Happy girls are the prettiest girls


Just so you know

Very exciting things are afoot for my little family. B and I hosted my father and brother in law for a few days so they could go house hunting in our area, and eat some yummy Texas BBQ while they were at it. After much Internet researching, open house viewing, model home stalking, and several days later, they picked a brand new development about a mile from my house! Now they just have to sell their homes in California, then build their new Texas homes. Should take awhile, but it's awesome they are starting on the road to moving out here. It will be wonderful to have family out this way. Billy especially has missed his family like crazy. They are really close, so it's been hard for him not to be able to see them regularly. Now he has a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, and can have a lighter heart knowing they will be out here soon. If all goes according to plan, that is. Never know what life can throw at you. But we're staying optimistic.
Julie Wilhite Photography, hair and makeup by Revelry Beauty (me!!)
Wedding season is in full swing, with a busy summer ahead. It's not 45 weddings crazy like last year, but it's busy enough for me. I am traveling a whole lot more this year for weddings, which takes up more time and resources. I am so thrilled to know I will be a part of some of my friends' weddings that I otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity to.I'm looking at heading back to CA in June and again in July, Detroit, MI area in August, and Atlanta, Georgia in September. I've never been to Michigan, and it's been over twenty years since I visited Atlanta, so I am really looking forward to my brief moments of traveling to those locations.
I am still feverishly searching for a great vacation deal to somewhere warm with a nice beach that stays in budget. I kind of wish Austin had a larger airport, because the flight options are on the poor side, and require multiple connections or very expensive tickets to make it to the destinations I am researching. If you know of something affordable, warm, and beachy, let me know! I am literally open to anything  that hits those requirements, from South Texas along the Gulf, Florida, anything in the Caribbean, and Mexico. Cruises, too! All inclusive resorts are ideal, but if they price is right, I don't even care about that.
I've had some fun creative stuff going on lately, too. I teamed up with AzulOx Visuals for a dark Victorian shoot yesterday. Josh even shot some video of the shoot, which you can see below. It was really cool to work on something outside the normal bridal realm for a change. Josh definitely challenges me to think outside my boxes, which I appreciate! He's an amazing photographer, for weddings especially, so if you are in the Austin area and need photos, he's your guy.

Other than work stuff, I have been going strong on the Tone It Up Bikini Series, having lost 10 pounds in 5 weeks. It is so nice to see the real-time results, which keeps me motivated. I am struggling, though. I learned the importance of  a proper schedule and getting enough sleep. While family was in town, my sleep was little, and all over the place. That made me really tired and not want to work out. Being tired made me crave sweets and carbs for quick energy, and made it hard to get everything I needed to do and eat in, while encouraging laziness. Now that family has gone home, I need to work on getting myself back on a proper sleep schedule, and hit those workouts hard, since I only have 3 weeks of the program left. I can power through this and see even better results.

I was talking about what I will do once the program is over, and I decided to just restart it , or at least one of the other TIU free programs, so I can keep up a schedule and have something to guide me. I know myself. I would just flail and falter once the program was over and I no longer had a schedule or specific workouts to work for. I don't want to undo 8 weeks of hard work.

So what's new with you? Are you vacationing anywhere this summer? How about work, anything new or exciting going on?


Tasty Tuesday: Peanut butter and banana oat cookies

Y'all know I am a total cookie monster. Doesn't matter if it's fresh out of the oven, or 5 days old, chocolate chip, or oatmeal, I love me some cookies. Even when I am satisfying my sweet tooth in a healthy way, I still want cookies. Or cupcakes, but that's a whole 'nother post. Basically, give me a baked good, and I'm a happy girl. I digress. Back to those healthy cookies.

I've been fighting a sweets craving something fierce lately while on this TIU bikini series, and while I applaud myself for my restraint, I am still dying for something sweet to take the edge off. Last week, I finally allowed myself to experiment with some healthy cookies in hopes I could find something that would satisfy the craving, while not dumping me off the wagon. These did great! Chocolate chips, peanut butter, the lovely mouth feel of the oats...not bad at all. I had to put the rest in the freezer to get them out of my sight so I wouldn't eat the entire batch ;)
Healthy peanut butter and banana oat cookies
3 cups old fashioned oats
2 ripe bananas
1 cup peanut butter (I used Jif reduced fat)
1/2 cup apple sauce (I used one Gogo Squeeze pouch)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand chocolate chunks which are dairy, soy, nut free)

Heat oven to 350F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray.
In a stand mixer, mash bananas with peanut butter, apple sauce and vanilla until creamy. Add in oats until combined. Add in chocolate chips.
Use a small cookie scoop to place 1 inch balls of dough on your cookie sheets. Smash down slightly with a fork. 
Bake for 15 minutes, and immediately transfer to a rack or onto a plate to cool.

I was able to make 50 small cookies, at 65 calories each. 
And just try not eating the dough, it was delicious before even being baked!


Warm and tropical

I have been a mad fiend of vacation research lately. From all-inclusives, to cruises, I am Googling hotels, checking Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic reviews, and even pricing out airfare. All because I have a terrible travel bug that's itching to get somewhere warm and tropical. Mainly, the Caribbean, since being in Texas puts me much closer to those destinations than Hawaii. I am looking at Gulf Coast Mexico, the Bahamas, cruises that take you to several different stops, and more. I want soft sand, fruity drinks, and a very warm ocean and the breeze off of it to cool me down. 
Oh, and don't forget budget friendly. I do not have an unlimited amount of money to spend, and I still need to pay my bills when this vacation is over.
Now, I have only ever traveled to the Caribbean once, to Puerto Rico, and I have never taken a cruise. Here's where you come in: I need recommendations. Hotels, airlines, cruises, islands, excursions, the like. If you have been somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean and LOVED your experience, I want to hear it. I am flexible on travel times, and don't have my heart set on any one location yet, so we're open to all possibilities until one stands out above the rest.
Thought it changes with every new search I do, I am currently leaning toward a 7 night cruise out of Galveston. It saves on a plane ticket because we can drive there, and with 7 nights you hit up 3 different places. Cruises are appealing because they are (mostly) all-inclusive, so you don't have to worry about food, or planning transport to other areas, and offer a variety of things to do. Billy and I are VERY different travelers, so it would be nice to have options that appeal to both of us.
What I need to know is personal experiences with the different cruise lines, what you liked and didn't, the ports of call you visited, what you did while there, what to avoid or do...all of it.

Or, what all-inclusive or cheap resorts and hotels you have visited, and what your experience was like there. Basically, I want it all.

Tasty Tuesday: Black Bean Burgers

A few weeks back, Billy and I tried a new to us restaurant called Greenhouse Craft Food in Round Rock, TX. It's a locally sourced, seasonal kind of place, and everything we had was delicious! I had the chicken spring rolls for an appetizer, and the black bean burger for my main course. I've actually recreated both of those dishes now! The spring rolls I ate for three days straight and loved every minute of my first attempt at making spring rolls. Now I've tackled my first try at black bean burgers, and think it went over decently. I'll probably be tweaking the recipe each time I make it, but this was a good first shot!
photo via the foodie physician 
Black Bean Burgers
Ingredients for 6 burgers:
2 15oz cans black beans, drained, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 medium bell pepper, cut into pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup grated zucchini (squeeze the excess water out after grating)
1/4 cup grated carrot (squeeze the excess water out after grating)
1/2 cup corn
2 egg (for vegan option, use 1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water for each egg)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup bread crumbs (or oats/brown rice/quinoa)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with non-stick spray.
Place beans, bell pepper, garlic, zucchini and carrot into a or food processor (or blender, like me, if you don't have a FP. Then swear like a sailor when you realize it would be easier if you did) and blend until it's the consistency of refried beans. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add spices, breadcrumbs and egg, stir to incorporate. Feel free to adjust the amount of breadcrumbs used to thicken the batter.
Use a spatula to divide the mixture into 6 parts, then form into patties and place on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, flip (have fun with that!) and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve with your favorite burger toppings and sides!


bikini series check in

Happy Monday!

I am starting week 3 of the Tone It Up Bikini series today, and I am loving it. The motivation is sky-high for me to continue. I am getting in way more cardio than normal, with about 4-5 runs a week (up from 1-3), a bike ride or two, and I am doing the TIU daily workouts.
My eating has been pretty awesome also, even when faced with delicious temptations. I have found that having an instagram account just for check-ins, food photos and sweaty selfies has held me accountable on the food front. I find myself choosing healthy options easily, making them look as enticing as possible, because I know I will be sharing what I've eaten online. I am all for something that keeps me from eating the garlic bread and all the cookies I made for Billy yesterday, when it smelled and looked so much better than my spaghetti squash and chicken patty.
You know what else is motivating and encouraging? Tangible results, aka WEIGHT LOSS! I started eating clean the week before the BS started, so since then, I have lost 7lbs.
In 3 weeks, y'all.
With my healthy eating alone, I lost 3lbs right away, which I am assuming was water weight and bloating caused by carb heavy foods and processed sugar garbage.
Talk about a drastic change in my eating habits. If you want to know what it is I am eating, follow me on instagram for photos and meal check-ins, @tiu_adrian spoiler alert: it's a lot of fruit and veggies.
I've mentioned before that I track all of my food in My Fitness Pal. That alone is so helpful in this whole ordeal. Before I switched to healthy, clean food, I struggled to keep my daily calorie intake even remotely close to my goal. I had no idea why it was so hard, I mean, I was eating healthy-ish and sometimes working out, so why was I always going over the goal? When I started tracking diligently, and cleaned up my food, it became difficult to even hit my daily goal, not to mention the added calories working out gave me. The best part is, I am usually too full to care. Dang veggies do that to you. Don't get me wrong, I have moments where I am feeling hungry or craving something, but it's usually for something I don't need, and I can substitute a healthy alternative and be just fine. Tablespoonfuls of almond butter have been a saving grace for me when a sweets craving hits. I sometimes pair it with a pack of frozen dark chocolate banana slices, and it's heaven.Quest and Think Thin bars come in handy too, but I try to get my calories from real food, and leave the bars for convenience options when I am busy.
Thanks to all that clean eating, I am actually seeing more definition in my body, and feeling my muscles get harder under the surface. Those TIU workouts are no joke. But thankfully they are usually under 20 minutes, so I have no excuses to miss one. The biggest surprise of this series has been how easy it is to follow. Now, easy is a relative term, because a few months ago I would have cried in outrage at myself for saying that. What I mean is, it's simple to get up, get my cardio or run in, do the quick daily workout, and be done for the day. I've committed to doing most of my food prep on one day, so I can have quick and healthy options to eat for a few days. Knowing what I have available is key to me making those smarter choices.
Are any of you doing the bikini series? Have you even heard of Tone It Up? What works to keep you accountable and motivated when eating healthy and working out?


Tasty Thursday: Hawaiian chicken burgers

Yes, I realize it isn't Tuesday, but I have been enjoying this recipe and wanted to share it with you! Forgive me for changing the days? OK, good. I knew you would rather have a recipe on a random day, than not.

Since joining the Tone It Up Bikini Series, I have been eating a ton of healthier food. I mean, something like 80% of weight loss comes from your diet, right? Because I was running and biking my little heart out, but eating all sorts of crap that counteracted the exercise and left me at the same weight, or worse, gaining. 

Well, thankfully there are a ton of recipes from the TIU community for healthy, tasty food. Even the bikini series welcome pack came with a few recipes to try, so of course I had to put my own spin on one. And yes, it's healthy and delicious!
Via Tone It Up Bikini Series starter pack
Hawaiian chicken burgers with portabello caps
makes 6
1lb 97% lean ground chicken breast
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp crushed pineapple
2 tsp maple syrup
6 portobello mushroom caps
6 tbsp soyaki sauce (or teriyake)
onion powder, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, or other seasonings to taste

  • Heat oven to 375F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil, and spray with non-stick spray. 
  • Combine chicken, egg whites, breadcrumbs, pineapple, syrup and seasonings to taste. It will be very liquidy, but that's cool.
  • Use your hands to form 6 patties and place on the baking sheet. I sort of scooped up a handful and plopped it onto the baking sheet where it kept a patty sort of shape. 
  • Pull out the stem from the portobello caps, place bottom up on baking sheet. Add 1/2 tbsp of soyaki sauce to each cap.
  • Bake chicken patties and mushrooms for 20 minutes, flipping half way through cooking time. 
  • Pull both sheets out of oven and top chicken patties with 1/2 tbsp soyaki sauce each. 
  • Serve warm, with your choice of sides. I ate my chicken patty on a mushroom cap open face style, and had a salad and a side of quinoa with it. I'm sure it would be awesome on a good bun if carbs are a part of your diet.


An unusual occurrence

I am a self-professed sugar-addict. I would rather grab something packaged and easy when it comes to snacking. I generally don't eat a lot of veggies besides the occasional spinach in my smoothie, and sauteed veggies in my scrambles. I can go all day without giving protein a second thought, because carbs are easier.

The above statements are all completely true, yet somehow, I have been changing my ways. It started Saturday April 19, close to midnight, as I drove home from a babysitting job and thought about what I had to eat at home. The family I babysat for has a hot mom who bakes spaghetti squash, eats healthy, and you can tell she works out because of her defined arms. I want to be her. Besides the mom part.

I stopped at the grocery store and loaded up on veggies before continuing home. Cue to a few days later when I have put together a few delicious recipes using spaghetti squash, I'm eating grapefruit for breakfast, snacking on fruit, finding it hard to hit my 1,450 calories a day because all of the produce fills me up without adding too many cals, and I have managed to lose 3 lbs. Oh, and I haven't craved sugar. WHAT?! Is this really my life?

I was nervous it was a short-lived health kick and I would suddenly need ALL THE COOKIES to make up for my week without them. Even heading back to San Jose for a long weekend, I managed to stay pretty decent, even though traveling is a total trigger for me to eat everything in sight. Coming back to Texas, I have once again turned to a healthy diet, and am enjoying my new workouts since joining the Tone It Up 2014 Bikini Series. Since I was back in CA until Tuesday night, I started two days late on Wednesday.
Confession time: I've been following the Tone It Up girls for years, but never got involved. Last year, I signed up for the Bikini series, got all of the e-mails, and didn't do a single workout or change my eating habits. Horrible, right? This time around, I knew I wanted to do the 8 week series, so I enlisted the help of friends on Facebook, created a group specifically for us doing the challenge (you want in? let me know!) to stay accountable and motivated, and to bounce ideas and questions off each other. I am obviously the most frequent poster, since I sort of feel like a group leader even though this is my first time around doing a Tone It Up plan of any kind. I really like that the workouts are pretty short, but killer, it encourages me to get in cardio miles every day, and I have something else to work for besides my own desires. This Malibooty workout from Wednesday definitely left me feeling the burn!
Today I went grocery shopping and put together two big batches of healthy veggie based meals to split up and use over the weekend. I have all sorts of fruit and veggies available to snack on, and healthy staples like Greek yogurt, string cheese, and ready to make quinoa and fish dishes in the freezer.

So here's my call to my blog friends, want to keep me accountable and help motivate to me to continue with this series? Join the Bikini Series and do it with me! Here's a link to the FB group. I have made it open so you can join if you want.

Oh! I made a TIU specific instagram account so I can post photos of my workouts and food without annoying the pants off anyone not interested ;) follow me @tiu_adrian

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