Reading Roundup

I have always loved to read, but lately it seems like I’ve been flying through books in no time. I’ve been meaning to share them as I go, but I guess life has gotten in the way of that lately. In any case, I love getting book referrals from others (just like music, I have the hardest time picking out good books on my own), so I feel like it’s only right that I share some of mine with all of you!

I already talked about The Happiness Project the other day, so I won’t go into detail again. I’m still at the beginning, but it’s good so far! It’s not as captivating to me as a fiction book is, but I pick it up and read a chapter or two here and there and thoroughly enjoy it. (I’m even taking notes!)

Slammed by Colleen Hoover was a really quick read about two young-adults (one 17, the other 21), who have both experienced great loss and were forced to grow up really quickly. The pair form a bond that seems unbreakable – until they realize that their relationship is one that cannot happen. Even for young people, the things they go through, and how they handle the cards they are dealt is pretty inspiring. I loved this book, and I read through it in no time. The language was light, but the subject was deep. I found myself feeling really connected to and invested in the characters, and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen to them.

Point of Retreat, also by Colleen Hoover, is the sequel to Slammed. It basically covers what happens to the pair following the events of the first book, but is narrated by the male lead, as opposed to the female narrator of Slammed. I can’t say too much without giving it away, but if you liked Slammed, you will enjoy Point of Retreat just as much.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was the PBF Book Club choice for October, and after hearing the description, I decided to read it myself.  Clay Jenson, a high school student, mysteriously finds a box of cassette tapes on his doorstep one day, sent by a girl he had a serious crush on. He becomes emotionally distraught listening to them, as the tapes reveal all kinds of insight into why she recently killed herself. All the events and interactions that led her to commit suicide are heartbreaking, but I felt myself thinking about how many high schoolers could probably relate to some of the situations. It was not exactly an uplifting book, but it does make you think about how we should treat others. Despite the topic, I thought it was a great read, and I feel like it would be a very beneficial addition to a high school reading list.

My aunt recommended Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and since then, I’ve been seeing it all over the internet.  (My aunt is a reader, like me, and gives me tons of good suggestions – many of which come from my other aunt, who also loves to read. I’m lucky, I know.)  Well, let me just say: I loved this book. About a wife who goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, it was interesting, suspenseful, and very well-written. The search for her and the police investigation surrounding her disappearance keeps you turning the pages until it’s done. The ending left a little more to be desired for me, but I would still totally recommend it for the way it kept me engaged the entire time. I literally couldn’t put it down.

Currently, I’m reading Sharp Objects, also by Gillian Flynn. The preview at the end of Gone Girl pulled me in, and so far, I’m not at all disappointed. The murder of two young girls brings Camille Preaker, a Chicago journalist, reluctantly back to her hometown, and as she searches for clues to the case, she uncovers a lot of crazy things about her own past. I’m almost halfway through, and I feel like I may have figured out the plot (it’s another suspenseful one), but like in Gone Girl, I’m fully expecting lots of twists and turns once the big secret is revealed.  The thesaurus is my favorite writing tool ever, and I love looking up all the new or unusual words I’ve come across in Gillian Flynn’s writing. (The built-in dictionary on my Kindle makes doing this super easy.)


What book are you reading right now?

What are some of your favorite book recommendations? I can always use them!

One Month TurboFire Review

Back when I was comparing TurboFire and Insanity, I was pretty excited about my decision to purchase and start the TurboFire program.  I was in the midst of a lot of changes, and I was excited to have someone tell me what workout to do, and when.  I’d heard it was both effective and a lot of fun, and I couldn’t wait to get started. 


Since then, I’ve completed four weeks of the program, and I’ve only missed one class (which I tried to make up on my own, without the DVD).  I haven’t followed the meal plan exactly, but it does give you a lot of leeway to make your own decisions, and I would say my eating habits were pretty closely in line with the TF guidelines anyway.  

In case you’re thinking about starting TF, here are my own personal pros and cons of the program:


  • No Gym Required – The program allows you to workout wherever, whenever.  All I had to do was set up my DVD player and I could get going.  No trip to the gym required.  I even took the DVDs with me when I traveled, and it worked out perfectly.  You don’t even need all that much space.
  • Schedule – The included workout calendar was a huge plus for me because it told me what to do and when.  I didn’t have to think about what type of workout I was going to do or plan out my workouts for the week.  During a period when I didn’t have a whole lot of spare time to be thinking about these things, this was my saving grace.  Sometimes having to come up with a plan on your own can be a deterrent, but when it’s laid out right in front of you, there are no excuses.
  • Equipment – All of the equipment you need to complete the program is included in the box: a set of DVDs and two resistance bands.  You don’t have to buy anything else, and everything is very easily transportable if you want to take the program on the road.
  • Variety/Flexibility – The class schedule is somewhat varied, so you see the same classes enough to get the hang of them, but not enough to get bored with them.  There is also some flexibility in shuffling around longer and shorter or less and more demanding classes to better fit your own schedule – although there are some guidelines (like no HIIT workouts back to back) that should be followed.
  • Decent Sweat/Burn – The classes did have me working hard, sweating, and feeling it in my muscles.
  • Meal plan – The meal plan is fairly easy to follow since there are many options and ways to customize it for yourself.  Even if you don’t like some of the foods/meals, there are plenty of other options to choose from.
  • Music/Fun – The music was probably the best part, along with Chalene’s upbeat personality.  The music was fresh and fun and really got me pumped up.  And Chalene actually made me want to work harder – not reach through the TV and strangle her like some other workout DVD instructors do. 


  • No Weights – By the end of this first month, this ended up being a huge negative for me because I love weights/strength training.  Chalene does do a lot of fun/interesting/new-to-me moves with the band, which I was really impressed with, but I didn’t realize how much I would miss strength training until it was gone.  She does do some plyometric work (body weight squats, planks, etc.) but I really missed the burn you feel during a good weight training session.  I also didn’t see as much results as I do when I’m lifting heavier weight, and for all the benefits of the program, I just think this is a huge piece that is missing.
  • Hard to Motivate Yourself Alone – When I go to the gym or the park, there are people around, and whether they’re actually watching me or not, the thought that they might be is enough to act as motivation.  Similarly, the idea of getting through a prescribed number of reps/sets pushes me to work harder and gives me benchmarks to get through the workout.  Cardio is admittedly the toughest type of workout for me, and the only benchmarks in this program were the timers at the bottom of the TV screen.  I found myself literally counting down the minutes to get through it, which took away from both the enjoyment I got out of it and the effort I put into it.  When you’re alone in your house and you just have to keep kicking, punching, and jumping around for up to an hour, but no one is watching you, I found it really difficult to not just end up standing around or only doing every other routine. 
  • Little Opportunity For Add-Ins – There really were no opportunities to sub in your own cardio or weight routines where you wanted.  Since the schedule was so tight and it had me working out for 30-70 minutes per day, there wasn’t a whole lot of extra time to add things in on my own.  Thus, if I didn’t have access to a DVD player that day, or it was really sunny outside and I wanted to get some fresh air during my workout, I was kind of out of luck.  Maybe this wouldn’t be a problem in the winter, but I had a hard time with it in the summer. 
  • Doesn’t Work Me As Hard – Originally I called this bullet point “Too Easy,” but that’s not really the case.  The program itself is definitely challenging and sure to deliver huge results if followed exactly.  However, because I was sometimes unmotivated and somewhat bored, I slacked.  As a result, I didn’t get nearly as good of a burn in as I do when I’m doing other types of workouts.  I didn’t feel nearly as fit as I do/did when I’m running, weight lifting, and/or doing cardio regularly and for longer periods of time.  I did see some definition, but not much, although I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly, which could’ve certainly been a contributing factor to that lack of results.


Overall Thoughts:

Clearly there are a ton of positives about this program, and overall, I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s different, a lot of fun, and definitely a good workout. And the fact that the schedule takes the guess work out of it for you is huge in itself. Most of my “cons” are more like personal preferences, so they might not even be factors for you. If you’re hugely self-motivated, love cardio, and/or don’t like lifting weights, etc., you might enjoy this program even more than I did.

My feeling right now is that I’m going to probably take some time away from the program to get back into the gym and more traditional workouts.  It’s not that I didn’t love it, it’s just that I’m ready for something different.  I’ll be traveling for work for the next two weeks, so I’m going to take advantage of the hotel gyms and start lifting (and maybe running) again.  I’m also looking forward to moving things outside wherever possible, since summer is already flying by.  Once I get back home, I’ll probably reevaluate and may pick the program back up.  Or, I may just throw in classes here and there as supplements to my normal routine. 


Have you tried any workout programs you’ve really loved?

What workout programs would you like to try?

A Big Week

This weekend may have been low key, but sometimes you just need one of those.  I got to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, get some great workouts in, watch a couple good movies, give the apartment a good cleaning, do some shopping, restock the fridges with fresh fruits and veggies, and come up with a couple new recipes.  I wouldn’t call that a bad time!

Some eats from the weekend:

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{chicken tacos while catching up with my girl Ash <3}

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{soup and bread because my allergies have been keeping me down}

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{homemade popcorn and a good movie}

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{club soda with fresh strawberries for a little something sweet and sparkly}

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{fruity, chocolatey baked oatmeal with Greek yogurt on a chilly morning}

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{more American chop suey to use up the leftovers before a new week starts}

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{cinnamon sugar baked pita chips drizzled with chocolate sauce and fruit}

If you missed the above pita chips recipe or the Cookie Butter cookie recipe, make sure you check them out!


I’m really excited for the week ahead and all the great stuff that’s going to come with it: my last few days at work after three and a half years, my last few days as an undergrad student, walking at my college graduation ceremony, and plenty of celebrations with friends and family. 

And along with all that will also be plenty of normal stuff:  I’m looking forward to some more great workouts this week (although I’m still sore from last week’s, but I’ll call that a success!), I’ll be trying my hardest to keep my allergies in check, Billy’s still got to get through finals (which is never a fun time). and there’s some baseball games to attend. 

With everything going on, it’s going to be difficult to stay focused on the things I try to achieve on a daily basis, like better health and fitness, but there’s also something to be said about enjoying life and where it takes you.  This is certainly going to be one of those “turning point” weeks, not only for me, but for plenty of other college graduates out there as well, so here’s a little mix of life-spiration and fitspiration to carry us into May, and into new beginnings:

so true

{how I’ve felt about both school and working out at many points along the way}

Libby DiBiase- Crossfit inspiration!

{you go, girl!}


be so good they can't ignore you.


i need to remember this

It’s important to remember that inspirations like these can be applied to so many different aspects of our lives, and we’ve got to give it all we’ve got whenever and wherever we can.  Whether it’s in regards to working out, eating right, school, work, family, friends, relationships, setting or achieving goals, or anything else that’s important to you, always remember that if it’s important to you, it’s worth your time and effort.  You can achieve great things and still maintain balance in your life if you just set your mind to it!

So with all that said, the fridge is packed, meals are planned, the apartment is clean, I’m good and rested, and overall, I’m ready to make it a good week!

I hope you are too!!



Do you have anything big coming up in your life this week?

Do you find it hard to stay on track with the day-to-day stuff when you have special things going on?

Rapid Fire

This weekend seriously flew by.  Last thing I knew, it was Thursday night, and then all of a sudden, the weekend was over! Maybe that’s the sign of a good thing though. 

Saturday afternoon BF and I hit up the local movie theater to see The Vow.  It was packed, and the movie didn’t disappoint.  We agreed it was a little slower than we would have hoped, but the thought that it was based on a true story was enough to keep me interested the entire time.  I kept finding myself wondering if this was how it actually unfolded in real life, and I was amazed at the way the main characters found their way back to each other after such a horrific accident.  In the end, it was just such a great story that I’d give it a thumbs up all around.

After the movie, we went right next door to Applebee’s and were reminded again that it’s one of the only restaurants in the area by the fact that the place was packed. I mean, Applebee’s! We started off with a couple drinks – mine being the strawberry mojito – and this thing was de-lish!

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We then ordered the buffalo chicken appetizer, and I got the bruschetta chicken as my meal.  I didn’t really have that high of expectations as it was, but even so, it was just… okay.  I basically just picked out the grilled chicken from underneath the mound of burned mozzarella cheese and ate some of the potatoes and peppers that came on the side. 

Today has been mostly spent lounging around the apartment, doing homework, and watching lovey-dovey movies like The Notebook and The Good Guy in honor of Valentine’s Day weekend.  After starting the weekend off with The Vow, I had to keep it going! I wanted to get outside for a walk, but the 20 degree weather and near-zero windchill kept me inside. 

This week I’m hoping to get some really solid workouts in and incorporate a lot of extra walking since it is supposed to warm up a little bit.  I also want to keep up with my Wednesday and Saturday workouts because they went really well this past week.  I have a pretty solid meal plan in place for dinners, so that means there hopefully won’t be a lot of straying or improvisation, which is always a good thing.  The fridge is also stocked with fruit and veggies, so that’s another plus. 


Here’s a little fitspiration to help keep the motivation alive this week:


good quote

And keep going!




Better Late Than Never

With all the Super Bowl excitement this weekend, I didn’t get a chance to do my usual Goals + Inspiration Sunday post, but I figure it’s better late than never!

Workout Plan + Goals

When I originally designed my Phase One plan, I thought I would keep it for about a month (if I could handle it for even that long) before switching it up.  However, this is week four, and I’m still feeling really great about it.  That said, I think I’m going to extend it to six weeks before I change over to a Phase Two.

This means the end of the phase will coincide nicely with the mini vacation I’ll be taking at the end of February.  I often like to set mini goals and specify time frames for myself because it gives me something to look forward to.  I think coming back from the vacation will help me to reset and allow me to feel ready to start a new set of workouts.   As for right now, I feel good about the plan, the rhythm I’m in, and the way I feel after the workouts, so I’m happy to extend it a little longer before switching it up.

This week does mark the beginning of the second half of the six weeks though, so I will be making a few changes to both keep things fresh and continue to challenge myself.  Here’s what I’m hoping for:

  • As I’ve said before, my core feels a little neglected, so I’ll be trying to add one new exercise a day that targets abs.  (Yesterday, it was tuck jumps.)
  • I also want to focus on making my Wednesday/Saturday workouts more effective.  Originally these were going to be core-focused days, but they’ve since turned into running/free/off days. It’s fine with me if I deviate from the plan on these days and still get an effective workout in, but I don’t want to waste them.
  • I feel good about my relatively clean eating until about 5p.m. After that, we go to the dining hall or out to eat, and my attempts at healthy eating often fall to the wayside.  In the next three weeks, I’m going to make a solid attempt to eat better, more balanced dinners (more veggies!!) at least 6 days a week.
  • Piggybacking off this last point, I’m also going to be limiting myself to 2 desserts per week.  For my own purposes, I’m going to define “dessert” as empty calorie snacks (cake, ice cream, etc.).  If I’m still hungry at night, I’ll have something else after dinner, but I’ll make it something healthy (fruit, yogurt, milk) instead of something empty.   I’m definitely not going to be cutting out desserts altogether (hence the reason I’ve limited it to 2 per week), since let’s face it it’s my favorite meal of the day, but I’ve definitely gotten a little out of hand and don’t need to be making desserts a regular habit.

I definitely feel good about how I’ve gotten back into my regular habits of eating well and working out after taking that little holiday hiatus, but I think these goals will help me to refocus even more.   I think it’s always good to take a look at what you’re doing, habits you’re forming, and the lifestyle you’re creating in order to assess where you would like to be in the future and how you plan on getting there.  Striving to be healthy and balanced is certainly the lifestyle I choose for myself! :-)


(all images from Pinterest)

Have a great week!!


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