Archive | November, 2012

A Few Friday Favorites

30 Nov

Boy, do I love some good alliteration…don’t you? ūüôā

Friday is in full swing, and I am having trouble wiping this smile off of my face. I’m having a good, productive day so far, and I’m not getting stressed out by the millions of things I need to do this weekend. Here are some of the great things that I’m smiling about:

РI spent some time on the phone last night with a potential caterer, and then my mother, talking about our wedding in September, which got me excited about the wedding all over again! Sure, I get to look at these beauties every day: 

beauties

…which reminds me of our upcoming nuptials, but discussing the big day is both overwhelming and exciting. There is a lot to do, but luckily we have 10 months to do it, and I’m confident with all the help we have, it will get done.

– Speaking of my lovely fiance, we had a nice Subway lunch today. Usually we go home for lunch, so we will watch the previous night’s Daily Show while we eat. Today, we just ate and chatted and it was quite nice. After we ate, we went over to The Wild Ramp¬†to pick up a gift for someone. The Wild Ramp is our local year-round Farmer’s Market. It is completely non-profit, and I love stopping by. While we were there, I decided that I¬†must¬†finally try some Jeni’s Ice Cream:

ice cream

I’ve been dying to try the Salty Caramel flavor. They didn’t have any, but the above flavor just spoke to me. I can’t wait to grab spoonfuls of this for the next week or so ūüôā The other really great thing that I saw was this:

yay

That’s me!

The Wild Ramp recently had a Kickstarter Campaign, and the put up the names of all the folks who donated on their bulletin board. This was all the thanks I needed!

– After a hard week of scrounging through almost bare cupboards to come up with dinner every night (we desperately need to do some grocery shopping!), I’ve reached my reward: Sushi for dinner tonight! Hooray!

Question of the Day:
What is the best thing that has happened to you today? 

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LiveFit Trainer Update

29 Nov

Good Morning!

I’m pleased to announce that my new push to get back on track after my recent weight gain has been a success for three days now! I have been eating well and my workouts have been on point. I’m treating each successful day like it’s own victory! As long as I don’t try to reward myself with food, haha.

I woke up bright and early this morning and walked to the gym. It was quite a bit colder outside this morning than it has been — there was a thick layer of frost on all the cars and when I got to the gym my ears were already numb. I don’t think I’m quite ready for winter yet!

I finished Day 16 of Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer:

Do you like my illustration for the Incline Dumbbell Curl? Sometimes I like to remind myself how to do an exercise if I think I’ll forget once I’m at the gym, so I draw little pictures. As you can see, I’m not much of an artist ūüôā

Let’s talk about a couple of these exercises:

T-bar Rows:

Image courtesy of Bodybuilding.com; This is the exact set-up my gym has, by the way.

This is something I’ve never done before today. It took some trial and error to figure out how much weight to put on the bar. I initially tried with 2-25 lb plates, but that was pretty ambitious, so I took it down to a 35 lb plate. I did one set with the 35 lb plate and it was pretty tough so I took it down to one 25 lb plate, which kept it challenging but I wasn’t sacrificing form. I really liked this exercise! One thing I really like about the LiveFit Trainer is that it’s familiarizing me with the weight room at the gym. Prior to doing this program, I went to the weight room, kept to myself, and stuck to the exercises I know. Now, I’m using new equipment and asking for help from the people who work there. I used to be afraid to do this, but it turns out that they are more than happy to help — that’s why they are there, and otherwise they are just standing around. Plus, usually people who work at the gym are interested in fitness, so they give you pointers and show you new exercises. The same guy is working in the weight room each morning, so now he’s familiar with what I’m doing and he gives me tips on form, ¬†and suggests new ways to do exercises.

Alternating Hammer Curls:

Miss Jamie herself, courtesy of Bodybuilding.com

This exercise was¬†not¬†new to me prior to doing this program, but I was pretty proud of myself this morning for upping my weight on this exercise. I usually top out at 12 lb dumbbells in the weight room, but today I thought I’d try the 15 lb dumbbells for this last exercise. It was tough, but I didn’t sacrifice my form! I know in order to see a change in my body, I need to be pushing the limits with my weights, and hopefully I can keep doing that with this program.

I have to say, I thought it was going to be¬†much¬†tougher to skip out on cardio for 4 weeks. Granted, I’m only on Day 2 of Week 3, but I haven’t missed it much. Like I mentioned before, I ¬†haven’t¬†totally¬†cut out my cardio, but I have drastically reduced it (I think I’ve only done 3 cardio sessions total since I started). I haven’t lost any weight since I started (I did see a reduction on the scale, but it came back a couple days later — do¬†fluctuations¬†like that happen to anyone else?), but I have noticed that my body is looking — tighter. I had noticed some extra flab recently, and in week 3 of this program, I’m feeling tighter and definitely stronger.

I hope someone from Bodybuilding.com is reading this, because I have one request: An app! Look at this jumble of paper that I’ve acquired:

Yes, I could create my own spreadsheet or keep a notebook, but usually I just write down the workout at some point during the day, or print it out at work, so I’m never consistently in one place when I do it. It would be pretty cool to have an app so I could just punch in my weight and reps for each exercise. Plus, since you repeat some exercises but the workouts aren’t ever exactly the same, It would be easier to have an app because it could remind you how much weight you used last time you did each specific exercise. I’m going to try to sit down at some point today and organize this jumble of paper to see how I’ve progressed ūüôā

Before I go, I’d like to tell you a bit about my breakfast this morning:

I first heard about this yummy¬†concoction¬†on Tina’s blog (one of my favorites — especially for pictures of her adorable Pug, Murphy). Since then, I’ve seen it quite a bit in the blog-o-sphere. You won’t believe the two ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana

Yep! Can you believe that there is no flour in this!? I definitely doesn’t have the ‘cakey’ consistency of a typical pancake, but it’s pretty similar. ¬†I added a little pumpkin pie spice to mine and topped it with half a tablespoon each of Sunflower Butter and Honey. This pancake packs a protein punch: Mine had a whopping 16 grams after I added the sunflower seed butter on top, and it was so good! Like a protein pancake, it takes some maneuvering to flip without making it into a mess, but I was surprised how thick it became. After I took this photo, I cut it in half and put one half in a container to eat at work. I’m loving the idea of eating half of my breakfast at home and half at work. Although I’m eating the same amount of food, I think it keeps me satisfied longer…? That’s probably all in my head, but I’m a firm believer that it still works, even if it is all in your head!

Hopefully I’ll have a second post for you today, in the form of a veggie burger recipe round up!

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite breakfast? 

 

 

I’m an #Elf4Health

28 Nov

Boy, am I loving the #Elf4Health challenge! It has really pushed me to get back on track with my health and fitness.

Yesterday was hard, you guys. As I have mentioned a few times here, I have put on a few pounds since August. Ok, let’s be honest: I’ve gained approximately 7 pounds since August. A little more than 2 lbs a month. Things that I know I can do to combat the weight gain: Track my calories, increase my weight training and¬†decrease¬†my cardio (i.e., running). I know that last one sounds¬†counterintuitive, but when I’m running a lot, I get hungry, and when I’m hungry, I eat. I will not starve myself!

Anywho, yesterday I woke up at 3:00 AM feeling just….terrible about myself. Negative thoughts were racing through my head and I just felt bad about myself. I have no idea why my negative thoughts choose to manifest themselves at 3:00 AM, but it’s quite annoying. I decided that it was time to use the skills that I¬†already have¬†to get rid of the extra weight. Luckily, the #Elf4Health Challenge is in full swing!

 

It’s nice to have people cheering you on, so I’m grateful for this challenge right now. We’ve had a couple of challenges so far:

  • Go Meatless! — I shared my favorite meatless recipe with my (vegan) partner (Mama Pea’s Roasted Chickpea Tacos — yum!), and I made myself a new veggie burger recipe. I used to make myself veggie burgers all the time — homemade are so much better than the frozen store-bought ones — but I’ve fallen out of the habit. Zach and I have burger night at least once a week, and I’ve been lazy and just eating his beef burgers, which I know isn’t good for me. The veggie burgers are so much healthier. So I made a batch of these mushroom veggie burgers and boy, am I glad I did. I can’t wait to have another for lunch! In fact, it has inspired me to do a post on a veggie burger recipe round-up tomorrow.
  • Send a hand-written note — I used the opportunity of yesterday’s challenge to get a jump start on my Christmas cards! Thanks #Elf4Health, I’ve been meaning to get that done ūüėČ
  • Try a new workout¬†— This is today’s challenge. I woke up this morning and I did a 10 minute warm up on the elliptical and today’s LiveFit Trainer workout (legs — and in week three, it’s getting tougher! My legs have been jelly ever since!), so that doesn’t count. Since I work at the library, I think I’ll head downstairs to the fitness DVD section later and see if I can’t find something different to try ūüôā

So, to say that this challenge has¬†benefited¬†me would be absolutely correct. I’m “meeting” new people (and finding new blogs to read — my favorite!) and trying new things, and most importantly, getting things done!

Another thing I’ve been inspired to do is to start logging my meals again on My Fitness Pal:

Just a sample of yesterday’s food log.

I have sort of a love/hate relationship with keeping  a food log, so here is my pro/con list:

  • Pros
  • ¬†Logging keeps you accountable for what you eat and it makes you¬†conscious¬†of your food choices.
  • It’s easy to do, especially with the internet and smart phones, but even if you prefer writing everything down, it’s easy enough to keep a notebook on you all the time.
  • It¬†works¬†if you are trying to lose weight — it is the #1 thing you should do if you want to lose weight. It has been proven that if the only thing you do is start writing down everything you eat, you will lose weight.
  • It’s easy to keep track of all your macros (protein, fat, carbs, etc) to see what you’re getting too much of or not enough of.

…and

  • Cons
  • It makes me feel tied down.

Yep, that’s the¬†only¬†con I have, but it’s a big one because it provides this huge mental block for me. I feel tied down to this app, like I can’t just do what I want. I get kind of down on myself, like, “I should be able to eat sensibly without this ball and chain!” I don’t have a fear of commitment until it comes to my diet, it turns out.

Well, yes, I can eat sensibly without it. I did it for over a year. But sometimes you need to re-set. Sometimes you need to be strict with yourself to re-learn lost lessons, and that’s what I’m doing by logging again. I make a lot of promises on this blog — sometimes I keep them, sometimes I don’t, but today I’m pledging to stick with logging my meals for one month — taking a break for my birthday/Christmas (same day). I need to re-learn lost lessons. If I’ve seen progress in that month (which, duh, of course I will!), then I will reassess. Please follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — whatever! — and get on me to keep it up, please!

Question:
What do you find is your biggest challenge as far as sticking with a healthy lifestyle? 

Back to the Grind!

26 Nov

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! I know I did. I spent the weekend trying to figure out creative ways to re-fashion my Thanksgiving leftovers so we weren’t just eating a Turkey dinner every day. I ended up making BBQ turkey pizza, turkey quesadillas with cranberry compote, and leftover mashed-potato pancakes. Unfortunately, I still have a fridge full of leftovers (including a whole pan of stuffing — anyone have any creative ideas for that?) that I’ll need to get creative with!

Today is the first day of #Elf4Health! I’ve been in contact with my buddy already, and I’ve emailed her a meatless recipe — not that she needs it, she is a vegan! If you’re interested who I’ve been matched up with, her ¬†blog can be found here.

I did manage to get in some good workouts this weekend:

  • I finished week 2 of Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer. I took Thursday and Saturday off, but I finished up the week on Sunday — sort of. I pulled a lower back muscle on Saturday at Boot Camp class, so yesterday while I was doing front delt raises, I felt it a little too much and cut the workout short.
  • I hit up my favorite Boot Camp class on Saturday.¬†I was pretty pumped about going, because I haven’t been for a few weeks. Unfortunately, about 40 minutes in, while doing squat thrusts, I managed to pull a muscle in my lower back and had to cut things short. I also hit up Ashley’s yoga class on Saturday morning.
  • I did a 3 mile walk/run.¬†On Sunday, I was feeling a bit lethargic and bloated from all the food, so in addition to the final day of LiveFit Trainer, I decided to hit up the treadmill. Again, breaking the “no cardio” rule! I couldn’t help it though, I really needed to get a little sweat session in. The Steelers were on TV, so instead of walking outside, I parked myself on the treadmill in front of the TV. I walked/ran for the first half of the (terrible) game, and then hit the weight room.

Some photos from the weekend:

 

We have a ton of whipped cream leftover from Thanksgiving in the fridge, so I put some in my coffee on Sunday. I can’t believe I’ve never done this before, it’s¬†so good!¬†

If there is one thing in life that Tuscany loves, it’s being held. I hope you can sense the sarcasm there. ¬†We really don’t torture her on a regular basis, but sometimes she deserves it.

…Ok, I thought I took more photos than that!

Question of the Day:
How was your weekend!? 

 

Thankful Every Day.

23 Nov

I hope your Thanksgiving went well! Mine sure did, everything went really well. ¬†I took Wednesday off of work to prep for the big day, and I sure am glad that I did! Thursday was pretty relaxing, up until right before the meal. After I put the turkey (15 lbs) in the oven at 11:00 AM (anticipating a 4-4 1/2 hour cook time), Zach and I just relaxed and watched Sons of Anarchy repeats. My beast of an oven managed to cook my entire turkey in 3 hours, however, so I panicked a little! The internet told me to wrap the turkey in several layers of aluminum foil and a towel to keep the warmth in, so that’s what I did. It worked out pretty well.

The rest of the meal was great. I actually didn’t eat very much, I had a bit of a nervous stomach. I did get to have two desserts though:

I wish I had more photos of the meal itself, but between running around to get everything on the table and cooking, I didn’t stop to snap many photos, so here is a collage of some of my photos from yesterday:

 

I read a lot of posts yesterday listing what everyone was thankful for, and they were great! It’s inspiring to hear all the positive things in people’s lives. I have a few things I’d like to mention that I’m thankful for, even though it’s a day late ūüôā

My family. I have the best family there is, and I don’t get to see them nearly often enough, but they are the best, most supportive family a girl could have

Zach. I never knew what it truly meant to be “in love with your best friend” until he came along. I couldn’t be happier that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.

My kitties, even the fat, grumpy one !


My health. Sometimes I’m down on my body for various reasons, but it’s good to remember that I have my strength, and that’s all that is important.

My friends! I have the best friends around, truly! I got so many supportive texts, tweets and Facebook messages yesterday, because everyone knew how nervous I was to cook my first full Thanksgiving meal. I appreciate it so much!

I’m thankful for a billion more things, but I think I’ll stop there for now.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In other news, I’m still going strong on the Jamie Eason LiveFit Trainer, and I’m happy to report I’ve dropped a few pounds. I’m a cardio junkie, it’s true, and I’ve always heard that if you keep the cardio to a minimum, you can actually lose more weight (if you do it right). I think the fact that I’m lifting heavy and not focusing on the cardio (although I did do some light cardio here and there) is really showing me that I don’t have to do cardio every single day to see results. This is really helpful for being able to stick with the plan!

I signed up for Lindsey and Ella’s Elf for Health, which sounds SO fun! Basically, they are hosting a six-week challenge that starts the Monday after Thanksgiving. I really love blog challenges, but I don’t always stick with them (ahem, the October Yoga Challenge — although I did do WAY more yoga that month, and Carrots n Cake’s plank challenge), I’m¬†really¬†going to try to stick with this! It may be easier because the coolest part of this challenge is that you get a buddy to pair up with for each round! If you think you might be interested in participating (you don’t have to have a blog to participate!), click on the button below:

 

 

Question of the Day:
How was your Thanksgiving?

What do you do to stay on track with your health and fitness over the Holiday season? 

My Blog-idols

22 Nov

I decided to start a healthy living blog for two main reasons.

First, I really needed a forum to get out all my health and fitness related rants. I think my friends were probably fed up with me just spouting off my random fitness stats in social situations. Not to mention poor Zach, who typically gets a play-by-play of all my workouts whether he wants one or not.

But most of all, the reason I wanted to start this up is because I’m inspired by so many other bloggers out there who do it so well. I follow about 60 various blogs on my Google Reader — and I read every single post! — but there are a few who stick out as my absolute favorites:

  1. Peas and Thank You¬†—¬†Written by Sarah Matheny, Peas and Thank You started out as my favorite place for vegetarian recipes (it still is my go-to for all things food), but I stuck around because it’s well written, it makes me laugh almost every single time, and Sarah’s two girls — Gigi and Lulu — are adorable. Sarah has also taught me a lot about what is healthy and what isn’t.
  2. Tina @¬†Carrots and Cake: I actually found Tina’s blog through the above blog. I like Tina’s blog¬†because¬†I love to drool over food pictures, and I love photos of adorable Pugs! Perfect! Tina is very into Crossfit at the moment, and while I am not interested in actually joining a Crossfit box, I do like to do Crossfit inspired workouts from time to time, and she provides me with plenty of inspiration.¬†
  3. Sarah Dussault¬†@ Sarah Fit: Sarah is the author of probably the first healthy-living blog I followed, back on Tumblr. Sarah is a personal trainer and is full of really great info. She’s in terrific shape, and sometimes shares her workouts with us, which is nice. I think my favorite part of Sarah’s blog is that she is always 100% honest. She’s a You Tuber, so she gets a lot of really awful comments sometimes and she’s quick to call people out and give them a piece of her mind.
  4. ¬†Caitlin Boyle @ Healthy Tipping Point:¬†Hands down, Caitlin’s blog is my favorite currently. Every post is incredibly informative, and she blogs about a lot of different things. Surprisingly, as I’m not a mom, I find her mommy posts to be the most fascinating! It’s really interesting because she’s incredibly honest and straightforward about being a new mom, and there’s a lot of things that people don’t tell you! I also like that she will often put up a post about a topic that causes a frenzy of comments. I often will go back to posts again and again to read the comments!

Question of the Day:
What’s your favorite blog?¬†

DVD Review: Dance off the Inches Latin Cardio Party

20 Nov

Monday morning I woke up and decided to try one of my new Cardio Dance DVD’s that I won on Cait’s blog.

Now, I’m still participating in Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer, and Monday was supposed to be my third rest day in a row. As you know if you read this blog regularly, I only really took one of those rest days, because I went for a 3 mile run on Satuday, followed by yoga, and then Monday morning I did this video. I know Jamie says no cardio for the first 4 weeks, but I really can’t remain completely inactive for three days in a row. Perhaps I should be embracing the rest, because I know after Phase 1 of the program, things will get a little more intense. However, I’m an active person and if I don’t do¬†something I get antsy! So, I’m not doing intense treadmill sprints, but I will be doing some light cardio ¬†here and there. Sorry Jamie!

On to the review:

Now, I’ve been known to go to a Zumba class here and there, but I’m in no way a dancer. If you have any formal dance training, or you just pick up on dance moves easily by watching someone do them (I¬†do not), you can skip the Step Guide because when you get to the main workout, she still breaks down the moves for you. ¬†However, if you are like me and you need someone to really slow down the moves to get it, the Step Guide is really helpful, and it serves as somewhat of a warm up.

This DVD is fun. I like to dance, and if you’re one of those people who needs a workout to be fun, this DVD would be great for you. Even the Step Guide is fun! Some of the more complicated moves, such as the Samba and Cumbia, are broken down so well in the step guide that I think I’ll benefit the next time I go to Zumba.

The main workout of the DVD has 3 dance sections, which each last about 20 minutes. Because the Step Guide takes about 15-20 minutes to complete, I only had time for one of the dance sections. I still felt like I got a good workout! After the first dance, my heart rate was up and I was grinning from ear-to-ear! Like I said, she still breaks down each move for you, but having done the step guide was helpful. Like most other dance DVD’s, she starts with the first move, then adds a move on until you’re doing the whole dance.

One thing I really liked about this workout, was that she kept reminding you to make it exercise. For example, she reminds you to add resistance to the arm moves rather than just flailing your arms around to get an arm workout. She also reminds you quite a bit to tighten your core and really get your hips in on the action.

I can’t wait to try the other two dance sections on this DVD!

I would say that if you’re looking for a hardcore workout, you might want to skip this DVD, but if you’re looking for something quick and fun that will get your heart pumping, give it a try!

This DVD is available for $9.99 on Amazon, and if you go to my Amazon store, I’ve added it to the Fitness section.

Question of the Day:
What do you look for in a good workout DVD?