Sunday, June 30, 2013


So, the past few days have been such a blur!  I have been so busy and so tired that it has been pretty much impossible for me to post - but, I am back and pretty much rested up :)

Now, I want to fill you in on the past few crazy days:

On Thursday, I was at work the entire day until about 8:00PM for our company's 10 year anniversary party.  The day was super long - I spent the entire week going through hundreds and hundreds of files.  I looked up files on the computer, printed files out, wrote notes, crossed stuff out, and highlighted nonstop!  So, I was obviously super-pumped for the party - catered BBQ-style food, prizes, a photo booth, a dunk-tank, and a mechanical bull.  A lot of the managers and higher-ups were voted to be the dunk-ees - so it was definitely funny!  The food was amazing and I was happy to have some healthy options.
My plate - I used to love ribs and had to indulge after the week I had ;) and  I picked the skin off the chicken.

After the party, I had to get to bed to be up at 4:45AM to get to Cedar Point because I was casted for an episode of Ride-Diculous on the Travel Channel.  My sister, her boyfriend - Kevin, Kristen - our friend, and I were all casted to be filmed riding the maXair at Cedar Point.  We had to be at Cedar Point at 7:00 in the morning!  It was so cool and kind of creepy to be in a huge amusement park pretty much alone - like a scary movie ;)  We spend a lot of the day riding the maXair and being filmed watching the ride, walking through the park, and getting interviewed.  We were paid $50, free lunch - which included build-your-own fro-yo! and free parking and admission!  It was a really cool experience and the episode will air sometime in the fall - I will keep you all up-to-date!!
 Pre- and post-ride interviews!

I fell asleep not long after filming and slept for about 11 hours!  Saturday I had an early workout of Barre with Ash!  I cannot believe I woke up for the class, but I am glad I did!  I also did a lot of cleaning with my mom and had a chance to run to the West Side Market!  The West Side Market is my favorite part of Cleveland.  The Westside Market sells all locally grown and locally made products, from fruits and vegetables to pasta and meats to cheeses and baked items.  The Westside Market is so full of culture and amazing food!  We had lunch at the market from a stand called Noodle Cat - also a restaurant.  Noodle Cat has these amazing little sandwiches served on steamed buns instead of normal bread.  These buns are like biting into soft, puffy clouds - sounds weird, but I just love their buns!  My mom and I ordered 6 for $16 and two of the three that sounded the yummiest!
BBQ Ohio Pork with pickled onions and scallions, Fat Casual with spicy mayo and avocado, West Side Market Butcher Bun (special) - Canadian Bacon (Dionne's stand) with pineapple and maple BBQ sauce.

Sunday was another busy day with a nap squeezed in ;)  I treated my family to brunch at Press Wine Bar after church - the sermon was titled Breakfast with Jesus, so brunch was needed!  Press has amazing food - made with a lot of local ingredients.  Their brunch has some interested menu items, but the combinations they have selected are nothing short of amazing!  I split the Bacon Flatbread and the Breakfast Tacos with my mom.  My dad ordered the Chicken Sandwich - poached chicken and clementine salad, challah bun, crisp romaine, yogurt dressing.  My sister had the Crab Benedict - toasted English muffin, seared crab cake, poached eggs, sea salt, sriracha hollandaise - I had a bite and yum!  Kevin ordered the Elvis Sandwich - Crunchy peanut butter, sliced bananas, and toasted challah bread sprinkled with cinnamon - another delicious choice!

Bacon Flatbread
 caramelized apple puree, fresh apple, Neuske bacon, blue cheese, caramel creme fraiche 

Breakfast Tacos
scrambled eggs, black beans, scallions, cheddar, ranchero sauce (on the side), pico de gallo, grilled tortilla

I would recommend everything that was ordered today at Press Wine Bar.  I personally tried everything that was ordered, except for the Chicken Sandwich - but, if my dad raves about it, then it has to be good - he's a little picky! Haha

We also stopped at A Cookie and a Cupcake after brunch - we had to walk past it to get to the car, so why not?  We each picked out a cupcake and my dad got a chocolate chip cookie (vegan and gluten-free) for his afternoon snack at work tomorrow.

Our Picks
(clockwise from top left) Ashley: Grasshopper - chocolate cake with mint buttercream. Kevin: German Chocolate - chocolate cake with coconut-pecan goo with brown sugar buttercream.  Mom: Salted Carmel - Chocolate cake with liquid carmel center, carmel frosting and black Hawaiian lava salt.  Mine: Gluten-free Chocolate - Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.

I only had a fourth of the Gluten-free Chocolate and it was amazing!  The most moist cupcake I have ever had and it was so chocolatey!  I love these cupcakes and will definitely order from A Cookie and a Cupcake again :)  There was rave reviews about the other cupcakes, too!  

I took another nap after lunch.  I have been so tired ever since Friday - it has to be a combination of waking up between 5:45AM and 6:30AM every morning this week and filming most of the day Friday.  My sister and I tried to go on a bike ride in the evening to test out the tires from last year and it was very interesting.  Basically, my back tire was making a weird noise and I thought it was just rubbing on the bumper(?) and then my chain popped off!  I am missing some bolts and who knows what else is wrong :(  I am hoping it can be easily fixed.

Well, I need to get some Zumba in - I indulged too much this weekend and need to get back into it for the Fourth of July weekend!  I am excited for the workouts I have lined up this week :)

Have a great night!!

How was your weekend?

Have you ever been to Cedar Point?

What are your favorite kind of rides?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy WIMBW and WIAW!

Hello everyone :) Happy WIMBW and WIAW!! It's one of my favorite days of the week again!  Or it was until I couldn't go to Walnut Wednesday :(  I had training from 10:30 to 12:30ish, 1:30-3:40, and 4:00 to 5:00.  It was a very long day, but ended up being a pretty good one, anyway!  Because, I just love WIMBW!!  I am always looking forward to my new oatmeal recipe of the week :)  For those of you catching up, WIMBW stands for "What's In My Bowl Wednesday" - I am using Jenny Grothe's 75 Ways To Love Your Oatmeal and Other Treats, Tips & Tricks, to expand my love for oatmeal over the next 75 weeks.  I realize how long this will span over, but I am excited about every recipe I try and I am enjoying looking forward to the middle of the week.

Today I chose Choconana Baked Oatmeal from Jenny Grothe's book.  I chose this recipe because I already make My Healthy Chocolate Peanut Buttercup Oatmeal and figured this will be easy with my limited morning - I have to leave the house by 6:40AM on Wednesdays.  So, as I always seem to do, I made some modifications to this recipe to fit with my style of eating.

Jessica's Choconana PB Baked Oatmeal


oven-proof bowl
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tbsp ground flax 
1/2 tbsp unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 tsp baking powder
drizzle honey
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp RAW chocolate protein powder
3/4 cup Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 banana, sliced
1/2 tbsp all-natural peanut butter
3 tbsp low-sugar Greek yogurt
sprinkle cinnamon

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350

Step 2: Add 1/2 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tbsp ground flax, and 1/2 tbsp unsweetened coconut to an oven-proof bowl

Step 3: Add 1/2 cup oatmeal

Step 4: Add 1/4 tsp baking powder

Step 5: Add drizzle of honey

Step 6: Add 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder and 1 tbsp RAW chocolate protein powder 

Step 7: Add 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Step 8: Add sliced banana and mix

Step 9: Divide peanut butter and place throughout the top of oatmeal mixture

Step 10: Top with 3 tbsp, divided, Greek yogurt

Step 11: Sprinkle with cinnamon

Step 12: Bake for 30 minutes

So, the verdict is....I absolutely love this oatmeal bake!  I think someone has a new favorite oatmeal bake recipe - and yes, that would be yours truly!  I love the addition of the Greek yogurt topping and baking my already lovely oatmeal makes it even better!  I love how it is kind of similar to having an individual loaf of banana bread, but in a healthy, dessert form.  I am actually planning on making this tomorrow, but I think I will add two egg whites for some extra protein.

For the rest of WIAW, I didn't have time for my morning snack :( and I didn't get a chance to grab lunch until 1:00PM - I had breakfast at 6:30AM!  I had the California Burger from Burger Fresh - black bean burger, avocado and red pepper salsa on a whole wheat bun.  For my afternoon snack I had some organic grapes.  My dinner consisted of the yummy Chocolate Peanut Butter Quest Bar!!  And I had a small snack of goat cheese guacamole, which was amazing(!), after my Barre class.  Barre was awesome, but very sweaty :/  and I cannot wait for Saturday's Barre class!

Well, I hope everyone has a fantastic evening - I know I will be sleeping well with this storm :)


What did you have on WIAW?

What oatmeal recipes should I try?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why I Switched to Organic and Natural Foods

As a lot of you know, I often write about my shopping trips to Whole Foods and EarthFare.  And I am always sharing the different natural and organic foods I buy and love.  I have only been eating this way for about 2-3 months.  I want to share why I chose to switch to natural and organic foods.  I also want to share how I was able do this and how easy it is to do.

First, I have been really challenging myself with different workouts, including antigravity yoga, barre, and springboard Pilates.  I am working areas that I have never worked before and I am becoming more lean and toned than I have ever been.  I am happy with the fitness challenges I have been taking and am looking forward to more challenges as the year goes on.

So, here I am happy with where I am at in the fitness world - but I begin wondering if I really am as healthy as I can be.  Health starts from within - and I have always eaten healthy: low-fat, low-cal, low-sodium, low-sugar, etc.  I don't eat fast food, potato chips, pizza, sweets - yet I still feel like I am putting things into my body that shouldn't get anywhere near it.

I decided I was going to start reading the ingredients a little more closely and I see words like artificial flavors, artificial coloring, enriched wheat, hydrogenated or fractionated oils, monosodium glutamate (MSG), high fructose corn syrup, sugar, potassium benzoate and sodium benzoate, sucralose, aspartame, BHA and BHT, soy lecithin, potassium sorbate, polysorbate 80, and canola oil - to name a few.   I am wondering what do these ingredients - most of which I cannot pronounce - do for my body?  And the answer: Nothing, but harming it!  I decided from now on I am only eating natural and organic foods and am trying to make these foods local whenever possible.  I am going to be selfish with my body and will only eat foods that can benefit my body.

I first started looking at our usual local grocery stores for natural and organic foods.  I realized that the selection is very limited - and I really like choices ;)  I decided to give Whole Foods a try.  I loved Whole Foods the very second I walked it!  There are shelves upon shelves full of natural and organic items!  I was presented with so many options - I was like a kid in a gigantic candy store!  Whole Foods is one of my favorite places to visit.  Whole Foods features foods free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats - something I greatly appreciate.  I know when I go to Whole Foods I can trust that I am getting the best quality ingredients and foods for my body - I do always read the ingredients list's a habit ;)  I am always finding new items to try and I love walking away with a new, yummy foods!

Whole Foods really made my switching over to natural and organic foods very easy. Whole Foods can be expensive - I always go to the website to print out coupons for items I am planning on buying or may be interested in trying.  I also compare prices to similar items.

And those of you who like to eat out and think they cannot eat out anymore - I definitely eat out!  I ask the waiters how foods are prepared and what ingredients are included in dishes.  If I am feeling that there isn't anything I can eat, I go for a salad with fresh fruit or veggies.  I also like to order clear-broth soup - wedding soup is one of my favorites!  I often check out menus online to see if the ingredients are listed when I know what restaurant I will be eating at in advance.

I am really happy with my decision to switch to natural and organic foods.  I have definitely noticed myself having more energy and even better results from my workouts.  Keeping processed foods with all those chemicals out of my body has been really beneficial.  I am enjoying what I eat and can't believe how many delicious choices I have to choose from.  If you are thinking about switching to natural and organic foods, I definitely encourage you to give it a try.  And if you do decide to try this out - give it at least a week :)

I hope you all have a great night!  I need to rest up for a possible cheer practice - if the storms hold off!

Have you ever tried switching to natural and organic foods?  What do you think?

Is there anything holding you back from natural and organic foods?

What are some of your favorite natural and organic foods?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fitness Survey!

I came across this fitness survey on one of the fitness blogs I follow, Peanut Butter Fingers.   She has a great blog with fantastic workouts and recipes!  And I love surveys! 

1. What did you eat for breakfast?
Jessica's Healthy Peanut Butter Cup.  I had to make it with steel cut oats today because we ran out of oatmeal while I was away.  (I put it on the stove during my shower and burned the pan :/ so I made it twice)

2. How much water do you drink a day?
I drink a lot of water throughout the day, I am always running to the water cooler...I should start keeping a log, because I would like to know.

3. What is your current favorite workout?
My current favorite workout had to be Barre!  I cannot get enough of this class - quick toning results and the class flies by!  I have two classes scheduled this week!!

4. How many calories do you eat a day?
I have no idea.

5. What are your favorite healthy snacks?
My favorite healthy snacks include fruit, Hail Merry macaroons - they are having a deal right now!, Jessica's  Chocolate Chip Natural Granola, Whole Foods 365 Greek Yogurt.  Here is the snack I had today: Whole Foods' 365 Greek Yogurt mixed with chia seeds, cinnamon, unsweetened coconut flakes, and ground flax, and topped with fresh blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.  

6. What do you usually eat for lunch?
I usually eat salads with lean protein and fruits or veggies.  I also love having any clear broth soup for lunch.  I will sometimes have grilled chicken or fish.  And you already know I love to indulge a bit on Walnut Wednesdays - which is in a day and a half!!

7. What is your favorite body part to strength train?
Legs and shoulders!  Which barre is great for both!!

8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?
I don't have one.

9. What are your “bad” food cravings?
I guess what I like to indulge in is ice cream - but I have found a guilt-free replacement: Arctic Zero!!

10. Do you take vitamins or supplements?

11. How often do you eat out?
It varies. I usually get to order out for lunch during the work week.  The summer gives me a lot more opportunities to eat out - happy hours on the many patios this city has to offer, weekend festivals, food truck events..

12. Do you eat fast food?
I think the closest thing to fast food is Zoup!

13. Who is your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporters are my mom and my friends Shannon and Ashley.

14. Do you have a gym membership?
Yes! At a nearby yoga and dance studio!

15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
Lately, not enough...but I am trying to get back into a healthy sleeping pattern again.

16. Do you have a “cheat” day?
I don't have a "cheat" day, but I will indulge on special occasions.

17. Do you juice cleanse?
I never have, but I am thinking about trying over a long weekend.  I have done some research and have read about all of the benefits, even from doing a short cleanse - more to come on the experience I end up having later ;)

18. Do you have a workout buddy?
Shannon and Ashley at my gym for barre or springboards.  Sometimes Alisia when I can squeeze in an anti-gravity session.

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle?
I have a passion for health and fitness.
I started working out and eating healthy in 8th grade when my mom joined Weight Watchers.  After that, I joined cheerleading and enjoyed making healthy choices.  Eventually, I discovered new workouts I loved - Zumba, yoga, anti-gravity yoga, springboard and barre).  I love working out and always look forward to it now.  Just recently, I have put a focus on what I put into my body and have switched to all-natural and organic foods!

20. What was the last healthy thing you did?
At very health conscious today - to get back on track from the wedding weekend!

Now, I need to try and get some sleep :) Have a good night!!

Are there any questions that you would like me to answer?

What would your answers be?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wedding Weekend

This past weekend I had the honor of being in one of my best friend's wedding.  It was such an awesome wedding that began Friday afternoon and ended Sunday morning.  We had a 2.5 hour drive - which I completely welcomed because it got me out of work early ;)  I rode down with one of the other bridesmaid, Melissa - I met her once or twice, but it feels like I have known her for such a long time.
Melissa - my roommate, driving buddy, and fellow bridesmaid!

The rehearsal dinner was BBQ style - which I loved!  On the tables were  long, rectangular platters filled with sliced pound cake and strawberries and there were large martini glasses filled with whipped cream - a build-your-own strawberry shortcake platter!  What a cool idea!  The food consisted of BBQ chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, kielbasa with veggies, pasta salad, baked beans, and so many picnic condiments.  I had BBQ chicken without the skin, some pasta salad, the veggies from the kielbasa, and baked beans.  Everything was delicious!  The bridal party pretty much sat together and even though I have only met most of them once or not at all, it felt like we were all family from the first minute :)  The rehearsal went well and I was already getting teary-eyed and the wedding wasn't for another day!

We spent her last "single" evening just painting nails and having some girl talk - we had to leave the campus at 7AM for an hour and 20 minute ride for make-up.  We obviously needed some rest before the big day!  Brittany had a make-up artist come do our make-up and he was fantastic!  The colors of the wedding were coral and a brighter blue - he incorporated one or both of the colors into everyone's make-up.
I loved my make-up and was sad to wash my face at the end of the night :(

After make-up we went back to the church to get ready in our dresses and any final touch-ups needed.  We were all getting so antsy and nervous.  I do not have any photos of the wedding right now - we weren't allowed to hide our phones in the bouquets for pictures.  The ceremony was beautiful and the love was evident in that chapel.  I cried - especially during the exchange of their handwritten vows!

The way to the reception was marked with chalked hearts for the guests to follow from the chapel all the way to the reception hall.  This was such a cute idea!

The reception was awesome and so much fun!  The food was amazing: build-your-own Caesar salad, lemon-garlic green beans, asparagus, mashed potatoes, fingerling potatoes, chicken Alicia, vegetable pasta, and carved roast beef - I ate Caesar salad, green beans, asparagus, pasta, and some roast beef.  There was a dessert bar and I sampled the key lime mousse and brownie parfait.

The cake was so pretty and tasted fantastic - at least the chocolate-peanut butter layer did!

After the cake cutting, there was the first dance and the bouquet and garter toss.  
Their first song was Delilah - special song when she went to school and they were separated for the semester.

I finally caught the bouquet!  The garter was actually around the football and hidden under her dress!

After all of the wedding traditions, we danced the night way and had so much fun!  
 Love the socks!

Bridesmaid and the beautiful bride!

 The butterfly - haha
 Needed some cooling off ;)

 Some of the bridal party

 Had a special dance routine

Groom and groomsmen kick-line!

I did not want the night to end!  I had such a great time at this wedding and it went way to fast!  I am so happy this wedding finally happened - It has been a long time coming and I couldn't be happier for the two love birds!  Brittany and Cameron give me hope that one day I will meet the special someone who makes me feel and treats me like Cam does Brittany.

I hope everyone had a great weekend, full of wonderful memories :)  I know I will remember this weekend and the friends family I made during this magical event.

Now, I need to get back on track and prepare myself for a week of work, coaching, and workout classes.  Have a great night!!

How was your weekend?

How do you get back on track after a weekend of not-your-usual food choices?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

TBT: Last Week's Cruise

Happy TBT or Throw Back Thursday :)  I am missing my cruise vacation so much and I realized this is the perfect day to forget about sharing my healthy food choices and share my cruise vacation with you all - I hope you're ready, because I sure am!

Our trip began with our 8 hour drive to Jersey - with a stop at a closed rest stop...seriously, what rest stop closes at 4:00PM??
My dad and I are really good at standing on ledges ;)

We had dinner at Valenca in Jersey the night before we left.  Valenca is an amazing Spanish restaurant - just take a look at this food!!
 Flaming chorizo

 Paella - this is a one person serving!!  We split it three ways and took it back to the hotel for lunch the next day - I couldn't believe how many meals we made from this!


 Chicken empanadas

After we got on the ship, we wasted no time finding the healthy food options :) this is where I first found the SPE options - so I was happy with the food within the first five minutes of this cruise!

The first two full days on the Celebrity Summit were sea days.  We took part in some of the onboard activities and enjoyed our first formal night.
 We participated in Zumba and line dancing - We learned Cotten-Eyed Joe and laughed the entire time!

 We participated in the onboard scavenger hunt - a picture at the buffet line and with sunscreen on the nose were two of the six things we had to take pictures with - then we had to find the answers to six questions!
 Of course, with being seasoned scavenger pros, we won a nice Celebrity beach bag full of goodies - which is perfect since my entire family forgot to bring one ;)

My mom also got my dad to participate in scrapbooking!

On formal nights they set up different photo sessions.  After dinner, we had a Captain's Toast in the theatre to begin the cruise.

The second sea day - which just so happened to be my parents 30th anniversary, we set up a surprise vow renewal for them!  My mom cried and my dad said this was the most memorable thing ever!

They are just so cute!  The ceremony included: renewing of the vows, a champagne toast, wedding cake (chocolate raspberry), renewal certificate, and an hour photography session.  We did purchase a package and I will figure out how to share those pictures soon!

On the third day we arrived and Faithful the tugboat pulled us into The Royal Naval Dockyard!
We watched Faithful while eating a deliciously healthy and filling breakfast in the dining room.

We explored Hamilton our first day.  Hamilton is the capitol of Bermuda.  Hamilton is full of shops and historical buildings.  The parks are beautiful and the people are very friendly.

Exploring the parks - Bermuda actually promote literacy and fitness by choosing a local authors book and put each page and corresponding illustration throughout to parks for the children to follow along and read - what an excellent idea!

We met a Senator - head of safety
We went to the Princess Hotel for afternoon tea - the tea was amazing!  I cannot wait to share what we enjoyed :)

Kissing under the Moongate

Making a wish of our own ;)

I just absolutely love these chairs and want to make my own - the view isn't bad either ;)

Exploring a fort - we had to go through a dark, tunneled staircase to get to the jungle
 Bermuda has an over-population of cats (and roosters) - I enjoyed all of the cats though!

 This is how the police used to direct traffic

 Hamilton has a street festival called Harbor Nights every Wednesday in the summer.  There are local vendors selling jewelry, giving out rum cake (yum!) and rum samples, and there are food trucks! 
We spent the second island day in St. George.  St. George is another historical town and used to be the capitol of Bermuda.  St. George has a lot more beaches and we were able to explore Fort St. Catherine.

We climbed all over Fort St. Catherine and then made our way to the beach to cool down.

 Fooling around in the town center with Tiff!

 Enjoying The Bermuda Perfumery of Lili Perfumes - all the scents come from the island and are so refreshing!  We bought the sampler pack and I can't wait to figure out and order my favorite ;)

 The trees get sweaters to be protected from the wind - haha I wish we had those sweaters for the ferry ride back to the ship - it is super windy near the ocean and we decided to ride back on the front of the ferry - what a great idea :)

The last day I went to the dockyard with my sisters to shop and go to the beach.  We were too busy to take many pictures (basically mom wasn't with us to document everything), but we did manage to take a picture on the biggest beach chair ever!

We didn't stay out too long - not only because we were going to be leaving Bermuda, but it was also our second and last formal night and we just had to get ready!
 Captain Leonardos 

 Our photographer asked for Charlie's Angels and attitude - apparently I am the only one that heard that part!
Feeling the love :)

I  really enjoyed this cruise - it is probably my most favorite vacation out of every vacation I have been on and I have been on so many trips for my age!  I would definitely look into cruises first when looking for vacations - I actually have another cruise booked already - which is really weird to think about!  I just loved this cruise so much and being able to relax or do as many things as I want.  The food was unbelievable and I was happy that I could eat so extravagantly without breaking my eating habits. I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I know I still love to look at them!  

I will be out of town tomorrow until Sunday for one of my best friend's weddings!  I am a bridesmaid, so I will be there for a few days.  I will not be posting until Sunday night, but I cannot wait to share the wedding and all the good food I will be eating - the rehearsal dinner is BBQ style :)  I love a good BBQ! 

Have a good night and an awesome weekend!!