7 Days!

After my husband and I came back from our RunDisney vacation in January 2015, we started talking about what we wanted to do for our next vacation. We like to plan nice trips every year or so, and we usually start soon after the last one so that we know what we want to do and have plenty of time to save up for it.

In 2012 we went to Vegas

Caesar's

Caesar’s

 

New York New York

New York New York

 

Paris, of course ;)

Paris, of course 😉

 

At the Venetian

At the Venetian

 

And saw the Grand Canyon!

And saw the Grand Canyon!

In 2013 we Honeymooned on a 7 night cruise to the Bahamas in style!

champagne in our suite cabin

Champagne in our suite cabin

 

Chilling on our private balcony

Chilling on our private balcony

 

sipping drinks from a coconut pool-side

Sipping drinks from a coconut pool-side

 

swimming in the most amazing water ever

Swimming in the most amazing water ever

 

The Newlyweds getting Fancy at dinner

2014 We layed a little low, in preparation for our week long trip to Disney World. We did take a trip to the Poconos to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary

 

Paddle boating in the lake at the Poconos

Paddle boating in the lake at the Poconos

 

Hiking

Hiking

 

playing lots of pool

Playing lots of pool

 

eating 1 year old wedding cake (YUM!)

Eating 1 year old wedding cake (YUM!)

 

and White Russians (of course!)

and White Russians (of course!)

January 2015 we went to Disney World!!!

Exploring Epcot

Exploring Epcot

 

Ready to run a 10K!

Ready to run a 10K!

 

mmm... avocado!

mmm… avocado!

 

Uncle Mike (aka Funny Mike) even borrowed Trenton's Mickey ears for a while :)

Uncle Mike (aka Funny Mike) even borrowed Trenton’s Mickey ears for a while 🙂

 

my spectator!

my spectator!

 

saying hi to Tony's camera

saying hi to the camera mid half marathon

 

Attack of the kids!

Attack of the niece and nephew!

 

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Dopey Complete! Showing off the hardware!

 

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Goofing off

 

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And then there’s this…

We didn’t do anything extravagant Since then. We’ve made trips to New York to visit Mike’s family/friends. We took a weekend trip to Virginia with my mom’s boyfriend’s family in Aug 2015. We visited my sister’s family last April to celebrate some birthdays. We even did a day trip to Hershey Park last month.

Boating in VA (with Zeus!)

Boating in VA (with Zeus!)

 

Happy 7 year old!

Happy 7 year old!

 

Happy 4 year old!

Happy 4 year old!

But in 7 days we depart for our biggest vacation ever! We will spend the next almost 3 weeks touring 7 cities of 4 countries in Europe! So excited!!!

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This is something we’ve been talking about for 2 years, been actively planning for 1 year, and anxiously waiting for since we made our deposit back in April. It’s taken some careful saving and lots of research, but we’re finally here.. paid in full… locked and loaded and ready to get this show on the road!

I took a trip to Europe with a student group in 2003, when I was 19. Back then there really were not camera phones, let alone smart phones, nor was there GPS or social media. Crazy to think about huh? I had a normal exposure camera and this was before you could even tell if you took a good picture or not! I took 11 rolls of film, 5 of them in Paris alone! I’m SO looking forward to going back and taking more photos.. unlimited photos.. that I’ll be able to share with family and friends in real time! (Or… near real time anyways.. as I probably won’t be posting much on the go.)

Mike has never been to Europe, and I’m very excited to go and experience these things with my best friend. While we don’t exactly share the same interest in being there (I’m ALL about the history and the art… and the art history LOL He’s all about meeting the people and seeing the culture) I’m just thrilled to share new experiences as we adventure around.

Our first stop will be in Dublin, Ireland. We will spend a few days there and make our way down, stopping for a few days in London, followed by Paris. From Paris, we get to take an overnight train to Florence, where we’ll also get to explore Pisa and the Cinque Terre. Then we will spend the last four days in Rome before we head home.

I think Italy is what Mike is looking forward to the most.. he is half Italian of course! He also is responsible for adding Ireland to our trip, as he has Irish on his mother’s side. While I’ve been to Paris, I have not been to any of the other cities we’re going to. Paris is my heart, but I’m also completely fascinated with the history of the English monarchy, particularly in the 14th-16th century range. I can’t wait to visit Westminster Abby, Hampton Court Palace, and the Tower of London. We’re going to see and do so much.. I can’t wait!

I’m most nervous about the language barrier. I speak a little French- not fluent, but enough to get around. I’ve been using Duolingo- an language teaching app, to try and learn a little Italian. I’m terrible at it. I have the hardest time with the pronunciation because I’m so used to the way the French say things. But I also have a phrase book and Google Translate.. and I think people know enough English to communicate. I just hate that Americans are so Monolingual.. and people here are so mean to others who don’t speak the native language, that I’m self conscious when it comes to visiting other countries with different languages. Ugh, C’est la vie.

I’d love to do a packing post… as I researched them heavily in preparation for this trip. I’m also probably going to do a post for each leg of the trip, but I may not get to them very fast. In the meantime, if anyone is curious, I’ll probably be posting pictures on Instagram if you want to follow along 🙂

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It’s Not Okay.

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It’s not often I speak my mind publicly on controversial issues that social media seems to highlight more and more these days. I take the high road and keep my mouth shut. No one needs to know my opinions, and no one is going to change my mind about them. They are mine.. for me. They direct what I believe in in life, and how I choose to live my life- with respect, dignity, and moral decency. I’m not perfect.. and sometimes, no matter what I believe in- I too have been a victim of social conditioning. I have been guilty of stereotyping, passing judgement on people, side-eyeing groups of people.. but I will NEVER show it.

People are people. They are you, they are me. We all go though hardship. We all go through pain. We all have moments of intense joy, and intense sadness. We celebrate. We mourn. We bleed. We have desires, ambitions, plans, goals, hopes, dreams. We may have different ways of thinking about the world… but we are all human.. and we all deserve a chance in life.

So many messages from so many groups of people… so many groups singling out and targeting other groups.. spitting their venom, hate and disdain. It literally makes me sick to my stomach reading what people post online about each other. Sick. What people post about our leaders. What “leaders” are now posting about people.

Is it right to discriminate against someone because of what color they are? How about what God they believe in? What their gender is? What their heritage is? Where they were born? Where their parents were born? Who they choose to love? A disability? Social status? NO. No on all accounts. without exception. Period.

Have we learned NOTHING from the past? So many instances of hate and fear spurning mass genocides for thousands of years. This hate that people perpetuate has got to STOP. And yet.. we have people, who are in leadership positions (or vying to be) “praying” for one community of people, while expressing hatred, disdain, and persecution of another group of people. How can one as a leader honestly sit there and say that they feel sadness and at the same time turn around and persecute… when it was persecution that cause such horrifying event in the first place.

I’m also seeing more and more that there are people who will hide behind their religion- an institution that is supposed to support pacifism, honesty, loyalty, and morality, among other attributes- and end up being the most hateful out of anyone! How can you sit there and say you are Christian (for example)… when all I see is people hating on other people for not being Christian? Or.. not being Christian enough? Um, last time I checked- just because you call yourself a Christian.. doesn’t mean you can do no wrong. (Please don’t take me the wrong way.. I have NOTHING against any religion or belief… I just don’t understand how people are brought up in religion- an institution that teaches you to love, to respect, to lead, and to spread peace- and then turn around and spit fire on people who don’t live the way you do.)

News flash… it is not up to you to judge people. It is not up to you to try and change them. It is not up to you to tell people they are wrong for what they believe in. It is up to God. Whoever God may be.

I’m so tired of seeing people on this side, or that side. I’m tired of the politics. The conservatives said this… the liberals say that… these monkeys, those goons. And it’s all Obama’s fault. REALLY!? Because last time I checked.. the President of the United States does not wield absolute power people. You elect a congress too. They make decisions together to decide how this country is run. AND the President doesn’t act alone… he has a cabinet full of advisors who all confer with him to make decisions.. to provide guidance and input. The presidency isn’t one person. Stop making this about your own political convictions. Go to work, make your money, feed your children, love your partners, volunteer for a cause you believe in.. live your life and stop worrying about everyone else.. So the guy next door is gay… it has nothing to do with you. The woman down the street is Muslim. Good for her. You are Christian. You do you.

The only thing that’s going to “Make America Great Again” is people doing what they need to do in their own lives, respecting others for their opinions, and living honestly and healthfully. Enough with the politics, enough for the bigotry, enough with the hate! It is garbage! It is poison. It is embarrassing.

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America was founded on freedoms. Freedom from persecution. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. We are supposed to live in a country where we can be and live how we choose, without the threat of retaliation or consequences. We are supposed to live in a country where we can choose to believe in anything we want. NO…. Christianity is not the ONLY religion. It is NOT the supreme truth.. and NO America does not need to be brought back to Christianity. That is not what we were founded on. It is not what our flag stands for- and anyone who perpetuates this is wrong.. and very un-American. Be grateful you can speak your dissent about the government, choose your religion, your lifestyle, where and how to work, whether or not to pursue education,  or whatever else you choose to do in life. So many people in this world do not have this liberty. Learn from the past, and go forth with love and respect, and wisdom.

On a final note, I’m personally so moved by the countries around the world paying homage and support to victims of the tragedy in Orlando. Even though, these posts too have people commenting with hate and political nonsense, it brings me peace and hope knowing other people around the world feel the pain of this unspeakable crime. The same pain we felt for France when it had it’s terror attack last November, or Belgium this year, or the flight that was brought down by the Russians. Or the Syrian bombings of their own civilians, or the girls kidnapped in Africa. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I don’t care where you are or how distant you are from the situation… you feel pain. You hurt because these people are us. They are you. They are everyone. And if you don’t feel it, you are a pretty crappy human being.. and I’ll pray for you.

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6 Months

I’m notorious for going for long stretches without posting anything. 6 months isn’t my longest break.. but it is pretty long. So I’m going to jump into my first post in 2016 (Yes I know it’s May) by doing a little recap of my life since November.

Zeus

My puppy (or not so puppy) turned 9 in February. He is officially an “old man” dog, but I’ll always call him my puppy. Unfortunately, he has developed a health issue which has been ongoing for more than a year really, but it’s starting to get worse a lot faster these days. Mike and I have self-diagnosed him as having DM (degenerative myelopathy.) It’s a degenerative spinal cord disease similar in that to ALS in humans. He hasn’t been to the vet for it, so the diagnosis is unofficial. DM is not a disease that can really be tested for, rather it’s diagnosed after other problems are ruled out. It’s also something that can’t be treated, and there is no cure. I really didn’t feel like spending hundreds (thousands?) of dollars at the vet trying to rule out anything else.. and plenty of online sources I’ve read show dogs- including pugs- with DM, and they all look the way Zeus does. He is still himself really… he is not in any pain, still wants to play, still follows us around and greets us eagerly when we come home… but his hind legs have really been hindered. He stumbles when he walks, falls down a lot, and drags his back feet. At least, he did when it started to become apparent he had a problem beyond what I thought was just arthritis and aging.

The fact is.. we have noticed that his degeneration is moving rather quickly, at least in his hind quarters. Around Christmas time, we started to notice him stumbling more, dragging his feet, and walking stiffly. After the New Year, he was falling a lot more and seemed to have a harder time walking out in the grass. Last month we noticed he would fall and get stuck, especially on the tile in our kitchen. He just couldn’t get his legs up under him to push himself up. He was also having a really hard time not falling on uneven and slippery surfaces, like the grass outside and the tile. We decided at this point to look into getting him a wheelchair.

I did some research and found a great cart for Zeus on HandicappedPets.com. They sell doggie wheelchairs that are fully adjustable and customizable- and while they still were a little expensive- it was less expensive than having someone make a custom chair. We settled on a used/refurbished model and saved about $100. It came within a week and was pretty easy to put together. The hardest part was making all the right adjustments to make sure Zeus fit properly and comfortably in the chair.

Once we got him in and outside.. it was amazing the difference! He moved so fast! He no longer stumbled, and what was taking 15+ minutes to walk to the corner and back now took about 7. At first he walked in spurts- it does take a dog a little while to get used to the cart- and his front legs needed to adjust/build strength enough to support the work of walking by themselves. But honestly, he took to it very well. The cart is very light weight, and manuvers very easy. After some practice, he’s walking pretty good in it and sometimes walks ahead of me a little.

I do have to say, he looks a little ridiculous in the cart. BUT, he gets so much attention when we’re out. A lot people feel sorry for him and ask if he’s ok or what happened to his legs. Other people laugh, because it is quite funny looking. Overall though, I know it’s improving his quality of life and letting him stay with us a little bit longer.

Helping Mike change his oil... this is how he sits now.

Helping Mike change his oil… this is how he sits now.

As for me, Zeus is my baby. Seeing him struggle to walk breaks my heart, but being able to give him the wheelchair makes me feel so much better, even as he continues to decline. As of now (actually, we’ve noticed even more degeneration even over the past two weeks) he struggles to walk on the carpet, cannot walk on the tile anymore at all, and gets stuck a lot. He falls flat on his bum with his legs sticking out from under him, and can’t get back up. I’ve been trying to get him in the chair more inside so he can be mobile, but he can’t rest (sit or lay) while in the chair. My strategy right now is to take him for walks in the cart and then let him be in it while we are fixing meals/eating- that way he can come over and walk about the kitchen as he usually does- and then take him out when he goes in his pen, or hangs out with us on the sofa. I know it’s only a matter of time before the disease spreads and starts to affect his front and other body functions, but my goal as his mommy is just to make him as comfortable as possible and let him have a good quality of life as long as he wants it… ok now I’m getting teary-eyed… *snif*

Zeus in his wheels

Zeus in his wheels

 

Still sooo snuggly!

Still sooo snuggly!

Fitness

I think in my last post I mentioned doing the Supreme 90 day workouts. Well, I would like to report that I completed 60 days of the program, but then got distracted. Mike and I planned to stay home in MD for Christmas this past December, but planned a trip to NY to visit with his family for New Years. I had pretty good success completing workouts in my father-in-law’s garage when we visited in October, and I wanted to do something similar in January. I did a little searching for programs and I really got pulled in by Beachbody’s Insanity Max 30 workout program. First- I loved the idea that the workouts were only 30 minutes long. Second- I loved that it was intense, which would make me feel like I got a great work out in the short amount of time. Third- I loved that the program involved no equipment. Which means I didn’t have to worry about bringing anything with me (other than my yoga mat… but even this wasn’t “needed”) when we traveled.

So I bought the program and did my workout s the whole week we were there. I continued the program when I got home and finished all 60 days. IM30 is really tough and at times made me feel like I’ve never worked out a day in my life. I ended up needing to modify a bunch of moves due to my bum knee, but the program had a modifier person in every workout, and I quickly learned which moves I needed to avoid/change to reduce my knee pain. All in all, I got through it pretty good and was proud of myself for seeing the program through.

That said, I did not have very good results from the program, at least from a body composition perspective. I don’t fault the program at all, as I did see a great improvement in my Max-out times and thus improvement in my fitness. I just have a hard time with my nutrition. I love to eat. I’m addicted to sugar… and my body does not do a very good job of metabolizing it. I’m convinced that my nutrition is the #1 thing holding me back from progress.

In an effort to help boost my metabolism, I wanted to incorporate more weight lifting. I backed off a bit after S90D in order to make sure focus on finishing IM30.I decided to go with another Beachbody product, Body Beast. It’s a 90 day gradual weight lifting program. It’s really marketed for men. but plenty of women have done it too. I’d managed to complete the first 3 weeks.. and then life got in the way. The plan at this point is to re-start.. so hoping I can keep up with it.

Weight Loss

Lately, I feel like I’ve lost my mojo and haven’t been going to the gym. I still get my morning workouts done, and have been eating 21DF style, most of the time.. but I’m getting minimal results. I know it’s totally on me and I need to suck it up and pull myself together- but it’s so easy to get into the mind set of “well it’s not going to work, so why try so hard.” Sigh.. I need to get over myself and just do what I need to do. I need to start doing my weight training again, consistently. I also need to be more careful with my nutrition. See, I know the answers… Ok.. whine over.

 

Mental Health

For just about a whole year I’ve been seeking treatment for generalized anxiety and panic disorders. I’d been having pretty bad anxiety attacks since 2012, some of which would last for hours. By the time it would finally fade (usually when I went to sleep and woke up the next morning) I would be so worried about having them again, it would trigger anxiety and the cycle would continue. I also had a lot on intrusive thoughts I could not control… usually involving my untimely death by one means or another. It was exhausting, uncomfortable, scary, and cyclic. Finally, Mike and my doctor got me to seek treatment. I started seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed me medication. It helped a great deal- I was no longer having the intrusive thoughts, and my panic attacks had stopped,  but I was still having breakthrough symptoms of random dizziness and shortness of breath, which didn’t alarm me so much, bu was really annoying to feel that way.

My job requires employees to participate in a special reliability program in order to work with some of the compounds we have. It’s a safety issue, but mostly a security issue- they need to make sure they have the most stable and trustworthy people working with some of their most secure and toxic compounds. As a participant in this program, we are required to self report medical records, changes in health or life status, prescription medications.. etc. I reported my anxiety issues and my medication and was required to seek a formal behavioral health evaluation. Long story short- it was recommended that I be suspended from the program- and thus working with certain classes of compounds- until I underwent 90 days of therapy treatment to address my symptoms. It was a little annoying to have to comply.. but I knew it would be good for me.

So I’ve been seeing a therapist and been working using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to de-sensitize myself from my anxiety triggers. The methods are quite simple actually, but do require a lot of practice. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve actually been able to taper off my medication and am ready to move onto the maintenance phase of CBT.. which will help keep my anxiety in check, as well as be able to bring it down if I do have a spike. I even have an appointment for a re-evaluation to be re-instated in the reliability program at work.. so happy about that.

Anyways, I wanted to share this because anxiety is a very common mental disorder. Sometimes your brain just gets stuck and chemical imbalances can occur to make you more susceptible to it. Medication really helps, but it’s a band-aid. Plus, a lot of people have a hard time going on or coming off the medications. (Coming off has been, and still slightly is a struggle for me.) But CBT has done wonders for me.. and I wanted to let anyone who is reading this and dealing with these issues know that it CAN be treated! I know how it feels to feel absolutely crippled from anxiety and it’s symptoms. People who have never experienced it do not (and really can not) know how it can affect you physically and emotionally. At my worst- I even felt a little detached and depressed- “why can everyone else live perfectly normal lives while I feel like I’m dying.” But there IS relief, you just have to know where to go. I would start with your general practitioner- see if they have a list of recommended counseling centers you can seek out. You want someone experienced in dealing with generalized anxiety disorders and can help you through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It may seem like new-age hooey when you first look into it (how can just breathing and imagery possible stop my very real and tangible physical symptoms!?!?)  but trust me.. you will start to feel normal again with enough practice! Feel free to message me if you have any questions.. I’ll be glad to help!

Vacations

In April my mom, her boyfriend, Mike and I went down to Orlando to visit my sister’s family. My niece’s birthday was on the 10th, my nephew’s the 18th, and my sister’s on the 20th. We rented a house nearby through AirBnB and it actually worked out really well for us. (Despite some drama in the beginning regarding the air conditioning, which was legit,  and my mom’s over-the-top expectations, which were completely unfounded.) The house had a pool, so the kids could come over and swim, and we enjoyed cooking out on the grill and taking advantage of the mild weather. Over the weekend, my sister held a combo birthday party for the kids at her community pool- which turned out great. Later that week Mike and I joined her, my brother-in-law, and a family friend for a wine tasting and tour at a local vineyard. Overall, it was a great relaxing and low key trip.. which is exactly what we wanted!

My sister's table of goodies.. she made everything..so talented

My sister’s table of goodies.. she made everything.. so talented

 

Happy 7 year old!

Happy 7 year old!

 

Happy 4 year old!

Happy 4 year old!

 

A couple weeks ago, Mike and I booked our fall trip to Europe! We finally pulled the trigger after talking about it for almost a year. It’s been on our “things we want to do before we have kids” list and I’m so excited to finally be able to go!

We designed our independent itinerary through Europeandestinations.com. I was a little nervous about using an online booking company like this, but so far everything seems to be going smoothly. We are able to pay in installments, the last being in August, so we’ll be all set for departure in late September. We are visiting 7 cities in 4 countries over the course of our 17 day trip. Italy was the country he really wanted to visit.. being that he’s half Italian.. and a Catholic.. so we will be visiting several cities there- including Rome and the Vatican, Florence, Pisa and the Cinque Terre. We’re also visiting Dublin to get a taste or Ireland (his other genetic heritage), London, and of course Paris. The booking company also lets us book activities and tours, so we are doing a select few tours through them, and the rest will be done/seen via our city passes ( Dublin, London and Paris.)

This will be my second time abroad, my first being when I was 19 with a group of students from my former high school. On that trip, we toured Paris, Provence, the French riviera, and Venice. For this trip, Paris will be the only city I’ve been to (Paris is my most favorite city ever!) and I’m so excited to explore and share the experience with my husband! I’ve already made a list of things we may need for the trip, watched tons of travel videos on YouTube, and even bought our city passes and guidebooks. Can’t wait!

Behold, the countdown!

Behold, the countdown!

Whew.. that covers a lot… I hope I can blog a little more here and there and not wait another 6 months to update. Anywho.. keep on keeping on people!

Oh yeah.. my birthday was on Mother's day.. we had Mexican.. the margaritas were fantastic ;)

Oh yeah.. my birthday was on Mother’s day.. we had Mexican.. the margaritas were fantastic 😉

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Meet Doug the Pug.. from the Doug the Pug Facebook page. How cute!

Meet Doug the Pug.. from DougthePug.com How cute!

It’s Wednesday and hope everyone is gearing up for a super great Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow! I finally solidified my plans for dinner, and will be going over my Aunt’s to have dinner with her family and my dad.. and of course my husband is coming too!

Pre-dinner activities will include a Turkey Trot 5K with my husband and my friends, followed by a breakfast over at my mom’s afterwards. I’m glad I get to spend a little bit of time with everyone… but I’ll definitely be eating more than my fair share. Meh… that’s kind of the point with this holiday though, so not going to beat myself up over it. It’s one day.

I have been keeping that in the back of my mind however, and have planned this week accordingly. First lets take it back a bit.

A couple weeks ago, Mike and I drove up to his hometown of Farmingdale NY to visit with friends and family. We stayed Wednesday (Veterans day) to the following Monday. We hadn’t been up there since last Christmas, save a quick weekend trip to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday. Plus, we were planning on spending this Christmas at home in MD, since we’ve never done that in the 7 years we’ve been together.  It was a great little vacation, filled with some relaxation, and a little rushing around to see everyone. But it was also filled with food, and while I tried to prepare myself as much as I could (brought hard boiled eggs, salad fixings, greek yogurt, Kashi, some fruit and healthy snacks) I still couldn’t avoid the bad stuff the whole time. Most of the time the food was healthy, but I way overate my portions and couldn’t always follow the 21DF plan. I DID work out just about every day I was there, doing some pretty killer bodyweight HIIT workouts involving lots of plyo. But exercise can only take you so far when you’re not eating your best.

Anyways.. I decided that instead of replacing the S90D workouts I would have done, that I would just “re-do” that whole week when I got home. So I did. As of yesterday, I finished day 30 of the program. Quite happy to officially be 1/3 in! I haven’t measured any progress yet, because for the past 3 days, in anticipation of Thanksgiving and all the eating that goes with it… I’ve been following the 3 Day quick fix part of the 21DF plan.

So what is the 3 day quick fix? Basically, it’s a 3 day meal plan designed to be done at the end of a round of the 21DF to give you a little extra boost in your efforts, and help break through some plateaus. I’m doing it in preparation for Thanksgiving, but it can be done whenever you want a little edge up. The plan is pretty easy and tells you exactly what to eat- 6 small meals over the course of the day.

Breakfast is egg whites, coconut oil, and oatmeal. I cooked 4 egg whites in the coconut oil, and then made some plain oatmeal, adding a little Truvia and cinnamon. I do have to admit, I had my cup of coffee w/ fat free half and half.. not giving up the coffee. Sorry.

21DF 3 day Quick Fix breakfast

21DF 3 day Quick Fix breakfast

The next four meals rotate between chicken and fish with steamed vegetables. Some of which have coconut oil. The way I did it was I got some Perfect Portions chicken breasts and some individually portioned fish fillets (salmon and tilapia) and cooked a bunch of it to put in lunches. The chicken I cooked in the coconut oil, but the fish, I did not. One chicken meal was to be accompanied by yams, so I cut up and steamed some sweet potatoes. I also got some steamed broccoli to eat with the other chicken dish, and some Green Giant frozen vegetable mix to eat with the fish meals. The sixth meal was ground turkey, coconut oil, and steamed vegetables. I simply cooked the ground turkey in the coconut oil, then used the same pan to saute some spinach and tomatoes. This meal I ate after my workouts.

Four out of 5 of my remaining meals

Four out of 5 of my remaining meals

I’ve been pretty good sticking to this 3 day plan… my mantra has been..”It’s only 3 days… It’s only 3 days.” I miss yogurt and avocado and fruit and grains, and the occasional sugar. This plan is not sustainable for me beyond the near term.. thus.. only three days.

I do feel that I’m less bloated (not that I was a ton bloated to begin with) so I guess that’s a positive.. but I don’t like eating this often.. it feels strange to me to eat a regular meal every 2-3 hours.. especially when I come home from the gym. I’m usually craving something sweet and eat my Quest bar.. not ground turkey. I will say that although I’ve been kind of dreading my meals.. they’ve also been pretty good, so I don’t feel unsatisfied at the end… just.. doesn’t fit my cravings in the beginning. Guess that’s not a bad thing… but just kind of boring.

Anyways, today is my last day doing this.. so tomorrow I’ll take some measurements and see how I’ve done for this month. Looking forward to getting the next month going!

 

Fitness Friday!

Happy Friday everyone!

I wanted to write a post about my fitness efforts as of late.

In September, I decided to try getting back to running a little bit using my Bioskin Q Brace and taping my knee with KT tape. It definitely helped, but there were still some aggravation in the knee. I started using C25K to try and ease back into it. After taking so long off.. my ankles and legs HATED me. My legs felt so heavy and fatigued very easy. But the more I followed the plan, the better it started to feel. I soon found though that downhill really hurts and knocks my knee out of alignment. But uphills feel wonderful. I feel strong again and have zero pain. (Except.. that hills are killer cardiovascular wise.. and I feel like I’m running in sand, but zero pain.. yay!) I made it through week 7 of the 8 week program, getting to about 3 miles without stopping. But, my knee was starting to hurt more and more, so I backed off and didn’t complete the last week. This was about 2 weeks ago. I think I’m going to give it another week and see what I can do from there. My husband wants me to run the YMCA Turkey Trot with him on Thanksgiving.. I think that should be fine, and if I have to walk, I’ll walk.

In the meantime, I had my revelation that I wanted to take the 21DF more seriously, as I started putting on more weight. I realized that my workouts lacked structure. I was doing weight training, but I would skip days here and there, and I was having a hard time being consistent. I was keeping up with my HIIT training, following a Bodyrock 30 day challenge, but felt like it wasn’t enough cardio. (Although, I have to say, my knee was not bothering me so much when I did these workouts.. which was a huge plus for me.) I was skipping out on weekend workouts, giving into my laziness. I realized that it wasn’t really my will not to work up to my potential, but rather, I needed a program, a schedule.

In 2011 I was supposed to be in my cousin’s wedding. I bought a bridesmaid dress based on what I tried on in the store, but when it came in, it didn’t fit. It was the right size and everything.. and I hadn’t really gained weight in the few weeks it took for it to come in.. but it absolutely didn’t fit. I realized I needed to MAKE it fit. Around the same time, I found Sparkpeople. This website REALLY took my interest- it was a huge health resource and weight loss community. I’ve never seen people who were nicer and more supportive to people on the internet. I found a group doing a program called Supreme 90 Day. It was a P90X type workout program, without the P90X price. People were liking the workouts much more (because they were shorter than P90X) and were finding great results from it. I decided that I wanted to do it, and purchased it at Bed Bath and Beyond for about $20.

I followed the program to a T.. except for the eating part, because it seemed too far fetched at the time.. the concept of “clean eating” was new to me, and I felt like I ate pretty healthy and tracked my calories, so I was good. My results… fairly good!

S90D progression, Summer 2011

S90D progression, Summer 2011 (Sorry a little grainy.. but you get the jist)

 

Me fitting in the bridesmaid dress

Me fitting in the bridesmaid dress

I think I lost 7 lbs total over the course of 90 days. But again, I hadn’t really been following any kind of meal plan other than tracking my calories. So, I decided to use this program to keep me in a fitness regimen, and adding the benefit of lifting with heavier weights than I have at home by doing the strength training workouts at the gym. So I watched the first few videos, wrote down the exercises, put them into spreadsheets that I print and take with me to do my workouts at the gym. I do the cardio based workouts at home because they do not require heavy weights.. and my husband has even been joining in!

The schedule looks like this:

S90D schedule

S90D schedule

I’m on Day 20 as of today. I’ll do it later after work. Next week will be a little tough- we are traveling to NY to visit friends and family, and I won’t be taking my weights with me. I’m planning on bringing some body weight workouts I can do while I’m there to keep my strength and metabolism up, and then pick up where I left off when I get back (probably around D24).

In addition to S90D, I’ve been trying to work in my morning HIIT workouts from Bodyrock to give my metabolism a quick boost. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, and sometimes sleep is more important than doubling up my workouts. But, all this effort seems to be working, as I’m down about 8 lbs from when I started round 4 of the 21DF and the S90D program. I won’t go into too much result detail, as I plan to write a post after I complete the first 30 days, but I’m feeling pretty good lately.. and think I’ve finally found my way to my goals.. as long as I stick to it!

Meal Plan Week 3

Happy Thursday 🙂

And so, it is week 3- Day 18 of the 21DF. I made some pretty awesome meals this week. Like last week, they’re a little higher in calories for my calorie range, but I am hitting all my containers. I’ve had a few cheats this week… one very big cheat on Halloween (guess that was technically last week) and I’m sure you can guess what that was. Oh well… only once a year after all.

Week 3

Week 3

Breakfast

Sunday morning we made a huge batch of pumpkin protein pancakes. I didn’t really use a recipe for this, I just threw ingredients together. I combined 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 eggs, 1 cup pumpkin puree, and 1 scoop Quest Vanilla Milkshake protein powder, 1 tsp of baking soda, and some cinnamon, then thinned the batter with a little almond milk and water to get the right consistency. The batch made 24 pancakes. At first, I was thinking this was 4 servings- that would have given me 1/2 cup flour (1 yellow), 1/4 cup pumpkin (1/4 green), and 1/2 protein between the eggs and protein powder (1/2 red). But, I realized that the flour is counted as 2 yellows really, so I halved the servings to make 8. This gives me 1 yellow, 1/8 green (don’t even count it really), and 1/4 red. I supplemented my protein with 4 oz of plain Greek yogurt (mixed with Truvia to sweeten it) and top with 1/2 banana to give me a fruit (1 purple.) So, 3 pancakes, 1/2 cup yogurt, and 1/2 a banana became my breakfast. When I went o the Renaissance Festival last weekend, I had bought some almond honey. Sometimes I would drizzle some over, but I find with the Truvia in the yogurt I really don’t need it.

Breakfast!

Breakfast! 1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow (plus coffee and creamer, and sometimes honey)

Lunch

For lunch, I found an interesting recipe by Fit Mom Angela D called Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet. My husband was interested in the name, so I showed him the recipe. He decided he wanted in on the deal… So I bought a bunch of extra ingredients to make a huge yield for the both of us to take for lunch. This recipe involves lean ground beef, turkey bacon, diced tomatoes, onion, mustard and some spices. I ate it with half a pita pocket (he had a whole) and a serving of shredded cheddar. It was DELICIOUS! My husband praises it every day as being very good, and very filling. For me, this meal turns out to be 1.25 red, 1/2 green, 1 yellow and 1 blue.

Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet!

Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet!

Dinner

For dinner, I turned to another Fit Mom Angela D recipe: 21 Day Fix Chicken Marsala. I’m not a huge fan of chicken marsala, but man… this was GOOD. I added grape tomatoes in mine, and it really made the flavor pop.

cooking Chicken Marsala!

Cooking Chicken Marsala!

We used roughly 3 lbs of thin cut chicken breast (tossed in whole wheat flour), a whole lot of mushrooms, some shallots, some garlic, some chicken broth, a little olive oil (it calls for coconut oil, but I didn’t want it to taste like coconut) and grape tomatoes. I made some asparagus on the side to go with it. (Great pairing!) We ran out of mushrooms/tomatoes and asparagus yesterday, but I have some green beans in the freezer to go with the last two pieces of chicken for tonight. (Always useful to have bulk frozen veggies in the freezer.)

 

1 red, 1 green, 1 tsp

1 red, 1 green, 1 tsp

Snacks

I’ve kept with my oldies but goodies- apples/cinnamon/peanut butter (1 purple, 1 tsp), carrots/pumpkin seeds (1 green, 1 orange), and a Quest bar (1 red). I’ve been a little short on the greens this week, while being a little over on the reds. I also had a big candy binge on Halloween, but have been controlling myself since. I tried to have only 1-2 pieces a day since then, because we still have extra.. but I was noticing that it was increasing my lenience towards other sugary foods, which is not a road I want to stumble down, especially with the holidays. So I’m doing all I can to keep away from sugar. I only had 1 piece of honey hard candy yesterday, so I feel pretty good about that. Feeling even stronger today, so keeping up with the good fight!

My awesome pug pumpkin I carved for Halloween!

My awesome pug pumpkin I carved for Halloween!

So, as I’m on day 18 today, I’ve sort of made plans on how I’m going to continue forward. Well, I’ve adopted in my old workout program, Supreme 90 Day (I got it in 2011), and I’ve been following along with it pretty good. I’ll post more about this soon, but in a nutshell, this is a 90 day program on 10 DVDs. There is a schedule you follow and you do the corresponding DVD you need for each day. I’ve been using this plan to keep my workouts in check and use it as a guide for strength training at the gym. I copied down the exercises in the DVDs and have been doing them in the gym so that I can use heavier weights to build strength. There are also a few Tabata/HIIT style workouts included that I do at home (and my husband has even joined me for!) I’m on Day 18 of that program as well, and plan on following for the full 90 days. SO.. as far as 21DF goes, I’m going to keep going on the plan as I follow S90D. Next week (week 4) I’m going to be on vacation, but I’m going to plan some workouts I can do and try to get them in every day. I’ll bring my containers with me, but don’t expect to use them for every meal, as we’ll be visiting friends and family and it may not be practical. So next week is a semi break and my real week 4 will pick up when I get back. I will check my measurements and take progress pics after “week 4” and continue on to the next month of the program. Least that’s the plan!

Meal Plan Week 2

I know I’m well into week 2, but I’m trying to catch up a bit. Week 2 was made up on the fly, as I was super busy last week and didn’t have a lot of time before hand to organize it. But I did manage to come up with some pretty good meals, so I’d say it was a success. Unfortunately, my meals were a little over calorie-wise for my range, and I’m a little over with my vegetable and fruit containers, but I’m not going crazy and deviating from my plan.

Last Friday, I went to an annual bonfire my friend throws. It’s always a good time with lots of food and drink. I did drink one Redd’s apple cider, but I went a little overboard with the food (Can we say nut mix with candy in it…:-/) Oh well. I did pull it together Saturday, but Sunday we went with some friends to the renaissance festival (a big fall thing here in MD) where I drank two beers and had a giant apple dumpling.. and bought/ate some honey & honey candy. Again, whoops. I’ve been really good at bouncing back though. I usually have trouble with sneaking sugar after I break the no sugar seal. While I’ve had cravings and temptation.. I’ve been really good with distracting myself. I DID put some of my fresh honey on my yogurt for breakfast this week… but only a drizzle, maybe a teaspoon total.

Sword fighting at the Renaissance Festival.. yes I DID dress up!

Sword fighting at the Renaissance Festival.. yes I DID dress up!

Anyways, I managed to make up my schedule this morning (even though we’re on Thursday already.) I made some adjustments to it to reflect some changes that happened, but I’ve pretty much fallen in line as I planned everything.

Round 4 Week 2 mealplan

Round 4 Week 2 meal plan

Breakfast

For breakfast, I had some plain Greek yogurt (red), half a banana (purple), and a Kashi Go Lean cereal (yellow) I had to play around with this a little over the past few days to get the taste I was looking for. Greek yogurt is really good for you… unfortunately the flavored kind has way more sugar, which I’m trying to avoid. So I got some plain, but the plain doesn’t taste as good. I tried to sweeten it by drizzling a little honey on top, but that only sweetened the top. Then I tried to mix in the honey, but I would have had to add a ton of it to get the sweetness, which defeats the purpose. Then I tried mixing in some Truvia. One packet wasn’t really enough.. but two packets.. and a small drizzle of honey.. perfect! The Truvia is a natural sweeter too.. not artificial, and doesn’t have the calories. Even though it’s not really part of clean eating, or the 21 day fix plan… it works for me.

Breakfast Week 2 (1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow)

Breakfast Week 2 (1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow)

Lunch

For lunch, I made a version of Southwestern Spaghetti Squash posted by Skinny MS. Hers called for some cheese on top, but I omitted that because I had a fat serving planned in my dinner. So basically, all this was was spaghetti squash, salsa, ground turkey, black beans, and green onions. Somehow… with minimal seasoning… it’s really pretty good! Unfortunately, I learned that salsa is considered a fruit on 21 Day Fix, so this put me over my fruit count by an extra half container. But I’m not super worried about it.

SOuthwestern Spaghetti Squash (1 red, 1 green, 1/2 purple, 1 yellow)

Southwestern Spaghetti Squash (1 red, 1 green, 1/2 purple, 1 yellow)

Yesterday, my coworkers and I went to Wegman’s for lunch to celebrate our October Birthdays. I ended up eating my lunch for dinner, and making myself a nice salad for lunch. I decided to bring my containers, and while I felt a little nervous about using them in a grocery store, it turned out not to be a big deal. My salad ended up having spinach, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, mushrooms, roasted peppers, roast chicken, an egg, and some shredded organic cheddar and Romano cheese. I brought some pumpkin seeds from home, as well as some salad dressing.. but I forgot the dressing in the fridge at work, so I just bought a packet of balsamic and used it sparingly. It was yummy, and smaller than one I would have made sans containers… so I think I’ll bring them next time I go as well (much to my husband’s disbelief and taunting. >:/)

Wegman's salad lunch! (3 green, 1 blue, 1 orange, 1 red)

Wegman’s salad lunch! (3 green, 1 blue, 1 orange, 1 red)

Dinner

For dinner over the weekend and earlier this week, I made some Thai Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup from Host the Toast. Unfortunately, I  forgot to take pictures, but it looks like butternut squash soup (lol) The taste…. amazing. It was probably the best butternut squash soup I’ve ever made. And it was pretty easy to make, so I definitely recommend. As far as containers go, the soup was 1 green, and 1 blue (coconut milk). Because there was no protein in the soup, I bought a rotisserie chicken from BJs, carved off the chicken, and tossed it on top of salad (salad mix, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, olives, salad dressing). The salad container count was 1 red, two green, 1 orange. Getting a lot of greens this week.

The soup/salad ran out on Tuesday (because we ate it Saturday and Sunday night too) so I had to improvise for the rest of the week. Yesterday, I had the Wegman’s salad for lunch, so I simply ate my planned lunch for dinner. Tonight I think I’ll make a nice big omelet with some left over veggies and some pepper jack cheese.

Snacks

My snacks this week were pretty much the same as last week. I did my apple, cinnamon, peanut butter thing, and had some carrots and celery for snack #2. Since the orange container was taken up in my meals, I couldn’t accompany my carrots/celery with pumpkin seeds.. so I tried to whip up some buffalo sauce using Franks Red Hot and a little Greek yogurt. iIt proved too hot though, so I didn’t end up eating much of it. I’ll have to work on that. My 3rd snack, of course, were my Quest bars. Love them!

I’ve already started planning for next week. The weekends aren’t always clear to me as far as meals, since we haven’t discussed weekend plans yet, so that’s why I leave them blank. I do make sure to track my containers on the app though, so I know where I’m at and what I can have 🙂 I have lost a few pounds over the past couple weeks, which is encouraging, but I’m still above my starting point I was originally at a few months ago. Heading in the right direction though, and I hope it keeps going!