Wednesday, November 26, 2014


On the cruise, I managed to finish one book - but it was a big one!...  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  Yes, I'm the last one on the planet to read this book, but I had my reasons. 

Here's my Goodreads review....

Having heard about this series for years, I was amazed that it took me at least 100 pages to really get into this story.  Claire was not a character with which I initially felt any sort of empathy.  The character just didn't appeal to me.  Frank did - but his character leaves much to be developed. 

Enter the the time traveling...  Gabaldon's writing style was clunky to me for quite some time until I got used to it.  When Claire is settling into Scottish life, I finally found the appeal of this story.  Jamie's character is interesting, though it took me some time to like him. 

The antagonist is exceedingly unlikable but he is the glue that ties this story - and the two times in it - together.  It's an interesting concept and, by the end of the novel, I was anxious to read more to answer all my questions.  Gabaldon still has some very interesting tales to tell.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thoughts and Conclusions: Peak 10 Challenge #2

My second Peak 10 Challenge is officially complete!  I continue to love this program.  It's the most effective way I've found to shed pounds and get into the best shape ever.  No joke.

As you know, in the midst of this Challenge, I was treated for hyperthyroidism.  Near the end of it, my thyroid levels were finally going down a bit.  I was worried about gaining weight...but that sure didn't happen!


There's nothing like hearing your doctor say "yeah, treatment for hyperthyroidism will really screw up your healthy, fit lifestyle" to keep you motivated.  During this time, I also enrolled in a wellness program at work, which kept me plenty motivated as well.  My beginning and end measurements proved that I had worked hard and lost inches as well as pounds.  Yay!


I won't go through all the numbers, but I lost 5 pounds.  I could not believe it.  My weight is the lowest it's been since before marriage - three years ago!  It's safe to say that I'm in the best shape of my life.  I'm not in the best shape of everyone anytime ever, but I've built upon the previous Challenge and made significant gains.   Here are some numbers (how many I can do in the time allotted in the Fit Test).

                                   Before          After

Squats                           53                58
Lunges                           43                47
Burpees                         25                28
Tuck jumps                    55                66
Pushups (knees)            30                38
Ankle Grabbers              20                23
Sit Outs                          28                38
Frog Jump                      32                38
Fence Hoppers              73                 80
Jump Shot                      32                37

Compare those to those of the last Challenge.  Wow.  And I did this concluding Fit Test at 5:30am, which I've never done before.  I'm super pleased with the results. 

Going Forward

Right now, I'm on a cruise.  I got into the best shape of my life and now I'm lazing around, eating too much.  Ha!  But that's why we live, right?  To have adventures with loved ones!  Besides, if I stayed at the level I was at, by the end of the Challenge, it would be tougher and tougher to find challenging workouts.  After the cruise, I'll be starting over, ramping up and up.

Between the end of the cruise and Christmas, I'll do a Pre-Holiday Workout Challenge - just to call it something.  I'll try to lose some cruise weight and stay in shape before I take a week off at Christmas.  After that, I'll do another Peak 10 Challenge.  Yay! 

At the end of this Challenge, I was exhausted.  I did not take a day off from working out in a very long time.  Sure, I did some very light workouts but I always wanted to move.  Plus, since I started doing weights and yoga at work, that added in even more workouts that just tired me out after a while.  It'll be good to have a week off. 

One of greatest things that helped me the most through this Challenge was FitnessGlo.  I was able to change up my workouts, try new things, and stay motivated instead of getting stuck in a rut.  If you find yourself bored with your workouts, give it a try - you can do that for free for 2 weeks! 

And if you want to get into great shape, try PeakFit.  You won't regret it!

Friday, November 21, 2014


The last stop on our cruise this week is Royal Caribbean's private "island" in Haiti - Labadee.  It's a fun place to spend a day because RC provides you with everything you need....including a signature drink of the day, the Labadoozie.  It's quite tasty and I'll be enjoying several this day.  Ha!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Curacao in 2010

When Mr. Higgins first took me to Playa Porto Mari (Curacao) in 2010, I was in love.  Great snorkeling, calm seas, and picture-picture views.  There was even hiking in the hills behind the beach - affording even more perfect views of the area.

My first thought upon leaving this place was that we needed to come back with my parents.  They would love it!  This week we're doing just that - with the addition of Mr. Higgins' parents!  It's going to be a fun day!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week Ten: Peak 10 Challenge #2

Really, only half a week to go!  We leave for our cruise during the dark morning hours of Friday, so only four more workouts! 

I must say that I'm really feeling an overall sense of exhaustion now that the challenge is coming to an end.  The break will be good.  And, once I get back, I'll hit it hard again, though not with another challenge until after Christmas.

Monday: McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits

It's been a few weeks since I did this so I subbed it for Anytime Anywhere, which I'm glad to shelve for at least 8 weeks.  Ha!  McLean's HIIT, interspersed with Tabata, is difficult - but it's gotten easier for me, which is amazing.  I love seeing progress!  Yoga did not happen today as I had meetings all afternoon.  I hate missing yoga!

Tuesday: Cardio Strength 1 on Glo + weights

Wow.  I did the CS at 5:30 in the morning, which was a bit of a shock.  I made it through and even managed to do every peak.  The last circuit was skipped, however, since I ran out of time.  At lunch, a co-worker and I did weights; I had to force myself.  Sigh.

Wednesday:  Amy Dixon's Skills and Drills +  Alex McLean's Unleash Your Inner Strength + yoga

I wanted low impact today before my Fit Test (!!!) tomorrow.  And so I opted for these two workouts, doing 25 minutes of both.  Alex gets my heart rate up and keeps it up; Amy has great kickboxing with some jacks and jumping rope.  A great workout!  I was sweating!   My plans changed at work and I was able to go to yoga today - yay!  We had a sub, though, who was not nearly as good as our normal lady.  I got a tiny bit sweaty but also got stretched out so that made me happy!

Thursday: Fit Test + Michelle's Total Body Blast for When You Are Short on Time

My concluding Fit Test was completed at 5:30 this morning.  Yikes!  I was amazed at how well I did, considering the time.  That took 25 minutes so I then did Michelle's new weight training workout on Glo.  It was tough!  But it kept my already pounding heart in overdrive so I liked it!

Calorie Counts:
Monday - 1357
Tuesday - 1382
Wednesday - 1353
Thursday - 1604

Cruise time!  Bad eating will follow.  I'll have a re-cap and conclusion next Monday regarding the end of my second Peak 10 Challenge.  I'm so happy with results!  Now I'm off to wear my bikini in the Caribbean!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fresh Herb Spoon Rolls (2014:39)

I make a lot of soup in the winter.  It's great: I make a large pot and freeze tons of servings for lunches (after we eat some for dinner after I make it)!  Mr. Higgins eats soup practically every night in the winter so I've found some good recipes.

But I'm always on the lookout for a bread/roll to go with our first serving of soup for a dinner.  Mr. Higgins love cornbread, as do I, but sometimes something different is good. 

When I needed to use up some fresh herbs, I found this recipe for Fresh Herb Spoon Rolls.  It had two advantages over its competitors: no rising time and no kneading!

These were super easy to make and the yeast combined with self-rising flour meant they were light and fluffy!  This recipe will be added to my collections a go-to roll option!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Week

A week from today we'll be here, at Aruba.  I keep reminding myself, while at the gym, doing weights, that I want to look good in my bikini.  Ha! 

It's been four years since Mr. Higgins and I were at Aruba.  I can't wait!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week Nine: Peak 10 Challenge #2

Only 1.75 weeks to go.  I can do this.  Right?  Right.

I have to eat well this week.  My one "splurge" will be Friday but with 1.75 weeks until the cruise, I really need to buckle down and be good.  I'm continuing my weights at the gym whenever possible...though I really don't enjoy it. 

Monday: Ilyse Baker's Barre Blend - Body and Mind Workout + yoga + Peak Fit Cardio Strength 2

Oy, my marathon day.  I began with Ilyse's barre at 5:30am.  It was, basically, ballet and, thankfully, the "mind" part of it was non-existent.  I'm not so good at meditation.  Yoga at lunch was truly lovely - lots of sun salutations followed by a good stretch.  CS 2, after work, was tough.  My energy stayed up throughout, though - amazing!  I crashed afterward, spending the rest of the night reading due to pure exhaustion.

Tuesday: Body Fit 360 + weights

I haven't touched Body Fit 360 in a long while so it was fun to get back to it.  It's such a unique workout - and a lot tougher than it seems.  At lunch, I went to the rec, though it was raining, and did 30 minutes of weights.  Do not like.

Wednesday: Pure Cardio + yoga

I enjoy Pure Cardio more when I don't do it every week so this was nice.  It also nice that the house has finally gotten cool so it was easier to stop sweating after this workout.  Yay, hyperthyroidism.  Sigh.  Yoga was nice and relaxing.  I really enjoyed it.

Thursday: Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout

Since I knew this would be my only workout today, I decided to do my hardest workout - AA.  Ugh.  How can it be so hard after doing it so much?!  I got through it but it was not easy.  It's never easy.

Friday: Ilyse's Easy to Follow Dance Moves + Amy's Kickboxing Skills and Drills + weights

I wanted low-impact today since I've done enough high-impact this week so I chose to do these two workouts from Glo. Ilyse just makes me happy so it was fun dancing with her.  Amy's workouts are tolerable and this one is less repetitive than some.  Since I missed weights yesterday, I went today.  I was glad to get it done!

Saturday: Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn

I was a bit sluggish this morning but after the warm-up and one peak, I was good to go with this one.  It's a good one, too, though it never lets you rest.   I finished off my workout with five minutes of abs.

Sunday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength

This one was tough for me as I wasn't quite 100% today.  But I got through it.  I'm definitely getting tired so the cruise and a break from these tough workouts will be very welcome.

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1355
Tuesday - 1355
Wednesday - 1389
Thursday - 1355
Friday - 1616
Saturday - 1440
Sunday - 1445

When I weighed on Thursday, I was the lowest I've been in recent memory.  I couldn't believe it!  Peak 10 works; it's amazing!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares (2014:38)

Mr. Higgins loves cheesecake - especially pumpkin cheesecake.  In lieu of going to Costco and getting a huge, unhealthy pumpkin cheesecake, I decided to try this recipe, which I finally found online.  It took a while to find a recipe for cheesecake bars made in a 9x9 or 8x8 pan - but that's what I wanted in order to control portion sizes. 

To begin, I made the crust from these delicious Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Squares - super easy and low on butter. Then on to the first layer of the bars - the cheesecake layer.  Notice that the recipe says 11 oz of cream cheese.  I bought only one brick of the stuff, meaning I had 8 oz.  So, I threw in a bit more sour cream, tasting as I went, until the filling tasted cheesecakey-ey enough. 

The pumpkin layer is super easy and quick.  However, spreading both the layers on top of the crust proved to be a bit tedious - so much so that next time, I'm tempted to just blend it all up together. 

The result was fabulous.  Delicious.  Yummy.  Amazing - and low fat!  These were 120 calories when cut into 16 squares.  I'll be making these every autumn!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Boys in the Boat

I finally finished The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown, which was chosen by my book group for the month of October.  Yes, I was a little late in finishing it, but non-fiction always takes me a bit longer than fiction. 

My Goodreads review:

When my book group chose this book, I was underwhelmed. Non-fiction is not usually my thing and I know nothing of rowing. But almost immediately, Brown caught my attention and held it.

This book tells the story of one young man and his rowing crew that won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Joe Rantz is such a superb choice for Brown to follow: his story is so immensely powerful because of the many obstacles he overcomes. I'm a history major; I know my 1930s history…. But Brown captures the emotions of that era with gut-wrenching clarity, all through the eyes of Joe and his family.

If nothing more than to see exactly what our grandfathers and grandmothers went through, everyone should read this novel. And in so doing you'll learn what kind of work ethic it takes to win a gold medal - and survive the Great Depression. This book reminded me just how spoiled, undisciplined, and soft we have become. There's a reason why Joe's generation was the Greatest Generation.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week Eight: Peak 10 Challenge #2

And, here we go!  Another week!  But this is not my last week of the eight-week challenge, since I had two "off" weeks in the middle.  

Because of my birthday last week, I'm super motivated to burn some extra calories.  You may think I'm crazy for working out so much and I may be.  But because of my thyroid issues, I want to be super active since my metabolism is gradually slowing down as my thyroid is slowly dying.

Monday: McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits + yoga

I was not feeling super rested this morning but I got up and did McLean's HIIT workout before I could talk myself out of it.  This takes the place of Pure Cardio this week; I need something different.  At lunch it was time for yoga at the rec.  Last week's relaxing stretch was no more.  Today, we got a tough workout and I sweated more than I ever have. The class culminated in handstands against the wall.  Wow!

Tuesday:  Dynamic Flexibility + Cardio Strength 1 on Glo + weights

Wow.  I got up this morning after another restless night of little sleep and went through Dynamic Flex, which felt great.  At lunch, I did 35 minutes of weights at the rec.  Ugh.  There's nothing like working out next to 18-year-olds to make you feel slow and weak.  After work, I got in my extra CS for the week, going through CS1 on Glo again.  It's fun but super hard.  Afterward, I was so tired.

Wednesday: Ilyse's Ten Minute Lower Body Sculpt + Michelle's Barre Fusion + yoga

After yesterday's workout marathon, I needed something lighter today.  I started with Ilyse's leg workout, which was tough.  Then came Michelle's 30-minute Barre workout....which was also tough.  Michelle doesn't do anything light and easy - ha!  I was looking forward to yoga at lunch...and it was tough.  Who knew holding lunges for an extended period would be so dang difficult?!  I left the class with shaky legs and aching shoulders - stupid down dog!

Thursday: Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101 + Michelle's HIIT - Breathless and Energized + weights

I was really looking forward to Ilyse's workout, done now for a third time.  But I forgot that this one is more cardio than dance.  Wow, my heart rate was up and I was jumping and jogging like crazy!  Michelle's HIIT is HIIT can be.  Ha!  Weights at lunch did not sound appealing since my shoulders were still aching....but I powered through.  It helps that I go with my co-workers; accountability is good!

Friday:  Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout

Every time I do this workout, I get better at it.  It's so hard, because within every peak circuit you do jumping jacks of some kind, push-ups of some variation, and a peak.  It's non-stop and crazy.  

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Strength + Michelle's Strength Lower Body

This was a tough morning of working out.  This cardio strength always get me.  Because I have a cruise coming up - and probably because I'm a masochist - I finished off my workout with Michelle's lower body circuit on Glo.  I skipped the warm-up and got right into it after my CS.  It makes my thighs burn like nothing else.  Ouch!  I took extra time to stretch after all this.

Sunday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn + abs

I always think of this CIB, the original CIB, as being the easiest.  There's no floor work, which is a blessed relief.  But this is still a very challenging workout.  Especially on mornings like today, when I woke up with a headache.  Thankfully, I think the workout helped it, in the end.  I felt a lot better afterward.  I finished it off with five minutes of ab work.

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1532
Tuesday - 1341
Wednesday - 1354
Thursday - 1586
Friday - bad!
Saturday - 1395
Sunday - 1477

I had to go to social things on Monday and Thursday and though my calories were up those days, I'm happy I didn't completely blow my diet.   Next week will be better….we only have 1.75 weeks until our cruise!  Eek!