Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year: New Workout!

Good morning! Okay, so it's not quite the New Year, but I'm starting a new workout routine today since it's the start of a new week. Since I just finished Insanity and I took the holiday's off for working out for the most part, I did some digging to find my next workout challenge. I actually didn't have to do much digging at all, as the answer arrived in my mail box. I'm going to try Fitness magazine's Lose 10 Pounds workout that is published in the most recent issue (January 2013).

But first off: breakfast. Let's just say my holiday's left me *cough* four pounds heavier *cough* Not a huge gain, but this does not make me a happy camper! Eating healthy again starts today! Today's spread includes two of Van's whole grain blueberry waffles, half a cup of nonfat Fage Greek yogurt, half a cup of fresh blueberries, a dash of cinnamon, and a little drizzle of raw honey. Delish! Also, note the adorable dishware I used today. The "Mrs." mug and plate were a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law. You can't see it, but the plate has the Eiffel Tower on it along with little French owls wearing berets. Love them! I'll probably be eating breakfast exclusively off these plates from now on!

But back to my new workout routine... 

The Plan 

The plan is laid out in black and white and is very time-friendly. The workouts include separate strength sessions and pick-your-own cardio sessions. For strength, you do 8 different moves as a circuit and repeat it once for a full circuit, doing it three times a week on non-consecutive days. For cardio, you can pick any cardio you want - running, biking, elliptical, etc. - as long as you do the minutes of cardio required for each week. You also have the option of adding an abs routine as an extra each week as well. Each week ramps up cardio and strength reps from the week before. The plan looks like this: 
  • Week 1: 60 minutes cardio (at 30 min. each), 12 reps of each strength move 
  • Week 2: 90 minutes of cardio (at 30 min. each), 14 reps of each move 
  • Week 3: 135 minutes of cardio (at 45 min. each), 16 reps of each move
  • Week 4: 150-180 minutes of cardio, 18-20 reps of each move 
Besides an intense looking workout, the diet plan includes eating healthy fats, whole grains, a lot of fruits and veggies, at around 1,500 calories a day. The best part? It's all laid out easy-as-pie (or, not eating pie, I should probably say) with this super-organized calendar to mark it all off! This baby is going on my pinboard, asap! 

There's a checkbox for strength workouts, cardio workouts, the abs routine, and eating healthy. There's a place where you sign your name and write the date you start the program as a kind of contract with yourself and the routine (in the yellow box). It lays out all the instructions for each week on either side. It's so easy! I absolutely love when workout plans include a calendar. It makes my little organized heart burst with happiness! 

Why I Chose this Plan 

There a ton of workout plans I could have tried, but I chose this one and for good reason. While this is called the "Lose 10 Pounds" workout, I am not doing this with the intention of actually losing 10 pounds because I don't need to. I'd like to lose five pounds because that's all I really see that I "need" to lose. This plan is much less about losing weight, though, than it is about a challenge and sculpting an awesome body. I chose this plan because... 
  • I haven't done a plan that has separate strength and cardio sessions for a while now. Insanity has strength and cardio combined. When I trained for the half-marathon, I was doing only cardio for the most part. And some other workout DVD's I've done have been all combined HIIT training. Time for something I haven't been doing for a while now!
  • It's not a workout DVD. For most of 2012, I was reliant on workout DVD's. This is definitely not a bad thing, but I'd like to be able to workout on my own too and step outside the box, literally. 
  • The idea of ramping up cardio and reps each week seems challenging to me. Anything that's a challenge inspires me!
  • The workout calendar was too good to pass up. I mean, it's just screaming for me to check all these awesome workouts off my list! 
For me specifically, I think I am going to try and have M/W/F be my strength days and T/TH/S be my cardio days. For cardio, I am going to try and run as much as I can, but considering that New England just dumped a foot of snow - we'll see about that. I have access to a treadmill, though, so hopefully I can still eek out the mileage. I'm also going to track my food on the My Fitness Pal app to keep things in perspective. Overall, if I can eat generally healthy (or at least better than I did over the holidays!), complete all the workouts, and have fun while doing it, it will be a month well spent. Off to try my first strength session! 
  • Question for you: What are your fitness goals for 2013? What workout plan are you following now? 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Where I am with Perfectionism

Something I've been mulling over in my mind as the year comes to a close is where I am and what progress I've made this year. I started this blog with the intention of further understanding my perfectionistic tendencies and attempting to find ways to be free of the never-ending trap of perfectionism. This blog has been a great start in exploring that part of my life more, but it hasn't been as open as I once envisioned. I love to blog  about food, fitness, and my dog (like every other foodie/fitness blogger!), but perfectionism is really what I want to tap into more. Admittedly, it's hard to be so "real" with something as personal as being a perfectionist. It's easy to admit that I am a perfectionist, but it's harder to explain how I am that way, and get into the not-always-pretty details of what that sometimes looks like for me. Right now, I just want to give an update on where I am in this moment in time with still being a perfectionist.

Firstly, I wanted to shed some light on some specific ways that I am a perfectionist. If you're read any of my other posts, a lot of these things are probably apparent, but here's an inclusive list: 
  • My appearance - How I look is a big deal to me. I can get perfectionistic with my hair, how my clothes fit, what my make-up looks like, etc. This also gets into what I physically look like as well, including weight. While I feel I am usually comfortable in my own skin, I still have moments of "am I the right weight?" and "do I look like I should/want to?" 
  • What I eat - This area tends to come and go. I will go through times of intense tracking of what I eat, which, as a perfectionist and plan type of person, naturally appeals to me. I like to track my food on the My Fitness Pal app, which is really useful and helped me lose weight in the past. But sometimes this just frustrates me too. Then I get into periods of not tracking my food at all, not really planning meals, and this usually leaves me feeling like I'm not doing "enough" to eat healthy and stay on top of what I eat. 
  • Cleaning - Anyone who has known me for any period of time knows that I am literally obsessed with cleaning. I have always been neat, tidy, and have the love of all-things clean. Since having my own apartment with my husband, I've realized even more how sort of crazy-obsessed I can become with tidying and cleaning. 
  • My Faith - I've had ups and downs this year in my relationship with God. It's something that's very important to me, but even this part of who I am is not left untouched from my desires for perfection. Although I trust God, I don't trust Him enough, and I still have a performance-based faith a lot of the time. This is driven by my own pressures that I put on myself. I go through periods of knowing His grace and love for me - realizing that He loves me regardless of what I do or don't do - and I also go through periods of thinking that my efforts to have a relationship with Him aren't enough, that I am not enough for God. 
  • Relaxing in general - Just in the past few months, I've been finding it increasingly hard to just sit back and relax. It's like I have to give myself permission to stop wanting to do all the things I want to do (read, blog, clean some more...) and just let go. This is so hard for me since my drive for things to be perfect can be so fiery at times. Sitting down and not working so hard to achieve things? That's an option? These are the thoughts that go through my head. And sometimes, even when I mentally try to let myself chill out, minutes later, I find my mind chugging away at all I "have to do" again. 

Secondly, I want to note that while I tend to struggle with these specific areas, my general "perfectionism" has gotten tremendously better this year. I think in a way, I feel like I should have made more progress or that I shouldn't struggle with anything at all since I set my mind on making progress in this area this year. But of course I still struggle. I may always struggle with it, even if just a teeny little bit. In my attempt to accomplish good, I overstep and am riddled with worry and self-doubt at times because I so long for things to be just right. But so often, things aren't just right. My clothes don't fit right that day. I didn't have time for a workout. I have to leave the apartment a mess. The bread I was going to eat is moldy. I missed my daily devotional again. This isn't my everyday, but this is life. Life isn't perfect, and I wrestle with that fact in times like these. All these areas listed above are just a few of the ways that I see my life impacted by wanting perfection. 

But sometimes I just have to remember that happiness is a choice to make every day, and that I'm the one that chooses my actions. It's hard to step out of certain perfectionist-y habits that I have because they're just that - habits. But becoming aware of my insecurities has helped me tremendously to see just how to promote change in myself. 2012 was my year to start really recognizing and coming to terms with me: the perfectionist. I'm hopeful for 2013 to begin breaking out of habits I want to see changed and progress even more into the person I desire to be: a person happy with herself and her life, imperfections and all.

  • Question for you: How are you a "perfectionist," even if you don't consider yourself one? What one habit about yourself do you want to change?

Home for the Holidays!

Good afternoon :)

I went on vacation to spend Christmas with my in-laws and it was a fantastic time! I was gone for over a week and I enjoyed a much-needed vacation. I just got back Friday night, so the whole weekend has been a sort of catch-up-on-life-before-it-starts-again kind of weekend. I think I did five loads of laundry yesterday? Yeah, madness. Anyway, here's some fun photos of my trip.

Me and Beans, snuggling on the couch, as usual.

My in-laws have a Great Dane named Tank, and yes, he is quite the tank. But this doesn't stop Beans from being best friends with him. They love each other. It's the oddest couple I've ever seen!

I almost didn't get these, but the crazy dog lady in me just had to get these Christmas pajamas for Beans. Here he is as "Santa's Helper." Worth it? Yes. 

Here is my awesome gift basket full of goodies from my in-laws. They are too good to me!

Anyway, the trip was great. I love going to my in-laws and escaping on a long holiday. I finished my book, ate way too much good food, and enjoyed time with family. What more could I ask for on a holiday? It's hard to believe the year is almost over (I feel like I've said that a lot before...), so some serious reflecting/planning is in order on my part. I've got a new workout routine for January and I have a whole slew of goals I want to set for 2013. I hope your holiday's were a blast and that your New Year starts off with a bang! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Finished: Insanity Round 2!

Hey folks! Two weeks ago (has it been that long already?), I finished my daily morning workouts with Shaun T, aka the Insanity 60 day program workout! Again, I'm proud to have finished this program. For those of you who don't know what Insanity is, it is a Beach Body workout DVD program that lasts 60 days. There are 12 videos that you rotate through six days of the week. The videos are usually about 40 to 60 minutes long. The workouts include high intensity interval training, where you work through a mix of cardio and strength exercises together without stopping. I had great results and got addicted to Insanity earlier this year, so I decided to do it again. Here's my quickie review!

What I love about Insanity 

- Foolproof: the calendar that you print out is super easy. It tells you what to do on every day. I would write the date at the top of the day when I completed the workout to know what days I did what.

- Consistency: It forces you to workout 6 days a week, which I really like. Although that seems like a lot of commitment, it creates a great routine/habit of working out consistently every week.

- Great Results: I have cuts in my legs and am more toned all over. The last time I did this workout, my whole body shape changed. I didn't lose a lot of weight either time (but I wasn't really needing to lose), but it really transforms your body shape and muscles. This time around, Insanity kept my sleek runner's legs toned after the half-marathon.

- Variety: It's not too terribly repetitive. There are 12 or so different videos that you get to switch through. They are all similar but they all vary a little. Some videos are more intense than others, and there are even recovery day videos. It's a good mix to keep you going.

- Stretching: Each video starts with stretching after the warm up and ends with stretching. It's very yoga based stretching, which helps flexibility and muscle recovery. The stretching at the end was always a great way to end the workout in a relaxing and calming way.

- Positive leadership: Shaun T is a great role model for this series. He is positive and uplifting. He is motivating and not annoying. He just has a great attitude that made me feel like I could get through any workout. The people in the video were also pretty positive too, which makes for a good experience every time I did the workout.

What I altered about the Program

- Loud moves: Because I'm in an apartment, I would occasionally alter some of the moves that were just too thud-inducing. If there was a jumping squat, sometimes I would just do normal squats so as to not thud ridiculously. (P.S. This is NOT an apartment friendly workout, although I did it fine. My neighbor below me did complain, but nothing ever came of it. I just tried to be aware of when she was home or not when I worked out.)

- Fit Test: I didn't do the "fit test" days. The fit test was basically a video where you tried to do as many reps of certain moves. You'd keep track of your reps and try to do more and more as the program went on. I'm not all that motivated by doing as many reps as I can. I often find I have bad form when I do this or it hurts something. This video is only 15 minutes long too, so I never saw it as an actual workout. I just used a different video on the fit test days.

- Weights: Insanity doesn't use any weights, which I missed at times. I felt the program toned me but didn't build muscle much. I added light weights the last two weeks to certain moves that would accommodate it to build extra muscle and give me a little boost.

Bottom Line

The first time I did the program, I was so nervous and thought I wouldn't finish it. The second time around, the only doubt I had about doing it was about whether or not I would get bored since I had already done it. Yes, Insanity is challenging and tough for sure, but its doable. No, I can't get through a single video with perfect form without stopping yet. Sometimes I still have to stop and catch my breath or take a quick water break. But that's what makes the workout great - its challenging enough to keep pushing me, but not enough to totally kill me. I would, without a doubt, do Insanity again in the future.

For those of you who have done Insanity, what did you like or not like about it? For those of you who haven't, would you ever consider this workout? 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Christmas Tradition: Aebleskiver

Merry Christmas! 

Quick post for today, but an important one in my book. Every year growing up with my family, ever since I can remember, we make aebleskiver. Aebleskiver is, simply put, Danish pancakes. They taste similar to pancakes only fluffier, and they are made into little balls. Sometimes I describe them as a cross between pancakes and donut holes. 

It's truly not Christmas to me until we make aebleskiver. Every year, after stockings and presents are opened, off to the kitchen we go to whip up a grand breakfast of aebleskiver, eggs, and maple sausage. Aebleskiver is traditionally served with powdered sugar on top with raspberry jam or other jams. Raspberry is definitely my favorite. 

Here's the recipe I use: 

Although I usually half this if it's just for my husband and I. And what really makes it great is the butter milk. To make butter milk, you can put 1 tablespoon of vinegar into 1 cup of milk and let sit for 5 minutes. This year, my hubby did the honor of making all the aebleskiver for our own mini-Christmas and our family's. So thankful to just sit back and enjoy the delicious dish! 

Our traditional breakfast: 
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! 
  • What do you eat for Christmas breakfast? What's your favorite holiday food/meal? 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Manicure Monday: Sparkly Candy Cane for the Holiday's!

In leui of Christmas, I had to go all-out "festive" for this round of Manicure Monday. I saw the idea for candy cane nails on Pinterest most likely and thought it was perfect for my holiday vacation and the season. I started with a naked nail, a coat of cheap-o white nail polish, put some tape strips on, then a coat of red, then a sparkle top coat. Sounds like a lot of work? Yeah, it kind of was. This mani required a lot of waiting around for it to dry. The steps are as follows:

Step one: white base

Step two: nails strips (kind of hard to see here)

Step three: red goes on over the white and tape strips


It didn't turn out perfect, and I knew it wouldn't. The tape doesn't stay on as well as I'd like it, but it gets a straighter line than I ever could on my own, so I'll take it! I added the sparkles unexpectedly at the last minute to cover up my mistakes, and because, I mean, come on - it's not Christmas unless there's sparkles!

Overall, this mani was time consuming and a lot more over the top than I usually go for, but hey - why not. Mani Monday is all about trying something new each week for me, and this week is probably as different as I've ventured so far. This mani kind of screams "look at me!" which I don't really care for. Usually, I am fine with a neutral color that blends well with my outfits. Clearly, this is not going to blend or match much of anything I'm wearing! But it's only for a week and I guess I should live a little!

Hope your holiday's are bright and sparkly!

  • Question for you: do you like seasonal manicures/festive nails or do you think it's tacky? 

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Early Christmas!

Yikes, was I busy the last week or so! Working nonstop, getting ready to go on vacation, and preparing for our early Christmas! I wanted to write this post the day we had our early Christmas, but life seemed to have kept me from blogging away. Better late than never! Anyway, because the hubs and I were leaving our place before Christmas day to spend it with my in-laws, we had to open our gifts to each other early. Don't mind if I do! We had our very own little mini-Christmas, and it was quite lovely if I say so myself. I wasn't really keen on the idea because I was concerned it wouldn't "feel" like Christmas. But we did everything we traditionally do: open stocking first, take turns opening presents, and then have a traditional breakfast afterwards. It definitely "felt" like Christmas, and for that I'm thankful.

It's funny because I stocked the Christmas tree full of presents all month until our Christmas, slowly adding more to the hub's pile of goodies. However, two days before we were supposedly supposed to open our presents, I still had nothing under the tree with my name on it. Grew me a little worrisome? Yes. Should I have worried if "Santa" would come for me? No way! Here's what lay under the tree to surprise me the day before we opened gifts:

Whoa! I couldn't stop asking," What's in the box?!?!" As soon as I opened it, I found out it was our fake tree's box and all my presents lay inside. Look how good Santa was to me! Thank youuu, hubby!

Pictured is... 

- two sweaters 
- Christmas kitchen towels
- my favorite bath bombs
- tons of my favorite foodie items 
- a Paris-themed journal
- a Beatles book called A Hard Day's Write 
- a travel size skin care set from Dermalogica 
- a new travel mug 

So many goodies! My favorite of all is my new running outfit: 
I am soooo excited about this outfit! I was seriously lacking some winter running wear, so this will come in handy for a brisk winter running season. The jacket is a VSX Sport jacket - lightweight but very warm. The running tights and shorts are C9 brand from Target. I love the C9 brand. It's just as nice as more expensive athletic wear for a more wallet-friendly price :) Anyway, I'm absolutely thrilled to have this outfit. Hopefully I won't let the cold be an excuse for not running anymore. 

To end our early gift exchange, the hubs and I made some of my family's tradition aebleskiver: 


More on that later! 
  • Question for you: Have you ever opened Christmas presents early, and if so, why? Does is still feel like Christmas to you? 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mulling Over New Year's Resolutions

Since the year is *gasp* almost over, I've already begun thinking about some New Year's Resolutions and goals for the coming year. 2012 was an awesome year, and I can only hope that 2013 is even better in terms of personal growth. I don't typically "believe" in New Year's resolutions, per say, but I feel as if a lot of things in my life are coming to a close now and I am moving onto a new chapter soon. So why not make some goals while I'm moving from one phase to the next? The New Year is always an excuse to make new goals because the New Year just brings a fresh breath of air to our lives. A new start. Ahh...

The only problem with deciding on a resolution is just that: deciding. I am terribly indecisive (probably because I worry I'd make a mistake and then things wouldn't be perfect). I can hardly decide what sweater to wear in the morning sometimes! Deciding what life goal I want for an entire year? That's another story! I've given this a lot of thought so that I can make up my mind... sort of. I'm thinking of coming up with a resolution (I really dislike that word) goal for each month of the year. Before the year starts, I can outline 12 different goals that I want to achieve throughout the year. My plan will be to focus on one goal each month, so as not to overwhelm myself. I feel that this method would be good and bad. It'd be good because I could actually take the time to focus on one thing at a time, esuring that it actually gets done. Sometimes, I get so goal-happy and want to do so many things at once that really none of them end up getting done. You know what I mean? So this method would force me to focus. But that's also a downside for me because I am such a motivated person when I set my mind on something that I think it would be hard to wait to do each goal. I would personally want to try and carry out each goal all at once because, once I know I want to do it, I think "Why not start now?" So this whole thing is kind of a catch-22 for me, but in my head, I know this method is the probable way I could accomplish 12 goals in a year for real.

I do like the idea of having goals throughout the year, though, so that I have the chance to work on different goals and so that I don't forget about that one goal I made months ago like most resolutions. Overall, I think it will be a fun way to challenge myself and be intentional with progress.

I haven't come up with a full list of goals yet, but some goals that I think will make my list are:

  • Drink more water. This might sound silly to some of you who've heard this as a resolution by others, but I truly mean it. I used to be good about drinking a lot of water, but I'm not anymore and I desire to have that back. 
  • Have a nighttime routine. I am a routine person, but my night routine is all over the place. I usually have to force myself to stop something that I'm doing and go to bed. I want bedtime to be a relaxing transition for me, not an abrupt stop to my day. I'm often on my computer late at night (um, like now...) before I go to bed, which is not relaxing! I would like to incorporate some reflection time in a journal, have a cup of tea, prayer time, or something blissful-sounding like that.
  • Follow a prayer schedule. Another thing out of whack in my life right now is my prayer time. I do pray and often, but not necessarily about the things I know I want to/need to pray about. I tried to implement a prayer schedule in the past, but it didn't last. I'd really like to see myself get into a better routine with prayer so that I know Monday's, I pray about my family; Tuesday's, I pray about my marriage, etc. 
  • Do a cleanse diet. The hubs and I have been talking this over for a while. I'd love to clean out my cupboards and start over. I don't think my diet is completely horrible by any means, but I'd like to try eating clean for real for at least 2 months. 
  • Read more. Obviously, I'd have to come up with a better actual goal than just "read more," as that's a little ambiguous. But I do want to read more! This month, I'm doing Peanut Butter Fingers' book club and we're reading What Alice Forgot (which is so good!). Reading totally inspires me, relaxes me, and makes me a better me. In 2012, I did a lot of self-help reading, which is good to a certain extend, but as I started What Alice Forgot, I realized I hadn't read a fiction book in ages! I want to read a good balance of fiction and non-fiction in 2013. 
  • Run another half-marathon. Yes, I wanna do another one. I will do one, and I can't wait! 

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts for my New Year's Goals plan (I'm going to stop saying resolutions!). I'm going to mull it over more over my Christmas vacation and come up with a difinitive plan for the New Year soon!

[Thanks to Free Pretty Things for You for the banner] 

  • Question for you: Are you making any New Year's Resolutions, and if so, what? Do you believe in them or think it's silly? 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Manicure Monday: Gimme a Break

Helloooo, Monday afternoon! Today is one of those dreary, raining, gimme-another-cuppa-tea kind of days for New England. I spent the whole day working in retail and now I am positively wiped. Last night I miraculouly managed to find time to take off my poor, obliterated mint mani from last week. I got sooo many compliments on this manicure. I was surprised because I didn't think it was too special, but I guess it was a hit. It lasted surprisingly well too. It was just in the last two days or so that the polish really got chipped. I was sad to see it go.

However, this week I'm giving my nails (and myself) a break. I didn't have time last night for the fun mani I had planned. I'm working all week until I leave on Thursday for vacation. My nails really get beat up at work since I work with my hands all day, so I didn't want to make up a nice mani and then have it ruined before my trip. I have a fun one planned, but I'll save that for next Mani Monday :) For now, Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails gives me some shine and restores my nails strength this week.

So, nothing exciting in the manicure department for today. But speaking of giving myself a break, that's exactly what I'm doing now. I've been feeling so stressed the past day or so because I know I have so much to do before I go on vacation this week. I'm also working a lot more than usual though, so I feel like there just isn't enough me to get things done. I've been secretly wishing that I could clone myself or forgo sleep so that I can get everything done that needs doing. But since that isn't going to happen, I'm trying not to stress about it by enjoying some of my favorite things: a workout, a nice candle, and some tea. 

I typically can only work out in the morning, as I mentioned in my 2012 fitness recap. Morning workouts are about it for me. But today when I got off of work, instead of rushing through all the things I want to get done (and then inevitably end up feeling even more stressed), I opted for a workout. At the almost-dark time of 4:30 pm, I tuned in to Jillian Michael's Six Week 6 Pack DVD for a quick but effective workout. Working out is a serious stress-reliever for me because it leaves me feeling accomplished and strong. When I feel that way, I am a lot more likely to take better care of myself and get more things done than if I don't. It was time well spent! 

After my quickie workout, I changed into jammies and lit my new candle: 

Not a great picture, but you get the idea. To me, lighting a candle is like saying "it's time to relax and enjoy your time." The scent of fresh balsam fills the room and I feel at ease. It's like happiness in a jar to me :) 
Then I got myself a warm cup of Trader Joe's Peppermint Tea. I am seriously addicted to this stuff. It's minty, slightly sweet, and seems to help me focus and clear my head. Now all I really want to do is cozy up with Beans and keep reading What Alice Forgot for book club. 
Here's to letting go of the busyness that this season seems to bring. I have the chance to relax, so why not take it? There will always be a to do list, but there is always another tomorrow. 
  • Question for you: do you give yourself time to relax when you realize you would benefit, or do you keep racing on to get things done before you allow for down time? How do you think either choice affects your stress? 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Blossom Bliss

Good afternoon! 

I'm about to run to work, but I thought I'd make time for a quick update. Last night after my peanut butter disappointment, I ended up making my favorite holiday cookie ever: peanut butter blossoms. Every year at Christmas, my mom and I usually made these together. I love them - chocolate kisses + peanut buttery cookie. What's not to like? 
Two most important ingredients ever: chocolate & peanut butter!
Last night, I just used the Hershey's recipe that's on the back of the back. All the other recipes I found were for cookie exchanges, aka made a ton of cookies, which I did not need. Last year, I definitely used a different recipe and it was a little more moist. These cookies were quite dry and not quite as peanut buttery as I wanted them to be, but still - amazing nonetheless. 

Today for my workout, I decided to go on a run instead of Insanity. Insanity's schedule called for a really easy video that I was just not feeling. But my run was terrible! It was 38 degrees, even at 10 am. My toes were frozen before I even started running. I had that burning feeling in the back fo my throat the whole time and I felt like I was running like a slug! Either way, when I finished, I felt great as usual - and much warmer. Talk about motivation to finish a run! I was seriously freezing! 

Welp, off to work I go. Toodles! 

My Year in Fitness: 2012

Being close to the end of the year (and an amazing one at that), I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Reflecting on how I've spent my time, and the progress I've made in certain areas, especially in fitness. 2012 was an amazing year of fitness for me. This and last year were the first years that I truly worked out all the time with a specific plan and accomplished specific goals. I've really come a looong way in terms of fitness. I went from nothing to half-marathoner in just a few years. I'm proud to look back on this year and see what I've done - literally - with my body!

My Year in Fitness! 
  • January
- I worked my way almost all the way through Jillian Michaels' Ripped in 30 DVD. I really liked this one as it was harder than the 30 Day Shred, which I did in 2011. But I got really sick my last week and a half, so I kind of fizzled out of that one, but there was nothing I could do about that one.
  • February - April
- Started and finished Insanity (60 day program) before my wedding in June
- I love Insanity. Period. I was so afraid I wouldn't be fit enough to do it or that I'd hurt myself, but it was so worth all the effort. It wasn't that scary, either.
- I got such awesome results that I had to get my wedding dress resized a month before my wedding (eek!) because my strapless gown was literally falling off of me. I didn't actually lose much weight at all (maybe 3-5 pounds?), but it transformed my body from head to toe. My body was just a different shape after and it was awesome.
  • May
- wanted to keep my results from Insanity but not start a crazy workout plan since I was busy doing wedding stuff
- did a combination of Hip Hop Abs & Turbo Jam, which was really fun to switch things up. I liked both videos for the variety but I probably wouldn't do either again because I felt they were too easy in terms of fitness but also too hard to follow since I'm not a born dancer.
  • June
- again, right before my wedding so I didn't have a lot of time but...
- I did a combination of cardio (either outdoor running or indoor elliptical) & Jillian Michael's Blast Fat, Boost Metabolism and her No More Trouble Zones (both changenging hour long circuits that I LOVE)

  • July - October 
- Signed up for the Boston Half-Marathon on July 11th (I remember because I had to sign up that day at a specific time because it sold out in only a few hours!) 
- Officially started training for the half on July 16th with Hal Higdon's 12 week plan
- Finished the half-marathon on October 7th! Byfar my favorite personal accomplishment of the year besides getting married :) 
  • October (after the Half) - December 
- started round two of Insanity on the 16th 
- threw some running in once in a while when the weather was nice enough

And that's my year in fitness! In the next 19 days of the year (omgosh), I plan to finish Insanity on December 19th, then while I'm on vacation I will probably just take a break from working out besides a few runs, and I might throw in some old Jillian favorites if I have the time!

Some things I learned about myself & fitness this year are: 
  • Good workout clothes are totally necessary and worth the price (usually). Without the proper gear, workouts aren't fun! This definitely goes for shoes too. I had to get new shoes when I trained for the half, but it was one of the best purchases of my life! 
  • Sometimes I'm motivated, sometimes I'm not. But what keeps me motivated, personally, is having a plan. If I have no plan for a workout that day, I am waaay more likely to not workout at all. Making a calendar or schedule in advance has been totally key to my success in completing so many programs. 
  • Even though scheduling workouts is good, I've never followed a schedule perfectly. This was especially true with my half-mararthon training. Some days, I could only eek out 3 miles when I was "scheduled" to do 4. Oh well. Stuff happens. You do what you can and you move onto the next day with a smile on your face :) 
  • Running is awesome. Yes, I learned this this year. But it's been a truly valuable lesson. Running is one of the very few things that clears my head, which I have trouble doing these days. The mere thought of running right now makes me excited, motivated, and yet focused. I love it. 
  • I am not a super-fast or "really great" runner, and that is okay with me. I can run, and however I can do that is super awesome. No comparing. No shame. 
  • The lady who lives below me hates my fitness addiction. ;) This is where you either laugh or cringe. 
  • I can really only workout in the morning, period. Other times of the day = no bueno. 

I love sharing my success with others because all this that I've written about has changed my life. I can only hope to encourage and connect with others with my accomplishments. That being said... 
  • Question for you: What's your fitness goal(s) for 2013? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peanut Butter Cherrios & A Special Package!

Good Afternoon!

I've had a slow, but overall good day so far. I woke up not feeling my best at all. Everyone at work is sick/getting sick right now, so I thought for sure I would be next. I seriously struggled through my Insanity workout today and was thinking about quitting the whole time because I was just so sure I was coming down with something. But after a shower and some lunch, I felt a whole lot better. Today was one of my call in shifts, but I didn't end up having to work. So thankful! I really needed to go grocery shopping and having the day off when while I'm not feeling too well just sounded divine.
After I got back from the store, I was rushing to put all my groceries away so I could try the Peanut Butter Cherrios I got as a snack. But while I was rushing, I dropped my whole carton of eggs :( Oops! At least none of them completely broke open. They're all still useable.

I had been wanting to try Peanut Butter Cherrios for a while since a friend said they were sooo good. I love peanut butter anything, so I decided to treat myself (normally, I don't buy cereal with BHT in it, so this considered a "treat"). Unfortunately, I am not that impressed with them, though! I thought it would be love at first bite, but I kept eating and eating thinking, "Where's the peanut butter?!" I feel like they have more pb flavor dry versus in milk, so I munched on some more just dry to try and get my fix but was still left feeling like I needed a scoop of pb. Maybe I just had too high of expectations? Either way, I actually found them to be addicting and I wanted to eat more, probably just because of the crunch though.
So since I have those broken eggs and I am still craving peanut butter, I'm going to whip up a batch of peanut butter blossoms tonight. My Christmas Survey from earlier also reminded me that it's not really Christmas until you make peanut butter blossoms. I love those cookies!

On a fun note, I got my Christmas package from my mom today! Isn't it cute?

My mom is the most thoughtful gift-giver ever. Gifts from her are the best, especially when sent from far away. I opened the box, and look what was inside!

So many goodies! I can't wait to open them! And if you're thinking it's a little soon for a Christmas package, I'm opening everything early this year since I'm travelling. More about that later :)

Off to turn up the Christmas tunes and make those peanut butter blossoms!

  • Question for you: What's your favorite holiday cookie? Everyone seems to have one! Share the recipe below :)

Fun Christmas Survey

I've seen this Christmas Survey floating around on some blog's I read, so I thought I'd give it a go as well. The original survey is from The Hungry Runner Girl.

1.  Favorite Christmas Album/CD/Song?
I was never into Christmas music until this year, but I admittedly love "Last Christmas." While some newer versions are good, I like Wham's version the best. 
2.  Run on Christmas morning or take the day off?
I've never worked out on Christmas. Thanksgiving, yes. Christmas, no. Christmas is for pajamas! 
3.  What do you usually eat on Christmas morning?
Aebleskiver! I'll blog more about this family tradition soon, but basically they are Danish pancakes. And they are amazing. It's not Christmas without them! 

4.  Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition?
Favorite Christmas tradition is opening a present on Christmas Eve and opening our stockings first. My sister and I also used to stay up all night on Christmas Eve together talking and being excited. Sometimes we'd wake up at 5 in the morning on Christmas and just go downstairs and look at all the presents before my parents got up (or before we begged them to get up really early). 
5.  Real tree, fake tree or no tree?
Fake. Easier, saves trees, less mess. And you can move the branches! My tree this year: 

6.  Christmas pajamas… yay or nay?
I've never had super Christmas-y pajamas, but I would not be opposed to having some. The closest thing I have are these gumdrop pajamas that were a Christmas present one year. 
7.  Where do you spend the holidays?  Your own house, your parents’ house, extended family, in-laws, friends?
When I lived with my family in Colorado, I always spen the holidays with them, just the four of us. We never travelled or anything. But now that I live in the North East with my hubby, we go to his parents' house in Tennessee for the holidays. 
8.  Food that you always have during the holiday season?  Favorite Christmas food/treat?
Aebleskiver makes this list, but besides that: hot chocolate, lots of cookies (especially peanut butter blossoms... mmm, I should make some of those soon), candy canes, and Sees candy. 
9. Open presents all at once or take turns?  Stockings… yes or no?
My family always takes turns. My dad always had to get a photo of us opening each gift, so turn taking was the only way to go. And of course, stockings! Beans even has his own stocking this year! :)

10.  Favorite Christmas(ish) movie?
I have to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas every year. I just love it! 

I can't believe Christmas is less than two weeks away! So excited now! 

Your turn: go ahead and answer any or all of these questions in the comments or on your own blog with a link back! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Manicure Monday: Minty Sparkles

Happy Monday! Man, today just seemed like one of those days that I couldn't get with it. It was gloomy, I was tired, and all I wanted all day was another cup of coffee! It is nice, though, to come home after a long day of work and treat my beat up hands to a fresh mani. Again, this week I wanted something "festive." It was a toss up between trying red and white candy candy stripes and mint green with sparkles. I just didn't have the time or patience for anything striped or red tonight, so I opted for the mint. While mint is not typically seasonal or considered festive, the color mint reminds me of those little Ande's mints and peppermint flavored things, which are everywhere this time of year. This mani also reminds me of snow falling on a frosty day - the "snow" being the glitter specs and the frosty day being the muted mint. Mint green is also one of my favorite colors, so it's always a winner for me :)

I used Sally Hansen's Xtreme Wear nail color in 340 Mint Sorbet with Essie Set in Stones and Essie No Chips Ahead top coat. Sally Hansen's Xtreme wear is definitely not my first choice in polish. The only reason I have this one is because the color is perfect. It's my favorite mint (and I own three). But the wear is anything but "Xtreme" to me, unless of course they mean extremely bad. Hopefully with the glitter and top coat, the mint will stay somewhat intact.

Something I picked up a little while ago to save my dried up winter hands is this Shea Cashmere & Silk hand cream from Bath & Body Works. This stuff is a miracle! It really feels like rubbing silk into your skin. So after I'm done with my mani, I rub this all over and my hands are darn near perfect (for a while at least). I'd highly recommend this stuff and it's sometimes on sale for $5-6. Not bad!

I would have wanted to get this post out sooner, but I was at work all day, then had to come home to real life, make dinner, play with Beans, and oh, gee - it's still Manicure Monday! I often times am finding it more difficult than I realized to do something as simple as a Manicure on Monday's. But this was my idea after all, and I made this posting series so that I could commit to a post every Monday since I already do a manicure once a week. It's also nice to start the week with a new mani. Anyway, I'm just realizing that it's not always fitting perfectly into my schedule, especially since my work schedule changes week to week. Basically, while I love Manicure Monday, it's not perfect and sometimes leaves me feeling annoyed or frustrated. And it's probably just my lack of organization with my time management, but either way, my feelings about it aren't always ideal. I'm just putting this out there because this blog for me is all about self-growth and being real about where I am with the imperfections. And yes, truthfully, Manicure Monday is sometimes another imperfection marker in my day.

But any time I'm done doing my mani Monday post, I'm happy I did and I get a new set of nails out of it to enjoy for the rest of the week. Part of the reason why I wanted to do this posting series was to show how important it is for me to take time to do something for myself each week. There are a lot of things I wish I could do each week for myself just in terms of beauty, like a long bath, a diy facial, hair treatments, etc. But I picked this one because it's practial, easy, and brings me a lot of joy. I feel most put together when I have my nails done. It reminds me that - even for an hour - I put myself first to take care of myself in a special way. And that's why it's all worth it!

Sometimes I think the best way to make time for the things we all want to do is to simply schedule them with no negotiations. My manicure is something that is non-negogiable unless I just want to skip my post altogether, which is pretty lame. The blog helps me hold myself accountable to doing it, and therefore, it gets done. If only I could start doing this hold-myself-accountable thing for all areas of my life!

  • Question for you: What one thing do you want to start scheduling for yourself each week that you always wish you had time for? 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Daily Imperfection: Laziest, Longest Day Ever!

Today has been by far the laziest and yet longest day ever. Today was one of those days where both the hubs and I knew that we didn't really have anything to do, so we just slept in, stayed in, and made really poor food choices all day!

I was lucky enough to be graced with my husband's always-delicious cheesy eggs this morning, along with a whole wheat bagel thin, and a lot of coffee in my favorite little festive mug. The rest of what I ate today can basically be left unsaid because I either don't remember or I do remember and I don't want to talk about it ;)

An Accidental Double Batch

Something the hubs and I have been munching on are these amazing cookies. The recipe is from Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers. They're called chocolate peppermint pudding cookies. Sound amazing? They are sooo good! I love chocolate, peppermint, and pudding, so this is a perfect cookie for me. There's peppermint pieces in the cookies which makes for a fun crunch and a pretty look to these sweets. This is definitely a great choice for a cookie exchange or for eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seriously... I cannot resist, and these things will probably be gone before the weekend is over.

The funny thing about these cookies though is that when I was making them, I accidentally dumped the whole packet of pudding mix into all the ingredients when it only called for half. Whoops! Immediately I knew I messed up the cookies as they were too dry and less pepperminty than I expected them. I freaked out, thinking I ruined the cookies I so eagerly wanted to bake, but my husband of course is smarter and less panic-y than I. Since I doubled the pudding mix, he suggested we double the whole recipe (aka the rest of the ingredients, so it all matched). And of course, that worked out perfectly, and - oh, darn - I ended up with a double batch of these suckers ;) Funny how the imperfections tend to work out in our favor (or not, if you're counting calories, but don't even go there with me this weekend).

Another Layout! 

Anyway, as you can see, I redid the blog layout again. The last one was just not working for me in certain aspects. Long story, but it's redone yet again. But I love it this time! It's completely different, fresh, and much more functional than the last one. Let's just say that I couldn't get the last one to be "perfect." When it comes to layout stuff, it's really hard for me to not expect perfection since I can technically manipulate everything in a layout. But I'm not that good with HTML, so I ended up messing things up and making it look worse in certain cases instead of better. Either way, after literally a whole day of bumming around on my compter, this layout seems to be working very well for me. And no, it's not perfect either, but it's a whole lot better.

Something to think about today: what areas of your life do you think you can actually attain perfection, such as my blog layout fiasco? Are you expectations realistic or will they lead you no where? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Daily Imperfection: To Work or Not to Work?

Happy Friday!

This has been quite a busy week for me. Lots of work, plenty of holiday errands to run, as well my "regular" errands too. My apartment is a bit out of whack - haven't vacuum in who knows how long, got some presents torn open by Mr. Beans. It all makes for a lovely sight! No idea why I thought I could get away with leaving presents wrapped in paper (Beans' favorite thing to destroy) under the tree! Here is the evidence:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Daily Imperfection: Out of Whack Back

Gooood morning, internet!

Today is one of those days I just woke up with cheer in my heart. Right now, I am so in love with the holiday season. Last night I was driving at night and saw so many Christmas lights - I just love it! I think maybe being an adult and realizing that time passes so much faster than it ever seemed to has made me appreciate simple things more. I also think that this whole year has transformed me into having a more thankful and appreciative heart for the small things in life. That said, Christmas music is playing nonstop in my house because it makes me so happy. My husband thinks I'm nuts, but I love Christmas music! It's just happy, cheery, and you can only listen to it once a year - so why not have it on 24/7, right? :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Manicure Monday: Another Festive One

So I finally got myself in gear after my workout, and I pushed through my cleaning and was able to sit down for an overdue mani. As I said last week, my nails were left completely ruined - chipped, ripped, broken, and peeling - from working over the holiday. I open a lot of boxes at work and am just rough on my hands/nails I guess, 'cause my mani didn't stand a chance! That being said, my nails are a little shorter and will probably remain that way through the busy holiday season that I'll be working. To save my nails some, I again used Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails as a base.

Daily Imperfection: A Late Start

Happy Monday! It's a beautiful sunny day here in New England, and yet I have had the slowest morning/day ever! Today's daily imperfection is just that: a ridiculously slow morning. Some days, I cannot get into the swing of things for the life of me. I don't know what it is, but it's like I'm just not prepared for a new week. Thankfully, I have the day off, so I wasn't pressured to do anything by a certain time - or anything at all for that matter!

Today started off with me getting up with the hubs. I sleepily drifted through our morning routine to get him out the door, but as soon as he left, I took a nap with Beans on the couch. I know, I know - this is such a terrible habit! I hate going back to bed after I get up! I really do, but I did wake up with more energy so maybe I needed the rest after all? Either way, that throws off my whole morning because instead of starting at 7, I was starting out at 9, and then the morning just whizzes by.

I had the itch to redo the layout of the blog. That itch is pretty much relentless, so I decided to do it right then when I got up. This, of course, took quite a while. I took a basic layout but edited everything to my own color preferences and made a new header, etc. My eyes do not want to look at any more code for a while now! Whatcha think of the new layout?

Anyway, after that, I finally got around to my workout at 11:30! I always feel like such a slug when I don't whip out a workout first thing in the morning. I have the tendency to beat myself up about that. If I don't do something when I expected to, then it's "not as good" somehow. But in reality, I know it doesn't matter what time I do a workout or any activity - as long as I get it done and do it well, which I did. I'm on my last two weeks of Insanity - love it! More on that later :)

But here it is - almost 2 pm and what have I done? Redid the layout, did a workout, got showered and dressed, and ate lunch. Doesn't seem like much in my head, but when I put into words I realize hey, I did do something at least! Lately, I seem to let action dictate my self-worth or mood. If I've done a lot, I'm pleased with myself and at ease, but if I slack up (even for half a day) I tend to feel bad about myself and have less self-worth, which is so not cool! This is definitely not a daily imperfection that is easy for me to embrace or just get over, but by at least being aware of my tendency to feel/think like this, I can take steps toward freedom.


I don't blog about my food all that much, and the last few weeks of eating have been terrible for me (hello, Christmas cookies!), but this week I'm trying to really keep myself in line before I go on vacation for Christmas and have less control over my diet. Here's today's spread: Trader Joe's Black Bean soup topped with some Mexican cheese, leftover fruit salad (bananas, clementines, & strawberries), some unpictured corn chips, and some lemon water to stay hydrated. It's hard to tell, but you can see my candy cane straw in the Starbucks cup - finally got to break it out again :)

Now off to clean the apartment and get to Manicure Monday before the day escapes me! 

Is there anything that you want to become more aware about yourself? What are you attempting to change about your own attitude? 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Lazy Sunday & Happy Weekend!

This has been a great, fun, and relaxing weekend in New England so far. Friday night started out with Christmas music, cranberry white chocolate cookies, and setting up our tree! I absolutely love setting up the tree. I've collected ornaments of my own since I was a kid, so I already had enough ornaments to fill most of me & the hubs large tree for our first Christmas last year. The tree is up now and the glow of the white lights is just magical to me on a cold night :)

It finally decided to snow here already! For days last week it was trying to snow with no luck. Just wasn't cold enough I guess. But it's no fun being inside dreaming of snow when it's cold out with no fluffy flakes. Yesterday morning I woke up to it snowing. I love the snowfall and when the flakes get huge. It snowed on and off all day yesterday. It didn't accumulate much, but was a pretty sight.

The hubs and I went up to Portland, Maine for the day - a super cute port city on the water that we'd never visited before. We went to a brewery, a famous restaunt called Duckfat. Apparently Duckfat was featured on CNN as one of the best places to get fries in America. They fry everything there in duck fat, hence the name. This sounded kind of weird to me, but it was great! I got some creamy tomato bisque soup and a grilled cheese. The fries were good, but fries just aren't my thing.

Today has been quite a lazy Sunday. Did some shopping, laundry, making a crock pot chicken and rice dish for dinner later, but also have done a lot of laying around. It's so perfect to me just to hang out in pj's (flannel pink ones at that!) when the weather is cold and it looks frosty out. But watch, come January when the weather is still frosty but the Christmas charm is gone, I'll be complaining!

Daily Imperfection: Bad Chocolate?

A random imperfection about today was this lovely advent calendar from Trader Joe's. I love, love, love Trader Joe's. This advent calendar was cheap and much more fun to look at than a fat santa or funky snowman for all of December, which is why I opted for this one over ones at other stores. And because it's from Trader Joe's, it's just better, right? Wrong! I know advent calendar chocolate is not the best and is sometimes pretty low quality. This chocolate however is terrible. I was so excited to open this (as I forgot to break it out yesterday). I let the hubs eat the first one, and before I could get to today's chocolate, he was already telling me how gross it was. I don't know what is up with this chocolate, but it's terrible! It tasted so off and like it wasn't even made of chocolate. It's so bad that I'd consider returning it, but I think it was only a dollar or two. So, with that said, we probably won't be using this advent calendar and I'll probably buy one of the "ugly" ones just so we don't have to eat disgusting chocolate all month!

Do you use any kind of advent calendar or have an advent tradition? 

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