Update on Stength Training: Finding the Fitness Balance

You’ve probably (maybe?) noticed that I haven’t posted a strength training update for the last few months. Let me explain what has happened on the fitness front for the past few months.

The first week of March, during a particularly long and strenuous workout session, I hurt my knee. I had run 3 miles, done a lower body strength workout, and then gone to yoga. Normally, the yoga class is more relaxing than strenuous (although it’s not easy!), but there was a sub there who had an extremely challenging class planned for us.

Basically, all of this activity was just too much on my knees. I also think the catalyst was probably that even with all the work I’ve done to help correct my squat form, my mobility/flexibility issues prevent me from executing perfect squats, which increases the pressure on my knees, especially my left one, as I also tend to squat slightly to my left instead of center.

Squatrack

Squats are just not my friend. So for the next two weeks or so, I did minimal lower body strength training. A week before I had also signed up for a 5k to keep me motivated running on the treadmill during the brutal winter. Luckily, after taking several days off to rest and ice my knee, I found that I could run with no pain.

Treadmill

Although getting injured sucks, it also caused me to take a step back and realize that I was simply doing too much. Even with at least one rest day a week, I would often feel pretty exhausted and sore by the end of the week, and to be honest, I just wasn’t enjoying strength training four times a week. I generally prefer dance, running (albeit outside, not on a treadmill), yoga, and group fitness classes to solo strength training, and was finding that my workouts felt more like a chore than something I wanted to do.

Over the next few weeks, I started running outside more and loving it. The combination of running, listening to music, and being in the fresh air is just magical. After spending a few more weeks trying to increase my strength training back to four times a week, I realized that I would be much happier only doing it twice a week. Yes, I believe that strength training is EXTREMELY important, perhaps the most important activity women can do for their long-term health and fitness, so I will never cut it out of my routine. I also like to maintain a certain level of strength to keep my body healthy and to maintain (if not build) my muscle mass. I’ve even started to enjoy my strength workouts again now that they happen less often.

That being said, I’m now running 3-4 times a week with the goal of increasing my mileage each week in preparation for race training over the summer (If I only run 3, I take Body Attack as well), strength training twice a week, dancing once a week, and taking one yoga class a week (although I would like to increase to two if possible, because yoga is the BEST compliment to running).

Halfmarathonshirt (I plan to run the B.A.A. Half in 2015 as well!)

This new schedule has been making me much happier, and really, if working out doesn’t make you happier in some way, it’s not worth it. I’ve always struggled with finding the balance between what I feel I should be doing for some reason (i.e. lots of strength training, or working out for at least an hour each day) and what I want to be doing (i.e. running however much I feel like it).

Basically, find what you LIKE to do and do it! It’s always a good idea to do try new activities and to try to incorporate some strength, cardio, and flexibility training into your routine, but there are so many ways to do this. Find what works for you, what makes you feel good, and what you’ll stick with and don’t feel guilty about that!

Lemon Gremolata Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

Cauliflower pizza crusts have won their way into my heart. While I love a good doughy pizza, I also love being able to eat pizza that is actually good for me!

This Lemon Gremolata Pizza with Cauliflower Crust recipe was a great alternative to the classic mozzarella and tomato sauce. Gremolata is typically a chopped herb blend made with lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. In this recipe, the gremolata is made without lemon zest, but the whole pizza is topped with thin slices of lemon.

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Never had lemon on a pizza? It’s definitely an intense flavor, but delicious! Just make sure to slice your lemon as thinly as possible to avoid an overwhelming taste.

Start by making a cauliflower crust, or a regular flour-based one if you desire.

(I’m not going to reproduce the crust recipe here, so click the link above!)

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While the crust is baking, chop up the parsley, garlic, and lemon.

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Make the gremolata by combining olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Shred the parmesan cheese.

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Reduce oven heat to 425. Spread the gremolata evenly over the pizza crust, leaving a one inch margin around the edge. Top with cheese and lemon slices. (Again, I don’t have a round pizza stone, but a regular baking sheet works just fine!)

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Bake for 8-10 minutes.

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Cut into 3 wedges and serve!

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Here is the recipe from Oh My Veggies:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 prepared pizza crust, such as a cauliflower crust
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 small lemon, thinly sliced (use a mandoline slicer, if you have one)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Make the pizza crust. While the crust is still baking, chop up the parsley, garlic, and lemon and grate the parmesan cheese. When the crust is done baking, reduce oven heat to 425 degrees.
2. Combine parsley, garlic, and olive oil in a small bowl.
3. Sprinkle gremolata mixture onto pizza crust, leaving a 1-inch margin around the edge. Top with cheese and lemon slices.
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese has melted and lemons have softened. Cut into wedges and serve!

Pineapple, Tempeh, and Vegetable Curry

Last week I set out to make this Pineapple Cashew Curry. It sounded great, but I thought I’d use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes to add in nutrients. Then I wanted to add some protein, so I thought I’d add some tempeh. Plus I remembered some extra broccoli in the fridge and thought I’d throw that in. Then I just wasn’t feeling the cashews. And I wanted this curry spicier than the original.

OK, so this recipe is no longer the original, and is definitely less of an authentic curry, but it is PACKED with nutrients and flavor and hey, it’s almost an original recipe at this point!

Start by chopping up the onion, garlic, ginger, tempeh, sweet potatoes, carrots, pepper, and broccoli.

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Since I added ingedients to this recipe, you will probably have to use two large pans unless you have one huge one!

Start by heating oil in one pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 or 3 minutes.

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Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute.

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Add tempeh and stir-fry for 5 minutes, until it starts to brown.

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At this point, if you need to use a second pan, heat a small amount of oil in it over medium heat. Pour half of the tempeh mixture into that pan. Then add all the remaining vegetables, splitting them evenly between the two pans. Add 1/4 tsp each of salt and red pepper flakes to each pan.

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Saute vegetables for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together coconut milk, soy sauce, curry powder, and curry paste. Chop up the pineapple.

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Split the coconut milk mixture between the 2 pans and add pineapple. Turn the heat down to medium-low to simmer.

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Let curry simmer for 30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are softened.

Add frozen peas and cook for 5 minutes more.

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Serve by itself or over rice. (Honestly, I don’t think this needs rice at all!)

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Here is my modified, semi-original version of the curry:

Pineapple, Tempeh, and Vegetable Curry

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 8 oz tempeh, cut into cubes
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 14oz. can light coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp.  yellow curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1.5 cups fresh pineapple, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Chop all of your veggies so that you have them ready to go.
  2. You will likely need two large pans for this recipe. Heat olive oil in one pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute more.  Add tempeh and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
  4. If you are using a second pan, heat a small amount of oil in it and heat over medium heat. Add half of tempeh mixture. The split the rest of the veggies, salt, and red pepper flakes between the two pans. Sauté for about 5 minutes.
  5. While the veggies are sautéing, whisk together the coconut milk, soy sauce, curry powder and curry paste. Chop up the pineapple. When the veggies have cooked for 5 minutes, split the milk mixture between the two pans and add the pineapple. Turn the heat down to medium-low.
  6. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are all the way cooked and softened.
  7. Add the frozen peas and cook for 5 minutes more.
  8. I recommend serving alone, although serving over rice is an option.