Wednesday, May 29, 2013

All About Insanity: Pure Cardio

Insanity Pure Cardio is one of the workouts within the first half of the program that I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love it, because it seems to go by much faster than the other workouts; I hate it because it kicks my ass every.damn.time! I always find myself breathless within the first few minutes of the workouts, but at the same time I always find myself fighting to push through - after all, that's the point, right?

Pure Cardio starts off the same way as the other Insanity workouts with a 10 minute cardio warm up. Now, for many people the warm up in itself could be considered a workout!  Jogging in place, Heismans, 1 2 3 Heismans, butt kicks, high knees, jumping jacks, power jacks....all of these are done within the first 10 minutes getting faster and more intense as you near the end of the time period. But the reward comes after: the stretch.

The stretch is a little slice of heaven for your muscles, lungs, etc. At this point, your muscles are nice and warm so you can really get deep into the lunges, making the whole first ten minutes totally worth it. It is during this time that Shaun T politely comments that he's actually afraid of the upcoming workout. Awesome. This should be good.

You start right off with suicides for about 60 seconds, and then head into switch kicks. The majority, if not all, of the exercises are done for 1 minute periods before you switch to the next challenge. The entire circuit lasts about 16 minutes with exercises taking you to the ground, in the air, and side-to-side. Insanity Pure Cardio is just that: PURE CARDIO.  Unlike the other Insanity workouts, water breaks are not provided during the pure cardio portion; however, Shaun T is always one to remind you to never sacrifice form, and to take a break when needed. You never stop moving and sometimes, once it is all over, I ask myself if I actually BREATHED during the workout, haha! As soon as you start, you blink your eyes and you are at the cool down (another amazing stretch). 

Every single time I find myself reflecting during the cool down saying, "That wasn't so bad...", yet every time I push play I still find myself saying "WTF Shaun T!" a few times during those 15 minutes haha. Insanity Pure Cardio definitely packs a punch and can make any athlete feel a little bit humble at the end, but it really is something that anyone can enjoy. From beginners to the advanced, Pure Cardio continues to offer challenges and rewards. Shaun T encourages taking breaks if your form is off, getting water when needed, listening to your body, and checking on your heart rate. For this reason, anyone can do this workout and feel comfortable going at their own pace.

Always a great reminder: Insanity is nothing but a challenge against yourself. No one else.

Interested in seeing if this program is right for you? Shoot me a message to the right, or simply email me at  After a proper assessment of your current activity level and interests, I can recommend something that will fit your schedule and needs perfectly.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Les Mills Combat Transformation

I am SO excited about this particular blog post because it is featuring a good friend of mine, Lindsay. 
Lindsay was someone I had been working with for about a year, trying to find a program that really spoke her language. She went through a few of them, but nothing really clicked. Nothing kept her engaged, excited, and continuously pushing play so she could get the results that she desired.  In addition, this girl had tried every shake on the market, just about, only to get an upset stomach from each one. I recommended Shakeology to her, and with proper usage she found that it was the one shake that not only tasted good, but more importantly did not make her sick.

I'm so proud of her today. She is an amazing inspiration to others, a mom (and a kickass mom at that), and one of her best qualities is that she doesn't apologize for who she is! She drinks beer, she likes birthday cake, and also enjoys bar food - SHE.IS.REAL and that's what I love most about her.

Here's her story:

How did you get hooked up with Nicole? "We met at pole dancing class!"

What's your deal?  "I got started January 1, 2013 because I was tired of flowy shirts and pants that didn't fit. I had tried 10 Minute Trainer wasn't for me. It was great time-wise, but I needed something else. I tried the gym - hate leaving my kids. I love combat because it kicks ass and I love Dan and Rach - they aren't your typical corny dvd trainers - Rach isn't some chic in hot pants that you want to punch." (I told you Lindsay was real, lol)

How is your life different now?  "Life has changed immensely! I cannot WAIT to shop for a baithing suit this year and not cry in the dressing room. I get up each day and look at my new toned body and I'm so proud of me - couldn't have done it without my shakes either though!"

What did your coach do to help you along? " Nicole helped me by not giving up on me. She knew I could do it and she didn't listen to any of my BS excuses.  She kept posting pics of her all toned up and I was jealous! She knew what it took to kept me going, and I knew I could do it if I put all of my BS aside and press play.  

Lindsay, as you can see, is definitely someone you don't want to meet in a back alley, lol, but she is more importantly a true inspiration. Being a mom takes up a lot of time (and her kids are in soccer  and dance, and if you have soccer kids or dance kids you now how that goes!) She works a regular 9-5, has a newer puppy to take care of, house chores just like the rest of us but she makes NO excuses and gets her workout in EVERY day.  Congratulations on your achievements, Lindsay! Can't wait to see what else is in store for you!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Combat is ON SALE for June ONLY! Get this program, and a 30 day supply of Shakeology (which was the equation that Lindsay used for her success) for only $140..that's a $70 savings! Head over to and find the quick link on the right to purchase!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Shakeology Mojito

Fridays are my favorite days, but one of the reasons is because its HEALTHY RECIPE FRIDAY!!!


Today the spotlight goes back onto Shakeology, my go to shake and the only thing I trust to put into my body, and turning a health shake into a Mojito! (yeeaaaaya!)

Who doesn't love mojitos? They are summery, fresh, minty, cold, and refreshing.  The only thing that sucks about them is typically they are high in calories (even "lite" mojitos are near 400 calories!) And those are empty calories. Those aren't nutrients, whole foods, vitamins, minerals..its mostly the alcohol and whatever syrupy mixer the bar may choose to use.

But this little gem only packs 166 calories, 15 grams of protein, 22 carbs and only 1 gram of fat (and its healthy fats!).  Want to "kick it up a notch", add in some white rum for a kick. Will this increase these numbers? Yes, but it's still better for you than what you would get at a bar (and probably cheaper!)

Super easy, and delicious!

1 packet Strawberry Shakeology
1 TBS fresh lime
2 TBS chopped mint leaves
1 cup H20

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Insanity Fit Test Results (Day 15)

The first time I took the Insanity fit test, I felt motivated. Motivated to be better the next time than I was the first time. At the same time, a part of me felt defeated. It just felt like SUCH a long road was ahead of me.

BUT! We are in to week 3 and I am still kickin'! Truth be told, I missed my workout yesterday, but am doubling up today in order to make up for it and stay on track! Other than that, I have been following the schedule as is on the calendar, and the nutrition plan that is included.

For the most part my nutrition has be spot on with a few occasional "celebratory" meals in there (graduation season), but other than that not only have I been eating the foods recommended, but I have come to find that I look forward to eating them because they are so good (and so damn easy!!!). The only negative part is I now need a bigger lunchbox :)

So here are my results from the fit test! I'm looking to be on target with my goals, and feel confident that I will blow past them at the end of this program. I was pretty impressed with how much I have improved already in such a short period of time; however, each workout I am feeling stronger, so maybe that should have come as such a surprise.

Conquering this workout day in and day out (even if I am taking breaks when needed) has made me feel like a million bucks. I mean, this is's the hardest workout DVD you can get. Now, I'm not saying there aren't bootcamps out there that are worse, as I am sure that there are, but for me - this is the mothership of all home workout DVDs. I have heard of so many people quitting mid way through and to know that I am still going, despite being tired, makes my confidence level soar.

Now, I will tell you its not easy. I am finding that in Week 3 my body is rebelling to working out. I'm still going strong, but my body doesn't WANT to. I would rather sleep, lay around, do something else...but as soon as I get through the first round of warm up drills, I am good to go. It seems to just be the act of GETTING UP that my body doesn't like right now.  Either way though, I haven't quit and I don't plan to. Stay tuned for more results!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Best Protein Shake EVER!

If there is one thing that Insanity has provided me with (besides a lot of sweat and more laundry to do), it is some DELICIOUS meals from the nutrition plan.  During my time with the program, I plan on spotlighting a new recipe out of the plan that I LOVE every Friday!

This week's is a protein shake. Now, I have done every kind of protein you can think of and I hate the after taste of protein. I swear, it doesn't matter what brand I am using, I can always taste protein powder taste...I don't know what it is, it is just always THERE!  This was the first shake that I made that I did NOT taste the powder, thus making me love it even more! (and the color is pretty too!) Not only is this shake jam-packed with fruit, but it holds a great "summery" taste and keeps you full for about 2-2 1/2 hours making it that perfect morning snack between breakfast and lunch. If you try it out, leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Vanilla-Berry Protein Shake

1 cup nonfat milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

1 scoop Beachbody Whey Protein Powder, Vanilla (or whatever protein powder you prefer)

1/2 cup berries, fresh or frozen

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 medium banana, cut into chunks

1/2 cup ice.

Place everything into a blender, blend, and enjoy!

Calories: 293
Fat: 3g
Sodium 176mg
Carbs: 42g
Fiber: 6g
Sugar: 31g
Protein: 28g

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Insanity: Why You Shouldn't Fear It

Before I start, this is not to discredit the Insanity fitness program. It is to do much the opposite!

My decision to begin Insanity was largely based on an upcoming trip: Vegas, baby! And this isn't just any old trip to Vegas - this is to participate in Beachbody's annual Summit! And what happens at Summit? Live workouts with the trainers. And who is going to be there? Shaun T.  If there is one thing I didn't want, it was for my first Insanity workout to be in front of the man himself. I didn't need him seeing me cry, or vomit all over his squeaky clean sneakers.
This fear sort of lingered deep within me about a week before I started the program. I was getting ready to run a half marathon and I'm not sure what I was more nervous about: the race, or the Insanity workouts starting the day after the race. But that fear quickly dissipated as I began further reviewing the product. I knew it was awesome, I knew it worked, but reading more and more testimonials from others just solidified it in my mind that this was what I needed to go to that next level and get in the best shape of my life. EVERYONE was doing it! New moms, college students, middle-aged individuals, and even senior citizens! Insanity was positively affecting the lives of not just people like me, but everyone that surrounded me.

The first time I pushed play, I was already sweating with anticipation prior to doing ANY movement. Looking back on it now, that was so stupid of me! I mean, it's a workout, come on! There is NO reason to be afraid of a little Insanity!

When you begin to feel discouraged about this program, remember this:

(1) It's YOUR program. You do it at your home. No one is witnessing you if you have to take a break. No one is screaming at you or giving you the stink eye if you feel challenged one day. There's no judgement from others. Do it for you. Do it at your own pace. Set out to impress yourself, and don't allow yourself to let you down.

(2) Insanity is more mental than physical. Again, it is physically challenging and you WILL be tapping out if you are saying, "I hate this" "I can't". You need to think positive the entire time: "Just go! Just go! Just go!", "Don't you quit! Don't you quit! Don't you quit!" Those are my favorite phrases to say when the going gets tough

(3) When you do tap out, remind yourself it's okay. Think about it: If you spent the money on this program and could do it the entire way through at first wouldn't that be a waste of your money?? It's not meant to be easy! It's not meant to be able to be followed along right off the bat. It is meant to challenge you physically, teach you to break past barriers mentally, and get you to work your ass off! If it didn't do that, I'd say go get your money back. This isn't one of your old school programs used "to get you moving". This is in a class all its own. So if you tap out, praise yourself for how far you came, and go further next time.

The things in life that give you the best feelings, are the ones that include some work to achieve. You are worth your results. You are worth the sweat, the struggle, and the time for these workouts. Don't let it beat you up. Show up every day, push play, and get it done.

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear them! Feel free to send me a message and I'll respond within 24 hours! Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 13, 2013

How To Pick the Right Sports Bra

Ladies! This post is for you! Or fellas, maybe this would be a great gift for your female fitness friend...they fit right in a stocking! Haha!

If there is one problem that all females can relate to, it is the "boob issues" during working out. For some of my friends, I know that is one of the reasons why they do not ENJOY working out! I mean think about, it is SO uncomfortable to have things moving during a workout. Not only is it uncomfortable,but distracting! I am not even "blessed" in that area, and ANY movement just takes my workout from being enjoyable to "I want to quit".

Choosing the right support for you "friends" is important, not only for your own comfort and sanity, but for your workout! Think of how much focus is potentially pulled from your workout, to focus on the discomfort of a sports bra. The stress on your breasts is also an added weight for your body to work with as they "do their own thing", which in turn means harder work for your lungs and heart, believe it or not. So as you can see, securing "the girls" properly, has many, many benefits.

Now, not all sports bras are created equal! Just like your standard bras, there are options for every size and type.  Typically, three options are available to choose. Here is the rundown:

Compression Bras: These are the ones that smoosh you in and flatten you out. If you have over a B cup, these might not be for you. The comfort level of your "pride" is going to be very low, which may distract you from your workout. While the compression bra will definitely hold you in place, there are better options.

Now, if you are like me and a member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, a compression bra might be just what you need. Unfortunately, it does not enhance the assets for us, but makes us even flatter; however, I have personally found these bras to work best for me with my workouts. There is no "movement".

Encapsulation Bras: These are great for those of you who are larger in the boob-area. Encapsulation bras adds in the compression of the compression bras, but separates it into two separate cups that will comfortably hold the girls in place.An added benefit of these is it is also less sweaty, if ya catch my drift.

"Little ladies" listen up! These are also becoming more popular in our size, as well and gives you SOMETHING instead of looking flat as a board :)  I do have a few of these, because I am very self-conscious in this area, but I still prefer compression bras if I am really going hard at something (like my Insanity workouts)

Underwire Bras: These offer additional support to suppress the jiggling, but honestly, I hate bras with underwire in them regularly so I do not know how comfortable these would be. If you have ever utilized one, I encourage you to comment so that we can have an idea of what they feel like while working out

So to sum it up, picking the right sports bra is important for your sanity, your focus, your comfort, AND your endurance. There are three kinds out there, and each is great for a particular kind of "pair". What I have listed are just guidelines based on my own experience, and I encourage you to see for yourself; however, if you are consistently feeling a bit "loose" in that area while you workout, it might be time to try something new. Also remember that sports bras don't last forever. Most last about 30-40 we will call that 6 months-ish.

Ladies, comment below: What's your favorite type/brand of sports bra and why?

For more articles about fitness fashion, assistance, tips tricks, and ideas visit this link! New articles are posted throughout the week that are extremely applicable to your every day life.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Getting Clear About What You Want

What is it that you want?

We all want so many things.  But wanting and achieving are two separate things. You can want all day long, but if you don't believe and visualize the achievement of the goal then you are just going to exhaust yourself over wanting.

This year my goal for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon was to drop ten minutes off of my finish time. I visualized myself crossing the finish line, looking at my watch, and seeing my goal time over and over. Even during the actual race itself, when I would get tired I would go back and visualize my finish and it never failed to make me kick it up a notch. I know that sounds funny, but it works. Sure enough, my run went the exact way that I had envisioned it, down to my placement in the finish chute (far left next to the spectators so their cheering pumped me up), the running style (long strides), the breathing (controlled: in through the nose, out through the mouth), the focus of my eyes (the medal), and the celebration (like Tom Cruise jumping on the couch on Oprah). What I had envisioned for myself I had allowed to manifest.

When I swam, I always thought "meditation time" was just a great excuse to get out of the pool, stop working out, and lay around. At 8 years old you do not understand the benefit of visualizing a start, a breakout, a flip turn, or a strong finish. All you care about is getting out of a workout (woohoo!). Fast forward to when I was about 12 years old and I actually started participating in the meditation with my teammates. I listened to my coaches voice with my eyes closed, I pictured myself prior to hopping up onto the starting block right down to me spitting into my goggles so they didn't fog up on me during my swim. I could feel the water hit my body as I entered in, I could feel my arms and legs cut through it with each paddle and kick. Once I started doing that, I started achieving my goal times with swimming and since, meditation has just sort of stuck.

Many people have a misconception about meditation. When you talk about meditation so many people think it is sitting in a zen-like room, repeating Oohms in complete silence. You could do that, but meditation can also be so much easier. You can meditate right before you go to sleep, when you first wake up in the morning, or even while at work. Meditation does not have to be as defined as you think it needs to be. It just needs to be structured in a way that it is done when you have a moment of quiet, and a moment where you can focus. It can last 1 minute or 30 minutes (or more). Once you have thought clearly about a particular idea multiple times, it is easy to take yourself to "that place" in your mind and visualize everything. Thus, meditation gets easier and more rewarding the more you do it.

Meditation allows us to get REALLY clear about what we want. In fact, studies have shown that if we close our eyes and imagine ourselves participating in a particular activity, that we can make ourselves experience the emotions associated with that activity as if it is really occurring. Don't believe me? Try it. And really try it, don't just close your eyes and say, "I'm picturing myself winning the lottery and I feel nothing". Allow yourself to wander for a while, enjoy the time "living" your dream, and then tell me you feel nothing. If you are feeling nothing, you are not clear about what you want. When you have a clear sense, a crystal clear vision, and a drive to achieve something you can picture your exact outcome.

Meditation isn't for everyone. There will always be those that say meditation is a crock of crap that doesn't work, and to each their own. For me, I keep breaking my goals and achieving success and I personally feel that meditation has helped me get to that point, so I'm going to keep on meditating. If you have never tried it, I suggest you give it a whirl. Start taking a few minutes each night this week before you go to bed and think about what you want. Do you want to quit your job? Do you want to take your family on a dream vacation? What about buy a new car? The following steps will help you start to meditate on such an idea in order to help compel you to take action and reach your goals:

1) Envision your goal in its most basic form. What do you want?

2) Get more specific. If you want a new car, what kind, what color, what features, does it have tinted windows? Specify your want.

3) Imagine yourself achieving your goal. If it's a car, imagine your hands gripping the soft leather of the steering wheel. Imagine the key in your hands as you put into the ignition for the first time (or maybe you push to start). What does the engine sound like. Are you in your driveway, or at the dealership? Window up or down? Is there a breeze?

4) "Live" your goal. Take a few minutes to drive in your new car. What are you seeing as you drive past? Who are you waving to? Where are you going? What does the sun feel like on your skin as it comes in through your window.

This is what I mean by getting CLEAR. Your vision needs to be a movie of your achievement playing in your mind. Again, this takes practice but the more you practice, the clearer it will become, the more realistic it will become, and without knowing it you will start to take the necessary actions needed to achieve it.

Dream on!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sports Beans Review

I had heard of people talking about "beans".   "What do you use to sustain energy while you run?" "Typically Gu, blocks, or beans" I never really thought much of it until I needed to switch things up due to my stomach becoming upset from my old method of doing things.

If I would have known that these "beans" were jelly beans, hot damn! I would have tried them a long time ago! Who doesn't love jelly beans?! Well, no, that's a bad thing to ask, because I know a lot of people who hate jelly beans; however, I am not one of them!

I decided to try Jelly Belly's brand of Sports Beans before an 8 mile run a few weeks back and wanted to report my personal findings. Please know that this is just my personal experience.

The packaging promises quick energy for sports performance through Carbs, E

lecetrolytes, and Vitamins B & C. Sounds good to me off the bat, and they looked like jelly beans. But surely they wouldn't taste like them, right?


These little gems tasted like they popped right out of an Easter basket. That is the only downside to them. They are SO good! I fear that if there was a pack with multiple servings inside that I would eat the entire pack, and then have TOO much energy. Luckly, they come in single serving packs so that won't happen.

As far as the energy factor goes, I was surprised. Anything I have ever tried that said "Quick Energy!" on the label really meant "You're going to know what it feels like to be on Speed!"  This was not the case with these beans. There was no energy surge, no jitters, no feeling like my heart was going to beat out of its chest. it was just sort of a feeling that you could do what you needed to do. I wouldn't say that they gave me the energy to go above and beyond, but they gave me enough to get through the run - which that day was a blessing because it was a 10 hour work day and I was exhausted to begin with.

The price is very reasonable. I want to say I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 per pack. They also fit very nicely in my little running pouch, which is helpful because I get so irritated if that thing is weighed down and then starts to bounce around.

I'm also Hypoglycemic and during my runs my sugar has been known to drop and for anyone who is Hypoglycemic, you know how that feels. It's like a body crash from out of left field. Heavy eyes, tired, jittery but sort of nauseated at the same what I like about these beans is I can keep them in my running pouch and if I feel that happen I can munch on a few to get my levels up and feel better.

All in all, if you are looking for a light boost of energy that is extremely tastey and easily transportable I'd say the beans are for you. If you are looking for that feeling of being able to workout forever, and go full steam ahead, I would try something else.

Hope you enjoyed! Check back often for regular review of supplements, gear, etc.