Wine for Workout Friends

As I have mentioned, I belong to a private Facebook group of women who are all on the same workout journey. Train with Lyzabeth’s program comes with exclusive access to this group. At first, I didn’t think I’d participate in it at all. Boy, was I wrong! I think the primary reason I’m still active on Facebook today is my involvement and interaction with this terrific group of women.

First of all, they come from all. over. the. world. Seriously! And, they all have different jobs, backgrounds and lives! Some are going to school, while working and raising families. Some are entrepreneurs, such as one of the group’s superstars, Alicia Mayi, who owns Ali of all Trades.

She recently created a bunch of tanks and tee shirts for the girls in the TWL group to wear at the gym. We’re all from the same tribe even though we’re from all over the world! I purchased a few tanks, as well as a fun t-shirt for my husband. Alicia added a fun surprise to my shipment, as well; a decal of a wine glass that says Wine for All Times!

This is a great example of her thoughtfulness and is illustrative of all the girls in the TWL community. They are supportive, understanding, caring individuals. I’m so glad to have virtually connected with them and look forward to perhaps meeting them someday soon!

When we do, we definitely have to have sparkling wine. I mean, what’s a girl party without bubbly! We could toast our commitment to our own health and whatever else our hearts desire. Some of my favorite sparkling wines are Italian Proseccos and I love a good Cava from Spain, as well.

In fact, writing this reminds me that I want to try some more sparkling wines in the future. I recently read a blog post about Austrian sparkling wine. Hmmm. Maybe my next review? Cheers!

cartesian wine bottle with a glass of red wine in it

Wine for A Wrinkle in Time (Review)

Blogger’s note: If you have not seen the movie, you may wish to skip this post. 

Opening weekend, I took my daughters to see A Wrinkle in Time, along with my dad. We had been waiting forever to see this movie. A few days before it came out, the reviews started to roll out… and they were not good. I almost elected not to go; they were that bad. But, in the end, we used a gift card to justify our trip; after all, we weren’t paying full price!

Now, I read and adored the book when I was a little girl. My daughters also have read the book, most recently, Lucia. So, we knew the story and we were looking forward to seeing it come alive on the big screen. But, alas, the streak continues – books are nearly always better than movies in my world.

First of all, there was a continuity problem, as well as a pacing issue. I just felt that things happened too quickly in the movie. It went from one thing to the other to the other so rapidly, that things were left undeveloped and, for me, it was hard to get my head out of one situation and on to the next. This is an issue regardless of whether you are familiar with the book. As for continuity, of course things were eliminated from the screenplay, as is normally the case with a movie adaptation. However, the writers left certain lines in that just didn’t make sense. In an early scene, for example, Charles Wallace is accused of heating way too much milk on the stove to which he responds, “You never know who might be visiting.” But, then, the visitor doesn’t materialize until later! (In the book, there IS an additional visitor in that scene.) So, that’s just one of many missteps.

Also, a key portion of the climax is completely eliminated from the movie, which to me just ruined the entire thing. That scene needs to happen in order to resolve the story and they left it out. Even my 8-year-old wondered why we were not able to see that part. What’s more, the ending, which wasn’t exactly the way it went in the book was secular, and the movie omitted the Christian references. That was the part of the story that spoke to me the most and to have it eliminated was disappointing.

Characters were missing, which may prove to be challenging in the future, should they decide to make the sequel into a movie, as well.

What did they do right? They released in on daylight saving time weekend, making a unique marketing message to get people to the theaters. They also, played out the “girl power” theme, with a strong message to young girls everywhere to embrace who they are and don’t be afraid, etc. There was also commentary on bullying, which was a good anti-message. I also loved the science themes; the main character was good at science and loved it, which is a great message for young girls to hear. The scenery and costumes/makeup were beautiful. My 11-year-old daughter exclaimed as we left the theater, “There was a lot of glitter in that movie!”

Would I recommend this movie? Maybe. If you have young, impressionable girls in your life, it’s a great message. If you haven’t read the book, you may enjoy it for what it is. If you have read the book, I urge caution and perhaps an open mind to avoid disappointment.

As far as wine, while we didn’t see the movie at Movie Tavern where I could have ordered a glass, I did think about wine and time. Wine gets better with age, as you know. And, perhaps the same could be said for movies. Some movies, as my husband pointed out, were complete duds when first released but later became smash hits. Even “It’s A Wonderful Life,” got a lukewarm reception way back when but now is considered one of the best.

Often, wine improves with each sip, as well, which was the case with the one we drank this past week. First Leaf Wine’s Cartesian Cabernet Sauvignon from the Central Coast of California at first was almost bitter to me and I wasn’t sure about the overall taste. But, as I sipped it, it got better. Time was on its side, you might say. Maybe time will be on A Wrinkle in Time’s side, as well. Time will tell.

ceasar's casino statues

Wine for a Honeymoon Memory

Five years ago this month, my husband and I went on our honeymoon. We decided to visit Las Vegas, Nevada since neither of us had been before. Of course, being the type A, crazy woman I am about, well, everything, I had to research all the best places to eat…and drink. I stumbled on a wine bar at Caesar’s Rio Casino, which had rave reviews on Yelp! Its website describes the highlights:

  • One of the country’s most impressive wine collections
  • Renowned wines from around the world
  • Choose from more than 100 wines by the glass
  • Relaxing atmosphere, complete with a bar and a lounge
  • Exquisite wine and cheese pairing

As you can see, it was worth a visit. We took a cross-town bus from Caesar’s to Rio, and from there navigated down to the cellar. It didn’t disappoint. It was so cool to see all the vintage wines on display like a museum of viticulture! Plus, we arrived pretty early in the evening, really more like late afternoon, so we were the only ones there. The bartender was attentive and helpful.

We selected a wine and cheese flight and got right down to business! Delicious wines that we would ordinarily never get to try. So worth the money to sit and enjoy them with the perfect pairings of cheese.

We really wanted to try Opus One, since it’s on my bucket list. I can’t even recall if they had it by the glass but what they did have was a wine called Altvs, a Napa Valley red, which the bartender said was in the same league as Opus One. Now, I still haven’t tried Opus so I can’t make a comparison but I can say that the Altvs was excellent!

We purchased a bottle and got it all the way home, saving it for our first date anniversary six months later. In fact last year, my husband procured two more bottles through a local wine seller here in Syracuse, New York. Each vintage had a bit of a different taste but still so yummy.

Altvs is a big Tuscan red wine, requiring at least an hour of decanting to let it breathe. You really have to plan to enjoy it. It goes well with anything Italian or just by itself or with a piece of chocolate.

It will forever be our “honeymoon wine.”

person at top of mountain looking at sunset

7 Tips for Health and Fitness Success

Now that you’ve read about my workout and nutrition/supplement plans, I thought I’d list out some things that have helped me meet my goals and stay on this health and fitness journey without falling off the wagon! In no particular order:

  1. Purchase the right workout gear, including activewear. I now legitimately need another closet for my workout clothing; I have that much. But, looking good at the gym helps me feel good. It helps me work harder, too. When I have a rocking sport bra or a cute pair of shorts, looking in the mirror as I’m lifting is that much more enjoyable! When you look good, you feel good. Word. My favorite places to shop: Forever21, Old Navy, Amazon, Target, Victoria’s Secret
  2. Follow the leaders. Or at least follow the influencers. These are the fitness stars you see on social media. Some are not what they appear to be but you will be able to figure out who the real ones are and they will inspire the heck out of you. Seeing someone else post videos of their workouts, food and lives is motivating. It’s even more impactful if you find someone similar to you whether it be a similar body type, lifestyle, age or all of the above. I look for petite girls like me, mostly. This way I can be motivated to look just like them! Some of my favorites (Instagram): @kelseywells, @kayla_itsines, @missads1981, @brookemorafit and @lyzabethlopez
  3. Participate in conversations. The workout I do comes with a private Facebook group, a community of ladies from around the world who are on the same journey. It’s so helpful to post questions and offer answers and insights. I’m getting to know women just like me and I’m learning a ton. It’s like having your own personal trainers and counselors online. Plus, Lyzabeth Lopez herself is active in our group and helps us along the way. If your workout program doesn’t have something like this, find discussion boards and groups on social media. They’re everywhere. Even following fitness trainers will help you be exposed to comments and information you can use and learn from.
  4. Read, read, read. I subscribe to several magazines on health and fitness where I learn the latest trends and get more information on workouts, nutrition and more. I use the Texture app so I pay $10 a month for unlimited magazine issues. My favorites are Muscle and Fitness Hers, Self, Health, Oxygen, Redbook, Glamour and Prevention.
  5. Embed it into your daily life. It’s so much easier to stick to something when it’s routine. At first, it will seem like a ton of work to get to the gym, track your macros and all that jazz. But, if you integrate it into your daily schedule, it will start to become second nature. I do a lot of prep the night before to get out the door to the gym at the early hour that I do. I put the supplement powders in blender bottles, lay out my gym clothing and keep my gym bag next to my sneakers and coat for a quick, quiet exit each morning. I also review workouts daily (night before) and weekly, entering them into my bullet journal. They are right next to my to do list for work and home. This way, it’s part of what I’m doing and not something extra.
  6. Track progress and celebrate. Make sure you keep a record of your workouts, how much you lifted and what you did. It will help you to see progress and/or where you aren’t making progress, too, and keep you on task. Plus, don’t forget to log your meals for that same reason. Just like you never really know how much money you’re spending until you write it down, you never really know how far you’ve come with weights, etc. unless you keep track. Some people like FitBit trackers, too. I always say, if you didn’t track it, it didn’t happen! Plus, it allows you to celebrate when you see that you lift more weight or run more miles. I also check my measurements every three months, too. I don’t concentrate on weight as much as inches. It’s so cool to see how you can change your shape!
  7. If you need a buddy, find a buddy. I am a sole workout girl. I like to be alone with my tunes. It’s the only time I have to myself. But, some people are social fitness animals and for them, I recommend a buddy. Whether you both do the same workout or just agree to meet at the gym, it will motivate you and keep you honest to have a partner. If you’re having trouble finding one, try or post on social media. There are lots of us out there!

What have you been challenged with on your fitness journey? Or, what tips would you add? Comment below!

berries and oranges

My Hard Gainer Meal and Supplement Plans

In my last post, I discussed the workouts I do, how I do them, etc. This post will focus on what I’m eating, including vitamins and supplements and how I arrived at each of them.


The Train with Lyzabeth (TWL) program comes with a meal plan, which you select based on your own nutritional goals. I chose the muscle building plan, which focuses on building muscle and gaining weight appropriately and in a healthy way. Now, before I get into my meal planning, I just want to point out, this is by far my weakest link. I know I don’t eat perfectly well and I don’t even always meet my goals each day. I especially fall down when it comes to drinking enough water (I try for 48 ounces a day). But, I’ll share what I strive to do and how it mostly comes out each day!

In all the TWL meal plans there are instructions on how to figure out how many calories to eat daily, as well as what your breakdown of protein, carbs and fat should be. In a nutshell, you need to make sure you are eating at least as much as your body needs to sustain itself based on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). You can calculate your BMR, then you build from there. So, for me, my BMR is around 1,143 calories per day since I’m so tiny. But, I’m trying to gain muscle and weight so my daily calorie intake, based on my activity level and goals is 2,400 calories a day.

Once you know your total calories, you then need to figure out your macros, or the percentage of protein, carbs and fat you need each day. Everyone’s formula is different depending on their goals. For me, I do 25 percent protein, 20 percent fat, 55 percent carbs. Yes, I’m carb heavy! For the longest time I was heavier on protein and fat, thinking it was healthier. Plus, it’s what everyone seems to do. But, I realized over time that I’m not everyone. I need the carbs for energy and to build. I don’t eat “bad” carbs (at least I try not to) but rather big healthy ones, such as couscous, pasta, rice, sweet potatoes and bagels. I’m in the “300 club” meaning I need more than 300 grams of carbs per day. It’s the only way I see any change to my shape and curves on my skinny frame.

One of the best ways to calculate the percentages is to get MyFitnessPal, which is a free meal tracking app. I use it strictly for meal tracking and not for fitness or anything else. It allows me to plug in total calories and then toggle to find the ratios of protein/carbs/fat. Plus, it tracks nutrients, too, so if you’re trying to keep your sugar intake down or make sure you get enough potassium, you can track that.

Actually, I am trying to keep sugar down to fewer than 50 grams per day but it’s SO hard to do. Sugar is in everything, particularly dairy, which I enjoy! The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams or less per day, which to me is crazy to think about! But, sugar has been proven to lead to diabetes and a whole host of other issues with our bodies.

So, I track everything I eat each day. I have the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, and I can access it online at work, as well. This helps me see if I need to add more protein or carbs to my daily intake to reach goals. Do I get there each day? Not always. But the more I meet my macros (the percentages line up), the more gains I can see on my body, as well. Part of my struggle and why I don’t follow Lopez’s eating plan to a “t” is that I have to feed my family and I have to afford groceries. Healthy eating can be expensive and difficult with picky children. Yes, these seem like excuses but they are my reality at the moment and my limitation. I may try to get on a more strict diet in the future but for now, I track and do my best!


When you lift as much as I do, your body needs a little extra to sustain all that effort. This is my current supplement routine and what each thing is for:

C4 – I take four ounces of water and 3/4 scoop of C4 on the way to the gym each morning. It has caffeine in it and gives me the energy boost I need at such an early hour!

BCAAs – During my workout, I drink 28 ounces of water with a scoop of BCAAs, branched chain amino acids, which are protein building blocks that help your body with energy and muscle building/repair.

Protein and glutamine – After my workout, on my drive home, I drink eight ounces of water with a serving of protein powder and five grams of glutamine to help with muscle growth and prevent soreness.

Creatine – I cycle on and off to help with building muscle. Four weeks on, four weeks off.


I take a ton of vitamins but they are not all associated with my fitness routine. Some are simply to help with a host of health challenges I am facing as I age! But I’ll list them below and for the most part the reasons why I take them:

Biotin (to promote hair growth as I’m currently growing out a pixie cut)
Tumeric (overall health, particularly skin)
B complex (female health)
Vitamin D (because I am deficient without the extra)
Probiotics (helps with digestive health)
Fish oil (heart and skin health)
Magnesium (overall health and relaxation)
Ashwaganda (anti-anxiety herb)
Multivitamin with iron

I buy some of my vitamins on Amazon but most are available at your local grocery or drugstore. I just look at the labels to make sure there isn’t too much extra stuff in there that I don’t need!

Couple Tips for Success

I use Pinterest to find healthy recipes, as well as my newfound Instant Pot and associated cookbooks! I try to eat a variety of food each week, selecting different protein sources, pairing them with vegetables and carbs. We also tend to do at least one vegetarian meal a week.

We don’t eat out much at all. Maybe two to three times a month, we might do pizza or something. That’s it. It is easier to control what I eat when we cook at home. However, when we do go out, I try to pick restaurants and food combinations that match my goals.

I try to keep healthy snacks in the house, such as popcorn, yogurt and fruit. We also tend to enjoy ice cream, but for a hard gainer with three kids, that’s not exactly the worst snack in the world, in moderation!

I do enjoy my wine but have tried to keep it to a couple times a week instead of four to five. I usually only have one to two glasses over a long period of time from dinner until bedtime. While it’s not high in calories, alcohol causes other issues, including interrupted sleep, at least for me.

While we’re on the subject of sleep, I get seven to nine hours per night. I usually am in bed no later than 10.

What questions do you have about my meal/supplement/vitamin routine? Add them below!


My Hard Gainer Fitness Routine

As I mentioned earlier this week, my workout journey has been a long, winding road but I’m in a place now where I feel like sharing it might help others reach their own health and fitness goals. So, here I am.

Since finding Lyzabeth Lopez, I’ve been in a place where I finally feel like my formula is working. But, it was a long time getting there. In this post, I’ll share the fitness side of my formula. In upcoming posts, I’ll focus on calories/macros and tracking, as well as supplements. Plus, I’ll share how I eat (this is my weakest link, I think), and in another post, I’ll try to lay out how I’m staying on track with all this. I’m very consistent and I’d like to think it’s because of how I’ve set up my routine and my schedule. So, I’ll share that.

So, back to fitness. As I mentioned in my previous post, my first ever lifting workout (recently, anyway) was from Simply Shredded. It was a 12-week program. I think it was a success for me because of its simplicity. Essentially, the routine was a four-week one that you repeated three times. The first four weeks was high reps up to 15, the second was lower around 10 and the third was only about four to six. The idea was that you got used to the exercises at low weight, high rep and as you gained strength and confidence, you could lift heavier. By the end, I was shocked at how much I was able to bench press and squat. I did this one a few cycles through before finding Lopez.

Train with Lyzabeth

Lopez has two separate workout options. The first, Train with Lyzabeth (TWL), is a fitness and meal plan product that you pay for once and you have it for life. It’s pricey but she offers discounts and I found a discount code online when I purchased it for $50. It is well worth the money. Although her website is a bit clunky to navigate at first you will soon find it has everything you need, if you put in the time to review it all.

First of all, she has downloadable meal plans. You select the one you want so in my case it’s the muscle building plan. Most ladies go for the classic plan but she also has a vegan option and others that are geared toward more specialized nutrition needs. The cool part is you don’t have to stick with the one you purchase. She will let you try others once you’re in the group. I also have the vegan plan though I still haven’t tried it yet! I’ll explain the plans more in detail in a future post.

Since I’m focusing on the workouts in this post, I’ll share that she has both a downloadable pdf and an online version of the workout. The online version has the videos of her doing the exercises so you can learn how to do them, correct form, what to look out for, etc. What’s great is that it works very well on my phone. So, I just bring up the workout for the day right on my phone and follow along. This workout is actually a 20-day workout done three times in a row for three months. She programs five days a week but some girls do fewer days and it all works out in the end.

The workouts all have clever names but essentially, you do about two leg workouts a week and two to three upper body with abs and sometimes metabolic conditioning thrown in. Metabolic conditioning or METCON is a high intensity workout that gets your heart pumping but also builds muscle. She also advises that you should add cardio. Depending on your goals, you might do it once to three times a week and it looks different for various goals. For me, I’m trying to build so I do bike sprints which build your legs. Other ladies might do sprints or other types of cardio depending on what they’re trying to achieve.

And here is the first place where I’ve made the TWL program my own – I tend to only do one cardio a week, maybe two. I found when I did more than that I lost weight and/or had difficulty making gains. Lifting weights is work enough and I often get my heart rate up plus I’m an active person all day. So, the lack of a ton of cardio works for me.


So, the second product from Lopez is a workout app she released fall 2017. I have a year subscription to that, as well. It’s cool because it allows for more flexibility and fun and you can’t possibly get bored. You still get your training videos but it’s easier to follow on your phone than her original program.

Equipment Needed

Over the past two years, I’ve learned what kind of equipment and items I need at the gym and how to adjust the workouts so I can get in and out in about an hour. I often do the exercises out of order to fit them in and sometimes I substitute other exercises when I don’t have access to something I need. Below is a list of equipment I have with links to the exact items, where appropriate:

I also use my phone to track the weights I’m using so I can constantly strive to lift heavier. I track this in my bullet journal, as well, which I’ll share more about in my post about tips for success. Lopez encourages tracking, as well, and her program comes with a downloadable tracking guide that you can pop into a three ring binder and use. I did that the first time through but found that the binder was too much and I do better keeping it with the rest of my life in a bullet journal.

I review the workouts the night before so I can familiarize myself with the exercises and figure out my game plan. Often, I watch her tutorial videos for the exercises once more to make sure I have the form down. The more I do the exercises the more comfortable I become. Plus, I find that going to the gym early in the morning, I see the same people and it’s not intimidating to me to be in the free weight area. I feel like the other people are family even though I barely know them. Some of them wave, others just keep to themselves. (I do a mix of both.)

But, I would say if you are truly scared to death about lifting a gym full of mostly men, try the app at home first and get used to the exercises. (The traditional, 20-day program really can’t be done at home.) Then, try the gym at a less busy time or find a partner to go with. Safety in numbers, right? Some other gym/home apps I’ve come across are below.


In between and since landing on my current routine, I’ve also been introduced to others, including the SWEAT app, which features Kayla Itsines and Kelsey Wells, as well as a yoga instructor. I tried it for a few workouts but it really wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the way it cycled through and it sort of felt like I was in a race. But, on the bright side, I did love the workouts Wells featured and have since been following her on Instagram. She posts workout videos and writes out her exercise routines in the captions of her posts. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of her workouts when I just want a little something different and off my routine.


One Saturday morning at the gym, I was there a bit later than usual and an older woman nearby seemed to be doing a similar workout app to Lyzabeth Lopez! I got a little excited thinking there was a comrade! But, when I asked her, she told me she was doing the Nike app, a free app that has dozens of workout routines, depending on your interest and level. What I like about this one is that it allows you to try a workout app to see if you like workout this way. It has all the key features of a good fitness app, including videos to show you how to do the exercises, timers, a search feature and a save feature. I still go to this app every once in a while when I just need a quick yoga routine or ab workout.

The Yoga Collective

Some of the ladies in the TWL group shared a Groupon with me for a year’s subscription to The Yoga Collective for just $12 so I purchased it. I have only been using it a short while but so far, it appears to be a great way to get a good yoga workout in at home. I will say it’s challenging for me to find the space and quiet time to do it but it’s there for when I figure that out! Here and there I’ve followed countless other routines that I find on social media or in magazines.

Couple Extra Tips for Success

I am very focused on form with my lifting. I watch the videos carefully and I try hard to emulate exactly what the trainer is doing. It has also been effective for me to really think about the muscles I’m using, because it focuses on them, consistent with correct form and building the muscle in the most efficient way.

It’s also recommended that you take lots of selfies along the way. This helps you see your own progress. Have you ever noticed that when you see someone every day you may not notice they are losing or gaining weight? But, someone you hardly ever see, you can definitely see changes right away? Well, that’s why pictures help. Now, I am very uncomfortable taking my own selfies and I hardly ever do it but every once in a while I try. Here are two I’ve taken recently – one last month and one just this morning. As you can see, I’m not great at photos! But, it’s supposed to help so I try!

What else do you want to know about my fitness routine? Comment below and I’ll answer! Or, if you have a great routine you follow, please share!


Wine for Sharing My Workout Journey – Part 1

A few years ago I became very interested in fitness again. I say again because back in college was when I first got the lifting bug. I would go to the SUNY Geneseo gym with my friend who taught me a ton of exercises. I figured some out on my own, as well, from watching others and I logged countless miles on the Stairmaster, which in the 1990s was all the rage.

When I first graduated from college, I continued to go to the gym but I mostly did the machines and not too many free weights at all. I’m not even sure what routine, if any, I followed because I honestly don’t remember back that far! But, I recall at least going every day after work.

As the years went by I continued to go every day and a couple years before Maria was born I met and worked with my first personal trainer. His name was Tony and he owned a tiny gym associated with a physical therapy place in Liverpool. Tony was a former trainer for the New York Yankees and he was awesome. He would just wander around the small gym offering tips and tricks and his ab workouts were amazing. When he sold his gym I continued to go, paying for my very first personal training sessions. That’s when it began – my love affair with weightlifting.

I had kids, went through lots of personal stuff and got out of my routine but when Christopher turned two or thereabouts, the new Y opened near our house and I went back. I quickly remembered all of what I loved about weightlifting but there was one thing missing – I needed a roadmap – a journey, and a goal – a destination. I loved going but didn’t know what to do with myself once there. Plus, I really wanted to look better. I was tired of looking so skinny all the time. I wanted a few curves!

I began to voraciously read everything I could online about lifting for women. I knew what my goals were and I Googled relentlessly trying to find the magic formula. I searched Pinterest looking for workouts and recipes and I started following everyone I could find on social media for inspiration. The first lifting workout I landed on was pinned by Jersey Girl Talk, a 30-something professional woman in New Jersey who blogs about fitness, health and beauty. She shared a bit about her own journey and as I read her experience it was like looking in a mirror. I, too, was sick of being skinny. I, too, wanted to look and feel better. So, I tried the workout she shared from Simply Shredded. For the first time ever, I was growing muscles! I was so proud of myself and that summer I regained my confidence and wore short shorts again for the first time in years.

Jersey Girl Talk ended up becoming my primary motivator and educator for the months that followed. She would post workout videos, recipes and supplement regimens, all of which I tried. She would post about sales on workout gear and I found a few stores I never knew sold activewear, such as Forever 21, and I bought new clothes that made me feel feminine and strong.

Everything was giving me confidence and I was thrilled. I even read a few books on lifting for women, including “The New Rules  of Lifting for Women,” which was a bible of all the exercises and things to know. Honestly, lifting as a female is really no different than it is for a male. We all have our goals and the path to get there is a similar road. Everything was going great that first year until…I hit a plateau. I was bored. I wasn’t gaining. I wasn’t even feeling that great. So, back to the drawing board I went and lo and behold, one day I stumbled onto a website that has changed my life, literally.

I searched for “workout plans for hard gainers” one day, after learning that was what the fitness world called people like me who have trouble gaining muscle and weight. One thing led to another and I found Lyzabeth Lopez, a personal trainer with dozens of health and fitness certifications, based in Toronto, Canada. She had an online program that was perfect. After locating a coupon I purchased it for $50. It’s a one-time purchase that has paid great dividends so far – I now have a formula for success, her Muscle Gain program, which is a combination of a workout and meal plan. What’s more, I’ve found my “people,” and I’ve found something that works that I have not gotten bored with – I feel better than I have in years.

In my next few posts, I’ll explain all that I’ve learned from Lyzabeth, including how to set your goals, how to figure out how many calories are right for you to eat each day and what percentage of protein, carbs and fat you should have. I’ll explain how I arrived at my vitamin and supplement regimen, and what I’m striving for in terms of meals. Finally, I’ll explain how I became addicted to my 5:30 a.m. gym time, what I do and how I do it.  I don’t simply preach what Lyzabeth says, but I’ve made it my own. I don’t even follow every single one of her rules, some because I can’t and others because it won’t work for me personally. I’ll explain how I figured all of that out.

Why do these posts now? In the past week, two women in my life, both on different health and fitness journeys, have marveled at how much I know about health and fitness and bodybuilding for women. One said I really should consider sharing it more widely for others. So, here I am.

One rule of Lyzabeth’s that I break? I enjoy wine. She doesn’t condone it much at all, except maybe for special occasions. And, while I’m on a bit of a break from wine during Lent, my husband and I are treating Sundays as the feast days they are, and have chosen to enjoy wine on Sundays. Today, I’ll make my famous eggplant parmesan and we’ll enjoy a yummy Barolo he picked up. Because I believe we all have to have the things we enjoy in life. I believe we can, and can still meet our health and fitness goals. It just might take us a bit longer! Cheers!


Wine for the Olympics (Olympics for Wine)

The Winter Olympics are on in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and it’s one of the only times I actually watch regular television. We got rid of cable years ago and hardly ever watch network TV, preferring instead Netflix and Amazon Prime. And, I have to say, I don’t miss network TV at all. I mean, it’s the most frustrating thing to have two minutes of commercials literally every two minutes, not to mention the constant yammering on of the commentators. I wish they added value but they just don’t. Take figure skating, for example. We often wonder what music they’re skating to but no one ever says. In fact, we can barely hear the music over the incessant talking between the two commentators.

While we’re on the subject of figure skating, let me say it’s my favorite Olympic sport to watch but I never get to see it because it’s on too late. I guess maybe if I lived in a different time zone but, for now, I have to read about it on social media and search in vain for video clips of what I missed. It’s sad.

It got me thinking… would it be different if I was more into all the sports, instead of just interested in skating? What if they made wine into an Olympic sport? A few years ago, Netflix released a documentary called, “SOMM.” It followed several young people who were studying for the dreaded and prestigious sommelier exam. The exam has several parts, if I understand correctly, and through the film, we were able to be flies on the wall for some portions of it. They have to prove they can serve wine, and they are given tables to wait on. They also have to prove they can identify wine in a blind taste test, and there is a written exam. Much of the process is in secret, but what if it wasn’t?

I would totally watch people try to taste. We could see the score on the screen or maybe even the answers at the end. We could watch them botch a table service or drop a tray, just like when skiers wipe-out on the slopes. We could get behind these would-be master sommeliers, just as we do the athletes. I think I could be on to something!

The commercials would be much more interesting to watch, to me, since they’d likely be about food and wine. Plus, the stories that accompanied the wine Olympic games would be more interesting to me. They’re filming the next installment of “SOMM” now. I can’t wait to see what’s in store. My own “winolympics.” Cheers!

cross and wine glass with red wine

A Wine for Va”Lent”ine’s Day

Faithful followers may recall in the past I’ve given up wine for Lent. Sometimes, that’s gone well; other times? Well, let’s just say I was a bit grouchier for those 40 to 45 days!

As a “wine blogger,” I struggled with the idea of giving it up again this year. In a way, wine is work for me, when you consider this blog. That being said, I have to say that the nights where I don’t have a glass of wine before bed, I sleep SO much better. I know it impacts my sleep and it might be interesting to further test that theory!

What’s more, Lent is about sacrifice and this is a BIG sacrifice for me and would be a hardship that would force me to truly “suffer.” The icing on the cake that prompted me to go ahead and commit to giving up wine was my husband. He decided to give up wine for Lent. I’ve never had a partner in crime before on my Lenten sacrificial journey. I think it would be a nice way for us to reconnect and support each other in our faith.

This year, Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and the first day of “fasting,” fell on Valentine’s Day, which posed an interesting problem! We decided together that we would open the sparkling wine that came in my First Leaf shipment as a celebration of the holiday and would begin our sacrifice the next day.

So far, so good without the wine but it’s only been a night! Weekend might be tough! Good thing the husband bought some yummy herbal tea to take its place.

As they say, you definitely can have “too much of a good thing.” So, maybe it’s good to want sometimes and to take breaks from the things we enjoy. That way, we enjoy them that much more when we can get back to them again.

As for this blog, no worries! For the next 40 days or so, I’ll still post but it won’t be about the wine I’m drinking currently. There is plenty to share, including wine book reviews, restaurant reviews (including one overdue review from our trip to Laci’s Tapas Bar for our anniversary) and thoughts on wines I’d love to try and regions I’d love to visit…someday. Meantime, cheers (as I hold up my cup of tea)!

lucia praying

Wine for First Penance

My middle child experienced a rite of Catholic passage this past weekend when she made her first penance. Catholics believe in confession of our sins as a way to be forgiven and live anew. We all make mistakes and this allows us to atone for those errors in judgment and become closer to God in the process.

Typically a child has a first reconciliation experience a few months before their First Holy Communion, which for Lucia will take place in May. Lucia did a great job. Many children are scared to death to confess to a priest for the very first time. And while she really had wanted to see her own priest, she was fortunate enough to meet with another local, young priest, who was generous and kind with her.

She said her prayers and afterward lit a candle to symbolize the “light turning back on” and her beginning anew. She grabbed her certificate and we left. I asked her if she felt better since often I feel better after going to confession. She said not really. But, it was her first time!

It’s exhilarating to watch your child do something impactful for the very first time and it reminds me of things that I really should be doing to model behaviors and actions. In fact, last month, I took Lucia with me to confession so she could see that grownups do it, too! Children really do keep you honest!

In my last post I mentioned the two wines we enjoyed over the weekend, both from Icellars Estate, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Canada. Really, anything goes for a big day like Lucia had. We went all out with a big, juicy red and some yummy pasta, making us both happy after a long day!