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Happy Wednesday, dear reader! I finally have a moment to catch my breath after having a busy September. During this month, I took a break from Beachbody on Demand, walked when I could fit it into my schedule, and ate clean about 80% of the time. I did not do any DVD workouts.

This past Monday, I started Round 2 of Clean & Lean. I will follow the clean eating guidelines as closely as possible. In addition, I started a new exercise program on Beachbody on Demand called 4 Weeks for Every Body taught by Autumn Calabrese. Each week consists of four workouts with three rest days. Today is a rest day, but I will walk after dinner for at least 30 minutes. And, I plan to walk or ride my bike the other two days. Yesterday’s leg workout was so tough that my legs felt rubbery afterwards. Terrific workout!

I weighed in this morning at 153.5 pounds. I have lost 1/2 of a pound since 31 August with an overall weight loss of 8.5 pounds since 01 June. I have basically been maintaining my weight the last few weeks. Personally, I think intermittent fasting along with staying away from soda, fried foods, and added sugar helped me maintain. When I do indulge, it is in moderation. I choose the treat for one meal or snack instead of an all day affair. I would love to see 149 pounds by the end of the 30 days.

Since cooler weather arrived this week, it finally feels like autumn. Cooler weather makes it more comfortable to walk outside, and I can fit it in my schedule earlier in the day. As always, dear reader, I am excited to see what I can accomplish in the next few weeks concerning my health and well-being. What are you doing to improve your health? Happiness!

“Food can be fun and exciting, but never forget that it’s your body’s most important fuel.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D.

Fall 2022 Fun List

Dear reader, the fall season is here, and I could not be happier. Autumn is my favorite time of the year! It generally brings cooler weather (currently in the 90s in my neck of the woods), seasonal traditions associated with two holidays I celebrate, Halloween and Thanksgiving, and cozy activities that can be enjoyed with family and friends.

My Fall Fun List includes activities that I want to take delight in throughout the entire season; however, there will be an emphasis on the spooky season since Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year.

  • Do some baking. Since the weather will be cooler, I want to do some baking. In addition to baking Autumn Pumpkin Cake, I plan to bake Caramel Latte Bread. I’d also like to try some new recipes that are not overly complicated.
  • Send greeting cards to family and friends. I love sending cards to my family and friends. It is a wonderful way to let your favorite peeps know you are thinking of them. I decorate the outside of my envelopes with stickers, holiday return address labels, and holiday stamps.
  • Decorate for fall/spooky season. I went decor shopping for the fall season again with Kelsi. We had a terrific time. I have also gone shopping with my hubby and my friends, Shelly and Helen. Everything is still in boxes and bags; however, this weekend the decorating begins.
  • Carve a pumpkin. I have a strong desire to carve a pumpkin this year. It has been ages since my family has carved one. I might even carve two.
  • Hang out with friends. It would be nice to do some fall-related activities with friends. Maybe, we could sit around an outside fire with a fall-related cocktail, roasting marshmallows or hotdogs.
  • Read spooky books or books with autumn vibes.

The stack of books I want to read this fall is already substantial; however, I have not even added my book club selections for the next two months or a nonfiction selection for November. While there is a possibility I might not get to everything on my autumn TBR, I will definitely read Needful Things in October and The Dead Zone in November because both books are part of my Year of King project with Kelsi. In any case, I have chosen some terrific titles, and I cannot wait to dive in to some spooktacular stories.

  • Participate in the #moremontgomerychallenge. I have been following Mitzi on booktube since the beginning of this year and decided to participate in a challenge she is cohosting this fall. The focus of the challenge is to read more works by L.M. Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. Mitzi inspired me to read Anne of Green Gables a few months ago, and I absolutely loved it. So much so, that I immediately bought the sequel, Anne of Avonlea, which I am currently reading for this autumn challenge.
  • Watch spooky movies or movies with autumn vibes. I have picked out 15 movies I want to watch during the spooky season. Kelsi and I are watching My Best Friend’s Exorcism together at the beginning of October. Since we both loved the book by Grady Hendrix, we are extremely excited to watch the screen adaptation. I am also pumped for the new releases, Hocus Pocus 2 and Terrifier 2.
  • Launch Kat’s Novel Adventures. I am one video away from getting my YouTube channel up and running. I have been collaborating with Kelsi on her channel, Slime and Slashers, for almost two years, and it has been a great deal of fun. Although my channel will focus mainly on book-related content; I also plan to create videos focused on some of my other interests.

In addition to everything on my Fall Fun List, I will be performing in an Improv Showcase on October 16th with my classmates. I have tickets to see Greta Van Fleet in New Orleans on November 1st. I will be attending the play, The Jungle Book, at the Columbia Theatre either November 12th or 19th. I have to buy tickets soon. I am thrilled about all three events.

What a fun time of year! As you know, dear reader, I love having a plan for each of the seasons. It enriches my life and helps me appreciate the joyful activities each season has to offer. What is on your fall fun list this year? Happiness!

“Autumn … the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~ William Cullen Bryant

Sunset on Summer 2022

Greetings, dear reader! It is hard to believe that today is officially the last day of summer in the United States. I had a sensational summer and accomplished much of what I included on my Summer 2022 Fun List and from the Summer Bucket List hosted by It’s A Charming Life.

I knew this summer would be a little different than most summers because I was not returning to my job at HGCS in August. Therefore, I packed my summer with a variety of activities that included travel, reading, movies, improv, theatre, getting together with friends, and home improvements.

So, here were the activities on my list, and how I did:

  • Engagement Party for my niece Kaitlyn and her fiancé Marc
  • The Audubon Croppers (TAC) Scrapbooking Event with my scrapbooking gal pals
  • Trip to New York City with Andrew
  • Saenger Theatre in New Orleans to see Hamilton
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (“The Mist” and “1408,” IT, and Cujo)
  • Slasher Movie Marathon with Kelsi
  • Gardening (front of the house)
  • Sprucing up the Front Porch
  • Home Office Makeover
  • Work on my YouTube Channel (hoping to launch after Labor Day)
  • Audition for The Jungle Book at the Columbia Theatre

We enjoyed a delightful day at my niece’s engagement party. Kaitlyn and Marc’s wedding is at the beginning of March 2023. I attended my annual scrapbooking event with my friends; however, I did not get much done due to forgetting supplies/tools and not being prepared enough. It was still fun to get away and spend time with Shelly, Heather, and Donna. My trip to New York City with Andrew was FANTASTIC! We had a terrific time, and I cannot wait to go back. I really must write some future posts about our adventures. I finally saw Hamilton! I went to New Orleans with Shelly, Kerry, and Andrew, and we saw it at the Saenger Theatre. It was incredible!

Kelsi and I continued our Year of King project throughout the summer. We both participated in a Slasher Movie Marathon, but our schedules could not align to record a wrap-up. I enjoyed most of the movies I put on my list; however, Maniac (1980) and Graduation Day (1981) were a little over the top and not my favorites.

Needless to say, I did not do any gardening this summer, unless you count watering my plants. I want to pull out some overgrown plants in front of my house and redo my garden. I do not know what I was thinking, but July is definitely not the best time to tackle that project. As for sprucing up my front porch, I did not complete that task. I want to pressure wash the siding and paint the shutters. October will be a more favorable month to complete those two projects. The heat had nothing to do with not making over my home office. I decided to tackle other areas of my house first. I will eventually get there.

I have been taking small steps regarding my YouTube channel. I REALLY want to launch my channel with an intro video before October; however, I have a bunch of reading deadlines I need to complete first. I am trying not to stress about it. It will happen. I just need to be patient. As for auditioning for The Jungle Book at the Columbia Theatre, I tabled the idea. I have a bunch going on in my life that I did not feel I could add another thing to my plate. I did get to participate in two readings of the play during the summer. I took an Improv Workshop with Rich Talarico in July. I am currently taking an 8-week Improv Class through Anubis in Metairie. And, I just finished acting in a mystery dinner theatre at the Columbia Theatre. So, I have been doing quite a bit in the acting arena.

All in all, I think I did a pretty good job. I completed almost everything on my Summer Fun List plus enjoyed time with family and friends sprinkled throughout the summer.

  • Times Square in New York City

Additionally, I did some of the activities from the Summer Bucket List which also enriched my summer.

Out of the 10 activities on the Summer Bucket List, I wholeheartedly participated in 6 of them. I am a nature lover, so Nurture in Nature was easy along with Whimsical Wildlife, Floral Frolicking, and Soak up the Sun. Reading is my favorite activity, so I got plenty of Delightful Daydreaming done every day. Ice cream on several occasions, in moderation, fulfilled Cold Confections.

If I would have planned a bit better, I know I could have done all 10 activities on the list. However, it really is not so much about quantity, but more about quality. The activities I participated in brought me lots of JOY.

I’ve included a few photos below that highlight those summer bucket list activities. Taking photographs this summer has been pleasurable. Dear reader, you are welcome to check out more photos I took over the summer on my Instagram (katherineloyacano).

The sun is setting on this year’s summer. While it is hard to say good-bye, this summer had a slow, languorous feel to it. I am fortunate I did not have to go back to school the first week of August. I am grateful my hubby took vacation the week of Labor Day, and we spent it together. I am overjoyed about everything I have experienced this summer season. Happiness!

“When summer gathers up her robes of glory, and, like a dream, glides away.” ~ Sarah Helen Whitman

Note: Photo at the top is by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com.

That’s a wrap, August! I was able to complete six books in the month of August. As of today, I am 13 books ahead of schedule. I will definitely reach my Goodreads goal of 50 books by the end of September because I am only FOUR books away from reaching it. Thrilling!

Nonfiction Selection

My August nonfiction selection was Clean & Lean: 30 Days, 30 Foods, a New You! by Ian K. Smith, M.D. This is the fourth book I have read by Smith. It takes The Clean 20 nutritional and fitness plan to the next level by incorporating intermittent fasting and 10 additional clean foods to the menu. Since June, I have been working on my health and fitness goals, so I reread The Clean 20 and reintroduced myself to clean eating. Reading Clean & Lean and implementing the guidelines was the next step. It is a simple plan that anyone at any level in their health and wellness journey can follow, and it includes daily menus, inspiration, nutritional facts, and workout plans. I love the format of the book and the simplicity of the program. I am happy with my results, and may consider completing another month of Clean & Lean before the end of this year. I am giving the book and myself 5 stars!

#Read21in21 Challenge

I read three terrific children’s books this month, one classic and two that are considered horror/mystery. I have a soft spot for haunted houses, animals, and gnomes. All three stories touched my soft spot and were enjoyable to read. I recommend them all to middle schoolers and fans of middle-grade fiction.

The Haunting of the Old Yellow House on Millard Road by D.A.L. is a short, supernatural mystery tale about a 12-year-old boy named James, who wants to spend the night inside an old house that is supposedly haunted. He barely convinces his friend, his cousin, and his two siblings to join him on his adventure which also includes retrieving an artifact as proof of their overnight stay. It is a satisfying read for middle schoolers with charming characters, humor, and spooky moments. The author kindly sent me a complimentary copy of this book which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I look forward to reading more of his stories in the future. It was a 4-star read for me.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame is a classic fantasy novel with captivating characters who have the most amusing adventures in the English countryside. The story centers around four main congenial critters, Mr. Badger, Mole, Rat, and Mr. Toad. These four friends enjoy life and each other’s company until the debonair Mr. Toad discovers motor cars. His outrageous obsession with them lands him in a puddle of trouble, and only his faithful friends can save him and set him on the right path. This beautifuly written tale focuses on friendship, adventure, and the importance of home. This 5-star adventure has become one of my favorite classics.

The Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes by R.L. Stine is an entertaining anecdote that involves tacky lawn ornaments, prize-winning vegetables, and midnight mischief. Joe Burton is looking forward to the lazy days of summer until his father adds two hideous garden gnomes to the lawn collection. Let’s just say, once they arrive on the Burton lawn, Joe’s life gets weird and a bit messy. I give my gnomies 4 stars.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher is an atmospheric gothic horror novel with supernatural vibes. It is an imaginative retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher” which I recommend reading before diving into Kingfisher’s beautifully written tale. I must admit I was drawn to this book because of its hauntingly beautiful cover.

Madeline Usher summons her childhood friend, Alex Easton, to her family home in the countryside of Ruritania where she lives with her twin brother Roderick.

In her letter to Alex, she tells him that she is dying. He immediately leaves his home in Gallacia with his horse Hob. He is stunned upon arrival at the Usher estate where he finds Madeline and her brother are both visibly unwell and their home has fallen into a miserable state of disrepair. What has befallen the Usher siblings, and is Alex too late to save them? This 4-star read is creepy and delightfully off-putting.

Year of King

Kelsi and I decided on Cujo for August. We found ourselves in the fictional, small town of Castle Rock, Maine. I dreaded reading this novel simply because I had seen the movie back in the 80s, and all I could recall was a rabid St. Bernard terrorizing Dee Wallace’s character. I have dogs, and I could not imagine reading an entire book about someone’s beloved dog getting rabies and transforming into a murderous monster. While the director, Lewis Teague directed a terrific film adaptation of Cujo, it does not compare to the amazing novel written by Stephen King.

Kelsi was also not looking forward to reading Cujo for her own reasons. However, we were both blown away by it. This story is so much more than a rabid dog. It is about fear, loss, and the power of love. Stephen King wrecked me with Cujo, especially the second to last paragraph of the book. This novel will stick with me for quite awhile and earned all 5 gut-wrenching stars.

After reading the novel, I watched the movie in a totally different way. I now had backstory, and my feelings towards Cujo the dog was totally different. I had compassion for the gentle giant, especially since as the reader, I got glimpses from his point of view. Dee Wallace and Danny Pintauro acted phenomenally in their roles as mother and son (Donna and Tad Trenton). I highly recommend reading Cujo before watching the movie.

Kesli and I had an engrossing conversation about Cujo on August 28th, discussing the novel and the film adaptation. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

September! Hard to believe the 9th month of the year is already underway. I have chosen some exciting selections to read during this month. I am currently reading Ghost Beach by R.L. Stine for #Read21in21. My book club selection for September is Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. Kelsi and I will be reading three short stories (“Lawnmower Man”, “The Mangler”, and “Graveyard Shift”) for our Year of King project. We will have a live discussion about the short stories and their movies on Sunday, 25 September at 2:00 PM CT. Last but not least, my nonfiction selection this month is The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins. 

My sister Rachel and I are buddy reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. In August, we decided to read a chapter a week for 10 weeks and meet every Wednesday on ZOOM for 10 weeks to discuss it. Our first discussion took place on the evening of 17 August. The experience has been both enlightening and enjoyable. We should complete the book and weekly discussions sometime in October.

Of course, I am looking forward to everything I have planned to read in September. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” ~ Edmund Burke

Happy Hump Day, dear reader! I officially completed Clean & Lean yesterday. Overall, I am satisfied with the results of this month-long challenge. I like intermittent fasting, and the 14:10 TRF (time restricted feeding) schedule works well for me.

As I mentioned in my last post at the start of this program, I did not use the Workout Plans in the book. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the fitness portion of the plan. I knew I could not commit to the step count (walking) or the staircases (no access) during the month of August. As for the exercises, I used Beachbody on Demand (4-week program called Start Losing with Jen Widerstrom) and walked most evenings after dinner (at least 20 minutes). Thankfully, I had started my BOD program in July because my life got a bit hectic between 19 August and 28 August (no workouts), and I was able to complete that fitness program which I enjoyed.

While I did not strictly follow the book’s eating plan, I followed the Clean & Lean guidelines as closely as possible. I drank plenty of water but no alcohol. I ate as many of the 30 clean foods as possible. I stayed away from fried foods, artificial sweetners, and MSG. I limited added sugar, soda, condiments, processed foods, and white flour. We celebrated Andrew’s birthday, so there was cake and ice cream. I have been eating fruits and veggies, but could be eating more of both on a daily basis. I am eating a moderate amount of dairy and taking my daily vitamins.

I weighed in this morning at 154 pounds. I have lost three additional pounds since 03 August with an overall weight loss of 8 pounds since 01 June. Considering how busy I have been lately, I am pleased with my results.

With all of that being said, I have PLENTY of room for improvement. I am the worst when it comes to time management. I am terrible at meal prepping even though I know it is effective. I overextend myself because I want to be involved in everything. And, I do not sleep well which I think is tied to menapause. I love a good routine if I can stick to one; however, throw one monkey wrench into my routine, and it all falls apart. Then, I get down on myself which causes me to shut down, and then I procrastinate like a rock star.

So, what’s the next step? At this moment, my plan is to not start any new fitness programs on BOD. A holiday weekend is approaching with Barry starting vacation this Friday. We have plans to do a bunch of tasks around the house. The weekend after, I go into dinner theatre mode for an entire week because I got a role in Murder! At the Disco at the Columbia Theatre. In addition, I have all my reading projects for the month, my weekly improv class, and I am supposed to be launching my YouTube channel in September. Presently, I do not want to start anything new or add anything more to my already overflowing plate. Therefore, my plan for the next 30 days is to continue following the Clean & Lean guidelines and exercising (walking and DVD workouts) daily.

Before bidding you farewell, dear reader, I want to share the results of my nerve test and update you on my hands and wrists. Good news! I have NO nerve damage. My right wrist is feeling much better; however, I am tentative with how I use it, especially with lifting things (or Tooty) and doing certain exercises. I think a combination of meds, exercising, and adjusting my sleep position has helped with the numbness in my fingers. Hopefully, I am turning a corner with this issue. I am ready to move on and jumped into September with both feet. Happiness!

“Regardless of what you accomplish, always consider yourself a work in progress, for this humility will allow you to accomplish even more.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M. D.

July has come and gone while my reading life continues to thrive month after month. I was able to complete six books in the month of July which is AMAZING, considering one of them is a behemoth. IT by Stephen King is 1,138 pages long! Rereading it after so many years has been nostalgic and super satisfying. As of today, I am ten books ahead of schedule. At the rate I am going, I will reach my Goodreads goal of 50 books by the end of September. Awesomesauce!

Nonfiction Selection

My July nonfiction selection was The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life with One Simple Habit by Mel Robbins. I had been wanting to read a book by Mel Robbins for ages, so when the opportunity to read The High 5 Habit presented itself with my friend Kathryn and the members of her Live Healthy Team, I took it. Anyone struggling with self (self-worth, self-doubt, self-esteem, etc.) can benefit from reading this book. Giving a high 5 to someone else is easy, but when it comes time to high 5 ourselves, it becomes much harder. Why?

We deserve to encourage ourselves just as easily as we encourage others.Through personal stories, science-based research, and examples of real-life results, Robbins shows readers how to incorporate this simple but effective tool in their everyday lives. This book will definitely be a resource I will refer back to again and again. I high 5 this book with 5 stars.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I went a different route this month and read an entire middle school series about the Gaither Sisters written by Rita Williams-Garcia. Marvelous series! All three historical fiction books are narrated by the spirited 11-year-old Delphine Gaither and are incredibly refreshing. I truly hope Rita Williams-Garcia will write more adventures about this delightful trio in the future.

One Crazy Summer is the first book in the Gaither Sisters series. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern live in Brooklyn with their father and grandmother. Pa decides it is finally time for his daughters to spend a month during the summer in Oakland, California with their estranged mother Cecile, who abandoned them shortly after Fern was born. Set in the middle of the Black Panther Movement in 1968, the girls learn a thing or two about their mother, the Black Panther Movement, and themselves. This well-written middle school historical novel is heartfelt, honest, humorous, and so deserving of being a Newbery Honor Book. I fell in love with the characters, especially the sisters and their mother. It was easily a 5-star read for me.

P.S. Be Eleven is the second book in the Gaither Sisters series, and it did not disappoint. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are back in Brooklyn after spending an eventful month during the summer with their mother Cecile. This novel follows the girls through their school year, Pa’s girlfriend news, the unexpected return of their Uncle Darnell from the Vietnam War, and the Jackson 5. Delphine, now in 6th grade, deals with fitting in, friendship turmoil, and her feelings about Ellis Carter. I continue to enjoy reading about Delphine and her experiences during this pivotal time in history. Another 5-star read!

Gone Crazy in Alabama is the third and final book in the Gaither Sisters series. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are sent to Alabama to visit Big Ma, their great grandmother, and Uncle Darnell for the summer. The girls quickly learn that the ways of the south are much different from their home back in Brooklyn or where their mother Cecile lives in Oakland. The girls discover a family feud, learn more about their family and cultural history, experience the power of forgiveness, and embrace the importance of family. 5 stars, ya’ll!

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

The atmospheric Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand is a wonderfully written novella with gothic horror vibes. The tale of the missing lead singer of Windhollow Faire, the summer he and his fellow band mates lived at Wylding Hall, is told in an interview style format with multiple viewpoints. The question on everyone’s mind is, what happened to shy, handsome Julian Blake? English folklore, musical elements, unreliable narrators, and the setting of an ancient country home and its mysterious surroundings create a delicious amalgamation of subtle horror. A bewitching 5-star read for me!

Year of King

For July, Kelsi and I tackled our most ambitious Stephen King selection to date. IT is one of my favorite King novels. It embodies horror elements that will frighten any reader because we are all afraid of something. Derry, Maine is the setting of this chilling tale about an evil entity that awakens every 27 years to wreak havoc on the residents of this small New England town. Seven children, who are viewed as losers among their peers, are drawn together and form an impenetrable bond which fuels their quest to seek out the murderous Pennywise and destroy it once and for all.

It should not come as a surprise that I gave this beautifully written coming-of-age story 5 stars. Well-developed characters, a terrifying clown, and a battle between good and evil make this a must-read for any Stephen King fan.

Additionally, IT translated remarkably well for both television and the big screen which is not always the case with King’s stories. Watching the screen adaptations of IT was a huge undertaking for Kelsi and me. We watched the 1990 television miniseries, the 2017 film, and the 2019 film. That calculates to roughly 500 minutes of screen time which I personally think was time well-spent. I thoroughly enjoyed all three adaptations.

Kesli and I had a stirring conversation about IT on August 7th, discussing the novel and all three movie adaptations. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

August is already in full swing, and I have some terrific selections picked out to read throughout this month. I am currently reading The Haunting of the Old Yellow House on Millard Road by D.A.L. for #Read21in21. My book club selection for August is What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher. Cujo is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. I think it is going to be a tough read because of content. We will have a live discussion about the novel and movie on Sunday, 28 August at 2:00 PM CT. I have chosen two nonfiction selections this month, Clean & Lean by Ian K. Smith, M.D. and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. My sister Rachel and I are both planning to read it which makes it our first buddy read together. It should be a fun experience, and I am looking forward to discussing it with her. Of course, I am looking forward to everything I have planned to read in August. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” ~ Paul Sweeney

Happy Wednesday, dear reader! It is time for me to finally lean into Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian K. Smith. I actually started the 30-day plan on Monday of this week, and it is going well so far. My health and fitness journey actually started back in June; however, I am taking small but intentional steps to ultimately reclaim a healthier version of myself once and for all. As I told Simon, mon frere, “I have a date with Europe.” I want to be healthy and physically in shape to acquire the most out of traveling to all of the places included on my List of 100 Dreams. I experienced a taste of exploration when Andrew and I visited New York City in June. We walked everywhere, and it was exhilarating for me. Of course, I love walking! Honestly, it is not only just about traveling, but also being healthier in general and feeling good about myself. When I am eating healthy and exercising regularly, I have more confidence and energy which benefit me in every area of my life.

The foundation of this program is based on the Clean 20 eating plan with 10 additional clean and lean foods along with intermittent fasting and exercise. For intermittent fasting, I have chosen the 14:10 TRF (time restricted feeding) schedule. Some of the components I really like that Smith provides in his programs are the daily meal and snack suggestions, health-related information, encouragement, recipes, and a great deal of flexibility. Planning and preparation are the key to success on any program. As with his other plans, there are clean eating guidelines.

Clean Eating Guidelines

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Drink only freshly squeezed juice.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and veggies.
  • Eat dairy foods.
  • Try canned and frozen options (packaged in water/natural juices).
  • Focus on the 30 clean foods.
  • No alcohol
  • No soda (regular of diet)
  • No added sugar
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No MSG
  • No fried foods
  • No white flour
  • No mayo, ketchup, salsa – unless homemade (there are clean versions in the grocery store)
  • No salad dressings loaded with sugar

Regarding the fitness element of the plan, I am not using the exercises in the book. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the fitness portion of the plan; however, I will be using Beachbody on Demand (subscribed for one year) or my own fitness DVDs for workouts. In addition, I am walking every evening after dinner (at least 20 minutes). I am currently on the second week of a 4-week program called Start Losing with Jen Widerstrom. It is a low-impact beginner program that focuses on cardio and strength training. It is fantastic, and I love the instructor!

I mentioned in my last post that I am having an issue with my right wrist (tendonitis) and both my hands. I saw my orthopedic last Friday, and opted to get another cortisone shot in my wrist (last shot – 02 November). It has given me some relief. My hands are a different matter and started bothering me at the end of May. Many mornings, I wake up with numb hands. Once I get out of bed and flex them, the numbness goes away pretty quickly. It is annoying and a bit concerning. I think it is related to the position of my hands/arms while sleeping. Somehow, I am pressing on a nerve and cutting off circulation to my hands. What the heck! Truthfully, I really do not know the cause; it is just my theory. I have been trying to sleep with my arms by my side which seems to help; however, it is not the most comfortable. Needless to say, I am scheduled to have an unpleasant nerve test done next Wednesday. I appreciate any prayers and positive thoughts that you can send my way, dear reader, that it is not anything more serious than “at 53 years old, I cannot sleep correctly.”

Before wrapping up, I have to share that I weighed in this morning at 157 pounds. I have lost two pounds since Monday with an overall weight loss of 5 pounds since 01 June. I know the workouts are helping because my balance is improving, and I am feeling more elongated when walking which means my core is getting stronger. I still need to drink more water. I want to develop a better schedule for my workouts. Time tracking is in my near future. HA! In the meantime, I need to keep high 5ing myself and showing up. Happiness!

“While tangible goals such as weight loss, muscle strengthening, and body sculpting are important, so is the goal of making sustainable lifestyle changes that will keep you feeling healthy and fit.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M. D.

Howdy, dear reader! It has been a hot minute since I have updated you on where I am on my healthy lifestyle journey. Back in June, I decided to do a round of The Clean 20 to start cleaning up my diet and walking again on a daily basis. I had joined Beachbody on Demand, had my colonoscopy, and felt good about starting over on a journey to take back my health. Fast forward 20 days, and I had not done one Beachbody on Demand workout, drank enough water, or walked daily. It is not to say that I was not successful in the intention that I had set for myself; I just took baby steps instead of strides. For me, starting anything is hard, but starting over is so much harder. If you have read my blog for some time, you know I have already been down this path several times.

Well, I am here to tell you, I FINALLY did a workout on Beachbody on Demand. Not only did I do a workout, I completed the whole 7-day Clean Week program. Yes, you read that correctly. Last Monday, I laced up my tennis shoes, showed up in my living room, turned on my television, pulled up Day 1 of the program, and worked out. Even though it is a beginner program, it was not easy. However, I did my best on Monday and every day afterwards. Progressing through the week, the workouts got a bit easier. My body said, “Hey, I remember how to do squats!”

Clean Week Program

  • Day 1: Core Function
  • Day 2: Cardio
  • Day 3: Strength
  • Day 4: Active Flex
  • Day 5: Core Function
  • Day 6: Cardio
  • Day 7: Strength

Clean Week was the perfect program to kick-start my fitness habit. Each circuit-style workout is only 30 minutes and includes a warm up and cool down. Minimal equipment is needed, and I can work out in the comfort of my own home. The only obstacle I encountered was with the floor exercises that required me to put any pressure on my wrists, so I modified or substituted those exercises. I am having trouble with my right wrist again and with both hands. I do have an appointment with my orthopedic this Friday to address the issue.

Out of curiosity, I weighed myself on Monday, 18 July and was 159.5 pounds. I had not gained or lost any weight since 22 June. I have been eating clean as much as possible with an occasional treat from time to time. I did weigh myself this morning since I was updating you, dear reader, and I am 159 pounds. HA! I am 1/2 of a pound lighter! Thanks, Kathryn Huggett, for convincing me to join Beachbody on Demand!

So, what’s next? On Monday of this week, I started a new 4-week fitness program on Beachbody on Demand called Start Losing with Jen Widerstrom. So far, I am loving it. It is a low-impact beginner program that focuses on cardio and strength training. The circuit-style workouts run anywhere between 33-42 minutes, including a warm-up and cool down. Also starting this week, I added a daily walk (at least 20 minutes) in the evenings after dinner. As for my nutrition goals, I will FINALLY be starting Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian K. Smith on Monday, 01 August. It is a 30-day program that blends the Clean 20 guidelines with intermittent fasting. My fitness and nutrition plan is in place, dear reader. Happiness!

“Starting over can be challenging, but also it can be a great opportunity to do things differently.” ~ Catherine Pulsifer 

Greetings, dear reader! Gretchen Rubin has created a Calendar of Catalysts, “a menu of dates to use as reminders to stop, evaluate, and plan.” According to Gretchen Rubin, July 2nd is Halfway Day. What a great day to spend a few moments reviewing your goals for the year! In my case, I reflected on my 22 for 2022 list.

My one-word theme for the year is CHANGE, and there have certainly been a few changes in my life so far this year. In January, my family and I said good-bye to our beloved 13.5-year-old German Shepherd Sophie. Surprisingly (especially for me), we welcomed a new puppy Luna into our family on 14 February. But, the biggest change this year has been my decision to quit my job as an Instructional Coach which ended this past May. Without a doubt, more changes are on the horizon for the remainder of this year, and I am actually excited about exploring the unknown and seeing where life takes me.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Kat’s 22 for 2022 List

1. Time-track in January.

2. Tweak morning routine.

3. Make consultation appointment with oral surgeon (implant).

4. Learn a 30-60 second monologue.

5. Buy a new vacuum cleaner.

6. Get wedding rings resized.

7. Clean out and organize master closet.

8. Plant new garden in front of the house.

9. Purge paper and organize file cabinet.

10. Go paperless (bills and statements).

11. Scrapbook monthly.

12. Complete Year of Gratitude scrapbook.

13. Have a Year of King (Stephen King).

14. Update theme (layout) for blog.

15. Research video editing software.

16. Complete a puzzle.

17. Write a will.

18. Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

19. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

20. Complete the WordPress Blogging course.

21. Take a WordPress Podcasting course.

22. Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow.

As you can see, I have not made much progress on my 22 for 2022 list. What have you been doing, Kat? Well, it turns out a puppy takes up A LOT of time. Luna is wonderful, sweet, and a momma’s girl; however, she is also high energy, high maintenance, and time-consuming. *SIGH* She is also not the only fur baby in the house.

I am reading a ton (35/50 books so far)! Kelsi and I are killing it with our Year of King project, and our book club continues to meet monthly. I have also been participating and exploring other projects that have cropped up since I made my list back in December. These opportunities may or may not impact where I end up at the end of the year, but I feel they are worth pursuing. Currently, I am working on a few of the items that I consider ongoing; they are just not fully completed, yet. These items include: #5, #7, #9, #10, #12, #13.

Finally, I created a Summer Fun List with all kind of activities I have been enjoying this summer. Plus, I tacked on It’s a Charming Life’s Summer Bucket List for more enjoyable summer activities. Clearly, I cannot help myself this summer. HA! The good news is I still have the second half of the year to finish my list. I am hopeful I can complete my list because I am NOT giving up!

There you have it, dear reader! What have you accomplished or not accomplished this year? Any surprises or regrets with how you have spent the first half of 2022? At this point, I can honestly say I have experienced more surprises than regrets. The key is to keep progressing daily towards those goals no matter how big or small the steps. Every step forward gets me closer to reaching my goals. Happiness!

“One part at a time, one day at a time, we can accomplish any goal we set for ourselves.” ~ Karen Casey

We are at the halfway mark in the year, and I am on fire with my reading goals. Despite having a great deal of activity in my life last month, I was able to complete five books in the month of June as well as a short story from the Everything’s Eventual collection by Stephen King. As of today, I am ten books ahead of schedule. Amazing!

Nonfiction Selection

I chose The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer & Angela Kinsey for my June nonfiction selection. I was super excited about this book ever since the Office Ladies announced they were writing it. I am a fan of both The Office and the Office Ladies podcast. Thanks to Simon, mon frere, for gifting me this beautiful book with lots of fun facts, personal photos, and special stories from Jenna and Angela’s time on The Office. These two ladies became best friends as a result of working on that television show, and their friendship is still going strong today. This is a delightful read and deserves all 5 stars.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I only read two middle school books in the month of June, but I enjoyed both of them immensely. One book was actually a reread and the other was recommended by the booktuber Mitzi of Mitzi Reads and Writes. Mitzi is participating in an #annealong with some other booktubers, and they are reading the entire series of books about Anne Shirley of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery took me by surprise. It is considered a classic historical fiction novel. I absolutely fell in love with this story, and I simply adore the main character, Anne Shirley. So much so, that I have already ordered the second book in the series. Basically, Anne Shirley is an orphan who is mistakenly sent to live with unmarried siblings, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, on their farm called Green Gables located in Avonlea. Anne is a spirited young lady, who has a wild imagination and a compassionate heart. This charming coming-of-age story follows Anne as she navigates life in her new home while capturing the hearts of all who cross paths with her, including readers of this timeless classic. This is stellar story worthy of 5 stars.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg is a realistic fiction book filled with adventure and a mystery. I chose to reread it on a whim for June because Andrew and I visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in June, and that is where this marvelous novel takes place. Two children, Claudia and Jamie, run away to New York City and take up residence in The Met. While enjoying their newfound freedom, they stumble upon a mystery surrounding a sculpture that has ties to a famous artist. After reading it, I decided to have my own adventure in the museum. This Newbery Medal book is another 5-star read and remains one of my favorite middle school books.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is a magnificent mystery novel that kept me guessing literally to the very end. Ten unsuspecting strangers from all walks of life have been invited by an unknown wealthy millionare to spend the weekend at his newly purchased home situated on the isolated Soldier Island. Shortly after arriving, the guests discover that they have one thing in common…murder. Then, one of the ten dies suddenly, and the remaining nine soon realize a murderer is among them, waiting to pick each one of them off one by one. Ooooh, so good and a brilliant 5 stars!

Year of King

For June, Kelsi and I chose a novella from Skeleton Crew and a short story from Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales to read for our Year of King project.

The Mist is a psychological horror novella with science fiction undertones and Lovecraftian vibes. The small town of Bridgton gets swept up in a thick fog following a violent thunderstorm. While David Drayton and the rest of the townspeople are trying to regroup and recover from storm damage, loss of electricity, and lack of communication, they soon discover the thunderstorm brought along more than just the fog. It was an entertaining 4-star read for me.

“1408” is a supernatural horror short story that takes place in a New York City hotel. The skeptical and bestselling author of haunted places, Mike Enslin, gets more than he bargains for when he attempts to spend the night inside the haunted room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel. The moment I read about the crooked door of 1408 is the moment I would have returned the room key to the front desk. Haunted places and objects give me the willies, and this short story is no exception. It earned 5 stars for sheer creepiness.

As Kelsi and I do with all the stories we read by Stephen King, we watched the screen adaptations for both The Mist and “1408.” The Mist followed the novella pretty closely but with a much bleaker ending. I thought the director, Frank Darabont, did a fine job bringing the story visually to life. “1408” was fleshed out a bit more in its film adaptation, effectively using the short story as the foundation for the film. I loved how the evil hotel room comes to life with a personality all of its own. Both films were decent adaptations, enjoyable to watch, and earned 4-star ratings from me. Kesli and I had an interesting conversation about The Mist and “1408” on June 26th, discussing both stories and their movie adaptations. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

July has already started which means another month with an awesome list of books to read. I am currently reading One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia for #Read21in21. My book club selection for July is Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand. It is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. It is a chunker! We will be chatting live about the novel and the two movies on Sunday, 07 August at 2:00 PM CT. Finally, for my nonfiction choice, I will be reading The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life with One Simple Habit by Mel Robbins. I will be reading this book along with members of my friend Kathryn’s Facebook group Kat’s Live Healthy Team. I am looking forward to everything I have planned to read in July. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” ~ Roald Dahl

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