amo.says

my life in my words


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Bangarang | Fit Life Friday

“High-energy, music-driven, martial arts-inspired BODYCOMBAT™ tests your agility, stability, and co-ordination while shaping, toning, and burning calories. This 55-minute cardio workout combines disciplines like Karate, Taekwondo, Tai chi, Muay Thai, boxing, and strength training, to improve bone density and heart and lung function. You’ll reduce the risk of disease and feel like you can take on the world after this mind-sharpening and body-tuning workout.” — via Fitness Evolution

 

I mean really, doesn’t that just SOUND like a winning combo?? hahahaha! I can feel the burn just reading over it. Also, I felt the burn last night when I joined my friend, Korin at her gym—Fitness Evolution—for my very first BODY COMBAT class! One of the first classes I ever took at my gym was TurboKick, (a cardio kickboxing class) so I was pretty psyched when my best friend, Korin, invited me to join her for the Body Combat class at her gym. The things I had read about Body Combat made it sound as though it was TurboKick . . . kicked up a notch. Now if there’s one thing you should know about my Fit Life, it’s that I LOVE TurboKick! It’s high-energy and I can usually get in the groove to master the moves in the round after a couple of weeks of doing it. Our TK class is fun and our instructor(s) are incredible! Truth be told, I’m crossing my fingers that our gym would start offering Body Combat sooner than later!

 

Fitness Evolution on Aurora Ave. in Seattle, WA

The last gym to tout low-cost and high-quality that I visited was Vision Quest in Lake City, and it was the WORST gym experience I’d ever had. I bought a Living Social deal for a short-term membership there and EVERY visit was worse than the one before . . . but I digress . . . I’ll save those stories for another post series. So you can imagine that I was pretty skeptical about going to this class at another gym that touted low-cost and high-quality. But WOW was I surprised!! Fitness Evolution is amazing! They have plenty of quality equipment, a TRX set-up, and a clean, fun environment that totally set my mind at ease. The front desk staff was friendly and helpful both as I arrived and as I was leaving. You wouldn’t think that a $10 per month membership would provide an environment like that, but they are doing it right! It was night and day compared to Vision Quest!

 

Group Class Token

 

As I checked in at the front desk with Korin, I was handed this fun little token that would guarantee me access to the class. Though truth be told, I’m not sure I really needed it. There were only 6 other ladies in the class with Korin and I. The instructor was so sweet as she came up to us and asked us if we had ever taken one of these classes before. I told her that it was my first time in this class, but that I had taken TurboKick before, had done Tae Bo DVDs back in the day, and had done a 3-week course in Jiu-Jitsu a few years ago. She mentioned that we would recognize some of the Jiu-Jitsu moves and that doing TurboKick was a good set-up for this class, so my mind was set at ease. We started with a pretty basic warm-up, but even after that, I was beginning to break a pretty hefty sweat. I’m not sure if it’s just psychological, but since I’ve become more and more fit, my body has been in Rebellion Mode! It’s almost as if it knows I’m about to kick its butt and it’s coming back at me with its dukes up, ready for a fight. Right as we started moving into the actual class content, my legs felt heavier and it was tough to get my kicks strong. I pushed hard to make each and every move count, but it still didn’t feel like it was quite enough. I felt as though I was just going through the motions and not really working hard. But I’m convinced I HAD to be working hard because I was so beat after each set. I could feel the endorphins kicking in and the sting in the abs and thighs as I cross-punched and worked through the gingas, tesouras, and balanced leg thrusts. I think my body is just kind of in a weird fitness mode where it just does the work with its arms crossed as if to say, “Hmmph. Is that all you got?” The answer is Yes. Yes, that’s all I got. 😉 Still, I made it through the class, abs throbbing, legs worked, and mind-blown at how such simple moves could make me want to camp out in Child’s Pose all night long.

 

WOW!! I actually SURVIVED my 1st Body Combat class!! And it was SO much fun too!

 

Thankfully, the sweet relief came after our Core Set where we got to do our post-workout stretches and cool-down Kata work. Kata is actually one of the things I enjoyed most about doing martial arts when I was in those classes. It’s controlled movements made it relaxing and helped me to re-focus my breathing. It was so comforting to get back in the groove of doing Kata again and I’m thinking I may try to re-work that into my normal fitness routine. It just seems to work better for me than yoga. Maybe because I feel a little bit like the Karate Kid when I do it. 😉

 

Cool-down Kata

 

I think it was only fitting that the song our instructor played during our cool-down was THE FIGHTER by Gym Class Heroes (feat. Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic)! I definitely left feeling like a champ.  I’m giving my body a chance to relax today, especially since I’ve worked it hard all week-long doing my AB CHALLENGE and keeping up with my circuit training to build more lean muscle/bring my body fat percentage down in order to reach my goals for this month. I can already hear my body thanking me after last night’s mega butt-kicking. 😉 All in all, it was a GREAT class! I’m hoping to go to more Body Combat classes in the future . . . again, I just wish they were offered at my gym (for convenience purposes). 😦 Still, this gives me the opportunity to work out with my best friend and get away from my routine a bit, so it’s a definite WIN! And now that I feel like a complete winner, I’m looking forward to spending time with more friends tonight as we stuff our faces with yummy snacks (I might just eat my weight in popcorn tonight) while watching the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremonies! Are you watching them too???

 

Have a Happy Fit Life Friday!

 

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Two of Hearts

With all the new exciting things happening in my life, I’ve REALLY felt the love!! So, I figured now would be a great time to share some love as well! Okay, okay, so basically it’s more a sharing of things I’ve fallen in love with lately, but still, it’s something, right? Since my heart is so overwhelmed with lovely things, why not double the fun? Here are some pairs of things that have captured my heart lately:

 

Techy Things:

I really need to thank my friend (and Seattle Dad) Del Irwin for giving me the hot tip on this one!

  • The Flipboard social magazine app on my phone. For the most part, all of my bus rides involve reading—blogs, e-mails, books, and NOW, Flipboard! I have Flipboards set up for FOOD, DESIGN, PHOTOGRAPHY, NEWS, TECHNOLOGY, GAMING, CELEBRITY, MUSIC, FILM, and HOME. So as I’m riding the bus or waiting at a stop, I can browse my Flipboard and read up on some really innovative things! And the app allows me to e-mail the links to myself, favorite them on Twitter, or send them to my Evernote (my favorite option, by the way). It’s an extremely convenient inspiration and information source for me!

 

Thanks for the hot tip on this one, Korin!

  • Okay so this one is more of a gadget, but just go with me, ‘kay? Recently, my friend Korin and I went to our friend Kathy’s house to watch Sense and Sensibility. While we were getting the air-popper ready, Korin mentioned this new microwaveable air-popper bowl that she had bought. I was fascinated and was on the hunt—I NEED one of those! I currently make my popcorn in a skillet on the stove, but it’s so tedious and truth be told, our pan lid doesn’t really fit so I have to hold it the entire time—lame sauce! So I recently went to TARGET in search of this bad boy and I got one!! And I used it yesterday and I’m in LOVE with it!! It’s a perfect option for me and I don’t need to even add oil for it to make the perfect bowl of air-popped popcorn! My snack life is revived!!

 

 

Tasty Things:

Nomilicious!

  • My snack platter this week is my favorite combo thus far! It’s full of variety and packed with so much flavor and sustenance. On the menu, we have: A sliced cucumber, blueberries, a sliced apple, Toasted sesame crackers with cashew butter spread on them, a hard-boiled egg, and a mug of Laughing Man Espresso Roast! Also, you should know I’ve gone into a mild panic because I’m ALMOST OUT of my Laughing Man coffee grounds!!! . . . time to order more online!

 

  • Italian Chicken Sausage + Orzo Pasta with Basil, Zucchini, and Red Pepper. My love for this dish is unending!! I made this for my lunches this week and it’s so ridiculously full of flavor. Every time I eat it, I feel like I’m decked out in a white sundress, dining on the grounds of a mansion while sitting at a fancy schmancy table in the bright warm sun! I dunno why, but this light and filling dish just makes me feel like royalty . . . maybe it’s the basil, or just the combo of everything, who knows. But seriously, if you can, please make this at home. You won’t regret it! I used Italian Chicken Sausage for the meat in mine, but I’m sure you could sub in any kind of meat you want and it would be just as awesome!

 

 

Thoughtful Things:

As I mentioned before, I love to read and since I’m on the bus so much here in Seattle, I get a LOT of reading in. I’m constantly reading e-newsletters and blogs to stay up to date on information that interests me. Here are 2 of my FAVORITE blogs that I follow:

 

  • Orange Leaders Blog. Orange Leaders is “a gathering of leaders who are passionate about engaging churches and families to influence the faith and character of the next generation.” It is run by the reThink Group and offers so much practical and spiritual insight into leadership development, which is my perfect cup of tea! ♥

 

  • Carrots ‘N’ Cake. Tina blogs about so many incredible things that inspire me! She offers so many great anecdotes that cover a great range of topics that interest me—from fitness to food to family life—and she’s so great at keeping things real. Plus, she’s a huge fan of nut butters, just like I am!! Her blog has helped me grow leaps and bounds throughout my Fit Life journey and I always look forward to her posts! In fact, I’m such an fan that I’ve even found myself adopting her phrases (like “HOLY YUM!”) 😉

 

Tune-worthy Things:

  • LINK IN A CHAIN by Missy Higgins. Missy Higgins is one of my all-time favorite singer/songwriters, hands down! Her style is clean, creative, and innovative sound—and that Aussie accent is pretty rad too! So when I found out that Missy was coming out with a new album, I got butterflies in my stomach. After purchasing (and listening on repeat to) her latest release, THE OL’ RAZZLE DAZZLE, I was reminded of why I fell in love with her music all over again—it’s just wonderful quality all-around and inspires me to create music that matters! LINK IN A CHAIN is my favorite song off of the album because it challenges the listener to break through the chains they’ve lived in for so long and live an extraordinary life, which is something I value so much in my personal life.

 

  • BE YOUR EVERYTHING by Boys Like Girls. Let’s get real, I’m a sucker for a good love song, and this one just hits the spot! It’s not a super slow song that reminds you of a scene out of A Cinderella Story. Instead, it fits my style and makes me think of speeding down the highway to destination anywhere with the car top down and the love of my life holding my hand as we head into adventure! It’s power poppy with some spunky punk grooves and Martin Johnson’s voice just soothes me for some reason. This song is featured on their recent release, CRAZY WORLD EP—go ahead, give it a spin!

 

 

Twitteriffic Things:

I feel like I spend less time on Twitter these days, but when I do, I can count on 2 friends of mine providing enough entertainment to make up for anything I may have missed during my absence:

 

  • emzuniga. This girl is a RIOT!!! Elaine and I went to school (MCAustin) together for 3 years before she moved to Louisiana to pursue an MC Staff position there. Through the years, we’ve kept in touch through social networking and do our best to see each any time I’m back in Texas on vacation. I love the practical wisdom and quick wit she shares with me when we’re together! Her Twitter feed never fails to keep me smiling, with her snarky thoughts, intellectual marketing insights, fun pics of her rambunctious kitty cats, and the delicious food that she makes! If I could bring myself to do it without feeling like I’m such a creepster friend, I’d ‘favorite’ all of her tweets and save them for a rainy day!

 

  • AudreyHannahB. Audrey is one of those powerful women that I wish I lived closer to so that could frequently go out for coffee with her. Alas, I must settle for her sweet, quirky, fun tweets about photography, business, spiritual life, and family. She’s the incredibly inspiring wife of my long-time teacher/mentor/creative guru from MCAustin, Brian Brooks at Innovado. But don’t think for a second that she is merely arm candy—this chick can hold her own! She’s funny, wise, kind, and an astoundingly creative professional photographer! She has her own photography business, AUDREY HANNAH PHOTO that takes her all over on adventures, helping people of all ages and backgrounds capture treasured moments in the most gorgeous ways! Don’t believe me, just check out this sweet shot that she took of a sweet couple in Colorado:

 

Photo by Audrey Hannah Photo

 

 

Treat Things:

Why not finish with something sweet?? Since cleaning up my nutrition and completing the No-Sugar Challenge, I’ve become much more sensitive to sugary sweets. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still CRAVE sweets, it just means that I have to be more conscious about my choices because too much sugar will make my stomach hurt something fierce and will make me feel lethargic and out-of-sorts. Therefore, I’ve been on the search for substitutes that make it easier for me to enjoy the sweeter things I crave. Two of my favorite recent finds are:

 

 

  • Dreyer’s No Sugar Added Fruit Bars. Out of habit, I still venture down the Ice Cream aisle any time I go grocery shopping. I’m a sucker for cold sweet treats!! I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I bought these because (1) I never really jumped on the Splenda train and (2) Most of the time, Sugar-Free or No Sugar Added equates to No-Flavor At All. 😉 HOWEVER, and this is a BIG HOWEVER, these fruit bars are a WIN!!! It’s just the right amount of sweet, I can’t taste the ‘ol “Splenda after-bite” I had become familiar with back in the day, and they are so refreshing and delicious!! Now it’s just tough not to eat 10 of them at a time! :O [Bonus: The Black Cherry is my favorite!]
  • Private Selection brand Acai, Pomegranate, & Blueberry Green Tea. God really DOES answer prayer! A few years ago, I led a missions trip to Brazil. It was there that I was first introduced to the glory of Acai. And NOW, three of my favorite flavors have all joined up to fight crime in a healthy Green Tea blend!! Talk about tasty sweet loveliness—Holy Yum! This tea is a perfect treat for me and I’m so glad I found it. I picked it up at the grocery store over the weekend and I’ve had at least 3 mugs of it daily since! If you’re a fruit lover like I am and you’re looking for a way to get that sweet fix without the sugar buzz, this is the way to go! ♥

 

Welp, that about wraps up my current “Love Life.” 😉

How about you? What are some things that you have fallen in love with recently?!?

 


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The House You’re Building

Sharing my heart for this new season of life on Sunday at Westside Church

 

When I moved to Seattle 4 years ago, I came with one mission—shine a light in the darkness of young lives. Mentor young people. Love on young people. Care for young people. Remind the young people that there is so much more to life worth living for. Be “Jesus with skin on” to young people. Serve the church with all your heart, and trust that the young people that go there will follow suit. Young people. That’s what it’s always been about for me. What I thought that looked like in the moment: Be a youth pastor.

 

Westside Church VBS 2008

 

During my first week attending Westside Church, they were gearing up for their Vacation Bible School and they were in need of volunteers. Since I didn’t have a job and I was seriously committed to serving the church with all my heart, I offered to help. I became the teacher’s assistant for the Elementary-aged group of kids and I loved spending time with them! The Vacation Bible School was fun, fast-paced, and wildly entertaining so I really enjoyed it. When the church administration told me that they didn’t really have a youth group, I was bummed, but figured I would just serve where I was needed and stay connected. So I served in their Elementary ministry as a volunteer assistant. I worked with those kiddos every Sunday for about six months before the church leadership pulled me in for a dinner meeting. They said they wanted to develop a solid youth ministry with the three teenagers they had that attended the church. I gladly accepted—this was my moment!

 

The 2Twelve Student Ministries room during our RIOT! series

It started with 3. 

Then grew the next year to 7.

Then grew the next year to 10. 

Currently, we have an amazing group of 15 students!

 

Some of 2Twelve students & leaders on a typical Sunday morning

 

Two months ago, I got an e-mail from our Senior Pastor, Jeremiah, asking me to join he and his wife, Deb, for dinner. I had recently gotten back from my trip home, so after recounting the tales of my trip from home, they asked me the million dollar question:

 

Would I be willing to step into the role of Children’s Director starting in mid-August?

 

WOW! I’ll admit, when I first heard Children’s Director, it quickly became synonymous with Children’s Pastor—which I don’t believe I necessarily am. I LOVE babysitting kiddos (read: a small group of kiddos), but the few times I had attempted to be the lead teacher volunteer in the Elementary-aged class, I bombed . . . big time. I’m pretty sure I redefined epic fail. Naturally, I was elated to return to our regularly scheduled youth fall semester. However, as they explained the position to me, I realized more and more just how perfect this new role would be for me! It would not involve a regular teaching position in the Children’s Ministry. It would be more of a mix of creativity + administration + communication + discipleship/community building + curriculum development + overseeing & equipping others to flourish in their sweet spot on a broader level so that all of the children—from babies to High School—would receive a quality, creative Christian education experience that would enable them to merge their faith and life in a practical way. So basically, it’s a dream come true for me!

 

Me and Amanda, the Children’s Director I will be stepping in for

 

That was 2 months ago. One thing I was told in our meeting was to TELL NO ONE. The church leadership wanted to announce the big change a certain way in certain timing, so keeping it hush-hush was of the essence! Needless to say, I was a bubbling brook building inside a barricaded cavern. It was INCREDIBLY difficult to hold back the good news. I did break the rules a bit by telling my family and my accountability partners so that they could help keep my heart and mind in check as we geared up for one of the biggest changes in my life. And I’m ever so thankful that I did! I’ve already learned some great things that I need to watch out for as I step into this new role as far as setting healthy boundaries and nurturing my heart, mind, and soul.

 

After 2 months of having to keep from shouting it from the rooftops, I was finally introduced to the Westside Church family as the new Children’s Director!!

 

This past Sunday was THE BIG DAY—we were finally going to spill the beans to the congregation and I could not be more excited! I was overwhelmed with the goodness and faithfulness of God, and honestly, a little bit of nervousness. I mean, you only get one chance to make a first impression, right? Right.

Don’t take my word for it though, check out this awesome video that my best friend/accountability partner, Heather, recorded for me on that special morning:

 

 

Although I didn’t follow my notes exactly and flubbed a couple of words here and there, I was finally able to share my heart with the congregation that I will be connecting with on a deeper level come mid-August! The good thing though, is that I can share my notes here, with you, so that you all can see my heart typed out on paper and you can begin to dream with me for the great things ahead for the children, and their families, at Westside Church!

 

 

Here are the lessons I’ve learned along the way and how they’re helping me develop a renewed Children’s Ministry at Westside Church:

 

 

1) ‘Ohana’ means “family.” “Family” means “no one gets left behind.”

The Bible teaches us that the real Children’s pastors are their parents and guardians—their family. However, it also teaches that the church’s responsibility is to be a community resource to those parents and help promote unforgettable life change for each child placed in our care. That made it easy for me to develop our basic Mission Statement. Our mission is to team up with parents to help their child develop a faith that connects them with God, others, and the world around them.

 

It tastes JUST like the real deal!!

 

2) There is Perfect Recipe for Sweet Sustainability & Growth

I recently made a trip to the East Coast and spent quality time with my best friend in New York City. Of the things on my MUST DO list was to get authentic New York Cheesecake! The only stipulation was that it had to be Sugar-Free. I’ll admit that I was skeptical when we ordered our Sugar-Free Cheesecakes from Junior’s, but one bite in and I was HOOKED! It was difficult for me to not eat it all in two bites. In fact, I sheepishly asked Sarah if she would judge me if I ate another slice. 😉 As we sat there enjoying it, we agreed that it part of what made it so incredible was that one bite would let you to KNOW that it was made with tender loving care. However, part of making it incredible is the right recipe. If one ingredient is missing, it would only be known for it’s wrong flavor, it would be forgotten altogether, or even worse cause food poisoning, guaranteeing that no one would go back to that shop even if it IS “Authentic New York Cheesecake.” So if there is a perfect recipe for deliciously memorable Cheesecake, there MUST be a perfect recipe for sweet sustainability and growth in our Children’s Ministry. Knowing that, it was easy to adopt the desire to do ministry on an all-inclusive, multi-generational level. Meaning that, even though we could probably do some really cool and fun things to keep things going and growing for those kids, it won’t be anywhere near as successful or effective or meaningful if every willing person in the Westside Church family is not a part of it! They are a vital ingredient in our perfect recipe for sweet sustainability and growth in the Children’s Ministry at Westside!

 

Playing games with some of the 2Twelve students at Loyal Heights

 

3) In spending time involved in student ministries, I’ve been able to see the power of Christ displayed when the spiritual well-being of young people is a priority.

On the smallest scale it looks like this:

My 7 year-old niece HATES/DESPISES/ABHORS (I think you get the point) taking baths. We have to “trick” her into taking them or she would be content to go weeks without one. However, there is one thing that we know will get her in that bathtub quicker than a finger snap—the opportunity go to Kid City at my old home church in Austin! When Sunday morning rolls around, my niece asks my mom to take her to church. My mom then tells her that “We can’t go to church until you’ve taken a bath.” My niece will then rush to the bedroom to grab her change of clothes, grab a towel, and if you listen in a couple of minutes later you will hear the bath water running! Because of the focus the church places on the spiritual well-being of young people, it has become a place that kids and teens beg their parents to be a part of and the sustainable spiritual growth and the power of Christ can be seen on a large level!

 

On an even bigger scale it looks like this:

Last semester, I met with a parent in a coffee shop and she explained to me that she wanted her son to be a part of a youth ministry, but that every other church they had tried to get plugged in to had turned her son away because of his learning disability, or that the other kids made him feel uncomfortable and he didn’t like it. Westside was their last option. Fast forward to now, and not only is her son loved and appreciated by our students and leaders, he has also stepped up his game and has become a leader in our youth ministry! He is thriving in our youth group and discovering a deeper relationship with Christ through it all! We love him and can’t even begin to imagine NOT having him in our group!

 

That is exactly what we want to see happen in the lives of all the children trusted to our care at Westside! We want to create a fun and safe environment that promotes healthy Christian growth—spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. As I take on this role, I am wholeheartedly committed to creating a culture of community that will give each and every student and their parents the ability to get connected to Christ on a deeper level and reflect His heart in practical ways to the world around them!

 

These kids have my heart and I’m looking forward to watching their lives change and grow for the glory of God!

 

I KNOW this is a huge undertaking, but I know I’m not alone in it and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for the Westside Church family! 

 


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Belly Belly

 

A couple of months into my renewed endeavor to eat healthier, I joined a large group of my friends for a special Birthday dinner for our mutual friend at one of my favorite Indian restaurants, Saffron Grill. The conversation was lively and I was having a great time getting to know some of the others who joined us a bit better. As we looked at the menu, I knew that it would be so easy for me to order my usual—BUTTER CHICKEN!

 

 

And of course, I’d have to get some Garlic Naan with that. And copious refills of their chai. However, I was determined to (1) continue my weight-loss journey, and (2) clean up my nutrition. So I looked at the salad section of the menu and ended up ordering the Mediterranean Salad with Chicken. As the food began to arrive at our table, my worst nightmare became a reality. The waitress took my salad to the entire other end of the 5 tables-long dining set-up we had and shouted as she looked amongst our table, “I’ve got a Mediterranean Chicken Salad.” Almost immediately, the table grew quiet and conversations died down. Eyes roamed and I heard from the entire other end of the table:

 

“SERIOUSLY?!? WHO ORDERS A SALAD AT SAFFRON?!?!?”

 

I froze for a second, then blushed and slowly raised my hand as I lowered my head in shame. My head flooded with regrets: “Ugh! You should have just ordered the butter chicken like all these other people here! Most of them got the butter chicken. Why do you have to be so difficult! It’s a party for crying out loud! Way to make a scene!” All eyes followed the waitress as she delivered my salad to me and I felt the piercing glares of disapproval coming from the group of ladies surrounding me. What had I done?

I kept my head lowered as I scooped half of my salad to one side of the plate so that I could take that half home for leftovers and quietly ate my food as I listened in to the conversations that carried on around me. In that moment I realized that this journey to reclaim my health was going to be a LOT tougher than I had originally thought. Despite the overwhelming shame and disappointment I felt in that moment, I reminded myself that I was making a right choice. I didn’t NEED to eat all of that greasy, heavy food, or chai to fulfill me. Though it felt great to walk and not waddle out of a restaurant, the rest of the evening was filled with a feeling of conflict—will I ever be able to eat healthy in public without being judged?? At the end of the night I resolved that the answer was probably NO, but that I should stick to my guns anyway.

 

Photo via foodnetwork.com

 

Once I got home, I put the 2nd half of my chicken salad in the fridge and  as I got ready for bed that night, I reminded myself that it was MY body and it was MY responsibility to treat it right by eating the better foods and giving it the right fuel to run smoothly. It was going to be tough. I might get a million stares. I might get dirty looks and judging comments, but those were a small price to pay for the ultimate goal—to develop the self-control that would help me reclaim my health.

 

This leads me into the first Q&A for Fit Life Friday!

I get text and Facebook messages from friends who are frequently curious as to how to substitute ingredients for healthier recipes, but I had never anyone ask about menu substitutions. It felt great to be called on to offer up suggestions for healthier fare on the public dining level! Here is what I suggested to that particular friend:

 

Go for the Chicken Tortilla Soup (sans tortilla strips if you can).
Also, go light on the chips, heavy on the salsa.
And choose corn tortillas over flour if possible.

 

The happy factor kicked in when she texted back saying that she really enjoyed the dinner and felt great!

Eating healthy when you’re out and about is seriously SO tough—but it’s doable! I recently got to experiment with more of that when I took my trip to the East Coast. Here are some of the places I went and the healthier options I went with. You can click on the name of the restaurant to follow the link to their menu so you can see what all the other menu options were!

 

Cafe Lalo, NYC

At Cafe Lalo, I ordered the Zucchini Cheese Frittata (served with Mediterranean Salad) and a drip coffee.

Sarah and I also split a fresh fruit cup with our meal!

 

Peanut Butter and Co., NYC

After walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, we stopped in for lunch at Peanut Butter and Co. I opted for the salad bowl with chicken and honey mustard dressing. I decided not to eat the little biscuit they served with it. For dessert, I had the Peanut Butter Smoothie (Soy milk, peanut butter, honey, bananas)!

 

Serabeth’s, NYC

At Serabeth’s, Sarah and I split a Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelette. It came with an option of muffin, croissant, scone, or toast. We went for a nice treat and split the pumpkin muffin! We also got a side bowl of fresh fruit—bananas, strawberries and oranges for the win!

 

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

We decided to split the Shrimper’s Net Catch (steamed shrimp in garlic sauce) and also shared a delicious Pear & Berry Salad!

 

an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet in Baltimore, MD

Sarah’s parents took us out to their favorite Chinese buffet place. THEY are the ones who gave me the hot tip about the fresh Hibachi grill, where you could choose what you wanted grilled on the plate! I went for a small serving of chicken and a ton of veggies! . . . oh, and of course, a delicious plate of fruit—my fave!!

 

One of the things it took me a while to realize was to be resolved to the fact that when I’m asking the waiter or waitress for all these substitutions, it can feel like I’m inconveniencing them, but at the end of the day, it’s MY body I’m feeding and it’s MY money that’s paying for it. I can be as picky as I want because I want to make the wise choice and not just let someone else determine what they want to go on my hips and thighs. Now I’m perfectly okay with asking for substitutions and if they aren’t able to make a substitution, I just ask myself if it’s worth it to just eat it or if it’s wiser to just order something else—or somewhere else.

 

Photo by foodnetwork.com

 

If you’re wanting some basic hot tips on healthier eating to keep in mind when dining out, here are some that I’ve read online and heard from others that have come in handy for me:

  • Be an assertive consumer by asking for changes on the menu. For instance, if an item is fried, ask for it grilled. If it comes with french fries, ask for a side of veggies instead. Ask for a smaller portion of the meat and a larger portion of the salad; for salad instead of coleslaw; baked potato instead of fried.
  • Ask the waiter to box half your entrée before it ever gets to the table or split an entrée with your dining partner.
  • The best way to combine salad dressing with salad? Get your dressing on the side, in a small bowl. Dip your empty fork into the dressing, then skewer a forkful of salad. You’ll be surprised at how this tastes just right, and how little dressing you’ll use. Plus, your lettuce won’t wilt and drown in a sea of oil.
  • Check the menu before you leave home. Most chains post their menus on their websites. You can decide before you ever hit the hostess stand what you’re going to order. Conversely, if you don’t see anything that’s healthy, pick another restaurant.
  • Ask for whole-wheat bread for sandwiches.
  • Drink water with your meal.
  • If you want a dessert, choose fresh fruit, sorbet, sherbet, fruit ice, meringues or plain cake with fruit puree.

 

Bonus: On long commutes or shopping trips, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, low-fat string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts to help you avoid stopping for sweet or fatty snacks.

 

These are the snacks I took with me last night when I went to the movie theater to watch the midnight showing of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES!! Cucumbers, Blueberries, Almonds, Water, and of course, COFFEE!!!! Not only did I save money, but I wasn’t tempted to eat my weight in popcorn and I didn’t leave the theater feeling “buttery” ;p

 

Now, am I perfect and do I always order the healthiest thing on the menu? Not always. I do indulge once in a while—mainly on dessert, which I split with whomever I’m with—but I do my best to make more conscious decisions when I dine out. The more I practice those tips, the happier the evening is for me because I don’t feel bloated or weighed down by the heavy grease and starchy carbs. It’s definitely a learning process. 🙂

I hope this has been helpful to you in some way shape or form. And if you have any questions or have something you’d like to see featured for Fit Life Friday, please feel free to leave me a comment saying so! 😀

 

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a Happy Fit Life Friday!

 

Treat time in Baltimore . . . CUPCAKES—my fave! I got the honey banana cupcake . . . and it was NOMTASTIC! As we were leaving the area, we saw they had an Ace of Cakes cupcake shop as well. It was SOOOO tough, but I was able to have enough restraint not to buy a cupcake from there as well, and thus get a sugar overload (because let’s face it, that cuppy cake wouldn’t last 10 seconds between my hands and my mouth)! So we decided that next time I visit, we’ll hit up that cupcake shop FIRST!


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A Change Would Do You Good | Fit Life Friday

Me in Phoenix, AZ  (Circa 2007)

 

Change is good. I thrive on change. I feel like my life is in a constant state of change. It keeps me on my toes. Which is why, I’ve decided to add a new “feature” to the blog! I’m calling it . . .

 

FIT LIFE FRIDAY! 

 

When I began this health/fitness journey, I wasn’t aware of what all it would entail. To be quite honest, there were so many pit stops along the way where I was pretty sure I was done. I was ready to quit and be content with forever fluctuating and plateauing on the scale. I was sure that I was forever fated to wear size 20 jeans, instead of the size 12 (in that mid-range almost to 10’s) that I am now. But I didn’t quit. As I’ve shared here before, I’ve had help. I’ve had jump-starter people who have NOT let me give up on myself. As a result, I’ve plowed through the negative thoughts, the plateaus, the frustrations, the sore muscles and I’ve been able to trust the process, and here I stand (well, technically I’m sitting) at my Happy Healthy Goal Weight, working to maintain all the hard work I’ve put in thus far.

 

Soakin’ up the glorious sunshine, coffee in tow, jammin’ to B.o.B.’s SO GOOD. Now THIS is what I call Summatime!! ♥

 

Along the way, people have asked me a slew of questions about fitness, nutrition, and my experience in general. I figured my blog would be a good platform to share those things. So, I’m initiating FIT LIFE FRIDAYS, where each Friday’s blog post will revolve around fitness, nutrition, and my experiences with living a fit life in general. My health and fitness journey has led me to develop a much healthier, balanced lifestyle and THAT has made it so much easier to maintain the weight loss thus far. Well, I mean, that and walking allllll over New York City. 😉 Yet, even on this recent vacation, I was blessed to have my best friend and her family support me with encouragement to stay on track and healthy food options stocked in their house, plus suggestions for healthier options when we were out to eat at their favorite places. One incidence I can recall that meant so much to me is that her parents so graciously understood when I opted to grab soup and salad from Panera Bread with Sarah while they entertained family with a pizza party back at their grandmother’s house. I must admit, it felt REALLY nice to be able to come back from vacation .5 pounds lighter and not 5 pounds heavier! But now that I’m back from vacation, the real test comes and I’m ready to put the pedal to the metal in my everyday life! Today, I figured I would kick off  FIT LIFE FRIDAY with a general overview of what a typical Day-In-The-Fit-Life looks like for me.

 

Today’s Meal Plan

 

Something you should know up front is that every Wednesday, I plan out my meals for the next week and then I do all my grocery shopping and cooking on Sunday afternoon/evening. On Monday morning, I tow my bag of meals (in Tupperware), veggies, fruits, etc. for the week with me in to work so that I’m not tempted to snack on unhealthy options that are brought into our kitchen at work (read: cake & chocolates). Plus, it makes my short break times more beneficial because I have everything ready to go and I can spend more time getting other personal tasks done to maximize my efforts in the busy work day. That said, my meals for each week are pretty much the same thing. My taste buds and body don’t mind that at all and I actually enjoy the consistency. This week was only slightly different because of evening social engagements. But even then, I try to use up my pre-prepped meals before opting to eat out.

 

A well-stocked fridge shelf at work makes for a happy Amo! 😀

 

Any time I have evening plans on a workout day (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday), I sneak in a morning workout. That means waking up early to gather everything up in my bag and hit the gym by 5am. Since I needed to make up some hours at work and I will be having a movie night with some friends tonight, this morning’s wake-up call came at a bright and early 4:30am. I slept in my workout clothes so that I could sleep in a bit more without feeling rushed. After fully waking up I put on my headphones for some majorly needed morning mojo, grabbed my pre-prepped breakfast from the fridge and ate my pre-workout snack. I don’t like to eat a whole lot before I hit the gym for fear of puking. So for my early morning pre-workout snack, I opted for two spoonfuls of peanut butter. First of all, peanut butter rocks my world—I LOVE IT SO MUCH—and it’s an excellent source of healthy fat + protein for my body to draw from for workout fuel. Second of all, it’s quick and sticky so my fear of it coming back out during the workout is quelled. Third of all, it was light enough to satisfy me through the workout, knowing I was going to be eating more right after.

 

 

I’m very thankful that my trainer consistently wrote down the circuits he taught me in each of our sessions so that I could enter them into my Evernote to reference when crafting what I call my “Work-It Circuit.” It helps me create a full-body workout circuit that I can vary up as I choose. On Wednesday I worked mostly on abs and arms, so I put together today’s workout with a good leg and booty workout in mind. I wrote down the circuit on a little slip of paper for reference, because that early in the morning, I can barely remember my own name, much less the workout plan. I generally start my 1 hour gym time with an easy, steady-paced 5 minute warm-up on the elliptical or treadmill to wake up my muscles so that they know we’re about to work hard. Then I work the circuit. I repeat the circuit in order 3 times, which lasts about 20 minutes. After the strength training section, I kick in 20 minutes of cardio. I finish it all up with 5-10 minutes of cool down stretches.

 

Today’s Work-It Circuit: 

[click orange links below for sample video tutorial]

5 minute warm-up on elliptical

Bent Over Row (15 reps with 20 lb. dumbbell)

Plank with Abduction (15 each leg)

Wall Ball Squats with Stability Ball (15 with 25 second hold on last one)

Stair Racing (run up & down flight of stairs for 20 seconds)

Medicine Ball Slams (20 times using 16 lb. ball)

20 Minutes of Cardio: Cycling. (Make sure to keep RPM above 90)

Cool Down Stretches (include IT band massage on foam roller)

I cannot EVEN begin to stress how important it is to stretch after a workout. It’s one of the things that my trainer hammered into my routine and something I had to really work on, but man, it’s so necessary for muscle recovery—and it feels GREAT!

After my workouts, my first order of business is to EAT! It’s important for me to replenish my body at least within 30 minutes after a workout. Much longer than that (1 hr+), and I hit HANGRY mode! It’s good to eat protein and slow-burning healthy carbs after a hard workout so that you can replenish your muscles, which have just been beaten up and are starving for nutrients! Since I knew I was going to be eating on the bus ride-in to work after my workout, I packed my breakfast in a travel Tupperware that had a freezer brick on top to keep it cool and fresh as I worked out. My breakfast was a DELICIOUS combo of Greek yogurt with peanut butter, a banana, and honey! Oh, and my morning coffee OF COURSE! My current morning brew is a Laughing Man Espresso roast that I picked up while I was in New York City. This blend is fair trade, gourmet to the max, sold at a store owned by Hugh Jackman, with all proceeds going to charity, and the flavor is SO ridiculously tasty and smooth that it has kicked my standard Stumptown Hairbender blend out of spot #1 on my brew list. So as I rode in to work, I got to enjoy a healthy, delicious, energizing, refreshing breakfast and after I got in to the office and washed up, I was ready to tackle the day’s workload!

As far as nutrition goes, I opt to “eat clean,” which basically just means that I’m choosing foods that are in their most whole and natural state. There are times I eat processed food out of necessity or convenience (or overwhelming craving), but I do my best to choose the least-processed options. Also, you should know that the following pics of my food is exactly how I actually eat them at work—in a fancy decorated manner so that I feel like I’m eating fancy food—and not just staged to look like that for these posts. It’s kind of a thing for me to make my food “presentable” for myself. I know, I know . . . high maintenance ridiculousness. Moving on . . . my mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks usually happen around the same time. I choose to eat 5 small meals about 3 hours apart from each other, instead of just having a big Breakfast,  Lunch, and Dinner. The smaller meals keep me more energized through the day and are more satisfying, which keeps me from overeating all the other times. It also teaches me portion control. My mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks involve the same foods all week long. Here is my mid-morning snack from this week:

♥ Cucumbers, Apple, and Almonds with Bengal Spice or Green Ginger Tea ♥

I bring my snack up to my desk and nom while I check e-mails and read a couple of blogs and then it’s back to work! Something really cool and beneficial that my boss actually started having us do in the office is taking a mid-afternoon stretch break. We all meet in my office and we take turns leading each other in stretches so that we’re not all just sitting allll day long. It’s actually very fun and energizing!

3 hours later, it’s time for lunch! Having just come back from vacation on a Tuesday and not really needing evening meals, and since I have something going on out of the house every night this week/weekend, I decided to pick up some chicken breasts from the grocery store and utilize a soup mix I bought while I was in Leavenworth. It’s a super tasty Curry Chicken Soup with Brown Rice and Corn. Holy yum, Batman, I wish I had bought more bags of that mix! Since the soup had the rice, veggies, and chicken covered, the only thing I was missing from my meal was fruit. Thank God there was a sale on strawberries at the grocery store this week!

The afternoon carries on and I hammer out more work projects until it’s time for my mid-afternoon snack. Sometimes I’m lucky and my co-workers will leave extra fruit and veggies in our kitchen up for grabs. For instance, this morning, there was a bowl of fresh snap peas from a co-worker’s garden on the counter so I grabbed a couple to snack on as well. Please note my giant water bottle in a lot of the pics above. I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated throughout the day, and water is the way to go! It’s refreshing and helps so much with healthy digestion . . . not to mention, it’s CALORIE-FREE!! 😉

Metropolitan Market Uptown in Lower Queen Anne, Seattle

On tonight’s agenda, I’ll be stopping by Metropolitan Market to grab some soup and salad for dinner before I head out to my friend Kathy’s house to watch the BBC version of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY with her and our fellow Jane Austen-loving friend, Korin! She’s going to have air-popped popcorn for us to snack on during the movie. I’m also bringing baby carrots, pepper slices, tomatoes, some of those snap peas from my co-worker, and picking up some hummus from Metropolitan Market for the party! Who says you have to pig out on cookies, ice cream, and cake every time you get together for a movie night?!? Not I! It’s just not true. 🙂

I would just like to say again that it has taken me many baby steps along the way to develop this lifestyle. A lot of the foods and the way I eat may not appeal to you, and that’s okay. It’s little things here and there—subbing in turkey burgers for beef burgers, or veggies and hummus for potato chips—over time that has helped me in my fit life journey. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s DEFINITELY been worth it to be able to eat REAL food that doesn’t make me sick or leave me feeling like a greasy weight has been dropped on my gut. It is not my heart to condemn you or your eating or exercise habits, or to even force my own on you. This is simply a glimpse into my health habits and I hope they serve as an encouragement that you can change and clean up your nutrition and exercise strategy to help you reach your goals as well.

I hope this post has been helpful to you and I look forward to many more FIT LIFE FRIDAYS with you! If you have any questions for me to answer or topics you want me to cover on FIT LIFE FRIDAYS, please feel free to leave them in the comments . . . or in a Facebook message or tweet. I’d love to help and encourage in any way I can!

Me, Sera, and Heather hanging out with our Saturday morning Boot Camp instructors after a fun & rowdy class time. They’ve so *lovingly* nicknamed us “Team Cupcake” ;-D


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Watch What Happens | My Top 5 Vacation Memories

 

Each day for the past 5 days, my best friend, Sarah, and I have reveled in the adventures awaiting us around every corner! This past weekend held so many incredible memories and pinnacle conversations. I wish I could tell it all in one post, but they are each so precious and unique that they will be getting their own upcoming posts. However, I did want to ride the coattails of the excitement and share with you my TOP 5 memories from my Best Friend Birthday + Half-Birthday Trip!

 

 

Oh, I suppose a little bit of a back story might help. You see, ever since we met (12 years ago), my best friend, Sarah and I have made it a point to spend a quality time trip together. In the past it has meant sharing family holidays and summer vacations together. In recent years, we’ve made it our tradition to meet up every 4th of July weekend to celebrate her Birthday (July 3rd) and my Half-Birthday (November 3rd). Through these vacations, we’ve been able to explore our favorite sites in our favorite cities, have quality heart-to-hearts, and just share some all-around pretty incredible memories together! So this past weekend, I’ve been in Baltimore, MD, spending some much-needed and anticipated quality time with my Bestest Ever Friend on the entire planet, and her family (who have also adopted me into their family)!

It was really tough trying to narrow all the memories down to a Top 5, but I did it and I would love to share those with you!

 

#1 The Newsies Experience

 

This past weekend, her parents REALLY TREATED us like Queens of New York and gave us a gigantic gift—an overnight stay in Times Square (New York City) and front row tickets to see Newsies on Broadway! I got to sit front and center orchestra at NEWSIES and during intermission, the conductor turned around and spent 15 mins. chatting with me & Sarah! He was so excited that we were cheering and singing along to each number and we loved that he did the same thing as he was conducting. Mark (Hummel) was truly down-to-earth and was one of the kindest souls I’ve come across! Unfortunately (and there’s a big story here that I’ll share on another post), not EVERYONE shared our love for cheering and hollering, because we got reprimanded by one of the ushers (mainly for taking photos during the show) and the guy next to us. He was a REAL ‘Mr. Pulitzer!’ But THEN after the standing ovation, Mark, the conductor turned around to the audience and shouted, “This one’s for Amanda!” and led the band in the exit music!! It was a truly EPIC night! ♥ What’s even better is that after the show, the cast members we met and some of the fellow fans in the autograph line called us out and said, “Are you the girls from the front row?!? We LOVED that you two were singing and clapping and cheering along! It was awesome!!” ♥ Getting reprimanded was SO worth it because not only was I still able to (quietly) enjoy the second half of the show, but my face was BEAMING afterward!

 

Please note the silhouette of the conductor’s head . . . that’s how close we were!

#2 Walking Across The Brooklyn Bridge

 

Two years ago, my best friend and I were in New York City and we really wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. However, her husband began to whine and throw a temper tantrum that kept us from making the trek across. Having just divorced her husband, we knew that this trip to New York NEEDED to include a walk across the bridge. It symbolized freedom and victory from a poisonous relationship with a terrible man (and the damage he left in the wake) and the hope for the future awaiting us—both as friends and individuals. It was sweltering hot as we walked across, but we held our heads high and our hearts full of sweet victory when we got to the other end! We even celebrated with some peanut butter goodness at Peanut Butter and Co.!

 

#3 My Beautiful Birthday Knits!!!!

Sarah LOVES to knit! And not only does she love to knit, she apparently loves me enough to handcraft me an entire arsenal of coffee mug sleeves!! (If you could grasp the deep love I have for all things coffee related, you might catch a glimpse of how big a deal these are.) I cannot even begin to express just how IN LOVE I am with these sleeves!! They each have a unique design and chunky buttons to fasten them, and they’re made from gorgeous jewel-toned yarns!!!! The thing that’s even more special is that the buttons that she used are family heirlooms from her grandmother. I not only have gorgeous new knitted gear, but interwoven into them is part of the family that I love so much! Sarah also knitted me some exquisite scarves (which I’m TOTALLY a scarf girl) in my favorite colors! She really out-did herself and I am entirely over-blessed to reap the benefits of her handiwork! Happy Half-Birthday to meeeeee!!

#4 Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been trying to eat one “FISH MEAL” a month. When I booked my flight to Baltimore to spend time with Sarah, I KNEW that I needed to eat my monthly fish meal with her! We decided to venture out to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant down at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore to accomplish this goal. It was my first real foray into shrimp and Sarah had to teach me how to peel the shrimp and how to pull off the tail and all those other messy details. We split a Pear Berry Chicken Salad and a 2/3 lbs. order of shrimp in garlic sauce. The verdict?? I actually REALLY enjoy shrimp! I’d definitely eat it again. Although, I might opt for dipping it in the low-sodium Old Bay seasoning. The regular one we used was just way too salty for my liking. Overall, the salad, the shrimp, and the entire experience was amazing and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

 

#5 Family Sing-A-Long Time

I am a firm believer that every household should be filled with the beauty of music. Whether that means playing your iPod while cooking, singing along while cleaning, playing guitar when friends come over, or what have you—let the good music times roll! It was such a treat to have Ms. Shelley lead us all in a bunch of Disney Classics and Show-tunes . . . and even a rousing round of DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS . . . as we all sang along to her beautiful piano playing! I only hope to one day carry that tradition into my own family!  

As I said before, the memories from this past weekend’s adventures are FAR TOO NUMEROUS to detail here, but these are the tops! Spending this past weekend with my East Coast family was just what I needed at this time in my life and I wish I could relive it over and over and over again! I’m already looking forward to next year!

As a side note, I would highly encourage you to save up and plan a fun trip like this with your best friend. Whether they are in your home town and you two just go on an out-of town excursion for the weekend or if they’re far away and you fly to see each other—DO IT! It enhances your life and the memories are priceless!

If I could sum up our friendship in one picture . . .


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Bring Me To Life [Part 2]

 

My expression reflected equal parts unease, bewilderment, and a bit of “Oh you gotta be kidding me.” as my trainer picked up the jump rope from the ground and handed it to me. What in the wide world was I supposed to do with THIS?!? I hadn’t jumped rope since I was in Elementary School, though what was to follow might convince you that I’d come from an aboriginal tribe that had never seen or heard of a jump rope at all. This foreign object, now in my hand, revealed what I had tried to keep hidden from the majority of the outside world . . .

 

 

I am a full-grown spaz.

 

 

What followed was flailing arms, double bunny hops, and a repertoire of “Doh” and choice phrases of frustration on the spin cycle of my mind. What. Was. Happening. Right now? My trainer stopped me, showed me the proper form, and we laughed as I flailed and stopped, flailed and stopped, finally completing the jump rope portion of the circuit. I had yet to get all the hand-eye coordination down, but I was determined to overcome that stupid thin piece of plastic. I had risen to bigger challenges on this fitness journey and I wasn’t about to let the jump rope get the best of me! As we finished up the rest of the circuit and headed to the check-out desk, he picked up the jump rope, wrapped it up and gently shook it in front of me. “You know, this would be a great fitness goal for you for this next month.” Considering that I still  hadn’t figured out what that was going to be, the answer was easy peasy—June would entail a Jump Rope Challenge! I sat in bed that night Googling “Jump Rope Fitness Challenge” and after dismissing half a dozen challenges that seemed WAY out of my league, I finally settled on what seemed like a good challenge for a beginner like me. The CrossFit Jump Rope Fitness Challenge! I’m still have not even come close to understanding the CrossFit lingo, but once I got past the fact that they just use fancy words to describe simple exercises, I felt like I was ready to take on my nemesis—The Single Under! The first few weeks was pretty ridiculous. I had to keep repeating to myself what the proper form was so that I could get it ingrained in my brain as I continued to flail and stop, flail and stop. I worked on the jump rope challenge 5 days a week, and each Sunday, I would just spend 20 minutes doing nothing but jumping rope to keep developing the habit and train my body to do the exercise properly. By the middle of week 3, I started to lose hope because I could only make it to 30 revolutions before I tripped up and had to start over. How in the world would I EVER get to 100 unbroken revolutions???? But come Saturday, June 31st, I stepped into the gym with the jump rope in tow ready to just go for it. It took me a hot minute to develop my rhythm, but I was finally able to dig deep enough to build the momentum to make each jump happen, with proper form and upon hitting 100 unbroken revolutions, I dropped the jump rope on the ground, looked at it and said, “TAKE THAT!!”

 

 

I had done it! I had met my fitness goal!

 

 

One of the first things my trainer taught me was to set challenging but attainable monthly goals for FITNESS (inside of the gym), LIFESTYLE (outside of the gym), and NUMBERS (just what it sounds like, pertaining to weight/waist-size/BMI/Body Fat %, etc.) Here’s what my June goals looked like:

 

FITNESS: Complete 100 Unbroken “Single Unders” using the CrossFit Jump Rope Challenge

LIFESTYLE: Get at least 6 hours of sleep each night

NUMBERS: Reach healthy goal weight of 165 lbs.

 

These past few weeks had been severely brutal on my sleep pattern and I though I had set my alarm to accommodate 6 hours of sleep each night, my body would automatically wake up 2 hours before my alarm and try as I might, I could NOT go back to bed. I would wake up, brain flooded with thoughts and ideas, anxious to get up and do stuff. So for 2 weeks straight, I had been running on 4 hours of sleep, all the while pulling early morning work hours and late night social events. I knew I had failed to reach that goal. So you can imagine my excitement when I finally reached my Fitness goal AND my Numbers goal! I will say that for the past 2 days, I’ve gotten 5 and 6 hours of sleep, respectively, so I have hope that my sleep patterns will get back on track soon.

As a side note, if you are just starting out a fitness journey or if you’re in a rut and need a jump-start, do yourself a favor and set some GOALS!!! It just may be the thing that motivates you to get the work done instead of letting excuses and emotions get the best of you. Write them down—I store mine in my Fit Life notebook on my EVERNOTE—and look at them daily. When you get to the gym or turn on that workout DVD, repeat those goals to yourself, do the work and leave all the frustration and excuses on the gym floor/living room carpet. If you know you’re not so good at motivating yourself to reach goals, ask one close friend to keep you accountable and ask you each week: HOW ARE YOU DOING WITH MEETING YOUR GOALS? And be honest! Do this for you!

 

 

I’ve been able to DISCOVER so much about myself since the beginning of this year and setting monthly goals has been a huge part of that. Some things I’ve learned:

1. I am TOTALLY goal-driven

2. I am a sucker for a good challenge!

3. I suck at celebrating my personal victories. It’s true. I just do. 

 

I can celebrate so many things—birthdays, engagements, weddings, friends’ accomplishments, etc. However, when it comes to myself, I tend to meet (or not meet) the goal and quickly set a new goal, passing up the moment to savor the victory. Thankfully, my friends work hard to help me out in that area and I have the faith and hope to believe that in time, I will learn to be kinder to myself and celebrate my victories in a proper way. As for Saturday’s victories, my best friend, Heather, made sure to teach me how to celebrate the victory properly! I smiled in unease, still not believing I had ACTUALLY reached my goals, as she congratulated and encouraged me and I finally decided to surrender to her tutelage, let go, and just take in all the pomp and circumstance she was about to shower me with. But first, I had one more goal to meet . . . and it was one I was NOT looking forward to!

 

My 2012 Fish Meal Challenge!

 

Since January, I have set a goal to incorporate more healthy food choices into my diet for the entire year. One of the more healthy foods is one I just happen to despise—FISH! So one of my other  goals is to incorporate ONE fish meal into each month. So far I’ve tried salmon, ahi tuna, and cod . . . none of which have changed my dislike for fish, but have provided me with a healthier protein option. So after the gym, Heather and I headed downtown to Pike Place Chowder to get some fish. I ordered the Cod Fish Taco. I gotta say—I’m not a fan. It was really bland and not even the slaw helped to enhance the flavor for me . . . but I got the fish meal in and had completed all my challenges for June, so I felt pretty good after that!

 

Then we moved on to the REAL celebration . . . 

 

Cupcakes at my FAVORITE shop—CUPCAKE ROYALE!!!

 

I know what you’re probably thinking:

 

Amanda, didn’t you JUST reach your goal weight??? Why are you trashing your diet soooo soon! You’re gonna ruin it all!

Considering that I hadn’t had a cupcake from Cupcake Royale in many, many, many months, and I had just hit a major landmark for myself, I had no guilt as I used this for my weekly splurge. I ate clean all week and knew that if I met my goal weight, Heather had promised to buy me a cupcake and coffee from CR. So I passed on offers of sweets all week, knowing that Saturday would be the last day that CR would have their Rhubarb Crisp cupcake as their Cupcake of the Month. Though I try not to reward myself with food, this was my exception . . . and a GLORIOUS exception it was!

I mean, c’mon, just LOOK at this lineup! Every single one of those flavors is AMAZEBALLS!!!

Now, please bear in mind, that even when eating healthy, it is more than okay to have a splurge meal from time to time—it’s all about balance and moderation. I usually plan for at least one splurge meal a week. And what made it even easier to enjoy was knowing that Cupcake Royale has Baby Cakes, so it’s not a whole cupcake, just a smaller sample version. So I got to enjoy the sweetness, while still maintaining self-control over the Sweet Tooth Monster that lives inside me. Plus, if you can believe it, being a clean eater has made it so that when I do eat a LOT of sweets (ie: a whole cupcake) my stomach hurts from the sugar overload and sometimes if it’s a large amount of sweets/sugars, I get nauseous. My body is just not used to all the processed foods & sugars anymore so it always catches me off guard. It helps me keep things in moderation, though, so that’s a plus!

Heather also bought me a non-fat latte, which I hadn’t had in months either! I’ve gotten so accustomed to the yumminess of a pure drip coffee with honey in it that I haven’t bought a latte in what feels like forever. So in reality, my BIG treat was the latte . . . STUMPTOWN COFFEE rules ALLLL things!

 

Once we downed our cuppy cakes and coffee, we carried on our gab session outside as Heather painted my fingernails my favorite shade, using my favorite brand of polish—Essie!

 

Heather always does such an incredible job with my nails and I felt like I seriously got the royal treatment!

Cuppy Cake and Coffee time totally hit the celebratory spot! Thanks for being the best wing-girl ever, Heather J.!

 

Another part of the celebration involved participating in one of my 2 favorite shopping sales of the year . . .

 

The OLD NAVY $1 Flip Flop Sale! (My 2nd fave is their $1 scarf sale)

 

I was able to score some new bright flippy floppers for the upcoming Summer (which I’m sure will come sometime soon . . . please???) months and I got some new clothes as well!

 

Our Awesome Westside Softball Team!

 

After our lunch + cuppy cake + shopping spree, we quickly headed up to Crown Hill to get ready for our Softball Tournament. Heather and I both alternate as catcher for our church’s softball team. I hadn’t been able to play in the past couple of games because my poor sliced-up finger was still really tender and in the final healing stages. But now that it’s almost all healed up, I was able to play!

 

We didn’t win our game, so we were out of the tournament, but I still had so much fun getting back out on the field and cheering my team on from home plate instead of just the bench!

 

After the game, we all headed over to Snoose Junction for a great big PIZZA PARTY!! Since I had already had my splurge meal and wasn’t really craving pizza, I went with the Chicken and Goat Cheese Spinach Salad. It was DELICIOUS!!! It was so fresh and filling, and tasted even better with the coffee + honey I had ordered to go with it. 😉 I had such a wonderful time celebrating good times with my teammates/friends that I just didn’t want the party to end (story of my life)!

 

Heather J., Steph, Me + little Isaiah!

 

Alas, all good things must come to an end . . . or a pause at least . . . and Heather drove me home. Now, since she is just oozing with Awesome Sauce, Heather didn’t just drop me off and say, “See ya later, skater!” She took more time as we sat in her car outside of my house to celebrate my victory with me, encourage me, and challenge me to keep it up. She also sent me home with some beautiful treasures:

 

Stumptown Coffee grounds and some quinoa!
(2 of my faves!) 

Perfect treats for such a wonderful day of victory!

 

While I’m still learning to take time out to truly celebrate my victories, I can rest easy knowing that I’m not alone in this and that my friends won’t let me fail as I continue this journey of DISCOVERY. Here’s to a new month of new challenges and the victories to celebrate!!

 

JULY GOALS:

FITNESS: The 300 Ultimate Ab and Core Challenge

LIFESTYLE: Enjoy 4 hours of personal down-time each week (non-social interaction)*

NUMBERS: Maintain Healthy Weight Goal + Lose 1 % BF

 

 

 

* I know this one seems like a silly goal, but trust me, this might jut be the hardest one to master for me! :O