Valentine’s Day Partner Workout

Partner Workout

Instead of (or, let’s be honest, before) hitting the couch and starting that next Netflix marathon this Valentine’s Day, grab a partner and get your hearts pumping with this bodyweight circuit workout.

How it works: Assign one move in each circuit to yourself and the other to your partner. Repeat as many repetitions of that exercise as you can in 30 seconds before swapping exercises. Once you’ve completed four rounds of alternating moves per circuit (4 minutes), take a minute to rest before moving on to the next circuit.

Flying solo? Don’t sweat it. You can still do this workout on your own, utilizing the same format, before you hit the town!

Valentine's Partner Workout

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day or are you planning on boycotting this year?
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Cheers to 9 Years (+ a Brand New Adventure!)

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Nine years of marriage, as of last week.

Eight months spent planning for that big day.

Seven years together in our first home.

Six different apartments, otherwise, between the two of us.

Five years combined of us supporting each other in graduate programs.

Four cities we’ve since called “ours.”

Three different states in which we’ve resided.

Two furry children, along for the ride.

One brand new adventure together.

Cheers to our most exciting year yet! 

Happy Birthday, Ben!

Son, little brother, loving husband, newly-minted dentist, doting dog-father and awesome “nuncle.”

Eternal optimist, die-hard sports fan, fiercely-loyal friend, Beaver believer, crazy sock wearer, football aficionado, goofball and Italian foodie.

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From Boston (then) to Portland (now), plus a handful of cities in between, the past 12 birthdays we’ve celebrated together have been full of adventures.

But they’re what got us here (and there and everywhere…seriously, I know we’re both glad we’re finally in our forever city!), so I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Your wardrobe is almost entirely orange and black. I still can’t figure out how you never, ever, get cold. When we met, you weren’t a runner, and now you kick my butt on a weekly basis. You know entirely too many useless football stats.

A natural people-person, you’ve got a genuine interest in people and their stories, which I admire. You’ve got a huge heart and leap before you look, often with both feet (which can sometimes drive me crazy!), but I love your zest for life and hope you never lose that irresistible sparkle.

Here’s to many more birthdays and trips around the sun together.

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Happy Birthday, Ben…I love you!

The Best Laid Plans…

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From the looks of the picture above, you’d probably guess that our very first Team LUNA Chix Portland Run workout was a smashing success and went off without a hitch, right?

Well, you’d be wrong.

In the interest of #keepingitreal, I’ll just say: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there’s quite often a whole other story behind an image that might surprise you.

Yes, the team was out in full force, and yes, we had a fantastic turnout for our first week (thank you, guys!). But then, comically, pretty much everything that kept me up the night before hoping wouldn’t go wrong…did.

We arrived at the track just as ominous clouds rolled in and the wind began to pick up. By the time we did our paperwork and announcements, we hit the track for our much-needed warm-up because everyone was starting to shiver from the cold.

However, two laps in we politely got asked to leave because, even though there were other members of the public working out, our group was too large with the other events going on (although I’d researched the schedule extensively). Plan B was to break up into small groups by pace and do an out-and-back run, but I quickly realized that wouldn’t be a good idea with all the city traffic.

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So, on the fly, we moved on to Plan C. I scrapped our dynamic stretching segment in favor of a second warm-up, which would get us off the track and over to a more “runnable” area a few blocks away.

There was a hill nearby, so we jogged over and I calculated that we had time for about 20 minutes of “repeats.” This is where the ladies would sprint up, jog or walk down and then repeat until the time was up; not necessarily what I wanted for our first workout of “easing” everyone in, but at that point we had to work with what we had available!

Luckily, these ladies are nothing if not flexible, resilient, and game for anything. They charged up the hill as I ran around snapping pictures, playing music on my iPhone and shouting words of encouragement.

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And then the heavens opened up. And it started pouring.

By this point, all we could do is laugh. Normally, a run in the rain is something most of us will try to avoid, but we were out there — together — making the most of what had become a hilarious situation.

And, suddenly, it hit me — we were right where we needed to be.

I watched as all 14 women powered through the 20 minutes, and we regrouped at the top of the hill…sweaty and rain-soaked, but smiling and joking around. What started off as something precariously close to spinning out of control became a true bonding experience.

We rolled with the punches. We didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We took it all in stride.

We’re already becoming a team.

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Now, I just hope everyone comes back next week!

If you’d like to join us for an upcoming (much more well-organized) workout, check out our Facebook page for details!  

We meet Monday nights are are proud to welcome women of all ages and abilities for workouts in a supportive, non-competitive environment. Come run with us! 

Scenes from a Sunday ride of firsts

Source: Jess Smith

Source: Jess Smith

“Coeur” is French for “heart,” so it was only fitting that those of us in the Bay Area met up during Valentine’s weekend for our first of (hopefully!) many ladies’ bike ‘n’ brunch rides with Coeur Sports and Osmo Nutrition.

Interestingly enough, “coeur” is also the root of the word “courage,” and I ended up needing a good dose of it in order to get myself out the door this morning. To say I was nervous pulling up to our meeting spot would be putting it mildly…I mean, this group touts some serious racing resumes (we’re talking pro triathletes, Ironman finishers and all-around endurance sport superstars), and I’m still very much a noob when it comes to the swim and bike stuff.

Our hosts Hailey and Jess not only welcomed everyone with open arms, though, but they also offered encouraging words as I admitted to them that I was feeling super intimated and in waaay over my head. But before I knew it, we were off…and it was sink or swim (or more like punk out or pedal), so I rode along with my friend Amy, a fellow runner and November Project member, and we joined up with Doris, a local triathlete with whom we both hit it off immediately.

It turned out to be a ride of many firsts as we hit the road for our adventure:

First time meeting the Coeur crew in-person and cycling in a group…

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First time riding in bike shoes and cleats…

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First time helping to change a flat tire (successfully, I might add!)…

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Source: Doris Steere

Source: Doris Steere

First time taking in the beautiful scenery in Woodside, Calif. (although we did get a bit lost)…

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First time realizing how good brunch tastes after a ride, especially when you’re surrounded by incredibly inspiring women…

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And, finally, first time in a long time realizing you’re never too old to still have “firsts” — whether it’s making new friends, conquering fears, tackling challenges or simply believing in yourself…

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We ended up riding about 18.5 miles total, which included almost 2,500 feet of elevation gain for what I dubbed the “thigh-thrasher” workout. While it ended up being a more, er, “creative” route (read: we got lost and took a totally different path), it was a good metaphor for the day: It’s not always about sticking to the planned journey; sometimes it’s when we veer off track that the magic truly happens.

Make a heart-healthy dinner for two this Valentine’s Day

Source: Micko Photo

Source: Micko Photo

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so this Valentine’s Day, tempt him with a meal that will not only win over his ticker, but also keep it in tip-top shape for the long haul.

Pair this simple three-course themed menu with a selection of resveratrol-rich red wine, which is a natural antioxidant known to protect against heart disease, and you’ve got a red-hot dinner for two that’s cause for celebration!

Appetizer: Easy Caprese Salad

Heart-healthy hint: The olive oil in this appetizer helps to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while the tomatoes are packed with lycopene, another heart-friendly antioxidant.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

  • 2 vine-ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 package fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 10 to 20 leaves fresh basil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. On a large plate, layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each.
  2. Drizzle with equal parts extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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Entrée: Simple Grilled Salmon

Heart-healthy hint: Salmon provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the heart by reducing both inflammation and the risk of blood clots.

Source: Simple Recipes

Source: Simple Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound salmon fillets
  • garlic powder to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Season salmon fillets with garlic powder and salt. Grate fresh ginger.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, ginger and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Place fish in a large resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
  4. Preheat grill for medium heat, and lightly oil grill grate and place salmon on the preheated grill, discarding the marinade.
  5. Cook salmon for about six to eight minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

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Side: Berry Delicious Spinach Salad

Heart-healthy hint: Leafy greens offer a one-two punch of vitamin E, iron and folate, which helps keep homocycteine levels down, while the berries provide lots of good antioxidants.

Source: Betty Crocker

Source: Betty Crocker

Ingredients:

  • 2 packed cups torn fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh, or frozen, blueberries
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 1/8 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1oz gorgonzola cheese

Salad Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large salad bowl, toss together spinach, strawberries, blueberries, onion and almonds.
  2. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine dressing ingredients. Shake well; pour over salad and toss to coat.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese, and serve immediately.

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Dessert: Heart-Shaped Chocolate Valentine Cake

(Adapted from Jean Carper, USA Weekend magazine)

Heart-healthy hint: As the grand finale, this cake features a hidden ingredient: Chickpeas. Odd, yes, but delicious nonetheless, and using legumes instead of flour adds fiber and protein and reduces unhealthy spikes in blood sugar.

Source: CS Monitor

Source: CS Monitor

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups (or 19oz can) cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 4 eggs or 1 cup egg substitute
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Raspberry Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, melt chocolate in microwave (two minutes on medium power).
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine beans and eggs. Add sugar, baking powder and chocolate; process until smooth.
  3. Pour batter into non-stick nine-inch heart-shaped cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  4. Microwave jam in a small bowl until melted (about 45 seconds), and then stir in juice and berries to make the sauce.
  5. When cake is cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut cake into 10 wedges and drizzle with sauce before serving.

On marathoning and marriage

Source: Jordan Siemens

Source: Jordan Siemens

Between all the miles logged in training (i.e. time to think) and the fact that Hubby and I recently celebrated our seven year anniversary, I’ve been noticing some parallels between marathoning and marriage.

If you look at it as a race – not in the competitive sense, but in wanting to have a rewarding and successful journey – many of us get caught up in the ‘start.’ We struggle because ‘we’re young,’ ‘we don’t have any money’ or [insert whatever excuse here]. Truth be told, that’s a sprinter’s take on the subject when what would serve us better is more of a marathoner’s mentality.

See, sprinters know that the start is a critical element because time is of the essence when there’s little ground to cover; there’s no room for error. But marathons, on the other hand, are just the opposite. Even with a rocky start, we have the luxury of time to bounce back and ultimately have a great race.

Source: London Evening Standard

Source: London Evening Standard

Why? Because it’s not the start that’s important; it’s the endurance.

That change in focus can empower partners for ‘the long haul’ when it comes to pushing through conflicts without hitting the proverbial wall and quitting. No, there are no quick fixes to either marathons or marriage (and neither are painless!)…but I think we’d all agree that the potential reward is worth all the effort.

Now, I’m by no means an expert at either marathoning or marriage…but I thought I’d share a few of the nuggets of running wisdom that I believe just may translate into more moments of wedded bliss.

1. Have a goal in mind. 

Just as we choose races to stay motivated, it can help to set milestones for your marriage. Having common goals help both parties to get on the same page, and having something to work toward keeps you moving forward rather that getting stuck in a rut.

2. You get out what you put in.

If we want to get technical here, pretty much anyone who wants to do a marathon could probably cover 26.2 miles, but for the best possible experience, it’s smart to prepare properly. This means putting in the work up front to reap the rewards on the back end. There’s something to be said for a little hard work, dedication and delayed gratification – that means sticking to a training plan and putting some real effort into figuring out what it takes to whip your relationship into shape, as well.

3. Run your own race.

The most critical piece of racing advice is to not start out too quickly. Trying to keep pace with faster runners will only bite you in the behind in the second half of the race when you burn through your energy stores and hit the wall with a thud. The same can be said for marriage; just as every body is different, so is every union, so you’ve got to work toward your own personal best…not someone else’s.

4. Pace yourself.

If you’ve set a goal and trained toward it, it’s important to check in at regular intervals during the race to make sure you’re moving along steadily. The same goes for marriage. It’s not about showing your partner how much you love them in fits and spurts with the occasional grand gesture, but committing to treat each other well year-round because the little things really do add up.

5. Prepare for peaks & valleys.

For as many moments of triumph, there will be the inevitable time in the trenches. If you think you’re immune, you’re only fooling yourself, so it’s best to go in with a realistic approach and an open mind. Knowing that there will be ups and downs in your relationship will allow you to approach both with a good head on your shoulders. That way, you and your partner can ride the highs, work through the lows and realize that it’s all part of the experience – and not indicative of the final outcome.

6. Work through the wall.

It may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be fatal. Again, being aware of (and having a healthy respect for) the wall will help inform your plan of attack if/when it rears it’s ugly head. Instead of getting blindsided, throwing your hands up in the air and giving up, you’ll realize that sometimes it just takes a little extra push to work though what feels like hell – and that you may just come out better for it on the other side.

7. Rejoice in the journey.

Finally, in racing and in life, it’s all what you make of it. Having a sense of humor and not taking yourself too seriously (after all, I don’t expect to win a marathon…or a marriage-of-the-year award), helps keep things in perspective. One day, you’ll look back and realize that even though 26.2 miles – or whatever rough patch you may have been going though at the time – felt like it would never end, it was only a small segment in the grand scheme of your life.

What running wisdom do you apply to your relationships?