Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream

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Is it crazy that I haven’t made any homemade ice cream this summer? I mean it’s hot enough for it, so I have no idea why I didn’t fork out the machine until September. I will say that I did have a slight addiction to skinny cow sandwiches the past couple of months, and homemade ice cream isn’t very calorie friendly, but usually calorie splurges never stop me (especially lately).

I HAD to make this ice cream, though. I recently received a copy of Jessica Segarra’s (also known as The Novice Chef) new cookbook: Cereal Sweets & Treats. Jessica is a good blogging friend of mine, and I was so excited when she wanted to send me a copy of her new book. It’s full of so many fun recipes…recipes you’d never think you could use cereal with. Cap’n Crunch milkshakes, Lucky Charms macarons, Pumpkin Cheerios bars, Fruit Loops cupcakes, and Corn Pops ice cream, just to name a few. Seriously….doesn’t that all sound so fun?!

The idea of cereal ice cream just pulled me in, and I will mention that while the original recipe is for Corn Pop ice cream, in Jessica’s notes, she mentions trying this with your favorite cereal. One of my favorites is cinnamon toast crunch, and I had a feeling this would make for a great ice cream. One of the best things about this ice cream is that this isn’t a custard based ice cream. Yup…no eggs needed, so making this recipe really wasn’t that difficult. The method Jessica uses doesn’t make the ice cream overpoweringly sweet, because the cereal soaks in the milk/heavy cream and then you strain it out. Also, no worries about soggy cereal, since you strain it out…it’s more of an infusion of flavor from the cereal. I have to say, after having a bowl (or two haha!), I think this ice cream would be perfect on top of a slice of warm apple or pumpkin pie. It has a really good cinnamon flavor to it that would make fall treats that much more amazing. :-)

If you want to check out more recipes (I think those pumpkin cheerios bars are calling my name next!), Jessica’s book is available on Amazon for under $15!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream
Source: barely adapted from Cereal Sweets & Treats

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups cinnamon toast crunch cereal
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the milk, heavy cream and cinnamon toast crunch cereal together. Allow the mixture to soak for 30 minutes in the fridge, stirring occasionally. Strain the cereal out of the mixture and discard the cereal.
  2. Place the milk mixture in a large saucepan, and whisk in the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and continue to boil the mixture for 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to fully cool in the refrigerator, until the mixture is cold to the touch.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will be a soft serve consistency at this point, but if you’d like the ice cream to be more scoop-able, allow it to harden in an airtight container in the freezer for at least 3 hours.

 

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday Weigh-In: Week 87

I haven’t done one of these in a while. I’ve written some posts about finding my motivation again, and since the stress/bad news keeps piling on, calorie counting stopped being a priority. I barely would log on MyFitnessPal, and just didn’t have that drive anymore. I can’t tell you the last time I ran or went to the gym to lift weights. Big step backwards.

I decided that I needed to really get back in control of things, and maybe some in-person motivation might help. After seeing a commercial that Weight Watchers is offering a free month right now, I thought that maybe I should go back to it. I gave it a chance a while back, and I couldn’t really find my stride with it for some reason. I’d always just go straight back to MyFitnessPal.

However, I feel like I can handle this. It’s worked for so many people before….maybe it could work for me? Now, I know that I’ve said that I can lose the weight simply eating less and moving more. No plan needed…you don’t have to pay anyone a dime to do this! However, after doing this for almost two years, I’m in a funk. I know calorie counting would work, but I’m sort of bored with it. I need something new. I’m giving this a couple of months, and if I don’t see a change, I’ll go right back to the tried and true calorie counting. :-)

So, the weigh-in. It was ugly, and I knew it would be. Heck, my jeans have been super tight for the past few weeks, and I have no fat jeans to fall back on since I donated them all (with the exception of my size 26 before jeans).

Weigh in

I’m up a good bit. However, I’m still halfway to my goal. I just have 65 lbs. to go until I’m in the healthy weight range with Weight Watchers….60 more is my personal goal, but I’ve never seen myself at that weight, so I could have more to lose after that. I’m feeling good…it’s quite a change from calories, and the points values have changed since I last did this. However, I feel like I can handle this. I can do this.

First goal…5%. And hey, maybe this time I’ll FINALLY get that 10% key chain. Let’s do this!

Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars

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I’m starting to really get tired of the summer. I know there are some people still clinging on to summer for dear life, but living in heat indexes of over 100 degrees for almost 3 months now? I’m just over it. OVER IT.

I feel like this summer has been full of bad news too. My latest round of it was breaking a tooth. Yeah, I know. I was just eating a cookie (a chewy one, at that), I felt a crack and there it was. A big chunk of tooth. I went to the dentist the other day, and she took one look in my mouth and told me I’m definitely grinding my teeth again. The question of new stresses popped up, and I had to laugh. The poor dental office became my therapist as I vented about the house, the tragedies in our family, the fact that I was sick and now, this broken tooth. I’m trying to look at the bright side of things…at least I wasn’t in any pain after my tooth broke? I still can’t believe that I broke a tooth…ugh. Ridiculous.

Lately, with all of this bad news, I’m all about comfort foods. I stink at calorie counting right now…I just can’t find my stride. I’m a pro at eating chocolate when more stress enters our lives. I’ve gained 15 lbs. since April. ::sigh:: Yep. 15 lbs. :(

Part of that is probably because I’ve been baking a good bit since we realized that the lightning didn’t fry our range oven (phew!). I forgot how comforting baking is…too bad I have no willpower against the end products lately. I’m gonna have to start taping saran wrap over the goodies to avoid eating 2-3 of everything I bake.

These bars were something I’ve been meaning to make for a while now. I wanted something rich/indulgent, and the fudge filling on these bars were just that. In fact, I joked with myself that this would make a KILLER hot fudge sauce….I almost grabbed ice cream out of the freezer before I assembled the bars, but I resisted.

Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Source: Erin’s Food Files, originally on Baking Blonde

Ingredients:

For the bars:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick oats

For the filling:

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 15 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and the 1 tsp. of salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 1 cup of butter and the brown sugar for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one egg at a time and mix until combined. Add the 2 tsp. of the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  4. Add in the flour mixture to the wet mixture slowly and mix until just combined. Using a spoon or spatula, stir in the quick oats to the batter as well.
  5. Spread 2/3 of the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan, and save the last 1/3 for a topping.
  6. To make the filling, place the chocolate chips, condensed milk, 2 tbsp. butter and the 1 tsp. salt in a medium sauce pot. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Once the mixture is melted and smooth, remove the mixture from heat and stir in the 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.
  7. Pour the filling onto the oatmeal bar crust, keeping the filling about 1/4 inch away from the sides of the pan to prevent sticking while baking. Evenly add the rest of the oatmeal batter in dollops on top of the filling. Then, bake the bars for 30-35 minutes, until the oat topping is light brown and the fudge layer is set, being mindful not to over bake these bars. Allow the bars to fully cool before cutting and serving.

A bunch of randoms

It feels good to get back into blogging again. While things have been going a bit crazy around the house, we still try to find some normal moments to feel a little more at home.

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1. I’ve been knitting like crazy lately. It’s not cold yet, but all I want to do is knit. It’s so comforting and fun to be starting on holiday gifts this early. Here’s two (tiny) hats that I threw together in the past week. I used the duplicate stitch to add in their names right after to make them a little more personal. :-) Also, how fun is it to knit baby things in pastel college colors? I love it.

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2. Like I mentioned in my post yesterday, we’re well prepared for the fall. We have candles like crazy in the house…hope it’s enough to last us the whole season. :-)

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3. It was National Dog Day this week. I told Millie to SMILE PRETTY for a National Dog Day picture, and this is the face I got. She was definitely in a leave me alone mood.

4. Big Bang Theory Fans…I give you the best BuzzFeed of the week! I can’t stop laughing at these…I love that show! So glad my husband introduced me to it.

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5. Dear Target, why are you selling this? In Louisiana….10 minutes away from LSU. There’s a reason this is on massive clearance..it’ll only sell as a gag gift.

 

Pumpkin Spice M&M Dulce De Leche Blondies

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I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that August is almost gone. It has been a month full of bad news for us, so a fresh new month is definitely welcome. September marks the start of pumpkin things, cinnamon scents, fun decor, football and milder weather. I’m also hoping that September helps us close the whole lightning hit our house chapter in our lives. We’ve been spending our afternoons/evenings trying to get our house back in order (you’d be surprised how much clutter you accumulate when you just don’t care anymore) to make our house feel like a home again. I totally bought 4 fall scented candles, even though fall isn’t here yet. I promised myself I that wouldn’t light them until September 1st, but you better believe first thing that morning (well, OK…after church), the summer candles are being put away and our Bath and Body Works Leaves candle will be burning. :-)

I also told myself that I won’t touch the cans of pumpkin in our pantry until September 1st. I’m surprised that I haven’t broken that little promise, because trust me, I’ve been SO tempted to bake up some pumpkin bread. That’s totally happening Sunday morning, as well. Now, I did sort of stretch things a bit making these blondies a couple of nights ago. We went to Target over the weekend to start replacing the food that we lost in the fridge. By the way, I can’t tell you guys how amazing everyone was to us the night that fire happened. I’m SO SO thankful for our neighbors, especially, for loaning us their outside plug to keep the contents of the deep freezer from spoiling until we could get an electrician to replace all of the fried wires. Anyway, we were at Target, and I was walking past the check-out lines and saw an end-cap full of fall M&Ms. My weakness is actually the pumpkin spice kisses, but then I saw pumpkin spice M&Ms. OMG.

I just had to make something with them. After a bit of thought, I decided to add them to blondies. I found a base recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s site, and I added in some pumpkin spice to give it that fall flavor (without using pumpkin haha!). After mixing the batter, I spread half of it on the pan, added a whole can of dulce de leche on top of that, and then added the rest of the batter on top. Ooey gooey amazingness, basically. These bars are so rich, but that just gave me an excuse to top them with vanilla ice cream. :-) They were also super easy to throw together….one bowl to make the blondies and the dulce de leche is in a can. It’s sort of dangerous….in a you better wrap them up and bring them to coworkers the next day before you eat the whole pan, dangerous.

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Pumpkin Spice M&M Dulce De Leche Blondies
Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from How to Cook Everything

Ingredients:

  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 9.9 oz. bag of pumpkin spice M&Ms
  • 1 small can dulce de leche

Directions:

  1. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together, until smooth. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, spices and salt. Switch to using a wooden spoon or spatula, and stir in the flour, until just combined. Gently stir in the M&Ms, until they’re evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  3. Pour half of the batter into the prepared 9×13 pan, and spread it with a spoon/spatula to cover the surface. Scoop the dulce de leche into the pan, and spread that over the batter. Then, scoop the rest of the batter in small spoonfuls over the dulce de leche and gently spread it on top. It’s OK if a little bit mixes together, but you mainly want the top of the bars to be blondie batter.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the bars are set in the middle, being mindful not to over-bake the blondies. Allow the blondies to fully cool on a cooling rack before cutting/serving.

Turned Sideways

I find myself constantly saying “what’s that word that means this?” I’m having trouble focusing. Thinking of things that JUST happened. Wondering where I put my phone that I totally just had in my hand. “It’s just a lot going on at once,” I’m telling people around me. Or “my brain is mush…sorry”. I feel like my brain is turned sideways, trying to process everything that happened.

Short version:

Two weeks ago today, lightning hit our house.

Long version:

Two weeks ago, I was having an internal debate. Should I do my usual after work grocery errands today? Or, my husband brought up going to Sam’s together to do some afternoon bulk shopping since the weekend was over, and the crowds would be gone. I thought about the gym after work… The usual thoughts running through my head. It was all normal.

My husband and I decided since it was raining to just go home, and deal with the errands later. Afternoon summer showers are fairly usual around here, so it would clear up in a couple of hours. Then, it happened.

A loud boom. A white light flashing through the fireplace. Power went out.

Um…..first thought…what in the WORLD?

I stayed inside while Joey went outside, and saw our neighbors…. “Did you HEAR that?” “Did your house shake too?” “What happened?” Everyone was thinking the same thing…then we realized everyone had their lights on but us. We were the only ones without power. We got hit by lightning.

Then, my husband smelled smoke when he went back in the house.

Oh God.

We need to find this fire…we don’t see it outside. We don’t see it inside.

The attic.

In a huge crazy mess of frenzy (which I have trouble recalling exact events), long story short. There was a fire in the attic. A fire that could have gotten much much worse, since it was melting our gas line. We still have our house, no one was hurt and the fire was gone.

After things calmed down a bit, we were told by the fire department that we’re very lucky. Lucky, because the fire was melting away our gas line and it didn’t expose enough to become a “flame thrower” in our house. Lucky, because we just got home 20 minutes before the hit (we’d likely have no house or ::gulp:: Millie if we weren’t home to react immediately). Lucky, because my husband could have been badly hurt trying to extinguish this if the gas line was anymore burnt.

We’re lucky.

It’s been two weeks of random people in our house, insurance stuff, and just trying to make our house the same again. I’m sure it will be just fine, but for now, I’m out of it. On top of the lightning, we had a tragedy in our family this week.

When it rains, it pours.

I find myself completely turned sideways, unable to get a grasp on things. My emotions are out of control, and I’m struggling to see the positive in anything right now. It’s hard, and I know you’re supposed to come out of these things stronger, but I really just want to fast forward a year and just know everything will get better.

I’m sure this blog post makes no sense, but I felt like I just needed to write. It has been such a trying past couple of weeks, so that’s why this blog has been pretty quiet. Hopefully, things return to normal soon, but for now, we’re just taking things one day at a time.

One valuable thing I learned from all of this is if a fire happens in your house, don’t constantly question things…GET OUT. Get everyone out of that house as quickly as possible. No matter how small a fire may appear when you find it, you have no idea how quickly things could escalate.

 

 

 

 

A Bunch of Randoms

Another week bites the dust! I’m excited about this weekend, because IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON!

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1. Weight loss is so crazy. My body is changing before my eyes, and I find that I’m getting so much stronger with every work-out. I just finished Week 2 of Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer, and it’s amazing to see baby muscles. I’m seriously addicted to taking “gun show” pictures, like the one above. Can we talk about how much some of the moves suck? Narrow push-ups and preacher curls, especially. OMG, the burn!

2. Another funny with weight loss. I hope this isn’t too personal. I’ve been switching out clothes like crazy the past 70ish lbs. However, one thing that I realized is that I have yet to get a smaller size of are my sports bras. Oops. WORLD of a difference… the smaller size definitely supports me better. Ladies: Target has their C9 bras for $12/pair until Saturday (regularly $16.99). I stocked up. I should be good for another 70 lbs. (haha….just kidding).

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3. I’m looking to purchase a larger camera bag, since I really only use mine when traveling and I’d like more room for a computer or iPad. So, I’m selling this one, since it’s kind of crazy for me to have two camera bags (as a hobbyist). This is a Kelly Moore Posey bag (first edition) in muted teal…purchased in 2011. I’ve only used it a handful of times, but it’s still in very good condition (there’s a couple of spots that are slightly worn in the faux leather but other than that, great condition). I’m hoping to sell it for $90 (paid $159), but I’m willing to take a reasonable offer too. Email me at niftyfoodie at gmail.com if you’re interested. :-)

4. Goodness. I need Kate Spade to stop having major online sales. Every single time there is one, I see a bag (or 2) that I want, and I have to tell myself no. Not until Onederland. 30ish lbs. to go! :-

5. Yes, indeed.

Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins

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It’s been a while since I’ve consistently lost weight. I’ve been hovering around the 70 lbs. lost mark for about 3 months now, and while it’s great to know that I can maintain the loss, I really miss that loose clothes feeling. :-) I started a new weight training program last week, and it made me forget just how amazing weights can be. Currently, I’m working out 4 days a week straight, with 3 rest days, which is how the program is outlined. For those four days, my weight dropped a little, but once those rest days hit, the scale had a huge drop.

Five pounds lost!

I was completely shocked to see a number like that, and it’s super motivating to get back on track. My original goal was to hit Onederland (199 lbs.) by Halloween, but I’m not sure at this point if that’s possible. We shall see, though. Last Halloween, I hit 50 lbs. lost. How perfect would 100 lbs. lost be? (even though I’d probably gain 2 back testing out candy for Trick or Treaters).

Since I was getting back on track, I wanted to bake up something that would be a quick, easy snack to share with coworkers. These muffins were perfect. I subbed applesauce for oil (1:1), which substitutes perfectly in quick breads and muffins (you won’t miss it!), and omitted the pecans, since I’m probably the only southern gal who thinks pecans are gross. (Back story: I ate one too many rotten ones off my Memaw’s tree as a kid and now I can’t stand them!) These muffins were fluffy, flavorful and my coworkers didn’t even realize there was applesauce in them! :-) You don’t even need to fork out the mixer for this one….two bowls and a spoon will work just fine. I love recipes like that. :-)

Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins
Source: mildly adapted from The Novice Chef

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened (no sugar added) applesauce
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • nutella

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
    2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until everything is well-mixed. Set this aside for later use.
    3. In a large bowl, mix together the bananas, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Mix in the egg, applesauce and vanilla extract, and beat everything for about 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, and slowly mix everything together until just mixed (don’t over-mix).
    4. Scoop the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each liner 3/4 of the way full. Add 1 tsp. of nutella to the top of each muffin, and use a toothpick to swirl the nutella into the muffin batter.
    5. Bake the muffins for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

A Bunch of Randoms

I haven’t written one of these posts in a while, but I’ve taken quite a few photos on my phone since then. :-)

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1. You know you’re an adult when this is on your Christmas wish list. Hello pretty pantry storage! My husband thinks I’m a weirdo for wanting this set as a gift, but oh man, I really really do!

2. This is truly a random, but one of my favorite things about SNL is when the actors break down and laugh. It just makes them seem more normal. :-)

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3. I REALLY lucked out a couple of weeks ago, and won a giveaway for a Masterbuilt smoker from NWA Foodie’s blog. I seriously still can’t believe it, but we spent last weekend cleaning out our patio area and finding a place for it. We pre-seasoned the smoker as well, so it’s now ready for us to break it in! What should I make first? I’m seriously eye-ing some brisket right now. :-)

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4. This never gets old. The green top was something I got for my trip last year to San Diego, and it’s just way too big now. I know I take pictures like this a lot, but it seriously doesn’t get old. Sorry.

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5. Now that I’m fitting in regular sized clothing, I’m constantly surprised by the choices I have. I’m also learning what shapes flatter my body. Dress on the left…no. Dress on the right? Heck yes. I promise you these were taken on the same night in the same fitting room (Kohl’s).

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6. In case you don’t follow me on Instagram, you probably have no idea what this is. Back when I was losing weight for the wedding (on Weight Watchers), I learned about a great motivation idea to make a paper clip chain. Add a paper clip for every pound, and it’s a constant reminder of how far you’ve come. My coworkers just think it’s paper clip bunting….to me, it’s so much more. I hope I’m never asked to take this down.

7. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chocolate collection from Sucré!

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Some Structure

I’ve been lifting weights for almost 8 months now. When my husband and I joined the gym near our house for the new year, I was pretty overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do, and was so intimidated by others who did. I just went to a weight machine and lifted what I could.

The next morning, my body was on fire. Everything was sore. I thought I was doing well. :-) So, I kept at it….twice a week, I’d do the machines, almost every machine. I went from 10 lbs. to 50 lbs. in a matter of 7 months. I was so proud of myself…my body was changing. In talking to my husband and a few friends, I was told that machine weights aren’t really the best way to go. Sure, it’s a work-out, but if I wanted to see better results, I had to move to free weights.

So, last week, I did it. I moved to free weights.

AKA I went to the “big boy” weight room. Scary, y’all. The people in there are LEGIT, and here I am with my ‘I’m still 300 lbs.’ self esteem.

First thing I did was grab 2-25 lb. dumbbells to do chest flies. I figured since I did 50 lbs. on the machine, 50 lbs. in free weights was my level. HA! I could barely lift the weights to chest level. I went down to 15…I could barely lift them, much less do a full-on chest fly lying down. So, 8 lbs. it was. I went from 50 lbs. to 16 lbs., and still felt like I was working like crazy. That’s an example of one exercise I had to go WAY down in weights for. I know 16 lbs. sounds like nothing, but y’all…the soreness was back. Hurt so good (I’m crazy, I know).

Fast forward to this week. My friend and I decided that we definitely need more structure in our weight lifting routines. Personal trainers are expensive, and if we could find a work-out online (preferably free), all the better. Lo and behold, my friend found this work-out on a bodybuilding website. It’s by a trainer named Jamie Eason, and the program is called Live Fit.

It seems like a great program, and in reading the forums on MyFitnessPal, there are excellent reviews.

There are three phases of the program and in total, the whole program is over in 12 weeks. :-)

The only issue I have with the program is that Phase One contains NO cardio in it. I know I’m supposed to trust in the process, but I can’t give up running for 4 weeks. I think I’m just gonna run 2x/week for a mile or two, just to keep a good baseline going, since my first half is about 6 months away (gulp!).

I also won’t be following the diet plan. I will keep cleaner eating in mind (which I should be doing anyway), but I’m just gonna continue with my calorie counting throughout the program. I may not have optimal results, but I’m sure I’ll see something. I started the program yesterday (took measurements), and I’ll admit, it was weird focusing on one area of the body (triceps/chest). However, I really feel it today. It hurts to stretch!

If you lift weights, do you follow a program?