Friday, August 21, 2015

Review - DailyBurn Black Fire with Bob Harper

I currently work with a trainer twice a week at my gym and then supplement my workouts either there at the gym or just in my home for other days or extra workouts.  Over time I have amassed a lovely collection of workout dvds. I tend to have a love for Beachbody and dance workouts but I try not to limit myself.

On Facebook, Black Fire kept popping up and tempting me.  I knew Bob Harper was suppose to be a good trainer, and there was a 30 day free trial. So I gave it a shot.  I had a DailyBurn account a long time ago, but when I went to go log into it and add the trial of Black Fire, it wasn't there.  Apparently, they were getting away from having a workout and food tracking site.  It was kind of like Livestrong.
I made a new account and started my free trial.  You can choose to do the Black Fire, but they also have a couple other programs to choose from, or you can do workouts from various programs to do your own thing.  There is no tracking anymore for food.  There was a suggested meal plan, which seemed pretty much like a basic clean eating menu. As they used to have tracking, it kept irking me that I couldn't track my food on the website.

I wasn't sure what to think about the workout videos at first. They seemed a bit corny and they were really trying to enthuse you but it came off too fake.  It wasn't horrible, just noticeable.  The workouts themselves were fairly short and tend towards HIIT workouts. You do something like 8 rounds of 2-3 exersizes. It's all timed and easy to follow. There is not a lot of equipment hat you need, but you will need to get a plyobox.  Overall, I ended up a sweaty mess and feeling spent which is great. The videos seem to me like Bob Harper is trying to come off like Tony Horton with P90X. that was a loss for me.

So the overall impression for this program:

  • Price is great. 30 day free trial and then only 12.95 a month. Comparatively to some other big names, that's a steal.
  • No food tracking on DailyBurn. Booooooo!!!!!!!
  • The diet was pretty much worthless, so I would suggest to find a meal plan somewhere else like, and just use this for the workouts.
  • Though cheese factor was high the workouts did what they were suppose to do.
  • Gear that you need is pretty much dumbbells, mat and a plyobox.  That last one is the kicker. Who has that in their general arsenal?
  • DailyBurn has an app so you can take the workouts with you and they would be easy to incorporate during travel and vacation.

So I appreciate the workouts and I feel that it is worth the money if you do not have a collection amassed like mine.  This program is a thumbs up if all you need is the workout videos, otherwise save your money.

Monday, May 18, 2015

DFW 6 Hour Layover

What a time to go to Madrid.  Though this winter has been our mildest yet, it was still a relief from the cold.  And though Spain has year long tourism, we found that February was one of the best months to go.  Tourism picks up noticeably in March. 

We used out air miles to get us there. Of course that means that you have to put up with milk runs, long layovers, and the like.  We had a six hour layover in one of our least liked airports, Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), in Texas.

We have been here before on our way to Mexico.  There as nothing there and of course we were starved and needed coffee.  So, we really weren’t looking forward to this part. I decided that it might be bearable if I brought some goodies with me and took a nap while there.  That’s where my research began.  And then came some good news, they’ve done some upgrades. Nothing spectacular but at least something. 

We noticed that they had a micro hotel available in the DFW airport, and I contemplated reserving a room for us.  I also was looking at a boarding room pass for us.  They are all very centrally located close to each other, so it was really a difference between what was offered and price.  I thought it would be nice to have a kind of sanctuary to go to and surprise my husband with.

We ended up getting day passes for the American Airlines. 

Here are my observations:

For the minute hotel:

The rooms were very small, about the size of my office at work. The rates were too high. The people working there were friendly and the rooms looked clean. The rooms offer Netflix and Direct TV.  You can take a shower, but you have to go to a separate area for the shower. This part I didn’t like. You can go out for food and drink, but there isn’t anything available there or included.  Overall, not a bad choice. My husband didn’t like the size but liked the privacy and he really didn’t like the price. If we did stay here, we would have wanted the deluxe room which was a bit bigger, and I would probably stay here if I was by myself. 

For the Admirals Club:

It was 50.00/pp or 99.00 membership fee. The membership fee works if you fly with the airline once in a while and could use the membership. Generally you get the membership and you take your spouse in for free.  There were complimentary drinks which included a red and white wine and beer. There were other premium drinks for purchase.  There were showers right there and I saw a good amount of people going through the door for them. This place can get crowded, we were lucky and set up shop at two of the reclining chairs along the far wall. These are well worth finding free and you are able to get a little shut eye. Be aware that there are only so many plugs close to these chairs to grab one while you can. There are tables and chairs all over the place which have plenty of plugs. If you leave your recliner, make sure you leave some stuff on it to save it, otherwise you chair is definitely going to be taken. The staff was pleasant and I drank my fair share of wine and mike his beer. 

Was it worth the $50/pp.  I think so and yet no.  It was worth it to find a place to rest for 6 hours, but it was also a bit high for really not getting that much out of it and it was pretty crowded.  Mike was of the same feeling.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Perfecting Your Steamed Rice

Making steamed rice can seem a chore if you don't know what you are doing.  I will be making this steamed rice in a rice steamer.  Long ago I decided that I didn't care for using a pot on the stove.  I suggest you upgrade to a machine if you already haven't.

For this recipe, I will be using 2 cups of calrose rice, a pinch of salt, and water.  Later I will season my rice for my recipes, but that is optional.  But there are a lot of things that are not.

When measuring your rice, you need to use the provided cup from your machine. I've had a few, so I have a couple in easy reach. If you accidentally threw yours away, you need to remember that a Japanese cup is about 2/3 cup in American measurement. 

You need to wash your rice at least three times.  Three is the magic number, but you might need one more, just watch the water.  The first rinse I do not count, because you pretty much get the rice wet and pour off the water.  This is the dirty water and you need to work quickly, because you do not want your rice to absorb the dirty water.  After that, you cover the rice with cool water and form your hand into something like a claw.  Roll around the rice, and notice the milky white color.  Pour this off without tossing your rice out of the bowl.  Keep doing this until the water is mostly clear.

After that, look of the numbered measurement going up the side of the bowl.  I used two cups of rice, so I will fill to the two line.  Fill it up, place on the counter, and see where it lines up.  Most of the time, people under fill because the bowl is uneven when you fill it.

Add a pinch of salt, cover, and let sit at least for an hour.  I left my rice for about 5 hours once accidentally, and it came out great.  You really need to leave it at least an hour though.

After the hour is over, plug in your machine, and switch it to cook.

After it's done cooking, your machine should switch to the warm setting.  Do not remove the lid.  Your rice needs to sit covered on warm for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes have passed, use your rice paddle (sometime included with your machine) and use a folding method while cutting in.  So swoop from the bottom, pull to the top, and cut the edge of the paddle through the rice to break up. You are now done, unless you need to season your rice.

I am making some rolls for lunch, so I needed seasoned rice.  I took about a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar with a pinch of salt and a couple drops of stevia.  You are suppose to use a pinch of sugar, but I'm limiting my intake. I used Nustevia, so it didn't have the stevia aftertaste.  I slowly pour the mixture over the rice paddle that I am softly shaking side to side to help disperse the seasoning.

Use the same method of folding and cutting your rice to mix.  And now you are really done.  Look at that shiny tasty rice!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

12WBT Michelle Bridges Review

Hi all, so here we are again with another workout and eating plan with online coaching.  This program is about to start its 12th week and I feel I have done enough of this one to truly remark on it.

It appears that many online coaching programs are doing a limited access site with "rounds" that you can sign up for and do.  I preciously gave the 10 Weeks BodyChange Changetime  a try and stopped it after 3 weeks.  The 12WBT is similar in the way that you have access for the 12 week span and each week you are given access to a new weeks worth of the program. You can go back and redo or review the previous weeks in both of them.  I have to say that this limitation is probably one of my biggest problems with both programs.

The upsides for the 12WBT are:

They have a whole prep section before you start your round to get you prepped to go, and this helps to keep you going good.
You are able to track eating, water intake, mood, and sleep.
You get full length workouts with Miche, but they are also broken apart if you just don't have the time.
The food is pretty diverse and lots of flavors.
You get to eat bread.  (For you carb lovers)
Miche is all over this thing.
You get pep talk videos that are supposed to help you overcome or face what you need to.
There is a workout plan that you get to say if you workout at a gym, or at home, and even outside.
The site is user friendly and if you post a question in the forum, they actually respond to you.

The downside for the 12WBT are:

It was $152.00!!!!!! (Even 10WBC was 99.00)
You get 12 weeks of access and then you are done.
The food options can get a bit hard to find the ingredients (Yeah, I'm in Alaska).
It is hard to make sure that you are eating what you are supposed to according to the meal plan when you are at work.
The workouts are about 45 minutes each.  Carving that much time out of your day can be quite hard sometimes.
This program is newer and Miche is not really known in the USA (I did see that after this session is over, that they are combining the USA and the Australia groups together).

Overall - The site is really well put together.  I like Miche, even though she can be a bit over the top.  I like the videos and the constant involvement.  I really hate sites that only give you 12 weeks of access.  So with a bit of meal swapping and planning, the diet was a nice change.  I give this plan a thumbs up.  I would recommend this for people, but I would recommend it more if it were more around $100 instead of $152.

As an updated note:  I just saw that with joining the USA and the Australia groups together you will be charged $199 Australian dollars, which equals today at about $175 US Dollars.  Then of course you can add on your foreign transaction fee.  This is especially important if you do the payment style, because every time you get charged, you get a fee.  I had to deal with this when I was training with a Canadian trainer.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Starting the 12 Week Body Transformation with Michelle Bridges (12WBT)

So I signed up for the 12WBT a little over a week ago.  I decided to try that $3 for 3 weeks promo that I kept seeing.  After I signed up, I went on the website and saw that we were "pre-season" and there were a bunch of videos and tasks that you are assigned before the program begins.  The videos  have Michelle in them talking over the different sections and why that part of pre-season will help you succeed.

I was initially put off by the pre-season.  I wanted to start right away and not deal with stuff in the meanwhile.  After the first week, when I was going through the tasks, I started to enjoy it.  New tasks, videos, and whatnot open up at different dates on the site.  You will see a notice when it will be made available.  Also, each week has a new task.

When I started, pre-season had been underway for a while and I only had about a week and a half to go through most of the tasks.  After the first week opened up, I had access to my meals, was able to modify the dishes.  There is also a workout plan that you can put in that you are working out either at home, at a gym, or outdoors.  This was a super nice feature.  If you can't get your butt to the gym but can force yourself to get it in at home, or you have a glorious nice day out - there you go.  You will put in a fitness level that you want to workout at and when you do the fitness test it will show you what level you are at.  Also, a nice thing is that Mich does a 45 minute workout video for each of your workout days.

I am now on day 2.  Things that I've come across:
They don't actually tell you when to eat your snacks, but they are factored into your calorie allotment.
Mich can really seem over the top like a pitchman on the tv selling oxypro or the like.
There is a forum on the site which is nice and you do get responses in a pretty timely manner.  I did notice that you do not see posts from past sessions, only the people you are in the session with. But you can see previous people on the video comments.
The food can seem a bit bland, and I had to figure out things to add some flavor but without calories or salt and sugar.
There is a water meter.  Yay!!
I like the overall setup of the web page.  It is definitely much better that the 10 Week BodyChange.
Michelle is all over this thing.  She isn't just a puppet letting her picture get posted on it but with no big involvement.  She is everywhere.  (OK, not the forum, lol).

Alright, so far so good.  I'm enjoying the program.  I like the website.  I like that there is the website forum and they have a Facebook page. The food is good, but just a bit bland.  I like the workouts.

Unlike some reviews I saw for this, I did not get a free membership.  I am paying for mine.  After my $3 for 3 weeks is through, I will be continuing for the whole session.  I will post some further reviews and my progress later.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Taking Care of a Twisted Ankle

My adorable pup and I decided to take advantage of the good weather and went for a quick hike after work.  Anchorage has the benefit of having some really great trails right here in town.  Most of them make you quickly forget that you are in town and in an area that still has cell coverage.

We decided to check out the Spencer Loop system off the Campbell Airstrip Road.  It's a series of loops that you can decide how many you are going to do or just the outside perimeter.  Charlie and I made it about 1/3 of the way through the first loop when I fell, twisting my ankle. Oh my goodness, the pain was immense.  I tried to gather myself as quickly as I could and access how bad it was.  I was having pain shooting through when I stepped down, but thankfully had not heard a snap or pop.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to go through even one loop with my ankle in this way.  So, we headed back the way we came.  I was really trying to take it as easy as possible, even with trying to keep hold of my dog and uneven terrain. I ended up having my ankle give out twice on my way back.

I got to my house and put the dog inside.  Thankfully only three agonizing stairs. Even today, the day after, stairs are not my friend.  I grabbed my first aid kit and started to get to work on my ankle.  I should mention that I do have a first aid kit in my day pack for hiking, but was not prepared for an ankle strain, which I usually have a kit for my backpacking.  Guess I learned my lesson.  An up side, during the time that I was delving into a little Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) I came across Herbal Ice (San Huang San) and picked some up from the Herbal Shop.  I got the pre-made mix so it was easy to toss into my backpack, but I suppose the powder can be kept longer.  I slathered this gel on pretty thickly as it told me to do.  Now the bad part... Where the heck was my gauze and ace bandage?  I ended carefully putting a men's sock over it and then covered it with another.  These were socks that I never planned to see again in case they were going to get stained.  I got an ankle brace from my husband (Thanks Hun!) which hurt like heck to put on.  Then I got my foot propped up on a pillow and stayed off of it.  I slept with the pillow under my foot as well.

I totally didn't even think that I could have wrapped my ankle with plastic wrap.  If this ever happens again I know what to do.  Also, if I didn't have my Herbal Ice, you are "supposed" to go back and forth from hot to cold therapy and keep your ankle elevated. (DISCLAIMER: Yes, we all have to have one.  In no way am I giving anyone medical advice.  I am simply posting what I did for myself.  If you are injured you may wish to seek a professional, which I am not.)  My Herbal Ice container states that it relieves pain and reduces swelling of bruises, contusions, sprains, strains, muscle pulls or any type of injury where you would normally use ice.

Next morning, the pain was still there but not as bad.  I used my trekking pole to help me get around, and took my Herbal Ice to work with me.  I nabbed some gauze and self stick wrap from the office first aid kit.  When checking out my ankle prior to re-wrapping it, I noticed that the discoloration wasn't too bad and not as swollen as it could have been.  I slathered on more Herbal Ice and wrapped my foot in gauze then the wrap.  I didn't put on the brace though.  I've also stayed off my feet as much as possible.

After a couple of days, I will start doing some stretches for the ankle and then after a couple more days I will start to try to strengthen the ankle.  I am pretty sure that I will not be hiking for at least a couple of weeks.

UPDATE:  Low and behold I didn't get better.  The Herbal Ice did help, but I apparently had a worse sprain than I thought.  I went to the doctor and had the X-rays done.  He said that there were no broken bones, but I had a pretty good sprain and it looked like I tore a bit of my achilles.  Because of the later part I needed to get a boot to fully stabilize the area and keep myself from using it.  The other part of my ankle wasn't healing because I was still using my foot.  The doctor said that if I didn't have the tear in the achilles, I could have used an air cast and crutches.

My father in law had just come into town and we were going to Fairbanks.  My husband decided that I just needed a better wrap to get through the trip.  It was killing me, and the wrap started digging into my ankle making it worse.  So I had to wait three more days until we got back and I could get a boot. My husband may think that it's over kill, but it's my ankle and I  say I'm going with the doctor's recommendation.

I've had the boot for two days now, and though my ankle aches a bit, it feels a lot better.  The doctor said that I have to wear this for a couple of weeks and then I can start stretching it out.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chicken Paprika Goulash

Chicken goulash, as my family calls it, also goes by chicken paprika or chicken paprikash.  It has been a family recipe that has been handed down to me from my father who was taught by his mother.  This recipe is so simple and tasty, and not to mention budget friendly.

I have tried adapting a couple of things, but mostly I have always stuck to the original.  My parents told me that you usually choose between potatoes and ganadle, but I do both.  I have also tried sweet potato.  The flavor was great and I will try it again, but with the long cooking time, the sweet potatoes disintegrated.  So they will have to go in later.

Ganadle is a Hungarian egg noodle that is spoon dropped into your soup like a dumpling.  I'm sure it goes by several different names, but this is what I have always known it as.

Your finished chicken goulash should end up spicy with a thinish broth and chicken falling off the bone.  The spice level depends on your taste.  Before I got married and moved out of my parents house, there were three of us in and out of the kitchen altering the spice level.  My dad liked his to burn your lips off (we normally serve buttered bread with the meal to help with this).  My mother liked hers so mild that you were wondering if she ran out of the paprika and decided to make the dish anyways.  Mine is kind of a medium hot.  I like it spicy with flavor and no crying.

Another note, is to look at what paprika you're using.  We use a Hungarian sweet paprika, not the generic crap you get at Costco or store brand whooy.  So important is paprika, that when I moved out of my parents house, I stole the paprika. I know, I know.  Most kids take furniture or whatever, but no, not me.  And so important is this paprika, that I showed it to my husband and told him he could use it, but if there was only a little left not to touch it unless he saw a replacement behind it. I then gave him the idea that there would be a terrible threat to his life if he took the last of the paprika.  Such is the importance of this divine spice.  I should also note that for my husband, I went ahead and got him some Costco paprika so he could cook his little heart out, without fear.

Chicken Goulash
1 bag of frozen cut up chicken
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 med potatoes, peeled and large chunk
1 - 4 T paprika (to taste)- start at 1 and work your way up
1 1/2 t salt

Saute onion in 2 T olive oil until it starts to turn translucent.  Add the salt and paprika, stir, then add chicken and potatoes.  Cover with water about 2 inches.  Bring to boil, then put on a low simmer for 90 minutes.  Taste occasionally and season to taste.  Usually we keep adding paprika and only a bit of salt.  If making ganadle, you can make it at about 75 minutes.

1 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 t salt
1-2 T of milk
couple of dashes of paprika (optional)

Mix together and add to goulash in drops.  Use the side of a spoon to scoop about 1-2 teaspoons out and use another spoon to help "roll" it out of the first spoon. Drop these all over the pot so they don't stick together.  They will float to the top shortly and you can simmer them there until done and they soak up some of the juice.

If you have leftovers of this recipe, the sauce will thicken due to the potatoes and the ganadle.  If you are making this as part of a pot luck or similar, you can make ganadle and spoon them out after they float and re-add them later.  This recipe can be put into the slow cooker on low without the ganadle.  I usually just do the 6 hours and keep warm until I get home from work.