The Top 10 “Staples” for Transforming My Physique


There has been a progression to my workouts, mindset and goals over the last 12 years. The biggest progression to my physique has been over the last 2 years. And I’m happy with it all, though I always strive to learn more, be more and improve. For me, fitness doesn’t have an “end”.

Here are the Top 10 “Staples” in my workouts that have really helped transform my physique.

squats1. Squats. I’m not talking about the barely going parallel crap either. I’m talking the below 90 degree, ass to the grass squats that make you work. Best overall leg movement, in my opinion. Plus, I feel like a super BOSS when the heavy weight goes on!

lats2. Lat Pull downs. I love these! So many variations, big results. This move has really helped shape my back and gives more of a nice “V” shape to my midsection.

3. Straight legs. These are easier on my knees than deadlifts and can be done with a regular weighted bar or the Smith machine. I prefer the Smith machine followed by dumbbells.

4. Hamstring curls. I like doing all of the machines possible for curls – laying down, sitting, upright. If there’s a good machine for hams, I’ll find it.

Next is the trifecta for building boulder shoulders: press, raise and flye… 🙂


5. Shoulder press. I alternate between the squat rack, straight bars and sitting to do presses. My shoulders have really taken off by incorporating these moves and I love it!

6. Shoulder raises. Again, variation is key. I love doing shoulder raises. As a bonus, they help build up my traps as well. Score!

7. Rear delt flyes. My favorite move for the rear delt is on the double cable row. I will do a ba-zillion sets on the cables because it’s one of my favorite moves.

lat row

8. Low cable rows. I’ll use the same double cable row for lats or the single lat row cable. Both are great but, for isolation, I’ll use the one with double handles, do one lat at a time and really squeeze those muscles during my set.

9. Tricep push/pull downs. My triceps are still a work in progress but have gotten much more defined by incorporating a variation of moves and high/low reps. I love doing push downs and pull downs versus overhead movements, due to some elbow injuries.

10. Bicep curls. Biceps are another work in progress but I love doing rope curls. I can go heavier, which makes me feel like Hercules 🙂 and it’s a little easier on my elbows and forearms than regular curls, though I do those too. Variety!

absI always love feedback and new ideas, so comment below…   What are YOUR favorite moves? What’s really helped ignite YOUR progress?  Happy Lifting! 😀



Taking Stock | April


Another bustling month and, hopefully, a better list below!

So here’s a look into my April, another chapter down in the book called 2015. Let me know what you think.

Making: Sparkling wine glasses, my DIY project.

Cooking: and creating variations of the low-carb turkey burger from last month. Super good!!!

Drinking: Protein cocoa 🙂

Reading: How the World Sees YOU by Sally Hogshead. I’ve been reading this on and off. Just finished “The Dumpster” by Becky Due and LOVED it! 😀

Wanting: $1000 to just shop for new clothes and shoes! I’m getting the spring wardrobe itch!

Looking: for opportunities to work or volunteer that falls in line with my career goals and passions

Playing: the game of life

Deciding: that I’m ready for change

Wishing: I could move overseas for just a few years.

Enjoying: getting involved in these wonderful, new post ideas!

Waiting: impatiently to buy some new skin care items

Liking: the new hot cereal we’ve been getting. Ah…

Wondering: how to make it all work

Loving: the inspiration I’m getting from my fellow bloggers!

Pondering: whether I really want to tackle painting some walls this summer

Considering: whether I want to only cut off 1-2 inches of hair or *gasp* a full 3 inches! I’ve been growing it out for quite some time so even considering taking off 2-3 inches is crazy for me. I still have another week to decide!

Buying: some new shirts and makeup

Watching: Caribbean Life on HGTV – I love house hunting shows!

Hoping: that my plans will one day work out for the good

Marveling: at how different, yet similar, people are.

Cringing: when I think of moments from my past

Needing: some excitement!

Questioning: how some people leave the house dressed like that. Do they not own a mirror? Or have an honest partner or friend? We need to have people’s backs!

Smelling: the spring air and the fresh hope of new things to come

Wearing: my new foundation Sleek Be Beautiful – really liking it so far!

Following: so many amazing bloggers and I love it!

Noticing: the small things in life, like watching the neighbor kids ride bikes outside and observing other people’s routines and actions

Knowing: that I shouldn’t buy more products and clothes but can’t stop myself

Thinking: that there’s definitely an under current of desires in my thoughts lately

Admiring: those who are extremely comfortable and confident in their skin

Sorting: through thoughts of what will really make me happy

Getting: help from my favorite coworker to recover a lost Word document. So grateful!!

Bookmarking: ideas for new blogs

Coveting: some new experiences

Disliking: the warm, then cold weather. Just stay warm already!

Opening: myself up to even more new experiences and ideas

Giggling: over another blogger giving me a “shout out” on their blog. Super awesome feeling!

Feeling: a little hopeless on something that’s been troubling me lately.

Snacking: on my thoughts

Wishing: (just noticed wishing is on the list twice, mistake? hmm..) wishing for changes!

Helping: friends move. Ugh…

Hearing: the soft patter of rain outside my window

Pip from Meet me at Mikes started a taking stock list last year. Since then a number of bloggers have chosen to participate each month, including me. Want to join in + play along too? Head over to Pip’s blog, drop your link in her collection + check out other Taking Stock posts.

One + Four = Life | April 26


This was a good week indeed. Really, my weeks from here on out will revolve around the gym and training. So my upcoming One + Four posts might be a little boring 🙂 But this week was good. The weekend was definitely the best part because we had nothing going on. I was able to enjoy some quality time with Shawn as we had no where pressing to be and nothing pressing to do. We had some cocoa :), kicked back and relaxed. It was wonderful!

Hope you enjoy the glimpse into my life….  


We went to Fit Con Friday and got to listen to some amazing speakers and score lots of free samples of protein, pre-workout and other goodies. Super fun time! Here, Ben Pakulski was giving a talk and called me up to demonstrate some moves. I was super nervous, especially when I looked at the crowd (I had been in the front row) and realized how many people had actually gathered to listen to him. It was pretty cool to be called up though, even if I looked like a sweaty deer in headlights. Spent a great afternoon with the hubby, learning about one of our biggest passions: Fitness.


Selfie alert: meet my left arm! I’m not one who brags but I’ve received a lot of compliments this week on how my upper body is looking. And I’m proud. So really, I’ll consider it just sharing something I’m proud of, not bragging 🙂 I’m still pushing myself each day, bringing the intensity.  Game on!


My mug of protein cocoa, a favorite drink of mine! Super easy to make and super yummy to drink 🙂 I love kicking back after a long day, having a cup of cocoa and relaxing with my little family. This is usually a Sunday treat or after dinner but before dessert treat. It warms my bones.


Another favorite of mine, and something I have almost nightly, is protein cookies with Walden Farms chocolate syrup on top. Picture is before baking. They can also be put in the freezer and eaten as a cold dessert. Delicious and healthy! Love them!!

If you’re interested in playing along, head over to Pip’s blog and drop your link in her collection + check out other One + Four = Life posts. Drop your link below as well, I would love to check them out!

10 to 1 Challenge


I was roaming around yesterday, saw this challenge and thought it looked fun and interesting (I modified it just a little…) Hopefully you agree! I love learning more about my new blogging “friends” and hope you enjoy another glimpse into my world.

So…. I Nominate EVERYONE for the 10 to 1 Challenge!! 🙂 I just ask that you do 3 super easy things: 1) Share your answers, or include the URL to your blog, in the comments below, 2) Mention who nominated you for the challenge and 3) Nominate anyone and everyone you know!



10 Facts about Yourself

1. I used to hate the color yellow. With a passion. Now, it’s growing on me.

2. I’m not a “sleep in” person. I’ve always been an early riser and actually prefer it that way.

3. I have an addiction to chocolate and peanut butter.

4. I have resting bitch face. People often ask me what’s wrong. I tell them “Nothing, it’s just my face.”

5. I like meeting new people but, at the same time, I’m terrible at small talk and am afraid of talking to new people.

6. I’ve often wondered if I could lead a minimalist lifestyle.

7. I’m impatient. Get to the point already!

8. I love cake and will devour one by myself if left alone to my own devices.

9. I’m a planner/go with the flow hybrid.

10. I need to have all the information laid out in front of me before making decisions.

9 Movies You’ve Seen Recently

1. Underworld

2. Iron Man

3. Unbroken

4. The Imitation Game

5. Death Becomes Her

6. Innerspace

7. Fast and the Furious 7

8. The Lazarus Effect

9. St. Vincent

8 Places You’d Love to Go to

1. Ireland

2. New Zealand

3. England (again)

4. Italy

5. New York

6. Alaska

7. Australia

8. China or Japan

7 Things You Couldn’t Live Without (Basics aside, like Family, Health, etc.)

1. Chap stick

2. Gum

3. Books

4. Comfortable clothing

5. A good gym!

6. Hair ties

7. Chocolate and peanut butter!

6 People Who Inspire You

1. My mom

2. My friend Becky, who is always fabulous, adventurous and loving life

3. Positive people

4. Other bloggers

5. My dad

6. Figure competitors

5 Favorite Ways to Spend Your Free Time

1. Read

2. Travel

3. Movies

4. Time with friends

5. Hiking or being outside

4 Reasons You Enjoy Doing Your Blog

1. Meeting new people

2. Gaining new perceptions

3. Feeling like I can discuss parts of my life, uninterrupted and unfiltered

4. It’s a good stress reliever and way for me to feel semi-creative

3 Things You Like About Yourself

1. My strength

2. My sense of humor

3. My curiosity

2 Things You’re Looking Forward To

1. Mexico in June

2. A better career one day

1 Quote You Live By 

1. I’m not a huge quote person but here is one I like – “You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”

Easy peasy! Remember to complete the 3 easy steps above – thanks for taking the time to read my answers AND complete the challenge yourself! Happy Blogging, Friends!

My Journey to the Stage ‘aka’ Scared Sh**less – Entry 5: Cut/Increase #1


maintainApril 20 – Competition diets are a tricky beast. Especially when you’ve never competed before (like me) and aren’t sure how your body will react to changes. We cut my calories and carbs over a month ago and realized that was too soon. For the last few weeks, I’ve increased my calories a little and have been maintaining well (whew!).

Did my body fat, weight and measurements again this weekend. Today is the “official” cut/increase part of my diet. The nitty-gritty starts now and, like a locomotive, there’s no stopping for the next 7 weeks. Now, I’ve been pretty lucky so far so I really can’t complain. Yet. When my husband did his last competition, 2.5 years ago, I did the diet portion with him (I just had surgery and couldn’t do the training). It was 3 months of dieting hell, with the last month being miserable and the remaining weeks being pure, torturous hell beyond my wildest imagination. This time has been different. We’ve been smarter this time. Up until a few weeks ago, we still went out for healthy meals and have maintained a healthy but flexible meal plan. Much more sustainable, mentally and physically. But hell is still coming, this I know. There will still be discomfort, cravings, crankiness, exhaustion and hunger. There’s no escaping that. I just won’t have to go through it as long this time 🙂

hungry 2

So any way… today is the start of my “no variation / stick to the plan” meal plan. There is no flexibility, no “just a little extra scoop”. I’ve slightly increased the volume in my workouts as well. My goal is to maintain the same weight but adding in a few extra sets.

super heroI’ve noticed a little more hunger today but not too terrible. I’m taking more BCAA’s and HMB to help off set the changes. This morning’s workout was fabulous. Pushed myself and felt great! I’m just under 7 weeks now and, not going to lie, some days it’s hard to stay motivated, positive and focused. Some days will be better than others and I’m prepared for that. I can only do my best!

One + Four = Life | April 19


The work week was extremely slow moving but full of great workouts and friends. We just got done with a fabulously delicious late lunch (another variation of our favorite mushroom burgers) and are ready to kick back and relax for the rest of the day. Below is another installment of some things from my week.

Hope you enjoy the glimpse into my life….

be beautiful

 This is the new foundation I’ve been using the last week – Be Beautiful Blemish Balm by Sleek. I’m really liking it so far! This was recommended by Wayne Goss (my you tube obsession) and I found it on I’m always skeptical of new foundations, especially when I have to guess at which shade to get. But, so far, I’m impressed and enjoying it. Score!

face mask

This little pirate is my new face mask that I’ve also been trying out. I’ve never used a face mask before and was surprised at how quickly my skin tightens after putting it on. My husband loves laughing at me when I come out of the bathroom with a gray/blue face! It’s too early to tell if there will be a noticeable difference with my skin but it’s been fun to try. If anyone has any good recommendations for another great face mask let me know, I’m always up for trying something new! I’ll actually be using this again just shortly…  🙂


Ta da! My Philosophy book from this semester. This class was harder for me, probably because it’s online and I have to try and teach myself some concepts that I don’t fully understand. Think of the blind leading the blind scenario…. I finished my term paper this week and took the final test. I’m all done and not sure when final grades will post but I’m confident I passed the class. Yay!


More time with friends. Friday night we went to the local Bee’s baseball game. Windy and a little chilly but good times. Saturday spent a few hours with my girlfriends laughing and playing Cards Against Humanity. Who writes for that game? And are they hiring? Today we had brunch and great conversation with a good friend of mine and her husband. A weekend full of laid back activities, friends and, now, relaxation with my little family.

If you’re interested in playing along, head over to Pip’s blog and drop your link in her collection + check out other One + Four = Life posts. Drop your link below as well, I would love to check them out!

5 Things I’ve Learned from Watching House Hunters


I love House Hunters, House Hunters International and every other show like them. Absolutely love them! LOVE them! I love to see houses in the various states and overseas, the price tags, the search for the right place and people’s little nuances. I’ve been an avid watching for many years now and these are still among my favorite shows ever.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from watching House Hunters:

  1. yogaEveryone makes more money than we do. Especially yoga instructors. It blows my mind *boom* to see people moving to Costa Rica or Paris, wanting a place big enough for their yoga studio (which looks to hold about 3 people) on a million dollar budget. Either people overseas are making major bucks and we really need to consider moving or these people are robbing banks before heading out of the country. Seriously, how do you have a million dollar budget by teaching yoga or any other routine day job? If there are routine day jobs that pay this much, where are they located and are they hiring???

2. ballsMost men’s balls are stuffed so far down their wife’s purse, one would have to root around for 13 years to actually find them. Even after you dust those puppies off, they would be shriveled and unusable so you might as well chuck them back in and only pull out at holiday parties as part of a joke. Grow a pair men! Yes, being paired up is all about compromise but, seriously, I’ve never seen so many couples move overseas for the husband’s job, leaving the wife to quit her career or continue being a stay at home mom, and end up in a place that provides a 30-60 minute commute for the guy (even though he wanted a place near work) just because the wife liked the house and threw a fit. According to the guy, “Well, since you’re going to be spending all your time here, it needs to be some place you really enjoy.” So much for more time together to explore a new country! “Bye honey, have fun spending 2 hours in traffic and all day at work. See you tonight while we’re getting ready for bed. Oh, by the way, I had a lovely day at home without you. Wish you could enjoy our new place, too. You know, if you weren’t commuting and working.” Yeah…

3. kitchenEvery country is different. For instance, in some countries, the kitchen items do not come with the house. I’m talking stuff like the fridge, stove, and sometimes even the kitchen island! People have to bring their own kitchens. WTH? What kind of logic is this? Does this mean that you need to purchase a house to fit your old kitchen stuff? Or is everything just standard, like a one size fits all, so it doesn’t matter? Either way, it’s mind boggling to me.

4. perceptionsPeople’s perceptions vary greatly. Some think this master bedroom is too small, a kitchen not updated enough and *gasp!* has carpet! Other people think a shoe box size room is perfect for their needs, want something with a compartmentalized set up (no open concept living), and either want a no maintenance yard or 3 acres of farm land.

5. house poorBudget doesn’t matter to realtors. Almost every episode starts with the person(s) giving their list of must-have’s, wants and their ideal to non-negotiable budget. And every single time, the realtor shows them a place that’s anywhere from $100-$800 over (if renting) or $50,000-$400,000 over (if buying). Now, the ones that are hundreds of thousands over are usually for those with a $1+ million budget but, still! What, you may ask, happens next? Buyers say “Wow, that’s way over our budget”, to which the realtor comes back with any combination of the following: “Oh but wait until you see the view”, “It’s gorgeous on the inside, though, you just have to see it”, “But it has everything on your wish list” and “Well, let’s just check it out any way and then you can decide”. Yeah, I’ve already decided. My budget is “X”. This home is not. But Oh… So glad it’s a beautiful home because I can stare at the beauty while I’m house poor and can’t do anything but have conversations like “oh hey family and friends, don’t I have a beautiful home, with a great view and with all the things I wanted. Better go make our top ramen and canned ravioli for dinner now. You just sit and enjoy the beauty while I start the microwave.” I would punch my realtor.

Stay tuned, there’s always more to learn….