Saturday, August 31, 2013

These are a few of my favorite things (part 2)...

So here's another short list with more of my favorites!  I can't be the only one that loves these items...let me know what you think!  Do you like these things too?  What would you put on YOUR list of fav things??

1) Clif Kid Zbars are amaaaaazing!  I actually started eating them myself long before I even had kids because they were a 3-point snack that satisfied my hunger and my sweet tooth! Clif Bar and Company prides themselves on making products that contain no artificial flavors or colors and no high fructose corn syrup.  They use organic ingredients and whole grains.  With flavors like iced oatmeal cookie, peanut butter and chocolate chip, these bars taste more like a decadent snack than a healthy food.  My 4-year old, 19-month old and I all agree.....Major yum!

2) Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips are a brand new find for me!  But I literally fell in love at first application! ;)  I'm a huge fan of the gel manicure that you'd get at a salon.  The pros are that it lasts at least a week and a half and is dry the minute you leave the salon - the cons, however, are that they cost at least $25 (usually more!) and take an hour or so at the salon and sometimes I just don't have the time!  Well, while wandering around Walmart yesterday, my home away from home, I came across these strips for under $10!  I figured they were worth a try - and I was right!  I came home and got right to work...they are super easy to use since the directions are super easy to follow and they look like a real manicure! (as they should since the strips are made from real nail polish!)  They have plain solid colors or funky designs (I got Glitz Blitz) and the price is less than that of a regular manicure at a salon!  Totally awesome!

3) Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn is Delicious...with a capital D!  I have been a huge fan of this product for years.  The taste is just great, totally hits the spot!  It is made with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and it's gluten free.  Try it and I guarantee it'll be a new favorite snack for you, too!

I hope you enjoyed this installment of 'my favorite things'!  Remember to check out part 1 also!!

I'll be back tomorrow with more!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My favorite blogs!

I am still on such a high from starting this blog!  I was never really a 'writer' (math and science are more my thing!), but it is very liberating to publish a post...that I wrote...on MY blog!  It leaves me in a very vulnerable state, not knowing who is reading it and what they're thinking.  But there is one key thing that I've learned from my favorite bloggers, and that is confidence.  You think it, you write it, you post it...all while sending caution to the wind!  Check out this list of my favorite blogs, the ones that I read every day.  They are centered around health and fitness, or so I originally thought, but they encompass a whole lot more than that....I am so happy to share them with you!

1) www.ronisweigh.com
Roni has been blogging forever - and I've been reading ever since the very beginning!  What started as a place for her to stay accountable and document her Weight Watcher weight loss journey after her first son was born has transformed into a blossoming career that has led to Roni trying new things (becoming a runner, running marathons, doing crossfit), hosting a website for other health/wellness/fitness bloggers (www.blogtolose.com) and, in turn, a huge event for those that blog about health/wellness/fitness (check out www.fitbloggin.com) and all while entertaining and inspiring her readers!  She's truly amazing!!  She also blogs about healthy meal ideas and awesome recipes at www.greenlitebites.com.  Talk about a busy blogging lady :)

2) www.katheats.com
On KERF (Kath Eats Real Food), Kath shares everything (or almost everything!) about her meals, workouts, family life, day-to-day activities, and more recently, about being a mom!  She is honest and conveys her authenticity to the reader with every post.  Her blog is easy and enjoyable to read!  She shares great meal ideas and recipes and her adventures of being a new mom are so relatable!  This is another blog that I've been reading forever!  

3) www.babykerf.com
Kath started this blog as an extension of KERF (Kath Eats Real Food) when she became pregnant with her son.  As a new-ish mom myself, I love reading about all things pregnancy and baby related.  Again, her honesty (will this baby ever sleep?) and adorable pics keep me coming back for more! and more! and more!

4) www.carrotsncake.com
Tina is a rock star (!!!) that shares her honest day-to-day activities with her readers...every day!  She is a dedicated blogger that made her passion of health and fitness blogging her new way of life.  She is real (yea she drinks alcohol and eats from the bread basket at dinner!), she is in great shape (thanks to crossfit!) and she loves her adorable pug!  Her blog is enjoyable and informative and the way she shares so much of herself makes me feel like we're old friends!  A super awesome, motivating blog!

I hope you check out these bloggers, I promise that you won't regret it!  What are some of your favorite blogs that inspire and energize your passion for health and fitness?? 

I'll see you tomorrow with more!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My list of must-haves to keep in your car!

I compiled a list of what I consider the 'must-haves' to keep in your car.  If you have kids, and even if you don't, I think you will find most of these items useful to keep in the car.  Most may seem obvious, but you can use this as a checklist to make sure you're ready for a just-in-case situation!  What do you consider a necessity to keep in your car??

1) Change of clothes (including diapers and wipes!).  This includes a pair of underwear and a sweatshirt...for everyone in your family!

2) Beach towel.  Can be used to wipe the slide at the playground if it's wet,  yourself if it's raining or to clean up a spill or mess.

3) Tampons.  Period.  Literally :)

4) Snacks.  Pretzels, granola bars, dried fruit, protein bars (and for the kids: gummies, goldfish, non-refrigerated yogurt, applesauce) are just a few examples.

5) A few individual-sized bottles of drinking water.  

6) Anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer.  Great for the kids after sitting in a shopping cart and for you after you pay for something using money or credit cards.

7) Disinfecting wipes.  These can be used to clean the steering wheel occasionally and to wipe down the shopping carts and table tops when you go out to eat.

8) Money.  A $20 bill in case you need gas and forgot your wallet and a handful of quarters if you need air in your tires.

9) Small storage box filled with little toys and board books.  I put the 'box of goodies' between the 2 car seats and the kids can pick and play with whatever they want....the variety keeps them busy while we're in the car.  Also, most kids enjoy listening to a CD of kid songs - like the Itsy, Bitsy Spider and The Wheels on the Bus.  It may drive the parents crazy, but if the kids are happy and quiet, the parents are happy, too!

10) Gum/mints.  A must!

Oh, and I wanted to quickly mention....if you're out there, lurking around the blog...HI!!!  Please leave a comment and let me know whether these posts are interesting to you...or not!  I love feedback!!

I'll be back tomorrow with more!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The BEST YouTube channels for at home workouts!

Since giving birth to my first son almost 4 years ago, I have done most (if not all!) of my workouts at home. I took walks outside and did some spinning classes, but I quickly realized that the channels that I followed on YouTube combined cardio, strength, stretching...the workouts that I was doing combined all of the aspects of a balanced exercise routine.  They were all that I needed to lose weight and tone my body.  I have a pair of 4 lb dumbbells, a pair of 7 lb dumbbells and a 15 lb dumbbell.  These weights are more than sufficient...it's nice to have some  different sizes of weights at home to challenge your muscles and add intensity to any workout.  

This is a list of the YouTube channels that I follow and visit daily to find my workout of the day!  These trainers are knowledgeable, motivating, in great shape, exciting to watch and they upload full-length, real-time actual workouts!  I didn't realize how many people simply post their workout breakdown and maybe an example of how to do each exercise. Especially when I was starting out, I really needed to watch a workout video where I could follow along.  I was unsure of movements and needed the words of encouragement from the trainers during the workouts.  Together, these 3 channels provide almost 1,000 workouts that are completely FREE!!  Be sure to check 'em out!

Coach Kozak is a personal trainer that believes that every Heart and Soul deserves to be fit!  He has over 400 free workouts available on his channel.  His workouts are fun and fast paced.  Coach Kozak is so like-able you can't help but want to watch his videos and join him in the exercises...they're just great!

2) ZuzkaLight of www.zuzkalight.com
Zuzka is amazing!  Her workouts are so challenging!  She recently made her newly uploaded workouts by subscription only, but there are still about 70 FREE workouts available to choose from and they are intense, crazy, amazing, exhausting - when you finish a ZWOW (a Zuzka Workout of the Week) you feel like you can take over the world.  WARNING: she loves burpees! ;)

Melissa uploads a new workout video almost every day - and her channel already has over 400 FREE videos at your disposal!  Her husband's commentary (he's the videographer) and words of encouragement make me giggle - just a real couple giving real people, like you and me!, real workouts.  Challenging and fun, they are exhausting in an awesome way!  Truly great workouts!

I hope you find these channels helpful.....I know I have!  And feel free to search YouTube for other channels that may interest you.  YouTube is loaded with knowledgeable individuals that upload awesome free workouts!  It's like having your own personal trainer at your finger tips!  Utilize them!!!

I'll see you tomorrow with more!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Don't underestimate the power of basic, body weight exercises!

I am almost 30 (next month, ahh!), have had 2 kids and I can honestly say that I am in the best shape of my life!  I have always been athletic, but I have muscle tone that I have never seen before.  Now I don't have a perfect physique, but I see where I've come from to where I am now and I've even impressed myself!  It's hard to say that out loud but I believe it to be true.  I try to do a 15-20 minute workout - in my living room - every single day.  Most of these workouts I've found on YouTube or people's personal websites.  I will link to my favorite YouTube channels and trainers in a very near future post...you won't want to miss it as they are awesome!!

What I have learned is that sticking to the basics is not playing it safe, I think it actually happens to be a pretty smart move.  You don't really need fancy equipment or crazy gadgets to get in great shape.  I strongly believe in the power of the exercises listed below.  They may seem basic and simple, and in technique they actually are.  But I promise that after a few short minutes your muscles will start to burn.  It's a great feeling....one that you'll start to crave and enjoy.  Mix it up, challenge yourself (maybe up your reps by 5 more than you did last time or add a pair of dumbbells!) and the possibilities are endless!

1) Squats are amazing for your butt, legs and abs.  Keep your core activated to ensure good posture during the entire exercise - keep your head up, shoulders back and down and chest out!  Just make sure that whether you're doing a sumo squat (wide stance with toes pointed slightly outward) or a classic squat (feet slightly wider than hip width with toes pointed forward), your knees never come in front of your toes.  That will add stress to your knees which could result in an injury.  Try to pretend like you're sitting back in a chair and push your butt back...this will help keep your knees well behind your toes!

2) Lunges are another great exercise for your butt, legs and abs.  Same core activation as mentioned above!  Standing straight up, take either a short step forward (to work more of the quads, or front thighs) or a longer step forward (to work more butt) with one leg.  Lower down until your front knee and back knee are both at 90 degree angles without touching the back knee to the floor.  Alternate legs and feel the burn!

3) Burpees make me smile - in a masochistic type of way.  They are an amazing, intense, full body exercise that work your legs and chest and shoulders and abs....and more!  It also raises the heart rate to burn those extra calories!  I like the burpees that include a push up because, well, why not?!  Try to do as many as you can in say 2 minutes...or even 1 minute, you will feel it and how!  Burpees get 2 thumbs up from me...they make you feel like a real warrior!

4) Push ups are a great upper body exercise that work the shoulders, chest, back and abs (you have to keep that core activated in order to have a flat back...don't drop those hips!).  Do them on your toes or on your knees, as long as you keep the emphasis on lowering and lifting your upper body it doesn't make a difference.  Push strong and these will hit you hard and fast!

A sample workout could be:
12 Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) where 1 round is...
* 10 burpees
* 20 lunges (10 each leg, alternating)
* 10 push ups
* 30 squats

What are your favorite basic, body weight exercises?  This post makes me want to go  exercise - can't wait for my workout tomorrow!  I'll see you then with more!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weight Watchers - It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle!

It may sound corny but it is so true!  I mentioned it in a previous post....I am a weight watcher.  Proudly!  I may not be currently counting points or going to weekly meetings, but Weight Watchers (WW) is just my way of life.  To me it simply means being aware of what I'm eating, what I'm drinking and how much I'm moving.

I actively utilized the WW tools to lose 25 lbs my junior year of college, and then again to lose 40 lbs and 50 lbs after my 1st son and 2nd son were born, respectively.  I have nothing but positive things to say about this plan.  It simply works for me.  We clicked - it is a match made in happy, healthy heaven!    

I decided to compile a list of the top 10 things that I think everyone starting out on a weight loss/diet plan/new lifestyle journey should know - whether it's with WW or any of the others.  Maybe it's the things I wish someone had told me.  Regardless, I hope someone that needs it, finds it, and that it helps them!  What do you think?  Do you agree/disagree?  Got anything to add?

1) You will not - and should not - lose more than 1-2 lbs each week.  Sorry to be a buzz kill, but it's unrealistic and would mostly be water weight that will come creeping back as fast as it was lost.  Unless you are at the very beginning of your weight loss journey (when you initially go from eating without boundaries to a much more strict, calculated food plan), you cannot expect to drop 'The Biggest Loser' type numbers.  Those contestants are dropping huge numbers week after week because they are on strict diets, being monitored by trainers and nutritionists and working out endless hours each day.  It's just not realistic in the real world. (Side note:  I LOVE The Biggest Loser and cannot wait until the next season!  How can you not have a serious crush on Bob Harper?)

2) The encouragement and support of others is an absolute necessity.  This could be someone you know - like a family member or friend - but it doesn't have to be.  At the beginning of my journey I searched and searched the web for young women just like me on the same journey.  I am so grateful that the women I found chose to document their daily habits for people like me to find.  I got great tips and tricks for meal and snack ideas and I got a great sense of community - I was not on this weight loss lifestyle change alone!

3) You MUST move!  Start slow and start simple.  Walk! Swim! Ride a bike! Do all the things that  you loved to do as a kid.  You don't need a fancy, expensive gym membership.  Check out YouTube for full length workout videos (some of which are posted from actual personal trainers!) that require no exercise equipment and can be done in the comfort of your own living room.  I will be posting soon about my fav YouTube workout and exercise channels - stay tuned! 

4) You MUST drink water.  You should have a water bottle with you at all times!  Coffee and tea are fine as well, but juices and sodas are in my opinion unnecessary and a big no no!  Why waste any points/calories on a beverage?!  Alcohol can be consumed very moderately and on special occasions, but don't forget to mix it with something like club soda (tonic has calories!) to minimize the point value.  Water is super important for all kinds of bodily functions, including the way your skin looks, the way the body digests (and excretes!) foods and it also can help satisfy a craving - sometimes you think you're hungry but your body is really just thirsty!  Try it!

5) Journal everything....the amount of water you drink, the amount of time and type of exercise you do, the exact amount of food you ate (by lying you are only cheating yourself!)  Journaling has been proven to be an excellent tool in weight loss and it is absolutely necessary to succeed while following WW.

6) No one is perfect!  This is not a sprint, it's not even a marathon, it's a commitment to always TRY to do your best.  There will always be days where you slip up or don't feel like exercising or simply don't have the time.  Allow yourself to be imperfect!  It's the only way to keep yourself sane.  If you're on track 80-90% of the time, it's way better than being 100% off track all the time!  And don't wait until 'next week' to get back on track.  If you slip up at lunch, hop right back on the wagon for dinner! 

7) Once you have achieved your 'goal weight' the world - and all of it's problems - does not just turn into rainbows and butterflies.  If there is an internal struggle going on, don't be afraid to address it.  It could explain what put you in the unhealthy or overweight state in the first place....

8) This is a lifestyle change, not a diet plan.  You don't just throw all of your knowledge and healthy habits out the window once you meet your goal.  This has to be a change to your everyday habits that you will WANT to continue to make each day.  It's a promise to yourself that you care about you and want to make the best choices for your health and well being.  

9) Make a plan at the beginning of each week and try to stick to it (within reason!).  Whether you're a working mom with kids or a single lady just worrying about her job or her social life, it's important to put yourself first.  That doesn't mean neglecting your family and responsibilities...it means scheduling your food shopping, meal planning and prep and daily exercise just like you would an appointment, a business meeting or your kid's soccer practice.  You have to allow yourself the ability to make this new lifestyle achievable!

10) Work towards smaller goals in order to reach your bigger goals.  Let's say you have 50 lbs to lose....that is totally overwhelming on day 1 (I know because I was so there!).  Break it up into 10 or 15 lb increments and celebrate those achievements!  A manicure, a massage, a new workout outfit are all great ideas to celebrate YOU!  DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT 'reward' yourself with food!! That is a bad habit that we need to absolutely break...for obvious reasons!

Hard work pays off - period!  If you aren't serious, your results won't be serious!  A change cannot truly be made until you feel it inside your gut....it has to be that passionate.  No one can want it for you.  

Good luck if this is the beginning of your journey and keep going strong if you're already knee deep in your new healthy, happy lifestyle!  I'll see you tomorrow with more!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

These are a few of my favorite things....

If I really sat and wrote about all of my favorite things, we'd be here forever!  So I think I'll break it up into various posts.  This will be the first official installment of "Sammy's Favorite Things"....maybe I'll write about a handful or so of them each week.  I'll leave off the obvious big things (my kids, my dog, my hubby - because they would of course be at the tippity top of this list!)  I will instead tell you about the little things that make me smile.  I consider them necessities but really I COULD survive without them (it's just I'd rather not try!)  These are things that I eat or use or love almost - if not every - day!  So while we're chatting....what are a few of your favorite things??

1) VitaTops and Mini VitaCakes - Vitalicious, the company that makes these amazing treats, is definitely one of my favorite things.  I think it's safe to say that it IS my favorite thing!  I originally found them years ago when I first started Weight Watchers in college and they were just what I needed!  At 100 calories each (you can actually have 2 mini VitaCakes for that same 100 calories!) they are the perfect snack...or for me, the perfect breakfast.  I really only enjoy the chocolate flavors - which still allows me a variety of options - and I have literally had one (with a spoonful of chunky peanut butter!) for breakfast every single morning for the last 10 years!  Their nutrition facts are amazing and the taste is equally as exciting - I can't get enough!!!  See for yourself at www.vitalicious.com.

2) Peanut Butter - Isn't this one obvious?  Who doesn't like peanut butter?  Creamy or chunky...the processed jars or the all-natural-ground-peanuts-only-no-salt-added packaged and sold at the supermarket deli...yes please to all of them!  Full of healthy fats and protein, it's a delicious little addition to any meal or snack - just make sure to measure it out.  At approximately 200 calories for 2 tablespoons, which is a serving, the calories add up fast because it's so delish so be cautious!

3) Text Messaging - Some people find this impersonal, and I agree to an extent...some situations require an actual face-to-face meeting or a phone call.  Don't text me that you're pregnant, engaged, that someone died, that you're mad at me because... or to wish me a happy (INSERT: birthday, anniversary, Halloween - I'm very serious about my favorite holiday!) ;)  But to ask me a question about a play date, to make plans for the weekend or a girl's night out - just text me!  I may be sitting eating lunch and physically able to talk, but sometimes I just don't feel like it!  For these reasons, texting is perfect - you can have a whole conversation without actually having a whole conversation!  Mission accomplished!  If I have to ask my husband a question while he's at work, and I just hung up after asking him something else, texting is a lifesaver - I'm annoying him, yet no one else in the office is aware! :)

I'll leave it at that for now.  More to come in future posts - promise!  I'll see you tomorrow with more!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's in a name?

So it took me only a few minutes to come up with a name for this blog.  Yes I wanted to pick something that would catch your eye, but I also wanted it to be an ironic and unique description of my personality.  Let me start off by saying that I LOVE dessert!  Like, a lot!  I'd rather skip dinner and go straight for a piece of cake, or a cookie, or a big bowl of ice cream (which is usually non-fat frozen yogurt....more on that later!)  I'm health conscious, yes.  I watch my weight and check myself every week when I do my weigh in (I lost 50 lbs after my second baby with Weight Watchers - LOVE IT!...more on that later, too!)....But I'm a chocolate lover!  It's in my genes - my mom, my sister, even my great-grandma...we're all the same way!

Now you might remember that I described myself as Type A - organized, detail-oriented, anal, on a strict schedule, etc, etc.  But the term 'Peace and Love' is used to describe a free-spirit, more of a hippie!  It's so ironic but I have a very good friend (he's one-half of one of our closest couple friends), that's known me for about 3 years, and he describes me as just that - a free-spirit! LOL  The first time he said it I literally laughed out loud (as did my husband!).  I couldn't imagine that that is how I could possibly be perceived by someone.  I do take it as a compliment though...  I may have 1,000,001 things running around my head, mental lists that I'm making about what I have to buy at the supermarket later or what I have to get done before my son goes to school in the morning, but I act "as if"....as if I have it all figured out, as if I'm not a total neurotic, as if "I'm right on top of that, Rose!" (a reference to a line from Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead - too funny!)

So there you have it.  My blog is born...we've been properly introduced...and I'll see you tomorrow with more!

Welcome to my first official blog post!

Hello blog world!  I am so excited that I decided to embark on this journey!  I'm no English major so grammar, punctuation and spelling can (and should!) all be over looked!  ;)  I should start by saying that I realize at this point I'm basically writing to myself...and I'm okay with that!  Because for now I really am writing FOR myself.  Somewhere to ramble and jot down my thoughts.  Don't get me wrong...I do hope that people find my blog, think it's interesting and start following it - but my actual goal is simply to entertain, the way other blogs have done for me.  For years I've been following a bunch of blogs - some on fitness, some on pregnancy (and life thereafter!), some on weight loss and weight loss management, some just documenting people's every day lives.  I read them daily and I look forward to new posts.  You start to feel a connection with the blogger even though you've never met or spoken - since they share so much about themselves.  I've gained tons of knowledge, posts have made me laugh and cry...and most importantly they inspired me to start writing myself!  

I don't know how much I want to disclose off the bat (we did just meet!), but I'm comfortable telling you that I'm in my late 20's, I have an adoring husband and I'm a stay at home mom for 2 amazing sons, who are almost 4 and 1 1/2 years old. 

So now that this welcome post is crossed off my list, let's get on with the show!