8-week challenge end results

Aloha y'all!

I got to say, I LOVE challenges as they can be a good motivation to do things you already want to do but may not have enough oompf to get to it. Come on, don't you feel that way at times? I know I do!

Back in October I started an 8-week challenge solo. One that I always wanted to do but felt I couldn't do. You can read my thoughts halfway through the challenge HERE but today, I want to share a virtual cup of coffee with you while I tell you about this amazing journey I was on.

First, the challenge I embarked on was a fitness program called Insanity Max30. (Note, that is an affiliate link and if you like the program, please allow me  the honor to be your coach. Better yet, email me and I will help you select the best program and pricing to fit your personal needs.)

Since I do not put full confidence into a number on a scale, I like to start my fitness programs with pictures to get a good starting point documented. And as much as sharing pictures can leave me feeling vulnerable, I feel I got to do it since we aren't sitting across each other or see each other daily. Here is my starting point.

My goal was to get stronger and perhaps find some more abs since it has been a long-lived dream to have defined abs. But most important, get stronger and balance out my strength. Running daily since December 30, 2011 has given me strong legs but I had muscle weaknesses in other places. In particular, my arms (WAAAAAYYY weak), my glutes, and my pesky hip were on top of my take care of list.

I have been cross training since May and have been seeing remarkable gains through the added fitness workouts and eating according to a plan suited to my particular needs. An eating plan that works. I tried to combine these with my daily running and I got to tell you, it wasn't always easy.

The workout plan was 8 weeks long with 5 30-minute workouts each week. In the first 4 weeks, I did all 20 workouts although some were moved to other days as a Saturday could be used as a catch up day if I missed one Monday-Friday. The workouts are INTENSE and the goal is to push, push, push until you Max Out and record that time. During those 4 weeks, I managed to pull off 4 workouts without maxing out! I was ecstatic and encouraged but the workouts were still intense and took pure determination and will power. But Shaun T always seemed to know just what to say and exactly when to motivate me to keep pushing....plus darling daughter was a huge support calling out "You can do it, Mommy!" just when I needed it too.

For the second 4 weeks I am a bit less stoked about my commitment. To be honest, with my birthday on October 7th (end of week 1), Halloween, and Thanksgiving plus financial stress brewing, some days were just plain tough but I did not give up and friends, that is what matters. Do not give up. Some is better than none. One slip does not undo all the successes you have logged. Do not give up.

The amazing thing is even though I only logged 17 of the 20 workouts in the final 4 weeks (I missed 2 in week 5 and 1 in week 6), I did not max out in 9 workouts! And y'all, weeks 5-8 are TOUGHER than weeks 1-4 as the program is laid out on the premise that you are getting stronger. That final week, I pushed like crazy and did not max out one single day....and I think that explains why I need this week now as a recovery week. I worked HARD for the past 8 weeks!

You can see the final few seconds of my workout HERE. And, my end results photo....

What have I gained? A LOT! Here are my notes:
  • My weight is the same and since I was eating on the maintenance plan I did not plan or hope to lose weight. I honestly believe my weight is perfectly fine.
  • My core is stronger. I can feel it in how I sit and hold myself up.
  • My glutes have been activated. I can feel this difference in my runs.
  • My pesky hip --> It has been quiet 99% of the time and this is AMAZING for an ache that was present practically every single day. 
  • My arms and back are stronger. Dear hubby has even been commenting on them!
  • My legs are less wiggly. I know I said my legs were strong and not a focal point but it is nice to see them shaping up in a new way. 
  • My confidence is building. When you push yourself and prove to yourself you are strong, how can you not believe in yourself more?

What is really cool is that I look forward to doing this workout challenge again because there is room for growth PLUS there is an option for a more advanced 8-week challenge in the exact same program I purchased. That is like two-in-one and a program that is intense and rich enough that it can be repeated and not be boring for your mind or body. You know we grow through changing things up and pushing ourselves. I look forward to pushing play and moving away from a few more modifier exercises as I continue to build a better me. 

If you want to join me, email me today, and don't forgot to ask how you can get paid to work out with me in January. Seriously, this is no trick. I don't like scams or lies but if you just want awesomeness with no effort, this won't work for you. You do need to commit, work with my accountability team, log your journey, etc. to win. 

Daily Gratitude: I am beyond thankful for workouts I can do at home that yield results.

Daily Bible Verse: Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. ~Philippians 2:14-15


Waking Up

Hey mom! How are you? Grab a cup of coffee and let's chat.

I stumbled upon some interesting reading awhile ago about waking up our kids. How we wake them up in the morning matters. We are setting the stage for their entire day. I never really thought of it that way, did you?

I mean, how do you wake up your kids? I know! It sounds like a silly question.

But do you go into Army mode with an "Up and at'em!" or do you let them just roll out of bed on their own accord? I would imagine you are somewhere in between because hey, sometimes there are time frames that those little minds may not have in complete focus. You know, school, church, etc. There are things to be done, places to go, and time lines to stick to...some days are tougher than others. I mean, some days are waaaay tough! Do you yank the sheets down and bellow, "Get up!"

When I read about how we wake up our kids matters I reflected on how I tend to wake up darling daughter and was happy that I was on the gentle spectrum. The side of waking with love versus stress. You see, I tend to go into her room about 15 minutes before I need to leave work. She likes to send me off to work each day and I love seeing her and going through our morning ritual. Come on, don't you love those hugs and kisses from your kiddo's too?!

So here is our routine:

Step 1: I go into her room and turn on her light, find her in her bed, and cuddle up to her smothering her with kisses and gentle "I love you"'s. Then I let her know where I am on my time frame as some days I am running late. It can be a "I'm about to take my shower" or "I will be leaving as soon as my coffee/shake is done" or "I'm running late and will be leaving very soon". Then with one final cuddle and kiss I leave her in her room. And to be completely honest, sometimes she moans I am too heavy or too sweaty.

Step 2: I go back into her room in the final minute or so and let her know I am leaving in a minute. Very seldom will I yell across the house. One, dear hubby is still in bed and two, it is just nicer to go to her, right?

Step 3: The I am leaving now message. Most days she is out before I get to this final phase but rarely I need to go back to her room and let her know. She will pull herself out of bed and is a happy camper once her feet hit the ground. Thank you God! If she isn't happy, something is up and I better be prepared!!!

On weekends, this changes up a bit. She tends to still be out of bed at the same time each day but since we are both early risers, I do not need to set the pace as much on the weekends. Thank goodness for that! I love that it gives her the freedom to stay resting in bed until her little heart is content and I have a bit more time to listen to the roosters, birds, rain, whatever during my morning workout.

I believe I adopted this wake-up strategy for her as it is one that works for me. I am a slow riser too even though I am an early riser. I never have been a hop out of bed type of gal although sometimes I wish I were. I have read that is better for you. Like ripping off a Band-Aid. Just get up and get moving. Don't delay.

Perhaps my snoozing is a bad thing but it works for me and the gentle wake-up seems to work for darling daughter too.

What works for you?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the bedtime feature on my phone with the soothing wake-up alarm for me.

Daily Bible Verse: Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

P.S. Did you know you can get a 6-day sampler pack of the shake I love with special add-on's from me? The cost is only $35 and includes shipping. Makes a great stocking stuffer! I only have two packs left so don't wait too long to email me and say, yay!


Battling the Snowball of Debt

God works in funny and amazing ways. Often when He is working in my life I do not immediately recognize it but when I reflect back on events I see His footprints every step of the way.

Last month I got myself into a snaffu. I HATE debt and in my mission to just get out of it I made a wonderful payment and paid of my lounger and felt oh so happy until the next day I realized something. I totally forgot about the auto payment of my car loan. Oops. Everything went through but we immediately went from my self-imposed comfort living zone of living paycheck to paycheck to one that is a wee bit too tight for my comfort.

I became the freaky, stressed out, way too serious mom and wife and can't say that I like that mom. Geesh! She is no fun! No more splurging, tighten those belts, remember the reason for the season. Do not spend one penny.

Thanks be to God I already had darling daughter's Christmas gifts bought and paid for so that was one worry I did not have but it meant I needed to really focus on those extra dollars. Our grocery budget. Those little $3 here and there of treats and impulse purchases that add up to the snowball of debt.

Call me crazy, but I am kinda happy this happened. In a weird sort of way.

I have learned so much over these weeks of struggle and my mind was finally opening up to hear words of financial wisdom from others. Things like the RedCard and Cartwheel at Target. Things I never listened to. Hey, this momma doesn't want or need another credit card and don't try to con me in with that 5% off my purchase when I sign up. Not listening. Made up my mind. Nope, nope, nope.

What?! It is 5% off your purchases ALWAYS?! Seriously?! Always! And it doesn't HAVE to be a credit card (with no annual fee), you can link it to your bank account and still benefit? And this Cartwheel thing....ummmm.....it's like digital coupons for the kid that grew up cutting coupons for her mom. Fun! I mean, seriously? (And nope, not being paid by Target to say this but Target, if you wanted to pay me, that would be okay. Just saying....)

Come on, did you cut coupons for your mom? I remember the stacks and stacks of them to go through. She taught us which to cut when we saw them and sometimes we asked, "What about this one?", and sometimes we, well at least me!, cut out one or two or three for a special treat we may like. You know, like Lucky Charms. Hmmm...maybe if Mom has this coupon she will buy me some!

I don't know if my ploy ever worked. She never said anything. But I do know, yep, sometimes those Lucky Charms showed up and maybe it is because it was a magically delicious deal where coupons were doubled and tripled and the cereal was already on sale and my mom was able to get it for a steal! Maybe. (Yes, that really happened. You always shopped on double and triple coupon days!)

But that is the kind of fun darling daughter got to feel when I said, okay, I will buy you some Goldfish. It was a swimming good deal with a sale price and Cartwheel savings and RedCard savings and I stayed within my very tight but not too bad budget. Seriously, $38 for groceries for a week is good for a mom who was paying $200 or more a week. This coming week will be a "big" week with Costco on the plan but I am empowered and strong. No. I will not spend $400. Imagine if I could cut down that trip to $200! Oh the happy chills and dancing butterflies I see swirling magically around me with a delightful fairy dust!

We are eating well and being creative with our meals. I am looking at our protein sources and focusing on those with more bang for the buck. Thank goodness we love eggs and tofu and don't rely on meat too much. That can add up; however, I just may splurge on Tony Roma's ribs at Costco if they have them in stock for our Christmas dinner. Wouldn't that be cool?!

And darling daughter is more excited about her few and meaningful gifts but totally cracked up when I went over budget on our angel gifts yesterday (where I took advantage of 50% off Cartwheel deals and more). We ALWAYS buy gifts for two kids who are less fortunate from the angel tree at church. I do not care how desperate finances may seem. This WILL NOT be cut. I set a budget and we headed off, darling and I, to pick the sweetest gifts we can think of and this year, just like last year, my heart swelled, my eyes teared up, and I thought about how tight money is for us.

Then I thought about other families. Families were money can be tighter. Moms who may be facing the same struggles I am but do not have gifts for their kids and I cried. Yes, I cried in the middle of the store (and am crying now) thinking, somehow we will survive. God has blessed me so abundantly and I will take these blessings and share them even if it means adding on more weeks of super budget friendly meals and no fancy coffee flavors for me.

And then today I got the greatest gift! I got to sit down with paychecks and bills and looked at them front and center. I did not feel my heart racing like usually, I just said, okay, how can I do this? And I made some amazing payments that made me do the happy dance AND I was able to see my path for the next couple of months. My snowball is not growing anymore. It is stabilizing and dare I say it, God willing, shrinking!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my husband, his job, and my jobs.

Daily Bible Verse: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5


No Alcohol December

It is no secret that I have suffered from insomnia my entire life. As a child I spent many nights tossing and turning trying desperately to just go to sleep. I can equate most of those nights to my active mind either being excited or worried about the day to come. 

Fortunately, since I started drinking my daily shake I am sleeping much better but I still have some of those nights tossed in and then it dawned on me. Those nights now often happen after I have had some alcohol the evening before. I do not drink much. A glass of wine here and there because hey, it is good for you, but is it?

I am not here to knock alcohol but I got to say, I am beginning to see it in a darker light. I see the negative influence it can have when a family member is inclined to drink just a wee bit too much just a wee bit too often. I can feel the heartache of the family who sees a loved one trying to find peace and happiness in a bottle while potentially putting the family under financial strain. But this post isn't about that.

It is about how that casual drink here and there can be negatively impacting me in ways that I do not like. Years ago I drank more often and to be honest, I was acting out on frustrations in life. Unhappiness in life. Since then I am careful to drink because I want to enjoy the drink not to find happiness. And that is what I have been doing.

But also over the years I have become more in tune with my body and I am beginning to feel that this just isn't right for me. I want to sleep peacefully like a baby {go ahead, finish that line for me if you remember the commercial from ages ago -- it is in my mind right now and you just need 4 words to get it right - if you do, I just may send you a shake on me! Maybe....}

All kidding aside, alcohol does impair sleep quality. Yes, you may fall asleep quicker but it impairs your ability to get into that really deep nice sleep and stay asleep.

Alcohol also impairs your fitness gains by acting as a diuretic leading to dehydration and messing with how you make and use energy since the breakdown of alcohol by your liver changes your normal glucose levels.

And finally, alcohol can sabotage any weight loss plans you may have due to its high caloric impact and it really is a lot of carbs.

I am not working out to lose weight or training for the Olympics so I have fallen into the trap of that glass here and there won't hurt. And perhaps it won't. But with another restless night under my belt and really just wanting a good night's sleep so I can get up and perform at the level I love to perform at, I am embarking on a no alcohol December challenge -- which shall be fun and challenging with holiday parties, peer pressure, etc. But this means something to me.

I work my butt off in my daily workouts. I push myself to be the best I can be, to eat clean, and to set a good example. I want to be an energized, positive, fun-loving mother and wife and if I have the dark cloud of restless nights and a tummy that isn't 100% due to that glass here and there....I am ditching the glass.

I am a bit excited to see how I will feel at the end of the month after going through this challenge. I am a bit nervous how I will do when my Scottish hubby loves his drinks and wants me to join in. I don't want it to become a source of strife in the house but it means a lot to me to be the best me I can be. I pray he understands. I pray I have the strength to say no when he is drinking or pours me a drink. Please pray for me too.

I will be sharing this journey with you and if you would love to join along, shoot me an email and let me know, or comment below. I would love to create a support group for those on the same page in saying no to alcohol and hello to unforeseen health benefits. 

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the strength to try something potentially challenging.

Daily Bible Verse: Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. ~ Proverbs 23:29-35