Tuesday, June 30, 2009

BBQ & a Summer Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

Tonight when I stopped for some essentials at Trader Joe’s I SCORED the BEST deal ever!!! Seriously, if you all have a TJ’s near you, you need to get these.  3 lbs of firm, crispy, crunchy and amazing sweet cherries for only $5.99.


Yup ~ we seriously have a ton of fruit to eat!  No worries though – The Husband is a fruit hound.  I wish I had his ability to pick a piece of fruit over ice cream, but, that is what he often does for dessert *sigh*.

Tonight for dinner we were both craving some BBQ.  I decided to make extra so that The Husband has snacks.  I also wanted to use some of those fantastic cherry tomatoes I told you all about in a salad.

Summer Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad


1 Container of Fresh Mozzarella Balls in lightly salted water, drained

2 cups cherry tomatoes, havled

Handful ~ 7 basil leaves, chopped

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 tsp honey

Garlic Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Drain the mozzarella and sprinkle it with the garlic salt and pepper. I like using garlic salt because you get the saltiness plus garlic flavor without getting an overpowering raw garlic flavor that you will taste for hours.

Add cherry tomatoes and basil.  Mix the liquids and pour over the top.  Enjoy!

With this salad, I grilled up some super lean boneless Center Pork Loin Ribs, Organic Chicken Legs and Trader Joe’s Chicken Apple Sausages (only 3 WWP each!)  I had 1/2 a rib and 1/2 a sausage with my chicken leg. 


Plus some of the BEST Mac & Cheese EVER!  Annie’s White Shells and Cheddar.  Now the secret to making this perfect every time is to add a little salt to your water when you boil it, add 1 Tbsp of REAL butter along with a small splash (less than 1/4 c fat free milk – I do 2 1 second splashes) and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper.  These steps make it CREAMY not watery!


And of course, a small cup of the Summer Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad above.


My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach.  I only had 1/2 of the rib you see there, but, did a good job eating the rest!  I LOVED the TJ’s apple sausages – you can taste the PURE MAPLE syrup they use along with the apples and a hint of cinnamon – YUM!


Ok ~ Now it’s time for a little FUN Mail!  While we were away my Sonny Joe’s Contest Prize Pack arrived!  I was soooooo bummed because it arrived the day AFTER we left which meant it sat out for FOUR days!  I think I wasn’t meant to try Sonny’s and I was SOOOOO looking forward to it *sigh*  For what it’s worth, here is what my smelly prize pack looked like before I had to toss it ALL in the trash.


FOUR fantastic sounding flavors:

* Hummus Galilee ( OLIVE!)

*Just Hummus

* Buffalo Hummus

* Garlic Addiction

That’s about all I can tell you all about this hummus!  All was made better though when I opened up my NEXT package…….

The fantastic peeps at Amazing Grass sent me the Best of Both Worlds Organic Greens Sampler Pack – check out ALL the amazing products they sent my way!


* 2 Single Serving Berry Green Packs

* 2 Single Serving Chocolate Green Super Foods

* 2 Single Serving Superfood Packets

* 2 Single Serving Wheat Grass Packets

* 2 Chocolate Green Super Food Bars

* 2 Green Superfood Energy Bars

* 2 Amazing Meal Original Packs

* 2 Amazing meal Pom. Mango Packs

* 2 Amazing Meal Chocolate Packs

* 1 Super Cool Amazing Grass Shaker Container

I have been wanting to try out Wheat Grass ever since I first read about it in Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean books and learned how to eat clean!  She swears by it daily, however,  I have not yet been able to convince myself to drink it straight up.  I think Amazing Grass is the solution for me as they provide a product that you can mix in and flavor up!   I cannot wait to try everything here! I already have a smoothie planned for tomorrow….hmmm, which do I start with :) Reviews coming soon for all those clean eaters like me who have been wanting to brave Wheat Grass.

Stay tuned all as I have a fantastic Amazing Grass Giveaway planned for you all this week where you too can score a Best of Both Pack – yahoo!

For now though ~ My Vegas recap and product giveaway have to wait…..The Husband said until I get over my cold I have to get some sleep and am on blogging restriction lol if it cuts into my bedtime…….boooo!

Alright ~ Catch you all in the morning for more fun – Nite!

Farmer’s Markets & Thai Food complete me!

Today absolutely flew by and I LOVE it when days are like that! I STILL have a ton of work to do but that is a good thing. I tune into Jillian’s Michaels Podcasts and listen while I work. If you all haven’t checked them out, be sure to – a new show is recorded EVERY Sunday and it’s FREE to listen. I HEART JALL of Jillian’s stuff from her books to her DVD’s to her podcasts – she rocks!!! Tons of great info – click HERE and scroll to Sunday, look for her picture, click listen or download to your ipod and go!

The first stop for lunch today was the Farmer’s Market. This just might have been one of my absolute favorite ones! there were a ton of vendors and ALL the produce looked amazing. I was only going to pick up a few things, but……I couldn’t resist.

Fantastic organic strawberries


Organic Blueberries that are crunchy & sweet – the best!


Organic Squash ~ check out the two toned yellow/green summer squash – fun!


The most amazing Yellow & Red Cherry Tomatoes….they taste like candy they are so sweet!


3 types of organic green beans – I LOVE the purple ones! Here is a cool tip I need to test out. The guy said that if you add lime juice or vinegar when cooking – they don’t change their color and stay purple! FUN!


5 lbs for $5 – Nectarines – white & yellow, peaches & pluots – woohooo!!!


All put away and organized in our new fridge door – LOVE it!!!!


Next, we were off for lunch to Thai Food! I couldn’t decide what sounded best so my co-worker said – THAI!!!! It certainly did not disappoint. We went to the new Thai Kitchen place that we tried earlier in the month.

This time I started off with their Won Ton Soup. The floating stuff is white pepper – LOVE the kick it adds. I do however, think I LOVE the salad with that peanut dressing more!


I ordered Spicy Cashew Chicken! I was bummed that I forgot to say brown rice, but, that’s ok! OMG – this was sooooo amazing! It has a sweet, spicy sauce that is so good I actually pondered licking my plate (ok, well, if I wasn’t in the restaurant with others around….. :D


I LOVE that they use good quality white chicken breast – there is no doubt about whether it’s chicken or not!


Since I wasn’t in a decision making mood today, we also ordered one of their specials to try out – Spicy Drunken Noodles (based on the recommendation I got last time!)


I LOVE the thick rice noodles that are like chow fun…however the sauce on this seemed to be missing. I felt like it needed soy sauce or something or maybe the fantastic sauce on my chicken. I LOVED the big Shrimp it came with.


I had a scoop of this, 1/2 my rice and ALL my chicken – yum! It was a fun lunch all around and I had a hard time resisting all my farmer’s market goodies in the afternoon. My lunch kept me full the rest of the day so no PM snack as needed. I was bummed I wasn’t hungry since my co-worker bought some individual dark chocolate truffles at the market that I had no room for.

Coming up next ~ another quick, easy salad and The Husband’s BBQ feast!

The Big S Farms Salsa Giveaway Winners!

Happy Tuesday all! It’s back to the daily grind today, but, I am soooo excited that this is a short week! We have a fun July 4th kickoff BBQ for work on Thursday (I am planning the games and fun with my other co-worker – yeah!) then, they send us off for another LONG weekend after that. Whew ~ I cannot wait for sure! I seriously think whoever created the work schedule created it backwards – doesn’t it seem like we should have MORE balance as in work 4 days, have 3 days off – EACH WEEK? :D Ok…..*sigh* done dreaming.

I didn’t make it to the store last night so today’s breakfast pickings were slim. I DID have a few things I could pick from but I decided to go with exactly what I was craving.

A startbuck’s iced, decaf, nonfat latte – it’s a healthy dairy serving!


With some amazingly doughy, cheesiness ~ A toasted Asiago Bagel. I could have picked oatmeal (too hot) or a protein plate (my usual) but I wasn’t feeling either.


I definitely think I NEED to get out to the market and get stocked up on some fresh fruits and veggies – maybe today, maybe Thursday. It’s a toss up between Thai Food for lunch or going to the market and picking up sushi ~ Which would you pick? :)

Ok ~ I’ve made you all wait long enough – it’s time to get down to the Big S Farms Salsa Winners!!!! Thanks again to everyone for playing along. No worries if you didn’t win, they are having some amazing specials on their site that you can order up.

The GRAND PRIZE winner is:

#4 Janetha!!! said ”haha, i want the grand prize. then i dont have to pick just one i would most like to try!” Guess what – you DID!!!!

The THREE Runner-Ups get to pick ONE Salsa or ONE Sauce of their choice. The winners are:

#15 cglich0630 said...”I would like to try the Smoke on the Mountain. I love salsa, but don't think I could handle it too hot!!”

#22 Missy said...”I follow your blog already!” & “I would love to try the Fire on the Mountain Medium Salsa!”

#28 Rikki said...”The Tennessee Thunder piqued my interest with the carrots!”

* Please send me your snail mail addresses and I will get your Big S Farms Salsas sent out ASAP!

Have a fantastic day all! I received more fun mail while I was on Vacation that I will be sharing with you all PLUS another FABULOUS giveaway announcement coming soon!

Monday, June 29, 2009

We're Back!

Hi all ~ Just wanted to pop in and say we had a total blast in Vegas! I will be back tomorrow with my regular posting and of course a great Vegas Recap tomorrow night! Now I just need a vacation to recover from my vacation :)

Thanks a bunch to all my guest posters and to all my readers for leaving fabulous comments for them all - you all rock!

P.S. ~ I can't share it ALL because well, we all know, "What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas!" :D

Don't forget you have a few hours left to enter my Big S Salsa Giveaway ~ there is a ton of amazing Salsas and Sauces being given away. Click HEREto make sure you entered all the ways you can!

See you in the morning!

Homemade Almond Butter ~ The Secret Trick

I am sure several of you have made your own almond butter with great success. However, today I want to share with you one trick that makes your almond butter that much better! You only need two ingredients to make a fantastic homemade nut butter and honestly this works with ANY TYPE of nut you use.


Sea salt is optional ~ it all just depends on how you like your nut butter to taste. Start out by soaking your almonds in water for a couple of minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.


Drain your almonds and sprinkle them on a cookie sheet that is covered in foil or parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt if using.


Now THIS is the SECRET step that makes your almond butter fantastic. Roast your almonds in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Roasting brings out the nuttiness and makes the ALMOND flavor BOLD.


Allow your almonds to cool for about 15 minutes and add them to your Food Processor. I have never used a blender to make this so I am not sure if it would work with a blender.


Process until smooth ~ 8-10 minutes.


Here is SECRET #2 – if you LOVE flavored almond butters, at this point you would add 1-2 Tbsp’s of honey and/or Pure Maple Syrup. I would imagine you could even add 1/4 c melted chocolate chips with a few Tbsp’s of non melted chips when done.

Spoon your almond butter out of the processor and refrigerate ~ You are done!


Yields 1 lb of Almond Butter ~ 16 oz for only $4.99! ALOT cheaper than any jar you can buy.

For those who LOVE RAW NUT BUTTERS, simply skip the roasted process and add your salt/sweeteners if using as noted above. The RAW flavor version is just as amazing.

Today is the last day to enter the Big S Salsa Giveaway - Click HERE before it's too late.

Do you have any favorite uses for Almond Butter?

When Diet + Exercise Don’t Equal Results

I am so excited to bring a guest poster to you all that is has fantastic experience in whipping people into shape. Her blog is awesome so be sure to check it out as part two of her post.

Amy writes at FeasiblyFitMom.com. She is a certified personal trainer and fitness boot camp owner. Her blog features workouts, news, recipes and tips for motherhood and beyond.

When Diet + Exercise Don’t Equal Results


Are you doing everything “right” but not reaching your goals? You eat well and exercise consistently and still not getting the results you think you should. You put in the time on the treadmill and brown-bag your lunches, but still don’t see a difference?

After working with hundreds of women through personal training and running fitness boot camps, I’d like to share with you some reasons you may not be getting the most out of your efforts.

First, take this quiz to find out how likely you are to be getting maximum results. Be honest and answer every question before checking results. This isn’t meant to embarrass you or “call you out” on anything. Instead, it’s meant to educate you on what is helpful and what isn’t, even when we think we’re doing everything “right.”

1) When I finish a hard strength workout, I:
a. Can’t think about what it’ll be like to blow dry my hair
b. Look to see if I’ve finished in time to squeeze in a Spin class (or kickboxing class or run)
c. Kick myself for forgetting to use heavier weights (again!) but remember last time I did, I bulked up

2) When I’m really on-track with my eating, I aim for:
a. Maybe about 1500+ balanced calories, more if I’m exercising
b. Salads with plain chicken breast for most meals
c. One big meal and try not to snack the rest of the day

3) My favorite healthy snack that satisfies cravings is:
a. A handful of nuts and a piece of fruit
b. A fruit popsicle
c. A diet soda and 100-calorie snack pack of Oreos

4) My workout is most like:
a. Um, mine
b. This month’s Shape Magazine celebrity cover model
c. Gwyneth Paltrow by Tracy Anderson

5) The last time I changed my strength and/or cardio routine was:
a. What routine? I switch it up constantly
b. About a month ago I started doing intervals
c. I’ve been doing the same run (elliptical/Spin) workouts for a while -- why fix what isn’t broken?

6) After I’ve had dinner and get (my family) settled in, I usually:
a. Hit the hay. I’m tired and like to be fresh for the morning
b. Watch a little TV to unwind, read a couple blogs then go to bed
c. Go online, answer emails then get hooked on a show and fall asleep in front of the TV -- it relaxes me

7) When I plan to exercise, I follow-through:
a. 90% of the time. I schedule it in my day, but sometimes things come up
b. Around 50-50. I just don’t have time to exercise every day
Rarely. Something always comes up. Usually someone else needs me or I’m too tired. I find I do better when I’m spontaneous

8) When I finish exercising I feel:
a. Exhilarated and refreshed. I know what they mean by “endorphine rush”
b. Relieved and pleased. Even though I didn’t want to, I got out there and accomplished something
c. Tired and irritable. I don’t even want to think about my next workout

9) When I’ve eaten too much, or too much of one thing, I:
a. Acknowledge it to myself as a fact, and then think of (and do) something to ensure success next time
b. Remind myself that my friends ate twice as much (and they don’t even exercise)
c. Vow to exercise an extra 30 minutes over the next 2 days

10) I know I’m getting more toned and in better shape by:
a. Trying on my favorite pair of jeans
b. Looking in the mirror. Without any clothes on
c. Stepping on the scale. Numbers don’t lie

* *
Tally-up your answers: As, Bs and Cs.

If you answered mostly As: You are well on your way to getting the results you are after. You make good choices based on current research and have the willpower and internal motivation to push yourself.

If you answered mostly Bs: You have a great base of knowledge and habits to work with. Take a look at some of the “A” answers for ideas on improving your routines. You will probably notice improvement in your results if you make a few changes.

If you answered mostly Cs: You are doing the best you can with the info you have. Take a look at the “A” answers for ways to bump up your results. The good news is that even following a few of these suggestions will make a huge difference!

* *
Each of these questions corresponds to a reason you may not be seeing results (there are 10). Head over to Feasibly Fit Mom for “10 Reasons You Aren’t Seeing Results.”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Body Bugg Thoughts

I have had a few of you ask about my Body Bugg so I thought I’d share a few things about my Bugg with you all that I have shared with others.

You can find out alot of information on the Body Bugg and how it works and all that jazz by going to www.bodybugg.com. I do believe that 24 Hour Fitness has one of the best deals out there and you don't have to be a member to buy it. You can look around though as I know some people have bought theirs off e-bay and from their own gyms and such.

Feel free to ask me any specific questions and I'll be glad to ask. I'll give you what I think of mine in summary but I will gladly go into any detail you'd like.

I first wanted a Body Bugg when they first came out - it's seemed so cool but they were like $600. Way too much to pay for a gadget - they are so much cheaper now. I finally decided to give in and buy my first body bugg last July when I was doing this fitness challenge at my gym. It was the older, gray model and I absolutely LOVED it! I ended up getting the new model at Christmas and I LOVED it too.

Pros of the new vs old model - it's super small - smaller than an ipod and it is alot more comfortable to wear. The main CON is that you have to take it off to charge it for 2-3 hours and have it plugged into your computer. No battery waist and it really sits well under your clothes.

The OLD model (which you can still buy for a little cheaper) is great because you don't have to take it off to charge it - you just change your batteries and you are good to go. CON is that you go through batteries every 2 weeks and it was rather bulky.

Other than that I do think the results are more or less the same between both versions. Ask specifics if you want to know.

If you are considering the digital watch - I highly recommend it. To me it is 100% WORTH the additional money. It gives you the same information as when you upload your information but you get it live, real time every 60 seconds. I am an instant gratification kind of person so I like to know all day long versus waiting until I upload. Plus it has some other cool features like an odometer function that you can set at the beginning of a workout to see how many calories you burned during that workout as well as the calories per minute. It has little goals you can set for calories burned, steps taken, activity level that will beep when you meet them. It often motivates me to move more (like a pedometer) because you see your results and you want to meet those goals.

They do throw in a 6 month free subscription with the new model, (3 months with the old) to their website (myapex.com) when get your bugg. After that you can purchase additional months and it's fairly cheap ($9.95/month, $29.95/quarter, $99/year) - this might be different but it is what it was the last time I looked. It's a great website in that you can get so much information. It shows you all your results in graph form and you can see how many calories you burned every minute of the day. It's great to compare what you were doing at the time. You can also isolate it to see the total calories burned during a workout and steps, etc. It will compare it against the food you take in but you have to input all your food and your calories consumed. It has a database that will save your foods and you can input new foods all at one time. There are over 150,000 foods in their system already. It's great to see how your nutrition is broken down and where you can improve. The Body Bugg does NOT know how many calories you eat unless you input them.

General thoughts:

I am a BIG FAN of my Body Bugg because I truly believe in it. It has provided me with great information about myself and how I workout. For example, everyone always says you burn like 1,000 calories spinning. Well, I learned that was not the case for me. I burned about 400 when I push my hardest. I actually can burn just as many calories power walking if I go for an hour. I burn more running. It is good to see which workouts work for you and be a little more realistic with the calories burned.

It is like any gadget - it will motivate you to move more, burn more and eat better if you use the program the way it's designed. Similar to a Garmin - its an awesome gadget if you use it. I have had mine for almost 1 year now and I completely LOVE it and still wear it every day. You can learn exactly what you will lose by calculating the calories in (what you eat) versus the calories out (what you burn).

It's an investment but it's an INVESTMENT IN YOU - if you are committed to using it, then, you will see great results. I've had 4 other co-workers get them since they saw mine and everyone LOVES them.

Thanks for asking - I hope that helps answer some of your questions - if you want to know anything else, just ask.

Don't forget to enter the BIG S Salsa Giveaway - 4 Fantastic Prizes are being given away, click HERE.

Two Favorite Summer Salads

As summer starts to heat up and vegetable gardens are in full bloom, it's time to break out those salad recipes. I am thrilled that Danica is allowing me to share two of my favorite summer salads here with you.

Tomato, Avocado, Goat Cheese Salad

The star of this salad is the heirloom tomato. Accompanied by avocado, goat cheese and a light dressing, the result is a refreshing, light summer salad.


in the salad:
butter lettuce
heirloom tomatoes
goat cheese

balsamic dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce (I use Bragg's)
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
1 spoonful of yellow mustard
The dressing recipe makes a lot; you can store the extra dressing in the fridge. The olive oil will congeal, but it will soften when you let the container *sit* in some warm water.

Dried Fig & Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

I *borrowed* this salad combination from one of my favorite local restaurants. When the restaurant closed its doors for the last time a couple of years ago, I was forced to make the salad for myself. I think I like my version better...


In the salad:
butter lettuce
dried figs (even if you don't like figs, you'll probably like them in this salad)
goat cheese
caramelized almonds (directions follow)
drizzled with Consorzio Raspberry & Balsamic fat-free Dressing

caramelized almonds:
Coat (about 20) almonds with slightly-beaten egg whites.
2. Lay flat on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
4. Roast in the oven at 450' for 7 - 10 minutes. Watch them so they don't burn.

I'm always on the look out for yummy vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian recipes. If you have one to share with me, please visit me at Graceful Creative and tell me about your favorite recipe.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How to make your own Greek Yogurt

I am  HUGE fan of Greek yogurt if you all haven’t noticed.  My only complaint is that it can cost so much more than regular yogurt.  You can save a ton of money by making your own and it’s so simple to do.  I think the BEST part about making your own Greek Yogurt is that you can control how thick you want it.

You only need TWO things to make your Greek yogurt.


Your favorite brand of PLAIN nonfat or lowfat yogurt.  I used Nancy’s but Stoneyfield is another great option.  You should choose one that you like the flavor of ~ Yes, you did hear that right, you can MAKE FLAVORED GREEK yogurt using this method too!  Either buy a flavored yogurt or add all natural preserves and fruit to sweeten after you make it!


And any brand of Cheese Cloth will work.


You will need a medium sized bowl that will fit a colander.


Line the bowl with 4 damp layers your cheese cloth.


Add your ENTIRE container of yogurt.


Cover your yogurt concoction and place it in the fridge. 

Now this is the important part as it is KEY for the consistency you are desiring from sour cream to Greek yogurt to yogurt cheese/cream cheese.

* Yogurt strained 4 to 6 hours results in sour cream type texture.

* Yogurt strained 8-12 hours results in GREEK YOGURT!

* Yogurt strained 24 hours results in Yogurt Cheese aka Cream Cheese.

Strainer Yogurt will keep in the fridge for about 1 week, however, does ANY greek yogurt last that long in your house?

Ok ~ now, let’s check out some results.  After straining my yogurt for 12 hours, here is what I am left with.  It’s about 1/2 the size of the container.


For those HARD CORE people, the watery liquid that drains off is called WHEY.  Yup, that is the protein powder in your shakes – fun, right?! Oh and ALL the bitterness that is in regular plain yogurt goes into the Whey part.  That is why GREEK Yogurt can be creamy and not bitter.


Check out the consistency – thick and creamy.


It’s stays on the spoon when turned upside down.


And it is enough to fill an entire cereal bowl!


I usually just put it back into my original yogurt container (recycle/re-use) and scoop it out as needed. The container is HALF full, not half empty :)


My favorite ways to flavor GREEK Yogurt are:

* Agave Syrup plus Vanilla Beans – just a little of each to taste!

* Natural Apricot Preserves ~ 1 Tbsp works per cup depending on your desired sweetness.

* Fresh fruit with the fruit juice or Frozen pineapple tossed in with the yogurt and it’s unthawed by mid morning. 

* Add 1 Tbsp of a dried berry blend or raisins for sweetness.

* Parfaits – Click HERE to see some I’ve made.

* Better yet, top your waffles with it!

If you choose to strain it for 24 hours you can make:

* a fantastic “cream cheese” dip Adding 1-2 cloves garlic, fresh or dries herbs, 1 green onion minced, sea salt and pepper to taste.  You can use this for any recipe that calls for sour cream or cream cheese for alot less calories/fat than the real deal!

* Whipped Cream Cheese ~ Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and top your favorite muffins.  Adding a sprinkle of cinnamon would be awesome too.

* CAKE FROSTING!!!  Add 2 cups of yogurt cheese (described above) with 1/2 c powdered sugar and 1 Tsp vanilla extract.

Ok ~ that’s all!  Super easy, right?!  I’d LOVE to know your favorite ways to use and/or flavor Greek Yogurt….Leave a comment below to add to the ideas above.

Tank Top Arms

I am excited to share with you a fabulous workout from Kristi a certified personal trainer / group fitness instructor, and full time fitness addict to help you get ready for tank top season.

Tank Top Arms

Unlike a lower body workout, I like to isolate the upper body by working it in sections. For example, one day I may work shoulders, biceps, and triceps, and another back and chest. This way you are not working the same muscle groups two days in a row. (Of course, you can't completely isolate each muscle group, so there will be some overlap.) So we'll break the upper body workouts into one primary muscle group at time. Today: shoulders.
For these exercises you'll need 3-5lb dumbbells. When working the shoulders I like high reps and low weight. It encourages proper form while reducing potential for injury; it also really burns and fatigues the muscle. The only way to see real results is to break the muscle fibers down, then rest for a day or so to recover, and repeat. Women tend to be weaker in the shoulders, but we all want those beautifully sculpted shoulders when we wear those tank tops and strapless dresses. Because the shoulder has 3 parts: the front, middle, and rear deltoids - you want to do exercises that target all three.
I encourage you to start with the 5lb dumbbell and when it gets too hard, switch, and finish with the 3lb dumbbells. But push yourself, and don't switch too soon.

1. Front shoulder raise into a lateral shoulder raise (this exercise primarily works the front and middle deltoids).
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the weights down with palms facing the thighs. Slowly raise the dumbbells to shoulder level, arms straight with a slight bend in the elbow, then slowly lower the weights back down to your thighs. Next, feet still shoulder width apart, bring the weights to your side, lift the weights up and out to the side, just slightly higher than shoulder level, then slowly lower the weights back down to your side, and go into a front shoulder raise again followed by another lateral raise. Continue this pattern for 16 reps, rest, then repeat, but this time using only 1 arm, alternating, to a 2 count raise and hold on the second count slowly lower it down. Both arms count as one rep for a total of 16 per exercise.

2. Overhead shoulder press with squat. 5lb dumbbell or heavier if you are experienced (working shoulders, glutes, and quads)
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Bending the legs at the knees and hips, lowering the torso between the legs, and then reversing the direction to stand up again. The important thing to remember when doing a squat is to keep the chest high, shoulders back, sit the butt low, like your are sitting in a chair, and make sure your knees do not extend past the toes. As you go down into the squat, you will go into an overhead shoulder press. An overhead shoulder press is done by positioning the dumbbells to each side of the shoulders with elbows below the wrist. Press the dumbbells up until arms are extended and locked overhead, slowly lower. Remember as your squat you will go right into a shoulder press. Try to get as low as you can. If you can, try to see if your elbows can touch your thighs as you go into a squat. This exercise will get very challenging, b/c it is considered a power move, meaning it works multiple muscle groups requiring more strength and endurance. Do this exercise 16 times, rest and repeat.

3. Shoulder arm circles- 3lb dumbbells
Standing with feet shoulder width apart extend the dumbbells up and out to the side. Once the weights are up and out to the side, start moving the arms forward in a small circular motion. Do 10 forward, then 10 reverse. Slowly bring the weights down to your side again. Now, without rest, bring the dumbbells together in front of your body and extend the weights out to the side and up overhead making a full circle, dumbbells touching at the top, and bring them back down the same way they came up. Do this for 10. Rest for a moment and repeat.

These three exercises are sure to burn your shoulder muscles. There are many different shoulder exercises you can do, but these are my favorite. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them. Leave a comment here of pop over to my website at www.summerfitness.net.

Stay Strong,

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why Unique Names like Danica are extra cool!

I am super excited to introduce you all to today’s guest poster – I won’t spoil it by telling you who, so read on for a great laugh and more!

P.S. Danica #2 – well, technically by age I am #1 :D, but, you will see my comments through “Danica’s post so know that #2 is me :)

Hello All! While Danica is on vacation she asked me to post for her. Well not to confuse you, but my name is Danica as well and I've been wanting to post about how much I love my name on my own site, but I thought what would be a more appropriate place to blog about names on someone else's blog who shares the same name as me!

So you may ask, why blog about your name? Personally, I have a big thing with my name and when I asked Danica about if she liked her name as much as me, she said yes she did as well, so this lead me to believe that one day Danicas will have world dominance that unique names are extra cool. Don't fret if you have a 'common' name, but hear me out for a second, perhaps you may have the opportunity to one day name a child and this is why I think you should seek out something a little unique. Also, this is my opinion so if you don't agree with it, I'm sorry, I don't mean to ruffle any feathers. So here's my why unique names are prettystinkin' cool (in my opinion)

1. Unique names make you memorable. I have had numerous times when people have somewhat of a hard time remembering other people's name, but since I have somewhat of a different name, people always remember mine. Usually when I am introduced to new people someone says something along the lines of, " Oh, I have a cousin/friend/aunt or know someone named that", which doesn't sound like the most intelligent thing ever if you really think about it, but oh well. Once people meet me, my name sticks with them. Bonus of having a unique name, I think yes!

2. Unique names make you stand out. I have met people and they have seriously said to me, and I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, "Oh you're Danica!" If everyone had my name, I feel like people wouldn't be saying that to me. Clutch. :)

3. Another thing that I really like about my name is that fact that even though people have trouble saying it, repeating it helps them remember it even more. Though almost everyone says my name wrong at least once, it's easier for them to remember.

4. Another reason why I love my name is the fact that it ALWAYS gives me something to talk about when I first meet people. After telling people my name people ALWAYS have something to say. Here's what I sometimes hear,
             " Like the race car driver?"
             " Is your Dad's name Daniel?"
             "Where did your parents come up with that name?"
             "Why did your parents name you that?"

Danica #2 ~ OMG!  I can totally relate to this one.  I had someone ask me once if my Dad’s name was Dan and My Mom’s name was Monica ~ too funny.

First off, it is like the race car driver, which is pretty cool. No my dad's name isn't Daniel, and my parents found the name in a regular old baby book. My parents named me it because they liked the name, I'm sure the same reason your parents named you your name. Interesting isn't it, but this always allows for easy conversation afterwords!

Danica #2: Oh and I Like “Winnie” from the Wonder Years – I cried when I first saw her name on TV b/c I wanted to be the 1st Danica on TV :D I was young…..My name is a family name believe it or not – somehow it descends from Doris, but, I don’t get the connection on that one.

5. Lastly, I love my name because of it's different meaning. Danica means Morning Star, and I love that my parents picked that out for me specifically. There are so many cool meanings out there and it's cool to have something that means something very special to you personally.

So there are some definite downfalls with different names. I couldn't leave those out!

1. Everyone says your name wrong. Almost everyone I meet says it wrong, or has to have me re-pronounce it, or gives me this weird look and says, HUH? Now this could be annoying to some, but at the same time, I don't mind it too much. Sometimes it gets annoying when people don't get it after numerous attempts but I guess that is what comes with being unique!

2. The spelling. My name isn't hard, and I think that it's pretty phonetic. Mostly my name is spelled like this:


but sometimes people get creative and go with,


and seriously, I could keep going. People sometimes are bizarre with the spelling! It's hilarious for the most part though, unless I've specifically spelled it out for them and they still can't spell it. Comes with the territory I think.

Danica #2: The WORST pronunciation EVER was “Duncia” when I was in elementary – I was called dunce for awhile.   Seriously people, where is the U when it’s spelled on a paper during roll call?!

3. Some people go WAY overboard. Mostly, these people are celebrities, and for some reason they think they were granted some right to name their child after foods, or fruits, or their favorite things.

IE Apple, Princess Tiaamii, Audio Science, Kyd, Poppy Honesty, Ocean, and Rufus Tiger.

Those are pushing it to be much, much too bizarre in my book! If you ever get the chance to name a child, name them something unique but also that they won't get teased because of for the remained of their life!

I don't know why I wanted to tell everyone about cool names, but there you go, that's my take on it! I hope you enjoyed my rant, and perhaps if you wanted to visit my site, www.chicrunner.com, you might find me talking about actually running, or you might find some more random rants on there. Hope you enjoyed my guest "Danica" post! :)

Danica #2 ~ I LOVE it!  Thanks so much for posting about our name – I couldn’t agree more – it rocks to be a Danica and I LOVE the uniqueness of my name even if I have to share it with another cool, Danica - you :)



NHerShoes Perfect Pre-Race Meal

Hello Danica's Daily readers!! I was so excited when Danica asked me to do a guest post while she is on vacation! I hope you all enjoy!

I have experimented with a lot of prerace meals, pasta, chicken, rice, and so much more! I am sticking with what works for me and that is PIZZA! I believe that pizza has the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats to fuel my body before a big race or even a long run!

First I start with the O’ so easy Pizza Dough Recipe.

Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough
(adapted from allrecipes.com)

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey ( I used Agave Nectar)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl combine flour, wheat germ and salt. Make a well in the middle and add honey and yeast mixture. Stir well to combine. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for a few minutes.
  4. Roll dough on a floured pizza pan and poke a few holes in it with a fork.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.


While it bakes I prep the toppings

  • sliced bell pepper
  • sliced tomato
  • leftover asparagus from last night
  • mushrooms
  • goat cheese
  • baby spinach
  • roasted red peppers


As always we make a His and Her Pizza:)


I love experimenting with toppings and this pizza was on of the “Greenest” Pizza I had ever made!


I always make a HUGE salad to enjoy on the side.



I can’t imagine a more perfect pre-race meal!! Please visit, NHerShoes for more pizza ideas and more!!