The Best Parts of 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sitting at home, thinking about my goals and ambitions for the upcoming year, I thought it would be nice to review 2013 for its strong points. It's a good way to get perspective about accomplishments and abilities, as well as to remember travels and other memorable events.

The best parts of 2013:

  1. I entered my 30s.
  2. I studied for and passed the NASM personal training exam and became certified for my 30th birthday.
  3. I purchased my domain name and started setting up my personal training website.
  4. Traveled to our cabin getaway.
  5. Sewed my very first and second quilts.
  6. Designed five free workouts.
  7. Tried Crossfit for the first time.
  8. Took a few summer boat rides and even saw a bald eagle.
  9. Attended our annual Perseid Picnic.
  10. Traveled to Mackinac Island.
  11. Met a few celebs.
  12. Traveled to Door County, WI.
  13. Traveled to Chicago.
  14. Chaperoned my first field trip for Peanut to Sullivan's Woods.
  15. Traveled to Elkhart Lake for a retreat weekend.
  16. Bought and conquered my new moped.
  17. Ran a 5k in April and Peanut even raced too.
  18. Became a manager at work.
I know 2014 will hold even more surprises. We're already gearing up for our next trip to Florida in March, and I have a whole lot of things in the works for this blog. I can't wait to see what else is in store!

Celebrate with me this week as we enter a new year. Jot down a few of your best moments for 2014, what you learned, where you traveled, what you crossed off your bucket list. Take a moment to remember how far you've come and how strong you are to galvanize you for the future. I'd like to hear what you favorite parts of the year was. Leave a comment here on the blog or tag me on Twitter so I can see what you accomplished too.

Happy New Year!

Visit to the Oshkosh EAA Museum

Monday, December 30, 2013

Our town has absolutely nothing for a small child to do in the winter, indoors, unless you are a YMCA member. Even our McDonald's Playland went away during the last round of renovations and a close-by kid-friendly cafe disappeared. We run out of ideas for keeping Peanut entertained in the cooler months sometimes. That is, until we stumbled upon the children's museum inside the EAA museum in Oshkosh.

You see, Oshkosh hosts the biggest aircraft convention in the world every year and so the aircraft museum is a signature part of our city. Since we live here though, we are all too used to that one week in July where our city is completely descended upon and consumed for the love of airplanes. Many of us try to get out of the city and rent our homes out to avoid the hubub of tourism.

Sure, we'd been to the museum before, but not in a long time. One day Hubster decided to take Peanut there for a visit just for something to do. Then, we happened upon the kid's section of the airport. And we discovered that the interactive play area beats out the Mickey D's Playland any day of the week! We immediately purchased a family membership and now enjoy the place as often as we'd like.

Since I've been off of work for about a week and a half with Peanut this Christmas vacation, mostly cooped up in the house with all our new Christmas paraphernalia, we decided to take a day out to the museum to burn off some accumulating steam.

Check this place out.

Test how many pounds of thrust you can generate on this mother of all exercise bikes.

Use this robotic arm to build and move around blocks.

Watch flight simulators

Sit inside a real cockpit with tons of controls and buttons and pretend you're a pilot.

Tilt and lean to maneuver a hang glider, and just across the way, a hot air balloon.

Sit in one of the rows of flight simulators and actually give your flying skills a try.

Then, sit in the viewing tower and see if you can see any action with the provided binoculars.

This place is awesome. It's like science and physical education and math all got together and made this awesome place. An interactive learning experience and boredom buster all in one.

All you adults out there, the regular museum is definitely worth the admission. There are several hangars' worth of aircraft to see and learn about, even for the person who isn't entranced by planes. Hubster and I like to peruse the exhibits once in awhile too and always learn something. If you're ever in Oshkosh, WI, you need to check this place out. And if you live here, especially if you have children, you'll be doing everyone a favor by purchasing a membership and enjoying the exhibits.

10 Ways to Get a Head-Start on your New Year's Resolutions

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

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I've said it before, and I'll say it again and again: if you have a goal, start it today! If you want to lose weight, start with your next meal--don't wait until Monday or New Year's. I myself started South Beach right in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, knowing full well what a treat hell I would be facing. Right now is the perfect time to get a head-start on your New Year's resolutions. Here's how:

1. Start Small: Break your big goals down into the smallest parts. For example, if you'd like to get out of debt, you need to make a checklist of all the strategies you need to try to do so such as cancelling credit cards you don't use, paying $5 extra per month on your highest loan, shopping for lower interest rates, etc. Start with just one piece of the goal at a time. Just check off one item per week until you're well on your way to financial freedom. It's easier to stick with small changes you incorporate over time versus implementing a whole bunch at once.


2. Practice your New Year's Resolution: Testing out some of the habits that you want to change will give you a feel for what types of obstacles you'll be facing. And if you know what obstacles you'll be facing, you can make a better action plan, helping you to solidify your final plans. Test the waters in the next two weeks. Maybe you'll find that outdoor workouts this time of year just aren't going to work for you. Good thing you found that out now, not mid-January! Maybe you'll find that you need to gather a few more resources. Maybe you're going to start a weight loss plan on Jan 1, but you don't know how to lose that weight. Check some healthy cookbooks and fitness magazines out from the library this week! Start listening to weight loss podcasts while you work. Plan out your workout schedule for the entire month of January in your Google calendar. This goes for any type of goal you wish to set for the new year. Gather all your supplies and test out your plans. Tweak from there so you are fully prepared once January 1 rolls around.

3. Establish SMART Goals: that SMART acronym is such a foolproof way to set goals. Your goals should always be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For a refresher on what these all mean, look here. Your goals must be written and understood in a way that is trackable, has a time limit, and isn't beyond your realistic capabilities. Make sure every resolution you make follows the SMART guidelines.

4. Reward System: Put a reward system in place as soon as you reach those measurable goals. Knowing you're going to treat yourself to a massage or your new favorite book after losing 5 lbs just might give you that extra push you need. Just like in school, you deserve a tangible way to tell yourself "way to go!" Rewards also make the process of achieving your goals much more fun. Would you rather run 4 days a week for a month just to increase your speed or to increase your speed AND enjoy a massage? See what a difference that little reward makes?

5. Make your Goal Emotional: Emotional goals are much more compelling than more shallow, vain ones. Find a way to make your goal hit straight to the heart. For example, instead of losing weight to fit in a bikini, how about reframing your thought process? What will it feel like to be healthy? Will you feel light and carefree? Will you feel capable and strong? Use those emotions to propel you toward your goals. Run your miles for cancer survivors. Beat a medical condition before it even starts. Create a family bonding time with nightly walking rituals. Whatever you do, connect to your goal on an emotional level to make it that much more meaningful.

6. Start Over: Most resolutions fail by after about one month. In fact, only 64% of resolution makers even make it to the one month mark. Don't be one of those people! If you fall off, get back on. Start over. What I want you to do is to set your start-over dates right now. Start over on January 15, then on February 1, then on February 15 and so on. All-or-nothing thinking will only make you frustrated. Slip-ups are allowed, as long as you keep the forward momentum. If you allow yourself a little wiggle room and a few extra chances, you leave more room for goal achievement. Plus, tackling your goals in 15-day chunks seems much more do-able, right?

7. Join a Challenge: Find a challenge that begins on January 1 right now that coincides with your goal. Plenty of Diet Bets (with monetary rewards) and money challenges will be beginning in the new year. Find one now and get psyched to start!

8. Put it in Writing, in Public: Social support is one of the key factors to goal adherence. Make sure you post your intentions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever else you'd like. Once it's out there, in writing, you are less likely to falter. You can't fly under the radar anymore, and that's a good thing! Simply posting your resolutions will give you another extra push to make sure they happen.

9. Join Forces: Does someone else close to you have a similar goal? Try doing the tasks with them, or at least check in with one another. Find a Twitter buddy--Twitter is teeming with fitness and money buffs that you can make easy friends with. At the very least, follow some of your favorite fitness, money or other related personalities. Checking their tweets every day will be a source of constant motivation. It's amazing what healthy pictures on Instagram and motivating quotes on Twitter can do for a person when they're running low on fuel!

10. Research: Wanting to save more money? Research your investment options beforehand. Lose weight? Read articles on fitness and nutrition in your free time. The more you know, the easier it will be to implement your plan, the more competent you'll feel, and the more pumped you'll be! Just don't get too overwhelmed with the details that you never start to begin with. Just start! You'll find that over time you start to absorb the information, so don't try to memorize every little thing. Just cultivate an awareness and understanding of what you're doing before you start so you can start strong! Sign up for a few newsletters and check a few headlines every morning to stay in-the-know.

I wish you the best of luck with your New Year's resolutions and have a wonderful holiday. Report back if any of these tips helped you create a resolution that stuck. I'd love to hear about it.

P.S. I'm really loving this list of resolutions from Huff Post. I think all of our resolutions should look more like this:)

Weekly Workout Rundown

Monday, December 16, 2013

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  • 40 min walk/run in the AM
  • 20 min run at lunch



  • 40 min interval run in the AM
  • 27 min run at lunch



  • 20 walk at lunch with mom


  • 45 min run


  • Rest

Not too eventful this week, when it comes to workouts. I started the week a little weak with that run/walk Monday morning. Not sure what my deal was, but I couldn't muster much more than that. But I was fine by lunch and pulled a strong week anyhow. Zuzka Light leaves me feeling sore the next day, just how I like it.

I am still doing ok on South Beach. Not much more movement on the scale, but I managed to maintain through a weekend filled with big dinners. We had a big dinner with some friends followed by another luncheon at church where I filled my plates. I was just happy to come out of the weekend unscathed, and sometimes that's the best we could ever hope for during a bustling holiday season:)

How was your week in workouts?

Weekly Food Prep

Sunday, December 15, 2013

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Upon entering Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet, I'd like to share what a typical menu looks like on this plan. No, I do not eat salads for every meal (hardly eat them at all!). And yes, I do cheat just a little bit. This week, I'm finally allowed to have a few carbs including one fruit and one starch, which will be quinoa.

Left to right: salsa meatballs over a bed of quinoa,
egg scramble and turkey sausage, broccoli/cauliflower, apples

Breakfast, 265 calories:

  • 5 egg whites + shredded zucchini, mushrooms, onions and a sprinkle of cheese
  • 3 breakfast turkey sausage links

Snack, 210 calories: 

  • Apple with cinnamon
  • 20 almonds

Lunch, 299 calories:

  • Quinoa + salsa meatballs with sauce (similar to this recipe, but with ground turkey)

Snack, 177 calories:

  • Raw broccoli and cauliflower with hummus
  • 1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese


  • Turkey chili dogs (minus the bun)
  • White bean chicken chili
  • Taco salad
  • Something with turkey bacon
  • Etc.

I'm really loving the variety I've found with the South Beach and low-carb recipes out there. I brought a stack of cookbooks home from the library, flagged pages like crazy, and saved all the recipes I knew I would actually use to a Google document. Then, when I sit down to plan my menu for the week, I just scroll through to see what looks good. I've been sticking with eggs and sausage in the morning and just change up the veggies in the eggs because I don't see myself getting sick of this breakfast. I try to keep the snacks easy too, usually along the lines of plain Greek yogurt with nuts, cottage cheese or veggies and dip. That way, most of the planning goes into lunches and dinners and prep time is still manageable. I also eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day to keep things simple.

Dinners, we typically plan like normal for the family, but I just switch things up a little bit for my diet. For example, this past week we had spaghetti on the menu. Instead of having noodles like Hubster and Peanut did, I used shredded zucchini that I roasted on the stove for a bit. I still eat hot dogs and burgers too, just without the bun or wrapped in lettuce instead. They still taste great! Really, you have to try it to dig it. We had pizza mozzarella burgers on the grill and it tasted so delicious wrapped in lettuce, I didn't miss the bun. All the great taste is in the burger itself, not the bun!

Every night before bed, I pack all the various pieces of my lunch in my big lunch bag and stash it in the fridge. The next morning, I literally only need to grab the bag and go. This food prep plan keeps me on time for work, fully prepared and allows me to fully adhere to my meal plan.

What are you eating this week? What are your best tips for meal planning?

Weekly Workout Rundown

Monday, December 9, 2013

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  • 40 min AM run, 3 mi
  • 25 min interval run at lunch, 1.93 mi


  • 50 min Piloxing in the AM
  • 25 min moderate walk with mom at lunch


  • 40 min 30-20-10 run in the AM, 3.04 mi (get the printable here)
  • 25 min run at lunch, 1.83 mi



  • 25 min fast incline walk at lunch


  • 30 min run
  • 20 min ZCut cardio workout


  • Rest

I'm down 5lbs from last week!!!! South Beach, how I love you right now. I'm finally winning this struggle with weight and reactive hypoglycemia and anxiety! It's truly amazing to be learning so much about how all these things are so interrelated. The reactive hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar after eating, can cause that anxious feeling. I intuitively knew that my panic was somehow related to blood sugar, I just didn't know how. I'm learning more and more every day, especially since I got this little tome in the mail.

The most difficult workout this week was that tiny little inconspicuous-looking ZCut workout on Saturday. Only 10 minutes of it was the workout and the other 10 was the cool-down. My heart rate was up to my max and my body was so sore the next day, it was incredible! Zuzka Light does not kid around. If you haven't found her page on YouTube yet, you must subscribe. There are plenty of free workouts there, or on BodyRock, which she co-founded. However, I got this little three-pack as an early Christmas present (thanks mom!) and it's amazing. I will definitely be taking these on road trips with me, along with Peanut's portable DVD player. I'll also follow up with a product review soon, once I try more of the workouts. Basically, you work all-out for 10 minutes, in addition to the warm-up and cool-down, and you're done for the day. And you will be done for the day, trust me.

How about you, how are you working out this week?

Sugar Shock

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Now that I've given carbs the boot temporarily, I can understand how our society is so sugar-crazed. Everywhere I look, it's carbs, carbs, carbs. We made a quick convenience store stop on our way home from Christmas tree cutting this past weekend, and I just stood back and looked around me. Everything in the gas station was a carb, from the fruit in the coolers to the aisle of chips and candy, to the ice cream shakes, boxes of donuts, cases of soda and shelves of bread. All that was left for a person like me to eat was a two-pack of hardboiled eggs and string cheese. Kinda depressing and eye-opening all at the same time.

Thanksgiving was another carb explosion. Other than the stuffed mushrooms I brought, I could have chosen only pickles and turkey to completely avoid carbs. I didn't pass on pecan pie just this once, but mashed potatoes, stuffing, chips, and desserts galore were like insulin hell. They tasted great, but their effects were immediate and detrimental.

This past week, I was faced with three shelves worth of specialty candies at work and a buffet with an entire section dedicated just to sweets--let alone the carbs everywhere else on the buffet tables too. Another luncheon at church allowed me a plate similar to Thanksgiving. Turkey and sloppy joe mix without the bun, pickles, and olives were all that were left for me. Even healthy-seeming carrots couldn't be had, along with the chips, potato salad and table full of goodies. Normally, I would love all those things, but right now they're presenting challenges while I'm in Phase One of the South Beach Diet.

Good thing buffets offer plenty of carb-less options like this and salad.
And good thing I really love all these things!

Gourmet treats at work. Thank goodness there were all sorts
of roasted peanuts. I settled on a vessel of pistachios.

I don't say all these things to complain. It is just really tough to take on a low-carb diet in this society. We are a nation hopped up on blood sugar, that's for sure. I think Dr. Agatston's work shows that it is plausible that all these processed foods and sugary things everywhere have been a major contributing factor to our country's obesity rates. Once you can't eat carbs, especially refined ones, you really notice how they've become our most major food group.

On top of the availability of carbs, incessantly within arm's reach, we are a society of sitters. My own job requires at least 8 hours of sitting in front of a computer. Although the job naturally presents a sedentary environment, there are ways to combat sitting disease. I myself hit up the gym three days a week at lunch and take walks the other two.

I also requested a prescription for a raised desk at work when I saw my doctor last. A lack of physical activity during working hours contributes to the problems I've been having. I do work out hard 6 days a week, but the hours of extended sitting during the day are not helping my insulin resistance problem any. This strategy of standing must be working, because I've been trying to stand for at least two hours every afternoon, and it almost makes me a little sweaty. I love being able to raise and lower my desk at will and get my butt off that chair!

I was successful in my diet this week, despite just a few tiny little cheats. I was able to bypass all the decadent goodies all around me for lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts and veggies. The recipes I've used this week have largely been the reason I've been able to stick so closely to Phase 1. They're tasty and satisfying, so I haven't really felt deprived. Plus, I think it's true what they say. After two weeks on Phase 1, you just don't have those frenzied cravings for carbs anymore. Sure, they look good, but you eventually feel like you could take them or leave them.

From the weight I woke up at on the day after Thanksgiving to the weight I woke up to today, I have already lost around 5 lbs--the same 5 lbs I couldn't get rid of no matter how hard I tried (6 intense workouts, calorie deficit, food tracking, etc) before giving up carbs. Hopefully I'll have another successful week to report back on when I update next. Until then...

Have you ever noticed the sugar and empty carbs everywhere? How do you avoid them?

Five Best Christmas Workout Songs

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I wanted to bring a little bit of holiday cheer to your workouts this week, since it's finally appropriate to do so. But the beats had to be fast, the message uplifting, and the song not over-played.

I have some bad memories of hearing Susie Snowflake and Mariah Carey over and over and over when I worked at JCPenney in high school, to the point where it hurts to hear them today. Don't worry, I don't want to listen to those anymore either. My picks today are fresh and uplifting, after hours spent listening to new releases and good ole classics on Spotify. Plug these into your playlist and let them take you away.

I included the beat counts after plugging the songs in to Double the beats in the songs with the 70-80 bpm range to hit your pace.

Here are 5 Great Christmas Workout Songs:

1. Leona Lewis: I wish it could be Christmas Everyday. 3:52, 74bpm. This song has a great beat in the chorus. It would make a good treadmill song for intervals. Run fast during the chorus and slow it down during the verses.

2. Kelly Clarkson, Underneath the Tree. 3:50, 80 bpm. Has some great hooks in the music. I was toe-tapping listening to this song, which means it makes me want to move. I hope it makes you want to move too. Plus, it's a new song, so it sure isn't worn out yet.

3. She & Him, Sleigh Ride. 2:44, 106bpm. I always love the S&H sound. They do a fun job on this classic tune. Plus, the fast beat is definitely workout-worthy.

4. Glee Cast, Deck the Rooftop. 2:30, 97bpm. I've never watched the show, but this tune sure is catchy and it blends several classic numbers into one upbeat song.

5. SheDaisy, Deck the Halls. 3:50, 119bpm. This has always been one of my favorite renditions of this song. Whenever it comes on my playlist, I get all excited and stuff. That excitement should come out in a stronger push through runs.

Bonus: Straight No Chaser, Hey Santa. 2:47, 200bpm. Love the swing-y sound this group has, and their amazing a capella sound. This song is really catchy. Their entire Christmas Cheers album has great beats, so check them out.

I added a bonus so you have a solid 20 minute workout playlist. Let me know what you think. What songs would you add?

Weekly Workout Rundown

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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  • 50 min run in the AM
  • 25 min run at lunch, 358 calories


  • 30 min moderate walk with mom at lunch
  • 30 min PM fast walk




  • Active rest


  • Active rest

We'll just call last week the South Beach practice week, alright? Thanksgiving fell in the middle of the week, and although I brought a carb-less dish to pass, aside from the turkey, everything else was a carb. And I didn't want to think about, so I just ate until I was somewhat, but not overly, full. Then Friday left me with a weird headache that I couldn't run with, so I took a little time off from working out. In fact, that 30 minute walk on Wednesday was all I could manage with my stressed-out heart rate. I was in my normal HR range, just at a much slower pace.

I'm calling Saturday and Sunday active rests because I wasn't a complete couch potato. With 3 hours of mall walking on Saturday and Christmas-tree hiking on Sunday, I still felt pretty active, just not enough to get sweaty.

South Beach, here I come. This week's menu includes Jamie Eason's turkey meatballs and turkey chili, along with cucumber salad and cottage cheese for snacks. I'm soooo ready for this midsection baggage to be gone. I am completely mesmerized by Dr. Agatston's work now. Before, I wouldn't have given him a chance, because this seemed like another fad diet. But for someone with insulin resistance such as myself, the research behind it is convincing, compelling and fascinating. Now that I've read a little bit more, I feel like I'm now better prepared to tackle the first two "strict" weeks as well.

How are you staying fit during this holiday season?

Headaches and Christmas Trees and Shopping, Oh My!

Monday, December 2, 2013

These past four days off were such a thrill ride. I started with not feeling too well and ended up with some great memories.

My head felt weird on Thursday night and Friday. I even tried to run on my treadmill, and my brain felt like it was bouncing and made me kinda dizzy. I was having some anxiety about it, debating about visiting the walk-in or not, but sometimes a headache is just a headache. A few Tylenol later, and we were bowling at the local lanes. My FIL is in a bowling league, and we've had the pleasure to help him get his practice in. We've gone bowling probably 4 times in the last 3 weeks. Such a fun, active experience for the entire family.

Thursday was all about turkey, pecan pie and being thankful for our family. I hope yours was too!

Did you try my Burn the Bird challenge? This li'l workout burned me some 262 calories in just 18 minutes. And I had some achy muscles to contend with the next day. Hurt so good. And it hardly felt like 18 minutes!

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Friday, with a revisiting headache, I laid low, read through some of my South Beach Diet books and hung out with my nephews. My sister dropped them off amidst the Black Friday shopping so I could spend some quality time especially with the youngest one, who usually runs away from me. Without his mom there, I finally got some good solid snuggle time with him. I just love those boys!

Saturday, I had had it with sitting home, so Peanut called grandma up to see if she wanted to go shopping, because Hubster had put in two long days and he just wanted to relax. We hit the mall the day after Black Friday, and I have to say, it wasn't that bad. Peanut was an angel child. We broke up bits of shopping with a Build-a-Bear run and a stop at the indoor play area. We just had such a good time. Knocked off some Christmas shopping and even made a refresh to momma's wardrobe just a little.

Sunday, we made a trip to cut down our Christmas tree. The place we usually go to has gotten quite picked over in the last few years, but we managed to find this gem in the jumble of half-dying, balding and Charlie Brown trees. The experience is always complete with a tractor ride and apple cider and popcorn afterward. We took my FIL along for the trip too. The weather was perfect for tree-cutting. Some years we have to trudge through a foot of snow and face sub-zero temps. This year, it was mild and snow-less. Perfect!

On our way home, I saw some odd things in people's yards. Don't know if I just never paid attention before, but only in Wisconsin... Remember those old Burger King playgrounds with the hamburger jailhouse? Totally saw one in someone's yard. Hubster thought I was crazy to want to stop, so I don't have pictures, but I totally remember hiding in these back when I could fit, circa the 1980s. Such great memories!

Another yard had an actual Ferris Wheel in it! Again, asking Hubster to pull over was futile, but I'll get that picture someday. I mean, a Ferris Wheel! That's like a grown-up kid's dream backyard right? Cue Phineas and Ferb music. Haha!

What a fun few days off!

I have a longer stretch of days off coming up real soon that I'm really excited about planning, the days around Christmas. I'm going to start my to-do list now, so that I'll be prepared and ready to take on new projects and memories when the 23rd rolls around. Right now, I'm dreaming up Advent calendar activities. I realize it's already December 2, so I need to get on that already. We might have a 15-day countdown to Christmas instead of the standard 25, but that's ok with me:)

What are you planning to do on your holiday vacation?