Monday, February 29, 2016

Mountain Monday & Leap Day Fun

Winter might be over here in Shenzhen. We officially sweated our butts off climbing the mountain today. We were met by our local park employee who loves taking group pictures for us. Getting to the top of Nanshan wouldn't be the same without a photo to prove it.

It was so nice to be greeted by such amazing weather on Leap Day. No one had to twist my arm to get my #OiselleLeap on and show off my favorite #flystyle for a chance to win a head-to-toe Oiselle outfit. 

Lately I have been really enjoying my Yoga Camp daily videos, but I've also been missing Pilates class at the studio. The instructor is having a baby, so they have taken the class off the schedule and I don't know when it will be back. This afternoon I popped over to Booya Fitness and found an awesome 30 minute Pilates video to do at home.

If you haven't tried Booya Fitness yet, now is a great time to do it. Today they are launching the Cardio Blast Challenge. Check out these great prizes up for grabs.

To enter all you have to do is sign up for Booya Fitness (free trial, monthly, quarterly or annual subscription) and complete a cardio workout! That's it. You're going to work out anyway. Why not enter to win an awesome prize too? I did!! Click here to sign up.

To round out all this fitness, I made another batch of my banana peanut butter protein bars.

How are you spending Leap Day?

This is not a sponsored post, but Booya Fitness will compensate me for any referrals. So, if you signed up using my link, thanks!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Twisted Yoga Benefits

I love a good twisted yoga pose. Especially first thing in the morning and today my yoga camp video delivered.

Twisted yoga poses have lots of benefits. This is good to know because some poses are downright uncomfortable! Now, whenever I feel like bailing out of a pose, I try to think about how good my body and mind will feel after.

Half Twist Pose:

This one challenges my bad posture. I have to work hard to hold a straight back and open shoulders. It's good for your chest, spine and back. It strengthens core muscles and encourages internal organ activity.

Thread the Needle (Revolved Child's Pose):

One of my favorites because it just feels good. Good for upper chest, opens shoulder muscles, and gets blood flowing to upper body.

Revolved Lunge Pose:

There is so much going on in this pose that it feels good when I hit it. The lunge part of the pose both strengthens the quad and stretches the hip flexors. Adding in the twist engages the core for balance and stimulates those internal organs. I also feel a good stretch in my upper body because I have tight shoulders.

One of the best ways to celebrate a good yoga session? Go on a sunshine walk.

Morning walks are just so much better with skies like this.

What is your favorite/least favorite twisted yoga pose?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sweaty Saturday

Back in January I posted about having a non-running back-up plan. Little did I know that yoga would become a big part of that plan. I've been doing Instagram yoga for years (the I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'll make myself look like that picture kind), but had only taken a few classes before moving to China.

As much as I would love to be back to running, I am loving my morning yoga. It's not the same as going out for a run, but it is invigorating. And, I love seeing my progress. Taking classes has definitely helped, but I've felt the most change since I started doing the daily yoga camp videos.

After yoga, some coffee and breakfast (prepared by mrC), we took a walk to see the Shekou School Maker Faire hosted by the Shenzhen American International School. If you are not familiar, a Maker Faire is a showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness in a DIY way. If you have chance, visit an event. It's pretty amazing.

On the way there I showed mrC a yoga studio that I have been trying to find for months. We walk past a billboard advertisement for this place all the time, but could never figure out the address. They let you try a class for free, so I signed up for one next week.

It was such a pretty day that after the Maker Faire, we decided to get our bikes out. We headed to the Shenzhen Bikeway hoping to reach the Futian Mangrove Ecological Park. It was very crowded so instead we turned around after 5 miles and headed back to the apartment. We'll try again on a week day.

Between yesterday's leg workout and today's 10 mile bike ride, my butt was feeling sore. Doing this version of a pigeon pose helped with that. I think it might be my favorite.

Ever been to a Maker Faire?
Favorite way to do pigeon pose? (Supine, seated, or prone)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Favorites

It's the final Friday of February, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite things.

Food - I picked up some goodies on a recent shopping trip to Hong Kong (there are A LOT more options there). I figured munching on the Sweet Potato chips would be better than my usual choices and they're good. I love a little something sweet for dessert and these Organic Hard Candies just sounded healthier (50 calories for 3 pieces works for me!). I was hoping to find hemp hearts but could only find chia seeds...a good runner-up. And I've gotten back to making a daily smoothie. 

Fitness - I'm on day 22 of the Yoga Camp videos. I don't know what I'm going to do when I get to the end. I've been doing strength every other day (abs, arms, legs) and mixing up the workouts to prevent getting bored. My goal to walk at least 30 minutes feels really good, even without sunshine. Today I walked nearly 2.5 miles.

Fitness fashion - Loving my Aspire pants from Athleta, my new Apple Sport Watch, and the Power Y tank (with built in bra) and the design on the Enlighten Crop from Lululemon. 

Free fitness equipment - First, I love these little areas scattered throughout our apartment complex and the parks in the city. Mostly, I'm loving this leg press. Who needs a gym membership when you have this?!?

What's on your favorites list this week?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Captain Obvious Runs for President

It's true! Captain Obvious has registered for the Presidential Race...and he's got his running shoes on (I wonder which brand he wears?)! He announced his plans to run for President on Tuesday. Watch...


Here is his training plan:

1. He's running all over the US and sharing his thoughts about each state...including yours!

2. He will be hanging out at the debate with the other runners (watch for photo-bombing) and tweeting live. Follow him to see more of this:

3. He has all the right training gear.

4. His sponsor, is making sure that he has a place to rest his legs and recover properly.

Join Captain Obvious and his more than 300,000 followers as he advances through each stage of the Presidential Race. Follow his training and send him a cheer along the away. He'd love to hear from you!

Captain Obvious says, "I'm fit to run. The other candidates don't seem fit at all." 

I love a good race! Can't wait to see who wins!

Tweet: Run with the #ObviousPresident in the Presidential Race. @CaptainObvious #sponsored

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Full Day and Full Body Workout

I could not get the China Internet to cooperate, so I missed my morning yoga session.

There was no time to dwell about it though. We hopped on the ferry and headed to Hong Kong for a little belated bday shopping!!

My bday gift from mrC!!! Of course the watch that I got had no charge...had to wait until we got back to the apartment to play with it.

Back at the apartment, I got in a full body afternoon workout. Abs, legs, arms.

3 minute Ninja abs. Still a favorite.

10 minute butt and thigh video. I'm liking this one.

Dirty Dozen interval style. 40 seconds work, 5 seconds rest. I did it this way since I have lighter weights, I could push the reps.

We made crockpot chicken for dinner and then went for an evening walk.

I can't wait to play with my watch!!!

What kind of sport/activity/running watch do you have?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Best & Worst

Today I thought I'd give you a little best and worst parts of the day. Warning: I use these terms lightly and may be heavy on the best parts.

I did my yoga camp video even before having coffee this morning. I really love these daily sessions.  I'm beginning to have more faith in my practice because I don't have my eyes glued to the screen the whole time anymore. This pose from today was my favorite. When Adriene said "feel it in your core," I did!

Trying to bend forward was my least favorite moment. How did my body get so tight??? My goal is to slowly make some sort of progress on to do that? I have no idea.

Best and worst moments from my hike this morning. Best: hanging out with these ladies. Worst: it was muggy cold. Is that even possible?? I really dislike the feeling of damp air.

I love, love, love fresh fruit. Best: this delicious snack today. Worst: it was the last of the strawberries. 

mrC and I like to cook and eat at home, but we rarely pass up a dinner invitation. Best: good times with good friends. Worst: I can't think of one!!

"Lantern Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, marking the last day of Lunar New Year celebrations. And this year, the festival falls on Monday, Feb. 22. During Lantern Festival, people carry lanterns and solve riddles written on them." Best: I love fireworks. Worst: I do not love fireworks in the middle of the night.

Tell me one of your best/worst from today!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

4 Reasons Morning Workouts Rock!

Another morning of working out is in the books. I love getting back to my routine. Not that I don't love a trip to the Maldives (I may mention this in every post for awhile, you've been warned!), but when I'm not on vacay it feels good to start the day with fitness.

Today I grabbed the iPad and got warmed up with Yoga Camp. The intention for day 18 was I Surrender.  I kept this on my mind during all of my workouts.

During yoga I tried to let go of my obsession to make every pose perfectly aligned. I surrender my need for perfection.

During the Fitness Bender: Butt & Thigh video, I pushed through the squat jumps even though my legs were burning by that point. I surrender feeling intimidated by shaky legs.

I learned about Fitness Blender from my friend Nicolasa. They have a ton of free workout videos.  I followed up my leg workout with Upper Body Workout. I surrender to the power of weights.

Finally I did a 5 minute ab workout from Popsugar. The last move was so hard, I had to stop twice. I surrender feeling inadequate for taking breaks.

Yoga, legs, arms, core. I was busy this morning and I love it! I'm sure there are lots of reasons why working out in the morning rocks, but here are some of mine:

1. Great way to wake up - getting moving always shakes off the sluggishness.

2. Sweat-n-shine then I'm ready for the day - I definitely have more energy to take on the day.

3. Rumor has it we work out more in the AM - for me this is so true.  Life gets in the way if I try to workout later in the day. It's easier to get it done first thing.

4. Starts the calorie burning furnace for the rest of the day - I don't know how this works, but it's ok with me if it's true!

After all that working out, I took my sweaty self for a walk to cool off and look who came out to play. My shadow! I haven't seen sunshine in about 5 days and wow, I missed it.

When do you workout?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tabata Randomness

I'm an early riser. mrC is not. It's always worked out perfectly that while he sleeps, I get in some at-home workouts. For some reason, all the workouts I chose to do this morning were Tabata style.

I started with an oldie, but a goodie from Run to the Finish: 4 Minute Ninja Abs. This is one of my go-tos when I need a good ab session. (side note: the tag on my tank drove me crazy!)

I saw this one posted by Amanda Miller on Facebook: Goodbye Inner Thigh. This was my first time trying this one and I really liked it. If you don't already follow Amanda, you should because she shares great stuff.

All of my Tabata workouts are made easy with the use of my Gymboss Timer.  I love this thing. 

mrC and I made a pledge to take a walk every morning. After my indoor workouts, the cool air felt good as we strolled through our little garden courtyard. You can totally tell I'm a westerner by the to-go coffee I'm carrying. 

We investigated the deserted play/exercise area (which by-the-way is never empty) and found this awesome leg press.  Next time we walk I'm bringing a towel to wipe off the seat, so I can use it.

When we got back, mrC went to work and I dove into Yoga Camp. Somehow nearly two weeks have gone by since my last video class :( It felt good to follow Adriene through some flow today. 

I always take video of my yoga workout. First for the pics (this is a blog after all!) and second for the chance to assess my progress (I don't have a mirror). Like today, I can see that my "flat back" is not actually flat. This gives me something to think about and work on the next time. 

My brunch was inspired by this photo posted on Instagram. It's been weeks since I made a smoothie (the cold weather might have swayed that), but my new trend is healthy eating, so...

The rest of the day turned rainy, so it was a perfect time to hit up a local driver to take us to Metro (the European box store). They don't carry a huge amount of western products, but they usually have big bags of pre-washed salad and Tyson chicken breasts. Not today. 

I did find this great set of storage containers. Anyone who has ever lived in a high rise apartment in the city understands how easy it is to get bugs. We do whatever we can to prevent that.

TGIF fitness friends!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Bars

I'm not a fan of bananas. True story: a friend once chased me around the dorm lounge trying to make me touch the mushy fruit inside. Totally freaked me out.

Now that I'm miles away from that silly college girl, I love to use them in my homemade protein bars.

Making the protein bars was an excellent follow up to a morning climb up Nanshan mountain. It's been cold and cloudy in Shenzhen since I got back from the Maldives (yes, I love saying that!), but we made it to the top without getting rained on.

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Bars are one of my favorite homemade snacks. I haven't been making the best food choices lately, so I checked the ingredients for my recipe and figured I could still make them here in China. And they're still gluten free.

Here's my recipe:

2 cups quick cooking gluten free oats
1 cup protein powder (I use vanilla)
1/4 cup organic buckwheat flour
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 cup nut butter (I use almond butter)
1/4 cup honey
2 mashed ripe bananas 
1 tbsp cinnamon

Mix together. Spread about 1/2" inch thick onto cookie sheet lined with cooking-sprayed wax paper. 
Bake 350 degrees 15 min. 
Remove from wax paper. Let cool and cut.

I always have a couple right away. 

After the hike, I met mrC at the salon. He got a haircut and I got my nails done. They were seriously overdue. 

On our walk back to the apartment, I saw this scooter and now I think I want one. Except it would put a dent in my Fitbit stats. 

We didn't do the souvenir thing on our trip. We bought some incidentals: post cards, a disposable underwater camera, sunscreen. It was enough to earn a free gift and tonight we put it to use while making dinner. I love it!

Do you make your own snacks?
Souvenirs or no souvenirs when you travel?