I HAVE ABS!!!!

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It didn’t happen overnight, but I have some definition in my abdominal muscles that is finally starting to show!!! I was doing a happy dance when I looked in the mirror this morning.

What’s my secret? Diet. I think I’ve finally figured out the science. I’ve had the working out part down for quite some time, but until I really started cleaning up my diet, and sticking with it I was not seeing the definition in my abs like I’d like. I’ve really been having a blast with my new 21 Day Fix: Fixate Cookbook, which gives me a lot of variety for my meals, and is something my hubby does not complain about either.

So this is approximately 4 weeks of eating clean and healthy 80-85% of the time with an occasional “indulgent” meal and exercising (cardio and strength) 6 days a week for a minimum of a half hour.

My workout of choice this month has been Shaun T’s new CIZE program. Want more details on Cize? It’s All Here

If I can do this, so can you!!! We’re in this together! You got this. :)

I Absolutely LOVE this New Workout Series by Jessica Smith!!!!

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What a great series! Jessica and Co. shine brighter than ever in Jessica’s lastest “Walk On” DVD workouts. As with her previous releases, Jessica’s upbeat attitude carries the workouts to a higher standard than some other fitness popular DVD fitness instructors. A lot can be said from a positive attitude, and smile! How could you NOT want to get up and move too! As with Jessica’s prior “walking” releases, these workouts are designed for everyone, from beginner to intermediate, and all ages, shapes and sizes. Jessica’s beautiful Mom, Debbie is on beginner modifications, while Jessica demonstrates the intermediate level, and Beth, a more advanced option. VERY CAREFUL attention to form is discussed and demonstrated. These DVDs come in a boxed set complete with a 30-Day Calendar that allows you to use each workout in a set schedule for maximum results.

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The workouts are also great to be used as standalone workouts, or in conjunction with other workout routines you may also be doing. The workouts range from 15-40 minutes in length to work into any schedule. Each routine is designed to be a routine which one can “grow with” allowing you to start out at an easier, lower impact level, and gradually build up to a more advanced level as you progress with the series, and gain strength and cardiovascular stamina and muscular endurance. These routines would be great for who want to gain endurance walking longer distances, or begin to jog or run. I have reviewed each routine individually below with my caloric burn and equipment used to give you a better idea of what to expect for each routine as well as provided a comprehensive list of PROS and CONS overall for the set at the bottom of the review.

**Please Note** I am a 34 year old, intermediate to advanced exerciser, 5’7 height and weigh 145 pounds. Your exact caloric expenditure is based on your fitness level, age, and weight, so numbers provided are for estimation purposes only.

Jessica, Debbie and Beth wear shoes for all routines with the exception of the 20 Minute Chair Stretch. I prefer to workout barefoot where possible, and have designated which workouts I choose to do so. You may feel better working out with shoes depending on your flooring/comfort.

Disc 1: Major Metabolism Booster wo5

a. Pyramid Power Walk: (30 minutes, 210 calories burned, I did this routine barefoot) This walking routine starts off at a slower gentle pace, and gradually builds in intensity, with the maximum intensity point at the 15 minute mark, and then gradually returns downwards (hence the pyramid) to the cooldown. This workout features many of Jessica’s signature moves, but also some new, fun movements. Exercises are done in “intervals” but are not repeated (with the exception of some of the warmup/cooldown movements). As the routine picks up in pace, so does the music. The workout includes optional light jogging, and some higher intensity movements (Debbie and Jessica feature lower intensity movements). This routine is great for getting your heart rate up and getting you sweating. It is also a great routine for people who may want to start light jogging, or higher intensity workouts without killing the joints. My only complaint about this routine is that the “peak” of the workout was very short, and ended at the 15 minute mark, just when I was ready for more, and the cooldown was longer than I’d usually like (roughly 5 minutes). 4/5 stars.

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b. Strength Interval Walk: (30 minutes, 205 calories burned, I did this workout barefoot) This routine is an exciting combination of walking and strength training rolled into one efficient routine. Present are several of Jessica’s Signature moves (hamstring curls etc.) but there are also several new moves. The routine can be done with 1-10 lb. hand weights depending on fitness level, or no weights at all if you are just starting out. I used 5 lb. weights throughout the routine. An equal variety of upper and lower body exercises, this routine combines multiple muscle groups (think shoulder presses while walking, tricep kickbacks while holding a rear lunge). Some strength exercises are worked while standing in place, while others combine the “walking” component. Upper and lower body are worked evenly, and the workout is finished with a standing ab series with fun new moves to work the core all around. 5/5 stars

c. 20-Minute Chair Stretch (Bonus Workout): (no calorie count, workout performed barefoot). An AMAZING stretching routine all done with the assistance of a chair, and a yoga block (if you don’t have a yoga block, a thick book, phone book, firm pillow, or stack of towels can be substituted). This routine reminded me a lot of Jessica’s earlier “Yoga Stretch” DVD release but was done seated on a chair. A few standing exercises using the chair for balance we’re also incorporated. The yoga block allowed to greater range of motion, especially in those tight areas. The music was soothing. What a great stretch to incorporate after a hard workout, at the end of the day, or for an active recovery day! I will definitely use this one regularly to release tension in my hips and back! 5/5 stars.

Disc 2: 3 Weight Loss Walks wo3

a. 15 Minute Calorie Burst (125 calories, I did this workout barefoot): This quick, energetic walk is similar to Jessica’s earlier 15 minute routines, but I felt it was a bit faster paced than many in the past. It had to live up to the name of course. Several of Jessica’s signature moves (side steps, V-steps, heel digs, kicks) are present, but some newer moves including grapevines with high knee repeaters, jack feet with imaginary jump rope, side-to-side skaters with punches added some new variety and made this routine interesting. This is a great stand-alone routine if you’re short on time, or if you’d like to add some extra cardio work to a strength routine. 5/5 stars.

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b. 30-Minute Fat Blaster (225 calories, I used shoes during this workout): This walk alternated longer periods of moderate intensity moves, interspersed with higher intensity moves. I feel this routine did an excellent job incorporating both upper, and lower body movements, and some “sneaky” standing core work. If you’re familiar with Jessica’s other walking routines, this one was comprised of a lot of her signature moves, but had a lot of variety. 5/5 stars.

c. 40-Minute Mega Burn: (320 calories burned, I used shoes during this workout): This routine was BY FAR MY FAVORITE!! This routine really got me sweating. After the warm up, the pace took off with a bang, and kept going until the cooldown at the end, without intervals. The purpose of this walk was to build up endurance using “steady state” cardio and did it EVER deliver! This is a workout I’ll be coming back to regularly! 5/5 OUTSTANDING stars!

d. 15-Minute Standing Abs (Bonus Workout): (workout done barefoot, calories not counted) This 15 minute standing routine is great if you don’t like laying on the floor, or have a sensitive neck and don’t like floor exercises/crunches. All the exercises are done standing, and work the core muscles (upper, lower abdominals, obliques and back) and are great for the posture. Figure 8’s, knee raises, side leg raises/stretches, cross-arm deadlifts with twists and chair pose/squats with twists are some of the exercises featured. By engaging the core during this workout, I could really feel my entire core engaging. I love this workout as an alternative to laying on the floor and pulling on my neck to do basic crunches. 5/5 stars.

Disc 3: 5 Day Fat Burn wo4

a. HIIT Walk (30 minutes, 260 calories burned, I did this workout barefoot): Quite possibly my most favorite routine on the set so far. This routine was “interval based” with a warm up, followed by 3-4 minutes of moderate intensity moves and subsequent 2 minutes of higher intensity (HIIT) movements followed by a 3-4 minute recovery set of moderate intensity movements repeated four times and followed by a cooldown. Beginner, intermediate and advanced options were presented. I was able to complete the higher intensity moves throughout the workout, and felt like I got a very good workout. Plenty of lower body movements using larger muscle groups to get the heart rate up, without a lot of impact. This is one I can see myself using in a rotation regularly. 5/5 stars.

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b. Toning Walk (30 minutes, 195 calories burned, I did this workout barefoot): This routine uses a flat resistance band to tone while you walk. It’s not a huge calorie burner, but it does work you from head to toe. The resistance band does not come with the kit, but you can pick up one up for a few dollars at Walmart/Target etc. This was a great little routine, because I felt like it got a lot done, in a short amount of time. It included segments of light cardio, with periods of strength work using the band. What I liked about this routine was that it’s GREAT for traveling. You can easily increase the resistance by choking up on the band more, which makes this routine very versatile for all fitness levels. Using resistance bands also works muscles differently than regular dumbbells. I really loved this routine! 5/5 stars.

c. The Healthy Back Workout (Bonus Working, 18 minutes, calories not counted, I did this workout barefoot): This workout is a hidden GEM. Don’t SKIP IT! I feel it should be renamed to the Strong Back, Booty and Core workout, because it works them all! You need a yoga mat, or soft surface, and a resistance band for this routine. What a great routine for improving posture, and strengthening the core. There was also a bit of shoulder work with this routine as well. This workout includes some fun new moves, including the “Dead Bug” (look it up if you’re not familiar with it) which was a GREAT core strengthener and included moves like hip bridges, Supermans, and bird dogs (with and without pulses). This short routine got a LOT done in a very short amount of time. I felt like I was standing taller, and my core was tighter after I finished this routine. My SECOND most favorite routine of the series. 5/5 stars.

Pro/Con Summary;

Pros: Fun, bright colored outfits. Positive Attitude. EXCELLENT Instruction on proper form. Beginner (Debbie),Intermediate (Jessica) and Advanced (Beth) options. Upbeat music. Loads of variety (workouts) Multiple muscle groups worked at once during cardio work as well as strength.

Cons: Bright white set in all workouts (same set as some of the other previous workout DVDs). Some recycled music from previous workouts. Repetition of a lot of the same moves from workout to workout (not a problem for me, but may be for some). Only 2 dedicated strength routines (excluding standing abdominal routine).

**Additional Note: I was given an advanced copy of this workout set to preview and review by In Wellness Systems. I was not compensated nor will be compensated in any way for providing the above review. The comments, reviews and statements above are based on my own opinion and love of these routines**

Flowers

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I wanted to share this thought I had, that came to mind as I was weeding out several MONTHS of weeds from my flower bed this afternoon. As I was pulling weeds, I got to thinking, WHY have I let my life (and my garden) come to this point?

The last several weeks have been very trying for me. I’ve become my own, self-induced victim of “burning the candle at both ends” and finally reached a breaking point. I decided it’s time that something changes before I break.

I’m learning the hard way, that you cannot be everything to everyone and that you absolutely MUST take care of YOU first!

I’ve always been a nurturer, it’s in my nature. I’ve also always been someone who cares a great deal about what others think about me, and not wanting to upset anyone. In recent days, I’ve found out the hard way, living up to these self expectations can be devastating emotionally.

So as I was pulling the weeds from my garden I began to imagine that I was also pulling that negativity and self doubt from my mind as well. It was a freeing experience. And as I stood there, and looked at the results of my hard work, I realized this;

I am my OWN version of perfection (no matter how messy or disorganized I am), I am worthy and deserving of greater things, I am important, I am loved, and I deserve happiness. I don’t know what it was in that soil, but I could feel the stress and tension of the last few weeks melting away.

So here’s my point….let go of the small stuff, the pity, the self doubt, the worry and concern of what others think of you, or how they may treat you, and enjoy the finer things in life, even it it’s just a few weedy flowers in the garden. That’s where the HAPPY IS

It Can’t Rain All The Time

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I drove home 8 hours in pouring rain yesterday after visiting with my dying Grandmother in S. Dakota this weekend. That was tough. The last few weeks it feels like I’ve barely been able to keep my head above water. Working 60 plus hours a week, not feeling like I have time to do anything around home, or to myself. Just when I thought I got ahead of the storm, I woke up to MORE rain, and a very down attitude this morning. So, here I am working on picking myself back up and getting going again. I need to focus on taking care of me more. I found this picture, with this quote, and took it to heart. I am a fighter! I can get thru this! I’m never dealt more than I can handle. It’s time to move forward and make this week better than the last!

Finally, THE PERFECT MASCARA!

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After a week of trying this mascara, I think it’s finally safe to say I have found a NEW FAVORITE! I have avoided mascara for a long time because I end up with raccoon eyes from the humidity, sweat, it flakes off or it’s like concrete to get off. I like to workout, and of course sometimes a girl’s gotta look good doing it right? I tried this on the recommendation of my friend Rebekah. (Thanks Girlfriend!) This is the FIRST mascara I’ve tried that does not end up all over my face by the time I am done working out. And cry proof? Yep, it’s got everything else I’ve tried so far beat. It makes my lashes look full, lengthened, and soft. It comes off completely and easily with Lancome BiFacil makeup remover.

I LOVE THIS MASCARA!

I Get By With A Little Help From My (Fur) Friends

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I had a little help from two of my favorite cheerleaders tonight. Nothing like a little “WE LOVE YOU MOM” to help me get through a tough shoulder track on my workout. I love defined shoulders, but my fibro pain is the most intense in those muscles. Tonight was a brand new workout for me, and it was TOUGH. These cuties sure made me feel special when I was sweating up a storm and wanting to give up. Who else has pets that like to help when you workout? ‪

Confidence…Fake It Til You Make It

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I’ve seen this image on the internet the last few days. I don’t get into the Women’s MMA or other fighting type sports, but I have a profound respect for personal confidence, and really thought this image spoke volumes. Whether your an athlete, or not, having confidence and believing you YOURSELF can be an amazing mood booster, and also helps you feel better about yourself. One of my favorite quotes says “Fake It Til You Make It”. It’s so true! When you stand tall, with your shoulders back and your head high, it’s hard to NOT feel invincible, no matter WHAT life throws your way. So my challenge for you, today, is to exude confidence! Let your light shine for all to see. If you’re having a bad day, something didn’t go the way you planned, or you’re just feeling insecure about yourself around others be confident in YOURSELF and what your capable. What you’re shooting for may not happen today, but the more confident you are in yourself, the less likely you are to give up, and the more you’re going to PUSH for what your working towards. Having confidence is not about being cocky, or being better than anyone else, it’s about having the strength and the courage to believe in yourself and what you stand for. It’s the fuel that lights the fire of success. HAVE AN AMAZING DAY!