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Posts Tagged ‘positive living’

Did you know, dear reader, that cardinals are considered visitors from heaven? Many cultures believe they can travel between the heavenly realm and the earthly realm. These beautiful backyard birds also represent a sign of hope for those who are worried or feel anxious.

Imagine my delight when spotting one perched on a squirrel feeder in my backyard yesterday morning after my slow, uncomfortable walk around my neighborhood. This morning, I should have done my third run/walk session for this week. Sadly, that did not happen because both of my knees still feel EXTREMELY achy when I run (and walk fast). And, I am not even running fast. My running is more like jogging. So, I begrudgedly walked instead for 35 minutes just to continue my walking streak.

Did I progress too much, too soon? Perhaps. Ugh! I am immensely disappointed by this setback. I really had high expectations when I started my run/walk program. I think my knees are hurting because I am still carrying too much weight, and I need to strengthen my legs with exercises other than just walking. Therefore, this upcoming week, I will repeat Week #1: Walk 30 minutes a day, at least three times a week. I will practice self-care and nurse my knees. I may attempt to ride my bike if I can do so with no discomfort. Seeing that cardinal has given me hope. Good things come to those who wait…a lesson in patience. I am not an Olympic athlete, and I have nothing riding on when I can continuously run for 30 minutes. It is a personal goal, and this setback is a just speed bump, telling me to slow down. As a result, I will eat healthy foods, strength train, cross train, and walk at least 30 minutes per day (at least three times a week). I’m starting my Clean & Lean program on 01 September (Wednesday) which should help me shed some more weight.

Now, that all sounds terrific and doable as long as my family and I are not severely impacted by Hurricane Ida which is coming directly towards Louisiana. Hurricane Ida is predicted to make landfall tonight (the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina). It is also a Category 4 storm. What does that mean for my neck of the woods? Lots of rain, storm surges which contribute to flooding, winds up to 85 mph, risk of tornadoes, and loss of electricity. I am staying put in my home with my hubby, our two sons, and our four fur babies. We have food and water, as well as gasoline for the generator. We have natural gas, so we can still cook meals. Items outside have been picked up and put away, and the gutters have been cleared of leaves and debris. Our bathtubs are full of water in case we need it to flush toilets. We are ready. All we can do now is patiently wait for the impact of Hurricane Ida and pray that everyone in her path remains safe. I hope my cardinal brings us good luck.

Before I sign off, I want to share a video chat I had with Kelsi where we talk about the slasher film, Sleepaway Camp, we both watched as part of our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon in July. If you watch it, please consider hitting like, leave a comment, and subscribe to Kelsi’s YouTube channel. She also vlogs, reviews books, and talks nostalgia from the 60s through the 90s.

Despite not being able to run/walk this morning, I am truly grateful that I was able to enjoy my morning walk before it started raining. As you go about your day today, dear reader, please keep the residents of Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers. Hopefully, my next post will be filled with good news that we weathered the storm with little or no issues. Happiness!

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Greetings, dear reader! On Sunday evening, I completed a second round of Fast Burn. On Monday morning, I weighed in at 152 pounds, gaining back 3.5 pounds of the 13 pounds lost in the first round. With that being said, I did lose 1″ in my chest, and 1/2″ in my hips. My measurements stayed the same for my waist, arms, and thighs. Did I meet the goals I set back in June for Round #2 of Fast Burn? Yes and no. Clearly, I did not lose an additional 10 pounds. While I did complete another nine-week round of Fast Burn, I did not follow it as closely as I did for the first round.

So, what did I do? I continued intermittent fasting; however, my TRF schedule changed week-to-week between 16:8 and 14:10; this was based on what was going on in my life during the nine weeks. I walked between 20-30 minutes every day. I started following a run/walk schedule (see sidebar for the schedule). I continued to incorporate the Burner Smoothie, the Sumptuous Strawberry Shake, as well as lots of fruits and veggies in my eating plan. I observed the rule about waiting two hours (sometimes longer based on TRF schedule) after waking to eat and stopped eating at least two hours before bedtime.

So, what didn’t I do? I did not bike very often or incorporate any strength training. I did not eat as clean as I did during the first round (incorporated some added sugar/processed foods back into my diet). I was not consistent with drinking a glass of water before meals. I picked certain weeks in the nine-week plan and followed those weeks instead of following the weekly schedules outlined in the book.

Initially, after weighing in on Monday morning, I felt I should have waited a couple of weeks before doing another round. After reflecting on it throughout the week, I now feel completing a second round right after the first round was ideal for me. Even though I did not follow the Fast Burn plan as perfectly as I did the first round, I still incorporated many of its components. And, we all know that we cannot rely on the scale to tell the whole truth when it comes to weight loss. My body measurements dropped in two areas and stayed the same in other areas. My clothes fit exactly the same as they did when I completed the first round. Additionally, I can see the difference with how I feel when I fuel my body with the wrong foods. I do not like feeling unhealthy.

What’s next?

I want to read Clean & Lean by Dr. Ian and complete the 30-day plan in the month of September. My original goal for 2021 was to try intermittent fasting for one month using the Clean & Lean book. However, when Dr. Ian published Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance in April and created the Fast Burn Challenge Facebook group, I could not pass up that opportunity. And, I am so happy that it has worked out the way it has because the Fast Burn Challenge group is both inspirational and supportive. It also helps me with accountability. The Cleaner Get Leaner group also provides inspiration and support. Therefore, between the two groups, I’ll continue to receive inspiration and support.

Additionally, I will continue my fitness plan that will include the run/walk schedule and as many of the exercises outlined in Clean & Lean. Maybe, just maybe, it will give me the nudge I need to put strength training exercises back into my fitness regimen on a regular basis. I do not want to slip back into bad habits. I now have plenty of resources to hold me accountable and keep me on track to live my healthiest life.

Kudos to everyone trying to eat better, getting back into shape, and improving overall health and well-being. There are so many benefits to eating well and exercising daily. It makes me happier, healthier, more energetic, and more creative. Thanks for reading, dear reader. I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Happiness!

“It takes time to see wholesale changes, so don’t obsess on a scale or a mirror. In fact, it’s a lot more likely that someone else will notice physical changes before you do.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D., Clean & Lean

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In order to get back on track and reFOCUS on my goals for the remainder of the year, I tracked my time for two weeks (week of 02 August and week of 09 August). Both of these weeks started out with 168 hours on Monday at midnight. Since school has reconvened after being on summer break for the last two months, my day job (instructional coach at a PreK2-8th school) and sleep take up the bulk of my time. However, the hours at my day job have been reduced this school year; I am currently working four days per week as opposed to five days when I tracked my time back in January. The reduction in work hours will ultimately allow me to spend more time on creating content and embarking on a new career path.

Week 1: 02 August – 08 August

During this week, I worked 32.5 hours at school and devoted 52.75 hours to sleep. This left me with 82.75 hours to spend in other areas of my life.

That being so, how did I spend those remaining 82.75 hours?

  • Morning Routine: 11.25 hours
  • Travel (to/from work; to/from other places): 4.75 hours
  • Family/Fur Babies/Friends: 9.75 hours
  • Chores: 7.25 hours
  • Exercise: 5 hours
  • Errands: 4.5 hours
  • Read: 3 hours
  • Meals: 5 hours
  • Content Creation (blog; collaboration with Kelsi-YouTube): 20.75 hours
  • Evening Routine: 3 hours

Therefore, 74.25 hours were spent with family/friends, exercising, creating content, fulfilling commitments/life responsibilities, and completing household tasks. My time bank still had 8.5 hours, and those additional hours were spent on other activities, such as playing games (Trivia Crack/Words with Friends), interacting on social media (FB and Instagram), texting, phone calls, checking email, time-tracking, watching television/movies/YouTube videos, or puttering around the house.

Week 2: 09 August – 15 August

During this week, I worked 33.5 hours at school and devoted 51 hours to sleep. This left me with 83.5 hours to spend in other areas of my life.

In that case, how did I spend those remaining 83.5 hours?

  • Morning Routine: 11 hours
  • Travel (to/from work; to/from other places): 6.75 hours
  • Family/Fur Babies/Friends: 8.75 hours
  • Chores: 6.5 hours
  • Exercise: 4.5 hours
  • Errands: 8 hours
  • Read: 3 hours
  • Meals: 3.5 hours
  • Content Creation (blog; collaboration with Kelsi-YouTube): 8.75 hours
  • Evening Routine: 2.25 hours

Therefore, 63 hours were spent with family/friends, exercising, creating content, fulfilling commitments/life responsibilities, and completing household tasks. My time bank still had 20.5 hours, and those additional hours were spent on other activities, such as playing games (Trivia Crack/Words with Friends), interacting on social media (FB and Instagram), texting, phone calls, checking email, time-tracking, watching television/movies/YouTube videos, or puttering around the house.


Clearly, no two weeks are exactly the same. And, all the banked hours are not entirely spent on effortless fun. Some of that extra time gets spent on small tasks that just take a minute or two, such as writing a grocery list, a message in a card, or a check for a bill. I may be purchasing an item or researching ingredients for a meal online. I might spend a few minutes clearing off the kitchen table, reshelving books that I recently finished reading, or snapping a picture for my Instagram gratitude project. With that being said, if I take the average of both weeks, I realistically have 14.5 hours that I could be using to complete courses that I have purchased, scrapbook, read more, or strength-train (fitness). It is now up to me to prioritize my time which will ultimately help me achieve my goals. Additionally, I must adhere to that scheduled time that also includes built-in wiggle room.

Why is wiggle room important? You just never know when something unexpected will require your attention, such as getting a call back for a play you auditioned for earlier in the week. Yep, I auditioned at the Columbia Theatre for The House on Haunted Hill this past Monday evening. Surprise! I got a call back for Wednesday evening. I auditioned strictly for the experience since I had a conflict the second weekend of the show. While it would have been terrific to be a part of this production, I did not get cast which is fine because Kelsi and I have oodles planned for September and October. Happiness Boost!

Thankfully, I have only one commitment after work this week, and it is to spend a wonderful evening with my fabulous book club friends to discuss Mexican Gothic. Therefore, for the remainder of today, I will schedule my upcoming week and create a to-do list of the tasks that I need to accomplish before this weekend. As for my running schedule, I’m on Week #4: Walk 10 minutes (warm up). Run 2 minutes. Walk 1 minute (repeat this 3-minute session 5 times). Walk 10 minutes (cool down). My goal for this week is to follow this routine at least three days this week. On the other days, I will walk at least 20 minutes to keep up my walking streak and try to incorporate some strength training and biking. I did not strength train or bike this past week.

Life is unpredictable, dear reader, but that is what makes it so interesting. My hubby, Andrew, and I enjoyed breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel, and I treasured every minute we were together just being together. I’m excited to start a new week, especially one that is practically a blank slate. Enjoy your Sunday afternoon by spending your time doing something that boosts your happiness and adds value to your life. Happiness!

“When you feed your soul by spending time on things you love, that you are excited about, your enthusiasm becomes contagious.” ~ Rita Davenport

Top photo by Juan Vargas on Pexels.com

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Happy Sunday, dear reader! My hubby and I decided to have breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel before grocery shopping at Walmart. We had wonderful service provided by Kenley and a yummy meal. I ordered the Momma’s French Toast Breakfast (French toast, two eggs cooked over easy, sausage). Barry ordered the Sunrise Sampler. Kenley also brought me a small bowl of grits. I definitely did not eat clean this morning, but it was well-worth the extra calories.

After breakfast, we briefly looked around the Cracker Barrel store which always has neat merchandise. I was specifically looking at autumn and Halloween decor. Kelsi and I have planned a few hours at the beginning of September to go shopping for Autumn/Halloween decorations. We are actually planning to vlog about our shopping adventure.

On Friday evening, I actually tried vlogging for the first time to get some practice. The hubster and I planned to enjoy a Friday the 13th thematic date night at home. As soon as Barry got home from work on Friday afternoon, we headed over to Ultimate Party Store in Hammond to purchase a Jason Voorhees mask and found some cheap shot glasses and drinking glasses for the adult beverage we had picked out for the evening. Our next stop was Walmart for our summer camp food and Jason Voorhees drink (hotdogs, hotdog buns, asparagus, mashmallows, Hershey bars, graham crackers, Vodka, Rumchatta, and blue raspberry mix). Unfortunately, Walmart did not have the blue raspberry mix. Neither did Rouses, Winn-Dixie, or Albertsons. Since we struck out on obtaining the last ingredient needed for our thematic drink, I settled on a bottle of Seagram’s Calypso Colada in honor of Camp Crystal Lake (setting for Friday the 13th). On future grocery shopping trips, we will be on the lookout for blue raspberry mix, so we can eventually make a Jason Voorhees drink for either another Friday the 13th evening or as a Halloween treat. I had a great deal of fun recording our quest for the elusive blue raspberry mix. Maybe, one day when I learn to edit a vlog, I’ll share that vlog with you, dear reader.

Once we returned home, Barry prepared the bacon-wrapped asparagus (perfect tribute to Kevin Bacon who stars in Friday the 13th), hotdogs, and chili while I set up the movie. About midway through the film, I made s’mores. Barry passed on the s’mores. The marshmallows we bought were too big. I definitely should have cut one in half. Despite not being able to make our thematic drink, everything turned out terrific, especially the bacon-wrapped asparagus. Additionally, we loved watching the movie which neither one of us had seen in a REALLY long time. Friday the 13th is an American slasher film that was released in May 1980. In my opinion, it is a classic slasher film that holds up well even today. Fun fact: Jason Voorhees as an adult wearing a hockey mask does not even appear in the first film. It had been so long since I had seen it last that I totally forgot about him not being in it. Barry and I had so much fun rewatching the first film, that in the future, we plan to watch the rest of the movies in the Friday the 13th franchise.

While on the subject of slasher films, Kelsi and I had an overall chat about our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon, and we streamed it on YouTube LIVE from her lair. It was the very first time that I have ever streamed live online. Usually, we record our chats via Zoom. We had so much fun being together again in person, and I’m proud of myself and how well our chat turned out. I put my improv skills to good use. You can check out this conversation, our other movie marathon chats, and much more of Kelsi’s awesome content on her Slime and Slashers – A Nostalgia & Horror Channel. You can also click on the link below. Collaborating and creating content with Kelsi is a definite happiness boost for me.

It’s time for me to wrap up, but before I do, let me update you on tracking my time and my running schedule.

Time Tracking

Instead of tracking my time for just one week, I chose to track my time this past week as well. This gives me two weeks to compare time sucks, scheduled commitments, and free time that can be devoted to my personal/professional goals. My time tracking officially ends at 5:00 tomorrow morning. I’ll share my findings this week. It will be interesting to see how my time tracking logs from August compare to my time tracking log from January of this year. The logs will determine how I plan to spend my extra time for the rest of the year and which goals will be completed in 2021 or roll over into 2022. I’m excited to analyze the data and get back on track.

Running Schedule

As for my running schedule, Week 2 (09 August-15 August) was a continuation of Week 1 but with picking up the pace, pumping my arms, and breaking a sweat added to the mix. I successfully met my goals for both weeks. For Week 3, I am making a slight adjustment to the times since I will be running and walking this week. Week #3: Walk 10 minutes (warm up). Run 1 minute. Walk 2 minutes (repeat this 3-minute session 5 times). Walk 10 minutes (cool down). My goal for this week is to follow this routine at least three days this week. On the other days, I will walk at least 20 minutes to keep up my walking streak and try to incorporate some strength training and biking.


School is in full swing, and I’m slowly but surely getting back into my daily day job routine. I will tell you, dear reader, having Fridays off is a huge game changer. I am extremely happy that I was given the opportunity to work only four days per week. Of course, there will be a couple of weeks sprinkled throughout the year that I may work a Friday, but I will have another day off during that week to compensate for it. Lots to look forward to in the next couple of weeks, including a final chat with Kelsi related to our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon and a Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club meeting to discuss Mexican Gothic. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of what this Sunday has to offer, stay safe, and choose kind. Happiness!

“Live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find eternity in each moment. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Today starts a brand new month with a blank slate to create new habits, new memories, and new content. I love the start of a new month, especially after a long break or being out of my normal routine which has definitely been the case for me the last two months. It’s time to begin anew!

Tomorrow morning, I report back to work to start another year at HGCS. I’ll remain in my position as an Instructional Coach; however, I will only be working four days a week. YEP! I’m extremely excited about having Fridays off to pursue other endeavors. I’ve been wanting to reduce my hours at my day job for quite awhile, so I am happy that it has finally become a reality. The faculty will meet for the first two days this week with time to work in our classrooms after lunch each day. Our students officially start on Wednesday which will be a half day for them.

Since I truly embraced the summer break with vim and vigor, I will track my time for a week, starting tomorrow. Tracking my time will help me to reFOCUS and get back on course with my goals which I mentioned in my “A Lesson from Impatience” post. I’ve been suffering from hayfever for about a week, so I’ve abandoned some of my good practices and been kind of lazy. It will be a good week to get back into the swing of things at work and use my afternoon/evenings for contemplation and creative work.

My new running shows arrived yesterday afternoon. You know what that means, dear reader! Tomorrow starts my running program. I have been on a walking streak since 23 March 2020 and lost 13 pounds on the first round of the Fast Burn Challenge. I’m ready to take it up a notch by adding running and strength training to my fitness regimen. My running goal is to become a 30-minute runner by the end of the year. The running program that I use is designed for 10 weeks; however, I plan to listen to my body to determine my progress. Week #1: Walk 30 minutes a day, at least three times a week.

And, I would be remiss if I did not mention that today is my sweet baby’s birthday. Andrew is officially 20 years old today. What an AWESOME reason to celebrate the first day of August! We actually celebrated the anniversary of his birth yesterday with family. He had simple requests…his dad to BBQ hamburgers and hotdogs, and I bake him a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. My gift to him, books of course, at his request.

Even though the summer season has technically not ended, my summer break is a few hours away from taking its final bow. Surprisingly, I’m ready for the next season in my life. I feel certain I can accomplish a great deal in the upcoming months and finish this year healthier and happier. I’m almost finished writing my blog post on my adventure at This Is The Place Heritage Park in Utah which I hope to publish sometime this week. Kelsi and I will also be chatting this week on the remaining films we watched for our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon. If you haven’t checked out our conversation about the Fear Street trilogy that premiered on Netflix in July, please check it out on Kelsi’s YouTube channel or click on the link below. And, finally the members of the Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club chose Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia as our August selection. Lots of awesome content to pass the time. In the meantime, dear reader, please stay safe, appreciate the little things, and spread lots of love. Happiness!

“Life isn’t a race, it’s a dance. Every step forward and every step back, stepping sidewards and twirling in circles, are part of the dance we call life.” ~ Matthew Kelly 

Top photo by Fauzan Fitria on Pexels.com

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For the most part, I consider myself a patient person. However, I recently learned that I am selectively patient. I had a few days where I was in a sort of holding pattern that forced me to play the waiting game. Initially, it caused me stress, worry, and unhappiness, but then it necessitated several days of quiet reflection. The universe was telling me to slow down and rest. So, I listened and took a break for a few days. I watched several episodes of The Good Place, read, spent time in prayer, reflected, watched a couple of horror movies, read and reflected some more when I realized that I have been in a state of impatience for the last couple of months.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.”

~ Saint Francis de Sales

When I started this year with my 21 for 2021 list and a schedule to accomplish the goals on that list, I was optimistic and energetic because I had a plan. I quickly realized a couple of weeks into January that decluttering and organizing each room in my house was not going to happen. It was difficult finding the time to devote to that task with everything else I wanted to accomplish on my list, so I nixed it in February and planned to revisit it later in the year. Unfortunately, I have not revisited that task since I put it on the back burner and have not even attempted to start many of the other ones on my list.

I really thought that once I wrapped up commitments in April and returned from my trip to Colorado, I would hit the ground running and check items off my list left and right. Instead, I modified one of the items on my list that took more time than was allotted (intermittent fasting), added new activities for the summer (summer fun list), and abandoned some items altogether (completing courses) which led me to becoming distracted, overwhelmed, frustrated, and unproductive concerning my goals. Ultimately, I grew impatient with myself because I set too many goals that required a huge amount of time and commitment and veered off course by creating more options. This epiphany finally hit me when I got sidelined days after writing about my mid-year checkup on my 21 for 2021 list.

The silver lining is I can recuperate from this bout of impatience since I now know what I have been dealing with these last couple of months. I must take the time to re-evaluate my goals for the year, make a few decisions, adjust some of my goals, and restructure how I plan to spend my time for the remainder of this year. I want to have a new plan in place before school starts again in August.

In the meantime, dear reader, I leave for Utah tomorrow morning to visit my Aunt Carolyn and my cousins for a week. I look forward to spending time with family while enjoying a change in scenery. This trip will be a nice way to change my mindset, gain a little clarity, and recharge my batteries. Happiness!

“Patience is power…it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” ~ Fulton Sheen

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Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

We are at the mid-year point in 2021, dear reader, and it is time for me to evaluate the progress I have made on my 21 for 2021 list thus far. Yesterday marked the end of the second quarter, and I am pleased overall with the progress that I have made from April-June. I not only tried intermittent fasting for one month, but I also created weekly meal plans and maintained a regular fitness regimen. I joined the Fast Burn Challenge on 19 April and for nine weeks followed Dr. Ian K. Smith’s program outlined in his newest book, Fast BurnThe Power of Negative Energy Balance. Since I successfully lost 13 pounds, I am participating in a second round of the program. My hope is to lose another 10 pounds by the end of this nine-week cycle. In addition, I tried seven new restaurants (four just in Colorado) in the second quarter which brings my total up to nine new restaurants in the first half of 2021. I only have three more to go to reach my goal.

The only two goals that I did not reach during the second quarter is completing the WordPress Blogging course and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies course. Additionally, I did not scrapbook at all during April or May. Honestly, I have had a difficult time managing my time since I returned home from my trip to Colorado. After really thinking about it the last few weeks, I have come to realize that COVID-19 restrictions started loosening up about that time and are almost nonexistant at this point since many people have received the vaccine. Like so many other people, I am doing more (a great deal more) since the first quarter of the year. Therefore, my schedule has changed dramatically because I added new commitments and summer activities to my schedule, and I am spending less time at home. Basically, this means that I will need to be a bit more strategic with managing my time, so I can accomplish both the items on my 21 for 2021 list and enjoy all the fun additions on my schedule.

So, what’s next for the third quarter of the year?

The third quarter (July-September) will essentially look similar to the first half of the year. I will continue to manage my time, eat more vegetables, focus on my health and wellness goals, and scrapbook at least two times per month. Before tackling any new items on my 21 for 2021 list, I will work on completing the WordPress Blogging course and Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies course. I have quite a few fun activities scheduled for July, and school starts back on 02 August. I want to be realistic with how I will be spending my time this next quarter without getting too overwhelmed.

In regards to the fun activities happening in July, one of them is a Summer Slasher Movie Marathon that officially starts today. Kelsi and I will be doing this marathon together and plan to chat about it. Originally, I had chosen 10 movies for the marathon; however, Netflix is releasing three Fear Street movies this month based on R. L. Stine’s Fear Street book series, so I added them to my list.

I will also be reading quite a bit during July. As many of you know, Kelsi and I started a book club, Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club, back in April of this year, and we really love our group. Our members are awesome, and we have had some delightful discussions. Our book club selection for this month is Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz. It is our third selection for this year. Our first selection was Later by Stephen King (May), and our second selection was Video Night by Adam Cesare (June). Both books are terrific reads. I am 86 pages into Children of the Dark and enjoying it up to this point.

Today starts the third quarter of 2021, and I am hopeful (as always) that I will spend the next three months accomplishing some goals while having fun and boosting my happiness. With that being said, it is time to reFOCUS and get started. Happiness!

 “The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.” ~ Barbara De Angelis

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Greetings on this fantastic Friday afternoon, dear reader! I officially completed the Fast Burn Challenge on Sunday evening. On Monday morning, I weighed in at 148.5 pounds, losing 2 pounds in Week #9 and ending the nine-week challenge with a total weight loss of 13 pounds. I also lost 3″ in my waist, 2″ in my hips, 2″ in both thighs, and 1″ in my left arm (weird, I know).

I learned a great deal about myself on this challenge, and I’m pleased with my overall results. I surpassed my goal of losing 10 pounds, ramped up my exercise, tried new recipes, planned and prepped meals (most weeks), increased my water intake, ate lots of fruits and vegetables, and incorporated intermittent fasting. At the beginning of the challenge, I chose a TRF schedule of 12:12. Midway through the challenge I increased my TRF schedule to 14:10. I finished the challenge with a TRF schedule of 16:8.

What are my takeaways?

First of all, the Fast Burn nine-week program is NOT a diet, but a roadmap to a healthier way of eating. It is a lifestyle that incorporates clean eating, intermittent fasting, and regular exercise. Second, it is an effective plan IF I put in the work. I will get out of it what I put into it. Third, making good choices through planning is the key to successfully becoming a healthier version of myself. Fourth, it helps to have people in my life who support my healthy lifestyle changes. My hubby is supportive and even helped prep and prepare many of my meals during the challenge. Being a member of the Fast Burn Challenge Facebook group has been beneficial. Also, blogging weekly about my journey on this challenge held me accountable, and quite a few of my dear readers cheered me on each week.

For me personally, starting a journey to better health requires the right mindset. And, my mindset is naturally affected by external factors. I am an emotional eater. Sugar, junk food, fried food, and processed food are what I reach for when I’m stressed, overwhelmed, or unhappy. I have been down this weight-loss road numerous times as an adult and have tried many plans and programs to lose weight and get physically fit. I am successful for a little bit, but at some point I fall back into my bad eating habits and abandon regular exercise. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed me this last time. I had adopted clean eating habits and lost 13 pounds back in September 2019 after reading Dr. Ian K. Smith’s book, The Clean 20. He had been a guest on Molly Kimball’s podcast, Fueled: Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball, and they were talking about the benefits of intermittent fasting and his Clean & Lean program. Weeks after listening to that podcast episode (“Intermittent Fasting, Explained: 18 July 2019), I bought his book Clean & Lean and joined the Cleaner Get Leaner Facebook group. Instead of starting that program, I opted to read The Clean 20 first to develop better eating habits with the intention of adding intermittent fasting at the beginning of 2020. Then, the pandemic hit, the world shut down, and I ate my feelings. I gained back my 13 pounds plus some.

On 23 March, I started walking daily for at least 20 minutes per day. Many days it was longer because there just wasn’t much to do with everything shut down. In April 2020, Dr. Ian published another book called Mind Over Weight which I read in May and completed the written exercises with the intention to start my weight loss journey using the Clean & Lean program on the first of June 2020. June came and went, as well as the rest of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, and I never started my journey. I did NOT have the right mindset. Try intermittent fasting using the Clean & Lean book found its way on my 21 for 2021 List. I was determined to try it during the second quarter of this year; however, Dr. Ian published Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance in April, so I bought it, joined the Fast Burn Challenge on Facebook, and started my journey to better health on 19 April 2021. And, here I am now, 13 pounds lighter with the desire to lose more. My mindset has shifted, and I’m determined to stay on this path to better health. It is a choice, and my future self will thank me.

There are so many benefits to eating clean. I have more energy and no longer feel sluggish throughout the day. I do not crave sugary, fried, or processed foods. There are days now that I crave a veggie plate with a cup of brown rice. That’s not to say that I will not indulge from time to time. However, planning for that occasional “treat” works best for me.

I have proven to myself that I can make good choices when dining in a restaurant. If I want to eat chili cheese fries once in awhile, I will eat them and enjoy them. Dr. Ian states on page 250 of Fast Burn: The Power of Negative Energy Balance, “It’s completely fine to have a good steak and French fries and even a slice of double chocolate cake (my mouth is watering just writing that!), but it’s important that you add these foods back in moderation, not just in their frequency but also their quantities.” Basically, make good choices the majority of the time, so you can periodically enjoy your favorites without guilt or negative consequences.

What’s next?

I have decided to complete another nine-week round of Fast Burn. I love this program! I love the variety it offers as well as its flexibility. Currently, I am on Week #1 and doing the 16:8 TRF schedule. That schedule may change the week in July when I am in Utah and possibly when I return to school in August. I will continue biking a couple of days a week and walking daily (at least 20 minutes). I would also like to add a day or two of strength training each week.

I’m excited about my new goals for this leg of the journey. My weight loss goal is to lose another ten pounds which I hope I can exceed again this round. My fitness goal is to start running again when I return from my trip to Utah. I follow a run/walk schedule for about 10-12 weeks that eventually allows me to run for 30 minutes. I bought a running magazine for additional motivation. When I can run for 30 minutes, I can run a 5K race. If my 52-year-old body can handle it and with more COVID restrictions dissapating, there may be a 5K road race in my future.

Well, that’s a wrap, dear reader! I won’t be writing every Friday about the second round of Fast Burn; however, I’ll update my progress every so often. Once I start my run/walk schedule, I’ll include that information for anyone who may be interested in starting a running habit of their own. In the meantime, many thanks to everyone who has cheered me on during my journey to better health. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Happiness!

“You now know what it takes to win. Take the lessons learned, keep your mind focused, and be confident as you stay in the fight!” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D.

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Happy Fast Burn Friday, dear reader! I am currently in Week #9 of the Fast Burn Challenge. On Monday morning, I weighed in at 150.5 pounds. I lost .5 of a pound in Week #8 with a total loss of 11 pounds since 19 April. I attended a scrapbooking event last weekend and did very well with both my eating and exercise goals. My friends and I did not go to Bud’s Broiler, so I did not splurge on chili cheese fries. I am only a couple of days away from completing this challenge, and I could not be more excited about my progress.

This week has been much easier than the past two weeks. I can eat three meals and three snacks (100 calories or less) per day. Last week was tough with only two meals. Thankfully, my hotel room had a refrigerator, so I packed healthy foods for my scrapbooking weekend.

My friends and I ate at a restaurant together only once while at the scrapbooking event. We went to Mano’s where I ordered grilled fish with veggies and a side salad. The meal also came with french fries, rice, or mashed potatoes, but I did NOT get any of the three sides. Honestly, I didn’t miss the additional side.

Drinking one cup of lemon water per day has been added back to the guidelines for this week. I drink my cup of lemon water in the morning. My IF schedule has also changed to 16:8, and surprisingly, it has not been hard adjusting from 14:10. Frankly, I kind of prefer it.

Now, I will be totally transparent. I did splurge this week, and I do NOT feel one ounce of guilt. It is the first and ONLY time that I have splurged on the Fast Burn Challenge. Two of my fabulous friends, Michelle and Maria, drove to Hammond on Wednesday to visit with me. We went to Streetside Market for lunch, and I ordered the Sautéed Beef with Broccoli (sautéed beef stir-fried, mushrooms, broccoli, onion) on a bed of Golden Rice along with an eggroll. IT WAS SCRUMPTIOUS! And, I ate every bite.

Sautéed Beef with Broccoli

Needless to say, I did not need to eat a third meal or two of my snacks on Wednesday. I felt totally content with my decision because I knew that one “treat” would not derail all of my hard work on this fast burn journey. It was a conscious choice that I had planned for ahead of time. I think it is perfectly fine to indulge from time to time. Key words, “from time to time.”

Kudos to Me for…

  • meeting my daily water intake goal.
  • meeting my TRF 16:8 goal.
  • continuing to eat more veggies.
  • meeting my daily exercise goals.
  • planning my meals and snacks for the week.

Challenges

Well, this week I made a poor decision concerning dinner on Tuesday night. I had planned to eat black bean soup for dinner, but did not have time to consume it before leaving for my improv class. Since my class is an hour away, I packed two Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts with half a pint of milk and ate my dinner on the way. My meal was planned; however, my time was not planned very well. This also happened to me once during Week #3. As I have mentioned before, planning is the key, not only the meals and exercise, but also my time. I woke up late on Tuesday morning and fiddle-faddled for a couple of hours even though I had plenty of tasks to complete on my to-do list. When I have a scheduled evening activity in the future, I need to get up on time and not procrastinate or postpone a task until the next day. Another solution could have been to pack a turkey and cheese sandwich to eat on the way to my class.

It is hard to believe, dear reader, that my nine-week journey participating in the Fast Burn Challenge is coming to an end. While the challenge may be ending, my journey to better health is really just beginning. I’m eager to see my total weight loss when I weigh-in on Monday morning. I’ll publish a post next week revealing my total weight-loss, any changes in my body measurements, my overall thoughts about this plan, and my future goals concerning my health and wellness journey. Happiness!

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” ~ Greg Anderson

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It’s Friday, dear reader, and we know what that means! I am currently in Week #7 of the Fast Burn Challenge. On Monday morning, I weighed in at 152 pounds. I lost more pounds in Week #6 with a total loss of 9.5 pounds. I am literally .5 of a pound away from reaching my weight loss goal of 10 pounds which I realistically set when I started down this path to better health. Of course, I will certainly be happy with losing more by the end of the nine week challenge.

To be sure, my weight loss journey will NOT end when the Fast Burn Challenge ends. This challenge is just the beginning of a healthier me. Truthfully, I would like to lose 30-35 pounds by the end of the year which I feel is doable if I continue following Dr. Ian’s guidelines. His programs are effective, easy to follow, and focus on choosing a healthier lifestyle that emphasizes clean eating, intermittent fasting, and daily exercise.

Even though Week #7 is proving to be a challenging week, I am still managing to have some success in most areas of the program.

Kudos to Me for…

  • meeting my daily water intake goal.
  • meeting my TRF 14:10 goal.
  • continuing to eat more veggies.
  • meeting my daily exercise goals.
  • choosing wisely (Vegetable Sandwich) when eating at a restaurant.

Despite not planning and prepping my meals on Sunday evening, I am doing pretty well overall with my food choices. Actually, on Tuesday morning I made Sumptuous Strawberry Shakes for Andrew and me for breakfast and prepped Burner Smoothies for me for the remainder of the week.

Since I’ve been out of school, meeting my TRF 14:10 goal has been much easier. And, I’m having no problems following the guideline of waiting two hours after waking up to eat breakfast.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my friend Kimberly at Brady’s in Hammond. She recommended the Vegetable Sandwich which consists of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, red cabbage, and cheddar/swiss cheese with mayo on a special oat wheat bread. I decided to try it minus the alfalfa sprouts, light on the mayo, and added avocado. It was perfect!

Challenges

My biggest challenge this week is having NO snacks. Unfortunately, I cannot make it through the day without snacks. Now, with that being said, I do not need to consume three snacks per day. For the most part, I am choosing healthy snacks and keeping them between 100 and 150 calories. It is too hard for me to skip them, especially on the days I need to reach 12,000 or 14,000 steps.

My other challenge this week is not getting enough sleep. I am going through menapause which makes it difficult to sleep through the night in general; however, my geriatric dog Sophie (13 years old) and my cat Puar have also contributed to disrupting my sleep this week. Since Monday night, Sophie has woken me up at least once during the night to use the bathroom, and Puar keeps waking me up 1-2 hours before my alarm. They have both done this in the past, but not the two of them consistently in one week. Naturally, I know they are not being nefarious. Needless to say, I am dragging this morning. Today will definitely be a REST day (20 minute stroll after dinner). Thankfully, I am on summer break, and I can always take a nap.

Well, dear reader, another week of the Fast Burn Challenge is wrapping up. Only two more weeks to go until this part of my health and wellness journey is complete. Every week, I have learned new health and fitness related information, have tried new recipes or foods, and have gotten plenty of inspiration from the Fast Burn Challenge community. Happiness!

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe

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