Total Gym XLS: Month 2 Recap

We received a complimentary Total Gym XLS for the purposes of this series; this post also contains affiliate links. This article is an account of our personal experience only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any medical condition. Always consult with physician before embarking on any fitness program.

We’ve been using our Total Gym XLS for two months now – wow! Here are our measurements from today, compared with our measurements from day one:

Total Gym Month 2

Jai has been building muscle in his chest and arms, which is his goal, while losing inches in the waist and thighs – he’s doing great! I’ve been losing on my arms and chest and pretty much holding steady on the lower measurements, which makes sense to me, since I have been primarily been doing arm-based exercises with the XLS. In the last few weeks, I’ve started doing more lower body workouts as I feel more comfortable with it and can do quite a bit of leg exercises now without hearing my knees pop and crunch constantly, so as always, slow and steady wins the race with gently getting my healed knees used to their full athletic capability again.

Given what a stressful, hectic month this has been and that we’ve been on the go constantly, I’m pretty impressed with what we’re continuing to get out of the Total Gym. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be happy to be getting these kinds of results from such a small time investment. We’ve had the unit for two months, and in October I’ve been using the XLS for an average of maybe 30-40 minutes 3-4 days a week. (I used it 5 days a week in September, when I wasn’t going out of town every weekend…) It’s nice to know that you can still hold steady and make progress when months are as overwhelming as this one!

My Weekend in Chicago

Kenmore Blogger Summit 2013

Travel consideration provided by Kenmore.

On Friday and Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the Kenmore Blogger Summit in Chicago for MomStart. It was a whirlwind trip – as I indicated earlier, between this and the INS, I got very few hours of sleep and left mucho early in the morning in order to get to the airport in time. I went straight from the flight to the event (With a 10-minute stop at the hotel to drop off my bag), so my makeup was melting off my face but I don’t think I scared anyone too badly. ;)

I was so excited to meet many bloggers that I’ve been pals with for ages, and made fast friends with the new bloggers that I met. The Kenmore team was a lot of fun, and packed the days full of activities like a crazy Iron Chef-style competition that I somehow managed to win, a Yankee Blogger Gift Exchange, exploding fruitcakes, appliance talk, holiday tips, cookbooks (Including one with recipes submitted by all the bloggers at the summit), cocktails and delicious food. SO MUCH delicious food!

I have friends and family in and near Chicago, so everyone was telling me to visit them, but since I was going straight from the airport to the event and then back again, there just wasn’t time. I mention this only so that my loved ones will know I wasn’t snubbing them. ;) However, I did discover that there was time on the second morning to get up an hour early for an impromptu 6:30 AM walking tour with Marina and Malini. We were staying at Hotel Felix, which is in downtown Chicago, so we were able to walk to a surprising number of landmarks in an hour. I walked past sights like the Chicago River, NBC building and Chicago Tribune – I’ve been to Chicago on flight layovers many times, but I’d never made it into the city before, so this was a treat!

After the event, I headed straight back to the airport to catch my flight back to PDX. In fact, I’m writing my first draft of this as I sit on an airplane since I was lucky enough to be seated in a row with electrical outlets. There are benefits to sitting in the emergency exit row! I’m not exactly sure how many hours of sleep I’ve gotten since Tuesday, but it’s been between 1-4 hours a night so you must forgive me if I’ve missed any egregious typos while proofreading this. ;) That’s not a complaint, though – I’ve had a great week and the lack of sleep just means that I will have a zombie costume with no makeup required come Halloween this Thursday. ;)

The Kenmore Blogger Summit was a wonderful and fun event – I have detailed recaps going up on MomStart over the next few days, so be sure to click on over for more photos and details on this truly unique event!

Start Off 2014 With a Disney World Vacation: Discounts From Pixie Vacations

Pixie Vacations

Promotional items provided as a thank you for sharing this information. This post will also enter me into a contest.

I know a lot of people who are planning Disney vacations this time of year, so it seems like a good time to share some travel deals! We all know that Disney trips can add up, so here’s a few deals for ya courtesy of Pixie Vacations, who are “Authorized Disney Vacation Planners” and know all the ins and outs of visiting The Mouse.

2014 Walt Disney World Deals

Save up to $600 on a “Play, Stay & Dine” Package”

Now through December 31st, book a family vacation for Walt Disney World and save $400 for a family of 4 at Disney Value Resorts or $600 for a family of four at Disney Moderate/Deluxe/or Deluxe Villa Resorts for 5 days and 6 nights. Packages include dining and are good for stays on most dates between January 5th and March 5th of 2014.

Save up to 35% on Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

If you’d rather just get the hotel, you can snag some savings at select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels when you book by December 31st. Save 35% at locations such as Disney’s BoardWalk Inn & Villas, Disney’s Beach Club Resort Villas, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort; save 25% at resorts such as Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins, or save 20% at Disney’s All-Star Music, Disney’s Pop Century Resort or Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort. This is just a small sampling of the resort hotels offering these discounts, so check out for the full list. Stays are good for most dates from January 5th through March 5th and March 14th through April 12th 2014.

Christmas With Mickey!

Don’t want to wait until next year to feel the magic? You don’t have to! Now through November 18th, book your magical Christmas vacation at Walt Disney World with dates from December 18th through Christmas Day. Get a package from $118 per person including a free Disney Water Park or DisneyQuest Ticket, with a 5 night, 6 day package at participating Disney Value/Moderate/Deluxe Resorts. Package also includes Magic Your Way Base Ticket, and Disney’s Plus Dining (See restrictions). This offer is exclusively available through Pixie Vacations, so click here to get your quote now!

Are you planning a Disney vacation any time soon?

Total Gym XLS: Week 7 Recap

Total Gym XLS With Wing Attachment

We received a complimentary Total Gym XLS for the purposes of this series; this post also contains affiliate links. This article is an account of our personal experience only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any medical condition. Always consult with physician before embarking on any fitness program.

It’s our seventh week with the Total Gym XLS! Measurement time:

Measurements Week 7

This was a rough week; not with the Total Gym, but with everything else. Our schedule with both work and personal commitments has been really punishing and taking good care of ourselves has been a challenge. I made it through the weekend with about 3 hours of sleep, working hard to take care of everything that had to happen, and the lack of sleep has been brutal. When I can’t get to bed until 4 AM, it makes it difficult to work out because I can’t bear to stay awake any longer, especially when I have to get back up at 9 AM – you know what I mean? I hate to even say it because it sounds like I’m just whining, but there’s no avoiding the topic of my schedule since I’m being honest about my fitness journey and quest for better health. Clearly, surviving on a couple of hours of sleep is not anywhere to be found on a list of “Healthy things to do”! ;)

I’ve actually been fighting very hard to reclaim my schedule this month, although you wouldn’t know that by how overbooked I still am! But I’ve been turning down a lot of things and cutting out a lot of stuff – many of this month’s projects are just prior commitments or unavoidable loose ends related to our home renovations that I just had to get through and make the best of. Doing a total DIY renovation is a big challenge at the best of times, and since Jai and I work so many hours each week, the only way we’ve ever been able to make progress on our home improvements is just by creating the time to do it out of thin air – hence, all these late nights!

Although neither Jai or I got to use the XLS as much as we wanted to – I worked out 3 days last week, and Jai did roughly the same – I still had my small wins with it. I’ve been doing crunches on the Total Gym with my legs held up in the air, and I think back to 2012 when I was still having trouble walking and feel so grateful for how far I’ve come. I’m also noticing that some of the exercises are getting a little too “Easy” so I’m thinking I might boost the XLS up to Level 3 for some exercises and Level 2 for others, depending on how challenging they are to me. One thing that is wonderful about having a gym in the home like this is that my idea of a “Bad week” now is only working out 3 times – as opposed to a “Bad week” just a few months ago that would involve zero exercise. By having this in my home, I’m still able to at least hold steady when things get really bad and keep it from going completely out of control – right after my hell weekend was over, I was right back on the Total Gym Monday night. I can’t tell you how many times in the past a “Bad week” has turned into a “Bad month” where I end up skipping the gym for weeks and weeks, so I feel that this definitely helps me to avoid those huge “Two steps forward, two steps back” cycles. Also, I’m noticing that my back is less prone going out when I’m stuck working in front of a computer for long periods of time, and I suspect that this is because I’m able to be more active during these hectic periods and keep everything from seizing up. So while this may not have been the greatest week ever, it’s certainly not the worst.

How do you keep active (and sane) when you’re overbooked?

Busy Week Ahead!

This promises to be a busy week! On Wednesday, I’ll be heading into Portland bright and early – as in, “Leaving at 5 AM bright and early” – for an appointment with the INS to renew my green card. It’s just a routine thing; green cards have to be updated every 10 years now, so I’ll need to get a new photo and fingerprints taken. Kind of like going to the DMV to get your driver’s license renewed!

Then, I’ll be heading back to Portland again early Friday morning to catch a flight to Chicago, as I am going on a press trip attending the Kenmore Blogger Summit for MomStart. It promises to be a very busy but awesome week!

“Wake Up with Adam Levine”

Heads-up that I am being entered into a contest for this post; however, the only incentive I needed to post was content about Adam. ;)

I get countless press releases sent to me every week, so I always appreciate when I get one that stands out and grabs me because it’s funny. Yesterday, I got one titled “Wake Up with Adam Levine – we mean, Adam’s New 222 Collection”, which is a surefire way to get my attention. I thought the whole press release was hilarious:

222 Press Release

Click to enlarge

I’ve been telling people for years how great Maroon 5 is and playing their music for my friends (who then become fans), so naturally, I had to share this since it’s my mission to spread any news relating to Maroon 5 and its members. I saw Adam’s clothes in Kmart last week and I’m thinking this would have been great for my Halloween costume a few years back. It really does look like what he usually wears, minus the ratty t-shirts full of holes. ;) The only disappointment to me is no Adam Levine clothes for girls or pajamas – are you listening, Kmart? Ideas for your next Adam Levine line of products!

You can clickety-click here to view all of the 222 Collection online.

Lunches-on-The-go: SoyJoy Bars

Dark Chocolate Cherry

Product was provided for review.

I’ve been packing a lot of brown bag lunches recently, so I always welcome quick options that I can toss into the lunch pail. Our friends at SoyJoy sent me a package last week that was ideal for this purpose: Not only did it contain their snack bars, but a collapsible lunchbox with a combo spoon/fork built into the lid. Brilliant!

SoyJoy Lunchbox

Meal bars are a really nice option for packing lunch in a hurry. I usually round out these type of lunches with sides like a hardboiled egg, chopped veggies, berries, or a small salad packed in a Ziploc bag. If you prepare a batch of salad and boil a dozen eggs at once, it makes it a lot easier to throw these kind of lunches together in a hurry!

SoyJoy are big proponents of easy meal options, as evidenced by their panel at FitBloggin’, Tricks for Snacking on the Go, which was hosted by Tenley Molzahn. They sent over 3 varieties of their bars for me to pack into my nifty new lunch box:

I’m a chocoholic, so naturally the Dark Chocolate Cherry was my favorite! It’s a little on the dry side, but they gave me a great tip at FitBloggin’ about tossing these into the microwave for 10 seconds to heat them up, which I think would make them a little more moist. I didn’t try it this time around, because, well, I was on the go! ;)

I also enjoy the banana flavor quite a bit. I did try to save at least one for Jai, so I gave him the Cranberry and asked him later what he thought. He said he enjoyed it – he thought it was one of the better SoyJoy flavors, but didn’t necessarily stand out as the best one ever to him, although he thought it was good.

What do you pack in brown bag lunches?