Between Jared’s birthday last Thursday and my mom’s birthday on Sunday, temptation has been all around me this past week.  From cake, to pizza, to a buffet brunch, it was practically unbearable.  Considering how often I get food cravings on normal days, I’ll admit this past weekend was a true test of will!

I recently found this great article from Fitness Magazine about controlling cravings.  I did know a lot of this stuff, but here are some things that were new to me:

Women are more vulnerable to cravings than men. Finally, proof for what I see played out in our house every night!  I used to tell myself that I craved sweets and bad food more than Jared because I was overweight, but science has an answer for me.  It seems that women in general have a harder time ignoring cravings based on the biological response to “eat for two.”  Interesting stuff!

Giving in to cravings can change our brains. Blame this one on processed foods.  Sugar, fat, and salt don’t come packaged naturally in things like fruit or even meat.  Processed foods help us get that hit all at once, making it harder to avoid them and choose the right bite.

We all have a food bliss point. This is the point where the level of sugar, fat and salt give us maximum pleasure, making them addictive almost in the same way drugs and alcohol are.

Read the full article on the Fitness Magazine Web site for some tips on how to control these natural cravings!  What strategies do you have for avoiding your trigger foods?

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OMG, another deal site.  I know, I know, it’s all too much for those of you that can’t effectively manage your email inbox.  Stay calm:  this one is only for the Jersey crowd.

Daily Deal is sponsored by a number of local newspapers in the area, including the Asbury Park Press, Courier News and The Daily Record.  Deals are available in the following counties as well as in a generic “South Jersey” category:

  • Somerset
  • Morris
  • Ocean
  • Monmouth
  • Middlesex

Daily Deal works just like the other deal sites:  a deal is announced for 50%-90% off the regular value.  Once a minimum number of people buy, the deal is on.  No fine print, everything spelled out before you buy, including the expiration date.  Once the deal is on, you receive your voucher within 24 hours.  If you share the deal with a friend, you get $10 worth of “Deal Bucks” toward a future purchase.

So far, Daily Deal has had a lot of relevant items for sale.  I joined the site because I wanted something more focused on our area, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far.  I bought a facial from Great Lengths Salon and Spa for only $45 (typically a $90 value).  This spa is less than 10 minutes from our house, and I’d been dying to get back in the facial game, so I was excited to see a spa deal that was relevant.  Sometimes on Groupon and Living Social, the locations are too far for me to justify taking advantage of it.

Today, in Somerset County, there is a deal for $20 for $40 worth of food at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Although this is only redeemable at the Watchung location, I love BWW, and would consider making the short drive to use this.

Once again, while Daily Deal isn’t necessarily a novel concept, it’s another great way to find relevant deals in your county if you’re in the area.  Happy shopping, and happy Friday!

 

 

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!

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