Viva Mexico! (Part 1)

It has been 12 years since I went on vacation. 12. Years. I’ve taken a lot of trips over those 12 years to visit my family or a quick weekend to see girlfriends who live in RI or for work. It has been 12 years since I went on my last, until now. The Sunday after 4th of July I boarded a plane and headed to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Well technically Playa del Carmen via Cancun, but that’s not the point. 🙂 I got on a plane and went on VACATION and was disconnected from the world for 8 whole days! IT WAS WONDERFUL!

I’m lucky to have gone to college with a guy whose mom is a travel agent. I haven’t spoken to him in years, nor had a spoken to his mom. I know how wonderful she is, and know she could definitely plan a trip, so I know she was the person to go to when the final conversation came up with my boyfriend about going on vacation. As expected Leslie was more than happy to help us out. She gets deals everyday for fantastic trips around the world, and our trip was no exception!

I was over the moon about going on vacation. I was ready to step away from my life and doing something for me. I think my boyfriend was excited about the trip too, and even if he wasn’t I was excited enough for the both of us!

We boarded the plane at 7:30 a.m., the plane took off at 8 a.m. and we landed in Mexico at 10 a.m.

Happy to be heading to Mexico with this guy!

Happy to be heading to Mexico with this guy!

We had a 45 minute drive from the airport to our resort. We stayed at the Occidental Grand Xcaret. It was a beautiful resort, with a view minor issues that were easy to overlook because WE WERE ON VACATION! When we arrived at the hotel we grabbed a bite to eat while we waited for our room to be ready, but boy was I ready to change into my bathing suit, have a cocktail in hand, and sit by the pool.

I took this picture from the entrance into the main lobby. What you can’t really see is the ocean in the circle in the middle of the photo. I didn’t really notice it until the third day we were there, but once I did realize it, I knew what a special picture this is.

A view to the ocean/paradise.

A view to the ocean/paradise.

Day 1 in Mexico included: lunch at the buffet restaurant, cocktails by the pool, and dinner at the Steakhouse restaurant. Picture’s a little dark, but here we are after dinner.

First night dinner

Day 2 in Mexico included: breakfast at the buffet restaurant, going into Playa del Carmen and walking around 5th street, having lunch on the beach, time by the pool and dinner at the Mediterranean restaurant.

Not only can I spot a Starbucks from miles away, which I found two while on vacation, but I can also spot froyo. Originally I only saw gelato places, and then we passed this place

Froyo!

Froyo!

I didn’t indulge in any froyo because I was so full from lunch, but I saw it. 😉 Later that night I went on a nice date with this guy

So handsome!

So handsome!

As you may know I am gluten intolerant. I was a little worried about going on vacation and having to play the game, is it definitely gluten-free? Most days it was easy to determine if food was safe, but occasionally I had to ask. Sometimes the staff understood, sometimes they didn’t. To my surprise when we went to the Mediterranean restaurant they had a gluten-free pasta (I was pretty shocked). It was a brand I had recognized, but never had. It was really good!

Gluten free pasta

G-free pasta in Mexico!

For dinner I enjoyed a nice shrimp dish

My gluten free dinner

The boy enjoyed a piece of fish with steak on top (at least I think that’s what he had). He enjoyed it and thought it was amazing!

Zack's dinner

This guy enjoyed a nice chocolate cake and a double-espresso

Pinky's up!

Pinky’s up!

I somehow lucked out and had dark chocolate covered strawberries…WHAT? So amazing!

Mmm dark chocolate covered strawberries

Mmm dark chocolate covered strawberries

I think I’ll stop here with this post and continue with more of the trip tomorrow. I have to say overall, just two days into the trip it was amazing! Just what I needed!

Focus T25 – Days 38-40, Plus My Weekend

Y’all I don’t even know what day of the week it is anymore. Thankfully last week went by quick (first full week back since the holidays) because I was so busy, which is good thing. I finished off the week with some great workouts and a girls night on Friday night.

T25 still challenges me on a daily basis. It’s a solid 25 minutes of cardio, with the occasional weight thrown in with circuit training during the Beta phase (month 2). My favorite part is that it’s only 25 minutes and I’m getting in a great workout. I know though that I would have better results if I was eating better. This is something I’m focusing on this week.

Last Tuesday, my workout was Upper Focus – a lot of push ups, upper cuts and vertical jumps. I know that I’ve gotten stronger because I can do all the push ups regular versus bending my knees. It’s a great feeling for sure!

Day 37 T25_1 Day 37 T25_2 Day 37 T25_3

Wednesday’s workout was Speed 2.0. I like 2.0 better than 1.0 because you are challenged to really give it your all. You do one set of moves three times; each time getting faster. You then do another set of moves three times, with each round going a little faster. Finally, you complete the workout with 3 rounds of all the moves combined. This workout goes so fast, and you’re dripping in sweat by the end of the 25 minutes. It’s awesome!

Day 38 T25_1 Day 38 T25_2

Rip’T Circuit on Thursday brought on the weights & lots of core action. I’ve been using 7.5 pounds, and was thinking about increasing it to 10 pounds this week, but can’t for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. Pretty bummed. Happy I got in a great workout last week though with the weights.

Day 39 T25_1 Day 39 T25_2 Day 39 T25_3 Day 39 T25_4

Friday, Friday, never looked so good! Woke up ready to rumble. Today was double workout of Dynamic Core & Speed 2.0. My first workout was great & went so well. I started Speed 2.0 and was not feeling the workout. I have no idea what was wrong, but I just couldn’t get moving. Has that ever happened to you during a workout?

Day 40 T25_1 Day 40 T25_2

I told myself I was going to do it when I got home, but I didn’t. I won’t make excuses because I could have made those 25 minutes work, but I didn’t. Instead I started cooking dinner for my girlfriend’s that came over for a girls night. I made roasted tomatoes stuffed with gluten-free bread crumbs and blue cheese; green bean, mushroom, kale and onion cassarole; and white fish with sauteed leeks and shallots. For dessert I made a gluten-free raspberry pound cake with homemade whipped cream.

Dinner on Friday

It was a pretty amazing dinner. The dishes were full of flavor and pretty healthy. I was a happy camper 🙂 I think my guests liked it too! We had such a great time. Nothing like a night with good friends!

Saturday the boy and I went and grabbed lunch. I enjoyed this gluten-free open sandwich of fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and vegan pesto. AMAZING!

Saturday Lunch

On Sunday, I planned out my meals for the week and went to the grocery store. Later that night I decided to prepare what I could for the week and watch the Golden Globes. I prepared three salads, cooked two spaghetti squash and one butternut squash, and made protein pancakes from Tone It Up. I was on such a role until I had a bit of an argument with my immersion blender. I won’t get into details (I still have my whole finger), but I did have to make a visit to the Emergency Room Center on South Lamar. The boy and the staff at this center were my heroes for the night. I’m so crazy that I went home after being at the ER and remade the protein pancakes that were ruined the first time around.

Weekly meal prep 2  Weekly meal prepWeekly meal prep 3

Yesterday morning I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed protein pancakes with fresh strawberries and a little maple syrup. Last night I needed to eat something in order to take my antibiotics, so I enjoyed a grapefruit and raspberry pound cake mini muffins (I had extra batter on Friday so I made mini muffins).

Clean eating

I didn’t get in a workout yesterday due to doctor instructions, which is probably a good thing because the workout was Rip’T Circuit. Not sure if I should be lifting with my finger situation. I’m going to try and do it tonight and modify the moves (shifting all my workouts this week one day). Here’s to a quick recovery for my finger!!!

Question: In all my years of life I have never had stitches or injured myself in the kitchen until Sunday. I made it 30 years, and killed two birds with one stone. Have you ever injured yourself in the kitchen & how? Also, have you ever had to get stitched & why?

New Year, New Starts

Happy New Year! I know I’m late to the party (a week exactly), and I promise no excuses this year. Life is always going to be crazy and busy, and I just need to learn to make time to check in with all you during the week.

How is your new year going so far? Did you make your new year’s resolution or set goals for yourself? I have decided not set a resolution or goals because the last few years they have been the same; this year would have been no exception. Instead, I’m approaching each day as the new day that it is and setting goals for myself to complete that day. I have however, set some professional goals for myself, as I think this is extremely important to help me grow.

This week marks week 8 of Focus T25. I’m absolutely loving this program. Twenty-five minutes four days a week, and one 50-minute workout 1 day a week (two 25 minute workouts). That’s it! You really can’t go wrong.I’m feeling stronger and getting faster each day. I’ve even been successful with getting up in the morning and doing my workout first thing. Such a wonderful day to start the day. Here are some pictures from Days 22-24, Days 34-36:

Day 22 T25_1 Day 22 T25_2 Day 23 T25_1 Day 23 T25_2 Day 24 T25_1 Day 24 T25_2 Day 34 T25_1 Day 34 T25_2 Day 35 T25_1 Day 35 T25_2 Day 36 T25_1 Day 36 T25_2 Day 36 T25_3

Two and a half weeks and I’m done with Focus T25. I can’t believe it! I’ve already started planning ahead for what’s next. On January 27, I’m starting P90X3. It’s another 30 minute program, which is perfect for anyone’s schedule, and will be great while I’m on the road for work. Curious about T25 and P90X3? Send me a message! Currently, these programs Challenge Packs are on sale with over $90’s in savings. Check them out here: http://www.lstern412bbcoach.com and click “Shop”.

This week my focus has been on my eating. Yesterday started out promising with a good morning workout, a productive day at work, and a good plan of clean, healthy meals. The Central Market version of Pirates Booty and dinner were my downfalls. I finished the last third of the bag of “Pirates Booty” at lunch, and then for dinner I ate left over polenta (which had all kinds of cream and cheese in it), a piece of blue cheese, and some of the filling I made for the stuff acorn squash I had planned on eating for dinner. For dessert I had three caramel squares. Ugh, I felt so sick!

Today is a new day! Putting yesterday behind me and refusing to let it bring me down. This morning I did T25 Beta Upper Focus, which went really fast today. Breakfast consisted of 2 eggs, 2 egg whites, and broccoli scramble with 3 pieces of turkey bacon. Morning snack was Chocolate Shakeology with peaches. Lunch was stuffed acorn squash (black beans, quinoa, sweet potatoes, onions, and roasted tomatoes). Afternoon snack is going to be Chocolate Shakeology with cranberries and peaches.

Speaking of Shakeology, Beachbody is releasing a new Shakeology flavor – Strawberry! They currently have Tropical Strawberry, which is vegan. The new strawberry is regular like the Chocolate and Vanilla. I cannot wait to try it!

Cheers to the new year! 2014 will be a great year!

 

Focus T25 – Day 21

Week 5 of Focus T25. I can’t believe I’ve started the last week of phase 1! It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun. 🙂 No really, I love this program. I know I have 25 minutes to make it count. Even first thing in the morning, the energy Shaun T exudes gets me excited and motivated to push harder in my workout. It’s ONLY 25 minutes and we all have 25 minutes to give to OURSELVES and our HEALTH!

Yesterday’s workout was Total Body Circuit. Quite the way to start a Monday. it got me motivated and ready for the work week. Seriously, I was so productive all day long.

T25 Day 21_1 T25 Day 21_2 T25 Day 21_3

I felt really strong during the workout, and pushed myself twice as hard during the burnout. Look at my face, I was ready to either pass out or throw up. Good news I didn’t do either.

Yesterday I stuck to the “meatless Monday” fade. I enjoyed Shakeology for breakfast, veggies with hummus and quinoa & black eye pea “salad” for lunch, Shakeology for afternoon snack, and roasted veggies, baked sweet potato and spaghetti squash with pesto for dinner.

Clean eating lunchClean eating dinner

All-in-all it was a good day of clean eating. I did enjoy a few gluten-free ginger snap cookies that I made over the weekend. Don’t worry, they’re almost gone. Promise!

After dinner the boy and I went to “Trail of Lights” in Zilker Park. It was really great! So many lights. I wanted to see Santa, but someone didn’t want to wait in line. LAME! Haha, I know I’m Jewish, but I still love Santa 😉

Trail of Lights 1 Trail of Lights 2 Trail of Lights 3

I love where I live; I love this city!!! It’s been an incredible year. If 2013 could be this awesome, I CANNOT wait to see what 2014 brings.

Question: What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

A Weekend Full of Cheer!

With the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and my sister’s wedding and everything happening at work, I hadn’t been much in the holiday spirit until this past weekend. I finally am ready for the holidays and in a cheerful mood. Tis the season!!!
Chrismukkah Tree

Friday was a nice quiet evening. It was rainy and cold, so dinner out and then a night in was exactly what the doctor ordered. Shortly after the boy and I got back to his place from dinner I crashed on the couch. I forewarned him that I was going to be asleep minutes after getting back, and I stayed true to my word 🙂

Saturday I spent the day running errands and getting in the holiday spirit. Saturday night I accompanied the boy to his office holiday party and then to my friend’s cookie exchange. We decorated cookies at the party. How did we do?His and Hers Gingerbread People

For the cookie exchange I made gluten-free gingersnap cookies with Smart Flour Foods all-purpose flour and they were amazing! I brought some into work this morning and they’re practically gone now.

Sunday I went to the grocery store, spent the day cleaning, decorated the Chrismukkah tree (see above) and made an amazing dinner (simple and yummy) – salmon with acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and black eyed peas.

Sunday Night Dinner

Wanna make this acorn squash? It clean eating and gluten-free! Here’s the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 4 acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 can black eyed peas
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Thyme chopped
  • 1/8-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle smoked seasoning (or other favorite seasonings)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Cut the bottoms of the acorn squash just a little so they lay flat. Cut off the top about 1/4 an inch and remove seeds. Place acorn squash in a cooking pan and add about an inch of water. Season the squash with salt, pepper and Chipotle seasoning. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Cook quinoa – Bring 1 cup of broth (I used chicken, but you can use vegetable) to a boil. Turn down heat to low-med and add quinoa. Stir in quinoa and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is gone.
  3. Cook beans – Place beans on stove for about 5 minutes to cook.
  4. In a small bowl combine cooked quinoa, beans, Thyme, Parmesan cheese and seasonings.
  5. Remove squash from the oven and add the quinoa/bean mixture in each acorn squash. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top and place it in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven on broil for 3 minutes or until the stop starts to slightly brown.
  7. Remove squash from oven and ENJOY! (Disclaimer: be careful when eating the squash. It stays hot for quite a while, so don’t burn your tongue.)

Hope everyone is having a great Monday!

Focus T25 – Days 15 & 16

I don’t want to get too far behind on my week, so I’m doing a double edition Tuesday!

Let me start off by saying I had THE MOST incredible birthday weekend and birthday on Sunday. I was surrounded by three of my favorite things – friends, football and food; sorry I was so busy cooking I didn’t take any pictures. Sorry!

Friday I got my workout in first thing

Focus T25 Day 15_1 Focus T25 Day 15_2

The hours at the office on Friday seemed to tick slower than normal. I was so excited about dinner that I couldn’t sit still.

Speaking of, I was a lucky girl who got to celebrate my birthday Friday night at one of my favorite restaurants, Uncle Julio’s. I was surrounded by amazing people and had a lot of laughs. One of my closest friends came into town from Houston with his wife. We never took a picture, but I’ll always remember that they were there. Thanks to the boy for the gluten-free carrot cake!

Birthday Celebration Friday Night

Saturday I enjoyed brunch with friends, went to the grocery store, took a little nap because I wasn’t feeling well, and then spent hours cooking. Saturday night I went to a holiday party. It was so much fun! Lots of laughs, great food, and fun games.

Holiday Party

Sunday was my birthday! I woke up to breakfast in bed from the boy. I told him it was the only thing I wanted for my birthday. He said he made my breakfast into a smiley face “because [I] make [him] smile every day.” Super sweet!

Sunday Funday Birthday

The picture of me with “The Dirty 30”  sunglasses is from Friday night. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures on Sunday, but it’s because I was cooking, watching football and enjoying my friends who came to hang. It was a great day! Here’s to a great year and some of the best years of my life ahead! Happy birthday to me!

Yesterday morning I was NOT in the mood to get up and workout, BUT I did it anyway! I actually had a great workout and was so glad I got up.

Focus T25 Day 16_1Focus T25 Day 16_2 Focus T25 Day 16_3

I was ready for what I thought would be a good day. Unfortunately, something at lunch I ate (I’m pretty sure it was the soup) did NOT sit well. I was down for the count the rest of the day, next to no appetite, so I forced myself to eat chicken noodle soup that I made.

Monday Lunch and Dinner

Here’s to a better Tuesday!

Focus T25 – Days 12-14

I could have sworn I posted this last week, but to my surprise this morning I did not! Last week was another crazy week at work and outside of work. I had a busy weekend a head of me between birthday celebrations, holiday parties and football/birthday celebrations. So, here’s a quick recap:

Tuesday I was in recovery mode from traveling on Monday and Thanksgiving week and wedding weekend. I was bound and determined though to get up and workout on Tuesday morning, and I did! I love T25 because I know I’m getting a great workout in; it only takes me 25 minutes to workout; and I can workout in the comfort of my own home. It’s a win. win. win.

Day 12 completed! I’m not seeing any physical changes, I blame that on my eating, but I am getting faster during several of the moves.

T25 Day 12 T25 Day 12_2

Wednesday morning – up an at ’em! Got my workout done first thing in the morning, which definitely set my mood for the day. I was stressing out because I hadn’t gone to the grocery store and my to-do list at work keeps growing!

T25 Day 13

Pushing harder and focusing more during the workouts. I know that it will make me stronger, but if I want to see results it starts in the kitchen with what I’m eating. I NEED/WANT to make this a priority. I’ve got to make better choices.

My friend gave our accountability group an extra challenge for the day – for every text you received you had to do 15 jumping jacks. I had to do 22 sets. After I got into bed I got an additional 10 texts. I didn’t get out of bed, but am thinking that to make up for not doing those that I would do another challenge this week.

Wednesday Challenge_Jumping Jacks

Wednesday night marked the last night of Hanukkah. How pretty is the menorah?

Last night of Hanukkah

As a present to myself I bought 2 tubs of E&E, 90-day supply, when they were on sale. I can’t wait to dig into this and push through my workouts.

E&E

Thursday – SO close to the weekend I can smell it. I decided to do my double workout today because I wanted to sleep in on Friday (which didn’t happen). I was moving, grooving and sweating.

T25 Day 14_1

T25 Day 14_2

T25 Day 14_3

T25 Day 14_4

I felt amazing after these workouts. Fifty minutes and I was done. Double workout for the week, complete. I was ready for the craziness of the day to begin.

My co-worker brought in the dessert dirt in honor of my dirty 30 on Sunday.

Dirt

Anyone else remember this dessert from when they were growing up? Like myself, she is gluten-free so she bought gluten-free “oreos”. It was yummy! I didn’t eat the whole thing, but I did indulge a little.

Thursday night I was pumped for The Sound of Music Live! I love this movie, as it reminds me of my grandpa George, and I love Carrie Underwood.

Sound of Music

I didn’t love the live version, but I wasn’t made either. I understand what they were trying to do. Unfortunately though, it just didn’t work. Anyone else watch it?

I did semi clean eat this week, but it could have definitely been better. Breakfast was primarily steel oats with 2 eggs and homemade pesto. I had Shakeology for a snack, and lettuce wrap sandwiches (one with meat, one veggie) for lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Semi clean eating

Thursday I couldn’t decide which soup I wanted, cauliflower or roasted tomato bisque so I got both 🙂

Thursday Lunch

All-in-all it was a good week. My eating could DEFINITELY use some improvement. I need to get back to planning out my meals and sticking with it. It makes the world of difference.

Can’t wait to fill you in on my weekend!