Monday, November 17, 2014

Flop: Lovers at the Chameleon Club by Francine Prose

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book - I loved the idea of exploring Paris in the 30's and alternative lifestyles. But sadly, I found this story to be disjointed, confusing, and written in too many voices. It jumped around too much, and the only story I was actually interested in was not in the text often enough to keep my attention. It just wasn't my style.

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Recommended Read - Where did all the fat go? by Rob Huizenga

Where Did All the Fat Go?: The WOW! Prescription to Reach Your Ideal Weight- And Stay ThereWhere Did All the Fat Go?: The WOW! Prescription to Reach Your Ideal Weight- And Stay There by Rob Huizenga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had the privilege of working with two of the contestants from The Biggest Loser Season 3, and at their health club they utilize this book for some of their clients to help them with their weight loss journeys. I finally got a chance to read it - and it was overall a great book! I finally understood more of what they teach and why they teach it, and loved reading about the research Dr. H did while Biggest Loser was still in its early stages. It did get a little jargon-y here and there, but it was still overall clear.

That being said, I'd be interested to see if this data still holds true now that there have been many more seasons. I haven't seen any followups published that can confirm what Dr. H was finding.

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Recommended Read - 50 Children by Steven Pressman

50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany by Steven Pressman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

See the war through a completely different lens by reading this great book! This book is a journey into the rescue of 50 children from Nazi rule shortly before it became more common to send all Jews to concentration camps.
I've read many accounts of the war and the Holocaust, but never from this perspective and had never known that there was a time at the beginning where Nazis were allowing Jews to leave the country - though with enough restrictions and difficulties that it was still nearly impossible to do so.
I loved reading about how the children fared in America at the end as well!
Great book!

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Flop - A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor

Sorta Recommended Read - Satchel & Sword I: The Search for the Saluka Stone by Claudette Marco

Satchel & Sword I: The Search for the Saluka StoneSatchel & Sword I: The Search for the Saluka Stone by Claudette Marco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had the pleasure of running into this author at a comic con, and always like to support indie authors at those events so I grabbed a copy of the book! I love the overall theme of the book following Amazon warriors and involving trickery and magic and all things awesome.

That being said, sadly there was one thing that really made this book tedious - the horrible poetic writing! The phrasing was forced and unnatural, making reading difficult even for someone like myself who reads somewhere around 100+ books per year! If the language was re-written so that the story had a natural flow, it would be a much much better book.

Final thoughts - great underlying story, but it's hidden under unnecessary and annoying verbiage. I'm not sure I'd have the energy to devote to another book in this series despite how much I enjoy the characters!

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Recommended Read - Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Cress by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have loved this series so far, and eagerly anticipated this next installment - and for the most part, it lived up to my expectations! The action and pace were fantastic, and we get to know Cinder, Iko, Kaito, and the Dr quite a bit better. However, Cress as a character is ... well... annoying, for lack of a better term, and neither Scarlet nor Wolf had enough character development in my opinion.

That being said, I can't wait for Winter to come out and see how things end!!!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Recommended Read - Little Known Facts about Well-Known Places: Walt Disney World by Laurie Flannery

Walt Disney World (Little-Known Facts about Well-Known Places)Walt Disney World by Laurie Flannery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this fun little book for a travel client of mine, and couldn't help but read it before giving it away! This has a lot of great tips and facts about Disney that is perfect for the new visitor, and even the seasoned pro. It's small enough to be packed into luggage and taken along with you on a trip to Disney, and could help fill your time while waiting in line for one of the more popular rides. :)

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Recommended Read - Cursed in the Act by Raymond Buckland

Cursed in the ActCursed in the Act by Raymond Buckland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of Sherlock Holmes and other old-style mysteries take note - this is a series just for you! Meet the author Bram Stoker (whose most famous work was Dracula) as imagined in a fictional way through a creative mystery surrounding the Lyceum Theater, which he worked at in real life. The cast of characters feels true to form, and you may recognize some of the names that are dropped throughout the chase to find the dastardly saboteur involved in the crimes at the Lyceum. The only thing that didn't work for me? The weird constant references to red hair - it feels like the author is obsessed with it for some reason. But otherwise this was a fun mystery!

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Recommended Read - Dark Invasion by Howard Blum

Dark Invasion: 1915: Germany's Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in AmericaDark Invasion: 1915: Germany's Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America by Howard Blum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great read for any history buff - or for anyone that enjoys mystery novels! Follow along with a real life spy thriller and learn about the war from a whole new angle. The writing is done in a way that it is not the type of dry, boring read you may often find in this genre, and pictures sprinkled throughout help to clarify mental images of key figures. A few parts did get slow and/or confusing, and since there is such a large cast of characters the names could be easy to confuse, but overall this is a solid read.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Ok normally I just post bookish things, but I'm a huge pizza fiend (though less so since I've been gluten free, the crust just isn't as yummy lol) and I love this promotion by Dominoes!

They did this last year, I didn't win but I got a $5 off coupon. :) This year maybe I can win a bigger prize!

Anyway, to join in, just click here. It has all the details, and you get a free 2 minute head start from me! Yay!

Recommended Read - Ripper by Isabel Allende

RipperRipper by Isabel Allende
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There were some slow parts, and a few parts that may have been confusing simply due to translating it into English. But the characters are well-written, and this thriller kept me guessing until the end! I was genuinely surprised yet gratified by the reveal at the end, and found the book fast paced enough to keep my attention until then.

A solid book, great for any fan of suspense or thriller genres.

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Recommended Read - Falling to Earth by Kate Southwood

Falling to EarthFalling to Earth by Kate Southwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a born and raised Midwesterner, so I've heard many tales of tornadoes and the seemingly random destruction they wreak upon towns and cities alike. This masterful tale brilliantly portrays one such tornado, with it's senseless movements and terrible wrath upon a small town in the 1920's. The characters feel so real that it is easy for the reader to ride the rise and swell of emotions, and the devastating ending left me hopelessly crying (and I"m not the emotional sort generally).

This is a fantastic book and one I highly recommend - but keep a box of tissues handy!!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Sorta Recommended Read - Children of Paradise by Fred Aguiar

Children of Paradise: A NovelChildren of Paradise: A Novel by Fred D'Aguiar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I both loved and hated this book, which I received an Advance Copy of prior to final editing. I loved the inside look of a "Koolaid Cult", for lack of a better description, and the religious obedience ingrained into every single act. It was masterfully scary, terrifyingly realistic and yet so unbelievable that you knew it could happen anywhere at any time. However, the story did have some bits and pieces that felt disjointed and confused the overall plot, and some of the characters felt forced. I also found the ending to be a bit confusing, jumping between two alternates with no clear conclusion as to which was real.

Overall, this was a solid read but could use a little more clarity for my tastes.

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Flop - The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the HedgehogThe Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book, with such an interesting title - but I couldn't even make it past the first few chapters before I gave up in frustration.

Perhaps it's because this is a book translated into English, or perhaps it's just not my style, but I found the perambulating phrasing and perhaps slightly insane characters too much to handle. I couldn't find the hook that would keep me involved and wanting to know more, and instead found myself flipping to the end just to be done with it.

Just not my cup of tea.

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Recommended Read - The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

The Good Luck of Right NowThe Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. What can I say about this book other than it is a remarkable story of faith, family, and friends as told by the lovable Autistic narrator to his movie star idol Richard Gere through a series of letters that are often funny, sometimes poignant, and always downright interesting.

Those in the mental health field may appreciate the portrayals of autism, Tourette's, a little bit of OCD, and bipolar disorder. Those in the midst of a faith struggle may appreciate the complexity of what it means to believe, and how certain beliefs are chosen for us and by us. Others may appreciate the numerous interesting tidbits about Richard Gere woven into the story.

Regardless, I think almost every reader could appreciate this incredible book!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Recommended Read - Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim

Last Train to ParisLast Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Witness the atrocities of World War 2 as told by an American journalist of Jewish descent. With sweeping tales of hardship intermingled with hope and love comes this incredibly strong heroine determined to tell the true story of the war. I loved the intense feel of this story, and the believable characters who played their parts in the unraveling of Europe during the Nazi takeover and occupation. I cried out for their losses, reveled in their celebrations, and felt like I was witnessing events first hand. This is a stunning novel that is definitely a must-read for anyone who enjoys strong female characters and harsh looks at past realities.

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Recommended Read - North of Boston by Elizabeth Elo

North of BostonNorth of Boston by Elisabeth Elo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fast, gritty thriller with an interesting female protagonist. It touches on murder, spies, government agencies, domestic violence, and alcohol and drug addiction all while spinning a web of mystery around a boating accident with unusual circumstances. While I loved the main story, I did sometimes stumble over the unusual names and wished a couple of parts had been a little less predictable, while other parts could have been left out since they didn't seem to play much of a role in the grand scheme of the story. However, overall this was a solid read!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Recommended Read - Pirates of Financial Freedom by Joey Fehrman

Pirates Of Financial FreedomPirates Of Financial Freedom by Joey Fehrman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Arrr" you looking for a new kind of financial novel? Does sifting through boring textbooks with little entertainment value make you want to walk the plank? Want to add some adventure to your financial life? Then this is the book for you!

Pirates of Financial Freedom is a short and sweet little financial novel packed with information. If you can get through the cheesiness (yes, complete with pirate talk and superfluous romance) you will find a treasure trove of valuable financial information, great for teens and young adults. Older adults will still find some of the advice helpful, though some really only applies to those of us who haven't already forged a financial path (for better or worse).

I actually ended up reading through this book twice in a row - once for the entertainment value, and then the second time for the financial knowledge.

This book would be a great gift for high school graduates!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recommended Read: Mouch & Company - The Dream Psychic by Bob Dixon

Mouch and Company: The Dream PsychicMouch and Company: The Dream Psychic by Bob Dixon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Without any offense to either author, I feel this book is like the "Harry Potter" of physic realms! :) There's loony bins and sock puppets and invisible friends who can knock people over for you - what's not to love? Throw in an academy for kids with psychic abilities, an intriguing villain, and some rather trippy dreams and you have the recipe for this fun story. It was fast-paced enough that I could read it while working out on the treadmill - not many books can say that! ;) I enjoyed the fresh, interesting characters and would read more by this author.

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Recommended Read: Poisoned by Steve Shukis

Chicago PoisonerChicago Poisoner by Steve Shukis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When you read a biographical tale, you run the risk of being bored out of your mind by the various facts and figures and numerous page notes. Not so with this amazing read about a man who was accused of poisoning almost an entire family!

I loved that in the beginning, you were receiving certain information that made it seem probable and despicable, but by the middle and end you found yourself doubting everything!

There were twists and turns, incredible characters, and a glimpse at a period of time in Chicago where corruption held its place in society.

Even if you don't usually read non-fiction, you should definitely check this one out!

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Gone Reading - A Bookish Gift Delight!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned that I had received a wonderful package from the folks at Gone Reading? Well, I've finally found the time to review their products and tell you more about them!

First of all, they are an online store dedicated to great bookish gifts - everything from tshirts to book lights to themed sets (for example, if you have an Edgar Allen Poe fan in your life, there is a set for that!). They sent me three amazing items: a t-shirt, a reading journal, and a floating bookshelf.

As a travel agent, of course I LOVE beach themed items, so when you can combine a beach theme AND books I'm one happy gal! They sent me the following shirt that is definitely something I'll be wearing on my next cruise, which you can find here.

The floating bookshelf was something I had been secretly coveting for years on places such as Etsy and Ebay, so I couldn't wait to try one out! The one they sent me can be found here. My advice? Buy more than one! These are sooo cool, fun, and look great in any room! Plus, for those of us (like me) that live in a smaller amount of square footage, these don't take up valuable floor space unlike traditional bookcases. I think this is one thing that will stay on my gift list year round!

Finally, they sent me this reading journal. I wasn't sure if I would like something like a reading journal, since I keep most of my reviews in a small wirebound notebook before I post them on Goodreads and this blog. Boy was I surprised at how cool the journal really was! Since the pictures on the website don't do it nearly enough justice, here are some of the fun things that can be found inside of the reading journal:

The last pic is of my personal favorite feature - book lists! They have everything from books Oprah has had in her book club, to prize winners over the years, to favorites in each genre.

Look - if you love books, or know someone who does, this should be your first stop when purchasing a bookish gift! Hands down, these items were well-made and wonderful, and priced affordably.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression and Suicide: Reflecting on Robin Williams

I've been watching the back and forth of the various voices out there who have weighed in on Robin Williams' untimely and truly sad death. I've stayed silent, processing each side. And frankly, I feel THIS ARTICLE (well ok, technically it was an original post and then a response) is probably the most comprehensive way to describe how I feel about this situation.
Contrary to critics, it doesn't blame the deceased or say that depression is "curable" or anything like that. In fact, it points to the fact that depression and suicidal tendencies are at their very core incredibly deep rooted, multi-symptomatic and multi-causal, difficult things to deal with. But even at the very end, there is a choice, and I would hope to God and all things holy in this world that my family and friends, as well as my own self, would choose to try and find life the acceptable route to take! There is always someone out there who loves you, someone who appreciates having you around and would miss you when you were gone, even if you feel like there isn't.
Our job as human beings is to try and spread joy and happiness, rather than perpetuate the myth that we are all unhappy. Yes, life is hard. Yes, it's unfair. Yes, sometimes it just flat out sucks! But I have to believe that there is something more, something to strive for, even if I feel like everything is working against me.
Before you say I don't understand - trust me, I do. I do in a big way. Every day is a challenge and another pink pill (or two) along with various other therapies. I've been at rock bottom before, where I just couldn't see the light or the reason for life. But the fact was that I could tell there were some people who cared - not a whole lot of them, and some of them for the wrong reasons - and I knew that if I hadn't been taken out of this world via the hand of God, then I really had no right to do it to myself. Even though I wanted to. BADLY. I wanted the pain to end, the darkness to fade. And honestly? I wanted people to realize that maybe I was someone special that they should have cared more about. That was selfish of me, but perhaps even more indicative of the people I was surrounding myself with who weren't spreading joy and happiness or who saw me as a dispensable part of their lives - and guess what?
I made new friends. I found a small piece of happiness every day, even though some days that was something like junk food (yep, I'm a binge eater when I'm depressed - yet another side effect that many people don't talk about) or the fact that I hadn't punched anyone in the face (hey, sometimes people deserve a good punch in the face!).
Oh, and I don't think you have to be religious to avoid suicide. In fact, at the point in my life where I was the most suicidal, I also considered myself to be religious and attended religious services frequently (and even did a few stints at Christian summer camps as a junior and senior counselor). One of my most religious friends committed suicide. I know plenty of atheists who have found ways to make the choice to live. Either way, it's a spiritual thing as well as a mental and emotional thing - it's too complicated to confine to the worldly plane, so I think even atheists can agree there is a component that sits in your soul.
So, this message goes out to all of YOU - those who struggle, and those who don't but love someone who does. Let's promise to be a better support system and spread joy and happiness as much as possible. We can't go back in time and undo the suicides that have already happened, but we CAN be an ACTIVE part of suicide prevention - for ourselves, and for others. Let's make the choice.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 11: Results!

We finally reached the halfway point! For us, this is pretty much the end - we have one last day of meals planned for tomorrow but otherwise are out of menus. And we are definitely going to continue the workouts!

So, how did we do? Keep in mind that we followed the eating plan 100%, but added in a rest day every third day for the workouts to make sure my pain didn't get too unmanageable. I take it back - I think one of the days we got one of the measurements wrong and ended up having extra blue and one short orange, but otherwise we were spot on. :)

First, our measurements didn't really change, so I'm not going to bother with them. They weren't up, they weren't really that much down, but we weren't expecting them to change much in 11 days.

How did our body fat fare? Mine didn't change. Again, no biggie since it was 11 days. But my husband, being a man, thus having an easier time burning fat, managed to lose 2% body fat! Pretty impressive.

Finally, our weight. Keep in mind we only did this for 11 days. I managed to lose 1.5 lbs, while Chris was able to lose 3! Not bad for 11 days. Sure, I needed to lose fat more than he did, but he has always been naturally thinner and so it just figures he'd lose twice as much! ;)

What do these results show about this program? It DOES work - and it does it in a slow yet reasonably safe way. Most likely, you won't lose massive amounts of weight in the first 21 days and will have to cycle through the program several times. Additionally, at some point you will have to up your calories because you can't keep on such a strict regimen long term without damage to your body (NO, I'm not a doctor. And no, I'm not a nutritionist, or dietitian, or nurse, or anything like that. So I can't give you any medical mumbo jumbo, just plain talk).

Will we do it again? Probably. We will see how the week off goes while Chris is in India. In the mean time, we plan to adapt the diet slightly to include more of the foods we like, but in smaller portions and less often. And the workouts are staying - as much as I can't believe I'm saying this, we are actually starting to ENJOY working out!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 10: The Groove

Now that we've decided to end early, I found my groove! ;) Actually, I still feel like this is a bit too restrictive, but the food today did work out nicely.

We had leftover meatloaf for lunch with our new favorite salad, which includes a chopped pear and some sunflower seeds with an oil and vinegar dressing.

Then I headed to the dentist for some unpleasant work - I have some mostly hereditary gum disease, and needed scaling and planing done (google it if you're interested, it's not great). That was a 3 hour dental visit!

I was worried how dinner would work, because I knew I needed something soft and easy. We had a version of mac and cheese planned - and it worked out WONDERFULLY! The sauce was a mix of a small amount of cheese and some boiled/pureed cauliflower with seasonings. I just wish we could have had more! We mixed in some leftover ham that we had in our freezer.

Then our dessert/snack was just as good - it was ricotta mixed with some cinnamon, a tsp of sugar, and a splash of vanilla extract then topped with strawberries. It was pretty darn close in taste to cheesecake!

Our workout today was the only disappointment - it was Yoga. Not really my thing, since I have terrible balance and little coordination. Plus, I was kind of in the mood for something more energetic. That being said, we both agreed it would be the perfect workout for our rest days! So now we will have every third day be Yoga, assuming I don't fall over and hurt myself during one of the sessions.

Tomorrow we'll see how 11 days of the program did for our weights and measurements! I'm not expecting a big change in either, but a move in the right direction is still a good thing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 9: Cutting it short

Today was another tough day. I wasn't feeling well again, and totally forgot last night to lay out the pot roast. That wouldn't have been too terrible, but I didn't remember that it was on the menu so that means I didn't get it into the crock pot until 2:30pm! Yipes! I put it on high, which I hate doing. It dries it out too much for my liking.

Meanwhile, lunch didn't sound good - egg salad using the dressing we made last week - so I modified, but still didn't get enough to eat. I ended up using up my snacks well before the pot roast would be done because of how late I started the pot roast.

Then the cravings really hit. I was sweating, cranky, tired, hungry... and full of reasons why I just didn't want to do this anymore!

I couldn't trust myself to leave the house - and that made me worried because I started my training for my new job last week, and sometime this week I'll start working outside the home (the training is online) - and mostly at grocery stores surrounded by food. This eating plan really requires access to a refrigerator and/or microwave (all that darn fresh produce) - you can't really just grab something while you are out, or throw together a sandwich.

By the time Chris came home, I was already kinda yuck... but then he confirmed that his work is sending him to India - and he leaves Saturday! It requires two days of flying there, two days of flying back, and while he is there he'll be working around the clock and eating what he can when he can.

After much discussion, we decided that we will be ending the official eating plan on Day 12, which is when my menu runs out. At that time, we will switch to a more modified version where we will eat the regular things we like, but categorize them and portion them with the container measurements as much as possible. :) Meanwhile, he'll just be getting exercise while working and plans to walk around the airports when he is there, but I'm going to keep up the 21 Day Fix workouts along with my personal training.

When he gets back, we'll see about going back to a stricter 21 Day Fix plan again. The hard part is that with his work, he travels a lot (more than I do as a travel agent!) and that can make it difficult to work out and follow a meal plan, especially this one that requires so darn much prep work!

What does this mean for results? It's hard to give a truly accurate picture when you can only follow the plan halfway (well, a little less than), but we both plan to weigh in and measure on Wednesday since that is when I have personal training before running out of meal plans and where I got my initial weights and measures. That will at least show whether or not the plan was starting to work, it just might not be very impressive yet.

Needless to say, I'm disappointed yet relieved all at once. I feel like this has been extremely difficult for me, food wise. But that is an area that I always struggle with, and probably always will.

But I'm not going to throw this all away - I'm going to work hard to find a good moderation and try to keep working on my weight loss journey. Who knows - maybe when Chris gets back he'll have three weeks home in a row and we can give this another try!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 8: The Mystery of "Dirty 30"

All week long, we have been looking forward to the workout today - not necessarily because we like to work out (though I must admit, we are definitely getting to like it more and have made it a much more regular part of our routine) but because this whole time we have wondered what the heck the "Dirty 30" workout would entail!

Our guess was that it would be some kind of ab workout, since there wasn't anything labeled that would be abs only.


The workout today was definitely one of the harder ones - it was a full body toning/muscle workout. We are very thankful that tomorrow is a rest day - boy are we sore after that one! But we also agreed that we are both feeling stronger, regardless of whether or not we have lost weight. While the food has been 50/50 successful, the workouts - while hard - have been something that I could see us doing long term.

Speaking of food, today we planned on quesadillas for lunch and some Mediterranean pasta for dinner. However, when we got closer to dinner, the thought of tuna made me feel queasy (sometimes it does that to me - it's the only seafood I eat, and even then I usually have to WANT to eat it) so we swapped for a different day that was grilled chicken with a green bean salad and sweet potato fries since the counts worked for what we needed.

Sadly, tonight's dinner didn't work out as planned, and this was the first time that I feel the 21 Day Fix eating plan wasn't sufficient. How do you plan ahead for a meal that goes wrong? You don't want to buy a bunch of extra produce that you might have to throw away, and we can't just fall back on what we used to do - either order a pizza or make sandwiches!

Yes, pizza is listed on the restaurant list - you can have I believe one slice, but it counts for 2 yellow and 1 red or blue, etc. But then the problem is that suddenly you have the rest of a pizza sitting in your fridge, and trust me as a binge eater I would literally hear that "calling" to me to eat it, leading to a binge!

So, both Chris and I choked down what we could of chicken that was dry and didn't hit the spot, burnt green beans (the green bean salad called for stir frying the green beans) and sweet potato fries that were undercooked and mushy. Then I had some deli meat (to help supplement my red shortage) thinking I could always pop out and buy another container, and some mint tea. Chris boiled a couple of eggs for himself.

I have a feeling we are both going to be hungry tonight while we try to sleep, and very hungry when we wake up! If I could change something about this plan, I'd work in some kind of contingency for when meals go awry.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 7: Almost to the breaking point

Throughout this plan, both my husband and I have been battling some food demons. Let's face it - our bodies are in a little bit of shock, getting rid of so many junk foods and adding so many natural foods all at once!

It also doesn't help that I tend to struggle with intense food cravings and periods of binge eating. Chris has fewer problems with those issues, but even he isn't immune to these feelings.

Today started off well enough, but I began having some stomach cramping around lunchtime. Eating made it worse; I tried resting but no real help there. So I forged ahead with the workout, and surprisingly it did help! I think I just ate some strawberries that weren't fresh enough - by Day 6, the things we hadn't run out of were a little questionable (at least, the softer things like berries). Chris had said his tummy was a little off the day before, so I think that's all it was. A little mint tea with a bit of honey helped, too!

But then Chris did a naughty thing - don't worry, this is safe to read lol! - he mentioned one of my trigger foods. OUCH! So of course, in my OCD, food craving, binge eating brain, I started wishing I had some.

Wishing is one thing, but then we had to run errands, and of course suddenly I was surrounded by LOTS of my triggers - what can I say, some gals have a thing for shoes, I have a thing for food! And kittens...

Not only that, but one of the items we wanted to buy got sold out literally right before we purchased it, so we had to go to a couple of other stores to find it. By then, it was past 6pm, and even though I had eaten my snack of peanuts and an orange, I was getting VERY hungry!

I became like I imagine most addicts become - I was irritable, shaky, and desperately wanting to cheat on this diet. It's amazing how quickly I wanted to throw all of my hard work out of the window!

The good news? Chris made sure I didn't cheat. We got home, made our dinner, and even though that means we didn't get around to eating dinner until 8pm (yeah, that means we're staying up later and gonna have to sleep in a bit tomorrow) we stuck with the program!

One thing that is helping both of us right now is that we keep reminding ourselves that it's only for 21 days. What does that mean for the long term sustainability of this program? I'm not sure. We tried broaching on the subject once I was safely full and not crazy anymore, but then it got a little overwhelming and for right now we want to take it a day at a time. I think we will most likely keep many of the elements, but might add back in some of our favorites (like butter).

So for those of you following along - STAY STRONG! And definitely do this with a partner - a friend, a spouse, a sibling, a parent, whatever. It will help you when you get into a weak place and want to cheat (hopefully).

Oh - and I didn't get a chance to scan my menus for this week, since I'm not sure if any of you are bothering with them (and honestly, you might have better luck on this plan if you make your own meal plans with the foods you like). But if you truly want them, let me know and I'll try to get them posted tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 6: Winging It

Today was the day I was dreading for the first few days - Day 6, which I didn't fully meal plan for! Since I wasn't very familiar with the plan when I was first starting out, I decided that I would fully plan 5 days and then the 6th day I just planned the breakfast and part of lunch. 

Guess what? Winging it wasn't so bad! We both were able to find leftover foods that fit the categories we needed to fill. 

That also means that I had to do grocery shopping again. Chris and I managed to finish our next 6 days of menus last night, so I had a list ready to go this morning. Even though our menu planned had meals with leftovers (and in my opinion, were better planned), I actually ended up spending MORE!!

But before you start chucking this plan out the window for being too pricey - it was partially because Baker's had a TON of produce on sale this week, so I bought several items not on our list! That includes a big bag of grapes, some fresh broccoli, a loaf of Udi's bread that was on clearance, and hormone free chicken breasts because they only ended up being a couple of dollars more expensive than regular chicken breasts. Final cost was just over $156. 

There's also one other factor that needs to be weighed when I look at that grocery price - before this eating program, we ate out a minimum of once per week, sometimes more. That probably factored in not just money at restaurants, but various delivery fees OR gas/mileage to get to/from the restaurants. 

So really, I think so far I can swallow the costs so far. It's not great that I haven't had a regular paycheck in a few weeks, but on the bright side today I started my NEW part time day job so soon that won't be a problem! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 5: Mad body, happy mind

When we started this program, my husband made me agree to get up with him first thing in the morning (6:15am) to eat breakfast together. Before this, I would wake briefly to give him a hug and kiss, then snuggle back into bed and sleep for about 1.5 more hours. I told him it shouldn't be a problem as long as we made it to bed at a decent time.

Well, we've been trying to go to bed earlier, but it's been a little rough since we are used to me getting caught up in a book while he gets distracted by either a video game or logic puzzles. I'd say we've been averaging about 11pm. And then with all the water we've been drinking... let's just say that last night I got up to visit the bathroom SIX times! That means a lot of lost sleep due to the interruptions. I've also been feeling more wired when I go to bed - can't decide if it's because of my body changing how I react to my evening medicine (it's a nerve medicine that my father also takes, and he says it makes him wired even though previously it's made me sleepy, hence why I take it at bedtime) or if it's the afternoon workouts, or something else altogether.

Anyway, this morning Chris got a little frustrated with me when I could barely drag myself out of bed - and then refused to eat and stated as soon as I made his breakfast I was going back to bed. I think we guessed that I have been averaging 6-7 hours of sleep per night, instead of the 8-9 that I am used to - and I believe it is throwing my body out of whack!! When you add that in to the "detoxing" of my body (trust me, I am craving sugar and carbs like there is no tomorrow right now), I think my body might be a tiny bit mad at me. The extra sleep helped a little, but we might have to figure out a way for me to get more sleep.

But one thing that has helped me is to focus on the positives. It's something I learned in my Train Your Brain class at Square One, and has truly helped me to find ways to view being healthy in a more positive way. True, my initial motivation was negative (let's face it, I was feeling fat and hated my body, and really hated that I was moving up in clothing sizes rather than down AGAIN), but yesterday night I found myself celebrating something so off-the-wall from my usual self that I realized there are things I'm actually ENJOYING about all of this!

Here's my brag (and I realize that my trainer Kim is reading my blogs so I know I'm gonna get "punished" for this by moving to a harder difficulty next training lol): One thing Kim has me do as a warm-up and cardio component, to help me reach a goal of better endurance (going on Familiarization trips as a travel agent involves a lot of stamina, so one of my goals is to be able to keep up without feeling so breathless), is to get on the treadmill and do a pyramid: I start at a 0 incline, and every minute (or 2 on some of the more intense days) I go up 2 inclines, until I reach 10, then I go back down. Kind of like climbing a perfect hill! When I first started out, I was at 3mph and could barely make it to an incline of 4 before I was having difficultly breathing and my talking was more like grunts and gasps when she would ask me questions. Yesterday, I did one minute intervals at 3.4mph - and we talked the ENTIRE time with me using actual words and phrases! That's a BIG accomplishment for me, and I found myself almost giddy about it - I even came home and had to brag to my husband (who was probably not very impressed but at least he pretended to be lol)!

I've noticed that even though I haven't weighed or measured myself (to be honest, I get really obsessive about the numbers and it ends up hurting me, so I don't allow myself to check my weight more than once per month), I like the feeling of accomplishment I get just from sticking this out so far and finding ways to adapt to it. Do I think I will follow something this strict long term? No. Do I think that I will eat healthier after this? Yes! I never realized how few veggies and fruits I would eat daily, and how large I was making my portions of other foods. Honestly, I pretty much used to eat roughly 1 vegetable serving per day (yes, that is dismal). Now even though I'm not usually hitting my 5 servings, I'm at least getting 3 which is TRIPLE what I used to do! Chris has mentioned that he has noticed that he is feeling stronger and is also proud of the changes he has made - today he was able to stick to his plan despite the fact that there was a quarterly meeting today (which means free lunch, generally not super healthy)!

The food choices today were decent (ok actually the Tostadas were my fave recipe yet), with a few substitutions for things we were out of - here's the menu:

However, I don't really feel like writing about them today - I think today I just wanted to get that happy mind mentality out there for all of you so that you knew that even though this is a rough food plan with a difficult workout schedule, it's still something that allows for positivity! :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 4: "Behind"

Yes, the title of this post has two meanings - first, I spent most of the day running behind after dealing with a few unexpected travel issues (remember, I am a travel agent). And second, it was lower body day, so my behind is sore!

Here's the menu for today:

We had to modify a few things again, due to running out (or in the case of the peaches, me flat out forgetting to add them to the long grocery list) or me just not wanting it. I used some leftover taco meat on my salad for lunch rather than the cottage cheese which was a win! Then instead of the peach I put a little pico de gallo on my salad (not sure why that qualifies as a purple and not a green, since if I diced up all the ingredients individually they are all green...) which wasn't great so I ate around it.

Dinner was surprisingly filling, even despite the fact that the smaller sweet potato fries burned so we didn't eat a full 2 portions. I made sure that even though the steak was sirloin (which is already pretty lean) to trim off any excess fat at the edges.

I was looking forward to my "treat" today - three times per week you can have one of the designated treats in the book as a yellow equivalent (even though the measurement is a little larger than a yellow). Basically they are all chocolate except one, and since I cannot have chocolate due to caffeine intolerance, that left me one - but it was one of my faves, POPCORN! Yay! It's basically air popped popcorn with a little salt and some dried fruit and almonds. I'm not a huge almond fan and wanted to save money, so I just used the dried cranberries we already had prior to the program and popcorn. I couldn't see just having it air popped without a little something, so I used one of our teaspoons to spritz some olive oil on it and added cinnamon (one of my fave flavors AND a great anti-inflammatory!). Verdict? One cup of that treat is a PITIFUL amount! :( I wanted to eat the whole bowl of yummy goodness, not one tiny cup. The flavor was good though. I wish there was a way to make less airpopped popcorn in our popper - now I have several cups worth leftover and it's not really built into the rest of the planned days, so the popcorn will most likely go stale before we can use it up.

Today was the first day I didn't work out with Chris - I went to my usual personal training session while he did the video. I still had my trainer do lower body so we ended up doing a lot of the same exercises, but I also got the benefit of lots of wonderful stretching at the end!! So I'm a lot less sore than I think I would have been with the video. That's been my biggest complaint so far with the videos is that I don't feel she spends enough time on stretching - but that could be because of the number of times I've dealt with pain and injury so I'm a little obsessed with getting enough stretching!

Due to all of the running around like crazy, I didn't start on the menu for the next 5-6 days until late - so now I'm a little worried I'll have time to get it done! Hopefully Chris will help me with it this time now that we've both got a basic understanding of how it works.

In bookish news (yes, this is a BOOK BLOG lol) - I got a great package today from my friends at Gone Reading!! I can't wait to share with you everything I got - hopefully this diet won't interfere, but it might be a few days lol.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 3 - First "Rest Day"

Even though we woke up feeling less sore today, we still decided a rest day (a day with some light walking and stretching) was still a better idea than pushing forward with the next fitness video. It never hurts to be a little cautious in the beginning so we don't injure ourselves!

Here's what the Day 3 Menu looks like:

Breakfast was awesome, but we were pretty sure it would be - we had made "frog in the holes" with my bagel thins before. Lunch was also something we had eaten before, so we knew we'd enjoy that, too. Dinner was really good - I didn't realize that even though the recipe said 1 orange of parmesan cheese that it actually counted as part of a blue, so we ended up with 1/2 an extra blue and no orange today. Also, I guess we ran out of parmesan last week and I forgot to put it on our grocery list, so we subbed in mozzarella. It wasn't our only substitution today - I also didn't buy enough apples! So Chris had some watermelon (that I bought to make him watermelon-infused water; personally I love plain ol' ice water but I know he prefers flavored drinks so I wanted to make it easier on him) and I had a fruit cup.

One observation I have so far is that the portions are filling - IF you eat them! Since the foods aren't as appetizing to me, I've been eating less and thus feeling more hunger than I should. I hope that by next week I'll have found ways to combine the portions that will make me eat the full amounts - I especially have been skipping out on my veg portions.

I also just realized that this is Day 3, and I've only got 6 days of meal plans - so I need to start working on the next 6 days of food! I don't think I'd be able to plan for 7 days, as even 6 is risky when you are mostly buying fresh produce that you don't want to spoil. I got a little distracted today (more below) so I didn't think of it until just now, but I've still got a couple of hours tonight to get started.

In another turn of events, as I mentioned I am currently between day jobs. Yesterday I had been given the chance to start the onboarding process with a company I had applied for after waiting 4 weeks to hear back from another company that I was interested in working for. Well, today that company finally called back (in week 5) - apparently the local manager had gone out of town right after my last interview and had been gone the last two weeks, which is why they hadn't been able to put me through for the job until now! So I set it up to start their onboarding tomorrow, and now I have a choice to make as to which company I want to work for... it's a tough decision! My travel business will ALWAYS be first for me, but since commissions are irregular I like having a steady paycheck from a second part time job. Maybe you guys can help me choose? Here are the details:
1) Job #1 is the job that has taken over 5 weeks to get to the hiring phase. It's for an inventory company, and I would be acting in a supervisor capacity. I would only be losing $2/hour from my last job to start, with the potential to make up that difference within a year. I liked the regional director who interviewed me as well, and there is the potential after I am trained to get to take part in some International inventory trips to places like Germany and Sweden!! And of course, as a travel agent, I super love travel. However, the hours aren't great - lots of late nights and/or early early mornings - and the people I would be supervising have had some disciplinary problems and heavy turnover. Also, the dress code calls for wearing pants - personally, I HATE wearing pants and would rather wear a dress or skirt any day! lol they are a lot more comfy when you have "extra" weight, but the reason this position has pants is that there is a little bit of ladder climbing.
2) Job #2 I applied for last week Thursday, and they called me within two hours of submitting to do my first interview. They then set me up for my second interview for the next day, which I appreciated because I love it when things are punctual. That went well and she let me know that on Monday they would be sending me the information to start the onboarding process - very communicative, another thing I appreciated (rather than waiting around trying to find out whether or not I had a job). The hours are really good - basically, I'm assigned a store to do some research on (either a product or a display) and need to visit it within a certain amount of days during business hours. That means the schedule is VERY flexible, which is great for me to be able to make sure my travel clients are always my priority. Plus, no late nights or super early mornings! However, when they contacted me Monday is when I found out about the pay - it's a variable pay rate depending on the task, which isn't ideal (I would hate having to guess what my paycheck would be each week) and I'd be losing anywhere from $7 to $2//hour in pay. $7/hour is a HUGE loss of pay - in a 10 hour work week, that's an extra $70 I'm losing! They also require slacks, but also collared shirts (shudder). If you look in my closet right now, I own exactly 1 collared shirt lol! I'd almost rather prefer a uniform at that point.

UPDATE: After posting this on Facebook earlier today, and getting feedback from family and friends, I decided to take job #2 and I called and declined the other offer. So by next week I should have a steady paycheck again! :) Yay for that!

Monday, July 28, 2014

21 Day Fix Day 2 - Off to a rough start

When we woke up this morning, boy were we sore!! I could feel my joints flaring up - (I was diagnosed with Osteitis Pubis several years ago, and along with it I have osteo-arthritis throughout my hips, back, shoulders, and knees) and was glad we were waiting until the afternoon to do the next workout. Here's the menu we had for today:

Breakfast was also a mixed bag - since I'm generally not a fan of eggs (unless they are put to use in a recipe or on a sandwich) I decided to use half a container of leftover taco meat and one egg to fulfill my one protein. It was good! Today also called for oatmeal... in the past, the only way I've enjoyed "oatmeal" was in the form of a cookie or a baked dish with tons of sugar, but I always want to try things at least once. I tried it, I hated it, I tried then moving it to a dish and baking it, still didn't like it. I probably got down 3-4 spoonfuls of the top, crispy part. I wasn't sure how to count that on my sheet so I called it 1/4 of each type (yellow, purple) though in reality it's probably less. Then I made up for the yellow by having a half of a gluten free English muffin with some coconut oil and cinnamon on it.

Sadly, lunch was underwhelming, so I only ate 1/2 of my meatballs. While decent, they were pretty dry (probably because they are from lean meat) and I desperately wanted a sauce of some kind - peanut, ketchup, whatever.

I stayed hungry throughout the day - I think part of it was that my body was craving sugar and more carbs, since that's what it is used to. However, I had something wonderful to fall back on - something that this program definitely does NOT provide: tools to battle the MENTAL side of the weight loss struggle from my Train Your Brain class at Square One Health Club! If you haven't heard of the club, you should really check it out - I used to work there, and the owners were on Season 3 of The Biggest Loser. Anyway, if you aren't in Omaha, I'm sorry but right now they don't offer the Train Your Brain class online or anywhere else in the country. If you are in Omaha, you should definitely consider signing up for the class - it is worth it!

Dinner was probably my favorite meal, I loaded up on a few extra veggies to fill myself up more. The workout was rough, but doable. The hardest part was that the order she did the workouts in was really weird and involved getting down on the floor for a couple exercises, then getting back up to do a couple, then back down again. To me, it was nearly torture, so I ended up just doing the exercises in a different order. Getting up and down off the floor, even when I'm not super sore, is difficult enough, but when I was so sore it was torture.

We decided in order to ease the pain for me that we will build in a rest day every third day. During our rest day we will just do light walking and some stretching, but no hard workout. This will probably reduce how much weight we can lose, but in the long term we feel it will be healthier for me so I don't have to raise my already high amount of daily anti-inflammatories.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

21 Day Fix - Day 1: Work, work and more work!

In case you missed yesterday's post, the cliff's notes version is that I am doing the 21 Day Fix program by Beachbody.

Today was day one, and the theme today? Work, work and more work! Here is the menu for today:

First, we went ahead and did our "Before" pictures and measurements/weights. I had already been measured/weighed a few days ago at my last personal training session, so we just did Chris'. The pictures were... well... painful, so we decided that unless we get some crazy good results at the end, we won't be posting the pictures. Hey - just because I am doing an honest review doesn't mean you all need to be seeing my "tub tub" (as I so fondly/cursingly call my belly).

I whipped up our breakfast, since it wasn't too far from what I used to eat every day. I added in some fresh dill and chives (thanks to my green thumb friend, and personal trainer, Kim!!) to give the eggs more texture and flavor. Verdict? YUMMY! I was afraid I wouldn't like it since my usual breakfast sandwich includes a whole gluten free O'Dough's Bagel Thin (I highly recommend them, they are yummy and only 100 calories each) with mayo, cheese, and only one egg. But this worked well for me, and the hubs loved his too!

Shortly after breakfast we tackled our first 21 Day Fix workout, which was the Total Body Cardio Fix. Remember that I only do personal training twice per week but otherwise am mostly sedentary, and my husband says he walks on the treadmill every day during his lunch break (of course, I have no way to verify that lol) but otherwise he doesn't really do regular workouts. Verdict? HOLY CRAP THAT WAS HARD WORK! The funniest part to me was that my hubs complained the entire time while I just powered through - he is always teasing me for being a "wimp" because my body hates me (maybe I'll touch on that tomorrow). Maybe my two personal training sessions per week have made me stronger than I thought! However, afterward boy, oh boy was I sore! Hubs hasn't complained about being sore as much as I have probably, so I suppose we are even. I'll probably be hooking up my e-stim (electrical stimulation) machine after this post to try and work out some of the pain in my hips and back but I still overall feel like I'm proud of how well I could keep up.

We made sure to eat our morning snack right after the workout - my trainer Kim always says that it's important to get a little carb and protein after a workout. I didn't bother with a picture - there's nothing interesting about an apple with 2tsp of peanut butter! I will note that this is the first time I bothered measuring out my PB - I'm a bit of a PB addict, so I usually lather it on very thickly. But surprisingly, I didn't need it!

I wish I could say we took it easy after all of that, but it's the weekend so that meant laundry and a few light chores. Soon enough, we found ourselves at lunch. That was probably the most surprising meal of the day - who knew that it would be sooo much food? We were so distracted that we forgot to add the cheese, so we ended up moving the cheese to dinner and having quesodillas rather than plain tortillas with our chili. Here's what the lunch looked like - it was only 1 red, 2 greens, and an orange!

Yes - that is a FULL SIZE dinner plate!! It was tasty too.

While tasty, it was a lot of work to prep all of that veg. Then we had to do more work, cleaning up all the dishes - that was load #1.

Thankfully the afternoon was pretty uneventful, but the salad didn't last as long for me, so I made the afternoon "snack". I based the recipe off a Meditterranean pasta dish I've made before, subbing the olives for mushrooms since I hadn't noticed when I first planned the menu that olives count as an orange (and not a green). It was good, and filling - but we still had a snack and dinner left for the day!

I worked on dinner while hubs pre-made tomorrow's lunch - yep, more work, but we weren't sure how else we'd be able to have something for Chris to bring to work with him. This created yet another large pile of dishes - that was load #2, and we have about 1/4 of a load of dirty dishes still left. This is definitely a labor-intensive, messy food program so far!

We weren't super hungry, but this is what our dinner ended up looking like:

I combined our last snack with our cherries to create a more fruity snack. I won't lie - I didn't actually finish all of my food! That's a shocker, as I figured this food plan (like any other plan I've tried in the past) would leave me hungry all the time. Verdict? NOT TRUE! I'm satisfied, and the food was actually good!

We've decided, since the workout today was so hard, that our workouts will now be in the afternoon once hubs gets home from work, so we aren't "useless" all day lol. I have the "benefit", if you will, of currently being between day jobs, so other than spending time on my travel business I have some extra flexibility to make those afternoon workouts work for me as well.

Final thoughts on Day 1? This has been a lot of work so far, but the food has been better than expected. I'm cautiously optimistic right now since I haven't had to struggle as much as I thought! Final counts had me short about 1/4 yellow, plus a little green/red from the chili I couldn't finish. Chris didn't eat any of his extra containers so he was short a green, purple, red, and tsp along with 1/4 yellow.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sorta Recommended Read - Homegrown and Handmade by Deborah Niemann

Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant LivingHomegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living by Deborah Niemann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you've ever considered participating in modern homesteading, this is the book for you! It would also be good for those who want to know more about: food gardening (urban or rural), raising chickens (some cities now allow them), and working with livestock (which has to be rural for the most part).
I wanted to read it because my husband and I have always wished we could live in a cohousing community, which is similar to a homestead except it is multiple families and generations living in a sustainable community. We also talked about running a homestead when we retired.
Which brings me to my next point - this book is also good at talking most people out of trying to run a homestead, because unless you can afford to live off one income, or can find a way to make money while homesteading, I doubt many people could afford the time or care it would take to make this a realistic way to live!
Some of the book is a little too boring and dry, although if you are only interested in one or two of the subjects you could skip the chapters that don't interest you. And some of it is a little too alarmist for me - yes, I disagree with some of the agricultural practices these days, but I don't feel the need to "breed out antibiotics".
Regardless, this is a decently good book on the subject and I recommend it for anyone interested in learning more. I will probably pass it on to a friend who is thinking about backyard chickens!

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Sorta Recommended Read - The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

The Last BanquetThe Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was kind of like passing a gruesome accident that you don't really want to see, but you can't turn away. I loved the underpinnings of the French Revolution as told by a noble-turned-peasant-turned-noble-again, and the discussions of class and race in the society of old. But there were definitely some disgustingly graphic parts involving the main character's obsession with tasting everything (he probably had Pica, which wouldn't have been something diagnosable back then) - and I do mean EVERYTHING. The book is littered with disgusting recipes for everything from cat to human. There is also quite a bit of sex, for those of you who aren't really into reading novels with graphic sex scenes in them (and they also involved taste again, including tasting urine).

Overall, this wasn't my favorite book but I still felt it was worth reading until the end.

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The 21 Day Fix Diet and Exercise Program Day Zero - From a Couch Potato's Point of View

As it so often happens, late one night after having a bit much to drink, I saw an infomercial for a program that I "just had to have" - 21 Day Fix from Beachbody (yes, I have previously purchased both Slim in 6 AND P90, two other Beachbody programs, on two totally separate occasions, while drunk). Thankfully, this time around my husband was there to stop me from making an impulse buy, and told me we could think about it. 

Before I get any further - I am not a big drinker usually, I just so happen to like watching infomercials the few times I actually do drink. ;) True story. Also, I have basically no alcohol tolerance, so I only need one drink to get drunk. Another true story. 

Anyway, so I thought on it some more the next day, and the day after, and decided to look into it more. I really wasn't interested in the workout program, just the eating program (I refuse to use the "D" word - diet - because just thinking of that word makes me hungry. But I'm sure we'll talk more about that in a later post.). I scoured the internet trying to find a way to purchase just the containers, and thought I had a solution - a website that promised they'd be available on July 15th. However, when I returned to the website the date had been changed to September - and since I'm the type of person that once I make up my mind, I'm ready to buy, I decided I'd have to buy the entire program. At the time, I couldn't find any guides out there that told me what the sizes of the containers were (apparently it's "proprietary" information). 

I received the kit earlier this last week, and eagerly read through the food guide after swallowing my disappointment at the teeny tiny container sizes - they look a lot bigger in the infomercial! I thought the container lists were pretty comprehensive, but the "recipes" were a HUGE disappointment - telling me how to prepare Quinoa isn't a recipe! The only true recipes were the shake recipes, and due to my gluten allergy and the fact that I pretty much HATE protein shakes (having never found one that I liked) those weren't of any use to me. 

An internet search yielded some interesting recipes, and I came up with a couple on my own based on things I already like to eat. I also stumbled upon the container sizes, now that I've already purchased the program! So if you decide to try this program at some point but don't need the fitness dvd's, here's the conversion chart: 

Why am I sharing this with all of you? First of all, I wanted a review out there that wasn't from a Beachbody coach! Everywhere I look there are Beachbody coaches with annoying chat pop-ups on their blogs trying to get me to pay for coaching or buy more programs, etc. and frankly, it's annoying. I am NOT a Beachbody coach, nor am I particularly interested in a fitness career... ok, let's face it - I'll choose snuggling into a couch with a good book over working out ANY day! Hence, why I have a book blog. And a Goodreads. And the people at my local Half Price Books store know me by name... ;) 

Secondly, I'm sharing this with you because I figured it's more helpful to learn about something from someone who isn't already fit, who doesn't already work out every day, and who doesn't already eat in a healthy way. I do work out about twice per week with a personal trainer, but it's mostly as a way to avoid going back to physical therapy after a couple of rounds of surgery and as ongoing treatment for a joint inflammation disorder. I'm overweight, love junk food, and make poor choices on a daily basis which leads me to having a harder time losing weight. 

Finally, I figured it couldn't hurt to just put it out there so that I would have to be held accountable by my friends here on the internet! It's a littler harder to give up when I know people are following up on me. 

Today is day zero - the day BEFORE we start the program. It took me roughly 5 hours of work to develop a menu and grocery list - yes, it was a LONG process! Mostly because I had to dig around on the internet to find recipes that I liked that worked with my container allotment. Below you will find my menu plans and grocery list, as well as links to the recipes that I used. The only thing that is missing on here are the guides - if you do a search, I'm pretty sure you can find a pdf version of the 21 Day Fix guides (I just don't want to post it and get in trouble with the internet police or whatever). 

So far the biggest down side has been the increased cost of groceries - normally we spend about $80-$100/week on groceries. With the list and menu I made, and even using some things we already had in the house, our grocery bill was a whopping $143.13! I shopped at Baker's, so at least I got to rack up some fuel points, but yuck. Next week we might try hitting the farmer's market for some of the produce to see if we can bring the cost down a little. I also subbed in some canned/frozen foods for fresh, and one of my pounds of ground beef I went with a less lean selection to help cut back costs. 

Wish me luck - and feel free to join in and share how it goes for you as well! 

Breakdown: I am allowed 5 Green (Veggies), 3 Purple (Fruit), 5 Red (Lean Protein), 4 Yellow (Carbs), 1 Blue (Nuts/Dairy), 1 Orange (Seeds/Fats), and 5 Tsp of oils per day. My husband Chris will be adding an extra Green, Purple, Red and Tsp to his daily allotment.

Sorry the days are all over the place - I'm not used to using my scanner yet lol! To the right of Day 1 is the grocery list I used, you would probably need to modify based on what you have in your home currently. 


Mexican Salad, Chili, Chicken and Mushroom Marsala, Cheese Quesodilla, & Steak and Sweet Potato Fries -
Strawberry Oatmeal & Apple Pie Breakfast:
Asian Salad: **NOTE: I'm not making her dressing, just sticking with the dressing I have to make for the Mexican Salad for the whole week to save time and money**

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recommended Read - Silevethiel by Andi O'Connor

Silevethiel (The Vaelinel Trilogy, #1)Silevethiel by Andi O'Connor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Journey back to a world where kings ruled and assassination plots hid behind corners while mythical beings roamed the land in this good book! I loved the elves and the idea of lions being guardians, and the story was paced just right. The love story theme was a little too cliche, which is what holds this back from being a 5 star book. But overall a great fantasy read for those that like the genre!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sorta Recommended Read - Winning from Within by Erica Ariel Fox

Winning from Within: How to Create Lasting Change in Your Leadership and Your LifeWinning from Within: How to Create Lasting Change in Your Leadership and Your Life by Erica Ariel Fox
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Good: This book helps you take a step back and think of more professional responses to hot-button issues. The author gives examples of how each inner voice responds to situations and how to try and use each one to come to a more neutral answer.

The Bad: While there are lots of descriptions of your inner voices, it's a bit too "textbook" and never truly explains HOW to balance everything out. It also got a little too repetitive for my liking, once again coming across more as a bland textbook than a truly enjoyable read.

Overall, I found this book to be a mediocre leadership book that fits in the middle of the pack but didn't teach me much of anything that was truly usable or new.

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Recommended Read - Camp Secret by Melissa Boyle Mahle

Camp Secret (Junior Spies, #1)Camp Secret by Melissa Boyle Mahle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an adorable read! Imagine being sent to summer camp, only to discover that this isn't just any ordinary summer camp but a secret spy training camp! The characters are fun, and there is a little bit of a mystery strung through that makes it stay interesting. This is a good middle-school read.

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Sorta Recommended Read - The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

The AftermathThe Aftermath by Rhidian Brook
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book - the dust jacket tells a tale of hardship and reconciliation in the aftermath of a World War. Sadly, this book didn't quite live up to my expectations. It started off well enough, and I found the characters to be believable - but then it just kind of trickled off. It was very anti-climatic. I also struggled with some of the vocabulary, which is saying something since I tend to have a rather large one! This might be a tough read for readers who don't enjoy big words. Overall, I only found this book to be ok.

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Flop - Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France by Nicholas Shakespeare

Recommended Read- The One we Feed by Kristina Meister

The One We FeedThe One We Feed by Kristina Meister
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was disappointed when I received this book to realize that this was the second book in a series, and I hadn't read the first - but I decided to go ahead and read it anyway. I really loved the characters, and the language was very modern which meant it was easy to read! However, I definitely was confused throughout much of it because I didn't understand what exactly was going on, and I didn't have a background on the whole Buddha thing. I think had I read the first book, this would have been much more enjoyable, but as it was I still liked the book and will be putting the first book in the series on my list to read! :)

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Recommended Read - Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal

<a href="" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img alt="Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, and Live Happily Ever After" border="0" src="" /></a><a href="">Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, and Live Happily Ever After</a> by <a href="">Miki Agrawal</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="">5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Truly the right book for a younger generation of aspiring entrepreneurs! Great advice and excellent examples fill this hip book geared toward entrepreneurs that want something more fresh than figuring out the color of their parachute. I won't lie - I read it twice because I really wanted to absorb the lessons and enhance my own entrepreneurial endeavor. That being said, some of it is really not as simple to put into practice if you don't come from money, so those of us from a much more poor background will definitely struggle to achieve a few of the lessons. But if you come from money, or you are willing to work very hard, I think this is a great book to read for aspiring or new entrepreneurs!
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Surprising reader stats!

I came across this image on Facebook recently, and the data surprised me:

As someone who is an avid reader, I'm saddened to think that there are so many people who don't take advantage of increasing their knowledge and imagination by reading! Do you think that there are any good solutions to this problem? How do we engage readers of all ages? Post your feedback in the comments below!

Updated Review Policy

Boy has life been busy lately! :) I am loving the progression of my travel agency (if you haven't checked it out yet, you really should - just click here to go to my Facebook page or here to go to my website), but time constraints have forced me to step back and re-evaluate how I do my book reviews.

Thus, I've updated my Review Policy in a way to make it more fair to my wonderful authors and publishers while still giving me a chance to earn a living. If you are considering sending me a review request, please look over my Review Policy prior to sending it to me to make sure that you qualify.

Off to create one more post for you lovelies before I hit the grind! :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sorta Recommended Read - At the Bottom of Everything by Ben Dolnick

At the Bottom of EverythingAt the Bottom of Everything by Ben Dolnick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a story of friendship - a friendship borne out of genuine camaraderie that quickly turns into the type of strained friendship that remains due to a forced tie to the past. While stunning in it's descriptions, this book for me was a bit anti-climatic and didn't turn into a true masterpiece. However, it was written well enough that I still found it worthwhile to read.

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Recommended Read - Ember Island by Kimberly Freeman

Ember IslandEmber Island by Kimberley Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the only kind of "romance" novel I would read - one that has a dark and twisted underlying plot! While the book starts off slow, and there are some jumps between past and present, it slowly picks up speed and by the middle you won't want to put it down. The characters are interesting, the plot goes from painful to sweet to bitter and back again so many times in a masterful way, and the ending is just right - not too complete, not to open. Great read!

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