Monday, June 30, 2014

Week Six: Peak 10 Challenge

After last weekend's scrapbook retreat, which consisted of eating out two meals a day and snacking on really bad stuff, I was super motivated to work out this week.  The first few workouts were tougher, it seemed, but then I was back on track.  If only my eating would improve.  Ack!

Mini goal for the week: keep up my workouts, despite a potentially crazy week.  

Monday: Pure Cardio

I was so unbelievably stiff this morning, though I have no idea why.  I stretched before and after this workout...and I was still stiff.  Ack!  But it felt good to sweat this one through.

Tuesday: Cardio Strength 2

I'm really dreading this when I have to do it after work.  Ugh!  And it was tough - but then, it's always tough!  The last 10 minutes is still the hardest, I think, due to the floorwork. 

Wednesday: Pure Strength 2

There isn't an easy circuit in this workout.  But boy, I feel like I've accomplished something when it's over.  As much as I hate the band, it really helps me work muscles in a way that's clearly getting results.  Cool!

Thursday: Dynamic Flexibility and Core Dynamics

Dynamic Flexibilty felt lovely!  I really do enjoy it.  Though it's stretching, I still break a sweat.  Michelle makes you move in all kinds of interesting ways.  Love it!  I followed it up with 10 minutes of Core Dynamics.  This one is not at all easy.

Friday: Pure Strength 1

Having not done this one for a few weeks, it felt very strange.  I'm still having issues with the band for some moves so I used weights.  

Saturday: Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn

This was my first ever Peak 10 video and my first cardio interval burn.  So, it's an oldie but goodie.  I always enjoy it, though it is definitely tough.  Since I haven't done it since the start of this Peak 10 Challenge, it was a nice change.   I still hate the burpees, though.  

Sunday: Peak 10 Cardio Strength

Also known as Cardio Strength 1 from the PeakFit System.  It had been a while since I'd done this one and I'm always amazed at how simple the strength moves seem.  With the other cardio strength workouts, Dozois has had to be inventive to keep things fresh and different.  But with this, the original, the moves are more simplistic.  That being said, the strength moves are just as effective as the later, more convoluted ones.  The same with the cardio - it's very difficult - perhaps more difficult than the later cardio strengths.  So, this is still a great workout to keep in the rotation.  When I did it Sunday morning, I took no breaks due to a time crunch - and still made it through, albeit sweating A LOT.

Calorie Counts:

Monday: 1382
Tuesday: 1385
Wednesday: 1349
Thursday: too much
Friday:  too much
Saturday: too much
Sunday:  1318

I weighed on Thursday this week - after last weekend's eating out mania and before dinner out on Thursday night.  I hadn't gained a pound.  Actually, I'd lost 0.2 pounds since I last weighed a few weeks ago.  Crazy!  This system works.  I can't imagine what would happen if I was consistently eating well, like normal.  Note to self: this system will be done before every vacation.  Ha!  

The week ended up being even crazier than I expected.  But I kept my workouts going, despite everything.  I'm pretty proud of that.

Friday, June 27, 2014

PeakFit System: Dynamic Flexibility (Review)

I was so looking foward to trying out Michelle Dozois' Dynamic Flexibility in the Peak Fit System.  After loving her Body Fit 360, I had high hopes for this one.

Michelle did not disappoint me with this 30 minute workout.  She breaks it down into five minute segments:

1) Here you get your body warmed and prepped for a good stretch.  This is fast but not too fast.  And since you have to be warm to stretch, it's essential.

2)  Michelle leads you through some flowing warrior poses.  This really reminds me of Body Fit 360; I can see how it came out of this workout.

3)  Planks, downward facing dogs...  I like this one because you flow in and out of pigeon, which is my new favorite stretch.

4)  You'll need your band for this section which stretches your hamstrings, glutes, calves....  Awesome!  And all floorwork.

5)  More stretching with the band - arms and legs.  A nice end to a great video.

I really love this one.  It's the perfect length and I feel rejuvenated afterward.  It works so many muscles and I usually sweat - but it's so great.  My only complaint is that I wish it had more serious stretches for your legs in terms of the splits.  Michelle does a great job with that in Body Fit 360. 

For a clip, go here.  This will stay in my rotation for my "rest" days.

Bottom Line: This is a great addition to the Peak Fit System.  You will feel great afterwards!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tex-Mex Broccoli Slaw Salad (2014:23)

While browsing through some of Hungry Girl's recipes, I happened upon one that used broccoli slaw.  Stop the press!  I had to click on the link! 

Tex-Mex Broccoli Slaw sounded absolutely fabulous! 

I forgot bell pepper so I threw in some roasted red peppers instead.  In order to make a bit more salad, I used a whole can of corn and black beans.  I also increased the other ingredients a bit. 

And it turned out great!  Mr. Higgins approved!  He loved the kick of the taco seasoning (I probably could have put more) and how healthy the broccoli slaw was.  I think this is a definite keeper!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week Five: Peak 10 Challenge

Week five!  Wow!  I look forward to doing this challenge again when Mr. Higgins isn't wanting to eat bad things now and then, like before a cruise.  That's the only thing: I'm not eating as great as I'd like.  Oh, well.  The summers here are long, hot, and not much fun since we don't have a vacation until November.  Going out ocassionally is what makes the monotony bearable. 

Mini goal for the week: workout while out of town for a scrapbook retreat.  I'll try to walk/jog one day and do the Dynamic Flexibility DVD the other day.  It's always hard when I'm out of my routine.  But at least walking/jogging will be something different.  It'll take the place of Pure Cardio on the Peak Fit Challenge schedule.

Monday: Cardio Strength 2

This workout is making my body sweat in places I didn't know possible.  Gross, but there you have it.  I still really like this one, even though it's tough, tough, tough - especially at 5:30pm, like today.

Tuesday: Pure Strength 2

I think I like this one more than Pure Strenth 1, mainly  because it doesn't use the band for the leg circuit.  However, I hate the lunges to a tick-tock.  OMG!  I thought I was conditioned for lunges, since I'm used to Jari Love's workouts....but no.  This one hurts!

Wednesday: Cardio Interval Burn

Also known as Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn.  Due to the scrapbook retreat this weekend, I'm doing this on Wednesday instead of Saturday, which means I must cut out a 10-minute circuit to fit it into my 50-minute morning workout timeframe.  Even when not doing the entire workout, it's still tough - in a good way!

Thursday: Pure Strength 2

Dang, this one is a tough one.  My arms were aching!  I could barely get through a few exercises, including the tricep push-ups.  Ouch!! 

Friday: Dynamic Flexibility

My mom and I did this DVD while at our scrapbook retreat, scrunched in our small bedroom on a it's small rug.  Ha!  But we made it work and it felt great!  My muscles were surprisingly sore after Thursday's strength workout and I loved getting them all stretched out.  

Saturday: walk/jog

It was nice to get out and walk/jog during the scrapbook retreat.  I walked for a block and then jogged for a block….  The only bad part was the humidity.  I sweated - a lot!  

Sunday: Cardio Strength Remix

Wow.  After eating too much for three days and not doing a Peak workout for two, I was really feeling this workout.  I got through it but it was not easy.  For the last peak - diamond jumps (ew!) - I did not follow the DVD.  I did air jacks instead.  Oy.  I stretched really well afterward but was still super sore.

Calorie Counts:

We're just not going to share this week.  Suffice it to say, it was not so good.  Sigh.

But I worked out while out of town!  Yay!  I really needed it, both days.  And so, another week down.  Three more to go!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lemon Pudding Cookies (2014:22)

With all these new recipes this year, it's actually quite rare to find one that gets a "wow, that's a keeper!" reaction.  But this one is!

For Mr. Higgins' birthday week, I looked for a lemon recipe because he loves lime and lemon desserts.  When I found these cookies, using a pudding mix, I knew I had to try them.  Usually, pudding mix cookies are not at all calorie-friendly but this one is!

These were not hard to make (grinding the lemon for zest was the hardest part) and everyone who tried them - my co-workers included - loved them!  I highly recommend them!  I'll make these again and again!

When measuring out the dough, I used a tablespoon and got 29 cookies, making them 70 calories each.  Wow!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

PeakFit System: Cardio Strength 2 (Review)

I've been getting up close and personal lately with Cardio Strength 2 of the Peak Fit System.  It's a nice change from the Peak 10 cardio strengths. 

Like the other cardio strengths, there is no wam-up to this workout. There are five 10-minute circuits.  The first one is different in that it has no "peak;" this is all the warm-up you get.

Each 10-minute circuit is broken down into two five-minute patterns that run you through an ascent, a climb, and a peak.  Then you repeat those five minutes on the other side.  The weighted section - the ascents - are difficult but innovative.  You never spend too much time on one move, which means you don't get bored and you keep moving.  I like this!  The cardio climbs are high-intensity; you will jump, jog, punch, and kick for 2-3 minutes.  Then the peaks - one crazy move you do for about 30 seconds. The peak moves for this workout are tuck jumps, leap jump shots, 180 squat touch-downs, and then, finally, air jacks.  Whew!

This workout runs about 55 minutes; the last 5 minutes contain a lovely cool down and stretch.

There are definitely some killer moves in this workout.  The curtsy lunge with a weight swing down to a side lunge is my least favorite ascent move.  The cardio in the climbs seems much more intense and fast than the other workouts, with fewer punches and more jogging/jacks.  The peak move that always gets me is the tuck jump.  I'd rather do a burpee than a tuck jump!  But, thankfully, the tuck jumps are getting easier. 

All in all, I really like this workout.  The warm-up circuit has no floor moves which I really appreciate; I loathe burpees in the first ten minutes of a workout!   But be prepared, some of the hardest floor work comes in the last circuit.  Eek!  As always, though, Michelle's personality and fitness level keep me motivated to sweat through it.  That's why I keep coming back for more!

For a clip, go here

Bottom Line: For an advanced exerciser, this workout is a great way to combine cardio and strength training.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Week Four: Peak 10 Challenge

Almost halfway through this challenge.  Wow!  

If last week was my un-motivated week, this week was the opposite.  I finally started to see some progress in some of the harder moves I've always struggled with.  That motivated me even more to keep going!

Mini goal for the week: get enough protein.  According to the Peak Fit Challenge kit, protein should comprise of 25-30% of your diet and fat should be 20-30% - the rest is carbs.  Protein is essential for building muscle so you need this!  I need this!  And it's the hardest thing for me to eat on a daily basis.  Arg!

Monday: Cardio Strength 2

I did this one two days in a row (Sunday of last week), trying to take advantage of the day I took off from work - because I was sick with this blasted cold.  Somehow, I summoned the energy to make it through this workout. And I really like it! 

Tuesday: Pure Cardio

I actually slept Monday night, with a Benadryl, so waking up and getting going for this workout was a bit difficult; I was more than a little dazed.  But I managed and it felt great!

Wednesday: Pure Strength 2

A new workout!  This was tough but not really any tougher than the first Pure Strength.  The lunges got me, as did all the tricep work.  But I like the burn - at least, after the fact.  Ha!

Thursday: BodyFit 360

I took a break from Dynamic Flexibility to do one of my other Michelle Dozois faves: BodyFit 360.  Love this one!  It's such a unique workout; you work much harder than you ever think.  You sweat!  You stretch!  You move in every direction possible.  It feels great!

Friday: Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout

Wow, this one is still so tough for me.  My breathing never slows once I get to the second ascent.  I made it through the workout, though I cut one of the Peaks short. 

Saturday: Cardio Strength 2

Me and this workout are beginning to get along.  This was my third time doing it and since i haven't done another cardio strength, this one is getting committed to memory.  I really do like it!  And I'm seeing some progress!  Tuck jumps - the hardest "peak" for me to do - are getting easier!  I have to take a mini jump between the tuck jumps but I can do them straight for 30 seconds.  Yes!  And I'm trying to do some real pushups now that girly pushups are pretty easy.  I can't get down all the way but this is still progress!  Yay!

Sunday:  Cardio Interval Burn Remix

I hadn't done this workout since before my Peak 10 Challenge and was really looking forward to it.  After sweating through it, I had confirmation of what I had previously thought: this is my favorite cardio interval burn.  It's so completely different (unique "peaks") and challenging.  Fun!  

Calorie Counts:

Monday: 1320
Tuesday:  1369
Wednesday: 1376
Thursday: 1375

Friday: bad!
Saturday: 1477

Sunday: 1398

I did better with protein this week but I didn't always get up to the suggested 25% - usually hovering, frustratingly, around 23-24%.  Ugh!  I'll keep working on it!

Good news!  I weighed on Friday and, after all that eating last weekend - and cheesecake in the house until Tuesday - I was back to the same weight as last week.  Wow!  I've stayed in the same one-pound range for the last three weeks!  Cool!  Before you think this is not progress….  I usually fluctuate much more, between 3 and 5 pounds, when I have a bad week (or weekend) of eating.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Farro and Edamame Salad (2014:21)

Mr. Higgins wanted healthy bean salads to eat on this summer and so I went searching.  Now that I know we like farro, I decided upon this Edamame, Corn, Farro Salad.

It was relatively easy to put together with minimal chopping (scallions and cilantro), which was nice.  The farro and edamame cooks quickly which is good when time is an issue.  When I saw how much oil this recipe called for, I cut the entire dressing mixture in half.  Nothing needs that much dressing! 

And I'm glad I did, because the dressing - peanuty - was a bit weird.  Mr. Higgins said to leave out the nuts so maybe with them, it would have tasted better.  Either way, I suggest cutting the dressing in half.

Next time, I may try a simple oil/vinegar combination instead of the sesame oil/rice vinegar mixture.  Perhaps it'll be a bit better.  But I like using farro and edamame!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

PeakFit System: Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout (Review)

Now that I'm well into my first Peak 10 Challenge, it's time for another review from the Peak Fit Kit by Michelle Dozois.  And this one's a challenge: Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout.  Don't be fooled by the 40 minute run-time.  This is the most difficult 40 minutes you'll experience in the kit.

Michelle and her husand, Phil, developed this workout that can be done on the go or when time is an issue.  It's different from all the other Peak 10 videos in format.  Here's a break down:

"Light" Ascent - 5 minutes
"Hard" Ascent - 5 minutes
Repeat both
Repeat both
Repeat both
Repeat both
Cool down and stretch

Each climb and peak is about 2.5 minutes so with the repeat, each section is 5 minutes. The first 5 minutes of the ascent, which I term "light," is mainly lunges and low-impact cardio. The "hard" ascent is high-impact cardio. 

The climbs are tough.  There are usually jumping jacks, jogging, push-ups, and then you move straight into the peak from the floor.  I think this is what makes this workout so difficult - the amount of up and down you do in those 2.5 mintues.  The peaks are tough - the easiest is the first one so don't get too confident too quick.  The last peak is a tuck jump to a burpee. 

I'm not sure this is a workout that can be done on the go but it's defniitely one that will get you sweating and exhausted in a short amount of time.  It's very tough.  You will sweat like crazy and your heartrate will never go down.

For a clip of this video, go here.

Bottom Line: This is an advanced workout; try it only after you've done the cardio strength and cardio intervals workouts in the Peak 10 series.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week Three: Peak 10 Challenge

Two weeks down, six more to go!  Whew!

The last two weeks have been very hellish at work for me and Mr. Higgins.  On the nights when I slept well, I woke up exhausted.  This has to change.  Weekends can't come soon enough!

Mini goal for the week: learn to like Greek yogurt.  Finally.  That means eating all of it that I bought over the weekend!

Monday: Get Extremely RIPPED 1000 Hardcore

I decided against a day of rest today (which was on the PeakFit Schedule) and opted to do another workout with weights.  Jari Love's RIPPED 1000 Hardcore seemed a good choice.  I did 35 minutes of cardio (weights alternating with cardio) and then ten minutes of abs. 

Tuesday: Pure Cardio (PeakFit)

Got through this, all hot and sweaty at the end.  The last circuit consists of alot of lunge jumps and I absolutely hate those.  But made it through and felt good about it.  I was really stiff at the end...wishing Dynamic Stretch was tomorrow, not in two days!

Wednesday: More Cardio Strength (Peak 10)

Instead of doing this workout at my usual workout time, pre-dawn, I moved this to the evening, after work.  This is just too much to do at 5:30am and I don't have enough time then to complete the entire workout.  In the evening, I did it all, as painful as it was.  This is the hardest cardio strength workout for me.  Whew.

Thursday: Dynamic Flexibility and Core Dynamics

It felt good to stretch this morning after the vigorous workout last night.  I really do like the Flexibility DVD of the PeakFit System - look for a review soon.  I have mixed feelings about the Core Dynamics, which is bordereline too tough.  But it was a nice morning workout combination.

Friday: Pure Strength 1 (PeakFit)

Pure Strength was tough today, for some reason.  As much as I like the thought of toning my legs, I don't look forward to the leg section of this workout.  But at least it gets my heart rrate up!  Even though there's no cardio, I still sweat!! 

Saturday: Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout

This was tough, especially since I'm getting sick.  Who gets a cold in Texas in June?  Me, apparently.  Ugh.  I got through it but it wasn't pretty.

Sunday: Cardio Strength 2

A new workout today!  It was a lot of fun doing a new cardio strength today!  This one was definitely challenging but also a lot of fun.  I look forward to doing it again soon….and to sweating buckets again.  Ha!

Calorie Counts:

Monday: 1381
Tuesday: 1334
Wednesday: 1416
Thursday: 1391
Friday:  too much!
Saturday:  too much!
Sunday:  too much!

Mr. Higgins' birthday was Saturday so there was way too much eating going on all weekend long.  I tried to make smart choices and I never over-did it but...there was cheesecake in the house.  Ack!

Good news for the week!  I now like Greek yogurt - with my own granola thrown in!  I'm going to make that a daily morning snack! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Beggar King

I recently finished the third book in Oliver Potzsch's The Hangman's Daughter series, entitled The Beggar King.

It took me too long to read this book, I'll readily admit.  Time has been non existent to read.  Here's the review I posted on Goodreads:

I've enjoyed reading about the Kuisl family and this book was especially interesting since most of it takes place in Regensburg, a place I've visited.

When Jakob is falsely accused of murder, it's up to Simon and Magdalena to save him from the hangman's noose. I liked that we got to meet a new hangman in this novel; he was just as fun as Jakob.

I honestly don't know if I'll read more of this series. It's interesting but something is lacking, though I can't pinpoint what. Series are always hard for me as future character development is always a challenge, it seems, for authors.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake (2014:20)

Mr. Higgins loves lemon-y things.  After our recent cruise where I ate too many lemon poppyseed muffins, I decided to try to make my own, low-fat lemon poppyseed concoction.  After perusing many recipes, I settled on one from Cooking Light for Lemon Poppyseed Pound Cake.

After reading the reviews of the recipe, I made a few changes.  I added 1 teaspoon of lemon extract; subbed Splenda for sugar.  Instead of the glaze filled with powdered sugar, I microwaved some lemon juice (from two lemons) and sugar together and brushed that mixture over the cake.  I didn't use it all, so the calorie count was low.

This was a very tasty bread/cake and I'll definitely make it again.  When we have company, I'll make it with sugar and the powdered sugar glaze.  Yum!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week Two: Peak 10 Challenge

I was feeling super motivated about the second week of my Peak 10 Challenge - especially after having not eaten at all well over the Memorial Day weekend.  I did better on Memorial Day, the start of week two, at least.

My mini goal for this week is to complete the entirety of the Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout….though it'll hurt.  Also, on Saturday and Sunday, I need to complete all of my cardio interval and cardio strength workouts - no skipping sections.  

This week was tough for me.  I'm doing more HIIT cardio than I normally do....and it's taking a toll on my motivation.  I'm super OCD about working out so for this to happen is....alarming.  Here's how the week progressed....  

Monday (Memorial Day): More Cardio Strength (Peak 10)

After having done a cardio strength on Saturday and a cardio interval burn on Sunday, I felt my strength was lagging in this workout.  I skipped the last section which is, in my opinion, one of the hardest sections of the workout.  This video always gets me; I think it's the hardest of all the cardio strengths by Michelle Dozois.  I usually try not to stack my HIIT workouts back-to-back but I also try not to do them during the week, due to time constraints.  The holiday allowed me to do this one on a Monday.  At least I got through most of it.

Tuesday: Pure Strength 1

I was glad to have a day free of cardio.  This workout, though, is not getting any easier.  It's tough, for sure!  I subbed heavy weights for two exercises that used the band - since the band does not work for me with these exercises (curls and chest flies).  That definitely helped!

Wednesday: Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout

This workout is to be my nemisis for the next eight weeks.  I did a lot better this week and I completed the workout and all the peaks within. But it was super tough. 

Thursday: Pure Cardio

This was a rough morning, after a rough Wednesday followed by restless sleep.  But I got through the workout and enjoyed it, even though I was dripping with sweat. 

Friday: Cardio Interval Burn

Also known as Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn.  Though I'd have really liked to do the entirety of this workout, which was my goal for the week, real life intruded.  I'll be gone all day Saturday on a daytrip to OK for my boss' mom's funeral.  So, this workout, normally done on Saturday when there are no time constraints, has been moved to Friday, when I only have 50 minutes before work to get hot and sweaty.  I think this is the easiest of Michelle Dozois' cardio interval burns....but it's still a great workout (and fun!). 

Saturday: REST

....though I don't really want to rest.  This is unavoidable since I'll spend 12 hours in the car today.

Sunday: Cardio Strength Remix (Peak 10)

After being in the car all day yesterday, I was ready to move today.  I really like this Cardio Strength workout and think it's one of Michelle's best.  But it was a struggle to get through the whole thing.  I pushed myself and made it.  Barely.  It felt good afterwards - especially after a cold shower!

Calorie Counts

Monday (Memorial Day): 1462, which includes fast food so this number makes me happy!
Tuesday:  1382
Wednesday:  1364
Thursday  1382
Friday:  no idea - two meals out
Saturday (on the road): 1450
Sunday: 1375

The first week - last week - I dropped three pounds.  This week, I stayed the same as last week. No big deal since I've had a few meals out.