Austenland

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Austenland

Jane Hayes’s (Keri Russell) adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric resort where guests experience complete immersion in the Regency era. Armed with her bonnet, corset and needlepoint, Jane strives to avoid spinsterhood … but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life—and maybe even love—begins. Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde) and Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers) also star in this charming romantic comedy.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Am Thankful

(C) Disney Cruise Line
I feel like I've gained a whole new perspective in the last year. I suppose that moving into a more modest home, and ridding yourself of 2/3 of your possessions can really make you wonder where your life is going. 

I'm thankful for many things: happy home, a moderately working car (that annoys me to no end), a job to pay for the repairs on the moderately working car, a loving family, loving fur-family, fabulous church family, and a bright political future. ;-)

Looking back on the year, I'm thankful for all of the blog education I've had. I'm proud of how much I've learned on building and growing blogs and websites. I'm even in the process of building a website for a family friend's business. 

I'm thankful that I got to see my cousin Jake get married. That kid is the little brother I never got, and being able to watch him pledge his life to his longtime girlfriend was heartwarming.

I'm thankful that I got to see Lauren not once, but TWICE this year. Having your best friend live two states away is hard work, and while we argue, we're human. I love her more than any other non-relative. She's my person. 

I'm thankful that an inexpensive gym opened up at my mall, which is two minutes from my house. It might seem silly, but I'm honestly thankful because if I didn't have a gym, I wouldn't make myself work out. It's amazing how much better I feel and sleep just because I work out regularly now. And people might talk smack about Planet Fitness, I love it there. 

I'm thankful for my church family. They accepted me with open arms, and I've grown to love them as extended family. 

Today, we introduce our family to our new home. It's small, and cramped, but warm, and we like it. It'll be interesting to see what everyhone else thinks of it.

I'm thankful that I've learned before I turned thirty that possessions don't make you happy. They weigh you down. 

Today is about being together with your loved ones, and appreciating what you have. Tomorrow is about shopping. Remember when you shop that retailers and fellow shoppers are people. Treat them with kindness and respect. No deal is worth hurting someone or being hurt, yourself. I would know. I've been pushed into a clothes rack before. 

Let us come to Him with Thanksgiving! Let us sing songs of praise to him!
Psalm 95:2

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

LiveFit Week Six Complete! (And the future of MJA)

So, if you can believe it, I've finished LiveFit week six! I can hardly believe it, myself. In the past, I've never really gotten past week five. I usually get pretty burnt out. I've said it before, but I think having my sister doing LiveFit with me is really helping to hold me accountable, and get my butt to the gym.



My eating last week was pretty spot on, with only a few hiccups here and there. I've been eating my Egg White cups, with either spinach or kale, pumpkin protein bars (greatest protein bars ever), and I was trying to get my protein, carb, and veggie in for my lunch, too. Breakfast was oatmeal with natural peanut butter, and clementines (I LOVE that it's the season for Clementines!).

Hate the commercials, love the fruit
I did gain weight this week, but I was lifting a lot heavier, and I had two rest days (on Friday, laziness got the better of me, but I made up for it on Saturday and Sunday). Honestly, I'm so proud of myself for getting this far that a little water weight is nothing to me. The motivation I have for just getting this far outweighs (no pun intended) anything that the scale tells me.

I did have something I wanted to share. Up at the top, there's a new tab called Built By Beks. This is the home of my future weight loss blog. I originally designed The Modern Jane Austen as an author's blog, where I could share my stuggles and ideas, as well as share writing information. Instead, it's morphed into something that I never really intended it to be. Where I share more recipes and exercises than writing blurbs.

This is where Built By Beks comes into play. It's a way to channel my interests, and focus my health interests into its own place. MJA is about writing, so once 3B (as I affectionately call my other blog) goes live (On New Year's), all future recipes and workout recaps, as well as any other health related topics will go there. Anything to do with writing, publishing, online book tours, and reviews will all be here.

I'll still be blogging, just focusing my interests (of which, I have MANY!). I hope you'll join me over at 3B! I'm really excited to launch it in a month.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Chick Lit Blog Tours: "The Right Design" by Isabella Louise Anderson

Hi, guys! I'm back with another Book Tour, this time, featuring one of my Author Friends. I'm so glad to have found this group that she started, where women authors can get together and share advice and tips. It's been a great learning experience for me to have this group, and I'll be forever Thankful for Isabella Louise Anderson for starting it.


Isabella's book, The Right Design, is the topic of today's Blog Tour, is a fun story about new beginnings, finding who you are, and who you're meant to be.

Carrie Newman is a Dallas-based interior designer who has been with her boyfriend, Roger, for six years. On their sixth anniversary, she returns home to see Roger starting the annivesary festivities...with someone else.

So begins Carrie's journey to find out who she is, what she wants, and who she wants. Moving to Palm Beach, she quickly finds a beautiful house on the beach, and a job at one of the best design firms in town, where her first job is to redecorate the mansion of Brad Larson, whom she had a less than ideal first introduction the night before, when they met at a bar, and he drunkenly tried to pick her up.

I guess what they say that no love is perfect is true for everyone.

I thought this was a fun read that would be perfect for the beach, or considering that it's November, and I got snowed in last week, perfect for when you can't leave the house. It's a quick read with a lot of fun characters, as well as a secondary story of Carrie's sister and brother-in-law's journey to get pregnant, and Carrie's concern over her sister's condition. They're a close set that reminds me of my own sister and me.

I really enjoyed this book, and can't wait to read more by Isabella. You can find her:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

LiveFit Recap Phase 2 Week 1


I am at a precipice of my working out with LiveFit. I've always gotten to week one of Phase 2, and crapped out. I don't know what stopped me, or why I just got bored, but I stopped. I feel excited and energetic to complete Phase 2 (especially since I now see that the workouts stay the same for two weeks before changing). I finished this week strong, and now know I can repeat it next week. 

I do admit, my eating habits haven't been spectacular, but I've been getting a lot of protein in. HyVee was having a sale on quarts of egg whites, so I bought some to make eggwhite muffins. I also discovered that eggwhite tacos are absolutely delicious. I also discovered that I have salsa in the fridge, which was suspiciously gone all week...

Anyway, I did try a new protein bar, Devil's Food. I took Jamie's Chocolate Protein Bar recipe, but instead of using regular cocoa powder, I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder, and it gave it such richness for not a lot of extra calories. HIGHLY recommend!


I'm feeling fantastic about how I'm looking, too. My back used to have fat rolls, that are now gone. My clothes are a lot looser, and I even requested gift cards for Christmas to go shopping once I finish LiveFit. I just can't believe how different doing LiveFit feels this time. It's like night and day. It probably helps that my sister is doing it with me, so I have someone to hold me accountable. That accountability when you're trying to build a fitness habit is so important. I never realized it before, but it is. 

So, there's the first week of Phase 2. Feeling great. Cardio is doing great things for my energy (as is watching Gilmore Girls on my Netflix App, so I don't get bored), and I'm pretty positive that the cardio is why my back fat is gone. Or at least why it's leaving. ;-)


I'll be back with another update next week. Thanksgiving is coming, and now is the time to not rest on my laurels. Just because it's the holiday season doesn't mean you can't be healthy, and make smart decisions. I fully intend to indulge on Thanksgiving, but I'll also be working out that morning (before my gym closes for the holiday), and I want to make veggie dishes, along with my famous Corn Bread, which I'm quadrupling for my church's Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow. They don't know what they're in for. Mwah ha ha. 

Anyway, I'm really happy about my current results, and if I keep this up, my vacation next year will be the greatest vacation, health-wise, yet. 

  • What exercises do you like?
  • Big plans for Thanksgiving?


Monday, November 10, 2014

I've Completed Phase 1 of LiveFit!

And the last week was a pain to get through!


I don't know what it was this week. Was it the election taking up time? My work schedule? Worship team rehearsal? Pure and utter laziness? Whatever it was, I went into week 4 psyched to finish phase one strong, but by day 2 (Monday), after a morning full of errands (Chiropractor, Web Design Consultation, Eye doctor), by the afternoon, I just wanted to crash.

That feeling of wanting to crash carried over to Tuesday. After work, I went to my local polling place, cast my midterm election vote, and went home to eat soup and catch up on episodes of Forever with my dad.

I was a total lazybones this week. I did make it to the gym on Wednesday, and finished strong, Thursday, I had worship team right after work, so I took a lunchtime walk instead of going to the gym. It was nice to get out of the office, and clear my head (with the help of The Little Mermaid: The Original Broadway Cast). I think that's going to have to be a regular thing now.

Having skipped two workouts, that meant on Saturday, I had to complete two of the workouts, Chest/Triceps and Shoulders/Abs. Long day, but Saturday was a good day to do it. I had nothing else going that day. It took me nearly two hours to finish in the gym. That's a long time, and I've got noodle arms now, but I finished, and that's the important thing.



I was also feeling a bit discouraged this week, because I weighed myself, and gained. Figuring it was muscle, I tried to take my measurements, but I was also bloated. Talk about a bad combination. Usually, this would be where I would stop and say, "What's the point?" but then I realized something else. I could climb the stairs at work without being extremely winded once I got to the top. I was sleeping really well. I was still tired when I woke up, but my sleep was extremely deep, and starting later in the week, I started getting up with my first alarm. That NEVER happens!

I did weigh myself before finishing my last workout, and I lost another pound. Down three pounds in a month. Not fantastic, but I'm going for long term results. And the pros are outweighing the cons on everything right now. I feel great!

I'm part of two different body groups to discuss LiveFit, one on Facebook, and one on Bodybuilding.com. The one on Facebook was having a discussion about gaining during phase one, and someone suggested that your body might be hanging onto water to help repair your muscles, but once you bring cardio back, it'll all release (fun!). I'm optimistic about that, but also still trying to eat as clean as possible.

Speaking of clean eating, I started adding kale to my morning protein shake, which was a good addition. Couldn't taste it, and an easy veggie. Friday, I decided to add kale AND spinach. Extra thick, but still tasty. My favorite combination this week has been almond milk, vanilla whey, PB2, Special Dark cocoa powder, kale and spinach. I also had to add some water to get it all moving. Still pretty thick, but the vitamins in it are making it worth it.

I'm still loving Jamie's Pumpkin Protein Bars. They freeze and thaw extremely well. I grab four, throw them into a sandwich bag, and let them thaw on my desk while I work, and add a little natural peanut butter. Delicious. I've also reheated them for breakfast, and they're equally amazing. I think making these bars are going to be second nature to me soon. I did decide to make some chocolate ones to shake things up. They smell amazing.



I'm still hopeful that finishing LiveFit will help me with my confidence. I've never been an overly confident person (except when singing on stage), and I have the self-esteem of an awkward teenager. No matter how often people tell me I'm awesome, I still don't believe it. My friend, Sara, keeps telling me how gorgeous I am, and as much as I love and appreciate it, I can't accept it. When I was a kid, I was bullied about my looks. I was told I was fat, ugly, stupid, etc. Kids are real jerks. Ironically, I'm lukewarm friends with these people now. Maybe I rock forgiveness? But it still stings. I'm still working on getting past it, and getting over it. It's easier said than done. Jealousy keeps creeping in, and I want the self-confidence of everyone else.


My sister has the most self-confidence of anyone I've ever met. She's never met a stranger, and is always quick to reassure people when they're feeling less than stellar. She has to do it for me a LOT. And I love her for it, too. She's doing so amazing on LiveFit and her Vi Challenge. I'm extremely proud of her accomplishments, and hope she keeps going. On Saturday, we took her measurements, and she's down about an inch on all sides! I even commented yesterday that her boobs are looking perkier (I can say stuff like that to her). Hooray, Chest Exercises!

I actually started Phase 2 yesterday, and decided that the elliptical is of the Devil. I think I'll just stick to the treadmill for my cardio. I did watch Gilmore Girls on my phone, though, which helped make the time go faster.

I'm going to rock Phase 2, like I rocked Phase 1. So excited to go on!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

LiveFit Week 3 Recap! And a Smoothie recipe!

Hello from the other side of Week 3! LiveFit is going well, and I'm pretty excited to chat about it! Last weekend, I made Jamie's protein pancakes, and they did last me through the week, which was absolutely awesome. My meals all felt really good and balanced (except for dinner, but those are a bit more difficult). I took my vitamins every day (well, except for weekends. I keep them at work), and finished all workouts.

I invented a pretty delicious smoothie today, before my workout, too. Check it out:


My menu pretty much looked like this all week:

Breakfast: Protein Smoothie and coffee
2nd Breakfast: Protein pancakes with 2 T REAL Maple Syrup
Lunch: 2 Meatloaf Muffins, Green Beans
Snack: Pumpkin protein bar, string cheese
Dinner: Whatever my family ate

Looking back at the week, I'm proud of the amount of protein I had, and that I ate every 3 hours, and mostly ate healthy, but the lack of veggies was a bit shocking. I pretty much made sure to eat a lot of green beans, which wasn't horrible, but it wasn't the best.


I made it to the store after my final workout today, and bought frozen broccoli, kale, spinach, and Brussels Sprouts (which I like to roast. They're nutty when they're roasted!). I also bought some PB2, well, HyVee's version of PB2, which was half the price, plus they had regular, chocolate, and hazelnut. I bought one regular and one hazelnut. I'm hoping that they make my smoothies not quite so calorie dense (I made a PB smoothie last week, which averaged about 350 calories, which, isn't terrible, but when all that was in it was almond milk, protein, and peanut butter, it was a little disconcerting).

Source
Food Prep for the week included the pancakes, meatloaf muffins, and pumpkin spice protein bars. I thought they were all super tasty (though, the meatloaves were a bit dry). This week, I'm thinking I want to try the meatloaves using Jamie's Italian Turkey Burger recipe. I've had those before, and they were delicious, but I think putting them in muffin tins would work out better for eating at lunch. I didn't completely plan ahead, though, and on Friday I ended up eating pancakes for breakfast, protein bars for both snacks, meatloaves and sweet potato for lunch. Friday wasn't a great day for food, but I did NOT eat any Halloween candy (and still haven't!). This week, the last week, will be better for eating.


Now, working out. Working out went really well this week. I worked out in the afternoons, after work. In the past, I would be tired from work, mentally, but this week, one thing I noticed was that I was tired from not moving. I was tired because I was using my mental faculties, and not my physical. I was 3/4 of the way through my back/biceps workout when I realized that I felt exponentially better, just by getting movement into my day. That's a big step for me.


I also upped my weights from 7.5 lbs to 10 lbs, with the exception of my leg workouts, which I kept at 110 lbs on the machines, and between 30 and 50 for barbells. I am getting stronger. I don't know about my weight loss just yet, but I'll know by Monday.

I've said it before, but something feels different this time around. It feels a lot better. It feels right. I think God is truly guiding my work and choices this time around. I'm finally allowing Him to work through me. I'll keep you posted on the weight loss.

Now, on to NaNoWriMo, and hopefully I can actually finish my book.

Monday, October 27, 2014

LiveFit Week 2 Complete!

I've completed two weeks of Jamie Eason's LiveFit program, and am feeling good and energetic! It's such a blessing that my sister's doing it with me, too, and before I get too into my own recap, I want to give her a shout out congrats on the 11 lbs she lost while doing LiveFit and a Body by Vi challenge!

I'm tempted to join her challenge, but I'd really like to follow Jamie's eating plan as well as possible, and maybe before I start my next LiveFit challenge I'll do Vi.

Here's how these first two weeks worked:


The first week, I only used 5 lb weights, because last time I started, I used too heavy, and felt like I was physically injured afterward. Using 5 lbs as a base, I decided I could easily go to 7.5 during week two. Now, I'm thinking I'll try for 10 lbs next week. It's all about seeing what you can do, and how far you can go. Building strength.

I didn't have a hard time with actually working out, but I definitely did have to talk myself into going to the gym after work (a morning person I am not!). I reasoned that since my systems at work had been down, and I'd become antsy, I really deserved to go to the gym, and move my body. Working out beats sitting at a computer doing nothing any day!

As for food, I tried really really hard to eat clean, and get an even percent of carbs, fat, and protein into each day. Last week on payday, I bought groceries and got to work (kind of). I made Egg White cups, a la Alesha Haley, which I also paired with chickpeas and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning (salt free).

Source
These were my lunches for most of the week. Next time, I might actually mix the beans into mine, like Alesha did. More compact that way.

I also included Jamie Eason's Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread, which I paired with steamed eggs for snacks.

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Another cool trick/recipe is using Greek Yogurt as a base, and added onion soup mix to it for a healthy, protein filled onion dip for carrot chips, or other veggies. Needed salt, and tasted a wee bit watery (whey sometimes separates from the yougurt, but just stir it back in), but otherwise, I think it'll make a great substitute. 2 cups of plain greek yogurt (I used Chobani) and one packet of onion soup mix (I used HyVee brand). I've used it as a dip, and also as a substitute to mayo in tuna salad, though I can't stress enough that it needs sea salt.

As for weighing myself, I haven't stepped on the scale since before the challenge started. The night before it started, I did take my measurements, and recorded them on Bodybuilding.com, on my BodySpace profile. I'm using BodySpace for ideas and support more now than I did in the past, and I'm hoping to continue to experiment with great recipes as the weeks progress.

Here's what my meals looked like almost every day this week.

Breakfast: Oatmeal and Coffee
2nd Breakfast: Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread, Steamed Egg
Lunch: Egg White Cup with Spinach and Beans, Protein Bread
Snack: Carrots and Onion Dip
Dinner: Whatever my parents were having
Evening Snack: Casein Protein and Almond milk, but only if I was hungry.

I do think that while the egg cups and steamed eggs were delicious, I do need to find more options for protein snacks. This week, I intend to make protein smoothies for when I drive to work (Using my sister's Vi recipes and my own protein powder), and have my oatmeal be 2nd Breakfast. I keep oatmeal at work, which makes it convenient, but I also made Jamie's Pumpkin Protein Pancakes this morning, and it made a LOT of them (13, as opposed to the 10 that the recipe stated), so I inadvertently prepped for breakfasts instead of oatmeal this week. Win!

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Preparing is what helps you achieve your goals. Not everyone is lucky enough to succeed without even trying. Hardly anyone is. Making sure you have ready-to-eat things available, especially on work days, That has been one of my biggest downfalls in this program in the past, not being prepared. I'm super prepared this time, and will be prepping more food all weekend long.

Since I started eating clean last week, I've lost 3.1 lbs. I'm super excited about it, and can't wait to go to the gym this afternoon.

(I didn't know about my weight loss when I took this post-workout pic)
In it to win it! Good luck with anyone else following the program! I've got Turkey/ Chicken Meatloaf Muffins cooking in the oven, and will be making Pumpkin Protein Bars when I get home from the gym.