For Our Lactose-Intolerant Friends . . .

This recipe has been pinned to my Healthy Eating Pinterest board for some time now. I’ve been wanting to make this “ice cream” for months, as Jono is pretty much for sure lactose intolerant. I’d heard of the Yonanas ice cream maker and thought that this recipe was a good alternative to buying a $50 machine, especially if Jono and I decided the final product tasted like booty.

I adapted this recipe from Berry Ripe:

• 4 or 5 ripe bananas, frozen

• 2 cups almond milk

• a splash of vanilla

• a dash of cinnamon

• other frozen fruits, if you’d like

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All the ingredients. So simple!

(1) If you have slightly over-ripe bananas you’re looking to get rid of, peel them, seal them in a freezer bag, and throw them in the freezer for at least eight hours. I happened to have some already chillin’ in there from the last time we couldn’t eat a bushel of bananas fast enough. They are great for smoothies or, I imagine, dipping in chocolate, too.

Audrey patiently waiting for any food to fall.
Audrey patiently waiting for any food to fall.

(2) Put your frozen bananas (I broke mine in half to make it easier to blend) and almond milk in a blender and combine until smooth. You may need to add a little more almond milk if you notice the mixture isn’t creamy enough. We used our Ninja blender that we bought last year and love. It’s what we use for smoothies in the mornings and post-workout, and there’s a smaller, food-processor component that we use to make guacamole!

Bananas and almond milk ready and waiting!
Bananas and almond milk, ready and waiting!

(3) Once smooth, add a splash (or about a teaspoon or two) of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon. Blend again until those ingredients are incorporated throughout. We poured the banana-cinnamon “ice cream” into a mason jar and popped it in the freezer for another day.

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(4) I am not a huge fan of banana-flavored things; I would much rather just eat a regular ol’ banana. So I wanted to try this dessert with some other fruits added in to maybe mask all the banana that was going on. We had a bag of frozen mixed berries, so I added those and blended until smooth.

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(5) We divided out the berry-banana-cinnamon “ice cream” into a goblet for Jono and topped it off with a little whipped cream and toffee bits. The rest went in a mason jar to go back in the freezer. All in all, we got about four to five servings out of this single batch. It took only about ten minutes to make and should last Jono a while. Unfortunately, the banana flavor was a little too strong for me, so Jono will not have to worry about competition for his dessert. But it looked damn good! It really reminded me of a thicker smoothie but without all the protein add-ins we do. The frozen bananas are what gave it an ice-cream-like texture.

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Calorie breakdown for all four servings:

4 bananas = 440 calories

2 cups almond milk = 80 calories

2 tsp vanilla extract = 20 calories

dash of cinnamon = 10 calories

TOTAL = 550 calories

PER SERVING = about 138 calories

With whipped cream and toffee = 250 calories (there was a lot of whipped cream)

“Crying Is OK in Yoga; Puking Is Not”

Wise words from our yoga instructor from Tuesday night.

Jon and I went to the Buffalo Foundry, one of the two locations of East Meets West yoga studio, to take part in the Beginner Vinyasa Flow class. I have done a few yoga classes before, including a handful of yoga-on-the-beach classes on Cape Cod with my beautiful sisters-in-law Adrienne and Brooks! I’ve also done Yoga Booty Ballet DVDs and some other basic yoga videos at home (1990s VHS, baby!). So I have a basic knowledge of how to turn my feet, how to breathe, and so on and so forth. But I am always amazed at the differences between taking formal classes and practicing in the comfort of my living room. I think the main difference is I am more willing to push myself further in a class for fear of failing or embarrassing myself somehow. Or maybe it’s the mentality that I paid for this, so I’m going to eek out of it everything I can get!

The logo for East Meets West. How can you not love this?
The logo for East Meets West. How can you not love this?

Tuesday’s class proved challenging for both Jon and me. I was feeling particularly stiff from finally going to the gym consistently for the past week. When I tried to fold forward, my hamstrings felt like old chewing gum that’s lost its chew; they were so tight! Downward facing dog got harder and harder to hold for long periods of time. Thankfully, our instructor kindly reminded us to “respect what your body is saying”—which is a much more zen way of saying, “Nope!”—and drop to child’s pose for a bit, if necessary.

One of my favorite parts of the class was when we practiced toe grips. This might sound really weird, but I just love doing these. At one point, we were in a simple forward bend, but by clasping the big toes, I felt that much more of a bend, and I felt that much more connected to my body. I found it kind of cool to have a physical link from one end of my body (fingertips) to the other (toes). It was all very zen for those moments.

This is the inversion we tried. It looks so simple, but you really feel it in your shoulders, and you have to focus on your breath.
This is the inversion we tried. It looks so simple, but you really feel it in your shoulders, and you have to focus on your breath.

For a beginner class, I definitely felt pushed beyond what I expected. We started working on an inversion, and boy was that harder than it looked! It literally looked so easy but actually required a lot of focus and strength. Through practicing this inversion and a few of the other moves we did, I identified that I shrug my shoulders up to my ears, causing tightness and tension. In order to do this inversion properly, you have to keep your neck relaxed and your shoulders down so your head hangs freely. I know this will be challenging for me, but I am really looking forward to retraining my tensed shoulders (as this is a problem I’ve noticed while cooking, typing, running, etc.) and reaping the other benefits of this practice. It was the first inversion I’ve ever tried, and I am so excited to keep progressing and improving!

See! Guys do yoga! This is a view of the foundry location for East Meets West. Very relaxing.
See! Guys do yoga! This is a view of the foundry location for East Meets West. Very relaxing.

Weigh-In Wednesday February 25th: Merry Go’Round!

Here at 2 Fat Nerds each Wednesday is a Weigh-In day, where all of the data from the previous week is collected, displayed, and analyzed. If anyone is interested in taking part in weekly tracking, leave a comment!

Weight Loss

team-weight

I must admit, I worked out 6/7 days this week so seeing a higher number on the scale was a bit deflating.

Anti-Fat Points

Anti-fat points (AFP) is a system designed to give some sort of value to each and every workout, regardless of type. It is based on metabolic-equivalent values out of the compendium of physical activities. Submit a workout, get AFP. Each week we post the totals for each person for the week. In addition, you may see the monthly AFP leader-board on the right-hand sidebar. This is meant to be a fun way to encourage competition to see who can earn the most points!

Weekly Pointsafp

The threshold is back to 100 AFP, Green is over and Red is under. Try to get 100 AFP and turn your bar green!

The Chain-Game

To put more emphasis on current progress and current streaks, I am now only displaying the current active streak for each player. It is calculated the same as before, minimum three days a week. Each consecutive week you gain a link.

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Life from Down Here

This post comes from my lovely wife Ellie, who has been working out and running circles around me for many years! 

Jon and I went to the gym together last night to try to work off some of the candy my wonderful sister mailed to me (THANK YOU, BECKY!!). After a half hour on the ellipticals, we got on neighboring treadmills and started our jogs. At one point, Jon looked over at me and whispered, “You’re so short!” I nearly fell off my treadmill. Whaaat? No one told me! I had no idea! How had I gone twenty-six years not knowing how short I am?! . . . Just kidding.

I am acutely aware of my height. At five foot one and a half (and I take that half inch whenever I can get it), I guess I’m considered pretty short. But it’s never really bothered me to the point of trying to take human growth hormone—except once, when I was thirteen and read about a clinical trial where doctors were giving teenagers HGH to make them taller. I do remember asking my mom if I could volunteer. . . . Besides that, shortness is just like most other things in life you have no control over: you deal with it. Can’t reach that Tupperware container on the top cupboard shelf? Climb on the counter and get it! Can’t get that container of cookies way up high? Grab a spatula and prod it until you can reach it! Can’t adjust the shower head from down here? Stand on the side of the tub! Can’t properly slice meat at work because your arms are too short to reach? Get the kitchen stool and boost yourself up six more inches (and endure the jokes from the tall people)!

I can be very stubborn when it comes to admitting I’m short and might need some help. I can’t tell you how many times Jon has come into the kitchen to find me walking on the counters trying to find something rather than asking his five-foot-eleven self to get it. (Don’t worry; I wash the counters after my feet have been on them.) There are really only a few times and places where my height really gets to me. Concerts is at the top of the list, obviously, but the gym is another.

One of the many dark scenes in TVD. What is even going on here? No one knows because it's so dark!
One of the many dark scenes in TVD. What is even going on here? No one knows because it’s so dark!

While some of the equipment is adjustable, by no means am I able to move, tweak, and shift everything to be just right for my height. For example, the televisions on the ellipticals are at a 45-degree angle from my eyes, which makes everything darker. Try watching The Vampire Diaries, a show with a LOT of night scenes, dark clothing, and poor lighting, on a nearly black screen! Other machines have this issue too; I’ve all but stopped using the stepper-elliptical-combo machine pretty much because of this. It’s one of the hardest workouts for me, and I need some intense distraction to get through it. A darkened screen pitched at a ridiculous angle from my face isn’t going to cut it. (But me working through a need for gym distractions is another post for another day.) Some of the machines have fans—a godsend!—built right in, but the air hits the top of my forehead, if it hits my head at all! But hey, at least I end my workout with a really cool, dry forehead. And I’ll take that little reprieve over sweating it out in my own personal cloud of humidity.

Luckily, the stationary bikes and row machines are easily adjustable for my fellow shorties and me. And I’ve found myself biking and rowing more because of it.

While I’m not here just to vent my frustrations over my height (hey, I don’t have to deal with rarified air, and heat rises, suckers!), the moral of the story is that I would love to see the makers of the arc trainers and ellipticals—and the makers of the television add-ons for these machines, especially—take a cue from the bikes and rowers to make them even more user-friendly. Honestly, if the built-in fans were adjustable like the vents in a car, a major problem could be solved! It seems simple enough to me! Adding these small elements of comfort to a workout could encourage more people to get to the gym. After all, “healthy changes everything” (that’s for you, Jono), and short people want to be fit and happy, too!

Relearning How To Skate!

Like most athletic endeavors that are professionally played, their is often a right and wrong way to execute the sports most basic mechanics. For runners, it could be learning how to keep your upper body still, for soccer players how to pass with the inside of your foot, and for hockey players learning how to skate properly. Executing the basic mechanics makes a world of difference.

I knew that I wasn’t a strong ice skater, though I can get up and pooh_tigiceskatedown the ice both forwards and backwards (within reason). But really, there was no power behind what I did. I was mostly trying to not fall down and break myself.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of skating with a friend of mine who grew up playing hockey and was clearly taught the proper way of doing it. The amount of power and speed he could generate compared to what I was doing was laughable. He quickly identified places I could improve, like keeping my knees much more bent, and staying bent to avoid losing energy by moving upward.

Little tips like this, especially in a super positive and constructive environment is absolutely awesome. I love learning from the best, and by putting any ego aside and just listening and learning, I am excited about the room to grow my skills.

Pretty Cool Training Schedule Generator!

I stumbled upon a pretty awesome little website today that automatically generates training programs based on pre-selected race goals, fitness level and target race date! It is based off of the Hal Higdon method, which is one of the most widely used training systems around.

The website generates a “.ics” file format, which can be loaded into most calendar applications like gmail and iCalendar.

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I am working on a novice 5k training program just to get my body moving again in the right direction. I have until the end of march to get back in basic shape for half marathon training, so following an easier schedule is exactly what i was interested in doing.

Have a great weekend, and oh — by the way. Congratulations to Dave and Brooks for bringing the newest member of the Bard family into this world! We are all very excited for you both!

External $$ Motivation Helps!

As I was sifting through the onslaught of junk mail that I receive as a result of being part of a large NYS union, I came across something labeled, “NYS Standard Gym Benefit Reimbursement.” After nearly shredding it to pieces along with everything else, I actually read it. I am glad that I did! Apparently I am eligible for up to $600 a year in gym membership reimbursements, as part of a campaign to make people more active.

The cache? I actually have to go to the gym, and document it. In a 6 month period, Ellie and I both need to log 50 trips to the gym in that same period. That isn’t too bad, if we were actively training and working out. Especially if we start in March as we gear up to train for our half marathon in May. With the way the weather has been going, I’m not confident we will be able to run outdoors without arctic temperatures until then anyway.

That is a lot of lines to fill.
That is a lot of lines to fill.

There is no real reason not to take advantage of this offer, so we are totally going to make it happen.

I love initiatives like this by insurance companies. Though it is sad that they have to bait people into good health, that little extra motivation is quite nice for those of us on the cusp of being active anyway.

I know not everyone’s insurance plan probably has benefits like this, and I am blessed to be part of the NYS system. However, if you aren’t positive what your individual plan offers, , it is probably worth a phone call to your insurance company.  More and more programs like this our popping up, as insurance companies are looking to improve the health of their insured. Who knows, maybe you can find a similar program!