Friday, August 1, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (2014:27)

For some very odd reason, I was recently craving Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  Finding a low calorie version proved to be a challenge until I turned to my old trustworthy friend, Cooking Light.

Upon reading the reviews of these cookies, I made a few additions to the recipe.  I added 1/2 teaspoon each of: baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Yum!  I also decreased the cooking time a bit, hoping the keep the cookies nice and soft.

They turned out to be delicious!  Mr. Higgins approved, as did our friend who was visiting.  My only complaint is that they dry out pretty quickly.  I froze half the batch and they freeze well - until they dry out after a few days on the counter. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


This month, my book club chose to read our university's common reading book selection.  This is a novel or non-fiction work that all incoming freshman read and discuss prior to the start of classes.  It's usually a selection that makes them think outside of their day-to-day boxes, so to speak. 

This year's selection was Marjane Satrapi's graphic work, Persepolis.  I was a bit hesitant about reading a graphic novel but, from the first page, I was hooked.  It took me a total of four days to read it.

Here's my Goodreads post:

My book group chose to read this, after it was selected as the common reading for our university this year. I had no idea what to make of it - since it's a graphic novel - and I was blown away.

When I started reading this, I didn't want to put it down. "What's going to happen next?!," was all I could think about.

I loved Marji and her story is one that every young person in America should read. We have so many distorted views of Iraq, Islam, and the history of the Middle East. This sheds some light on all of these subjects, from the point of view of a young girl. Highly recommended!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week Two: Jari Love Challenge

After eating horribly last weekend, I'm super motivated to burn off some serious calories.  Ha! 

I'm trying to amp it up a bit this week, throwing in a new workout by Michelle Dozois from FitnessGlo.  Looking ahead to next week and Las Vegas….I need all the cardio I can get this week!  

Monday: Jari Love's Slim and Lean

For this workout, I only use a few segments: the warm-up, squats, lunges, and abs.  In between each of those, I do 7 minutes of my own cardio drills.  I have a list of these drills and alternate through them.  It gives my legs a break and gets in some good cardio between strength segments.  I used my light weights for the squats and lunges. 

Tuesday: Shape's Bikini Body Transforming

I wanted some good cardio this morning so I did the first section of this workout - cardio intervals led by Michelle Dozois.  It's 30-minutes of "hills" in which each one gets harder and harder - a lot like the Peak workouts but not nearly as intense.  I followed that up with 15 minutes of Lisa Wheeler's section - strength with dumbells. 

Wednesday: Michelle Dozois' Total Body Cardio Strength on FitnessGlo

Since I do my workouts at 5:30am, I was a bit worried this one would be too intense for such a time.  But it was perfect!  It's not as intense as a Peak workout but it's challenging, fun, and enjoyable.  And the length was perfect - 45 minutes.  I added 5 more minutes of cardio and stretching to make it 50 minutes.  I will definitely do this one again and again - in the morning!

Thursday:  Crunch's Super Slim Down: Yoga Pilates Blend by Ellen Barrett

This video always surprises me by using different muscles and muscles in different ways.  My triceps were killing me afterward - and I do tricep work quite often.  I love the yoga fusion at the beginning of this video - so lovely!  But it still made me sweat; not bad for my "light" workout of the week.

Friday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped! - Workout #1 - and Dozois' Hip and Thigh Toner on FitnessGlo

My arms were aching after my "light" workout yesterday, which made all the weights in Jari Love's video painful - much more than usual.  Ack!  But it was a good workout - with no real cardio, I was still dripping sweat.  I finished off with Michelle Dozois' 10-minute Hip and Thigh Toner.  Lots of plies; my legs were shaking something awful!  A good morning combo!

Saturday:  Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit and Glo's Ultimate Dance Extravaganza

I was awoken last night with some serious stomach problems.  Therefore, I worked out much later in the day than I planned, trying to get enough fluids and energy.  I got through Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit and was reminded, once again, how much I hate that workout.  I just loathe it and it's always a struggle to get through.  Why do I do it then?  Because it's so very different from any other workout I do.  I figure it's good for my body, to shake things up.  Ugh.  To reward myself after those torturous 45 minutes, I did 25 minutes of Ilyse Baker's cardio dance on FitnessGlo.  It was so much more fun than I expected!  My sweat from Cathe's workout just kept on pouring off me.  LOL!  

Sunday:  Michelle Dozois' Cardio Interval Burn on FitnessGlo

I'd heard good things about this CIB and they proved to be true - this was a lot of fun but extremely challenging.  The ascents - the "lighter" cardio segments - seemed to be much more intense than usual.  But it was a good to have a new workout by Michelle and good to back into a Peak workout.  I just love them!  

Calorie Counts:
Monday - 2652 - sigh
Tuesday - 1372
Wednesday - 1388
Thursday - 1390
Friday - bad!
Saturday - 1402
Sunday - 1580

Even though I splurged a bit this week, I was proud of myself for being mostly good on the weekend.  Granted, eating 200 extra calories on Sunday isn't great...but it's not bad.  And I still think that the body responds well to being "shocked" with new and different foods and routines.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas (2014:26)

I love Mexican food.  When you live in Texas, how can you not

When I saw this recipe for Salsa Verde Enchiladas, my mouth started to water immediately!  It combines everything I love - chicken, tortillas, cheese - with very few ingredients. and little fuss.  Quick, easy meals are a must for me!

One weekend, I decided to make a half-batch of 4 enchiladas.  I used fajita sized tortillas - smaller than what the recipe calls for - because I had them on hand and they're fewer calories.  They worked perfectly! 

These were amazing!  I could have eaten five - or eight!  The next night, I made another half batch to use up my tortillas.  Mr. Higgins and I were both practically licking our plates. 

This is a keeper!!  I can't wait to make them again!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Twilight in Babylon

Back in high school, at my local book shop, I stumbled upon a book I'll never forget: Reflections in the Nile by Suzanne Frank.  It's about a woman who accidently falls into a time portal and is transported back to ancient Egypt.  It was a fascinating - and enthralling - read.  There were two follow-up books to make a triology: Shadows on the Aegean and Sunrise on the Mediterranean.  I loved them both! 

I didn't realize for a long time that Frank had written a fourth novel about Chloe and Cheftu, Twilight in Babyon - but now I've found it, purchased it, read it, and loved it!

Here's the review I posted on Goodreads:

When last we heard from Chloe and Cheftu, they were settling down in King David's Jerusalem. Frank's final installment of their journey, Twilight in Babylon, the fourth book, was difficult to find but I'm so glad I did.

Like the second book in this series, this one was hard for me to get into. Less of Chloe herself was first seen in her new body. The time period, ancient Sumeria, also held my interest less. But once Chloe found her own consciousness, and with the appearance of Cheftu, the story was great. Frank has a unique skill at bringing the past alive - it's palpable - and the characters are great.

I will truly miss Chloe and Cheftu. Their stories could keep me entertained for years!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week One: Jari Love Challenge

After my Peak 10 Challenge, I've decided to change things up a bit.  I'm going to hit my Jari Love videos hard, since those are so very different from Michelle Dozois' workouts.  (In fact, I'll shelve Michelle's Peak 10 videos for two weeks, sadly.)  I'm going to commit to doing at least two of Jari Love's videos per week.   

To start off this challenge, I toyed with the idea of having a rare day of rest to re-coup after all those high-impact Peak workouts.  But then I decided instead to treat myself to two barre/fusion/yoga workouts this week.  Why no day of rest?  The truth is I feel so much better when I get up and workout - physically and mentally.  So even if I do a light workout, it's preferable to doing nothing.

Mini goal for the week: be super strict with my diet because the weekend is going to be BAD!!

Monday: Michelle Dozois' BodyFit 360

When I started this workout, I realized I was super stiff and that my bum hurt like crazy - like I had done 100 squats the day before.  I have no idea why.  I guess the Fit Test did that.  So it felt extra good to get nice and stretched out.  And I always forget how much I sweat during this workout - it's so unique and fun!

Tuesday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped 1000 - Workout 1 and FitnessGlo's Lower Body Power by Jeffrey Scott

My bum was still hurting this morning and I'm sure all the squats in this workout did not help.  The weight repetitions always get me.  Ouch!  I followed that with ten minutes of Jeffrey Scott's Lower Body Power on FitnessGlo.  Dang, that got my legs! 

Wednesday: Michelle Dozois' Rockin' Body Cardio

This workout is an oldie but goodie from Michelle.  It's not nearly as intense as her Peak workouts but that's alright; you can't do those intense workouts every day.  I always enjoy this one and today was no exception.

Thursday: Jari Love's Get Ripped 1000

So many squats and lunges - ouch!  This one alternates between compound exercises and short cardio bursts.  My push-ups were better and I was able to do more weight, thanks to the Peak 10 Challenge!  Yay!  But the lunges hurt. 

Friday:  Fitness Glo's Conditioning for Long Lean Muscles by Michelle Dozois

Two fusion/flow/barre workouts was my treat for this week after 8 weeks of high-impact Peak 10.  But this was not a "light" workout by any means.  It was a lot like Body Fit 360, which means I was dripping sweat.  I moved in every direction and there was a ton of leg work.  This is definitely a workout I'll have to keep in the rotation.  My only complaint is that I wish there had been more stretching at the end.  But I added my own! 

Saturday:  The Firm's Maximum Calorie Burn Bootcamp

This workout was a nice change.  It alternates with cardio bursts and weight segments.  The instructor is slightly annoying and the cueing/choreography doesn't come close to what is standard for Michelle Dozois…..  But, it's always a good change.  My triceps were aching afterward.  I followed this 45-minute workout with a 10-minute FitnessGlo HIIT segment and then a short arm workout.   I worked out for a total of 75 minutes.  Whew!

Sunday: Cathe Friedrich's Intensity

I always dread this workout.  I don't like the step work and I hate Cathe's way of instructing - you have no idea what your HIIT move is until she's in the middle of it.  No demonstration.  But I like variety with my workouts and this is variety - for better or worse.  Sigh.

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1349
Tuesday - 1398
Wednesday - 1464
Thursday - 1389
Friday - bad!
Saturday - BAD!
Sunday - BAD!

This was a very bad week of eating.  Next week should be a bit better but the week after that is Las Vegas.  Oy.  So, I'll try to lose weight in August.  LOL!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thoughts and Conclusions: Peak 10 Challenge #1

As you might as surmised, I loved my first experience with the PeakFit System - and Peak 10 Challenge - by Michelle Dozois.  I've never been so challenged in my workouts for such a long period of time - 8 weeks!  And I finished it!  I stuck with it!  And I loved the results!

Granted, I wasn't eating great during a lot of those 8 weeks.  July 4th was in there as was a lot of eating out.  I look forward to doing the challenge again before a cruise, when I'm back on my very strict diet. 

Even for me, who is OCD about working out, it was difficult, about mid-way through the Challenge, to stay motivated.  This was at about the time I had to add an evening workout during the week for an additional cardio strength.  That was tough and I felt my energy lagging.  But the thought of seeing and feeling results kept me going.

There are many things that numbers don't account for.  The bottom line is that doing these workouts made me feel great!  Push-ups became easier; I mastered the dreaded tuck jump when, before, I could never get my knees up; I lost all fear of lunge jumps. 

When I started the Fit Test on Sunday, I was immediately disturbed.  The first two moves - squats and lunges - saw virtually no change in my numbers.  But then I reminded myself that I do those constantly, neverending-ly, with Jari Love, so my  numbers were already great to begin with.  After that, I saw some good improvements!

                                      Before     After
Prisoner Squats               49          49
Lunges                             40          41
Burpees                            24          29
Tuck Jumps                      36          55
Push-ups                          25          36  (on my knees)
Ankle Grabbers                13          20
Sit-Outs                            22          30
Plank to Frog                    24         30
Fence Hoppers                 68          82
Side Lunge/Jump Shot     31          36

My measurements didn't see a lot of change, but that's alright.  I wasn't looking to significantly change my body; I just wanted to tweak it!

Weight                 -4.0 lbs
Chest                 same
Waist                   -0.5"
Hips                     -0.5"
Thighs                 -0.75"
Arms                  same
Calves                 -0.5"

Going Forward
When I had my Q&A with Michelle Dozois, a light bulb went off in my head.  The idea of breaking up my workouts into 8-week (or any amount of time) sessions blew my mind.  I get so bored with doing the same stuff yet I don't want to spend a fortune on home workout videos.  So this solution of taking a break from some to do others is perfect!  Perfect!

So, for the next 7 weeks, I'm putting together my own Jari Love Challenge (by the time this post is up, I'll be well into my first week!).  I'll do at least two of her workouts per week.  There will still be some Peak 10 workouts here in there and definitely some Michelle Dozois.....  But I won't touch the PeakFit System during that time. 

Then, I'll take a week-long break when my in-laws are in town.  The body needs this.  Never doubt that or feel guilty for taking a vacation from working out.  Over the course of a year, I take about 4-5 weeks off and I've never lost any ground that couldn't be made up. 

After those eight weeks have passed, I'll begin the PeakFit System again.  Woohoo!  And this time, it'll lead up to a November cruise.  Yay!

So you knew I was OCD....but did you know I would plan out my workouts months and months in advance?  Well, I do.  It takes out the guesswork and keeps me on track and motivated!

I'm also going to keep posting my weekly workout round-up on Mondays.  This also keeps me motivated and I like the accountability.  Hopefully, it also reminds you, dear readers, than you're not alone in your fitness regimen.  We're all in it together!