Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Whole Foods Columbia - Sneak Peek

Sous Chef and I were lucky to be invited to the Sneak Peek party at the new Whole Foods in Columbia Town Center.

It was a veritable block party - the block, of course, being the parking lot of the former Rouse HQ building along Little Patuxent Parkway, which now houses the Whole Foods and, on the lower level, the upcoming Haven on the Lake spa.

We were treated to all sorts of delicacies, showcasing the best of what the new store will offer; sustainably harvested seafood, roasted local corn, fresh heirloom tomato salad with cantaloupe, even fresh shucked oysters.

The event also highlighted some local companies - I love that Whole Foods, a huge national chain, makes the effort to bring in products from local vendors. We tried several flavors of Capital Kombucha - kombucha is a fermented tea touted for its health benefits due to it being packed with probiotics, amino acids, and electrolytes. I particularly enjoyed the Cherry Blossom flavor (I'm a sucker for floral food products).

Sous Chef modeling berry baskets
Another local company highlighted was Cava Mezze; already a successful restaurant in DC, they have expanded to include Mediterranean-inspired dips and sauces, like tzatziki, hummus, and harissa. Ingredients are sourced locally, except for some products which are shipped in from Greece.

We also got to go on a tour of the new store. Sous Chef served as my photog while I jotted down some notes. The 40,000 square foot space is like a lovely combination of Roots Market and Wegman's. It's not nearly the size of the Wegman's down the road, but like the Snowden River Parkway behemoth, it has an expansive prepared food section and café - the seating has a beautiful view of Lake Kittamaqundi (I was hoping they'd set it up that way!). They also have a vegetarian café, and the head baker is apparently a whiz at "veganizing" almost any baked good - good news for the veggie-lovers in Howard County.

The bulk food options seem endless; nuts, grains, even different specialty salts. There is even a bulk frozen vegetable area - an experiment that I'm hoping takes off! The food education section is also housed back in the bulk foods area - inspired by the Genius Bar at Apple stores, "Cooking Coaches" will be on hand constantly to offer advice on cooking methods, preparation ideas, and demonstrating the use of handy tools and gadgets (yes, folks, you can buy a Vitamix here).

Always a fan of knowing where my food comes from, I'm glad to see that Whole Foods has several programs in place to keep their patrons knowledgeable and to support local farmers. "From Around Here" labels in the produce department - it means the fruits and veggies came from within 100 miles of the store (that's the traditionally-used radius for considering something "local"). Also, the fish department touts that all of its seafood is "100% traceable to its source" - a claim that I am sure Sous Chef will be testing soon enough - he's a stickler for sustainable fish.
Look for the

The Whole Body section offers pretty much any health or beauty item you may desire; it even features a health and beauty bar, with aestheticians who can help you make custom blends of bath scrubs and other beauty products. The event outside had a booth showcasing some of these customizable items, including DIY lip gloss and lemon-poppy seed salt scrub (it smelled just like a muffin!)

For shoppers who own electric cars, the store has a few charging stations right outside; plug in, shop, and go! I'm really happy to see these things springing up all over the County.

The whole store was designed using reclaimed/recycled wood and recycled tile - visible in the communal seating and café bar seating, the artisanal pizza oven, and various other decor.

Always a sucker for sweets (when will I learn?!), when the tour guide mentioned homemade gelato cakes, I almost passed out; the gleaming end-cap glass case was calling out to me like Voldemort luring Harry Potter into battle. I think I even caught the ever health-conscious Sous Chef drooling a bit at that sight.

Are you drooling yet?
I'm so excited for this store to open tomorrow (bread-breaking ceremony is at 8:45 for those of you lucky enough to sneak out of work); as much as I worry about the further competition it will bring for local stores like David's Natural Market and Roots Market, I think that variety is the spice of life, and I welcome this addition to Columbia's spice rack.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

PiYo: Pause

No PiYo yesterday; maybe no PiYo today.

And yet, for the first time ever, I have a hurt back and I'm not freaking out. Well, okay, I'm freaking out a little bit. When the engine is sputtering, you can't help but worry any time you turn on the car.

Despite this, I know in my heart that I will get better. I have been working out six days a week for a solid five weeks; before that, I did PT exercises nearly every day for three months. Before that, I saw a chiropractor at least once a week for two months.

Said Chiropractor (Dr. Fat Ass) says that the more I work to strengthen my core (and, as he never forgets to remind me, lose weight), the shorter these lapses will be. I will always have flare-ups; that's what happens when a piece of your lumbar disc is floating around in your spinal canal.

So far this morning, my back isn't that bad; it is stiff, though. Unfortunately, I haven't yet learned to differentiate between "I'm stiff because I need to move" and "I'm stiff because I am protecting an injury" stiffness. I will see Dr. Fat Ass later this morning; I have a feeling he will say "Move - always keep moving."

But recently, I have reached a point in my relationship with Dr. Fat Ass where I am not sure he sees the whole picture anymore. He has always commented on my weight - you know that already - and no matter how many times I tell him that I'm working on it, that I am seeing progress in other areas, all he seems to be focused on are these extra pounds. I often wonder if the reason he says, "Move, move, move" has more to do with his desire for me to burn calories than to keep my back from stiffening up.

Perhaps this is just a case of projection, borne of my own insecurities about my snail's-pace weight loss. Dr. Fat Ass is, after all, a doctor, a professional. He's paid to see the whole picture, isn't he? Perhaps the reason he focuses so much on the weight is factoids like this which say that for every extra pound of weight in your torso (hello, belly fat!), an extra ten pounds of pressure is applied to your lower back.

I'm not sure. I do know that even if the scale isn't moving, I am seeing some great results with PiYo; I feel stronger, leaner, calmer, more focused, and more energized since starting it. Even if these aren't noticeable on the outside - even if I get to Dr. Fat Ass's office today and he doesn't notice my firmer glutes, firmer quads, more defined calves and triceps - I know they are there.

For now, this is how I will take comfort. This and a well-placed ice pack.

PiYo in, friends! I'll be back soon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

PiYo Day 36: Drench

Who came up with the brilliant idea to schedule a Drench workout on a Monday?

Mondays are annoying enough without having to double my morning workout time, thank you very much.

By now you've probably figured out that I didn't work out this morning; I decided to ease myself into the work week and pledged to work out in the evening.

Today proved to be a particularly busy and stressful work day. Right around four o'clock, I experienced something I haven't felt in years. Or maybe ever. This thought actually went through my head:

"I can't wait to get home and work out."

Can you believe that?! I was stressed out, and my first thought was not about raiding Sous Chef's gallon of mint chocolate chip (which I just remembered is in the freezer). It was to work out.

Major progress.

The only problem? My back is insanely mad at me for some reason. I don't know if I tweaked it during a workout, or slept wrong, or what. What I do know is that I told myself I would work out, albeit lightly, and I would stop the second it got to be too much.

I made it about seven minutes before my back completely clamped down.

The DVD is still going, even as I write this. There's about twenty minutes left, they're doing the beast series. And I am lying on my back, a pillow behind my head, an ice pack under my spine, my laptop propped up on my bent legs.


I'm praying I didn't reignite my disc injury. I'm trying to stay calm and tell myself that even if it does tweak out, all the work I've been doing for six months will ensure that I'm not down for long.

I'll check back in with you tomorrow.

PiYo on, friends!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

PiYo Day 35: Strength Intervals

I woke up today, and I thought: Anything but Drench. Anything but Drench. After all, even God rested on the seventh day.

Peeling back the Post-it note, I realized one thing: I forgot about Strength Intervals.

As much as I feign griping about PiYo, it really is an awesome workout program. Strength Intervals is actually one of my favorites, even though it's one of the most intense in the series.

I love how as soon as you get tired (both mentally and physically) of one exercise, she shuttles you right on to the next one. Interval training is both highly effective and highly fun, especially for those of us who tend to be overthinkers.

It's hard to overthink a situation when the situation keeps changing.

I did a great job staying motivated for today's workout - it helps when it's only twenty minutes long. My back has been rather sore, though, so I felt a little stiff and unstable. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'm just hitting another level of fitness, and have a little soreness to show for it.

Praise Jesus, you bitch.
Oh my, these intervals are challenging. Even through my extreme back-related modifications, I tried to follow Chalene's guidance and really distribute my weight appropriately to get the full effect of the poses.

The "Bitchin' Hallelujahs", as I lovingly refer to them, are still some of the most challenging for me. I so named them because when you're doing them, the top half of you looks like you're saying, "Praise Jesus!" and the bottom half of you is saying, "I hate you, you bitch." I'm sure they're extra challenging because just that extra motion of lifting your arms over your head forces you to engage your core even more than you already are.

I'm telling you, by the end of this program, I am going to have rock hard abs, even if they are still hiding under a belly blanket. They will be there.

Go powerhouse.