Category Archives: challenges



I’ve been quiet lately. No apologies because once I get back from vacation (we leave Saturday) and make it through the holidays… I anticipate a TON to write about.

Until then, I’ve been waiting. Oh, and counting. I’ve been counting down the days to Disney World like a 6 year old girl. Every morning, I email B with how many days until we leave and a “fun” fact about Disney. I’ve been doing this since October so finding new facts every day has been kind of a fun scavenger hunt. I could probably write a book with all the new things I learned about the amusement park.

Did you know that the parking lots at Magic Kingdom are named after the 7 dwarfs? Well, all but one- Doc. Because Disney didn't want parkers to get confused with the loading "dock."


Yeah, I’m full of those facts.

So, we are 3 days out right now. I’ve got several busy days to occupy myself until then. I’m hoping to finish one of my most extensive Christmas presents tonight. (I’ll post about that later.) Oh! And cooking! I’m making another apple pie tonight simply because I can. On Thursday I have a non-pregnancy related ultrasound to occupy my night.

And Friday is my start of vacation. I took the day off so I could have time to drop Foster Pup off at the boarders before they closed. AND I wanted to start my vacation off right with a massage and a manicure. I’ve only gotten a manicure once or twice (for weddings), and I’ve been silently saving for a really good massage since my half marathon. It’s time to cash in.

But it’s not all pampering. I’ve mentioned the ultrasound. I’m dealing with some medical issues right now that I am not ready to discuss- mainly because it is not conclusive. My doctor has put me on some strong antibiotics that have left me feeling dizzy and tired for the next ten days, but we’re still waiting on test results till I know what the next steps are.

So, here I sit in limbo.


My Christmas presents are pretty much wrapped and ready to go (or about 3/4ths of the way done), my bags are packed and I’ve purchased another Sookie Stackhouse book for the plane, and I’m dutifully taking a motion-sickness inducing antibiotic.

As for my workout challenge… going well! I’m working on making a vacation plan that wont involve me doing squats while waiting in line for Space Mountain.





I’m not very consistent. I dont like to do things over and over and over again. That’s why I try to make my fitness or nutrition challenges different each week. Nothing can ever get boring if you try to spice it up a bit.

But then I got word of the #plankaday challenge going around twitter, and I though, “Hmmm… that could really be awesome!”

But wait- didn’t I just get done saying that I hated routine? Wouldn’t doing the same strength training exercise over and over again defeat my never ending goal to mix up my workouts?

Yes! and No!

Planks are fabulous. They challenge your core and shoulder strength. Unlike crunches, they challenge your entire abdominal area and lower back. And you dont have to do a million of them to see results.

But the best part is that there are a bajillion different versions. Sure, there are the standards:

Standard, forearm plank

But then people improved upon it. They added side planks:

Raise the arm in the air for a more yoga-like pose.

And then, made it more complicated with twists:

My favorite: Thredding the Needle

Of course, someone got the great idea to add props!

Stability balls scare me to death.

And, why not just work your shoulders and core? Let’s add legs!

Arms and Legs! (I dare you not to look at her chest)

Some people get really hardcore in their planks:

Sure way for me to fall and break something...

But you can make them easier by dropping to your knees, criss-crossing your feet, changing your hand or forearm position, etc.

I even do these some days when I'm not feeling it.

… and all you have to do is hold it.  I know people who do interval planks where they are in plank position for 10 seconds and then rest 10 and do it all over again. Others can hold planks for minutes at a time. I can do a regular forearm plank for about a minute twenty before I fall in to a heap.

Put multiples versions of the plank together and you’ve got a pretty formidable core and shoulder workout. You can even add them to your yoga routine (vinyasas) for a more soothing version!

What’s your favorite plank?… and no, I do not mean this:

Life’s a Great Adventure


Quick update on my current challenge. So far, I am rocking it. 15 mins/day may have been too easy. On days when I’m not feeling the workout, I’ve been putting on a couple of internet videos and getting in core. Other days, I’m doing my regular thing. It’s been mainly strength and toning, so I better be ripped come Christmas time!


You know that feeling when things start to build up? One day, it’s my flat tires and the next it’s a lost CTA card. I’ve got a dog throwing up and (thus) a destroyed futon to replace. For some reason, this week hasn’t been too kind to me. B says it’s karma and I’ll get something good coming soon.I’ve got one thing to say to that….


On Tuesday, our office power went completely out for forty minutes. My coworker and I sat in complete darkness waiting for it to pop on, both surfing the web from our phones. And even though we were miserable (with the power comes the heat), I couldn’t help but chuckle and think that this was so unplanned.

I often wake up and think, “Today’s going to be a great day.” We’ve all had that feeling that something wonderful was going to happen soon. And I know that we’ve all had the opposite- that feeling of dread that nags at us. The morning of our lost power, I had none of those feelings. It was completely ordinary.

It got me thinking…

I have an adventurous soul with careful tendencies. I have all of these grand plans, like rock climbing or eventually moving across the pond for a bit. I’m constantly collecting pictures of places I want to go.

Vienna at Christmas time...

On the other hand, I really love my creature comforts. I love having a home base and the safety of loved ones around. I miss home when I’m gone too long. I cant go a week without talking to my dad.

I’m really not sure how to reconcile those two characteristics. Is there such thing as a cautious explorer? Or do we have to be one thing or another? Maybe it’s more about me being a realist (careful) with delusions of grandeur (adventure)… Is that possible.

It’s (I’m?) a confusing mess.

One thing I do know, however, is that life is a complete and grand adventure. I may not get to travel the world yearly like some of my friends. Nor can I move back to the hometown and be completely satisfied. My adventure is how I address life as it is now.

So, that’s my new mantra. As the days become slower and darker, and I spend my days drooling over beautiful vacation pictures of my friend’s, I just repeat to myself that this is my adventure. And if I dont like it, it’s up to me to change it.

Shout out to the boyfriend...


And on that encouraging note… it’s time for my December goals. First off, goal #1 is to pay my rent… which I forgot to do yesterday. December really crept in there.

I’ve decided to be pretty vague in my December goals only because I know that I’ve been pretty lazy the last couple months and because we are going on vacation before Christmas hits. So it’s the double wammy of diet/workout disasters waiting to happen.

To combat this, here are my slightly vague goals:

  1. 15 min/day of working out
  2. A new recipe a week
  3. Vegetarian every other week
  4. Strength train or tone 3xs a week
  5. Cardio 3xs a week
  6. Plank-a-day (this is a twitter based challenge I found through @Irisheyes1982 and @dawnieslife… both have awesome fitness based blogs you should check out)


I think all are doable (really working on that “hating your body” one). I can easily do planks in a hotel room without my mat and I already decided that I will wear a pedometer at Disney and try to get a certain amount of steps for it to count as fitness time (though I may attempt a run at one of the paths near our hotel).

How are you working your December adventure?

Streaking Pt. 1


Gosh, I feel dirty just posting that.

My challenge is going swimingly so far. Here was my workout schedule for the past 4 days:

Thursday- 5K and ST
Friday- Core video
Saturday- Spin
Sunday- Lower body video

Nothing too hard or special. I wish I had gotten more strength training this past week, so that’s my focus this time around. Here’s the schedule

Monday- Body Pump
Tuesday- 5K or Hour Swim (fingers cross… I need to get back in the pool)
Wednesday- Core video
Thursday- 5K run and ST
Friday- Pilates or yoga video
Saturday- Spin class
Sunday- 5K run and ST

So, there you go… my quick little update. I’ll write more when I have something good to share.



You may have guessed that I survived the pasta throw down. I have spent the last three days making up for my loss with fettuccine.

But, that’s neither here or there.

It’s time for a new challenge! And this time, it’s going to be BIG. Like that damn commercial…

15 Minute Physical Challenge!

Starting tomorrow, I am challenging myself to work out for at least 15 minutes a day from Thanksgiving till Christmas Eve (11:59pm). That’s 30 days straight of working out. Impossible? No. 15 minutes is a moderate amount of time that anyone, including me, can fit in to their routines.

First, here are my rules:

  • The exercise must be deliberate and intentional. This means that my walk to and from work do not count as that minor effort is already required of me. Also, I am not counting are stairs unless I am doing them intentionally. So, say I got to Woodfield and decide to take the stairs to avoid bulldozing the annoying teenagers in front of me… that’s great, but it’s still not exercise. Climbing the 10 flights of stairs in my apartment building to get my heart rate up… that’s intentional.
  • The exercise does NOT have to be continuous. I could do 5 minutes of planks in the morning and then 10 minutes of squats and lunges at night. It still counts. I could even do 1 minute of shadow boxing in my work’s bathroom 15 times and it would count.
  • The exercise does not have to be strenuous, but it has to be more than stretching. Yoga and pilates, unless intense, are fabulous ways to work out and tone without getting your heart rate up. They count. Touching my toes or doing quad stretches on the other hand… nope.
  • I must track my “streak” on sparkpeople or dailymile. My dailymile name is my facebook login and my sparkpeople name is Chelles_Bells. I’ll be logging fitness minutes on both sites if you’d like to follow along or make your own account to join in. But on Spark, I’ll be tracking a “streak” as well. It’ll look like this:
  • There is one exception to these rules… my vacation. I go on vacation to Disney World starting December 17th-21st. I full anticipate getting in a workout on the day I leave and come back. That leaves 3 days in which I must find time to work out. Considering I will be on my feet for over 10 hours a day at an amusement park, I will count that as intentional exercise. But, I plan on wearing a step counter and I’ll pick a large amount of steps I must get in order to count the day as a workout. I’ll also make a nutrition goal to go with vacation.

So that’s my challenge. If I complete it, I am going to give myself bi-monthly private swim lessons for 3 months.

Are you up for it? If you’d like to join in, please let me know. I love acountabiliabuddies!

No pasta… No pasta… No pasta…


Rottttinnnnniiii...... Roootttttiiiinnnnniiiiiiii


I’m almost there… I’m almost one week pasta free. I have til Sunday at 3pm to put it in the win category. I CAN DO THIS.

To be honest, I haven’t been eating low carb in the absence. While I haven’t touched bread, I have had rice or potatoes every day to replace pasta. But, I’m ok with that. This is more about proving to myself that I can live without these sometimes unhealthy staples in my diet and less about fixing a bad habit.

I think that next up on the chopping block will be popcorn. I obviously dont eat this every day, but I do have a HUGE bowl (ok, pan) of homemade popcorn once a week on Sundays.


How are my other challenges going? So-So. I’m doing great on strength training. I got in a half hour last night and went to Body Pump on Monday. Body Pump, btw, was HORRIBLE/AWESOME. I went a couple times when it first started, but dear God… I really dont remember it being that painful. My quads are still not fully recovered yet from all the squats and lunges. But, of course, I am going back again on Monday and possibly tomorrow morning for more punishment.

Running has not been great. I’ve basically lost all motivation to get out there or get on a treadmill and just run. I did sign up for a Turkey Trot 8K (5 miles) on Thanksgiving. I know I can do it after this long hiatus, but just for kicks, I ran 2.5 miles yesterday and felt just fine. I will run on Sunday (4 miles) and again on Tuesday (3 miles) just to be sure.

My BLC group challenge for this week is pirate themed, so this is what I’ll be working on this weekend:

P= Personal Time- find 10min for yourself daily (10pts per day) (think bubble bath, read a book, take a walk etc)
L= Liquid- 8cps water daily (10pts per day)
A= A-hoy there- Shout out to a Spark friend with a goodie or message (10pts per day)
N= Nutrition- Keep calories in range (10pts daily)
K= Kick Butt- Any LEG ST. (1rep=1pt, 100max daily) 1 REP= BOTH legs

Corny, but cute. It’ll keep my strength and nutrition in mind. Since B and I are both saving up money for Disney and potential dog adoptions, we are both thinking a relaxing weekend in would be fine for us!

Tell me how your pre-Turkey weekend is going! Any goals in mind as you fight off the pre-fat pants?

My Week as a Vegetarian


Well, here I am. I was sick with a bitchy cold bug that would NOT give up.

And since I didn’t want to basically cough and sneeze over a public treadmill, I avoided working out every day of this week. Seriously. All that was done was a dance class last Sunday and another one (where I moved much slower) yesterday. I was the DJ for the last Sunday session, and because I’m a nerd, here’s my playlist:

My "theme" was "Best of Playlist." Basically, it was all my favorite songs I've ever played at DDPP. I thought it went over really well and the calorie burn was INTENSE.

So, there’s that.

I didn’t work out and I felt somewhat ok with it. I did have some guilt, but then I would cough something up and everything would be justified in my head.

Another thing I didn’t do? Yeah, I didn’t track my eating. BUT, I did do something awesome…

I was a vegetarian for a week!

For some of you, this is isn’t amazing at all. This would be torture of the cruelest kind. And it was once the Taco Bell cravings hit, but I pushed through.

While I dreamed of cheesy gordita crunches, I did do some research. Being a vegetarian helps conservation efforts of the ecosystem. Even if you eat locally, being a meat eater increases your carbon foot print by a TON. As for the numerous health reasons, I would say helping avoid heart disease is a HUGE motivator for me. I also found that my acne and redness in my skin decreased this week by eating vegetarian. And finally, being a vegetarian saved me about $20 in groceries, even after buying meat replacers. Being a scrooge, this is HUGE.

For all these reasons and countless others, I’ve decided to eat vegetarian every other week. I cant go full on vegetarian. I would miss holiday goodies like Thanksgiving turkey or a steak from my dad’s grill. By at least attempting to eat vegetarian two weeks out of a month, I’m still getting lots of those health, economic, and environmental benefits while still getting to indulge my hamburger cravings.

However, I really need to work on increasing my meal creativity. My food this week, as predicted, was super carb heavy. To make up for it, I am going to try to have a past a free week! This may be my hardest challenge yet. Us Italians are ADDICTED to our carb loading pasta dishes. And if I need something to eat quick, I turn to a bag of frozen raviolis. Now, I need to muster all creativity to combat my daemons head on.

No, Cheesesaurus! I will NOT give in to you!

I should probably also practice eating in calorie range. Under 1800 calories is not hard to do. Let’s add that to the list.

So, those are goals #1 and 2 for the week.

Goal #3 is increasing my strength training… again. I failed at this two weeks in a ROW. (Albeit because I was sick this week.) This will be my week of muscle. Here’s my schedule:

Monday- Body Pump or Yoga… The online schedule for my Y is outdated, so I am not sure if Body Pump is actually offered tonight or not.
Tuesday- Run a 5K
Wednesday- Off
Thursday- Run a 5K and ST
Friday- Off… maybe swimming if I dont have any other plans
Saturday- Spin class and ST
Sunday- 10K run and possibly DDPP class

That’s three days of strength and four (possibly five) of cardio.

To recap… my goals of this week are simple: NO pasta of any kind and 3 days of strength training. Pretty easy. I’ll be sure to come back with an update on how my pasta withdrawal is going. I’m assuming it’s going to be messy.

Me on day 3 without my rotini.