Friday night I got together with my two best friends Caitlan and Lauren in DC. We all go to different schools, but within about an hour of each other so we try to get together every couple months.

We had a couple glasses of wine and caught up then headed to a Mexican restaurant/bar for margaritas! Normally I’m not a huge margarita person but we got pitchers of mango and strawberry margaritas that were SO good. Plus the bartender gave us a couple rounds of tequila shots 🙂

The last time I went to a Mexican restaurant was actually with Caitlan and another friend about a month ago. We had just come from Shamrockfest (an outdoor St. Patrick’s day-themed music festival) and we were starving and absolutely fiended on tortilla chips. Eating all those chips made me feel yucky when I woke up the next morning so I remembered how I felt and only ate 2 chips this time. Instead I just ate the salsa with a fork! I also had a salad with grilled shrimp. I LOVE how they cook shrimp in Mexican restaurants–it’s so good!

We got back to Caitlan’s apartment around midnight and I was seriously craving brownies…so I made some!

I am so picky about brownies…they have to be fudgey and gooey or I won’t eat them! I made them extra-fudgy by using less eggs (1 instead of 2), a little more oil, and 4 heaping spoonfuls of cocoa; then I underbaked them a little and popped them in the fridge to set up. These were the BEST brownies ever and I literally ate half the pan!

I wanted to throw this in there because I know this blog gives the impression that I’m a really healthy eater–and I usually am–but not ALL the time! I pretty much eat what I want, and sometimes that means half a pan of brownies…especially on a girl’s night! There’s no arbitrary rule that says I can’t eat tortilla chips but I can eat brownies: I just think about what I want and how a food will affect my body and energy levels, and make my decision based on that.  You don’t have to deprive yourself to be healthy!



The picture on the left was taken March 10. The picture on the right was taken this past Thursday (April 14). Can you tell the difference? (Note: sorry for HORRIBLE picture quality)









.Neither can I. If anything I think my legs look a little bigger in the more recent picture. (My weight was virtually the same). Don’t get me wrong: I’m not unhappy with my body–far from it. And I’ve been maintaining a 15 pound weight loss for two months while eating 150-200% more and spending significantly less time in the gym (I cut out the HOURS of unnecessary cardio!) But I’ve been doing virtually the same weight routine for those two months, as well as the months before, and I think it shows.

It reminds me of a quote I read on Julie’s blog:

“If you keep doing what you’ve been doing then you’re going to keep looking how you’ve been looking.”

Well, I don’t want to spend hours in the gym only to look and feel the same week after week! I want to push myself and see progress, and that’s why I switched to lifting heavier. I am confident that this is the step I need to take to start seeing major changes in my body and strength levels as well. And the best part is that while it might take awhile for the physical changes to show, I can feel myself getting stronger on a day-to-day basis: every time I pick up a heavier weight!

I’m going to do a post soon about my experience lifting heavy so far (in short: LOVING it!) but in the meantime I wanted to put up these pictures to serve as a “before.” Hope you’ll follow with me to see where things go from here!

The Weight of the Matter

This morning I did something I haven’t done in awhile: I weighed myself.

No big deal, right? Well, for me it sort of is because I, like many girls, have a tendency to get obsessive over the scale. I can go for months without weighing myself–I didn’t even own a scale for most of college–but once I do it can become a compulsion and I feel like I HAVE to check my weight every day.

And there’s really nothing wrong with that. Except I start to take it a step further and weigh myself every time I step in the bathroom, up to 3 or 4 or 5 times a day. I KNOW that your weight is most accurate first thing in the morning, and I KNOW that weight fluctuations throughout the day are a product of what you eat and drink, and half the time I’m wearing clothes anyway, but I still keep stepping on that damn scale!

When I lost about 15 pounds over December through February, I was compulsive about weighing myself. The number on the scale defined my mood for the day, and because it was consistently going down, it was generally good. At the time I was going through a lot of stress and drama with school, friends, family, health issues; and the scale was my one constant. It didn’t let me down. It was often the one thing getting me out of bed in the morning.

If that doesn’t sound healthy to you then you’re right, it’s not.

Then one day, things with my friends and health issues reached a breaking point, and that same day I reached my lowest weight 134.8. I should have been thrilled to be under 135, which had been my goal forever. But I didn’t feel anything at all. I realized that a number on the scale couldn’t make me happy, so that day I stopped weighing myself.

Three weeks later, I decided to check my weight for the first time since that morning, just out of curiosity. I weighed 138.0. I was happy with that number and decided that it was probably my “happy weight” that I could maintain easily and healthily without undue effort.

That was 5 weeks ago. I’ve congratulating myself for not weighing in since then, but I’ve more recently started to wonder if that’s actually a good thing. If I really had a healthy relationship with the scale, then I should be able to step on it occasionally without getting phased, right? I should be able to have a drink once in while without falling off the wagon, so to speak.

At the same time I worried: that if the number was higher than 138–especially if I’d gone up into the 140s–that I might freak out and start dieting. Or that if it was below 138, I’d want to see how much lower I could go. So I avoided the scale.

But this morning I actually didn’t even give it much thought, I just stepped on. And the scale gods were good to me: 138.4. That means I’ve successfully maintained my weight for the past two months (and I don’t count the .4 as weight gain–that could be from drinking an extra glass of water).

What’s more, this shows me that:

  • 138 probably IS my “happy weight” that I can maintain easily. I can eat cheesecake and an entire bread basket every once in awhile (oh heyyy Cheesecake Factory last Friday) and I’m not suddenly going to gain 5 pounds
  • My weight’s not really changing, so there’s actually no need to weigh myself daily. Going by how my clothes fit, as I’ve been doing, works just fine. Which is great–I don’t want a dark cloud hanging over my head all day because the scale fluctuated up a pound one morning.

That’s all for now–got to get to class! I’m actually taking pictures today, so I’ll come back with a food post tonight.

Business Outfit plus Upper Body and Abs

In case I hadn’t mentioned before, I’m a finance and economics major. I intern on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the private wealth management division of a major financial services provider/investment bank. (I won’t say the name but you’ve heard of it.) The dress code is pretty formal. Usually I play it safe with dress pants and a button-down, but I’ve been trying to switch up my look a little and utilize more of my workrobe.

Today’s outfit:

Shirt: BCBG
Belt: Express (it’s my favorite belt!)
Pants: Express (literally my one pair of dress pants that desperately need washed)
Bracelet: Coach outlets (18th bday present from my boyfriend at the time)
Bag: DKNY via Lord and Taylors

After work I completed a ridiculous arm workout. I switched up the exercises that I normally do and focused on targeting one muscle group per circuit. It took about 60 minutes:

Upper Body Workout (60 minutes)

Circuit 1: Biceps (10 lb dumbbells, 15 reps x3)

  • Bicep curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Seated preacher curls
Circuit 2: Triceps (x3)
  • Lying triceps extension: 10 lb dumbbells, 15 reps
  • Standing triceps extension: 15 lb dumbbell, 15 reps
  • Tricep kickbacks: 10 lb dumbbell, 15 reps per arm
  • Tricep dips: 10 reps
Circuit 3: Shoulders/Back (x3)
  • Bent-over rows: 15 lb dumbbell, 15 reps per arm
  • Lateral raise: 10 lb dumbbells, 15 reps
  • Upright rows: 10 lb dumbbells, 12 reps
  • Front raise: 10 lb dumbbells, 10 reps
Circuit 4: Shoulders (on stability ball — 10 lb dumbbells, x3)
  • Seated military press: 15 reps
  • “Arnold press”: 10 reps
  • Shoulder rotators: 15 reps
Circuit 5: Chest (12 reps x3)
  • Seated lat bar pull-down: 40 lbs
  • Lever seated fly: 40 lbs
  • Incline chest press: 15 lb dumbbells
  • Incline dumbbell flies: 15 lb dumbbells
This was HARD! My muscles were crying at the end. I think I will feel it tomorrow! I then completed a 20 minute sprint interval workout:

Sprint Intervals (20 minutes)

  • 0-1: 4.0 mph
  • 1-2: 8.0 mph
  • 2-3: 4.0 mph
  • 3-4: 8.5 mph
  • 4-5: 4.0 mph
  • 5-6: 9.0 mph
  • 6-7: 4.0 mph
  • 7-8: 9.5 mph
  • 8-9: 4.0 mph
  • 9-9.5: 10.0 mph
  • 9.5-11: 4.0 mp
  • 11-12: 9.5 mph
  • 12-13: 4.0 mph
  • 13-14: 9.0 mph
  • 14-15: 4.0 mph
  • 15-16: 8.5 mph
  • 16-17: 4.0 mph
  • 17-18: 8.0 mph
  • 18-20: 4.0 mph
Followed by 10 minutes of incline treadmill walking reading April’s edition of Cosmopolitan 🙂

And about 10 minutes of abs:

Ab Workout 
  • 30 seconds plank
  • 15 double crunches with 6 lb medicine ball
  • 30 seconds plank
  • 15 side crunches (per side)
  • 30 seconds plank
  • 20 ball twists with raised feet and 6 lb medicine ball
  • 30 seconds plank
  • 15 standing side crunches (per side) with 20 lb medicine ball
  • 30 seconds plank
As you can see I like doing planks! Well actually I don’t, but I read that planks are the most important exercise to stabilize and pull in your core abdominal muscles–which makes sense–so I’ve been making them the focus of every ab workout.

For that matter, I don’t think it’s necessary, or even beneficial, to do extensive ab work or ridiculous amounts of crunches. The only way to get well-defined abs is to eliminate the layer of fat covering the muscle. You do this through your diet and overall total-body exercise–you can’t just spot-train your way to a six-pack! If you take care of the lifting and clean eating, then you only need a few minutes of abs a couple days a week to see results. 

>Why A Blog?

>Hi everyone! My name is Shannon and I’m a 20 year old college junior studying finance and economics. This is my very first post 🙂

I discovered the world of healthy living blogs about a year and a half ago, and have since then toyed around with the idea of starting my own. I’ve always been passionate about health, fitness, and writing, so starting a blog seemed like a natural extension. But it wasn’t until recently that I finally decided to bite the bullet and go for it, and I wanted to share with you guys my reasons:

1. I want to join your ranks

The very first healthy-living blog I read was The Fitnessista back in September 2009. I was instantly enraptured. Gina at The Fitnessista seemed to have her life so together! She was fit, she was healthy, she was happy; she had a wonderful husband, fulfilling career, and enriching personal life. I saw the same qualities in the writers of other blogs that I read–like Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers or Sarah at Skinny Runner. These are things that I want for myself, and these women–most of whom are 3-5 years older than me–are people that I want to emulate. If it takes eating greek yogurt or running a half-marathon (two pasttimes that seem to pop up all over the blog world, amirite?) to “join the ranks,” then so be it!

In all seriousness though, I don’t have my life figured out yet (career, relationships, body image, etc), and I’m hoping that writing about my experience–and following the experiences of people who may have been in my shoes a couple years ago–will help me grow and develop as I figure out who I am and where I am going. And I hope that anyone who follows my journey can benefit from my experiences as well.

2. I want to practice and improve my writing skills

I always used to say that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. Well, reality set in and here I am majoring in finance and economics instead of creative writing! Don’t get me wrong–I love finance too, but my classes don’t afford much opportunity for creativity or self-expression. I’m hoping that starting this blog and committing to posting on a regular basis will give me the opportunity to do something I love while sharing my voice and improving my communication skills.

3. I want to eat more varied and interesting foods

A few weeks ago, I was reading an article in which some celebrity was talking about what she ate everyday: eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, salad with a protein for lunch, and fish and vegetables for dinner. That sounds like what I eat! I thought. A moment later, I corrected myself: that sounds like what I wish I ate. The sad reality is that 50% of my meals are protein bars–or at least it feels that way!

In my defense, I’m a busy college student and I’m often on the go for up to eight hours at a time. I used to make the effort to shop for and prepare more elaborate and healthy meals, but it seemed like I’d always end up wasting money on produce that went bad before I could eat it or wasting time on meals that were much more time-intensive and much less tasty than what I envisioned in my head. So I always seem to default to foods that require zero prep time and can be thrown in a bag. But these are hardly the most healthy, satisfying, or mouth-watering choices, so I’m hoping that this blog will force me to expand my culinary horizons and start making some real food! Because, really, who wants to read about protein bars?

4. I want to share my food, fitness, and health philosophies

Protein bar overload notwithstanding, I’m not a complete novice when it comes to eating and exercising right. I’m a huge advocate of a high-protein, limited-carbohydrate diet with plenty of fruits and veggies and lots of healthy fats.

Unfortunately this is a complete antithesis to what many Americans see as healthy eating. I get frustrated when I see the “unhealthy” label slapped on many amazing-for-you foods like whole eggs, full-fat cheese, avocados, nuts, and olive oil. It makes me sad when people deprive themselves of the healthy fats and proteins that they crave and enjoy and that their body needs–especially when restricting these foods often hurts, not helps their weight and fitness goals! I’m hoping that blogging about my food choices will show people that it is possible to look and feel great while eating this way.

5. I want to share…well, everything! 

Okay c’mon…I’m not just going to talk about food here! I like talking about myself–who doesn’t? I think that this blog will be a fun outlet to share my thoughts, opinions, outfits, etc. I hope to post about books I’ve read, clothes I’ve bought, places I’m going (crossing my fingers that a study abroad trip is in my future!), my input on current events, and so on.

6. I want to use my camera more

After almost two years of being camera-less and relying on my friends to take pictures for me, I’m excited to start utilizing my new Nikon coolpix:

Because seriously, how much fun is it to take pictures of everything?

6. I want to join your ranks, part 2

Everything I’ve seen within the blog community has led me to believe that it is an amazing network to be part of. The health and fitness blogsphere is full of strong, confident, and fun women, and it holds many opportunities for conferences, fundraisers, networking events, and meet-ups. As a junior in college, I have no clue where I’ll be living or what I’ll be doing in a year and a half from now. I’m hoping that participating in the blog world will enable me to develop a network of like-minded friends and acquaintances throughout the country, and increase my odds of knowing familiar faces wherever I end up!

*   *    *    *   *   *
Now that you know my reasons behind the blog, I hope you’ll stick around and get to know me and see what’s going on in my day-to-day life. I’m so excited to embark on this journey, and can’t wait to see where it takes me!
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