Thursday, August 28, 2014

Things I Love Thursday August 28


post is going to be short.  I've been running around so much I haven't had time to full appreciate things this week.

Faking the Stepmill
If you don't know what a Stepmill is, it's the machine that looks like a revolving set of stairs.  Even though they are gaining popularity, not every gym has one yet.  I have figured out how to fake one.  Planet Fitness has the Cybex ArcTrainer.  If you set the stride to 20 {climb}, and the resistance to 100 you get the same effect as you would climbing stairs.

Have you entered my giveaway for a $50 Earth Fare giftcard??  Click HERE to enter.  

Pep Talks From My Husband
Sunday I had a mini breakdown.  Mentally I was ready to quit, give up, walk away and never look back.  But, luckily Ken knows exactly what to say to me to make things better.  

Did you find anything new that you love this week?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Earth Fare Jacksonville

As I've mentioned before, I love grocery stores.  I love wandering around looking at all the products.  Every time I visit a new city I always check out the local supermarket.  You can tell alot about an area by what you find in the store.  

A few weeks ago I was offered a private tour of the new Earth Fare before it opened.  Of course I jumped at the chance.  Earth Fare is a great store.  Their vision is to be "the most trusted organic and natural food market in the country - a place where healthy decisions are easy, people have confidence in the food they buy and everyone feels welcome."  I love that vision!

At Earth Fare they have a few rules.  No, not your typical "No shirt, no shoes, no service" type rules.  They have food rules.  

All of the food that you find at Earth Fare never contains:

  • Antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones
  • Artificial fats or trans-fats
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial preservatives
  • Bleached or bromated flour
  • Artificial colors or flavors
Let me take you on a little tour of the store.

Gorgeous fresh vegetables and fruits.  Everything is seasonal and as they become available you will be able to find locally grown fruits and veggies.  {Local is considered within 100 miles of Jacksonville.}

 They have an amazing bulk section.  Granola, seeds, nuts, oatmeal, grind your own peanut butter and even syrup, honey and agave dispensers.  If you'd like to bring in your own container to fill up you can do that.  I'm definitely going back to fill up on oatmeal.  

 {Across from the bulk section was the peanut butter aisle.  They must have had 10 different types of peanut butter and it was driving me crazy!  75 days until I have my pick of peanut butters!}

Sunny didn't have school the day of our tour and she was really excited when she got to try some of the bulk candy.  All the candy has no artificial dyes.  She tried all natural candy coated chocolate candies and some gummy candies.  The chocolate candy is dyed using fruits and vegetables.  

I thought it was awesome that if you want to try something before you buy it, ask an associate.  They will open a package for you and try it with you.  If you decide to buy it they'll give you a fresh pack.  

Beyond the bulk section is the health and wellness department.  They have everything you could imagine.  The employees are very knowledgeable.  If you have any issue, or ailment talk to them.  They can probably find something to help you.  They also have a big section of baby things.  Lotions, soaps, creams, baby food, wipes, etc.  My favorite was the bulk bath salts.  My muscles need the muscle soak!  They had 6 or 7 different types to choose from.  Muscle soaks, relaxing soaks, and they all smelled amazing.

Most of us don't put much thought into what type of makeup we buy.  Did you know that most makeup contains gluten and/or animal products?  Vegans and people with a gluten intolerance or Celiac don't have the luxury of buying makeup from any CVS or Walmart.  Earth Fare carries a full line of Vegan, cruelty-free makeup and also a line of gluten free makeup.

The Meat & Seafood Department was huge!  The prices weren't bad either.  I know that some specialty stores have horribly expensive meat and seafood.  These prices seemed about as low as Publix.

The freezer section was huge.  It carried all the standard type items; ice cream, veggies, pizza, etc.  I was excited because they carry unique vegetable blends {green beans and broccoli get boring, right?}, frozen roasted sweet potatoes, and frozen quinoa.  They also carry a huge variety of veggie burgers, many that don't contain soy.

I thought this was awesome.  A scoop your own ravioli bar.  This is only available at Earth Fare!  This house LOVES ravioli

Bulk, grind your own coffee.

They also have an olive bar, a full bakery, huge gourmet cheese department, sushi counter, a salad bar, and a hot foods bar.  I cannot wait to go back for dinner!  

They have great deals going on in the prepared food section.

Tuesday -- Real Meals
Every Tuesday in the prepared food section they have great home-cooked meals.  According to the website right now it's pot roast, carrots and potatoes.

Wednesday -- $5 Sushi
On Wednesdays the sushi is only 5 bucks!  You can't even get gas station sushi for that price!  They have a wide variety of sushi.  They also have vegan and gluten-free sushi.  All hand-made, fresh, in the store.

Thursday -- Family Dinner Night

Family Dinner Night is a great thing!  Every Thursday from 4:00-8:00 pm you can get up to 6 kids meals free with the purchase of 1 adult meal ($5 minimum purchase).  They have great bikini approved options for mom (and dad) and healthy options for the kids

You need to get down to Earth Fare!  It's located at 11901 Atlantic Blvd.  on the corner of Atlantic and Kernan, next to Academy Sports & Outdoors.  Not in the Jacksonville area?  That's okay!  Earth Fare has over 30 locations in 9 states.  Click HERE to find one near you!

Want to win a $50 gift card to try some of the great things Earth Fare offers?  I'm giving away a $50 gift card to 1 lucky person!

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's Gonna Be A While.

Get ready to sit for a bit because this is going to be a bit long.  I have so much to tell you!  

Today is the 22nd.  That means that it's Recipe Redux day!  Recipe Redux is focused on taking delicious dishes, keeping them delicious, but making them better for you.  Every month there is a different theme.  This month's theme is 

Bars & Bites for Brown Bags
Whether you pack your lunch in a bento box, a brown bag or a retro cartoon character lunch box, don’t forget the bars and bites. Small squares or round bites can pack nutrition into a sweet or savory taste. Show us your favorite way to jazz up any type of lunch box.

With 3 kids that take their lunch every day, a husband who likes to snack and me, who wants to occasionally be able to feel like she's eating like a "normal person", I love finding healthy snack ideas.  Store bought chips don't last very long, they aren't healthy and they are so darn expensive.  I love to find alternatives to potato chips.  I've made apple chips, acorn squash chips, and banana chips before and everyone loved them.  I wanted to try to tackle a different, cheap vegetable.  Right now, zucchini is about $1.80 a pound.  So, why not make triple the chips for the cost of 1 bag of potato chips?  

This recipe is one that I call "Stupid Simple".  There's nothing to it and anyone can make it.  

Zucchini Chips
2 T olive oil (alternate:  Pan spray)
herbs and spices (Possible options: garlic, onion, cumin,chili powder, cayenne)


  1. Preheat oven to 225
  2. Slice zucchini fairly thin (I used my mandolin)
  3. Toss zucchini slices with the olive oil and place on a greased baking sheet.  (Option 2: grease baking sheet then spray the slices with pan spray)
  4. Option 1) Bake for 2-2.5 hours until they are crispy
  5. Option 2) Spread them out evenly on the trays of your dehydrator and let them dry for about 12 hours, until they are nice and crispy
You can also soak the squash chips in equals parts vinegar and water (about 1 cup of each per large zucchini) then bake/dehydrate them.  This will turn it into a salt and vinegar chip.  For a sweet chip, sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.

Hope you enjoy these!  I know the girls do.  

The title of my post refers to more than just the length of this post.  It also is referring to the fact that I have decided to push the date of my first competition back.  There are a few areas that are not tightening up as quickly as I want them to be and my coach and I decided it would be better to give myself more time.  Honestly though, if these problem areas don't tighten up I'm not competing at all.  The new date of my competition is November 15.  That means I have added 6 extra weeks to my training.  I'm not happy about it.  Mostly because of the fact I feel like I have had my eating restricted FOREVER.  I was really looking forward to being able to eat normally again.  I'm tired of fish and veggies.  REALLY tired of it.  I've been training since March and had my diet restricted since May.  But, I will get through it.  

Same as always.  My new plan started and I have 2 days when I'm allowed no complex carbs and that was rough.  

I'm so sore today from pushing myself all week.  I switched my off day from Wednesday to Tuesday because Sunny didn't start school until Wednesday and I had her all day.  Next week I'll be able to take my rest days properly and I hopefully won't be as sore.

Pardon the crappy pictures.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Things I Love Supplement Edition

School and after-school activities started on Monday.  I had a few posts planned but, due to the fact that I've been running around like crazy, you will be getting them soon.

I ordered a few things from Vitamin Shoppe and  I fell in love with everything I ordered.  Seriously, it was like Christmas in August.  So I wanted to share them with you for Things I Love Thursday

Dymatize Birthday Cake Protein Powder
Oh.My.God.  This stuff is AMAZING!  The last time I could actually eat real cake was in 2011.  U gave seen people on Facebook and Instagram talk about various brands of cake flavored proetien poders but none of them were fat free or low carb.  Luckily I found this on Vitamin Shoppe's website.  It really tastes like yellow cake batetr!  There is a slightly weird aftertaste but, it not too bad.  I definately suggest that next time you need protein powder order a container of this!  

Scivation Xtend Raspberry Blue and Pink Lemonade

These taste like Kool-aid or MiO.  They give a boost to your workouts and help build muscles.

Earth Fare

On Monday Sunny and I were invited to a private tour of the new Earth Fare that opened yesterday in Jacksonville.  This place is amazing!  I can't wait to go back and actually shop.  In a few days I'll be posting my review and I'm hosting a giveaway for a $50 giftcard.

Share something you love with me!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Progress Update August 15

This week has been super rainy and the girls and I have only been able to get to the beach 1 day this week.  For us, that is unheard of!  It looks like the next 10 days are going to be just the same.

 But, thanks to the rain, I can officially say that school shopping is done!  On a different note, I got my new plan this morning and the next 4 weeks are going to be killer!

Basically on point.  Saturday's cheat was EPIC!  We did homemade pizza nite.  I have never been happier with a cheat meal!  My body craves complex carbs.  Bread, pasta, potatoes, and things like that don't upset my stomach, don't make me feel like I want to quit and they make me happy.  I plan on doing pizza nite every Saturday until I'm no longer allowed a cheat meal.  2 nites this week I made "bikini friendly" dinners.  I actually got to eat the same thing as the family.  We had flounder wednesday and bibimbap (a Korean rice and vegetable dish) on Thursday.  It felt nice to be a part of the family. 

I pushed myself harder this week than I have any other week.  I feel like I'm falling behind and I gotta step up my game.  For some reason there's been a painful pinching in my left hip which has causd me to not be able to do my wind sprints.  I've replaced them with bike sprints.  

I've got some really great posts planned for next week PLUS a giveaway!  So make sure to check back in.  

When do your kids go back to school?  Are you prepared?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Things I Love Thursday August 14 People Edition

This installment of 

is dedicated to Robin Williams.  His death is the first actor's that really hit me.  It made me think of all the other public figures I love.

Credit:  Facebook and Emily Stepp

Robin Williams
Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Dead Poets Society, the list of great movies goes on and on!  Even Kaylee's heart sank a little when she found out that Genie and Alan (Williams' character in Jumanji) died.  He was an amazing actor and his genius will be missed.

Credit:  Facebook

Andreia Brazier
My fitness inspiration.  I hope to look like this eventually.  


Jillian Michaels
Love her.  She is part of the reason I am now addicted to Biggest Loser.  {I watch every episode of every season.  It's honestly one of my favorite shows.}  She honestly seems like the type of person I would want as a fitness friend and I'd LOVE her to be my trainer {I need that push to get me through my workouts}

There are so many more people I love.  Most of them aren't fitness related so I didn't include them but, they are:  Bettie White, Dick Van Dyke {I will be sobbing when he passes}, Mary Tyler Moore, The Undertaker {my second husband}, just to name a few.

What public figures do you love?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not Another One!

On Mondays I like to give y'all a new recipe.  I do this to show people that when you are training there is no need to live off of boring plain veggies and protein.  Unfortunately this week every single recipe I wanted to blog about failed.  None of them were blog-worthy.  

So, I'm bringing you an oatmeal recipe.  {I know you're probably sick of my oatmeal recipes but, I didn't want it to come to this either!}  This recipe is quick and simple.  Its' a "set it and forget it" type of recipe.  


Warm Chia Overnight Oats
Fat: 10 g
Carbs: 32.8 g
Fiber: 9.8 g
Sugar: 1.0 g
Protein: 9 g

1 T chia seeds
1 serving quick cooking oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
dash cinnamon (optional)


  1. Stir everything together, cover and refrigerate overnight.  
  2. Heat in microwave for 1-2 minutes until warm.  You can also eat them cold if you'd like
It's very thick so add a few splashes of almond milk to thin it out if you like your oatmeal thinner.

Friday, August 8, 2014

8 Weeks Left!

Another week down!  As of tomorrow I'll be 8 weeks out!  Where has the time gone?!?  The next 8 weeks are going to fly by.  I have to order shoes, make beauty appointments, buy jewelry, so many thing!  But, my bikini color has been decided.  I'm super excited about it.  I told the girls that they could choose the color and I was very surprised that there wasn't a huge argument over it.  

You know what else is coming up quick?  The end of summer and the girls going back to school.  They go back in 10 days.  Even though it's sad that Sunny is starting Kindergarten {my baby is no longer a baby!}  I'm happy that I will be able to go back to my old gym schedule and not have to watch the clock or miss out of the girls' activities.  


Except for adding chia seeds to my diet {see my post HERE} things have gone back to normal.  I'm really excited about tomorrow.  Pizza cheat meal!  You know you have the perfect cheat meal planned when you're counting down the days.  "___ dinners till pizza!" has been my current random exclamation.  

With the exception of Monday and Tuesday I have been doing my workouts at home.  Don't worry though, I have all the equipment at home to do 95% of my workouts.  {I actually have to hit the gym for about 15 minutes tonite just for a few exercises I can't do here}.  I honestly haven't been able to will myself out the door at 6 am and since the girls have been gone for 3 weeks I haven't wanted to miss out on thier activities.  

I get a new plan on Tuesday and I'm really excited to see what kind of changes are going to be made for the next 4 weeks.  I know that starting today I'm cutting out all soda and really cracking down on my sodium intake.  I'm a bit of a hot sauce junkie and most hot sauces have really high sodium.  

Since I'm thinking ahead.  I know that in 8 weeks I will no longer be focusing 100% of my attention on prepping for this competition.  That means my blog can focus on health and nutrition, diet and exercise in more broader terms.  Is there any subject you would like more info on or more content you'd like to see?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Things I Love Thursday August 8th

Wow!  This week has been busy!  Since we got home from South Carolina on Sunday our days have been packed with stuff!  Mo went back to cheer 3 days a week, I did all the back to school supply shopping {$200, not including clothes!}, and I registered Sunny for dance.  We still need to shop for uniforms, school shoes and I have to get Sunny new dance stuff before the 18th.  

I have made a million shopping lists and a bunch of to-do lists recently.  My memory is so bad!  If I was to rely on it I'd forget almost everything.  I make a monthly menu so I don't forget what we're going to eat each week, I have a calendar with all my blog post topics for the month, it's crazy!  The one thing I never forget is.... 

But I do have to admit, sometimes I'll say "this will be great for my Things I Love Thursday post!" but, if I don't write it down I will end up blanking when I actually write my post.

Real Food
Remember on Friday I talked about how I was living on protein shakes because my stomach would get extremely nauseous if I ate anything else?  Well, I'm happy to say that it was all fixed on Sunday.  On the drive home I got a salad from Subway {before then my stomach would start turning at the thought of a salad}, and I've been able to eat normal since then {well, as normal as a bikini prep diet will let me LOL}

I've traveled to Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina the past few years and every time I leave Florida I come back with a deeper appreciation for it.

Chia Seeds
I bought some yesterday in order to add some fat to my diet.  {You need to eat fat to build muscle.}  They are really good.  They taste alot like poppy seeds and they are very versitile.  You can use them as an egg substitute, use them in desserts and in savory dishes.  One serving is 3 tablespoons (that's alot!) and it has 12 grams of fat (most of which are heart healthy), 12 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.  If you soak 3 tablespoons of them in liquid they will expand to almost 3/4 cups!  There are other reasons to eat them.

  1. They are high in antioxidents
  2. Most of the carbs in them are fiber
  3. They are high in quality protein
  4. They are high in Omega-3s
  5. They can lower the risk of heart disease
  6. They can help you lose weight\
  7. Lower the risk of diabetes and can help with diabetes symptoms
You should seriously get some to try!  

Okay, I've told you the things I love this week.  Have you found anything that you really love this week?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Never Thought I'd Be Called This!

I am so honored to be nominated by Farrah from FairyBurger for the Very Inspirational Blogger Award.  When I first started this blog I did it so I would have a place to write down my ideas and thoughts.  I also did it to journal my progress.

So here's the deal.  The rules are: Thank and link to the person who nominated you.  List the rules.  Share seven facts about yourself and nominate 15 other blogs you enjoy, then comment on their posts to let them know you have nominated them.

So, 7 facts about me.

  1. I'm a breakfast junkie -- I could eat breakfast items for every meal.  I never get tired of them.  There are so many options!
  2. I've lived in the same city for 4 years and I have no friends -- The only local friends I have are Ken and the kids.
  3. Sometimes I feel scrawny -- Weird, huh?  Occasionally I  look at myself in the mirror and I feel like I look twiggy.  
  4. I'm an overplanner -- My vacation is planned by Christmas, I do a monthly menu every month, and I'm trying to plan out my 2015 competition schedule, among other things.  
  5. My dream house is in the middle of nowhere -- I want to buy a house on a huge piece of land and have a small farm.  
  6. My dream job is to be a puppeteer -- I would LOVE to be on Sesame Street.  I've wanted to do this since I was a kid.  I also want to be an architect and own an ice cream shop.
  7.  I used to be a professional photographer -- Yep.  Can't tell from the photos I post now but, I used to do weddings and food photography.  Food and nature photography are still passions of mine, my professional camera is just being wonky.
Some samples of my past work:

So, I'm supposed to nominate 15 people.  But honestly, Farrah nominated all of my possibilities!  So, I'll open it up to y'all.  Tell me 7 things about yourself. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Rules For a Cheat Meal

So serious!  This is me

Over the past couple months I've learned a few things about cheat meals.  

What is a cheat meal?

"cheat meal n. By setting aside one day a week to eat junk food or whatever you want you take control of your cravings and eat on your terms. This is often referred to as a cheat meal” because you are deliberately cheating on you diet. This is a method of rewarding yourself for eating well during the rest of the week and provides a much needed psychological boost."

Another definition is:
"The ‘cheat meal’ is a meal where foods not normally part of your diet are consumed in quantities that would exceed your normal caloric meal intake at a time. A modest cheat meal can be of benefit for some – but should not be a blatant excuse for a food binge. Cheat meals are appropriate when you are in a mass gaining phase. Used weekly, or once a fortnight, cheat meals can be employed as part of your mass gaining strategy, as long as this fits with your training aims. As a general rule, the leaner you are, the more frequently you can cheat, considering the above guidelines. A cheat meal is also an important psychological strategy to ensure that cravings experienced during times of strict dieting can be met but not compromise your entire food plan."

I have a cheat meal built in to my meal plan on Saturdays.  Until I was allowed a cheat meal did I realize the contemplation that went into it.  There are SO MANY options!  Which one do you choose???  Well, the past few weeks I think I have overdone mine.  I've ended up so sick.  I've realized I need to rethink my cheating.  

Cheating has some rules and guidelines.  You seriously don't want to go into a cheat meal with no plan.  That just leads to stomachaches and diet destruction.  {I actually read somewhere that eating sauerkraut will help you from getting an upset stomach}  

  1. Plan your cheat meal.  Decide exactly what your cheat is going to be.  Pizza?  Fajitas?  Macaroni and cheese?
  2. Eat your cheat at the end of the day.  My cheat is always the meal I eat with my family.  This is normally meal 4 or 5.  
  3. Don't plan your cheat meal for the same day as your rest day.  This is just a bad thing.  Your cheat meal needs to be on a day when you burn some calories
  4. Don't skip other meals.  Your cheat meal should be in addition to your normal diet not as a replacement.
  5. It should only last 1 meal.  Don't make it an all day thing!
  6. Don't feel guilty.  This is good for your body.  It will actually help boost your metabolism and keep your body fueled. 
  7. Focus on complex carbs.  I have found that my body responds best when I cheat with complex carbs.  Bread, tortillas, sweet poatoes, things like this.  

Do you have a cheat meal?  What's your go-to cheat meal or do you just eat whatever you feel like?

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1st Progress

Happy August everybody!  And happy Friday!  As of today it's been 18 days since I've seen my girls.  I miss them so much!  This is the longest I've been away from them ever and last Saturday it really started to take a toll on me.  Since then I've been nauseous, barely wanting to eat, my stomach turns at the thought of raw vegetables or protein, and I have seriously been craving bread.  After typing up all my symptoms I know what y'all are going to think and NO! I'm not pregnant.

Some of the physical symptoms of depression are:
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Digestive problems (nausea)
  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Sleeping problems
  • Change in appetite (carb cravings)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

Most people crave their carbs in the way of cookies and cake.  But, since I've been fat free for over 2 years and haven't been able to eat them my carb craving is bread. 

But, I've basically holed myself up in the house all week except to goto the gym and run some errands.  Luckily I get to see my girls in under 36 hours.  We leave for South Carolina in the morning!  {We figured the easiest way to make the switch was at the halfway point between my parents and I.  That way no one has to make the 12 hour drive}

Horrible!  Besides my morning oatmeal and other scheduled complex carbs I've been living off of protein shakes, green beans and spinach {both cooked.}  In order to curb my cravings {they were so bad that all I could think about all day was was like I imagine a crack addict feels like}, I have allowed myself a low-carb whole wheat tortilla with PB2 each nite, which is TOTALLY NOT on my plan.  

You might wanna call the cops because I've KILLED each of my workouts this week.  After seeing my back progression from the past 2 weeks I've fallen in love with back day.  Back day and leg day are my 2 favorite days.  Since I've been adding my tortilla at nite I've also started adding extra cardio time.  {Note:  In general, it's not healthy to believe that you can eat whatever you want and then just workout extra hard the next day.}  

So, last weekend I went to the competition to check out who I might be competing against in October.  Going to the show gave me a boost of confidence in myself.  There weren't many competitors.  I think the bikini division had like 4.  

Please pardon the horrible pictures.  My camera did NOT like the lighting at all.  But, you see the guy in the yellow shorts?  Ken was amazed with this guy because he made posing look effortless.  Every other guy seemed to be working and straining to pose correctly.   This guy?  Just like a model, no effort required. I really hope my posing looks as easy as his does.

It's kind of sad that there's no link up this month with Jen at  But, Farrah from FairyBurger has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  I'm so honored that someone finds me inspirational!  Watch for this post on Sunday.

Oh wait!  Progress pictures.  I'm so off today.  I almost left without posting them.  I'm not as impressed with my changes as I thought I would be.  Is it weird that I try not to really look at my muscles in the mirror until Fridays?  I kind of want to be surprised with how I've changed.  

How do your emotions affect you?