Tag Archives: workouts

5 Things You Can Do Now to Increase Your Tax Refund

Happy Finance Friday!  (Emphasis on the Friday)

5 ways to increase tax refund

I know what you’re thinking.  The topic of this post pains me as well.  I can’t believe tax season is right around the corner.  It’s painful to think about, but a little planning might go a long way when you’re expecting that big refund check in the Spring.  Here are a few things you can do now (before the holidays hit), that might help you maximize that refund:

1.Make donations to charity

-This can include money, clothing, food, travel, etc. that was spent to make a charitable donation.

-If you are receiving something in return (i.e., race entries) you must deduct the value from the total.

-Just remember to keep in mind only 501(c)(3) charities are deductible and to keep your receipts.  Make sure if you are making a large donation that you receive the correct paperwork for your records.

2. Open a Traditional IRA

If you and/or your spouse do not have access to a work retirement plan, this is a great option to investigate.

irs traditional ira table

(Source)

3. Pay January’s mortgage in December

I realize this is a lot to ask, especially with only a few months left in the year and the holidays around the corner.  But if you think you can swing it, the mortgage interest paid is deductible on your tax return. (Note – you may want to consider what you pay in mortgage interest to evaluate whether this is worth it or not.)

4. Maximize 401k Contributions

If your employer offers a 401k, you may want to consider boosting your contributions for the next few months.  The more you can stash away here, the lower your taxable income will be.

5. Contribute to a 529 Plan

If you are saving for college, this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.  However, this is a state plan, so it may vary.  Consult your tax professional or look into the benefits of this plan to determine if it’s right for you.  A little research might go a long way.

Here’s another article that includes different topics to consider that could save you some money:

9 Things You Didn’t Know Were Tax Deductions

Note –  taxes are complex and everyone’s situation is different, please discuss these options with your tax professional before you implement them to make sure that they are right for you.  

On another (more fun) note, I completed this indoor workout last night and it kicked my butt (in the best way possible).  I would highly recommend it.  It takes approx 15 minutes to get through the circuit, so if you’re low on time you can make it as long as you like!  I followed it up with a fresh cheeseburger casserole:

cheeseburger casserole

Amazing.  I couldn’t get enough.

cheeseburger casserole pickles

Have a great Friday, everyone!

Fall Indoor Full Body Workout

Good morning, friends! I hope your week is off to a good start.  I was a bit disappointed in myself yesterday because I did not hit the road for a run like intended.  It was chilly and windy yesterday after work and I was feeling a little grumpy.  Today will be tough to squeeze in a workout, but just incase the opportunity presents itself, I created this full body circuit that can be done indoors with a set of dumbells and/or a medicine ball.

Fall Indoor Full Body Workout

If you happen to try it out, let me know how it goes.  Hopefully I wil have a chance to get to it today!

What’s your workout plan for the day?

Weekend & Workouts

Good morning!  I can’t believe we’re about to have another Monday in the books. But before we get started, I could use a little motivation for the week considering I ate apple pie for most of my meals this weekend.

apple pie

I’m still working on my picture abilities, but I promise it tasted better than it looks.  Just incase you were curious, I used this recipe for the apple filling and this recipe for the double pie crust.

Friday night we had some visitors staying with us and we layed low.  Saturday we drove to Pittsburgh for a baby shower.  We could tell by the sky when we were leaving that it was going to be an interesting drive.

buffalo skyline

Despite the snow and rain we encountered, the leaves were so beautiful!

new york fall leaves

first snowfall

On Sunday, we prepped ourselves for a cold tailgate!  Doesn’t mother nature know it’s still only October??

snow tailgate

Workouts for the week looked a little something like this:

Sunday – 3 mile run

Monday  – 4 mile run

Tuesday – hot yoga

Wednesday – 6 mile run

Thursday – hot yoga

Friday – rest

Saturday – rest

I was pretty happy with my exercise until I ate all the apple pie on my rest days.

This week is actually a short week for us because we are leaving for London on Wednesday!!  We still have so much to do in over the next 2 days.

motivational quote

(Source)

How do you keep your motivation over the weekends?

Pizza Monster

Alternate titles for this post could be I Have No Self Control Around Pizza or What I Ate Wednesday.

Yesterday started out like any other.  I got up, finished my morning routine, got out the door and went in to work.  Here’s a little glimpse of my day:

Breakfast

1 slice of whole wheat bread with Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter

Trader Joe's Raw Almond Butter

I know some people may have an aversion to the consistency of this.  It’s not very thick, but the I love the taste.  It’s hard to find nut butters that don’t have a bunch of added junk.  This one is 100% almonds, so I forgive the texture.

Coffee (yes, I consider this it’s own meal category)

Lunch

Leftover acorn squash with a side of Trader Joe’s pita chips and Beet Hummus.  And of course a carbonated water that I’m sure someday we will find out is way too good to be true.

pita chips beet hummus

acorn squash sausage kale

Green Tea (also it’s own category)

house stark green tea

Side note – I’m a little disappointed no one at work has noticed this mug.  It’s a real statement piece.  And it wasn’t easy for me to sneak it out of the house unnoticed.

Snack

I have been on an ‘Oh My Yog!’ kick lately.  I can’t get enough of the creamy deliciousness.  I’m hoping Stonyfield will come out with some new flavors soon. My favorite is the Vanilla.

You caught me… his picture is old, I totally forgot to snap one yesterday.

you had one job

Workout

After work I went straight to a Hot Yoga Power Hour.  It feels so great to be back at it, I really missed yoga in my life.  And I can’t believe how weak I have gotten in the few months that I have taken off.  My arms are on the super struggle bus for every sun salutation.  And let’s just say attempting any sort of head stands or fancy-ness are completely on the back burner until I can work up some strength.

After yoga, I came home and took the Busy B for a nice long walk.

german shorthair pointer

I hit my 10,000 step goal, and the Queen B had a nice little outlet.  We even stopped to check out the geese bedding down for the night in the pond nearby.

Dinner

When we got back Kris was home with a huge pepperoni pizza. mmmmmmm.  I was already halfway through my slice of pizza before I remembered to take a picture.  These pizza slices from the Amherst Alehouse are massive.  I planned to eat one slice and exercise some sort of self control, but by the time it was all said and done I had 2 slices of extra large pepperoni pizza and 1 chocolate chip cookie.  And it. was. glorious.

pizza

On that note, I guess I better get to preppin’ something healthy for todays meals.  Happy Hump Day!

Baja Fish Tacos & Workout Recap

Happy Tuesday… one day closer to our beloved Friday!  And I have an awesome recipe to share with you today.  Last night on the way home from work I picked up the ingredients to make Baja Fish Tacos.  I was in luck because the avocados were ripe and the fish was lookin’ good.  Recipe makes about 4 tacos and takes around 20 minutes to make:

Baja Fish Tacos

Ingredients:

– 1 lb cod filet

– olive oil

– chipotle pepper seasoning

– 1 bag red cabbage slaw

– 1/4 cup mayo

– drizzle of honey

– salt/pepper

– chopped cilantro

– juice of 2 limes

– 1 avocado

– fresh salsa

– whole grain tortilla shells

Cover the cod filet with olive oil, the juice of one lime, chipotle chili powder, and chopped cilantro.  Grill on high heat for approximately 10-12 minutes.

baja fish tacos

While the fish is grilling, mix the bag of cabbage slaw, mayo, juice of 1 lime, a drizzle of honey, and chopped cilantro to taste.

red cabbage slaw

Top a wheat tortilla with the cooked fish, cabbage slaw, 1/4 of an avocado, and a healthy dose of salsa:

Baja Fish Tacos

Enjoy!

In other exciting news, I think I have finally gotten back on track with a workout routine.  Here’s a quick recap of this past week’s workouts:

Sunday – Pittsburgh Half Marathon (13.1 miles, woohoo!)

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 2.25 mile run

Wednesday – 3.1 mile run

Thursday – rest

Friday – rest

Saturday – hot yoga

Sunday – 3.5 mile run

Have a great day!

The Puppy Snuggle Vortex

Do you ever have days that the alarm goes off, you actually don’t feel terrible about waking up, and then you see the snuggliest little puppy sleeping next to you… and just like that all you want to do is curl up with your pup and stay in bed forever?

Or how about during the day?  You’re knocking out household chores when suddenly you see your sleepy, furry, little friend curled up in a ball on the couch and before you know it you have abandoned all tasks to take a nap?

This, my friends, is what I like to call the Puppy Snuggle Vortex.  And I am a victim.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 6.40.01 AM

I got out of bed this morning, miraculously, just to end up sitting on the couch with the B dog, watching the news, and struggling to get moving once again.  The struggle is real.

How am I supposed to get anything done on the weekends when this is what I’m working with:

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And now I’m going to use all of my willpower to get off the couch, make some breakfast, and get ready for work (hopefully).

Today on the agenda: out to eat for lunch with a few friends (TBD), wing night!, and hopefully a 4 mile run on the dreadmill to offset all this eating.  I was feeling a little proud of my run on Tuesday.  I increased my mileage and decreased my time since my run last wednesday:

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I kind of let my workouts fall through the cracks last week, so I’m making an extra effort to get back on track.  Now if only this ridiculously cold weather would break so I could bring myself to do a long run!

Have a great day!

Pupometrics

Good morning!  This hump day started for me with a 3 mile run on the treadmill, a warm mug of lemon water, and a delicious English muffin with peanut butter, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.  (and will be followed with copious amounts of coffee).

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This morning I felt very torn between going to the gym and staying and spending time with the B dog.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think other pet owners can attest to the guilt that comes with working out and leaving your furry best friend behind.  Especially pet owners with hyperactive German Shorthair Pointers who live for the opportunity to be active.  Normally I would just take my little furry BFF for a run, but this time of year it’s too cold and dark.

IMG_2337

So this morning, I came up with a compromise… Pupometrics (Puppies + Plyometrics).  It goes a little something like this:

Circuit 1

repeat 10 times:

Toss tennis ball down the stairs

Jump squats until the ball is brought back (or thrown back at you for some of us)

Circuit 2

repeat 10 times:

Toss tennis ball down the stairs

Burpees until the ball is brought back

Circuit 3

repeat for 1 minute each:

Pushups while your pup tries to step all over you

Wall squats while said pup jumps up on your lap

Plank

Circuit 4

repeat 10 times:

Throw tennis ball down the stairs

Jump lunges until the ball is brought back

Circuit 5

10 regular pushups

10 incline pushups

10 tricep pushups

10 shoulder pushups

Repeat until  your pup you can’t go on any longer.

I will definitely be giving this a try soon (maybe this evening?).  So stay tuned 🙂

Have a great day!

Starbucks iBooks, The Bachelor Blog & Weekly Workout Recap

A few weeks ago Kris and I stopped at Starbucks in the grocery store while we were running some errands, and at the end of the coffee prep bar there was a little holder with a bunch of these cards:

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I had no idea that Starbucks had a ‘Pick of the Week’ free ebook, but I am loving it!  This evening I finally got around to downloading this gem and after taking a quick browse through it I think I’m really going to enjoy reading it.  Not bad for a free book, eh?

Last week I also discovered this awesome blog by Chris Soules, this season’s Bachelor.  Am I the only one who didn’t know this was a thing?? Either way, I think it’s hilarious to read what Chris has to say after seeing the show as it is aired. I haven’t read this week’s post yet, but I think this makes me like him even more (if that was even possible).

http://www.people.com/article/bachelor-chris-soules-blog-episode-6

And now for the weekly workout recap:

Sunday – rest

Monday – rest

Tuesday – rest

Wednesday – rest

Thursday – PiYo

Friday – EFX

Saturday –skiing

Definitely not my best week ever, but sometimes life just gets in the way.  I’m going to have to seriously pick up my game to prepare for the half marathon.  But I am super excited for the Cupid Dash 5k on Saturday!!

How to Break Out of a Workout Rut

This week I was in a total workout rut and I had zero remorse (kind of).  It’s perfectly acceptable to take a day or two off to rest, but I was taking it to the next level.  I had 5 days of inactivity until finally one of my friends asked me to hit the morning PiYo class today.  So I had a brain storm, what do I normally do when I hit a workout rut?  You know, that time when you’re killing it at the gym or on your runs, about to break new personal records, and then all of the sudden – you just decide that you’ve done enough here and call it quits for a few days?  I’m sure there are some deep-seeded psychological reasons that I do this to myself, but that’s a discussion for another time never.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 8.38.41 PM

5 Ways to Break Out of a Workout Rut

1. Have a workout buddy to keep you accountable

I don’t always work out with a friend, I would say 90% of my workouts are solo.  I enjoy the alone time, and I find it difficult to deal with the mental challenges of having a running buddy.  However, I do have a friend or two that I will do other workouts with, and just getting back to it one time can completely turn things around.  That’s where said friend comes into play to ask you to go to a class, or meet for a quick workout, and just like that you’re back on track!

2. Don’t wait until Monday

Don’t wait for anything, for that matter.  It’s so easy to get into the mindset that if you miss Monday the whole week is shot, but we all know deep down that it’s just an excuse.  I almost used it myself this week when it was closing in on Thursday and I hadn’t worked out one day.  I thought about just writing the entire week off.  Don’t punish yourself or beat yourself up, just get back out there!

3. Schedule a workout like it’s a meeting

I have a weekly planner that I sit down and map out my daily tasks for the week every Monday.  As long as I think of a workout like a meeting, I hold myself accountable and don’t accept excuses to skip.  Make sure you schedule other activities around the workout, don’t let it be the first thing to go when things get crazy.

4. Read healthy living blogs, articles, Pinterest boards

Sometimes when I am dragging and it’s hard to visualize my goals, I hit the internet.  Get on the Pinterest app and look at healthy living boards in your spare time.  Even looking at pictures of others in workout clothes gets me feeling a little more motivated (especially when I want to look like them).

5. Just do it.

The most simple yet difficult thing to do is just to suck it up and do it.  Don’t overthink it, just get out there and make it happen.  You will never regret it.

Laser Tag, Gardening, and a Workout Recap

Happy Superbowl Sunday!

I hope you are having an awesome weekend prepping for fun and Super Bowl festivities today. Our weekend consisted of going to Mexico for dinner on Friday night, followed by an intense game of laser tag.

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We actually talked about going to see a movie after dinner, but we were feeling a little unsure of our abilities to stay awake for a movie, and there just happened to be an Xtreme Laser Storm next door to the restaurant.  We walked in, unsure of what we were about to find… after noticing advertisements for having birthday parties there, it soon became clear that our competition might be much younger and more agile.  But there was a wide range of ages and types and we began to feel a little more comfortable that we weren’t the creepy “older kids” hanging out at a laser tag joint on a Friday night.

After a 5 minute briefing we were sent into the war zone and the madness began.

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The game lasted about 10 minutes and the goal was to shoot as many opposing team players as possible, as well as their “base” if you can get to it.  After you get hit twice you have to go to a “reloading” station and start over.  After the game is over they announce an MVP from each team… and of course Kris was the MVP of the red team (I’ve never been so proud), so we have a nice, shiny “buy one get one free” for the next time we go back (and we will be going back).

On Saturday we did some shopping/browsing and I came across this awesome vegetable gardening book!

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It breaks down all kinds of different vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc. and tells you what to do by month to prep.  I want to get a fluorescent light and a table for the basement and start growing!  There will definitely be more to come on this topic!

This morning we made a delicious breakfast of pancakes and kiwi (since the super pint of kiwi that I bought is super ripe)

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They weren’t the healthiest pancakes, but I tried to make myself feel a little better about them by using the Bisquick boxed recipe, but replace one cup of Bisquick with Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat Pancake Mix.

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Later we will be heading out to my parents to watch the Superbowl and celebrate my sister’s birthday with an awesome fiesta!  We began the fiesta tradition for my sister’s birthday when she turned 21, and it was such a hit that we’ve been doing it every year since.  I’m also super excited because this is a rare event for our family lately … every one is able to make it!!

I hope you have a great Sunday! Here’s the weekly workout recap:

Sunday – rest

Monday – EFX class at FASTER

Tuesday – 3 miles treadmill

Wednesday – EFX class at FASTER

Thursday – 4 miles treadmill

Friday – EFX class at FASTER

Saturday – rest