The Family Practice

family life is a practice in balance and flow


A Quick Sweat and a Quick Dinner

As promised today is a double-whammy. A new workout and a new recipe. How about that?!

I really didn’t want to go out and do my run yesterday and yet, I really did want to get my miles in… what to do? This! I ended up sneaking in my mile (just over one, one was all I needed) and getting some ab and leg work in as well.

Super Speedy Sweat SessionSo, I put this together and was telling Nick how great my workout felt. I told him I had done “grapevine” at the end and he was all “what the heck are you talkin about?!” When I showed him the move, he told me it was called “karaoke" – obviously, we bet on who was right…

Dang it! No one wins, or we both win, or something like that :)

And just in case you need it – a jack-knife crunch involves lying flat on your back and raising one straight leg and one straight arm/shoulder – using your abs of course. The cross over is when you do the motion using opposing leg/arm rather than lifting right-leg with the right-arm. Double jack knife is pulling both straight legs up at the same time you lift both arms.

The recipe I have today is incredibly easy. It’s nothing entirely unique, just a few simple changes for a nice twist on a classic favorite – black bean chili.

Black Bean Chili with Cayenne Roasted Almonds

Prep Time: 7 minutes Cook Time: 5-10 minutes Stove. 4-6 hours Crock Pot HIGH Serves: 4+



  • 1 1/2 Cup Dried Black Beans. Winco Bulk Bin #1646
  • 1 Dried Poblano Pepper
  • 2 lbs Ground Beef, or Turkey
  • 1 Small Purple Onion, diced
  • 4 Large Carrots, sliced
  • 3 Cans Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Slivered Almonds. Winco Bulk Bin #2016
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, as desired
  • Dash of Cinnamon, Cayenne, and Sugar
  • *Optional add in a diced jalapeno for heat.


  • In a large stock pot, add enough water to completely cover the dried beans. Add the dried poblano pepper. Soak the beans with the pepper overnight.
  • In a skillet, brown the ground beef with the diced onion. Season with salt and pepper as desired. I like to use Johnny’s Seasoning Salt.
  • To the crock pot, add the sliced carrots, drained beans (remove the poblano pepper), cooked meat, and tomatoes. Add jalapeno, if using.
  • Simmer on HIGH, 4-6 hours.
  • Before serving, combine the slivered almonds, coconut oil, cinnamon, cayenne and sugar in a small skillet. Sauté over a medium heat, until golden brown.
  • Serve the chili topped with additional sliced onion and a few of the roasted almonds.

Black Bean ChiliAlright guys, that’s all I’ve got for you today! I’m working on a few freelance projects this morning and have some afternoon errands to prep for the Eat Local Challenge, tonight’s Oasis Summer Nights, and a local fundraiser project I am working on.

Fun times! I better get to it!


Vega and a New Circuit

I made up a new circuit workout this morning based loosely on the GPP program we did up at the Blend Retreat. In case you’re worried, I promise I’ll be recapping my whole weekend experience and sharing some really fun products with you guys. But first things first, let’s talk about today.

I haven’t done a morning workout in ages. In fact, I haven’t done an actual workout in quite awhile – other than the GPP. I’ve been staying active by going on hikes and bike rides – but not an sort of structured workout. However, that GPP thing kicked my butt and I realized that while staying active is important – strength training and body sculpting is also important.

I took the time to add up all the lunges, squats, burpees and sit ups we had done at Blend. 99 of each. Plus some start/stop sprint drills. No wonder we were all sore. One thing I wish we had done is stretched before and after that workout. We sort of just jumped into it and the minute it was over we all headed to breakfast. I think stretching would have made recovery the next day go much more smoothly.

So without further ado…

Start with a good stretch…


# Reps

Caterpillar Walks 10
High Knees, Alternating Legs 20
Squats 10
Full Sit Ups 20
Repeat All 3-5x

For the caterpillar walks be sure to start standing up straight, hands up, bend forward at the waist and walk your hands out to plank position. Walk back to forward fold and stand up again, hands high.

For the sit ups be sure to go bring your chest all the way up to your knees and drop back all the way, back to the floor before repeating again.

…End with a good stretch

It takes about 3-5 minutes to complete a full sequence of the caterpillar walks, high knees, squats and sit ups. If you repeat for three times, you’ll be done in less than 15 minutes. That’s a dang good full body workout in a pinch!


I am really not good at eating a big breakfast first thing when I wake up. I typically pack myself a breakfast to eat at work around 10:00 but I can’t do it right when I get up. However, I know that before doing even the smallest of workout, I need something. When I have done early morning races I’ve had to force myself to eat and even then I really, really struggle to get a couple bites in. It just makes me feel sick to eat that early.

When I was at the Blend Retreat, there was a new-to-me company handing out product to sample. Vega really caught my eye because they have a complete line of fitness-functional foods from drinks, to bars, to goo. They have it all. Pre-workout, during workout, post-workout.

“What we eat should make us want to conquer the world, not take a nap.”

Vega’s Guiding Principals

  • Plant based whole foods are the true future of optimal health.
  • Alkaline-forming, plant-based whole foods help build a platform for optimal health.
  • Nutrient density is more important than calories.
  • Minimize exposure to sensitivity-aggravating ingredients.
  • What you eat should provide energy, not drain it.
  • Regular exercise paired with a premium nutrition helps rebuild a younger-feeling body.

Given how much Vega’s core beliefs align with my own I was really excited to give some of their products a try.

This morning before my circuit workout I had their pre-workout energizer in the Acai flavor. I really liked that it wasn’t sweet or thick but gave me just enough of a boost to wake up and get through my workout.


The Vega product line was envisioned by Brendan Brazier, author of Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide, a former professional triathlete, and now renowned for his knowledge of and advocacy for plant based nutrition. You can take part in a free 30 day wellness program coordinated by Brendan by visiting Thrive in 30.

I actually ripped this page out of the Vega information packet. I want to frame it and keep it in my office. It’s a good reminder to just keep going forward.WP_002732

I have several fun Vega products left to try but I’m also going to share some of my bounty. To enter to win a little Vega bundle of goodies simply leave a comment below telling me which product you are most interested in (see their full product listing here).


We’re All Just Learning to Walk

Good morning! I hope you all are having a great start to this Wednesday! I’m happy to hear that several of you have already tried and enjoyed yesterday’s tabata workout. I loved it so much that I actually did it again last night while watching the Biggest Loser :)

I also just need to apologize for the pictures in this post – I couldn’t find the real camera this morning so this post is riddled with myspace-esque cell phone photos. Who’s excited?


If you enjoyed yesterday’s tabata circuit, you are going to be happy because I have another one for ya! This one focuses a bit more on your arms but it still gets the blood pumpin!


Before I completed the tabata circuit, I went out for a quick bike ride around the neighborhood. I did a total of 2.25 miles – just a baby short ride! I really did not want to get off my bike and I would much rather that I was telling you I went out for 20 miles but I figured that no one in my office would appreciate me using my shower time to go for a long bike ride. There’s only so much that deodorant can hide :)

The 2.5 mile ride was still a decent effort because it was almost all hills. I hate hills! But, I also sort of love them once its over.


I whipped up a delicious smoothie/milkshake this morning that you guys are going to love. I omitted ice for the first time which made the smoothie much more smooth and ice-cream-like than my typical concoctions.

Chocolate Orange Protein Shake

  • 1 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 -6oz Chobani in Blood Orange flavor
  • 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Scoop Protein Powder (I used vanilla because that is all I had but if you use chocolate powder, limit the addition of cocoa powder by half)

I also packed one of the breakfast burritos I made yesterday. I packed “the classic” and added in some chives and jalapenos. I’ll probably heat this up and enjoy as a mid morning snack since that smoothie really filled me up.


Learning to Walk

Back when we lived in Everett, I worked as a volunteer with Domestic Violence Services (DVS) of Snohomish County. In order to become a volunteer, I had to go through the DVS training program in order to learn how to deal with certain aspects of the department (such as 911 calls, working in the shelter, counseling women and children and other various things). The DVS program is an “advocacy based” social service. The core belief is that you are always acting as an advocate – offering resources, support and a listening ear; we do not “do” anything – we help the women “do for themselves.”

The idea behind this is similar to the old saying “give a man a fish, he eats for a day – teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime” but it goes a step beyond that. The idea is that if we merely do the work for the women in the shelter – get them a job, find them housing, etc then they still are in a position where they can’t do it on their own. Helping someone too much gives the subconscious message that they can’t do it themselves. Helping people, however, and being there to answer questions is much more powerful.

I have always believed this but the class really helped to flesh out this type of teaching. You can see this principle at work in lots of places. I see it in everything I do for my children.

Spencer is just learning how to walk. He is a speed demon when he has something he can walk behind and push in front of him.

He’s a happy clam when I hold his hand to walk.

And I’m fairly certain that he could walk on his own if he would just let go of my finger. I try to switch from my letting him grasp my whole hand, to just one finger and eventually pry that away from him as well. Sometimes, if he doesn’t notice right away – he’ll remain standing and go to take an additional step without my help. As soon as he realizes my finger is gone though he will drop his bottom down to the floor and then crawl. Its only when he sees that he isn’t holding a hand anymore.

So he’s not walking yet.

But I keep letting go of his hand and eventually – he’ll do it on his own.

Life is a lot like learning to walk. Sometimes things are intimidating or even impossible for us where we are currently. We haven’t developed the skills yet or we aren’t well versed in whatever it is we are stepping into.

And so we like to have a “hand to hold” and help us wobble around and get a good feel for things.

Eventually that hand has to go away though. And maybe we’re still trying to grasp onto that pinky finger that we believe “we still need” but how will we know unless we let go? In the real world, its more often the case that the pinky finger is taken from us before we would really like it to be or before we truly feel comfortable on our own.

As a parent, its always good to remember that taking away the pinky finger is not only beneficial, its necessary. We can’t “do” for our kids forever – we have to let them stumble a bit and pick up on their own. Be an advocate for our children.

As a person, its always good to remember that sometimes we’re going to feel as though our safety net (that pinky finger, or whatever it may be) has abandoned us. It is then that we get to hone our skills, find our strength and take a step on our own. And that’s really what we want isn’t it? People in our lives that will help and encourage us to be able to do for ourselves rather than coddle and suppress our growth. Our weakness is only a chance to become stronger. I have strong advocates in my life – I want to be a strong advocate in others.

After all, we are all just learning to walk in some fashion or another.