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Feeling the Burn

As you’ve likely guessed by now from all of my posts that mention Jillian Michaels, I’ve become a bit obsessed with her workouts.  As I’ve said before, I feel like her workouts are 10 times more challenging than some of the other ones I’ve found and bought-I actually feel like I’ve really worked hard after I’m done!

With that said, workout videos ain’t cheap, so that’s where Netflix comes in handy.  Jared updated his subscription to 4 DVDs at a time so I could start taking advantage of her videos without breaking the bank.  First up was 30 Day Shred.

Overall, the structure of this workout was great.  It is based on the 3-2-1 plan Jillian has:  3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute of abs.   There are 3 levels that contain 3 “3-2-1-” circuits, and each level gets progressively harder. Each level is self-contained and takes about 20 minutes.

I started with Level 1, thinking that I’d be able to do all 3 levels on the same day to maximize my workout time.  Even though these are designed to give you a great workout in 20 minutes, I can never move past that place psychologically where I feel like 20 minutes was enough.  On Day 1, I tried Levels 1 and 2 back to back.  Level 1 was challenging, but do-able, although I do admit I had to do some of the “beginner modifications”.  Level 2 was actually very very challenging.  Level 2 involved a lot of floor work with planks and jump squats and the like, which are always super hard for me.  No matter how hard I try, my upper body strength still isn’t where I need it to be.

The day before I sent the video back, I decided to give Level 3 a try following Level 1, half expecting to turn it off halfway through.  For me, Level 3 was challenging, but a lot easier than Level 2 based on the moves involved.  I probably should have done that one all along-then I would have actually finished the 40 minutes.

My only issue with the circuits is that I wish they were longer, but that’s a Valarie thing.  The Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism video I have is the perfect length for me, but I guess for people that don’t have time, at least the way this is broken out can help them fit in a decent workout.

All in all, another great workout from Jillian.  I guess I’m officially obsessed.

Next up:  The Biggest Loser Power Sculpt!   Stay tuned!

So Many Products...So Little Time

Time to switch it up for Features Friday.  I have to admit, as we get closer to the wedding, the less time I spend looking at Web sites about weddings.  (Between you, my readers, and me, I’m kind of sick of thinking about the wedding!)  So, it’s time to pay homage to my secret weapons:  the beauty products, workout plans, planning tools, foods, etc. that have kept me sane during this past year.  But, there’s too many for one post.  So let’s start with beauty.  Without further ado…

Clearasil Stay Clear Daily Face Wash: I tested this product back in October and haven’t looked back!  I’m not saying I don’t still get breakouts during the usual times, but it definitely helps keep my face clear in between!

Neutrogena 2-in-1 Fight and Fade Gel: I can’t say enough good things about this product.  I’ve never used something that seems to work so quickly! Although I do think my skin is starting to get a bit immune to it (if that’s even possible) it still helps me stay worry free about major breakout issues on wedding day.

Mary Kay Medium Coverage Foundation: Best foundation I’ve ever used.  More expensive than I’d like to pay, but as far as offering the best coverage without making my face too cakey, this foundation wins!  I always feel like a little goes a long way, providing smooth coverage and taking care of redness and acne scarring. Good stuff.

Hypnotic Poison: I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but I have a major love affair with this perfume.  It reminds me of summers in DC when Jasmine High got me hooked on it….love it.  I can assure you I’ll be wearing it on my wedding day!

Crest Whitening Expressions: Another product that costs more than it should, but I can’t get enough of the Cinnamon and Vanilla flavors of this toothpaste.  They seriously leave my teeth feeling free and minty for hours. And I’m pretty obsessed with my teeth…

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub: I don’t really think this is meant to be used the way I use it, but I exfoliate every Wednesday and Sunday, and this provides a gentle exfoliation and leaves my skin unbelievably smooth.

That about wraps it up for my opinion of the best of the best.  Fellow brides and former brides, what are your thoughts?  What helped you stay beautiful for the big day and beyond?

Let me first start off this blog by saying that I never started this blog with the intent to write about my opinions of other people.  However, an experience yesterday really made me wonder why the concept of being kind and patient is so hard to understand.

Yesterday Jared and I went to vote in Bedminster for the school budgets (which didn’t pass by the way).  We got there the same time as an elderly gentleman who was walking very slowly to the door.  He was having some trouble walking, and we caught up to him quickly, but we let him go in ahead of us.  Let’s just say he was taking longer than usual to submit his vote.  (He said later that he was trying to do a write-in, which he was having trouble with).  As we were waiting in line to push the button, a woman ahead of me was clearly getting extremely annoyed with him.  She was tapping her foot, commenting very loudly to those behind us that it doesn’t take that long to do, asking the polling person if he was ok in there, remarking that she had a meeting to at 7, saying she knew how he was going to vote anyway, so could she just do it for him….all loud enough for practically the whole area to hear, except for this poor man.

Let me say first that this particular woman rubbed me the wrong way when she turned around, looked at me, and asked if it was my “first time voting.”  I informed her as politely as I could that she was about 8 years late for that.  I know I look young, and I know “one day I’ll appreciate that” but when you work hard to ensure people will respect you for your professionalism, being mistaken for 18 is more than an insult.  And there was really no need to comment on my age at all.  But I digress…

Voting is something that everyone has the right to do, young or old, no matter how they vote.  I’m sorry if this woman found herself to be so important that she couldn’t wait in line an extra 2 minutes.  Everyone is busy, however, I never EVER find it acceptable to make comments like the ones she was making, particularly at a voting booth.  The way people vote is no one’s business but their own, and to be honest, running in to people that behave like that does not encourage me at all to go out and vote or get involved in the dealings of the town.  I really had half a mind to say something to her about how inappropriate it was, but I guess I actually learned how to respect my elders.  Even if I do look 18.

It just strikes me sometimes how the basic principles of respect, patience and kindness can be forgotten, even by those that would consider themselves to be adults.

I’m the first to admit that all of my working out efforts are usually thwarted by my love of food.  I will give myself and Jared credit for incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our daily diet, as well as planning our meals each week to make sure we’re getting variety.  But let’s face it, when I want something filling, the health stuff doesn’t quite do it for me!

I found this link the other day for 400 calorie spring and summer recipes, and I’m impressed with how filling some of these options look.   Maybe it’s just the visuals, but I’d take a delicious frittata any day over a Weight Watchers meal!

Happy eating!

I’ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of things related to wedding planning that I think are a waste of money.  Rehearsal dinner invitations were kind of in that boat for me.  After all, the bridal party knows they are attending, as do our parents, so what’s the point?  However, being the eternal planner that I am, I wanted some of our other ceremony VIPs to have an invitation so they had everything in writing.  Also, we wanted to invite our officiant, so I set a small $75 budget for the invites.

My first plan of attack was Target to see if they had any invitations that might work for a rehearsal dinner.  They let me down. So, the online search began.  I checked out a few sites, but once I added in shipping and the like, the cost was way over what we set aside.  I was getting pretty frustrated, and almost bagged the whole idea, but then I came across Wedding Paper Divas.

I know some of you designers might be cringing right now.  “Eek, she used an online site and now these invites won’t match her exact theme and colors!”  Valid point-if I cared about that stuff.  😉  Wedding Paper Divas is the ultimate site for self-service invites.  They had a whole section for rehearsal dinner invitations-it was kind of hard to choose!  Each invite had color options and font options on top of that, as well as a number of options for quantity.  That was the other issue I had with some of the other sites-we only needed 20 invites, and some of the other sites only offered fixed packages. These were fixed as well, but I thought the numbers counted up in reasonable increments.

When you create an invite with Wedding Paper Divas, it’s basically plug and play:  they ask you to fill out a form with the information needed on the invite.  Then, you get an online preview with your own information put in. You can adjust font, size, anything you want, really.  Your order comes with envelopes, however,  you also have the option to have the envelopes pre-printed with a return address (for a few extra dollars).  After you order (using an online coupon code, no less) they send you a proof via email to ensure everything is accurate before they are printed!

I was extremely impressed with the quality and quick turnaround time of Wedding Paper Divas.  Even though we didn’t work with them for all of our invitations, I still felt like it stayed close to our theme without costing us an arm and a leg.

Yay for checking this off the list!

The saga of our engagement photos almost made me decide it wasn’t worth it to have them done!  When we signed our contract with Jackie at JDK Images, we received a free engagement photo session as part of the package.  Jackie provided us with a list of locations that we could have the photos done, so we settled on The Castle at Skylands in Ringwood, NJ in October.  We had the outfits all chosen, and were super excited to check this off the list.

And then it snowed.  In October.  Like, really snowed.  So those pictures got canceled.  We could have rescheduled for November, but we wanted something a bit warmer and scenic.  So, we waited until Spring.

Being the planners that we are, it occurred to me one day that all of our weekends in April and May were filling up.  Panicked, we got in touch with Jackie to see if she had the schedule yet.  She did not have it yet, but created it, and wouldn’t you know, we couldn’t do ANY of the location dates she had chosen.  We gave her a call, and she was so nice about working with us and agreed to meet us at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum after work on April 7, even though it wasn’t part of the schedule.

By this point, I was almost wondering if we should even bother.  We wanted to have something special created for the wedding out of these pictures, but was it really worth it?  I mean, does it even make sense to have engagement pictures taken one month before your wedding?  I could tell other people agreed, since almost everyone expressed shock we were still having them done.

I have to say that I’m very glad we did these.  Not only did we get a gorgeous day, but we also got some much needed practice for the wedding day.  I wouldn’t say that Jared and I are completely comfortable in front of the camera, and this session allowed us to see what we looked like so we could avoid any uncomfortable shots on wedding day.  Jackie praised us for our body language and said that we were “naturals” and seemed very comfortable with each other.  She gave us a few tips on how to hold our hands and our heads, but otherwise, we did get an “A” for our first photo shoot.

As a side note, doing the engagement pictures also gave me a deeper level of trust in JDK Images and Jackie as a vendor.  We chose her based on an in-person meeting with her as well as reviews online, and I knew I felt comfortable with her, but there’s always that mini level of panic in working with someone new.  This session showed me that she really is extremely efficient, and it made me feel good that we won’t be wasting any more time than necessary on pictures. (After all, with 4 families to juggle and a big bridal party, time is of the essence!)

I would recommend that if an engagement session comes with your photo package, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take it!  There are a lot of fun things you can do with those pictures, and the comfort level we experienced as a result is really priceless!

Well, friends, it has come to my attention that it’s crunch time.  I mean, it’s literally time to start getting serious about that pesky stomach of mine.  I had thought I was seeing some improvements when I first added Jillian Michaels into my rotation, but now it seems like it’s all gone downhill again…and so close to the wedding!

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, I’m a loyal Glamour subscriber and have done their Body By Glamour program a few times.  In my most recent issue, I saw that they were now offering “Bikini Blast”, which is a program similar to Body By Glamour that offers 30 days of tips to get your abs in shape for bikini season.  Since I’ve had success with these programs in the past, I figured there was no time like the present to sign up and get the job done!

I’m only on Day 2, but so far my only complaint is that I couldn’t get today’s work out tips yesterday so I could begin them today.  Since I work out at 5:30 a.m., I like to maximize the time I have, and I don’t have time to log on to the computer or power up the IPhone and print the workout.  So, I’ll have to be a day behind with everything I guess!  Oh well…the price of beauty…

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  Thanks again to the ladies and men at Glamour for providing such useful and fun tools!

I grew up in Sussex County, NJ.  Not really a hot bed of fun restaurants.  In fact, going to the Lockwood Tavern was a treat for us.  Sussex County has come a long way with its food choices, though, so it’s time to go back to my roots.  🙂

I’ve passed Salt about a million times on my way up 206 to Newton.  As you all know, Jared is a major fan of microbrews, and Salt, from what we read on Yelp, had a great selection.  So, one afternoon, we decided to try it with my mom, sister, and her boyfriend.

From a beer perspective, Salt really did have a nice list.  I tried the New Jersey Lager, and it was very flavorful.  I like my beers on the lighter side, and this provided a crisp taste without being too overpowering.

The food, however, was not what I had hoped it would be.  I’m not really super picky anymore when it comes to food, but I have to say I was having a hard time finding something to get excited over.  I decided to just go with a plain old burger.  The burger was perfectly fine, I was just hoping for something a bit more exciting.  Harsh, I know, but for a picky eater like my sister, it was especially hard.  She ended up with an entree size portion of the Mac and Cheese, which looked pretty good!

Dessert was honestly the best part.  It looked like they make all their desserts in house, and on the day we went, I had the peanut butter pie, which was great.  Jared had the Guinness Creme Brulee, which tasted just like regular creme brulee.  It looked a bit watery to me, though.

All in all, Salt wasn’t a terrible choice.  The atmosphere was decent, and the wait staff was very friendly.  Would have loved to see more choices on the menu for lunch, but it certainly wasn’t a deal breaker!

My rating:  6/10

Salt
109 US Highway 206
Stanhope, NJ 07874
973-347-7258
http://www.saltgastropub.com

Like any husband and wife to be, Jared and I simply could not wait to start receiving RSVPs for our wedding.  There seriously is nothing more fun about the whole invite process than starting to receive responses back from your guests.  However, with these RSVPs comes a responsibility to make sure our final numbers are accurate and that our list doesn’t leave anyone out!

I know that it’s the usual to have the response cards go back to the family that is hosting the reception. However, me being me, I wanted them to come to us.  After all, we’ll be doing the seating chart, ordering items based on the number of guests, doing the escort cards, etc., and I didn’t really like the idea of having someone else keeping tabs on the RSVPs besides me.  That way, if I make a mistake, it’s mine to claim and there is no blame to go around.

This is once again where Google Docs has come in handy for us.  Unfortunately, Jared was sent to Prague for work the week we started receiving responses.  Since the document was shared on Google Docs, he was able to access it from halfway across the country and share in my excitement over the responses.  Here’s the process I use when we receive a response card:

1.)  I created a separate tab in our Google Doc called “RSVPs”.  In this spreadsheet, I have a numbered list of “yes” and “no” responses. While our guest list tabs were separated out by whose side the people were from and batched as families/couples, I wanted our RSVP list to have each individuals name next to a number so we could quickly determine how many people we needed to plan for.

2.)  As the response cards came in, I wrote each individual’s name in the RSVP tab under Yes or No.  For instance, if the “Smith Family” responded, each family member would get their own line to keep the numbers accurate.

3.)  Etiquette states that if you do not hear from guests a few weeks before the wedding, you need to call them. Instead of scrambling around trying to compare our RSVP list with the 6 or 7 other tabs in our guest list document, I decided to code people on our individual tabs as well.  So, after a person went on the RSVP list, I cross checked it with our Full Guest list tab.  Yes responses were highlighted in green, while No’s were highlighted in Red. Since our guest list is divided out by Groom’s Mom’s Side, Groom’s Dad Side, Bride’s Mom’s Side, Bride’s Friends, etc., this gives us an easy reference to hand off to the people that need to make phone calls without having to cross check lists and miss anyone.

4.)  After I’ve entered the RSVP into the computer, I put them in a box.  Once April 22 (our cutoff date) comes around, we will go through the box and make sure each RSVP has been entered correctly.

Just call me the Google Bride…. 🙂

I’m not really that interested in medical studies.   However, I kept reading tidbits of this one in magazines and my Hungry Girl newsletter, so I figured it was time.

The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published results from a study to determine the relationship between physical activity and weight gain. “Lucky” for all of us, the results were unclear.

I do struggle with how long I need to work out each day.  Should I be doing an hour every day, or more?  My love-hate relationship with doctors actually hinged on this question one day as well.  I went for a check-up and asked what the doctor thought.  This was at a time when I was consistently working out 5 days a week for an hour. She told me I just needed to “work out more”.  Ok, then, I’ll do that once you had like 6 extra hours to my day.

The study found that, for women that had a usual diet, physical activity correlated to less weight gain only when these women had a BMI of 25 or less.  Those that were successful in maintaining normal weight gain averaged 60 minutes a day of moderate to intense activity.

This study was obviously looking at the long term effects of physical activity on weight gain.  It didn’t give me much hope that all of my hard work is going to pay off in a big way.  Not that maintaining weight isn’t important as well.  I just wish someone would come out with a study that said we were all doing just fine.  😉  I know it varies, but I will never stop being annoyed by some people that work out for a minute and lose like 17 pounds, while the rest of us constantly battle it!  Just my gripe of the day…I’m tired of waking up to work out every day. 🙂

What am I Tweeting?