Thursday, December 20, 2012


So I fell off the "thankful" wagon.   Big whoop!  I am thankful.  I don't need to blog about it to prove it.

I started this blog for me.  Would I love to have a billion followers?  Well, sure.  But I don't.  And that's totally cool.  I still keep it up to keep myself motivated and inspired.  So do I feel guilty about falling off the blogging horse recently?  Nope!  Not at all.  I'll get back into the swing of things. In the mean time, I'm spending my time with the people I love - GK, Vizz, Jay, my 'rents, Sammo, my best girl, and my furbabies. I could blog about that all day long, and it still wouldn't do our quality time justice.

Peace out, you guys.  Merry Christmas!  MWAH!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent, Day 17

November 17:  I am thankful for that one particular painting at Dayton Art Institute.

It was years ago.  I don't remember the title.  I don't remember the artist.  What I do remember is being completely awestruck the first time I saw it.  I stood in front of this painting for at least 30 minutes, taking in every color, every detail, every brush stroke.  I won't bore you with trying to describe it, because I could never do it justice.

I went back to DAI several times, and each time I couldn't wait to get to "my painting" to stand and take it all in again.  Security once barked at me for getting too close.  One particular visit a few years ago, I worked my way all through the museum, and never found it.  Certain I overlooked it, I went back a few weeks later - but still nothing. Without warning, it was just gone.

I'm thankful that I ever found this painting in the first place.  I'm thankful to have such vivid memories of not just the painting, but the way it made me feel.  For as much as I loved it, my living room would have never been a suitable place for it.  It deserved to be in a museum so the world could love it as much as I did.
Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent, Day 16

November 16: I'm thankful for rosemary.

I know that's an odd thing to be thankful for, but mmmmmm!  As a new low-carb/low-GI convert who loves the crap out of Italian food, rosemary is a life (read: sanity) saver.  I'm always adding a bit of rosemary to stuff.  Sometimes I open the jar just for a whiff.  When I'm not so concerned about the carbs, I mix a little into olive oil to dip bread in, I sprinkle it on potatoes pre-roasting, and I always (sorry, the boy!) add it to pasta sauce while it's heating.

Man.  I love rosemary.  HARD.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent, Days 13, 14 & 15

November 13:  I am thankful for coffee.

Hot, iced or blended.  Bold or deliciously flavored.  A splurge-worthy mocha or the free crap in the breakroom.  If you see me at 7:30 in the morning walking with an empty mug toward the breakroom, do us all a favor and don't talk to me until I'm walking back to my desk with a full mug. No coffee = no talky.

November 14:  I am thankful The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney

I do love to read, and I've read some truly fantastic books, but none quite like The Saving Graces.  Four best friends who go through everything together.  This is the book the book that made me realize the importance of girl friends, and the importance of every day of your life.  I've read it.  I've read it again.  And I've read it again... and again... and again.  I have given it as a gift to all the saving graces in my life, hoping they'll take as much from it as I did.

November 15:  I'm thankful for the internet.

The webbernets.  Faceypages.  Twitterspaces.  All of it!  Twenty years ago, could you even fathom the internet?  It's allowed me to reconnect with old friends, keep in touch with loved ones I don't get to see nearly enough, and it's also the home of fabulous gems such as this:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent, Days 10, 11 & 12

November 10:  I am thankful for my friends.

I don't even know where to start.  I have such incredibly talented, kind, compassionate, hilarious friends who are absolutely gorgeous, inside and out.  I won't even begin to list them for fear of I'll leave someone out, but a GIANT hug to my best girl of 25 (YIKES!) years.  I couldn't be more proud to call Jess my best friend.

November 11:  I am thankful for music.

There's nothing that can turn a day around or make a mundane task not so sucky like good music.  Fruit Bats, Radiohead, Hugh Laurie, The Monkees, Homeland, Dean Martin - all in heavy rotation on my ipod.

November 12:  On that note, I'm thankful for my ipod!

Ohhhh, the playlists!  I have "sleepy time" for when I'm an insomniac.  I have party playlists.  I have playlists I've made for friends.  I even have a "shake yer ass" playlist for when I need to light a fire under my rear end.  And shuffle.  Let's not forget shuffle.  It's a beautiful thing!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent, Day 9

November 9:  I am thankful for my furbabies.

I love these lil guys.  I love the lap sitting, face snuggling, nap-time-having, can't get a moment's peace of my pets, and I miss the ones who are no longer with me.  These guys are my besties, and their love and trust knows know bounds.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent, Day 8

November 8:  I am thankful (oh so thankful!) for my nephew.

There are no words, you guys.  He gives great snuggles and sugars.  His smile just melts me.  He's a total hambone (and if you know my family, you know he comes by it honest).  He's also turning a year old in less than a month.  I wish time would slow down and he'd stay a baby longer, but I also can't wait to watch him grow up and see what he becomes.  This little guy makes my heart happy!   My favorite goofball pic (sorry about that 'drunk eye' thing kiddo, you can never deny your dna!):

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent, Days 6 & 7

November 6:  I'm thankful for my job.

Yes, folks - you heard that right.  I am THANKFUL for my job.  For the most part, I can be left to my own devices.  I have a fantastic team to work with.  I have job security.  When I leave the office at 5:00, work doesn't follow me home.  I have a steady paycheck and make seriously good money.  And there is no flair required. :)

November 7:  I'm thankful for Coke Zero.

Shut up.  I AM!  Diet Coke suuuuucks.  I'm also thankful for Sprite Zero.  And for Cherry Coke Zero.  And Vanilla Coke Zero.  Oh, also for being able to mix Vanilla and Cherry together.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent, Day 5

I had a hard day today.  You know those days when you feel like the world just kicks you in the nuts and you feel like all your hard work goes unnoticed an unappreciated?  Yep, that was my day.  I was not in the mood to be all thankful up in this joint.  And that led me to this....

Day 5:  I'm thankful for my inner strength.

As my sister likes to say, I come from a long line of tough broads.  I have always, no matter the circumstances, been able to pick myself up by the bootstraps and keep on keepin' on.  I'm thankful for all the people in my life who have helped instill that in me.  And for the ones who tested it?  Look who's still standing, chumps!
Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent - Days 3 & 4

November 3 - I'm thankful for my mom and dad.

Mom and pops, Ma and Pa, Mamacita and Daddy-O.  I am incredibly blessed to have such understanding, supportive and kick-in-the-pants-giving parents.  Our family has been through some scary stuff, but we always come out stronger on the other side thanks to their strength.

November 4 - I'm thankful for my boy.

I'm thankful that as hard as I tried to run him off 4 years ago, he wouldn't take no for an answer.  I'm thankful for all the things he does for me.  I'm thankful I have someone to be a "team" with.  I'm thankful he makes me feel secure and settled.  I'm thankful he gets me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thanksgiving Advent Calendar, Day 2

November 2: I'm thankful for some downtime.

I've heard it all week from the folks I work with, "I'm so glad I don't have plans this weekend!"  Yep.   Me too, you guys.  It seems like such an inconsequential thing, but we forget how important a little time to relax can be.  October is always bat shit crazy for my boy and I.  The Halloween preparations start early in the month, we attend several parties, then have trick or treat night (my fave!).  Then it's just three weeks until the official start of an even crazier holiday season.  Running, shopping, wrapping, decorating, parties, drop-by guests.... all of it fantastic, but all of it exhausting.

So, yes.  I am thankful for a weekend "off."  And that weekend off starts now - I can hear my yoga pants calling my name.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Thanksgiving Advent Calendar

For the month of November, I'm going to take a very common idea and run with it.  Each day, I'll be blogging about something I am thankful for.  I've seen it done for years, but I finally saw it done right last year on my boy's favorite author's blog - John Scalzi's WHATEVER.

Today I'm getting a late start, but in no particular order, here goes:

November 1:  I'm thankful for my sister.  

She is my sister, my soul sister, my bestie, my fellow wine drinker, and let's be honest - my favorite Princess of Piss & Vinegar (ever been to her cuss-licious blog?).  Don't get me wrong, we have had our share of  *ahem* differences, but I can't imagine my life without her.

Vizz, I am more thankful for you than there are words in the universe.  Thanks for being there, helping me, sharing wine with me, and sharing secrets with me.  XOXOXO!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do you want the good news, or the bad news?

The bad news..... I still haven't gotten back on the exercise wagon.  It's been a month.  A month!!!  Circumstances beyond my control have had me back and forth to Springfield several nights.  When I wasn't in Springfield, I was running errands and playing catch-up in the Gem City.  And then the cool weather descended.  Don't get me wrong, I looooove autumn.  So hard!  My lungs, on the other hand, have a hard time adjusting to the cooler temps.  Then!  Oh yes, then, I got a fabulous illness - I have done nothing but wheeze and cough for two weeks.  As a matter of fact, still going strong with the wheezing and coughing.

But the good news?  I can't wait!  I can't wait to for my lungs to feel normal.  I can't wait to not be exhausted.  I can't wait to get down to my exercise room again and get on it!!

I don't have any cute pictures or anything to add to this, I'll share a video from one of my top five.... possible top ONE.... favorite band.  Enjoy (super foxy, le sigh!) Eric Johnson.  Pay no attention to the hair.  He really IS foxy.

Fruit Bats - You're Too Weird

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Catching Up With Runaway Wagons

Eau dear.

I've fallen off the wagon.  Not just fallen off the wagon.... fallen, skinned my knees, broke a hip, lost a tooth, and cried like a little girl.

Here are a few very large wagons that have left me in the dust lately:

  • Eating healthy (the fact that we have a kitchen full of leftover party food doesn't help)
  • Exercising
  • Blogging
  • Feeling sassy (due to all of the above)

I started this little bloggity blog to catalog all my successes, wins, thoughts, fails (including those of the epic variety) to help me through times like this when my motivation has gone by the wayside.  So I have used it as intended today -  I went back and reread my entries, and remembered how well my pants fit.  How much more energy I had.  How much self-confidence I had.  How proud of myself I was. 

Why wait until tomorrow to get back in the swing of things?  Right now sounds like as good a time as any, right?  

Here's hoping my next blog will be me shouting from the rooftops that I am back on track.
Sunday, August 19, 2012

Another New Toy

The company I work for has a thing for employee wellness.  They save on insurance, have less absenteeism - I get it.  We have an on-site "mini-gym," complete with lots of ellipticals and treadmills and such, and a fitness classroom where they hold classes like Zumba, Jazzercise, bootcamps, etc.  Guess who does NOT take advantage?  Yep, this girl.  I'm not a fan of working out in front of other people, particularly people I work with.

Anyhoo, this year, my company teamed up with these guys to try to get the employees living a healthier lifestyle.  You get certain points for doing certain things, then get to spend those points in their online "mall."  So when I got the info from work, I logged on, completed an HRA, set some goals and earned some points.

One of the ways to earn points is to do workouts, and use your Polar heart rate monitor to verify it.  This is where I got a little salty.  I spent a decent amount of my own money to purchase a Polar heart rate monitor and use it religiously, but unless I spend an addition $75ish for the gadget to upload data from the monitor to my pc (and thus, their website), my workouts down count for diddly on this program.

Like I said, salty.

Company to the rescue!  For completing my HRA, my company gave me (for free) a glorified pedometer known as a fitbug.  It comes with a little USB cable, so all you have to do is download the tracking software, wear the thing daily, and plug it in to upload your steps for the day.  Easy as pie!  The program gives you 5 points for 5,000 steps in a day and 10 points for 10,000 steps in a day.
Ya know, I try not to be all pessimistic and crappy about things.  I really do.  But 10,000 steps as a goal? REALLY??  The thing is, I have a desk job.  I'm the Queen of Email.  I don't get a chance to get up and rack up steps too often from 8-5. It's only so many steps from my desk to the coffee maker.  I wore the thing for my 45 minutes of my cardio one evening, and only logged 4,000 steps during that time.  Just for kicks, the following night, I did two full workouts wearing the thing and barely made the 10,000 - and that was adding in all the steps from my day.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great my company has taken such an interest in employee wellness, even if they do have an agenda. But, dear Fitbug and nameless company that employees me - maybe you should be a little more realistic about the number of steps a full-time desk jockey can take during the course of the day.

Now.... I'm off to log some steps.
Saturday, August 4, 2012

huffin' and puffin'

Stamina?  Am I supposed to have some of that?

After 2 weeks of illness, wicked dehydration and travel, I finally got back down to my exercise room tonight.    4,000% (yes, it IS a real number) humidity didn't help much, but I made it through unscathed and 435 calories lighter.

Since that's all I have to say on the health front, I'll leave you with some yummy Hugh Laurie.  Whom I will be going to see live in August.   It's okay if you're jealous.  *le swoon*

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Niki's Truths About Exercise

"I don't exercise.  If God wanted me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the floor."
 ~Joan Rivers

I'm human.  There is ALWAYS an excuse not to exercise.  I have gone through stages of exercising like a fiend (divorce diet, anyone?), but sadly, those have all been short lived.  Over the last 8 months (eight months - whoa!), I have been incredibly proud of myself for sticking with my exercise guns.  I may miss brief stints here and there, but I always get back in the swing of things, and I always feel better for it.

I caught myself thinking, what makes this time different?  How do I know I'll still be at this in a year?

Here are just a few things I think have really made a difference.

Space.  I have a space that is just mine, and it is only used for exercise. I call it my "workout room," but that might be overselling it a bit.  It has inexpensive flooring, a tv with a DVR for all my fave workouts, a table to keep my stuff on, and fan.  Not to mention, it's in the basement - it stays about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the house!  Knowing that space is there keeps me motivated to use it.   Oh, and no one ever goes down there but me.  I can sing along with the music and act a fool, and the boy is none the wiser.

Variety.  I am up to about 12 different workout DVDs.  They vary in length, from 20 minutes to a full hour.  I have weight training, cardio/aerobics, yoga, toning.  Of course, I have my favorites, and there are a couple that are straight brutal.  Changing it up keeps things challening, and it keeps me from getting bored.

My heart rate monitor.  Oh, I am full on addicted to this thing!  There is nothing more motivating than seeing your stats flash across that little watch.  I love knowing how long I've been in my target heart rate zone, what my maximum heart rate was - not to mention the calories I've burned!  It challenges me to keep going.  475 calories?  I can make it to 500!  

Gear.  Gear, gear, gear.  I always went el-cheapo in the past.  $10 sports bras and stretch pants from Walmart.   This time, I stepped it up and spent a bit more than I normally would. I think buying better stuff helps working out feel like a commitment, rather than a passing phase.  After all, when is the last time you saw someone run a marathon in cheap ass shoes? Here are a few things I have committed a little extra cash to:

  • Ryka shoes.  I've tried several brands, but I always come back to Ryka. They are made for women's feet.  Narrower through the heel, a little wider in the metatarsal, and light!  I love that I can feel the floor through them.
  • Fila gear.  Those cheap workout pants from Walmart?  Their only true use is sliding off your rear end while you exercise.  So unless you want to spend your quality workout time hiking your drawz up, pick up some pants that will stay with you while you move.

  • Decent sports bras.  I have a few, mostly Nike and Fila.  The support can't be beat, particularly for aerobics.  My old ones have been relegated to sleepy time.
  • Socks.  Yes, I just said socks!  I had a conversation that went like this.  Me:  I think I need new workout shoes.  The Boy:  I think you need better socks, not the cutesy dollar socks from Target.  Me:  Huh, never thought about that.  So I went and bought new socks.  Turns out, the $12 pack of socks was a waaaay better investment than another $75 pair of shoes!

So there you have it - Niki's list of fabulous exercise stuff.  Because we all know......

Saturday, July 7, 2012

First Forays into Glycemic Index

After much reading and research, I decided to give the Glycemic Index "diet" a try.  As per my usual ways, I immediately ran out and bought four (yep, FOUR) new books.  I grabbed a glass of wine (which is totally okay), parked myself on the couch and started reading.

I can't lie.  The first week was tough.  Pasta for dinner 2-3 times a week?  A thing of the past.  Snacky time pretzels and crackers?  Goodbye, my loves!  Dinner rolls and *ahem* heaping *cough* servings of mashed potatoes?  Fare thee well.  But I was able to make choices about the carbs I consumed.  Unlike some of the more hardcore anti-carb diets out there, I can still eat carbs without feeling like I'm going to derail all the good I've done.

Let me just say (without getting into embarrassing numbers), I've been very pleased with the scale over the past three weeks!

So what do I eat?  Here's a lowdown of a typical day:


  • 1/4 cup homemade granola (See? Carbs first thing in the morning!)
  • 3 celery stalks w/ 2 Tbsp peanut butter (yes, I do measure, thankyouvurahmuch)
  • Salad made with romaine or spinach, carrots, shredded cheese, turkey breast, diced hard boiled eggs, bacon and dressing of my choice (even full fat stuff)
  • Meat.  Lots of lean meat.
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Small salad
  • 2-3 times a week, I will have 1 dinner roll, or one small serving of potatoes (I'm currently trying to avoid mashed taters - I love them so hard, it's near impossible to control myself!)
  • Cheese (mmmm!).  I like cheddar/colby, aged white cheddar, gouda. Let's be real.  I'll eat pretty much any cheese you put in front of my face.
  • Turkey pepperoni
  • Hard salami with cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup nuts (almonds and cashews are my current faves)
  • Pork rinds (I know, kinda white trash.  But they get me over the "I want potato chips" hump.)
  • Lots of water throughout the day, with the occasional Coke Zero.

Interested in reading a bit more?  Dig this article from WebMD.

I'm off to check my pot roast!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

One Hot (cool) Dish!

I'm about two weeks in with the low glycemic plan (which is FANTASTIC, but more on that in another post).  Feeling pretty saucy with my results and getting used to making different food choices when DUH DUH DUUUUUH..... I get an invite to a cookout.  

Knowing the menu will consist of white burger buns, chips, pasta salads and all sorts of stuff I'm trying to lay off of, I went in search of a low GI side dish recipe, and found this gem. 

Black Bean and Avocado Salad

2 avocados (not quite fully ripe - easier to work with)
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 can corn (drained)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
4-6 scallions (chopped)
2 Tbsp parsley
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Pit, peel and dice up the avocados, and put them in a bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice, stir gently to coat, and set aside.

In large bowl, combine corn, beans, bell pepper, scallions, parsley and garlic.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Pour dressing over veggie mixture.  Gently fold in avocados, cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours (just until chilled).  

Serving size:  1/2 cup
Glycemic Index: Low
Glycemic Load: 6

Monday, June 11, 2012

Digging Into the Low-GI Way of Life

I do realize it's been forever and a day since I've blogged.  There's a pretty good reason for that though.  I haven't had much to say.  A crazy busy social calendar combined with my efforts being relatively status quo just don't make for entertaining reading.

But!  I did get some really good news today.  After 6 months of consistently exercising, my blood pressure was beautiful!  I've always been a 120(ish)/80(ish) kind of gal.  Today, I was sitting pretty at 106/68.  Knowing that hypertension runs in my family, my doc literally high-fived me.  w00t!

Also, I'm sniffing out a new "diet" plan.  I hate the word diet.  Just saying it makes me feel deprived and hungry.  So, I'm more hoping this will be a way of life instead of a "diet."  (Did you guys here that?  I think my stomach just growled as I said it.)

I'm reading about the Glycemic Index; aka: GI.  I've done the low carb thing before, living on meat and cheese with no fruit and very few veggies.  To quote Antoine and Blaine....


Again with the feeling deprived thing, ya know?  Since when are fruits "unhealthy"?  Needless to say, that didn't last long.

The GI plan doesn't forbid anything.  What at it does do is teach you how to choose healthy carbs. White bread?  Not so much.  Stone ground wheat bread?  Help yourself!  With normal servings, of course.  I can eat fruit.  I can eat peanut butter.  The more lean meat and non-starchy veggies on my plate, the better, but nothing is off limits.  There are no phases to worry about.  I bought three books and am totally engrossed in them, and did my first shopping excursion today.  I am really excited about this one.  It will definitely be a learning curve, but it sounds like the health benefits (including better moods - the boy will like that!) will make it totally worthwhile.

I have to go stir my homemade low-GI granola now.  Ta-ta!
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

back on that horse

The boy and I have this thing we like to call "kickin' it Sunday."  I generally don't want to do anything on Sunday.  At all.  Including working out.  Bummer is, Monday was a "feeling sorry for myself Monday."  Everyone is entitled to a bad day once in awhile, right?  Right?  So, that ended up being a day off of the workouts too.

Today, I am happy to say that I pulled my head out of my ass and got back in the groove. 50 minutes of cardio with an average heart rate of 161 for a whopping 465 calories burned.

That feels good.  :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

New Toy!

OH BOY!  I got a new toy!

In my review of Burlesque by Jazzercise, I mentioned that I thought maybe I wasn't working quite as hard as I thought I was.  That got me thinking - what if I'm not working as hard as I think I am, like, ever?  Really, how does one tell exactly how hard one is working?  I mean, sure,  I'm sweating like a hoss.  My heart is pounding.  I'm tired when I finish.  But, Skillz... how hard ARE you working?

I went online and did a little research on heart rate monitors and decided on the Polar FT40.  I didn't want to spend a fortune, but I wanted a little more than basics.  I found a great price through Amazon, placed my order, and within a few days, my new toy arrived.

I have to say, it's pretty cool and easy to use.  Some of it's perks:

  • It's personalized.  You tell it your sex, height, age (HA), weight (HAHAHA), and it determines your target heart rate zone.
  • Based on your info, it also tells you how many calories you've burned.
  • It keeps track of your data.  How long have you spent working out this week?  How many calories have you burned this week?  How many of those calories were from fat? What was your average heart rate?  All at the touch of a button.
  • Using it is pretty intuitive.  It ain't rocket surgery, y'all.
  • The chest strap.  Looks big and cumbersome, but it sits right below your sports bra band.  Once you're moving, you can't tell the difference.
  • A very easy to read display lets you know if you are in the fat burning zone, fitness zone, or anaerobic zone, and you can turn on an alarm to let you know when you've gone out of your target zone. 
It's anti-perks:
  • Although it is easy to use, the user manual kind of sucks.  That said, I did just find a complete manual on their website.  I'll be printing that puppy out.
  • READ the manual before you push a button.  I didn't..... and ended up being asked to input my stats in German.  
  • No easy way to reset your personal info, like the fact it thinks you speak German.  I had to take the back off and pop the battery out (which was a real pain in the ass) to get it back to square one.
Bottom line, I'm diggin' it!  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Workout Review - Burlesque by Jazzercise

I have been sitting on this workout review for awhile.  Big reason?  I LOOOOOVE THIS WORKOUT ( <------ that is me shouting from the hilltops), and I didn't want to blow my wad too soon.

Let's get one thing clear from the start.  This ain't yer mama's Jazzercise.

As I've said before, I'm a pretty big Jazzercise fan.  I own several of their dvds (including Ballet Body, which I reviewed here), and this one by far takes the proverbial cake. Don't get me wrong - the first few times I put this one in, I had to tell the boy not to come upstairs.  I was not feeling sexy when I first started!  But I learned the moves, got more comfortable with the flow, and started feeling a little sexier a little bit at a time.  So, Burlesque by Jazzercise, how do I love thee?  Let me tell you all the ways!

Shanna.  Shanna Missett Nelson is the daughter of Judi Sheppard Missett, who founded Jazzercise waaaay back in the day (want a hilarious way to pass some spare time?  Youtube old Jazzercise clips).  While I have the utmost respect for Judi (she looks real good for her age, y'all),  I don't enjoy her style of leading a class.  Shanna brings new blood.  She's cute, she's upbeat, she keeps you moving, and she is fantastic with cues!  Her cuing ability may go unnoticed by some, but for those of you who have ever taken a class with an instructor who doesn't tell you what's next, you know how frustrating it can be to not get good cues.  Again, total respect for Judi, but I love having Shanna kicking my cardio into high gear.

Music.  With most workouts, music seems to be an afterthought.  Just there to fill the void.  But this dvd?  The music takes center stage.  J Lo, Britney Spears, Pussycat Dolls, and lots of stuff I've never heard of.  I have actually downloaded most of the music to make my own "Shake Yer Ass" playlist on my ipod.  I dare you not to dance.  If you ain't shakin' it, may I suggest checking your pulse?

Customization.  I've noticed a lot of dvds are jumping on this bandwagon.  Much like the choose your own adventure books of our youth, this is choose your own workout.  There is the option for the full 40 minute workout, a quick 20 minute cardio workout, or you can jump straight to abs and legs portion, which is 10 minutes.  I like having the option of shorter workouts when I'm tight on time, but I rarely do anything but the full 40 minutes.

Dancing.  Fun, fast, booty shaking dancing.  Need I say more?

The downside?  Hmmmmm, the downside.....  let me think on that.   Sometimes I worry I'm not working quite as hard as I think I am, heart rate wise (but I've got a new toy on the way that'll help me figure that out).  You know what though?  I may not be at the top of the exertion chart, but a) I'm moving; b) I'm sweating; c) I'm gaining strength and stamina; and d) I'm having a ball!

Want a peak?  Here's a little sumpin' sumpin' from Jazzercise's YouTube channel.

Buy it.  Do it.  Learn it.  Love it!
Thursday, April 5, 2012


Yeah, I've been MIA....A.  That would be Missing In Action.... Again.  I've been under the weather.  And by under the weather, I mean I've had an earache that would make a grown man cry.  I haven't been worried about working out, I haven't been worried about eating healthy.  I've only been worried about where the hell is the Motrin??!

After deciding I'd had enough ibuprofen to eat a hole through my liver, I finally made an appointment with my family doc.  God love him - he got me in that day for an appointment.  The ear needed some prescription assistance, but will be fine (thanks for asking).  As he was brushing up on my current meds, he asked about my asthma, how I was doing on the inhaler, how often I was using it.   I was a little leary to tell him exactly how much I'm using it these days (2-3 puffs pre-workout, every workout), in fear of the push for a daily controlling med.  So, I fluffed it up and put a good spin on it.

I informed him that while, yes, I had increased my usage, it was for good reason.  I'd recently developed an "exercise habit," and needed the puffer.  He asked what kind of exercise and how often.  I told him cardio and strength training for 45 minutes, 4 to 5 days a week.  He said good on me!

When my doc asked how long I'd been at this, I replied that it was a little over four months.  You know what he said?  He said "good, you're over the hump.  Most people don't start to feel the benefits until after 10 weeks."

TEN WEEKS?  Good thing I didn't know that four months ago.  Oy!  Not sure I'd have had the perseverance to stick that out, to tell the truth.  I mean, really..... ten weeks?

Then I commented that being sick really bums me out.  In addition to just sucking, I haven't exercised in over a week, and that makes me feel crummy too.  My back feels tight, my muscles feel stiff, I feel tired and lazy. The realization dawned on me right as my doc said it aloud.  It seems as though I've made myself a new habit.  I always thought it was kind of bogus that people said working out gave them more energy.  Let's be real, you guys.... I'm tired when I get home from work.  Workouts or no workouts.  I. Am. Beat.  And some days, it is a struggle to get upstairs, change into my gear and get myself moving.  But I do it.  And I always feel better for it afterward.

I'm on day 3 of ear rescue, and I've only been able to work out once.  I was pleasantly surprised that I made it through the full workout without wanting to die.  I'm very much looking forward to getting all the little ear-stabbing monsters gone so I can get that spring back in my step.
Monday, March 26, 2012


.... is something I am not.  The older I get, the more I wish I would have spent my younger years moisturizing, wearing sunscreen, flossing, eating healthier, watching my weight.  What is it they say about hindsight?  Over the last several years, I've noticed my body isn't as happy as it used to be.   It is showing the stresses I've put on it over the years..... crow's feet, weight gain, random aches and pains, new freckles (finding a new spot always freaks me out), gray hair (SHHHHH!!!  As far as the world knows, yes - this IS my natural color).

One of my favorite poems, Youth and Art by Robert Browning has such a profound closing verse.
"This could but have happened once,
and we missed it, lost it forever."

Sorry, Mr. Browning.  I'm calling bullshit.

I haven't missed it.  I haven't lost it forever.  Over the last year, I've gotten pretty serious about taking care of myself.  This "exercise kick" I've been on for the past 4 months started simply as a weight loss tool.  It has become so much more than that, though.  It energizes me.  It's part of my daily routine.  It helps get the kinks out of my back after a tough day at work.  My knees don't hurt anymore.  I'm gaining strength.  My jeans fit better.  I miss the workouts if I have to go more than a day or two without one.  Bottom line - I feel good!

Credit is due to Shape Magazine for the stats here, but did you know exercising:

  • 90 minutes  a week can increase your lifespan by three years
  • 150 minutes a week can drop a woman's risk of heart disease by 14 percent
  • 275 minutes a week can help you lose 10% of your body weight (and keep it off!)
  • 135 minutes a week boosts your energy and reduces stress (A Duke University study found that 45 minutes of cardio three days a week can be as effective as a prescription drug for treating depression)
  • 210 minutes a week improves blood sugar.  Type 2 diabetes?  NO THANK YOU.
Told y'all..... I just feel good.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One Hot Dish!

Lunch time is always a struggle.  Always.  I'm not a big fan of the sandwich (unless it's something dripping with fat and calories from a fast-food place).  I do love salads, particularly in the summer, but I get bored with them after awhile.  Dinner leftovers are a great thought, but I prefer to keep my lunches a little lighter.  Here is a little something I like to keep on hand when I need to give the boot to lunch break monotony.

Fiesta Soup

1 can fat free refried beans
1 can chicken broth
1-2 large cans of Swanson or Tyson chicken breast
1 can black beans
1 can corn kernals
1 cup salsa (I prefer mild, but I'm kind of a wuss)
1 packet taco seasoning (I like low sodium for this recipe)

Toss it all in a big stockpot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the refried beans have melted.  It's great topped with LF shredded cheese and sour cream, and served with baked tortilla chips.  You can even jazz it up with some diced tomatoes and scallions on top.

Once I make the pot, I dish it out into 6 small storage bowls and stick them in the freezer.  I will say this - it tends to reheat a little thick, so no harm in putting a little extra both in the recipe.  When I'm jonesing for NOT a salad, I grab a bowl and throw it in my lunch bag.  With all the fiber, it is crazy filling - one small bowl does the job.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

MIA - but who can blame me?

I realized today I've been MIA from my bloggity blog blog for a little too long.  So sorry!  I celebrated my birthday this week... literally ALL week.  Dinner with my family, dinner with the boy, birthday cocktails at Century Bar with some of my fave people, and I wrapped up my week long celebration by heading out to the Dublin Pub for St. Patrick's Day.  Needless to say - I. Am. Exhausted.

I do have one small update.  Please don't think of me as a quitter, because that certainly isn't the case.  After 12 weeks of struggling with the numbers on the scale, I decided to no longer be a member of Weight Watchers.  Here's the thing - I've been on their Points plan before and had fantastic luck.  And I can't talk smack about it - it is an easy plan to follow (want a brownie?  Cool - have a brownie!) and it really teaches you some great habits, such as measuring your portions and focusing on fresh fruits and veggies.  But WW has recently revamped the way they calculate their points, and it just doesn't seem to work for me.  I'll take some of the lessons with me as I go because I really do feel better when I put better food into my body, but I can't continue to pay for a "weight loss" plan when I'm not losing weight.

Like I said, I'm no quitter. And I'm not talking smack about Weight Watchers - I know several people who love the new Points Plus  system.  Even though the scale has spent the last 3 months bouncing back and forth between the same 4-6 pounds, I feel good.  I feel so much better than I have in a long time.  I can see a transformation happening in my shape, and that is wicked encouraging.  I'll still lay low on the fat, calories and carbs.  I'm not giving up..... I'm just not paying to see the numbers not change.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Workout Review: Ballet Body by Jazzercise

For Christmas, one of my gifts to the boy was going to be memberships to our neighborhood rec center for the two of us.  How fun to have someone to work out with, right?  Unfortunately, because of a minor physical limitation, he decided it wouldn't be worth the fee for him to join.

Here's something you need to know about me:  I ain't going to the gym alone.

Since I won't be hitting the gym anytime soon, I have started to amass quite the collection of workout videos.  I have a few yoga one, some dance ones, some super-quick targeted ones..... but no matter how many I buy, I always gravitate toward Jazzercise.  I attended a Jazzercise class for about 3 years with a friend (it's that "won't go alone" thing) when I lived in Cincinnati, and I loved it.

Jazzercise recently released three new DVDs,  one of which is Ballet Body.  As a past-life dancer, I figured this would be right up my ally.  And it is.  It also kicks my ass.

What I love about this DVD (and most Jazzercise DVDs), is that you have the option to pick your workout.  There is a 20 minute accelerated workout, 10 minute legs & arms workout and a full 40 minute workout.  My first time through, I picked the 20 minute workout and thought I was going to die.  Seriously.  My thighs burned, my arms and shoulders were singing!  Okay, they were screaming, but whatever.  While there is no true cardio going on, the ballet moves will challenge muscles you didn't know you had.  Within the first five minutes of plies and port de bras, I was sweating up a storm.

My only beef with this particular workout is the ab section.  Maybe it's working on the sly, but I just don't feel like I'm getting a whole lot out of it.  I don't sweat that too much though, my abs get plenty of working out with the other stuff I do during the course of the week.

Overall, I really dig this workout.  I try to do the full workout once a week, and I can already tell a difference in my strength, balance and posture - not to mention my "I WILL finish this" attitude!

Monday, March 5, 2012


I have been needing a shopping trip lately.  Not needing as in "jonesin' for commerce," but needing as in I was down to a few pieces that weren't looking like they'd been washed a million times.  The boy doesn't understand why shopping trips require planning and coupons and sale watching, and possibly trips to the same stores at two different malls.  After all, he just waltzes in, picks up a pair of pants with the correct number on the tag, and  tah-dah!  They fit!

Several times, I have tried to explain the nuances of womanly figures to the boy.  Hips, thighs, short legs, skinny jeans (ack!), jeans for curves, tummy control jeans, long legs, short waisted - Heaven forbid you get home to find you bought a pair of high-waisted mom jeans with a baggy crotch (ladies, you feel me on the baggie crotch, right?).   Not to mention, shopping for pants has been known to cause extreme depression that can only be cured with a bottle of Syrah.

I stopped by Kohl's to pick up a pair of Levi's while I was out yesterday.  Not a fan of Kohl's generally, but they seem to have a pretty decent selection of sizes and fits (particularly for us short chicks) in jeans.  I quickly found the fit and size I needed, and just for kicks and grins, grabbed a size smaller than the last pair I bought.

Pretty sure the lady in the dressing room next to me thought I was having a seizure by the sight of my feet doing the happy dance under the wall. The smaller size fit like a glove!!  Also, there may or may not have been strutting as I left the dressing room.

This is what one would refer to as a NSV, or non-scale victory. w00t!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oh dear....

Not-so-good stuff I've done since Friday:

  • wine
  • eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes
  • pizza
  • more wine (hey, don't judge me!)
  • Taco Bell 
  • margaritas 
  • cheeseburger & onion rings
I know, right?

Now, here's they WAY better stuff I've done since Friday:
  • Kicked it into high gear
  • a morning/afternoon full of fresh fruits & veggies
  • tons of water
  • baked chicken & veggies for dinner
  • 40 minutes of ass kicking cardio
  • planned a healthy menu and inked in workout time each evening
So, all the good stuff happened today.  When it comes to getting back on track,  no time like the present, oui?  Even after just 4 days off, I felt so sluggish - I had to make myself work out tonight, but I feel so much better for it.   It was definitely an epic slip up, but I'm determined to make an epic recovery.
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Another Hot Dish!

The boy is a little, um, set in his ways when it comes to food.  We could alternate pizza, Taco Bell, meatloaf and chinese takeout week in and week out, and I wouldn't hear the slightest whimper of dissatisfaction.  Not that I don't love (and love hard) all those things.... but I also love not needing to take the arms off of my chair at work to be able to sit in it.  

This recipe took some convincing.  Like several months of convincing.  And my success in convincing the boy to let me make it was only solidified by my offer to spring for pizza if it turned out crappy.   My bank card was spared - it turned out absolutely delicious.  And it's made in a slow cooker.  Dinner that makes itself while I have a glass of wine?  WIN.

White Bean Chicken Chili

  • 1 pkg boneless skinless chicken breast, raw & cubed into bite size pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cans chicken broth (I only add 1 to start)
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles
  • 1 can corn
  • 2 cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cayenne
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Throw it all in your slow cooker and stir to combine.  That's it.  Really.  Cook on low for 6 hrs or on high for 2-3 (or until the chicken is cooked through).  You can add more spices at the end if you want to kick it up, and you can also thin it out with more broth or thicken it up with a slurry (whisk in a couple spoons of flour into remaining broth, stir into chili and let simmer for another 10-15 mins). 

Garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and scallions.  

You're welcome.
Sunday, February 19, 2012

off-topic hilarity

I'm feeling a little rotten after two consecutive nights of EPIC food fail.

Night 1: Cracker bread at Dublin Pub, accompanied by several pints.  (Cracker bread = carb heaven.  A flat bread covered in mashed potatoes, bacon and cheese.  Hey, at least I didn't eat all of it!)

Night 2:  Dinner at The Oakwood Club.  A starter of carpaccio, salad, 9 oz filet, garlic rosemary mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli with a raspberry sauce.   Again, didn't eat all of it, but I was sadly close.  At the end of the meal, I looked at my plate, then quietly leaned over and whispered to the boy "I'm ashamed."

To help quell my feeling of rotten-ness, here is a little something to make us all giggle.

(Why don't the guys Roto Rooter sends to my house look like this??)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Gives?

I consider myself fairly health savvy.  I know that I need to limit fat, carbs and sodium.  I know my numbers.  I try to be active at least 4 hours a week.  I was looking for something to help me monitor my workouts, and was perusing heart rate monitors online when I came across an article about the cardio zone versus the fat burning zone.

Hang on a sec..... WHAT????

Correct me if I'm wrong, but am I not burning fat when I get my heart rate up?

According to what I read, workout intensity can change whether your body is using a higher proportion of fat or calories as fuel.  If you work out at a lower intensity, your body uses proportionally more fat; a higher intensity gets your body burning more calories.

Boy howdy, did I get excited!  You mean I can work out at a lower intensity and still reap the rewards, instead of busting ass for 40 minutes of heart  pumping, sweating like a hog cardio?  Sort of, but no.  Burning calories at a higher intensity creates a bigger calorie deficit (calories in vs. calories out).  And it still burns fat, just not as a primary fuel source.  Burning calories, over time, will lead to a bigger long term weight loss.  To get the same benefits from a lower intensity workout, you'd have to extend the duration quite a bit.  Not that I would mind a longer, less killer workout, but really - who has time for that?

I'm hoping that my regimen is giving me the best of both worlds.  It's good to know that the days I do the less intense workouts - still hard, but my heart rate isn't sky high - I'm still benefiting from my efforts.
Monday, February 13, 2012

Workout Review - Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss

Let's get one thing straight from the start.  This program by itself will not have you dropping pounds.

I'm pretty iffy on yoga workouts.  I'm not all that familiar with yoga, and I would generally be doing something a bit more upbeat.  Oh, also - I'm not so flexible these days, which is kind of a problem with most yoga programs.   This dvd, which is led by Suzanne Deason, was my first foray into yoga.  I've had it for a few years, and it's taken me about that long to get into it.  Because, to tell ya the truth.... it bored me to tears.  If I'm not jumping around and sweating my nuts off, I don't feel like I'm working out.  And if I don't feel like I'm working out, I do feel like I'm wasting my time.

Over the last few months, though, I've gained a new appreciation for yoga.  You know those nights that you just can't make yourself exercise, but you know you should be doing something?  Yoga is a great alternative.   This workout is about 45 minutes, and you have the option of choosing your modifications.  You can choose one modification from the start menu (for you beginners, like me, a modification is a change to a pose to make it a little easier or more challenging, depending on your level), or you can choose to see all three at once, and you can adjust your modifications as you go through the program.

One thing I have particularly come to love, is that after a stressful day at work, this workout takes my shoulders out of my earlobes.  Suzanne walks you through breathing and stretching exercises before getting into the active yoga conditioning.  Just working through the first 10 minutes of the workout takes the knots out of my back and has me feeling relaxed.  The active yoga conditioning requires a bit of strength, but it's more about balance.  Let's be real - had I been attempting yoga for the first time and they told me to do a plank, I'm sure that dvd would have made a great coaster for my wine glass.

In a nutshell, this isn't overly strenuous, and it won't have you shedding pounds in itself, but it is a great way to work on balance, build some strength and work those kinks out of your back and neck.  One other plus - if you close your eyes, Suzanne's calming voice and serene music will have you forgetting you are sitting on your living room floor.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One hot dish!

When cooking for my darling boyfriend (aka: the boy), healthy must be hidden.  I do generally buy low fat ingredients, but get I tend to get a little flack for it from time to time.  This recipe is a favorite of both the boy (who wants full fat and high carb) and myself.  It is low calorie, low fat, low points but completely delicious.  Fantastic with roasted potatoes and asparagus.

Orange Crumb Chicken:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large orange (zested and juiced)
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 cups whole wheat crackers (I like baked Wheat Thins)
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper

In one bowl, combine the juice from your orange, dijon mustard and salt.  In another  bowl, combine shallot, orange zest, pepper and pulverized crackers (you can use a food processor, but I find a rolling pin and a gallon size zip top bag works just fine).

Brush your chicken breast with the orange juice mixture, then coat with the cracker crumbs, pressing firmly to get  them to adhere to the chicken.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30-40 mins (until chicken is cooked through).    ** Hint**  If placing the chicken straight on the baking dish, flip chicken halfway to prevent soggy crumbs.  I place a wire rack on my baking dish and put the chicken on that - it allows heat and air to circulate under the chicken, preventing the soggies.
Sunday, February 5, 2012

so THAT is what motivation feels like!

About 6 weeks ago, I joined a commercial "diet" plan.  Two things about that sentence:

  1. Okay, I'm totally busted.  I re-joined.
  2. Am I allowed to say Weight Watchers on here, or will the WW police show up and shut a girl down? 
I was doing pretty well.  After the first week, I tracked my weight, and found I was down two whole pounds!  I danced my way to the coffee maker that Friday morning. And I danced all day.  Well, I danced while no one was looking.

I was feeling so good about myself, the next week, I kicked it up.  Measured food portions, journaled every bit that went into my mouth, did cardio for 25-40 minutes 5 days that week.  That Friday morning, I pulled out my scale feeling pretty good about what was about to happen.  You know that cartoon face, where the dude's eyes bug out, the jaw hits the floor and the tongue rolls out?  Yep, that was me.  I gained a pound.


After a short bout of wallowing in self-pity, I decided there MUST be something else going on.  Water weight, right?  So, I got back on that horse.  Subsequently, I also got a wicked cold.  Oh, and let's not forget our dear hormone friends.  For two weeks of feeling just straight up bad and needing to feed my cold comfort food (carbs, anyone?), I couldn't bring myself to step back on the scale.   I got it together, started exercising again, and three weeks after the great scale debacle, I cautiously stepped back on the scale.  I got off, made sure it was correct, and got back on.  I was down an additional 4.5 pounds!

Logging that new number has upped my chutzpah level tremendously.  It has helped me pass up the Doritos and make a commitment to exercising.  Heads up, y'all.  I've got a cute vintage baby blue brocade dress I'll be rockin' this spring.  And it will fit like a glove.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome to Skillzville! Population - well, we'll see.

So, here's the thing.  I have wanted to keep a blog for quite some time, but I could never quite narrow down what I wanted my blog to be about.  Weight loss?  Motivation? Recipes? (Food Vs. Face has that covered pretty well, but I *am* biased.)  All those topics seem so narrow.

Then I thought - why not all of it?   I want to keep track of my journey to just feel better.  Maybe I'll have a metric pantload of readers (wouldn't that be fun?).  Maybe I'll have a small following of friends and family and maybe a few strangers on the same journey (it's all good!).  Maybe this will be my place to celebrate successes and dish about epic fails.  Mostly, I want this to motivate me to stay on track to get the spring back in my step.

Welcome to Skillzville.  I hope you enjoy your stay.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
Well, here we have it.  Skillzville.

If you're wondering about the premise of Skillzville, you're in good company... so am I.  Let's see what develops, shall we?

Exes and ohs, my lovelies.

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