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Fitness Friday: yoga mats

Fitness FridayI can’t believe it’s Friday again, but here is another Fitness Friday post!

First, I’d like to jump up and down a little bit at the news that I’m now a member of the Mamavation Sistahood!  This means being an official part of a really fantastic online “sorority”dedicated to making healthy choices.  I’m really happy to be a part of the site, which has already made me some great friendships and helped me a little farther along on my journey!  If you’re looking for a great group of supportive women, I’d definitely recommend checking out Mamavation.

For today’s fitness update, I want to start with a review…

A while ago I won a prize from POM Wonderful.  I was lucky enough to be a grand prize winner in their Fit Challenge, which meant winning a great package of prizes including a case of POM pomegranate juice and a bunch of great stuff from Nike.  I mentioned the socks here.  Included in the package was a really cute Nike hat (which is too small for my freakishly large head, but looks great on my daughter) and a pair of Nike running shoes that will be tried out when I make my triumphant return to C25K in the fall.  I finally, however, made use of the awesome yoga/pilates mat that came with the swag.

Now, like a lot of you I imagine, I have a couple of yoga mats.  One was the cheapest one they sold at Target, which I bought a few years ago for a yoga class and have since used a handful of times.  The second one is one I got a FitBloggin and… now that I think about it, I haven’t used that one at all except for the morning yoga on the last day of FitBloggin.  So this is my third yoga mat and despite relatively regular sessions of yoga, pilates, or other floor work… I never really use any of them.  So when I decided to do the NYC Ballet Workout again today, I thought it would be a great time to try out the new mat.

Since it was the first time I’d used it, it had some lumps and bumps that made it a less than smooth surface… but I can tell those will disappear with use.  The NYC workout has a TON of floor work between warmups, stretches, ab work, and floor barre, so this was a great time to give the mat a run.  I LOVED it.  It is easily the most comfortable mat I’ve ever used, a lot more padding without feeling bulky beneath me.  It comes with a really cool tie/handle/string that acts as a holder to keep it rolled and as a carrying strap.  It’s a great, bright color, and the texture makes it easier to stay put on the mat AND have it stay put on the floor.  I will definitely be using this mat from now on.

As for my actual fitness routine this week… I feel like I’m not working nearly as hard as I did last month with the Jillian workouts.  At first I worried about it, and then I decided that’s just fine.  Every month doesn’t have to be this serious, intense business.  This month I am still moving and getting stronger, and I am enjoying the slower pace of some new workouts in the process.  I’m loving the NYC workout, and I’m still doing lots of cardio and tossing in some Pilates as well.  I’m feeling really good about my fitness routine and, unlike the end of last month, I’m no longer dreading my workouts.


More from me:

Tuscan wine scandal

Overheard: funny things only a parent would say…



Dear Internet…

Not Leaving by Natalie Dee

Not Leaving by Natalie Dee


I need your advice on several things today, so I’m hoping you can help me out…

  1. I’m trying to be sure I’m doing enough in terms of workouts now that I’m not following a solid plan.  On average, I’m doing 30min cardio & 30min strength training on M/W/F, and then 45-60min cardio on T/Th/Sat.  As long as I’m keeping my intensity up, am I on the right track?
  2. I need some recommendations for (preferably wicking) workout wear that does not cost $50 per piece.  As much as I adore, ADORE, my Thriv stuff… I just can’t afford to add to my collection.
  3. I tend to split up my cardio since I take a brisk 20 minute walk with my daughter in the mornings.  Am I reducing the effectiveness of the cardio by doing so?  I don’t think I can manage a full hour of cardio all at once with a toddler to wrangle…
  4. I’d love your opinion on water additives/substitutes like Crystal Light.  I drink a lot of water every day, but sometimes I just want a little more…

And finally, some advice for you.  Do not, under any circumstances, make these salted peanut chews.  They are super sweet, taste amazing, made of pretty much pure sugar, and will sit in your fridge taunting you with their crack-like goodness.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…


More from me:

Coffee burnout: does taste in coffee change over time?


What if we ballet workout on Dec 5?

NYC Ballet Workout

The New York City Ballet Workout Vol 1 & 2 - click the image to buy (and I get a few pennies)

I did this workout for the first time on Monday.  I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the type of workout it would be.

It’s set up in 17 short sections, starting with a warmup and moving through stretches into dynamic strength training moves.  It doesn’t require any equipment (unless you want a mat for floor work) but it does require a little bit of floor space and a decent amount of concentration.  You also need a reasonable familiarity with ballet, since the DVD moves pretty quickly from one movement to the next with the assumption that you are comfortable with the positions and terms.  There is a voiceover (which you can choose not to hear) that includes directions, but those directions don’t necessarily include every required move, and often come a little late.  If you’ve never done ballet, you’ll find it challenging and maybe even frustrating.  For me, it’s been a few years since my last ballet class, but I was comfortable enough with the moves to keep up for the most part.  I can say with certainty that after two or three more sessions with the DVD I will be doing the moves without issue, and maybe without the voiceover.

The workout is relaxing and calm, which is a nice change.  It’s also sort of sneaky.  When I finished, I was sweaty but not near death… so I wondered how hard I’d really worked.  The next morning, I could definitely feel it in my core, so I know that I got some strength training in.  I also liked the option to do the workout with a classical accompaniment or with contemporary  music (I chose classical), but I will say that the video is 90 minutes long (including a short intro by Sarah Jessica Parker?) so you’ve really got to be able to devote some time to it.

All in all, I think it’s a great workout for someone with a dance background and a moderate fitness level.  I will definitely be doing it on a regular basis.


What if?It’s Wednesday, which means another What If post… and since my writing progress has hit a bit of a standstill (I’m still shopping my work everywhere I can) I want to talk about something else that’s a big What If for me…

The Mizboorun December 5 Challenge!Mizfit & Bookieboo have come together to run a half marathon in Vegas on December 5th.  They’re encouraging everyone to make this a goal day, to make this the deadline to achieve a goal of your own, no matter what it is.  I really wanted to be a part of this challenge, so let me give you a little glimpse inside my head as I tried to decide what my Dec 5 goal would be…

– I should reach my goal weight

– But what if I can’t?  That’s two pounds a week and lately I’ve only been losing one.

– But isn’t that the point, to push myself?

– But is focusing on weight the wrong way to go?  Should I be aiming for something “healthy” instead of something associated with a number?

– Am I just saying that because I’m scared I can’t do it?

– Well, what if I can’t do it?  Numbers are hard to control.  If I set a number goal, am I just setting myself up for failure?

And on, and on… until I nearly drove myself insane.  So I let it go, and for a while I thought about just letting this challenge go unnoticed.  But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like this was a good opportunity for me to push myself to greater heights.  I still can’t get past the vicious circle in my head when I think about weight goals, so instead here are my goals for December 5.

  1. Complete Couch to 5K on or before Sunday, December 5
  2. Walk/run/crawl/jog/roll 13.1 miles (a half marathon) during the weekend of December 4-5

And just in case I’ve fooled you, I’ll admit that I am also hoping secretly to make my weight goal by then as well…


More from me:

Orthodox imagery: an entry into the Grantourismo July blog contest talking about my love for Greek religious art

Red wine and your health



polar bear hangoverI totally have a food hangover today.  I’m drinking my coffee, fighting off my normal morning snifflies, and hoping that my daughter sleeps a little later today so I have a few minutes to blog before she’s ready to go.  So the food hangover?  Might have been… becauseIateacheeseburgerandfriesfordinner.

See, if I say it all fast like that, maybe you’ll find it too hard to read and skip it, right?  Maybe I won’t have to admit to eating a cheeseburger, french fries, a lemonade, and a large cookie?

I have to say I am PAYING for it now.  I slept poorly, my stomach is achy, and I feel totally worn out.  Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson and next time I want beef, I’ll make my own burgers and skip the stale fries.  And then, as I sat in bed with my husband bemoaning my stupid choices and making him promise to remind me of this the next time, I heard myself telling him I’m only 5 pounds away from my halfway point.

WHAT?  I’m only five measly pounds away from my next mini goal?  Five tiny pounds away from my halfway point?  Oh that’s it people.

GAME ON.  It’s only Tuesday, so the week is not yet lost.  My new plan is to cut back the calories, amp up the workouts, and get as many of those five pounds off as possible.  I’ll be trying to eat a lot more fruits and veggies, a lot less sweet stuff.  I’ll be trying out new cardio workouts since soaring temperatures in our neck of the woods are going to mean missing our morning walks for the next two or three days.

Ideally, I’d like to see that five pounds gone this week… but I haven’t seen a big loss like that since I first started losing in January.  So instead I’m shooting for two weeks and hoping for the best!  Send me good thoughts, tips, cheers… and I’ll update you after my Saturday weigh-in.


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And the award goes to…: a letter to my 14 month old daughter

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Mamavation Monday: Thanks

NYC Ballet workoutsource

I was not chosen as a Mamavation finalist this time, but I wanted to thank all of you for your support and encouragement.  I’ll probably be applying for the next Mamavation campaign, so I’ll keep you up to date on that!  Until then, here’s another vlog for you:

There are several things I want to talk about this morning.  First of all, as I touched on in the video, I know I was too hard on myself in yesterday’s Slimdown results post.  The truth is that I was hoping for more results specifically in my stomach, which is one of the places where I feel like the results are least obvious, so when I didn’t see more change in the tummy, I couldn’t get past that enough to see the changes in my arms or thighs or the significant butt shrinkage.  So thank you to everyone who left comments and helped me to see that I really did achieve something.  I’m still a little bit irked because I “only” lost 5 pounds and 5 inches, since I’ve seen people lose 10-15 inches and ten pounds or more… but I know that’s not fair and I’m working hard on just being proud of all my dedication and hard work.

In celebration, I gave myself the day off yesterday!  Today, I’ve decided to start following the recommendations of some friends and try for 25-40 minutes of cardio, 5-7 days per week along with 2-3 days of 25-40min strength training.  I may work in some Jillian videos since I have them and I can tell they’re doing something.  I’ll also be trying out the New York City Ballet workout today for the first time, so I’ll have a review of that up tomorrow.

Thanks again for all of your votes and kind comments and Tweets in support of my Mamavation campaign, and for your encouragement with my Slimdown results.  I’ll be taking another set of pics/measurements at the end of this month!


More from me:

Best Ever Barbecue

Weekend wine: Red Cat


30 Day Slimdown RESULTS

So here they are, my progress pics for the end of the 30 Day Slimdown Jillian Michaels challenge.  I’ve spent all month excited to take these pictures and then when it came time to actually do it I found myself nervous.  What if you couldn’t see a difference?

30 Day Slimdown resultsYou can click to make it bigger.  Honestly, I don’t see a difference.  I don’t see ANY change at all, and I am SO frustrated by it.  I’ve never worked out so much or so hard as I have in the last month, and I see no change.  I’ve lost five pounds, but I lost five pounds the month before too, when I was working out significantly less.  I feel like what little change there is does not justify how hard I worked this month.

Am I doing something wrong?  I was so sure I’d see huge changes, significant slimming… and instead, I see nothing.  Yes, the measurements look better… but this is all just so SLOW.  I know it’s slow sometimes, but I feel like it’s slow all the time lately.  Other people are flying past me in their inch/weight loss totals without working nearly as hard.  I had big hopes for the Jillian challenge because she promises such huge results.  I watch the stupid shows and see people losing fifty pounds or more in two months.  I’ve lost just under 35 pounds in six months… and it seems like the loss is getting slower.

I know I should be focusing on the positives.  I know I should be thinking about the fact that I feel stronger, that my husband says he sees real change, that I have lost a good number of inches this month.  I know I should be thinking about the fact that I am seeing consistent losses, week after week, since starting this huge workout push.  I’m just having a hard time with it I guess, since I want to see MORE BIGGER BETTER NOW.

So I’m asking for a little help today.  I need you to help boost my spirits.  Tell me about how this happened to you but you reached your fitness goals anyway.  Tell me something funny, even if it’s totally unrelated.  Give me something to smile about while I sift through the inane conversations of the ridiculous gaggle of winter birds who’ve descended on my previously quiet, originally empty corner of Starbucks despite the rest of the place being starkly empty.


More from me:

Happy 4th – I need your fitness advice!

I have “me time” guilt

Happy Independence Day (plus an Eclipse review)


Happy 4th

flagHappy 4th of July!  We’re spending the weekend relaxing, spending time with friends, and going to the movies.

I was really proud of myself too, because I got up at 6am to exercise.  I got a good 45 minutes of Jillian in before we left for the day.  I made good choices at lunch (minus the watermelon margarita, which was so worth it), had some great frozen yogurt topped with tons of fruit, and then we walked around the mall for almost three hours.

It was a great day full of family, good food, and lots of great activity!  I felt really good about it.  Today, we’re staying at home.  We’ll be heading out for some grocery shopping, and hopefully I’ll manage to get some exercise in this afternoon.  I only have two days of the 30 Day Slimdown left, so I’m determined to work out today even though I’d sort of rather not.

What I really need though is your advice about the rest of the month.  I’ll be done with Jillian tomorrow (and taking some hopefully exciting measurements/pics) but then I’m at a loss for what to do for the rest of the month…  I have the NYC Ballet workout and P90X… plus whatever I have access to online.

So here’s my question to you.  Can you help me figure out how many days of cardio I need?  How many of strength training?  How long each session should be?  I’d appreciate your help!


More from me:

Happy Independence Day (plus an Eclipse review)

I have “me time” guilt

30 Day Slimdown RESULTS