Friday, November 23, 2012

Insanity Update

Successfully made it through week 5 of the Insanity Program and started on week 6.  I met a few setbacks in scheduling this week, with having been gone all weekend to a dance exchange (whee!) and with the holiday, so I am a bit behind.  My plan is to use the last days of the week plus next week to finish week 6 and start week 7 the following Monday.  I will finish the program, just not in the 60 days it calls for, which is okay by me...because sometimes life happens.   On a better note, I beat Tanya (the instructor in the series refers to her as "the machine" if that gives you any clues to how amazing this is) at two of the fit test exercises.

Pictures from last weigh in/measuring:

And these are from this Monday:

Not as drastic a difference as the first set, but I definitely am seeing two things: sleeker waistline and the beginning of visual definition of my abs!!!

This week's step up from the first month's routine is kind of kicking my butt, but I am more than game.  I have no doubt I will be kicking butt and taking names by the end.  Even Thomas is jealous of my biceps and fitness right now...and although I still cannot do a pull-up, I can knock out several styles of legitimate push ups.

I have continued using to track my calories, still not "dieting" just focusing on portion control.

Current results:  since I started September 22 I have lost 15 lbs (I was at -19 but I think I was dehydrated) and when I took my measurements for the beginning of week 6 I lost 2 more inches around my waist.  That makes for a total of 7.5 inches lost around my waist since starting to watch my calories less than two months ago!  Overall I have lost about 12 inches among all my measurements.

What About You?  What are you doing to combat holiday treats?  What are your least favorite types of exercises?  (I hate jumping exercises)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies :D

So, I fell victim to the fall fad of everything pumpkin...not because it is a fad, but because it is soooo good.  I decided pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were a safe and easy bet since I did not feel like doing a pie.  And I stuck relatively close to the recipe...imagine that :D


  • 1 can pumpkin pie filling (here I used pumpkin puree instead of pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 4 c. flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 sm. bag chocolate chips (depends on your want for chocolate in the cookies)
Mix ingredients in large bowl (yup, literally put everything in one bowl and stirred). Bake 10 minutes in 350 degree oven.

The "dough" was a little weird looking and smelled at tad funny until I added the cinnamon.

They were really cakey and yummy!
This recipe will make about 64 it might be more than you would typically make so adjust accordingly!  They have a nice texture in between cake and cookie, delicious and only about 100 calories per cookie :D
They were a huge hit at work.

What About You?  Do you like pumpkin flavored things particularly in the fall?  What is your favorite cookie flavor/texture?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weight Loss/Fitness Journey (Update)

As I have previously blogged: I have taken a vested interest in losing weight and getting fit.  I committed myself to completing the Insanity program.  So far, I have successfully made it through the third week.  I am impressed with myself, in the past I have tried to establish a routine and failed miserably, and with the results.  I do not know why this time is different, but it is...maybe I just got fed up with being overweight and depressed (exercise is proven to fight clinical depression).  Or maybe it is because I am struggling with my confirmed diagnosis of PCOS and the fact that it is in part responsible for my weight...and that losing that weight will decrease my later life risks and current/future symptoms.  Whatever the reason...I am improving my life.

These are my pictures from when I first decided I would do the Insanity workout...kind of miserable and a bit embarrassed, if you cannot see that in my face.

These are the pictures I took at the beginning of the third week (October 29) before the second Fit Test.  See the difference?  I do.

Insanity is not easy.  It is sometimes hard to get up early/make time...but it makes my day better.  Excuses lead to lapses and then you are right back where you started.  When I work out in the morning I have more energy, am more focused, and happier the entire day.  Any fitness routine requires dedication...when I miss a day (sick, too busy, etc) I might double up on workouts (one in the morning and one at NOT recommend!) or work out on the scheduled day off.  If you are not sweating, you might want to rethink your exercise routine (I usually am sweating by the end of the warm up).

I have noticed a lot of improvements:  my endurance is better (stopping less, able to do more reps on all Fit Test exercises, able to complete more of each exercise, etc), my clothes fit a little looser, people are noticing, I am starting to get back a 6-pack, and I have the beginnings of my first ever hip dips (you know, the little dips all the underwear models have, which is a result of inguinal muscles)!

I continued using to track my calories, still not dieting just exercising portion control...yes I still eat chocolate, cookies, and ice cream (sorry purists but I am getting results and not inclined to binge.  I am a fan of moderation, if you cannot moderate it might be easier not to eat this way).

So far my largest motivator has been my results:  since I started September 22 I have lost 12 lbs and when I took my measurements for the beginning of week 3 I went down in every measurement *again* ...most notably I lost 1.5 inches around my waist.  That makes for a total of 5.5 inches lost around my waist since starting to watch my calories less than two months ago!

For all of you wondering how...just establish a routine (any routine!) and start tracking your calories.  Calories in<calories out = weight loss.  Make sure if you follow this method you are eating diverse foods and enough calories (for people my age and size, no less than 1200 a day) so your body is healthy and gets the vitamins and variety it needs, and you do not put your body into starvation mode (which can make losing weight harder).

What About You?  What are the excuses you use not to work out?  What foods are your weaknesses and cause you to hit speed bumps in weight loss?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weight Loss Journey (so far!)

So, as mentioned in my last post I am unhappy with where my weight was/is.  I held myself to the promise to clear the living room this weekend while Thomas was away at a conference and I have space to start doing INSANITY tomorrow!

These pictures were taken at the beginning of the first Insanity where I had to stop after two weeks and right before I hit my heaviest (move out/in week...pretty comparable add 2-3 lbs).

I am NOT a morning person.
I have horrible posture...

What I did NOT mention in my last post is that, though not exercising, I was inspired by my sister-in-law (Mary's blog) to start tracking my calories with  This website allows you to nutrition information on almost any brand/type of food and allows you to add information for foods not listed.  It also has a recipe option where you can put in the ingredients for homemade food and tell it how many servings it is to give you a calorie count (I *love* this option).  It also gives you a range of calorie limits for your goals (gain 1 or 2 lbs a week, maintain weight, and lose 1 or 2 lbs a week).  It suggests to go for the 1 lb a week goal, so I opted for that.  It also takes into account any exercise you do.  I did not schedule any exercise into my routine for losing weight, so any I do is just a bonus of calories out!

I thought this would be hard, but so far it has not been. I have been over on calories a total of three times and two of them were by 10-20 calories, the third day was after I donated blood and was ravenous.  I found I can still eat all the foods I crave and not feel hungry.  The trick?  Portion control.  I try to limit myself to actual serving sizes, or less (Instead of two scoops of ice cream, 1/2 cup).  It satisfies the sweet tooth and keeps me in check (I also like cookies/cake/kit kats all of which have been included in my diet since starting).  You can eat out, but everything at restaurants is typically higher calorie, too large of portions, and more expensive than making it at home.  I also found a great way to cut calories is to trade turkey or chicken for beef.

Since I started September 22 I have officially lost 10 lbs and I was re-taking my starting measurements for Insanity and realized that from the pictures above to now I have gone down in *every* measurement...most notably I lost !four! inches around my waist.  That is crazy!  Especially since I have just been cutting calories and not exercising much (two random yoga classes and a little more walking around campus).  Calories in < calories out=weight loss.  It really can be that simple.  Just make sure that if you follow this method you are eating diverse foods and getting enough calories (no less than 1200 a day) so that your body is healthy, gets the vitamins and variety it needs, and you do not put your body into starvation mode (which can make losing weight harder).

What About You?  Are you trying to lose/gain/maintain weight?  What works for you and what does not?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Things Missed in the Last Months

For some reason, time has been jumping through my hands--I go to work and suddenly it is lunch time and I blink and the day is over!  It probably has to do with the start of school, work being busier, moving, and a variety of other things that cropped up over the course of time.  I missed quite a few things I was looking forward to blogging about.  And since there are many...I am just going to condense the important ones here, in an attempt to get everyone caught up so that there is no backlog.  Here is what you missed:

1.  I turned 26!
Dressed up for my birthday day.

And for my birthday night!
At work my coworkers brought me a card and a cake :D  Thomas and I went out for dinner at a local sushi/Malaysian fusion place.  That evening I went out with a few friends and stayed out WAY too late.

2.  I started doing INSANITY!
I am NOT a morning person.

 So yeah, these are my starting pictures...I might not look "fat", but I am unhappy with my current weight and BMI.  I loved getting up and doing the workouts, they are intense, but they really made me feel good and focused all day.  The first few days are killer (achy, tired, etc) but your body adapts quickly.  In week two I pulled something in my back and could not do the routines until I was healed.  Unfortunately, that week was move-out/move-in week and I have not gotten back to it since I do not have enough space cleared yet.  I plan to have the space cleared after next weekend and will be back at it with a vengeance!

3.  We got new floors installed and started moving out of our apartment and into our house!

We rented a UHaul van, everything else was booked, and took all of the pieces that were too large to be hauled in my Civic...which meant a lot of furniture.  We had a friend help, since I had hurt my back.  The following pictures are what our house looked like after moving only the big stuff and a few miscellaneous things.
Bedroom does not look *too* bad here...
The left half of the office...
...and the right half.

The...hallway pile of furniture in front of the office.
Kitchen...notice the amount of stuff just piled on the counter?

And the living room...

Since these were taken, these rooms have been bombarded with even more things and put in some order.  It definitely is not perfect yet, but it is much more livable :D  Pretty soon it will be put together and we will not have to do this for at least another 5 years.

4.  We "celebrated" our 1st anniversary!

During the move-in week, Thomas and I took a night to snuggle up (I cannot remember if this was after we moved our bed or if we were on the sleeping bag we used the first few nights), watch shows, and unwrap the frozen top layer of our wedding cake and cut a slice to eat.

It was a tad smooshed, but still quite pretty and tasty.
5.  School started back up.

Thomas was back to taking classes and all my grads/undergrads were back from the summer field work, internships, and general vacation...meaning I had to start supervising more than I have been.  Not to mention two of my projects started giving really awesome results :D  Yay!

6.  Thomas turned 25!

Thomas' sister planned, and I helped, a celebration of "25 years of Memories" from friends (old and new) and family.  Everyone was supposed to write a memory they had of Thomas to be packaged up for his birthday.  He was surprised and really liked it.  We also went out to dinner with some friends to celebrate.

I think this may cover all of the *big* things that happened...sorry I was so behind.  I will try not to do it again!

What About You?  What sorts of things make your life crazy lately?  What things do you tend to push to the side when you feel swamped/exhausted?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Angel Food Cake

So, tomorrow is Thomas' 25th birthday and we were going to take Monday off and celebrate with a day just for the two of us--however, I was sick almost all last week and am dreadfully behind at work, so we decided we were going to celebrate today.  My soon to be sister-in-law posted something about recipes for Angel Food Cake on Facebook and my stomach immediately gurgled.  And with Thomas' approval I undertook the challenge to make my first ever home made cake...and you know I just could not leave the recipe alone...but it made it easier and less messy!

I actually took some from both of the following recipes as well as adding a bit of my own flair:
Alton Brown's recipe
One of the endless variations on


  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar (because I was not going to make a sugar syrup or grind sugar to make more cleanup for myself!)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tspn extract (I used orange, but I think vanilla or almond would be delicious as well)
  • 1 tspn cream of tartar
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Separate your egg whites and egg yolks into separate bowls--make sure you do NOT get any yolk into your whites or the fat will keep the protein from stiffening (science!).
    • Tip: separate each egg singly into a cup, then dump the white into the bowl you will use, so that if you mess up and get yolk in one egg you will not have to start over or waste all the previous eggs that you have so perfectly separated!
  • Use hand mixer to beat egg whites until you get medium stiff peaks
  • Add extract, cream of tartar, and water to egg whites and begin beating with hand mixer
  • Slowly sift in half of the powdered sugar while beating and beat until you get stiff peaks (stiff peaks means that the whipped stuff stays in place, even if you tilt the bowl, and is no longer liquid)
  • Beat egg yolks in separate bowl until lemon colored (I did not even know this was a thing until today, but the yolks change color when beaten)
  • Slowly add yolks to whites and fold in with a spatula
  • Combine flour with leftover sugar and mix together
  • Slowly add flour and sugar mixture into "batter" and fold in (mine did not look like a typical cake batter)
  • Pour into ungreased tube pan and bake for 1hr, or until visible cake is golden brown and a little cracked and a toothpick inserted comes out clean (wait until after 35 minutes to check if done, insert toothpick halfway between inner and outer wall--mine only took 50 minutes to be entirely done.)
    • Make sure not to grease your pan or you will not be able to easily cool your cake without it falling out!)
  • Cool upside down for at least an hour before removing cake.  (I have an angel food cake pan with three little feet that stick up and lift the pan off the surface it is resting on, which makes cooling it upside down quite easy--$12 at Walmart.  Don't have an awesome pan?  You can balance the inner circle of your tube pan on top of a bottle.  Don't have a tube pan?  I think you could turn a square pan upside down on a wire rack or a plate and let it cool).
  • To remove the cake turn it right side up, use a knife to draw around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan and then invert pan onto a plate!
Enjoy however you like your angel food cake.  I like mine with fresh, sliced strawberries (lots of people like it with whipped cream, but I'm not a fan).  Thomas seems to think strawberry ice cream will go well on his, we will see.   
Thomas took a chunk out of it before I could even get a picture...

Piece with desert!
Sorry there were not more pictures of the process, but I was not planning on blogging about it until after most of the steps were already done and I just got excited about the fact that I had finished mixing together my first cake from scratch!  Also, this was absolutely delicious!

What About You?  How do you like to eat your angel food cake?  Have you ever made a cake from scratch before and how did it turn out?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Delicious Spinach Lasagna

Spinach lasagna is one of my favorite dishes of all time and I thought you might enjoy it too, so I am going to share my recipe!

Okay, so I like to start all my major cooking/baking adventures with filling my sink with warm soapy water and tossing any dishes laying around into it while I cook and dropping things in once I am done using them, it makes clean up super fast.  Also, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • large can of your favorite pasta sauce
  • at least 2 pounds of mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese (or ricotta-I prefer ricotta but my husband likes cottage cheese)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag of salad spinach (or you can use two packs of frozen spinach, but you have to thaw them then) 


1.  Cover the bottom of your lasagna pan with a thin layer of sauce to keep the noodles from sticking.
2.  Layer three noodles in the bottom of the pan (I put my broken noodles on the bottom).
3.  Layer half of your cottage cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese,  half your spinach, some tomato sauce, and sprinkle with Parmesan (you can use more or less of any ingredient, to make it to your tastes).  Add another layer of noodles and repeat.
4.  Add final layer of noodles and cover with pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan.  Put this in an oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, you can tell it is done when you can see the cheese bubbling on the sides.
5.  While your lasagna bakes, clean up your mess.  This is what time my timer read in order to get my entire kitchen back in order after this (start time was 45 minutes, so it only took 6 minutes to get everything clean!)
6 minutes to a clean kitchen, yes please!

Even my stovetop was cleaned up!
6.  Remove your lasagna, let it sit for at LEAST 15 minutes before cutting it to serve. (This helps it to firm up and not fall to pieces when serving).

Then enjoy!  One of the best parts of this meal?  It can be prepared in advance and cooked the next day and it reheats well in the microwave for leftovers for lunch or dinner!

What About You?  Do you enjoy spinach lasagna?  What are your favorite dishes?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

House Update

I know I have not posted anything on my house in forever.  I believe I left off on the pictures of all the cat craziness and sanding.  We had a LOT of help with the painting by throwing a painting party!  The rules of a painting party are these:  workers will be paid in food and beer, have fun, and get the place painted!

Our friends Lauren, Phil, and Callie all came from out of state to visit and help paint.  It was great to see them all, and they were all quite the help!  Our local friends Matt and Theresa also helped Thomas and I to get a lot of wall/ceiling covered in a pretty short amount of time.  I think we all had fun, and a lot of painting got done!

Lauren taping off our bathroom vanity.

The boys attempting to reattach the light/fan fixture in the living room...there was a lot of cursing done by Thomas.  I also believe there was a threat on my life when I took this picture...something Thomas said about hoping I died in a fire or something...he was so unhappy.

Theresa cheerfully painting the kitchen yellow! 

Lauren painting the accent wall in our bedroom.
 Overall, I think everyone had a decent time getting to hang out and paint, we did not pain all weekend though!  We also took a break to watch The Avengers in the theater down the street from our house and went to the local Arboretum to enjoy the nice weather and see the beautiful flowers.

I love visiting the arboretum and introducing other people to it.  The flowers are always changing and they have so many different types of gardens--my favorite is the pollinator garden, with the rose garden next in line.  

What About You?  Do you enjoy painting?  What about the other aspects of painting (sanding, taping, etc)?  What are your favorite types of gardens?