Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This I Believe

And just like that, September is already over. The first six weeks comes to an end on Friday - meaning, I have been grading like a madwoman - and I'm still trying to figure out how that happened. Have I taught them anything worthwhile? Have I made any sort of impact on them? I can't answer that question, but I do know that my kids have been so much better behaved than last year. One of my fellow teachers told me it's because I'm a better teacher, and while I'm not entirely sure about that, at least I don't have the "first year teacher" label on me anymore. I still have my knuckleheads, of course, but I have far fewer headaches, and even my class of 34 knows when to get to work. Some days it takes longer than others, but hey, they are 14 and 15.

That being said, please be ready for this year's first round of Student Quotes to appear soon. I have collected a whole slew of student quotes, and though they are better behaved, they are still absolutely hilarious. And they make getting out of bed every day worthwhile. 

Anyway, one of the assignments I am currently (frantically) grading is what is called This I Believe. It's actually an international organization that combines writing with, well, beliefs. I love this essay because, while it's not in our 26-line expository format, it allows students to tell me about themselves. And let's be honest, who doesn't love writing about herself? My students got the chance to tell me about a belief they have, that leads to a bigger, more universal message. Some of them are funny, others of them are heartbreaking, but all of them have come straight from the heart. It's crazy to me how open some of them have been with this assignment, but I love it. I love hearing other people's stories, and this is certainly one way to do that.

I told my students that if I was going to ask them to write an essay, that I was going to do it too. It took me a little while at first, and I actually had to work backward. I went through several failed attempts before coming to that conclusion. I picked out my bigger "message," and then I thought of a story that would help me to convey that message. From there, I picked a belief, and I am sure none of you will be surprised by what I share with you guys. I hope to this weekend go through some of my students' essays, and share bits and pieces with you guys, but for now, I'll share with you all what I wrote.

I believe in running in the rain.

Running long distances where you can’t even tell where the rain stops and the sweat begins. So that your socks get that soggy feel to them. So that your neighbors look at you like you’re crazy, because it’s 6:30 on a Saturday morning and you’re on your second loop. And the rain is still coming down in sheets.

Let me explain. I’m a runner, and for a large portion of the population, that statement elicits shudders. But I’m not like a large portion of the population. I enjoy stepping outside with my shins taped up, my pink headphones lodged into my ears, and my neon Lululemon headband keeping any stray hairs in place, to run long distances. I enjoy pushing my body to the limit, and I enjoy the ‘me’ time. No text messages, no emails, and no Instagram to stop me in my tracks. It’s a time for me to think, to process, to clear my mind, to relieve stress. And a time to keep my eyes peeled for any new bumps in the road, both literally and figuratively.

Ideal running conditions are temperatures in the 40s or 50s, low humidity, clear skies, and maybe even a tailwind. If you’re lucky. Getting up before the sun on a day typically reserved for catching up on lost sleep isn’t easy even when the weather gods are on your side. Add in rain clouds and a headwind, and your pillow and blanket are suddenly holding you hostage. But those are the days when it’s most important to get out of bed and run through the streets of Wilchester West. Past the sleepy houses. Under the dusty streetlamps that only work half the time. Speeding up a little bit when you pass the neighborhood peacock on the back street.

How am I ever going to get better at running if the only time I do it is when the conditions outside are to my liking? I’ve been on countless runs where my legs were telling me to turn around and go back home. That I could try again the next day, or the day after that. And before you know it, it’s been raining for a week straight and you’re falling behind in your training plan.

It’s easy to make excuses. It’s easy to give up and take the road more traveled. It’s easy to stay in bed and promise myself that I’ll run later. What’s not easy is pushing through on my toughest days. Getting out of bed when it’s cold and windy. Getting out of my comfort zone so that I can get better, faster, and stronger. Doing the thing that other people might consider ‘crazy’.

I believe in running in the rain. Continuing to run when things aren’t going my way. Working to overcome obstacles, understanding that discomfort is when change happens. Pushing myself to be the best that I can be. Getting outside my comfort zone. Because that’s where the magic happens.

At first I was nervous about sharing my writing with my students. Which is silly, because they know I'm not perfect. I tell them that every day. Besides, they're 14 and 15, and they love hearing about me as much as I love hearing about them. And don't I share my writing with you guys all the time? Yeah. So, here I am. Putting my first, completely unedited draft out here for you guys to read. Because I fully believe in getting outside my comfort zone. Accepting a job at Bellaire was absolutely getting outside my comfort zone. And it was hard at first. Really hard, as you guys fully know. But it was also the best decision I ever could have made. And on that note, I'm signing off. I've got some essays to grade. I hope you have enjoyed a wonderful Hump Day!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Eleven

Happy Sunday! Whew, I am posting this after over 10 hours of sleep last night. We hosted our annual Middle School Tournament yesterday at the F.A.S.T. Complex, and I was there for nearly 11 hours, along with the rest of the coaching staff, most of our players, and nearly all of our program's parents. It was a total team effort, and though I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the day, I know it was more than worth it. Our booster club president put it into perspective when he said that more than one girl probably fell in love with the game of volleyball yesterday. And that's all that really matters. And on a sidenote, it was refreshing to see that some of the schools still hold onto the solid color shirt and shorts combo that I donned when I played middle school volleyball. No one was rocking the bright orange yesterday, but I think that's probably a step in the right direction.

1. What is the best time of day for you? 
Morning, for sure. I am my most productive, and most alert. I am motivated to get it all done, as opposed to later in the day when the exhaustion sets in and all I want to do is sit on my couch, watching football and taking BuzzFeed quizzes.

2. Of everything on this planet what drives you bonkers? 
A couple of things. Tardiness, obviously, drives me insane. It’s a courtesy thing. But I’ve also realized that it bothers me when people don’t accept responsibility for their actions. Or for themselves. I realize that I work with teenagers, so that is not something that comes easy to them, but it is my hope that I can model that for them.

3. What is your favorite pastime?
Running. When I’m in my groove, I could run forever.

4. What is your favorite color?
I love most colors, but my absolute favorite is pink. Notice the pink headband above.

5. Are you city, country or a suburb type of person?
I’m a city girl through and through. I always got a little too much satisfaction out of telling people that I’m from Houston-Houston, not Katy or Cypress or any of the other Houston suburbs.

6. Indoors or Outdoors?
Outdoors, all day long.

7. If you were an animal what would you be and why? 
I never know quite how to answer this question. So, I turned to a quiz and the results gave me … a wolf. I’m brave, strong, and lovable when I want to be. My family is important to me, and I’m very protective. Sure, we’ll go with that.

8. Tell me one thing that you love about yourself?
I love my ability to (mostly) be positive. Sure, I get dragged down and complain just like any other person, but it made my day when the copy ladies at school told me that I’m another one of those bubbly people who always seems to have a good attitude.

9. What do you do to relax and wind down?
I know it doesn’t make sense that to wind down, I work out, but to me, a day doesn’t feel complete without some sort of activity. If I’m feeling stressed out, a calming swim or a leisurely bike ride is often just what I need. But I also won’t turn down a good movie and a glass of wine. Nor will I turn down a good book. Or the time to read a good book.

10. Do you collect anything?
I don’t really collect anything. I’m going through a phase where I like to just get rid of things as opposed to holding onto things. In fact, I think I know what I’m going to do after this gets posted.

11. Describe yourself in 3 words. 

Thoughtful, athletic, and motivated.

And that's all I've got for you guys. But, before I sign off, two things. One, I want to wish a very happy 24th (!!!) birthday to one of my very best friends, Amira. My pepper partner for life, my rollerblading buddy, my fellow Taylor Swift fan and frozen yogurt aficionado, and an all-around incredible person. It's hard to believe that you're turning 24, because I think we'll always be 14 at heart. 

Second, tonight is going to feature a supermoon lunar eclipse. As someone who used to have an obsession with all things space related, this is an exciting event. It hasn't happened in 30 years, and it won't happen again until 2033. Let's hope the clouds don't ruin the view!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tailgate Snacks

Hello, hello! How are you guys doing? I hope you're finishing off a wonderful week. It's hard for my week to be anything but wonderful when you get a day off in the middle of it. I think I'm going to start a petition for that to be an actual thing. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed my fall holiday. Casually waking up, a slow morning, new recipes, lots of time spent in the sunshine, hours of baking, and a whole lot of downtime. If that didn't revive me for a full school day, I don't know what would. Plus, I got to be the fall treats fairy for the English department on Thursday, and you guys know how much I love baking for other people. I was told that I'm going to make a good wife one day. The operative phrase being one day.

It's fall, so that means lots and lots of pumpkin. Or does that make me a basic white girl?
But we're going to switch gears a little bit. I mentioned in yesterday's post that I welcome the start of fall because it means football season. I can spend hours just sitting on the couch watching football. If it's not Texas breaking my heart, it's the Texans. Or the Eagles. Or the Colts. So while it would be easy to drown my football sorrows in comfort food, I'll feel better if I make smart snacking choices. Because let's be honest - snacking is part of football season. My dad has been known to order Philadelphia Cheesesteaks FROM PHILADELPHIA to eat while watching an Eagles game. That may not be the healthiest choice, but hey, we're allowed an indulgence or two every now and again. But just because we find ourselves glued to the television screen on game day, doesn't mean we have to succumb to wearing our stretchy pants. The Texans may fumble the ball more than I would care to admit, but over at, they believe that game day food choices don't have to be a fumble.

And Texas football is a fumble no more! Hopefully, anyway.
But while everyone else is enjoying nachos, seven-layer dips, and other delicious appetizers, you don't want to be the one who is over there munching on the raw broccoli. And lucky for you, healthy eating doesn't have to be boring. There are ample crowd-pleasing game-time snacks that won't pack on the pounds. And you'll find some of my favorites below.

Mexican food and football go together like the words Hook'em and Horns. Especially down here in Texas. But Mexican food is not always the healthiest choice. Chips and cheese and sour cream all taste good, but I think we can all agree that they leave you feeling less than your best. I am not sure that I would have come up with the idea of fajitas on my own, but I came home one day to my parents cooking up a bunch of fajita meat before an Eagles game one Sunday. All you need is some lean chicken and/or beef, bell peppers, onions, guacamole, maybe a little bit of cheese, and corn tortillas. As well as any spices that you may desire. Throw the meat and veggies into a pan, stick it it into the oven, scoop them into the tortillas, and garnish them as you wish. Healthy and delicious.

Quinoa Pizza Bites
Pizza is another game-day go-to. Sure, it may be easier to call up Domino's or Pizza Hut and have the pizza delivered right to your door, but I guarantee you won't regret making these quinoa pizza bites. Quinoa is all the rage these days anyway, so this is perfect if you happen to find yourself with some leftover quinoa. These pizza bites are easy, customizable, kid-friendly, and there's just no way you can feel guilty after popping one (or two or three or four) into your mouth.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Hot wings are another classic game-day snack. They're spicy, they're messy, they're tasty, and let's just be honest. We've all found ourselves licking our fingers with 10 clean bones on the plate below us. It can be hard to stop sometimes! But with these buffalo cauliflower bites, you don't have to feel guilty. And I'll be the first one to say that I am not a huge fan of cauliflower. I'll eat it, but it's not my first choice. But these cauliflower bites are delicious. If you're not dairy-intolerant, you can certainly use regular butter in place of vegan margarine, but I will recommend that you don't cut these pieces too small. You want a nice big "wing" to bite into. And hey, let yourself indulge a little bit and dip these into your favorite ranch dressing.

Healthified Mozzarella Sticks
Who doesn't love a good mozzarella stick? I have never cared much for Sonic, but I used to salivate over their mozzarella sticks. And it doesn't take a genius to know that fried cheese is not the best choice. But the good news is that there are ways to make them healthier. This recipe bakes instead of fries, uses no butter, and calls for store-bought cheese sticks. Doesn't get much better than that!

Black Bean Corn and Avocado Dip
Chips and dip is a serious part of game-day. It's something you eat so mindlessly that you don't even realize that your pants are suddenly fitting a little bit tighter. And you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't enjoy a good seven-layer dip. Well, this dip might not be seven layers, but it is one that will have you fighting your neighbor for the last few scoops. This black bean corn and avocado dip is all the taste, without the guilt. And if you choose pita chips over Tostitos, you're really rocking and rolling.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
What is football without dessert? My favorite part of going to sports games as a kid was definitely the soft serve ice cream. And who doesn't love curling up with a bowl of Blue Bell while cheering your team onto victory? While that's all good and nostalgic, these chocolate covered strawberries will not only please the waistline and palette, but that will be sure to impress your guests. Dipped in chocolate and decorated with white icing, the only fumble you'll make is not giving one of these a try.

I hope this post gets you guys ready for this weekend's games. I'm hoping I can cheer the Texans onto their first win, but I'm not holding onto too much hope. Before you call me a pessimist, you have to understand that I grew up in Houston. And I know that our teams are more than capable of imploding at the last minute. Cough, Astros, cough. Not pessimistic; just realistic. Anyway, I want to give a special shout out to for giving me the opportunity to talk about my favorite healthy game-day snacks. And if you're looking for even more healthy snacks, please check out their Healthy Snacks page. Because they're absolutely right - healthy snacking is one of the keys to diet success. And healthy eating doesn't have to be bland or boring. You just have to get creative. And I hope this helped get your creative juices flowing. Because with these recipes, you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffle Recipe

Happy Wednesday, and happy first day of fall! Or Autumn - whichever you prefer. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, because it means football, yoga pants, sweaters, boots, perfect running weather, and all things pumpkin. Which is what brings me here today. I've got a most delicious - and healthy! - pumpkin waffle recipe to share with you guys. I can't take any of the credit, as I found this recipe while hardcore perusing Pinterest, but I knew that today would be the perfect day for it. Why? Because today the students and employees of the Houston Independent School District were gifted a fall holiday. Sure, it's on a Wednesday, and I have to go back to work tomorrow instead of enjoying a three-day weekend like I did last year, but this holiday could not have come at a more perfect time. It seemed as though every teacher was walking with a little extra pep in his or her step yesterday, brimming with talk of how the fall holiday was going to be spent. I would be lying if I said I didn't join in, and what I came up with was sleeping in until 8:00am, enjoying the cooler weather with a crisp morning bike ride, and indulging in a delicious fall-themed breakfast while catching up with Kelly and Michael.

  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips + extra
*This recipe makes about 2-3 large waffles.

1. Combine flour, baking soda, chia seeds, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In a separate large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, honey, egg, yogurt, and almond milk.
3. Add flour mixture to the wet mixture, taking care not to over-stir.
4. Gently add in the chocolate chips, again, taking care not to over-mix.
5. Heat up your waffle iron, and spray down with cooking spray.
6. Spoon about 1 cup of mix onto the waffle iron, spreading it evenly throughout the iron. Add a little more if needed.
7. Cook according to your iron's directions - my waffle iron took about 5-7 minutes per waffle, but it depends on the waffle iron being used.
8. Gently remove from the waffle iron, let cool, and enjoy! I added blueberries to mine, but I think strawberries would also taste fantastic. The chocolate was enough added sweetener for my taste, but if you're a fan of syrup, I have no doubt that would be another delicious addition. If you're looking for a real indulgence, a sprinkle of powdered sugar would really take the cake.

The perfect breakfast to start off a slow fall morning. It's delicious, yet chock full of good-for-you ingredients. Not something I would eat every morning, but a fun way to mix it up every once in a while. And with that, I'm off to do a little bit more baking. I have to get it in while I have the time!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Currently: September Edition

It's that time of the year. The time of the year when things are crazy, I'm running in one hundred different directions (literally), and blogging falls by the wayside. But I'm not giving up on this weekly tradition, and this week I'm really going to try and post at least three times. Try being the operative word. But this past week saw me coaching lots of volleyball, telling parents how much I adore their darling children, and catching up with one of my greatest friends over wine and gelato. It's like we were in Italy or something. So, when you combine all of that with my actual day job, there's not a lot of time left over for blogging. But let's focus on the future, or should I say the present, shall we?

Current Celebration: Monday I’m giving a test in two of my classes, Tuesday is an early-release day, and Wednesday is our fall holiday. I’m absolutely digging this week.

Current Confession: I haven't been keeping up with my marathon training as diligently as I should have. But, in my defense, I've been battling a pretty nasty cold for the past week or so, and the fact that I haven't had much time to rest hasn't helped my case. I think I'm just about over it, so I'm hoping to quickly catch up on all of the miles that I've missed.

Current Product Find: The Hydro Flask. I can't take any of the credit for this one, as two of my fellow volleyball coaches came waltzing in with these fancy, larger-than-life water bottles, and I knew that I had to have one. I drink water like nobody's business during the school day, so this 4o oz vacuum is right up my alley.

Current Plan: My current plan goes a little something like this - Step one: Start running. Step two: There is no step two.

Current Book: This question keeps coming up, and I am crawling deeper and deeper into my shell each time I say that I am not currently reading a book. I want to be reading a book. I really do. And I continue to make Barnes & Noble trips, and I continue to order books off of Amazon. But I am really working hard to simply keep my head above water, and it has been getting better, but the book thing just isn’t happening right now. Starting tomorrow, though, my reading classes will have 15 minutes of silent, independent reading, and I love to use that time to read my own book of choice. Modeling, right?

Current Purchase: I am absolutely loving The Happy Goose Shop. It's dangerous, because new apparel is posted almost daily, but it's also so affordable that I can't feel too guilty about it.
This shirt is one of my favorite Happy Goose purchases
Current Drink: I can never get enough water, as evidenced by my talk of the Hydro Flask above. And you guys know I'm a big time white wine lover, I've recently been into the Rose scene. I'm willing to mix it up a little bit here and there.

Current Holy Moly: This isn't going to make sense to many of you, but just hang with me for a second while I talk volleyball. As a former setter, there is nothing more frustrating than a referee who doesn't call lifts and doubles. Basically, you're telling me that there is no difference between a setter who rarely mishandles the ball, and a setter who rarely handles the ball legally. That's not the game that I was taught how to play, and it makes me sad for the future of the sport, if that's the way it keeps up. And can I also just say that my heart broke last night when Texas missed the extra point last night to tie the game and send us into overtime? The life of a Longhorn fan, but here's the bright side: we've finally got ourselves a quarterback. And a darn good one. I'll raise my horns to that!

Current Show: I don’t have a current show, though I will admit that I watched some of Dancing With the Stars last week, but I have some very important news to share with all of you. One of my favorite shows in my tween years was Nickelodeon's Zoey 101. And I'd by lying if I said I didn't watch it every now and again. I mean, come on, who wouldn't love going to boarding school in California? Anyway, we finally learned what Zoey said about Chase on the time capsule DVD. After 10 years. 10 long years. It's big news, people.
Current Want: I’ll be a brat for a second, but I would love to buy myself a new cell phone. I was making lunch a couple of weeks ago when I knocked my cell phone off the counter, went to pick it up, and my jaw dropped when I saw that my screen had completely cracked. After six years of owning an iPhone, and dropping it on every kind of ground, it finally cracked on me. And it's not just that. I can store all of five pictures on my phone before running out of storage. Apple knows how to play the game, that's for sure.

Current Obsession: Lately, I've been obsessed with Honeycrisp apples and almond butter. I just can't get enough. I ate one before Open House on Thursday night, and the apple was so big that it broke my apple slicer. Granted, it was already on its last leg, but still. I guess that's the sign of a good apple: one that's too much for the apple slicer. 

And I'm off to make this Sunday a productive one. Adios!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ten Questions

Happy Sunday! I'm enjoying my one day of freedom, as the majority of yesterday was spent down in Alvin for a volleyball tournament. It was well worth it though, because after losing a close first match to Friendswood, my girls bounced back, dug deep, and won every other match they played, giving them the title of Consolation Champs. I was especially pumped about beating Clear Creek, as that's the team that knocked us out of the playoffs my junior year, and we came back from a 13-25 game one loss to then stave off five match points to force a game three. Game three was a little too close for comfort, but I could not be more proud of the way these girls played. I love being their coach!

Where is your favorite place to vacation? 
I absolutely love San Francisco. Both times I've visited it's been so hard for me to leave. And I think that's true of California in general. San Francisco gives you the best of all worlds - it's absolutely beautiful, the weather is more than pleasant, there's an endless amount of things to do and see, it's a very active city, the food is top notch, and though it's uber expensive, it's an absolutely wonderful city.

Yoga:  Is it for you?  If not, what do you do to relax the mind and stretch? 
I wish it was for me. I really, really do. But it's just not. And I know that I need to be better about stretching, especially when my hip flexors tighten up on me, or I tell people (truthfully) that I can't even tough my toes. And while I definitely need something to relax my mind, I'm not sure that yoga is it for me. I think too much about the breathing aspect, and how silly I look attempting to do the poses, so it's not what I would consider relaxation. I know foam rolling is not synonymous with stretching, but I do that on a fairly regular basis, so until I get better about incorporating stretching into my running regimen, we're going to go with that.

What is your go-to meal of the week?  
Besides my usual salad for lunch, I love chopping up a bunch of different veggies, throwing them into a pan, and topping them with protein of some kind - chicken, pork, shrimp - anything goes. I then throw it in the oven, and I've got dinner for a week. And, of course, my scrambled egg whites and spinach have yet to get old.

What is your favorite Christmas cookie? 
Oh, I love this question! You guys know that I love baking, and that my KitchenAid is one of my favorite kitchen items. And because Christmas will be here before we know it, this is an important question. I love making peanut butter blossoms, and they are so, so easy to make. And they're appreciated by everyone. Unless of course there's a peanut butter allergy. I also love making gingerbread men, but one, the smell of molasses is enough to make my eyes water, and I've got to take some lessons on how to correctly use a rolling pin.

What is the biggest thing you have learned from blogging?  
I have learned so much from blogging! I've learned that people love vulnerability. Sure, they love reading about a so-called perfect life, but more than that they love to know that they are not alone. I know I love reading about the real struggles and the real challenges that real people face. To know that other people have off days and bad workouts and failed recipes. That the Internet is not somewhere that requires me to put on a face, because that can be dangerous for all parties. That other bloggers are some of the coolest people around town.

The best book you have recently read?  
I wish I could say that I've opened up a book in the past month. But I just haven't. I have a whole slew of books that I want to read, but the reality is that when I get some free time, it's probably not going to be spent reading. Which is sad. But true. Over the summer I did read quite a few books, and the one that stands out to me the most is The Book Thief. An absolutely incredible read, and when I find the time, I'm even going to watch the movie. Bold statement, I know.

Favorite TV show or movie? 
Boy Meets World. I never get tired of that show. And Full House is another show I never get tired of. It's just good quality television. 

What is your biggest fitness goal (this can be something that you won’t do for a while, just something you want to accomplish someday!) 
My biggest fitness goal is probably to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life, but to not become a slave to it. To understand that days get busy, but that if it's important enough to me, I'll make time for it. To not workout just so I can fit into my favorite pair of jeans, but because it makes me feel good. I want to continue to push myself to be the best that I can, and never get complacent. There is always another mountain to climb and conquer.

What is your favorite holiday?  
I love Thanksgiving. I'll be honest, I love having a few days off of school. I love getting up on Thanksgiving morning to run a 10K, something I've made part of my Thanksgiving routine. I love coming home to help my family in the kitchen (mainly with the dessert), eating as much turkey as can fit into my stomach, and then a little bit more, and then parking myself on the couch to watch some Longhorn football. And a holiday that centers around thankfulness? Yeah, I can get behind that.

What inspired you to start blogging?  
I discovered Julie's blog, and I loved that her outlook on life, her love for working out, and her passion for trying new recipes matched mine very closely. I wanted to put my love for writing to good use, and a blog seemed to be the best way to do just that. I absolutely love this blog, and it brings me so much joy. Food and fitness is obviously a huge passion of mine, and I love sharing that in such a fun way.

And I'm off to watch the Miss America pageant. It has always been my guilty pleasure!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jump Rope Heavy Workout

I am absolutely loving this four-day week. I know I sound like a total diva saying that I was more than ready for a little break when I just came off of an entire summer vacation, but, teaching is hard. And I know every job is hard. But you forget how much energy being around teenagers all day requires. But I absolutely love it. And, knock on wood, my classes have been awesome. I'm waiting for the flood gates to open, but for now, I'm enjoying it.

And  I don't have much time to spend on this post, but I have yet another killer workout to share with you guys. This one is heavy on the jump rope. I'm talking 18 total minutes spent jump roping. Yes, my calves were screaming.

This workout is, once again, pretty self-explanatory. I don't even think any of these exercises need explaining. I went all the way through set one, and then I did it all over again. Then I went twice through set two, for a total of four sets. The entire workout took me between 40 and 45 minutes, and it left me sweaty, sweaty, sweaty. The 20 burpees just about did me in, so I feel a little bit sorry for all the burpees I make my girls do at practice. But only a little bit.

Anyway, if you're bored at the gym, this is definitely a workout to try. When you're tired of doing one exercise, it's time to move onto the next one. And you'll certainly leave the gym feeling like you put in some work. Which I definitely needed last night. But for now, it's time to make some puppy chow. I'm going to surprise my girls with a sweet treat that will hopefully inspire them to #BeatLamar tomorrow afternoon in what will probably be our biggest game of the season. 

And before I sign off, check out my very first guest blog post over at Creating a Better Tomorrow. Sarah reached out to me with this opportunity weeks ago, and I finally sent something over to her. I had so much fun tweaking this post for her, and I am so grateful for this awesome opportunity. Check out my post here, and while you're over there, check out her awesome blog. I've been loving it!

Monday, September 7, 2015

35-Minute Cardio + Strength Workout

Happy Monday, party people! I hope you all are enjoying a lovely weekend. I know that I certainly am. A volleyball game on Friday night, one of my volleyball players' quinceneras on Saturday night, a picnic at Hermann Park last night, and a whole lot of rest and relaxation have made up my weekend. I've been productive, yet lazy, and I don't even feel guilty about it. I have been absolutely exhausted, falling asleep right when my head hits the pillow, so a low-key weekend is just what I needed. Even though I'm missing my best girls while they're on a weekend trip to LA. But, duty calls. And I know there will be plenty more trips to take. Besides, as fun as that would have been, it would not have taken away any of my exhaustion. So, I'll just keep telling myself that!

And while I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on this post, I did promise you guys a blog post today, so I'm sharing another quick workout with you guys. The other night I planned on meeting some friends at House of Pies for dessert, but I wanted to squeeze in a quick workout before heading back down Westheimer. My original plan was to swim, but an hour of sitting in traffic slayed that plan. No matter, though, because sometimes a time crunch is all I need to do something a little bit out of the ordinary. I don't typically gravitate toward doing these types of workouts, unless my original plan doesn't pan out, which is why I have to share them with you guys when I do. It looks very similar to most of my cardio and strength combination workouts, but maybe this one will resonate with you and get you moving on this Monday morning. I know after this gets posted, I'm going on a leisurely bike ride around my neighborhood, as I gear up to run 10 miles this evening. The marathon training is very real.

As usual, let me explain. I did ten total sets - six of round one, and four of round two. The only thing that changed in the round one version was the squat jumps, jumping lunges, and burpees. The first time through, I did 10 squat jumps. The second time through, I did 20 jumping lunges (10 on each leg), and the third time through, I did 10 burpees. Then I started the sequence over. Once I had done each of these exercises twice, I moved on to round two. I think you'll recognize all of these exercises, except for maybe the one-legged sit squat. For this exercise I grabbed two 8-lb dumbbells and found myself a bench. Using only one leg at a time, I squatted down to the bench, and then lifted myself back up. I did five reps on the left leg, and five reps on the right leg. Don't knock this one until you try it, because it's much harder than it looks!
This workout is quick, it's sweaty, and it will leave your upper body feeling it the next day. But that could be because I'm bad about regularly incorporating upper body strength into my workout regimen. September goals? And on that note, can you believe it's already September? Time flies!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Head Above Water

Well, I’ve been the absolute worst blogger. But you have to believe me when I say that these past two weeks have been absolutely insane. I forgot how much work teaching is, and I’m not even confining that to the classroom. Of course, corralling teenagers is tough, but more than that it's the copies that need to be made, the forms that need to be signed, the assignments that need to be created, the emails that need responses, the grades that need to be entered into the gradebook, and so on and so forth. I often find myself go-go-going until it hits lunch time, and even then, I'm not sitting down for long. There's always something to do, and I feel as though I don't have even one spare moment to myself. I don't have one moment to sit down and watch whatever happens to be on television, without my legs being criss-cross applesauce with a computer in my lap. I took a nap sitting up in the English lounge during lunch the other day, which was a definite first for me. When people ask me how I'm doing, my honest reply is that I'm swimming really hard just to keep my head above water. And I'm not saying it to get pity. I love my job and I wouldn't trade the opportunity to coach volleyball for all the spare hours in the world. 

But the truth is that my to-do list is never ending, and every hour of every day has something. I'm perpetually tired, and I probably will be until we hit Christmas break. I don't have a lot of me time these days, which means I don't have a lot of blog time. But these first two weeks back in the classroom have been exponentially better than my first two weeks last year. I love being back at school, and I love that I semi know what I'm doing this year. I love seeing so many of my students from last year, and I'm so enjoying trying to learn all the names of my new students. I can already tell my 5th period class is going to be a force to be reckoned with, but I welcome the challenge. Because maybe I'm swimming hard, and maybe my to-do list never ends, and maybe I'm always tired, but I wouldn't change one single thing.

But for now, let's get back to one of our regularly scheduled events. Because there has to be something regular happening around here!
I am [wildly/strangely/obviously] obsessed with: Working out. Which comes as no surprise to you all, I am sure. My day just doesn't feel complete without it. And I could be having the most stressful, horrible, nothing is going right kind of day, and then get in a solid workout and feel like everything has taken a turn for the better. It has that kind of power over me, and I know a lot of people don't understand it. But for me, it's a part of my life that I hope to always make a priority. Because there are so many more benefits than just being able to fit into my favorite pair of jeans. But that's a plus, too.

I have a collection of:  I'm not sure that I have a collection of anything. I recently went through a purging phase, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I got rid of anything and everything that was serving no purpose in my life. You might not believe me judging by the current state of my room, but nothing immediately comes to mind when I hear the word collection. I have a few too many pieces of stationery, but I still wouldn't consider that a collection. I guess I'll go Lululemon headbands. I just can't seem to resist buying one when I discover a new color. 

I am secretly (not so secretly): Well, if I tell you guys, it won’t be a secret anymore, will it? But I’m not sure what I’m secretly doing or considering. I’m training for a marathon, but that’s no secret. I’m looking to move out of my parents’ house sometime in the near future, but that’s no secret, either. I'm not planning on moving cities, nor am I planning to change jobs. So this question has left me at a bit of a loss. Sorry to not have any burning secrets to share with you guys!

When I was 7, I wanted to be: An astronaut. I had this weird obsession with all things space and stars and planets. Spending the night at NASA with Girl Scouts was one of the coolest experienced I’d ever had. I may or may not have even set an alarm on my phone when it was said that the satellite was going to pass by overhead. And I may or may not have woken up at 3:30am to see a blood moon. And then I tell you that Astronomy was my least favorite college class. It’s between that, and Literature of Islamophobia.

If I could do one thing today, it would be: I’m going to copy the blogger ahead of me and say a spa day. All you have to do is take one look at my forehead to know that my stress level is about a 12 out of 10. And not even stress, it’s just my every hour is busy and scheduled and I don’t have a lot of me time. But I went into all of that at the beginning of this post. But a day where I wake up without an alarm, get in a nice, long run, eat a breakfast fit for a princess – because it’s my favorite meal of the day – take a bubble bath, and then treat myself to a manicure, pedicure, massage, and anything else that means I’m pampering myself. I would read a book while sitting in the hot tub, and I would come back feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new week. Once volleyball season is over, it’s happening. You mark my words.

I’ve always dreamt of: Running a marathon. Funnily enough. Looks like I'm closer to crossing that one off than I thought I would be at this age. From as far back as I can remember, I've admired marathon runners. Because running a marathon is so much more than running. It's physical, it's mental, it's emotional, and though my training runs aren't even in the double digits quite yet, I'm loving every minute of it. And though I know it's not going to be all fun and games, it still blows my mind that I am going to be able to call myself one of those crazy marathoners.

My favorite way to travel is: If we’re talking about getting somewhere, I’ll always choose an airplane. I’m not one for long road trips – I just feel so gross after spending all day in the car – but once I get to my destination, I love walking, running, or biking my way through a new city. You find so many hidden gems that way, and sure, maybe you increase your chances of getting lost, and maybe it takes a little bit longer to get to your destination, but to me, it’s so worth it. I always bring a good pair of tennis shoes with me when I travel, because my favorite way to travel is on foot. And your feet can wear out real quick if you’re not careful.

You find the carousel in Central Park that Holden Caulfield wrode
And this unbeatable view from the Brooklyn Bridge
Adios, my friends! Enjoy your long weekend, if you get one. I know I'm more than grateful for this three-day weekend, and I'm hoping to check back in with you guys tomorrow. But don't hold me to it!