Thursday, September 12, 2019

Restarting Exercise After Injury, Illness or a Longer Break

See disclaimer at the bottom of the page. 

2019 has brought much more illness and injuries than expected. I started the year with several bad colds back to back, the flu, strep throat, and the stomach flu. As a result, my regular exercise program was seriously derailed. In fact, I wasn't able to do anything close to my regular routine until May. And then it felt like starting over, which was very frustrating.

And once I was better, there were more interruptions. We traveled most of July. And while we were very active while in Germany (we got between 20,000 and 30,000 steps most days), I didn't do as many strength exercises. Once I was finally back to my program in August, I fell during a hike and seriously banged up my knee and twisted my "good" ankle, which required me to stay off my feet for close to three weeks. To say it has been frustrating would be an understatement.

Here are a few things I have (re)learned about my relationship with exercise:

  • Exercise is a huge mood booster for me and not being able to exercise is very challenging mentally.
  • It's a slippery slope for me from not exercising to not taking care of my health in general, especially when it comes to my caffeine intake and healthy food choices. When I wasn't able to exercising, I drank more coffee and ate more sugar (I suspect to get energy I usually got from exercise and because I was bored?).
  • I still have somewhat of an all or nothing attitude. It was very hard for me to do some weight exercises while being seated when I couldn't stand because thoughts of "what's the use" kept creeping into my mind. 
  • Accepting that not exercising will result in loss of strength, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning is something I will always have to work on.

How to Get Back to an Exercise Routine*

  • Start off slowly. The longer you were away from your routine, the more patient you will need to be. It's a good idea to do less than you think you should at first so that you won't get too sore or even hurt yourself. We lose strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness much faster than we think.
  • Doing something is better than doing nothing.  This is especially true when you are recuperating and won't be able to do a full workout. But maybe you can do some stretches? Or a short, gentle yoga routine? Short 10-minute walks are also a great way to get moving after being incapacitated. After a few days, you can do several short walks throughout the day. Or how about an arm workout while you are seated? 
  • Focus on "Cans" not "Cannots:" Don't focus on what you used to be able to do. If you haven't lifted weights for a while, you will have to decrease the weight you used to lift. If you weren't able to run for an extended period of time, you'll need to decrease your mileage or tempo, or both. That doesn't mean you won't get back to where you used to be (and if you have been working out for quite some time, probably sooner than it seems), but focusing too much on your previous abilities can be counterproductive. Instead focus on the fact that you are able to do so much more than when you were sick, injured or not exercising. 
  • Focus on having fun. When you first get back to exercise after an injury, illness or break, focus on exercises that you enjoy the most. When you are having fun, it's much easier to keep going. Once you have regained some of your previous fitness level, add in the "less fun" exercises.

* Disclaimer: Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Vegetable Soup with Gluten-free Meatballs

Since subscribing to the Imperfect Produce box, I have enjoyed creating meals around the vegetables in the box. One of the dishes I recently made was a vegetable soup with a tomato base. I also added gluten-free meatballs (optional).

Vegetable Soup

  • Celery 
  • Garlic 
  • Carrots 
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Summer squash 
  • Pomi strained tomatoes 
  • Water ~ 2 - 3 cups
  • Olive oil
  • Spices & herbs: salt, pepper, dried oregano, garlic powder, Trader Joe's mushroom & company multipurpose umami season blend & any other spices you enjoy- start with about 1/2 tsp each and add more as you taste. 

  1. Heat 2 - 3 TB olive oil in a medium to large pot and briefly sauté the vegetables. 
  2. Add one packet of Pomi tomatoes and a couple cups of water and bring to a soft boil. 
  3. If you'll add meatballs, cook for about 3 minutes before adding the meatballs. Otherwise, cook until the vegetables are al dente (about 10 minutes, but check periodically). 
  4. Season the soup to taste. 

Gluten-free Meatballs

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 3-4 TB hemp seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, mushroom seasoning blend, garlic powder - about 1/2 tsp each
  1. Mix all ingredients until combined, but don't overwork. 
  2. Form the mixture into small meatballs, slightly bigger than large marbels. 
  3. Drop the meatballs into the softly boiling soup and cook until they are done, about 7 minutes. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Oren's Hummus in Mainstreet Cupertino

We have gotten takeout hummus and eggplant dishes from Oren's Hummus in Mainstreet Cupertino on numerous occasions, but we had never eaten there. A few weeks ago we finally did and very much enjoyed the experience.

We got hummus with beef and the sampler dish, which comes with three different eggplant dips, a yogurt dip, carrots and beets. Everything was delicious!

I also ordered an Israeli wine, Mount Hermon White Blend. The light, fruity wine went very nicely with all the dishes. 

Thank you for a wonderful meal Oren's Hummus! We'll be back!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Easy Travel Wardrobe

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and will benefit from actions taken on the links. Thank you for supporting Andrea's Wellness Notes! 

When we visited Germany in the summer, we decided to travel very lightly. By taking items that easily mixed and matched (and were easy to wash and dry), I was able to fit most of what I took into a carry-on suitcase. Following is a list of the most useful items that I took.

Black (Very Comfortable!) Skinny Jeans, Black Reversible Parka & Black Sneakers

The first week we were in Germany, it was quite cold and rainy at times. The reversible parka jacket that I bought for the trip worked out great in light rain. And I loved that I could wear it with the fabric side out when the weather was nice and achieve a different look. 

The black, stretchy skinny jeans are super comfortable and turned out to be the perfect travel pants. And the sneakers are truly the most comfortable shoes I own. We walked between 20,000 and 30,000 steps most days, and my feet felt great.

Ponchos for Serious Rain

A couple days it rained a LOT, and we were glad that we had bought some ponchos. One downside to the ponchos is that they do get quite hot... But it was still worth it to be able to go outside and freely walk when it rained a lot.

Stretchy Skinny Jeans & Simple Tops

Besides the black skinny jeans, I also took blue jeans. I paired them with simple tops I have had for years. They are comfortable, don't wrinkle and wash and dry very well. I ended up wearing the blue and black top A LOT.

Finally, for a little dressier outfit, I took a black and white striped blouse that doesn't wrinkle. I love the details on the blouse and got quite a few compliments. It's a great travel option. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Staying Fit While Traveling: Würzburg, Germany

To stay in touch, follow me on Instagram: main account, food account, exercise account

In July, we visited Germany for three weeks. I will share some impressions from the trip in the coming weeks.

Würzburg is my hometown and is also the beginning of the Romantic Road. In addition, it's a stop for many of the popular river cruise ships, and there is truly so much to see and do.

Today, I will take you on one of my exercise routes while in Germany. I walked over the bridge up to the fortress numerous times. If you really want to get a good workout in, you can jog it. There is a nice elevation gain, and the views are simply breathtaking. You almost don't notice that you are exercising. Almost. I'll mostly let the photos speak for themselves.

I started at the city hall tower. 

Then I crossed the Alte Mainbrücke. 

The view of the fortress from the bridge.

There are many stairs leading up to the fortress, which makes for a great workout.

The first view of the city.

But we are not at the top yet. Have to go up the hill some more.

More stairs.

View of the little chapel on the neighboring hill.

Another view of the city.

And more stairs, going down this time.

And we are back at the bridge. Want to come with me next time?

Staying Fit with Workout Apps

In addition to our walks - most days we got 20,000 steps or more - I also did the 7-minute workout and used The Yoga Collective app. Yoga workouts are so beneficial when you travel, and The Yoga Collective even has specific travel flows, which feel amazing after a long flight or sitting in a train for a long time.

Overall, I am happy that I was able to stay fit while traveling while not going overboard. I had originally planned to get some gym workouts in, but that didn't work out as planned, but it was honestly ok. I don't think I lost much in terms of strength or conditioning while we were gone and was able to get back to my regular workouts once we got home.

Question: How do you stay fit while traveling? 

Be well,

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pho Ha Noi Now Open in Cupertino

We had heard very good things about Pho Ha Noi on Story Road in San Jose for a while, but we had never gone. Lucky for us, the Pho Ha Noi Cupertino location is now open.

Andy and I were able to go right at opening at 11 a.m. on a Monday during their soft opening, and there was no wait. By the time we left, the large restaurant was all filled. I have heard that during dinner time the wait can be quite long and parking challenging. 

We both ordered #13, rare flank steak, brisket and fat brisket pho.

The restaurant has a self-serve condiment bar, and we enjoyed getting just what we wanted and were able to eat.

The soups were very good - the broth flavorful and the meat very tender.

While we got the same soups, we tried both noodles - the special house-made thick noodles as well as the skinny noodles. The thick noodles were our favorite, and we'll order them again next time. 

We also ordered spring rolls, but, unfortunately, they didn't come out until we were already finished with the soup. We ended up taking them to go, and they were very good and fresh. 

We are very happy that Pho Ha Noi is now open close to home, and we'll be back soon! It's definitely our go-to pho place!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Imperfect Produce (and Food) Delivery Service

Years ago, I belonged to a CSA, and I was quite happy with it for some time. Then, unfortunately, things went from bad to worse when first the produce sharply declined in quality and then they had a huge data breach incident. I therefore sadly quit that service.

It took me several years to even consider a new service. The more I learned about Imperfect Produce, the more I liked it. Imperfect Produce sources items that might otherwise go to waste because they are not "pretty enough" for regular grocery stores. I also liked that you can easily customize your box every week. Additionally, there is also the option to add on other "imperfect grocery items" (often coding, etc. mistakes) to your box. And many of these items are sharply discounted compared to grocery stores.

Here are two recent boxes. We loved everything in them and have been eating more fruits and veggies.

Thanks Imperfect Produce for a great service!

This is not a sponsored post.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen Review

Disclosure: We were provide with free products by Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen. As always, all opinions are our own. 

I had heard quite a bit about Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen and was excited when the company reached out and asked us if we were interested in trying their products. It's definitely a new kind of ramen product that can't compare to what we used to eat in college...

There are a couple key differences between Mike's Mighty Good Craft Ramen and other ramen products, and you can taste them! First, the noodles are steamed, never fried, and the organic noodles are made from scratch in Northern California. There is no palm oil and they are not too salty. Yet the broth is very flavorful and the noodles have a nice amount of chewiness.

We decided to keep our ramen bowls vegetarian and used the vegetarian vegetable ramen and the vegetarian kimchi ramen packets as the base.

We prepared the ramen according to the package directions and quickly steamed portobello mushrooms, baby bok choy, red onions, and parilla leaves and added them to the prepared ramen. We topped each bowl with an egg, kimchi, green onions cilantro and seaweed. 

Thanks Mike's Mighty Good Ramen for letting us try your products. They are definitely our go-to ramen products from now on!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Spaghetti Squash Casserole: Easy Entertaining

One of my go-to dishes to make when we have guests is a Spaghetti Squash Casserole because it makes for easy, stress-free entertaining and you can prep it ahead of time and bake it once your guests arrive. You can also easily adjust the ratio of ingredients (use more or less or no meat, add different vegetables, etc).

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

  • Spaghetti squash 
  • Marinara sauce 
  • Mushrooms 
  • Onions 
  • Garlic 
  • Olive oil 
  • Seasoning (use what you like): salt, pepper, oregano, umami mushroom seasoning - make sure to season each layer.

What to Do 
  1. Cook the spaghetti squash. I microwaved it (~12 - 15 minutes, depending on size; make sure to poke/cut many holes so that it won't explode).
  2. Let the spaghetti squash cool before cutting it in half and removing the seeds. Then use a fork to make "spaghetti." Lightly season the "spaghetti" with salt and pepper.
  3. Dice the onions and garlic and sauté them in some olive oi. Add the meat, season it and cook it until it's no longer pink. 
  4. Sauté the mushrooms and season them. 
  5. Assemble the casserole by starting with a layer of marinara sauce and then add a layer of spaghetti squash, a layer of meat, and a layer of mushrooms. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. 
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 - 50 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly brown.