Weight Loss (my struggles) and Healthy Snacking

Recently a lot of people in my close circle of friends have started to eat better (I hate using the word diet). They motivated me to once and for all get rid of the forever lingering last 10 pounds (or possibly 15). Let’s face it, I am not getting any younger, and the older I get the harder it will be.  I figure this would be the best time, since I am working out more and harder to train for the Tough Mudder at the end of October. It would also benefit my team mates since we need to haul each other over the 12 foot walls. I have consciously started to eat better this past week. I never really ate horribly; I just have bad habits.

For the past 6 years I have worked out regularly. I have never had an issue with that. As stated earlier, I have bad eating habits. For a long time, I didn’t eat breakfast. I also eat too much at once, and don’t snack throughout the day. I am a horrible weekend eater. Whatever good I did throughout the week gets thrown out the window during  the weekend. I like wine and beer, it’s a good way to unwind especially on the days that have been trying with the boys.   Since I have these bad habits, my workouts basically prevent me from weighing an unhealthy amount instead of  making me be at a “rocking body” weight. It shouldn’t be that way. I shouldn’t work so hard at the gym just to maintain a figure I am not completely satisfied with.

When my husband is deployed I am probably at my lightest, but when he comes home those 10 pounds return. I have gained and shed the same 10 pounds I don’t know how many times. We go into celebratory mode and it usually lasts a WHILE.  He’s been home for almost a year and I am 6 pounds heavier than I was when he got home. I have to lose those 6 and another 5-10 would be nice.

A week ago I joined myfitnesspalap (thanks Vanessa for the suggestion). I installed it to my phone and I also use the website. It is a great calorie counter. It really makes me think of what I put in my body, and it is easy to set up. You answer a few questions and BOOM –  it tells you how many calories you are allowed for the day. This is all based on your weight, height and how much you want to lose.  It has been a helpful tool for me.

I have been using it for a week and I haven’t lost a pound. I thought I would have at least lost 1 pound. I have been working out hard and I have been under my calories everyday (except for 1). That is the key. I haven’t been eating enough. With everything that I stated earlier, I am sure my metabolism is not as his best. Now I must find things to snack on in between meals. Another bad habit I have is that I won’t cook for myself. I am always cooking for the family, but when it’s for me I find the quickest thing. So snacks that I have to prepare are deal breakers.  Here are a few things that I like and that are easy.

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Almonds are always a good and protein packed snack. They fill you up and you can eat them on the go. They also help your cholesterol. Studies show that a good diet the incorporates almonds can help your LDL.They also help prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. (source)

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I love, love, love this yogurt. It so creamy and delicious. I like to add fresh fruit or honey. I sometimes have this for breakfast. On the days that I work out hard, I could probably have it as a snack. It is also chock full of protein.

This is easy because I can just put it in a ziplock bag and put it in my purse. Easy to eat on the go. You have to be careful to only eat the serving size. I know I could possibly eat half the bag in a sitting. Before you snack, put it in another container or bag to avoid over indulging. Granola is a good source for iron and fiber.Some of the benefits to incorporating granola into your daily diet is that it can, lower blood pressure, control anemia and lower cholesterol (source).

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Hardboiled eggs is something you can easily prepare ( I will even do this) the night before. Eggs contain good fats and they are easy to eat as a snack or incorporate in a salad. They are a good source of vitamin D and are also high in protein. You can also remove the yolk, if you want to cut back on the calories. Most of the protein is in the egg white. (source)

I really would LOVE to hear what other suggestions you might have. Not just for my benefit, but for anyone out there that is trying to eat better. xoxo

Pete the Cat the Grooviest Feline Around

For our 10 year wedding anniversary a couple years ago, my husband and I took a kid free trip to New Orleans.  We stayed in the French Quarter near Jackson Square. On our walk to and from our hotel we would pass by the Robin’s Gallery in the window they had these vibrant colorful paintings of a blue cat. They also had some really cool looking kids books about this so-called Pete the Cat.

Unfortunately, the day we set aside to pop in and look around and buy a kids book for our youngest son, they were closed. When we came home I frantically searched the internet to find out more about this feline named Pete.

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An artist named James Dean saved a black cat from the shelter. He named him Pete. He would sit on his lap while he painted. He sometimes drank James’ coffee when he wasn’t looking.  His first sketch of Pete was him drinking coffee. He decided to paint him blue, because he thought black was bad luck. If you click here you can explore all the Pete the Cat art. We have two Pete print’s in our home. My favorite are Pete with the masters series.

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We really got to know Pete through his children’s books. James Dean collaborated with writer Eric Litwin and the Pete the Cat books were born. My little guy just loves Pete the Cat. He has all 3 books mesmerized. What is great is that they are so interactive,colorful and fun. Pete also has such a great out look on life. Whatever happens to him he just, “Keeps walking along singing his song, because it is all good!” The books are geared toward more of the younger ages I would say 2-6. Click here to get a copy of your own. Now that school is coming back in session I highly recommend this one.


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Here are some fun sing along Pete songs that you can jam around the house with your kids or even by yourself I won’t judge. I hope you all enjoy  your Wednesday! xoxo

Black and Bluebird Studios is FABULOUS!

About 3 years ago a couple girlfriends and I went on a girls weekend get away to Austin, Texas. As we wandered and explored the city, we came across a bunch of booths selling jewelry, paintings, wood crafts etc.  There was one particular booth that caught our eye. We approached and were greeted by Gretchen who was so sweet and very helpful. Little did I know that this shopping experience would be the beginning of a friendship and obsession for Black and Bluebird Studios.

Black and Bluebird Studios is made of 2 very talented artists Gretchen Grimm and Warren Sawyer. What makes their jewelry so unique and diverse is that they incorporate repurposed and up cycled elements into their pieces. There are really no two pieces that are a like. A lot of their jewelry is one of a kind. Original, Wearable, Artistic Creations is how they like to describe their jewelry.

I probably own about 20 plus of their creations most of them necklaces. Every time I wear one (which is usually daily) I get a compliment. Never fails. What is nice is that Gretchen is so easy to talk to and collaborate with. There have been many occasions when I e-mail her and say,  “Hey! I have to go to this event and was wondering if you could make me something funky and chic.”  A few days later she sends me a picture of their creation and it is exactly what I envisioned! Even though they are based out of Austin, TX  their website makes it easy to purchase your own treasures. It regularly gets updated with new creations. Click here to check it out for yourself.

Here are a few of my favorite creations:

Here are three custom-made necklaces (sorry the picture isn’t that great). The necklace on the right was given to me by my husband on our 10th anniversary. The 10th year traditional anniversary gift is tin. He e-mailed Gretchen and asked if they could make something that had tin in it. They found some tin plates and cut them and made that pretty pendant that resembles a flower. I was so impressed with their creativity. The necklace in the middle was a gift for Valentine’s Day from my two boys. They put two pendants that have their first initial and an antique pendant that has a french quote on it. The last necklace was made for me for a wedding I was in. I asked her for something funky and chic and that had purple in it. I am constantly amazed on how thoughtful, unique and creative their pieces are.

My first Black and Bluebird Studio treasure.

A recent purchase.

I love this necklace. It will probably be a future purchase.

One of my favorite pieces. So versatile.

The above is just a taste of what pieces are available. If you want to get a better picture of what they have created please check out the gallery on their website. There you can truly see how talented they are.

Fall is soon upon us and then before we know it the holiday season will be here. Please consider Black and Bluebird Studios as one of your shopping stops this year. You will not be disappointed. xoxo

Last Day of Summer Vacation

Don’t get me wrong I love my boys with all my being. Is it wrong that I can relate to this Staples commercial?

We have had a great summer. We took a week-long beach vacation, went to the pool, went to great day camps and took little day trips here and there. Older son went to doting grandparents for 10 days. Younger son got to be an only child for 10 days. They can’t complain that we didn’t have a good summer. I will not miss keeping up with the appetite of 2 growing boys all day long.

Wishing you all a great 2012-2013 school year!!! xoxo

Calling All Mudders!

Tough Mudder logo

Tough Mudder logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my new years resolutions was to do a race ( I know a tough mudder is not a race it is a competition) with my husband this year. Originally we were going to do our local St. Paddy’s day 5K , but I got a hip injury in early February. I couldn’t run on it for about 6 weeks. After a month of consistent acupuncture and realizing I need to stretch better, my hip recovered. As long as I only run a few times a week and listen to my body I have been ok. In my mind though I thought a straight running race might be too much.

A friend of mine said she and her husband were starting a Tough Mudder team. It piqued my interest. I saw the video below and thought sure this is better than a straight running race. HA!!! I think I am in for a rude awakening. We registered for the race back in May.

To be clear, we aren’t doing this to set any time records. We are doing this to have fun and say we did it. My goal is to finish and to not break a bone.

I consider myself in good shape. I go to the gym regularly. I have been doing more cross fit and trx classes.  I train weekly with a trainer and my sessions have been harder to prepare. My achilles’ heel is running. I hate it. I have never enjoyed it and it’s such a mental battle for me. I know I have to incorporate running in my mudder training. I have been running intervals. I just hate running without stopping. I can probably run 1.5 miles straight right now.  I have  2 months until the Tough Mudder and I really need to kick up my training.  My plan is to go to the gym 4-5 days a week do 30 min of cardio (mostly running) and then a trx or crossfit class.

I know it is going to probably be the hardest thing I have ever done. So mentally I am prepared for that aspect. I just don’t want my body to go through shock. I am excited, but a part of me is also scared.  Have any of you done a Tough Mudder competition? If yes, any advice on training?

My Love For Lululemon

I was introduced to lululemon a few years ago from my pilates teacher. I always admired how chic and comfortable she looked. I don’t know how I never found out about lulu before then.  I had been a regular at the yoga studio for a few years. I quickly ordered 2 pieces from them (as a birthday present to myself) and it was love at first wear. Sure, at first I had some sticker shock, but honestly it is worth ever single penny, all 7,800 of them (for those particular pants).

I am a regular at the gym and yoga studio. On a good week I sport my lulu 5 days a week. Over the past few years I have phased out non lulu items. My entire workout wardrobe is now all lulu. The first year of my discovery, I went on a crazy spree which probably yielded most of my pieces. I now only buy a few pieces a year ( I do go on their website once a week and drool). People always say to me, “How can you pay so much for a pair of yoga pants?”. My reply is that their stuff looks like new after years of use. It does not stretch, pil, or fade. All my items look great! Most importantly they are so comfortable and they wick the sweat away! It’s also an added bonus that their items are stylish and colorful.  Another plus is that a lot of their items can be worn outside the gym. Their tanks are super chic and you can throw a little jacket over them and add some jewelry and voila….a going-out outfit. I often use their crops and leggings in the winter under dresses, long sweaters, or tunics. You can totally get outside-the-gym use from their items.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

I have 2 of these wunder-under crops  in black and a charcoal grey. I wear these for everything except for running. They are wonderful for hot yoga. I also use them outside of the gym.  (pic source)

This is the gather and grow crop. These are also versatile and I also use them for everything to include running. (pic source)

I have 2 of these tanks and 3 of the modern racerbacks which are a little looser in the mid section. I love them. A couple of mine have motivational sayings on the inside of them. It was a nice surprise the first time I discovered it. They are so comfortable and I wear the cool racerback under sweaters in the winter. They also transition well to outside the gym. (pic source)

They have a great selection of sports bras. This is the one I have found that works best for me. I bought my first one 3 years ago and it still fits like new. It has not stretched, piled or faded. I even use it for running. (source pic)

There are a lot more items I can rave about, but this post would go on and on forever! If you haven’t tried lulu for yourself click here to find a store near you. Their staff is super friendly and very helpful. If you don’t have a store near you, go to their website and order some stuff. Their shipping is free and if you return an item it’s on them. You also get a snazzy reusable bag with any purchase. You just have to check it out for yourself!

If you own Lulu what are your favorite items?

Trains and Carolina BBQ

This weekend we decided to venture out to the North Carolina Transportation Museum. It promised to be a day full of planes, trains, and automobiles. Our two boys have been quite the train enthusiasts. My oldest has mostly grown out of the phase, but my younger one is still mesmerized.Thomas the Tank Engine has long been the source of their obsession.  Who can deny the intrigue that the Island of Sodor and their very useful engines bring?  They have brought much happiness (and sometimes confusion and delay) to our household for number of years now. Our Thomas the Train wooden railway set and the many trains we have accumulated are the things toys we will keep long after they’ve grown. Maybe their kids can play with it when they come to visit us…  :).

This was a lovely museum. The entrance fee includes a 30 min train ride on an old fashioned diesel engine.

That day we saw classic car exhibits, the warehouse where they refurbish vehicles, the roundhouse, and the airplane exhibit boasting a Wright brothers’ plane replica. My little guy’s favorite exhibit was by far the roundhouse. I think they had about 8 trains on exhibit that day. They sat in their respective spots so majestically. It was hard not to be giddy. After we exploring the exhibits for over an hour, it was time for our train ride!

Our crew was very friendly and informative. Our conductor was especially nice. He told us how the particular car we were on was used in the movie Leatherheads. There is a slight chance I could have sat in Mr. George Clooney’s seat.  They shot the movie for 2 days on the museum grounds.  The train ride was 25 min. It was nice and scenic. We went through the grounds of the museum and they explained a little bit more of the history of the yards and buildings. It was interesting.

What are some of your favorite museums? Are there any that hold a special place in your heart from when you were a child?

After the museum we decided to get some BBQ for lunch. We were only about 20 minutes away from one of the best BBQ joints in the entire state. How could we ever pass that up?  I have to say Carolina BBQ is by far my favorite kind of BBQ, especially the chopped pork.   Lexington BBQ #1 in Lexington, North Carolina has been run by the same family for years. It is definitely a no frills place, but the staff couldn’t be any nicer, and their food speaks for itself.

As soon as you find a parking space (and the lot was really full) you are greeted by these lovelies and the wonderful smell of hickory and sweet slow-cooking pork.

For 2:30 pm it was busy. We had to wait in a line that was outside the doors. Luckily things moved like a well oiled machine. We were seated in about 10 minutes and eating in about 20 minutes.

I ordered the chopped pork sandwich. It is topped with this coleslaw that is heaven sent. It is vinegar based and it’s tangy and a little spicy at the same time. Such deliciousness!!!

I will be dreaming about this meal for a while. The baked beans were to share. They were also very tasty. I couldn’t finish all of that. This was a wonderful meal and I am so happy we were able to stop by on our way home.

What are some of your favorite BBQ joints?