My New Hiking Goal, Plus StairMaster, Meal Prep, and Other Successes

In 2020, I set a goal to walk one long trail from end to end. I broke it into chunks, and did a different portion every weekend, ultimately completing it in August, walking 102.6 miles in the process. Now I’m back at it!

JJ and I went for our first hike of 2021, and it was the first leg of my 2021 hiking goal: to walk the entire length of the Polly-Ann Trail. Like last year’s trail, this trail used to be a railroad line. It starts in Lake Orion, and winds through northern Oakland County, before crossing into Lapeer County and ultimately ending around Imlay City. I actually don’t know the total mileage, and I don’t really want to look it up right now. I’m just going to keep going it piece by piece, and enjoy watching the miles add up.

Our hike this weekend was 4.9 miles, and it took 1 hour and 53 minutes, and as you can see from the picture, it was a snowy affair. Tromping through the snow meant I was taking shorter steps than usual. Plus I was engaging my core more, to stay upright on the icy parts, so it was probably one of the best calorie burns I’ve had on a hike of that length! I already know where I need to park next time, to pick up where we left off, so this 2021 goal is off to a great start!

I mentioned in my last post that I’m upping my StairMaster usage, and that’s going well too. I’m using it twice a week, at the gym at work. My original plan was to use it Mondays and Fridays, but I switched it to Tuesdays and Fridays, because I’ve started doing some step aerobics on Sunday mornings, and this way I’m not doing stairs two days in a row.

I use it for twenty minutes each time, and oof, it’s hard. I have noticed it getting a bit easier, especially during this last week, but I don’t ever want to be easy, so that’s when I bump up the speed. I climbed 58 stories during my first climb, and I’ve now done this six times, and on my most recent climb, I made it 77 stories. That’s a big win! (This is never my entire workout for the day, either. I also do 25 minutes of other exercise to get to that 45 minute threshold.)

I’m starting week four this week, and feeling really awesome about it!

The last huge update I want to share, before I get into some meal prep photography, is that my shingles-related headaches are FINALLY GONE. Cue the fireworks! I had a non-stop headache for 12 weeks. That’s three months! About a week ago, it just dawned on me that I hadn’t taken any headache medicine for a couple days, and that I hadn’t noticed any pain. The pain had been super mild for the past month, and not at all inconvenient, and I had just learned how to live with it. Now I don’t have to! No headaches for eight or nine days – hopefully it’ll stay that way!

Ok – let’s get into some meal prep!

I just finished my lunches for this week. I used two Kroger-brand frozen skillet kits. One was chicken tikka masala, and the other was prime rib tips with mushrooms and gravy. The chicken tikka masala went over spaghetti squash, and for the prime rib tips, I steamed green beans, and also sautéed a ton more mushrooms.

And then I washed grapes, and cut up a couple small mangoes, for the fruity part of my lunches.

You may have noticed I only made four lunches, instead of five. Each skillet kit said it made 3 servings, but those would’ve been very small servings. So I turned each one into two servings, and I’ll just buy my lunch on the fifth day. There’s always healthy options at my work cafeteria.

I’m really proud of last week’s meal prep. I’ve become a big fan of frozen mashed cauliflower, and so I felt inspired to make a shepherd’s pie type dish, just without any potatoes. The end result isn’t really anything like shepherd’s pie, but it was delicious!

I started by sautéing nine different vegetables. This was a great opportunity to clean out the odds and ends in my veggie drawer, plus a couple veggies that I had bought that day. There were so many veggies that I ended up sautéing them in three different batches! I just made sure everything was roughly the same size (chopped pretty finely), so it cooked at the same rate (quickly).

Those containers have a mixture of:

  • white onion
  • celery
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • bell pepper (three colors!)
  • butternut squash
  • mushrooms
  • green onions
  • spinach

Then I cooked up a couple chicken cutlets that I had in the freezer, making a simple parmesan and herb crust.

And I also cooked up some plant-based ground ‘chicken’ made by a brand called Emerge. I like trying new things, and this plant-based chicken was pretty good! It got a little crispy, which I liked.

Three containers got the fake chicken, and two got real chicken. Then I split a small carton of wild mushroom gravy between all five. I found this at a supermarket near my work, and it’s only 10 calories per serving, and 7 servings per container! Since I split it between 5 lunches, that’s more like 14 calories for my servings, instead of 10.

Then each container got a layer of mashed cauliflower on top, and a sprinkle of pine nuts as a garnish.

I would totally do this again. I loved it! It’s definitely an addition to the meal kit arsenal. But after eating it for five days in a row, I’m going to wait a few weeks before I make it again. The great thing about it is that I can make it with pretty much any vegetables, and any proteins. It’s super versatile, as long as I have the mashed cauliflower in my freezer!

Oh and by the way, the addition of the cauliflower means this was a TEN-VEGETABLE LUNCH!

Keep it up, David!


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