Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

Samantha's journey to slim down, while remaining sparkly!

Summer Update: Sunsets, Salads and Soul Searching


I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted! I always take these mini-breaks without meaning to – I’m just so easily distracted once I’m on the computer that I end up with 37 half written blog entries. :)

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The face of someone who KNOWS she needs to blog more….haha.

So June –> July has been a bit of a blur….BBQs, aimless drives, cocktails with friends, soul-searching, perfect weddings,  sleeping late and SO MANY VEGETABLES! Oh man, I am REALLY happy I chose to get a CSA this summer.  My friend Steph posted this a few weeks ago and it’s become my mantra:

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When you realize that you need the same care and feeding you would give to a plant things became a little more clear. Have you had enough water? Nutrients? Sunshine? If not – make it happen.

Let’s discuss the amazing bounty I’ve been receiving every Thursday from Picadilly Farms in NH since early  June. Since last time I have tried a bunch of things that I can’t recall ever having (and I’m not a fussy eater).

  • Loved: Boy choy (especially in stir-fry), radishes (raw or cooked these are awesome!), turnips, carrots (I used to hate them, now I love them!), leeks, fennel (roasted or raw, mmmm), golden beets and kohlrabi (stir-fryed or raw in a salad)
  • Mezzo Mezzo: Red Russian kale (sweeter than regular kale but not something I would buy on my own, mustard greens, senposai (collard-type) greens.
  • Not my thang: Kale (I just can’t – I have tried it 52,000 ways and I don’t like it), sorrel (lemony bitter green), swiss chard (I tried it twice – stir-fryed and braised then decided to pass it along to a colleague at work who eats healthy), garlic scapes (I love garlic but these were not for me) and dill (just not a flavor I like).

Other things I have LOVED but were not new to me – spinach, arugula, green beans, sugar peas, snap peas, zucchini, summer squash, scallions, basil, cilantro, tiny strawberries and romaine lettuce.

This week new to me I have patty pan squash (I just love saying that name!), daikon, pickling cucumbers and Japanese eggplant! I haven’t tried them yet so I will report back once I do!

Since I love pictures here is two pretty collages featuring some of the fabulousness. See if you can spot the tiny stow-away I found when washing spinach. ;)

Veggie Collage

Veggie Collage 2

I highly recommend doing a CSA to get out of your food comfort zone – it’s amazing to me how many things weren’t on my radar before and now will become Samantha staples (like carrots , fennel and radishes!).

There is something special about this summer – it hasn’t been anything I can put my finger on but I feel different – more excited, more open to new adventures and more appreciative of the beauty around me. I have been making a point to admire the sunset each night and I have some gorgeous photos to show for it….

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – sunrises and sunsets are two of the most powerful things in nature to witness. No matter how good or bad a day is, it will end. <3

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I’ve also been doing a ton of soul-searching and while I find myself writing a lot there isn’t much I want to share publicly. Let’s just say I’m finding being in my thirties very liberating. Suddenly all these things I had hoped I’d be by this age are a reality.I don’t have to apologize for how I feel (or don’t feel) or for the things I want (or don’t want). I credit Danielle LaPorte for opening me up to these changes. It’s amazing reading daily blips of “truth” and inspiration from someone as no-bullshit as me! I think the next 6 months of my 32nd year will be filled with more risks, more reward and less hesitation. Life is too short to be anything less than ridiculously happy.

Truthbombs

Truthbombs – a few of my favs!

 

I had coffee with my friend Tiana on Saturday. We met in 7th grade and were friends all through middle/high school and then went our separate ways. However thanks to the magic of Facebook we reconnected and chat often. Yesterday was the first time we have seen each other in 14 years and it was like nothing had changed. A quick coffee date extended almost two hours and I can’t wait to spend more time with her soon!  I’m so thankful for friends like her who get me in a way I don’t have to explain. :)

 

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Here’s to another 8 weeks of summer-amazingness! Cheers, friends!

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Tribute to a Legend


There are people who come in to your life and make a lasting impression. Despite distance or time-passed you still feel a bond with them. Yesterday the world lost someone who will always have a special place in my heart. Al Shapiro was my first audio professor in college and one of the most influential people in so many young lives. You might expect me to wax poetic about how much I learned or how he imparted his wisdom on to me in the form of a perfect magnet quote. That was not Al. He was gruff on the exterior but a teddy bear on the inside – he would tell you to fuck off to your face and then crack up laughing a few minutes later. He was no bullshit and meant business but he was also a mentor and a guiding force in such a tough time in so many people’s lives (how do you know what you want to be at 19?!). He spent his career prior to teaching working with some of the most amazing musicians of our time (including John Lennon and Michael Jackson). He forgot more about music and sound than most people will ever know and he was truly one of the highlights of my college experience.

We were unlikely friends – at age 18 I was quiet and unsure of myself when I took my first audio class; at 45 he was at the point in his life where he wasn’t going to cater to some smiley girl from the suburbs who couldn’t cut it. He told me I wasn’t going to make it in this business unless I found a backbone ASAP – and could tell him to fuck off. True story. A semester later I became his first Teacher’s Assistant and got an amazing internship at Finish Studios in Boston. I figured out the summer of my internship that I wasn’t ready to be in the real world at age 19 armed with an associates degree and I decided to stay and get a second degree in TV production. Al wasn’t thrilled – he wanted me to go into the real world and do it – but he knew I needed to find my own way. I ended up realizing that I loved the audio/video business but needed more stability and structure then a studio or mix house could provide.

I credit him with the gusto I have now and I am so saddened that future generations of audio students won’t hear his amazing stories or learn the art of properly miking a studio! Moreover I’m mad at myself. Al and a few other amazing professors were pushed out by my alma mater a few months ago and we had emailed a few dozen times about getting together. And I was busy. And I had work commitments. And I didn’t want to show up and feel like I had let him down….so I didn’t make actual plans. Somewhere in the back of my head is the 18-year-old girl who wanted so badly to work in the music business in NY and kick ass and take names. Over time that has evolved into a 32-year-old woman who works for a software company managing projects and accounts – kicking ass and taking names. I’m proud of where I am but I was so afraid I wouldn’t measure up to his standards – so afraid he’d be disappointed that I took the “corporate whore” route (his words). In hindsight I can see how foolish that mentality was – but of course it’s too late now. Where’s hindsight when I need it?! :)

Life is funny – you don’t really realize the significance someone has had on your life until you can’t say thank you.

Thank you Al Shapiro for life lessons, audio knowledge, great stories but most of all thank you for encouraging me to be my own person and not give a fuck what anyone thought. I will miss you more than you know! Oh and I hope you can’t see Facebook – you would absolutely HATE all this attention! <3

My favorite shot - Al was both an audio master as well as a talented artist.

My favorite shot – Al was both an audio master as well as a talented artist.

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Classy and Fabulous ~ a New Manifesto


I’ve been really introspective over the last few weeks. Maybe it’s starting a new year, taking inventory of what happened over the last 12 months etc. Or maybe it’s knowing my 32nd birthday is lurking around the corner next week. Isn’t there something so monumental about birthdays? Suddenly you need to categorize what 31 was…How did it feel? What victories did I have? What losses? Am I better off right now? Well I’m pleased to say I am definitely going to enter 32 as a better version of myself. I’m stronger, I’m more sure of who I am and I really care a lot less if others approve of who I am. I spent so much of my twenties wound-up and crazy. I hated not being liked, I compared myself to everyone else – constantly. I worried, I worried some more, I lost sleep and frankly I spent far too much of my precious time on shit that doesn’t matter now. You know the old adage “Will this matter in 5 years?” 99% of the time the answer is “This won’t matter in a year”. Sometimes it won’t matter in a week!

I tried an experiment back in June where I kept a little journal at my bedside and jotted down notes about things upsetting me, worrying me or just generally weighing on my mind. Turns out 93% of the things causing the bags under my eyes didn’t matter enough to even register a few months later! Yes, I actually stopped and did some math to figure out that percentage – that’s the nerd in me! LOL.

heavy

Isn’t that the truth? Stress is HEAVY! It pulls at you, drags you down and makes you feel like there is no use in fighting back. I encourage you to let go – let go of the things you think you need to worry about. Go watch “Up in the Air” – the scene where George Clooney does his “what’s in your backpack?” pitch is my favorite. I don’t want you to let go of the people in your life (because those relationships are super important!) but I do want to think about the “stuff” you carry. I truly feel like a happier, more free version of myself since I stopped focusing on “stuff” and started letting go.

I’d like to think I’ve finally cracked the code on my own personal happiness – it looks something like this:

Smile more and stress less (what’s in YOUR backpack?) 

Don’t say yes unless you really want to (because sometimes those commitments made in the heat of the moment lead to ridiculous stress and pressure!)

Don’t say no to a new opportunity just because it’s scary (scary means there is a chance to grow – take it!)

When it doubt – sweat it out (something about sweating your frustrations out just feels good)

No one needs to give you permission to be happy. Period.

I used to look outside myself for happiness. I needed approval from my peers, from my colleagues, from *strangers* to feel like I was complete. I don’t need that any longer. Something has changed inside of me and I realize I am fabulous – and I don’t need that acceptance from the anyone….it came from within!

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What are you waiting for? Seriously. What is it? Stop waiting and just do it! Plan that trip, try something new, go out on a limb, trust yourself and stop putting limits on who you are and what you can do.

I just watching the makeover episode of “Biggest Loser” (one of my favorites – I love Tim Gunn!). I get so excited to see the transformations but man I get so annoyed when I hear “I couldn’t love myself when I was fat. I look in the mirror and now I finally love myself”. No one is going to give you permission to love yourself as is – that’s up to you. Fat, skinny, in-between – you’re more than just a size. You should love yourself regardless of your size!

My new manifesto will be to stay classy and fabulous – I can be confident in who I am without losing sight of the things that make me strong. I’ve come a long way and I’m sure the next 32 years will be 10 times happier (and less stressful) than the previous 32!

classy

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Fitness Goals for 2014


As I said in my last post I am really trying out an unresolution – BE HAPPIER (because really I’m already a fairly happy person). However, I am setting some pretty specific fitness goals for myself – along with a few other goals. Do you make fitness goals for a new year? I really can’t remember if I did last year – but I know I had different priorities coming into 2013. I really wanted to be a runner – I’ve since decided running stresses me out, causes knee pain and is generally not enjoyable. If something doesn’t feel good – why do it? OK the one exception to that is the dentist – I never like the thoughts of sitting with my mouth opened for an hour while I get my teeth cleaned but I always feel amazing after. ;)

I work in Corporate America and we like to use the acronym “SMART” to describe goals – I figured the same principles apply to fitness goals so I kept those in mind when forming  my to-do list! What is a smart goal?

smart goal setting concept

Keeping that in mind – here are my 5 fitness goals for 2014!

1. Log 300 hours of Zumba (yes I realize this one is LOFTY). This means doing Zumba 6 days a week most weeks. Here’s the thing – if I was going to be a runner I would need 4-5 running days a week. I’m replacing those with Zumba and of course I made myself a cute calendar to track! Now of course I travel for work (and for fun). How am I going to accomplish this? Two ways – Zumba DVDs I bought ages ago and “THE ULTIMATE ZUMBA PLAYLIST” I just made in my iPod. It’s a collection of all my favorite Zumba songs from all 5 teachers I take from!

I love color-coding and I like organization. I know I'll be away next week so I'm already accounting for it and planning. Also, Thursday and Friday classes may switch depending on my work busyness!

I love color-coding and I like organization. I know I’ll be away next week so I’m already accounting for it and planning. Also, Thursday and Friday classes may switch depending on my work busyness!

Dying to see this kill mix of mine? Feast your eyes and ears on this! This is a combo of Stef, Kerri, Danielle and Ogechi songs! I don’t quite know Laura enough to know her music yet. :)

Zumba Mix

2. Try one new fitness DVD a month. Originally I said one per week but with my Zumba obsession that just won’t work. Haha. I have a ton DVDs I’ve stockpiled that I need to work through – I’m really looking forward to these two:

DVDs

3. Complete 10 real push-ups by the fall! I can do the kind on bent knees but I want to do legit, straight out push-ups! Since you know I love a funny:

4. Hold a plank for 3 mins by December! I’ve done several plank a month challenges and I always fall apart at the 2 min mark. I want to hold a plank for 3 mins this year. :)

5. Jump rope by the summer. I used to LOVE doing this when i was little and I really want to get a jump rope now as an adult. Along the same lines I want to do legit jumping jacks – instead of the ghetto side step side things I do now. LOL. Of course, this cracked me up so I had to share:

jump rope

There you have my fitness goals for 2014! What are yours?

Have you ever considered making a fitness bucketlist? I saw this while searching for funny graphics and loved it!

Definitely a project for a rainy day. :-)

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Guest Post: Weight Training for Women!


Hello!

I am Kristina and I blog about food, crafts, and life over at Cucina Kristina. About 6 months ago, I got super into the Paleo Lifestyle and weight training. I love lifting heavy weights and swimming when I go to the gym and am thrilled with the progress I have made in a year. When I started, I could deadlift about 50 pounds, and now I am able to deadlift 130 pounds, which is pretty close to my bodyweight. It’s amazing at how strong I have gotten over the last year! elf4health I am so happy to be guest blogging here on Sparkly & Slimming! Samantha and I were paired up via the Elf for Health challenge that Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean and Elle over at Nutritionella are running for the holiday season. Today’s challenge is “Share Your Expertise.” After sending a few emails back and forth and discussing things we were good at, Samantha asked me to write a “Women’s Guide to Weight Training” post. Because I am not a certified personal trainer, I am hesitant to give actual fitness advice, but I can tell you all about how I got into weight training and provide you with some fabulous resources if you are interested in getting lean and strong.

How I Got into Weight Training

I started weight training about a year ago because one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be able to do a pull-up. One pull-up. It didn’t sound that hard at the time, but it definitely is not easy to pull your own bodyweight! I am very close to being able to do a pull-up so I am confident that I will be able to tackle this before my birthday in May. :-)

Dispelling a myth!

Before I go any further, I want you to know that you will not get “bulky” from lifting heavy weights! There is a common fear amongst women that they will come out of the gym looking like a bodybuilder if they pick up anything over 10 pounds. Lifting weights will help you burn body fat faster than doing cardio alone and it is FUN! Weight lifting also helps boost your metabolism and helps you burn fat long after you have finished your workout.

Form is KEY.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you are weight training is form. You are setting yourself up for injury if you let your form lapse. If you have never weight trained before, I would suggest watching some videos on YouTube and practicing the moves using NO weights before you start adding weights to your workouts. You can do this in the privacy of your own home if you have a full-length mirror. If you do not have a full-length mirror, do this at your gym. You will not look silly, I promise! Many experienced weight lifters check their form this way before doing an exercise. NerdFitness

One website I LOVE that has a ton of videos, articles, and all around general fitness advice is called Nerd Fitness. Block out a weekend and devour all of the wonderful information Steve has to offer.

Also, take some time to check out Staci’s success story. Staci is super awesome, currently deadlifts 385 pounds, and is nothing remotely close to looking bulky!

So, you want to start weight training.

In addition to Nerd Fitness, I would highly recommend that you buy and read the book, The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Schuler. This book is nothing short of amazing. It includes a comprehensive 6-month weight training program that anyone can do. They explain how to modify exercises to fit your strength level (for example, you may have to start doing exercises using your bodyweight before you add on any additional weight) and include a nutrition plan to go along with it. If you are interested in weight training, this is the #1 book I would recommend to you!

Some Sample Workouts

Here are some sample workouts for the total beginner using bodyweight. All are from Nerd Fitness. I wasn’t joking when I said this was one of my favorite websites!

Beginner Body Weight Workout

Clean Eating.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you can weight train your buns off and you will not see results if you are not eating for fat loss. This means avoiding overly processed foods and focusing on eating whole foods and lean proteins. In short, eat healthy!

I hope this helped motivate some of you to pick up some weights the next time you are in the gym. If you have any questions about lifting, feel free to tweet me @cucina_kristina. I will do my best to answer your questions or point you in the right direction!

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Thanks Kristina!!  I know two of my loyal friends (and readers) Lauren and Jewels will especially love this!

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It’s been a long December…


One of my favorite songs is “Long December” by Counting Crows – it always feels very final, very matter-of-fact and a little melancholy. Granted, it’s only December 9th but the song perfectly sums up my feelings towards this year already!

I’m about 90% recovered from pneumonia that struck right before Thanksgiving and I’m getting back into the swing of things. This time of year it’s SO easy to fall off track and just say “eff it, I’ll start fresh in January” – but think how much better you’ll feel if you stay on track through the most challenging month and continue that great streak right through January! As my friend Stef says – stay accountable!

How am I doing this?

*planning workouts with friends – lots of Zumba dates, circuit dates and checking in with my brother and my fit friends. Workouts are a great excuse to meet up with someone and burn calories at the same time!

*avoiding the “but it’s the holidays!” food pitfall. I avoided Halloween candy completely, I barely ate at Thanksgiving (because I was sick) so I was far from overstuffed…now I need to keep that momentum straight through the season of gingerbread lattes, salted caramel hot chocolates and Santa sugar cookies!

*making the most of my time on and off! I have vacation from December 20th – 31st. While I’m super excited for time with family and friends I need to ensure I wrap up all my projects and meet my work deadlines without going nuts. Balance + prioritize!

*reminding myself that I’m striving for good, not perfect. I will never exercise 7 days a week and stick perfectly to my calories – but I can compensate for splurges and  ensure to up my water intake etc.

*last but not least- remember that the year is coming to an end and that means an exciting new beginning is on the horizon. I mentioned that I love sunsets and sunrises because they symbolize that everything (good or bad) will come to an end. I fully believe in that concept. :-)

This past weekend my family put up our Christmas tree with old and new wonderful ornaments. I’m the family gift wrapper so those gorgeous presents were created by yours truly (and I’m modest too!).

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As we approach 2014 one of my favorite bloggers and writers, Kate Northrop suggested something I can’t wait to do with my family: “Release it. Mike and I are having a Winter Solstice party this year. We’ll have little cards by the fireplace on which people can write down what they’d like to release and leave in the darkness of the shortest day of the year. Then we’ll have other cards where they can write down what they’d like to welcome in with the light as the days grow longer starting on Dec. 22nd. The end of the year is a beautiful time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not, and let go of what’s not. Spend some time letting go instead of accumulating and you’ll fee more free.”

What are you ready to release?

What would you like to welcome?

I’ll share mine: I’d like to release self-doubt (because this year I have really questioned my place in the working world, in friendships, in life etc.). I’m ready to release that worry and negativity about past mistakes that I harbor.

I’m ready to welcome in a romantic partner who pairs with me in a fabulous way. I feel like 31 was my year of trying new things and opening myself up to new ideas. I found Zumba, I got healthier and learned to focus on whole foods,  I grew through some challenges professionally, I lost someone I loved dearly and learned to appreciate the family (and friends) here. I tried my hand at cooking (and had a few successes!), I spent time alone and appreciated my quirks (and tamed some of annoying traits). I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life with someone I love by my side. <3

As for resolutions, I had a giant list I started to build (42 things and counting) and I decided to go in a different direction – next year I will focus on being happy. Period. I will spend more time with my mom and less time on menial tasks. I’ll remember to pack my stuff for work/Zumba the night before so my mornings are less stressful. I’ll smile at strangers and try to be less sarcastic. I’m email friends I don’t see enough and take impromptu road trips to try new things. Little tweaks will add up to big happiness in the end. I’m sure if it!

Are you making resolutions? If so will you focus on one out two things or try to tackle a laundry list? I’d recommend trying to conquer one or two meaningful items. Read the rest of this entry »

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2013 Elf 4 Health Challenge & a New Diet Twist….


Last year I had SO much fun participating in the Elf 4 Health challenge hosted by The Lean Green Bean and Nutrionella that I just had to sign up again this year.  All the challenge details (and the sign up!) can be found here: Elf4Health. Basically you complete one healthy challenge each day (be in physical, emotional, self etc.) and chat with an elf buddy randomly assigned to you about your challenge and staying on track during the holidays.

This years challenges are realllly going to take me out of my comfort zone (burpees!? wall sits? meditation? – eeeep!).  I’m nervously excited. Is that a thing? Nervously excited? LOL – well it is now! Behold – the challenges!

I just completed our pantry purge last weekend and I don’t want to brag, but it looks fantastic and is MUCH easier to find things! For Dec 7th I’ll be tackling the spice cabinet – which is a hot mess. I am pretty positive we have at least 4 poultry seasonings and probably another 4 cloves – two things I never think we have and always buy. Haha.

pantry

Foolishly I forgot to look at this week’s challenges and I already have lunch packed for Monday- Wednesday (chicken pot pie soup FOR THE WIN)….sooo I’ll be meatless for every other meal – and on Friday. :)

I got my first email from my elf – she’s really sweet and I’m excited to motivate each other for the week! Shout out to Natalie!

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Oh, I forgot to mention my new diet. Dietary restriction? Meh – the new way I’m eating! I’ve had a problem for a while with retaining water (especially in my feet and legs). A few weeks ago I weighed in at 7am and again at 10pm – I had gained 12 pounds. Yes, I’m dead serious. I scheduled time to see my doctor – but she’s so busy she couldn’t see me until the first week of December. I chatted with my Mom and she mentioned salt – and tracking my sodium intake. Two weeks ago on Saturday and Sunday I tracked everything I ate in LoseIt – -then calculated the sodium – I was at 3500 mg / 4600 mg respectively. I picked up “The Salt Solution” from Amazon and learned I was eating nearly triple the sodium I should aim for (1500mg). Eeep! So, I took action last week (even during the two days I had the flu!) and following the following guidelines:

*No more canned/premade soups – (my favorite is the Autumn Squash soup at Panera and it has a whopping 1400mg per CUP! Yeah no!).

*Swap out morning drink for grapefruit juice (a natural diuretic which helps with fluid retention)**

*Trade chicken broth for the low sodium variety (a difference of 500 mg per cup!)

*Up my fiber (helps with food digestion – and feeling full)

*Amp up the spices (in lieu of salt try to include things like sage, rosemary, chives etc.) – I also need to check out Mrs. Dash (which is sodium free).

*Drink more water! (but I seriously always need the reminder).

These are the food guidelines I am following to see what kind of sodium content foods have compared to each other.

One week in and I’m significantly better – my feet and legs aren’t swollen, I feel 1000X better energy wise AND I’m only 1-2 pounds heavier by 10pm after a day on my feet. Awesome!  Thanks Mom – just goes to show your Mom really does have all the answers! ;)

**Sidenote: by far this is my favorite grapefruit juice EVER:

Ingredients: grapefruit + water. The end! I also love their Simply Orange with Mango – delicious. :)

Happy short-work-week everyone!!

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The Power of the Plan


november

October I went unprocessed and it rocked – I made delicious overnight oats with the help of Bob’s Red Mill Oats and this recipe. I feel back in love with couscous and quinoa (two things I avoided during my gluten-free experiment). But, I got lazy. I stopped doing Sunday food prep (which was one of the keys to my successful summer). I resorted to buying a lot of salads and soups (which is fine, but you’re not in control of what you eat unless you make it). So for November I am focusing on two things:

  1. Planning. Planning. Planning.
  2. Logging 25 cardio hours and 10 strength hours this month

So what do these goals look like?

First – Planning to succeed means Sunday Food Prep  *every* week in November – no excuses. I have no travel until December so this is a good time to focus on this! It also means planning my workouts and sticking to them. I am the QUEEN of lofty goals and poor execution. Queen.  Lastly it means sticking with a calorie plan/sleep plan each day. I have been great about eating my assigned calorie number….however I’m eating WAY too late at night and not getting nearly enough sleep. I am not just the queen of lofty plans but also of procrastination. So, I work until 5/6 most days and don’t get everything I need done because I’m chatting/spending time poorly on projects that don’t require the level of effort I’m putting in…then I go exercise for an hour, come home and have dinner around 7/7:30 (which is fine – except for what happens NEXT). Next I end up working 2-3 hours on things I should have finished during the day – then I have house things to do (dishes, lunch packing, picking out clothes) and of course I need to catch up on my favorite shows (“The Blacklist”, “Top Chef”, “Hostages” and “Criminal Minds”) which I do while munching on a snack….and pretty soon it is 12am/1am and I’m just THINKING about sleep. This means I end up in bed and actually asleep by 2am – then up at 6:30/7 to start my day. It’s not working. I’m tired, I’m cranky and frankly I’m plateauing in my weight-loss when I should be excelling. How can I fix this?

A few thoughts;

Plan breakfast options, lunch options and make them easy to grab before work (overnight oats, Samantha salads, leftovers – whatever!).

During work – limit “chatting” to 15 mins and include a walk or water break – sometimes these visits are project related so they are beneficial, they just need to be structured.

Finish as much of work AT work as possible – take home needs to be minimal. If I could prioritize my day better I KNOW I could do this.

At dinner – include more protein and more water so I feel more full. I’m a big veggie fan so I have that covered!

After dinner – No snacking after 8:30/9pm. One hour after dinner. Brush my teeth and be DONE.

Set a bedtime alarm. I used to do this….then I stopped. New bedtime alarm will be for 11:11 (my favorite number) – by this time I need to have my teeth brushed and be wrapping up whatever I’m doing to be in bed by 11:30.

These all seem doable right? You guys do these things without thinking about them I bet! :)

Now for the second goal:Reach 35 hours of logged exercise by November 30th!

I’ve been slipping slowly into the cold weather slump. Gotta snap outta it  ASAP! How can I hit the magic 35? Let’s add it up:

Sunday: Zumba – 1 hr cardio (class with Stef)

Monday: Zumba – 1 hr cardio (class with Stef)

Tuesday: Zumba – 1 hr cardio + barre class – 1 hour of strength (classes with Danielle)

Wednesday: Zumba – 1 hr cardio (class with Kerri) or Legs class – 1 hour of strength (class with Ali)

Thursday: Zumba – 1 hr cardio + 1 hour Pilates (at home workouts)

Friday: Zumba or Piloxing or Pound – 1 hr cardio (at home or at Studio Poise workouts – TBD)

Saturday: Circuits – 1 hour of strength OR Zumba Toning  – 30 mins cardio/30 mins strength (at YMCA or at Studio Poise workouts – TBD)

This roughly gives me 28 hours of cardio and 8 hours of strengthening this month – that ROCKS!

It’s lofty – I’m not going to lie — it leaves 0 “slack” days….but here’s what I know about myself: When I start my week with Zumba I feel awesome and I am MUCH more likely to stick to workouts for the rest of the week.  When I slack on my weekends I feel awful  for the week and stiff as a board – and I end up off-track all week. So, go big or go home!

So there you have it – my two detailed goals for November – wish me luck!!

I always say I want to try a ToneItUp or Blogilates calendar challenge – but I always end up traveling during the month and then I’m all thrown off! Maybe in 2014 that will be a goal.

What are you tackling this month??

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Autumn Book Club/Words for the Soul


It’s autumn here in New England – my FAVORITE season! It makes me want to curl up on the couch with an apple cider or a hot chocolate and read books under a blanket all day. Before I share my latest fabulous reads I just had to share some New England BEAUTY spotted on Friday. Yes, they were taken in a grave yard (where my Nana, Papa and uncle are buried) – sound morbid but graveyards are so peaceful and appear to be a mecca for amazing foliage!

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Leaves

Now onto the books! I’m a huge fan of books that focus on feeding your soul and weight-loss – enter this month’s reads that cover both topics. First up is “Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much” by Colette Baron-Reid. I can’t tell you how many times in my life someone tells me I’m TOO emotional or TOO empathetic – when my friend Corynne snapped a picture of her bookshelf and I spotted this I had to check it out. So far it’s really interesting – I might even follow the 8 week plan for removing the emotional attachment to food. It’s silly really, I KNOW I shouldn’t eat my feelings…..and yet I find myself doing it subconsciously. Just now I’m watching Criminal Minds. Anytime an innocent victim is hurt I think “I wish I had cookies”. I can’t say this explains my whole life (I definitely still made poor choices and too many of them) – but it definitely sheds light on to why I am so affected by the emotions of people around me.

I find myself nodding a lot during the book – it’s nice to be able to relate to someone else who can’t process their feelings and turns to food instead. I always promise you guys honesty an no BS – if you ever read along with my blog and think “Oh wow she does that? Me too!” – pick up this book and drop me a line, let’s chat! :-)

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Next up is Jeff Goins “The In-Between” is all about taking those annoying moments (like being in traffic or being delayed in getting what you want and using them to fuel you to live a happier life. Friends were tweeting and Facebooking about “The Slow Down Challenge” and I knew I had to check it out. I often sit in bed at night and think of how rushed I was during the day. Gotta go to a meeting, gotta finish this project, gotta reschedule that lunch date with Kate, gotta start my Christmas shopping. I’ve made a little change and that’s calling my Mom during the day just to say hi. We’re really close (as previously mentioned) and I just love her to pieces. Calling to say hi only takes 5 mins and over time makes a big difference in keeping me grounded. :)

in between

My favorite meme from the book:

Where are you right now? Are you appreciating the moment (even if it’s an “in between’ moment?). So much of life is defined by what we do in between the marriages and babies and new jobs and milestone birthdays. Make sure you’re not just rushing to check the next task off your list. Make sure you’re actually ENJOYING life.

Disconnect from your smart phone.

Turn off the TV.

Have coffee with someone you love and give them your FULL attention.

Stop getting upset about things you cannot control (like traffic) <— sometimes easier said than done! ;)

As Gretchen Rubin taught me in “The Happiness Project” – the days are long but the years are short. How many of you can’t even remember your first few weeks of your relationship with your spouse or the first few weeks of nervous excitement after you graduated college or your babies first steps? Life really does fly by and it’s up to us to grab on to small moments in between the big ones and cherish them!

What are you currently reading? Is it inspiring you to make changes in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

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Whole 30 ~ 4/8 – 5/8


I have been chatting away about life and love over at my new nook on the interwebz – but I decided to pop back here for a chat about my new nutrition focus. Tomorrow I am launching into 30 days of “Whole 30″ – you can read all the details here. Here are the basics:

What is the Whole30®?

Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat – even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?

Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, and your long-term health. The most important reason to keep reading?

This will change your life.

I just finished “It Starts with Food” and I feel like I need to try it. I need a life change!

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So what can I eat?

* Lots of fruits

*Lots of veggies

* Lean proteins

* NO eat sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy or processed junk  (also known as most of my current diet)

Sounds crazy eh?  I’m excited. It’s the butt-kicking I need.

Now, I know dairy is not bad for you – but the program cuts it out and I think I can live without it for a month. Maybe. :-)  (No cheese? Bah…maybe not)

What made me try this? Straight from the book and the website:

Here comes the tough love. This is for those of you who are considering taking on this life-changing month, but aren’t sure you can actually pull it off, cheat free, for a full 30 days. This is for the people who have tried this before, but who “slipped” or “fell off the wagon” or “just HAD to eat (fill in food here) because of this (fill in event here).” This is for you.

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your “struggles”. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

—-

I need some tough love! I need some butt-kicking. :-)

This is my fruit bowl right now (usually empty):

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Had I not just bagged up all my veggies I would have snapped a picture of those too!

Breakfast is going to be challenging – I love oatmeal. Love it. No oats. No dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt) so I decided to go with a fruit smoothie made with a bit of coconut almond milk and this:

Hopefully it’s tasty – we’ll see tomorrow!

I’m already going to call it – not having my iced coffee with cream and sugar is going to be the hardest. I love me some Starbucks! Send me some willpower friends, I’m going to need it.

I’m going to snap a before picture before work – we’ll see if you guys notice a difference in 30 days!

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