Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in review

Today is the very last day in 2012.  And it's the perfect time to reflect on the ups, downs, lessons learned, and set those goals for 2013.

The biggest accomplishment from this year was becoming a certified Spinning instructor through Madd Dog Athletics.  It was a long day, but it was totally worth it in the end.  Now, teaching twice a week, I love bringing a good workout to the members.

We took our annual family vacation to Rehoboth Beach.  And it was such a fun week.  My family+my brother & his family+ my mom.   A week of no work, the beach, and ice cream - one of my favorite weeks of the year!!

I completed the Tri Fit training class through my Y, which helped me be a better biker and runner, but most importantly, a swimmer.  

I am looking forward to the new year, although '12 was a great one.  I am a big goal setter.  I like having something to work towards in my daily life.  It makes me a better person for achieving those goals and hopefully it teaches my daughters about goals and how important it is to achieve something you set out to accomplish.

So in 2013, I will...

  • complete a triathlon
  • run a half marathon
  • travel to Miami for WSSC

Here is the playlist I used last week for my end of the year class.

A Best of 2012 mix from my favorite, Steady 130.

Cheers to 2013!  I hope it is a stellar year for everyone.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Make Progress, Not Excuses

2013 is just around the corner.  I cannot believe that another year is coming to an end.  Here's a piece of advice that I started following two years ago... so as you start thinking about what you resolve for the New Year, think about this:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fat Girls Tone Up [the Chive]

My husband sent me this link from the Chive.  He thinks I should be on here too.  I would be if I was okay with taking pictures of myself in a bikini, but even after losing 79lbs, I am not.  But how inspirational are these women.  No matter if they are losing weight & toning up for health or to compete in bikini competitions, they are inspirational for making a change in their lives.  Having the drive and determination to work hard to hit your goals isn't easy. Congratulations to all of these women.

Fat Girls Tone Up to Be Fit

Monday, November 26, 2012

"I work out"

Working out has become part of my daily routine.  I saw this picture floating around on pinterest and it is so appropriate for this post.

Many people have asked me what I do for exercise and fitness.  Aside from running, spinning, swimming, and other fitness classes at the Y, I have done my share of at home workouts.  With two children, I need to be flexible and have other options for getting in my daily dose of fitness.  I compiled a list of dvds that I think are worth the time and money you invest in at home workouts.

Season 10 of the Biggest Loser had just started the same week that I decided it was now or never to make this change in my life.  I personally respond better to Bob Harper than I do having Jillian Michaels scream in my ear so I tend to look for BL videos with Bob.

Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga
I personally love this yoga video.  Yoga is really hard for me to do at home.  I like the whole yoga experience: go to a class with your mat, be lead by a yoga instructor, & have a meditation at the end.  However, there isn't always time for that in a given day.

This video is broken down into three segments not including the five minute warm up and cool down.  The first takes you through vinyasa style yoga. The second is more ab work with some pilates thrown in and the third works with yoga poses and weights.  I personally think this is a great mix in an at home dvd workout.  If you are crunched for time, you do not need to do all three segments.  That's the beauty of at home workouts, unless of course you pause it to go grab some chips, but I know that wouldn't ever happen.

Bob Harper's Yoga for the Warrior
The title says it all.  This is a power yoga workout and is great for an intermediate/advanced yogi.  Not a good pick if you are a beginner yogi, but definitely a good workout if you are a fan of Bob Harper.

Transform Your Body with Brooke Burke
Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this workout.  But if I could look half as toned as Brooke does, sign me up. I will give it a chance

There are two different ones: Strengthen & Condition (S&C) and Tone & Tighten (T&T).
S&C is led by her trainer Greg Joujon-Roche.  Brooke and Greg do the exercises side by side and Greg stops to give tips along the way.  Brooke is very motivating throughout the workouts.  The video is a combo of strength training as well as small bursts of cardio to raise your heart rate.  I was sweating like a beast after both of these videos.  There are three segments in S&C: abs, lower body & upper body.  In T&T, Brooke leads three ladies throughout the workout which flows as one long workout and not broken up into areas of the body.  One of the ladies modifies the exercises for beginners.  Some of the exercises are repeated, but not many of them.  Each exercise is done for one minute at a time, which may sound long, but totally manageable.

I was pleasantly surprised with this set of dvds.  It was exactly what I was looking for at the time I purchased it from iTunes.  I still use it on occasion when I am crunched and can't get to the gym and need to workout at home.  

I found this website through Pinterest, my other internet obsession.  Cassey Ho is a pilates & group fitness instructor as well as the brains behind blogilates. She is a blogger, a fitness instructor, a fashionista, a pop music lover, a yoga bag creator, a clean eater, and just overall a woman that inspires.

Cassey has many different series of workouts: Pop Pilates, Bikini Blaster, HIIT (high- intensity interval training), Pop Challenges, and Pop Cardio.  These workouts are so incredibly effective.  I have done many of the challenges and my new favorite series is the VS Sexy Super Model which includes a stiletto workout.  Yes, a leg workout in your favorite stilettos.  The VS Sexy series also has arm, abs and butt workouts.

Her website also has a workout calendar as well meal plans & recipes for the total health and fitness package.  So go! Check it out.. NOW!

Couch to 5k
I used the C25k app on my iPod before I had an iPhone and two years ago, it didn't need gps capability which worked well for me.
I was never able to run a full, complete mile before training with the C25k program.  In HS, I would walk the mile; it just never interested me to run because I was never good at it.
This program made me feel challenged, but never felt like I was unable to complete the workouts.  And now, I run miles and miles without stopping.  Something I could have never done before C25k.

So there you have a few at home workouts that I have used along my journey.  In addition to these, I also have pinned a lot of workouts on my fitness pinterest board which many of the links are to Blogilates, Self Magazine, Women's Health & Shape.

The most important thing to working out is finding what you love to do.  Don't start a running program  and training for a marathon if you hate to run.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Being grateful and thankful for the people in our lives and things we have shouldn't only happen on Thanksgiving Day, but it's a special day to pay extra special thanks to our family and friends.  I have always wanted to have a "friends" Thanksgiving and this year, we were lucky enough to have three of our dear friends join our dinner table, two of which were last minute, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  It was a wonderful holiday surrounded by wonderful friends and delicious food.

Below is the playlist I used for my class the night before Thanksgiving.  The overall theme of the ride was what Thanksgiving is all about: coming to America, freedom, having courage, following our dreams, and being grateful for the life we live.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend on Repeat

This weekend was one to remember and one that I want to repeat over and over in my head.  My husband and I went to see Zac Brown Band at Madison Square Garden; his first country concert & my first time seeing ZBB!  We had a phenomenal time away.  ZBB was definitely one of the highlights as was the delicious food we indulged on.  We hit Sala One Nine, a tapas restaurant in the Flatiron district, which was absolutely fantastic.  The three best tapas we had were the fried goat cheese with honey, bacon wrapped dates stuffed with almonds, and the sea scallops.  My mouth is still watering now.  Thankfully we had a few hours to digest, boogie, and sleep before our fantastic breakfast at the Breslin Bar.  Dave & I shared a greek yogurt to start, but this wasn't your run of the mill yogurt.  No, it came with macerated fruit, honey, and pistachio pralines, not too mention it was the creamiest, most delicious greek yogurt.  And then for my main dish, I decided to have the goat cheese & leek tart.  And from start to end that was the best breakfast I have ever had.  

Thankfully, Sala One Nine was twelve blocks from our hotel and the Breslin was three so we were able to walk off a few of the calories we ingested.  :)  But seriously, it was worth every calorie!

So this playlist is my weekend on repeat.  And my class thoroughly enjoyed the profile that I created for class tonight.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Don't Stop the Party Playlist

Mother Nature was pretty crappy to us last week.  Just over a week after Hurricane Sandy touched down in NJ, we had a snowstorm.  No, you aren't crazy and yes, you read that correctly.  Snow.  Here in southern Somerset county, we were lucky to only get about one to two inches of snow, but the areas that were also hit hard by Sandy got more than a foot of snow.  Thankfully by Thursday afternoon most of it melted away.  

I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but it doesn't feel like Thanksgiving yet and it's a mere eight days away.  Maybe because NJ rescheduled Halloween this year.  Maybe it's the warm weather.  Maybe it's just me.  

Hopefully this week won't bring any more precipitation.  The sunshine has been sparse and I could definitely use a week of rays.  Until then this playlist lifted my spirits!  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hurricane Sandy // Anything Could Happen

Oh it feels so good to be back in some sort of routine.  We were very unfortunate here in NJ this past week when Hurricane Sandy barreled into us, but fortunately, my family and I made it through without any major damage to our home.  However, the rest of the state wasn't so lucky namely the Jersey Shore.  Schools and businesses were halted for a week and while some are still closed, our district is lucky enough to resume some sort of normalcy although part of our borough is still without power.

It is devastating to see the pictures and videos on tv and news sites, but it is hard to not look at all the pictures too.

Ever since I was a tot, my family rented a vacation house on Central Avenue in Point Pleasant Beach.  It was the best two weeks of the summer every single year.  Back then a water park stood where the aquarium is now. We spent hours and hours on those foam mats sliding down the water slides and even more hours on the rides at Jenks.

As the years passed by, I would venture to PPB with my friends to hang out during the summer nights. One of my first dates with my husband was to the Point boardwalk so it will always hold a special place in our hearts.  We have taken our girls to the boardwalk numerous times to continue making memories.

Sea Bright was hit even harder than PPB.  Dave and I got married in Sea Bright in 2005.  However with all the devastation surrounding it, our wedding venue withstood Sandy's punch and survived with minimal damage.  But the town is completely devastated.

But we are Jersey Strong.  We will rebuild, restore & recover.  Although the iconic places will not be there, I look forward to seeing an even better Jersey shore.

The gym I teach Spinning at was closed for almost a week so all of my classes were canceled.  So Monday was my first day back in the saddle.  It felt so good to sweat and ride and workout all the stress from the week.  Here's the playlist we rode to:


Monday, October 22, 2012

You did this why? You did this how?

I never was asked WHY I was doing this.  But I was asked how I did it.  I think the answers to "why" is pretty obvious.  I was overweight, unhealthy, unfit, and unhappy with my physical appearance.  Being a yo-yo dieter in the past, I knew this time was for good and the weight was never going to creep back on, or at least that's my lifetime goal and always a work in progress.

But I lost track of "So how did I do this?", "What was your plan?" and most especially, "Tell me your secret."
My answer is this... there is not secret.  I busted my ass to get to where I am.  No, seriously.  It's not a joke.  There is absolutely no pill, fad diet or special drink.  Eat healthy & exercise.  It's as simple as that.

Here are some tips that helped me along the 80 lb. journey.

Set a goal!
I set goals and made a plan of how I was going to achieve the goals.  I started in January 2011.  My first goal was to lost 40lbs by my 30th birthday.  The reason for 40lbs was that I would have been less than 200 lbs and the lowest weight since my adult life began.  So I had five full months to lose 40lbs.  With a combination of at home workouts, spinning, kickboxing and running, I was determined to hit this goal.  When I weighed in the week of my birthday, I lost 41 lbs.  That feeling and sense of accomplishment left me wanting to achieve more so I set out to lose another 20 lbs for our family vacation.

Goals are really important because it gives you something to work towards.  It gives you the motivation, a reason, a purpose to continue this healthy lifestyle and feel awesome about yourself.  Reevaluate your goals if needed.  Don't feel like a failure.  Life can be tough, but it's figuring out how to overcome those obstacles that can get in the way.    Some people do well with a large goal and feel quite motivated, while others need smaller increments.  The same goes with rewards for hitting those goals.  Some people don't need rewards and see the weight loss as a reward in itself, while others like to buy an item or pamper themselves with a pedicure.

Put a plan in place.
Whether it's meal planning or working out, it has to be planned.  I have been meal planning for just about the last two years.  It helps to keep focused in the food store and not buy junk food at the store.  I didn't go down the candy/cookie aisles for at least the first nine months.

Do what you love, but vary workouts
 If you don't like to dance, Zumba probably isn't for you.  If you do not like to run, you probably won't be doing Couch 2 5k or any races.  But there is a workout for everyone and you need to find what you enjoy.  Working out should be a stress reliever, not cause anxiety before you begin.  And your preferences for workouts may change over time especially as you grow stronger and things don't look as daunting.  It's important to vary your workouts especially during a plateau in weight loss.  This will help send your muscles into a frenzy and get them moving in new ways.

As I said above, I run, spin, kick box, and do at home workouts.
My favorite at home workouts are

Have a cheat day!
Once in awhile, it's okay.  You can have that juicy cheeseburger or ice cream sundae.  I believe that we don't need to give everything up in order to achieve great success, however, eating junk food all the time isn't going to achieve the same results.  Figuring out how to have the foods we love and still be successful is key.

Be Selfish.
I lost this weight for me.  I wanted to be happy in my appearance and accomplish goals that I set forth.   This lifestyle is yours. Take the time you need to plan meals, get a workout in, or just take a moment for yourself.  You will be a happier person in the end.

Remember this.  
This is your journey.  No two people will have the same journey with the same results.  Do this for yourself and no one else.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Playlist:: 80s R Good Enough

I am obsessed with this mix from Steady Mixes.  I swam to it Tuesday morning, it's been on repeat in the house as I clean and am quite excited to swim to it tomorrow morning as well.  And I decided it will make a fantastic playlist for my group cycling class tonight.  

This mix is only 44 minutes long and the class I teach is about 50 minutes so I added two songs at the end for cool down & our stretch segments.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Playlist:: Enter the Danger Zone

While I am still tinkering around with Spotify and deciding how much I love or hate it, here is a link to the complete playlist: Enter the Danger Zone

Friday, October 12, 2012

Spooky Sprint 5k + tunes

Tomorrow I am running in the Somerville Spooky 5k.  I have been looking forward to running in this race since last year I wasn't able to run in the race because I had a back injury.  Although I did volunteer and was the sweeper for the end of the race, it wasn't completely the same.  So to say I am excited is an understatement.

Here is my playlist for the Spooky Sprint:

Post-race update:
What a fantastic day yesterday turned out to be!  It was a chilly fall morning, perfect for the Spooky Sprint!  The race kicked off at 9:30am.  I have run this course twice before as well as walked it last year, so I know it fairly well.

When I rounded the corner for the homestretch, I saw my husband and two daughters waving and cheering on the other runners.  They were the only ones on this part of the street and it was the perfect spot for them to sit and cheer everyone on.  As they gave me a high five and their best cheers, I was off on my final minute of the race.

I crossed the finish at 29:21, my very first sub 30 min 5k.  I have worked SO hard to get my time down and it paid off.  Not to mention I crushed my last PR by a minute and a half.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We all started somewhere.

Over the past couple of weeks, a couple friends have asked me what to expect for their first Spinning class.  And I think one of the best parts of teaching Spinning classes is having beginners walk through the door for their very first Spinning class.  I love giving them a first and hopefully fun dose of what the Spinning program is all about.

During their initial set-up and explaining a little about the class, I do inform them that it should be a fun and enjoyable workout, but it is a challenge.  Some of the other things I tell them are:

  • Your butt is going to hurt.  The bike seat isn't the most comfortable the first couple of times you ride.  Give it time; you will get used to it.  
  • If, after a month of classes, your toosh is still not used to the bike seat, invest in a gel seat cover (approx. $20 @ Walmart or Sports Authority) or bike shorts that has the padding inside.  Scour Marshalls, TJ Maxx or those kind of stores for a better price!  The shorts can be pricey, but worth it.
  • The resistance knob is a useful tool and should not be feared.  Challenge yourself to add a little extra resistance, but don't be afraid to take it off if you need to and by need to, I mean, you feel like you are going to die.
  • You can't judge how much you love or hate it after the first, second or even third class.  Give it a good shot.  Also try a variety of instructors.  Not all of us teach the same way.  As much as I would love for you to become a regular in my class, I didn't love every instructor's class I happened to be a part of.
  • Bring water. Lots of water. (at least 40oz for a 40 min class)
  • Bring a towel.  You are going to sweat.  
  • Use a heart rate monitor.  It's what the Spinning program is based around to give you the most  effective workout.
  • I started Spinning 80lbs ago.  If I made it through my first class, you will too.
  • This is your workout.  You get out of it what you put in. Think of how you want to feel when you are finished (and it better be something positive).  

And then I remember the first time I walked into my first Spinning class.  I was anxious, terrified, nervous, but yet excited.  I had wanted to try Spinning for years, but at the gyms I was a member at previously, I just never felt comfortable.  However, now at my heaviest weight, I somehow got the nerve up and decided to give it a shot.  I showed up early, picked a bike and waited for the instructor and now that instructor is one of my biggest fans, my mentor in all things fitness & most importantly, a friend.  I got set up on my bike and off I was to ride in my first class.  I can clearly remember thinking: "What did I get myself into?", "What was I thinking?", "Was I nuts for thinking I can do this?" and a whole bunch of other sentiments very similar to those.

I made it through my first class and although I felt that I barely made it through, a Spinning addict was born.

Give it a try.  Have fun with it!  And let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Swimming and swimming and swimming..

My new routine is to do a speed workout for 20-25 minutes and then swim for a half hour two days per week.  My running playlist is chock full of pop songs that I love and that I know will carry me through especially minutes 16 and 17 at a 7.2.

For swimming, I need a continuous flow of music for about thirty minutes.  I came across this website called SteadyMixes when I was scouring the web for some upbeat, fun songs for my indoor cycling classes.  They have a ton of mixes that are usually about 45-60 minutes long that range from pop to r&b to heavy metal.  Part of the website, Steady130, provides mixes from popular djs who remix current and old song as well as mash them up.  I have downloaded so many of the mixes and they are all free!

My favorite mixes are Stronger (An all girl mix), Spring Break '12, & their newest Face Off 80 v. Now.  Definitely sample them and download your faves for your next workout.

For swimming, I have a Speedo AquaBeat, an underwater mp3 player.  It came with it's own earphones, but I have wasted so much time trying to get them to stay in my ears so I rarely used it swimming.  I was in the market for new earplugs so I decided to try new underwater earphones.  And this morning was my first go round with them and they get a rave review!  I ordered Pyle underwater headphones from Amazon.  I decided on these because they were less than $20!  These were so easy to get into my ears and stayed in place during all of my laps this morning.  Definitely worth the price.
Pyle Underwater headphones

My aqua beat + Pyle headphones

Friday, October 5, 2012

We all have struggles

Whether it's fitting in workouts, fighting off cravings, or dealing with other life stresses, we all have struggles.  It's how we deal with those struggles that can make or break a lifestyle.  It's important to recognize a struggle and find a way to deal with it in a positive way.  And it's okay to ask for help or advice; infact that's probably the best approach.

My biggest struggle is eating at night.  I wind down at night and find myself hungry.  Rather than pushing the hunger feeling off, I rummage through the cabinets for a snack.  

When I first began this journey, I worked out with The Biggest Loser on XBox Kinect which goes beyond just fitness.  It includes tips from trainers and past contestants as well as challenges.  One of the challenges was to not take second helpings at mealtimes.  Another was not to snack at night which I was doing well.  

In order to deal with my struggle, I do a few things to avoid late night snacking.  
  • Stock the house with fruits, veggies, trail mix (be careful!), and other healthy snacks
  • Don't buy chips, ice cream, and other unhealthy snacks.
  • Drink water first.  Usually it's a thirst cue and not hunger.
  • Go to bed!
  • Read a book or do something else to take your mind off of it.
  • Revise your food intake during the day.
We can all do this!  Challenges are their to test us.  Prove that you can take those challenges and kick it! 

Monday, September 10, 2012


For the last 12 weeks of the summer, my Tuesday & Thursday nights were dedicated to my triathlon training.  And I can't believe it went so fast.  In 12 weeks, I see a difference in all three disciplines, but namely my swimming.  This past week was my first week not having training and although school started as did our new routine as a family, but I still felt that 1) I wasn't working out enough & 2) I was totally bored at night.  I gained back 3+ hours each Tuesday and Thursday.  But I wouldn't have traded this time for anything.  New friendships were made and I gained more confidence and strength not to mention overcoming obstacles, mainly my own inner voice.

I can't even tell you how proud of myself I am for seeing the growth in my freestyle in the few months I had to train.  Honestly, swimming used to scare me.  I am not afraid of the pool or any body of water, but having to swim freestyle in front of people made me anxious like no other.  But I had to overcome that. And I was determined to learn. And that I did.
In the last week, my coach told me I looked like a "professional".  Hah! Far from a pro swimmer, but definitely a compliment and kept me going.  I enjoy being in the pool and swimming.  Now if I could only figure out my pool headphones I would be set.

Honestly I don't have much to say about biking.  I don't do it enough outdoors, but my group cycling classes have kept me in a great place for enduring the bike seat and prepping me for those hills.  I just need to get riding outdoors more, but if I am outdoors and get a workout in, I'd much rather be running!

Running outdoors in the summer can be dangerous with the heat and humidity which sucks because I hate running on the treadmill.  To me it is the most boring workout I can do.  Watching the same thing over and over and over and OVER again is mind-numbily boring.  However, I learned an important lesson this summer and sometimes it just isn't worth the possibility of getting sick when it's so hot and humid out.  So the nights where it was still 90 degrees at 6:30pm, my coach had me working on interval workouts on the treadmill.  And I actually, wait for it, enjoyed it.  And I felt pretty accomplished afterwards too.

So now with all this extra free time I have on T/Th nights, I decided that I want to run a 10k and then a half marathon.  :) And continue to swim two to three times a week. Seems like all my free time just got filled up.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

30 Day Ab Challenge

I am addicted to Pinterest.  There is no doubt about it and I will happily admit to it.  I have found so many crafts for my daughters, home decor ideas, healthy & delicious recipes, and a bazillion fitness routines to try.

This week I found a 30 day ab challenge that is similar to P90X's Ab Ripper.  Over the summer I was working on my abs 5-6x per week.  After having two daughters, my core was jiggly and on the complete opposite side of the spectrum as one would define "strong".

I have used ab exercises from the Brooke Burke's Transform Your Body, Blogilates, any fitness magazine that had "Flat Abs" in big, bold print on the cover, you name it, I've tried it.  So while the summer bikini season is just about over, getting my core to the perfect place is always a work in progress.

I will be documenting my results via photos.  Stay tuned!

Feel free to follow me on Pinterest.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Family Vacation

A week of the sun, boardwalk, ocean, family time, and fun.  That is just a simple summary of our family vacation a few weeks ago.

This year we rented a beach house and it was absolutely awesome.  We were about 2 1/2 blocks from the beach which would have seemed a lot longer, but with beach buggies and rolling coolers it was a beautiful walk to and from the beach and boardwalk every day.  

Just about every morning, I ran.  Yes, on vacation.  And nothing made me happier than simply waking up, throwing on my clothes and  heading down to the boardwalk.  The view during this time was absolutely beautiful... the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean, creating a beautiful orange glow was incredibly rejuvenating.  Such a peaceful way to start off the morning and set the tone for the rest of the day.
See? Absolutely beautiful.

Most days in Rehoboth were filled with the beach, ice cream, and wine.  Dave and I were able to escape one night for a date.  We had been planning this date night since our last date night in Rehoboth in 2011.  We went to the Cultured Pearl and stuffed ourselves silly with incredible sushi and sake sangria.  If you find yourself in Rehoboth/Dewey Beach, you must get to The Cultured Pearl, at least for a sushi roll or twelve.

Before our vacation I was in search of a place in NJ to learn how to Paddleboard.  It's been on my bucket list for a long time and ever since I lost weight, I have the courage (not to mention strength) to try it. 

We found East of Maui in Dewey Beach, DE.  They are a full surf shop that rents paddle boards, surf boards, and other water sport equipment.  We left paddle boarding for our last full day.  Not the brightest idea because paddle boarding is best when the winds are less than say, 20mph gusts.  And we picked probably just about the windiest day.   The nice gentlemen gave us a lecture on the winds and that another group came back pissed because it was too windy.  However, we took our chances and had one of the best times of the whole week.  

The sent us to Rehoboth Bay which is waist deep water and the warmest natural body of water I think I have ever been on the Atlantic coast.  Paddle boarding was freaking awesome!  I had an absolute blast on the board - it was thrilling.  In fact, I know what I hope Santa Claus brings me this year!  

East of Maui Surf Shop

My nephew and I on the paddle boards

It is hard to believe that a whole month has gone by since we were on vacation.  While we had an incredible time spending the whole week together, we were happy to get home to our own beds and routine and start planning next year's vacation!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rugged Maniac Tri State

This past weekend, I participated in Rugged Maniac with my husband and his company.
This hasn't been our first rodeo, but it was by far our most favorite.  Last year we competed in Warrior Dash in Albrightsville, PA and Rugged Maniac in Brooklyn, NY, but this was by far our favorite mud run by far.

Rugged Maniac Tri State was held at Raceway Park, a venue near and dear to my heart.  I worked there once upon a time as a teenage parking attendant back when the parking lot was a dirt field.

So this 5k included mud, a water slide, cargo nets, wooden barricades, mud, hills, barbed wire, more mud, fire and mud.  It began on the racetrack and then quickly dropped us onto one of the motocross courses, which was chock full of rolling hills.  The best obstacle by far was this huge waterslide that ended with a huge puddle of mucky water.  Dave, two friends and myself all went down together, screaming and laughing on the way down.  Seriously I felt like I was 6 years old again.

Our finishing time was 59:36.  My goal was to have fun and enjoy the day with a great group of people.  You can see below that we accomplished that goal!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Taking on a TRI

Well, not yet.  But training has begun. Every Tuesday and Thursday through the end of August.  I gave myself exactly 1 hour to prep myself for this decision and pack a bag with a towel, bike shoes, bathing suit, as well as my children so they could hang out in the babysitting room.   Now's my chance to train and what better way than with a group of fabulous women at the Y with the Tri Fit class.

Running and biking aren't a problem.  My goal for running is to improve my 5k time overall and not feel like I am going to puke at the end of every run.  But I think I fixed that issue (more on that later).  And as for biking, well, I am not sure since, wait-for-it, I am not an outdoor cyclist.  Say what? Yes, you read that correctly.  I have not ridden a bike outdoors since I was probably 12 years old.  I guess I just figured out what my goal should be during training, huh?

My weakest area is by far swimming.  Although in 4 training sessions, my progress has been incredible.    I finally (!!!) can swim with my face in the water.  Yes, picture me, swimming laps and I don't know how to breathe correctly.  But the one point is that I wanted to learn and am committed to practicing even if that means showing up at the pool on non-swimming days.

I amaze myself.  At how strong I am and my mental discipline that has gotten me to this point so far.  When I first began my fitness journey, my goal was to complete a 5k in under 40 minutes.  I think that goal was blown way out of the water.

And I found this motivational saying that I think depicts my final sentiments.

it's been a long time...

I've come to the realization that I should have blogged more about my journey and taken more pictures. But blogging takes a lot of time.  However, I decided now more than ever to get posting and help inspire those around me to jump on the health and fitness bandwagon if not for anyone but themselves and to feel good.

It's not that I will forget this journey, but being able to look back to see my progress in stages would have been awesome.  I tell everyone when they start their journey to take pictures & measurements.  I should learn to practice what I preach.

Speaking of PRs.  I ran two 5ks in the late Spring.  My goal was to run a sub 33 minute 5k which I had no problem doing.  Currently, my PR is 31:34 which was set at the Hillsborough Hop on June 2nd, 2012.  And that, of course, has led me to wanting to run a sub 30 minute 5k, which I know I can do.

A few weeks ago, I was featured on the Philly Blurb's Biggest Loser's blog as part of the "Losing It On Their Own" series which features real life people who lost weight, but gained a healthy lifestyle in return.  Being interviewed by Jen was a complete honor as I look forward to her articles on the current episodes of The Biggest Loser.  It felt more like a conversation than an interview.  My story can be read here.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spinning Instructor certification:: post 2

Accomplishing this certification has been a goal of mine for the last year and finally the day arrived.

The first part of the day was learning the background of Spinning, Johnny G, and other basic fundamentals such as setting up a bike for a first time student.  We spent a good deal of time partnered up setting up each other's bikes.  From watching spin instructors whose classes I take I already had the basic knowledge, but the why's behind it are so important to know.  After setting up our bikes for our "students", we got on and did a form ride.  The purpose of this ride was to go through all the different positions.  The best part of this ride was learning the cadence ranges and then using our cadence sensors to monitor our rpms at the consistent rates that we were instructed to.  After about 25 miles & 90 minutes on the bike, we broke for our lunch break.

After lunch we discussed the five different energy zones.  Who knew that Spinning was based around heart rate training?  Honestly, I had no idea.  After discussing each one in depth, we worked to create a class profile.  I wish we had spent more time on this topic because designing a class seems so overwhelming and is the epitome of your class.  However, it was time to get back on the bike for our final ride of the day.

Our Master Spinning Instructor led the class again.  In the beginning of the ride, she led us through a reflective exercise where we had to think back on what brought us to this day.  This really struck me and I could totally feel my eyes welling up with tears.  As she said, "A goal. A dream...", and here I am fulfilling a dream that I never in a million years thought I would.  The final ride was awesome.  We went through a piece of each of the energy zone rides and then finished up with what is possibly one of the most intense pieces of Spinning, SPRINTS!  And just like that the day was over.  And my journey as a Spinning instructor was just beginning.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spinning instructor certification, post 1.

Spinning has helped me lose the almost 80 pounds that I am up to over the course of this last year. Last year, I decided that I wanted to get my certification to be a spinning instructor and share my passion for this exercise with others.

I am a bit anxious about the day; it's a full day from 8am-5pm, including two rides led by a Master. But I am very excited about the opportunities and doors this will open for me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

YMCA Member Spotlight

I am incredibly proud to share that I was picked as the YMCA member for the Member Spotlight for my family's Y's January 2011 newsletter!  

It has been ONE year since I started this journey so to be picked to share my story & (hopefully) inspire others to change their lives in 2012 is awesome.  Throughout the last year I have been asked "how did you do it?" or "please tell me your secret!", and here I shared how I was able to do it.  And now, being recognized by others at the Y, I guess you could say that I am famous in a small town.    

Since writing this story for the YMCA, I have lost a total of 76 pounds to date.

Y Logo Green 
Somerset Valley YMCA Newsletter
Member News January 2012
Dear Y Members,

As we head into the New Year, I'd like to share with our members some of the Somerset Valley Y's accomplishments from 2011. Thanks to the generosity and support of our members and donors, the Y was able to provide over $450,000 in financial aid and in-kind assistance to families, individuals and community groups.
We gave more than $225,000 in assistance to over 115 families, children, seniors and adults for daycare, summer camp, aquatics and reduced-price membership. And the Y contributed more than $250,000 in subsidies and services to thousands of members and nonmembers so our programs would be available to all.
In these tough economic times, we are making a dramatic impact on the community through the money we raise. We are proud that our organization continues to be the focus in Somerset County for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Thank you for supporting us throughout the year in our mission of always being there for our community.

Paul Kieltyka

In This Issue
SVY launches Strong Kids Campaign
Learn how this Y member found balance in her life
January membership promotion
Y calendar
Somerville pool reopened
Launching our Strong Kids Campaign
Nu SK logo  
You're invited!

We're excited about the start of our 2012
Strong Kids  campaign and would like to invite all members to join us at our kick-off at the Bridgewater Y on Feb. 1.
In 2011, we raised more than $169,000 for our Strong Kids campaign - 30 percent more than the previous year!  Through your generous gifts to the fund, the Y was able to offer Y membership, day care, summer camp, sports activities and health and wellness programs to more than 110 families, children and adults and seniors who otherwise couldn't afford it.  

Our goal for 2012 is $250,000, and we're already well on our way, thanks to contributions totaling nearly $20,000 from staff at our three branches who believe in and support our mission.  To them, the Y is more than a job. 

Our Strong Kids campaign is the cornerstone that helps us carry out our mission of ensuring everyone has the opportunity for a path to healthier living in a nurturing, positive environment. 

Join us and show support for your community on Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. for refreshments and fun"Under the Bridgewater Big Top" as we celebrate the launch of our Strong Kids campaign.

My Y Story
"Between the YMCA staff and fellow members, I found a caring community committed to helping me reach my goals!" - Y member Pam V.
Pam V 

Somerset Valley Y member Pam  V,  a mother of two, describes how the the Y helped her manage her health and find balance in her life when she struggled with weight problems

My family and I joined the Somerville Y in the spring of 2010. However, the demands of working full time, raising a 1-year old and expecting another baby did not allow me to make the gym a priority. After I had my second daughter, I was the heaviest I had ever been and incredibly unhappy with the way I looked. Tired of excuses, I dusted off my sneakers and my Y key tag and started my journey to better health.

In January 2011, I set a goal to lose 40 pounds by my 30th birthday, 5 months from when I began my weight-loss endeavor.  One of the first classes I joined was Group Cycling with Ali. He has been an excellent mentor and motivator since the first time he helped set up my bike. Spin class, kickboxing and Zumba all provided great work-outs and helped me challenge myself as I worked toward my goal.
One of the best services the Y offers for moms like me is Child Watch. I was comforted knowing the girls were in great hands while I got in my workout. 

With a combination of spin classes, kickboxing, and running, I was able to celebrate both my birthday and losing 41 pounds! I then set my sights on losing a total of 60 pounds by our sixth wedding anniversary in August, another goal which I proudly hit!  After losing 72 pounds to date, I am committed to maintaining this healthy lifestyle. This would not have been possible without my "Y family."  
 At the Y, our supportive staff is here for you every day, making sure you know what you're capable of and encouraging you along the way. We welcome you to check out our fitness programs. We look forward to helping you making 2012 your healthiest year ever.
January membership promotion:
Refer a friend, win a chance at a prize! 
During the month of January, if you refer a friend to the Y and the friend joins, we'd like to thank you by entering both of you in a raffle. 
Each of our three branches will hold weekly raffles. We've had six winners so far among our three branches! 

The prizes are:
  • In Somerville, a free session with a personal trainer,  a youth gymnastics class or swimming classes for youth or adults.
  • In Bridgewater, a free 30-minute, private swim lesson.
  • In Hillsborough, a free personal training session, group swim lessons, youth sports class or birthday party
At the end of the month, each branch will hold a Grand Prize drawing featuring the new
Kindle Fire!
Thank you for supporting us and we look forward to welcoming your friends as new Somerset Valley Y members
The Somerset Valley Y is committed to helping its members find balance in life, from managing their health to caring for their children.

Whats happening at the  Y
swimming program somerville
Invite a friend to a swim lesson in  Somerville between Jan. 21-26. The Somerville Y Aquatics program is giving all swim students the opportunity to enjoy a lesson with a friend!
Learn how to eat healthier in 2012 with Shop Rite and the Hillsborough Y. We're partnering with ShopRite for two sessions on how to plan healthier meals. ShopRite's registered dietitian Rachel Simpers will be at the Hillsborough Y on Jan. 24 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., followed by a store tour of the Hillsborough ShopRite on Jan. 31 from 6:30 to 8p.m., concluding with healthy recipe demonstration. We'll help you fuel your workout routine with the right foods.

Masters swimmers will have the option of swimming in Somerville starting Feb. 6. The SVY Masters program is for those 18 and older who miss the camaraderie of a swim team and want to work with professional coaches. Along with the Y team that practices at Raritan Valley Community College, the Somerville team will have the opportunity to compete in U.S. Masters Swimming events. Contact Frank Oliver at 908-722-4657 x 25 or

Our new offerings for mid-winter session include Pilates on Tuesday nights in Hillsborough. Somerville is offering a stop-smoking hypnosis class on Feb. 20 for an additional fee.

We invite seniors to swim with us at the Hillsborough Y on Mondays and Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1-2 p.m. at a cost of just $3 per session. The program is for seniors age 62 and over. You do not have to be a member to join us.  
On Feb. 15 at noon, the Somerville Family Y will host a program by Abbott Immunology entitled "How to Live with Arthritis and other Arthritic Conditions." Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Megid, adult rheumatologist, will conduct the program. All are welcome to attend the program and enjoy lunch. Please RSVP by Feb. 9 to Brenda Guilles at the Y at 908 722 4567 or Nilsa Morales-Arce from Abbott  at 908 507 3976. This event will be reprised at the Hillsborough Y on March 15 at 11 a.m.
Invite a friend to a swim lesson in  Somerville between Jan. 21-26. The Somerville Y Aquatics program is giving all swim students the opportunity to enjoy a lesson with a friend!
The Hillsborough Family YMCA welcomes the opportunity to join with you in helping your child become a lifelong learner in our kindergarten program. Registration is open now for our program, which aims to provide a quality education in a positive and enjoyable classroom atmosphere. We explore language development, physical development, social, emotional and cognitive development along with character education initiatives. Call the Hillsborough Y at 908 369-0490 for more information.

Improved Somerville pool re-opened 1/15
Frank Oliver filling pool 
Somerville Aquatics Director Frank Oliver works to fill the pool after repairs and improvements were completed.
Merck volunteers helped to paint the
Somerville pool
somerville pool
Y swimmers on their winter training trip 
SVY swim team training trip
The Somerset Valley Y swim team trained in Key Largo, Fla. over winter break. The team took 33 high-school-age swimmers and three coaches. The annual training trip keeps the team focused and practicing hard over the holiday break.

Quick Links

for the Y's mid-winter sessions programs which begin Feb. 6.

for Y summer camp. See our complete listings online. Camp Open House at all three branches on
Feb. 24, 5-7 p.m.

Register Now
for the Hillsborough after-school program. Call Jim Vaccarella at 908 369 0490 for more information.
Featured Article
Nu SK logo 

Please consider giving to our Strong Kids Campaign.We serve nearly 14,000 members and provide 1,000 with reduced membership offsetting their limited incomes and providing a path to healthier living.
     Community donations allow us to offer swimming, daycare,
sports activities and other programs to children & teens who, without help from our donors, would be unable to participate
Contributions to our Strong Kids fund gives us the ability to make a meaningful difference to the children and families in our community.

Join Our Mailing List

Recipe:: French Onion Soup

I know I have said this before but I don't like making soups.  And actually I don't even really like eating soup.  It's just not a type of dish I crave very often, but a few weeks ago, the weather was very wintry here in Jersey and I wanted soup.

As you probably know, I am a huge fan of Gina at Skinnytaste because her dishes are easy, but never lack on taste.  I found a recipe for French Onion soup, my husband's favorite!

I adapted it very slightly, but Dave loved the changes and said it was exactly what French Onion soup should taste like.  Score!  And it was even so delicious that it is on our menu for this week too.  Maybe this is a turning point for soup in my life.

Gina used swiss cheese for her soup, but we used a horseradish cheese from Cabot and it gave the soup a little extra kick.  We made grilled cheeses with that cheese too!

French Onion Soup
adapted from: Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes


  • 1 1/2 pounds yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
  • 1/4 cups white wine
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 medium slices toasted Italian bread
  • Horseradish Cheese (I used Cabot)


    In a large pot, sauté the onions with the butter over medium heat, until the onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Add flour, mixing well another 2-3 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf, wine and brandy, and simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes.

    Add the beef stock, salt & pepper to taste, reduce heat. Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and ladle 1-1/2 cups soup into 6 oven-proof bowls. Place bowls on a baking sheet. Place sliced toasted bread rounds into each bowl and top bread with cheese. Broil 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese melts.