No Gym January Results

Well I did go to the gym, so it didn’t end up being a “no gym January” goal. I only went to the early morning classes because I thought it would be a little less new-year-resolution crazy but they were still packed! I was forced to get out of my bad habit of hitting the snooze button one or two (or three) times before actually getting out of bed because I had to get there early if I wanted a spot. I’d get there 15 minutes early and still be one of the last three to snatch a spot. Ugh. Complaining aside though, it was a great month for fitness.

20130202-143511.jpgI set a goal in December to get in 480-600 minutes of physical activity for the month of January. These minutes would only come from actual workouts, not the extra moving around I do throughout the day. I thought most of my workouts would be from Nike Training club since I thought I’d skip out on the gym more but I only used the app three times! Here’s the breakdown of my workouts:

Nike Training Club– 105 minutes
I tried a 45 minute advanced workout for the first time and wooooweee it kicked my butt. I usually do the 30 minute advanced but those so 15 minutes were brutal.
Body Pump– 540 minutes (classes are 60 minutes but I shave off 15 per class to account for the 5 min warm up, cool down, and time between sets to change weights.)
Running– 25 minutes
Since I only went to morning Body Pump classes I didn’t run beforehand. If I go in the afternoon I can get a one or two mile jog in before class.
“Warm” Yoga– 135 minutes
Like Body Pump, I counted 45 minutes out of the 60 minute class to account for stretching and that dead corpse pose I fall asleep in for the last 5 minutes. I got a Groupon for a yoga studio one mile from my home: 5 classes for $25. My friend and I both signed up for it and love it! I call it warm yoga because they keep the room at 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit so it’s not a blazing furnace but still warm. I have never done hot yoga before and now I know that will NEVER happen for me. I sweat oh so much during warm yoga I don’t even want to know what 105 or 120 degrees feels like! I still have two 60-minute classes I’ll finish up this week. It was a lot of fun and a great workout that left me feeling like jello but I’m not going to stick around for a membership since it’s $15/class.

Total time: 715 minutes!
Woo woo success! That comes out to an average of 178 minutes (three hours) per week. The sweaty yoga classes definitely helped out but this month was just a really good month for Body Pump. I always do two weekday morning classes and try to make a third on Saturdays if hubs and I are in town and this month we ended up being in town every weekend so I got 4 out of 4 Saturday classes in!

When I came up with my 2013 goals I tried to make sure they were SMART goals. Saying I’d workout 4 days a week for an entire year is not very realistic to me because if I fall one workout short of the 52 weeks then I didn’t accomplish that goal. I wanted to make a goal specifically for January because when I looked at my calendar the end was in sight so it made me put in a little extra effort to reach (and exceed) my goals. On to February!

How was month #1 of your new year resolution goals?

Recap of our 2012 financial resolutions

It’s time to evaluate your 2012 new year resolutions! How did you do? Do you remember what your resolutions were? This was the first time I’ve made a resolution that I’ve completed. I don’t think I went too easy on myself because it was a lot of money to payoff and save. We just kept living like college students, enjoyed a simple life, and now we’re DEBT FREE! I provided an update on my 2012 financial resolutions in June because I only made 3 resolutions and we completed them way ahead of schedule! Stay tuned for a October-December quarterly budget review and my 2013 goals… I want to make more than just financial goals this time but I also want to make sure I come up with SMART resolutions for 2013. Now for a little recap of my 2012 financial resolutions:

Our financial goals for 2012
Pay off the rest of student loans
Done as of March 10th, 2012!
Our goal was May 2012 but we made our last payment 2 months ahead of schedule!
2. Complete our 6 month emergency fund
Done as of May 2012!
I originally thought we we’d START pouring into this fund in May and it wouldn’t be completed until September. Talk about a snowball effect!
3. Increase our retirement fund to 15% of our gross income
Done as of October 2012!
We’re currently putting 10% toward our 401k, employer match included. We each opened a Roth IRA in October and have a monthly deposit set up for both.
4. Save $4,500 for a new (to us) car.

Done as of September 20th, 2012!
Our apartment lease is up in June 2013 so depending where we decide to live we might need a second car. Thankfully our current car is still running even though it needed a few fixins this year. We’ve saved $4,500 for a new(ish) car since my dad can get a great deal on a fixer-upper and make it run like new.
5. Save up 50% of a down payment on a house
Done as of December 28th, 2012!
Our last paycheck of the year makes us tip just past the halfway point!
Dave and I decided that we don’t really have any reason we’d move out of the area we currently live in, so we’ve decided to start searching for a more permanent residence. Housing and taxes are very pricey in Ann Arbor compared to other cities in Michigan, so it will be a challenge to find something we can afford that’s not a dump. A conclusion we both came to is that we value our time and don’t want to spend it commuting, so we’re willing to pay a little more to live closer to Dave’s job. We aren’t sure how much our future home will end up costing, but we plan to have enough saved up to put a 20% down payment by June 2013 since that’s when our apartment lease ends.

How did you do on your 2012 resolutions?

Motivation to Workout

Here are a few things I’ve learned about my motivation to work out:
1. If I don’t enjoy it, I have no desire to do it
2. I work harder when I’m pushed by someone I do not know because I won’t yell back at them or say “screw this”
3. If I workout by myself, I quit sooner than I would if someone else was telling me what to do
4. I’m competitive, but not against myself and not against other competitive people

I wrote a post in March about my goal to attend Body Pump classes at 6:30am on Tuesdays & Thursdays. While my motivation to wake up early and not sleep in is pretty low, I am proud to say that I have achieved this goal and it is now integrated into my weekly routine. My motivation to get up so early is greatly due to the fact that I set myself up to not have an excuse to skip the class. I pack my lunch, workout clothes, shower stuff, and work clothes the night before so all I have to do is wake up at 6am, eat half a banana with some peanut butter, and head out the door. I’ve even been attending a spinning class on Monday or Friday depending if I’m working at the hospital or the health department that particular day.

Taking these classes has helped me realize what motivates me to exercise and what doesn’t. To explain, I’ll reiterate the 4 points above by giving examples:

1. If I don’t enjoy it, I have no desire to do it
I look forward to the classes because they’re fun and done to upbeat music. I don’t think I could have fun working out for an entire hour any other way. The only time I enjoy straight-up running is if I’m not on a treadmill, if I’m listening to a sermon so I can redirect my focus, or if I run with someone at a pace that lets me still carry on a conversation. Any other situation just makes me think about how much further I still have to run and how badly I want the run to be over.

2. I work harder when I’m pushed by someone I do not know because I won’t yell back at them or say “screw this”
The Body Pump instructor is intense and when she decides to make us hold a plank position for another minute, I don’t argue. When I run with Dave and he suggests we sprint for a minute, I say “okay, have fun” and continue jogging at a comfortable pace.

3. If I workout by myself, I quit sooner than I would if someone else was telling me what to do
I got a Groupon for a 3-month membership at the gym that offers Body Pump. We didn’t continue our membership when the Groupon ended since we wanted to throw any extra money at student loans, so I tried to do the Body Pump routines by myself at Planet Fitness. In the Body Pump class, I usually had another two sets to go after I started to feel the burn but at Planet Fitness I would quit about two squats after it started burning.

4. I’m competitive, but not against myself and not against other competitive people
When I see a grandma, a pregnant woman, or a petite chick lifting as much as me in Body Pump, I add more weight to my bar and suck it up because I feel I should be using more weight than them.


What affects your motivation to workout?

March is National Nutrition Month

And what better time to talk about it than 3 days before it’s over?! Just because National Nutrition Month is coming to an end doesn’t mean  April through February can’t be nutrition months too. I found a bunch of nutrition tips in an article from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic  Association) and thought I should share them with my readers! I’d love to hear your feedback on these tips, so feel free to answer any or all of my questions:

1. Which tips do you already incorporate into your lifestyle?
2. Which tips do you want to try out?
3. What else would you add to this list?

31 tips and tricks to help you boost your nutrition fitness this month and beyond.

  1. Try one new food today from the fruit group. Fresh, canned, dried or frozen varieties are all fine (but make sure none contain added fat or sugar).
  2. Drink at least 4 to 6 8 ounce cups of plain water. Keep a water bottle on hand that you can refill and be sure to wash thoroughly at day’s end.
  3. Have at least 1 cup of non-starchy, dark green vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine, kale, or spinach, for example).
  4. Have at least 1/2 cup of beans or peas, preferably in a low sodium form.
  5. Have two healthful snacks each day that cover two food groups; examples include one green apple, sliced with 1 tbsp nut butter, or 1/2 cup low fat yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup berries.
  6. Drink at least one or two cups of skim or 1% milk; have it by the glass, in cereal, in coffee, or in recipes.
  7. Limit alcohol to no more than about 100 calories (about 5 ounces of wine, 1-1/2 ounces distilled spirits, or 12 ounces of light beer).
  8. Plan a treat that adds up to 100 calories (two small cookies, or 4 small pieces of chocolate for example).
  9. Leave a few extra bites on your plate at all meals.
  10. Drink all caloric beverages out of an 8 ounce cup ONLY.
  11. Have an ounce of nuts or seeds (preferably raw and unsalted) as part of a snack or meal.
  12. Don’t waste more than one bite on any food that doesn’t taste good (or is not worth the calories).
  13. Have breakfast within an hour or two of waking up; include 1 cup low fat/skim milk, 1/2 ounce nuts/seeds or 1 Tbsp nut butter or 1 egg, and at least one whole grain (oatmeal, whole wheat cereal, whole grain bread or English muffin or pita).
  14. Eat only while sitting down at a table.
  15. Brush teeth/rinse with mouthwash after each meal; floss at least once during the day.
  16. Make a big salad (2 cups worth) with lots of colorful non-starchy vegetables.
  17. Have 4-6 ounces of fish, healthfully prepared (unbreaded, unfried).
  18. Have a 1 ounce equivalent (oz Eq) of whole grains each time you eat. 1 oz Eq = 1 slice of whole wheat bread, 5 small whole grain crackers, 3 cups air-popped popcorn, 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta or brown or wild rice.
  19. Go meatless for the day; incorporate other protein-rich foods like beans, soy foods like tofu or tempeh, low fat dairy foods, and whole grains.
  20. Try one new food today from the vegetable group; opt for something bright in color (bright green, orange, or yellow).
  21. Instead of going out to eat, ordering in, or getting take out, cook or prepare all your food at home for the day.
  22. Have 1 cup of soup. Look for broth- or vegetable-based kinds, preferably with less than 400-500 mg sodium.
  23. To boost fiber, replace your usual 100% fruit juice with 1 cup or a piece of fresh fruit (like a whole orange, apple, or cup of berries or pineapple).
  24. Instead of cooking with salt, try to flavor food with sodium-free herbs and spices.
  25. Instead of having your usual fruit-on-the-bottom or flavored yogurt, go for plain low- or non-fat yogurt (or Greek yogurt) and add 1/2 cup of berries, 1-2 tbsp of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit, or 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce.
  26. Before having your usual bed-time or after dinner treat, ask yourself “Am I really hungry or am I eating this out of habit?” If the answer is no, skip it and instead brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash to end your day of eating.
  27. Instead of a whole sandwich, have only half; balance the meal out with fresh fruit or some grilled or raw veggies.
  28. Turn off all distractions (including your cell phone) at every meal and snack; really focus on your food.
  29. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer (and of course throw away all spoiled or expired food).
  30. Clean out your pantry (throw out all spoiled and expired food).
  31. Think about what you should eat more of, and not what you “shouldn’t” eat.

A very girly post about body image

During summer breaks of college, I was on staff with Champion Cheerleading and taught hundreds of middle & high school cheerleaders how to stunt, tumble, cheer, and be leaders at their school. There were events each night, but one night I especially loved was called “Candlelight.” FYI, I gave this post its fitting name because I’d be surprised if any guy even made it to this sentence before checking out. Anyway, Candlelight was a time for the staff to share a story with the campers that served to encourage and inspire. I was privileged to share a few of my stories since I spent 3 summers with Champion. For this post, I added some lyrics at the end because I think they are relevant. It was the summer before my 3rd year of college when I wrote it, but I think women of all ages will relate since so many of us try to find our identity in beauty these days…I praise God for the changes he’s made in me and that I’ve found my identity in Him.

“I wish I didn’t have such a square torso, or that my hair would just dry straight so I didn’t have waste 20 minutes blow drying and straightening it to get rid of my frizz. I wish I had pretty girl nails and not round man nails. If only I could get rid of these stupid love handles. I wish I could just have perfect teeth and not have a fake tooth.” If I had to make a list of everything I would change about my appearance if I had the power to, I could set a new world record. The list would never end. Why is that? People have told me I’m pretty before, so why is it that every time I look in the mirror the first thing my eyes do is go straight to my stomach?

Even if my wish was granted and all of a sudden I had perfect hair or nails, it wouldn’t take me two seconds before I started thinking about the next thing I would change about my appearance. You’d be lying to yourself if you said you couldn’t relate to me. We’re girls- worrying about body image is one of our specialties. We’ve fallen into the trap and we believe the lies of this world that say “You are not enough.” I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of it. I don’t have a fool-proof plan to make you stop thinking about how you look, but I can share my story with you and maybe it will help you realize that you really are enough.

Three years ago I started my freshman year at Michigan State. I got a call during Welcome Week from the Co-Ed cheerleading coach saying I made the team. I was so excited I basically went down my contact list and told everyone. I show up at my first practice, and my stomach dropped.

The girls seemed so tiny, I felt like I should be lifting them, not guys lifting me! I would say I’m an average size girl, but the average size on this team was clearly different. I tried working out as much as I could, but I never felt satisfied with my body. On top of that, we wore two piece uniforms that showed your stomach. I hated pictures, I hated being on camera for games, and I wore my jacket as much as I could. Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing experience cheering for a Big Ten School and I made some great friends, but not a minute went by when I wasn’t aware of my body.

This carried over to my life outside of cheering. I’d compare myself to every girl I saw on TV, and even my little sister who is blessed with a body that stays skinny no matter how much she eats. It wasn’t until I heard a talk by a man named Louie Giglio when I realized that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Did you know that the DNA in one cell of our body writes out 3 billion characteristics that make up who you are right now? 3 billion… Do you know how big 3 billion is? Louie said that if you read one character per second, it would take you 96 years to read them all off. One of those 3 billion characteristics is my square-shaped torso. Another one is my naturally frizzy hair… but if I could even think of 50 “flaws” about myself, that’s still only about .0000002% of 3 billion. Why do we focus so much on that and not the other 99.9999% of who we are? I could keep giving you more statistics and go into even more detail, but the point I’m trying to make is this: Instead of focusing on what can you see with your eyes, try to focus on what you can see with your heart. When someone says “Tell me about yourself,” you wouldn’t answer: “Well I think I’m too short, I have big feet, and I don’t like the shape of my nose.” It’s not a question of what you are, but who you are.

I’m Jessica. I love watching sappy chick flicks like P.S. I Love You over and over. I enjoy doing workout videos from the 80’s. I love to make people laugh and I love laughing until I cry. I am passionate about my faith and I do my best to reflect God by the way I live my life. I don’t have it all together, but I have friends and family who love me anyway. I am valuable because I exist. Not because of what I do or what I have done, but simply because I am. Ask yourself: “At the end of the day, how will people remember me?” Beauty fades, but a beautiful heart is what leaves a legacy.

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of those
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that


As of today, we are 100% debt free and no longer have student loans to pay off! I screamed with excitement when I pushed the “submit payoff amount” button. Our payments started in June 2011 when Dave got his first paycheck and we’ve been pouring into these loans like madmen ever since. Nine months later and our day has finally come! Here is a breakdown of the total cost of my student loans:

Total amount of loans taken out: $24,838
+ Total interest paid: $4856.39
Combined total: $29,694.39

The amount of debt we had isn’t too bad considering the average debt of a 2010 college graduate was $25,250 (which I thought would be higher). I know others who have WAY more than that racked up. We are very grateful Dave’s parents saved up for his school and that I saved a lot of money getting free room and board for 3 years at Michigan State. I knew nothing about loans when I took them out other than I couldn’t pay for school without them. I took out 3 loans total, two were subsidized and one was unsubsidized. The unsubsidized loan started racking up interest the day it was disbursed to MSU in 2008. The amount of interest we paid makes up 19.6% of the total amount we paid.

Just to give you an idea of how much we saved by paying our loans off early, take a look at this table. I used a handy loan calculator from to see how long it would take to payoff if we continued to make the minimum payment on the unsubsidized loan. Keep in mind that capitalized interest isn’t taken into account with this calculator, so the amounts would probably be higher since it was unsubsidized.

Loan amount: $11,500
Monthly Payment: $100
Interest Rate: 6.8%
Payoff period
: 15 years, 7 months
Interest paid: $7,163

Combined amount paid: $11,500 + 7,163 = $18663!

The interest would end up being almost the same amount as the loan I took out and nearly double the final cost! We only ended up paying $1618 in interest for this loan since we paid it off in 4 months. We are proud of our victory and very excited to make our money start working for us rather than dishing it to lenders. GOODBYE, DEBT!!!!

Do you have student loans? What’s your timeline for paying them off?

Training takes Discipline

The following is a guest post from my great friend, Kristi. She & her hubs are currently training for a 25k (15.6 miles) this May. It was only just over a year that she was telling me about her goal to run a 5k and how hard that first mile was when she started training. She checked off that goal, ran a half marathon last October, and is now pressing on to a 25k! Running that distance seems impossible to many, but she made a realistic SMART goal by starting with a 5k and working her way up to longer distance. This girl loves the Lord so much and has a beautiful way with words. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did.

It has been nearly impossible to get myself out of bed lately.

Nonetheless, it’s necessary.  Training for the 25k has started and it takes work to keep up with it.  Lately I’ve been reminding myself of the junior high/high school version of myself that had to be woken up by two alarms and two visits from my mom just to get me out of bed and downstairs to eat breakfast.  Except now, it’s two alarms and two visits from Dave trying to get me up so I can put on my Under Armor and run a couple miles at 7am.  Egads.

The thing about training is… it’s training.  Training takes discipline and practice. The goal is to change my body, my habits, and my abilities to be ready for this race. I’ve been through it once before, and while that does make me believe that it is possible, it doesn’t make the actual training part of it any easier.  It’s still hard to run consistently, to finish my long runs, and to get up on cold February mornings and get outside. It involves change.  It takes practice.  Practice means that sometimes it does not go well.  It means repetition and consistency and continuing to try, even when I’m tired or busy.

It’s a great experience, really.  Learning discipline is important in a lot of different areas of life.  I’m lucky enough that I actually chose this discipline because I like to run, and to take care of myself.  I know that these cold mornings are going to feel really good when I’m crossing that finish line in May.  But more than that, I hope this is a skill I’m going to apply to other parts of life.  I tend to be a perfectionist- I want to get it right on the first try.  I don’t like to admit that I’m not good at something.  Moreover, I just don’t like not being good at something.  Running teaches me that it takes time, dedication, and persistence to really get things right. It teaches me that achieving a goal is great, but the process of getting there is equally great.  Running teaches me that perfection isn’t what would make me happy in the first place.  What makes me happy is learning, growing, trying, failing, adapting, achieving, thriving.

So, I’ll keep working on those early morning wake-up calls.  I welcome the change.  Even if I do have to hit the snooze button a few times first.

*Be sure you check out my free cookbook giveaway! You can enter to win until March 8th & the winner will be announced on Friday, March 9th.*