Monday, June 29, 2015

Post-Cruise Workouts: Week 4

This summer has been fun and different so far - and fattening.  Ha!  I've signed up for a work wellness program for these summer months so hopefully that keeps me motivated to keep working out!  One of the criteria is losing a pound in two months.  Surely I can do that. Right?!

Here's how my week shaped out...

Monday: Ilyse's Work Hard, Have a Great Time + Scott's Complete Workout on the Go + walk

Ilyse's workout this morning was not dance - it was athletic cardio.  So, a bit tougher than her dance videos but still fun.  She definitely keeps you moving!  Nonstop!  Scott's workout was good - not quite as intense but good!  It alternates toning and cardio.  At lunch, I walked at the rec center with a co-worker.  It's always fun doing that with a friend!

Tuesday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped! + walk

I needed some weights this morning so I did the second workout on Jari's video.  It's filled with compound weighted exercises.  There's no cardio so I paused the video after every circuit to add some low-impact cardio.  My arms were aching by the end of it.  Jari's great for weights!  To get away from the computer, I walked at lunch.

Wednesday: McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits + walk

As I was waking up this morning, McLean's HIIT workout did not sound at all appealing.  But I forced myself to get into it and I'm glad I did. This has gotten just a tiny bit easier and I consider that great progress!  I skipped the burpee moves (which happen twice) and did other high-impact moves.  It was a great workout!  A walk at lunch with a co-worker helped to clear my head today...  It was a stressful day.

Thursday:  Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101+ Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + HIIT - Breathless and Energized 

I feel like I can't work out hard enough these days, since I'm eating worse.  As I started this morning's workout my legs and abs were sore, I guess from HIIT yesterday.  It really takes something to make my thighs ache but they did today!  I was fine with these videos until Michelle's HIIT - that was tough!  I felt good afterward - and much looser. 

Friday: Michelle's Body Fit 360: Vol. 3 - Athletic Conditioning

And still no rest today.  BUT.  The cardio in this workout - though intense, only lasts 25 minutes.  I then did the stretch, which was awesome.  This workout is just so fabulous.  In those 25 minutes, you will work every muscle.  And then, arms/abs, which I skipped today, followed by a 20-minute stretch.  So great!

Saturday:  Michelle's Cardio Strength 2 on Glo + Ilyse's Sweaty and Sassy Dance Fit

After this CS2 almost killed me a few weeks ago, I've been dreading meeting it again.  Thankfully it was easier today than last time - but it was still super tough.  I warmed up with Ilyse and then continued with her cardio for 15 minutes after CS2 ended.  This was quite a workout, all in all.  It was  relief to cool down, stretch, and do some ab work.

Sunday: Cathe' Intensity

Time for good ol' cardio this morning.  I did all of Cathe's step and then the Hi and Lo HIIT circuits.  Whew!  That lasted for about 50 minutes, after which I did 10 minutes of my own cardio to get in a full hour.  I was wiped out but not exhausted - perfect!  A stretch rounded out my morning, plus some sit-ups and planks.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Week

It's been a week and I'm just about brain-dead at this point.  When it gets this bad, the cats are about the only things to make me smile.

Here's a Dooku with his favorite toys: a Storm Trooper and Chubaka.  Ha!

I smiled.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Work, Work, Work

When I look back on my previous job, as a researcher for a religion professor, I mostly remember what a great experience it was.  Until I got a new boss.  When I finally happened upon my current job listing - and got the position, I was ecstatic, to say the least.  

And I still am.  A researcher in religion doesn't have a career path - or any advancement - unless you obtain a PhD.  And for me, that ship had sailed.  My current position has a path, advancement opportunities (once I have a few more years of experience), and is professional.  Most importantly, I got to stay in higher education, a place I love.

So this new job is great.  I'm thankful every day that I was lucky enough to get it.  But every day comes with its own set of problems and stresses.  This is true for almost everyone.  

When I started my new job, I heard all about the upcoming database conversion.  It would happen next that's this year.  Actually, it's today.  After months of prep work, extra work, fixing the new database, training for the new database, and loathing the old one, the day of reckoning is upon us.  

Every job has challenges and stresses.  This week is one of those weeks for me.  I'll be glad when it's over and when I never hear the world "conversion" again. That will be a glorious day.  Ha!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Post-Cruise Workouts: Week 3

Yet another bad weekend of eating has me worried about the number on the scale - so much so that I refused to step on to it!  Ha!  

Hopefully a week of good workouts will help!

Monday:  Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped! 1000 Hardcore + walk

This workout by Jari Love is a challenge - both the weighted sections and the cardio.  The weights are hard because they all involve compound exercises.  The cardio is a challenge because it's sustained for so long.  I did the first workout and my legs were burning from all the curtsy squats!  The workout lasted about 35 minutes, after which I did my own weights and cardio to get to 50 minutes.  At lunch, I walked at the rec and then had a nice stretch, hoping to soothe my legs.

Tuesday:  Shape's Bikini Body Transforming + Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals + walk

A morning of cardio!  Michelle's cardio on Shape's video is tough - but not too bad.  I always enjoy it and work up a sweat!  I then turned to Scott's HIIT to finish out my morning.  Most of his moves are unique which makes the workout fun.  But it's tough and I was dripping sweat!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center and did some ab work.

Wednesday: Michelle's Cardio Strength 2 on Glo + Ilyse's Groovy Dance Party

This workout was done after work because I felt the need to shock my system.  I'm eating bad so why not do something out of the ordinary to make my system second guess itself?!  I did the 5-minute warm-up in Ilyse's Dance workout and then switched over to Michelle's CS2.  I have no idea why but this one almost killed me.  I remembered that it was tough - just not quite that tough.  It was sheer willpower that got me through it because my body was not happy.  After the CS, I did 15 minutes of the dance workout.  Usually, I make the moves more high-impact, but not today.  Today, I was lucky to still be upright!  My stretch and cool-down was such a relief!

Thursday: Amy's Intervals + Cardio Intervals

Seriously, I need to torch some calories ASAP!  I wanted high-impact so Amy's two interval workouts sounded good.  The moves are good - except for burpees which I sub for other moves.  I was sweating and tired....but in a good way!

Friday:  Ellen Barrett's Grace and Gusto

Time for something low-key.  Finally!  It was such a relief to not have to do something crazy hard this morning!  And with no workout at lunch, my body can fully re-group before my Peak 10 workouts this weekend.  Yay!  Ellen is so much and this workout is nice and soft - just what I needed!

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster

I hadn't done this CIB in a while so I was excited!  I started off by doing 5 minutes of my own low-impact cardio, to get super warm.  Then, the workout lasted 55 minutes.  I added on another 5 minutes of my own cardio before doing the cool down/stretch.  The different "peaks" in this CIB are fun - and challenging!  It was difficult to get through, especially when the ascents contained tougher cardio.  But it was fun!

Sunday:  Peak 10 More Cardio Strength + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop

After almost dying during Wednesday's CS, I was not looking forward to More CS, knowing just how difficult this one is.  Why?  There's only one circuit that does NOT go to the floor.   The cardio isn't bad and the peaks aren't crazy but the weighted moves are tough, as is the floor work.  Wow.  I warmed up with McLean's dance workout and then did an additional 15 minutes of it after finishing CS.  Then, about 10 minutes of stretching and abs.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Chocolate Angel Food Cake (2015:10)

I love strawberries.  They are, in my opinion, one of the best things about summer.  And I love strawberry short cake.  I used to make my own angel food cake but haven't done so in a while.  But when I saw this recipe for Chocolate Angel Food Cake, I was inspired.

The act of whipping up the egg whites was fun!  My mixer got a definite work out with this recipe!  Ha!  My one mistake with this one, however, was not sifting the powdered sugar.  When I measured it, it looked fine.  But as I combined it and whisked it with the cocoa, I realized there were tiny pieces still hanging on together.

This cake came out well but I was not blown away by it.  I guess it wasn't chocolate-y enough - though it shouldn't have needed to be any more chocolate-y.  I don't know.  It fun to make and I'm glad to have tried something new!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Blueberry Yogurt Cake (2015:9)

I'm always in search of new, good breakfast recipes.  When a co-worker's birthday came along, it seemed like the perfect time to try something new.  This Blueberry Yogurt Cake sounded great and didn't have a lot of sugar, like so many blueberry recipes.

To cut down on calories - all my co-workers are watching their waistlines these days - I subbed Splenda for half the sugar.  That was the only substitution I made, though I was tempted to try applesauce instead of butter.  

I used a 9-inch round pan instead of a spring-form and it worked great.  The batter was so thick that the blueberries didn't sink to the bottom!  Of course, I had to turn the cake over to get it out, so they appeared to all be on the bottom!  Ha!

Everyone liked this cake - it's moist and not too sweet!  Perfect for breakfast!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Post-Cruise Workouts: Week 2

A very bad week of eating last week has me yearning for challenging workouts.  And since I took a rare day of rest on Sunday - for Mr. Higgins' birthday - I was ready to work.

Monday: Amy's Intervals + Cardio Intervals + yoga

These workouts by Amy are similar but different enough for me to dread the second one - which has longer intervals.  But the first one is fun and effective.  I even change up some of the moves - as long as they're high-impact, I'm good.  At lunch, my favorite yoga teacher subbed for the summer teacher - so that was a lot of fun!

Tuesday: Complete Strength and Conditioning by Amy + walk

It was time for some weights today and this workout by Amy is super fun.  It alternates weights and cardio and there are even push-ups interspersed throughout so you don't burn out on them.  I'm so glad I found this workout; it'll stay in my rotation.  At lunch, I walked at the rec.  So many calories to burn.  Ha!

Wednesday:  Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101+ Dozois' Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + HIIT - Breathless and Energized + walk

Wow, what I day. I've been really dragging this week; sleep has been elusive.  But I bounded out of bed (literally) and got to work this morning.  All of these workouts push you to your limit so putting them together made for quite a morning!  It fun, though, and I felt great afterward.  At lunch, I walked laps at the rec center - not much fun but productive!

Thursday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped 1000

I haven't done this workout in so long, I couldn't remember how hard it was!  And it's hard.  Ha!  The weighted sections really test me - there are so many reps.  And the cardio...what seems easy at first gets harder and harder because you do one move for a very long time.  I did the first workout, which last a little over 30 minutes.  I then did my own additional weights and cardio to get in a full 50 minute workout.  

Friday:  Michelle's Body FIt 360 (original)

It was time to take it down a notch this morning so I turned to my favorite Body Fit 360 workout - the original.  It's just so great - low-impact cardio combined with yoga, dance, and Pilates…not to mention the great stretch at the end.  I felt great after this!

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength Remix + Dozois' Tight and Toned Core

Ah, the weekend.  After getting groceries early this morning, I mopped our floors - a bi-yearly event.  By the end, I was sweating like crazy and my back hurt.  Despite Mr. Higgins telling me I didn't need to do a workout after all that, I did.  And I did a tough one - CS Remix.  I've never sweated so much - mainly because I was already sweeting!  Ack!  This was definitely a challenge to get through but I was proud of myself when I finished it.  After the cool down, I tuned into Michelle's core workout on Glo - dang!  My core was aching something fierce after 10 minutes of this workout (I skipped the warm-up).  A great, productive, active morning!

Sunday: Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit  + Dozois' 30 Minute Boot Camp

I always dread this one.  But I still do it.  Cathe's Cardio Core is a challenge but, thankfully, this workout is a lot easier than it used to be.  Some of the moves still get me but I can get through it without getting totally wiped out now.  After that 45 minute workout, I wanted something less stressful so I turned to Dozois' level 2 boot camp.  I did 15 minutes of it (skipping the warm-up) and it was good!  Finally, a cool down and stretch after all that!

Friday, June 12, 2015


I guess it's time I talked about our trip to Bermuda.  In short, if you've never been, put it on your Bucket List.  

Since this ring of islands is in the Atlantic, I thought the water would be….uninspiring.  I was wrong.  Because of the coral, the water was made up of brilliant shades of cerulean, turquoise, deep blue….  It was incredible.

The town of St. George, the former capital of Bermuda, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and reminded me a lot of Europe.  The church above is the oldest on Bermuda, over 400 years old.

Since Bermuda is a British territory, it's run in a very British way - efficiently and cleanly.  Everything had an appearance far superior to any island in the Caribbean.  Of course, Bermuda is more prosperous than any Caribbean nation.  But it was a nice change, especially when you rely on public transportation.  

I'd love to go back to these gorgeous islands some day.  There is still much to see that we did not have time to do!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Daughter of the Gods

I recently finished Stephanie Thornton's novel, Daughter of the Gods, about the female pharaoh, Hatshepsut.  Thornton is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical fiction authors since she focuses on ancient women instead of the predictable late-medieval or British themes.

My Goodreads reivew:

Stephanie Thornton has proven herself again with this fantastic historical fiction about Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt. 

Thornton's Hatshepsut isn't immediately likable but she quickly becomes so. Her drive and ambition, which at first separates her from the reader, quickly won me over. She believed her duty to Egypt was to become Pharaoh and that this action was blessed by the Gods. 

Thornton's writing brings Egypt to live and I truly enjoyed this adventure through time.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Post-Cruise Workouts: Week 1

I need to lose the weight I gained on the cruise (3.2 lbs) and stay slim while we eat some of our favorite foods this summer.  Now that we have no cruises in the foreseeable future, we can eat the foods we usually avoid during our pre-cruise dieting.  Yay!  

For 10 weeks, I'm going to do Michelle Dozois' Peak 10 workouts on the weekend but change things up during the week.  I'm going to go back to some Jari Love workouts - at least one a week.  It's going to be fun!

Monday: Jari Love's Get Extremely Ripped + walk

After my weekend of cardio, I wanted to do some weights today.  I did the first workout on this video, which ran 30 minutes.  I did about 5 minutes of cardio to get warmed up before-hand.  Then, my own stretch afterward.  It was hard doing all the squats that Jari loves so much - ouch!  I had to cut my workout short by 10 minutes this morning.  At lunch, I walked at the rec.

Tuesday: Amy's Sports Sculpt + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop

It was a nice feeling to look forward to working out today.  Amy's workout wasn't too intense - in fact, I made some moves high-impact when she kept them low.  Then, McLean's dance workout is always a lot of fun.  A good, fun workout combination!

Wednesday:  Amy's Kickin' Cardio and Conditioning + walk

I wanted some weights today and this workout was great when I first tried it before the cruise.  It was still good; I even made some of the low-impact moves more high-impact.  The weights felt good!  At lunch, I walked at the rec and then did some ab work.  

Thursday: Shape's Bikini Body Transforming + Michelle's Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + walk

After a relatively light week, in the way of cardio, I was ready to do something taxing today.  And boy, are these two workouts hard....and taxing.  I did Michelle's cardio from the Shape workout and then her intervals on Glo.  Wow.  I was breathing hard and sweating like crazy!  At lunch, I walked at the rec, so my FitBit steps were way up there!  Yay!

Friday: Cathe's Intensity

I was not looking forward to doing this one early in the morning but I had no choice.  I did all the cardio and then the low-impact HIIT segment.  The high-impact circuit is just too much at 5:30 am.  I got tons of steps with this workout, which I needed today since I only worked out this one time.

Saturday:  Dozois' Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + Heart Pumping Total Sculpting

This morning I did not feel great but I made myself get into this Peak 10 workout and, thankfully, it's one that I really love.  It's so much fun to do!  Afterward, I added about 10 minutes of weights from Dozois' Sculpting workout on Glo.  It's a really good workout, even if I do 10 minutes instead of the full 20!  Then I finished with a nice stretch and sit-ups.

Sunday: REST

I'm going to stop posting calorie counts for the summer.  I'm letting up just a bit on my self-imposed strictness.  Mr. Higgins and I are going to try to get to some of our favorite restaurants this summer and the diet will just have to forgive me.  Ha!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Ornament of the World

For last month's read, my book group chose Maria Rosa Menocal's The Ornament of the World, a history of Spain's medieval religious triumphs and travails.  

My Goodreads review:

My book group chose to read this and I was excited by the choice. The history of Spain, the Christianity within it, has always intrigued me.

Menocal kept my attention through the first half - the straight history of it all was great. But as she started taking small snapshots of people within that history, it was hard to keep everyone straight. I know my medieval history but tossing around the names of Spanish monarchs gets confusing. 

I'm glad I read this book and hope to one day visit Spain.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Into Thin Air

For Christmas, I gave Mr. Higgins Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.  If you've never heard of this, it's the story of the author's experience hiking Mount Everest.

My Goodreads review:

Having no interest at all in Everest, it took a lot of coaxing from my husband to get me to read this book. But once I read the first two pages, I was fascinated. 

Jon Krakauer is one of the best nonfiction writers I've ever come across. He has a talent for making you feel like you're with him in the moment. Amazingly, he conveys to you all the facts and history you need without an ounce of dryness. 

Krakauer's story of climbing Everest is at once amazing, terrifying, and fascinating. I have no interest in climbing mountains and, honestly, think that those who want to risk their lives in such a fashion are mildly insane. But yet, I was enthralled by the story and motivations of each and every one of Krakauer's team mates, the Sherpas who helped them, and the guides who make a living by taking people to the top of Everest (hopefully). 

I will never step foot on Everest nor do I want to. I've now lived through one of the most insanely horrifying climbing seasons on the mountain through the eyes of Krakauer.

I can't say enough about this book and it's author.  Phenomenal.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Home Again

We survived our Bermuda cruise!

In fact, we had strangely calm seas every day.  It was amazing!  On our last day, the seas were so eerily still that we wondered if something was very wrong.  Ha!!  Alas, we made it all the way back into Chesapeake Bay with no problems at sea.

Now, it's back to the workout routine after doing nothing but a bit of walking while on the cruise.  The bad news is that I gained 3.2 pounds; the good news is that that is still within my "normal" 5-pound range.  Wow!  

Here are my workouts from the weekend at home:

Saturday: Michelle's Rockin Body Cardio + Ilyse's Easy to Follow Dance Moves

The first workout I usually do after a cruise or holiday is Michelle's old Rockin Body dance workout.  It's easy, fun, and stress-free.  I work up a sweat in no time but my muscles aren't overly taxed so soon after my time away.  After that 45 minute workout ended, I turned to Ilyse for about 15 minutes more of cardio.  Then, a stretch.  Very nice!

Sunday: The Firm's 500 Calorie Workout + Ilyse's Dance Intervals 101

Still trying to keep it light while working a bit harder, I did the cardio sections in the Firm's workout.  They're good but not too intense - just what I needed!  After 30 minutes of that, I turned to Ilyse's Dance Intervals, which is really good cardio.  She does bursts of high impact work and then gives you a brief recovery.  I finished off my workout with stretches and sit-ups.

I love vacations but it's good to be home!