Friday, April 18, 2014

10 Weeks BodyChange Changetime Review

I enjoy the idea of online coaching.  I really like the sites that allow food tracking and have a community area to chat with people that are in it with you.  I like interaction with my trainer whenever needed or to give me a boost.  In my search for the perfect program, 10 Weeks BodyChange with John Cena somehow got on my radar.

Okay not my typical type of guy I am attracted to, but I'm not blind.  John Cena is eye candy.  What's better?  Oh yeah, he actually seems like he is a great guy.  I think I could make myself workout with him.

This program is $99 for 12 weeks of access.  I searched for a coupon code, but they were all expired.  There is also a payment option, but you pay more that way.  There is also a 30 day guarantee.  The program is 10 weeks, and you get another two of the access to the website.  Then you are cut off.  You can sign up/pay for their other program which is just a continuation and maintenance plan.  There is also a group on facebook.  There is supposed to be a community, other than facebook, which customer service emailed me that it was about to "go live," but it didn't.

Each week opens up access to that particular week in the program.  You can still go back and get information or watch the videos, but you cannot jump ahead.  Each page has two videos where you work out with John.  You also have a video with him showing how to make one of the recipes.

In the first week you get the diet.  I for some reason thought that there was more to it that we get in subsequent weeks, but that seems to be it.  The diet plan is printable as is most of the information.  The workouts in week one are over easy, but it is meant to be that way.  Each week gets progressively harder.

The diet is a basic low carb diet.  Meat, vegetables, and fat is pretty much it.  There is a bit of fruit after your workout.

Having John as your trainer seems like a great idea, and he makes it sound like you have an amazing support team and him there for you.  His involvement looked limited to the videos on the pages and corny photos they use on the pages and in the emails.

There is no food tracking or water measure on the site.  It has a page that you can post your weekly picture and your measurements.  That's about it.

I made it through week three, and decided this was not for me.  I knew that I had to make my choice before the 30 days were up.  I contemplated just keeping it so I could do a bit more of a review on it, but thought I might like to apply the $99 to another program.  I emailed customer service to cancel.  I received a very friendly email back and was informed that the refund might take a couple of weeks.  I'm still waiting.

If you look online, there is another Changetime that is German.  It is the same program, but this one has John Cena as the trainer.  This was a little discomforting, as it kind of felt to me that it was portrayed that John came up with this stuff.  Is he really just hawking this for the money?  Did he have any input into the diet and/or exercise?

Overall,  I lost three pounds in three weeks.  The community isn't up, but you can talk to people on Facebook.  It's $99 for 12 weeks and then they cut you off?  That seems like a lot to not maintain access to the site.  I would think it should be $99 for the year.  How much involvement John Cena has in the program is questionable.  The site is lame.  There is no tracking of food and drink. The support feels non-existent to me except Facebook.  I kept feeling like I was in the middle of a corny propaganda machine.   This program is a pass for me.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kona Inn Restaurant Review Big Island

We walked by the Kona Inn Restaurant almost everyday.  We finally ended up in this place, thinking it was the Kona Canoe Club down the shopping area.

Our first time here, it was evening and we were going for drinks.  There are the lovely waves right in front of you, so this would make a nice place to watch the sunset.  As a note, the canoe club is excellent for a sunset if you were wanting to relax with a drink.

The first time we came to the Kona Inn we sat at the bar.  The sun had been down for a while and we were just looking for somewhere to relax.  The sound of the waves were a nice addition to our mai tai's.  This place is actually known for their mai tai's and I admit they are pretty good.  We ended up having a late night meal here, with me having a cheeseburger.  It was good, but nothing that stands out.  The deluxe cheeseburger is 13.95 and comes with potato salad or cole slaw, or you have to pay $1 for an "upgrade" to fries.  Seriously!?!

Our second trip to the Kona Inn we came in time for the sunset and we went to the dining side instead of the cafe.  They have two menus one for the cafe and one for dining.  The dining side is supposed to be upscale, and the prices show it.  The kid that was serving was doing an admirable job at trying but once he left the table his was talking and laughing with his friends, which kind of took that feeling down many notches.  The prices on the dining side are ridiculous.  Many things are market price, so you have to check, and if that's market price they were over charged.  The least expensive thing on the menu was the calamari for $17.  The rib eye steak was $43, and the new york  was $35.

My husband suddenly said he wasn't hungry.  If you read my Sushi Shiono review, you know what this means.  I personally didn't see anything that was worth the price.  Instead, I asked my husband if he would rather the cafe menu, which he was much happier about.  I let the server know that we were not thrilled with the dining menu, and asked if we could order items from the cafe menu.  The server was very nice and let us know that it was not a problem in the least.  The only problem I had with my meal was that for some reason it looked like they served it on a salad plate instead of the plates they used in the dining room or cafe for entrees.

The third time we ended up at this place, we were walking around and got stuck in a giant rainstorm.  We hid under the front of the place and decided to wait the 15 minutes for it to open and give us a place to wait out the rain.  The rain didn't stop, but the visit was nice.  The waves were absolutely huge, and everyone seemed in good spirits.  A couple of mai tai's later and we were out in the rain again making it for the hotel.

So this place is okay.  Not a place that I would be excited about going for dinner, but I don't mind it for drinks.  I liked the servers on the cafe side more.  The decor is nice and it is clean.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kamanu Charters Sunset Cruise Review - Kona, Big Island Hawaii

My husband and I were in Hawaii for our anniversary trip and I am doing a bunch of reviews for it.  I have to break them up because some of them need much more space than others.

My husband and I, wherever we travel, always look for charters where they limit the number of people on the boat.  We haven't had much luck except one in Cozumel (awesome), and this one.  I was completely excited when I found an ad for them.  You will find Kamanu Charters' ads in various spots, you just have to pay attention.

Kamanu Charters offers:  Sunset Sail, Snorkel Sail, Dolphin Swim, Manta Ray Snorkel, and Whale Watch.  In Mexico we had done a snorkel trip which was amazing, and we were tempted to do it again, but we ended up with the sunset sail.  We would have had to wait for a date that was too far out for us, and we figured that we had never done one, and we wanted something romantic for our trip.

I found a $20.00 off coupon in the 'This Week Big Island" mini mag.  You will see this tourist mag everywhere so its easy to pick up the coupon.

You will see in the advertisement that the sunset sail includes pupus (snacks), and an open bar.  Also it shows that this cruise is limited to 20 people instead of 24.

We got to the marina a bit too early and there really isn't much to do there so you are just hanging out.  It really isn't too far away from Kona's Alli Drive, so we could have taken our time.  The people were friendly and it was nice and cool in the office.

We all met up down at the pier and you will have a designated spot.  Make sure you listen up to see which tour you are with.   I saw three boats next to each other and two were going out for tours.  The catamaran is on the smaller side, but in excellent condition.  They had a new sail that they were trying out on our trip. (Very nice sail.)  They have you remove your shoes and leave them in their little shed at the dock.  You have to line into all of the seats while you leave the harbor.  For this I would suggest that you try not to be one of the first people on the boat.  You may feel that it gives you a better advantage, but the later people are going to have easier freedom on moving around the boat, while you are stuck tripping over people or trying to get people that don't want to move out of your way.  Also, this tour was supposed to be limited to 20 people, but when they were doing a head count they had 23.  And they were wondering how they were miscounting, because apparently they were missing someone that was signed in.  Also, it will be dark when you get back, so make sure that your phone has a light option or mine has a flashlight.  You could also use a small keyring.  You will need to find your shoes when you get back and the shed apparently doesn't have one.

There is one head (bathroom) on board, and it is VERY small.  You seriously have to back up rear first into it.  But when nature calls, it calls.  Make sure you go before you leave.  There is one in the convenience store that you are allowed to use.

Once they get you out onto the water, they will start to get the snacks and drinks going.  This is their first downfall.  Most people ended up with mai tai's, white wine, or beer (budwiser).  They told me they do not serve red wine, due to it being so difficult to clean up after.  The mai tai's were okay, but as it didn't seem like there were many other options available, or they needed to let people know some drink availabilties, they ran out towards the end of the trip.  My last mai tai (I had two and drank 1/2 of my husbands cause he didn't like it) was pretty much just rum on ice.

The other disappointing thing was the pupus.  When I called and made the reservation they let me know that they had these great pupus and drinks on board.  I let my husband know and we made sure not to eat much for lunch.  The pupus consisted up of one platter of fruit, a bowl of potato salad, sandwich wraps, and a bag of chips ahoy cookies.  The platter of fruit was gone in one round.  It was not refilled.  The sandwiches were passed around, but the guy helping them out didn't even know what was on them and acted rudely to one of the guests that was asking.  My ears had perked up because I had the same question.  The sandwiches were small and not very appetizing.  They also gave you a small appetizer plate and one fork.  Don't lose it.  That's what you get.  It makes it a bit hard to try and handle your drink and the food while trying to find a spot to relax on the boat.

I finally got my husband past a couple that were holding him hostage inside the boat.  I tried to be funny about it, but gave them no choice but to move their asses.  Turns out, I was sitting next to their soon to be married daughter and soon to be husband.  Both of them were very nice, and once we struck up a conversation, it helped me relax a bit more.  My husband and I had a spot on the front of the boat ready for the sunset, which was around the corner.  The female worker on board, who of course I forgot her name (she was very nice) came up and asked us to move down while they switched the sail.  They switched the sail and the boat turned around.  No, the sun hadn't set.  We were now on the side of the boat not looking at the sunset.  This confused many of the guests.

The captain started the boat going back to the harbor and was being pretty swift about it.  My husband and I re-situated ourselves on the seats on the inside section, and that's where we kind of got to see the sun go away.  The lady that switched the sail didn't seem to notice anything was wrong and asked a group of us if we saw the "green light" at the sunset.  Um, no! How could anyone?  The sunset tour ended before the sunset.  That was the worst $182.62 we spent in a long time.

My husband and I agreed that we probably should have set up for the snorkel tour early, or done the manta ray sail.  This one was poop.  I can't say that we will go with this tour group again.  They do have the bonus of limited (even if not as much as the ad says), but if you do not really get the tour you pay for and their "great pupus" are pretty sucky, I just can't say that I would.

There's all the food.
Down by the pier
Entry to the pier.
Nice lady who I forgot her name. 
Super small front area where you try to make yourself comfortable for the sunset you're not going to see on that side.  Notice the small plate.

Sushi Shiono Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Review

We were on Oahu and the Big Island during late February and early March for our anniversary trip.  This was our second time doing this trip and it was nice to know what was going on and what we might want to look at.  One of my favorite things about Hawaii is the food.  I love Hawaiian and Japanese food, but my husband is much more into American and Thai.  I'm going to break up some of our reviews because it will be impossible to have a super crazy long review over everything and some things need more space than others.

This is for Sushi Shiono on Alii Drive.

I've been to Sushi Shiono during my last trip.  This place can get pretty busy and I somehow managed to get in without a reservation the first time.  Though I did have to wait a while.  I always prefer to eat at the sushi bar.

I told my husband that I was in the mood for Japanese food.  I was actually planning on going to the Japanese place close to Sushi Shiono that was completely fabulous.  They had various dishes very delicately prepared and my favorite shabu shabu.  Sad to say, that place was closed down.  I just about cried.  Sushi Shiono looked packed and my husband used the restaurant being closed as his excuse he didn't have to eat Japanese food.  So off we went to Humpy's.  I guess it would just have to wait.

Again my Japanese craving kicked in.  This time I told my husband that we should go by and try to get a reservation for a bit later that evening at Shiono.  He went for it, mostly I think because he really didn't have a choice.  We got there and they were actually slow.  I decided that I would just go ahead and sit down for dinner.

My husband didn't bother looking at the menu.  He assumed that there was nothing there that he would want to eat.  (Yes, I'm complaining about my husband this review.)  I note here that the next day I showed him online that there were plenty of options that would have satisfied him.

I ordered an appetizer, hiyayakko, and a sapporo for my husband with a hot sake for me.  I asked if just wanted me to order and he said he didn't care.  So I went a bit crazy.  I just went with pairs, though I usually tend towards sashimi.  I ordered:  hamachi, saba, mirugai, ikura, awabi, and amaebi.  Lest I say that I was super excited due to mirugai and awabi not being available in Alaska.



My husband decided to tell me he wasn't hungry and I had to eat by myself with him hovering over his beer and barely talking.  He got some looks from the chef and staff.  He definitely got a look from me.  I figured out at this point in our trip that when he says that he's not hungry it means he doesn't like the food.  It's a good thing I figured this out because there are many times I would have just let him go hungry.

The food came very nicely prepared.  It was very fresh and I loved it.  Even the awabi which can be a hard one to do.  I had decided not to let my husband bring me down as I enjoyed my food.  Besides him, I had a great time.  Business had picked up a lot before we left and I know we got lucky getting there when we did.  I would recommend reservations if you go.  You can call at 808-326-1696.

While we were finishing up, I asked about the Sushi Shiono stickers that were on the bar.  I was looking to buy one, but they actually gave me two and a pen!!  They seemed a bit surprised when I asked if they had any.  I thought it was very nice of them to gift them to me.  Though now I have to figure out where to put them.

Overall, my impression of this place is wonderful.  The food is great and so fresh.  The staff is very pleasant and attentive.  For the whole check it came to $78.70.  The prices are a bit high, even by Alaska standards, but I didn't find it a hard price to pay.  Now that my husband knows that there was something there he could have eaten, he says that he wished he hadn't judged it so quickly.

I had a civil conversation with him later about this eat out.  As men are not mind readers, I gave him the straight up instructions that if he didn't want to eat at a place that I was dead set to eat at, that he should go on his own for a while and meet back up after the meal.  I adore my husband and the way he understands my extremely independent nature.  He agreed with me and it's been working out ever since.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Seattle for Valentine's Weekend

What a time!  I got back from Seattle on Sunday.  Thankfully had Monday off (Presidents Day), because I have two days at work to keep my head in the game and try to get things as much together as possible before I am back on a plane and off to Hawaii.  It was a nice breather to get away for the weekend.  My husband was already in Seattle, so I met him there on Friday (Valentine's Day).

WESTIN HOTEL

We stayed at the Westin hotel.  It's a fairly large hotel with two circular towers, and is located on 5th Avenue.  It is super close to the Westlake Center, and about four blocks from Pike Market.  When you walk in you are greeted firstly by the concierge desk.  The front desk is actually off to the right and further back.  The staff is super friendly and very quick to get you put together.  We were offered to join the usual hotel membership, which we did, and it gave us free internet for our room.  There is also the Relish Burger Bistro (not bad) and a lounge which seemed popular, but I did not try.

We got a deluxe room on the 24th floor.  It was shaped like a wedge and didn't seem very spacious.  It did include a small love seat which acted as our catch all for our bags, a chair and small side table, a desk, and a stand with a TV.  The TV stand was were the fridge was.  All of the space was taken up by the drink and food items, so there was no space for leftovers from the restaurants.  My husband said that everything was on the weight activated system, so it was best not to move anything in order for us not to pay for it.  There was a small hidden coffee maker above the fridge which we did not bother trying out.  The room came with two free water bottles daily, which was appreciated.  The toiletries were green tea scented, and we had two bars of leaf shaped soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and one packet with a makeup remover towelette.  The shower had a weird square shower head and a rectangular hand held.  The water pressure was much better in the hand held, and we had to have the water on almost maxed out on the heat to get it warm.

The bed was super soft, and my husband and I both slept very well.  My husband likes five million pillows, so we got the two spares from the closet.  The only thing that wasn't great about our sleep was that we were experiencing high winds and it makes the window creek.  the hotel was designed this way, which I found out by reading the letter under the desk glass.

KASTOORI GRILL

We had our Valentine dinner at Kastoori Grill.  It's just up the street from the Pike Market, and one of our favorite places to go when in Seattle for a weekend.  They have a fairly good sized menu, and I haven't had anything here that wasn't delicious.  I like to get the the vegetable samosas (HUGE), garlic naan, and the kastoori curry.  Service here is always friendly and generally prompt.  They have a very large vegetarian list too.

We happened upon this place when I was trying to talk one of my girlfriends into going to the Japanese food place next to this, and this place was the compromise.  My girlfriend keeps talking about this place and the curry.

WESTLAKE CENTER

We were over at the Westlake Center quite a bit, especially because it was so close.  Zara just opened up and surprisingly wasn't overrun with people.  I also like to go to Daiso (Japanese 1.50 store), Lush, and the Nordstrom Rack.  I go to a couple of Nordstrom Rack's but this one always seems crazy.  I did get a couple of deals, so I was happy.

The Starbucks, which is in a small unattached building in front of the Westlake Center, is packed.  It's also fairly small, so there's not much place to stand and wait for your coffee.  We were heading off to Snoqualmie Falls and coffee was necessary and this was the last place before our car.  The wait was pretty long, the people were nice.  My husband decided to get a cup of ice water, and it had to go through the line and would not be placed with my drink order.  When I was told this they assumed that I wouldn't want it, but as this was the last stop, it was necessary.  And I didn't want to deal with an unhappy husband.  He was about to give up on his water when it finally showed up.

SNOQUALMIE FALLS

OMG!  I've been here before when some friends were having a wedding and were staying at the lodge there.  It's a super pretty waterfall, and it's pretty big.  There is a small gift shop there and that's about all.  On this day that we went (2/16/14), it was super windy and rainy.  My umbrella kept getting blown backwards, and I thankfully also had a raincoat on.  We couldn't bare to stay for very long, and I somehow was able to get a semi decent picture, which I will try to add to this post later.

OUTLET COLLECTION

We went to the Outlet Collection to waste some time, and hopefully get a bite to eat.  There is a reason that this place is rated 2 1/2 stars.  It's bland.  There is no decent food.  The food court is a joke.  There is no decor to speak of.  The customers appear to have just come from Walmart.  There are a couple of decent stores, and I was about to score a couple of Banana Republic pants for 10.99/ea until my husband gave me a hard time about the amount of clothes.  Not that I'm holding a grudge.  We decided we needed to go somewhere else and start thinking about food.

SOUTHCENTER MALL

The parking here is ridiculous.  We had to go around multiple times to find a spot.  Even the spots out in the boondocks were taken.  I have no idea how this occurs, as it has parking lots and parking garages.  Are there really that many people going crazy for this place?  We finally found a spot and lucked out with one up front.  We needed food.

We went to Blue C Sushi and were there in time for a  late lunch.  The place wasn't deserted, but there was not much going around on the sushi belt.  So we had enough to tide us over and did a little shopping.

There are a ton of stores here and a great selection.  I ended up with a great dress from one of my favorite stores, Anthropology.

My husband, for some unbeknownst reason wanted to eat at the Rainforest Cafe.  After I had gotten to torture him with sushi, which failed, it was only fair.  We made our way over.  There were five million barely attended children running amok.  The wait time was 40 minutes, no matter that were were only a table of two. We had a drink at the bar, which was well made, and the bartender was friendly yet sassy.  Apparently, a drink didn't cut the wait time.  I ended up checking twice to see where we were on the list.  When you have to go back three pages and then tell me that there are five people in front of me (?) there's something wrong.  Finally we got in.  Um yeah.  A LOT of seats were empty.  What the heck?  We got placed by a fish tank, which was awesome, because we had a bunch of unattended children come up and slam their dirty hands on the glass at the fish.  We felt bad for the fish.  My husband ordered the cheese sticks as an appetizer.  They were so generic, you could have gotten these at Costco.  The marinara sauce tasted the same.  I ordered the bbq bacon burger, and my husband ordered a bacon burger.  They made his a bbq one too, which he did not want.  The hamburger itself was okay, but it only came with one piece of bacon, and about a cup and a half of shredded lettuce on the bottom.  The fries were okay but bland and unsalted.  We will never be visiting one of these restaurants again.  Not because of the wait or the children, but the food wasn't worth it.  We both understood what a great place this would be for children.

From here we went to the airport for the great wait to get home.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nivea in place of Creme de la Mer?

I was so sad to get to the end of my tub of Creme de la Mer.  You know I made sure to get every bit of it out of that jar.  I love the cream and it has helped my skin to no end, especially during and after vacations.  My dry skin always pays the price when I go to the hot beachy climate.  But every time, my skin heals in lightning speed because I keep slathering this bad boy on.

Okay, back to my empty jar.  I was about to get a new one when my frugal side kicked in.  I knew this stuff worked, but was it actually worth the crazy price tag?  I put it off and scoured the internet to find an affordable replacement.

I read that many people will use Nivea in Creme de la Mer's stead.  Cheap, easy, found everywhere... no prob.  I bought a large container and a small travel/purse size.  Everyday, just like I would use the Creme de la Mer, I used the Nivea.  My face never looked so greasy.  And that greasy lasted.  I ended up having to towel off my face so I could get my makeup on.  I usually leave my moisturizer to set, and put my makeup on last thing.

After a week of trudging through and trying to figure out the right amount, I gave up.  My skin looked bad.  It didn't look dry anymore, instead I was breaking out.  Badly.  So sad.

So I have put the Nivea to the side and will use it on my body or maybe when I need a ultra moisturizing treatment after hitting the beach.  And I am still on the lookout for another replacement.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Clean Eating Meal Prep for Week

I wish everyone knew how easy it was to do meal prep for the week so they could ensure they had healthy meals at their fingertips.  The hardest part is doing the calculations in the beginning so you do not make too much food and end up throwing money in the trash.

I recommend writing down what meals you will be making.  Be honest.  Do you normally eat breakfast at home?  Do you have a day you go out with your friends for lunch?  Calculate those in.  That ends up being good amount of food you could make the following week and save yourself some money.  Another option is to go ahead and make some extra food and then freeze it into your own little lean meals you can store in the freezer at home or at work.

My general plan is to choose what proteins and carbs I want for the week.  Chicken and salmon are my top two picks.  I also generally choose from eggs, chicken breast, turkey breast, and fish for my protein and i switch off between sweet potato, rice, and quinoa for my carb.   For myself, I generally eat breakfast out except about 3 days of the week.  So I adjust my measurements for that when preparing my food.

My meals equal to about the following:

M1 - 1/2 cup low sugar fruit (usually berries or unsweetened apple sauce)
         4 egg whites and unlimited veggies into a scramble, 1/2 cup hash browns or other carb

M2 - 1/2 cup lean protein, 1/2 cup carb

M3 - 1/2 cup lean protein, 1/2 cup carb

M4 - 1/2 cup lean protein, 1 cup veggie

M5 - 1/2 cup lean protein, 1-2 cups veggie

Any of my M2 and M3 can have the carb switched out with veggies if I am trying to cut my weight quickly.  I can also switch those out with a protein shake if I am on the run.  I like to use the EAS carb advantage.

I have a rice cooker and use that to make my rice and quinoa.  That can be done at almost any time, and rice freezes quite nicely.  I haven't frozen my quinoa yet, but I am sure it shouldn't have a  problem.  I really like to use quinoa over rice as it's a complete food (being both carb and protein).

I generally buy some of the 3 cup containers for my meal storage and I get the disposable giant lasagna pans for cooking.  I suggest getting the lasagna pans at Costco or Sams, but they only run you about $2 at my Fred Meyers.  The $3 cup storage containers I generally get are just store brand and cost about $2.50 for a set of 4.

I set the oven for 375 degree Fahrenheit which is kind of a universal heat for most of your cooking.  I normally use 2-3 trays for cooking.  I tray is for my chicken, the second is for my veggies.  I might use a third tray for fish if I am including it.

Tray 1 this week is chicken.  I sprayed the bottom of the pan and added my chicken breasts with the fat trimmed off.  I topped them with a mix of Dijon, balsamic and salt and pepper.  These will cook for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.

Tray 2 this week has my veggies.  I put together zucchini, bell pepper, and crimini mushrooms.  These two pans sit side by side and I cover them with a bit of foil.  The veggies will take the same amount of time, so it's super fast to get this done.

This week, I added some salmon for my protein.  I grilled these, or you could use a forman.  I also had some brussel sprouts that needed to be used, so I cooked them in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes lightly dresses and cut sides down.  That makes them nicely browned and caramelized.  I will add these to my other veggies to give a nice taste and texture difference.

For my carbs, I made sweet potato.  I peeled the sweet potato and cut into chunks.  I then made a foil envelope and put them in with a little salt free seasoning and cinnamon.  These cooked at 400 degrees  for 40 minutes as well.

That's it! All done with cooking.  Let cool and portion off.  And if you used the disposable pans, you have very little clean up to do!!