Saturday, November 30, 2013

P90X/Les Mills Combat Hybrid Weeks 2 and 3

As a recap, I am doing a hybrid workout with P90X, Les Mills Combat and running.  I just finished week 3 and I feel strong.  The workouts have been easy for me but I’ve been slipping a little on the nutrition.  I’m using the P90X app on my iPhone to not only track my workouts but to track my meals.  It’s been helpful.  According to the nutrition guide I need 1,800 calories.  Without netting out the calories burned for my workouts that is about what I’m consuming.  I am trying to follow phase I, or the Fat Shredder Phase.  This is where I’ve been struggling.  It is tough keeping it to one carb a day.  I think on my running/cardio days I will allow myself 2 carbs and stick to the Fat Shredder option on my strength training days.  I’ll let you know how that works.

Here was my schedule during week 2


Monday - P90X Core Synergistics

Highlights: I did about 60 push-ups.  I’m mostly doing modified push-ups at this point. I love banana rolls!

Tuesday - 4 mile run at 5:15am.  It was a chilly morning at about 34 degrees.  I ran faster than normal at 9’53” minute mile. 

Wednesday -P90X Shoulders and Arms

I increased my weight for some moves and increased reps on others.  Each time I have to bring it.  I won’t see results unless I push each time and do the best I can.

Thursday – Les Mills Combat HIIT 1 

I’ll be honest, I was expecting punching and kicking but this 30 minute workout was interval resistance training and included moves such as dead-lifts, squats, power cleans, and power presses. It also included push-ups, burpees, plyo lunges, and jump squats.  Hmmm…not what I wanted to do the day before my leg workout.  However, it was a great workout.

Friday – Oh good thing I had a doctor’s appointment that morning.  I had to fast for blood work so no workout.  Rest day!!


 Saturday - P90X Legs and Back and Swimming

All I’ll say is I pushed too much last week so I didn’t want to push too hard again.  I like being able to walk the day after legs.  I also went to the YMCA and did some laps in the pool while my son had swim lessons. 

Sunday – 8.25 mile run.  It was warm and a little rainy and just a little hilly.  The P90X stretch later in the day felt so good! 

Week 3

Monday - P90X Core Synergistics

This week I did over 75 push-ups.  Again, I did mostly modified.  Next week I’ll try to do just regular push-ups.

Tuesday –  Combat 60 Extreme Cardio Fighter.   In this 60 minute workout you do a little Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Karate, and Kick Boxing.  The punches and kicks are the same as in the other DVDs but there is something about the order and combinations of moves that make this work out the best so far.  I never got bored!

Wednesday -P90X  Shoulders and Arms

I pushed it again and I felt great.

Thursday – Les Mills Combat  60 Live: Ultimate Warrior’s Workout

Another great Les Mills Combat workout.  There is an energy with the DVD that is catchy.  It might be that the instructors are pumped and working out in front of a live audience.

Friday – P90X Legs and Back. 

Once again, I didn’t want to push it but I did stay focused.  Oh, single leg wall squats and the calf raise series.  I don’t think I like you.

 Saturday – Kenpo X and Swimming

I love the Kenpo X workout.  There are lots of blocks, punches and kicks.  But they are done in sets rather than in a routine like Combat.  As a result I don’t think this workout is as intense but it is a great workout nonetheless.

If you want more information about P90X or Les Mills Combat, leave me a message.  Let's chat.  To order these fitness programs, visit my site:


Monday, November 11, 2013

Meatless Monday: Chickpea Sauce and Whole Wheat Spaghetti

When I was a vegetarian, this was one of my staples.  It is delicious and very different from other pasta sauces and most important, it has a good source of protein. 

I was in the mood for pasta tonight but I didn't want a boring red sauce.  I wanted something different.  There was a recipe I used to make all the time when I was a vegetarian but hadn't made it in a long time: Spaghetti with Chickpea Sauce.  It might sound kind of strange but it is tasty and has a good amount of protein and is satisfying.  I modified the original recipe found in Jane Brody's Good Food Book.  I love this cookbook.  You should see my copy.  The cover is missing, the book is split in half and the pages are splattered.  I cook a lot and this book shows it!


1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion cut in half and then thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 tsp rosemary, crushed
2 Tbs parsley, minced
1 pound spaghetti
fresh ground pepper
1/4C parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Cook pasta according to directions.  In a food processor, puree 1/2 can of chickpeas with a little of the pasta water.  In a large saucepan, heat the oil and cook onions and garlic until they begin to brown.  Add the tomatoes, rosemary, chickpea puree and the remaining chickpeas.  Cook the mixture on a low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the parsley and pepper and 1/4 C of parmesan cheese. 

Toss the hot spaghetti with the sauce and add more parmesan cheese and diced tomatoes to taste.

Both my boys ate all of their dinners so this is a kid friendly, protein packed Meatless Monday dinner that is a little different than the traditional pasta dish! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

P90X- Les Mills Combat Hybrid Work Out Week 1


P90X is an "Extreme Home Fitness" program designed by Tony Horton and Beachbody.  If you are serious about getting in shape, this is a great tool.  There are a few "programs" to choose from -- Classic, Doubles and Lean.  I opted for the Lean program because I wanted a workout that developed muscle but also included a few more cardio workouts.  Don't think this is the "easy" program.  It is geared more toward getting lean rather than building big muscles and is just as extreme!

I did one round of P90X before: in January through March 2013.  I got pretty good results:

Weight: lost 12 pounds

Waist: lost 2.5 inches

Hips: lost 4.5 inches (yippee!)

Chest: lost 2 inches

Arms: no change, but I have more definition

Legs: lost 1.5 inches (each leg)

This time though I am going for great results.  I don't need to lose weight but I am looking to see just how much definition and toned muscle I can build.  It will be a challenge considering this is the WORST time of the year for me – Halloween through New Years!

P90X is excellent as it is but I am looking to keep things fresh and mix them up a bit so I decided to do a hybrid program this round.  I will be doing a P90X/Les Mills Combat/Run hybrid.  On the cardio days (day 2, 4 and 6) I will be doing a Les Mills Combat workout or go for a run.

This was my first week of the P90X/Les Mills Combat hybrid workout.  I've missed P90X and I'm pumped to be doing it again.  My week included the following workouts:

Monday - P90X Core Synergistics

So what exactly is Core Synergistics you ask?  This routine works your entire body,  but it emphasizes your core.

Tuesday - 4 mile run at 5:15am with headlamp on with a group of local moms rockin’ it!

Wednesday -P90X Shoulders and Arms

This is one of my favorites, with a lot of traditional moves using hand weights or resistance bands such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, tricep kick backs, chair dips, flys, etc.  They might be traditional but they are Tony Horton style – extreme!

Thursday - Les Mills Combat 30 Minute Kick Start

30 minutes fly by with this routine.  Great music and fun moves with lots of punches and kicks! 

Friday - P90X Legs and Back

This is a killer workout.  I love this one.  I do lat pull downs using my Bowflex instead of doing pull-ups.  You can use a resistance band to do this exercise if you can’t do pull-ups.  Maybe one day soon I’ll get there.   Lots of different moves for the legs too so it doesn’t get boring.

Saturday - Les Mills Combat HIIT 30

Another 30 minutes fly by.  This incorporates some high intensity punches and kicks and some weight training.  What a perfect combo to get your heart rate up and burn some calories.

Sunday - P90X Stretch

Ahhh…what a wonderful workout!

I came out too strong and now I'm paying for it.  My legs are still sore.  Next week I'm still going to give it my all but with Legs and Back I am going to bring it down a notch so that I can actually go for a run next Sunday. Plus I have to keep in mind that this is the first week and I have 11 more weeks to go and grow!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quick Enough for Weeknights Carnitas

Late last week a colleague sent me a recipe for carnitas and it sounded so good that I knew I needed to give it a try.  Carnitas, meaning “little meats" are a type of braised or roasted pork in Mexican cuisine.  I call it yummy goodness. 


Typically this wouldn't be considered "healthy" fare since it is often braised after being fried but this recipe doesn’t fry other than to brown the meat and I was able to make delicious substitutions to cut down on the simple carbs. 


This recipe uses pork shoulder or Boston butt.  Boston butt is a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg.  It is commonly used for "pulled pork," which is prepared by smoking at lower cooking temperatures and is then pulled from the bone and served with or in a barbecue sauce.  This recipe is way better than typical "pulled pork."


Just a little fun fact, why is it called butt? Long ago, shoulder roasts were packed and shipped, often from Boston, in a barrel that was called a butt.  I learn something new every day. 


Pork can be a good source of protein with 24 grams per 3 oz serving.  Pork shoulder may not be the leanest cut so you don't want to eat it all the time but you certainly don't have to cross it off your list forever.  For this recipe I cut most of the visible fat.  I left some of the fat on since it does help keep the meat moist and gives it some flavor (and I’d be there forever if I tried to get everything).


The recipe is from:  We Call Him Yes! Chef!

 Pressure Cooker Carnitas

Makes 8 servings

Total Time:  about 1 1/2 hours


2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ancho or chipotle chile powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat part of a knife
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick (3 inch)
1 1/2 cups strained fresh orange juice
1/2 cup strained fresh lime juice


Whisk together oil, salt, cumin, chile powder, and pepper.

Toss pork in oil-spice mixture.  Brown the pork in pressure cooker over high heat. Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, and cinnamon stick.  Add orange and lime juices.  Cover pressure cooker, lock on lid and bring to high pressure over high heat.  Cook pork at high pressure, 25 minutes. 


Remove cooker from heat.  Allow pressure to release naturally.  Remove lid and transfer pork to a baking sheet.

Preheat broiler to high with rack 6 inches from element.

Degrease liquids from cooker in a fat separator; discard fat.   I must say I was never good at doing this but I picked up a fat separator from Target and it worked wonderfully.  This is my new cool kitchen gadget!

Shred pork with two forks on baking sheet.  Pour 1 cup strained cooking liquid over pork.   Here is the part that makes this recipe super yummy: broil pork until it starts to crisp, about 10 minutes.  Stir and broil 5 minutes more.  Oh, this is out of this world good.

I just wish you could smell how good my house smelled while this was cooking.  My husband and 8 year old son came home while the meat was still in the pressure cooker.  My son was practically drooling.  The sweet and savory smells from the orange juice and spices teased everyone until it was ready.  But really this didn't take that long.  It was really easy to make and the pressure cooker makes it reasonable for a weeknight since it cooks the meat in no time at all.  I love my pressure cooker.  Another wonderful kitchen gadget!

Typically these are served with tortillas, avocado, salsa Verde, queso fresco and remaining cooking liquid.  This is how I served it to the boys, although I added some diced tomato because I had some. However, to keep this even healthier I had mine with 1/2 cup brown rice and a green salad, no tortilla. 

This was a winner that we would absolutely make again the next time I get pork shoulder in my CSA farm share.  The family loved it and I'm still thinking about it.