Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Meg's Musings: 66-Day Challenge

A couple of weeks ago I read this article about fostering healthy habits and kicking those annoyingly bad habits. I'm feeling pretty good about 2015 since I ended 2014 on a damn good note and I've already gotten a real nice running start on this new year. But there is always room to improve, and my goal now is to find where my room for growth is and fill all those empty spaces with progress. And I can't do that without a plan, and some accountability (which is why we started this blog in the first place, right?) 

I like schedules and I like routines. But I am now a freelance writer and well, no one is making my schedule but me, which is great...except when I get tired and unfocused and I really need someone telling me what to do and when to do it. Same goes for my workouts, and nutrition for that matter. Over the summer, I was on a very strict three-month program, which was tough, but it kept me disciplined. My big goal was to get through that process before the new year so that I could really start the year off on a great note, and I think I did (check!). I've made some serious progress, but I am nowhere close to where I want to be, so now I find myself needing another strict regimen. 

There are tons -- TONS -- of programs out there, some are expensive, some are fairly cheap and some are free. I’ve done several of them, and they’ve been great. I mean, any program that gets you to make conscious decisions about nutrition and train harder in the gym is well worth your time. Obviously the overall goal is health and fitness, but these challenges can be great in that they break up the work into increments. Each of them may focus on specific areas, goals or needs of your body. Each of them may work on fostering specific habits that are going to stick with you and improve your overall fitness and nutrition in the long run. Each one helps you to mark your progress and chart your growth. And they may not be for everyone, but for me, each time I take on a new challenge or start a new program, the goal is not to get through those 24 days, or 90 days, or whatever time period I've committed to, and then have free range to eat, drink, and be lazy. The goal is to finish that program stronger than I was when I started it, and to use that new progress as a platform for improvement.

Like I said, there are tons out there. Advocare’s 24 Day Challenge is a great detox/nutritional/overall fitness jumpstart. The 90-Day yeast/gluten cleanse through Hotze Health and Wellness is also incredible for increased health and strength. There are weight training programs and fat loss programs and endurance programs and upper body programs and booty programs and core programs. Whatever your goal is, I guarantee you it’s out there. But this time I am going with a different idea. I’ve looked at where I am and where I want to be, and I put together my own plan to get myself there. Because there is something rewarding about having only yourself to thank for your progress.

Like all good challenges, it targets overall health, fitness, and strength training. And, of course, it has guidelines and deadlines. And although I do not place a ridiculous amount of emphasis on my weight when I am increasing my weight training, I am doing a weekly weigh-in to track my progress. 

I spent a couple of days creating a weight-training program specific to my particular fitness goals for the next 66 days, and I won't bore you with the details. The meal plan, however, I will share because that is quite simple. It's nothing fancy, just a guideline to make sure I am getting all of the vitamins I need and taking in the right amounts of protein, carbs (veggies), and natural sugars (fruit). Unlike most challenges I have done in the past, I am not giving myself "cheat days" (God help me!) and I am not taking in whole grains, so my complex carbs come strictly from vegetables, with the occasional exception of sweet potatoes and spinach wraps. 

The daily routine goes something like this: 

-       Pre-breakfast –
o  Probiotics
o  Lemon water and green tea (natural detox!) 
o  Chia Seeds (for energy and strength) 

-       Breakfast – Fruit/Protein/Veggie Smoothie, which tastes better than it sounds and hits all my nutritional requirements: 
o  Protein -- Jay Robb’s Whey Protein 
o  Fruit  -- Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries
o  Complex Carbs – kale and other leafy green veggies

-       Mid-morning energy: 
o  Deli Ham
o  Almonds 
o  Small portion of vegetables 

-       Lunch: 
o  Lean Protein – chicken, fish, turkey, or lean ground beef 
o  Complex Carb – vegetables, sweet potato, or spinach wraps 

-       Post-Workout:
o  Protein Shake
o  Green Juice (packed with vitamins and minerals: kale, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, tomatoes, etc.) 

-        Dinner: 
o  Lean Protein – chicken, fish, turkey, or lean ground beef 

o  Complex Carb – vegetables, sweet potato, or spinach wraps

66 days to my next "progress platform" and I can't wait to see what's next! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Steph Says: Nola Holiday

Every once in a while, a mama needs a getaway, even if only for 24 hours. This winter, a tradition was born with Katie and Steph's second annual New Orleans (Nola for you out-of-towners) Holiday.

Because if you do it twice, it's officially a tradition.
A little backstory: Katie and I were fraternity sisters (yes, that's a thing) in college, and our senior year we were President (her) and VP Membership (me). We had some adventures, to say the least. We managed to stay in touch after college because she decided to do a 180 from vocal performance (the girl can SING) and start doing hair, and she was my go-to girl for keeping my mane in check, back when I could actually afford it!! She was a bridesmaid in my wedding, and even though time has gone by, we're still pretty close. Now she's living the dream in New York City, doing hair for movies and TV shows and meeting celebs and going to rooftop bars and running in Central Park... I'm not jealous at all. She's one of those friends you can NOT talk to for 6 months, and when you finally reconnect, you can pick right back up where you left off...the best kind of friend. No judgment, no pressure, just a great friend who loves to have a good time.
Like I said. No judgment. 
We met up at our fancy hotel around 3 p.m. and headed over to Magazine Street for some shopping. We stopped at Trashy Diva where we had a fun little fashion show.
Work it.
Katie sneakily surprised me with a little Christmas gift- this head wrap/band thing that I was drooling over. I walked away for two seconds and she bought it for me! I know right? That's an amazing friend right there. I might have worn it every day since. Even if it is just around my house.

Who Dat, indeed.
Shopping made us hungry and our dinner reservation wasn't until after 9, so we stopped in at Juan's Flying Burrito and got some chips, salsa, guac, and queso...and a margarita, OF COURSE. It did not disappoint! 

Best part? It says "dranks!"
At that point, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for our fancy dinner. Big thanks to my friend and stylist Kat for helping me to put together my outfit! Selfies ensued. How could they not? Funny though, the mirror was kinda behind the bed, so this is the best I could do.
Dress: Gap
P.S. I did NOT wake up like this. 
We hopped in taxi to head back to Magazine for dinner at La Petite Grocery. The chef, Justin Devillier, was a contestant on Top Chef New Orleans and he was just named Best Chef in Nola. The menu did not disappoint. We had Blue Crab Beignets, Roasted Lamb T-bones, PanĂ©ed Rabbit, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Baked Macaroni, and Stone Ground Grits.
All I'm saying is that running 12 miles the day before made this dinner so much yummier. I know for sure it was not light on the calories... But y'all know I run so I can eat! My only, and I do mean ONLY, complaint is that the mood lighting sucked for taking pictures of this delicious spread. So I got nothing. You'll just have to go and experience it for yourself!

After dinner, we took off for the Roosevelt Hotel and took a ton of pictures in the Christmas-decorated lobby. This is probably my favorite spot in Nola at Christmastime.

We stopped by the Sazerac Bar for a drink....

...where apparently SOMETHING was hilarious...
...and then headed to the bathroom...where there was a large floor-to-ceiling mirror...aaaaaaand selfies ensued. I repeat...How could they not?

Around 2 am we ran back to the hotel for a shoe change (sorry Kat, but I was DYING) and then walked around a bit. Saw the sights (aka reeeeeaaaaally stupid drunk people) on Bourbon Street and then decided to call it a night because as Ted Mosby says, nothing good happens after 2 am!
Although we still looked pretty amazing at 2 am. 
The next morning, we got brunch at the Bourbon House where I got my favorite drink in New Orleans... A frozen bourbon milk punch.
All. The. Nutmeg. 
Our little Nola weekend came to a close and we parted ways-Katie for Alabama (then NYC), and me for Lafayette- but not before promising to do it all over again next winter!

Until next time, Nola, I'll be thinking of you!