Monthly Archives: November 2010

Greenville City Guide on Design*Sponge

illustration by Dave Siglin

Our friends Dave & Rachel put together an awesome city guide for Greenville, SC, where we live. Rachel did most of the writing and researching, and Dave drew a special piece of artwork, featuring some highlights of the city (see illustration above). Go Team Siglin!!

Greenville, SC, truly is a great place! In fact, it was featured in one of USAirway’s in-flight magazines this past year, with an 18-page, full-color article! Rachel and I talk about the city guides on Design*Sponge often (after all, Design*Sponge is one of our favorite blogs to follow). So, it’s fun to finally see a post on Greenville there!

It was also fun to be one of the few who got to read it prior to press! Thanks for the sneak peek, Rachel! And one of my husband’s photos was featured there too! (Click on the picture below to be directed to his photography site. More pictures to be added soon.)

photo courtesy of Bryan McKinnon (my husband)

Check out the full city guide on Design*Sponge here:

Another Circuit Routine

We spent much of tonight discussing diet plans for this holiday season, so we only had time to do 1 minute on each station, but it was still a great workout. We used the Nike Boom App on Interval Training mode to time 1 minute reps with 15 second breaks between (time to move between stations), and got to listen to peppy music while we worked out. (FYI, it’s a free app for Droid and iPhone!)

Warm-up: walk in place while doing arm circles, followed by shaking your arms out. Then do 30 toe touches and 30 side bends (touch the sides of your knees with your fingertips if you can).

1. Charlie’s Angels Lunges: while performing alternating forward lunges, put your hands together like you’re making a gun with your fingers and point to your left when your left foot is forward, right when your right foot is forward.

2. Glute Leg Lift: down on all fours, with a flat back, lift one leg straight back and pulse upward. Switch legs half-way through.

3. Jump Rope

4. Hydrants: down on all fours again, with a flat back, lift bent leg upward on your side. Switch legs half-way through.

5. Alternating Front Lifts and Lateral Raises with 5 lb. weights.

6. Wall Squats: that’s right, just sit there…how low can you go?!

7. Kneeling Twist & Bend: Kneel on right knee, placing left leg straight out to the side; sitting up straight, twist at your waist toward the straight leg, then bend toward the straight leg, and return to center position. Switch legs half-way through.

8. Bicep Curls to Overhead Press with 5 lb. weights.

9. Pushup to Upward Dog to Downward Dog Cycle.

10. Tricep Overhead Extensions with 8 or 10 lb. weight.

Cool-down: Walk in place while performing wrist circles. Follow with tricep stretch (pat on back), cross over arm stretches, cat/cow stretch, and deep breathing, incorporating arms and legs.

Wither or Flourish: Your Choice…

I was reading these two passages and noticed a striking similarity in figurative speech.

I Peter 1:24-25, “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.

Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the law of the Lord…He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither….”

Humans are frail; God is mighty. Without the word of the Lord, we will perish; with the word, we flourish. It’s our choice: will we depend and delight or depart and die? I Peter deals much with suffering and how we overcome it, looking to Jesus, who suffered ultimately for us. No matter we go through on earth, God is bigger. Nothing surprises him. He is good, and we can trust Him…and if we endure by depending on and delighting in God, we will overcome.

30-Minute Circuit Training

I did this with my clients last week and, though they whined a little, they came back this week still talking about how much they enjoyed it. I set up 10 stations in a circle in my living room, alternating strength training with a cardio exercise. One of my clients injured her foot recently, making it a challenge to do some cardio exercises. The exercises in parenthesis below are the “foot-free” exercises.

Complete 3 minutes of each of the following exercises:

  1. Bicep Curls with 8 lb. weights
  2. Jumping Jacks (Sitting Leg Crunches – lying on back with arms behind your head, perform a crunch, touching your right elbow to your left knee, then your left elbow to your right knee, and so forth)
  3. Zipper with one 10 lb. weight – hold weight with both hands at your belly button, then lift your arms [not your shoulders] as if you’re zipping up a jacket; then “zip” down to starting position; repeat
  4. Run in place (Swimming: lying on stomach with arms stretched forward and legs straight back, alternate lifting right arm and left leg, then left arm and right leg, in a fluttering pattern, as if you’re swimming; Or, Run in place on your knees – swing those arms and really get your heart rate up)
  5. Lateral Raises with 5 lb. weights
  6. Hook/Uppercut – switch which hand is performing each action at halfway point
  7. Tricep Overhead Extension with single 10 lb. weight
  8. Alternating Lunges
  9. Tricep Kickbacks with 5 lb. weights – sink down in to chair position, arms back, forming “chicken wings” and straighten arm from elbow to hand back with weights
  10. Crunches or Sit-Ups

Stretch afterward, holding each stretch for 10-20 seconds.

Thanksgiving Tips: Stuff the Turkey, Not Yourself!

1. Don’t skip breakfast! Eat a low-calorie breakfast to kick-off your metabolism for the day. A cup of yogurt topped with fresh fruit and a handful of granola is perfect, or try a cup of steel cut oats with sliced apples and cinnamon. Another great option is the Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage breakfast sandwiches.

2. While your meal is cooking, get active. Lifting a turkey in and out of the oven doesn’t count as a weight routine, so grab those weights and do some training before your feast.

3. Watch your portions. Stuff the turkey; don’t stuff yourself! Too many of us overeat at family affairs. Don’t feel like you have to take a serving of everything on the buffet. Choose the healthful options. Wait several hours before returning for seconds. Go for a 3-4 oz. serving of roasted turkey, and avoid the fatty portions. Avoid casseroles if you can; many of them are full of hidden fats and sugars. Mash cauliflower instead of potatoes to cut down on some calories; eat mashed sweet potatoes instead of sweet potato casserole, and serve your green beans steamed with a sprinkling of cranberries or pomegranates, garlic, and almonds. Don’t forget that apple cider and other holiday beverages contain calories too.

4. Get the family involved in fitness. Go for a 45 minute walk or play a game of football in the backyard after your feast as a family and boost your metabolism by as much as 15%.

5. Remember that Thanksgiving is about the people and the memories more than it is about the food. So, don’t stress out if your pie doesn’t look just like grandma’s did or if dinner doesn’t start exactly on time. Enjoy the moments and thank God for Who He is and what He’s done and will do in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving! Bon Appetit! And Enjoy the Journey!


Biggest Loser Inspired Thanksgiving Dinner

The following recipes were created by Chef Curtis Stone. The meal plan serves 12. For the full recipes, visit the Biggest Loser site at by clicking here.

Herb Crusted Grilled Turkey Breast (I reduced the serving to 4 oz. instead of 8 in the nutrition facts below.)

Creamy Mushroom Sauce (I reduced the serving size to 1/4 c. instead of 1/2 c. in the nutrition facts below.)

Leek and Celery Stuffing (I reduced the serving size to 1/2 c. instead of 1 c. in the nutrition facts below.)

Roasted Root Vegetables with Mandarin and Thyme (1/12 of recipe)

Green Beans with Pomegranate and Garlic (1/2 c. green beans and 1 Tbsp. pomegranate arils – see comments below for my recipe idea, since it wasn’t posted on the nbc website)

Pecan Crusted Caramelized Apple Crisp (1/12 of recipe)

O God, My Joy

We sang this song as part of our Thanksgiving prayer service tonight. Written by two guys I went to school with. Listen here: O God My Joy.

“O God, my joy, You reign above
In radiant splendor and beauty.
Your Word has drawn my heart to love
The awesome sight of Your glory.
Your blazing light and gospel grace
Shine brightly from my Savior’s face.
No other wonder would I see
Than Christ enthroned in His glory!

“Sustained by joy in trial and pain,
I trust Your wisdom and mercy.
Through suff’ring that Your love ordains,
More like Your Son You will make me.
For Christ embraced the cross of shame,
Beholding glorious joys to come.
O give me faith like His to see
That suff’ring lifts me to glory!

“Compelled by joy, I fight the sin
That turns my gaze from Your glory.
Your Holy Spirit dwells within;
His presence arms me for vict’ry.
Let death and hell against me rise;
Through death I’ll gain eternal joys.
All pow’rs of hell will bend the knee
Before my great King of glory!”

Text by Paul Keew and Brian Pinner

This Just In! Study Proves Yoga Is Relaxing (File Under: Duh)

This Just In! Study Proves Yoga Is Relaxing (File Under: Duh) – Whole Living Daily : Whole Living.

I love yoga, so the title of this post was hilarious to me. Yoga is so relaxing. It doesn’t have to be some kind of spiritual new-age thing. The poses are great for stretching and strengthening. And it takes a great deal of concentration on balance and breathing. With all that concentrating, there’s no extra room for all the worries and cares that have been stressing your brain. And don’t let anyone tell you that yoga is not a workout! It’s a great option and is not for wimps! If you encounter an extra level of stress around the holidays, I’d recommend doing some yoga poses to start the day.

Here’s another article that helps you know the different types of Yoga that are available: Yoga Decoder from Real Simple blog (picture above also courtesy of Real Simple).

My Idealistic Thanksgiving Feast

Most people wait until Christmas to have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. I, on the other hand, dream about food often. The funniest part is it usually doesn’t include sugar plums (or desserts in general, for that matter) and I’m usually day-dreaming. Food is, always has been and always will be a passion in my life…especially delicious, nutritious and aesthetically pleasing food!

With Thanksgiving less than one week away, I have been dreaming of turkey and cranberry-everything! If I could create my perfect Thanksgiving feast, I think it would include the following recipes:

Fresh Pomegranate, Sliced Apples and Honey

Ina Garten’s Roasted Turkey Roulade (I would use boneless, skinless turkey breast and a lean turkey sausage instead of pork sausage for the stuffing)

Giada De Laurentiis’ Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Cheese Crostini

Roasted Red and Sweet Potato Wedges, Carrots, Garlic and Brussel Sprouts (drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, 450F, 45 minutes)

The Pioneer Woman’s Green Bean Casserole (I actually really like green beans, so I might reduce the cream sauce by half)

Mom’s Cranberry Relish

Ina Garten’s Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Mom’s Cran-Apple Pie with Pecan Crumble Topping and my Great-Grandmother’s Perfect Flaky Pie Crust recipe

Minimalist Fitness: Your Kids Are the Gym

Post written by Leo Babauta. Post from, 16 November 2010.

“I’m a big subscriber to using whatever you can find to work out: pullups on trees, throw big boulders, flip logs or big tires, jump over things, sprint up hills (see Minimalist Fitness, part 1 part 2).

“As a parent and a minimalist, I’d like to share my ultimate minimalist workout secret: my kids are my gym.

“Fellow parents, if you’re not doing this yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough. How are they my gym? Instead of paying hundreds of dollars (even thousands) a year for a gym, I use my kids to get in shape.

“How? Every way I can, but here’s a few:

  • I carry them on my shoulders as we walk around town.
  • We race each other to the corner, sprinting. Often up hills.
  • I do pushups with them on my back.
  • I lift them up in the air — it’s like lifting weights.
  • I’ll let them hang on me as I do chinups.
  • We climb and jump around in the playground.
  • We play with the soccer ball — getting lots of sprints in as we do.
  • We jump around in the ocean. A great workout.
  • We wrestle.
  • We challenge each other to do pistols (one-legged squats) or handstand pushups (what they sound like). Mostly we can’t, but it’s fun.
  • We do lunges while walking up a hill.
  • I carry them slung across my shoulders — a fireman’s carry — which is a great workout btw.
  • I’ll carry one on my back, piggy-back style, while racing another kid up a hill. Yes, I love hills.


“Awesomer than a gym

“So why is this so awesome?

1. We bond. Instead of spending time away from the kids at a gym, I spend time with them. And get a great workout in throughout the day. It’s two birds, one stone, saving time while helping me bond with my kids.

2. Work becomes play. It’s not exercise, it’s not a workout, it’s *play*. And that’s a whole different ballgame. Play is fun, it’s challenging, it’s easy, and yet it’s a great way to get in shape.

3. No cost. OK, kids aren’t cheap — but I have them anyway, so why not use them? I’m saving money and getting fit — that’s all kinds of win.

4. I’m being a role model. Kid learn most of all from what they see others doing, especially their parents. You can tell them things all day long, but unless they see you doing it, you’re not teaching them much. When we go to the gym, they don’t see us working out. When we workout as we play with them, they’re learning how to be healthy, and that is a gift that will last a lifetime.

5. It’s a lifestyle. I don’t work out at one time during the day, and then stay sedentary the rest of the day. It’s all throughout the day, every day, which means it’s woven into my life, not a small segment of my life. This is what a healthy lifestyle looks like.

6. It’s functional. When you do a bicep curl with a dumbbell, you’re making a motion that you never would do in real life — when have you ever lifted something heavy while keeping your upper arm fixed to your torso? Instead, when we lift heavy things, we bend at the knees, and use our legs, our torso, our shoulders, our arms — basically most of our body at once. When I lift my kids, that’s the same motion I’d use to lift anything else. Functional exercise is much more useful than isolated lifts.

“Working out using my kids as equipment is the best thing I’ve done with my fitness. It’s fun, so I never want to stop. It’s functional, it’s cheap, and best of all, I get to do it with my kids. I love it.”

Thanks, Leo, for sharing this! What great ideas! ~Melissa