Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Signs You're A 21 Day Fix-er

I've been following the 21 Day Fix Eating Plan for almost two years now, and it's changed my relationship with food and exercise for the better. I've learned to appreciate food and the way it makes me feel. It's also pushed me outside my comfort zone physically, turning someone who never worked out a day in her life into someone who looks forward to exercising every single day. Pretty incredible when you think about it!

There are some things only 21 Day Fix-ers understand and if you've been following this program for any length of time, you'll know exactly what I mean ...

Follow the 21 Day Fix Eating Plan for any length of time, and food is no longer seen in the color of its outer skin. Apples are "purple" and cottage cheese is "red" -- it takes the phrase "eat the rainbow" to a whole new level.

I can spot a fellow 21 Day Fix-er after Leg Day - easy peasy. We're the ones crawling up the stairs thanks to all those 10-second holds.

Why must everything wonderful be classified as a carb? That's the world we're living in! The great thing about the 21 Day Fix program is that I can still enjoy all my favorite treats in moderation, but when I find something that's equally delicious and doesn't use a precious yellow container? Score!

Only one blue container (healthy fat) a day forces me to make some tough life choices. Avocado? Cheese? Almonds? Ugh. The struggle is real.

Alert the authorities: sometimes, I eat more than half of a banana. Most days, I cut my banana in two and stashing the other half in the freezer for a later use. Though, on occasion, I have been known to steal a bite of that other half.

Anyone else find themselves staring down the mouth of a peanut butter jar with spoon in hand? Asking for a friend ...

I find myself applying Autumn Calabrese's famous words of encouragement "You can do anything for a minute!" to other areas of my life; such as, unloading grocery bags from the car and carrying my son's metal trike home from the park.

Who doesn't think Autumn is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Her workouts and healthy eating plan have changed my life for the better, and I'll always be appreciative.

If you're curious about the 21 Day Fix workouts, eating plan or Coaching opportunity, I'd love to chat. Message me anytime at hcdickson@yahoo.com 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Disney World 2017 - Day 2

Ask Tory, and the ONE THING she wanted to experience at Disney World was meeting Elena of Avalor. Elena is a new Disney Princess with a television show by the same name, and Tory's favorite right now. Since our trip to Disney World was all about Tory, Lindsay and I decided we needed to do our best to make Tory's wish a reality.

Lindsay looked up the list of attractions, and Elena was available for a Meet + Greet alongside Cinderella at Magic Kingdom. The line to meet Cinderella at Fairytale Hall in FantasyLand can get really long and we didn't have a FastPass for it, so the three of us decided to wake up early on Sunday morning and make it to the park as soon as it opened.

That was the plan at least ... but we had the tough time waking Princess Tory from her slumber. Full days and late nights tired this little girl out! She popped right up with the promise to meet Elena though. Lindsay ordered breakfast to our room so we could get dressed and get a move on the day, and Tory was super impressed by that. She ate her Minnie Mouse pancakes and jelly toast with a big grin. A great day was before us!

Other people must've had the idea to arrive at Magic Kingdom when it opened because the Disney shuttles to the parks were much more crowded at this time of day. Fortunately, the three of us were able to squeeze onto the first shuttle that arrived. There happened to be a marathon race happening at the parks that morning, so traffic was slower than usual. When we made it to Magic Kingdom, Lindsay and I high-tailed it to FantasyLand to see Elena.

Fortunately, the line wasn't too long - about 20 minutes - so we hopped in it to make Tory's big wish come true. And, did we ever! Tory was absolutely SMITTEN with the princess. She'd made a picture for Elena and presented it to her when they finally met. Elena said she loved it and would be sure to share it with her sister Isabelle. Then, she displayed it proudly on a shelf near her greeting area. 

Don't forget - Cinderella was there, too. Tory snapped a few pictures with her next. "I don't think she remembered me from yesterday," was all Tory mentioned afterward her princess encounter. (I explained Cinderella meets lots of kids everyday and maybe she'd forgot about meeting us yesterday at our princess breakfast.)

Since the line was short, we decided to meet Rapunzel and Princess Tiana next door. Each of the princesses Tory met signed the autograph book Lindsay had given her for Christmas. Tory liked to look at each signature afterward to see how fancy it was.


Riding the carousel is one of Tory's other favorite things to do and since there was one right across from Fairytale Hall, Tory asked if we could ride it. It's nice not having to mess with tickets for rides at Disney World. There wasn't much of a line, so we got right on and enjoyed a whirl around and around.


Next, we walked over to The Beauty and the Beast's castle for our FastPass to Belle's Enchanted Tales. I wasn't sure what to expect as the description was touted as more of an "experience." There wasn't much of a line which made us question using a FastPass, too. Soon, we were ushered into a room which looked like Maurice cottage and the whole "experience" began.

We quickly learned "Belle's Enchanted Tales" was a group performance and Lindsay was picked among participants in the room to play Mrs. Potts. After all the parts had been given, the organizer asked if anyone else would like a role, and to my surprise Tory raised her hand and shouted, "I would! I would!" She was cast as a plate.  

Mrs. Potts (Lindsay), the plates (Tory and a young girl), and all the other characters performed a skit about Belle in the Beast's castle. Afterward, Belle took photos with all the participants. I really enjoyed this "experience" at Disney World; it was fun and personalized.

Next, we decided to ride some of the rides in Fantasyland. First up: "The Mad Tea Party" (aka: the teacups!) Tory isn't a big fan of rides in general, but she really liked this one because she could control how fast our teacup turned. Bonus - we had a Fastpass, so we didn't have to wait long to take a turn.

We also rode "It's A Small World" which was cute. A Disney classic.

For lunch, we stopped at  Pinnocchio Village Haus for chicken fingers, fries and macaroni and cheese. I can't say I was very impressed with the dining options at Magic Kingdom. Lots of "fast food" restaurants and for someone trying to eat healthier, it was tough finding many options.

The Little Mermaid is Lindsay's favorite Disney movie, so "Ariel's Undersea Adventure" was on her list of things to do. We had another Fastpass for this ride, so we made our way there after lunch to take our turn. Tory thought this ride was scary because it was dark part of the time.
Mid-afternoon, we gave Tory the choice to stay in Magic Kingdom, ride more rides and see the parade at 3 o'clock, or go back to Animal Kingdom Lodge and swim for the afternoon. This was our last full day at Disney World, so we wouldn't be able to do everything. Tory thought and thought, and eventually decided she wanted to stay. Good choice!

We made our way to the Adventureland area of Magic Kingdom, and waited in line for Alaadin's "Magic Carpet" ride. It was a long and hot wait in the afternoon sun, but it worth it. Tory really enjoyed this ride! For me, this was best "wahoo! we're at Disney World" moment of the day. It was magical flying through the air, listening to Tory's happy giggles.

We made our way back to Cinderella's castle for the Festival of Fantasy parade. Smartly, Lindsay asked a nearly parade employee to suggest a good viewing spot for the parade. I always enjoy a good parade, and we all had a great time watching the floats and Disney characters pass by us.

After the parade ended, we decided last-minute to meet Tinkerbelle. The waiting time on the outside of the building said there was only a 5 minute wait - too good to be true! - but it ended up taking much longer. Tory was excited to see Tinkerbelle, so I suppose it was worth it.

For dinner, we made our way back to Adventureland to Pecos Bill Tall Tail Tavern for the promise of Mexican food. The restaurant was packed with people and we had a hard time finding a table. I ordered the chicken fajitas and made Tory a burrito using my tortilla and toppings from the condiment bar -- that was a nice perk since she wouldn't have eaten much from their regular menu anyway.

I have to admit, I was overstimulated by this point in the day. We'd been at Magic Kingdom for 9 straight hours, and there were kids crying and parents yelling all around us. You know what everyone needed was a glass of wine! Too bad Magic Kingdom is completely dry, ugh.

We walked back to Cinderella's castle and waited for the fireworks show. My grumbles over crowds and kids crying quickly turned when the show started. Seriously, so magical!

I'm continually impressed with Disney's ability to put on a show. The fireworks were amazing and made me appreciate the thousands of people who'd gathered that evening to celebrate the magic with their loved ones.

Lindsay, Tory and I made a mad-dash to the Disney shuttle area following the fireworks show. As luck would have it, we made it onto the first bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge with one sleepy girl exhausted from our big day.

I was never so glad for the travel-sized boxed wine I brought along in my suitcase! Lindsay and I poured ourselves a nice glass of red after we returned to our hotel room. What a fun and exhausting day!

Monday morning, the three of us grabbed a buffet-style breakfast at the hotel's Boma restaurant and then made our way to the airport. Our weekend trip to Disney was a quick one, but the perfect amount of time in my opinion. We didn't see everything during our trip, but we sure the made the most of our time. The best part was spending three days with Lindsay and my favorite little girl.  

Tory was so agreeable and understanding; Age Five really is the perfect age for this trip! I'm so glad she was able to enjoy the things we experienced without needing a break during the day. She also knew we couldn't do everything that weekend, so involving her in our plans helped keep tantrums at bay.   

Monday, March 13, 2017

Girl's Trip! Disney World 2017

About six months ago, my sister-in-law Lindsay suggested taking Tory to Disney World. We talked about a few ways we could make the trip work (big family trip / girl's trip / Lindsay and Tory only) and in the end, decided Lindsay and I would take Tory for a long girl's weekend.

So many people have asked me why Andi didn't go along and the short answer is - he didn't want to. I can't imagine Andi enjoying any part of the Disney experience so we thought it best to go our separate ways for this trip. I, on the other hand, am always looking for an excuse to get away during the winter and Tory is at the perfect age to experience the magic of Disney. Even better - Lindsay kindly organized the entire trip for the three of us, so Tory and I simply had to show up and enjoy ourselves. 

Lindsay, Tory and I boarded a plane from Minneapolis to Orlando for our weekend away together. A winter storm threatened to ruin our travel plans that day, but the wind and snow stayed South of the Twin Cities and fortunately we made it to Florida with no issue. Tory is such a rock star junior traveler. We watched movies on the plane and colored pictures until our flight arrived around 6:00pm. From the airport, we shuttled to Animal Kingdom Lodge via Disney transportation, and found a quick dinner at the hotel after we arrived.

I highly recommend Animal Kingdom Lodge. Every last detail inside the hotel made it feel as if we were staying in the African jungle. After we checked into our room, the three of us walked around the hotel property to check out the sights. We stumbled upon an area with special night-vision binoculars to watch the exotic animals roaming on the property grounds. It was neat! We saw wildebeests, gazelles, birds, bunnies and giraffes and something about watching these animals through night-vision binoculars made our experience even more special.   

The next morning, we were pleasantly surprised to find animals right outside our balcony. We knew there were animals on property, but we didn't expect to see them directly outside our hotel room. Lindsay and I sat on the balcony and took in the morning sunshine while we waited for Sleeping Beauty - aka: Tory - to wake up for the day. Once she did, we stopped for a quick breakfast at The Mara, a quick-service restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge, to grab yogurts and fruit before hopping on the Disney shuttle bus to Epcot.

Lindsay chose Epcot as our first park to visit because it's the home of Elsa and Anna, and the new Frozen ride. Forget Mickey and Minnie; Tory is all about the Disney princesses so our goal was to meet as many of those characters as we could. Lindsay made us reservations for a princess breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall so we'd have a chance to see several right away.

Neither Lindsay or I were sure what to expect at the princess storybook dining experience. A waiter seated us, took our drink orders and invited us to fill our plates at the breakfast buffet displayed in another room. We did as such, and returned to our table to find one Disney princess after another parading by our table. It was a little overwhelming! Tory was literally speechless as Aurora from Sleeping Beauty greeted her first. "You seem a little sleepy yourself this morning," she told Tory. I think she didn't know what to think, and neither did Lindsay or I. Ariel came by the table next, then Snow White and Cinderella, and slowly Tory warmed up to the idea of meeting the princesses and having her picture taken with each of them.

It was next to impossible to eat anything because there's was so much commotion at our table. Boy, was it sweet though! Tory was wide-eyed in amazement as each princess came over to speak with her. Our favorite was Ariel who commented how similar Tory's Jasmine outfit was to her own dress. "I'm not sure what to call this flouncy stuff," she said as she lifted the fabric on her dress. "Human stuff."

After our second breakfast of the morning, we walked around the big lake in the center of Epcot to  visit the different "countries" there. I rented a stroller for Tory upon Lindsay's suggestion, and I'm so glad I did. Our trip would've been a lot of walking for Tory, and I was thankful I didn't have to carry her. (I rented through Orlando Strollers, by the way, and it was super easy. The stroller was waiting for me at the hotel concierge desk when we arrived and I simply dropped it off there when we were done with it. Easy!)

We had an hour until our FastPass reservation for the Frozen-themed ride, so we decided to take a chance and hop in the line to meet Elsa and Anna. We'd checked the day prior, and knew the line got to be pretty long for this attraction, so Lindsay thought it best to do right away if we wanted to meet them. Luckily, we only had to wait for about 20 minutes until we had the chance to meet them.

Tory had the "meeting princesses" thing down by the time we saw Elsa and Anna. She embraced each one in a great big hug and seemed absolutely amazed to be standing in their presence. I appreciated how each of the Disney princesses were in a private meeting room so it was quiet from outside noise. It felt like you had their undivided attention for those few minutes. 

In Epcot's China, we stopped to have Tory's face painted. My sweet girl didn't ask for one plastic trinket during our entire Disney trip (not that she couldn't have; my Magic Band was ready and willing to spoil her rotten that weekend!) so I thought face painting would be a fun and unique treat.

Lindsay wanted an Oktoberfest beer in Epcot's Germany but we were all so full from our two breakfasts that morning, we couldn't possible dream of eating something more. We continued through the villages until it was time for our first FastPass at the Frozen ride.

I'm a Disney newbie, so I didn't really understand the whole FastPass line thing - so glad Lindsay knew what to do. We used a Disney park app on our phone to check wait times for rides, locate restaurants and restrooms, and keep track of the FastPass selections we'd made. (For any Disney newbies like me, FastPasses allow you to skip the line for popular rides. You only get a few of these during our park visit.)

The Frozen line was really long, so we were glad to scoot right to the beginning. The employee asked the three of us if we wanted to sit in the front of the boat, and we say "absolutely!" even though I wasn't completely sure how Tory would react to the ride. 

She ... wasn't the biggest fan. The Frozen ride wasn't scary at all, but it was dark, the boat traveled backwards for a portion of the ride and went down a small hill which she didn't appreciate. "Scary!" was her exact phase in this photo. (It wasn't.)

Afterward, we continued to wander through the various countries. Tory enjoyed an ice cream cone from France's L'Artisan des Glaces, and Lindsay eventually did get a German beer from one of the stands we passed.  

We stopped in Morocco and learned Jasmine was there! There was only a 10-minute line, so we had to meet her. After all, Tory wore her Princess Jasmine costume to Disney that day. 

The three of us walked over to Future World on the other side of Epcot for a chance to ride Soarin.' Tory's school friend had told her about this ride, so she was determined to ride it. We didn't have a FastPass for this one, so we waited in line for an hour to ride it. It was ... long. Fortunately, was content to watch the PBS App on my phone while we waited, and Lindsay and I had a fun time catching up with each other. 

Tory did NOT like the Soarin' ride - surprise, surprise! In her defense, it probably was too much of a thrill for a five-year-old. Lindsay and I loved it though. It felt like we were hang gliding through some of the most breathtaking landmarks and sights in the world.

We walked outside the complex after the ride was over and nearly had a heart attack when we discovered our stroller was missing! It wasn't in the "stroller parking spot" we'd left it, and Lindsay and I both started to panic. We hadn't left any valuables in it, but it did have our coats and water bottles -- not to mention I didn't take out the insurance on the rental. Fortunately, we found it a few minutes later parked in another spot along the rail. Someone had moved it apparently. Oy. 

Tory snapped this pic of the Epcot ball as we pushed our way to the park exit. Isn't it great? She's becoming quite the photographer.  

Around 5:00pm, we decided to head back to Animal Kingdom Lodge for the campfire and s'mores party. Of course, the shuttle ride took longer than expected and we missed the s'mores by 10 minutes. Tory was disappointed because s'mores are her favorite dessert on the planet, but she managed her disappointment well. I was impressed! We decided to have dinner at the hotel's Sanaa restaurant. We didn't have a reservation, but the kind staff made a place for us.

The food was African-Indian themed, and really tasty! Lindsay and I ordered a appetizer of seasoned Naan breads with nine sauce accompaniments to start, and I think we'd forgotten we hadn't had anything to eat all afternoon. We scarfed down that plate of bread and still had room for our ethnic entrees. Tory had a cheeseburger and fries for her meal (very thankful every restaurant had kid food) and she even got her s'mores / dirt cake dessert in the end.

The three of us were exhausted after dinner, so we retired to our hotel room and went to bed. We had a great first day at Disney's Epcot Theme Park. Next up -- Magic Kingdom!