Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Very Figgy Day to You!

fresh black figs in a bowl on a blue table
Who else loves figs?
Image: Shutterstock
When I was little, I’m pretty sure I had no idea that figs existed—other than as the name of the delicious and chewy cookie we bought sometimes. When I got older, I did learn that it was a fruit, though I never tried it. My dad never cooked much, and though my mom did, it was always fairly stereotypically American—tuna casserole, spaghetti, meatloaf. We didn’t eat fancy things like figs, in part because as kids we were pretty picky and probably would have just turned up our noses.

But after college, I had to learn to fend for myself. I’ve never been much of a junk food eater (bread is my downfall), and I learned frommy dad’s illness that processed foods have a whole lot of unnecessary and often unhealthy things in them, so I didn’t want to use too many of those. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to cook.

But, over the years, I’ve taught myself how to make quite a few meals from scratch (along with some help from friends more food-snobby than me) instead of from the box. Thank God for the Internet! I didn’t actually try fresh figs until I moved to Seattle and I happened to order a pizza that had some on top. What can I say; it was love at first bite!

You can imagine my elation when I spotted some figs at Trader Joe’s this weekend. I still don’t know much about using them in recipes, but I love buying foods I don’t know how to cook with just to force myself to learn how. So, I bought a bunch of figs.

We’ve used them in two dinners so far. Earlier this week, I sliced some up thinly and put them on top of some homemade pizzas along with artichoke hearts, fresh basil, olives, Canadian bacon, pesto, red sauce, and (of course) mozzarella cheese. Last night, we had steak, spicy baked kale, and sautéed figs—all I did was slice them in half and sauté them in a little oil for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Both nights, the figs lent just the perfect amount of sweet to our meals. Next, I think I’ll try them in some morning oatmeal.

Besides the taste, eatingfigs provides an array of health benefits. They are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and pantothenic acid. They can help lower blood pressure, assist in weight loss because of the high dietary fiber, protect against postmenopausal breast cancer, and protect against macular degeneration.

Have you ever cooked with figs? What is your favorite fig recipe? I’d love to hear some more ideas for how to use these lovely little fruits up!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Circuits, Circuits, and More Circuits!

Circuit workouts are perhaps one of my most loathed and loved types of exercise. I loathe them because they absolutely kill me, and they do it quickly. The combination of high intensity and short intervals is quick to raise my heart rate and make me start breathing heavily. In short, I always feel completely out of shape when I do them.

But I love circuit workouts for the very same reasons--they work me hard, and there is no doubt when I am doing them that I'm making my body stronger with each exercise I'm able to complete. They're extremely effective in a very short amount of time.

I've most recently been doing the 30 Day Ab Challenge event created by Robyn Gardner - you might have heard of it, as it's a Facebook event that unexpectedly went viral and currently has 2.7 million listed as "going." I've been working my core through yoga for the last year, but never took the time to sit down and just do some good old fashioned situps, crunches, leg raises, and planks outside of yoga. All I can say is MAN OH MAN does it burn! But I love it because it's a short and sweet addition to my daily routine that I can feel is making a big difference already. Plus, exercising my abs just before bed reminds me to stretch as well, so I get a few yoga poses in as a cool down before tucking in for the night.
Robyn Gardner's 30 Day Ab Challenge!
Robyn Gardner's 30 Day Ab Challenge!

I'm particularly grateful for the ab challenge this month because my knee has continued to bother me even nearly three weeks after twisting it, so I've had to cut down a lot on most other exercise. Traditional mat exercises that don't require me to use my knees have been a godsend these past few weeks as I suffer from yoga withdrawals.

I also got a fun infographic in my inbox the other day from a website called, which included a list of "dog inspired exercises"that I found adorable (if a little cheesy):
Dog Vacay Get Fit With Fido Infographic
Infographic via

It looks like a fun and intense circuit series, so I'm sad that I won't be able to try it until my knee decides to behave itself. Would you consider giving this circuit a try? If you do, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Your Body: It’s the Bee’s Knees

love your body
Love your body like this: every step of the way.
Over the past year, I’ve learned how to be more appreciative of my body and all the amazing things it does for me. It’s easy to forget how hard we ask our bodies to work each day, but doing so would be a mistake. We might have aches and pains sometimes, we might not look exactly the way we want to, we might be frustrated that our bodies have limits—but that doesn’t mean that they’re not amazing things. Our bodies are our homes, and we should treat them well and appreciate them while we can.

About 10 days ago, I slipped while walking down a hill. I didn’t fall—I was able to stop myself from doing that. Unfortunately, in the process, I injured my knee and the muscles around it. A week and a half later, I’m just barely able to walk without a limp. And let me tell you, after just a week of not being able to climb stairs without pain, walk normally, or go to yoga, I really appreciate what my body is normally capable of.

So, that is my wisdom for the week: appreciate your body, love your body!

I was finally able to go back to yoga yesterday. My knee is still weak but feeling much stronger. No running for a while, but I’m happy just to be mostly back on my feet.

With my knees on my mind, I also thought it would be a good opportunity to do a little research on anatomy. Here are some of the neat facts about the knee that I learned:
knee joint anatomy
Your AMAZING knees look like this!
Image: Shutterstock
  • There are four bones that come together at the knee: the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), patella (kneecap), and head of the fibula (strut bone on the outside of the leg).
  • Only the femur and tibia form the knee joint itself.
  • Two muscle groups are responsible for movement of the knee joint: the quadriceps and the hamstrings.
  • Four ligaments are responsible for the stabilization of the entire knee joint: the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
  • Bursas (fluid-filled sacs) provide cushioning for the joint during motion.
  • Two menisci on top of the tibia function as shock absorbers and prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. Lack of this cartilage is what causes arthritis in the knee.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

News: I've Joined Team Ignite

Hello, friends! Today's post will be a quick one -- I just wanted to let you all know that I've been invited to join Team Ignite as an Ignite Ambassador. What this means for you all is that I will periodically be sharing my thoughts about Ignite products and sharing any IN news that I think will be relevant to you all. In no way will these product reviews and shout outs take over what this blog is about--rather, I hope that they will add to it and provide you all with valuable feedback when it comes to choosing fitness products that are right for you.

I am new to Ignite Naturals not only as an Ambassador, but also as a consumer. I've only ever tried a few of their products, and would be more than happy to hear advice from any of you on which I should try next! In that same mien, if there are any new IN products you're wondering about and want to hear an honest review of, let me know and I'll see what I can do to try it out (I can't promise I'll review everything that comes my way, but I'm certainly open to suggestions).

Why did I decide to sign on for this? A big part of me has always been curious about nutrition supplements and products that help your body prepare for and recover from exercise. I like Ignite Naturals because they use real food products in all their supplements, which is something you all know I love the idea of. If you're reading this post and wondering, "What the heck is this Ignite Naturals thing?" you can find out more information about the company and products on the Ignite Naturals website.

Please don't hesitate to send any questions, comments, or concerns my way via comments, email, or social media (all listed on the Contact page).

Until next time, here's a thought to keep with you as you tackle this week, and life in general:
What if I fall? Oh, my darling, what if you fly?
What if I fall? Oh, my darling, what if you fly?