Lemon Spinach and Chicken Salad; Pain??? Gain???

Lemon Spinach and Chicken Salad

Long, long ago, in a place far, far away I was fit; in decent shape, as it were.

I did it the easy way.

I went to a spa, twice a year, and beat my body into submission.

My days at the spa went something like this:
     5:30 2 mile walk
     6:30 breakfast, 1 bran flake waved over skim milk, water
8:00 power stretch
     9:00 cardio training
   10:00 free weights
   11:00 shower, etc.
   12:00 lunch, 1 piece of lettuce waved over vinegar, iced herbal infusion
   1:00  rest, call the office, handle a few crises
  2:00 intense lower body training
     3:00 intense upper body training
     4:00 cardio training
     5:00 shower, etc
     6:00 dinner, 1 sliver of chicken, 1 carrot, 1  potato,  all dipped in mustard for flavor, hot herbal infusion

Naturally, in true type A fashion, I did not 'take it slowly' as recommended by the trainers.

I did not 'give my body a chance to rest and grow stronger'.

I jumped in, both feet, and did as much as possible as fast as possible; cramming maximum everything into the absolute minimum.  I wanted to get my money's worth, after all!

I normally spent days 3 and 4 unable to dress myself. 

As the saying goes: I had sore muscles in places I didn't know I had muscles. I couldn't lift or lower my arms; couldn't go up or down stairs; couldn't stand up or sit down.  I got out of bed by rolling off it, onto my knees on the floor, then pulling myself upright.

Did I stop going to the classes?  Of course not.
Did I get a massage?  No time.
Did I slow down?  Are you kidding?  I was making progress.

By the end of the week I had normally lost several inches everywhere.  (Weight? No, I usually stayed the same – but, remember, muscle weighs more than fat.)

I looked good, felt great and was ready to tackle the world.

I vowed I would stay in shape. 
I would work out every day. 
I would keep all the lovely muscle.
I would not go through that ever again

Six months later? Same story.

But that was another time; another place.  We were both gainfully employed; in possession of discretionary income. 

Now I have to stay fit the hard way.

I have to do it on my own, by myself, with no one nearby saying 'Good Job'  (Well, there are some benefits…)

The cardio part is easy, and I actually do it every day.  I grab my book and spend an, almost pleasant, 45 minutes on my exercise bike, reading and sweating.

It's the all-important muscle work that I seem to continually put off for another day, using whatever flimsy excuse that comes to mind.

Muscle work is as important as cardio work for fitness.
Muscle work is more important than cardio work for weight control/loss.
Muscle work is more important than cardio work for  keeping bones strong/aging gracefully.

See?  I know this stuff.

Wednesday was a gorgeous day. I opened the door of my exercise room (it's in one of the outbuildings) and gazed out at the  green lawn. 

After doing nothing all winter (too rainy, too cold, too damp, too lazy) I was finally inspired.

But, with age comes wisdom.  After 5 months of nothing I didn't want to damage myself.

For those of you who don't  know, the Lunge  is like the Swiss Army Knife of exercise.  It works more muscles at one time than any other single movement.  No equipment is required and you can do it anywhere.  It's fast, efficient and effective; my kind of exercise.

I grabbed a pair of free weights (so I could do arm raises at the same time) and did 12 walking lunges out into the garden. 

Paused, smelled the apple blossoms, did 12 more walking lunges back.

That was it!

The next morning I was rather disappointed that I didn't so much as have a stiff muscle when I crawled out of bed.  Obviously I was in better shape than I'd thought… Or hadn't done them properly.

All that was required was a bit of patience. 

By Thursday evening my muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, were all loudly proclaiming  their pain.

By Friday, I am pleased to report, they were screaming in earnest.  I couldn't go up or down stairs; couldn't stand up or sit down; I had done well.

I had done so well, in fact, that when Sedi (German Shepherd) came over and laid her head on my leg for a pet, it hurt.
When Emma (big white dog) gave me a head nudge in the thigh, I screamed in pain.
Yes, I had done well.

24 walking lunges.  12 with each leg.  That was all it took.

Didn't I tell you it was a great exercise?

Along with the inspiration (however fleeting) to exercise, the warm spring weather brings a desire for salads.

It's too early for lettuce here, but the perfect time for spinach. 

I've talked about spinach before for Weekend Herb Blogging. It's loaded with calcium (although not easily absorbed), vitamins A, E, C and  folic acid.   Plus it's very high in lutein which is very good for the eyes.

And I like it.  Toss in a bit of Green Garlic and we have the quintessential spring salad!

As Weekend Herb Blogging is back home with our illustrious and beloved founder, Kalyn, of Kalyn's Kitchen, this week, I wanted to do something in honor of this illusive spring season.  She'll have the recap of all the wonderful recipes on Monday.

Lemon Spinach and Chicken Salad

For the chicken
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 tbs flour
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbs fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
For the salad
4oz (125gr) fresh spinach
2 green garlic
2 tbs fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 tbs olive oil

The chicken: Mix flour, paprika and brown sugar.  Cut chicken breasts in half.  Roll in flour mixture to coat.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet.  When hot, add chicken and brown well on both sides.  Add lemon juice and white wine, cover and simmer 10 minutes, or until done.
The salad: Slice green garlic, including green tops.  Sauté  lightly in olive oil.  Add lemon juice.   Keep warm.
The finish:  When chicken is done remove and place on a platter.  Add 2 tbs of the chicken cooking liquid to the green garlic.  Turn heat up under the chicken skillet and reduce the rest by half.  Put spinach in a bowl.  Pour the warm green garlic and juices over the top, toss well to coat and wilt slightly.  Arrange spinach next to the chicken.  Pour the reduced cooking liquid over the chicken and serve.

I'm off to the garden…. Hope I can bend over to pull weeds (or not).

Bon Weekend!

28 thoughts on “Lemon Spinach and Chicken Salad; Pain??? Gain???”

  1. “Muscle work is as important as cardio work for fitness.
    Muscle work is more important than cardio work for weight control/loss.
    Muscle work is more important than cardio work for keeping bones strong/aging gracefully.”
    I too read while doing cardio – the only thing that makes it bearable for me 🙂
    I’m waiting now for my dh to finish his weight training exercises so then I can do mine. I think it helps to have a partner to encourage/inspire you when you are working out. He reads all the stuff first teaches me – my own personal weight trainer 🙂 If it wasn’t for his encouragement lo these 5 or so years – I don’t know how much I’d weigh.
    You just can’t coast along living a sedentary life. Doesn’t work. It pains me greatly to think I’ll need to do this every day of my life – but I’m also thankful I have the health right now to be able to do it every day.

  2. I can relate on the trying to keep in shape. I do a cardio workout at school with a friend, but my muscle work is sadly lacking. I’ve been having fleeting thoughts of joining a gym, but usually that thought is followed with “how would I fit it in?”
    Your chicken and spinach sounds like a delicious meal. Especially love the sound of the spinach with the warm lemony dressing.

  3. Since I retired a month ago, I’ve been walking each day – when you live near the top of a very steep hill, you get both cardio and muscle work just by spilling down the hill for a cup of coffee and struggling back up! But, I can’t complain when my walk includes visits with the neighborhood dogs and cats and glimpses of the San Francisco bay along the way.

  4. Wow, I can certainly relate. My good friend and I are just getting back to exercising after the winter (no excuse like snow for not exercising) and I’ve been so sore. I know exactly how you feel. My lower back has been especially bad. We get up at 5 most mornings and do a very brisk and hilly walk of about 3 miles. It’s nice to get it out of the way so early in the day, but I’m whipped at night. And honestly, outside of having a harder butt, I can’t tell the difference, so we remind ourselves it’s good for our hearts…

  5. Edi, yeah, I know! That every day for the rest of my life but is daunting. But it’s such a habit for me now I don’t feel right unless I exercise.
    Wendy, thanks… I have to admit there was a point I was wishing I was a guy… so I didn’t have to sit to p…
    Kalyn, that’s really it, isn’t it? Always so much to do!
    Pam, I always had stong legs living in Andorra. 45 steps to my office up a spiral staircase and walks in the mountains took care of it nicely!
    Ruth, I need one too, weeding!!!!
    kellypea, walking is great exercise – esp. in the hills…but it doesn’t do anything for the upper body – as I know only too well!

  6. A friend is trying to talk me into Nordic walking, and I may actually try it. After I walk in a 5k in June, that is. Bought my pedometer today, and will start – tomorrow.
    I am sore just reading this, too!

  7. I’m feeling quite unhealthy recently myself. I’m far too lazy for the exercise but I guess I’ll have to start…
    Still, a great idea for something which at least sounds healthy!

  8. Too funny, Katie!
    Today I looked at my treadmill and said, soon… very soon. The free weights have been sitting on the floor beside the treadmill all winter, gathering dust.
    My fingers get a great work out – they can type qwertyuiop in record time! Soon …

  9. Oh this chicken and Spinach recipe looks really yummy!!! I consider gardening part of my exercising. And if it ever stops snowing I can get busy doing my exercise.

  10. I’ve had an extremely lazy winter here…I need to get back into it. The Grand Plan includes three days of running and two/three days of weights.
    Sounds good on paper, right? Now…about implementing the plan…

  11. Oh, I can relate. Now that the snow and ice area gone, I walk up and down my driveway, which is on a hill, a couple of times a day. When the huffing and puffing stops, I know I’m back in shape!

  12. This sounds exactly like my recent efforts, I am exercising twice a day at the moment trying to shed all the blogging weight! Your salad looks delicious, really fresh.

  13. No pain no gain is what they always say. I need to do some sculpturing myself, but I am the worst self motivator.The chicken salad sounds perfect for the lighter fair we need in the summer months to get those abs of steel:D

  14. Hi KatieZ, I had taken a 4 week break from marathon training while traveling to Belgium, France, Ohio and North Carolina in March. I think this post has motivated me to get back on the training wagon, and maybe eat a little healthier too 🙂

  15. Oh, GOOD for You! Isn’t it nice finding an exercise like Lunges where you KNOW that it’s going to be effective? My gym class trainer forces us to do them every time, and I just (success!) got to a point where I stopped getting sore…which means I need to up the weights (sigh, back to waddling instead of walking!). The rainbow in the clouds is that, with muscles in better shape (literally!), I don’t feel the constant guilty pangs to diet… which means more freedom to be creative with food!
    Keep it up, I’ll be cheering you on!

  16. Mimi, a pedometer! That should be fun. I’m not familiar with Nordic walking…do they walk differently then the rest of us???
    I tried race-walking once….that’s weird!
    Scott, It really is a rather grim thought, isn’t it! But if I don’t exercise I have to diet and that’s even more grim….
    Christine, one can read on a treadmill…I know….
    Pat, SOME gardening is exercise…hoeing, yes, on my knees weeding…not so much.
    Heidi, aren’t plans wonderful? If only some one else could do the implementation.
    Lydian, good aerobic exercise… where we live is sooooo flat!
    Helen, twice a day would be better for me….same reasons….
    Val, I’d be happy with abs of aluminum…
    Lannae, marathon training? That should be a good incentive.. The most I can do here is the mushroom walk – picking, not exercise…

  17. Neen, I actually carry weights and do arm lifts at the same time…when I’ve had a week or so of getting the legs right. Mulit-tasking, as always!

  18. In my younger days, Ha! I spent 2 nights a week at an aerobic class and Saturdays biking and climbing massive hills in Ohio. Then when summer arrived we also would bike 18 miles one night a week besides the aerobic workout…now I have to PUSH myself to get on the bike and head out for a few miles! What went askew, besides my butt!
    That chicken sounds great! Never tried the brown sugar for a coating on chicken. I have for a marinade for fish that uses brown sugar and it makes such a nice coating! I must try this!
    I am so glad to hear that you are starting to enjoy SPRING!!!!!

  19. I get my strength training in, I love pilates and Yoga and do it several times a week but I have issues when it comes to cardio…unless running after a 2 and 4 year old counts. Now that it is warm (we got up to 60 today, I am sure we will have snow next week) I did get a bike ride in, about 4 miles.
    The food looks great as always!

  20. Wow girl! You are a killer when exercising!!! And that spa menu was like eating nothing… no wonder your clothes wouldn’t fit you anymore!!!
    If there’s a good salad to eat like yours, don’t bother about the spa menu 😀

  21. Deb, we’ve got to get the bikes dusted off… 20 miles is a nice ride, but not when there is so much weeding to do.
    Shayne, I was really into Pilates a few years ago, then cracked my tailbone and couldn’t sit/do it for about 6 months…which is now several years…
    Laurie, thanks, now if only I would listen to me.
    Thanks, poetryman
    Nuria, I may have exagerated just the teeniest bit… The food was actually very good – just not much!

  22. Aaahhhh Thanks for letting me know that! You know, it’s hard for me to get ironic comments, I’m not that smart… yet ;-). Even in Spanish sometimes I don’t get them, lol!!!

  23. I remember exercise! One of those things I ought to be doing…I’ve been saying any day now for a few years…maybe tomorrow…lol
    The lemon chicken looks really good!

  24. Nuria, I tend to be very ironic/sarcastic… and sometimes just a bit too subtle – I forget people can’t see me rolling my eyes….
    Mike, well, at least you’re still thinking about it… that counts for something (no clue what, though)

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