Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fall is chili time!

Okay, not my fault, chili does not photograph well.  But, seriously, who doesn't love a good bowl of chili when it is cold and rainy out? 

This Sunday as I watched football and hung around the house (laundry and such) I cooked up some delicious chili to eat throughout the week.  This dish is of the "semi-homemade" variety.  Although I'm not a big fan of Sandra Lee herself, I do quite a bit of her "semi-homemade" style of cooking.

I used a chili seasoning packet but otherwise just went on my own with what I decided to add to it.  I used extra lean ground beef, red kidney beans, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, corn, and minced onion. I love the crispness of the corn, the creaminess of the beans, and the all around deliciousness that is chili. 

Hope everyone is enjoying fall and all of your favorite fall foods!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My experience with Albany F.I.T. Boot Camp

I've been wanting to write this post for a while, and I finally managed to sit down and actually write it.

Last fall I started to think that I wanted to add something to my workout routine (that consisted of mainly just cardio) to build strength and tone my body.  I was concerned about trying to go about this on my own.  I've always known myself well enough to know that I need goals and a start and a finish to help me get through a workout.  If I go out to exercise without a start & finish already planned, I will work out for about 10 minutes and then think, "Whew! That was probably pretty good.  Time to rest."  This is why I like to run 5Ks and take classes such as spin.  Having a start and a finish already defined helps me to keep motivated.  And on top of that, I also don't know what the heck I'm doing when it comes to this stuff!

I thought about getting a personal trainer but was worried about the cost.  Then, a friend told me about F.I.T. Boot Camps.  She had been doing it with her husband for the past few months and loved it.  It seemed interesting and I decided to give it a shot.  Well, that was last fall and now, about 11 months later, I am still getting up at 5:00 a.m. three times a week to get my butt kicked by the trainers at the Albany F.I.T. Boot Camp!

On the ropes!  Something I'd only ever seen on The Biggest Loser before this class.
Kettle bell lifts. Ow.
When I started, we were working out outdoors at the Empire State Plaza.  As it got colder outside we moved to the Rensselaer Boys and Girls Club.  And as of the past few months, we've moved to the F.I.T. Boot Camp's brand new private facility on Fuller Road in Albany.  Although the new facility doesn't have the same fun as working out outdoors at Empire Plaza or require the sometimes creativity that we'd get with our workouts at the Boys and Girls Club -- it does have amazing equipment and LOTS of new times & class offerings.

So, with those logistics out of the way.  Let me say I LOVE this boot camp.  It really has been exactly what I needed in my workout.  It continually challenges me, it is fun, and I am not getting bored!  The trainers there are really great.  They provide the perfect amount of tough-ness and are always pushing me to do better.  They are understanding and helpful when you need it.  Despite it being an often PACKED class, I feel like I get one-on-one attention and the trainers have really gotten to know me and what I can do and want to do in the classes.

My trainer, James, holding me back while running with the bands.
Over the months I've brought a number of friends with me and everyone is always impressed with the workouts and the staff at F.I.T. Boot Camps.  The past couple months they've started to get more involved with promoting the classes and the facility using social media.  Given my line of work I find this incredibly smart and impressive.  It also provides me with these gems of photos on Facebook of myself working out.  I have had SO MANY friends from all over the country comment to me on these pictures.  Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes it makes me really proud.  Actually, mostly proud.  When I look at these pictures I feel the same way that I do when I look at the pictures from the sprint triathlon I did.  I'm proud of the accomplishments I've made over the past year.  I really love that I made the decision to start going to boot camp and am still enjoying every minute of it!  Well, maybe not enjoying every minute.  It is tough! :)

My birthday photo shoot is below.  You know I enjoy this if I even get up at 5:00 a.m. on my birthday :)  Happy weekend everyone!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Weekend Recap

Happy Labor Day everybody!! Can you believe it is September already?  The summer flew by for me but it has been a really great one.  Filled with lots of friends, family, travel, good food, and major accomplishments.  I hope that you all had a great Labor Day weekend relaxing and enjoying some of the beautiful weather we experienced.

I started the weekend with a much needed relaxing night at home on the couch on Friday.  Saturday morning I was up early to head home to Rhode Island for the evening to spend some time with my little [the word "little" used loosely] and mom.  J just moved into a great apartment on Federal Hill and I had a ton of fun exploring his neighborhood, enjoying some great food and drink, and just hanging out and having fun.

For a first apartment, I've got to admit, he has a great place.  Complete with an amazing balcony!

His place is right by Federal Hill which made it an easy walk to eat at Cassarino's and then pick up some pastries around the corner.  And can you believe those portions?  Believe it not, my mom and I split our meal.  What you see in front of the two of us is technically a 1/2 portion each.  Wow!

After dinner & dessert we walked to a bar called Congress Tavern and tried their fall special drink called a "Pumpkin Chuck" -- half Shipyard Pumpkin beer and half Woodchuck Cider, rimmed with caramel and cinnamon & sugar.  It was delicious!

After drinks we walked towards the river to check out Providence's signature, WaterFire.   I hadn't been to a WaterFire in ages and forgot how beautiful and enchanting it can be.  Too bad I was with my mom and brother and not on a romantic date :)

Despite being pretty exhausted, I managed to get a second wind and experience Providence nightlife as my brother sees it.  Complete with a pedicab ride, which was one of the more frightening experiences of my adult life...

After a great weekend at home hanging out with my brother and exploring Providence, I headed back to Albany on Sunday for a fun-filled, last-minute planned, summery day in Saratoga with one of my good friends.  I put in a few (unsuccessful) last bets at the race track, ate at Circus Cafe on Broadway, and then headed over to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to see Jason Mraz in concert!  We bought lawn seats, where we watched most of the show, but for the end were able to move up to the very front row!  In front of us was only the group of people that were seated in the "pit."  We had an amazing view and an incredible experience seeing Jason finish the show and Christina Perri coming out at the end to close the encore.

I capped off the Labor Day weekend with a relaxing day at Grafton Park hanging by the water and soaking in some final rays of sunshine for the summer!!  For dinner, I cooked up what I've been eating a lot of lately... a spinach & (fat free) cheese omelet -- made with 1 egg yolk & 3 whites.  Topped with a cut up tomato and some salsa on the side.  And I ate it in a location you can find me in a lot lately -- sitting out on my front porch :)

I hope everyone had a great weekend and summer.  I'll certainly miss the warm sunshine but looking forward to all the fun that Fall brings.  Those Pumpkin Chucks weren't too bad :)

I want to close this post with a very special congratulations to two of my best friends who each got engaged this past week.  I can't believe how grown up we're all getting but I honestly could not be happier for my two friends and their respective new fiances.  I hope these guys know how lucky they are :)