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How many times can a girl possibly talk about Jackie Warner?  A lot, I tell you, because I just keep discovering quick, great workouts that really push me to my limits.

My boss was yet again kind enough to lend me Jackie’s Xtreme Timesaver Training DVD.  You may recall my recent lust over Fitness Magazine’s round-up of the best workout DVDs of 2011?  This one made the list in the “Ultimate Quickie Makeover” category.  While this is only a 30 minute workout, since it involves full body weight training moves, you won’t really be wishing for more when that 30 minutes is up!

After I first did this workout, my legs were shaking when I was done.  Like, shaking so bad I could hardly stand up.  Since Jackie works your upper and lower body simultaneously, there is a LOT of static holding for the lower body.  Some examples include holding a runner’s lunge while doing rear delt flys and holding a sumo squat while curling.  Each move is done for one minute per side (where applicable) and I do have to admit that some of those holds are extremely painful to hold.

Thankfully, as with most Jackie workouts, there are beginner modifications.  Even though I’m not a beginner, I sometimes still modify part of the movement.  The full beginner modification does not use weights at all, and usually drops to a knee, or doesn’t hold as deep.  For the runners lunge hold, I do end up dropping to a knee about halfway through, although for some reason I can hold almost for the full minute on my right side.

From a weight perspective, I will be the first to admit that I have a weak upper body and I feel the burn there before I feel it anywhere else.  Since you’re doing this moves rather quickly for a minute, I’m still only rocking 3 pound weights. On a similar note, Jackie is a huge fan of working the shoulders, and my shoulders are usually in a good kind of pain for a day or so after this workout.  I also feel it in my glutes pretty quickly as well.

My favorite move is the last one, where you’re leaning over and doing a shoulder raise, working both your obliques as well as your shoulders.  Feels fabulous, and I have to say I’m starting to notice some awesome oblique definition as well.  Some other great ones are the curtsy squat + punch combination and the bicep curls while lifting the leg up and down off the ground.

Although this is a strength training DVD, there are a lot of face paced moves in here that do get your heart rate up and leave you a bit breathless.  The whole point of the DVD is to maximize your workout in only 30 minutes, and the combination of strength moves and just overall movement makes that easy to do.

Check out a short preview below, and good luck!

Given the title of this blog and my previous posts, I think all of you know that Jared and I appreciate a nice, quality craft beer.  As I’ve mentioned, one of the hardest things about Weight Watchers for me initially was cutting out having a nice pint once or twice a week.  For the beers that Jared and I enjoy, Weight Watchers assigns 5 points to a 12 oz. glass, whereas wine is only 4 points for 5 ounces.  If I choose to drink during the week, I almost always choose the lower points value and go with wine, which eliminates beer almost entirely from my rotation.

Weight Watchers does assign only 3 points to light beer.  However, I have never really found a light beer that is worth drinking.  The Bud Lights and Miller Lights of the world are not worth the points to me, so I thought I was doomed to cutting out beer altogether, unless we were celebrating a special occassion.

Fitness Magazine had a list recently listing the best light beers, which obviously caught my attention.  However, when I saw that the “winner” was Bud Light, I seriously had to question if the people that made this list even LIKED or understood real beer at all.  I almost chose not to look through the list at all, given their top choice, but I browsed through and found that Sam Adams Light was their First Runner Up.  Now, Sam Adams is a real beer.  Could this be possible?  I was intrigued to try the light version, and I’m happy to say that it is a fine substitute to my usual Stella, Yuengling or Magic Hat.

Sam Adams Light could certainly never replace the insanely hoppy, flavorful taste of a real craft brew, but for people that enjoy the taste of beer, it is most definitely a great alternative, providing enough complex flavor to make you feel like you’re indulging without the guilt and points.

Anyone else have any suggestions for a decent light beer?  Miller, Coors, and Bud need not apply……

Thanks to Living Social, Jared and I recently had the opportunity to check out Cape May, New Jersey for the first time (well, my first time-Jared was there as a kid).  As we walked around, I started thinking about all the great places we’ve been to in New Jersey that might get overlooked for those of us that live in-state.  Hence my new mission to tell you about them as we go along.  🙂

We covered a lot of ground while we were in Cape May, so I’ll start today by reviewing the lodging that we used.  The next set of installments will cover dining and area attractions.  We don’t want a super long post, after all!

The Carroll Villa Bed and Breakfast
The deal we purchased included a one night stay at the Carol Villa Bed and Breakfast, located less than a block from the beach.  Upon arrival, we received our complimentary bottle of champagne, as well as some coupons to area attractions (all part of our deal).  The check-in attendant was very friendly and made us feel welcome.

While the room we stayed in was certainly a bit small, it worked fine for us since we didn’t spend too much time in it anyway.  The shower had great pressure, and the bathroom was very clean and well kept.  Our room was right above The Mad Batter, the restaurant at The Carroll Villa, and during the live music, it was a bit noisy.  As in we could hear the specific songs the singer was performing.  However, we got back to our room around 9:45 p.m., and it all seemed to stop by 10.  If you’re sensitive to noise, though, as I know many are, this may not be the place for you!  I believe there are rooms on the other side of the hotel, so I would ask about those just to make sure.

Given that it was off-season, we were able to find parking about a block away.  In the summer, I can definitely imagine that parking is a challenge for guests at The Carroll Villa.  If you’re planning to stay in the summer, I would recommend calling ahead to find out what is recommended.

As mentioned, The Caroll Villa does have a restaurant, The Mad Batter, which is a great restaurant with a modest bar as well.  I’ll talk about this more in dining, but our deal did included a breakfast voucher, and we liked the convenience of having something right there.

Overall, The Caroll Villa was a beautiful place to stay, with an at-home feel that made even our short stay relaxing and comfortable.  If you’re thinking of vacationing somewhere this summer, I’d call early-I’m sure they book up pretty fast!  Thanks to Living Social and The Carroll Villa for helping us find out what Cape May has to offer!

I’ve written in the past about our visits to some Somerville, NJ restaurants.  For those of you not in the area, Somerville is the county seat of Somerset County, and isn’t too far from our house in Martinsville.  Every time we drive through Somerville, I’m always charmed a bit by the old-school downtown feel.  However, as Main Street America as we know it is quickly fading away, and I love when towns do all they can to help draw people into the local feel of our downtowns.

Find Somerville is a great Web site that takes you through everything Somerville has to offer, from restaurants to shopping to nearby attractions.  The restaurant search is pretty thorough, listing everything from Pizza Hut to their upscale restaurants like Il Pomodoro.  Jared and I are looking for someplace to go tonight, and this list will certainly make that choice easy!

The Find Shopping search works the same way, listing the many shopping options Somerville offers.  Somerville is a great spot to try if you like antiques, as each street seems to offer a plethora of stores that deal in antiques.  A small savings section clues you in to ways you can save at restaurants and stores alike.

While Somerville seems to have a bit of a ways to go as they revitalize their downtown and try to fill empty lots, I applaud the efforts they are making through this Web site.  A great resource for those in Somerset County and beyond!

Money is tight for everyone these days.  While some are fortunate enough to have a gym in their apartment building or work building, for those of us without those resources, it can be hard to justify a gym membership.  I’ve been doing home workouts for about 3 years now.  While it can be hard to find a video that makes you work hard enough to feel it, Fitness Magazine just made it easier for all of us with our own home gyms!

The Top 10 Workout Videos for 2011 breaks down the best of the best as far as home workouts are concerned, providing variety as well as a great workout.  From Bob Harper to Jackie Warner to Jillian Michaels to Denise Austin, this list really includes something for everyone.  Fitness Magazine even broke down the amount of calories you would burn, as well as what you need, and included a snippet from each video.

This is really one of the best resources I’ve seen in awhile.  After reading this list, I was super tempted to go out and buy all the ones I haven’t tried (I’ve tried Jillian’s 6 week 6 pack as well as Jackie’s XTreme Timesaver Workout).  While it can certainly add up, as some of these videos cost up to $20 not counting some of the equipment you might need, if working out at home is your main source of exercise, it’s certainly worth the investment.  For now, I’ll hope  that I win the pack of 10, although I’m sure that’s a long shot. 🙂

I haven’t checked to see if any of these are available on Netflix, but that’s another great option if you’re looking to try before you buy as well as find something that motivates you to work hard at home.  Thanks to Fitness Magazine for such a great resource list and for remembering those of us without access to gym equipment that still like to work hard!

I typically avoid blogs about coupons and deals, because I usually find them either irrelevant, or spammy.  Sometimes I’ll find relevant deals on them, but most times, I’m not really interested in having someone regurgitate what they find in circulars.

Hip2Save bills itself as “Not Your Grandma’s Coupon Site”.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with regular coupon clipping-it’s an activity I engage in each week, and is pretty much one of the only reasons we get the Sunday paper.  However, Hip2Save does put a fresh spin on saving money and having fun seeking out deals and more.

Hip2Save focuses on Freebies, Coupons, Stores, Online Deals, Restaurants, Rewards and Contests, so it really covers the full spectrum of ways to save.  The Freebies section is updated pretty frequently, even alerting you to when older deals have expired.  The links are easy to follow, and the rules for redeeming freebies are spelled out so there’s no surprises.  For the Coupons section, it looks like Hip2Save links over to Coupons.com in most instances, where you can print deals and coupons.  I haven’t tried Coupons.com yet, because I believe you need to install something to print them, but perhaps one of these days I’ll get around to doing that.  Coupons.com seems like a great alternative for those that don’t receive paper coupons.

The Online Bargains section is one of my favorites.  Hip2Save does a great job of alerting readers to timely deals and sales, instead of you having to do the legwork yourself.  They find some great stuff, like an Amazon deal on a KitchenAid mixer and more.  It’s fun to check in every now and then to see what’s new online.

I’m huge on Contests, and am convinced that one of these days I’ll win one.  By keeping up with the Contest section on Hip2Save, I’m able to see what’s new besides my usuals.  I won’t enter contests from brands that I don’t normally interact with, just because I think that’s cheating, but it does introduce me to some new things.  And contests are fun.  Seriously.  Even when I don’t win.

There’s a lot more to explore on the site.  Hip2Save is a really well done site that makes coupon hunting and online deals fun and meaningful.  Even if you just check in once a week, it’s definitely worth adding it to your list of must-read blogs and sites.  Thanks to Collin Morgan, the brains behind the site, for providing such a quality experience!

I am fortunate enough to have an awesome boss who is even more committed to finding great workout options than I am.  And I benefit from this passion of hers, because she’s awesome enough to let me borrow the ones she finds so I can see if they are worth buying.  Our latest find comes from Cathe Friedrich.

Are we jumping?

Anyone who follows the conversations in the exercise and fitness world knows that high-intensity interval training is often recommended as the best way to burn fat in short, intense workouts.  Jillian Michaels bases a lot of her workouts on this philosophy, as do many other trainers.  It really takes your cardio sessions to the next level as far as I’m concerned.

Cathe’s HiiT High-Intensity Interval Training DVD certainly rivals other videos I’ve done with this method for intensity.  As in, it’s one of the most intense cardio routines I’ve done in awhile.  Below are the two options I tried on the DVD.

30/30: The 30/30 segment does require a step for some of the movements.  30/30 is broken into 30 second blasts with 30 seconds of rest and includes both a warm-up and a cool down.  As my boss warned me and I soon found out, don’t get discouraged by some of the step moves Cathe uses in the warm-up.  They are very fast-paced and hard to catch on to for beginners, however, the interval portion is easier to follow.  When I say easier to follow, I mean it’s easier to get the movement down, but certainly not easy to complete.  Even Cathe is out of breath and can’t talk after some of the blasts.  With a lot of jumping, this workout can be a bit hard on your knees and ankles, however, for 30 second blasts it is certainly tolerable.  I was breathing so hard after some of the blasts that I thought I’d never recover.  And that just feels good!

Pyramid Program: The pyramid segment does not require a step and is an AWESOME way to get your cardio in each week.  Cathe takes you up the pyramid, increasing the blasts and rests, then takes you back down.  Then you do it all over again.  Once again, there is a decent amount of jumping, and I certainly felt this workout the next day in my legs and even a bit in my arms.  The warm up is fun and energizing, and after completing the pyramid two times, you’ll definitely feel like you worked hard.

The only segment I did not try was the 40/20, with 40 seconds of cardio and 20 second blasts.  If it’s anything like the other segments, however, I’m sure it’s worth the work.

I’m not going to lie about it-these workouts are challenging, and if you’re just starting out, I would not recommend you start here.  However, if you’re looking to make big changes through a home workout, these should most certainly get put into your rotation immediately.  The only drawback is that the video is expensive-about $27 on Amazon, plus you have to buy a step to do some of the routines.  However, the overall benefits of doing a workout like this even just twice a week certainly pays off.

I knew Jared and I were meant to be when he shared with me how much he loved filling out forms.  I couldn’t agree more.  Especially when that particular form is a survey.  Who doesn’t love sharing their opinions for points or cash?  I personally can’t pass up the opportunity to sign up to provide my thoughts on anything from new products to technology to advertisements.  ZoomPanel is just another site that lets us fill out forms to our hearts’ content.

ZoomPanel is operated by the wonderful people of Zoomerang.  If you’re not using Zoomerang for your business to deploy surveys and analyze results, you’re really missing out on an inexpensive way to get feedback from your customers or prospects.  But that’s for another day.

ZoomPanel is a community of consumers who “share opinions and insights about companies’ products and services by participating in market research studies.”  It’s free to join, and you’re rewarded with points, instant win prizes, sweepstakes, and more.  Points can be redeemed through the Zoom Panel Rewards Center for anything from magazine subscriptions to jewelry to home goods.  While it does seem as if it will take forever to reach certain points levels, a lot of survey sites operate the same way.

Points are awarded any time you take a survey, even if you don’t fit the requirements set by the marketer to move on.  Depending on how far you get, surveys can take up to 30 minutes.  Each short profile survey you fill out enters you for a chance to win $500 as well as be eligible for more surveys based on the demographic information needed.

Maybe I just love these types of sites because I like forms and marketing, but it’s definitely a great way to get rewarded while also making your voice heard.  While I have yet to redeem any points from any of the sites I’m signed up for, I’m sure they are true to their word as far as points redemption goes.  Stay tuned for that, once I actually accumulate more points!  Sign up today, and start sharing! Enjoy!

I’m pretty old school when it comes to some things.  When I upgraded to the iPhone two years ago, it pained me to get rid of my hands free set-up that plugged into the phone.  Archaic now in the age of Bluetooth, but I loved that thing.  And to be honest, the Bluetooth headset I bought annoyed me.  It didn’t feel great in my ear, and I don’t think people could hear me that well.  But I don’t care enough about these things to be proactive about it.

I’m lucky I have a husband who does stay up to date on phone accessory technology!  We needed to go to Costco for a party we were having, and he had seen a coupon for the Jabra Cruiser2 Bluetooth.  The deal seemed great:  the Jabra Cruiser2 only cost us around $50, compared to some prices I’ve seen that go up to $70.  Since I don’t care that much about my bluetooth, I’d never pay that much for one.  I have to admit, paying $50 took some convincing too, but it’s worked out really well.

The Jabra Cruiser2 clips to my sun visor and has a huge speaker, so nothing goes in my ear.  I simply turn it on when I get in the car, and it automatically connects with my phone through bluetooth.  When my phone rings, the speaker “rings” as well, and an automatic voice reads me the name of the caller.  I then press a large button on the speaker to answer the call.  No looking down, no fumbling with touch screens-just a simple reach and touch. Sound clarity has been fine, with no complaints about not being able to understand what I’m saying.

As for battery, the Jabra Cruiser claims to last for 14 hours talk time and 20 days standby.  I bought this in December, and I’ve charged it twice since then.  This thing holds battery probably 5-6x better than my bluetooth headset did.  It comes with an in-car charger, and has just been a really convenient option for me given how infrequently I need to use it.  I never have to worry it’s not charged, since it holds a charge so long, so I’m never left hanging.

Another cool feature is the FM transmitter.  By pressing a button on the side of the Jabra, I can program it to play through my car audio. I’ve used this to play Pandora wirelessly from my phone through the speakers of my car.  Pretty awesome, right?  The quality has been pretty good, albeit a bit static-y depending on the area, but still just a neat feature for music lovers and commuters that want variety.

For the price, the Jabra is a great option for commuters and other long distance travelers.  Well worth its $50 for sure!

As a social media “specialist”, I hated this question.  “How do you measure success?”.  This is a question that all of us have faced on the job or in other areas of our lives.  I’m going to talk about it as it relates to Weight Watchers and the journey I’ve been on for the past 7 weeks.

One obvious way that success is measured on Weight Watchers is through weekly weigh-ins.  Goals are set, and once those goals are met, I would say it is safe to say you have been successful on the program.  Whether you just met your 5% weight loss or 10% weight loss goal, these are all certainly major successes to be celebrated along the way.

But what about the weeks when the scale doesn’t “move mountains” so to speak?  What successes can we look at as a reminder that we’re on the right path?  Below are some small milestones I’ve been keeping track of that help me reward myself when the numbers stay put.

1.)  Monthly Measurements.  Just because the scale isn’t moving doesn’t mean you’re not losing inches.  At the beginning of the Weight Watchers program, I took my measurements as part of the weigh in, and decided to track each month.  I’ll only do this once a month, because I don’t believe that inches fall off as quickly as pounds.  This helped me around week 4 when I did my first check in.  The scale hadn’t moved in weeks, but I had lost an inch all over.  It was this success that helped me get my mind off the scale, and move on to meet my 5% weight loss goal.

2.)  How do your clothes fit? This was an exciting revelation for me this weekend.  I knew my pants were starting to look a bit sloppy, when I noticed that the crotch of my jeans one day was practically hanging down to my knees.  When I went shopping, it felt SO GOOD to put on clothes in sizes I normally wear and have them be too big.  Moving forward with the knowledge that losing weight is going to put me into a whole new wardrobe is certainly annoying from a cost perspective, but boy does it feel good!

3.)  Confidence. Someone remarked to me yesterday that it seemed like over the weekend I had morphed into a different, funnier version of myself.  I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but I’ve noticed I’ve stopped the self-hate and carry myself differently than before.  I know that, no matter how long it takes to get to the weight I’ve set as my final goal, I am doing good by my body.  I can no longer claim that weight loss is out of my control, and I can celebrate along the way the accomplishments I’ve made.  Even though I know there are people saying, “I can’t tell she’s lost weight, what is she talking about???” I know that I have, and right now, that’s all that matters.  It’s taken me years to get to a place where weight loss could be a healthy personal decision, and that alone has given me the confidence to stop berating my thighs, hips, and butt and start embracing the fact that I’m doing the right thing.

4.)  Willpower. As I mentioned when I first started the program, willpower has consistently been a stumbling block for me.  Being on the Weight Watchers program has taught me how to take control where I formally felt out of control.  It hasn’t been easy turning down that second glass of wine at dinner, but the rewards are paying off.  Even though I can’t really measure how my willpower has changed, knowing that I’m able to walk away at a certain point proves to me that I’ve made some big changes in the past 7 weeks that will hopefully carry me through to my final goal.

How do you measure your own success in areas of your life that aren’t numbers driven?