Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Peak Fit System

Dear readers...  By now, you know just how much I love the workouts released by Michelle Dozois, especially her Peak 10 DVDs.  Why do I love these workouts of Michelle's so much?  Let me count the ways...

-They're fun!  I have no dread factor for these, except for dreading push-ups and burpees all the time, no matter the video.

-Michelle is able to incorporate dance, plyometrics, HIIT, kickboxing, and circuit training into one video.  It's amazing; they're amazing!  You never get tired of one thing because you're quickly on to the next move.

-Michelle herself, and her crew, are an inspiration.  Michelle is in better shape than most women who are 20 years younger! 

-By the end of these workouts, you will feel like you've accomplished something great.  That'll keep you coming back for more and more!

I have all of Michelle's individually released Peak 10 videos....but not her system.  Her Peak Fit System is based on an 8-week program that she runs at her gym.  Thankfully, she's provided us at-home fitness peeps with a way to do it as well.  She sells the kit online which includes 10 workouts, packaged together with a food guide, bands, measuring tape, and workout schedule. 

Starting May 19, I'm going to do this 8-week program, without the meal plan.  (I already eat healthy and stay within the designated calorie range for what I want to do with my body.)  During that time, Michelle is running the program at her gym so she'll be super motivational online.  I'm so excited!  Michelle has said that after these eight weeks, you should do something else to let your body re-group and re-charge.  

So, for eight weeks, I'm going to use the Peak Fit System.  After that, I'll put the system aside and do 6-7 weeks of other workouts.  The goal is to shock my body with doing something different.  I feel like I've plateaued and this sounds like just what I need.  10 new workouts!   

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cathe Friedrich: Intensity (Review)

Always on the look-out for different and interesting cardio, I purchased Cathe Friedrich's Intensity (2010) DVD, having only seen some clips and positive reviews.

Cathe starts with a good warm-up and then moves on to cardio with a step.  Then, low-impact HIIT, high-impact HIIT, bootcamp with weights, and, finally, a stretch.  If you can get through the entire thing, which is doubtful for anyone, it runs 70 minutes.

I knew the main bulk (36 minutes) of the cardio required a step, but I was determined to modify it for non-step owners.  And it can be done quite easily.  I just jogged and jumped a bit more to add some intensity.  The step portion is just way too convoluted for me, though.  Cathe assumes you frequent step classes and know all the terms she throws out.  Since I don't, it's hard to follow along, even after having done it 4-5 times.  But, as along as I'm moving and can kind of follow along, I'm happy given I'm not used to step stuff.

For the HIIT portions, no step is needed.  The low-impact section is just that - fast squat dips, pulse lunges, etc, etc.  The high-impact section almost kills me - you will jump A LOT.  These movements are a lot like the "peak" moves Michelle Dozois uses in her Peak 10 workouts.  You will be sweating bullets and I highly recommend having a sweat towel and water near by.

For the bootcamp portion, you'll need weights.  You'll alternate between pretty basic weight movements and high-intensity cardio.  If you use appropriate weights, you'll feel the burn here!

I've rarely done Cathe's stretches, always prefering my own.  But they seem good. 

For a preview of this video, go here.  I can't say I look forward to Cathe's videos.  I know you'll get results with them but I much prefer more dance-centered workouts, like Michelle Dozois.  I hate dreading workouts and this one is a dread, though not as bad as Cathe's Cardio Circuit (ugh!).  I know she has a following, probably of steppers, but I'm not jumping on the bandwagon any time soon.

Bottom Line: For the intermediate to advanced, this is a great workout if you want to sweat!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Skinny Double Chocolate Muffins (2014:14)

After the huge success of Sally's Baking Addiction's Skinny Cheesecake Bars, I was tempted to try another one of Sally's recipes.

Always eager for chocolate and in need of a good muffin recipe, I decided to try her Skinny Double Chocolate Muffins last weekend.  I set out to mix all the healthy ingredients and almost forgot the sugar.  Eek!  Once the sugar was in and I was ready to pour the muffins into the pan, I tasted the batter.  Um....not so all.  I double checked the recipe but had not forgotten anything. 

I made the muffins, with little hope of success.  Once out of the oven and cooled, they smelled not good but...healthy.  It was an odd smell for a chocolate muffin.   I finally tried one and it was alright - nothing great.  Without the chocolate chips, they would be almost tasteless.  The chocolate chips definitely help - as does warming them in the microwave for ten seconds.  

Mr.  Higgins and I concur - though we ate all the muffins, we won't be making this recipe again.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta (2014:13)

My fascination with Greek yogurt just keepson growing, especially after Mr. Higgins subbed it for sour cream and claims to not be able to tell a difference.  I was amazed - but I don't like sour cream....and I don't like Greek yogurt by itself.

And then I ran across this recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Pasta, which combines my new fascination with my new love: red peppers.

I whipped up this pasta and it was surprisingly easy since it uses jarred roasted red peppers.  The hardest part of the recipe was the hassle of the food processor (so much to clean up afterwards!). 

Mr. Higgins loved this dish. I don't generally like creamy pasta so I was on the fence.  When I threw the recipe into the recycling bin, Mr. Higgins fished it out and asked me to keep it.  In all fairness, I'll gladly make it again.  It's one of those that I know will grow on me. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Shadowy Horses

My in-laws loaned me The Shadowy Horses, by Susanna Kearsley, a while back and I've just now gotten around to reading it.   I usually like Kearsley and her Scottish historical epics, but this one just didn't work. 

Since my Goodreads review was a bit too consise, I'll try to write a better review here.

When I learned that this book deals with the mystery of Rome's Ninth Legion, which may or may not have disappeared in Britian, I was fascinated.  I love my Roman history!  And so I enjoyed Verity's story - a young archeaologist recruited for a job in Scotland that may involve the Ninth Legion.  But when mystics, ghosts, and a forced love story started developing, I grew tired of this novel.  It was a bit too formulaic for me and the drama at the end was awkward at best.

I finished the book though it was mediocre.  Kearsley has done much better and this appears to be an early writing attempt for her.  Skip it and go on to her better novels.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April Update

The tulips and bluebonnets are happily dancing in the wind here in Texas!  It's so nice to see spring and warmer - but not too warm! - temps!  Now all we need is a rain - and a lot of it! 

I haven't chatted in a while so here are some updates and gripes....

--I am loving making whole chickens in the crock-pot!  With all that chicken, I make salads, wraps, and sandwiches....and all of it is delicious!  My new favorite salad: spinach, romaine, pecans, mandarin oranges, chicken, and a strawberry vinaigrette.  Delicious!

--With all the road construction in the area, I may be well on my way to an ulcer.  This morning, I had to force myself to just go with the flow (never easy for me).  With all the delays, detours, and inevitable accidents, it's all I can do to not pull out my hair everyday.

--Working out in the morning (at 5:30am) is great!  I was taking a morning off, usually Mondays, but found that I was sleepier those days.  So, instead of taking a day off, I'm now doing one of my lighter, older workouts - pilates, yoga, or Michelle Dozois' BodyFit 360.  I'm finding this is gradually helping with my flexibility so I'll keep at it!

--I'm having a lot of fun with my new recipe challenge.  Cooking/recipe blogs have always been fun to look at but now I'm actively searching for recipes to make.  My one gripe about food bloggers, though: when you say something is healthy, post the nutrition info to prove it.  I get so tired of clicking on "healthy" and "skinny" recipes only to find there's a stick of butter and two cups of sugar involved.  Ugh. 

--Along those lines, if you ever thought of commenting or cricitizing something Pinterest, don't.  I called a food blogger out on something labeled "healthy" - that wasn't - and there was no end to people commenting and criticizing me.  Sigh.  Lesson learned the hard way.

And now, in closing, bring on those April showers already!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Skinny Cheesecake Bars (2014:12)

I love cheesecake; my sensitive stomach does not share the same fondness.  While we can get our fair share of cheesecake on cruises, I usually avoid it, not wanting to upset the fragile state of my stomach (due to all the different foods). 

At home, I've never attempted a cheesecake....and I'm not sure Mr. Higgins wants me to try.  He likes saving little things for special events, like cruises.  But when I saw this recipe for Skinny Cheesecake Bars, I couldn't resist.

This weekend, I made the a time when I was probably too rushed to be doing so.  As a result, some of the yolk from one egg ended up in the batter - and I couldn't get it out to save my life.  I was also unsure if these were done I added some time that they probably didn't need.  When I took them out of the oven, I was nevous...

But they are great!  You can't even tell there's Greek yogurt in there!  I love them!  And Mr. Higgins does as well!  This recipe is a keeper!