Wednesday, December 30, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See

I had heard many good things about Anthony Doerr's World War II novel, All the Light We Cannot See.....and I'd seen it everywhere.  So I finally got to reading it.

The story was fascinating from the beginning with the "present" timeline of 1944 and flashbacks into the past, to show how the characters got to where the end up.  A blind girl, Marie-Laure, and her father escape Paris when the Germans come and flee to seaside Saint-Malo.  Orphan Werner grows up in a German mining town before the Nazis recruit, educate, and deploy him.  

Both of these characters find themselves in Saint-Malo at the height of the American bombing in September of 1944.  

Doerr's story is truly special and interesting; I enjoyed it.  My one complaint was that the writing style seemed pompous - as if Doerr knew he was writing a Pulitzer Prize winner.  And I tend to avoid that type of writing.  However, the story was so special that I can overlook it.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Week Nine: Peak 10 Challenge #4

Since I missed four days of my Challenge while in Colorado, I'm tacking on three days this week - before the craziness of the holidays.  

My eating is definitely bad this week but with no one on campus and no distractions, I was able to walk at lunch.  So, a bit of success at a time when I'll take whatever I can get!

Monday: Pure Cardio + walk

I did not sleep well at all last night and all I really wanted this morning was to crawl back into bed.  But I worked out instead, thinking of all the cookies that have landed in my belly lately.  And it was a good, fun workout!  At lunch, I walked for 35 minutes outside, burning almost as many calories as during my "real" workout (according to my FitBit)- amazing!

Tuesday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn + walk

After a great night of sleep (thank goodness), I was almost looking forward to this workout!  Well, except the dreaded peaks....  It was a good workout, for sure, and I managed all the peaks in the time I had to workout.  Success!  At lunch, I walked the same route as yesterday....  I love knowing that I'm burning calories on borrowed time.  Cool!

Wednesday: Ilyse's Your Best, Sweaty Self + Dozois HIIT - Breathless and Energized

My last 5:30am workout of 2015!! Wow!  In honor of such a special occasion, I could not bring myself to do McLean's HIIT again.  Ugh!!!  So I tuned into something different but just as challenging - Ilyse's cardio.  This is her hardest workout on Glo and it kicks my butt quite often. This morning, I kept up with her, amazingly!  I then clicked over to Michelle's HIIT - lunge jumps, eek!  But I did them - all!  A great morning and the perfect last real workout of 2015!  

I'm off, traveling for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Me Before You

I picked up Jojo Moyes' Me Before You some time ago and chose to take it to Colorado.  I'd never read this author but after seeing this book everywhere, I bought it.  My curiosity was piqued.

Louisa Clark has gotten a new job as the caretaker of Will Traynor, who is now confined to a wheelchair.  Will hates his new life and Louisa doesn't care much for him - he's grumpy and acerbic.  

Soon, however, Louisa and Will begin a friendship that has the unique intimacy due to his situation and her job.  Will starts pushing Louisa to break out of her shell and try new things - adventures that he can no longer have.  

This unlikely pair have a tremendous influence on one another.  It's a heartbreaking yet heartwarming story and, for some reason, it really struck a chord with me.  If you ever evaluate your own life or think "what if," then this story will impact you, as well.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week Eight: Peak 10 Challenge #4

Back from our long weekend in Colorado...  And I have some serious fat that needs to come off!  It's not going to be easy with all the extra food at work, but I'll give it my best shot!

Monday: Ilyse's Sweaty, Sassy, and Strong + Amy's Skills and Drills

I didn't want to kill myself this first morning back from vacation - and after only about 5 hours of sleep.  So I did these two workouts that were a perfect combination - dance with Ilyse and then kickboxing with Amy.  Since I've already done my four weeks of extra Cardio Strengths in this Challenge, these workouts will take the place of that one.  

Tuesday: Amy's Intervals + Cardio Intervals

This week was an off week for Pure Cardio so Amy's HIIT took it's place.  These are definitely tough workouts but it felt good to work hard today.  I took it up a step with some circuits, even adding some lunge jumps.  Nothing works me harder than those!  A great morning!

Wednesday: Dozois' Tip Top Shape

After two days of cardio, I felt the need for weights.  This workout is just so good.  The alternating cardio/weight sections are just short enough to not be too painful or traumatic.  And Michelle is motivating by herself, as usual.  I even don't mind the floorwork....bleh.

Thursday: PeakFit Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout + walk

I don't know why I hate this workout so much - but I do.  Even Michelle has a hard time keeping me going and motivated.  Somehow I got through it - without modifying the peaks.  It was tough, for sure, and I hurt afterward, but it was worth it!  At lunch, I walked outside, around campus for about 25 minutes.  My co-worker kept up a brisk pace that I had a hard time matching, in my tired state.  But it was good!

Friday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster + short walks

With a busy weekend ahead - holiday prep! - I have no idea what that means for workouts.  So, I went ahead and did my CIB this morning.  I had to cut off 15 minutes but at least I got it in.  And dang, it was tough!  I went to bed at 11:30 last night (Star Wars!) so I was tired.  I made the 10-minute walking trek to a restaurant to meet a friend for lunch.  So I was mobile!

Saturday: PeakFit Cardio Strength 2

I had time for a workout today, thank goodness!  I was a bit nervous about this CS, though I really like it.  The first peak was a bit of a shock to my system - after so many consecutive high impact workouts, it was tough. But as I went along, it got easier.  So, 60 minutes of cardio and then a nice stretch and the dreaded sit-ups.

Sunday: rest (much needed)

We're just not going to think about calories this week.  Ugh.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Time in Estes Park

Our trip to Colorado was wonderful.  It snowed - not too much, not too little - and we Texans were in heaven!  There's nothing like waking up to snow plows.  It's a sound I hadn't heard since living in Michigan.  

The town of Estes Park was beautifully decorated for Christmas - it was stunning! I loved walking around downtown at night, especially while it was snowing.  The whole trip could not have gone any better!

Our friend had a great 40th birthday and the rest of us got to explore and rest in a wonderful place.  We were truly blessed to have that time together.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week Seven: Peak 10 Challenge #4

We had a long weekend trip planned at the end of this week…which ruins the flow of my Challenge.   It wasn't planned seven weeks ago so I'm having to improvise.  

With only three workouts this week, they need to count - and kick my bootie. 

Monday: Pure Cardio

I always miss this workout when a Challenge ends.  It's that good.  This morning, I was not 100% and I had to finish a few minutes early….but it was still fun!  And effective.  My muscles may not be the same after these 8 weeks.  Ha!

Tuesday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength + Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101

This morning was slow because I had a doctor's appointment; it made for the perfect time to do my additional CS workout!  Yay!  The original CS is a tough one but I got through it relatively well.  I then did 25 minutes of Ilyse's dance workout which is much more high-impact than her others.  Then, a nice stretch and sit-ups.  What a good morning of work!  The only downside: I had to fast for bloodwork so I couldn't eat anything.  Ack!

Wednesday:  McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits

The only good thing about this workout - it's getting easier.  My body, however, is getting more tired by the day.  Though I hate missing four days of workouts to go on our long weekend trip, I have a feeling my muscles will thank me.  

Thursday - Sunday: traveling

Friday, December 11, 2015

Off to the Mountains

We're off to the mountains again - the same mountains as two months ago - to celebrate a friend's birthday.   It should be really fun, especially given the forecast for 5+ inches of snow. We Texans don't see much of that!

Lakes will be frozen, rivers will be frosty, and hopefully we're toasty warm inside our cabin!  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Baking and Homemade Irish Cream (2015:21)

At Thanksgiving this year, I made Homemade Irish Cream at my parents' house.  I really liked it, as did my mom.  Mr. Higgins, who loathes coffee, thought it had too much of a coffee flavor.  My only complain, though small, was that it wasn't as thick as the bottled stuff.  Either way, the recipe can be tweaked to exclude coffee and include….mint, more chocolate, nutmeg….anything!  So I'll keep it in my file!

Every year, I make cookies with my mom shortly before Christmas.  I can't wait to do that this year, for the first time in my own home!  

I've already made some Christmas goodies: Triple Chocolate Cookies,  Skinny Snickerdoodles, and pumpkin bread.  

WIth my mom, I'll make gingerbread, sugar cookies, Victorian Tea Cakes, and fudge.  YUM!  But every year, I like to try something new…..

Mr. Higgins' mom has made chocolate bark before and it was delicious!!  (Here's a similar recipe.)  This year, I want to try to make it myself, with a mint flavor.  When I will have time to make this….I have no idea.  We'll see how it goes.  

No matter what's on your dessert menu, happy baking!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week Six: Peak 10 Challenge #4

I cannot believe this Challenge is going by so quickly!!  Time just flies by these days!

The good thing about Peak 10 is that it keeps me motivated.....  And motivation is good this time of year when I usually eat more than I should.  The only bad thing is that I usually don't see the results that I would normally see.  Sure, I get fitter but the scale and the measuring tape don't always reflect a big change.  Sigh.  All I can do is my best!

Monday: Amy's Cardio Intervals + Intervals + walk

I usually start this Glo playlist with Intervals.  This time I switched it up, starting with Cardio Intervals instead.  It's a bit more low-key though you do the moves for longer - 90, 60, and 30 seconds.  I then got through about 15 minutes of Intervals before I had to cool down - and it's definitely tougher because the moves are more difficult.  But it was a nice change from Pure Cardio.  At lunch, I walked at the rec and was proud of myself for getting over there.  It was cold and drizzly out!

Tuesday: PeakFit Cardio Strength 2 + Ilyse's Heart-Pumping Groove

Oh, how I loathe evening workouts!  I got home a bit early from the dentist and went to work with CS2.  Ugh.  It wasn't tough until about halfway through when I used my heavy weights instead of the suggested light ones for a circuit.  My body was not happy.  Afterward, I did ten minutes of Ilyse's dance workout to cool down.  And then a stretch.  I was aching all evening.

Wednesday:  PeakFit Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout

After last night's workout, this was the last thing I wanted to do.  I pushed myself, though, and made it through.  I modified the last two peak moves - to try to be a little....less.  I ached for most of the morning after this.  I walked ten minutes to and from lunch - and that was it.

Thursday: Dozois' Total Body Cardio and Strength + walk

I'm tired.  My body is tired.  I took the cardio down a notch this morning, making as much as possible low-impact.  This workout with weights is so great and I was sweating like crazy, despite my lessened exertion.  At lunch, I walked the track at the rec and then did a good stretch and ab work.  

Friday:  Dozois' Conditioning for Long Lean Muscles

I love my Friday mornings!  And I love this workout from Michelle.  Even though it's Barre - it's tough - and I always forget how tough.  I probably should have done something a bit lighter today, considering how fatigued my muscles feel, but it felt good.  And I tried not to jump too much.

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn

I was super tired this morning after not getting nearly enough sleep.  So I was glad this CIB was on the agenda - it's less stressful than the others.  But still a challenge!  I had fun, sweated  a bunch, and felt great afterward.  I did a stretch and some serious ab work, too.

Sunday: Peak Fit Test + Cardio Strength 1 on Glo + weights

Since we're taking a weekend trip next weekend, I decided to do my Fit Test early.  I won't be any more fit than I am right now, so let's do this!  The test almost killed me (ha!) but I improved in every circuit.  Yay!!!  I was pretty wiped out after the test but I did 40 minutes of CS 1 - without the peaks. I'd done enough peaks by that point!  I finished off with 10 minutes of pure weights....and then a stretch and ab work.

I actually ate really well this week - in my 1200 to 1300 calorie range - until Friday and Saturday.  Sunday I did well, too!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

So Sparkly, So Shiny…...

It's that time of year again.