Archive by Author | Alicia Russ

Quick! Workouts and Recipes

Something quick and easy has become a mantra for my life lately.  My babies are not good nappers.  Like at all- 30 -45 min is usually as good as it gets.  Luckily this usually happens at the same time for both of them…so there’s a plus.  But this means I don’t have much time to do anything out of just ordinary life/survival mode with twins.   Therefore, my workouts and meals have to be quick and mostly easy.  So I’m just going to share with you a bunch of Pinterest stuff.  🙂

Workouts

When it isn’t nice outside (or even when it is and I want to get a little something extra in besides a run/walk), I resort to circuits.  Again, the most time I usually have is 30 min. so nothing earth shattering…but it’s still something!  Also, this is nothing like when I was seriously training.  I’m not really working out for the calorie burn or to improve my run/swim times anymore.  I’m just doing it for me.  I’m a better mommy, wife and person when I get movin’!

Most days I combine a couple of these circuits with some abs and arms.  My abs these days are ripped.  Literally, they got ripped apart (diastasis recti).  So I’m not doing any type of ab exercise other than repair- most of these moves just involve serious concentration on using your actual ab muscles and low reps.  If you are curious about diastasis recti or are in need of some rebuilding ab moves check out this blog post.

The arm workouts consist of 5 lb. dumbbells and just doing the basics- military press, bicep curls, tricep extensions…things of that nature.  Not a ton of weight but I lift two babies- one 16 lbs and one 17 lbs all day long, so my arm workouts are focused on more toning than anything else.

Then I move on to actual circuits.  I usually just sporadically click-through Pinterest and add some quick circuits every once in a while but here are some of my go-tos lately.

Bye-Bye Cottage-Cheese Thighs: 5-Minute Leg-Toning Workout

Butt and Leg Circuit

Daily Workout  (I skip all ab portions of this)  

Usually I just do abs, circuit, arms, circuit, abs.  Depends on the day and the napping time. 🙂 To check out more of my pins just follow me at pinterest.com/aliciaruss.

Now for the important stuff…FOOD

Here are just a few of my favorite go-to meals.  All of these are main dish recipes, I have other meal-time recipes on Pinterest as well.  Warning they are not all healthy and there most definitely is a desserts page!

Vegan Black Bean Soup

Baked Turkey Meatballs with Spinach

Deep-Dish Chicken Pot Pie

Black Bean Spinach Enchiladas

Also, when I’m in a pinch/the girls didn’t cooperate with me enough to plan an actual meal, I just pull out some frozen tilapia, season it however you prefer (lemon/lime juice/olive oil/Mrs.Dash everything spices), throw it in the oven during nighttime routine and then pair it with a veggie.  Quick, healthy, and delicious!  I’m very much looking forward to it being nice out for good now too- grilling season awaits!

I try to make enough so I at least have 1 meal left for lunch the following day.  That doesn’t always work but is super nice when it does!

Now that I’ve made these recipes a bunch of times I’ve made some modifications, so if you are curious or have questions just let me know!

-Alicia

P.S. Here is a picture of the girls…because I’m pretty sure you’d never read along again if I didn’t post a picture every time. 🙂

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We Workout

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God Prepared My Body as a Vessel

Today we jogged.

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It was only a jog, it wasn’t far but today we jogged.  It felt very freeing and discouraging all at the same time.  Freeing because I was FINALLY RUNNING, with the stroller and without much discomfort, and discouraging because it took me this long to run again and it wasn’t by myself, up to my same old standards or part of my training.

But none of that really matters.

You see, I truly believe that God prepared my body as a vessel for twins.

We tried to leave Storm Lake for years.  I can’t tell you how many times we attempted and it just didn’t work out for some reason or another.  So, Tanner started to get into triathlons.  Then, pretty much because I didn’t have much to do if I wasn’t hanging out with Tanner and I wasn’t all that healthy, I started training too.  Often times I think back to months 7 and 8 and think, “How was that even physically possible??”  Then I realize, if we hadn’t stayed in Storm Lake we would have never started training.  If I wasn’t in the best shape of my life my pregnancy would have been a lot worse.  I really had no issues until the last 3 weeks, and even then it wasn’t really anything I could help- my body just couldn’t keep going at my regular pace and keep up with the rapid growing humans.  My body was a vessel.  A vessel for human life.  So cool!

So no.  I didn’t run far and I certainly am not training for any triathlons, but I ran.  My butt probably jiggled, my twin skin was sandwiched between layers of spandex and most of it was slightly downhill or level …-

But I ran, pushing a ton of blessings and praising God for the miracle of childbearing and motherhood.

-Alicia

6 Month Update from the Woman

It’s been six months since my life changed forever.  Six whole months since our girls entered the world.  Six whole months since I’ve learned what unconditional selfless love, real multi-tasking, and working at a marriage truly means.

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PSA: this won’t be a triathlon post.  In fact, I haven’t been on my bike or in a pool since about the 3rd or 4th month of my pregnancy.  Right now my workouts consist of some small circuits on good days, but mostly twin lifting (which includes me carrying both up and down three flights of stairs any time we want or need to go anywhere during the day), bouncing, lunging, prancing, shooshing…you get the idea…every day.

I can’t believe it’s already been six months!  Every parent always says, “it goes so fast” and guess what?  They are totally right.  Yes, some days daddy can’t get home soon enough and I have brought yet another new picture to my life of mommy napkin, but even at the end of those days you find yourself wishing time would stand still.  Another set of sleepers goes into the too small tote, another sleeve of diapers goes unused because they are too big for those now, and yet another milestone is happening right in front of your eyes.  I feel so overly blessed every day my husband walks out the door and I sit chugging my coffee before the morning routine starts.  Every day we both go to work, except I don’t have to miss a minute of these milestones or growth…or poopy diapers for that matter.  Some days- SO.  MUCH.  POOP.  And, even after watching them grow in front of my eyes day in and day out, I can’t believe it’s already been six months.

But lets back up.  Two babies later, a cross the country move, and career changes for both of us, how exactly did we get here?

About a year ago we were announcing our two sweet little blessings to the world, and that is truly when God’s master plan started to reveal itself.

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We always both thought that Northwest Iowa wouldn’t be our forever home.  But after years of trying to land jobs in other places of the country, we found ourselves stuck back in our hometown areas.  I said I would NEVER end up back in Orange City, so naturally that is exactly what happened.  The move to Orange City was very thought out and was ultimately part of our plan to start a family.  Yes, we both know God is always in control so I have no idea why we make such hard cut plans…but we are still human.  Anyway, we announced the arrival of the twins.  The first few months went as expected.  A ton of morning sickness, not enough food in site, falling asleep over my lunch break, daddy researching the best deals and best of the best for his girls, and the aunties doing a ridiculous amount of shopping.  All in all pretty normal pregnancy stuff.  It was then time for our first check up in Sioux Falls.  Our Orange City hospital refers all twin pregnancies to get checked out in Sioux Falls for multiple reasons- I always thought, another set of doctors and nurses making sure all is well sounds good to me.  So off to Sioux Falls we went.  Everything checked out wonderfully and we found out that the girls were MoMo twins (same sack, two separate cords).  This raised my pregnancy to high risk.  Not really because of any concerns revealed during the ultra-sound, but because of the possibility of a twin to twin transfusion.  A risk that means one twin could start to ‘steal’ nutrients from the other twin, depriving them of food/blood.  Trying to stay completely positive and stress free (yeah right, no such thing exists in my body) was a day-to-day task.  Ultimately we ended up only doctoring in Sioux Falls.  My OB there wanted to see me (and the girls :)) every two weeks and said that I would need to deliver in Sioux Falls, so there was really no reason to continue going to my other Orange City check-ups.  Everyone continued to grow beautifully (I didn’t feel so beautiful but I definitely grew too).

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We really only had one scare- one ultrasound led us to believe that twin to twin might be starting to rear its ugly head, but a follow-up visit a few days later put us in the all clear.  Turns out we were just really blessed to watch and hear the girls grow every other week, opposed to most once a month ultra sounds!

At about week 34 I was put on bed rest.  One really bad headache revealed that my blood pressure was a bit too high for the doctors comfort level.  So there I sat and sat, and ate and binge watched a ton of Netflix and Amazon Prime.  Daddy took care of the nesting for the both of us- making sure everything was in place for their arrival.  Week 35 we started to get pretty anxious.  My appointment that week showed that I was already dilating.  I wasn’t that surprised.  I continued to tell everyone, I literally feel like every time I pee or squat that Baby A is just going to fall out.  She didn’t.  But she was already 3 out of 10 inches away from making her entrance.  🙂 So, after that visit Daddy mandated the car seats be in the car, the bags be packed and the couch be covered with a plastic garbage bag.  Yep, my mom freaked us both out enough about my water breaking while I’m just sitting there on the couch that we covered the couch in plastic and blankets.  So embarrassing but such is pregnancy and child-birth.  After I was put on bed rest I had to make weekly trips to Sioux Falls.  My week 36 appointment was the one.  I was done.  So. Over. Being. Pregnant.  WITH TWINS!  The doctor could apparently tell too.  He had always informed us that at week 37 we would seriously evaluate what needed to happen.  He would not let me go a full 40 weeks with the twins.  He said there are more complications than growing that happens beyond 37 weeks for MoMo twins.  So, this wasn’t a surprise for Tanner and I.  In fact, it was a relief.  The doctor said.  Monday is your day (my appointment was on Friday).  He said either your water will break or I will induce you at 7 AM on Monday, September 8.

The girls were born Sunday, September 7. 🙂  One day earlier but exactly how God had planned it.

After my Friday appointment Tanner didn’t let us go home- remember the car seats, bags, everything was packed and in the car.  Good thing to0.  My parents flew in from Virginia, landing Saturday night.  My water broke in the hotel room Sunday morning–this is a whole other story/post.  Against all medical advice, I quick got in the shower 🙂 and then we headed to the ER.

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By the time I was through the ER and in my room I was strongly advised to get my epidural or it might be too late.  NEVER.  Don’t let that happen!  I let everyone know, when it was ok to have drugs, I wanted the drugs!  Amazingly enough, my labor and delivery nurse had twins. 🙂  I mean for real people, God is so good and so very present in ordinary life events.  She guided me, massaged me and ultimately helped me bring these beautiful babes into the world.  But she was ultimately the one that convinced me that now is the time for the epidural if you want one.  She was so full of real life nurse and twin mom advice, my experience would have been so different without her.  And some of my twin mom guilt would haunt me everyday if it wasn’t for her.

So that’s that.  On Sunday, September 7, 2014, Kate Elizabeth and Maya Grace were gifted to us.  Kate Elizabeth was born at 4:23 pm, weighing 6 pounds 2 ounces, sister Maya Grace was quick to follow at 4:37 pm weighing the exact same, 6 pounds 2 ounces.  Both born naturally and, yes, they weighed exactly the same.

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       Kate Elizabeth Russ                                            Maya Grace Russ

A month later, we moved.  We moved cross country to Virginia.  Yes, I’m that first time mom with my (technically premie) one month old twins that you are cringing and shaming as I board the plane.  Whatever.  You don’t know my life.

God did and does.  He continues to reveal his plan, as will I through this blog. Stay tuned for more of our family of four crazy, real life moments.

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A Recent Lack of Motivation

This week was hard for me. I can’t quite put my finger on what and why exactly it was so hard for me, but it was. I found myself having daily inner battles, an extreme lack of motivation, and overall discontent. I know it was a combination of things but, mostly in my mind, it seems like a bunch of excuses. Excuses of tired and achy muscles, excuses for wanting to be a little more lenient about my calories, and excuses for just wanting to take short cuts. I really don’t know why, especially because this week proved to be a beneficial training week with long mileage and consistent improvement. Tanner assures me that it was mostly me just being hard on myself but I still can’t help but feel a little disappointed. So this is just my honest confession to all you readers- you may have an off week, you may have a week where you just do the workout to complete a workout, and you may have a week where nothing feels quite good enough…but keep pushing. Even if you can’t muster up the motivation the fact that you push yourself through a workout is a step in the right direction. The only true way you can take a step backward in training is by taking no steps at all. Remember that all athletes- beginners to professional, hardcore to just a hobby- all athletes have some just not so great days. What makes a true athlete stand a part from the pack is the perseverance they take to complete the task.

So at the end of the week, I remind myself to be happy and content. Happy, even if the only thing I can be happy about is that I finally have new running shoes, and content that I really did just complete a grueling week of training. We all strive to be better. This week I’m just going to strive to be completely happy with me, myself, and I- good, bad, or ugly- I am me, an athlete that just had an off week.

Here’s to the weather improving and my next week being better!
– Alicia

Pass Me The Arm Floaties

So apparently I can’t swim…

Well that’s not entirely true. I do alright. However, there seem to be just a couple of things my teacher (Tanner!) left out when directing me during my lap swims. It seems as if he forgot to emphasize how crucial your body’s rotation is in the water. According to Tanner, I pretty much go against all natural body movement when I’m in the water. And it’s been how long since he first dragged me to the pool? Less than a month away from my first outdoor tri and you are just now telling me this???! Needless to say these last couple of pool visits have not only been good for our training but they’ve also been teaching us about patience within our marriage. Or, at least teaching Tanner. Since I was very young my mother has had to sing me a sweet little tune about patience…so lets just say I’m adapting to Tanner’s teaching methods as best as I can. No matter how ‘annoyed’ I may act, deep down I am glad he is willing to help me out- but seriously, a month away from my first tri??! Secretly I think he wanted to make sure that he looked like the better swimmer. 🙂 So after our most recent swims I am becoming great friends with a buoy and learning to take corrective criticism from the one person that is supposed to love you for better or for worse! HA, just kidding- I really do love and appreciate him. Not only have I been doing rotation drills but I’m also learning how to breathe all over again. Apparently, breathing was another thing I was doing all wrong. Instead of me flowing with the natural turn of my arms and hips, I was pretty much ignoring this and focusing more so on when my next grasp for air could happen. So now I’m really trying not to focus on when my breath is going to run out but how I can still have a fast stroke with a very controlled, deep belly breath. A harder concept to grasp when you are in the midst of the pool with kids jumping off of the diving board, but hey, a little more realistic for open-water swims, right?

So yes, although my last post was about my high after a successful lift day this post is about …well a lot of things. But mostly its about admitting to how a ‘low’ (improper form hindering my overall times), if used correctly, can still be a high. And, about how this journey is truly not only going to help us grow as triathletes but also grow as a couple. Also, that when it comes to Tanner’s corrective criticism I need to view it more so as helpful and him just wanting me to be the most successful triathlete I can be, versus my stubborn, competitive, very impatient side coming out and shutting him out. Hopefully no one will really ever have to pass me floaties…but then again that may be determined by how good of a teacher I have.

– Alicia

Enough about training already… let’s talk about food!

At this point you are all probably wondering if Tanner and I actually do anything other than train/workout?  Yes, of course we do.  We eat too!  Pinterest is not only a huge craze right now, it is also really helpful at finding new ways to eat healthy.  I have found a lot of great recipes from numerous Pinterest pins – check out my boards for some healthy main courses, snacks, and even healthy desserts.  My recent creation was an attempt at me hoping to satisfy my love and continuous cravings for pizza.  Although it wasn’t a huge satisfaction to that craving -let’s be real, the only true thing to satisfy a pizza craving is a big piece of actual pizza!  But this recipe was still a big hit overall!  I’ll provide you with the ingredients I used…which differ from the original recipe just a little bit.  To find the original post you can visit: http://joandsue.blogspot.ca/2012/12/spinach-crust-pizza.html

Otherwise here is my adaptation.

Ingredients:

2 cups raw spinach leaves- I didn’t measure mine out.  In fact, I used a frozen package of spinach (a 10 oz pkg).  *Comments from the original recipe do state that their crust didn’t harden as much when they used frozen opposed to raw spinach, but we didn’t really mind the outcome at all.  Like I said, it didn’t totally satisfy my pizza craving but it is such a healthier substitute!

1 large egg (we only had brown eggs)

1 cup shredded cheese (recipe calls for Italiano- I used whatever we had in the house!)

spices- garlic salt, garlic powder, basil, oregano, pepper

The original recipe provides instructions/ingredients on how to make your own pizza sauce, but again, I just used whatever we had.  And, we just happened to have a half jar of marinara sauce.

Now feel free to search your fridge/cupboards for whatever type of toppings you would like.  In the pictures below you can see what our choices were.

*One key to this recipe is the parchment paper.  I strongly encourage you to use parchment paper opposed to applying the spinach crust directly to your pan.

Now for the actual steps!

Preheat your over to 425.

In a blender, blend the spinach until it is a fine consistency- in using frozen spinach I didn’t find this to take too long at all.  Next, add the egg.  Blend some more.  Then, add in the cheese and spices- blend a little bit more.  IMG_0476

This is what your mixture will look like.

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Now, you are ready to spread this ‘crust’ onto your parchment paper lined pan.

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Bake this spinach crust for about 15 minutes.  The crust should brown a bit around the edges.

When the time is up spread the sauce of your choice over the crust. IMG_0479

Now you are ready to decorate!   We chose the following for our toppings:

-Jenny-O turkey ham

-green pepper

-onion

-turkey pepperoni

-shredded mozzarella cheese

-tomato

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Then, all you have to do is broil it for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted; I think mine ended up somewhere between 5-7 minutes.

Now the best part…you can enjoy one slice for just under 100 calories!  Of course, this calorie count will fluctuate depending on what type of toppings you choose but as you can see we didn’t hold back!

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So low on calories and sooo good… we sort of ate it all!  But hey, endurance athletes need their veggies, right?!IMG_0484– Alicia

 

I Got This

So lately our workouts have consisted of obviously a run, a bike, or a swim.  But some days to break up the mononteny we not only do a brick or a circuit, we also try to schedule at least 1 lift day per week.  I really look forward to our lift days.  There is just something about going into the gym, completing a warm-up run, and just gettin’ after it.  Recently we started to introduce these bad boys into our lifts…

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I have now developed a love/hate relationship with these PLYOS.  Most days it is a hate.

I wasn’t really much of an athlete…in high school I was okay on the softball field but that was about it.  Whereas Tanner was an athlete pretty much his whole life.  I mean I was an active child and participated in sports all throughout middle school, but once I hit high school I kind of figured out on my own what might be more worth my time than sports- more along the lines of dance and speech.  So I can’t say that I really had the athlete mentality that is embedded into my husband-until I started tri training.  And now I can’t even bare to think back to when I wasn’t really doing much of anything.

During the transition time that every college graduate experiences, between graduation and your first ‘adult’ job, I found myself being consumed by my work.  I was putting in 60-80 hour weeks sometimes and not even having enough energy to realize that I was exhausted, unhealthy, and unhappy-not to mention not working out at all.  After I had a slight job change I realized that my life was honestly just passing me by.  Its just like in the movies when they show a character standing absolutely still in the midst of a noisy, extremely fast paced crowd- this is the feeling that made me snap.  Again, I don’t really know exactly when the beginning started but one day I just started running.  A few months later Tanner surprised me with my Specialized bike (a whole other story in and of itself…for another blog for sure!) and I took off.  I started making conscious decisions about what I would choose to eat, how much exercise I needed, and truly enjoying the simple moments of my young life.  Now I have turned into a person that craves fruits and veggies, consumes protein powder after a lift and feels like a 2 mile run isn’t quite enough.

What a change!

So on lift days….Tanner and I are used to at least a couple of different glances or looks.  I mean we are using the facility at BVU- a NCAA, Division III university.  So there are always a mixture of people.  However, most of these people aren’t used to seeing people do lifts in sets of two with a slight jog in between.  When I said I love the lift days because we just ‘get after it’; I meant we really do go in and get serious.  This is why on one particular day a couple of weeks ago I experienced a refreshing look/comment.  On this particular day part of the university’s track team happened to be lifting as well.  I didn’t even know that my day could be made in the weight room but it happened!  We had actually ran to the gym on this day and had just finished our bench press.  Next, we were moving onto body squats and plyos.

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Doing plyos with Tanner is always a little bit intimidating because he can literally not only jump the tallest one you see, but sometimes he has to place a smaller plyo on top of that one in order to get a true workout.  Crazy!  But he is also a lot taller than me so I just try to convince myself that his height is his true advantage in this situation.  I am always a bit anxious to get the first set done.  So the track team is walking back and forth and switching various stations when we approach the plyos.  One of the athletes had some stuff on the second shortest plyo- no big deal at all; it wasn’t actually one we were going to use, I was just going to move it.  So I was in the process of pushing that little one away to make a little space so that Tanner and I didn’t accidentally hit each other.  As I was moving the second shortest plyo to the side an athlete comes up to me and says, “Oh, I’m sorry that’s my stuff on there, do you need me to move it?”  I couldn’t help but smile.  He was being so genuine and nice but he also had no idea that my day was literally just made by his gesture!  I just said, “No, not at all.  Just separating them a bit.”  All of course with a huge smile on my face!  Instead, I approached the second tallest plyo box,  and Tanner and I started to complete our first set.  I felt invincible.  And for once, so capable of living up to my true athletic potential.  Not only do I not use the shorter plyos, I actually use the one just a step down from what my 6’3 husband uses.  Needless to say, I felt pretty B-A after this encounter and motivated by the surprise on the track athletes faces as my small frame rocketed up and onto the second tallest plyo over and over again.  So thank you BV track athlete- you have no idea who I am and you will probably never remember our little encounter but wow did you leave an impact. 🙂

Here are a couple more pictures to provide you with a little better detail to what I am referring to.

Shorter plyo.  The plyo with his stuff on it.

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The actual plyo I use and conquer.

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Triathlete in training and loving the experience!

– Alicia

The Beginning According to Woman

I’m not really quite sure when the beginning really started for me…the crazy just kind of creeped up on me.  Oh, ‘the crazy’, I refer to is the life of triathlons.  Because lets just be real, who in their right mind is like, “oh yeah, I so want to swim, then I think a little bike ride might be nice, and lets just then round it out with a little (miles technically) run!”  No one.  No one in their right mind sets out to do triathlons….until they’ve just started training.  Then the true crazy kicks in, you start training.  So that’s why I say I don’t really know for sure when ‘the crazy’ started but I definitely know that I am in the middle of crazy.  Especially because we live in Northwest Iowa, it was a high of 46 degrees today, and I just got back from a quick 12 mile bike ride.  Dumb.  But so so so cool- the feeling of clicking through your gears as you pick up speed down a hill…no trainer will ever replace that feeling- this I know and this I love.  So the beginning snuck up on me, the middle is a little gruesome… a couple of ER visits, a couple of nights with my head over the toilet, and a couple lets just stay in bed during this snowstorm of a morning instead of jumping in the cold pool times… but this middle rounding out to the end of training and being able to call myself a true triathlete is pretty freakin’ cool.  So one day you might find yourself thinking about ‘the crazy’ and the next…oh six months later…your quick warm up run will be 2 miles.  Feels pretty awesome to have that type of accomplishment.

But one of the best moments from the beginning until forever is to say, “Yeah, my husband and I do triathlons.”

– Alicia

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