18 Minute Thanksgiving Workout

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Take time to relish in those meaningful family moments, thoughts of thankfulness, and tables full of tasty fare. Allow yourself this one meal on this one day this week to indulge without remorse. That's what I'm going to do.

But before you stuff yourself with all the familiar fixins, get in this quick 18 minute workout. You'll feel better, and likely make a few better choices, if you get a little sweat going on this national holiday of food. It's completely equipment-free, so you can literally do this anywhere. I'm going to be doing this very same workout before heading out to our family potluck on Thursday, so I'm right there with you:)

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Enjoy! Let me know how you do!

Weekly Workout Rundown

Monday, November 25, 2013

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  • 50 min 12WBT run in the AM

  • Tuesday:

  • 45 min Jillian Michaels Hard Body in the AM

  • 30 min casual walk with mom at lunch

  • Wednesday:

  • 50 min 12WBT treadmill interval run in the PM, 4 miles

  • Thursday:

  • 30 min Quick Fix strength workout: 10 min abs, 10 min arms, 10 min legs

  • 30 min moderate walk at lunch

  • Friday:

  • Active rest

  • Saturday:

  • 60 min 12WBT run 

  • Sunday:

  • Rest

  • We are officially finished with our 4 week sneak peek at the US launch of the 12 Week Body Transformation. I really loved the resources that this program provided. And even though I didn't lose the weight I should have (due to medical reasons), I really think that Michelle Bridges did a top-notch job putting together this program.

    Friday was the only day I kinda "skipped." It was reserved for yoga, but became an active rest day instead. I took a 1/2-day at work and went to the park with Peanut instead. We jogged and played and although I didn't stretch out like I should have, I still had a pretty active day.

    This week I'm moving on to the South Beach Diet, because it's what the doctor ordered. Today was the first day on the plan, and I'm doing ok so far. I'm thinking ahead to Thursday--Thanksgiving--and hoping there are lots of veggies to go with the turkey. I'll bring some of my own with my dish to pass--cheesy stuffed mushrooms, so at least there's that. In the big picture though, it's only one meal on one single day, so if I have a little pecan pie, I'm not going to worry about it, because pecan pie is the jam!

    A girl from work graciously offered me her stack of dust-collecting South Beach diet books, which I told her would be put to good use. Type A that I am, I scarfed up a handful of low-carb cookbooks from my library too, and have been typing the recipes that I actually liked and know I would make into a Google document. I'm so ready! This week, I prepped egg whites with veggies and sausage for breakfast, a big salad with toppings and creamy feta dressing for lunch, roast cauliflower and cottage cheese for snacks, and meat- and veggie-based stuff for dinner. And it all sounds really good to me! So let's just pretend there never was such a thing as carbs, ok?

    How was your week in workouts?

    What the Doctor Ordered

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Disclaimer: this post is pretty personal. Please be gentle with me.

    I've been having an issue with my weight lately that I think I can finally get off my chest. I've not been discussing it on here too much because of my uncertainty about the root cause and the risk of sounding like a hypochondriac or someone all too concerned about weight.

    But I have been having a real issue. Something that actually started to worry me. I was averaging about 1500 calories per day and working out for at least 50 minutes, 6 days per week--you can see exactly how I'm working out here on the blog. Even with my diligence at measuring and tracking everything, I was not losing weight. In fact, there were a few upticks in weight here and there over the past two years. Not enough to be too alarming, but enough to make me want to throw my hands up. Ok, I'll say it, I even cried a little. Hubster knew how upsetting this was to me that something just wasn't adding up, and he's been super supportive this entire time, even coming to my appointment with me.

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    I went to my appointment with about 15 pages of food tracking 
    and my agenda book with all my workouts recorded in it. I was
    determined not to have my problem be dismissed.

    I can assure you that none of this was about vanity or body image issues. It was completely about health at this point. I was genuinely concerned that something might be wrong. I just wanted so badly to be in the "healthy" BMI range, so I wasn't headed towards a life of chronic disease.

    I'll lay the rest of it all out there too, because this is no place for being guarded and discreet (I want this to be a place for honesty and connection). I haven't done a whole lot with my personal training certification yet. To be brutally honest, I felt like a complete hoax. How could I help other people lose weight when I couldn't even help myself lose weight? Even though I knew something had to be wrong health-wise, I still didn't feel qualified. But, as my doctor pointed out, now I will have even better insight to help others because of my own experience. I have an even harder time losing weight than most normal people, so if I can do it, certainly everyone else can. And certainly I will be able to help them do it.

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    So, what's happening?

    I am most likely in the pre- pre-diabetes stages. Not far along enough to warrant a diagnosis, but just far enough for my insulin to play mean tricks on my body. We did some thyroid testing too, just to rule that out (no results yet). What's happening in my body is a vicious cycle. When I eat carbs, they cause my body to go crazy pumping out insulin. Later, when the excess insulin piles up, I will then have a low sugar crash--the shaky, nervous feeling from which my anxiety problems are originating. The insulin causes my body to store more fat, which causes my body to produce more insulin, which causes my body to store more fat and on and on. Awesome.

    In short, I need to follow a low-carb diet. I will be adopting the Atkins/South Beach style diets and following carb restrictions per my doctor's instructions--not just to lose weight but to heed off a full-blown diabetes diagnosis in my future with all my might. I am really excited to get started, mostly because I want to learn as much about this as I can to help other people, including my own family, and because I just want to feel better. You'll probably find me in the low-carb recipe section at the library really soon.

    So, here I am on a trip down the low-carb highway. By the way, I love carbs, so this feels like a carb funeral. But anyway, I'm scheduled to check back in with my doc in three months. If I've successfully lost a certain amount of weight on this diet by then, we will have isolated the problem. Although this diagnosis isn't the best news a person could hear, it's certainly not the worst, and I can't tell you how relieved I am to finally have an answer to a few of my most disconcerting health problems. Now, I can tackle them proactively because I actually know what I'm up against. And it's not a giant growing tumor--haha! Sorry, I had to.

    I'll keep you updated on my progress, as I hope my experience might be able to help others.

    Anyone have any advice/resources for low-car/diabetic diets? Send them my way.

    How to Pass The NASM Exam

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    First of all, let me just clarify that this post doesn't guarantee that you will pass the exam. This is just a friendly, helpful post with the best tips and tricks that I myself used to successfully pass the exam, one of the most challenging in the industry. What worked for me might not work for you and you have to do the necessary work and take this seriously enough to pass; I can't do that for you.

    With that being said, I want to offer as much help as I can to anyone out there thinking about or just about ready to take the NASM exam. It's tough, but it's so rewarding to be able to walk out of that testing center with a "Congratulations, You Passed" letter in your hands and a ginormous smile on your face.

    I had wished there was a comprehensive post like this out there, but only came across bits and pieces through extensive searching. So, I decided to write exactly that for you:

    Study Plan

    1. Read through the textbook at least twice. The first time, I took diligent notes like I learned and always did in school. I take down important notes in a notebook with highlighted, clearly-designated headlines and subheadlines. I write and underline all terms from the book in the notebook. For one, the act of writing helps cement ideas in the brain. For another, putting things into your own words--just the act of thinking about how you want to explain it to yourself--helps you understand the concepts so much more clearly. For even another, it's much easier to study out of a succinct, organized notebook than the entire textbook.

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    2. Go back and read the book again. This time, take extra time to study the things you're struggling with. I also made my flashcards during my second reading of the book. By now, I had written and rewritten so many terms that they were becoming quite familiar by repetition. Also, follow along with your study guide and make sure you understand the concepts outlined in there and have them written in your notebook or flashcards.

    3. Use every online resource offered to you. The textbook comes with login information for thePoint software. Test yourself with the questions there after each chapter. Your NASM login will take you to a whole different set of helpful information and video modules. Play all the videos, try all the self-tests. Go back later and playback the ones you're struggling with. The quizzes on the NASM website and thePoint website are quite unlike what you'll find on the actual test, but do them anyway. I think they're actually harder since they're application-style questions, which will only help you in the long run.

    4. Now, actually use those flashcards and notes. I had a stack of flashcards that consisted of at least two packages of index cards. Every time we went visiting family or sat in a car, I had my notebook and flashcards with me. I didn't have to lug the whole textbook with me because my notebook offered a much more condensed, digestible source of all the critical information. Instead of playing Farmville, use your work breaks to shuffle through your flash cards. Make sure they're not in any specific order so you don't memorize things based on their location in the book.

    5. Start right away! There is no way you will be able to complete all of the above things in your last month or week. You have 180 days from when you register until test day. Crack that spine the day you receive the textbook. I used my entire 6 months to prepare, and I suggest you do so as well. Pace yourself. However, you don't want to forget everything you read in month 1 by month 6, so make sure you're continually reviewing older content as you go. That's why flashcards and notes are so great!

    6. If you can, attend a workshop: I think I intended to take the exam prep workshop, but signed up for the training workshop instead. No worries! The workshop I attended really helped me to understand how to put what I learned into real-life context. And the instructor used only terminology and concepts true to NASM text, so you're never left trying to sort out and apply what they're teaching to what you're learning about in the book--it all coalesces. We also talked so much about reps, sets, progressions/regressions, tempos and that sort of thing that I was easily able to remember it for the test. I don't think you necessarily need a workshop to pass the exam, but it's a cool way to meet other new trainers and increase your understanding. Plus, if you've never trained a soul before, you get hands-on practice to make you less unsure of yourself.

    7. Get excited! I love the world of health and fitness, so it was easy for me to be excited about becoming a certified personal trainer. That also made me into quite the information sponge. I love this stuff! I love learning about every aspect of it. And that excitement and passion were the reasons why I could digest all of that information. I simply wanted to!

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    Have a little fun and draw hearts when studying the heart.

    What to Study

    Off the top of my head, I'm going to spout off what I remember to be pertinent for the exam (i.e. this is NOT an exhaustive list and this is only based on the version of the exam that I was given):

    • You are really going to need to understand flexion/extension, concentric/eccentric phases, planes of motion, etc. If you understand these and can clearly picture what's happening during various exercises, a lot of things will be much clearer. You will have application questions related to these that you'll be able to answer if you have a solid understanding of what's going on with these.
    • Related to that, you'll need to memorize the eccentric/concentric and agonist/synergist/stabilizer/antagonist contractions during the specific examples given: squats and overhead presses.
    • You will have one question from the Code of Professional Conduct. How many years should you keep files (four)? How many CEUs do you need within how many years to recertify? That sort of thing.
    • You will need to know how to progress and regress the various exercises in the book. For example, you need to know how to progress and regress with stable/unstable surfaces and two feet/one foot.
    • You should definitely understand the parts of the heart and their functions, including but not limited to:
      • Sinoatrial node is the "pacemaker of the heart."
      • Understand the functions of the left/right aorta/ventricles
      • The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and heart
    • The structure of skeletal muscle: you might even want to make a copy of the picture of this and tape it in your notebook. You'll need to know about all the various parts like the epimysium, endomysium, sarcolemma, and all the rest. You'll have to understand these, know their location, know their function, etc.
    • Golgi tendon organ: understand function and how it works. Know the difference between autogenic inhibition and reciprocal inhibition and how it relates to stretching. This is a great article for understanding the difference. I had a hard time with this concept and this resource finally helped me make sense of it.
    • Understand flexibility exercises and the stage of the OPT model they are associated with: static (phase I), active (phase II), dynamic (phase III).
    • You'll have to know the various strength, core and SAQ exercises and which Phase of the OPT model they are appropriate for. Notice that many of the stabilization exercises are on a stability ball and many of the power exercises involve throwing a medicine ball. Recognize those patterns to help you remember those. Endurance exercise have more reps than strength. Hypertrophy has fewer reps. You shouldn't need to know rest periods, etc, just a good solid knowledge of reps, sets and tempos.
    • Core: what are the parts of the local stabilization system and what are the global stabilization?
    • Be pretty darn familiar with the processes of ATP-PC, glycolysis, and oxidative systems and at which point in exercise they kick in.
    • Have a clear understanding about how the sarcomere works and the function of myosin/actin.
    • Memorize how fast-twitch (Type II) and slow-twitch (Type I) muscle fibers work.
    • Familiarize yourself with the general adaptation system: from alarm reaction to resistance to exhaustion.
    • Resistance training systems (supersets, pyramids, etc): know the difference between them and when they're appropriate to use.
    • Memorize the number of and types of essential, nonessential and semi-essential amino acids.
    • Know the carb, protein and fat recommendations as well as their calories per gram.
    • What are the water recommendations for various populations?
    • Understand the stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. 
    • Know your acronyms, such as SMART goals: what's the difference between Attainable and Realistic?
    • I think I had a CPR question on my test. Not sure if it was a research question or not, but you should have a pretty good idea what the answer is because it's pretty self-explanatory.
    • Know how to identify and know what muscles are lengthened and tight in upper crossed, lower crossed and pronation distortion syndromes.
    • You must know the stretches that should be performed for different compensations on the overhead squat assessment table. You will have lots of questions pertaining to these corrective-type exercise. In fact, you should pretty much know the overhead squat assessment table by heart.
    • Know how to perform and understand what you're testing with the various assessments: Shark Skills, Davies, Rockport Walk Test YMCA step test, etc. Know how to perform them and what you're actually testing.
    • What is the different objective vs. subjective information you'll be getting from clients?

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    This list is by no means comprehensive, these are just the things that are fresh in my mind and were covered on my specific exam. Make sure you don't hone in on only these specific things to the detriment of other important concepts.

    Some amazing resources:

    1. Yahoo Body Maps I didn't actually find this amazing tool until after my exam, but I'm pretty sure that this would've helped me immensely. I printed off muscle maps online (Anatomy Man), but this Yahoo one is interactive and 3-dimensional and explains muscles in laymen's terms. You almost feel like you could play doctor after looking at all the bones, tendons, nerves, muscles, etc.

    2. NASM Trainer Exam App (by Upward Mobility): the NASM app is the same price but offers only a fraction of the questions that this one does. The Upward Mobility app is really great at making you aware if you understand certain concepts or not, since they kind of go in order by chapter. It's great to pull out when you're stuck by a train or waiting for your kids to get out of school. Not that I know anything about that!

    3. This Bodybuilding forum: This forum is extremely helpful with what to study and what to pass over. Take this guy's advice and learn the muscles as "groups." For example, the muscular system appendix groups muscles by location in the body. The hamstring complex concentrically accelerates knee flexion and the various muscles of the quadriceps concentrically accelerate knee extension. Group your muscles and know which muscles are part of each group. It will save you so much time and overwhelm. Many of the questions mentioned in the forum also seemed to be on my test, so add them to your flashcards. (The only caveat is I think the page numbers mentioned in the forum are for a previous version of the textbook.)

    4. Use some learning strategies from Holistic Learning: This is kind of abstract to explain, but I visualized and made up pictures in my head about certain concepts. For example, the right side of the heart receives blood low in oxygen and high in CO2 and pumps it to the lungs to be oxygenated. The left side pumps blood high in oxygen and low in CO2 to the rest of the body. So, I visualized two rooms in my heart, a right room and left room, with a bunch of smokers in the right "room" and healthy runners in the "left" room. The right room is filled with carbon dioxide (cigarettes), and the left side brings oxygen (from strong lungs) to the body. Get it? Visualization and metaphor-type learning is very powerful. I betcha you won't forget the smoking/non-smoking one.

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    5. Kim at Fittin Pretty has generously offered a FREE download of her entire document of notes. It's over 100 pages, but it looks similar to my own handwritten notes in my basic college-ruled notebook. I still think (and it's proven that) there's great value in taking your own handwritten notes, but Kim has done all the work for you.

    One more piece of advice: the night before the test, give your mind a break. Don't study into the night. Just allow all the information that you know just synergize in your brain as you sleep. Get your 8 hours of sleep and do the test in the morning, or whenever your brain is the sharpest. Set out your ID and CPR card the night before so you don't worry about or forget them. Then, decide on what you'll reward yourself with when you successfully pass the exam. It really is worth celebrating--you deserve it! I'll share what I rewarded myself with in a post soon, because they're paying themselves off in dividends (business cards, a domain name and an Arc notebook).

    I wish you all the best of luck with your exam! If you are on the fence about becoming a personal trainer, I say go for it, if you have the resources to do so. NASM is always running sales, so don't ever pay the full price. Sign up for their emails and you'll soon get incentives in your inbox. Although I haven't taken on any "official" clients yet, I have absolutely no regrets for diving right in and getting certified. I could've gotten bogged down in the details about the PT job market in my area and wondering about liability insurance and on and on. But the best thing you can do is just go for it and worry about those details later.

    Let me know if you have any other specific questions, and I'll see if I can answer them. If these tips helped you pass your exam, I'd be more than honored to hear about it! Leave a comment to let me know how it goes.

    Yo Yo Dieting Versus Challenge Seeking

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Definition of YO-YO DIETING

    : the practice of repeatedly losing weight by dieting and subsequently regaining it

    If you haven't noticed, since I publish all my workouts publicly, I enjoy a good workout challenge. So far I've tried Supreme 90 Day, LiveFit Trainer, and 12WBT. I've also worked out with the Insanity, Turbo Jam and Turbo Fire series workouts. I really enjoy finding these types of regimented plans to challenge myself and change up my fitness routine.

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    But a comment in the 12WBT forum gave me cause to pause a moment between plan hopping recently to think about whether or not what I was doing was on the level of yo-yo dieting. Isn't that what I was doing jumping right from one plan to the next? With a little reflection, it's easy to see the difference between this type of challenge-seeking and yo-yo dieting. But what exactly is the difference between what I'm doing and yo-yo dieting?

    1. I do not give up three days into the plan.

    We all know people who start new diets and go hard the first few weeks and then peter off. They pay all that money for weight loss memberships, they sound super diligent about how "this time will be different" and then, after about two weeks, they just can't keep going for one reason or another. That's the biggest sign of a yo-yo dieter. A challenge-seeker on the other hand does not give up unless something is really wrong or unbalanced with the plan. I have been known to go off of a plan or adjust them to my own needs when I feel like something isn't working for me. For example, I couldn't follow S90Day completely, because the intensity was literally making me sick--my immune system was suffering. And on the 12WBT system, I know that 1200 calories are not enough for me, so I'm adding a little extra lean protein and greens to fill out the plan. However, most of the time, I complete what I start--mostly because I don't start anything that's just a fad or a short-term solution.

    2. I am consistent. 

    Not only am I a consistent exerciser and have been for over 11 years straight now, but I am also a pretty consistent eater. I don't try any diet tricks or crazy supplements. I don't go on and off diets. I eat almost the same type of thing every day. I love to try new recipes and such, but I consistently eat pretty clean. And I try to keep my calorie range pretty consistent--no crazy variations or fasts for me. A yo-yo dieter on the other hand will try diet after diet after diet. They might undulate calories, restrict calories, make crazy diet shakes, etc. And when they're off the plan, they're really off the plan, often binging or returning to their old ways of unhealthy eating. They rarely truly learn what it means to have a healthy sustainable diet.

    3. I follow sound medical advice.

    My alarms go off when I hear about diets that restrict you to 500 calories a day or require shots of some special serum. I've never tried a "detox" or "cleanse," because those are just hype. And in many cases, those types of diet plans are detrimental. I even shy away from swallowing anything other than a multivitamin and an Omega-3 supplement (because I don't eat fish). You have to convince me with sound scientific proof before I'll put anything else like that in my body. Sound medical advice states that fitness is healthy. It states that eating foods closest to how God made them is healthy. Medical advice doesn't say carbs or gluten are bad. Those are the guidelines that inform my choices.

    Yo-yo dieters are often the victims of marketing hype. I mean, those late-night infomercials can be pretty tempting if you listen long enough. And if Dr. Oz says it, then it must be true, right? Even the great and powerful Oz has been known to be wrong. These people and programs have major money and marketing teams behind them, so it pays to do a little of your own research. If WebMd says that there's no real benefit from drinking apple cider vinegar, then don't drink it!

    Yo Yo Diet

    4. My weight doesn't fluctuate that much.

    I've had some episodes of unexpected weight gain for reasons other than the yo-yo effect, purely medical. Other than that, my weight stays pretty much within a 2-3lb range. I can tell each day what I should weigh when I get up in the morning. Yo-yo dieters typically lose a bunch of weight when they go all gung-ho over a diet plan, but the second they stop the plan, they often gain all the weight back and then some. I've never fallen into this pattern, so I've never had to experience those fluctuations.

    5. I'm not obsessive.

    Ok, I admit, I'm obsessed with the health and fitness industry, but that's a whole different subject. It's my passion, so I love to live and breathe it. However, I don't get obsessive about food, working out or tracking my progress in a way that's unhealthy. I follow judicious exercise guidelines and only track my food if there's a reason to (a few extra pounds, an upcoming meeting with a nutritionist, etc). Since my weight and diet don't fluctuate that much, I don't obsess about standing on the scale. If I miss a workout--most often because I'm listening to my body--I don't worry too much about it or try to make up for it. Yo-yo dieters and other disordered eaters, on the other hand, can become quite obsessive about what they're eating and are often constantly thinking about food.

    6. My intentions are different.

    I like to try new recipes. The 12WBT is by far the best when it comes to clean recipes. I gobbled this stuff up. I also join these plans not as much for weight loss as for a challenge. As a trainer, I know that my body will just adapt to whatever I put it through, so these types of challenges help keep my body guessing. My intentions are never to drop a bunch of weight and then consider myself happy. I am happy. I am not intent on getting to a crazy end result, I'm intent on changing and challenging my body in new ways.

    7. I don't consider a "healthy diet" to be synonymous with "being on a diet."

    When people talk about "diet," they may be referring either to what they eat normally or what they eat temporarily. That "diet" word is pretty troublesome and wrought with conflicting meaning. As stated, I am pretty consistent with what I eat and consider how I eat to be how I will eat for the rest of my life. I will never go back to eating rows of Oreos at a time or downing a Mt. Dew with every single lunch. Nor will I ever eat cabbage soup every day for a week. I eat a pretty normal, balanced diet. I hardly ever consider myself to be "on a diet." Yo-yo dieting is very much a temporary solution. You have six weeks to change your body or three weeks of this soup and two weeks of that. A dieter will often put themselves on a diet for a specified amount of time, after which they revert to not being on a diet. They never really establish a lifelong, sustainable healthy diet.

    Regaining even a few pounds of lost weight is more than frustrating—it could be unhealthy. Stop Yo-Yo Dieting for Good

    8. I don't believe in quick fixes.

    There is no magic diet pill that will strip away layers of fat overnight, as we're all aware. Losing weight takes effort. I know exactly how hard that is, because I've lived it! In order to lose weight, you must do work. Yo-yo dieters often look for simple solutions or someone to do the dirty work for them. The mindset of a challenge-seeker is quite the opposite of a yo-yo dieter. They're seeking challenge, not seeking the path of least resistance, so to speak. I enjoy new challenges because they push me in a way that I sometimes can't push myself. They're motivating to me, not like fad diets that sound a little more like torture.

    What do you think?

    Weekly Workout Rundown

    Monday, November 18, 2013

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  • 50 min 12WBT run in the AM with 10 min hard intervals

  • Tuesday:

  • 50 min 12WBT total body tone in the AM

  • 30 min casual walk with mom at lunch

  • Wednesday:

  • 50 min treadmill interval run in the PM, 3.43 miles

  • Thursday:

  • 50 min 12WBT run in the AM with 10 min of hard intervals

  • 30 min moderate walk at lunch

  • Friday:

  • 25 min brisk walk with 5-10% incline at lunch

  • 50 min 12WBT yoga stretch in the PM

  • Saturday:

  • 55 min 12WBT run with 10 min hard intervals

  • Sunday:

  • Rest

  • Friday's lunch workout is what happens when a girl forgets her workout bra. #FitnessGirlProblems. If I couldn't run, I could certainly walk on enough of an incline to get my heart rate just as high. It worked! I swear, I need a checklist or something for those lunchtime workouts. I'm always forgetting my towel or gym shoes or something. Ha!

    This week, I'm entering the 4th and final week of my 12WBT preview. I'm going to be sorry to see this program go, but I might just sign up for it when it goes live in the US. I'd totally pay for it! You must check into it if you're looking for a fitness plan that not only helps you with food and fitness, but also motivation and underlying issues that might be preventing you from losing weight. The food alone is worth so much in my book--it takes sooo much guesswork out of food prep and most of the recipes are super easy and practical. And you'll find your favorite things in there, like nachos! I printed the recipes and had them bound in a notebook so I will always have them as a reference.

    I'm going to start creating my own workout schedule this week, so I'm prepared to challenge myself once the program is over. I'm definitely going to set it up like this plan though. Three days of cardio and abs, two days of strength training, one day of yoga stretch, and at least one day of complete rest. I've neglected yoga for awhile now and could really use the release, flexibility and calm in my life. I always love it when I do it, I just don't always actually do it. I also think core work is absolutely essential and highly neglected. In my NASM training, core work is prescribed for every workout, so this plan is even in line with my studies. I can't wait!

    Side note: I've decided that these weekly workout posts definitely need more pictures, so I'm going to make an effort to include some "setting" pictures for you, to make it more interesting and motivating. Perhaps inspirational images, pretty views from my lunch walks, or sneak peeks into my very own workouts. What do you think?

    How do you plan your week in workouts? Do you follow a prescribed plan or make up your own?

    Weekend Getaway Retreat

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    I'm completely smitten with the little hideaway we found on HomeAway! If you were to talk to me in person about our weekend trip this week, you would certainly hear excitement come through in my voice. It was completely perfect in all the ways that I was hoping. It was isolated, in the woods, charming, simple, and close enough to home that if Hubster was called in to work, we could have driven separately. We were also close enough to a few small cities for gas stations and grocery stores when we needed them.

    The cabin's backyard!!!!

    To give you an idea of our seclusion, the dirt driveway that took us back to the nestled cabin itself was 1/2 mile long. Oh yes! And one night, the road and ditches were lined with deer galore.

    The property came with a grass airport landing strip, which we were allowed to roam, and miles' worth of walking trails. Ponds, abandoned buildings, assorted birds, animal tracks, deer trails and all kinds of things greeted us on our hikes.

    abandoned outbuilding

    The cabin itself was the cutest little log cabin. We slept up in the queen-sized bed in the loft while Peanut camped out on the pull-out couch. We had a small kitchen at our disposal and a little bathroom. Just enough creature comforts while still feeling like we were truly getting away from it all. Just imagine the smell of bacon and eggs on the hot plate every morning...

    View up to the loft

    Loft ladder

    Our queen-sized bed and skylight

    Cutest little rustic details

    Small cabin kitchen

    Even the 12WBT series that I'm participating in had many recipes that were suitable for microwave or hot plate cooking, which was all we had, and all we needed. Turkey dogs, sandwiches and eggs with mushrooms were on the menu and completely 12WBT approved--and approved by my guys!

    I soaked up hot chocolate and woodpecker watching on our balcony...I mean seriously, a balcony off of our loft bedroom! Can we get any closer to heaven?

    Can you spy our two little birdie friends? I was laughing
    watching them play through the birch trees like teenagers.

    We even had a little screened-in side porch with a fireplace, grill and table that seemed so ideal for a summer barbecue. We didn't bother getting the fireplace going though. We just kept toasty warm with the space heaters inside the main living area.

    Although it's easy to grumble about the lack of Wifi in this day and age, I was happy to be completely unplugged. Even though I don't spend a whole lot of time on social media and surfing the web, aside from work-related stuff, I do feel so replenished from not constantly thinking about what I should be accomplishing or uploading or taking care of online.

    Bright spots of color in a leaf-less forest

    We had a little flatscreen TV with a handful of channels, but we hooked up Peanut's protable DVD player and snuggled in for a few movies each night, then bedded down with our books until it was light's out. So peaceful. Soooo what I needed.

    The owners live on the same property as the cabin, but they were great hosts and not imposing whatsoever. It really felt like we had the place to ourselves, but that they were nearby in case we needed anything, which was quite reassuring.

    They also had a small jungle gym and the most adorable play treehouse with toys in it that Peanut was allowed to soak up.

    This boy sure enjoyed the place

    Sunday, Peanut and I were up by 5:30, so we took in the sunrise together, wrapped up in a knit vintage blanket.

    Backyard sunrise

    This past weekend was Hubster's birthday weekend, so we were celebrating him along with building upon our own fall family tradition. I explained a little last year about this tradition. As a kid, we used to go to a big family reunion at a cabin in the woods with all the food you could ever want in the world--turkey, ham, fish, mashed potatoes, and every other side you can think of. We would walk the trails and peek into the abandoned trailers and campers on the property. I remember the leaves were always changing and the cacophony of colors could make a person cry, they were so beautiful. Those weekends were hands down the best memories I have from childhood, so warm, so full of love, so relaxing. Due to family illness and other things, the reunions stopped one year and that was it. I miss that so badly!

    Celebratory birthday spirits

    Then, I thought, I can either be all "those were the days" nostalgic about the past or create my own family tradition to carry on since this was something I knew my heart really needed. Hence, the fall getaway weekend was born. This little hideaway nearly replicates those reunions with its rustic charm, tucked away location, room to roam, captivating scenery and relaxation factor. This year, I think we found our landing spot!

    I have not edited this photo in any way. Gorgeous!

    Small weekend trips have always been enough to completely recharge me, and this trip was no exception. We have no more travel plans until long after the holidays, but I plan to do a lot more of these small getaways next year.

    If you'd like to read about how we travel so often on a budget, check out this post. I think I would add a bullet point about trying sites like HomeAway too for a good deal.

    How was your weekend? Do you have any longings for the woods like I do?

    Weekly Workout Rundown

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

     photo 0e340d3e-62ba-4e55-9f4a-7258f16cd99a_zps3484b587.jpg

    • 45 min 12WBT cardio and abs in the AM
    • 25 min incline interval walk, 1.51 miles

    • 50 min 12WBT total body tone in the AM
    • 30 min mod walk with mom at lunch

    • 50 min treadmill interval run in the PM, 3.43 miles

    • 50 min 12WBT total body tone in the AM
    • 30 min moderate walk at lunch

    • 25 min run at lunch
    • 50 min 12WBT yoga stretch in the PM


    • 50 min 12WBT cardio and abs


    • Active rest, 45 min nature hike

    Well friends, I am just coming back from a short little 3-day weekend vacation. I will have much more on that tomorrow, but I must say it feels so good to have had that time away. We stayed active and even though I didn't track my food, I managed to maintain my tiny bit of weight loss so far on the 12 Week Body Transformation program.

    This week I knocked out every part of the 12WBT plan and then some. My lunch workout partner and I are still working out at lunch, which means an extra sweat session for me. I try not to go overboard though to prevent overtraining. For example, Monday I just walked on the treadmill, but I had the incline up to 10%. I wasn't on the route to overtraining but I wasn't working out for naught either. I'm still walking at lunch with my mom the other days at lunch too, actively combating sitting disease.

    I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the recipes on the 12WBT. I'm definitely going to save these for the future and start incorporating more for variety. They're mostly pretty clean and pretty darn easy. There have been only a few references to ingredients that I've never heard of, but it's easy to make a few simple substitutions if the ingredients aren't available. I'm still adding a few calories to the 1200 daily calories recommended to stay alive, and it's still working. Only two more weeks left to go! The US Sneak Peek version is only available for 4 weeks right now on a trial run, so I just think it's neat to be part of the very first US tester group. And I'm learning a whole lot about training others by watching Michelle train us;)

    How did you work out this week?

    Fall Family Traditions

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    It's important to me that our little family establishes memorable traditions that extend our love for one another and our desire to make meaningful connections throughout our sometimes harried days. I like to pull out small little things that we can together enjoy either once a year, once in awhile or once per season. One day, I hope my son will remember some of these with fondness when he's all big and grown and perhaps even carry some of them on.

    Whenever someone completes an accomplishment in our house, we make it a point to celebrate that person. It's not enough to just "high five" and "atta boy" each other. This past week, by some foreign-to-us luck, Hubster landed the position at work that he's been hoping for for over a year and a half. It was quite by miracle that he got it, but I can just see on his face how happy it makes him. So, we had a lunch date at one of his favorite Chinese restaurants. I think he liked it:)

    Aside from that lunch, Hubster and I have made a concerted effort lately to have more date nights. We've had a few celebratory gift cards come our way that make it possible without the guilt. It's imperative to keep connecting on just a you/him level because it's way too easy to become two separate people with two separate lives. We want a partnership, so we choose actions that hold us true to that partnership.

    Halloween harbors some other fun traditions for our family. On this holiday, I always bust out an Edgar Allan Poe tale or poem. Sure, the stories may be a little sinister at times, but I think it's a fun, intelligent way to end the night. Plus, I was an English major, so I thinks it's neat that we can slip some classic literature into our family traditions.

    Aside from that, we also do the whole trick-or-treating thang too. Even in the rain, as we did this year. We grabbed a giant umbrella and hit the streets shortly after sundown. My feet were utterly soaked by the time we made it home, but you absolutely can't steal this tradition from a kid. Even one who's scared of trick or treating;)

    Costume #1: pirate for Boo Fest

    Costume #2: Batman for school

    What are your favorite family fall traditions?