Recipe of the Week: Açaí Bowl

Açaí Bowl

When in Hawaii, David turned me on to açaí bowls and I will never be able to live without them ever again. These bowls gave me so much energy and was packed with vitamins, natural sugars, and best of all, they were cold! I know that sounds silly to love that these bowls were cold, but after a long hike, we needed something to cool us down.

Being that it is hump day and I am recovering from my recent surgery, I needed a pick-me-up, much like I did almost daily in Hawaii. About a week or so after our trip, I made it a priority to perfect the açaí bowl so I could get my fix. What I realized is, nothing will EVER top the açaí bowls in Hawaii. The fresh fruit, honey, and atmosphere there completely changes the recipe. I can promise you that. However, I was still determined to make a bowl that at least made me feel energized and happy, just like I felt in Hawaii.

Before diving into the recipe I follow, I wanted to discuss a few facts/benefits of açaí bowls:

  • Açaí is a fruit native to South America that is high in antioxidants, minerals, and fiber.
  • Açaí is low in sugar, too!
  • Açaí bowls are essentially smoothies in a bowl with whatever you want on top! What is so great about these bowls is that you can determine exactly what you would like to put in them. The choice is yours!
  • These bowls are a hit in Brazil… especially on the beach. I can see why they are popular in Hawaii, now.

Okay, enough about the bowls. I highly recommend researching more about açaí, though. There is a lot you can do with this amazing fruit!

On to the recipe. As stated above, açaí bowls are a fantastic opportunity for you to get creative and make a bowl exactly how YOU like it. I am still an amateur bowl-maker, but I am branching out from my favorite recipe slowly but surely. It is important that I stress that this bowl can include almost any fruit or veggie you desire. Some fruits/veggies add extra creaminess while others simply add more flavor. Consider what benefits you are craving the day you make the bowl and go for it!

Below is my favorite (so far) açaí bowl recipe that I wish could hold a candle to the ones I craved daily in Hawaii 😉

Ingredients for smoothie:
1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk/coconut water/other preferred liquid
1/4 cup of frozen blueberries
1/4 cup of frozen strawberries
1 medium-large sized banana (can be frozen or room temp)
1 unsweetened açaí smoothie pack
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
1 heaping tbsp of organic raw white honey

Ingredients for topping:
granola
organic raw white honey
blueberries
strawberries
banana

Recipe:
Begin by blending the almond milk, blueberries, strawberries, honey, and banana. The fruit does not have to be frozen, but I find that it helps with the thickness of the smoothie. Next, give the mixture a stir with a spoon or spatula and add the vanilla extract. Before adding the açaí smoothie pack, break up the pack using a hard surface or crab mallet.

*Note, the açaí smoothie pack instructions may say to run under hot water, but I found that this liquefies the pack too quickly. This can affect the thickness of the smoothie.

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Add the smoothie pack to the blender and continue to blend the ingredients until desired consistency. Remember that the consistency should be thicker than a regular smoothie. The thickness of the mixture is part of what gives the açaí bowl its charm! 🙂

Either after the mixture is prepared, during, or prior, prepare your toppings. Personally, I prefer to have the toppings prepared before blending the ingredients. This keeps the mixture from melting before assembling the bowl.

To prepare the toppings, I slice strawberries and bananas relatively thin. Again, this is an opportunity for you to be creative. If you prefer more bananas, add more bananas. If you prefer no honey, totally go ahead and nix it. After slicing the banana and strawberries,  I prepare the raw honey. This type of honey is in a solid form, so it needs to be melted in order to drizzle it on top of the bowl. Microwave it to your desired consistency. I microwave in 15 second increments until it is just right for drizzling!

Before adding the smoothie mixture to the bowl, I like to sprinkle granola on the bottom of the bowl. This allows me to get some granola in every single bite from top to bottom. I then pour the smoothie in the bowl and level it off with the back of a spoon. I proceed to layer the top of the bowl more granola, then strawberry slices, a small handful of blueberries, and the slices of bananas. My last step is my favorite part… drizzling honey on top and watch it glisten in the light!

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This meal can be very high in sugar. Between the natural sugars from fruit, the honey, and… well, the drizzle of honey at the end, you can go overboard. I always try to be conscious of how much sugar I am adding to the bowl. I cut sugar in certain aspects of the bowl wherever I can. If you notice in the ingredients list, I use unsweetened almond milk and the unsweetened açaí frozen smoothie pack. Many recipes call for vanilla almond milk, but that, too, can have added sugars. This is why I add vanilla extract! You control the amount of sugar that is added in this recipe, so just be aware.

Below is a list of all the products I used for my açaí bowl. You do not have to use these products, but I definitely recommend giving them a shot. I will post another version of açaí bowls once I perfect more recipes.

Products I used:
Sambazon Pure Unsweetened Açaí Berry Superfruit Pack
Heavenly Organics 100% Organic Raw White Honey
Silk Original Unsweetened Almond Milk
Ninja Blender
BetterBody Foods Organic Bourbon Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract
Michele’s Granola in Original (Locally handmade in Baltimore)
All fruits from Mom’s Organic Market

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Thanks for checking this out and be sure to send me photos of your bowls! Use the hashtag #FaithfulElephantAcaiBowl so I can easily find yours on social media.

Completely unwarranted life lesson from a married woman #7: Compromise when it comes to dishes. Whoever cooks shouldn’t have to clean. At least… that’s what I tell David. 😉

Hiking the Great Smoky Mountains

Hey there, readers! I know it has been almost a month since my last post on the blog… I have been incredibly preoccupied with wedding planning, traveling, and finishing up a class for graduate school. Thanks for being patient with me!

For my birthday (which was Feb. 26), David and I took a mini road trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee! Why Gatlinburg? Well, this may sound silly, but I have always wanted to visit the city after hearing a song by Jason Aldean. He briefly mentions the city and how he heard it was “pretty.” That was all I needed to know it was somewhere I wanted to be! I figured this song would make a good song of the week, too. So enjoy “This I Gotta See” by Jason Aldean below!

Boy was Jason Aldean right! Gatlinburg is absolutely stunning. We chose a relatively warm weekend during the off season, so it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I am sure it can be in the summer months. One thing I wanted to do, for myself, was to hike part of the Appalachian trail. When I, hopefully, heal and am comfortable with long distance hikes, David and I are going to hike the entire trail together from start to finish.

With a leg that isn’t fully healed and requires frequent breaks when hiking, 4 miles of the trail had to suffice (8 miles there and back). We chose to hike to Charlie’s Bunion which offers panoramic views of the North Carolina and Tennessee state lines. It is truly breathtaking. I contemplated if taking pictures was something I wanted to do… but I decided that I deserved to document an amazing feat for myself.

In 20 days, it will be a full year since the day of my surgery. Hiking part of the Appalachian trail was the best birthday present a girl could ask for. I am so grateful to be alive and to have had an opportunity to see such an incredible view of the Great Smoky Mountains. It will forever be a memory burned into my brain. Not to mention, I was able to share the memory with my best friend and almost husband.

Below are some photos that David and I took during our hike. I want to thank David for being an AMAZING support system while hiking that trail. He was such a good sport. The hike was strenuous and he never made me feel like I was slowing him down or being a burden to him. Every step of the way he guided me and cheered me on. What more can you ask for in a partner for life? I am so blessed.

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Miss Fit: When Limited, Try This…

As most of you know by now, I have limited mobility. I am still in physical therapy working my way back to “normal.” Even though I am limited when it comes to workouts at the moment, that does not mean I have turned into a couch potato.

I want to share three exercises and other helpful tips for any of you who are not physically, or mentally, strong enough to dive right in to my old workouts from previous posts. During the summer of 2014, I posted advice on power lifts such as squats, bench press, and dead lifts. People dealing with post-injury blues or beginners to the lifting lifestyle, cannot expect to be successful right out of the chute. It doesn’t work that way. Practice makes perfect as they say!

In order to get myself back to the old me, I have to essentially start from scratch. When I first began doing intense lifts, I had to start off with low weight and high reps. However, even before I began with additional weight, I focused on getting my form down with body weight exercises.

  1. First is push ups. Every single time I do a push up, I think back to elementary school when students were required to participate in the presidential fitness challenge (or something like that). For the longest time, I was doing push ups incorrectly and noticed from how sore my upper body was afterwards. Not the good kind of sore, either.

    Remember, when doing a push up, engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and pack your elbows. I used to always flare my elbows, much like doing the chicken dance, especially when I got tired towards the end of my sets. Avoid this at all cost. You can really hurt yourself if you do not keep your elbows tucked close to the side of your body. Below is a photo to give you a visual reference.

    push up
    Photo Credit: Google
  2. Next, for more core focus, you can do a few different body weight/machine-free exercises. My favorites include crunches, sit ups, bicycles, and toe touches. You can also do planks. I am involved in a group on Facebook where the members rave about the plank challenge. Check it out below and give it a shot! It involves between 20 seconds to five minutes of your day depending on your abilities.

    5minute

  3. Finally, these next exercises are focused on your legs. I am not able to do squats like I used to, which is a bummer (for now). In lieu of squats, I have found that single-leg hip raises really work the glutes and hamstrings. I am also able to do lunges, but I have to modify them a bit. If you find you are able to, try lunges with weights. You do not need dumbbells either. Grab a bag of potatoes, a pumpkin from your Halloween festivities (obviously one that was not carved), or even your baby (if you have one). All of these are make-shift weights that are just as effective. If you have no options, just do extra reps of your lunges or single-leg hip raises. *Low weight… high reps!

    Click here for a great video describing single-leg hip raises

I highly recommend engaging in some physical activity daily. I use my Fit Bit to help remind me to at least reach 10,000 steps a day. It doesn’t always happen, especially during a busy workday, but when it does, I feel a lot happier and healthier.

Here are a few ways to get those steps in each day:

  • Take the stairs, not the elevator
  • Do some chores around the house, like vacuuming
  • Take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood
  • Go on a hike
  • Walk around the grocery store
  • If possible, walk to work or use ten minutes of your lunch break to walk down the street
    • Bad weather tip: Walk around the office. Encourage your coworkers to join you. Whoever reaches their goals for the week first, wins a small gift card!
  • Take a few extra trips to the water cooler
  • Pace while food is baking or water is boiling
Workout
Photo Credit: Google

All of these tips have proven to help me reach my goal. Personally, I love to hike. My hikes are not nearly as long as the used to be, but I have found that with each hike, my strength increases. David and I try to mix it up and visit new spots in Maryland, but it can be tough with our busy schedules. Ideally, we would travel the world and hike one amazing mountain after another. Logistically, that is not likely. For now, we attempt to conquer any trail we find within a 100 mile radius.

Do not be afraid to get out there and move! Invite your friends to join you and have fun with it. Your workouts are not expected to be Olympic in nature. They should be tailored to fit you and your body. Stay safe and get fit!

Clean Eating Challenge: Take Two (and Becoming a Better You)

If you have been following my blog for at least a year, you will know that my mom and I completed Buzz Feed’s Two Week Clean Eating Challenge last summer. After completing that challenge, we both felt INCREDIBLE. I decided that, since the wedding is about 6 months away, David and I would give it a shot together. I know this is only a two week challenge, but we will be using it as our detox to begin a more strict diet.

We are not doing this diet to lose weight, we are doing this to be healthier. With birthdays, weddings, and other events, I’ve come to realize that we eat way too much sugar and other processed food lately. We feel lethargic, unmotivated, and just down right crappy. To combat this, we decided to detox and diet.

Diet
Photo Credit: Giphy.com

I will not be blogging about this challenge nearly as much as I did last summer. It just seems repetitive to hear my thoughts again. However, for you men out there who would like to hear from a fellow male detoxing and dieting. I am going to feature David on this blog! Well.. I will be featuring his comments and feedback. Personally, I think David’s biggest issue here will be the lack of meat. He LOVES burgers. Unfortunately, in this two week detox, there is NO red meat allowed. I love that, but he will not, haha. I am eager to hear his praises, complaints, and everything in between!

Our detox will begin on Monday, October 19. The two week detox challenge technically starts on Sunday, but we have already committed to plans Sunday that may require us to deviate from the detox. Plus, it just works better with our schedule to begin when the work week starts. For those of you who did not read my past segment about this challenge, click here.

Each day is already planned by Buzz Feed and there are strict rules which you must follow in order to successfully complete this challenge. You eat a breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, and snack (in that order). If I remember correctly, you eat approximately 1300-1600 calories per day. The number of calories you intake depends on your weight, typically. In this case, David will intake more than me, obviously. He is much taller and weighs almost 100 pounds more than me haha. I am pretty petite. Again, I want to reiterate that this is not to lose weight, look better, or fit a magazine’s idea of the ideal body type. This is simply to feel better and healthier.

Lea Michele
Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Finally, I recently purchased Lea Michele’s book, “You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life.” In this book, it discusses how to be a healthier, stronger, more confident YOU. I am using it as a guide to really get myself in a better mindset since my health issues earlier this year. It inspired me to get back into my previous healthy lifestyle. I will be blogging/journaling my way to a better me (with tidbits from David, too, haha). I want to share my journey through this book with you all. I know many followers/readers who have requested blogs about this topic, so why not, right?

Let me know how you remain mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy!

xoxo,
Kristin

Hell week is almost over!

I posted earlier today and quickly realized after that it was my 100th blog! Wow. I am so thrilled that my blog officially has 100 posts (101 after I publish this one I am writing). Before delving into my topic this evening, I want to thank all my followers for reading my blog, commenting on posts, and sharing my page with your friends. Here’s to the next 100 blogs!

Photo Credit: Tumblr.com
Photo Credit: Tumblr.com

As you have been reading, I have started a new workout and diet routine being that I am now home from college and have access to an incredible gym. Oh and an awesome mom who cooks stellar dinners with me! No more d-hall food or skipping meals to save money! Okay… so I may still skip meals to save money when I am not home to raid the kitchen, but you get what I mean. Usually engaging in a specific activity for a full week that may not appeal to the average person can be called “Hell Week.” Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to workout. I do not like feeling sore, hungry, and tired all the time. Once you get past the first week of a new regimen, it will get easier. I didn’t post last night because I was writing blogs for work and was exhausted from the gym earlier that morning. I went to bed at 9:30, haha.

Day 3:
Yesterday, I ate more than I intended. I was under my calorie count for the day, but I knew I could have skipped the extra half cup of noodles! Sometimes I just can’t resist. My morning workout focused on chest and triceps. The exercises I did were 5 sets of 6 for flat bench press, incline bench press, dumbbell flies, and tricep pull downs. For food, I ate my protein smoothie from Starbucks (I am picking up my protein on Saturday so I don’t have to waste money on smoothies from SB anymore lol), 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites for a snack, a bowl of “Mommy’s Lentils,” and finally, 4 oz of salmon with a cup of steamed vegetables. I had about 47 calories left to spare. Yesterday was tough because I was incredibly sore. I feel a lot better today, which is great.

Day 4:
Today was different than the past three days because I am going to the gym at 7 this evening. I had to travel for work today so I had a quick breakfast of 1 whole egg and 3 egg whites, then lunch at the Corner Bakery (a cafe sized chopped salad), and a protein bar as a snack. After the gym I will probably have salmon and vegetables again because it is quick and easy to make. It also is about 330 calories. Just enough after the gym and not too much before bed. I have work again in the morning tomorrow, so I will be at the gym tomorrow night, too. Today is a rest day for me. However, I never really “rest.” It is just less intense than a normal workout day. This evening I will be doing some high intensity cardio and ab exercises. My cardio will be riding the stationary bike. I used to run on the treadmill but it causes pain in the knee I injured back when I was a catcher and played basketball. The bike is less harsh on those muscles.

If you are interested in a full description of the workout and diet plan I am on, please comment below. Eventually I will post a blog about it, but for now, I am keeping it short and sweet, like a diary. I also was asked which app I use to record my calories and exercises. It is called My Fitness Pal. The app is very popular and has a great food database. The first week is almost over and I am excited for the weeks to come. Are you following a specific fitness or diet plan? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below and share your experiences. ❤

Photo Credit: Tumblr.com
Photo Credit: Tumblr.com

Cotton On Haul – Fitness Clothes

Oh boy do I love shopping. A woman who loves shopping? Unheard of. My mom and I go shopping almost every weekend. Most of the time it is window shopping, but last weekend we could NOT pass up an amazing sale going on at Cotton On. If you haven’t heard of this store, it is an Australian retail store that I would compare to an affordable Aeropostle or American Eagle. I rarely shop at Aero or AE. Cotton On does not stamp their brand on almost every piece of clothing like Aero or AE, which is why I love it (other than the awesome prices). I have SO many clothes from Cotton On ranging from bras to jeans.

Last weekend they had a sale on most fitness clothing. Nothing over $8. As if I could pass that up. I actually needed some new fitness clothes. I think that a new wardrobe for the gym can boost your confidence while encouraging you to get off your bum and start working out! Below are photos of each piece of clothing I purchased. I will also give you the amount of money spent in the end.

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Front view of Running Shorts (That’s what I call them)
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Back view of Running Shorts
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Sports Bra
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Back view of Dancer Tee
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Front view of Dancer Tee
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Full view of Dancer Tee

 

Running pants
Running pants
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Front view of Running Jacket/Rain Jacket
Back view of Running Jacket/Rain Jacket
Back view of Running Jacket/Rain Jacket
Front view of Winter Jacket (pink)
Front view of Winter Jacket (pink)
Back view of Winter Jacket (pink)
Back view of Winter Jacket (pink)
Workout shirt
Workout shirt

My mom and I wear the same size, so she purchased a white and gray winter jacket that is the same style as the pink one pictured above. She also purchased an orange version of the gray workout shirt pictured above.

Most of the items were $10, some were $8. Overall, I spent about $50 (including tax). My mom spent $18 including tax. So far I have worn the sports bra and workout shirt. I love them both! The running shorts will be worn this week. I cannot wait for autumn/winter so I can wear my pink jacket!

I always have a great experience when shopping at Cotton On. They have an online store that I highly recommend you check out. Let me know what you think of these clothes and the clothes featured online. Happy shopping!

 

The Do’s & Don’ts for Fitness Fashion

A few weeks ago I posted a teaser blog about fitness fashion. I wrote an article for my magazine writing course (our Magazine is Surge) about this topic and chose to share it with my followers! Enjoy the 500 word piece below.

The Do’s & Don’ts for Fitness Fashion
By Kristin Baione

Kick off your heels, ladies; we are heading to the gym.  We may not love going to the fitness center, but that does not mean we cannot look good while being there. You no longer need to subject your inner fashionista to plain clothes for your workout.

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Photo Credit: Target.com

You have a plethora of options between shorts and pants to tees and tank tops. Start with your lower half. Choose a pair of shorts, pants, or capris that best suit your preferences. After, choose a sports bra and top that compliments the lower half.  If you choose a pair of black yoga pants with a colored waistband, consider a vibrant tank top or tee (and vice versa). Yellows and oranges look great with blues and greens, while reds and pinks look great with blacks and greys. Use this opportunity to layer your favorite colors. For example, a pink sports bra paired with a yellow tank top and black yoga pants is a perfect, fashionable outfit for the gym. In the winter months, layering is imperative to keep those muscles warm to prevent injury and avoid catching a cold. Add a bright colored hoodie or fleece and sweatpants to your outfit. Warm muscles and a healthy body make for a happy, fashionable woman.

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Photo Credit: OldNavy.com

Shoes can make or break any outfit. Do not choose athletic shoes with outrageous colors that will never match your wardrobe. If you mainly wear reds, blues, and purples, do not choose a bright green shoe; purchase shoes that will match those three colors.  A simple way to match all of your outfits and staying under budget is to buy one pair of black athletic shoes. Remember that you can accessorize with patterned or brightly colored socks, as well. You can even add a splash of color and pizazz to your attire with a headband if socks are not enough. Above all, though, choose a comfortable pair of shoes. Running footwear is different from yoga or hiking footwear. A shoe may look “cute,” but that does not mean it will enhance your workout. 

The final fashion tip is for our frugal fashionistas. Affording the latest activewear trends from stores like Under Armour or Lucy can be tough. Other viable options are out there to ease your mind. You do not need to spend your entire paycheck on activewear. Yes, topnotch, sweat-wicking technology, and labels are great. Fashion at the gym should not put a hole in your wallet, though. No labels are necessary for a wardrobe to be considered fashionable. Many clothing stores have inexpensive clothes for fitness. The key is finding your preferred pieces of clothing and adding your own style to it. My favorite stores to shop include Target, Old Navy, JCPenney, Amazon, and Wet Seal.

While you are running on the treadmill, enjoying hot yoga, or lifting weights, look in the mirror and say, “Wow, I look fantastic!” These tips are sure to help boost your confidence with fashion. Remember: keep your clothes layered, matching, and comfortable. Say goodbye to old t-shirts and shorts, and say hello to fashionable activewear!

Fashion for the gym?

I am currently enrolled in a magazine writing class that requires students to write three articles for an online class magazine. I love it. The first article is 500 words, the second is 750, and the final article is 1,000 words. I chose to write my first article for the “Fashion Department” of the magazine.

Fashion. Oh my, this is an interesting topic for me. I am not the most fashionable gal in class. Honestly, I do not know much about fashion at all. The extent of my “fashion sense” has come from The Devil Wears Prada! (Thanks for the fashion tips Meryl Streep.) That is not to say I do not recognize good fashion when I see it. I would say that I am an amateur fashionista. I appreciate fashion, I try to create my own look while sticking with the colors that are in season, and I know to avoid white after Labor Day. What more do I need to know in order to write the article?

I forgot to mention that the article is intended for fashionistas who love fitness. That means I am writing the article in hopes to inform readers about “gym fashion.” If anyone can do that… it is me! For followers that see my attire at the gym, do not call me out! If I had the money to buy all of the “cute” clothes I would like to wear to the gym, I would. I still dress the way, I believe, you should dress when going to the gym, though. This means ditch the heels, flip flops, and Ugg boots. Invest in a good pair of tennis/running shoes. I would ditch the leotards too. We are not in the 80s or a ballet class. Ladies, trust me when I say this next tip…. WEAR A SPORTS BRA. Support your gals and thank me later. I will be posting my “What to wear to the gym” article in a week or so. This is a teaser. Brace yourselves. Refer to the tips above if you need immediate fashion assistance.

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Source: Jennie Widegren

Miss Fit: Where did she go?

Where in the world did Miss Fit go? Well, this semester at Stevenson has certainly taken a toll on my exercise habits. Why is it that we find it so simple to give advice (in my case, about motivation and sticking to a workout schedule), but when our own lives become hectic, the advice falls to the wayside?

I hate to admit this… but, I have not followed the advice I’ve given my readers (if there are still some out there!) My eating habits and exercise habits have been mediocre. Mediocre is sugar coating it actually. They stink lately. Cue the complaints…

  • Busy work schedule
  • Lack of sleep
  • Studying/doing school work
  • SGA
  • Leadershape
  • Lack of time to cook a decent meal
  • The list goes on…

But, if you look back to a post of mine from the summer (July 31), you will see an inspiring post about going to the gym when you “really don’t want to.” I suggest to you all that you could wake up an hour earlier, go to bed an hour later, skip that Say Yes to The Dress episode on TLC, I think you may remember now… Yet, I haven’t done this myself. This stops today. After this blog is posted, I will be doing an at-home workout to jump start my exercise routine. Something is better than nothing, right? RIGHT!

If you see me around campus, follow me on Twitter (go ahead and follow me if you don’t: @kmebaione), have the desire to shoot me an e-mail, or want to comment on this post regarding my exercise routine, please do so. I am a firm believer in motivating each other to succeed. One way to do this is by holding each other accountable. A friendly reminder to hit the gym or put down the Kit Kat bar never hurt anybody! So, go ahead and check on me (seriously… do it.)

“At the end of the day, we are accountable to ourselves – our success is a result of what we do.” – Catherine Pulsifer