Health and Fitness

Overnight Oats (For Humans)

Sorry, no pictures. Mostly because I think food pictures are gross, but also because the oatmeal would look like poop in a picture and nobody needs to see that.

Breakfast has always been my hardest meal of the day. I eek out every minute of sleep I can get, so cooking anything outside of a toaster isn’t going to happen. Everything quick is absolutely horrible for you: waffles, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, cereal. All sugary carb filled lovelies that make fitting in my pants less than ideal.

For many months I did a protein shake in the morning and it worked ok. I was still pretty starving halfway through the morning, but it was healthy. I don’t know what happened, but eventually I just couldn’t do it any more. My stomach would just seize up when I brought the glass to my mouth and I could not force myself to drink it.

That led me back to my search for a quick, grab and go style breakfast that wasn’t terribly unhealthy. I landed on the idea of overnight oats and gave them a try. There are tons of recipes out there, some really involved and out of my league, but the general rules I have found work well and can be modified to your preferences.

In general:
Liquid and oats in a 1:1 ratio
Add fruit for flavor and natural sweetness
Use chia seeds and/or flax seeds for fiber and omegas
You can sweeten it up even more with a small amount of honey or maple syrup

This is the current combination that I have been making:

3/4 cup unsweetened plain Almond Milk
1 cup plain oats
1 banana smushed up
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (hersheys is what I use)

Combine it all, it will be extremely liquidy, put in an air tight container (the fancy people online use mason jars, I use a tupperware container) and put in the fridge until morning. I’ve been making this for several weeks and it never turns out quite the same although some days I have a 4 year old helping me and lord knows how much of what he puts in it. This last time he added so much chocolate it was nearly black. It has tasted good every single time no mater how it has turned out though. I make a double batch each time so I can eat it two mornings in a row. I’m not sure how long it stays fresh for, but two days has been fine. When Wyatt eats it, I add 2 teaspoons of honey to make it a little sweet otherwise it is a bit bitter from the unsweetened chocolate.

I found one recipe that substituted peanut butter instead of the banana but that was absolutely horrible tasting and I threw the entire thing away. I don’t recommend that, but there are others that look really good like one with pumpkin and nutmeg that I really want to try.

This fills me up all morning, I tend to eat less for lunch and it satisfies my craving for chocolate without resulting to eating a candy bar. I rarely use honey, so really it is low calorie and no sugar added except from the banana.  I’d recommend playing around with it and finding a combo that you like.




Health and Fitness

Fitness Update

The local YMCA waived the registration fee back in January and offered a 20% discount if you signed up with a friend or family member who does not live with you. That made the price $48/month and that was hard to pass up and certainly way below the price of any specialty gym in town.

First 100F day of the year!!!
In February and March I speed dated. Each time I went I joined a different class. My goal was to figure out where my weaknesses were (my entire body as it turned out) and what classes were both enjoyable and provided results. I didn’t make it to every class they offered, but I did make it to every class they offered during the time I could go: after 6pm.

Now I have my two favorites that I go to every week plus a couple of back ups in case I either can’t make one of my days or I’m not feeling it that day. It’s been working great for me and I absolutely love the two classes I do regularly.

Hubby got me a saddle stand for Mother’s Day. The top two tiers swivel and have a bar for saddle pads. This was really needed as we only have 2 saddle racks in the trailer and 4 saddles. There are also bridle hooks, so I can start moving some of those out too.
So what have I tried?

  1. Cycle/Spin: this was the first class I really wanted to do and was the first class I swore I’d never do again. The work out is great for both my legs and cardiovascular system and I am sure it would greatly benefit my riding. However my lady bits hurt for 10-14 days after and there is nothing worth that. I talked extensively to a good friend who teaches spin 4 days a week and she told me that none of the padded shorts or seats work and I’d have to build up a callus. Sorry but I have no reason to want a callus there. Next!
  2. Zumba/Cardiodance: I’m lumping these together because I say no difference in the two classes. I wanted to like them so bad. What’s better than dancing your way to being fit? Eating pizza, but I digress. It just wasn’t a good fit for me. The dancing was fun although frustrating when I had no clue what was going on, but my issue was that I never got my heart rate up. Even when I did manage to, by adding jumps and squats as the like to the dance, by the time it got there the song ended. I saw zero benefit so it was out. Next!
  3. Water aerobics: Being the youngest in attendance by a solid 40 years was my first red flag. The water was frigid and stayed that way. The work out was minimal and honestly I would have been better off swimming laps. Next!
  4. Group weights: to be fair to this class, I tried it after I found my favorites, so it had pretty big shoes to fill. We used dumbbells and for the first time in my work out history, I got bored. Like stare at the clock the entire time bored. I went up in weight but the exercises were just not my thing. Next!
  5. Glutes and Guts: I liked this class. 30 minutes of hard hitting legs, butt and core. It was hard. It was fast. It was at 5:40 and extremely stressful to try to get to. If I happen to get out of work a bit early I would do it, but I generally can’t get to the Y much before 6.
  6. Kettle bells with D: This was a so so class. Hard yes, but we only did 8 exercises in the hour and I left feeling like I didn’t do enough. Mostly arms and some squats thrown in. No cardio work.
  7. Kettle bells with M: this tiny little woman kicked my butt. I loved this class and it was in my rotation until I found another I liked better. It is in my solid back up list. This class does something in never heard of before: tibotta. It’s 8 sets of 2 exercises with 8 reps. One exercise is cardio, the other strength. Example: 8 bicep curls with the kettle bell followed by 8 mountain climbers and then repeat until you’ve done it 8 times. Each set is harder than the last. I always left sweaty and out of breath. Too bad it runs at the same time as my all time favorite.
  8. Yoga Flow: the Y offers 6 different styles of Yoga, but only one during my times. I love yoga and this one is a slow stretch and relax class. It always makes my body feel loose and stress free. I attend when I’m just not up for the other classes or when it’s my time of the month and there is no way I’m working cardio.

We borrowed a tractor and bush hog from a friend and are clearing the back acres of over grown pasture. Landlady claims there are only 8 acres back there, but there is no way. I bet it is more like 16.
The two best classes for me?

  1. Body Combat: hands down my favorite and I go every Tuesday baring something getting in the way. A mix of kickboxing and core strengthening this class kicks my butt every week and leaves me sore for days. Each time I think I have beaten it, it hits me back even harder. We punch, we kick, we jump, my heart feels like it is going to beat out of my chest and I’m breathing harder than I ever did running. We work on combat moves: hooks, upper cuts, jabs, crosses. Not only is it a great work out, but it is my weekly stress relief. Love, love, love.
  2. Group Rip: this is my Thursday class. It is pure strength training relying on high reps and low weight. I want to tone but not get big muscles so this is perfect. We do 120-145 reps for each muscle group with both a bar and plates and dumb bells. My entire body shakes like jello by the end.

The combination of intense cardio on Tuesday and strength training Thursday is working out really well for me right now. I look forward to both days and my body feels stronger and leaner than before. I know it has helped my rising quit a bit. I only ride 1-2 days a week and should be sore or feel weak with so little saddle time, but I don’t. I feel great. I

Health and Fitness

My Experience on the Arbonne 28 Day Detox/Healthy Eating Diet

A friend of mine is a consultant for Arbonne and had been trying to get me to do their fancy 30 day detox/healthy eating diet for a long time. I finally caved in March and forked over my $290. I was extremely skeptical with the entire thing and it was a lot of money to spend. I asked a million questions about what was to be expected, what the benefits were and what I would feel. It began on March 6th and is now completed and I have a lot of thoughts on it to share.

To begin with, lets go over the claims the program made:

  • Weight loss of with some people losing up to 25 pounds in 4 weeks
  • Clearer skin including acne, psoriasis etc
  • Regular bowels
  • Improved hydration
  • Improved energy, no more after lunch fatigue
  • Complete loss of any cravings for sugary or high carb foods
  • Expanded palate
  • Decreased grocery bill that not only covers the cost of the program but goes in excess of it
  • No hunger

I will get into how each of those applied to me in a bit, but I want to first fill you in on what the program actually was.

For $290 I received the following:

  1. Two large bags of protein powder, one vanilla and one chocolate
  2. Two boxes of detox hot tea bags
  3. Two boxes of “fizz sticks” a non caffeinated, no sugar added powder to flavor water
  4. One box of digestion plus, a probiotic formula
  5. One bag of fiber powder
  6. Seven packets of a cleanse agent
  7. A free gift – they recommend a greens balancing powder so that is what I did
  8. Access to a closed Facebook group with pointers, education and weekly meal plans

So what exactly is the plan?

Morning: hot cup of detox tea

Breakfast: protein shake. They recommend you add the probiotic, the greens and the fiber in the morning. They provide several recipes for different shake flavors and you have freedom to make your own.

Lunch: protein shake. You can also eat real food as long as you follow the dietary restrictions.

Snacks: permitted and include choice of a handful of almonds, an apple with almond butter, a single hard boiled egg.

Beverages: use of the fizz stick once or twice a day. It has vitamins in and they claim an energy boost

Dinner: A meal from their menu. You may eat out as long as you follow the dietary restrictions

Before bed: hot cup of detox tea

The third week: add the body cleanse liquid to 32 oz of water daily for 7 days and drink slowly during the day.

Restrictions: no dairy, gluten, caffeine, coffee, tea besides theirs, sugar, alcohol.

So how did I do?

I’m a rule follower to a fault, so things like this are actually pretty easy for me to do. If it says not to eat something, I won’t. I already didn’t do alcohol, coffee or dairy besides cheese. The gluten, sugar and caffeine would be the hard part in all of this. Plus I hate cooking, so there was that. Going into it I had a few concerns: the cost, being hungry and cravings. I was assured none of those would be an issue.

I was very diligent and followed all the rules: I made my breakfast shake with the chocolate powder and added frozen strawberries, lunch was a vanilla and strawberry shake. I found early on that if I didn’t eat real food for lunch, I was weak, irritable and too starving to think clearly in the afternoon so I began to eat leftovers or a salad for lunch specifically on days I went to the gym or for a ride after work. I drank my two hot teas, my one fizz stick and avoided everything it said to avoid. Even when a drug rep brought me Jimmy Johns and when we took Wyatt out for frozen yogurt. I didn’t even taste it. I was good and didn’t cheat one single time.

Ease of use: 5/5

How did everything taste?

Honestly, I didn’t mind the taste of anything. The tea is a minty flavor and was a good wake up in the morning and let down before bed. Adding frozen strawberries and ice to the shake actually made it taste like a milkshake even though I was using unsweetened almond milk. The greens powder did taste a little like grass, but added to the chocolate and strawberries it was barely noticeable. The fizz sticks were great. The fiber and probiotic were tasteless. Even the cleansing liquid was ok. It had a weird taste almost like a powdered ice tea drink without sugar added. My biggest complaint with taste was the dinner menu. Every single recipe used garlic, cumin and chili powder. Really by the end of week two I was tired of the combination and aching for some variety. All in all the recipes were really bland too. I made a turkey chili and Wyatt took a big spoonful then asked “Mom, where is the flavor?” You know it is bland when a 4 year old is asking for it to be spiced up.

As far as taste goes, I’d say it was all pretty good and definitely doable without any gagging, suffering through or forcing myself to stay on track.

Taste: 4/5


Now for the real deal. Did the program, even when followed completely to the letter without any cheating at all, live up to its claims?

  • Weight loss
    • My initial weigh in was 134.4 lbs. I’m 5’4″, so that puts me at a normal BMI. To be fair, I didn’t have a ton to lose, but I wanted to get back to 130 lbs by the end.
    • I weighed myself at the same time and on the same scale wearing the same clothes each week. Its easy to do when you wear scrubs and weigh in at work.
    • Week 2 – 134.2
    • Week 3 -134.0
    • Week 4 – 132.8 (after a week of colon cleansing)
  • Clearer skin
    • I saw no difference in any aspect at all. Again, I wasn’t fighting much of anything major. I do have rough pathes on my arms which a lot of people claim is secondary to gluten, but after a month on this diet, I saw no change for better or worse
  • Regular bowels
    • Got worse. I tend towards slower than normal and was looking forward to more regularity. Even with the added fiber, probiotic and drinking a ton of water each day, my bowels were slower and worse at the end of the month
  • Improved hydration
    • This did occur. I was happy with the forced water intake as I am bad at this on my own.
  • Improved energy, no more after lunch fatigue
    • I will say that I never had a crash after lunch, but by 4:30 pm I was done. I was hungry, weak and tired. It made working out really difficult because I was just too energy depleted to do it.
  • Complete loss of any cravings for sugary or high carb foods
    • I missed bread the entire time. Sugar and caffeine not so much, but I missed eating sandwiches and never found myself happy to not indulge.
  • Expanded palate
    • 50/50 on this one. Eating out became a challenge on finding what fit the rules, so it did expand my palate in that I ate things I typically wouldn’t have otherwise. I didn’t enjoy them any more at the end versus the beginning and I certainly wouldn’t go around claiming they were my favorite foods.
  • Decreased grocery bill that not only covers the cost of the program but goes in excess of it
    • Big fat NO. In fact, not even including the initial $290 out lay for the program, my grocery bill went up for the month nearly double. I was buying foods I wouldn’t typically buy, produce is always more expensive than not and I couldn’t sale shop and plan my menu around what was on sale. Instead I had to buy what was on the list. While I didn’t buy any junk foods, lunch meat, bread or pop, the offset was not enough.
  • You won’t be hungry
    • I was starving. The entire month. No addition of different fats, fruits or veggies to my shakes made a difference. I was even hungry after eating dinner. Healthy foods just don’t stick with you, or at least not the ones in this program, and I was so hungry on many days I felt nauseous.

In addition, the dinner menu was not varied. As I mentioned above, the same spices were used in every single dish. Quinoa was used in almost every dish as well. It just got a little old eating the same flavors and most things were under spiced. I learned quickly to double the recipe in terms of amounts of spices called for and it improved.

Claims met: 1.5/9

Concluding thoughts:

So, I’m torn.

I didn’t lose weight real weight as I don’t consider the 1lb 4 oz during the cleanse weight loss since it was all water loss and pretty much found every claim to be false, for me anyway. Why? I think part of it is that I already ate pretty well to begin with. The only restricted items I had to eliminate were cheese and gluten. I’m sure someone who had to radically change their diet would see a much more radical change in body form and function. I also think that I ended up consuming more calories on a daily basis than before although they were healthier and more nutrient dense calories.

Beyond that, what I missed the most was convenience. I had to cook pretty much every night since the food did not allow much for left overs and eating out was expensive and took longer since I couldn’t go to a fast food place. No breakfast for dinner or throwing in a frozen pizza. Healthier? Probably although that depends on how you determine that since I weighed and felt the exact same at the end as in the beginning, but more stressed for sure.


I enjoyed the products quite a bit. Everything tasted really good and helped solve some of my diet issues: what to drink that isn’t sugar loaded but better tasting than water, what to eat for breakfast that isn’t loaded in carbs or sugar.

I had the ability to get a refund of all but shipping costs – somewhere around $270. All you have to do is ship back all part used and empty containers of the product. I could have, but I chose not to. I want to continue drinking the fizz drink, tea and shakes until they are all gone.

Would I recommend it? It depends. I do believe it opens your eyes to your own eating habits and where you can improve. If your current diet includes everything on the elimination diet and you can stick to the plan, I believe you could see some fantastic results with it. I was really disappointed at the end when I looked, felt and weighed no different than had I ate pizza and sandwiches instead, but I did enjoy eating everything and the most surprising thing….I learned to like cooking by the end. I even researched and made my own honey mustard dressing to replace the extremely fattening ranch I typically use with my frozen chicken nuggets (which I found gluten free ones I like better than the regular ones too).

I wouldn’t do it again, but I wouldn’t tell someone to absolutely not as long as they didn’t buy into the claims so much and did it more for education than anything else. I don’t plan to add gluten back to my diet either, well at least not when able to substitute it out. Cheese, though. Cheese is right back on the menu!







Health and Fitness

Adventures in Fitness: Cycle

Or Spin, but apparently “Spin” is trademarked or something, so the Y just calls it Cycle instead. I’ve been to a true Spin class and it wasn’t much different than this, so it is all just semantics.

A dark, rectangular room with 30 brand new, state of the art stationary bikes. Two large fans blowing on full speed flank a solitary bike in the front. The surround sound system is blaring full bore: music with a heavy beat and fast tempo. A half insane, curly haired woman is pumping away on this solitary bike, trying to smile through the pain and bring an energy level to the room that no sane person could match.  In front of her are 15-20 people, in various stages of regretting their life choices, all attempting and failing miserably to match her furious pace.

The air is heavy with perspiration and the wilting away of the human soul. You can hear the moaning of legs giving way as the instructor yells for all to get off the bike and climb the imaginary hill standing in the pedals. Everyone rises, are at least attempts to. At least a few people are left falling back on their increasingly tender nether regions wondering which is worse: the pain in their legs from standing to pedal or the pain in their crotch and butt from sitting on the rock hard and unforgiving seat.

The clock ticks off the 15 minute mark. 45 minutes to go and already all but the very best are falling way behind, stealthily clicking the tension on the bike easier and easier with each passing minute.

Turn the gear shifter to the center!! We are going up hill!

The screeching of the instructor pierces through the booming melody and all groan in despair. We are inside! There are no hills! She just laughs back at us and tells us to prepare or what we find on top of the hill.

Foolishly, we believe that we will find the downhill side and be able to coast. Instead we are told to turn the gear shifter all the way to the right (the gear shifter is a metal handle connected to the tensioner of the bike and is a quick way to increase the tension without changing gears). Maximum force. Give 110%! We have found a sandy beach! Pedal!Pedal!Pedal!  RPMS at 95. Full force!

Everyone groans again. All we want to do on a beach is sit in the sun, water lapping at our toes, drink in one hand and book in another. Instead, we are pretending to ride a bike through the deepest, fluffiest patches and hating ourselves the entire time.

Finally…finally…we reach the end of the beach and get to coast down the hill once more. Gear shifts to the left. Tensioners way down. Relax. Breathe deep. Take a drink. Surely, this is now over, but a quick glance at the clock shows we still have 30 minutes remaining. Will we survive?

The next 25 minutes are spent sprinting, climbing mountains, coasting down hills and praying that your butt doesn’t become adhered to the seat requiring a painful ripping to remove it. Why are these seats so awful? Surely some cushion wouldn’t ruin anything.

When she at last calls for the cool down to begin, everyone looks around. Has anyone else survived or have they all perished leaving you alone with the crazy woman in front? No, they are still there with you looking like half the person they were at the start of class. Now defeated, with shaking legs and acutely painful nether regions that promise to not heal for a week, they descend off the bikes and try not to collapse on the floor. Attempting the stretch is a joke. Everything hurts in one manner or another. How many calories did we burn? How far did we go? The numbers don’t matter. All that matters is that you survived. Will you go again? Will you put your fate in the hands of this lady once again?

Health and Fitness

Adventures in Fitness: Water Aerobics

We did a spin/cycle class on Tuesday (will write that up too, but this is better so I’m doing this one first) and took Wednesday off. Thursday had a few different options and I wanted to try out the indoor pool, so I sent the following text over to my mom:


That is the type of relationship we have and why I love doing this with her. We end up burning just as many calories laughing as we do with the exercise.

She did end up showing and we walked into the pool area to get ready for some aerobics fun. I already assumed I’d be the youngest one, but as the others filed it it quickly became apparent that my mom and I added together would still be younger by about 5 years. We lined up anyway and got started.

I’d love to say that what followed was an arduous and cardiovascular intense 50 minutes, but um…well…it wasn’t.

I lined up so I was chest deep in the semi warm water and got ready. The instructor stayed outside the water on the deck and shouted her instructions. We stretched. Then stretched some more. And then some more. I was beginning to wonder when the actual aerobics was going to start when my mom informed me that it already had. Oh.

About 35 minutes into it I was getting really cold and we finally added some heavy duty pool noodles for resistance. For some unknown reason, my mom’s noodle kept floating out to the 9ft deep end and she would have to retrieve it. Maybe that is why she tried to drown me at the end.

Anyway…we played around with the noodle for a while and then began our cool down stretch.

I’m not trying to sound snobbish at all here, but this was completely worthless. Even the 80 year old ladies who were attending did more chatting than exercising, but it was better than sitting on my couch eating marshmallows and chocolate so there is that.

No more water classes for me though. I’ll stick to dry land from now on.


Health and Fitness

Adventures in Fitness – Zumba

In my attempt to find some way to get fit without wanting to die to in the process, I am exploring all the options the YMCA has available. Thus I found myself back there at 6 pm Wednesday fighting both an on coming migraine and terrible cramps. Had I not just signed up and had I not been meeting my mom, I would have just gone home to curl under the covers and pretend the world didn’t exist for the rest of the night.

Instead I stood there and watched the cardio studio begin to fill up. I was briefly hopeful that I would survive the class when the instructor showed up in a knee brace, but that was quickly dashed once the music began to play.

I knew going into it that I wouldn’t know all the moves or look good doing them, so when the first song began to play I was happy to find that I could follow along pretty easily and that I picked up the moves within a try or two. There is a special skill that some people have and that is the ability to have someone tell you an instruction and being able to perform it. I believe most horse people are taught this due to the very nature of lessons. A person stands in the ring and tells you to put your left heel down. So you do. They don’t have to come over and physically do it for you or have to show you. You can take the words and form the action. I was praised in residency for being able to do this in surgery and I attributed this skill to my riding.

Anyway…I digress.

This skill helped me during the class. I could not only follow her lead, but could listen when she shouted out the move and follow suit.

This skill did not help my complete lack of rhythm or my inability to loosen up, ever. As the instructor, a slender and fluid moving lady of hispanic descent, upped the tempo with the next song, I fell farther and farther behind. I could either make my upper body or y lower body move with the music. But not both.

It was laughable really.

I tried my best, but the beat was beyond me. The class was an hour long, but as we went harder my head started spinning and I began to see black dots. I made the smart decision to take a breather and soon realized that my head was pounding harder than the beat and I was light headed and cramping hard.

I made the even smarter decision to call it quits half way through and try again another day. I made it home feeling like I was going to pass out at any moment, ate 5 smores with the hubby and son made over our backyard bonfire of unused pallets, and then hid under the covers until the world stopped spinning.

Zumba will have to be tried again.

Health and Fitness

Hanging Up the Running Shoes.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t run. Varsity track gave me the coveted high school letter. In college, I’d head out to the nearby lake and run the 5 mile track around it.

I’ve run on the treadmill, down country roads rarely travelled by cars, along busy urban sidewalks, across paved park pathways and up trails.

Post treadmill interval run

I’ve run in the early morning as the sun was waking up and in the pitch black dark with a headlamp showing me the way.

Running in the dark in WI

I’ve run during a frigid Wisconsin winter night and through a scalding South Carolina summer day.

I’ve run with family, friends, my dog and alone.

The best runs I have ever had were with Bones

I’ve run listening to music, podcasts and my own breathing.

I’ve run following couch to marathon plans, interval apps, my own make shift schedule and with no plan or goal at all.

Mile 11 of my very first half marathon. Still enjoying life.
Mile 12. Not so much anymore.

I’ve worn high tech clothes and cute accessories only to be worn while running.

I’ve run four half marathons all in the 2:21-2:23 time frame and just for fun.

And through it all I can honestly say….

….that I stink at running.


It isn’t really the physical part that gets me. I’m no Olympic level runner and I tend to trudge more than fly, but my times are at least respectable and I run way more than I walk.

It is the mental game that kills me. I never zone out. I never enjoy it. I’m trudging along and all my mind does is go on and on about how I can’t breathe, how I can’t take another step, how I’m too slow.  It is defeatist and it doesn’t matter if I run a mile or 5. It is the same rhetoric in my brain.

So I am taking a break. I run for exercise and health. Riding is my stress relief. I’m joining the local YMCA and I am going to dabble in the various classes that they offer: spin to yoga to cardio dance to weights to swimming. I’m going to bounce around until I find something that I can do and mostly enjoy.

Then, once I am in better shape, I am going to try running again. See if it doesn’t fit back in in a healthier manner. We will see.