Insanity Program - Week 9 Update (Final)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Well, I am officially done the Insanity 60-day program! What an adventure and a great experience it was for me! I was never able to devote my energy and time into completing or even starting any such program, but the motivation that I started with was strong throughout and I am so proud of myself and happy with the results!

I have to admit one thing, however. The past two weeks I barely did the workouts. It was mostly the combination of warm weather and wanting to go biking or for a run instead of being cooped up inside that kept me from doing the workouts. I think in the future, if and when I start this program up again I will definitely be doing it before the warm weather kicks in (like March/April or October/November).

Throughout the entire 60 days, I committed myself to only cooking healthy meals and trying to avoid eating out as much as possible. It was a success, and I have found myself eating more fruits and veggies and being more conscious as to what food passes my lips. This was great training to help me eat better and choose healthier options, which is something I will continue to follow. However, Friday night we went out to Harvey's and I ate my first burger in months. And in all honesty, my body was so used to eating clean and healthy that my body actually hurt after (mostly my stomach). I don't think I will eat any more fast food for a very long time!

Fitness-wise, I have never felt this healthy in what seems like my whole life! I can run long distances and can keep up with Insanity (well...more than I was able to when I first started the program). I have lost a total of 2% body fat, 4 inches around my hips/waist and 3 pounds. You can tell that my pants have become looser around the hip area, which is awesome! I need to go buy a new pair of yoga pants :)

Also my stomach has shrunk down a bit as well. I need to work out a little bit more of the stomach area to expose more muscle, because I can feel the muscle hiding underneath the fat. But I think one more Insanity program and I can get there! :)

I will provide a quick review of the program in a couple days, along with what I found to be some of the pros and cons.

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Catch up on my previous updates:

Healthy Veggie Scramble

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I love making scrambled eggs for breakfast on weekends. It is my time to add new veggies that I have in my fridge. This time, I had some zucchini, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms. It is a healthy breakfast filled with protein and nutrients! Enjoy!

Healthy Veggie Scramble
Prep time: 5 min        Cook Time: 5 min           Yield: 2 servings

- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 zucchini, diced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 3 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 3 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten

- Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Over medium heat, saute zucchini, onion, mushrooms and tomato until tender. Add feta cheese and allow cheese to melt but not burn.
2. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Add to skillet. Cook the eggs until set, stirring constantly to avoid burning or browning on the bottom.
3. Divide eggs between two plates and serve hot along side fresh cucumber or tomatoes.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Since starting my insanity 60-day program, I bought myself a new bathing suit for this summer. This is my motivation to keep doing what I'm doing!

Insanity Program - Week 8 Update

Friday, June 21, 2013

Month two - where have you gone?! Only one more week left of my workout program. I am super excited to be done! Not only did I accomplish my goal of working out (almost) every day to get my body into summer shape, I also proved to myself that I could do it! I honestly didn't think I would have the drive to keep going after the second week. And here I am, on my eight week, and still going strong!

This week was more of an intense week than previous weeks. I started jogging Monday morning with an Insanity workout at night. However, by Tuesday night and Wednesday I could barely walk. My muscles were too sore from my Monday and Tuesday morning jogs that I just couldn't bring myself to do Insanity Tuesday night or Wednesday. So this left me with two days of no insanity. Plus the Saturday craziness I had of running around and preparing for Father's Day barbecue left me with no time to work out.

Insanity did seem to really improve my cardio. I remember my running used to be more of a jog to the end of the driveway before major cramps kicked in. However, my regular workout sessions has really improved my cardio and resistance that I can keep jogging without the need to take breaks often. I was able to run a whole 1k Thursday! I am truly proud of myself (and my exercise-buddy friend!!).

I will give you all my last week of Insanity next week! Have a wonderful weekend!

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Catch up on my previous updates:

Spinach, Zucchini and Feta Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This side dish is a must for us when we throw barbeques. It is so delicious and filled with flavour. Plus it is grilled alongside the meat on the barbeque, so it is ready within minutes. We made this for our Father's Day barbeque we had this past weekend, and it went great with the burgers we grilled. Plus it was a hit with the family!

The portobellos are loaded with juice, and the feta cheese adds a nice touch (plus, it adds to the presentation!). You can even make it as a meal of its own, for those who love mushrooms. Enjoy!

Spinach, Zucchini and Feta Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Prep time: 10 min        Grill Time: 20-25 min           Yield: 4 servings

- 4 large portobello mushroom caps
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 1 cup fresh spinach, rinsed and stems cut off
- 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat barbeque grill to medium-high heat. In a small bowl, toss zucchini with Herbes de Provence and salt until well seasoned. Add more seasoning if not enough. Arrange on skewer for easy grilling.
2. Grill mushroom caps and zucchini skewers until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
3. Add spinach to mushroom caps (top-side down) and continue to grill, about 2 minutes, to allow spinach to steam a little bit.
4. Place mushroom caps, top-side down, on plate. Arrange zucchini and top with feta cheese.

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New Closet Organization

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ever since we moved in to our home two years ago, I wanted to have an organized and neat closet. However, the standard top shelf and rack was what I had to work with up until recently. Even though I would always get rid of old or no longer used clothing, the closet just kept getting messier and unorganized. So, me and the hubby sat down and thought about what the best arrangement for my closet would be in order to maximize space and keep things organized. This is what we came up with:
As we started taking out the clothing, I remembered to take a few pics. This is that long shelf and rod that ran from one end to the other. Those shelves at the bottom were ones we quickly put together when we first moved in, so you can see just how unorganized things were! I also have large floor to ceiling sliding doors, so bouncing back and forth between the left and right side was a hassle!

I took out all of the stuff from my closet. I also sorted through the clothes and ended up donating a huge bag of clothing I no longer wear.

The hubby moved the shelf and rod 4" higher, put in another rod on the left side, and a tall 1'-wide and 1'-deep shelving unit. All materials used were bought at home depot, cut to size, and assembled at home.

And this is what my closet looks now. The top shelf is still a bit messy, but at least it is all in one place! So now I have my shirts and tees on top and can appropriately match the pants or skirts from the bottom!

And the right side nicely drapes my long dresses and sweaters.

Luscious Lemon Squares

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

After making some lemonade last week, I had some more lemons left over so I decided to make some lemon squares. These sweet but tarty squares will be a hit at any barbecue, baby shower or dinner you host or attend this summer! Enjoy!

Lemon Squares
Prep time: 15 min        Cook Time: 40-50 min           Yield: 20 squares

- 1 cup All-Purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, cold
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp. All-Purpose flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 4 tbsp lemon juice

1. Crust: In a medium bowl, combine sugar and flour. Using two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into greased and floured 8-in. square baking pan. Bake at 325F for 20 minutes or until golden.
2. Topping: In a medium bowl, beat sugar, flour, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over warm crust and return to 325F oven for 20-25 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely in pan. Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares. Serve warm or cool.

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Insanity Program - Week 7 Update

Friday, June 14, 2013

This month is just flying past me! I have two weeks left (wow!), and I cannot believe just how fast it is going. I am really loving insanity, as insane as that may sound! :)

Month two seems to be easy-going for me. Don't get me wrong: it's still hard work! I am sweating more and more each day. But I think it is the fact that I have been doing this for the past month and a half now, and the protein drinks after my workout that help me get by . I make sure to drink a protein shake in the morning and after my workout at night. It really helps to heal my sore muscles and gives me an energy boost.

Because this week wasn't anything spectacular, there is nothing more for me to say other than the fact that I cannot wait to be done this 60-day program, since I am considering starting another 60-day program again after (after a break of course!).

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Catch up on my previous updates:

I will share my week 8 update next Friday. Have a great weekend and a Happy Father's Day!

Five Reasons to Ditch the Scale

Thursday, June 13, 2013

When I first started the Insanity program, I found myself jumping on the scale religiously to see just how much I have lost pound-wise. Back then, I was so concentrated on losing weight and that is all. After a couple weeks into the program, I was very disappointed to see that I have not lost any weight. And this is when I started to think whether I was doing everything right. However, I was looking at all the wrong numbers.

Insanity is a high intensity interval workout combined with muscle toning. It is designed to help you burn the calories and build muscle, thus shedding the fat. And as we all know, muscle weighs more than fat volume-wise and thus takes up less space. Which is why my body weight stayed the same - however my body fat percentage decreased. I dropped 1% body fat in one month as well as two inches on my waist. I'm not sure if this is good or bad for a month of exercising, but I am happy! This is one reason why you should not only look at your weight. Here are a few more.

1. Measure Yourself - This goes back to the whole fat vs. muscle discussion. Two people who weigh the same might not look the same - their body compositions will be different. The same goes with clothing sizes - both might wear the same size but look totally different. Measuring your waist, hips and chest circumference are better indicators of health than weight.

2. Water Weight - Have you ever felt so great and light, until you stepped on that scale and it told you otherwise? Yes that happens, more often than not. You shouldn't be overly compulsive with weighing yourself day by day, since we all know that our weight changes hourly and daily. Depending on factors like water intake, salt consumption, and (for the ladies) that "time of the month", your weight will naturally fluctuate up and down.

3. True Health - Your weight might not always be the best indicator of your health or fitness levels. You might weigh less but are you flexible? Are you strong? Do you have endurance? A person who weighs 100 pounds might not be able to keep up cardio wise, have a high body fat percentage and be considered unhealthy, whereas a person who weighs more than recommended for their body height might be healthy, have high endurance levels and have a lower body fat percentage.

4. Before/After Pictures - Pictures don't lie, and they will show you just how much your body has changed. It is a great way for you to compare how much you have lost (and muscle gained) instead of stepping on that scale each time. Plus, looking at how much you have accomplished from all that hard work is such a self-motivator!

5. Your Self Worth - You should never allow the scale to tell you how you should feel or allow yourself to get into a depression over a number. It is just a number and as long as you are working hard at your exercise routine and eating healthy, you should never let the numbers rule you. Just because you gained a pound or two from yesterday doesn't mean you should punish yourself by working out double-time or skipping out on a meal. Not only is this harmful on your emotions, it can also be harmful on your body. If exercising is making you a happy person overall, then that scale should never come between you and your happiness!

Homemade Lemonade

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I bought some fresh lemons his weekend for some homemade lemonade. I absolutely l.o.v.e. lemonade during the summer months. There is nothing better that satisfies the summer thirst than a fresh cold glass of lemonade! I don't add too much sugar, so I like mine a bit sour. But you can add as much sugar as you like. Enjoy!

Homemade Lemonade
Prep time: 10 min        Yield: 4-6 servings

- 12 lemons
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup sugar

1. In a saucepan, heat sugar and 1 cup water. Stir until sugar is dissolve. Set aside
2. Squeeze juice from lemons. Strain juice through a strainer, if you don't like the pulp.
3. In a large jug, add lemon juice, sugar-water syrup and remainder of water. Stir. Add ice or chill until ready to serve. Add more water or sugar if needed.

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A Daily Dose of LOL

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend !

Some funnies to help kick off your work week! Happy Monday everyone!

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Insanity Program - Week 5 and 6 Update

Friday, June 7, 2013

I am officially on my second month of the insanity program! I cannot believe just how much time flies! I am really in a good schedule right now, being able to balance working out, work, and free time. I now feel more organized, yay!

I took the recovery week as a partial week off. I ended up only working out two of the seven days. I was exhausted though from the first month, so it was a much needed break. Surprisingly month 2 is going great for me! I am sweating a lot more than during the exercises in month one. The videos are a mix of cardio and strength. Each workout video is about an hour long, as compared to 30 minutes during month one.

I have upped my intake of protein, since I knew that this month was going to be a tough one. I have definitely noticed the protein helping, since I am not as tired as during month 1. If I only knew back then! So now I am in-taking 60 grams of protein or more a day. I am not sure what the recommended level is for someone on the insanity program, but maybe I might increase it as the weeks go on.I am still cutting out sugar intake as much as I can, but have snuck in some ice cream this past weekend.

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Catch up on my previous updates:

I will share my week 7 update next Friday. Have a great weekend!

Sweet Potato Fries with Zesty Dipping Sauce

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Oh my goodness! I was introduced to sweet potato fries just this year and I was thinking, what the heck was I missing all this time?! I have been deprived!! But seriously, to anyone who hasn't tried sweet potato fries - I urge you to try! But I shall warn you: you will get addicted! Once I searched up how to make my own sweet potato fries, I knew this would be a great hit to many barbeques and get-togethers this summer. This is a great side to BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches.

They are so quick and easy to make! Here is my version of spicy sweet potato fries, but as I noted in the recipe, you can add your own spices like paprika or garlic powder - the list goes on! Serving these with the zesty dipping sauce is a must!

Sweet Potato Fries
Prep time: 10 min        Cook Time: 30 min           Yield: 2-4 servings

- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp spices of your choice (I used chili powder)

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Peel the potatoes and cut into french fry strips.
2. In a large bow, or a ziploc bag, combine olive oil, sea salt and spices. Toss the fries to coat thoroughly. Add more olive oil and seasoning, if needed. Spread out the fries onto an ungreased non stick baking sheet, leaving some space between each fry to ensure each fry bakes well and crispy.
3. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the fries over about half-way through. Make sure to bake them long enough until they are crispy. If they start turning too black, turn the heat down just a bit and bake a bit longer.

Zesty Dipping Sauce
Prep time: 5 min        Cook Time: 5 min           Yield: 2-4 servings

- 6 tbsp mayonnaise
- 4 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
- 1 tsp lemon juice

1. Stir all ingredients until combined. You can use with sweet potato fries, onion rings, burgers, sandwiches, etc.

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Just For The Ladies - Period Tracker App

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ok this post is for all the gals out there! I wanted to share a particular android app I use almost on a regular basis - Period Tracker app. If you're like me, you tend to forget when the last time your period came. Which is why this app can be perfect for you. So when your friends ask you to go to the beach this weekend, you won't forget that your "great aunt" is visiting the day you all plan to go. I love this cute and handy app that I use to enter my symptoms during my periods, as well as my moods or notes when I am not on my period. And this way I will never forget to pack according to when my aunt is expected to come!

The home screen of the app tells you when your next period should start as well as how many days you have until your next period or how many days you are late. What is also really cute is that when you are in your fertile time, flowers will bloom over the tree branches.

The calendar is very simple to use. Your period days are displayed with the little pink/red triangle in the corner, with light pink representing your light days and red representing your heavier days. Your fertile days are represented with a green dot and your ovulation day is shown with a flower. If you were intimate any days, it would show up with a heart, and any notes you made about your moods or symptoms are shown by a black dot.

You can enter your moods and symptoms of any day. The "moods" icons are just too cute! And for  each symptom there are three levels of intensities. This is great since I might have slight cramps on my first day but more intense cramps on my second day. This way, I can easily compare with how I felt the other months.

In settings, you can see what your average cycle is and how long your cycles were each month. You can also enter your body weight and temperature. I don't use this setting, since I don't feel it is necessary.

There are two versions of the app: the lite, which is free and the one I explained above; and the deluxe, which is $1.99 and has more options and features.

Note: These are not my images, They are the images retrieved from the app screenshots. This was not a sponsored post. I wanted to share this app with you all!

New Window Curtains (And a Hemming Tutorial)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When we first moved to our new home, I didn't mind the curtains that were there. Yes, they were hideous, but I knew I would change them soon and so I never thought much of it. Little did I know, they were actually broken. Turning them to open up the blinds was nearly impossible unless I turned each individual ones while pulling on the string.

I honestly think these blinds were installed when the house was built, some 30 years ago. Our living room is small, and the window is pretty much the width of the room. Which is why I wanted to take time in searching for the right drapes. However, this search took almost two years. I finally found neutral coloured drapes that seem to work with the area and were inexpensive. This is our starter home, and since we will be moving on out of here in a couple years I didn't want to invest in anything major. Save up the money for the real deal, right?

We also bought sheer drapes a long time ago, when I first wanted to change the window curtains. But for some reason I did some wrong measurements so they were longer than the windows and thus needed some hemming. By this point I did not want to buy new sheer curtains and waste any more money than needed. Here is my quick how-to on hemming drapes. This was my first time and so I hemmed as I went along.

I first put up the sheer drapes to see how short they needed to be hemmed. I marked this length using some bobby pins by folding the bottom up. It actually fit perfectly along the already existing stitches. It was only a matter of folding up along the existing stitch line.

Using my sewing machine, I stitched width-wise. I made sure that the fold was facing the window, so it is not seen when the dark drapes are open.

And there you have it, (somewhat) nicely hemmed sheer window coverings.

And here are the new window coverings! I love them now since it allows so much more light to flow in and makes the room appear larger.

Hello June!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dear June - you are finally here! I wanted you to come so bad! The other months have been too harsh on me, my skin, and my attitude. You are the month that rings in summer, and you are followed by two marvelous summer months. Camping trips, barbecues, bonfires, beach time and get-togethers are in my close future. I am so ready to embrace the warm, sunny days you have in store!  But I cannot believe how fast the year has flown by, cannot believe that five months are already long gone, only captured in memory. Next month me and the hubby will be celebrating our one year anniversary. And even though it feels like we were married forever now, I still cannot believe that we have been married for one year. My how the time flies by! I ask you only one thing, dear month of June, and that is to stay a while and let me embrace all that you have to offer in the next thirty days!
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