Monday, July 18, 2016

Hey there friends!

I have been so delighted  to be blogging here for the past 6 years, but I've moved my blog over to:

Come on over!

If you wouldn't mind, pop over there and have a look around and be sure to subscribe. I'll even send you a free printable: 14 Fat-Scorching Treadmill Workouts to Mix Up Your Gym Routine!

Nothing has changed. I was able to move this entire blog over there, so all the posts from this blog have been transferred.

Why the move?

Because I'm going pro, yo. Haha!

Well, for real though, having a Wordpress website is much more professional as I am building my professional presence. It's my own owned piece of the internet, whereas this is rented space. I bought my own hosting and domain and everything! I'm getting serious...

I also feel like I kind of needed a more appropriate re-name. FlashFit is so much easier to remember and spell, and it makes the most sense for me and my business.

Having my own website, as opposed to just a blog, gives me much more freedom over my online presence. Plus, Wordpress rocks! I never knew you could do so many fun things over there! Plugins are so much fun to play with and the site has been so much fun to design. Who knew?

Anywho, everything's the same, I've just up-leveled a bit and made things better.

I'll see you over there!

Five Things You Hate About Bloggers That I LOVE!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ok, so we've all seen the articles out there about what bloggers or social media users do that drive people crazy. And we've all read articles about how bloggers make life look perfect and, in doing so, make other people feel inadequate. Well, I tend to have some opposing opinions, and not just because I'm a blogger and social media user myself, but because I see some inherent value in these habits.

Five Things You Hate About Bloggers That I Happen to Love:

Sharing what we're eating: I hear a lot of people grumble about how they don't care to see what other people are eating. Me, me! I do care! Maybe I'm an exception to the rule because I like eating clean, but when looking for healthy new meal ideas quickly, I need look no further than Instagram. More than once I've thought, "hey, I want to try that!" And I've actually tried many of them, or they've reminded me to dig out a recipe I may have forgotten about! Also, I am part of the Tone it Up community, and I love seeing what other people are cooking from their Nutrition Plan. The amazing meal pictures were one of the big reasons that I finally bought the nutrition plan in the first place!

Making things look perfect: Now, I like to see that other people's houses are messy too, not just mine. It makes me feel better. But, I do appreciate picture-perfect settings and easy-to-look-at images more. I myself am always striving to search out and share picture-quality moments, not just for others, but for myself. Reaching inside that mess to extract the beauty is what I'm all about!!!! It's like a gratitude journal in picture form! I already know and acknowledge that the world isn't all pretty and that no blogger has it completely together, so it is not difficult for me to appreciate the perfection inside the chaos. I appreciate paying more attention to the beautiful, rather than the hair-pulling scenarios. I fall into the negativity trap all too easily and can use all the help I can get to retrain my focus on precious moments.

Seeming to do projects just for content: While I don't condone only throwing parties to create blog content, I do appreciate being more intentional with our time, especially time with my kids. If I've figured out a genius activity to do on a rainy day, I love being able to share that with others and maybe inspire them to do the same. If I've set an intention to bring more Scripture into my son's life, I can easily come alongside that with blog posts, with my life encouraging and pushing my blog growth and vice versa. Plus, blogging is just another incentive to keep our homes clean and aesthetically pleasing, the way we'd really prefer it to be anyway.

Over-sharing/little privacy: now, we all love to see peeks into people's real lives. Some things are sacred, sure, but I am the type of person that appreciate other people's authenticity, openness and vulnerability. I like to know that we share the same worries, values, problems and imperfections. So I like when people share what's really going on. In fact, I dislike it when bloggers hold back and don't show readers much about their personality and you can sense that they're hiding something. I tend to seek out "about me" pages when I come across a new blog, and I want to know more about the faces behind the blog.

Sharing about pets and kids: I know a lot of people say "I really don't care about your dog or your special sparkle princess," but I am not one of those people. I love reading about other people's families. I learn more about my own family this way. For instance, I know exactly what our priorities are in my family, and after reading certain blogs, I am better able to reflect on how we implement those values and how we could handle different situations. Dogs and kids are not for everyone, sure. If it's not, just move along from the mommy/cat lady blogs. No need to muck up comments because it isn't your thing. Find your thing and leave your non-things to other people.

A photo posted by Jessica Collins (@boun_seejess) on

I LOVE blogging and I LOVE social media. I get tons of motivation from there (as long as I'm following the leaders, not the complainers). I LOVE connecting with people. I like knowing what's going on in the world. I like seeing other people going after their dreams or working hard because that fuels me. I like being able to having topics of conversation ready to talk to people about "hey how's the car? I saw on Facebook that you just got a convertible." I love learning new skills on Youtube. I just love love love social media. I even #love hashtags. They're little glimpses of people's personalities and what people are about. They're a way to be cheeky and share humor too. They're a way to find people with similar interests and form little communities. They're a way to learn about different types of people. They can even provide a platform for building a successful business. People use Facebook and social media in different ways and for different things, and that's ok. I just happen to be one of those people that enjoy and keep up with social trends.

Now bad grammar, vulgarity and mindless chatter, those I can do without!! :P

Hey, while we're talking about it, let's connect on social media! Just press the social media buttons on my sidebar to connect.

How Sugar, Hormones and Stress Mess with Weight Loss

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sometimes, there's more to the weight loss game than just diet and exercise.

I went to a very interesting Lunch N Learn at work last week about how sugar, hormones and cortisol affect weight loss. So, let's start with your typical weight loss equation. If you burn more calories than you take in, you lose weight. That's typical for almost everyone. Most people respond well if they eat less and exercise more.

But, if you're like me, you have a few more factors that affect that equation. My body doesn't respond that easily. And I've been thinking that every one of those factors mentioned in the title might be affecting my own personal weight loss. I've been working out 6 days a week, eating pretty darn clean, and seeing no progress. So, I had to start thinking outside the box of diet and exercise.

Reduced Diet Calories + Increased Exercise  Weight Loss

I do have issues with anxiety, so cortisol is something I'm exploring. Diabetes runs in my family, so I've been trying to eat more protein and fewer carbs, including sugar, at my doctor's advising. So, when my workplace offered this presentation on sugar, hormones and stress, it was 100% in line with what I wanted to dig into more. So, I signed up right away!

Our speaker had her own amazing weight loss story, having lost and kept off 70 lbs just in the past couple recent years, so she had some immediate proof in her own body. And I just really clicked with everything she said and have a lot of similar views as her.

Let me sum up the presentation for you:

1. Sugar is the root of all evil. Seriously.
2. Cortisol makes your body hold onto fat.
3. Hormones from sugar and stress create a vicious weight loss struggle.

So, we have these stressor in life, just general worry and real stressor too like deadlines, bills, and close calls. These stressor activates the sympathetic nervous system--fight or flight.

During this, the body is told to stop digesting, stop muscle building, and flood the body with glucose (suger). Then, glucose comes along thst needs insulin to clear it out, but cortisol blocks insulin. All the extra sugar floating around, that you didn't use to flee from a tiger, is stored as fat.

But then, to add insult to injury, leptin, the hormone that tells you when you're full, is blocked by insulin.

So, let me summarize: 

Cortisol blocks insulin and insulin blocks leptin.
So basically, sugar and stress cause fat to hang on like crazy!
 And the body is still over there telling you it's hungry, feed it quick, with sugar!

Sugar feeds disease in all different ways. It is evil.

So what do you do to combat this? Meditation, sugar elimination and a plant-based diet can have a profound impact on your life and weight! Guess what I'm adding to my diet and fitness regimen? A daily meditation practice, a kitchen sugar clean-out and a shopping trip to the produce and Steamer aisles. It seems so simple, but are you actually doing it? Can you do it better? Start there! That's where I'm starting.

As a side, our presenter is a certified eating psychology coach, which really intrigues me. Of course healthy eating and fitness have always been my passions, but I've also had lots of interest in the psychology behind it. I had an emphasis in psychology in college and just couldn't get enough of it. Check her out:

PSA, I've Been Published on Kind Over Matter!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Hey there, just thought I'd pop in and announce that some of my writing has been published over on Kind Over Matter. I'm super excited!!! KOM is a beautiful platform for "feel-good" reading. The articles are about self kindness and nice things, without getting too gooey. How's that for an elevator pitch? Ha!

Check out my article HERE.

The Love Drive

Weekly Food and Fitness: Food Prep Video!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

**Hey there, I thought I'd bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it's easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I've been alternating steady state and interval training.


  • Monday: 30 min Brittne Babe arms, abs and HIIT
  • Tuesday: 30 min run
  • Wednesday: 30 min BB legs and HIIT
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday
    • 30 BB chest, abs and HIIT
    • 30 min walk at lunch
  • Saturday: 35 interval run
  • Sunday: rest

This week I started a new 21-day program from just to switch things up a bit. She sells her programs for just $10, so it was an easy sell. I will do a full review when I'm finished, but so far I'm enjoying it. Brittne is a youngster with a solid business sense and ambition (not to mention a killer bod), which I find really admirable. You can follow along more of my workout journey on Instagram.

On the menu:

  • Breakfast:
  • Lunch: Quinoa burrito bowl (see video description for recipe)
  • Snack: Apple and almonds
  • Dinners: Grilled chicken, burgers, subs, tuna salad, Easter feast!

I filmed a video of my food prep this week, and it only took about 1/2 hour to make. I hope this inspires you to prepare for the week! Food prepping really can be easy, cheap, super healthy and mostly clean!

What are your goals this week?

Poetry Analysis: Dresser for Sale

Friday, March 18, 2016

I have a new video up on my Youtube channel (could you show me some love and subscribe, pretty please?) delving a little deeper into one of my poems that I wrote quite a few years ago. Come check it out and let me know what you think!

Make Your Own Sunshine Poem

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Last week, I talked about how healing the sun is and I promised that there would be a poem about how much I am drawn to the sun. Here it is:

Sun Spots
by Jessica Collins

I gather bits of sunshine,
roll them out with the blinds
and curl inside the sun spots
on the carpet, like a kitten,
bending it inward with mirrors.

I collect the sun's treasures too,
store them up in glow stick and wick
so even when evening falls--
thought the quiet moon
would suffice once or twice--
I can melt and mend inside the spirit
of what is radiant and alive!

Like I pointed out in my sunshine post, I am just drawn to the sunlight. I long to be outside in it, when it's warm. In fact, this past Saturday, when the weather was stunning for a Wisconsin winter day in March, I rolled a picnic blanket out on our deck and took a nap in the sun. Rayna was napping and Kayne was gone fishing, so it was the perfect opportunity to spend some alone time in the sun. I gravitate toward sunny windows and run around opening all the blinds in our house. This poem encapsulates that feeling for me. Hope you like it!

Let me know what you think!

Weekly Food and Fitness: What To Do When You Didn't Meal Prep

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

**Hey there, I thought I'd bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it's easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I've been alternating steady state and interval training.


Meal Prep:

Oh my goodness, this week was a bit "off" for me with no meal prep, but I'm hanging in there. We had unexpected company over on Sunday and didn't get the chance to grocery shop or meal prep like we always do. I definitely don't eat quite as healthy when this happens. But, I have a few tricks to share on what to do when you haven't meal prepped, so you can still maintain a healthy diet.

1. Always have some backup food in the freezer or cupboard. I always have a supply of Boca Burgers in the freezer and usually a can of Amy's soup in the cupboard. I also try to keep a few of those new Protein Steamers on hand. These are not entirely the "cleanest" meals ever, but they're still very nutritious and a much better alternative.

2. Grab just a handful of ready-to-eat things at the grocery store--or even Kwik Trip! We grabbed eggs, cottage cheese and bananas to fill in my snack gaps for the week. There's no reason to have to whip up something complicated every week.

3. Use dinner leftovers whenever possible. My hungry boys usually eat up everything we make for dinner, so this one can be a little difficult at times. But if I'm able, I will sneak away a few things before we start eating so I have food for the next day. This helps prevent me from having to go out to eat.

What do you normally do when you haven't meal prepped for the week?

Make Your Own Sunshine

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Can we just put that in quotes and attach my name to it please? Haha! Cuz I just made that up, but it's so true!

I have always has a strong connection to the light. The first time I remember coming to my own realization that sunshine is medicine was in high school. One day, we had a study hall out in the courtyard, and I just soaked up the sun for about 45 minutes. I remember going back into school and feeling...different. I can't quite explain how it made me feel except to say I felt lighter and refreshed. I made a conscious connection then between the sunshine and the satisfying feelings I was having, long before people started talking about seasonal affective disorder.

To the contrary, when I worked third shift in college, I started to feel the effects of sunlight deficiency. I never got used to third. Our bodies are not naturally in rhythm with that schedule. I had trouble sleeping during the day, I was morose about missing daylight, and I was so unhappy it made my teeth itch! To feel this opposite end of the spectrum was just as enlightening. I knew exactly how much the sun affected me and I knew that I never wanted to return to this darkness.

I've noticed too, that all my worst bouts of anxiety have happened in December, February, etc. So, at my last appointment, I asked my doctor what she thought about light boxes. She gave me an enthusiastic, "I love them!" She whipped the one she carried in her purse out to show me, and a few minutes later I had a script for one in my hands and am now the proud owner of a light box to remove the SAD from winter in Wisconsin, where exposure to sunshine is scarce. And my preliminary observations are that it's working:

There's a whole lot of science behind this. Here's an enlightening article about the sun and health.

So, here I am with a therapeutic 10,000 lux sun maker. I really am making my own sunshine!! I love the sunshine and being in the light. I'm drawn to sunny windows like a cat (new poem about that to come). The sun's energy just penetrates me in places that no other drug or uplifting tool or mood-boosting strategy could touch. And that, my friends, is a great metaphor for anyone who strives to make each day a little better...and brighter. Heh! Make your own sunshine!

Just thinking out loud, but now that I'm starting to make videos, I'm wondering if my new light box will make a good light box for shooting videos too. Haha!

Do you use a light box? If so, how has it affected you?

Personal Thoughts on Weaning

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rayna is my last baby. Everything she learns is the last "first" I'll get. Her first steps, her first word, her first wave bye-bye are the last firsts our family will get to experience, making them absolutely delightful and incredibly bittersweet at the same time. It's a weird feeling knowing the next baby we'll have in our family will be our grandchildren, so many years from now. I try not to think about that.

This month, Rayna completely weaned. We have only been doing nighttime feedings since she turned one because I wasn't ready to let go completely, but these past few weeks, Rayna was ready to let me go completely. The last few times I nursed her were a little more forced than I would've liked, so it was time. She doesn't reach for a drink or eagerly cuddle up anymore. My good ole pump that saw me through two kids is long gone. I've gone through the last of our storage bags. I feel a little like I'm deserted on the side of the road...

At the same time, I am very proud that we made it this long, that we had a relatively successful journey that many women aren't able to or don't get to experience. But this letting go is hard...

See, nursing is a war. It takes profound persistence and pain, extensive google searches and middle-of-the night questions in mommy nursing groups. It takes complete unwavering dedication from just one partner. It takes excruciating pain going into it for the first couple weeks. It takes tons of reading and preparation and research. It takes working around pumping schedules at work and disappointment when someone steals your time slot in the pumping room. It takes memorizing dozens of rules about the where's, when's and how long's of milk storage. It takes constant worry about how much baby is getting, if we have enough stored, if she's drinking enough while I'm gone, if she'll even take bottles, and on and on. It takes being the only one getting up in the night for feedings. It takes puddled shirts and let-downs in the middle of Walmart. It takes shopping for a new upper body wardrobe to suit the endowment. It takes nights of getting soaked and more pain. It takes not going away from home for more than two hours at a time for awhile. Rayna and I, we fought like bandits with bloody knuckles to get to this point, so it makes my heart bleed again to have to let it go.

Nursing offers the opportunity to stare into that beautiful face every few hours, every single day. It offers healing touch and the beautiful companionship of unconditional love. It offers nurturing and relationship building. It creates indestructible bonds of trust. It fine tunes a mother's instinct and intuition. If offers wisdom about and complete immersion in the life of another person. It gives you those sweet moments of sleeping babies in your arms. Not to mention reveling in all the wonderful benefits of that milky medicine. (I was even able to contribute 278 ounces to the nourishment of another baby when my freezer got too full!)

If you study the science of breast milk, it truly is one of life's miracles. The content of milk alone is enough evidence for me of God's existence. It changes as baby's needs change. It pumps out antibodies when it senses baby getting sick. It produces more fat when baby needs to grow. It just automatically produces exactly what baby needs with complete and utter perfection. And I won't get to experience or appreciate this again.

This week, right now even, there have been tears. There have been heavy-laden sighs. There has been one incremental move away from my daughter's dependency on me. It's been much harder than it was with my son since I know this time I won't get to do this again. I wasn't ready for this...

The phrase "they get big so fast" is so overused and yet no one can stop saying it or ever will because of the heavy truth and continual astonishment behind it. They really do grow so fast...

Weekly Food and Fitness

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

**Hey there, I thought I'd bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it's easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I've been alternating steady state and interval training.

  • Monday: 30 min arms
  • Tuesday: 30 min interval run
  • Wednesday: 30 min legs (workout below)
  • Thursday: 30 min run
  • Friday
    • 30 min Tracy Anderson Precision Toning arms, abs and butt
    • 30 min brisk walk with a friend
  • Saturday: 35 min interval run
  • Sunday: 15 yoga from Slim Calm Sexy Yoga

Wednesday's leg day looked like this. I broke the workout down into
circuits of three moves each. I did two sets of each move.

Friday's workouts came from this DVD I just ordered on Amazon. I always like to do something different on Fridays, like barre or Pilates. Whereas, Mondays and Wednesdays are usually traditional strength training. The Tracy Anderson Method is one of those things I like to do on Fridays. Kills my muscles in a whole different way.

Sunday is always rest/active rest day and I did an active rest day this past week with a few stretches from this book. I like how Tara Stiles creates routines for different desired effects, like anxiety relief or muscle toning.

On the menu

  • Breakfast: smoothie, eggs and veggies
  • Snack: grapefruit
  • Lunch: rice salad (see below)
  • Snack: two hardboiled eggs + apple
  • Dinners: Asian drumsticks, broccoli chicken bake, hot dogs, chicken salad, etc.

My breakfasts always kinda look the same not only because I'm hooked but also because it's such a good way to get lots of protein and extra veggies into my day. Plus, grapefruit are in season and I'm happy to partake. I had to make an extra-large batch of hardboiled eggs because Kayne is a huge fan and wanted his very own carton, haha! I'm happy to oblige. Eggs were on super sale, they're easy to make, and I'm always happy when he requests a healthy snack.

I found this super simple rice bowl recipe in a recent issue of Shape Magazine I was reading on the treadmill. All it requires is white beans, tomatoes and rice along with a few ingredients for the dressing. The prep was so easy. It's such a simple, cool, summery salad that goes perfect with the unseasonably warm temperatures we've been having this week in Wisconsin--like 64 degrees today!!

What's it like where you live? How are you getting healthy this week?

Weekly Food and Fitness

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

**Hey there, I thought I'd bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it's easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I've been alternating steady state and interval training.

Workout Schedule

  • Monday: 30 min 21 Day Fix Extreme
  • Tuesday: 30 min run
  • Wednesday: Rest, sick
  • Thursday: Rest, sick
  • Friday: 30 min Flashfit (my own workout)
  • Saturday: 35 min interval run
  • Sunday: Rest

This week was a bit of a bummer because I was sick for several days. The first day it hit, I had a wicked sore throat, and Hubster has been complaining about me snoring every day I've had the sore throat. Sorry Hubby!

On the menu this week:

  • Breakfast: superfood smoothie, eggs with veggies, grapefruit
  • Lunch: Quinoa Pecan Peach Salad from the Tone it Up Nutrition Plan
  • Snack: A hefty serving of squeaky clean cucumber salad
  • Dinners: we have clean parm chicken, ham and cheese sammies, homemade blueberry pancakes, pizza burgers, etc.

A photo posted by Jessica Collins (@boun_seejess) on

Look at this beast! I get excited every day when snacktime comes around. I made my cucumber salad with 3 cucumbers, 1/2 onion, a carton of cherry tomatoes and 1 can chickpeas. For the sauce, I used about 1.5 cups of plain Greek yogurt, garlic, vinegar and dill. I'm tellin' ya, you don't miss the mayo!

This week I also had an appointment with my doctor and asked him about my weight, again. And again, they checked my thyroid!!! That's been checked so many times, my blood should have its own spot in the lab. I'm getting a bit frustrated. Thinking about doing a video about it, because I have a lot to say, haha! I'm eating pretty clean, working out 6 days a week, and my body is not responding whatsoever. My diet and food plan here would make anyone else lose weight...just not me. Oh well, will keep you posted on what I find out.

Surviving My Long Drive to Work

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our recent move to our country home took us far away from the city, from work, from my mom's house, from stores, from everything. That's what we wanted, of course! To be away from the frenzy of the city. But the drive is something that is taking some getting used to. I shouldn't complain, but when you go from a 1 mile commute--walking distance--to a 25 mile one, you really have some adjusting to do.

While I'm not too keen on driving in general (I LOVE being a passenger) or paying the astounding extra gas costs, I'm trying to find the positive aspects of this long drive. Since I'll be making this long drive for the foreseeable future, I might as well learn to love it, right?

Now, when I'm driving, I'm trying to really "see" what's going past the windows. I'm trying to not take the passing scenery for granted and really notice the cool fog effects, the waking animals, the sunshine. Oh, the sunshine! One of the most pleasurable parts of my drive now is lifting my face toward the sun. Now, I am potentially getting 60 minutes of sunlight on my drive versus the quick flash of light when I was only going 2 miles and sitting inside the office all day.

Thinking and decompressing before walking in the door has been another benefit of a long drive. That 1 mile commute sometimes left me feeling bombarded. All the thoughts that I had rolling around in my mind at the end of a day weren't processed in that short of time, and I had to shift focus within seconds to children and husband and pet, all converging on me. This new drive is a more gentle transition and leaves me time and space to process all the information of the day and leave what I don't want behind me. I have been coming up with great ideas while driving now, and think I'm going to have to invest in a recorder soon:)

No haters please, but I've also been catching up with friends on the phone since I have 35 minutes of uninterrupted air time. I am a much better friend now because I have that time to chat without feeling guilty that I'm neglecting anyone at home. It's hard to find that uninterrupted time to call long-distance friends, but my new drive has opened up chat time for me.

I have also been catching up on podcasts. At first, I was really excited because we have an old CD player in the car and I thought "great, now I can catch up on myriads of books on CD from the library." I was so excited to catch up on all the classics and some self-development--it was really one of the only things I was looking forward to. Well, wouldn't you know, right before we moved, the car CD player seized up and no longer works. Total bummer!!! Well, to make up for it, I found an FM tuner at Best Buy and I have been downloading podcasts with free Wifi at work to listen to with it, and it doesn't cost me data on my phone either.

And finally, when I'm not listening to podcasts, I've been listening to uplifting or informational radio, like KLove and NPR, which satisfies my constant need for information and positivity. I never thought about it before, but there is not one single "downer" song on Christian radio, making it a great way to feed my mind good things.

What do you like to do on long drives alone? What other options might I have?

My Favorite Planner Notebook: Staples Arc System

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Oh, the Arc System, how I love thee. I was first introduced to these notebooks when I was searching for a graduation gift for one of my interns. She was an uber-organized, Type-A person who I knew would appreciate what these had to offer. Once I found them and bought one for her, I knew I absolutely had to have one for myself. I used the notebook as a reward for myself for when I passed my NASM exam.

Meet the Arc System. I'm having a love affair with them. Don't tell Hubster.

Check out this video to peek into my planner on YouTube.

Staples and Office Max both have their own versions of this notebook, as do Levenger, Rollabind and Martha Stewart. In fact, they're all compatible with each other. What these notebooks consist of are circular disks (which come in various sizes) that the paper attaches to. But each page is entirely removable and then replaceable. What makes that so amazing is that its a perpetual notebook that works forever. You can continue tearing pages out and buying refills as needed. And you can combine all your notebooks for all your different projects in one so you don't have to carry them all around separately.

You can also purchase all different kinds of fillers from graph paper to calendars to regular lined paper. Believe me, I stood in that aisle for a good half-hour weighing my options. Ok, probably more like an hour. Not only can you buy different fillers, but you can also buy file folders, page dividers, small list pads, sticky notes and other things that work with the disks too.

You can also use any of your own paper to refill the planner. To do that, you just need to pick up a compatible paper punch. The big hole punches cost upwards of $50, but you can get this "portable punch" from Levenger for just $16 like I did.

I only punch a sheet here and there so this works perfect for me. One such sheet is this page of scriptures that speak to my anxiety so I can reference it when I need it.

I like to use cute printables for my calendars instead of the ones that Arc puts out. Just do a quick search on Pinterest for calendar printables and you'll find something in your style. Right now, I'm liking these.

I also have a small Rollabind version of the notebook that I found at work. I love the portable size! I use this notebook to record the workouts that I've been designing.

We had another sale at work where I found a few more Rollabinds and I snatched 3 up right away because I love them so much. They're stashed away for a day where I decide I need another notebook for something. I'm a writer. It happens.

I encourage anyone that loves notebooks, planners, organizing, printables, etc to pick up one of these systems and choose a few inserts that suit your taste. Then, come back here and tell me how addicted you are. What are your favorite planners/notebooks?

Weekly Food and Fitness

Monday, February 22, 2016

**Hey there, I thought I'd bring back my rundown of my weekly workouts and menus to perhaps inspire others to prepare in advance for a week of healthy eating and give you menu and training ideas. Now that I have more of an established schedule and all, it's easier for me to organize.

I have been doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every morning, 6 days a week, alternating strength training and cardio days. And for cardio, I've been alternating steady state and interval training.

Workout Schedule:

Monday: 30 minutes strength training with weights
Tuesday: 30 min Barefoot Cardio
Wednesday: 20 min TIU Hula Booty from Beach Babe 2
Thursday: 30 min steady state run
Friday: 35 Piyo Sweat
Saturday: 35 min HIIT run, 3 min/1 min intervals
Sunday: active rest, 30 min light yoga with Shiva Rae

On the Menu this week:

Breakfast: Shakeology Berry Smoothie, egg whites + tomatoes and mushrooms, TIU bombshell spell
Snack: grapefruit
Lunch: Romaine Thai Turkey Cups
Snack: Cottage cheese and chickpeas
Dinners: turkey dogs, tuna salad, broccoli ravioli, grilled pork chops

Hubster and I will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year and we are booking a trip for somewhere like the Bahamas or Cancun. Not sure yet. What I am sure of is that I need to get my butt in shape in the next few months. I have a check-in with my doctor this week again, because things aren't adding up when I look at calorie intake and workouts. I am not losing like I should be according to the math. Hopefully I can get some insight and tighten up my diet and see the weight budge.

How are you workout out/eating this week?

How to do the LiveFit Series at Home

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

For those of you that don't know, offers a bunch of free 30 to 90 day fitness programs for both men and women on their website. You can choose a program to lose weight, muscle up and everything in between. I have tried the LifeFit Trainer before in the past and enjoyed it. It's one of the most impressive workout and clean eating programs that I've seen anywhere for free. But, it requires access to a gym. Until now.

Hubster helped me film a video this weekend showing how to do Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer at home. I filmed substitutes for most of the moves that require specific gym equipment. To do the LiveFit Trainer at home, you need little more than a chair, weights, resistance bands and maybe an exercise ball. I did a few moves in the video with ankle weights, but you could even skip those and put a weight plate between your feet instead.

  • Seated calf raise: use ankle weights and/or place a weight plate on top of your knees.
  • Leg curls: wear ankle weights, lie on your stomach and bend legs behind you. Keep upper thighs off floor to make it tougher.
  • Leg extensions: put on ankle weights, use a sturdy chair and do extensions. You may also put a weight plate between your ankles.
  • Adductor: Squeeze an inflatable ball between the thighs.
  • Abductor: wrap tubing around upper thighs and perform an abductor press.
  • Back extensions: perform on ball
  • Reverse Fly: belly on ball, do a reverse fly.
  • Cable Rope Overhead Extension: Stand on one end of a resistance tube and perform a tricep extension with the other end.
  • Leg press: it's difficult to do this move at home, but you can do heavy squats to get a similar effect. Use heavy weights or resistance tubing to intensify the squats.
  • T-bar row: perform rows with similar arm position using a heavy dumbbell.
  • Incline Press and Decline Crunch: any incline/decline moves can be done on a stepper. Put the risers under one side of the step to create the slant.
  • Standing calf raise: hang heels off any step in your home and lift up onto the balls of your feet.
  • Seated cable rows: I wind my rubber tubing around my treadmill and do them that way. Use thicker brands and choke up on the bands as you get stronger.
  • Triceps Pushdown: anchor the stretch tubing a little higher and perform the move.
  • Lat Pulldown: same position as triceps pushdown, perform a pulldown.
  • Underhand Cable Pulldown: same as lat pulldown, but switch hand position to underhand.
  • Cable Crunch: same anchor point, grab both ends of the tubing in your hands and perform a kneeling crunch.
  • Straight Arm Pulldown: same anchor point, pull arms straight down to your sides.
  • Cable Crossovers: I wound my tubing around both handles of the treadmill and did the crossovers kneeling.
  • Donkey calf raises: my little boy happily obliged climbing onto my back to do these.
  • Roman chair leg lifts: use the corner of your kitchen cupboards to rest your arms on. You can still pull your knees up to target abs.
Not shown:

  • Hanging leg raises and pullups: use your pull-up bar or monkey bars at the park. I don't have these in the video because I didn't have the equipment readily available while I was filming.
  • Lying T-bar row: belly on ball, perform a row

I hope this helps some of you tackle this excellent program at home. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

American Tanka

Monday, February 15, 2016

Once upon a time, I submitted some tanka poetry to American Tanka and got a "these are close" comment. Now, if you know anything about submitting your work in the literary world, you know that automated rejection slips are proliferate. To even get a personal note back is rare. To get a "these are close" comment is as close to getting published as possible. I am proud:)

Now, tanka is similar to haiku in its form as a short poem that packs an entire experience into very few words. There are 5 lines and the typical syllable pattern is 5-7-5-7-7.  But American Tanka doesn't completely adhere to these stringent rules due to the differences in the language structures between Japanese and English. My poems below don't adhere to the syllabic rules, but they do point to very concise, precise moments. Enjoy!

Nothing we can do
but wait until they drip dry-
those icicles 
tight against
our power line.
Hand-in-hand we 
pass holes in a
winter-beaten road
beside the discomforting 
rip in your jeans.
The note he left
was stacks of collected
white paper
he never could
She fashions
title and border
for her pictures,
poems and letters
to surround the vacant hour.
The sparkle faded
from her eye
as she detected
a dish, dust mite
and ripped fabric.

Insights From Nature as Spiritual Practice

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

So, I was perusing the spiritual section at the library and came across this made-for-me book and quickly checked it out. Nature as Spiritual Practice. Yes, yes, yes!

I am so excited about this book!!! Out in the counterculture, there is much written about nature and it's connection to the metaphysical. This is where I always end up landing somehow when I'm trying to find articles and insights about connecting to nature. But the metaphysical and magical don't interest me. I'm always on a quest to find something that aligns with my beliefs. Nature has always intuitively been something that I've wanted to explore on a spiritual side. We had a Bible study at church about finding your purpose, and nature kept popping up for me, but I wasn't sure how to merge my spiritual life with nature. Now I am equipped to do that, and take it so much deeper!

After reading the first chapter and exercise, I immediately put this book on my Amazon Wishlist...and shortly thereafter, let's just be real here, I bought it, along with its companion field guide.

I hadn't even gotten past the "How to Use This Book" section before I came to some overwhelming, mind-blowing realizations. This book was exactly what I didn't even know I was looking for!

Every leaf and flower bear the marks and give witness to their Creator...Perception of this reality requires contemplative attention, the eyes of the heart, and the wonder of a child...It is a book that assumes that the glory of the Creator is discernible in creation's ecological material, sacramental, and spiritual realities.


Creation speaks, and the language of creation shapes, forms, and transforms relationships. Our human/creation relationship is born of our common parentage, the relationship is realized in practice. Still pulsing through the lifeblood of this human/creation connection are common genes--common genes whose function seems to be the nurturing of mindful attention, wonder, and shared longing to return to their Creator. Through the eyes of the senses and the eyes of wisdom and the eyes of faith, we behold the Easter in the ordinary, the mundane in the sacred.
And this!

Nature is Christian practice: she is the teacher and she is material and she is spiritual--the everyday and the sacramental.

So much this!!!

I'm reminded of Romans 1:20: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." All these little miracles in nature are evidence of God!!!!

I can't wait to explore more of this book and dig deeper. I especially can't wait until the weather changes to be more conducive to this life-bearing exploration.

What are you reading? And what is it teaching you?