Category Archives: Book Review

I Passed and a Grain Brain Review

I passed my final BodyPump certification!!

I am so happy! After months of practicing, going to training, more practicing, teaching with an instructor, and even more practicing, I finally passed! I am now a certified BodyPump instructor!

I still have to talk to my gym, but I think the plan for now is to teach every other Sunday and sub for other instructors. It won’t be a lot of hours, but I’m happy that I passed and can officially teach now. Yay! :)

Grain Brain Challenge

Thank you to FitFluential on behalf of Grain Brain for letting me be part of this challenge. I was compensated for my time and participation. All opinions are my own.

About a month ago, I started a grain brain challenge based on the book, Grain Brain, by Dr. Perlmutter. His book explains the negative effect carbs and grains have on our brains and bodies and proposes a four-week plan of taking vitamins, eating low carb and gluten-free, and getting the recommended amount of sleep.


My Thoughts

I did as best as I could during this challenge, but I have to admit that I wasn’t perfect. Eating low carb and gluten-free can be tough and require a lot of planning, but once you do it for awhile, it gets easier. Meal planning also helps a ton.

For me, I tried to stick to more of a gluten-free diet.

I ate tons of eggs, salads, fish, yogurt, fruits, and veggies.



I also ate some packaged gluten-free foods.

I think packaged gluten-free foods should be used in moderation because they are still processed foods and aren’t necessarily good for you, but when you’re hungry and need something fast, they are great!

I ate gluten-free Amy’s burritos.


And Udi’s gluten-free bread.


For a quick snack, I grabbed a Larabar or a Kind bar.


I also was able to get creative and come up with some great gluten-free recipes including gluten-free pancakes and gluten-free muffins.



Eating gluten-free and low carb food can be really benefcial, it’s just about finding foods and recipes that you enjoy. Or taking your favorite recipe and making it healthier.

Like I said, I didn’t do perfect and sometimes I messed up on the weekends, and I can tell what a difference I felt when I ate bad on the weekends. Okay, not necessarily bad (I don’t think foods should be labeled good or bad) but rather when I fell off the gluten-free wagon.

When I was eating gluten-free and lower carb, I felt better – physically and mentally. It might sound weird, but I felt lighter. I felt a lot less bloated and that made me feel awesome. When I went a little overboard on the weekend, I felt sluggish and bloated.

I think eating gluten-free and reducing carbs in the evenings can really help you feel better and aid in weight loss.

I am glad that I participated in the grain brain challenge and felt that I really learned a lot about my body but at the same time it was very hard to eat perfect all the time. Although, I think after this challenge, I will stick to eating  a lot of gluten-free foods. They just made me feel better.

A lot of people have gluten intolerances and may not even realize it. A gluten-free diet is great to try just to see the positive effects that it can have on your body.


Well, I am off to the gym with Danny and the kids this morning! Have a great Saturday!

Don’t forget to enter the My Race Ragz giveaway - ends Sunday!


Filed under Book Review, Fitness

National Geographic Kids Books

I have always loved to read. Always. Even as a kid, I was always reading. I think that it’s important for parents to encourage their kids to read things that they enjoy. Kids will learn to love reading more if they read things that they want to read rather than something they’re forced to read.

I believe in encouraging kids to read what they enjoy whether it’s a book, a comic book, or the sports section of the newspaper. When Jacob was younger he used to love to read the dictionary and medical books. He still loves reading now, and we often read a lot of the same book (I’m not really sure what that says about my reading level :) )

I always make it a point to take my kids to the library, book store, or let them pick out a book from their book club orders at school.

So, when Mom’s Meet approached me about reviewing the National Geographic Kids books, I was happy to take the opportunity.

I received a big box of National Geographic Kids books in the mail.


I was very excited to see the variety of the books. I have four kids at home in the afternoons (my two boys, my niece, and another girl I watch), and they range from ages 2-12. The National Geographic books are great because their geared at kids of all ages and reading levels. There is something for everyone!

National Geographic books are full of photos, fun facts, and offer the perfect educational balance.

Jacob (my 12 year old) loves The Ultimate Weird but True and First Big Book of Why books.


He is the type of kid that craves knowledge and knows more random facts than anyone I know.

Jaden (my 6 year old) loves the animal books, especially the Meerkats book.


These books are great for me to read to him and my niece and for Jaden to practice reading on his own.

The pictures in the book are fantastic and really hold a kid’s attention.



National Geographic books provide visual stimulation, active engagement, and are great educational learning material.

All in all, National Geographic Kids are great books that would make any kid want to read. I really like that National Geographic focuses on how to make kids enjoy reading more.

They have four main goals:

  • Get kids super excited about reading
  • Build reading focus and stamina
  • Encourage kids to higher reading levels
  • Empower kids to learn more about their world

You can learn more here. National Geographic definitely met these goals with my children!

  • Do you like to read?
  • Did you read as a child? What were your favorite books?

I was provided the National Geographic Kids books by Mom’s Meet to review on my blog at no charge. All opinions are my own (and my kids!).


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Filed under Book Review, Family Fun

Kind Snacks and The Dinner

Good afternoon!

How was your weekend? The weather was crazy here in Chicagoland yesterday and there was even a tornado nearby.

Jaden is afraid of storms and spent some of the aternoon hiding under our coffee table.

Yesterday’s Workout

  • Taught BodyPump – 60 minutes

I taught BodyPump again yesterday morning. Although, I wasn’t perfect, I was a lot more comfortable teaching than I was on Friday. On Friday, I was just so nervous and it’s nice to have that first class out of the way.

I worked at the gym this morning, so if I have time tonight, I am going to try and squeeze in a workout.

This morning, the goodies that I won from Kind were delivered!

I received a variety of Kind bars and Kind granola.

I was excited to see that the granola (and bars) are gluten-free! I opened a bag to top my Greek yogurt with for breakfast.

It was a hard choice deciding what flavor to open first, and I finally decided on the Blueberry Vanilla Cluster with Flax Seeds.

Of course, this afternoon, I had to have a Kind bar as a snack. Can you guess what flavor I opened?

I opened the Almond Walnut Macadamia + Protein with Peanuts.


Each bar has 10 grams of protein. And I love macadamia nuts!


I just finished reading The Dinner by Herman Koch.


I’m not even really sure what to say about this book. I am still trying to process the craziness of it. It was definitely a book that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. I finished the book in a day, but I felt like I had so many questions about things that had happened that were left unanswered.

It’s a book that I would recommend reading just because it really leaves you thinking – how far would you go for the ones you love?

I’m off to pick up my niece! Have a great day!!

  • What were you scared of when you were a kid? I was scared of the dark
  • What’s your favorite nut? Mine is cashews!
  • Have you read The Dinner? What’s the last book you read?


Filed under Book Review, Breakfast, Working Out

Grain Brain Challenge

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on the behalf of Brain Grain.

Disclaimer: As a FitFluential Ambassador, I was given the opportunity to participate in the four week challenge based on the book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter for compensation. After much consideration, I decided to participate. The Grain Brain Challenge is about lifestyle changes that you can make to keep your brain healthy and vibrant. The challenge includes eating gluten-free and taking certain supplements. Although I am doing this challenge for the health benefits, the possible weight loss is a nice perk. I do much better with programs when I am being held accountable to someone else (weight loss challenges, DietBet, etc.) which is why I decided to participate in the challenge.  I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. All opinions are 100% my own.

Grain Brain

Grain Brain is a book by Dr. David Perlmutter. Dr. Perlmutter is part of the American College of Nutrition, the president of Perlmutter Health Center, president of the Perlmutter Brain Foundation, and a medical advisor to Dr. Oz.


The basis of his book is that the fate of your brain is in the food that you eat. Many brain conditions are caused by inflammation which can be triggered by carbs, especially those containing gluten and high sugar levels.

Good fats are important in our diets and our brain is 70% fat. Good fats such as DHA omega-3 help reduce inflammation and vitamins A, D, K, and E require fat in order to be absorbed in the body. According to Dr. Perlmutter, we need 200 to 300 milligrams of DHA daily and less than 25% of Americans consume this amount.

Dr. Perlmutter’s book describes the affect that gluten and carbs have on the brain, why our brains thrive on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age.

The Grain Brain Challenge

Dr. Perlmutter’s plan is broken down into four week.

  • Week 1 – Food: Shifting your body way from relying on carbs for fuel and adding brain health supplements. These supplements include resVida – enhances blood vessel dilation and supports healthy blood flow, Omega-3 Fish Oil – helps maintain heart, vascular health, and brain health, and DHA – a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid the body needs and important for brain health. 007
  • Week 2 – Incorporating a fitness routine
  • Week 3 – Getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week
  • Week 4 – Establishing a new rhythm to maintain these healthy habits

Of all these weeks, Week 1 will be the hardest one for me. I have no problem exercising and I usually get enough sleep. Week 4 is about tying all these components together.

Basically, the challenge will consist of eating gluten-free, low carb, and low sugar for four weeks. After reading Grain Brain and learning about the affects that gluten and carbs have on the brain and body, I am willing to try and follow this plan for 4 weeks. I’m not saying that I will be gluten-free or low-carb for life, I am simply saying that I would like to see what kind of changes I can notice.

A sensitivity to gluten is actually a problem that affects many people and even people that aren’t sensitive to gluten can benefit from a gluten-free diet. Symptoms include bloating, headaches, constipation, fatigue, etc.

In case, your not sure what gluten is, it’s a protein composite that acts like an adhesive material, holding together bread products and plays a role in letting bread products (crackers, baked goods, pizza dough, cereal, etc.) rise. I also helps cheese spreads and margarines keep their smooth texture, and prevents sauces and gravies from curdling. Pretty much gluten is everywhere and can cause many unwanted symptoms in people.

This four week plan isn’t just about eating gluten-free, it’s about eating healthy. Just because a product is gluten-free doesn’t mean that’s it’s healthy. It’s about eating whole and “real” foods, relying on fats instead of carbs and eating low sugar.

I will admit that I am a little nervous about starting this challenge but part of me is also excited. I seem to thrive when I am being held accountable to someone other than myself. I did a weight loss challenge about a year and half ago and came in first place. I did the Biggest Loser program at my gym and lost another 11 pounds. I participated in and won three DietBets. But on my own, I seem to just eat a lot of yummy food :)

I am excited to see how this challenge will benefit me and will try my hardest to stick with it for four weeks  – it starts Oct. 28th and is set to end right before Thanksgiving.

Foods Not Allowed:

  • Gluten including whole-grain and whole-wheat forms of bread, noodles, pasta, pastries, baked goods, and cereals
  • Processed carbs, sugars, and starch – corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chips, crackers, pastries, muffins, pizza dough, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream, jelly, processes cheese spreads, juices, honey, sugar, corn syrup
  • Packaged food labeled “fat free” or “low fat” except for things like water, mustard, balsamic vinegar
  • Margarine, vegetable shortening, cooking oil
  • Soy – soy burgers, soy nuggets, soy hot dogs, etc.

Maybe you’re thinking what the heck can you eat then?! I thought the same thing when I was going through the list. But there’s still tons of good and healthy foods to eat.

Foods Allowed:

  • Healthy Fats – extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, organic butter, almond milk, avocados, nuts and nut butters, cheese (except blue cheese) sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Herbs, seasonings, and condiments
  • Low Sugar Fruits and Vegetables – avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, lemons, limes, leafy greens and lettuce, spinach, broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, green beans, celery, garlic, asparagus
  • Protein – whole eggs, wild fish, grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, pork

I am not really a meat eater besides fish so the majority of my protein will come from eggs and salmon.

Foods Used in Moderation (once daily or a couple times a week):

  • carrots
  • cottage cheese and yogurt
  • cow’s milk and cream
  • beans, lentils, and peas (exception: hummus)
  • non-gluten grains – buckwheat, rice, mille, quinoa, oats
  • sweetners – natural stevia and dark chocolate
  • whole sweet fruits – berries, melons, pineapple, etc.
  • wine

I definitely think that this will be hard and take some getting used to but I think as long as I can come up with a meal plan it will make things a lot easier. I plan on going grocery shopping this weekend and would love any suggestions for gluten-free, low carb recipes.

Eggs play a big part in this challenge especially because you can buy DHA Omega-3 cage free eggs and there is a great egg recipe from the Grain Brain book that I can’t wait to try out!

Huevos Rancheros Recipe from Grain Brain

This classic Mexican dish has been modified so instead of eggs served on tortillas, they are prepared over a bed of fresh greens.

Serves 2


  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 4 Gold Circle Farms DHA Omega-3 Cage Free Eggs
  • 4 cups coarsely torn frisee
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 tablespoons salsa
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add butter or olive oil to skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Crack eggs into skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, more for firmer yolks.
  3. Serve eggs over a bod of frisee and top with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.


  •  Thoughts?
  • Are you gluten-free?
  • Any good gluten-free or low-carb recipes to share?

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Filed under Book Review, Recipes


Today I pretty much have random things to talk about.

1. I signed up for a 5k in October. I asked my physical therapist this morning if I could return to running soon. He said that right now I should focus on making it through the BodyPump certification weekend, and then maybe I could start ease back into running. I took this as Yes, Heather, you should definitely run a 5k in the beginning of October.

Honestly though, I told my PT that I wanted to run a 5k and he said that it should be okay since it’s still more than a month away. I don’t plan on doing this 5k for time. I plan on doing it for fun and seeing where I am at with my running after not running for a couple of months. I’m sure I’ll have to run slow and possibly take walking breaks, I just want to see how I feel and how my body responds.

Also this 5k is kind of important to me because it was the race when I won my first and only age group medal.

Running has never been easy for me and I am not very fast so even though it was a smaller race that 2nd place for my age group medal was a huge accomplishment for me.

Of course, I know that after not running for months my chances of winning a medal again are zilch, it’s still an important race to me. Not to mention the fact that I have a coupon code, making the race only $15 which is the cheapest 5k I have ever ran.

2. Bars. Every time I eat an Alt bar, I always say that I am going to stick to the regular Larabars. Then I go to the store and buy another Alt bar. I guess I’m hoping it’ll taste better than the last Alt bar? I actually think I am drawn to the Alt bars because they have more protein – 10 grams. I like the regular Larabars better but they only have about 4 grams of protein.

So, I picked up an apple cinnamon Alt bar to try.

I also bought a white chocolate Macadamia Nut Clif bar to try. I thought I had tried these before, but I was wrong. If I had tried these before, they would have been stocked in my kitchen because that bar was so delicious. They are definitely my #1 favorite Clif bar.

3. Bulu Box. If you have never heard of Bulu Box before, it’s a monthly subscription box featuring health, nutrition, and weight loss products.

I mentioned it awhile ago in a post along with a code to try out a box totally for free! The coupon is still active, so if you missed the code last time you can still you it. (It’s only a one time code, so if you used it before, it won’t work again).

Just enter code BULUGAN972 at checkout for your own free box!

4. Duck Dynasty Duck Dynasty isn’t the type of show that I’d normally watch or even think about watching but one night I was up late because I couldn’t sleep. I came downstairs about 1 am to watch tv until I felt sleepy and Duck Dynasty was the only thing on tv. It was so funny that I was instantly hooked. I told Danny about it and we’ve been watching it ever since.

I recently saw on Skinny Runner’s blog that there is a Duck Dynasty book called The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built A Dynasty.


I immediately bought it on my Kindle and finished it in a day -it’s a really easy read. If you’re a Duck Dynasty fan, I recommended this book. It’s told by Willie’s point of view and some of Korie’s point of view also. It was very interesting and I learned things about Willie’s childhood that I would have never though to be true.

The best part is the BTB (before the beards) pictures at the end of the book.

Well, that’s all my randomness for today. Have a good afternoon!

  • Tell me something random about you.
  • Are you a Duck Dynasty fan?
  • Any good book recommendations?





Filed under Book Review, Fitness, Running

The Fault in our Stars by John Green Book Review

The March book for Julie’s book club was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

About the Book:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years,
Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon
diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears
at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

The Fault in Our Stars is a wonderful book. Even though the book is sad, it’s incredibly touching, funny, and romantic. I am not usually a fan of books that are so sad, but I made an exception for this book.

It might seem weird, but I did have to read it while closing off a part of my heart in a way. The kids in this book have cancer and their story is one that actually happens to people in real life. Having two kids myself, I cannot fathom what the parents of these kids and teenagers must go through as well as the kids themselves. I cannot bear to think about what would happen if this type of situation ever happened to my family. At the same time, my heart aches for the parents and children that go though this.

Please don’t let me talk you into believing that this book is depressing. It might be in a way, but the humor and the situations of the characters is actually quite amusing.


The story starts out with 16-year-old Hazel who has terminal cancer. She is currently living with her parents while they take care of her and the cancer that will one day ultimately kill her. However, Hazel still tries to live a normal as life as possible – she goes out with her friends, she takes a few classes at her local community college, she drives, and she has a crush on a boy named Augustus.

Augustus is in cancer remission, and had lost his leg due to cancer. He is immediately drawn to Hazel after meeting her at a Cancer Support Group, and thier story grows from there.

A big part of the story is Hazel’s search to find the author of her favorite book. The book she loves just ends abruptly, and Hazel isn’t satisfied with not knowing that happened to the characters at the end of the story and becomes obsesses with finding out.

I think that search for what happened to the characters in the book is a metaphor for Hazel’s life. She wants so badly to know the unknown. Her obsession with finding out what happened to the characters after the story ends  could be her way of dealing with the unknown of her own life. How long will she live? What comes after death? What will happen to her parents?

My Thoughts

Before I read this book, I read a few of the reviews and a few of them said that the way these teenagers talk and act in certain situations isn’t realistic because they act too grown up. And while, I agree that real teenagers don’t seem to talk like the teenagers do in this book in real life, I thought it really worked for the book.

Hazel and Augustus maybe have had to grow up before they were ready, and seem to adapt maturely to certain situations while expressing themselves in very intellectual ways, and I loved it.

The romance between Hazel and Augustus is the charming part of the story, and I’m glad that they were able to find love.

Finally, this book really made me think about the impact each individual has and the mark we leave on Earth. Hazel is content just living and eventually dying. On the other hand, Augustus believes that he needs to make a name for himself in the world. He needs to be remembered, be important.

The world is a huge place – there are millions of people living and even more that are dead. It really makes you think how small you really are in the world. But I do think that it is important to live life to the fullest and do the things that make you happy, and if you can – make others happy.

Life isn’t all about yourself. It’s about who you are, who you connect with, and what you leave behind you on Earth. Good, evil, happiness, sadness, wealth, health. Live life to the fullest.

I really enjoyed The Fault in our Stars and thought it was a wonderful book. For me, it was a book that made me stop and think and most of all it made me feel.

Have you read The Fault in our Stars? Thoughts?


Filed under Book Review

Broiled Grapefruit and A Blackberry Winter Book Review

Good afternoon – I hope you’re all having a great day!

This morning started out with a delicious breakfast. I had Kashi oatmeal…

…and a broiled grapefruit!

I saw the broiled grapefruit last week on RER’s blog, and I was intrigued. I like grapefruit but never would have thought to broil one.

I simply cut the grapefruit in half and sprinkled it with a bit of brown sugar. Since I’m trying to cut back on my sugar, I only used half a teaspoon of brown sugar. Then, I broiled it in the oven for about 7-8 minutes on low, and it came out perfect!

It might seem weird to eat a warm grapefruit, but it was actually delicious!

Today’s Workout

  • 1.03 miles treadmill, walked
  • BodyPump – 60 minutes
  • Stairmaster – 21:32 minutes

We did the new BodyPump release in class today (there’s a new releases every three months). It was tough but a great workout! After BodyPump, I did the Stairmaster again and set it climb the Eiffel Tower.

My legs are still sore from only climbing for 15 minutes yesterday! That stairmaster is a great workout!

Blackberry Winter Book Review

I recently read Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio for Julie’s book club. I tried not to give away too much information, but there might be a couple of spoilers.

About the book: Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s. Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways…


Blackberry Winter tells the story through two different character’s points of view - Vera and Claire. Vera lived in the 1930′s and Claire lives in the present. The book flips back and forth from the past to the present.

Personally, I thought Blackberry Winter was just an okay book. It didn’t grab my attention and suck me in like some books do. I thought that the store line was predictable and a little to coincidental.

The story starts out with Vera and the disappearance of her son, Daniel, during a snow storm in 1933. In 2011, a similar snow storm is happening and brings back up the case of Vera and the unsolved mystery of her son’s disappearance. A character makes a remark in the book that Claire is such a great investigating reporter and was able to unearth all this information that no one was able to find. I don’t agree.

First off, Claire’s friend, Abbey, is the one who even gets the ball rolling when she digs out the initial police blotter where Claire found the story. Then, a box of Claire’s personal belongs is delivered to her work where the return address just happens to be the same name as someone who knew Daniel. She contacts this person and is given more clues.

Then, Claire just happens to befriend the coffee shop owner whose coffee shop just happens to be where Vera and Daniel lived. What a coincidence. When Claire goes to retrieve files from a lawyer’s daughter, they find the house has been broken into and the files are a complete mess. Oh wait, there’s a secret room that just so happens to hold the single file that Claire needs. She didn’t even have to sort through one unorganized file. All the clues just fell in her lap. She hardly put herself out on a limb to obtain one clue.

I did like how Claire’s story ended up, and was actually surprised to find out what happened to Daniel. Vera’s story, on the other hand, was nothing but tragedy. Not one good thing happened to her. She lost her job, her son, the love of her life, and her own life. Depressing.

I also think the story was a little too predictable. For example, as soon as I started reading the book, I knew right away that although Claire and her husband’s marriage was suffering that they end up together in the end of the story. I also didn’t find the way that they got back together very believable. The whole book they rarely talk or know where the other is. They spend all their time with other another women and another man, and then her husband, Ethan, decides to move out for a while. After half a day of being away, he suddenly discovers that he does love Claire and runs back home to profess his undying love for her…after being away for half a day. They spent tons more time than that apart during the book.

I understand that they suffered a terrible tragedy during their marriage and with how much emphasis they put on that tragedy during the story, I found it a little hard to believe that Ethan completely forgets the one year anniversary of that tragedy (I don’t want to give too much away!)

Bottom line: Blackberry Winter wasn’t  poorly written or even a bad storyline, but it just didn’t grab my attention and interest me the way some books do. I’d say read it and let me know your thoughts!

After I was done reading Blackberry Winter, I needed a new book to read so I bought Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks on my Kindle. I think it’s also a movie out in theaters right now, maybe? I like Nicholas Sparks, but I don’t always read his books because they always make me cry uncontrollably (Dear John…) but Safe Haven seems really good so far. I am about 75% done and can’t wait to finish! And I haven’t cried once.

  • Have you read Blackberry Winter or Safe Haven?
  • Favorite book? Favorite author?
  • Ever try a broiled grapefruit?


Filed under Book Review, Breakfast, Fitness, Recipes, Working Out

Army FPT Two-Mile Run and The Secret Keeper Book Review

Last Night’s Workout

  • Adaptive Motion Trainer – 30 minutes

Danny and I went to the gym after dinner last night, and I did an easy 30 minutes on the adaptive motion trainer machine. Danny did the elliptical next to me, and really gave it his all while I was taking it easy. Danny had double to the total strides that I did. I don’t remember the exact number, but I had about 2000 total strides and he had about 4000 total strides.

Yet, we went the exact same distance and burned the exact same amount of calories according to the machines. And the AMT is a similar motion to the elliptical, so I don’t think that’s the problem. But one of those machines was wrong. There was no way we went to the same distance and burned the same amount of calories. I have a feeling the AMT trainer is really overestimating those numbers.

Do you think machines in the gym are accurate with the distance and calories burned? I always look at it for a guideline, but count on my BodyFit Media to see how many calories I actually burned throughout the day.

After the gym, we came home and ate Skinny Cow ice cream.

It was a nice little treat.

Today’s Breakfast

This morning, I had a bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal.

I also had it as a snack yesterday afternoon. There is 13 grams of protein in one cup of cereal.

Today’s Workout

  • 2.24 miles treadmill (Army PFT)
  • Step Class – 60 minutes

This morning’s workout was kind of fun – I was messing around with the different settings on the new treadmill at my gym and  saw one labeled Army PFT (Physical Fitness Test) Two-Mile Run, so I decided to try it out.

It started out with a three-minute warm-up, and then I was timed how long it took me to run two miles. After I was done, it showed me my score. I scored a 57.

I had no idea what that number meant or if it was good or bad, so when I was telling Danny about it on the phone, he found this website – Army PFT Two-Mile Run Score. In order to pass the test and graduate to basic combat training in the Army, you must score at least a 50.

Yes! I got a 57! I can now move on to combat training :) I didn’t do the best, but I didn’t do the worst either, and at least I scored higher than a 50. It was a fun way to get a workout in, and I figure I can always work on improving my score – for fun, of course – I have no plans to join the Army. I just thought it was cool that I actually passed. I think you also have to pass a sit-up and push-up test.

I feel like I run a lot faster outside than I do on a treadmill. But all of my winter running is done on a treadmill because I am not friends with cold weather.

After the treadmill, I went to Step Class, and it was very challenging today. The class was the same, I’m just really tired today and that two-mile run zapped the energy out of me. I still got through it, and ate a snack as soon as I got in my car.

In addition to my normal Builder Bar, I also had this package of Crunchmaster’s multi-grain crackers that my gym was giving away last week.

They were really good. They almost tasted like a corn chip.

On to a book review…

The Secret Keeper Book Review

I recently finished reading The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton for Julie’s book club.

About the book:

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world. (Source)

I don’t want to give too much of the book away because it was a great read, and I recommend reading it!

My Thoughts:

I loved the Secret Keeper. Before I buy a book, I always read the free trial of it on my Kindle (usually the first few chapters.) As soon as I read the first few chapters, I had to buy the book immediately because I had to know what happened next. The free trial ends with the cliff hanger of the crime that Laurel witnesses.

As I continued to read it, I realized that the book flips back and forth between present day and the 1940′s told from different characters perspectives. At first I was a little wary because history is exactly my favorite genre of reading, but soon I found myself flying through the present day chapters so I could get back to the story from the 40′s.

The book follows three main characters: Laurel, Dolly (Dorothy), and Vivien. Laurel is Dolly’s daughter and the story goes from present day, where Laurel is trying to learn about Dolly’s past to the past where the reader lives through Dolly’s story.

I thought this was an excellent book, and each chapter left you wanting to keep reading to see what happens next.

I found myself with mixed emotions about Dolly’s character. I liked her when she towards the beginning when she left her family to pursue her dreams. She seemed a little bit imaginative and flighty, but still likeable. She seemed very naive and childlike. However, as her story went on, I found myself liking her less. The way she behaved with Jimmy, and the plan that she set in motion made me like her less and less. I also got the feeling from her meeting with Dr. Rufus that there more to her story than met the eye.

I liked Vivien’s character. At the beginning, she seemed very cold and withdrawn, but I still found myself drawn to her and wanted to know more of her story. When the story starts out, it seems as though Vivien and Dolly are friends, so when your reach the part about Vivien saying that she isn’t friends with Dolly, you begin to wonder how they’re friendship came about. I loved that the beginning of the story was told from Dolly’s point of view and at the end of the book we see the same scene through Vivien’s eyes.

I didn’t have many feelings towards Laurel one way or the other. I felt like she was simply a character to relate the story of Dolly and Vivien.

This book has many twists and turns. When I got to the end of the book, I actually had to read it a few times to make sure that I was understanding it correctly. I don’t want to give too much of the ending away, but I loved it. It was actually a twist that I didn’t predict at all. Although I like the way it ended, the only thing that I wish would have been different is the fact that Dolly died not ever knowing that Jimmy survived.

The Secret Keeper has a little bit of everything: love, history, drama, murder, mystery. It was well-written and the best book I have read in a while. The story sucks you in and leaves you needing to find out more. You have a love/hate relationship with the characters, but despite how you feel about them, their story is one that you need to find out more about.

  • Have you read the Secret Keeper? Thoughts? Last book you read?
  • Have you ever done any kind of fitness or army test?
  • Favorite post workout snack?


Filed under Book Review, Breakfast, Family Fun, Fantasy Fitness, Fitness, Working Out

The Skinny Rules

Good morning!

I woke up early today and was at the gym by 7am because Danny is taking my brother to the back doctor this morning, so I had to be home by about 8am.

Today’s Workout

  • Elliptical – 30 minutes
  • Treadmill – 20 minutes 1.56 miles, walked and jogged

After the gym, I came home and made breakfast. I had a bagel thin with two egg whites and an ultra thin slice of cheese. I had a clementine on the side.

I am going to try really hard to get back to eating better today.

Speaking of healthy eating, I just finished The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper.

The book really wasn’t too long because half of the book is recipes. I think it had some good points and advice, but it’s pretty much all common sense. Drink more water, don’t drink soda. Cut out sugar, white flour, and potatoes, eat lots of fruits and veggies. Don’t eat food that is processed, eat a protein with every meal. Eat lots of fish, some chicken, and a little red meat.

Here are Bob’s 20 “Skinny Rules”:

  1. Drink a large glass of water before every meal.
  2. Don’t drink your calories.
  3. Eat protein at every meal – or stay hungry and grouchy.
  4. Slash your intake of refined flours and grains.
  5. Eat 30 to 50 grams of fiber a day.
  6. Eat apples and berries every single day.
  7. No carbs after lunch.
  8. Learn to read food labels so you know what you’re eating.
  9. Stop guessing about portion size and get it right.
  10. No more added sweeteners, including artificial ones.
  11. Get rid of those white potatoes.
  12. Make one day a week meatless.
  13. Get rid of fast foods and fried foods.
  14. Eat a real breakfast.
  15. Make your own food and eat at least 10 meals a week at home.
  16. Banish high-salt foods
  17. Eat your vegetables.
  18. Go to bed hungry.
  19. Sleep right.
  20. Plan one splurge meal a week.

I do think that this book is good if you are new to trying to lose weight. It gives good advice about weight loss without any crazy fad diets.

I truly believe that weight loss and being healthy is 90% what you eat. Yes, exercise keeps you healthy and burns calories, but if you’re eating like crap, it’s not going to matter. You need to learn to properly fuel your body. And I will be the first to admit, that I don’t always eat healthy – I have a giant sweet tooth, but I try to find a healthy balance between eating healthy with treats in moderation.

Some of the rules I really stick by are drinking water. Water keeps your hydrated and flushes toxins out of your body, and sometimes people mistake hunger for thirst. Eating protein at every meal. Protein helps you feel fuller longer and helps rebuild muscles after a workout. Not eating carbs after lunchtime. When I lost weight, it was because I cut out carbs after about 3 pm. I don’t agree with a low-carb diet, your body needs carbs, but if you limit them at night, you will lose a lot more weight. Eat a lean protein and a veggie for dinner. Easy, low in carbs, and still tasty.

In the new year, Danny and I have plans to eat healthier and lose weight. I only want to lose the pounds that I have gained lately (just a few) and focus on eating healthier again. Danny would like to learn how to eat healthy. He’s one of those people who can pretty much eat anything and not gain weight. But lately, his metabolism is catching up with him, and it doesn’t help that he sits behind a desk 8 hours a day.

So, I have a few things that we plan on doing in the new year that I’ll share later.

Back to The Skinny Rules book…Bob recommends that men eat 1500 calories a day and women eat 1200 calories a day because they have a harder time losing weight than men. I like to stick to about 1500 calories a day because I work out for an hour+ a day.

One thing I noticed in the book is that Bob mentions that any sweetener is pretty much a no-no. He says to cut out artificial sweeteners including Splenda, Equal, and stevia. Not to eat any high fructose corn syrup, and if honey, agave, or any sweetener appears in the first five ingredients on a food label, you should avoid it. Yet, a bunch of recipes at the end of the book include agave as an ingredient. So, I was a little confused by that.

Bottom line, if you want to eat healthy and lose weight, eat real food, not junk. Drink water, not soda. And eat normal portion sizes.

Questions of the day:

  • Have you read The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper?
  • How do you eat healthy?
  • What’s your biggest indulgence?
  • Any workout today?


Filed under Book Review, Breakfast, Fitness, Working Out

What Alice Forgot Book Review…and Rudolph Bottles

Yesterday when I posted the link to the chimichanga recipe that Marlene sent me, I didn’t realize that the recipe is the actually Marlene’s winning bake-off recipe that Pillsbury now uses. I guess I am a little slow at putting two and two together. Sorry for not giving you more credit, Marlene! It’s funny because I remember when I was younger, I used to look at the picture of that award-winning chimichanga hanging in her kitchen all the time :)


Clementines found their way back into my life. I ate bags and bags of these over the summer. When I saw them looking pretty decent at the grocery store, I grabbed a bag. It seems like the only fruit that I have been eating lately is apples, so I was happy to welcome back clementines. I also had a bowl of Special K protein cereal.

Today’s Workout

  • 1.32 miles – walked on treadmill
  • Butts and Guts – 60 minutes

Butts and Guts class was especially tough this morning because I lifted a little more weight during BodyPump yesterday, and I am really feeling it today.

I just have to share these water bottles that Jaden and I made for his holiday party at school.

They are Rudolph water bottles! I saw the idea on Pinterest a while ago, and finally bought the supplies to make them. They were so simple to make and turned out so cute.

Book Review

This post is a little all over the place today, but I wanted to add a quick book review. I recently finished reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty for Julie’s book club.


About the book:

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.
So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, , she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…
My Thoughts:
I have to start off my saying that I really enjoyed this book and recommend reading it. It’s a light, quick read, but it really makes you think.
The story is told through the eyes of three different people: Alice (the main character), Elisabeth (Alice’s sister), and Frannie (Alice’s honorary grandma). It took me awhile to get used to the switching off between characters because Elisabeth and Frannie’s story is told through letters.
I liked both of Alice’s characters – young Alice and current Alice. I wasn’t expecting to like the current Alice because she seemed like such a different person than she was 10 years ago. But once you read the whole book and read Alice’s memories as she regains them, you understand the reasons for her actions.
I loved the end of this book. I was really worried that Alice was going to end up with Dominick and when she didn’t I was so happy. I think the author gave it a really satisfying ending which was nice for a change. Sometimes, you want to read a book with a happy ending, not a crazy ending (hello, Gone Girl).
This book really made me think about the person I was ten years ago. I was a lot different from the person I am today. And while, I liked young Alice’s character, I understand that people change. Time and life changes people, they mature, and situations are different. And ten years from now, I will be a different person than I am today.
I also like reading Elisabeth and Frannie’s stories. The book is about the decisions we make in life. You can’t dwell on what you can’t change and you should work on achieving what makes you happy.
Questions of the day:
  • What’s the last fruit that you ate?
  • Do you make any holiday decorations or gifts?
  • Have you read What Alice Forgot? Thoughts?


Filed under Book Review, Breakfast, Family Fun, Fitness, Working Out