Thursday, 18 December 2014

5 Month Post Bikini Contest Check-In

It's been a little more than five months since I competed in my first NPC bikini competition and I wanted to share what life's been like since then and where I am now with my (lifelong) fitness journey.  I say lifelong journey because as long as I'm alive, I want to take care of myself and never take my health for granted.  With my Dad's illness, I've painfully watched his physical ability diminish to the point where he cannot walk, so I'm always mindful of how grateful I am to be able to move and exercise.  

the beginning

Almost one year ago, I had gotten out of shape and was ready for a big change.  I couldn't fit comfortably into my clothes, felt sluggish and missed feeling good about myself.  I started working out and eating better in February 2014 on my own, and began working with my trainer (3-4 days a week) at the end of March 2014.  We trained together for 15 weeks and I competed in the bikini contest on July 4, 2014.  I went from 112 pounds and 25% body fat (Feb 2014) to 100 pounds (July 2014).  We didn't test my contest body fat because I was supposed to go the BodPod for a very accurate reading, but the facility cancelled my appointment because they machine wasn't working.  My trainer guesstimated I competed at about 15% body fat.  

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Meditation Challenge Update

It's been about two weeks since I wrote in, declaring my intentions for the 21-day meditation with Oprah and Deepak.  The update is I have failed miserably.  Like bad.  In the past 14 days, I have meditated a total of three times.  Yeah.  The challenge started on a Monday, but I began on Tuesday because that's when I got the email linking to the first meditation.  I also meditated on Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday is where I fell off the wagon.  I totally forgot about meditating on the weekend and then into the next week I never got back on the wagon.  Now, I feel too far gone to continue.  

The meditations are only available for 5 days, so I could start back up (having missed some) but I'm so not into it right now. Admitting this to myself and you feels like a big failure, but I would rather be real about my failures than pretend to be someone I'm not.  I hear the negative voices in my head and have to work to let them go.  

I still crave a quiet, still alone time in the morning and will be making an effort to incorporate that more, but I think pulling out my Bible/praying/journaling would be more natural to me than meditating.  

How are you doing with the challenge if you tried it?  If you've stuck with it, I applaud you.  And I hope you are getting something good out of it.  Are you hating me for not continuing?  I feel like a workout partner who quit, leaving you hanging.  And that feels bad.  When it comes to certain things in life, we absolutely have to keep going, whether we feel like it or not.  You have to wake up to feed the crying baby, you have to go to work, you have to take your parents to the doctor, you have to pay the mortgage, you have to meet that deadline.  But, there are other times when it's really okay to let something go. Only YOU can decide what those situations are.  And you have to face the consequences for your decision.  I completely get it if you're disappointed in me or upset or think I'm not good with my word.  I have to live with the fact that I said I was going to do this and I didn't finish.  And I chose to put it out there on the Internet, so it's a public fail.  

I would appreciate your grace, your kindness, your empathy.  The friends who support us when we've let ourselves down are the kind of people we need in our lives.  It's the kind of person I want to be in return.  

My intention for trying the meditations initially was to try to still myself each day so that I could be more present and more peaceful on the inside.  Admitting that I failed makes me feel human, vulnerable, and a little bit brave.  

Sunday, 2 November 2014

21-Day Meditation Experience with Oprah & Deepak Chopra

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to Oprah's 'The Life You Want Weekend' event courtesy of P&G brands OLAY, Tide, and Orgullosa.  Being a huge Oprah fan since middle school (I would watch everyday after school at 4:00 p.m.) and having subscribed to her magazine since the first issue, this was a big deal.  I'd always wanted to go to a taping of her show, but never got the opportunity, so getting an email offering tickets to the event was definitely a good mail day.  At the event, our seats were close to the stage, so seeing O up close and personal was pretty thrilling, a bucket-list item  happily checked off.  

On day 2, Deepak Chopra was one of the speakers and, during his presentation, he lead us in a group mediation.  I've always been intrigued with the idea of meditating, and my two closest friends are daily meditators, but I have never put it to consistent practice in my life.  In fact, I've only tried it a handful of times and usually end up thinking about random things like dinner or laundry.  But, I'm ready to challenge myself to a consistent practice of mediation now.  

Oprah and Deepak have teamed up to present a free 21-day Energy of Attraction Meditation Experience that starts tomorrow, Monday, November 3.  You sign up creating an account and then will receive a daily email with a link to the meditations.  I'm one of those people who is on the go pretty much non-stop, so training myself to not just slow down, but to be still will be good for me.  Sure, I often relax on the couch or in bed with a magazine or book, but I almost never just sit still and do nothing.  I feel like right now, in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and before the Christmas holiday, is the perfect time to tune in and listen to my Spirit and see what it wants to tell me. 

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Sunday, 26 October 2014

LARABAR GIVEAWAY | Eat Healthy & Get Outside

As we draw closer to the end of the year and towards the holidays and cold weather where we just want to bundle up and stay inside, I'm reminded that I don't want to slack off now and lose the fitness level that I worked so hard to achieve earlier this year.  It's so hard to get in shape, but so easy to get out of shape! I'm definitely going to enjoy myself and won't be sticking to a rigid routine these next couple months, but I plan to continue to exercise and eat healthy because I want to take care of myself and feel good.  As part of my daily meals, I typically eat a LÄRABAR each afternoon as that's about the time I'm hungry and heading out the door to get my son from school.  I'm never without them, because my son likes them too (as picky as he is), so there is always a LÄRABAR in my purse, gym bag, or car.  Do you do that too?  If you've ever been out and about, starving and grouchy, with equally grouchy and starving kids, you probably do. 

November 17 is National Take a Hike Day and if you need a bit of fuel before or after your walk, a LÄRABAR is the perfect thing for you.  I love that LÄRABAR is actually made by a real woman named Lara, who, in 2000, found herself hungry after a hike and created a natural food full of wholesome ingredients like fruit and nuts to give her a tasty healthy snack to fuel her active lifestyle.  Lara has a passion for natural foods (each LÄRABAR has no more than 9 ingredients, is gluten-free, non GMO, kosher, and most of the products are soy-free, dairy free and vegan).  There are so many flavors to choose from.  I'm a big fan of the chocolate and peanut butter flavors, but I know other people who prefer the fruity ones. 

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Happy Friday friends!  My friend Leanne (And Away We Go) sent me a slow cooker recipe for chicken tacos (one of my faves!) that I had to share with you! Don't you just love a slow cooker/crock pot meal?  Nothing better than getting dinner going at the beginning of the day and then not having to worry about it again!  I think this will be on our menu this weekend!  


Now that the days are cooler and our routine is busier, I have pulled out the old slow cooker and started to add a few soups and casseroles to our weekly menu. These slow cooker chicken tacos have been an old stand by in our house for a few years and I was excited to make them again the other night!

chicken tacos

The recipe is just what I think every slow cooker recipe should be; toss the ingredients in the pot and turn it on! The mixture of chicken, beans and corn makes for a filling meal, packed with protein. 

chicken tacos

I've made this dish for guests and taken it to parties and have always had lots of requests for the recipe...

So here it is!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 large jar of chunky salsa
2 large chicken breasts (bone and skin removed)
2-3 Tbsp taco seasoning 
1 cup frozen corn

Add black beans and salsa to slow cooker. Place the chicken breasts on top of the mixture and sprinkle with taco seasoning. 

Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours.  

Remove chicken breasts and shred with a fork. Return shredded chicken to the slow cooker, add frozen corn and mix together with black beans and sauce. Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for a half an hour. 

Serve with soft tortillas and top with shredded cheese, sour cream and guacamole.

chicken tacos

chicken tacos

Thank you for sharing Leanne!  We'll be thinking about you as your new little bundle is about to arrive! 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Walking/Running Shoes for a Cause

This month is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and I'm proud to wear my Skechers in support of breast cancer.  (I shared my own family experience with cancer on Honey We're Healthy and you can go here if you want to read it.)  I already love and wear Skechers GoWalk line of shoes because they are the most comfy and lightweight shoe I've found- perfect for busy days running errands.  This new performance division line where proceeds go to the American Cancer Society are not only helping win the fight, but are a truly fantastic shoe.  Anyone who walks, runs, or exercises consistently knows the importance of a great performance shoe to keep you moving.  This one is cute too in pink and grey. ;) 

Skechers Performance Division proudly supports American Cancer Society in the fight against breast cancer with a special collection of products.  In addition to the “Awareness” footwear and apparel line, Skechers Performance Division supporting American Cancer Society in several ways:

  • Skechers Performance Division is offering a donation to American Cancer Society, and all of the Skechers Performance Division Awareness apparel and footwear will feature the ACS logo and messaging.
  • Skechers is hosting the American Cancer Society San Francisco Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, and will be donating a percentage of proceeds from the sales of Skechers shoes on-site that day. 
  • Skechers is launching a register round-up program in Skechers Retail stores in which customers can round up their purchase to the nearest whole dollar to benefit American Cancer Society for the entire month of October.  If consumers donate $5 or more, they will also receive a 20% off discount for their next visit. This will offer anyone shopping for any item in a Skechers retailer store the opportunity to give back and support the cause.
  • Skechers Retail stores are offering a gift with purchase for customers who purchase a pair of limited-edition Awareness shoes. The gift with purchase will be either a breast canvas awareness canvas tote back or a pink water bottle.

Please visit Skechers site and check out their cute, quality shoes to help end breast cancer.  If you visit, please write "visited" in the comments so we can acknowledge your support.


*Thank you Skechers for sponsoring this post.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Clear Skin & Non-Oily Hair

During high school, my skin (especially on my cheeks) would break out pretty bad.   I heaped on the makeup to try to hide it, which I'm sure only exacerbated the situation.  My skin was never "perfect", but later, when I got on the birth control pill, my skin cleared right up.  I also noticed that it kept my hair from getting oily.  I got off the pill awhile ago and ever since, I've noticed my hair getting greasy and my skin not looking as clear.  My forehead and the area around my jawline was full of little bumps under the skin. After about two months, I ended up going to my dermatologist and he prescribed Acanya, which is a combination of Benzoyl Peroxide (2.5%) and Cindamycin Phosphate (1%), and also told me to use Witch Hazel as a toner after washing with Cetaphil cleanser (which I've been using since high school).

So far, so good.  My skin is looking much clearer.  I wish I had visited my dermatologist when I was pregnant with my son- my back/shoulders broke out terribly in big, ugly blistery pimples.  We don't have to suffer!  Benzoyl Peroxide is available over the counter without a prescription, but I would recommend finding a good dermatologist in your area.  It's amazing how bad skin can affect your self-esteem.  Even though my break-outs weren't terrible recently, I was still self-conscious about it.

For my hair, my dermatologist gave me samples of this DHS Clear Shampoo, but he was out of the conditioner.  The shampoo has no scent, but lathers well and seems to be working.  I couldn't find this brand at my drug store, so I just ordered the shampoo and conditioneron Amazon (it's available on Prime).  I was also advised to let my hair get oily so that my hormones can balance out my oil production.  Oh man, is this hard to do?!  But, I found a cornstarch/baby powder combination at my grocery store that I love to use between washings if my hair is oily.  It's better than straight-up baby powder because it's not as strong-smelling.  It actually feels really cool and nice on your scalp when you put it in and just a little goes a long way!

But, before I headed to the doctor, I started researching online what I could do at home to help the acne situation.  I came across the Alkaline diet, which is supposed to help balance your hormones my keeping your body's blood pH level slightly alkaline at 7.35-7.45.  Below 7 is said to be acidic and above 7 is alkaline.  I'm new to this info, but here are two charts that explain which foods are on the acid-forming side, and which are more alkaline.


NO SUGAR.  That's what I'm working on eliminating.  

HEALTHY FATS- I'm adding back in healthy fats like a few crushed almonds and slices of avocado on my salad, cooking my protein pancake in a teaspoon of coconut oil instead of cooking spray.  

FRUITS/VEGETABLES- eat to your heart's content.  I realize I hardly eat any food- instead always serving them to my son.  I need to partake in this goodness! 

WATER- Spring, river, or tap water is completely neutral.  I'm doing good on my water intake.  Keeping my insulated water bottle nearby helps. 

The biggest no-no's on the Alkaline diet are coffee, alcohol, processed foods, sugar, salt, and red meat.  Coffee is the hardest for me to give up, I drink two cups most days.  

How do you keep your skin clear?  Have you noticed whether your diet affects your skin?  

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Cardio Kickboxing

I'm so excited to tell you about the new group exercise class I tried last Monday, "cardio kickboxing".  My husband said he was going to do it with me, but when we got there, it was only women lined up, so he politely declined. (don't blame him!) I'm so glad I tried this class- it was my absolute favorite of all the group classes I tried!  

It was a new experience for sure, I've never worn boxing gloves before or punched a heavy bag.  The bags were all stored in one corner of the class and you had to move it to the room to use.  They are so heavy, you have to squat down with your back against the bag to even move it into position for class- that's a workout in itself.  Most people were two to a bag, but I had my own. 

The class was an hour long, but went by fast.  The instructor played awesome music and was great at explaining what combinations to do.  I watched the two women in front of me (they seemed experienced and knew what to do) so I just followed them.  I have to say it feels GREAT to let go and take all your stress, aggression, and anger out on that bag.  I put a beating on it for sure.  Even though I was wearing gloves, my knuckles were all red at the end.  I was thinking I'll buy my own gloves for the next class and maybe tape my knuckles. 

But, the problem is, I hurt my right shoulder in the process.  I woke up on Tuesday morning and it was kind of sore.  By Wednesday, it hurt to move it.  I still have a range of motion, but I can tell I strained it because it hurts to lift it shoulder height.  Passing anything to my son in the backseat of the car is a killer.  I'm so bummed because I want to go back to kickboxing, but I know I need to lay off it for awhile so it can heal.  

I didn't do any other exercise for the rest of the week, but I think I can run or do the stair master this week.  Or maybe one of the other classes and just not use the weights.  That would be more fun!

Have you tried kickboxing?  What did you think?  Any injuries or pointers to avoid injury?  I'm going to talk to the instructor about my shoulder and see what he says.  

Sunday, 28 September 2014

One Week of Group Exercise Classes - RECAP

Last week, I challenged myself to five days in a row of group exercise classes.  I was feeling like I needed to push myself more with my workouts and thought that the group atmosphere would be a good motivator to keep me determined and giving my all to my workouts.  I was right.  These classes are no joke!  I ended up making it through four classes and took Friday off.  Last week was one of the busiest weeks of school so far with lots on the calendar, which meant for many early mornings and late nights.  I knew that I physically could not do one more class on Friday and was disappointed that I didn't complete all 5 classes.  But, now I know for the future that it's best to do three or four classes, take a day off, then do three or four classes again.  That's what I'm planning this week.  

Below is a detailed recap of each day and a review of the classes I took.  

Mondays are always hard, and, as I lay sleeping in my warm, cozy bed, still super tired from a long weekend, and being up late working on Monday's posts, my alarm was nagging me to wake up.  I'd already hit snooze too many times and it was almost 7am (the alarm was set for 6).  For a second I thought, "What if I don't go today?  Who will know?" Well, I will know, and I don't want to let myself or you down.  So I got my tired ass up.  My son is usually awake before me, but Mondays are hard on him too.  "I'm still sleeping.  Leave me alone!" He growled at me, which is totally not like him.  I grabbed his school clothes, went downstairs and started making our protein pancake, pulling already-assembled school snack and lunch from the fridge and into the backpack.  My groggy son made his way downstairs, ate his pancake, I had to help get him dressed for school and we're out the door at 7:40.  I hope he naps at school today, I think.  

Hurrying to the gym, I'm stressed because I don't want to be late for my first class and I'm actually nervous because I've never done this class or yoga before.  I realize I have that high-school feeling of "what if everyone already knows each other and what to do and I'm left out?"  Also, I don't really know where the class is taught, so that's stressing me out a little.  But, I get there in plenty of time and there are already about 20 women standing outside the room waiting.  "Are you waiting for the yoga class?" I ask the woman closest to me.  "Yes, if you don't get here early, you won't get a spot."  

And they're all in flip-flops or bare feet.  I'm in athletic shoes.  oops.  Once the door opens and we enter the room, I see a mat already set up on the floor, so I go sit on it and take my shoes and socks off.  "I was saving that spot for my friend" a woman says.  oops, again.  So, I go get my own mat, two blocks and a towel and there's barely any spot to lay the mat out.  It's a huge room and it's full of people.  After I got situated, I counted at least 75 people there for the class (mostly women, but a few men).  

The instructor starts the class with a quote from Einstein- something about insanity and he talks about that for awhile.  He is a good instructor, even though I don't do yoga, I can tell.  (and also judging by how popular his class is).  His voice is calm and even and he instructs you very specifically on how to do the poses.  He's actually really eloquent in describing what your body should be doing.  A few times, he nonchalantly adjusted how I was holding a pose and did so for other people in the class too.  

Breathing is important in yoga- in and out through your nose and it should make sound.  Holding the poses was challenging, but I think I did okay.  My favorite part of yoga was the end- the two minutes of lying quietly on my back while soothing music played in the background was heavenly.  I realize I never just sit quietly at home.  I'm always go, go, go.  Even if I'm sitting on the couch, it's either while watching t.v., playing on my iPad, or reading.  So, just laying still quietly was awesome.

The instructor ended the class with a Dalhi Lama quote about giving your full attention to the task you are doing.  Great way to start a Monday.

Monday night, after dinner, we had a PTO officer meeting to prepare for the big school PTO meeting that Thursday.  The meeting lasted until 10:30 p.m., so it was a late night.

I woke up on Tuesday morning really sore.  I didn't think I'd pushed myself that hard with yoga the day before, but my muscles thought differently.  I had an early text from my friend saying she was keeping her daughter home sick, so our running was canceled.  Wanting to continue the group exercise, I checked the schedule and found "Core Motion: a non-stop cardio workout using a medicine ball that emphasizes functional movement, fat-burning, and core strength."  This class was so hard, but also ended up being my favorite.  You could use a 2 or 4 pound medicine ball (the size of a basketball).  I chose the 4lb ball and was dying after 45 minutes of the hour-long class.  There's a lot of movements where you are pushing the ball above your head and you hold it the whole time.  This class reminded me most of the workouts I did with my trainer when I was training for my contest.  It incorporated the strength and cardio elements at the same time.  45 minutes in, I was looking for the door, but I stuck with it.  I was a sweaty mess at the end.

By Wednesday, I realized I was seeing some of the same people as in the first two classes.  I guess they do these classes pretty frequently.  This class was similar to Core Motion, except you use sets of free weights.  The step bench was mostly for when we lay on it to do chest exercises- like flys with the weights.  We did a lot of cardio too, like burps (yuck!) and abwork with planks and crunches.  Again, the class was super challenging.   The round discs are for lunges and my legs were on fire!!!

As the class started, the instructor asked if anyone was new to the class - I'm not sure if I was the only new one, but I was the only person who actually raised her hand.  The instructor was nice enough to come over to me a couple of times and make sure I was doing okay.  And, at the end, she came over again and asked what I thought.  I told her how hard the class was, and it made me feel out of shape- but I liked it."  She said, "I was keeping an eye on you and you did great!"

Doing three days in a row of hard exercise had me feeling really good.  It's easier to eat healthier when you are working hard too.

Wednesday after school, my son had swimming lessons, then I came home and made dinner for my husband and had plans to have dinner with my girlfriends at one's house with our friend visiting from out of town.  After leaving my girlfriends house, I made a late-night trip to Target for last-minute PTO items.  I think I made it to bed around midnight.

By Thursday morning, I was so tired.  We had a classmate come over at 6:15am that we were bringing to school, so it was an extra early morning.  I drank a cup of coffee to get me going (I usually wait until after my workout because I sometimes get too jittery/hungry if I drink it before).  My husband agreed to do the cycling class with me since he didn't have any appointments that morning and we knew the instructor.  Thank God this class was only 45 minutes.  I really felt like my legs might not make it through this class, but once you get going and the music was so good, I'm proud to say I gave it my all.  It was 45 minutes, but that was all cycling.  We were told to "make sure to stretch" when the class ended.

The instructor for a spin class makes all the difference, along with the music they play.  This class rocked, and I remembered that the instructor is a Christian, because he threw in a Hillsong song. :) He was so good, encouraging us the whole time, saying, "leave the anger behind, the stress behind"  "own the moment, this is your exercise, don't sit on your butt. . . "  And he kept changing the lights for different moods.  He was good about telling us what RPM we should be at too.  I'd never done a class where they had that kind of monitor on the bike before.  My husband snapped this pic before class started- and it filled up (about 40 people?).

After class, I had to hurry and get to the school to do some work, then rush to my hair appointment, and back to the school with wet hair to finish up.  I got home around 4pm, then had to be back at the school at 6pm for our 6:30 meeting.  I ended up getting home around 8:30pm, got in bed with my son so I could hear all about his first day of karate and then stayed up late working on my Weekend Steals & Deals post for Honey We're Home.  I went to bed with it unfinished, and decided to skip Friday's workout so I could finish my post and because my body was so physically exhausted and sore. 

Nada.  Definitely needed this rest day. I felt bad to disappoint y'all!  I had said that I was going to do five workouts and only did four, but I figured it's better to be honest and give you the truth than to push myself past what I know is good for me.  At lunch with some friends on Friday, my girlfriend gave me some "thank you" cookies and that was the first sweets I indulged in all week!  And I kept my water consumption up too.

WHAT I LEARNED:  These group classes are an awesome workout!  They are not the aerobics classes of the 80s, but instead, are intense cardio/weight training exercises. The workouts are similar to what I did with my trainer (the Core Motion and Cutting Edge) and the group class helps keep you going when you feel like quitting.  The other thing I liked about having an instructor was I didn't have to think about what exercise to do next.  They are there telling you what to do and the transitions from one exercise to the next happen quickly.  I really wanted to leave without doing the whole hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays classes, but being in the group made me stick with it.  I felt slimmer and stronger after just four classes.  I know that if you stick to intense group classes like these, you will get in shape!

Also, I did feel intimidated at first because these were my first classes and I didn't know what I was doing or know anyone in the classes.  That's okay.  I overheard other people saying they hadn't done the classes before either.  Sure, having a friend go with you might make you feel more comfortable, but it's still YOUR workout.  Make it yours!

I still want to do the Friday class I missed "Muscles" and plan to do that one this week.  Also, tomorrow, my husband and I are doing "Cardio Kickbox".  I'm scared of this one because the class description is, "Moderate/fast paced. High energy workout of kickboxing drills and combinations incorporating heavy bags."  Um, never done anything like this before, but I bet it's a great workout!  It's okay to be scared, but I don't want to let fear paralyze me.  Be courageous and strong.  Conquer your fears.  You will be rewarded.

I'm so glad I gave these classes a chance.  I definitely felt a change in my body after just four classes (along with healthy eating)!

Are you convinced to try a group class now?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

One Week of Group Classes - THE PLAN

Hi friends!  I'm trying something new this week to shake up the semi-funk I've been in lately with my workouts.  I only worked out once last week because I felt too busy with all the commitments going on.  Some weeks are like that, but they leave me feeling icky.  And, as y'all know, when we workout, our eating is typically better.  We don't workout so hard during the week, just to "blow it." So, this week, I'm doing a week (Monday - Friday) of group workouts.  I feel like I need the boost of energy and support you get when working out in a group.  There's a commitment because it starts and stops at a specific time and you do get a great workout.  Once the class gets started, it's rare that someone leaves without completing that class. 

I printed out the schedule and class descriptions of group exercise classes at my gym and found they typically have three options for the time of day I like to go (in the morning right after dropping my son off at school).  This works perfect for me, I just get up, get dressed/eat my protein pancake/get my son fed and ready for school and we're off.  No hair, makeup, or coffee (I prefer to linger with that after I get home and showered).  When I get home, I know my day is off to a great start because I got my workout out of the way! 

I chose a variety of classes so that I can experience different types of exercise and instructors.  If I really like one, I'll consider committing to that class for a longer period.  On Tuesdays, I'm sticking to our school running club, which is just a few women that run the 3-mile track at our local park right after drop off.  

Here's my schedule of GROUP CLASSES for this week with the class description below:

Monday- Yoga Body (8:30 - 9:30) YOGA
A well-rounded hatha yoga practice that will lightly warm you up and stretch you out while beginning to train your body for more advanced work.  Most appropriate for those who have prior yoga experience and are physically fit.  

I've never tried yoga (well, once, over ten years ago), so we'll see about this.  There was no other "beginner" yoga class offered at my timeframe.  I've have a couple of very close girlfriends who rave about yoga, and I'm eager to try it for the mind/body connection.  Any advice for this first-timer? 

Tuesday- Running Club (8:15 - 9:00) CARDIO
Run/walk intervals for 3 miles outside. 

We've increased our stamina lately, so we're running more, walking less. This is great because we are done quickly and I can get on with the rest of my day sooner. 

Wednesday- Cutting EDGE (8:30 - 9:30) STRENGTH
A more refined format including traditional weigh training combined with timed cardio intervals consisting of basic, athletic movements specifically designed to enhance the strength portion of the workout experience.

I definitely want to keep my strength up and my muscles toned, so I'm excited about this class.  I bet it will be hard- timed cardio intervals always are, especially if you push yourself. 

Thursday- Cycle Tech (8:30 - 9:15) CYCLE
An indoor cycling class designed to prepare you for race day; some of the techniques, specific ride profiles and drills are those used by competitive cyclists. 

I've met the instructor who teaches this class and I think he's a pretty hard-core cyclist.  I'm interested to see how his teaching technique is.  I hope the music is good!

Friday- Muscles (8:30 - 9:30) STRENGTH
A muscle conditioning class for all levels, using various resistance equipment to build strength resulting in a total body weight workout. 

My friends say the instructor who teaches this class is the best, and I can't wait to see for myself!

Hitting "publish" on this post and sharing this goal with you will keep me accountable to completing all these classes.   As far as my diet goes, my goal is simple- don't eat any sweets (ice cream, cookies, brownies, etc.) and drink lots of water- 55 ounces a day (about half my body weight in ounces).  

I will report back and let you know the classes went and whether I plan to stick with it.  
Will you commit to a joining a group class with me this week?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Roasted Veggies with Bacon and Garlic

I hesitated about posting this recipe here, I mean, it's got bacon it in, which I know isn't the healthiest option.  But, in my flavor-loving defense, I used center-cut bacon and each serving calls for just one strip of bacon- unless you eat the whole pan in one sitting.  Which you might want to do.  After our initial serving at dinner on Monday, my husband actually brought the pan to the table and we finished it off straight from that bad boy!  It's that good.  

(serves 4)

brussel sprouts (about half a pound)
cauliflower (half a head)
small potatoes (6)
garlic (3 cloves)
center-cut bacon (4 slices)
olive oil (1 tblsp)
salt and pepper (to taste- I give it one small sprinkling, probably l/2 tsp)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  The veggies cook for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.  You cook the bacon and garlic on the stove under low-medium heat.  Then, combine.  Details below. 

Wash and pat dry your produce.  

Then chop the veggies into small, similar-sized pieces.  I halve the brussel sprouts, cut the potatoes into 6 pieces, and the cauliflower into about 1 1/2 inch chunks. 

Place the food onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper.  

Cook for about 15 minutes, then take it out and flip the veggies.  Cook for another 15 minutes.  The veggies are done when they are fork tender.  Don't overcook or they will burn or get soggy. 

When the veggies are almost done cooking, dice 4 slices of bacon into small pieces and mince the garlic.  Over low to medium heat, cook the bacon and, when the bacon is almost done, add in the garlic.  Garlic burns easily, so you don't need to cook it for more than a minute or two.  

Using a slotted spoon, put the bacon and garlic mixture onto a paper towel to drain the excess oil.  

When the veggies are done, remove the baking sheet from the oven and mix in the bacon and garlic.  Now it's ready to eat! 

Oh yeah, this is good!  I'm already planning on making this side dish for Thanksgiving!  I know my family will love it!

The roasted vegetables on their own are very good- so leave the bacon off if you want to save calories and fat.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014


So, I've been working out again (on my own- no trainer), but I learned so much while working out with him and have continued to do the type of workouts we did.  Our workouts consisted of "active rests" which sounds like a contradiction, because you really aren't "resting" at all between exercises, unless it's just to catch your breath.  So, if I'm doing squats, in between sets, I might do 30 jumping jacks, jump squats, lunges, push-ups, etc.  Or, I just move quickly between exercises.  

I tracked my workouts on my iPhone in the Notes app so I could share them with you.  I didn't always write down the "rest" exercise I did, or I was just going from one exercise to the next with little rest. You can add in anything that keeps your heart rate up- a lap around the gym, step-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, etc.

I start my workout with 30 minutes of medium-hard cardio (typically the treadmill at intervals of  incline at 15-18 and speed 2.5-3.0) or the stair master (set at intervals of 60-80).  (Once a week, I'm running with a group of moms around our local park, 3 miles, and I don't do weights that day.) 

Then, I do as much weight workout as I can fit into 30-45 minutes, depending on my schedule.  Below is what my workouts looked like last week. I'm doing glute kickbacks several times a week to work on building my booty. 

Squats- 65 lb x 15 reps (4 sets)
Walking lunges- 15 lb kettleballs each x 50 steps (each leg counts as one step) (2 sets)
     Push-ups- 15 (2 sets) 
Hip Adduction- 50 lbs x 20 reps (4 sets)
Hip Abduction- 50 lbs x 20 reps (4 sets)
     Go back and forth from adduction to abduction machine 
Seated leg curls- 45 lbs x 15 reps (4 sets)
Glute kickback- 70 lbs x 20 reps (3 sets) 
*1:15 minutes w/ cardio

Shoulder press- 10 lb each x 20 reps (4 sets)
Lateral raise- 7.5 lb each x 10 reps (4 sets)
Punches- 7.5 lb each x 10 (4 sets) *my favorite
Rear delt fly- 30 lb total x 12 (3 sets)
Glute kickback- 70 lbs x 15 reps (3 sets) 
*1:15 minutes w/ cardio

Curls- 10 lb each x 15 (4 sets)
Punches- 7.5 lb each x 15 (4 sets)
Dips (on floor bench)- body weight x 15 (4 sets)
21s- 20 lb barbell x (3 sets)
Dips (on machine)- 52 lb assist x 15 (4 sets)
Curtsies - 15 each leg 
*1:05 minutes w/ cardio

Pull-ups- 60 lb (assist) x 12 (4 sets)
Seated rows- 45 lb x 15 (3 sets)
Lat pulldown- 50 lb x 15 (4)
Glute kickback- 70 lbs x 15 reps (3 sets) 
*1:10 minutes w/ 36 min cardio (I went over)

It feels great to get back to working out!  There's a mom at my son's school who's become a good friend of mine and we encourage each other everyday with our workouts and eating.  We text each other after our workouts and it really helps to have that person to help keep you accountable.  Do you agree? 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

My Meals Calculated by My Fitness Pal

It's been 7 weeks since my bikini competition where I competed at 100 pounds and now I weigh 108!  Yes, that's over a pound a week! Yikes! I can tell that my body composition is still better than it was when I started training (more muscle and less fat), and I didn't plan to stay at 100 pounds, but I'd like to be at 104.  So, I find myself with 4 pounds to lose.  

I'm sure I put on weight because: 1) I was eating two pints of Haagen Dazs Gelato (Sea Salt Caramel) a week for about 5 weeks, and 2) I stopped training as intensely as I was (just running around the neighborhood for 30 minutes) and then took some time off working out at the end of the summer to just be with my son.  I don't regret it, but I know it's time to get back to work!  My son started school mid-August and I'm back to my routine of working out as soon as I drop him off at school.  I feel 100x better already.  It's amazing how quickly your body can change - for the better or worse. 

I've been tracking my workouts on my iPhone and plan to share them in detail with you this week, but for now, I'll just say that I start with 30 minutes of medium-hard cardio, then do 30-45 minutes of weight training with active rests (which keep my heart rate up) the whole time.  

When I was preparing for my bikini contest, my trainer gave me a meal plan to follow for  12 weeks.  I never counted calories or macros, but generally had an idea of what it was.  Last night, I finally plugged the five meals into My Fitness Pal and got the calculations below.  I think My Fitness Pal only allow for 4 meals a day, that's why I had to combines Meals 2 & 3.

So, for those of you who were interested in the breakdown, there it is.   I was surprised at how many calories I was eating, I thought it was been less, although I knew I was eating a lot of food- I was never hungry.  But, you need to eat consistently (about every 3 hours) and get enough protein at each meal to build and sustain muscle.   

Since I know I have weight to lose now, I need to be more strict with my food.  My weakness is dessert.  But, when I'm working out HARD, I'm much less likely to eat what isn't good for me.  I always think, "I didn't just work that hard to blow it by having a piece of cake."  

I like My Fitness Pal because it allows me to see how everything I put in my mouth mouth adds up and it makes me reconsider my gelato!  Of course, I will still eat it, just not as often! 

I hope this chart helps! Let me know! :) Do you use My Fitness Pal? 

Friday, 8 August 2014

How to Get in Shape // 5 Step Plan

I've been ruminating on this post for awhile.  Now that I have the experience of training for and competing in an NPC bikini contest behind me, I've been on my own to try to maintain the body I built in those six months.  I made significant progress, going from about 25% body fat and 115 pounds to probably 15% body fat (I'm not 100% sure on that number because we stopped measuring at 17 or 19%.  I was supposed to get my body fat tested at the Bod Pod, but they cancelled because the machine wasn't working), and I competed at 100 pounds.

Although I wasn't grossly out of shape at the beginning of my competition prep, I was surprised at just how hard I had to work and for how long.  The changes don't come easy, but they do come.  You can count on that if you're doing the exercise and eating properly.  So, I've been reflecting on exactly HOW I made those changes and how I stuck to it for so long and I realized five key things about how to get in shape. 

1.  Decide that you are going to make a change.  First and foremost, you have to commit to not only wanting to make a change, but that you are actually going to make that change.  For me, a big motivator was knowing I did not want to end up in July 2014, where I was in July 2013.  I wanted to be in great shape and not feeling bad about myself.  So, the new year of 2014 marked the beginning of implementing those changes.  I knew if I started in January, I'd have significant results by July.  If you set a goal (a family or high school reunion, a birthday, anniversary, vacation, or bikini contest) and back the time out so you can work towards it, keeping that goal in mind will help keep you committed and focused.  Our minds and spirit are very powerful.  When my body would tell me it didn't want to work out or eat another piece of fish, I just treated it like a child that doesn't get to tell me what to do. It didn't know best since I had already decided months ago what I wanted to achieve. Instead, I did what I knew I needed to do to get me to the goal I set.  In those "weak" moments, listen to your "higher self", the one that already made the decision to get in shape and create a new life. 

2.  Fit your day around your workout instead of trying to fit your workout into your day.   The last couple of weeks I have fallen off of the workout train and I just couldn't seem to get it to fit into my day.  I'm home with my son for the summer and I wanted to spend those days with him, so he's not going to camp.  I used to workout first thing in the morning, but now, our mornings are lazy, and we're chilling out in pj's watching cartoons (him) and drinking coffee (me) well past 10:00 a.m.  And then I need to be fueled up for a strong workout, so I figure, we need to wait until after lunch to head to the gym.  But, after lunch finds us heading to swim class or running errands or just not feeling like breaking up the day with a workout, so I tell myself, "I'll go when my husband gets home." But, then it's time to make dinner and eat, and then get my son ready for bed and it gets late, so I say, "I'll just go tomorrow. . . . "  Sound familiar?? 

If you continue like that, you'll never make it to the gym, or you will, but your efforts will be sporadic and you won't get the results you want.  You must decide in advance when you will workout (whether it's at 5:30 a.m. to Insanity home videos like my friend Angela) or at lunch, or after work, or after the kids are in bed.  Then, you decide how to fit your day around your workout.  Yes, it requires planning.   Yes, some other things you might have to say no to.  But, once you get into your routine, it just becomes part of your day.  I did best to actually schedule my entire day on paper so I could visually see how my day would fit around my workout and meal plan since I ate five meals a day.  The RED indicates cardio and training sessions and the pencil circle marks indicate when I needed to eat.  I had to prep meals in advance and often eat in the car or at my son's swim lessons, etc. 

3.  Consider hiring a trainer or finding a workout partner.  A trainer isn't absolutely necessary, but if you need that person to keep you accountable to your workouts, it's worth it.  You could have a friend as your accountability partner, just make sure she is reliable and won't flake on you.  You need someone tough who will keep their appointments and also, not just chat with you during the workout.  You should be making the most of your time in the gym,  working those muscles, huffing and puffing, and sweating!  

If you aren't familiar with the machines, or a beginner when it comes to lifting weights, it is a good idea to use an experienced trainer so you don't get hurt.  I've had good and not-so-good trainers in the past, but John Sherman and Monica Isles were the best.  I saw the best results with John though, because I worked out more often with him and because I followed his meal plan.  Which leads me to the next point. 

4.  Working out consistently will cause you to eat better.  Working out will only get you so far in changing your physique.  You have to eat better too.  Something about having physically worked out so hard and sweating and hurting will make you say, "That piece of cake or pizza just isn't worth it."  You start to understand how eating those extra calories and fat will translate into that much more work to get it off and you don't want it!  That is why I kept finding myself saying, "The diet isn't that hard."  Or at least not as hard as I thought it would be.  You'll look forward to (and enjoy more) the "cheat" meals on the weekend.  You can go HERE to see my bikini contest meal plan

5.  Once you start, small changes will keep you motivated, just stick with it!  My trainer casually remarked to me when we first started working out together, "You're gonna like your body way before the competition."  I didn't give it too much thought at the time, but man was he right!  Although, it took a long time to get to "bikini contest" ready, I felt great in my skin long before that.  Your clothes will start fitting better, your face will change, you skin will be brighter, your energy will be higher, you will have more confidence and inner strength and that feels so good.  I started noticing changes in my body within just two weeks of working out and eating better, but the changes kept coming as long as I stuck with it.   In time, you WILL reach your goal.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I may use them in a future post.  Have a great weekend!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Your Power


I found this quote on Pinterest and it's gotten over 100 repins lately, so I know it's resonating with us.

 Maybe you needed to hear this today too- that YOU have the power to enjoy your life, to change your life, to change your body, to make a difference starting NOW. 

I hope you have an awesome Sunday! 

This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7