isolation exercises, and provides a full body day to hit every muscle group a second time each week. The full body day will focus on alternative compound movements for each muscle group.  We will also incorporate two spin classes and one yoga class per week.

I will post the workout plan on the blog before we start and will track our progress as we go 🙂

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry Recipe

Stir fry is a quick, easy, and healthy dinner option.   I usually make it on a whim because I have vegetables in the fridge that I want to use up or I see something inspiring at the grocery store.  We like to spend Sunday afternoon in the kitchen prepping lunches and dinner for the week, but last weekend we got tied up, didn’t have time to prep, and had to hit up the grocery store on Monday with no dinner plan in place for the week.  We didn’t have a ton of time and wanted something quick and easy.  I came across baby bok choy and decided to make a chicken and vegetable stir fry with cauliflower rice.  Stir fry is a great way to easily get a healthy serving of vegetables and, if you add chicken, some protein. I don’t add a lot of sauce so the end result is a delicious and filling combo of juicy chicken mixed with fresh vegetables! 

There is something very satisfying about chopping and combining all the vibrant colors of many different vegetables!

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Rice:

  • 1-2 heads of cauliflour
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable Stir fry:

  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4-5 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 3 bell peppers sliced (yellow, red, orange, or green)
  • 4 bunches of baby bok choy
  • 5-7 oz bean sprouts
  • 1 large head of broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 5 large cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 tbsp of Sriracha
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Baked Chicken Breast:

  • 5 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne pepper

Directions:

Cauliflower Rice:

  • Cut head(s) of cauliflower into chunks and either grate with a cheese grater or put in a food processor using the grater attachment
  • Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil (or olive oil) in a large sauté pan and add cauliflower, water, and salt and pepper
  • Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender

Cauliflower rice is a fantastic low calorie and low carb substitute for regular rice. I have also tried roasting it in the oven, but prefer the texture when cooked on the stove top as it is closer to regular rice.

Stir fry:

  • Add olive oil, garlic, and ginger to a wok over low-medium heat and sauté for 5 minutes
  • Add carrots and water, cover and cook for another 5 minutes
  • Add broccoli, peppers, bok choy, bean sprouts, soy sauce, sriracha, and salt and pepper
  • Cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender but still have a bit of crunch

Baked Chicken Breast:

We baked a pan of chicken because we wanted to use some for lunches.

  • Prep tip, chop extra veggies as well for lunches!

Coat chicken with olive oil (we love our Misto Sprayer – http://www.misto.com/), salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for approx. 35 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  

You can also slice the chicken and add it directly to the stir fry.  Cook the chicken first in a tbsp of olive oil over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Remove and follow the instructions above. Once the vegetables are almost done, add the chicken back into the wok.

ENJOY!

This recipe made enough for 8 meals total, 4 each for Bradley and me.