No-Pudge Brownies….

Happy Weekend, bloggies!  I would also like to welcome everyone to the first day of spring!  Has this not been the coldest, harshest winter ever?  I for one am more than happy and excited for some constant warm weather.  Time for everyone to come out of their homes, and soak up the SUN!

For a fun weekend post, I decided it was going to be alllllll about the brownies.

These guys are all the taste and yumminess of the traditional brownies, but none of the fat!  Check it out!

Why do weekends always seem like the best time to bake/enjoy things like this?  Just always seems to happen that way. ;-)

I love these brownies for so many reasons, one of the main ones being that it only requires ONE ingredient.  Better yet, that one ingredient is yogurt!  I always go Greek for that extra protein boost…

Speaking of protein, have you ever tried adding protein powder to your cookies/cakes/baked goods?  Throw in a couple of scoops to your mix pre-baking for some extra protein!  (You may want to try a neutral flavor like plain or vanilla, anything else might over power the mixture…besides, who wants “Triple Berry protein brownies?!?!)

One box of mix….

Plus the yogurt…  (I add a splash of skim milk, just because the Greek yogurt is so much thicker than traditional yogurt.  I also add a teaspoon each of Almond Extract and Vanilla Extract)

Since the mix makes “12 brownies” I make it easier on myself by baking these cuties in a muffin tin.  That way I know each brownie is a serving, and I don’t keep eating “one more bite” of an entire pan.  Not that that has EVER happened.  ;-)

(Never claimed to be the cleanest cook.  Disregard the mess all over the pan……I tended to miss.  Alot)

This is where it got fun.  These brownies are perfectly delicious as they are, but what puts them really over the top is TOPPINGS!  No pun intended, folks.

I made half the batch with choppped walnuts, and the other half with a teaspoon of natural PB in the middle.  Ohhhhhh yea.

It was time to bake these beauties!

The nice thing about brownie clean-up is having both a blogger boy AND a bff who is obsessed with batter.

After 30 minutes….

It doesnt get much better than this, people!

And you know, of course, that it is of the utmost importance that a brownie be enjoyed with an ICE cold glass of milk, right?

Happy Spring, Happy Weekend, and Happy Brownies!  Get out there, and enjoy this day!  What is YOUR favorite baked good?

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Lights, Camera, Action!

Hey folks.

First off…it is Friday.  I need everyone to stop what they are doing and take a moment to appreciate the impending weekend. :)

Moving on.  Yesterday was a BIG day for both myself and the YMCA.  This was my second appearance on our local show, Daytime Tri-cities where we would be talking about “Eight To The Eight’s” Season II!  This is a Biggest Loser Style competition that we do in the summer.  It’s finale is a 8k run, with a live final weigh-in that kicks off a HUGE community even for our town, called Fun-Fest.  Big, big fun!

We had some amazing people last season, so I am excited to see what season II has in store.  Coming from someone who used to be extremely overweight….318 lbs (!!!) I can assure everyone that it is not a fun lifestyle.  I wish I would have had something like this to kick my butt a long time ago!  I think everyone deserves a chance for a wake-up call, and this competition is just the thing!  The best part, it is FREE!

Click here for the video segment!

I am so excited about this program!!!!!!! It’s pretty cool being the “Bob”!  I just wish my guns were as big as his.  Alas, c’est la vie. :)

I want to give a special thanks to Daytime Tricities, and Amy-Lynn and Morgan for having us on, as well as our sponsors:  Greater Kingsport Family YMCA, Performance Medicine, We Run Events, Chefs Pizza, and Family Dental Center.

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Accidental Vegetarian?

Time for a good ole fashioned debate, bloggers.  I need some input just because I am curious, and this thought randomly popped into my mind.

Last year for Lent I gave up all forms of meat for 40 days. I don’t really know why I gave up meat….but the only other alternative to giving up meat was giving up sweets, and I think after 40 days with no sugar I would have went on a massive killing spree.

It was tough at first.  The first week or so really got to me.  Being a Group Exercise Instructor means alot of calories burnt, and with little to no protein going in, I was struggling big time.

At this point I began researching more and more about other protein sourced, and experimenting with different products.  I was feeling sluggish and drained.  I accounted it to all the workouts I was doing, when in reality, I think the lack of protein was starting to affect my health.

It was at this point when I began to find some great meat/protein alternatives to help me survive the second half of my no meat journey!

I started relying on beans, legumes, and nut butters for alot of my protein.  There were also TONS of vegetarian friendly protein powders out there.  Slowly but surely I was feeling more “normal” again, and the process didn’t seem so hard.

Having a store like Earth Fare, Whole Foods, or something similar that caters to a healthy lifestyle will always have plenty of vegetarian friendly items, so shopping is not difficult.  It was my personal experience that even the big chain stores such as WalMart also offered a surprising number of vegetarian friendly/organic items.

Carbs became my friends, as well as vegetables.  Pretty soon I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything going meatless.

It was finally time for the 40 days to be over.  I had survived no meat, and felt great!  I remember “splurging” the night I finished by going to the local Thai place and having shrimp stir fry.

Boy, was that a mistake.

I don’t know if my body was just not used to animal protein, or what….but I was SICK!  Maybe I jumped too quickly into the meat department, but my stomach most certainly said it wanted no part of it.

I slowly began to extend my non-meat journey just for the fear of getting sick again!  Shockingly, it was easier than I thought.

Pretty soon, the 40 days had turned into almost 8 months of no meat!

As it stands now, I eat meat.  In Tyler terms this means chicken or turkey.  I rarely EVER eat red meat, simply because I don’t crave it *and* the fat content in red meat skeeves me out!

So my question to YOU, where do you stand on the meat issue?

Are you vegetarian?

Vegan?

Carnivore?

If you are a vegetarian/vegan…why?

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Zuuuuuuuumba!

Time for a much needed post about my current Group Ex obsession, ZUMBA!

So, you walk into your local gym…peer in the studio, and see people from wall to wall dancing like maniacs to awesome music and sweating like there is some sort of an indoor shower on.  This is a workout?!?!?   You bet.

What exactly IS Zumba?

ZUMBA FITNESS®. MOVING THE WORLD TO A NEW BEAT.
Are you ready to party yourself into shape? That’s exactly what the Zumba® program is all about. It’s an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health.

Who We Are

Zumba Fitness® is the only Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy Award-winning producers, and contagious steps to form a “fitness-party” that is downright addictive.

Since its inception in 2001, Zumba Fitness has grown to become the world’s largest – and most successful – dance-fitness program with more than 10 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 90,000 locations across more than 110 countries.

-Source

I, like many other people, was very skeptical of this class.  From personal experience of being an outright clutz….I was worried that my two left feet would leave me feeling overwhelmed, off beat, and embarrassed.  That being said, you have to suck it up…and GO!  Zumba, like any other workout class, can seem completely overwhelming and scary.  Sure, you may not know the moves right away…but I can almost guarantee that you won’t be in it alone.   I felt totally out of place and un-coordinated the first time I took a Zumba class.  The next time was a little better, the next…slightly better…etc.  Point is, the more you come back, the more you actually LEARN the moves.

There are songs now that I actually *know* and look forward to.  That is a great feeling!

Aside from dancing like a fool and having a downright blast…I leave COVERED in sweat.  This is a workout like no other.  This uses the entire body.  After your first class, let me know how those calves are feeling when you wake up.  Mine felt like I had been walking on tip toes for 2 1/2 weeks. Oucccccccch (in a good way!)

So lets get right to the nitty gritty.

Lets start with my personal favorite.  Not really sure WHY I am obsessed with this song, but I get downright gitty when I hear this one starting…

Check out these other fun songs!

(I’m a big fan of the “octopus arms” in that one)

Fun, right?!?!

You need to try this class.  All instructors are different, with various styles and music choices.  Our instructor, Holly, also choreographs alot of her own moves to current songs (of which we couldn’t upload, sorry guys!) but trust me when I say….you will feel like you are breaking it down…club style.

Now lets get to the best part…the calorie burn!

The “average” person can burn up to 500-800 calories in an hour of Zumba (!!)  Sweet!

One other important aspect I want to talk about is shoe selection.  The first couple of times I mistakingly wore my ultra stiff running shoes to Zumba.  Now, while these shoes are great for running, they were not so good for all the lateral movements required for shaking my groove thing.

Straight from the Zumba site.

What are the best shoes to wear in a Zumba class?

Zumba Fitness recommends that you wear “cross training” or “aerobic” style shoes. They provide the cushion and medial lateral support needed for side-to-side movements. They also have low traction rubber for easy sliding and turning. Please be careful with “running shoes” since they use a heavy tread on the bottom and are designed for forward movement.

So now it’s time to find a class, and shake your groove thing.

If you have questions, ask away!  I will try my best to answer or find someone who can.

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Ra Ra, Ahh Ahh Ahhhhh, Romaaaa, Roma, Maaaaah!

Well folks.

I just survived my first Lady GaGa concert.

It.  Was.  Amazing.

Our day started EXTRA early….check out the TIRED but very excited blogger boy getting ready to embark on GaGa’ness…

as we loaded up the van, with all the essential goodies…

…..Including a dozen of these beauties.  Carol really knows how to travel! ;)

Don’t worry, it wasn’t ALL donut related…

Talk about a deal!  .69 cents for this beauty, when it is usually $3.00 +!  Whoever this manager is, I would like to personally thank them.

Kristie had the healthy snacks, too!  Girl after my own heart!

Along with the essential Starbucks liquid fuel!

After laughing hysterically for 4+ hours, we had arrived in Louisville, KY!  Can I just say that the only questionable part of this trip was the DISGUSTING bathrooms along the way.  *shutter*  I think I am going to have nightmares about the things I saw in those places.

We managed to stop by Ruby Tuesday for a delicious salad!

These croutons were to DIE for.  They were still SOFT!  Wow.  I had forgotten about how much I loved them until I posted this picture.

I was really impressed with this place.  Check out the side options:

VERY impressive line-up, considering most other places offering 3 styles of potato as their only side options.

Kristie and I split the Tilapia…..my portion…

Delicious!

Moving on. It was quite clearly almost GaGa time!

We had made it!

It was time to prepare for GAGA!

The “Yum Center” was really, really nice.  People had already started piling in HOURS before the doors were opening.

We saw hundreds of people in full costume.  Lets get down to it.  If you are a true “little monster”, and a real fan of the GaGa….you have to dress up.  It is almost a requirement.

Before we knew it, it was time to head in!

Did I mention we were literally 20 ft. from the stage?!?!?!  Talk about some amazing seats!

The following MAY be GaGa overload, but I got some amazing pictures…so just stay with me…

WHAT.  A.  SHOW.

This woman can put on a performance.  Not only does she sound amazing live, but the whole show is not just a concert….it is a SHOW.  She continues to amaze me.

At the end of the day, this is a girl who never felt like she belonged.  She always felt like she didn’t fit in, and eventually…her talent emerged, and she has become what she is today.  Unlike most celebrities, I think that LG embraces this story, and makes it her mission to make EVERYONE feel included.

She just makes you truly feel like you can be/do whatever you want in life if you just try.  She is also very loyal and giving to many charities, alot of which she spoke about between songs.

Just a very inspiring woman.  I respect her much more now, after seeing her live!  She just seems real.

Chaos quickly ensued when we tried to leave…

…..and we stopped at WHITE CASTLE of all places on the way back to the room.  That being said, where else can you find people like this eating casually at a fast food joint?!

Only at a GaGa concert, my friends.

Well, after one of the GREATEST yet longest/exhausting days evah….time to wrap this up.  So go put on ya Poker Face, will ya?

Goodnight. ;)

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T-Minus 7 Hours Until GaGa Trip Commences!

Just a quick update for you bloggies!  I am leaving for Lady GaGa in Louisville in approximately 7 hours!  EEK!  Stay tuned for an update tomorrow!

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Oats & More!

Hello bloggies.

It is yet another dreary, cold, rainy day in Tennessee.  All I want to do is go home, crawl into the covers, and hibernate into napdom.  Unfortunately, this isn’t in the cards for me today.  Maybe blogging about my oatmeal will warm me up…

These bad boys were the old fashioned stove top kind.  I like when I actually have time to COOK oatmeal.  Today was one of those days, luckily.

Theres also something about a new jar of peanut butter that gets me down right giddy.  Anyone with me?

With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good. Or at least, thats what the jar told me.  Luckily…it was correct.

Time to prepare the goodness…

I often times find myself obsessing over random things in my food world.  Right now, I am head over heels for some blueberries.  In yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or by themselves…these little guys are an antioxidant powerhouse.  Check out this article I stumbled on this morning about these little guys.

It was time to plate!  Presentation is everything, people!

If you haven’t tried peanut butter in your oatmeal yet, then I feel very sorry for you.  YEARS ago I remember first finding these foodie/health blogs and everyone was putting peanut/almond butter in their oatmeal.  Sounded weird, but that first bite of warm peanut buttery oat goodness is enough to change the world.  For real!

And now lets smoosh it around….

Ahhhh oatmeal, how I am obsessed with thee.

Oh Mr. Quaker…..you make me so happy.

Now…..lets all go nap.  After all, they are GOOD for you….seeeeeeee…..   (hopefully my boss will approve this)

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