Are You Insane Enough For Insanity?

by PenRei

Back in early June, my friend RoboMon, massage therapist and fitness enthusiast, introduced me to Insanity. She texted me one afternoon asking me if “I’d like to join her for Insanity”. I texted back saying “sure”, and then five minutes later with “What’s insanity?”. Knowing RoboMon, I was positive that she wasn’t referring to the the abnormal mental state associated with strange behavioral patterns… but still, it’s good to know what you’re getting into. She then told me it was a series of workout videos that she wanted to try. Sounded safe enough! Plus, ever since the end of the holidays, I have been trying to get back to my regular weight. It’s been a challenge that at many times makes me wonder why I even bother trying.

By mid-May, I was FINALLY starting to see some progress in my weightloss. It took a whole 5 months of exercising 4 times a week and changing my diet, but it finally happened. My potbelly was shrinking and very slowly starting to flatten out. My bootie didn’t feel as tight in my jeans anymore – although I have accepted that it will always be oversized for a half-asian. It’s hard to keep track fo your progress when you don’t weigh yourself or keep track of your measurements, but as previously mentioned, I’m choosing to judge my weight based on how I feel about the way I look. For those of you who need a number description, in December I was a size 10. Now, I’m nearly a size 8 (so so close, as in I can fit in it, but there are some specific areas that are a little tight). All of this to say that after seeing some of my weight shed off, I was motivated to try different types of exercises.

After trying the Fit Test and the first workout video (Plyometric cardio), I was hooked. I’m a fan of exercise routines that don’t require me to buy accessories (except yoga matts, those I accept). I think this comes from my days of competitive dancing – I’ve learned how to use the weight of my body in specific positions for exercising. Separately, the various exercises in Insanity aren’t that difficult (except for pushups, I SUCK at those), but when done repetitively and in sequence, you can feel your heart beating while the sweat drips down your neck.

Beach Body Insanity contains approximately 14 videos, comprised of a fit test, cardio workouts (both in intervals and marathon style), ab workouts, resistance training, and recovery (but don’t be fooled, squatting for 2 minutes at a time is part of recovery). The workouts are hard! Even the people in the video have trouble finishing them and are dead on the floor.

What I really like about Insanity is that in the videos, Shaun T mostly talks about personal goals and progress, not about weight. I for one prefer this form of encouragement, because it prevents me from focussing on my physical appearance, but more on how far I can push myself. To me, knowing that I started with only 7 half push-ups in 1 minute and am now up to 10 real push ups is something to feel good about. I also appreciate that Shaun T repeats the following statements:
1) Take a break when you need it (he even tells people in the video to stop and take a break)
2) Stay hydrated, drink water (water breaks are included and recommended)
3) Don’t compromise form over speed (despite the exercises going faster and faster, it’s more important to do it right than pick up the tempo)

I haven’t been following the program on a daily basis (nor have I adoted the nutrition guide), but I can honestly say that I have felt a difference in myself. When I first started, I couldn’t complete the first workout video. By the end of the second week, I was able to do everything from beginning to end. Sure, I was still dead afterwards, but it was a good and accomplished kind of dead. Walking up 6 flights of stairs is easy now, versus when I would get winded by the 4th.

All in all, I have thoroughly been enjoying Shaun T’s Beach Body Insanity workouts and recommend it to anyone who is looking to strengthen their cardio (or even shed a few pounds). Douggy Fresh is already planning on giving it a try. I will get Nomes hooked to it this weekend. Next week, I’m heading over to Falls Church in the US. Watch out Gretchen! You better be ready for the Insanity that’s about to come your way!

Beach Body Insanity Sneak Peak

Homemade Onion Pancakes… Now With Less Junk!

by PenRei

I have a problem.

I LOVE green onion pancakes. They are SO delicious! I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a snack. I usually buy them frozen from T&T since they’re easy to fry up when you have a strong craving or just need to eat something and soon. There is one major problem: at 13.5% of my daily fat intake, 22% of salt, and a whopping 414 calories each, well… let’s just say they don’t like me back. But still, I must believe that somewhere out there is a solution to this conundrum: continue occasionally eating onion pancakes without sacrificing my health and figure.

The answer was so obvious that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found it earlier: make them from scratch! After all, once upon a time, they didn’t come from the frozen section of the grocery store, but from your Chinese mother’s hands in the kitchen. It was time that I continued my love for green onion pancakes without compromising my figure.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 3-4 stalks of long green onions
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (if you’d like to add flavour, but it’s not necessary)
 
Mix the salt and flour into a large bowl.
 
 
Add the hot water two tablespoons at a time while mixing.
 
 
Mix until it becomes a dough. Drop the spoon! It’s time to get your hands dirty. Knead that dough!
 
 
Once the dough is soft and even (leave no clumps of flour behind!), ball it up, place it in the bowl, and cover it with a damp towel. Let it sit between 30 minutes to 1 hour.
 
 
Separate the dough into lime-sized balls. I was able to make 10 with my dough.
 
 

Roll out the dough as flat as possible. It’s very thick, so be prepared to use those arms muscles (which I don’t have). A rolling pin comes in really handy here!

Sprinkle on the green onions (and sesame seeds if desired). Squish the green onions into the dough to lodge them into place and squeeze out some of its juices to help seep it into the dough while cooking.

 
 

Roll back up into a ball.

For maximum tasting experience, repeat the last two steps. Roll out, sprinkle green onions, squish in, roll into ball.

Flatten out your pancake! The thinner the better (about 4 inches across)! That thick dough can be mighty difficult to cook all the way through if you leave it too thick.

Cook! With olive oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Flip occasionally.

 
 

Cook until both sides are slightly golden and solid.

Are you ready now? It’s time to eat!

Consensus?

 
 

HOORAY! That is one stamp of approval I can trust!

So, to recap what we talked about at the top, the frozen onion pancakes I buy at T&T have 414 calories each, while the homemade version only has 130 calories. Surprisingly, even though the homemade ones are smaller, they are MUCH more filling than the store bought ones. Success! Less calories for more hunger satisfaction! I brought one as a snack to work this week and it kept me surprisingly full for 3 hours before lunchtime.

As an added bonus, I know everything that went into my food, versus questioning half of the ingredients on the package. Preservative free!

GREEN ONION PANCAKES RULE!!!

 

Jolly Rancher, Where Art Thou?

by PenRei

So I have now officially been sick for a whole week with a very slow progression to better health. Unfortunately it hasn’t been fast enough. For a cold, this virus is kicking my ass… and then some.

Perhaps some of you out there will be familiar with the dilemma I am about to share. It often happens that when I am sick I crave very specific foods. These foods might not be the best thing for me based off of nutrition, but my body physically rejects the idea of any other kind of food with extreme nausea. Therefor, until that rejection subsides, I will ingest the food my body chooses.

Last weekend, that food was Jolly Rancher candies. Not just any! Oh no! Specifically, I wanted the soft (but could accept hard) green apple and watermelon

Green Apple Jolly Ranchers

Green Apple Jolly Ranchers

candies. Starbust was unacceptable; it had to be Jolly Rancher. During one of my hazier moments (and being unable to sleep), I decided to venture out to the stores nearby to buy a bag of Jolly Ranchers to slowly devour while watching the 4th season of Battlestar Galactica (borrowed graciously from Johnny-Be-Good). I went to No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart, a Rexall and two corner stores. NOTHING! I couldn’t find one bag of Jolly Ranchers. The closest thing I could find was a bag of soft tangy mixed flavoured Jolly Ranchers. That wasn’t at all what I wanted! Worst of all, none of the flavours were green apple.

If I really wanted to, I could have gone out even further to other stores nearby. Alas, my energy levels were wavering and the warm comfort of my bed was the only thing that could save my weary soul. I decided to head back home and settle for some Campino soft candies and Vitamin C halls (my throat was too soar to handle any kind of citrus, so I was lacking that extra Vitamin C punch required to up my immune system).

Luckily, I remembered that Nomes would be over in about an hour. I texted her with her mission: bring me some Jolly Rancher candy. She accepted her mission. I prayed that her luck would be better than mine since she was coming from a different area of the city.

After a short not so restful rest, I heard a key slide into the lock of my door. Hark! ‘Tis the sound of Nomes coming through the door filled with good spirits to cheer me up and maybe even a bag of goodies. Alas, she couldn’t find any Jolly Ranchers either. ‘Twas as though the city had been emptied of them simply to spite me during my time of need. I thanked her for her efforts and resolved to opening my bag of gummy Campinos (which by the way, aren’t very good, kind of like overly artificially flavoured marshmallows). Very unsatisfying!

Soft Campinos

Soft Campinos