Favorite Finds: Healthy New Year

Call me crazy, but I’m counting down until Monday morning.  Usually we’re all looking forward to the weekend, but I’m eager to get back into the classroom.  After a two week winter break I can’t wait to pick up where we left off…  Multiplication tables?  Oh yeah!  The solar system?  Hey there sunshine!  Jamestown?  We wouldn’t be here without you Captain Smith!

Thursday afternoon I finally met Sarah from Passion & Laughter.  She and I had been exchanging messages about meeting for a run/walk/coffee/anything date for months.  I joked on Twitter just before we met that blogging is a lot like online dating…  You meet someone virtually and if you like what you see you plan a date.  It’s hilarious but totally true!  Thankfully, I didn’t have to fake any emergencies because we had a fabulous time chatting for over two hours.  If I didn’t have to study I’m pretty sure that the conversation could have continued through dinnertime.


Friday morning we woke up to a light dusting of icy snow, below freezing temperatures, and whipping wind.  Nothing compared to the blizzards up in New England, but it was bitter.


While growning up in Northern Virginia, I learned to drive on winding roads (the ones that make you feel like you’re flying out of your seat if you go too fast), but I didn’t learn how to drive in the snow.  I’ve never been in a major accident, but ever since I fishtailed in Ryan’s car a few years ago, almost crashing into two other cars, I’ve let him be my snow chauffeur.  Unfortunately, my chauffeur had to work yesterday so I was on my own to get to my test.  The major roads were treated so it wasn’t as bad as I had envisioned, although I did pass by two minor accidents.

In college I was required to pass a series of MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) subtests in order to graduate and receive my Professional License.  Some states will honor out-of-state licenses if you have a few years of experience, but since I was straight out of college Virginia issued me a Provisional License valid for three years.  Three years will be up in June so yesterday I took the VCLA (Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment) and I’m excited to share – assuming I didn’t completely bomb the free response – that I passed!


It has been a while since I’ve done a Favorite Finds post, but what better time is there to get back into the groove than the New Year?  I continue to add new boards to my collection so rather than posting my favorite pin from each board, I’m thinking that I’ll share 5-10 of my favorite pins from the week?  And with it being the New Year, this week I’m focusing on a healthier approach.  New Year, new start, fresh ideas, lots of (p)inspiration!

Favorite Pinterest Finds

Homemade Healthy Butterfingers by The Sweet {Tooth} Life – one of my favorite candies, second to Reese’s Pieces!

Homemade Healthy Butterfingers

Breakfast Cookies by Sally’s Baking Addiction – a great grab-and-go idea for weekday mornings


Stuffed Pepper Soup by diethood – thick & hearty, perfect for a cold winter day


Quinoa Quiche Muffins with Spinach and Cheese by diethood – sneak in those healthy ingredients


Top 13 in 2013: Workouts by Peanut Butter Fingers – a mix of treadmill, elliptical, circuit, & strength workouts


50 Tips for Healthier Living by Lauren’s Latest – baby steps towards a healthier lifestyle


“Look, I eat really well and I workout, but I also indulge when I want to.” – Jennifer Aniston


11 Healthy “Hippie” Ingredients Everyone Should Cook With via BuzzFeed – healthy can be tasty


Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa by The Lemon Bowl – dark chocolate is full of health benefits!


Printable New Year’s Resolution by The Girl Creative – write as many or as few goals as you want *free*


Question:  Do you enjoy driving in the snow or do you have a snow chauffeur?

Question:  What’s your favorite healthy ingredient?

— Allison


Absolute Blast

This weekend has been an absolute blast – there’s no denying it 😀  I didn’t go sky diving, or take a tropical vacation, or win $1 million dollars, but I did…

Eat a super simple, super scrumptious breakfast.  Van’s waffles are the bomb[dot]com.  They fill your kitchen with the faintest cinnamon scent while they’re toasting.  They’re full of flavor – they’re delicious naked, but toppings are always an added bonus.  And they stay crispy and never get soggy, regardless of however many toppings you pile on.


Go to World Market and Walmart.  Holy moly, these two stores are absolutely, amazingly awesome!  I originally needed to go to World Market to buy another bottle of Torani [since I may or may not have accidentally opened a bottle that I had planned on sending to the giveaway winner] but walked out with much, much more…  There was a cool collection candies, all-natural sodas, an assortment of international beers and wines, and aisle after aisle of specialty foods, as well as common foods that were priced wicked cheap.  I was in heaven!


After World Market Ryan needed to swing by Walmart for some sort of computer cable.  While he was browsing through the electronics, I perused the grocery department.  Grapefruits for 60 cents?  Avocados for 80 cents?  Chobani for $1?  It was too good to be true!  We walked out with a $35 bill but if we were at our local grocery store, it would have been at least double that.  Winning!

See Safe Haven.  Sometimes a girl needs a good cry and this movie gave me that.  I’ve loved Julianne Hough since I saw her in Footloose [laugh all you want] and Josh Duhamel is always cute.  I had no idea that the movie was going to be as suspenseful as it was, but I definitely think it’s worth seeing if you have a few free hours on a dreary afternoon.  After the movie Alex and I grabbed coffee and got lost in deep conversation – it was fabulous.  Side note: is jaywalking illegal in DC?


Receive new-to-me goodies.  Thanks to Alex I now have a box of quinoa milk [I joke, but for some strange reason boxed milk makes me think of breast milk?!] and 2 bottles of NuNaturals stevia.  I’ve heard great things about the NuNaturals line but I can’t justify paying that much for such little liquid – I’m thankful for giving friends!  I’d love to use them to bake lemon poppy seed muffins or even better, Sally’s Baking Addiction Orange Sweet Rolls…  Swoon!


Have company at the gym.  This week Ryan got back into the gym.  It’s been a long time coming since his surgery way back in November – he hasn’t had the easiest recovery but he’s been working hard.  It was fun having him join me in TNT, even if I can lift more than him [muahaha]!  No but seriously, I am so proud of him.


Catch Charlie the Chobani bandit.  I take full responsibility and admit that it’s all my doing, but Charlie has become a Chobani addict.  Whenever Ryan or I eat something out of a bowl [cereal, oatmeal, yogurt] Charlie goes crazyyy – even more than when steak is being served.


Watch “Harlem Shake” videos.  For a few shits and giggles, one of the many “Harlem Shake” videos from my alma mater [Boston University]…


Anddd one more…


Postpone my run to be outside.  After checking the forecast yesterday morning, I opted to postpone my run until today – 50 degrees and sunny sounded much more pleasant than 30 degrees and rainy.  It’s hard to believe that my first half marathon is less than 3 weeks away.  I’m starting to feel a little anxious.


Whelp, this post has ended up to be completely all over the place.  If you kept up awesome!  If you didn’t, no worries!  All that’s important is that this weekend was an absolute blast 😀  And if I go missing, you most likely can find me at World Market.

Question:  What made your weekend an absolute blast?

Question:  Have you watched any “Harlem Shake” videos?  Feel free to link-up!

— Allison


Point of Failure

Two days in a row of TNT has been a challenge.  My arms feel limp and made it a challenge to brush my hair this morning.  My legs feel like jello and made it a challenge to walk today.  But I think of all these challenges as successes.  I have successfully worked my body to “the point of failure“- a term our instructor uses to push us to our breaking point.


Over the past few weeks I learned to love this phrase… Everyone’s “point if failure” is different.  A different amount of time, a different level of intensity, a different level of weight.  It doesn’t make sense for me to compare myself to a 30 year-old-man who could lift me over his head while simultaneously doing jump squats, nor does it make much sense for me to compare myself to a 50+ year-old-lady who is trying to reacquaint herself with the gym after a few years break.  We’re all at different levels yet we’re all there for the same reason… To challenge ourselves.  To find our points of failure.  To strive for success.


In addition to attending classes twice a week [Saturday’s are optional], we receive weekly challenges.  Past challenges have includes ab circuits, to cardio routines, and some light stretching.

Week 3:  Tabata Intervals

*A Tabata workout is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and repeated without pause.*

Mountain Climbers or Jumping Jacks




Week 4:  Pyramid Workouts

*Pyramid interval training starts with a 5-minute warm-up, followed by high intensity intervals that first become longer with each repetition till the maximum length is reached [after which the intervals become shorter again until the length of the first interval is reached].*

5 minute warm-up

1 min high – 1 min low

2 min high – 1 min low

3 min high – 1 min low

4 min high – 1 min low

5 min high – 1 min low

4 min high – 1 min low

3 min high – 1 min low

2 min high – 1 min low

1 min high – 1 min low

2 minute cool down

Week 5:  Playing Cards Circuits

*Make-up four different exercises, one for every suit.  For example: hearts are push-ups, diamonds are bicycles, clubs are sit-ups, and spades are squats.  Shuffle the cards face down and turn over one at a time, whatever the card shows is what you have to do.  Example: 10 of hearts = 10 push-ups.*


Not only am I successfully “turning my mush into muscle” [Kindergarten Cop, anyone?!] I feel like my runs will be more successful.  I went for my first run in weeks on Sunday and was pleasantly surprised to keep my pace under 9 minutes per mile!

Challenge yourself. Push yourself to the point of failure.


Today…  #elf4Health 12/4 Day 9:  Have a salad today and make your own dressing.  I’m not a big dressing gal [I don’t like oily things including foods or lip gloss #strangebuttrue] but I did eat lots of veggies at lunch and a big salad for dinner [pics tomorrow for WIAW].

Tomorrow…  #elf4Health 12/5 Day 10:  Pack a healthy snack & pack extra for a friend!  I wonder, does the hubby count?

Question:  How did you challenge yourself today?

Question:  What’s your favorite way to exercise?  Run?  Walk?  Weights?  Yoga?

— Allison