Ideal Shape up 12 Week Challenge

I posted in the past about the 15 day challenge that my friend and I did, and completed, a program by Trainer Lindsay Matthews from the IdealShape site. Best of all, it’s FREE. The meal plan, the workouts are all on YouTube, and there are Facebook groups you can join for support as well. It’s my kind of workout plan! The workouts are 6 days a week, but only 30 minutes a day, complete with a warmup and a cool down video. I was skeptical about the challenge because I’ve never stuck to a workout plan in my LIFE and never seen results when I did. But little did I know, I have really only stuck to plans that have lasted 3 or 4 weeks and then given up… But I have to say, this was different. It took a few weeks for me to see results, and a few more for everyone else. It took about 5 months for me to have to go buy new clothes, and see a real difference. I tell myself, it took me 33 years to put this weight on, it will take me more than a few weeks to take it off!

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October 2015 / May 2016. 167 lbs vs 150 lbs.

And again, after photos in August 2016 after losing almost 30 pounds! (After weight being 140 pounds)

By no means was I overweight, but I was wearing a “plus size” in pants, and the Wii fit told me I was overweight for my height… And that was discouraging. But my best friend was doing this challenge at the same time I was so we kept each other on track, and I’m SO happy I did. I’ll be starting the program over when it’s done, and just picking up heavier weights to keep improving and getting stronger.

I also gained some important habits in the last 16 weeks too like my eating habits, (I can’t really eat fried foods or too much dairy or sweets anymore.) I eat way more fruits, veggies, and lean meats. I also drink WAY more water than I used to. I get up earlier in the morning and feel like I spend less money on food since I just buy almond milk and protein powder now for breakfast instead of cereal, eggs, oatmeal, and a ton of other random stuff. If anything the 12 week challenge was a gateway into a healthier lifestyle because I started to see and feel results, it’s something that helped me build my confidence and made me a better person overall.

Bottom line, I recommend it!


Week One of 60 Day Challenge

So week one has come to a close of my 60 day challenge and I have to day, I’m tired. I’ve gained 3 pounds, and I just want to take a nap, like all day long. But I’m not giving up! According to  you gain weight when you start working out for one of 4 reasons. One of which is water weight due to inflammation because of the micro-tears your muscles go through when you work out. Once the inflammation goes down, you will lose the weight. You can also be eating the wrong things because working out, you get hungrier than normal, and may be reaching for the wrong foods. Which isn’t my problem. I am eating about 1500 calories a day and working out for an hour each morning.



I’ve started to do P90X, and a week in, my body is sore! But I’m going to stick to it, and I know my body will get stronger. I’ve taken 32 years to put on this weight, and let my muscles take the back seat to fat cells, and I’m ready for them to switch roles. And no you are NOT seeing my before pics until I have some awesome after pics to compare them to.

cat mat

Bogey loves when I’m on the yoga mat. He thinks it’s cuddle time.

I also had my first massage last week, with a gift certificate I had won, and it was amazing! (I WILL go back!) I learned a lot about my body too, which parts could use more work, why my back gets tight when I get anxious, and how my hips need some work, my bones are being weird and probably because of my weight. I carry my weight in my hips and backside. So I’m getting fit for my health.

So far this week, (5 of the 7 days)

  • Every morning I drink a glass of hot honey lemon water.
  • Eat a bowl of oatmeal with Almond milk for my pre workout carbs.
  • Workout! (P90X – following the schedule for “P90X Lean”)
  • Eat 200 calories of protein, either scrambled eggs or a protein shake.
  • Set a goal to accomplish something around the house and do it.
  • Try to eat more protein and veggies than carbs for my other meals.
  • Track my meals with the “Lose It” app.
  • Take a multi vitamin with dinner.
  • Brush teeth and wash face before bed!
  • Get 8 hours of sleep!

Note: These are ALL things I did not do before so positive results are expected to come!

These are habits I’m starting to grow into, and I want to keep them for the rest of my days.

Progress to come!



Wheatgrass Juice without a Juicer

Being the fiancé of a specialty farmer/gardener there are a lot of interesting edible greens growing in the back yard. Micro-greens, edible flowers, produce, and, wheatgrass. According to Wikipedia: “Wheatgrass is a good source of potassium, a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E(alpha tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper,manganese and selenium, and has a negligible amount of protein (less than one gram per 28 grams). Adding other foods with complementary amino acid profiles to this food may yield a more complete protein source and improve the quality of some types of restrictive diets.

Wheatgrass proponent Charles Schnabel claimed in the 1940s that “fifteen pounds of wheatgrass is equal in overall nutritional value to 350 pounds of ordinary garden vegetables”,[3] a ratio of 1:23.[6] Despite claims of vitamin and mineral content disproportional to other vegetables, the nutrient content of wheatgrass juice is roughly equivalent to that of common vegetables.”

Wow! You get a lot of nutrients from wheatgrass, and if we have access to it, why won’t I use it?

We have a juicer, which you will see in one of the photos below, but when we do wheatgrass in it, it just clogs up the blades and makes it hard for other things to get through. You need a special wheatgrass and greens blade to juice greens, which we don’t have. I’ve heard of being able to blend wheatgrass with water and strain it, but I wanted to get more nutrition out of that process, so I used coconut water.


First, take your wheatgrass and cut it at the base with scissors.


Cut the wheatgrass, and cut it into about 2″ long pieces and put it in the blender. I was able to blend about a half of a flat at once.


I found that with a full blender, you need about a cup of liquid to really blend it.


Once you blend it, on high speed, and for a while, until it blends smooth, you’ll have a small amount of liquid in your blender along with some pulp of wheatgrass.


I used a simple strainer to strain the juice. Use a spoon to push the wheatgrass into the strainer. You’ll end up with some pulp that looks like what a cat will hack up in the yard, so I’ll spare you the photo.


The finished product! It smells like a fresh cut lawn, so I recommend mixing it with some juice, or into a smoothie. Enjoy!

Help Getting to Sleep

I don’t suffer from insomnia, but I have in the past. During times of extreme stress, the mind doesn’t shut down, it goes faster. You are tired, and yet you can’t sleep. Your eyes shut and your mind doesn’t drift off into dream land like it should. I’m no doctor and don’t have a solution for this issue, but what about those regular ol’ nights where you just lie in bed, tired, and can’t get to sleep right away? You stare at the ceiling pondering the ways of the world. You know that in T-Minus 6 hours you have to wake up and that’s not quite enough sleep. Here are some of the things I’ve personally tried that have helped me get some quality shut eye.

Apps: By far my favorite app for sleeping is called Dorimo. I have the IPhone and it works beautifully. It has sounds of Lake Michigan, with subtle waves and birds, it has a crackling fire, rain, and my personal favorite, a good old fashioned thunderstorm. There are also ambient noises available and sleep coaches talking you into a deep sleep. It also has a timer to shut off after a set amount of time so it doesn’t kill your phone. I love it. Also- It’s FREE.


Drinks: I have tried this drink I found on Pinterest to help me get to sleep. It’s a warm Turmeric and Almond Milk drink. Turmeric is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to help your body relax and replenish at night. I got this recipe from Nutrition Stripped. 

Turmeric Milk


  • 2 cups of homemade almond milk (I like Silk brand) 
  • 1 tablespoon local honey, optional
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • small pinch of black pepper and grated ginger (fresh is best)

Sleep Aids: I have tried both Tylenol PM and Melatonin, and having tried each only once, I vote for Melatonin. It’s a replacement for the natural chemical your body releases when it falls asleep, and the Tylenol PM made me groggy in the morning. You can get some Melatonin at your local pharmacy.

Smells: I have a great Lavender / Vanilla room spray from Bath and Body Works. Lavender is a natural calming scent and should help sooth you into dream land. Stay away from anything too invigorating in the bedroom like citrus scents or strong perfumes.

Pillows: I am the most finicky sleeper. I toss, I turn, I have 3 blankets and 2 pillows to choose from depending on my mood. One is a memory foam pillow, firm and yet forgiving for my head, and great for keeping your head elevated. I also have a fluffy feather pillow (from IKEA) that sinks in deep and I use when I just want a little support. Sometimes I don’t want a pillow at all. Try a few and see what works for you. If you are uncomfortable, you will have a harder time getting to sleep.

Other Advice: If you are trying to get some good quality sleep, opt for reading a book as opposed to a tablet or a phone screen. The lights your tablet and phones project are bad at kicking your mind into sleep mode. Try soothing music at least an hour before bed like some great classical. My choice: Bach.

Again, I’m not a professional, or an insomniac, but these are things I’ve tried that have worked for me. I am a known worrier, and naturally anxious person, so sometimes I need a little nudge into the land of nod.

Happy Dreaming!

Field Trip: Love Rock Farm

Last week a few of my fellow coworkers and I took a field trip to an amazing little New Berlin Farm, Love Rock Farm, where we get some of the produce for the Restaurant I’m spending my summer working for. A bit about Love Rock: Love Rock is a CSA and market garden that supplies delicious, herbicide and pesticide free fruits and vegetables to over 25 families and a handful of restaurants in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. This will be the CSA’s second season and they are excited to expand their offerings by adding eggs, poultry and flower options to the CSA shares this year.

What is CSA? It’s a Community Supported Agriculture farm where you can either use some of their land to grow your own veggies as a volunteer in exchange for food, and you can also “buy in” as a member to receive a box of produce every week, or bi-weekly for a small price. For those that don’t have the time to shop and want fresh goods delivered, this is a great option.

I knew the farm was run mostly by one person, Drew, our head chef’s brother, but I didn’t realize the size of this farm! He’s working long hours, asking for volunteers in return for produce, and hand picking and delivering produce, it’s like 2 full time jobs!


This is a view from the backside (yes, I said backside) of the farm. to the left were some abandoned crops that had life in them. Being a CSA farm, you are able to use other’s land to use as gardening space if you have none of your own at home.


The space was much larger than I had expected for being in the city. It was actually gorgeous, and on a lake.


It’s hard to tell that’s a lake, but it is.


The cucumbers were grown in this tent, to contain them. They grow fast, and spread faster.

drew in the field

Crops that weren’t quite ready yet.


Baby crops.

cabbage fields

I loved the cabbage patch. Due to obvious reasons that I grew up in the 80’s and had a cabbage patch. We have a dish at the restaurant that has grilled Ox Heart cabbage, pine nuts, and anchovy oil. SO good! If you haven’t thought of grilling cabbage, consider it.

cabbage head

This reminded me of the Little Shop of Horrors plant.

cabbage gif

Cabbage presentation.

chicken college

One of my favorite parts of the tour was the chickens! I got to hold one. There are about 20 chickens there, and one giant rooster that apparently has his “favorite girls” and you aren’t allowed to hang out with them. It’s like chicken drama. I love it.

chicken holding



There was a LOT of garlic. This barn smelled amazing and can definitely ward off vampires. Drew sells his produce at the Milwaukee farmer’s market every weekend.

pulling potatoes

This is Drew’s mother in law harvesting some potatoes. They pulled 150 pounds that day between her, another coworker, and my fiancée. It was cool to see how potatoes just fall off of the bushes they grow from when you pull them from the ground.

the fields 2

A view from the barn! There are many varieties of tomatoes, but only a few were ready at the moment.

The Barn 2

The beam sticking out of the top window in the barn is used to attach a pulley and bring produce up to the top floor to dry out.


I had to take a pic of the great vintage pulley.

the fields

Here’s the beam. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day.

The farmstand 2

Here’s some of the produce at the street front farm stand. Someone doesn’t watch the farmstand, you leave money based on the honor system. It was refreshing to see people act this way in the Milwaukee area.

farm stand

Carrots and Cucumbers and Cabbage, oh my! Drew sent Matt (fiancée) home with a box of amazing produce for a day of volunteer work helping out. A lot of farmer’s offer this as a bargain for help weeding, pulling, and harvesting. It’s totally worth it, just bring water, and sunscreen. He told me that as they got hungry pulling veggies, there was plenty of fresh food to snack on.

Happy farming!