Monday, August 14, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 3 Week 1

The idea of doing four more weeks of STS is a bit daunting right now.  Maybe I'm just tired.  Or maybe I did too much cardio last week.  Either way, I'm not feeling it.  Butt off we go!

Monday: STS Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps + YWA

I like how the different upper body muscles get grouped together and then scrambled up for the next Mesocycle.  This workout definitely got all the muscle groups.  I had to skip a few sets to fit this workout into my daily routine.  If done in its entirety, it's 70 minutes long!  After work, I did a new YWA - for golfers!   At first, I laughed when I saw it posted but at the end of this day, it seemed like a good way to stretch the upper and lower body.  Very  nice!

Tuesday:  STS Plyo Legs + walk + YWA

Okay, so today kicked my bum.  In this final mesocycle, you have two options for legs - Plyo legs or Squat Rack Legs.  Since I don't have a squat rack or heavy weights, I'm doing Plyo Legs.  In this format, you alternate a cardio leg-intensive circuit with a weighted leg circuit.  Both keep your heart rate spiked and the sweat pouring.  Wow.  My legs were shaking!  At lunch, I walked - no power walking today - around the track at the rec center and did some sit-ups and planks.  Then, finally, a YWA to end the day, which was very nice on my tired, tired body.

Wednesday: Cathe's 4-Day Split Kickbox + ICE Cardio Blizzard Burn

A bit of a mix today...  I did the cardio from this 4-Day Split workout because I wanted some new kickboxing.  But in the middle of it, I did the 9-minute Blizzard Burn from this ICE workout.  That got my blood pumping and it didn't slow down during the Kickbox workout.  Dang!  Cathe doesn't give you time to think - you just keep jumping and punching!  I'll do the 4-Day Split series after STS so I wanted a bit of a preview today....

Thursday: Cathe's Afterburn + weights + YWA

Something different today - metabolic training!  I haven't done a cardio+weights workout in quite a while so today I decided to do one!  I'd heard a lot about Afterburn, a part of Cathe's Low Impact Series, and was curious to try it.  It's a good workout that alternates a weighted move and a cardio move.  I liked some of the other workouts in this series better but I'll give Afterburn a second try sometime.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center, though I almost talked myself out of it.  Sigh.  But it gave me a boost to see the weights I'm lifting!  After work, I did this YWA, though my back was mostly okay.

Friday: Cathe's Yoga Relax

Ah, my rest day!  This isn't my favorite yoga ever but I wanted super relaxed this morning and this fit the bill.  My legs were actually hurting from holding some of the positions Cathe led us through.  But it was good!

Saturday: Cathe's ICE Low Impact Sweat + STS Chest and Back + abs

I was a bit rushed this morning and a longer STS didn't help.  So, I only did 20 minutes of this ICE workout.  I recently learned that Cathe's ICE series is her intermediate series.  This wasn't the hardest workout but I got a good sweat going.  Then, it was time for STS - and this one was longer due to the amount of rest required between sets.  But it definitely seemed effective!  Dang!  After that - a bit over 60 minutes - I did about 7 minutes of abs (Cathe) and then stretched.  Whew!

Sunday: Cathe's Rockout Knockout + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 1 + 200 lunges + abs + YWA

A well-rounded day, for sure!  I started with cardio - 40 minutes of Cathe's fun kickboxing.  This was a great video and I'll have to do it in its entirety sometime!  After that, 200 walking lunges kept my heart pounding.  And then, Butt Bible - level 1.  Yes, I ended with level 3 in the last Mesocycle but I wanted a shorter workout today so I did level 1 and added weights where Pauline used none.  I know I'll be feeling all those hip thrusts (holding 16 lbs) tomorrow!  Then, 8 minutes of abs (Cathe) followed by a stretch and this short YWA.  Fun!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - BAD
Tuesday - 1199
Wednesday - 1432
Thursday - 1253
Friday - bad
Saturday - 1439
Sunday - BAD

Thursday, August 10, 2017

That Cat...

...continues to be adorable.

Monday, August 7, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 2 Recovery Week

....aka Cardio Week!

After last week's conference and overeating, I'm ready to get back to healthy eating.  While I didn't eat horribly while I was away, I ate a bit too much and it wasn't altogether healthy.  Thankfully, in a recovery week, you do no weights and focus on cardio instead.  Yay!

Monday: Peak Fit Pure Cardio + YWA

I wanted to mix up my cardio this morning - and have a break from Cathe's DVDs - so I chose this workout, from Michelle Dozois' Peak Fit System.  I love this cardio workout!  It's straight cardio and it was so nice to have a break from Cathe's endless drills (though I've learned to like those drills).  This cardio was a nice change.  After work, I did this short, but intense YWA, focusing on hips and core.  Lots of flow!

Tuesday:  Cathe's 2015 Road Trip Kickboxing Class + YWA

This was a good morning of kickboxing!  Cathe's kickboxing is deceptively intense with some circuits thrown in to keep you on your toes.  So, they're great workouts, this one especially.  The live workout room was filled to capacity, almost to the point of being distracting while watching on the computer.  After work, I did a short YWA - not as intense as yesterday's but still very nice.

Wednesday: Cathe's Quick Fix Cardio

So....  I knew this short workout would be intense but when Cathe's starts on snowboarders, before you even realize the warm-up is done, it's a bit traumatic.  And then you do four sets of snowboarders.  I was about to die.  And the circuit-based workout did not let up - until it ended after 33 minutes.  Whew!  I did my own cardio to get in a full, 45-minute, workout.  Cathe really knows how to work you hard.

Thursday: Ilyse Baker's Dancinerate: Burn with the Beat + YWA

Today was a light day, after a lot of intense cardio this week.  I did Ilyse's DVD, only for the second time.  It's not the easiest thing to master but it's fun.  So I just need to do it more often - and write a review.  It was nice to do something different this morning - I miss all the dance I did with FitnessGlo!  After work, I did this nice YWA, with just the right amount of flow and stretch.  A good way to end the day!

Friday: Dozois' BodyFit 360 Vol. 2: Dance Conditioning

My rest day!  I did most of this workout but had to skip a bit in the middle - the cardio and arm section.  It was a good workout, and a great way to spend a Friday morning.  Michelle's energy is so contagious; she makes me happy in the morning!  And I miss seeing her in the mornings!

Saturday: Dozois' Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster + YWA

I was looking forward to more Michelle today and this workout always makes me happy.  But it also makes you work - hard.  It's non-stop and it was a challenge to go for a full hour after my shorter Cathe workouts.  But I'm so glad I got through this tough workout!  After it ended, I did about 8 minutes of Cathe's abs and then stretched.  I finished off my morning with a 7-minute YWA to calm down and get ready for a nice Saturday.

Sunday:  Dozois' PeakFit Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout + BodyFit 360 Vol. 3: Athletic Conditioning

So for some insane reason, I decided to do Michelle's Anytime workout today.  I really don't know why: I hate this workout.  It always kicks my butt.  And despite all my Cathe workouts, it kicked my butt today.  Hard.  I really do think it's the up and down from the floor that gets me.  So many push-ups!  After that 35 minutes of pure torture, I managed 10 minutes of cardio from Athletic Conditioning - and then I was done.  So I did the whole 15 minute stretch to reward myself for getting through Anytime.  Ugh.

Calorie Counts:

I had about three good days (~1300 calories) this week and three that really were not that bad - around 1500-1600 calories.  But Sunday was bad.  And I'm still fat.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Guernsey Literary...

My mother-in-law recommended The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows) to me - and I wanted to read it, knowing that movie was being made, base on the novel.  It took me about 25 pages to get hooked and then it was a super fast, enjoyable read.

My Goodreads review:

I was a bit skeptical of this book at first because a) I get tired of WWII novels and b) generally do not like novels consisting entirely of correspondence. But Juliet quickly won me over with her quirky attitude and clumsy charm. She is a heroin for the real woman and that is extremely refreshing.

Prior to this novel, I had no idea Guernsey existed and now that I've read about it, I long to visit it one day. The stories told of the German Occupation were heartbreaking and, just like the residents of Guernsey, one begins to feel sorry for the German soldiers stationed on the island, as well. Everyone on Guernsey was starving. 

The characters in this novel are priceless. I wish my neighborhood consisted of such delightful people. And these people are what make this novel so touching.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 2 Week 4

I cannot believe I'm almost done with Mesocycle 2.  Wow!  Time is flying and I'm loving STS.  It's a great program and Cathe continues to impress me.

This week will be a bit different as I'll be out of town at a conference from Wednesday to Saturday.  

Monday: Cathe's HIIT Pyramid + Greatest Hits Vol. 1: Step + walk + YWA

I was not looking forward to this HIIT but I made it through and was so proud of myself.  These HIIT routines are tough and I'm so glad my body has gotten conditioned enough to get through them.  After that, I did a bit of step to round out the morning and lower my heart rate a bit.  At lunch, I walked at the rec center, though I was supposed to do weights.  But my body was tired and achy so I decided to just walk.  After work, I did this YWA about rabbit pose - and finally learned how to do it properly!

Tuesday: STS Legs

Pain and more pain today.  This STS Legs seemed especially cruel.  In the first triset, Cathe has you doing leg presses and slide back lunges.  OUCH!  Then, in the last triset, she has you do 45 degree lunges and then pulsing low lunges.  More ouch!  But I always feel super confident and productive after these leg workouts.  Especially now that I can do chair step ups (leg presses) when I'm not holding a weight.  Maybe in a few more weeks I can add a weight!

Wednesday: STS Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps + Cathe's IMAX 2 + biking

What a day.  I woke up at home and did STS, which lasted for 45 minutes.  Then, because I had a noon flight, I was able to get in some extra time.  So I did 35 minutes of IMAX 2.  That was fun and different.  And I was tired by the end of all that!  Later in the day, in California, a co-worker and I rented bikes and biked along the beach.  So nice!  The weather was perfect - 75 and sunny.  We biked for 10 miles, my Fitbit tells me, and it was lovely.  Then, we walked....a lot.  I was exhausted!

Thursday:  Cathe's XTrain All Out Low Impact HIIT + XTrain Bonus - Barre + YWA

Despite being so tired, I did not sleep well in my hotel room.  My stomach was upset and when it woke me up at 4:45, there was no more sleep to be had.  So, I did my workout.  I'm so glad I had low-impact planned for today because that's probably all I could have done.  I did this HIIT, which lasted 40 minutes and it was a good workout!  Then, the bonus barre was new to me and a very nice addition, at only 15 minutes in length.  I did a short stretch and then tuned into this YWA.  A good morning, despite the exhaustion.

Friday: Cathe's Birthday Bash + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 3

Cathe's birthday was last week so she did a special live workout on the day she turned 53.  Wow!  The woman is unbelievable!  It was a really fun workout.  It started with kickboxing and then went into some circuits and finally, straight cardio.  Whew!  I then did Butt Bible but without weights since I was in my hotel room.  It was still tough and it still hurt - good to know bodyweight exercises are super effective!

Saturday: YWA + abs

This was a nice, light yoga - just what I needed today after a tough week of workouts.  My body thanked me.  Ha!  After that loveliness, I did about 8 minutes of abs with Cathe.  Good grief, she is rough on the abs!  Ouch!

Sunday:  STS Back and Biceps + Cathe's Ripped with HIIT: Low Impact HIIT One + 240  lunges

I started with the HIIT this morning - and am still amazed at how hard you get worked in this low impact HIIT.  I added on a bit to make this a full 30 minutes of cardio.  And then on to walking lunges.  I meant to do 220 but somehow miscounted and went up to 240.  Dang!  My legs were definitely feeling them.  Lastly, my last STS for Mesocycle 2.  And, thankfully, this one was only 45 minutes.  I was tired after all the travel this week.  But, a good morning of working out.

Calorie Counts:

It was bad.  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Huntington Beach

When in Anaheim for a conference, one must go to Huntington Beach.  

My colleagues and I rode bikes along the beach then and dinner so we could stay for sunset.  It was a lovely day.

Monday, July 24, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 2 Week 3

After a weekend of overindulgence, I'm feeling fatter than ever.  I know you're tired of hearing this. So am I, quite frankly.

This week was the start of an 8 week wellness program at our university to see who can lose the most weight.  I know it won't be me but I signed up anyway.  What the heck, right?

Monday: STS Back and Biceps + walk + YWA

I woke up not feeling great, after a very rough night of sleep.  But I did this workout and I'm so glad I did.  It was different - Cathe keeps changing up the routines - and I love it!  I never know what to expect from week to week!  And hopefully my muscles are as confused as my brain.  Ha!  At work, I weighed in for the wellness challenge - and did not look at the offensive number - and then walked the track.  After work, this YWA was a great way to stretch my arms, legs, and back.  Lovely!

Tuesday: STS Legs

Time for some pain today!  I'm still surprised at how high my heart rate gets during STS Legs.  And how much I sweat - dripping.  These are tough workouts.  And, my arms were aching just from holding weights.  My most dreaded move in these workouts: paper-plate slide back lunges.  HATE. THEM.  Second most hated move: single leg sit and stands.  I actually have a really hard time with these using weights.  Cathe sure knows how to make my legs burn.

Wednesday: Cathe's Ripped with HIIT: Low Impact HIIT Two + Low Impact Step + YWA

Yay, cardio!  Today's HIIT used a weight for added intensity.  It was good, though I didn't appreciate the mountain climbers and burpees at 5:30am.  Ha!  My heart rate didn't stay quite as high as it did with Low Impact HIIT One, but that was fine.  Next up, this step workout was actually doable - the moves weren't crazy convoluted.  Only a bit convoluted. After work, this YWA was a great way to open up my shoulders after all they've been through the last few weeks. 

Thursday: Cathe's HIIT 30/30 + Low Impact Step + weights + YWA

As I started the warm-up for this HIIT, it did not seem at all familiar.  But I did it last month!  Then the HIIT had me huffing and puffing within three minutes, I think.  Dang!  It really is incredible how hard these work you.  Next up, a different portion of yesterday's Low Impact Step - which is like step for beginners, which means I can follow it!  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center - not fun but effective!  I also got some ab work in.  After work, I really needed to calm down after stressful traffic and this YWA helped a lot!

Friday:  Cathe's Stretch Max One + Ab Circuits #2 Pilates-Based Abs

A good, light morning today!  I started with this older Cathe workout, called Stretch Max.  It was a good stretch, focusing on every part of the body. My shoulders and arms got a nice stretch, which was greatly appreciated.  After that, I did some ab work with this 15-minute routine based on pilates.  There was one move I just couldn't do, period.  And I hate that.  I feel like my abs never gain any strength - very frustrating!

Saturday:  STS Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps + Cathe's Crossfire + ICE Cardio Blizzard Burn

Wow, this was a long morning.  I started off with Crossfire, which got my heart rate up in no time!   Those drills lasted - high and low impact - lasted for 20 minutes.  I then tuned into the ICE bonus cardio workout - Blizzard Burn - which was straight, sustained cardio.  Yes!  I love the Workout Manager on, which allows you to mix up different segments of workouts.  Very cool!  After that 35 minutes of cardio, it was time for the longest STS video yet, clocking in at 70 minutes.  Sigh.  It was long but I got through it, with some burning shoulders and shaking triceps by the end!  

Sunday: Cathe's MMA Boxing + 200 lunges +Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 3 + YWA

Yay, boxing!  I like doing something other than drills and I love Cathe's kickboxing!  This one was a lot of fun with a good mix of punch circuits alternating with cardio.  My heart rate stayed up and I sweated like crazy!  Fun!  After that 35 minutes of cardio, 200 walking lunges - oy.  And then what I was truly dreading today: Butt Bible.  Level 3 was a lot easier today because I knew what to expect - and what to dread.  I mastered the chair step ups - finally - by taking away the weights.  I need to do them without weights first, apparently.  My legs were shaking by the end of the workout so I rewarded them with some YWA - and a stretch and ab work.  Ha!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1404
Tuesday - 1421
Wednesday - 1341
Thursday - 1292
Friday - bad
Saturday - 1481
Sunday - 1454

No change in weight.  Totally depressed.  And I've lost all hope.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ella's Ice Cream Summer

My book group chose a fun read for July: Ella's Ice Cream Summer by Sue Watson.  I blew threw this novel, it was so enjoyable.

Here's my Goodreads review:

My book group chose this novel for our "fluff" summer reading. And I'm glad they did. It was a fast, fun, engrossing read.

Ella's life is spiraling out of control. She loses her job and now her ex is trying to sell her house out from under her. With her kids away for the summer she escapes to the coast where she's been given an interesting inheritance. Once there, memories of her childhood make her realize that she may need to make drastic life changes in order to find lasting happiness. With the help of a new friend, a new canine companion, a cousin, and her mother, she begins to understand what it takes to make her happy. In the process, she rediscovers a confidence in herself - while unearthing interesting family secrets.

This is a "fluff" read on the surface but there are some good life lessons in this charming novel.

Monday, July 17, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Mesocycle 2 Week 2

I'm feeling good about this week - now that my legs are almost back to normal after last week.  Ha!  Yes, it took that long (my STS Legs occurred on Tuesday of last week).

Monday: STS Back and Biceps + walk + YWA

Wow.  So all these trisets are super effective.  During the bicep portion, my arms were shaking.  Ouch!  I had to gradually decrease my weights because my biceps were objecting so vigorously.  But it was a great workout!  At lunch, I walked for 30 minutes and then did five minutes of stretching - since I had no active minutes in the morning, according to my FitBit.  My upper back and shoulders were achy at the end of the day so I did this YWA for some relief.  It felt really good!

Tuesday: STS Legs + YWA

After hurting all last week from STS Legs, I was a bit nervous about this week's session.  It sure wasn't easy and my heart rate was super elevated throughout the trisets.  But I got through it without my thighs objecting too much, which is an improvement from last week.  I'm trying to tell myself that I don't need cardio workouts 6 days a week so there was no lunchtime walk today.  After work, I did this lovely YWA and added in some extra hamstring stretches - because my hammies were the only parts of my legs complaining.

Wednesday:  Cathe's XTrain All Out Low Impact HIIT + YWA

Cardio today!  I was looking forward to this HIIT today and was happy with it - sometimes I don't know what to expect from Cathe.  This was low impact but I made some of it high impact....and my heart rate stayed up the entire time, even in the "low" segments.  So I got a good workout!  After work, I did this yoga for actors, which was all standing.  It was good to do some balancing poses, though they're not my favorite.

Thursday: Cathe's ICE Rock'm Sock'm Kickbox + weights

This was a fun morning!  I really do enjoy kickboxing and Cathe's kickboxing always gets my heart rate up.  She mixes in plenty of cardio into Rock'm Sock'm so it was a really good cardio workout.  And fun!  I'll definitely have to do this one again!  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center.  Ugh.  I hate them but at least I got it over with.  I did all the leg machines today - and they weren't too painful, thank goodness, despite my hamstrings still being a bit achy from Tuesday.

Friday: PeakFit Dynamic Flexibility

Ah, relaxing Fridays are my favorite!  I love Dynamic Flexibility so was happy when this popped up on my schedule for today.  Michelle makes me happy!  I was going to do some ab work afterward, but after having stomach issues last night, my core still felt raw and unhappy.  So no abs today.

Saturday:  STS Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps + Ripped with HIIT Low Impact HIIT One + abs

I started with cardio today - this low impact HIIT workout lasted 30 minutes.  It was really effective - my heart rate was sky high.  And mostly low impact - wow!  I like it!  After that, it was time for STS - and this one ran 65 minutes.  My arms were aching afterward - and they were a bit shaky.  Wow.  I then did 12 minutes of abs (Cathe's) and stretched.  Talk about an effective, exhausting morning.

Sunday: Cathe's Old School Cardio Plus Kickboxing + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 3 + 180 lunges

Okay - another long workout day.  I started off with 45 minutes of Cathe's live Old School Cardio.  This one is a lot of fun - and non-stop.  I like mixing up HIIT and steady-state cardio because they are both so challenging.  After this, I did 180 walking lunges.  Ouch.  Then - Butt Bible.  Level 3 is definitely a challenge.  Just doing the step-ups onto a chair almost did me in (I had to use something shorter).  By the time the hip thrusts came in, I was in agony.  Ouch!

Calorie Counts:

I had four really good days this week.  But then Sunday was horrible.  Sigh.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chocolate Brownie Bread

For July 4th, I needed chocolate... I decided to try a new, delicious-looking dessert.  This one won the day. Brownie bread?!  Yes, please!  And I had some chocolate pudding mix I really needed to use up.  

My substitutions included a bit of Splenda instead of sugar...  And I doubled up on the cocoa.  I mean, really - can you have too much cocoa?  I also mixed my chocolate chips into the batter to get the inside of the bread nice and moisty-chocolatey.   

I took this bread to work and everyone seemed to really like it.  It was gone by lunch and there were not many people in the office.  Before it went to work with me, Mr. Higgins really liked it.  

You can never have too many chocolate desserts in your baking repertoire!

Monday, July 10, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Meso Cycle 2 Week 1

So, I feel super fat.  And according to the scale, I'm super fat.   

I'm trying not to get down and will instead focus on my eating and my workouts.

Monday: STS Back and Biceps + walk + YWA

As I prepped for today's workout, I noticed how different the layout of this STS workout was.  You do a higher number of reps and fewer exercises.  I liked it!  And the combination of back and biceps was different, too.  Talk about shocking the body.  I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center and was proud of myself for getting over there.  It was so weird having to work one day before the holiday....  After the work day, I did this 15-minute yoga for posture.  It was nice and light.

Tuesday:  STS Legs + Cathe's Cardio Fusion + abs

So this month of STS workouts is all about trisets, apparently.  You do 10 reps of an exercise - three times.  For this leg workout, thankfully, you alternated three moves so your legs didn't burn out too quickly.  Mine were aching before the halfway point - especially my left thigh.  Ouch!  But I made it through - and it's a different kind of hurt than I had during the first month of STS.  I finished off the holiday morning with 35 minutes of Cardio Fusion - another workout with confusing step choreography.  And, at the end of the workout, abs (Cathe's) and a good, long stretch.

Wednesday: Cathe's HIIT 30/30 + Cross Train Xpress - All Step + YWA

My legs were aching so badly this morning - my first hamstring curl was a kind of exquisite torture.  Sigh.  But I got through this HIIT, despite feeling not at all up to the challenge.  Then, yet another confusing step routine.  I swear, these drive me crazy - and I'm an advanced at-home exerciser!  After work, I did this lovely, slow YWA - for a rainy day.  And then it rained.  Ha!  My legs and bum hurt so bad - all day long - that it was embarrassing, the sounds of agony that kept trying to escape my lips.

Thursday: Cathe's XTrain Hard Strikes + Cross Train Xpress - Kickboxing + weights

My legs were still aching this morning.  ACHING!  Sigh.  But I was looking forward to kickboxing and these two workouts were a lot of fun.  I liked that both were high impact - my heart rate got up and stayed up.  My legs cooperated - mostly - after the warm-up squats.  But they were still hurting - and I was hobbling around the office - at lunch, which meant I skipped two weight machines at the rec center.  I just couldn't do them, I was in so much pain.  So I walked two laps on the track and stretched - a lot.

Friday: Cathe's Yoga Relax

I really needed this relaxing morning.  Cathe's yoga is not my favorite yoga but it provided a good, slow stretch this morning, which was what my legs needed.  For the record, my legs are still hurting - but not quite as bad.  I can now sit down without (silently) crying out.  Yay.  I'm already dreading next week's STS Legs.

Saturday:  STS Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps + Cathe's Kick, Punch, and Crunch

This morning began with 35 minutes of cardio from Cathe's older kickboxing workout.  I've actually really enjoyed this workout as I've done different segments of it over the last month. It's a good cardio workout but with plenty of kickboxing.  After that, it was time for STS.  I had to save this one for the weekend because it runs 65 minutes.  Dang!  I felt my shoulders more after this STS than any other one.  You really push your muscles hard with the trisets. It was nice to stretch and relax afterward - along with some ab work to finish off.

Sunday:  Cathe's Crossfire + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 2 + 160 lungs + YWA

I was dreading today.  Crossfire was an interesting workout.  I didn't do the weights, only the cardio.  And then I added on some of my own to get in 35 minutes.  Sometime, I need to do this workout in it's entirety.  I then did 160 walking lunges.  Fun.  Next up: Butt Bible.  So not looking forward to this and it was as painful as I remembered.  For the hip thrusts, I went up to 15 pounds for 2 out of the 3 sets.  Ouch!!!  After that torture session (30 minutes), I did some ab work and then a nice YWA.  Talk about tired.

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1292
Tuesday - 1312
Wednesday - 1281
Thursday - 1364
Friday - BAD
Saturday - 1275
Sunday - bad

My weight is higher than ever.  Fun.  Great.  Shoot me now!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Breath of Snow and Ashes

I'm finally done with the sixth Outlander novel, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.  This one definitely took me a while but the hardback literally weighed ten pounds.  I think. 

Here follow my Goodreads review:

This book was tough going. So much really is an epic novel, to say nothing of the entire series. But it was tough because of what the main characters had to endure. This novel shows just how difficult it was to be alive in 18th century America.

However, in the same breath, it's a fascinating journey of a breadth of characters who must deal with divided loyalties and unexpected hardships. Nothing and no one goes unpunished for anything. The Colonies were big, wild wildernesses where everyone seems to know everything about their neighbor. Jamie and Claire cannot stay hidden upon Fraser's Ridge - the world constantly comes at them, demanding more. The past, as well as the future, is inexplicably - annoyingly - unavoidable. 

I continuously find Claire's medical goings on intriguing. As well as how everyone stays fed and clothed. It was hard going for the Colonists but it's fascinating watching these characters continue to grow and mature in such conditions. I can't wait to read more - and that explains just how good of a novelist Gabaldon truly is.

Monday, July 3, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Meso Cycle 1 Recovery Week

Yay!  A recovery week!  These come after every mesocycle (of which there are three) in STS.  It's a nice break after four weeks of intense weight training.

And the best part - during a recovery week you can do no weightlifting.  None.  Awesome!  I need this week to reset and get re-motivated.

Monday: Dozois' Body Fit 360 + YWA

I rewarded myself with Body Fit 360 this morning after two days of grueling weight work.  But.  I always forget just how challenging this workout is.  Sure, it's done barefoot and uses no equipment, but you move in every single direction imaginable.  It really tests you.  I was sweating up a storm by the end of it - and I actually got to do ALL of it this morning.  Yay!  After work, this YWA was also challenging to the body but I loved it!

Tuesday: Cathe's Intensity

This week, I'm ready to get my cardio on - both high and low impact.  For the first time in quite a while, I was able to do all of this Intensity workout - the step, the bursts, the high HIIT, and the low HIIT.   And it's a lot of work!  Whew!  After all these years, I'm only just now getting some of the intricate step work.  Cathe sure doesn't make the choreography easy in these workouts.  But it's fun - mostly.

Wednesday: Tracey Mallett's Fuse Dance Cardio Lean + walk + YWA

I really need to write a review of this DVD...soon, I promise!  It was good to do something lower-impact this morning.  But that does not mean this workout was easy!  My legs were screaming within the first five minutes of having to hold a plie squat.  Ouch!  I only got through half of the floor work but it was tough, as well.  At lunch, I walked at the rec center.  And after work, a nice YWA - for the spine!

Thursday:  Cathe's Hard Strikes Low Impact Boxing Live + walk

This morning, I was so excited to do some boxing!!  This was a really fun workout with some fun boxing combinations.  My heart rate got super high, though I kept this one mostly low impact.  Nice!  Now I'm curious to try the XTrain Hard Strikes DVD.  Cathe's boxing and kickboxing may be my favorite format of all of her workouts.  At lunch, I was tired but made myself go and walk.  And I'm glad that I did - as usual - because it's always nice to get out of the office for a bit! 

Friday: Dozois' Body Fit 360 Vol 3: Athletic Conditioning

Yay, Friday!  This was not my rest day, though - that will come tomorrow when we're out of town.  Today, I did most of the cardio from this Conditioning routine - dang!  It was harder than I remembered!   Then, I got in most of the stretch.  I skipped the abs and arms tracks.   It was really nice to stretch afterward.

Saturday: REST

Forced rest as we were out of town for the holiday.

Sunday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + YWA

After eating way too much on Saturday and Sunday, I did this workout at 4pm and felt super fat and gross.  I truly hate myself these days.  I don't know what it is but none of my weight is coming off.  I haven't been eating great but I've had 5-day stretches of super healthy eating and working no effect.  I'm about to have a breakdown because of it.  Anyway, this CIB made my feet hurt - so much more jumping than I've been doing lately and for a lot longer time.  The YWA was a nice way to cool down at the end of it all.

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1409
Tuesday - 1300

Wednesday - 1220
Thursday - 1215
Friday - 1256
Saturday - BAD
Sunday - bad

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Book of Joy

For June, my book group chose a very interesting read: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.  

My Goodreads review:

There are many lessons to be learned from these great spiritual leaders - perhaps two of the greatest we shall ever see in our lifetimes.  To hear them speak on the subject of joy, when they have endured so much hardship and pain, is a lovely read.  

That being said, this type of book is hard to get in to - it's hard to read continuously.  Thankfully, the author includes the anecdotes the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu told.  These were perhaps my favorite parts of the book.  There are also interesting statistics from scientific studies that prove much of the teachings of these two spiritual leaders.

But the lessons of joy, gratitude, and charity to be learned are great and I'm so glad to have read this book.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hash Brown Egg Bake

Several weeks ago, a co-worker brought in one of the best breakfast casseroles I've ever had: Taste of Home's Hash Brown Egg Bake.

Said co-worker experimented in two different casserole "editions" to find a way to get it seasoned just right.  The first time she made it, following the recipe, she said it was too bland and didn't have enough salt.  So the second time she made it - the "edition" I tried - she used tons of spices of her own choosing.  

I decided to make this Hash Brown Egg Bake for a Father's Day brunch.  Finding the seasoned hash browns that my co-worker used was the hardest part.  I finally found some, seasoned with garlic, onion, and white pepper.  Score!  My other changes....  Skim milk instead of whole; 2% mild cheddar; 1 teaspoon of salt; normal, center-cut bacon; 6 eggs and 4 egg whites; more paprika and more pepper.  I assembled this the night before and left it in the fridge until I took it out 30 minutes before it was to go in the oven (per the instructions).

And it was fantastic.  Amazing.  Everyone loved it.  I think Mr. Higgins ate 2/3 of it.  No joke!  One additional comment - this is way more than 8 servings.  I fed 6, all of whom had seconds, and there was 1/3 left - which Mr. Higgins inhaled the same night for dinner.

This will become a special occasion staple for me!  

Monday, June 26, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Meso Cycle 1 Week 4

I think I'm seeing changes in my body.  My legs seem to be firmer, for sure.  Either way, I'm definitely more confident in my body and I'm telling myself that's enough.  Because I don't want to get on the scale.  Ha!

As this last week of meso cycle 1 approaches, I must say that the recovery week that'll come after this week is sounding really nice.

Monday: Ilyse Baker's Dancinerate: Burn With the Beat + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 2 + YWA

I started off with a new DVD today!  I loved Ilyse on FitnessGlo and this video made me realize how much I miss her.  She moves fast in this DVD but I had fun, with what I could pick up on the first try.  After that 20 minutes, it was time for 30 minutes of the Butt Bible.  Considering my bum was still sore form Saturday, this did not sound appealing.  And it really, really hurt.  I upped my hip thrust weight to 14 pounds.  Dang!  After that, stretching the bum felt wonderful!  This YWA was a good way to end the day - lots of balancing.

Tuesday: STS Chest, Shoulders, and Biceps + walk

Wow.  All these push-ups are killer.  There seemed to be so many in this 10th STS disc.  But I got through it.  And I'm amazed at how difficult it is to go up in weights with these exercises - except chest flies.  Sigh.  Oh, well.  I got through it and felt stronger afterward!  At lunch, I walked at the rec center and then did some planking.  It always feels good to move and loosen up the muscles at lunch!

Wednesday: Cathe's Intensity Series: IMAX 2

Wednesdays have been reserved for HIIT but I switched it around this week and will do HIIT tomorrow.  Today, IMAX 2 was on the agenda for steady cardio.  Cathe used a step; I did not.  But I got a great workout.  The step sequences weren't too overly choreographed - only one or two completely confused me.  As it was, I got through them and definitely got through the "bursts" of high intensity work.  This ended up being a good cardio workout!

Thursday: Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit Live + weights + YWA

So I had Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit on my schedule for today.  And I just couldn't do it.  I hate that workout.  So I decided to do the live version instead, to try out something new.  The live one was very difficult.  But I think the tiniest bit easier than the original. All the core work was standing, which didn't feel as effective, but I've always hated going to the floor in the middle of a workout for crunches etc.  So, yay!  I did this workout after work, because I'd felt bad in the morning.  So I also missed weights at the rec center.  I did them at home and it sure felt effective.  Dang!   And, finally, I did a nice, calming YWA.

Friday:  YWA

Finally, a rest day!  This YWA is an earlier one from Adriene, set outside.  But this is the stage in her career when she's hitting her stride so it was good - not too difficult for the morning and flow-y all the same.  It was super nice to get stretched out this morning!

Saturday: Cathe's High/Low HIIT Live + 160 Lunges + STS Legs + abs

Today was tough!  I started off with 160 walking lunges - that got my heart rate up!!  Then, Cathe's HIIT worked me hard.  Dang!  I skipped the weighted exercises - or did them without weights.  But I got a great, 30-minute cardio workout.  After that, STS time!  I was not looking forward to legs and it was not easy - but I got through it!  I even added on some weighted hip thrusts at the end.  Then, about 7 minutes of abs (from Cathe) followed by a lovely, lovely stretch.  I'll hurt tomorrow.

Sunday: Cathe's Cardio Kicks + STS Back and Triceps + abs + STS Extended Stretch

I was looking forward to my last STS workout of Mesocycle 1, let me tell you.  I'm ready for a break.  But first, there was work to be done.  I really enjoyed the 35 minutes I did of Cardio Kicks - an older Cathe kickboxing workout.  It was a ton of fun and I'll have to do it in it's entirety sometime, for sure.  After that, it was time for STS.  I must say that the one area I'm seeing a bit change in, outside of my legs, are my triceps.  So this was a fun 55 minutes of making them hurt - ha!  After that, I did 6 minutes of abs (from Cathe) and then her Extended Stretch, which is very nice!

Calorie Counts:

Not a great week but it wasn't too bad.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hello, Energy!

I'm now two months into my desiccated thyroid medication.  When my doctor first mentioned the possibility of NatureThroid, I was a bit skeptical, fearing, mainly, it would cost more than my generic synthetic thyroid meds.   And it costs a bit more but it's negligible...

And worth it.  Earlier this month, I asked Mr. Higgins, "Have said that I'm tired lately?"  He thought for a second and said, "no."  Amazing.  While I was on synthetic thyroid I had no energy - and apparently complained about it so much that it tested my husband's patience. But somehow, NatureThroid has give me back my energy.  

I went to see my endocrinologist earlier this week and told her, ecstatic to see this change in myself.  She said, when looking at my current labs, that numbers that hadn't moved finally moved!  Yes!  She also increased my dosage just a bit, which I'm hoping will help with my inability to lose weight.  

So if you're considering changed to desiccated thyroid, I highly recommend it.  The energy by itself is enough to make me wholeheartedly endorse it.  I'll keep you posted about my weight!

Monday, June 19, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Meso Cycle 1 Week 3

Last week was good - mainly because I wasn't as sore as the week before.  The one workout that really made me sore was the Butt Bible Lower Level 2 workout - OUCH!  

I'm hoping all of this is making a difference with my body.  I really, really hope!

Monday: Cathe's Low Impact Series: Low Impact Challenge + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 1 + YWA

I keep trying to do Cathe's low impact workouts and they keep getting me flustered with crazy footwork!  At some point in this workout, I gave up and jogged in place.  It was ridiculous.  Sigh.  After that 30 minutes, I did the Butt Bible, which really, really hurt my already sore butt (from Saturday's workout).  Wow.  At least I know my butt is being challenged!  After work, this YWA was nice - movement, for sure, but not too difficult.

Tuesday: STS Chest, Shoulder, and Biceps + walk

Wow, I felt this one today.  I really challenged myself on weights, especially with curls and overhead presses.  The most daunting thing about these Chest days....the push-ups.  There are so many.  My arms were already hurting so bad that I skipped the last bout of push-ups.  I just couldn't do them with good form.  So my arms were aching on the way into work.  At lunch, I walked the track at the rec center and it felt good to loosen up my muscles after sitting at my desk for so long.

Wednesday: Cathe's HIIT Pyramid + Low Impact Series: Low Impact Challenge

The last of Cathe's HIIT series was on the schedule for me today.  I didn't quite know what to expect....but I survived!  This pyramid style is interesting - you increase the time of the HIIT moves and decrease your rest time as you go along.  It was definitely a challenge so I'm glad I was able to to do it!  After that, I found that my Workout Blender started playing the Low Impact Challenge again (from Monday).  I didn't remember scheduling this for two days.  Sigh.  At least I finally picked up on some of the difficult-to-master combinations.  Work and life kept me from working out any more today.

Thursday: Cathe's Body Blast: Kick, Punch, and Crunch + weights + YWA

Yay, cardio!  I was excited about this kickboxing workout today and it was a lot of fun.  In the Workout Blender, I was able to pick and choose the chapters I wanted to do and the order in which to do them. So I did: high-impact, kickboxing, and then intermediate impact.  That was a good format because I gradually cooled down.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center - not fun but I got it done.  And after work, I did this lovely 16-minute YWA to combat anxiety.  I wasn't anxious, just worn out and it was a nice way to end the workday.

Friday: Cathe's Yoga Max

I was a bit disappointed in Yoga Relax, which I did two weeks ago, so I had high hopes for this yoga workout.  It was alright.  It was more intense because you went down and up from the floor more....but I didn't love it.  YWA is now my favorite yoga and she's hard to compete with.  

Saturday: STS Legs + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 2 + 140 lunges + YWA

Another painful Saturday for my legs.  I started off with STS, knowing anything else would burn my legs out before the hardest part.  And my legs were literally shaking after this STS workout.  So I went and did 140 walking lunges.  Ouch!  Then, 30 minutes of the Butt Bible.  For the hip thrusts, I upped my weight to 13.  Ouch.  I can't tell you how much these hurt.  I stretched a bit afterward and did my sit-ups...  And then used the last bit of energy I had for a short YWA.

Sunday:  Cathe's Tabatacise + STS Back and Triceps + abs

I can't say I was looking forward to my second run-through of Tabatacise but I needed to burn some serious calories.  I got through this, huffing, puffing, and happy to be exhausted. My legs were so sore from yesterday and, unfortunately, after that 40 minutes, there was still work to do.  STS Back and Triceps was good - and it really burned out my triceps.  Ouch!  I like this one, though, because there are always few push-ups and nothing crazy to dread (like in the leg workout).  After that, five minutes of abs and then a stretch.

Calorie Counts:

I had a few good days of around 1250 calories, but the others were a bit higher.  We're trying to have fun this summer, which means more food than usual.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Amish Bread

Another birthday at work meant another baking opportunity this past week.  Cool!  I'm not getting to bake nearly enough lately!

I searched around for recipes and had almost decide on my scones when I saw this post about Amish Bread.  Growing up, Amish Friendship Bread was very popular in my mom's kitchen and, though I didn't remember the exact taste of that bread, this one sounded good enough to try.

I made no substitutions except for using Splenda for half of the sugar for the loaves.  My one recommendation - put enough cinnamon/sugar in the insides of the loaves as you can do without more on top.  This make it extra appealing when you cut into the bread.

Mr. Higgins loved this bread so I though it safe to take to work.  And everyone seemed to really enjoy it.  It's not quite what I expected but I still liked it and will keep the recipe.

Monday, June 12, 2017

STS Rotation #1: Meso Cycle 1 Week 2

So considering how sore I was ALL last week, I think that STS is going to be a very effective system.  I just hope I'm not sore for it's entirety!  

I'm looking forward to week two!  It's amazing how changing up one's workouts can really keep you motivated and excited!

Monday: STS Chest, Shoulders, Biceps + DanceFit + XTrain Core Bonus 1 + YWA

I was still sore from my Butt Bible on Sunday - my inner thighs were aching - so it was good to focus on the upper body today.  I did all this at the end of the day so I started with DanceFit - which I did last week and really enjoyed.  Then, STS - which was much more challenging than last week.  I upped my weights, as directed, and that really made a difference.  Ouch!  And so many push-ups!  After that 55 minutes of pain, I tuned into Adreine's Upper Back yoga - lovely!  And to finish off, ten minutes of abs (Cathe's XTrain) - ouch!

Tuesday:  Cathe's Low Impact Step + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 1 + walk

So I'm waking up 15 minutes early on Monday and Tuesday to get in either an STS workout or a Butt Bible. Today, I started with 30 minutes of Cathe's step - it was alright.  Then, Butt Bible!  Level 1 is so much easier than level 2!!  But it's still painful, especially since my inner thighs still hurt.  I got through it and had a nice 5-minute stretch afterward.  At lunch, I walked at the rec center just to get some steps and feel more active.  Life interfered after work, which meant no YWA.  

Wednesday: Cathe's HIIT 30/30 + Hardcore Series: Low Max

I was a bit nervous about this HIIT....but it wasn't too bad.  In fact, it was a bit easier that last week's 40/20 HIIT.  Cool!  I'm glad I'm not getting out of shape since I've decreased my cardio!  After that 30 minutes, I finished off my workout with Cathe's Low Max - an oldie but a good one.  Of course, I have no step but that didn't matter!  I moved and jumped just a bit and got a good workout!

Thursday:  Cathe's Keep the Cardio Coming + weights + YWA

The times I've looked at this live workout, I've written it off because Cathe uses the stability ball for a cardio sequence - and some light weights.  I did it without either one and got a great workout!  It's good to do intervals on Wednesday and sustained cardio on Thursday - the variety is good.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center - whew!  Glad that's over with for the week!  After work, this YWA got me all hot and sweaty!  Nice!

Friday: Peak 10 Dynamic Flexibility + Cathe's Xpress Leaner Legs Abs 

Rest day - yay!  I started off my morning with Michelle Dozois' Dynamic Flex, which I love!  You move in every direction and really get your muscles nice and stretched out.  After that, almost 10 minutes of abs with Cathe - ouch!

Saturday:  STS Legs + Pauline Nordin's Butt Bible Lower Level 2 + 120 lunges + YWA

OMG.  Talk about a tough morning.  I started off with STS Legs - which was 60 minutes of leg torture.  In a good way, of course.  Then, to move for a bit, I did 120 walking lunges with cardio interspersed to keep my legs happy - that took 10 minutes.  Next up - Butt Bible level 2, which is not easy.  Ouch!!!  I got through it but let me tell you - the lunges at the end were a special kind of torture.  I then did some sit-ups, stretched a bit, and finished off with Adriene's short hip routine.  Nice!

Sunday: Cathe's Hardcore Series: Kickmax + STS Biceps and Back

I was ready for cardio this morning and Kickmax was fun!  I did 35 minutes of the kickboxing which included a high impact blast.  Fun!  My thighs were definitely tight after yesterday's leg torture session.  At the end of that nice little cardio session, I was good and sweaty!  I then moved on to my STS workout for the day.  Triceps are always painful and today was no exception.  But I felt super accomplished after this hour of weight work.  I did a nice stretch to make my muscles happy!

Calorie Counts:

I had a few good days but it was Mr. Higgins' birthday week which meant some bad eating.  However, I'm doing my measurements every Sunday and I was done - again - in all areas except arms this week!  Awesome!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Morning Workouts

When I switched jobs about four (!) years ago, I switched up my workout routine.  I went from working out in the evening, as soon as I got home, to working out five minutes after waking up every weekday.  

That's a big change.  And it was for the better.  Let me tell you why...

--I have no time to dread my workout or talk myself out of it.  I just jump out of bed and do it, purely on auto-pilot for the first bit.  On the rare occasions that I wake up before the alarm, I dread working out only if I hate my workout for the day - and that's rare.

--I never miss a workout.  Nothing comes up - except the rare illness - at 5:30am to keep me from working out.  I love it!  

--It limits the time I can dread a workout.  As stated before, I rarely dread a workout, but if I do, I don't have time to talk myself out of it because by the time my brain is fully functional, I'm already jumping, jogging, or punching.  

--I never overthink a move or a step - I just do it.  My brain is simply following the moves for the first 15-20 minutes.   

--My workout is over and done with before I know it.  No more dreading going home and NOT relaxing - and working out instead.  I hated those days and now they're no more.

--By the time I get to work, my workout is like a bad dream with no influence over the rest of my day.  I love getting it over and done with before I can think about it.

--I have more energy in the morning than after a long day at work.  On the rare times I do an evening workout these days, they exhaust me.  I'm literally a zombie afterward.  Morning workouts are energizing and give me the confidence to feel strong and powerful throughout the day.

If those aren't enough reasons for you to give morning workouts a try, then I don't know what is.  That being said, I've never hit a snooze button on an alarm.  If you're a snoozer, morning workouts may be difficult.