Thursday, July 10, 2014

30 Day + Challenge

After completing T25(plus Gamma) and Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution (my way – 1 dvd per day) I decided to try something else to keep in top form.  This time I’m going to try to keep up with blogging about it, the exercises I did, the food I ate, maybe not tell you exactly what was on my plate every night, but at least give you a sense of what I ate that week.  You can do abs, arms, legs and cardio till you’re sweating but unless you combine healthy meals with that you are wasting your time.
I don’t buy into the 30 Day Calendar Challenges where you are repeating the same exercises over and over again and just increasing the reps.  That doesn’t work, especially if you are using it as your main workout and not as an extra added workout bonus.  Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now. 

For this round of workouts I decided to try Melissa Bender’s 30 Day Ab Challenge combined with her Bikini Competition Workout (3 months).  In her first day of abs she first explains the moves and then does 1 minute intervals of each. (Had I thought this through properly I would not have done my own set of 210 abs last night).  She does this move called Down Dog/Up Dog which not only works your core, but it also works your shoulders.  After the interval I was felt it (I will be doing this again)! 
So far the Bikini Competition Workouts are good (I have three months of different workouts to do), I have been doing two rounds of them (she says you can do 2-3 rounds of them depending on how your body feels).  I do them depending on what else is going on that week – do I have a game? A 5K? Am I training on the bike? 
How am I doing this?  I can stream Youtube from my TV (thankfully) and there are a ton of workouts from everyone under the sun. I’ve even done a few kettlebell workouts and the free TapOut one with Mike Dolce.
Week 2 is in the books, although its been rough this week with working later hours, recovering from riding 35 miles and softball.  I will say I got in a great workout today:  Bikini workout + abs + T25 

Speed 2.0 + batting cages which might have contributed to all the pent up frustration of people ‘accepting’ work related meeting invites for 8 pm EST and then not showing up.
Example of what I ate in Week 2:
Breakfast: 1 egg white + 1 egg, multi grain toast with almond butter or Kashi Go-Lean Crunch cereal with FF Milk, plus 1 cup of coffee w/almond milk
Snack: Apple
Lunch: Homemade Turkey Burger with brown rice and garden ground string beans + H2O
Snack: Celery sticks with hummus
Dinner: Baked Salmon with low sodium soy sauce and steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) + H20
Snack: Arugula, baby spinach with almonds, black olives and carrots w/homemade dressing (Grapeseed oil, white vinegar and garlic pesto spices)

**Protein Shakes w/ FF milk or Almond Milk w/ cinnamon, flax seed on workout days only or if I have a sweet craving.
Cheat Day - Saturdays: which really isn't a cheat day for me except that I have alcohol and maybe dessert!

This is my neverending journey to continue to be fit and healthy, not everything I do may work for you.  If you want to be fit and healthy you have to start somewhere and continue the lifestyle.  It will be challenging at first, but with the support from those around you, and perhaps if they embark on that journey with you will make it rewarding.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


After watching the “Like a Girl” campaign by Always twice, almost three times I’ve finalized realized why it’s bothersome.  When I was growing up the ‘like a girl’ phrase didn’t exist.  I was picked on in grammar school, not because I was a girl, but because I had different shoes, I had a bad haircut, I had braces, all the things one would get picked on for.  When I started learning how to play softball at 7 years old I wasn’t told that I ‘throw like a girl’, or ‘run like a girl’ in fact, you’ll find all the awards from those days at Field Day where I beat out boys in sprints and long jump.  My parents always encouraged me to be myself, they didn’t segregate me from playing with the boys or encourage the now infamous appreciation for doing things ‘like a girl’ and to be proud of it.  So I’m a little lost as to where Always is coming from.  If we are a society where ‘all men are created equal’ then why segregate the way young people (and those adults) do things ‘like a girl’ or ‘like a boy’.  From as long as I remember I have been told and encouraged to be myself – not to do things ‘like a girl’.  Don’t be like everyone else, be yourself.  I guess society is slowly getting more sensitive in a world where today some of us all still compete on the same playing field (with the boys). 


Now this is where I get mad about “Like a Girl” because I don’t throw like a girl, I don’t cycle like a girl, I do not run like a girl.  I do not care if I break a nail, if my leg gets cut up from sliding into 2nd, I’ve played thru stitches in my hand from a line drive, I’ve continued to ride another 10 miles with blood running down my leg from one of my first falls on my bike when learning to clip in (my wolverine attack as I like to call it).  I play, run, cycle like Natalie.  Not like anyone else.  So if I say that you run, cycle, or throw ‘like a girl’ its only because you won’t go the extra mile, you want to participate so I’ll give you that, but you won’t play hard to win, you want that towel after getting dirty because the ball you just picked up was wet, you walk your bike up that hill instead of seeing if you can push thru it, you don’t want to get your hair wet if it rains on the field.  I think that is where the line is drawn with this campaign and why many of us women athletes are upset about the overall message.  When my niece is old enough to throw a ball, ride a bike, run to the mailbox, I’m going to encourage her to play like herself, not like anyone else.  We are all unique, we are all individuals and in the end there is no comparison.  Make the world like and respect you for what you do and your accomplishments, not because you did it ‘like a girl’.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2 Dings = Hey Bartender

For those few who have had the privilege of flying the friendly skies with me trust me it is a privilege to bear witness to how I handle those next couple of hours.  I am not a good flyer, which doesn’t necessarily mean I panic, I need pills to calm the anxiety, I throw a hissy fit.  What that means is I have learned how to remedy my stress of the entire flight experience. 
 I sleep well the night before, I usually don’t start panicking until we’re in the air as I patiently await the two dings.  If its an early flight I do not have caffeine of any kind, trust me the calmer I am the better passenger I am.   I eat breakfast, I buy a snack, I bring things to keep me occupied.  Whether that means my trusty notebook for jotting down things that are said in flight like “amazing what you can fit between your toes”, my Kindle (Kudos to renting movies this trip), or my mp3 player (which I neglected on my trip to San Diego).  I’m sure everyone has their peeves, their flight preparedness activity package ready to go.  This sounds like a cakewalk right?
I thought I was a bad flyer until this trip to the DR when one of the people in our group, whose name will not be mentioned, met the takeoff and landing in throws of what I could assume to be close to hyperventilation.  In the air this person was fine with.  I love taking off and landing for some strange reason, even after the Miami incident when we were seconds from landing the pilot pulled the plane up sharply and we had to increase altitude to avoid hitting another plane taking off.  (The guy next to me got a free thigh grab for that one)
The in-between is what I dread, the unforeseen turbulence.  I patiently wait for the 2 dings, the cart to roll by and its “Hey bartender, a bottle of red please.”  With that I down the bottle of red in seconds, others would say “you drank it like it was a shot”.  Depending on the length of the flight I’ll have two bottles.  My trip to London I drank the entire way there (including the 3 glasses before boarding), I was awake the entire time watching the sunrise over what I thought was Ireland.  (Its always a bonus when the drinks are free!) I’ve tried vodka sodas but the sugar increases the chances of having a headache the rest of the day.  The best part of this is I’m completely sober when we land.
Drinking in flight numbs me, it puts me in a ‘buzzed’ state where turbulence doesn’t matter.  I’m less aware of my surroundings.  Some may say that’s a bad thing, but considering I’d tried muscle relaxers, sleep aids at least alcohol is something I can control and know works for me.   If we hit turbulence I won’t be white knuckled in my seat, I’ll just be like “la-de-da” and continue watching my movie or writing down what hideous shirt the guy in front of me is wearing.
Now if it’s a later flight and the bar is open I’ll be there, drinking away.  The Pasadena trip was fun and better yet when the bartender gave us a free round.  The Angel I was traveling with didn’t remember getting on the plane!  She has since told me flying has never been the same.  I have learned that drinking before a flight can be hit or miss especially if your flight has been delayed – there goes your buzz.  I rather not drink before boarding though because the amount of time it takes to board the plane, taxi the runway and get in the air is just about the amount of time it takes to lose a buzz.
At least this trip everyone was drinking with me, I got to clink glasses (bottles), hold my bottle up high in the air like a shot and say “Salute”! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Surviving the Big D: Letting Go of the Dream House

There are some things I will never forget about my first house, my ‘dream house’ (at the time).  It was 5 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, in ground pool, garage, privacy, deck off the kitchen.  I never thought I could afford a place like that, and even still as difficult as it was to negotiate the purchase, it was just as easy to walk away from it during the separation and then the divorce.  The house was just an item, it didn’t have sentimental value other than my negotiating skills hard at work but some memories still linger of a place I only spent a few short months in.

  • Never use the sellers agent as your own – they can’t help you negotiate or give you an idea of a ‘best and final’ ball park figure.
  • The day of the walk thru (which is usually the day or night before the closing), a bird crapped on my shoe, I figured it was a sign that my dad approved.
  • On the day we got the keys, my now ex-MIL was waiting in the driveway (and we hadn’t even used the keys yet) Not Cool!
  • I moved us in, met with Pest Control to get rid of any present and future insects (as much as my phobia of spiders and bees I did this from the driveway while the guy took care of business)
  • Although the gesture was very thoughtful, people should ask the homeowner what if anything they need first before they buy or offer to buy outdoor patio furniture (don’t just show up with one that’s not even their taste with a “Surprise, we got you a patio set from Shop Rite”)
  • On the day of the first family bbq…my ex inlaws were giving tours of the house as if it was their own (sorry you don’t pay the bills you will not give the tour)
  • I held my first family Christmas from all sides (trying to bring back childhood memories when both sides of the family met at one house – no toting us around door to door).  This does not include Christmas morning because that too was at someone else’s house (which I promised I wouldn’t bitch about anymore in a few past postings) J
  • I’ll always pay extra when replacing the windows to make sure the contractor also completes it with trim and painting the trim.
  • I will not miss finding frogs from the creek behind the house in the pool filter
  • The round trip commute from Rt.80 to 206N was a bitch - my commute now is 10x better.

Where I live now I think I’ve stayed the longest in (not including my childhood), and I’ve unpacked all the boxes. There isn’t a ‘staging’ area like I once had in one of the spare guest rooms in my ‘dream house’.  I guess that was another sign it wasn’t my ‘dream house’ after all.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Insanity vs T25: My Reviews

I’ve decided to do a little QA on two do-it-yourself home DVD workouts both by Shaun T.  First I tried Insanity (30-45 minute workouts), which I must say I must have been insane to spend that amount of money to continually jump around in my living room.  Most of the circuits involved plyometrics (high impact jumping), the rest in my opinion was ok, nothing I didn’t do before.  The DVDs consisted of multiple exercises done in a slow interval, fast interval, then super fast interval (without a modifier).  I found the super fast interval completely insane even for myself who considers herself an athlete (others may view playing softball in 104 degrees as insane but not to me).  Anyway, I took a liking to 2 of the Dvds that didn’t involve plyometrics, other than that I felt I wasted my money.  Thankfully I was able to resell it on Amazon.

Mind you, I am not a gym rat, I prefer the flexibility of working out at home (and I have the discipline and accountability).  I have a treadmill, total gym, stationary bike, mats and free weights.   I keep a daily workout journal to keep myself on track.  I’m a huge fan of Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, Jackie Warner, Tony Horton (P90x shoulders and abs dvd) etc.  none of which have easy workouts.  I run, cycle and play softball so doing these calendar based circuit exercises wasn’t something new, I’ve always exercised but the cardio I was doing was getting boring.  I thought by giving Insanity a chance it would make things more interesting and tighten things up a bit.  I was wrong, my knees hurt, my back hurt and most of all I wasn’t enjoying the exercises.  So I went back to basics, and started speed intervals on the treadmill and stationary bike.  This fall I decided to give his latest and greatest set Focus T25 a chance (25 min workouts).  I checked out the circuits on Youtube first so I wouldn’t be wasting my money on exercises that weren’t fun and would cause me a lot of pain (e.g. too many plyos).  I decided to follow the calendar this time which I didn’t do in Insanity because again I wasn’t having any fun. 

Week 1 I completed without a problem, although the weeks after became difficult to do consecutively (never start a program during the holidays and if you do always continue the calendar the next day).  In a way I felt pressured to get all 6 workouts in (2 on Fridays) yet with my work schedule and other responsibilities I found that doing whatever I could that week, and doubling the exercises when I could, even if I had to move it to the following week to continue was worth it.  I was having fun doing Alpha but by week 4 I wanted to use weights.  The cardio was definitely intense, even with the modifier (thank goodness for the modifier).  When I started Beta I was hoping to use more weights, by week 4 I was bored.  I didn’t like one of the Core dvds so I swapped it out for one I liked in Alpha.  25 minutes a day goes by very fast if you are having fun.  The exercises get easier as you work at it, you’ll notice changes in the way your clothes fit (as long as you have a nutrition plan to follow).  I took a ‘before’ picture because I was working on the ‘bikini body’ for vacation.  I definitely see a difference in areas where normal cardio (running and cycling) does not help.  T25 was mostly core exercises, not just targeting one area.  The combination of cardio plus strength, agility and speed, all works your core.  You’ll notice definition (again, as long as you are eating right).  Since I measured when I started end of October I’m down 1 inch on my hips and 2 on my waist (I didn’t have much to lose anyway just to tighten up).  I borrowed the Gamma dvds from a friend of mine and decided not to follow a calendar.  Overall the three I did I liked (Weights – YAY!), the Pyramid one I liked the best because it combines pyramid workouts with cardio intervals in between.  Speed 3.0 is crazy but doable.  Now that I’m done, I have my own weekly calendar of T25 workouts including getting back on the treadmill and my other dvds.


Overall, I would recommend this to a friend (and I did), and for anyone who needs a kickstart to their workout who is short on time.  Do not feel pressured to complete everything scheduled for that week, it is fine if you skip a day or two because of responsibilities and continue with what’s next the following week.  When your workouts start to feel like work that is when you lose interest.  These are fun, and you will not hurt yourself either.  It is definitely worth the money and if you follow the meal plans (clean eating, no processed food, 1 cheat day) and do your homework you’ll see the results!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

No Parking and Plenty of Looney Tunes

An overdue girls night out on an extremely cold night led to an unexpected evening of sorts and a parking nightmare.  Let’s just say that the overall ratio of guys to girls more than decent including the variety of age groups.  It wasn’t like the bars in Morristown, the trust fund babies, those home from college who show up at 11 pm already hammered, there were people older than us at the bar and closing the place out when we left.  I’m so thankful to have friends who will drive to hang out for a few hours, who value a friendship, who will put up with the bar-babies even when we’re not looking for any.  But in our typical Angel fashion we met some interesting Looney Tunes that night. 

  1. Sean – “See those older guys over there, the one with the Irish ‘turban’, they double dog dared me to come over here and buy you ladies some drinks” >> it was actually his father and for once a guy didn’t believe an Angel’s real name
  2. Dougie Houser – “I go to Med School” >>He ordered a Long Island Ice Tea
  3. Metro – “How old are you? You don’t have a ring on you must not be married?” >> He asked all the wrong questions and admitted to waxing his eye brows and manicures once every 3 months
  4. Egghead Jr. – “I just wanted to come over and say you ladies are beautiful, just let me order a drink and I’ll get outta here because your husbands and boyfriends are around here somewhere who will kick my ass” >> He ordered Fireball on ice and gets the nod for best conversation of the night.
  5. Jesse – “You gonna pay my tab too?”  then he paid his tab at the bar with the blond bartender and ended it with “By the way my name is Jesse” >>Thank you Tony Siragusa for making an appearance
  6. Justin – >> he left that much of an impression we don’t even remember what he said
  7. Prick – “OH! OH! You wanna dance?” >> “No thank you”.  I’ve never seen a guy drink from a straw that still had the wrapper on it.

Prick ended the night…the nice bartender came by and asked if he was bothering us.  Apparently he was the trouble token for the night making his rounds.  So the next time he swung around and wouldn’t go away after I deflected his drink from being spilt on us we got ‘security’.  At least I wasn’t given the sign to get my dukes up….this is why we go out with bulky rings on J

Friday, February 21, 2014

Surviving the Big D: Lesson’s Learned

Now that you’ve ‘survived’ here’s your “Lessons Learned” – it’s not easy and it’s another painful experience to go thru but you will survive – hey hey! It will also make you a wiser, stronger person in the long run.

**Disclosure: The following is an excerpt of my experience with my ex, my friends, my family as I went through the divorce.  This does not have any reflection on your current situation.

Do not expect:
The ex to be civil, easy to deal with, able to get things done.  Do not expect phone calls to be answered or returned, certified letters to be received/accepted either.  Sometimes the most important things are never on their priority list.
For your divorce do not go thru a Mediator – he or she will want you both to work it out yourself, this takes longer (took me almost 2 years).  Get a good lawyer, it will all pay out in the long run and there will be less frustration on getting things done on time since you have legal assistance (and the ultimate threat of ‘going to court’).
Make sure you incorporate due dates into the Property Settlement (it took 5 years for him to refi because I neglected to add ‘due dates’…hence why you should not use a mediator, it also took a letter from a really good Lawyer to push the issue)

What to Expect:
  1. Expect your family not to understand.  Expect them to offer unsolicited advice such as “Have a baby it will fix things”.  No it won’t, it would have made things a lot worse and more difficult. 
  2. Expect friends to disappear and take sides.  The ones that stick around were you true friends in the long run.
  3. Expect to be abandoned by your married with children friends.  You were once part of their network because you like many others were married and expecting to have children.  Now you are single and without children, they may not want to hang with you or be a part of your new life. **I do not know how it is when you have children, I can only speak from my experience. This hurts at first, but it is okay, you will again realize who your true friends are, you will also make new ones.
  4. Expect to feel like an outcast for a little while.  I hid from co-workers and some friends for a very long time, I did not want them to know my business, what was going on.  You’ll feel like you’ve done something wrong and this is ok.  What you’ve done was try to make it work, it didn’t so you moved on to find your happiness.  Life is too short.
  5. Expect to feel like this at holiday events – don’t worry you’ll get used to it and they’ll get over it.
  6. Expect to be the poster child for a “Plan B”.  Expect your unhappily married friends to ask you ‘how did you do it?’ what process was needed, the pain, pitfalls, emotional stress, etc.  It’s okay, everyone needs support and its best to get it from those who already went through that experience. You may even get a referral to use their lawyer.
  7. Expect changing your name back to be a PITA.  See what I wrote back in 2010 here.  Note to future self: if I cannot write my future next husband’s last name in one fluid motion (not breaking it up into multiple parts just to dot ‘i’s’) then I know it won’t work out.
  8. Expect men from your past (who you may not have dated) to come out of the woodwork and profess their undying love for you.  Stalkers included.
  9. Expect your parents, grandparents, other family members to take more time to get over it than you.  They may not understand the situation, they may ask you if the two of you still talk.  Be patient with them, they will eventually get over it and accept the new love in your life.
  10. Expect to be bitter (for a while) until you seek your happiness/closure.  Question newly engaged couples, putting bets on relationships, telling ‘bachelor’ and ‘bachelorette’ parties to make sure ‘she doesn’t eat the cake’.  (Yes I still do this, I’m a true believer that eating the cake is evil)

and now that you’ve got your own place:
  • Expect men from your past to come out of the woodwork now that you are single and own a place, especially those who are renting, living at home or have roommates.
  • If you do not get the closure you are looking for – write him a letter.  I did, but I never sent it.

And most of all, when you are comfortable talking about it, when all the signatures are dry, due dates are met, papers are filed, tell your story to help others.  For me, its closure, its telling my side of the story to help myself, to get it off my chest, to help others who may be going thru this even if I went thru this 7 years ago.  Some would rather stay together and be miserable but life is too short to be anything but happy.

This ends my ‘Surviving the Big “D” Series’, a story of how I survived, what I experienced, learned, and am now talking about. I moved out of the apartment, bought a house (mortgage is cheaper than rent), bought the right car (I bought a 4 door pre-divorce which sooo wasn’t me), am in the best shape of my life, have my head screwed on straight and am back to doing what I love, what makes me happy and that includes spending time with my friends doing what we do best.

I hope this brings those who have gone thru a divorce and are currently going thru a divorce some comfort in knowing ‘you are not alone’, ‘you will get thru this’ and most importantly ‘you will have a happier life’.

To read the entire series visit the links on the right hand side under “Surviving the Big “D” Series”