Food waste & types of disposal

Hi all!

I’m back this week with the third post out of eight for my semester project. Last week I discussed the different greenhouse gases which are released through the decomposition process in both composts and landfills. This week, I’m delving deeper into why food waste is an environmental concern and what are the options for disposal.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a hierarchical system which looks at food recovery which is classified on a continuum from least to most desirable. Most desirable is at the top and least is at the bottom. First off, what is “food recovery”? It’s the steps and actions individuals and industry can take to reduce and manage food waste.

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As you can see from the graphic (found on the EPA site), landfill is the least desirable option for food recovery, followed by composting. So, if composting is second to the last, why is it “worth it”? The most preferred methods include source reduction, feeding hungry people, feeding animals, and then industrial uses. Even with these preferred actions, food waste will still remain to some capacity and also at-home waste (which can be composted) is not something which can be used for the higher levels. While steps are taken at levels 1 through 4, levels 5 and 6 still play their roles in the system.

From here, we can look at why composting is preferred to landfill. For starters, at the individual level (at your home) compost creates soil which is nutrient rich that can then be used to grow future garden crops, reduces your “footprint” heading to the landfill, and helps to reduce methane production. At the larger-scale, composting can be useful for restoring forests and wetlands, can help reduce effects of toxic volatile organic chemicals,  reduces fertilizer use, and more.

There are many different options for composting too. While for my project I’m working on a backyard compost, many individuals do not have the space for this option. It’s not uncommon for cities to do something called curbside composting in which food wastes are put in a specific bin outside for pickup, much like garbage and recycling.

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Curbside compost bin

Additionally, a website I came across is a great resource if you’re looking for other composting options.

 

 

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Decomposition basics: landfill versus compost

Hi all!

In my last post I discussed the basics of the project I’ll be undertaking over the remaining weeks of the semester. I told you I would be composting as a means to reduce food waste heading for a landfill. Today, I’ll be getting into decomposition and how landfill decomposition is different from that of compost.

First off, let’s talk about greenhouse gases. The major players in the United States by order are 1. carbon dioxide, 2. methane, 3. nitrous oxide, and 4. flourinated gases.

Which of these gases are emitted into the environment by way of decomposition? carbon dioxide and methane.

CO2 vs. CH4

While I knew both CO2 and CH4 were harmful and  wreak havoc when released into the atmosphere, I never really understood (educated myself) of the major KEY difference. While we consistently are told how bad  CO2 is, and while it is the greenhouse gas released at the highest quantity by percentage out of 100,  CH4 is more potent and traps more heat than CO2.

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Out of the sources of CH4 being released into the atmosphere, landfills come in third at 18%. In landfills, CH4 is the gas being released because of the anaerobic nature of this form of decomposition. The continual addition of organic matter, without addition of oxygen, leads to anaerobes breaking down waste which releases CH4. Conversely, with composting, the pile is turned which brings oxygen into the mix and leads to aerobic decomposition, which has the product CO2.

In addition to reducing methane production, composting also reduces space being used in landfills (next weeks topic!).

Quick update & school project introduction

Hi friends!

First off, can anyone believe it’s freaking October? Like, hello… where did that come from? I’m equally bummed and stoked. Bummed because I love the summer. Why? Mainly because lets be honest here I hate wearing pants, and this fact has been established 73 times over. Stoked because fall and winter hiking might be my favorite, I’m looking forward to snowshoeing, snowboarding, and becoming a human icicle yet again.

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A super quick update before I get into the bulk of this post which is actually for a course I’m currently taking. Not much is new since my last post. I still intend to do a detailed discussion of the injury and healing process, I’ve just been focused on getting a good start to the semester because it’s a heavy one. That said, things are beginning to calm down slightly and I’ll have some more time for this little space on the inter-web (yay). Besides the hecticness of a new course-load, hiking, lifting, yoga-ing (mental health saver), working, and trying to involve myself on campus in some capacity (I joined ASL club – in love), I don’t do much else!

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Pointing to the mountain we started at. Multipeak days = pure bliss.

Hiking has been off and on throughout the summer, due to the injury and “coming back” from it. That doesn’t mesh well with me, “coming back”. It sounds too much like just going back to what was before. So, getting back to what I was and who I was pre-injury. I think any injury or other event in life changes us at some level. Whether it teaches us, forces us to grow outside of our comfort zone, allows a new perspective to be cultivated, or all of the above. When you go through something you grow through it.

While this past hiking summer season wasn’t nearly as chuck full of mountains as last summer, I’m almost happier with it. It’s taught me to be patient, to listen to my body, and it’s helped me realize just how in love with hiking and the hiking community I am.

↟↟↟↟ Total topic change. Insert semester long project ↟↟↟↟

For my class Our Changing Planet, we have been assigned a project with the goal of choosing a small change we can make in our lives that will have some form of positive impact either directly and/or indirectly on the environment. We were instructed to select a topic which is of personal interest to us, and then design a project which can be completed throughout the duration of the semester (e.g it can’t take a year!). Another goal of the project is to collect data which can be used to examine how the selected project is creating an impact.

A component of the project is to write a weekly blog post starting the week of October 2nd through the end of the course – so here I am writing about the cool project I’m embarking on 🙂

My project: backyard composting

Composting basics: composting is taking organic matter and recycling it in a way that the material will decompose. In forming a compost, organic matter can be broken down into greens and browns. Greens are nitrogen rich and include things like grass clippings, vegetable and fruit matter, coffee grounds, and garden waste. Browns are carbon rich and include things like leaves and twigs. As various greens and browns are added, the compose pile is turned to mix these materials together promoting the breaking down (decomposing).  I’ll be getting into more of the “science” in future posts, as this one is only an introduction to the project.

I also found this great informative YouTube video which delves deeper into the reasons to compost and its impact.

Project design: living in rural New Hampshire with ample land I felt this would be the perfect project that I could maintain throughout the semester. As someone who eats a hefty dose of fresh fruits and vegetables, I know I’ll be able to contribute to my compost throughout the duration of each week. Additionally, with it being October, I have access to plenty of fallen leaves (e.g my entire backyard is full of “browns”). We do have a garden, which with cooler temps is nearing it’s end but this material can be used as well. I’ll be creating a pile (versus using a bin) in the way back of our yard, just into the woods. As I add more greens and browns, I’ll use a garden fork to mix the contents, which will supply air and thereby aid in the decomposition process.

Data collection: in order to see the impact that composting has for me, I’ll be weighing the fruits/vegetables which would have otherwise been thrown out (apple cores, potato and banana peels, stems, ect.).

Sources: Carbon Nitrogen RatioComposting 101

So that folks is the basis of what I’ll be working on for this class in the upcoming weeks. As I continue my project and collect more data I’ll be recapping and discussing my findings here. Going forward I’ll be keeping this projects post separate from my “normal” posts, to keep the flow of my blog simple!

As always, quote time…

“There is no threshold that makes us greater than the sum of our parts, no inflection point at which we become fully alive…” – Robert Ford

Yes, I’m alive and kicking

HI GUYS!

Holy crud.

I haven’t posted since May.

It’s been over three months.

I’m here. Alive. Kicking. The stress fracture is healed and I’m healing/working through the soft tissue crud that comes along with overuse. It’s been a long summer. I worked and took multiple classes – sports and performance psychology, cognitive psychology, and abnormal psychology (this one actually is still going, finishes September 1st!), in addition to the usual frolicking up mountains and casually lifting weights. Fall classes start today and I have a unique semester ahead (I’ll get into this). Overall, it was a good summer. I had a TON of realizations, experienced a lot of feels and definitely grew as a person (depth, comfort zone, aka the tough stuff).

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View from North Twin

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View from South Twin

Okay, so let’s delve a bit deeper, shall we?

The stress fracture. It’s healed. It was a long couple of months, taking time off from running/hiking/kickboxing/lower body lifting (except non weight bearing… e.g leg ext, hamstring curls, GHD, monster walks – which btw, NEVER EVER get easier), and partaking in usual physical therapy, massages, stretching, and RESTING. But, I’m happy that it was just a stress fracture and I only had to take a couple of months off. In the big picture, this isn’t the end of the freaking universe. I lived despite thinking I was going to spontaneously combust out of lack of endorphins and anxiousness. I learned that I can take time to heal and that this is 100% entirely acceptable and even welcomed by my body. I learned that just because I am injured and “out” for a bit doesn’t mean I will never be back. It doesn’t mean I can’t continue to fuel my body. It doesn’t mean I will become un-fit or un-healthy. All the injury actually meant – it was a wake up call.

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I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. This could be because I’ve done enough questionable stuff in my life that I need a solid explanation for (running head on into a tree I was just sitting against (it was night time mind you), having a stress fracture and relapsing and then having another one and relapsing again (2008/2012), spontaneously signing up for an ultramarathon in 2011 and falling in love with the sport/community, changing majors to then change back again, quitting a job to then go back because they are actually super awesome/flexible with school, ect.). We learn from what we go through. We GROW through what we go through. Anyways, I’m going off on a tangent… Everything happens for a reason. I got injured for a reason. It took a lot to process this one and it took even more to not fall back entirely into my eating disorder because this is the first injury in my life (since ED) that I haven’t severely struggled with ED behaviors because of the uncertainty and unshakable sense of fear with being injured. My ED is a coping mechanism, a shitty and maladaptive one, but a coping mechanism nonetheless. Exercise is also a coping mechanism, a better one, but still inextricably meshed with the ED. This is why, in the past, I’ve flip-flopped back and forth. Exercise, injury, relapse, repeat.

However…

This time was different.

What changed?

Simply put, I’m more removed from my ED (in terms of years out of treatment), I have better coping mechanisms, closer relationships/a different social life, and I am more self-aware/confident in my abilities and trusting my judgement even when my judgement tells me to ask for help/to reach out to my closest homies. I also attribute some of the business with summer classes and keeping myself busy to be helpful in the healing process.

I will do an entire post detailing this process (might vlog?! we will see). Ultimately though, this time was different because my circumstances were different, my outlook was different, and my introspective abilities are stronger. Additionally, I think that now at 24 versus 15-20 years old, I have entirely different experience with the world. Don’t get me wrong, I had those nasty thoughts rearing their heads and they were loud as loud can be. I stumbled a bit a couple weeks into the injury, specifically once I learned it was a stress fracture and not “just” a sprain. But I’m learning how to take care of myself rather than destroy myself. I decided that my long-term health is more important than my short-term ability to feel in control (not to make it sound like an easy choice… it isn’t… it’s incredibly difficult and takes YEARS to accept). Heck I still haven’t fully accepted it but the majority is in favor of wellbeing.

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Presidential Range

Until I blog… vlog. Until I discuss details, I’ll be keeping myself busy with school. SO what constitutes a “unique semester”? Well, my course-load is a follows: online general education course (environmental change), ASL 1, capstone (senior project) which is TA/independent study for psychobiology, and then TA/independent study for sports nutrition (working towards nutrition minor). I’m honestly pumped. While I am petrified of learning a language, it will be a good change of pace, interesting, a helpful skillset, and eye-opening.

This was a longer update than I had anticipated so I’m going to close the curtains on this post. I also want to go eat lunch before heading back to campus for the TA positions 😉

“Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others’ prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.” Roy T. Bennett

Prioritize your needs

Hi all! As promised I’m back with a post between the spring semester ending and summer classes beginning. I literally cannot believe another semester is done. It feels like just yesterday I was frantically deciding whether to change my major from Neuroscience –> psychology or outdoor education and last minute sneaking my way into classes.

The decision was made and I’m good with it. While I’m extremely interested in a outdoor education, having a solid background in outdoor adventure groups and communities growing up it’s something that I’m really passionate about. On the other hand, it isn’t something that I felt like I wanted to major in “enough” to put myself in a position of taking that many more classes. The way I see it is, if that is the direction my life is meant to go it will happen regardless and psychology is also a great background to have for the field of outdoor ed/adventure therapy.

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Throwback to Mt. Isolation (september 16′). 12 miles, 5k vert gain. One of my favorites thus far. The suck was real but so was learning to love the process.

One year left, one year left. I keep telling myself this on repeat and it helps. It’s not that I’m “bad” at school. I’m for the bulk of my college career a straight A student minus the period I attempted balancing school + work + treatment. Rather, it doesn’t feel right. I enjoy learning, I love it and feed off of it. Increasing my knowledge base and understanding of both the material I’m studying and the world in general makes me feel grounded. However, sitting in a class full of other students with numerous stimuli and distractions doesn’t jive well with my brain. I can rarely focus and while that was okay the past two semesters, I’ve been apprehensive about the upcoming school year. So I’m doing something about that and choosing to be proactive and supportive of my needs rather than just being in la-la land and pretending I’m a perfectly productive student in the classroom.

. Four FULLY ONLINE summer classes. There is the money honey. I honestly dig online classes, I feel that I’m able to grasp the material equally as well if not better than in-class lecture format because I’m not wasting time sitting in classes unfocused and angsty only to go home to teach myself everything I supposedly just learned in class. I feel very uneasy in classes/on campus which fascinates me because it’s only been like this throughout my time at my current university. It could be the school (size), it could be that my mental health is in a different place now than before and I tend to actually feel my feelings, not feeling like I fit in AT ALL, a combination, or none of the above.

Life is said to be this balancing act – a see-saw if you will. I agree with this, there are good days and bad days, days of growth where you thrive and break down walls, then there are days when the going gets tough and honestly I think the best way to manage these days is being able to take care of yourself. Life isn’t giving in or giving up. It’s not hiding from the world or holding yourself back. It’s owning up to yourself, being present, and showing up in the world.

As I mentioned in a couple posts back when discussing the process of overcoming an injury, “count your rainbows not your thunderstorms.” – Alyssa Knight

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In addition to this, I think it’s being capable of accepting and honoring where you are at now, which may be an entirely different place than a month ago, a year ago, or two months in the future. As human beings we constantly are growing, evolving, and increasing our depth of understanding – having the mental flexibility to allow this and accept/be okay with it is HUGELY IMPORTANT.

I am not where I though I would be at 23, almost 24 years old and that is okay. There is no universal law saying that I need to be doing X or have accomplished Y by the time I’m 24. These are my own self-imposed guidelines/goals/expectations. They are the feelings that strip enjoyment out of life. The feelings of being a failure because I decided that I don’t want what I once thought I did, or wondering why I’m unable to roll with the punches the way society expects me too.

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I’m not abnormal. Heck, what even is normal?! I’m working with who I am to develop the best version of me.

There are days where I have to take a step back from everything and just try to enjoy the little things. Focusing on small stuff helps keep the big stuff more manageable. In the past year I’ve come a ways in terms of being able to recognize when I need to do this instead of keeping pushing through which inevitably leads to either becoming burnt out and/or increased anxiety/panic attacks.

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Enjoying the little things – favorite space in my bedroom – lilacs, star dish with sea shells and tea bag quotes, a few pictures, my globe (in the back), and a card a dear friend gave me.

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Close up. Oh hey Panda 🙂

SO what have I been up to in my week off from school? A whole lot of nothing. I’ve worked pretty minimally, enjoyed the sunshine and warm temps, spent time with friends, and given myself space to prepare for the hefty load of classes in my near future (tomorrow!).

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Sports psychology/mindset reading

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I biked and she ran 🙂

I think that while I still deal with anxiety on a regular basis I’m much more accepting of it and I understand it better than I ever have. Taking time to just be and really pursue the things which light my soul on fire have been absolutely essential to my mental health. That and forcing myself to do things which while sometimes uncomfortable are only going to help me grow. I believe that there is a difference between doing things which are uncomfortable but promote growth versus things which are just not good for our personal needs (e.g online vs. in-class courses). I believe understanding where to draw the line for yourself and prioritizing this is the base of the pyramid in terms of self-care.

Prioritizing is knowing what you stand for. What are your goals? What makes you tick? What are you willing to put up with, sacrifice, leave behind, etc. etc. Learn to maximize everything that will help get you to your end goal. Look at the end goal and determine what needs to happen to get from now –> then. Focus on that stuff.

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clotuds, everything.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

A few of my favorite things – May edition

Hi guys! What’s up? I hope this post title made you think of this:

I literally can’t believe it’s already the middle of May. Like, oh hey hello when did that happen?!

Good news #1 is that it’s going to be in the 70’s next week (squee!). We had a handful of 70-90 degree days here in NH back in April and boy was that a teaser. I live for the summer weather. Both because I can do the whole #nopantsarethebestpants thing daily (those of you who know me in “real life” know I would kill to wear shorts daily year long) but also I feel so much better physically when it’s warmer.

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Exhibit A. For the record, I do have shorts on.

Good news #2 is that I’m done classes and just have two final exams on Monday until the spring semester can be checked off the list. YASSSSSS.

Mixed feels news #1 I have a total of six. SIX. 6 days off from school. I’m taking four classes over the summer. Cognitive psychology, child development, abnormal psychology, and sports & performance psychology (beyond stoked for this one!).

No bad news. Yippee.

Onto some of my favorite things. 1, 2, 3, lets go!

Pacifica

I’ve always been a fan of the Pacifica roller-ball perfume (particularly lilac) and am seriously digging their other products.

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BB cream. Base coat. Mascara.

All possible turmeric things

Like c’mon Sarah, take a chill pill before you turn orange. I’ve actually done that before… turn orange… there was a period in my life where I ate too many sweet potatoes. I still ride a fine line between pale and orange but seem to be succeeding at not rocking the fake tan look as of late. Winning.

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Told you, I’m a BIG fan.

Oil pulling

I used to be quite into this but fell off the bandwagon. Recently I’ve rekindled my love for swishing coconut oil around my mouth most mornings. Check out this mini guide if you want to see what all the hype is about.

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Beet chips

Specifically dehydrated beets. That’s it. Trader Joe’s has them – “just beets“. They are pure gold… if you like beets that is. Otherwise, they likely taste like the ground. A friend of mine who doesn’t like beets tried them and couldn’t finish the bite haha.

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On top of Mt. Moosilauke, noshin’ on a beet chip 😉

Meditation

My brain is a fan. I’ve mainly been using the Calm app.

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Creative juice

I like to put a small dot on my wrist or temples, or in my diffuser. You can also check out my nails… I’ve been on quite the kick of doing three fingers one color and two fingers another. Variety is the spice of life?

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That’s the list I’m coming up with. So far I’m digging this month – summer is around the corner, I’m getting closer to being able to hike and deadlift again, and there are some new things on the horizon job wise!

I’ll be back with another post sometime next week between Spring semester ending and summer starting 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” – Ram Dass

Life lately + a workout + molasses smoothies?!

Hi friends! It’s been a bit… Let’s chat.

I’ve been on the injured bandwagon since the beginning of April… the 5th to be specific. In my last post I told you guys it’s a sprain of my left ankle – ATFL and peroneal tendon inflammation . Shortly after this post I went back to the doctors again as things weren’t necessarily getting worse but there was also zero improvement… insert x-ray number 2 which came back normal, and an MRI which showed a stress fracture in the distal fibula (lateral malleolus). When the injury initially happened I kept saying it wasn’t a stress fracture, it didn’t feel right, it hurt “too much”, it felt like the peroneal tendon was ON TOP OF the distal fibula and I blamed the tendons/ligaments (so soft tissue) rather than bone. I mean after all I’ve had stress fractures before and I know what they feel like/how they present themselves. I also am MUCH healthier now and my body shouldn’t be in a position to develop one. However when it swelled a week after the initial injury and the bone hurt to palpitate I knew something was amiss.

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I know my hips are off kilter as I have hip dysplasia in my left hip. Yep it happens in humans and not just dogs. I swear 96.4% of the time people find out I have this they say “doesn’t that happen a lot to dogs?”… My biomechanics are off because of this, asymmetrical hamstring and hip flexor strength/movement patterns, compensations, ect. I have found a way to work with this in terms of lifting and hiking but running is an entirely different ballgame. Every single stress fracture I’ve dealt with is from running (e.g mechanical/use due to lack of shock absorption), or a combination of running and other activities (e.g volume/overuse).

My PT (whom I have seen for every single injury mind you) essentially told me that my foot/ankle mechanics are not designed for running. Especially road running, which I hate but the trails have been very snowy until now. My dorsiflexion is crap, things are tight, I have a bunch of scar tissue, my natural gait pattern is supination (aka I try to walk on the outside of my foot…placing stress on the lateral ankle), ect.

I’m accepting that this is going to be a work in progress. While I ultimately want to get back into distance racing, my current goal is to finish the NH 4000 footers in a year, so by July 20th. I’ve thought long and hard multiple times about this goal since this injury and if I have to push the date back it will NOT be the end of the world. To be honest, if I hadn’t already healed five stress fractures, have a good overall awareness of my body, and built a solid mental health base I’m not sure how I would be handling this. I’m still irritated, anxious, and annoyed, but I’m accepting the process better than I ever have with an injury before. It’s been a lot of letting go of my natural need for control, allowing myself the space to think things through, and not blaming myself too harshly.

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“Count your rainbows not your thunderstorms.” – Alyssa Knight

So… the workouts. How does one train with a lower extremity stress fracture that can’t take extra weight? Well, I went from 6 days a week 1-2 workouts a day to 4-5 days and one workout. I’m being smarter, taking more rest (something that will inevitably stay even upon fully healing this injury), and working with what I CAN do versus overthinking what I can’t do. It has been a mix of upper body, core strength and stabilization, mobility, lower body which is safe (e.g lateral band work, monster walks, hamstring curls, gentle biking/spin bike, GHD back extensions). I’m making it work. I’m sharing yesterday’s workout with you guys, and note this bench rep scheme is not my normal style of high weight/low rep. I’ve been enjoying changing things up here and there to create a different stimulus, have some fun, and see what my body can do. It’s kind of HE** at 110 total reps and something I may do once every other month… if you give it a whirl please let me know what you think!

1. Bench press: 20.18.16.14.12.10.8.6.4.2 reps. Start at a weight and increase by 5 lbs. each set. Plan it so that the 2 rep is a weight you could usually 4-5 rep because after 108 reps things feel a tad different…

2. Weighted dips 3×6

3a. Dips 3×12

     3b. Hanging leg raise 3×20

4a. Pull ups 4 sets max effort

     4b. L-sit on rings 4×15 seconds

5a. Push ups 4×15

     5b. V ups 4×15

6. Cable press 3×10

7. Tricep push-down 3×10

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In other news I created a new favorite post workout smoothie concoction! It’s like peanut butter banana meets a cookie full of cinnamon and molasses goodness. The flavor profile is broad and it’s classified (to me) as a strange but good combination for sure.

What you need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk (or almond/dairy, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 cup water (you could do less, I just like the volume!)
  • 1 scoop protein powder (I used Pescience peanut butter cookie flavor)
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. blackstrap molasses (can do more/less, depends how much you like molasses!)
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. powdered peanut butter
  • Hemp hearts
  • Ice

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Directions:

  1. Add everything except molasses, ice, and toppings to blender and blend until smooth
  2. Add molasses and QUICKLY blend as it will try to stick like cement all over the blender
  3. Add as much ice as desired for goal thickness
  4. Top it if you feel like it (I used hemp hearts!)
  5. Drink up, buttercup

Well, if this wasn’t the most all over the map post that I’ve ever put up on the blog than I’m not sure what is.

“Time will pass anyway, you can either spend it creating the life you want or spend it living the life you don’t want. The choice is yours.”