an indoor rock climbing wall

Wine for Indoor Rock Climbing

I did a thing over the weekend. A crazy thing. I tried indoor rock climbing! And, not just the beginner level rock climbing — I tried bouldering! For months now a fitness friend of mine has been trying to convince me to join her for climbing and I’ve been busy. In fact I was happy to be busy because truth be told I was terrified to even try this. I no longer have the calloused hands of my childhood when I just about lived on the monkey bars on all the playgrounds. I worried I wouldn’t have the grip strength. What’s more, I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to climb. Lifting weights in the gym is one thing but actually being able to do something functional with your body could be an entirely different story!

Well, I’m here to tell the tale. I tried it. I conquered it! It completely surprised me. For one thing, the crowd was a completely different crowd than I’m used to. As I waited for my friend to arrive I was taking it all in wondering if I really was going to be able to do this thing. People had their own climbing gear and seemed really outdoorsy to me. I’m not a huge fan of the outdoors, by the way. I hate camping. Hiking is OK, though! Anyway, I observed carefully for about 10 minutes or so.

When she arrived, she quickly got us ready to go, explaining the various levels of bouldering and giving us a way to tackle the first wall. We, of course, started with 0, the lowest level, and we made quick work of the first route up. The walls go about 15 feet in height and the highest level I saw was a 9. I was able to do up through level 2 with ease and I think I tried a level 3 but I don’t think I made it to the top. One of the things that surprised me about climbing was the mental aspect of it. The idea that you have to kind of map it out before you climb on, as well as stick to it all the way to the top and then about halfway down is a mental exercise in itself.

hand with callous on it
I grabbed this shot of my “souvenir” just after washing my hands of the chalk I used for climbing!

My grip strength got the best of me about 90 minutes in and we stopped for the day, but not before trying a campus ladder (too fun – I felt like I was on American Ninja Warrior!) and making sure to stretch as much as possible. I wasn’t too sore until about 36 hours after climbing. Then, the forearms, lats and shoulders were on fire! But, two days later, I’m just fine! Will I go again? I’m not sure it will be a regular thing but I definitely recommend it for those who are in shape and would like to test the limits of their minds and bodies.

One of the routes in particular was hard for me. I had trouble even jumping on the first “rung” and couldn’t see how I could grab on and start the climb. After nearly 7 or 8 tries and observations of others, I finally got it. But as I reached the top, I really got into my head too much. It was high! And I had to stay very close the wall and in balance. Terrifying but exhilarating all at the same time! That was the most fun for me. Conquering something I didn’t think I could do and pushing through the scariness. It was empowering and I found myself wanting to brag to everyone!

The gym itself, Central Rock, was clean and well-organized. The staff was welcoming and friendly. I even received a follow-up email a few days later with options for participating again! There are several locations across the United States and members have access to all the gyms, which is a nice bonus for those who like to road trip or who find themselves in different cities for whatever reason.

The wine I chose to celebrate my indoor bouldering success? Well, it was nearly 95 degrees the day I went so we had subs for dinner (no cooking in that heat) along with a crisp Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc. A refreshing way to unwind after a tough rock climbing adventure!

Here’s one of my earlier attempts at a level one wall. You basically map it out in your head and then follow the same color all the way to the top!
screen shot of cronometer app dashboard

Wine for a Macro Epiphany

Those who have been reading for a while know that I’m a workout fanatic. In fact, I’m loving it so much that I’m in the midst of obtaining my Certification in Personal Training from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. But, that is a story for another post. Today, I want to talk macros (again!).

In January, I entered a fitness challenge at Athletic Apex in Syracuse, New York, which came with it three personal training sessions, as well as a couple of assessments designed to optimize my training and determine the best workout and nutrition plan for me. One of the assessments was the RMR, which determined my resting metabolic rate and, in turn, was used to help devise my ideal daily caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown – in other words, how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fats I should consume each day.

I started with the goal of building muscle and gaining weight, something that I’ve struggled with for years. I was excited to get a real formula based on science and not just gut (no pun intended!). My total calories were set at 2,100, which was lower than I had been at on my own. I averaged 2,200 to 2,400 and was struggling to gain anything. I was a bit skeptical about going down but then wondered if maybe I was eating too much of the wrong foods or something. So, I gave it shot.

Initially, it was great for me. I gained muscle in a way I never had before, while reducing body fat. I put on two pounds. But, then, the progress stopped. I increased my calories by 200 to see what would happen. Nothing. Then, I decided to move the macros around. Still nothing. The whole time I was progressively lifting heavy, following the BUILD 1.0 program. Now, I realize I had two variables going on – the new fitness program and playing around with the macro ratios but still!

Fast forward to earlier this week when I saw a mention of the Cronometer app in a workout group of which I’m a part. The person said they felt it was more accurate than MyFitnessPal for tracking nutrition. So, I figured I’d give it a shot. My first impression was that it was a pretty basic app and it wasn’t pretty or organized well at all. It was an endless list of what I was eating and it wasn’t grouped together and there wasn’t a lot of white space with the design. BUT, once you get passed all that? There is one key difference that is completely changing my life. MyFitnessPal never truly synced to my Apple Watch. But Cronometer does. So much, in fact, that my daily calorie needs adjust as the day goes on and I burn more calories. I am realizing just how many more I need based on my activity. I consumed nearly 2,500 calories the other day, for example, and yesterday just more than 2,400. Today, 2,234 is my current goal, but I imagine it will go up as the day goes on, especially if I go for a walk at lunch.

So, there you go. Science can only take you so far. While my RMR may have been accurate, the data was not enough to account for my energy usage all day long, particularly since my metabolism may run a bit faster than average. I weighed myself last night and was at 100.3 pounds for the first time since I was pregnant! Now, a female’s weight fluctuates daily, for better or worse, so I’m going to check again in a week, but my scale indicates body fat and muscle mass percentages, too. The trend is going up for muscle mass and body fat is about the same. So, those are all good signs.

The whole time I’ve been experimenting with all this, I’ve cut way down on my alcohol consumption. A couple glasses a week is now my new normal. So, that also could be helping as alcohol is not the greatest when it comes to getting good sleep and it can interfere with metabolization of key nutrients, too. This past weekend was the exception. I celebrated the first full gorgeous weekend in Central New York with a $5 Sauvignon Blanc from Frontera in Chile, as well as Clean Slate Riesling, an old standby. Life was good in the sun all weekend! Cheers to many more as we dive into summer!

notebook that says weekly planner on it

Wine for a Change of Plans

I haven’t always been the best at rolling with the punches. In fact, I often would get severe anxiety whenever plans were about to change or if I had no plans or was unable to make plans. Honestly, sometimes I still do get out of sorts but not nearly as bad as it used to be. I’m not sure why I behave this way when change is in the air but I do. Since I’ve had children and several life events over which I had/have NO control, I’ve started to adapt to changeability and am a bit more able to just handle it.

This morning, for example, I arrived bright and early at my usual haunt, Athletic Apex – New York, which opens at 5 a.m. Part of the draw for me and what contributed to me changing gyms in the first place was the fact that it opened a half hour earlier than my previous gym, the Northwest YMCA in Baldwinsville, New York. In fact, typically, it appears as though Apex has been open for hours by the time I pull into the parking lot at 5 a.m. sharp. This morning, however, I noticed that all the cars in the lot had lights on and were still running. The gym was still closed.

At first, I figured it would just be a minute. I thought I saw the guy who works there just inside the doorway and figured maybe he was waiting until exactly the stroke of 5. But then I realized he was on the outside looking in, just like us. After waiting about 10 minutes I got out of the car and asked him if someone was on their way to open. He admitted he had not gotten a hold of anyone yet. In a split second decision I decided to head back out to my old haunt, the Northwest YMCA. Fortunately, we still have the family membership there due to Jon’s voice teaching and the kids’ swimming lessons.

I arrived there just as it was opening at 5:30 a.m. and realized the more things change, the more things stay the same. I recognized the same faces, said hello to some old friends, some of whom I know by name, others simply by face. I put my stuff in the same old locker number 23 and started my workout. Immediately, I noticed how busy the place was and I had to adjust which workout I was going to do to accommodate what was available. I had gotten used to my personal space at Apex! It sure was an adjustment being so close to the person next to me and having to adjust when weights were not available.

It made me appreciate my new gym that much more. I got through the workout just fine and was able to make it home and to work only about 10 minutes behind schedule. See? Change wasn’t so bad. The more I allow myself to embrace it and just go with it, the more I realize there’s no reason to be anxious. This is something I know deep down inside but still is difficult to call forward in the moment.

Tasting new wine is always fun and not at all frightening to me, despite the fact that I may be faced with wines I’ve never had before. I tend to enjoy returning to my old haunts once in a while, too. The other night, I did one of each. I tried a new Pinot Noir called Butternut, and an old standby Sauvignon Blanc from Brancott Estate. Which one did I start with that evening? The old standby. Old habits sure do die hard. Cheers!

fitness balls piled up

Wine for Speedball

As many faithful readers know, I love to workout. Lifting weights is my jam. Typically, I do my own thing, waking up early and lifting weights with a little cardio thrown in. Very rarely do I participate in group fitness classes. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, but I guess it’s that I don’t enjoy them enough to adjust my schedule to attend them. Over the years, I’ve tried different classes, mostly before I had children.

Back then, I loved a good kickboxing class. In fact, I still remember the one I used to take at Gold’s Gym in Liverpool, New York. I think the instructor’s name was Meghan? She was a spitfire and I always left feeling sore and spent but really, really great!

I also took a lot of Body Pump classes which were basically weight training group classes. Then, I went through a yoga phase. But after that, nothing. It was mostly due to the fact that I could never make it to the classes due to my schedule. Then, I had children and wasn’t working out at all. Fast forward to now — I have been lifting weights for more than two years on the regular and now when I try a group fitness class, it’s super easy and not worth it at all.

For example, our local YMCA has a PiYo class, which is totally boring and not at all challenging. I pretty much wrote off group classes. But, a few weeks ago, I ran into a fellow gym goer who mentioned this Speedball Class that I had never heard of. She said it was led but an awesome instructor and that it worked muscles she never knew she had. So, this past Saturday I gave it a shot.

When I arrived at Athletic Apex just before 8 a.m., I was a bit worried. No one was there and the instructor, Tisha, said there typically are only a handful who show up. Thankfully, two others showed for a total of three in the class! I was a bit nervous with it being my first time but honestly it wasn’t too bad. There were a few moves I had trouble navigating (did I mention I have two left feet? Yeah, no Zumba for me!), but for the most part I kept up! The abs section was a burner but in a feels so good sort of way. Despite everyone saying I’d be sore for a week, I only had slightly sore glute muscles for about 24 hours or so and that was it! I’m actually thinking I might give it another go this weekend!

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even try kickboxing, too. It’s nice sometimes, as one of the trainers mentioned to me a few days later, to see how you compare to others in terms of fitness level. I feel like I was in excellent shape compared to the others in the class and judging from the fact that I was not sore all week, it wasn’t too difficult for me. It’s good for me to try something new once in a while and get out of the weightlifting rut.

What kind of wine goes with Speedball? Well, that tiny two-pound ball was quite heavy by the end of the 45-minute class! But, instead of a heavier wine, I was thinking more along the lines of something signifying a transition to other types of fitness activity. So, later that day, I tasted The Crossings’ Sauvignon Blanc at Harbor View Wine and Liquors and purchased a bottle. It was a grapefruit bomb, my favorite characteristic in a Sauvignon Blanc and very refreshing and enjoyable. If I try that kickboxing class, I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes! Cheers!

 

maria, lucia and christopher in the swimming pool

Wine for Hot Summer Days

It’s been a hot last few days in Central New York, much hotter than we are used to. The thermometer rarely goes above 90 during a normal summer but so far, we’ve hit and/or surpassed it a few times and it’s only July 3! Typically when it’s this hot, I avoid drinking too much alcohol due to dehydration and just because it makes me feel like garbage when it’s so hot. But, this past weekend, I had some fun loading up the coolers for a graduation party to celebrate my husband’s graduate degree.

The first stop was Harbor View Wines and Liquors where I purchased a case of 12 bottles at a 20 percent discount. I chose wines from all over the world, including Germany, New Zealand, Portugal, Argentina and Italy. In addition, my picks included a couple from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, as well as Washington and California. I tried to vary the types of wines, choosing six reds and six whites, as well as different grapes. I figured it would be fun to have a hodgepodge available to guests or for us after the party ends!

I did the same thing with the beer selection. I chose a Mexican sampler, Saranac Summer Series, Blue Moon, Labatt Blue Light and some White Claw sparklers. Of course, there was plenty of water and sparkling water for guests, too. The most popular beers were the Mexican ones, followed closely by Saranac and Labatt Blue Light. We had one Saranac left and a few Blue Moons. As for wine? I enjoyed Goose Watch Vineyard’s Diamond white, which is made with the Diamond white grape, one of the originals grown in Upstate New York.

I think it’s fun to try a whole bunch of different types of wines and beers. There are so many in this world and I probably will never try them all. That’s why, when I have an opportunity to purchase a lot, I take it; your guests will have their choice and you’ll hopefully have something for everyone’s taste.

Summer Wine Choices

Overall in the summer, I enjoy white and rose wine over a red, simply because they are more refreshing to me. I typically have them at a slightly cooler temperature than I would a red so that may be one reason why. I don’t like an overly sweet wine. You’ll see me drinking a Sauvignon Blanc or a Cayuga White. Riesling is a popular choice, as well, especially with company, and White Merlot is a great standby, particularly with barbecue. Below are some of the ones I chose for our outdoor party.

Diamond
Goose Watch Winery
Finger Lakes, New York

Riesling
Clean Slate
Mosel, Germany

Sauvignon Blanc
The Crossings
New Zealand

White Merlot
Beringer
Napa Valley, California

Chardonnay
Bread and Butter Wines
California

I’ll add to this list, as I try more delicious summer wines. Please share your favorites below!

 

maria, lucia and christopher smiling and eating ice cream

Wine for “Almost” Spring/Summer

I’m on a roll now! The weather turned gorgeous this week. I’m feeling a bit more like myself. In this post, a short one for #WineWednesday, I wanted to share my top 5 spring/summer wine choices. Cheers!

  1. Sauvignon Blanc – I enjoy those from New Zealand, although I have enjoyed a few from other regions, as well.
  2. Chablis – I seldom write about this one because it’s rare that I find a good bottle but when I do, wow! I forget how much I love it. My favorite pairing for Chablis is sushi.
  3. White merlot – This one is often overlooked but very enjoyable particularly if you have guests who are not used to drinking wine. It’s essentially a blush, which has wider appeal.
  4. Riesling – Of all the whites, this one is my favorite. I love the German Rieslings and those inspired by that region, particularly the Mosel/Saar River area. Try Hermann J. Weimer from the Finger Lakes region in New York state..
  5. Red blend – Red blends tend to be easy-drinking and often fruit forward, making them ideal for nights by the campfire. You can find inexpensive ones at most local liquor stores, including Lucas Vineyards Tugboat Red and Red Truck wine. Any red blend will do!
  6. BONUS: Champagne/Prosecco – Who doesn’t love a good bottle of bubbly? It makes any ordinary day/evening a real treat!

What are some of your favorite summer wines? Comment below! I love new ideas!

alarm-clock

Wine for Middle-of-the-Night Wake-Up Calls

Last night was a bit sleepless, at least in the middle of the night. Right around 1:15 a.m. our daughters woke us up. At first, I thought they were in my dream, “Mommy? Mommy?” Then, they moved on to “The fire alarm is going off!” Wait, what? We were both up in a hurry! I quickly asked if it was malfunctioning since I didn’t hear it going off. They said they thought so; it would not stop beeping. Why, oh why do those things always malfunction in the wee hours of the morning? #FirstWorldProblems

Anyway, my husband went upstairs took the battery out and came back down. He got back into bed just as I was thinking aloud that I never did change the battery in that one OR the one in our son’s room. Just the main level one. Uh oh. My husband predicted our son would probably be in our room in 10 minutes. Luckily, he wasn’t. But…

Twenty minutes later, just after I fell back asleep, we heard our son on the monitor. He sounded like he was choking! Again, my husband was out of bed in a flash to go check on him. Turns out he was “choking on his cough,” or so he told his father. My husband tucked him back into bed and came back to bed. “We should just stay up tonight,” he proclaimed at that point, to which I responded, “It feels like we have a newborn again. Just as you fall asleep…nope! Wake up!” Needless to say 5 a.m. was a harsh reality this morning and it hurt to wake up!

It’s Tuesday, a full day before the usual #WineWednesday festivities. But, it’s #WineWednesday eve and I think it’s Wednesday in some part of the world by the time we settle onto the couch later this evening in front of TV. So, wine it is. I’m not sure what we’ll have but it needs to be good. I’m thinking the Sauvignon Blanc that’s in the wine fridge will do the trick. Easy drinking, yummy white.

This up all night stuff is cramping my 5 a.m. fitness style. A nice glass of vino will help me settle in for a long winter’s nap – hopefully, without interruption.

Top 5 Wines for Cinco de Mayo!

Typically, people enjoy margaritas or Tequila on May 5, traditionally known as Cinco de Mayo. But, if you are a wine drinker, don’t despair. There are plenty of choices for you, too. Below are my top five picks:

  1. Riesling – German Riesling has an acidity that can stand up to the citrus found in many Mexican dishes. Try anything from the Mosel region, or German-inspired favorite, Hermann J. Weimer from the Finger Lakes region in New York state.
  2. Pinot Noir – Dishes, such as enchiladas are not as spicy and tend to be more mellow and earthy. Try a light Pinot Noir, such as one from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California.
  3. White Merlot – Tacos are fun and carry big flavor, therefore you need something fun to compliment them and quench your thirst. Try a White Merlot from Sutter Home or Beringer Estates. The rose never disappoints.
  4. Sauvignon Blanc – Fish tacos are popular these days and if you get a good one, it will likely have a bit of heat to it. Try a fresh Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand to cool the heat and refresh your palate.
  5. Mexican wine – I was hoping this would be my pick this year. I recently read a Huffington Post article on the resurgence of the Mexican wine industry and learned the Baja peninsula is home to 90 percent of the country’s wine producers. So, I had planned to try a bottle of Mexican wine for my Cinco de Mayo feast. But, alas I can’t find any Mexican wine in my neck of the woods. Anyone know where I can get some? ¡Salud!

Holiday Wine Picks from “A Wine for All Times”

As promised, I’m sharing my top five holiday wine picks for Christmas. These selections are meant for those of you who need ideas on what to bring a host/hostess, as well as those of you who have been asked to bring the wine for the occasion. All of these choices are crowd pleasers and will make you the star of the party!

  1. Find a winery that creates holiday labels for its wine. Swedish Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes is one great example. It always customizes labels during the holidays and the best part is that after, you can can get HUGE deals on the ones they don’t sell! Price range: $
  2. MacMurray Estate Pinot Noir – This is by far my favorite Pinot Noir. It’s light enough to go with just about anything and it’s an easy drinking wine for those who just want to sip. The best part is that this wine goes very well with chocolate and we all know that is usually on the menu at holiday parties! Price range: $$
  3. For those who love a crisp, cold white, try this Kono Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I hear Trader Joe’s stocks it so it’s relatively easy to come by. Its fruity, tart flavors will leave guests wanting more! Price range: $
  4. In our family, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Italian fare so we would do well with a delicious Barolo. These are a bit more expensive but not at the top of the price list. You usually can find a good one for around $40. Your local wine merchant may keep them in a special room or cellar so you might have to ask for it! 2010 was the best year in decades for Barolos, so look for something from that vintage. Price range: $$$
  5. Looking to splurge? Try a Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon that’s a little more pricey but very good! This one needs to breathe a bit before enjoying it. Be sure you have a decanter on hand and a spare hour before you start drinking! Price range: $$$$

No matter what you choose, enjoy wine with your family and friends and make memories while you’re drinking it! Merry Christmas!

Wine for a Pianists’ Debut

It’s the Christmas holiday season and that means time for band concerts, recitals and holiday performances. Between the girls and my husband nearly every day someone is singing or playing someplace! Over the weekend, the girls had their winter piano recital at the Everson Museum Festival of Trees. It was Maria’s third recital since she began lessons a year and a half ago. For Lucia, it was her very first time.

Lucia did a terrific job. She didn’t make any mistakes and seemed happy as she sat on the stage, swinging her little legs back and forth. She also played a duet with me but no one got that on video unfortunately.

Maria played several times during the short recital for a total of five holiday songs. She also seemed comfortable, as if she had been doing this all her life.

After the recital we noticed a jolly gentleman hanging out in the lobby of the Everson Museum. We had to stop and say, “hello!” Lucia and Christopher told him what they wanted, got a piece of candy and we headed for home.

The rest of the weekend was quite busy with a two birthday parties and religion classes at church. So, our evenings were, of course, filled with wonderful wine. Our weekend selections included a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, a simple Malbec and one of the four limited edition Outlander wines, the Cabernet Sauvignon. I was remiss in capturing the exact names of the first two wines but will check when I get home later and add the links accordingly.

I think busy weekends need simple, easy-to-drink wines that don’t add to the hectic schedule of kids’ activities. My recommendation is to stop at your local wine or liquor store and find a low to middle priced wine that looks interesting but fun. I went in looking for a white and red just to have a choice, but whatever you like is good.

Only one more weekend left until Christmas! In the coming days I’ll have some thoughts on wine for cookie baking, gift wrapping and last-minute shopping! Happy drinking!