Friday, May 29, 2015

Caturday Friday

Hasn't every cat owner been in this situation....every day?  Ha!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Thoughts and Conclusion: Peak 10 Challenge #3

I recently finished up my third Peak 10 Challenge, designed by Michelle Dozois.  As usual, it was a challenge.....but it was also fun and effective.  


My motivation was higher than ever for this round, since I'd gained weight when I had hypothyroidism, due to my radiation treatment (to treat hyperthyroidism).  Being hypo meant I couldn't lose weight.  My medication finally evened out, as did my thyroid, by the end of the Challenge, and I finally saw some results.

But it was very frustrating to work so hard and see no results.  For five months, my weight wouldn't budge.  I was thankful it wasn't going up, but at the same time, I was eating less and working out more so......  Frustration.  

I timed this Challenge to end right before our Bermuda cruise, which ended up being perfect!  There's nothing more motivating than wanting to look good in a swimsuit.  Ha!


When I started this Challenge, I'd just completed a Les Mills Combat Challenge.  I was in great shape and felt good - outside of some lower back pain caused, I think, by all the burpees in the Combat HIIT workouts.  So when I went to do my Fit Test, at the start of the Peak 10 Challenge, I was worried.  Will I improve by the end of the Challenge?  How can I do better than this?  I didn't look at the numbers from the last Challenge.  I was afraid to.  In the end, I did see improvement, much to my amazement...

                                  Before           After

Squats                          54                65
Lunges                         42                49
180 jump                      46                56
Tuck jumps                  56                68
Pushups (knees)         33                37
Ankle Grabbers           19                24
Sit Outs                         34                42
Frog Jump                    34                40
Fence Hoppers           74                80
Jump Shot                    32                35

Instead of burpees - I'm never doing fast burpees again - I did 180 jumps.  Those are 180 degree squat jumps and show up frequently as "peaks" in Michelle's workouts.

What really inspires me is that I keep improving upon the numbers from past Challenges.  Every Challenge gets me in better and better shape.  I don't lose much ground in between, which is awesome!

Going Forward

It's always hard after a Challenge, to stay at that same level of fitness.  I'll change up my workouts for the next 10 weeks, after the cruise, and we'll see what happens.  I won't do another Peak 10 Challenge until the fall.

I wasn't as exhausted after this Challenge as I was after the last one.  That's a good sign!  My legs have gotten more muscular and Mr. Higgins likes that.  Ha!  I like seeing results and after every Challenge, I see something different.  

As always, I had tons of fun with the PeakFit and Peak 10 workouts.  I can't wait for the next Challenge!  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Week 2: Pre-Bermuda-Cruise Workouts

I'm super psyched by my recent weight loss and healthy eating.  We leave on Thursday afternoon so let's see if I can keep this momentum going!

Monday: McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits

I hate doing this workout on Monday mornings, especially after as little sleep as I got last night.  Somehow I managed it, though I didn't do burpees, as my recent norm.  This is such a tough workout, mainly because you spend about a third of your time on the floor.

Tuesday:  Amy's Complete Strength and Conditioning + walk

It was time for weights this morning and something a little less strenuous as far as cardio goes.  Amy's workout, much like the one I did last week, combines weighted strength sections with short cardio bursts.  It's effective and challenging without being crazy hard.  At lunch, despite every obstacle possible at work, I went to the rec and walked the track.  Then, some ab work.

Wednesday:  Cathe's Intensity + walk

Switching up my workouts this week meant I was guilted into doing Cathe's Intensity workout.  It's definitely effective, especially once the HIIT starts to get mixed in with the step.  I also did the Lo-Impact HIIT section, avoided the high-impact since it was 5:30am.  LOL!  At lunch, I avoided the temptation to go out with co-workers and went for my walk at the rec instead.  I was proud of myself....but sad to miss out.  I'll get to go out to eat more this summer - yay!

Thursday: Michelle's Cardio Interval Burn on Glo

Last workout before the cruise - we leave today!  I wanted a good one today and this did the job.  

This week, I did great on calories.  And I'm down another pound.  That means I'm down 5 pounds since the start of the Peak 10 Challenge, 9.5 weeks ago.  Yay!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bermuda Trivia

When I met Mr. Higgins and he told me of his love of cruising, I was apprehensive.  I had been on one cruise and didn't really love it.  However, after one cruise with my future husband (Mr. Higgins), I knew I could do many, many more cruises.  Ever wary of bad seas, though, I swore off transatlantic cruises and Bermuda cruises.

And where is our next cruise to?  Bermuda.  How did it come to this?  Well, we've done (together) 13 Caribbean cruises, one Alaska cruise, and Europe cruises (well, airfare) are just not an option when we want to go on three trips a year.  We wanted something different and Mr. Higgins' parents really wanted to do Bermuda.  

So off we go.  Right now, when you read this, I'm sailing toward Bermuda.

When I tell people we're going to Bermuda, about half of them think that Bermuda is in the Caribbean.  No.  The other half don't know where it is other than in the ocean.  Okay….  

Bermuda is 640 miles due west of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Technically, it's in the north Atlantic (the tropical Atlantic starts just south of Bermuda).  To get to Bermuda, we do not sail through the Bermuda Triangle.  We have, interestingly, sailed through the Triangle on our way to the Caribbean isles from Florida.  I wish I didn't know that, actually.

Bermuda was discovered in 1503 by the Spanish.  The British found it in 1609, two years after settling in North America, and built a settlement there.  It's been British ever since and is currently the most populace British Territory.  

We get to spend 2.5 days in Bermuda and I can't wait.  I've heard such amazing things about this place.  Also, we sail out of Baltimore and for 10 hours after we leave, we're sailing down the Chesapeake.  That should be awesome!  

Let's just hope we have good sailing weather.  The north Atlantic…..oy.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FitnessGlo Review

For over a  year now, I've paid for a subscription to FitnessGlo.  I think I can now give you a rundown of the instructors, what they do, and what's good - and not good.

There are 8 instructors who teach classes at Glo.  These classes are divided into the following categories: Balance, Barre, Cardio - Athletic, Cardio - Dance, Click & Glo, HIIT, Pilates, Step, Strength - Core, Strength - Lower Body, Strength - Upper Body, Strength - Total Body, Stretch, Tabata, Yoga Fusion.  

(The difference between Tabata and HIIT is that Tabata has shorter rest periods.  Click & Glo workouts are usually 30 or 45 minutes and are total body.  They're meant to give you your day's worth of working out in a short amount of time.)

Here's a rundown by instructor…

-Ilyse Baker teaches a lot of dance and barre….but a bit of everything else as well, besides tabata, pilates, and yoga.  She's a lot of fun and I like her workouts.  Some of her non-progressive dance workouts are a little random, like she's making it up as she goes….but that's fine because she's a lot of fun.  Her core workouts are super hard.  Ouch!

-Amy Dixon is growing on me, despite her chatty nature and no-nonsense workouts.  She doesn't do dance, she does athletic cardio, strength, weights….  This girl is for real and she will work you hard.  You won't regret a workout with her….but it won't always be all that fun.

-Michelle Dozois is my favorite, as you know by now.  She now has Peak workouts on Glo as well as HIIT, strength, cardio, and a bit of barre.  My only complaint with her Glo workouts is that there aren't enough.  Ha!  

-Patricia Friberg is the pilates/yoga fusion instructor for Glo.  There is no straight yoga on this site - for that you need to go to YogaGlo.  But Patricia offers good, effective pilates workouts and yoga fusion - as well as barre, stretch, and core workouts.  She proves that little moves can get you great results.  

-Denise Klatte is a great teacher for beginners as her workouts are low-impact and less strenuous than some of the others.  She'll guide you through workouts using lighter weights until you perfect your form and graduate to a higher level on Glo.

-Petra Kolber is one instructor I don't often use on Glo.  Her voice is annoying and her workouts aren't very difficult - in my opinion.  That being said, if you're a beginner, she's the way to go.  She offers low-impact cardio, yoga fusion, step….just about everything but at levels 1 and 2 (3 is the toughest level on Glo).  

-Alex McLean is the HIIT and Tabata guy on Glo.  These workouts are hard.  He's definitely good for the advanced exerciser as there's little room for learning in his workouts.  He also offers some dance, barre, and stretch.  Most of his are more advanced but the barre and dance videos can be a lot of fun.

-Jeffrey Scott is another HIIT and Tabata guy but he also does step and strength workouts.  He's good but I must admit I don't do a lot of his workouts.  He's either too tough, too easy, or uses a step or weights when I don't want to.  That being said, he has a lot to offer to the site.

The great thing about Glo is that there are three levels to choose from.  You'll progress and get better and better and, as you do, you'll have more choices of instructors.  

A subscription is $12/month and I couldn't be happier with my decision to subscribe and keep subscribing.  If I need a 15 minute workout with weights, it's there.  If I want 30 minutes of dance, Ilyse has tons to offer.  A five minute stretch?  No problem!  There are lots to choose from.  

I highly recommend this site for any level of exerciser.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 1: Pre-Bermuda-Cruise Workouts

With the end of my third Peak 10 Challenge last week, I still have 1.7 weeks until our Bermuda cruise. That means I have to keep up the same intensity...but I can switch up my workouts.  

While I always enjoy the Challenge, it's fun to do some other workouts for a while....though I'll still do Peak videos on the weekends.

Monday:  McLean's Kickbox Your Way to Fit + Ilyse's Easy to Follow Dance Moves + walk

After a tough weekend of workouts, I needed to tone it down just a tiny bit today.  Alex McLean's kickboxing workout was new to me.  I modified the burpees but otherwise did it all - and it was fun and different, which is always good.  Ilyse's workout is always fun; I lover her!  At lunch, I walked at the rec, working up a good sweat!

Tuesday:  Shape's Bikini Body Transforming + Dozois' Heart-Pumping Total Sculpting

I wanted some good cardio so I turned to Michelle's cardio segment in Shape's workout video.  It's good - a mini Peak session, without the peaks.  That lasted 25 minutes (no cool down) and then I did some weights with Michelle's Glo Sculpting workout.  Fun!  And difficult!

Wednesday:  Amy's Intervals + Cardio Intervals + walk

HIIT was on the schedule today so I turned to two of Amy's workouts.  The first one is good, though I modify the burpees with my own moves.  The second one is not my favorite because the intervals are longer.  It's hard to jump rope or just jump for 90 seconds!  At lunch, I walked around campus before the next round of rain.  It wasn't really hard work but it was nice to move.

Thursday:  Amy's Kickin' Cardio and Conditioning + walk/abs

I still don't love Amy - she's just too chatty in her workouts - but some of her stuff is worthwhile and effective.  I can't say she's fun - there's no dancing and everything seems to be timed, but sometimes you just want to work.  And Amy works.  This workout alternates cardio and weights, like some of Michelle's workouts - but it's less fun.  LOL!  It got the job done this morning and was a nice change.  I walked for 20 minutes at lunch and then did ab work.

Friday:  BodyFit 360 Vol. 3: Athletic Conditioning

Leaving for a cruise next week means no real rest until then.  I did 25 minutes of the cardio from this workout (skipping the arms and abs sections) and then the full stretch.  That was my one concession to "resting."  Ha!  It felt so good to have that stretch, though!  

Saturday:  Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop

Wanting to mix up my cardio after the Challenge, I turned to Cathe.  I always dread this Cardio Core workout with a great passion, but I made myself do it.  It's definitely gotten easier over the last 12 to 18 months!  After that 45 minutes, I wanted still more cardio so I turned to McLean's dance workout.  It's a lot of fun!  That lasted for 25 minutes and then I got a ten minute stretch….with some ab work.  So much cardio meant I had over 10,000 steps before my workout ended.  Wow!

Sunday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength Remix + Michelle's Quick Lower Body Shape Up

Back to Peak 10 today - yay!  I hadn't touched this CS Remix in a long time so it was nice to do it again.  I'd forgotten how hard it is, though.  There's only one circuit that contains no floor work.  Ugh!  But it felt good - all that sweat dripping off me…..LOL!  Afterward, I wanted some more weights but aimed at the legs.  Michelle's Quick Lower Body workout is painful….she works you that hard.  But at least I got a nice stretch afterward….and sit-ups.  

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1253
Tuesday - 1292
Wednesday - 1253
Thursday - 1266
Friday - bad
Saturday - 1325
Sunday - 1288

My "bad" Friday wasn't as bad as some - I just ate too much.  But I had salad for both lunch and dinner.  I'm really proud of myself the rest of the week, including the weekend.  Cruises are a great motivation to stick to the diet!  I weighed on Friday morning and I was the lowest I've been this year, down 1.5 pounds from last week.  Wow!  I'm super psyched.  I'm now at my "normal" weight, in the middle of my acceptable 5 pound range.  I like seeing all my hard work pay off.  Finally.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Cat's Life

It must be so nice to be a cat.  All you do is lounge around, take baths, eat, and get rubbed.  Dooku sure seems to be at ease with his life!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies (2015:8)

Mr. Higgins loves strawberry cake, strawberry ice cream.....anything strawberry.  I love strawberries but am ambivalent towards strawberry flavored things.  It's the same thing with bananas with us.  Funny how that works!

I wanted a different cookie to make - something unique - for dessert and saw Sally's Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I was immediately intrigued after running the calorie count through my LoseIt! app.  

When I asked Mr. Higgins if he wanted chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or no chips, he said none.  Well, since I love chocolate, I decided to make half of the cookies plain and then add chocolate chips to a quarter and white chocolate chips to the remaining quarter.

These turned out great.  My only complain was that they were a tiny bit dry.  We both ended up liking the cookies with either chip more than the plain cookies.  My preference was for the white chocolate.  

I'm happy to have a strawberry baked good in my cooking arsenal!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week Eight: Peak 10 Challenge #3

Holy cow!  My last week of this Challenge!  Unbelievable!

I'm super psyched about the results I've already seen - long cardio stints are easier, peaks are less stressful, and the longer workouts no longer kill me.  Yay!  Here's hoping I see some great results with my Fit Test on Sunday.  But first, one more week of fun!

Monday: Pure Cardio + yoga

Last week I took a break from Pure Cardio so it was fun to do it this morning.  It really is one of the best cardio workouts out there.  Yoga at lunch was great - lots of flow but not a lot of planking.  Plus, some great stretches and balance poses we don't do very often.  I loved this class today!

Tuesday:  Cardio Stength 1 on Glo + walk

A rare morning off today - so nice!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center, by myself, which was a nice, quiet change.  Ha!  After work, I did CS 1, which is always tough after a long day.  I got through it but had to modify one move -  a jump to a pile squat with a weighted overhead swing.  I just can't do that safely or easily.  Oy.  

Wednesday:  Barrett's Crunch Super Slim Down: Pilates Yoga Blend

After all that work yesterday evening, I looked forward to something light this morning and Barrett's workout fit the bill.  I love the yoga in this and there's some good core work as well.  I meant to go to yoga at lunch - our last yoga for a while - but I was just too exhausted.  It was a tough day at work and I had no energy.  My body appreciated the extra rest.

Thursday:  Dozois' Total Body Cardio and Strength + walk

This is always a fun one to do.  I love Michelle's perky attitude, which is very helpful and motivating at 5:30am.  The hardest part for me in this workout is still the moving elbow planks - up to the hand plank, down to the elbow plank and on and on.  It's gotten a lot easier, though, which is nice!  At lunch, I walked for about 25 minutes and then stretched since I was super sore for some odd reason.

Friday:  McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits

Wow.  This one is tough; I always forget just how tough.  I got through it, avoiding burpees.  My back really appreciates that: I haven't had back pain in a few weeks now.  Awesome!!  No lunch workout today as we had a business lunch.

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength - Fat Blaster + Ilyse's Work Hard, Have A Great Time

After not eating great this morning and at lunch, I was ready to work this afternoon.  I treated myself to Michelle's new CS Fat Blaster and it's fun - bad hard.  I was so sweaty and tired…..but I kept going.  Ilyse's workout was new to me and it was hard….and I didn't really have a great time.  Ha!  This workout proves that Ilyse isn't all about dance - she can really work you hard when she wants to.  I worked out for an hour and 25 minutes today - and then I stretched and did sit-ups.  Ouch.

Sunday: Fit Test + Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn

Unbelievably, today marked the end of my third Peak 10 Challenge.  I dreaded my Fit Test…since I was pretty fit the first time around, I feared little to no improvement.  But there was some - thank goodness!  I was huffing and puffing, though, by the end, so I got through only 30 minutes of the original CIB.  That didn't bother me as I was really achy from yesterday.  So, today, an hour of cardio.  

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1269
Tuesday - 1269
Wednesday - 1269
Thursday - 1276
Friday - 1638
Saturday - bad
Sunday - 1272

I really tried to be good this week but Friday and Saturday threw a wrench in my plans.  Oh, well, you have to live, right?  

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Swan Maiden

I recently finished a book by Jules Watson entitled The Swan Maiden.  It was one of the most difficult books to get through that I've touched in a while.  

Here's my Goodreads review:

I really enjoyed Watson's Dalriada trilogy so I assumed The Swan Maiden would be equally enjoyable. But for some reason, I just could not get into this book or the characters. I like and admire the attempt to turn mythology into logical, historical fiction, but this did not click with Deirdre and Naisa - at least for me.

It's always disappointing when you think you've found an author whose style you love...and then in their next book, they let you down. That's how I felt with this one.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins (2015:7)

I've been wanting to try Sally's Baking Addiction's Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins for quite some time.  At only 45 calories they looked yummy and diet-friendly.  The only thing holding me back was maple syrup, which was just too expensive to buy for one recipe.  Then I found more recipes that called for it so I broke down and bought it - at over $5.  Ugh!

These muffins were easy to make.  My only substitution was using butter instead of (yucky) coconut oil.

I really liked these little muffins!  Mr. Higgins' only complaint was that they lacked a bit of sweetness and other unknown flavor.  They were moist and chocolate-y, which meant I was happy.  I don't know if I'll make them again but I may.  Low-calorie muffin recipes are hard to come by!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week Seven: Peak 10 Challenge #3

I can't believe I'm down to the last two weeks of the Challenge!  Time has just flown by!

My not-so-great eating of last week needs to be remedied this week!

Monday:  Amy's Intervals + Cardio Intervals + yoga

Despite not sleeping well (I'm so sick of spring thunderstorms!), I was ready to work this morning.  I got through Amy's HIIT Intervals, though I had to do other moves instead of the burpees.  Next up, her Cardio Intervals which was similar but changed up the times of the intervals - 30, 60, then 90 seconds.  It's hard to do one high-impact move for 90 seconds!!  At lunch, I went to yoga.  It was a lot of flow which was not easy but not too difficult.  At the end, we were given a nice stretch.

Tuesday: Michelle's Tip Top Shape + walk

It was time for weights this morning and Michelle's workout always makes me happy.  This one gets me sweating in no time and my heart rate stayed super high even during the weight sections.  Michelle is so good at designing effective, fun workouts!  At lunch, I walked at the rec with a co-worker.  It always surprises me how much I can sweat from simply walking briskly!

Wednesday: Anytime Anywhere + yoga

I had a break last week from AA but it was time to get back into this week.  It's tough but it's easier than it was at the start of this Challenge - so, progress!  It leaves me huffing and puffing like nothing else, though, even now.  Yoga at lunch was nice - a good stretch with just a bit of flow.  Love it!

Thursday:  Michelle's Conditioning for Long Lean Muscles

Now well into week seven of the Challenge, I'm beginning to feel the effects of all my work - and the tiredness.  For the next three days, I'll have a CS, a CIB, and then a CS....sigh.  I'm off on Friday so I decided to do my other CS that day instead of after work on another day.  That's great except for stacking up so many difficult workouts.  And so I knew I needed something light today.  Michelle's Glo workout is like a BodyFit 360 and I toned it down a bit more by limiting the jumping.  I turned the workout off a bit early to do more stretching.  At lunch, I went out with my co-workers but we walked through the neighborhood to a local cafe.  The walk was nice as the weather was perfect.  Lovely!

Friday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength + Ilyse's Just Dance

It was our anniversary today and I must say that working out did not sound at all appealing.  I had time in the morning and got this done ASAP.  It was tough but I warmed up with Ilyse's dance workout for 5 minutes and then did an additional 15 minutes to cool down after the CS.  This original CS is so much harder than I ever remember…..  Oy.

Saturday: Peak 10 More Cardio Interval Burn + BodyFIt 360 Vol. 3 Athletic Stretch

More CIB is one of my favorite workouts ever.  It's so much fun and has very little dread factor.  The only problem this morning was drama around me.  But I got through it and then did about 15 minutes of the Athletic Stretch on Vol. 3 of BodyFit 360.  That was very nice!

Sunday:  PeakFit Cardio Strength 2 + Amy's All Around Energy + abs

I did Amy's 5-minute warm-up and then CS 2, which runs 50 minutes before the cool down.  Then, 20 more minutes of Amy's workout, followed by the CS 2 cool down and some ab work.  That worked out nicely and I wasn't exhausted by the end of it all.  

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1675
Tuesday - 1277
Wednesday - 1350
Thursday - 1368
Friday - bad
Saturday - 1399
Sunday - bad

This has been a bad week, as you can tell.  But, I weighed on Wednesday morning and I've lost an additional 0.8 pounds.  Yay!  I went to the doctor on Tuesday and since January, they have me down 6 pounds.  Wow!  I'm going to stay at my current thyroid hormone level for four months, when I'll get more bloodwork.  It'll be so nice to have a break from that!  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Four Years

Four years ago today…..

….this happened.  The happiest day of my life.