Pick a pick a pumpkin!

This week I have had a craving for pumpkin in everything! Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin protein shakes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin spice cheesecake….I decided to draw the line when I came across a pumpkin lasagna recipe. That didn’t quite cut it for me. I have a lot on my plate for this week as far as school and interviews for the paper so I decided to take a visit to two of the places that help me relax no matter what.

I bet you can guess the first place I visited to help relieve a little stress. A morning workout at the gym to do everyone’s favorite, leg day! I figured I would get that one out of the way since I probably wouldn’t have the energy to do it later in the week. I started with a treadmill speed interval work out to get my heart rate up and get a little sweat going.

I caught my breath and then did a quick ab workout to give my legs a little break and stretch them before my leg workout. I try to work my abs almost everyday to keep a tight core. Every couple days I will do an intense ab workout session since you can strain your abdominals by working them out hard everyday. Keep in mind, just because you work your abs out like crazy doesn’t mean you’re going to have a six-pack. I’m a firm believer in the fact that abs are developed in the kitchen and whether you are capable of having a six pack deals partially with genetics. Just like muscles, they need the right proteins and carbs to keep them looking firm, tight, and toned.

The first 4 workouts I did on the cable pulley machine. Make sure to move the clip you attached to your ankle strap all the way to the bottom of the cable. For the first workout, turn your back to the machine and slowly move your leg in front of you and parallel to the ground, then bring back slowly. Repeat 13 times, and then turn to face the machine. Now kick leg backwards slowly and slowly back  in and repeat 13 times. Turn your body 90 degrees so your shoulder to shoulder with machine and kick leg away from body and bring back in slowly, repeat 13 times. Now turn your body so the other shoulder is to the machine. Kick your leg inwards and towards the opposite shoulder, repeat 13 times. Now do this with the other leg. It can be a little awkward at first but your body will adjust.

The weight and repetitions are just what I have been using, use whatever fits your personal goals. (If you are trying to tone or build muscle). I didn’t put a weight down for the leg press because it depends on which machine I use. I chose to do 3 sets of this workout.

On days where I want a little more of a challenge, I will take some of the machines and do levels of 3. This means I will complete 15 regular, then I will do increments where I do little pulses of 5 but not complete the entire extension. Then, I’ll go a little further into the extension and do 5 more pulses. On the 3rd level I go all the way into the extension and do 5 more and hold the last one to the count of 10. This will leave my body incredibly sore the next day but I’ve found it’s a great way to isolate the muscles.

For the calf raises, I like to use a stair and place my toes on the edge of it so my feet are parallel to one another. Then I lift onto my toes and extend up and down 13 times while holding weights in each hand (for days when I feel like a challenge!) Next I will point my toes outwards, calf raises duck style! I might stretch my calves at this point if they start to feel tight before moving to the 3rd angle which is pointing my toes inwards.

I stretched out again after this and walked on the treadmill for 5 minutes for a cool down. I love using a foam roller and definitely use it to stretch after leg day workouts.

After my workout, and barely being able to walk out of the gym, I hit up my other favorite place to relieve a little stress. The bulk section at Winco! I don’t know what it is but there’s something about being able to have the freedom to purchase whatever amount of whatever item I want in bulk and not have to pay the full price for a package of flour that may take me forever to use up. I feel like George Banks in Father of the Bride when he is trying to buy hot dogs and buns but doesn’t want to buy a package of 12 buns for 8 hot dogs, it just doesn’t make any sense!

I purchased the ingredients I would need to make a pumpkiny recipe. In addition to my intense desire for pumpkin, I have been craving dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and…chocolate chips! Luke and I changed our sugar/fast food bet to having one day a week where we could cheat which seemed much more reasonable. I decided I would make a batch of Pumpkin Spice Protein Energy Bites!

I used Skip To My Lou to make a recipe card for it since it ended up having much more ingredients than I thought it would. I absolutely loved her layout and how quick and easy of a process it was to make the recipe. The recipe itself takes less than 15 minutes to make and most of the ingredients you probably already have in your house. For the oat flour, I used my Magic Blender to grind regular oats until they turned to flour so you don’t have to go out and buy oat flour. Very easy! You can also use whatever milk you would like, I prefer almond or soy milk.

I made half a batch with no brown sugar and the other half with brown sugar. The second batch was definitely a little tastier, but I wanted something that didn’t have as much sugar in it. (Excuse the flashes in the pictures, for some reason I couldn’t get my flash to work with me today!)

I’m definitely starting to fulfill my pumpkin craving! I took the extra pumpkin seeds I had and put them into a trail mix with almonds and dried cranberries to carry around with me since I knew I would be rushing around this week and would need a little energy booster.

Random Fact of the Day

Did you know that pumpkins offer many health benefits including

Boosting your mood (I knew there was a reason I’d been in such a great mood after my Pumpkin Spice Protein Energy Bites!), pumpkin is also rich in fiber which can help to weight loss, helps keep your skin looking young, has more potassium in one cup than a banana (which means it’s a great post-workout snack to help restore electrolytes), and can boost your immune system. Looks like my craving was actually pretty beneficial, who knew!

Tomorrow I’m going to try a pumpkin spice protein shake. Keep your fingers crossed all goes well and I’m not overdoing it on the pumpkin! f you have any good recipes that have pumpkin in them (I have 3/4 of a can of pumpkin left to use!), please let me know so I can give them a try, I need to get rid of all this pumpkin!