Never Miss A Monday Workout

One of my absolute favorite yoga instructors opened yesterday's class with a line that went something like this (and please note that I am quite certainly bastardizing her luminous words): When happiness hears your name, it comes calling for you in the streets. What is happiness? I think as humans we feel that we need to be happy all the time. We are conditioned this way. Hollywood, commercials, magazine advertisements. When someone takes a photograph, they say "smile". What do you do if you aren't? I think happiness is not an inherent trait or condition but rather a choice. Largely, we control it but often times it has a mind of its own. One minute here, the next minute where? I think happiness is something humans work towards. Key term here being work. People aren't born happy. Well correction, I think a select few are but for the majority, we have to find it. We must prioritize for it. We have to try. I am convinced that a little bit goes a long way. We have to make efforts to be constructive with our activities. We should seek out pleasure in life. Embrace the little things. Seek out worth and merit in what we do. If it doesn't make you happy, set it free. Practice mindfulness (I am working on this daily). Smile. Laugh. Love. I think it is quite easy to deviate from happiness, especially for those who are masterminds of dwelling and obsessing. If and when this happens (guilty as charged), I challenge you to find what makes you happy. Try to incorporate more of the positive elements into your life that bring a smile to your face. Do what makes you feel good about yourself. Contribute. Stop and pause to embrace it all. Will yourself. Don't let things fester. When all else fails, step into the street and listen as happiness sings your name.

So I have been very committed to yoga the past few months. It makes me happy. Am I getting stronger, yes. Am I proud of myself, yes. Am I still quite green with regards to many of the poses, yes. I think for me this yoga quest is going to be a lifelong journey. I am perfectly okay with that. I am now confident enough to travel to another city and participate in a class. I know yoga is all about the individual and their mat but big rooms with mirrors and strangers can be intimidating. In short, I love my yoga practice and invite any one of you to come join me. Charlotte Yoga has a brilliant community. Quite a few of their outstanding instructor's made today's Charlotte Agenda List. I am happy here. I feel strong and confident here. I have made friends here. In addition to yoga, there are so many other tempting exercise options out there. You have the ever powerful Hilliard Studio Method. I did it for a stretch of time in advance of my sister's wedding and let me tell you, it did the trick. I have promised a friend that I shall return. I am itching to try Madabolic. One of my best friends has shed all her baby weight thanks to a CrossFit regime. The promise of community and what have you are both very tempting. I have one friend who sings the praises of Orange Theory Fitness. ClassPass has introduced one of my buddies to Air Aerial Fitness. Then you have 9Round for those who like to throw fists. I really want to check out Pure Body Fitness across from Luna's Living Kitchen. I follow two gals on social media who are ambassadors for the place. I woke up on Saturday morning to see people running drills in Romare Bearden Park. I learned yesterday that yoga is offered in Midtown Park at 6.30 on a Monday. The availability of activities and programs in our Queen City is fast growing. 

We used to belong to the YWCA, which we loved. Firstly, it is a stone's throw from our house. It's close proximity lends no excuses for laziness. We liked it a cause of its small size, practicality and the fact that it was never crowded. A big draw was their massive pool, which wet Matthew's whistle. He used to swim for MAC competitively and is a fish out of water. They also offered a myriad of classes, lots of equipment and frankly the place stands for a good cause. Their saunas were also icing on the cake. Once the weather warmed up, I was doing a lot of activity outside and without a job, couldn't justify the added expense. So we parted ways, I found yoga and many a walking routes in my neighborhood. Long story short, a pair of weeks ago Matthew said he wanted to find a gym. We thought about rejoining our old spot. Then one weekend while exploring my apartment uptown, we went to the gym and thought bingo.

We went yesterday and it was brilliant. Where have I been? TV's on the treadmills, trainers walking around, punching bags and kettle bells. I am sometimes overwhelmed by big gyms. All the machines and contraptions. Serious people doing serious stuff and getting a serious workout. When I first moved uptown, in my second year of working out at the gym treadmills were moved closer to the back wall. Not ideal if you fall but who falls? Well one morning I did fall as the machine was rotating at 6.5 MPH. Afraid of losing a finger I had to strategically roll off. This however did not happen before receiving serious rubber burns on my thighs. Nevermind the discomfort, it looked weird. How does one explain large rectangles on your thighs to the inquisitive mind? Sometime last year I overdid it, which resulted in the most tremendous pain that didn't leave. After a bit of online due diligence, I went to my doctor with a list of grievances. I was convinced that something ugly and destructive was growing in the left side of my chest. After a thorough examination followed by a series of questions I received my diagnosis. It was not what I thought it was. Instead, I had pulled a pectoral muscle. My wonderful doc's parting advise was to get a trainer and learn how to exercise properly. Yikes.

Exercise aside, we like to keep it clean during the week. No dairy, no salt and quick and easy. This is especially important for nights when we go work out and arrive home later than usual. For practical dinners, I am a big fan of homemade marinades. A squeeze of citrus (I like to keep lemons and limes on hand, sometimes grapefruit), a generous glug (olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil), a pinch (table salt), hearty cracks (black and white pepper) and a tablespoon or two (red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, cumin, coriander seeds) can transform a meal. Pour into a Ziploc bag along with your meat of choice for a couple of hours and fire up the grill (or the oven). Serve alongside whatever vegetables are on hand and you're in business. For the below recipe, I steamed one head of broccoli and before serving, I drizzled with a TBS of coconut oil. Also note, I chop up the stalk and add it to the water. No waste, no haste. Canned black organic low sodium beans are the business. Empty the can in a small pot, add 1 tsp of cumin or coriander, bring to a boil and they're done in five minutes. Bon appetit.

Lemon and Thyme Chicken
Adapted from NYTimes Cooking


2 breasts of chicken - you can also use thighs
1 TBS coconut oil - room temperature and liquid form
4 cloves of garlic - chopped
3 TBS fresh thyme 
2 lemons
Kosher salt - again, you can skip if you like
Fresh pepper
*Optional, 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts.

Get Your Motor Running

1. If using thighs, you can skip this point. If using breasts, you want to get them Paillard style meaning thinner than they came packaged. To do this, place the breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap. You can get creative. I didn't have any plastic wrap so I cut the plastic grocery bag into two sheets. With a mallet, rolling pin or flashlight (yes, back to getting creative here), pound them out. Not too thin but around 1/2 an inch in thickness.

2. In a bowl, mix the coconut oil, zest of one lemon, juice of one lemon, fresh thyme, pinch of salt and a few generous cracks of pepper.

3. Transfer your chicken to a Ziploc bag and pour the goodies from above in. Mix it all around and throw in the fridge for 2 hours.

4. If you have a grill, do your thing otherwise you can bake at around 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with toasted pine nuts. 

Your chicken pairs wonderfully with this grilled salad recipe from yesterday! Throw everything on the grill and do your thing!

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