10K a Day

If you work in an office setting (like I do), you probably know just how hard it is to get in the number of recommended steps each day. I park in the farthest possible spot, always take the stairs, get up at least once an hour to stretch my legs, bypass the closest bathroom, workout almost daily, and most days I barely hit 6,000 steps. #Annoying.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a lot of neck pain, restless legs, and a lot of stiffness. I started looking into it and found out I was dying. Kidding. Never -I repeat, NEVER – plug your symptoms into WebMD. But I was shocked to find studies show that sitting for extended periods of time does the body harm EVEN if you workout daily. And now we have something else to worry about.

This is bad news for those of us who work 8-9 hour days with our butts in a chair. So when my company, who is very supportive of healthy initiatives for employees, decided to host a 6-week fall walking challenge, I quickly formed a team and vowed that we would get in over 10K steps a day.

I honestly didn’t realize how hard that would be.

Walktober

The program had a really cool app that allowed you to log your steps, view your team stats, and check out your team rank (which I may have checked too many times a day). Did you guys know that my top strength in the Gallup Strengthsfinder is Competition? It’s true – I love a good challenge.

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Catchy, huh?

Each day there was an opportunity to get one of three leaves – red (for walking at least 6K steps), orange (for walking at least 8K), and gold (for walking at least 10K). The goal was to get at least 30 leaves in any color over 42 days. My goal was to get 42 gold leaves.

My Experience

Yesterday was the last day of the challenge and the sixth week of LIIFT4. With that program, I’ve been doing a lot of lifting and some HIIT for almost two months now. It’s a great program (more on that soon!), but because it involves a lot of weighted moves with my feet planted on the ground, I only get around 1,000 steps a workout if I’m lucky.

Fortunately, my husband and I had a trip to Universal planned for the first weekend of the challenge! We both got in over 20K steps a day that weekend. Hey, where are my platinum leaves??

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Halloween Horror Night had us walking past 1 am. This guy wouldn’t carry me back to the car – do you believe it?!

There were many, many days when I had to supplement my LIIFT4 workouts with extra cardio like Core de Force (MMA) or Country Heat (dance) just to boost my step count. But that also meant I didn’t get a rest day and ended up burning over 900 calories. Mah legs – I couldn’t feel mah legs.

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Dance burns a TON of calories, and it’s fun!

Some days I took three laps around my work campus at lunch (6K steps), while listening to an audiobook and silently cheering myself on. Some nights I’d be walking on the treadmill at 10 pm hating my life and the “stupid” challenge.

But, you know what? It got me up and walking – the goal. It also got me to make decisions around step count. Oh, walk around the mall? Yes, I can do that. That will get me at least 2,500 steps. Let’s go!

The Results

My team did okay – we landed in 3rd place out of 21 teams. Okay, not too shabby, but I can’t say I didn’t want to see us take home the trophy: a sponsored lunch for the entire team. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded with food for successfully completing a fitness challenge?

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It’s okay – I’ll just continue to eat my own tasty lunch that I prepared myself. I’m not bitter, thank you very much!

I tied for first place with a handful of others in the individual competition, getting 42 gold leaves. I ended each night over 10K, even if just by a few steps. There’s only one prize to go around, so I’m not sure how’ll they’ll split it.

My legs feel more toned, albeit shaky. I feel empowered to keep stepping, even though I sometimes walk like a 99 year old granny. But, you guys, I haven’t taken a full rest day in SIX freakin weeks, so I plan to take full advantage of my three LIIFT4 rest days this week.

Bottom Line: Yes, it’s a challenge to get in 10K steps a day if your job involves a desk, a chair, and a timeclock. But, it’s very possible. I encourage all of you to be more active and go for the gold! And maybe just spread the steps out more throughout the day. Trying to get 6,000 or more steps after work was not my idea of a good time.

 

A Pop of Flavor

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Just Spices. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from justspices.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

When I started to switch up my diet, I looked high and low for affordable spice blends to add variety to staples like chicken, veggies, and eggs. I’m seriously fine eating hard boiled eggs with avocado and cherry tomatoes for breakfast every day of my life, but I figured my husband would like a little variety with his meals– especially when it came to dinner.

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I mean, look at all the colors!

Did you know that spices can be ridiculously expensive? Because I sure didn’t. Why in the world would someone pay $16.99 for a bottle of salt, pepper, and garlic? I’m not even kidding – it’s really a thing.

Spice Up Your Life

Fortunately, I happened to stumble upon a company called Just Spices (thank you, Instagram!) and magically, all of my bland food problems were solved. Just Spices makes over forty spice blends sourced from many different places around the world. The company is based in Germany and their mission is “to spice up your life.” I think we can all jump on board with that one.

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Isn’t the packaging awesome!?

The spices are so reasonably priced, you can easily re-stock your entire spice rack (like I did!) with unique blends such as Sweet Love (with orange peel and cinnamon) and Exotic Rice Seasoning (with lemon peel, ginger, and orange blossoms). They’re even more affordable than making your own blends. Trust me, I’ve tried that too. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Two of my favorite blends are Chocolate Salt Popcorn Seasoning and Oatmeal Spice Blend – both perfect for adding that extra something to your breakfast. I love the sweet-salty combination the former provides.

It’s National Oatmeal Day

On a brisk fall morning, such as today, nothing satisfies the soul more than a hearty bowl of oatmeal. My go-to recipe used to be a double serving of steel-cut oats with frozen raspberries, dark chocolate morsels, a splash of heavy cream, and sprinkle of sea salt. Say that 5 times fast! While tasty, it was definitely one of the largest carb bombs I’ve eaten, well…ever.

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These days I’m living on the lighter side, and oatmeal doesn’t quite fit into paleo/keto-like diets. A whopping 27g of carbs in a serving of plain steel-cut oats? No thanks! Fortunately, there are a lot of good alternatives for the stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.

N’oatmeal uses nuts, (sometimes) flax, chia, and a few other ingredients to create an oatmeal-like hot cereal that’s so delicious you’ll think you’re indulging. There are plenty of recipes on Pinterest and in just about every Paleo cookbook you can find, but I’ve settled on one that I love.

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This is sooooo good on a cold day!

My Paleo Chocolate N’oatmeal is hearty and filling and features Just Spices Chocolate Salt Popcorn Seasoning (not just for popcorn, I swear). It’s great for breakfast (or a snack) and takes just minutes to make. If you love that sweet-salty-savory combination, this recipe is for you.

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Visit justspices.com to learn more and make a purchase. You can even get a free sample box with a minimum order of $14 so you can try a variety of spices.

Cheers to flavorful food!

Want some (keto) cookies??

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Nui. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from eatnui.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Changing your diet is hard. One minute you’re devouring bowls of chicken alfredo pasta with a side of warm, crusty garlic bread, and the next you’re munching on cucumber sticks wondering if there’s more to life than this. (Kidding! I actually happen to enjoy cucumber sticks with a little sea salt, I swear.)

But seriously, it’s tough to make changes, especially ones that last more than a few days.

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My typical lunch – chili (protein), veggies w/ avocado (healthy fat), and dessert!!

Recently, I made the decision to stick to a diet that is keto/paleo-friendly. What does that mean, exactly? I understand that paleo and keto are, in many ways, very different, but I decided to take the best features of both and unite them.

  • High Fat, Veggie, and Protein (keeps me full)
  • Low Carb & Sugar (reduces cravings)
  • Moderate Dairy (reduces bloating)
  • Gluten & Legume Free (better for my gut)

I know what you’re thinking – that cuts out a lot of the good stuff. Well, it definitely eliminates things that my body doesn’t like. You see, I’ve been known to demolish cartons of Peeps, bags of Sour Patch Kids, tubs of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and oh, don’t get me started on peanut butter cookies. I. Want. Them. All.

I can’t say for certain whether it’s because I’m getting older, or because my body’s just tired of being fed crap, but I was feeling really run down, bloated, lethargic, and heavy. Then, as soon as I got serious about eating healthier and working out harder, I noticed immediate changes. (Cue angelic/heavenly music.)

I knew this wasn’t going to be a month-long thing, but rather a life-long journey, so I started focusing on all of the things I could eat.. Turns out, there are a ton of paleo and keto recipes, resources, and ready-to-eat products on the good ol’ internet.

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That’s how I stumbled upon Nui, a company that makes delicious keto cookies with full-fat ingredients and only 4 net carbs. Amazing. Of course, my favorite is the peanut butter!

Grab a Glass of Milk

Nui cookies are gluten-free, low glycemic, and don’t have any added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or GMOs. Ingredients like heavy cream and grass-fed butter make these cookies so rich and satisfying, you won’t even know they’re good for you. Eat them on the go or pack them with lunch – we could all use a little afternoon treat. However you choose, feel free to indulge that sweet tooth of yours – hope is not lost.

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When you visit eatnui.com, you’ll find recipes and a comprehensive guide to beginning a keto lifestyle. If you’re considering it and want to know more, I suggest you check it out!

I can’t recommend these cookies enough. Game changer!

Get ready to prove yourself!

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase from Beachbody via my links. Please do not feel obligated to do so!

SHIFT SHOP is my jam. Every time I complete the program I feel great – stronger, lighter, and more energized. In fact, I just completed another round yesterday and I can’t stop checking out my muscles! For the first time, my before pics for LIIFT4 are gonna be the after photos I’ve only imagined.

Chris Downing

Of course I was super excited to learn that Chris Downing (the program creator) is launching FOUR new workouts to help take your results to another level. It’s not a completely new program, but rather an addition to the original.

There’s a Prep Week with 15-minute Quick Shift workouts that give you an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks. Then, two Proving Grounds workouts that will score your starting and ending performance. Each week, you’ll challenge yourself to be better than last. It always feels impossible at first, but you’ll be amazed how strong you’ll feel after just three weeks.

What, exactly, is SHIFT SHOP?

A 21-day program with six working days and either a stretch or rest day on Sunday. Since it’s such a short program, you work hard from beginning to end. If you get the Deluxe package, you get a few additional workouts to help you burn more calories and get fit faster. Most challengers will save these for round two. I just did four straight weeks of SHIFT SHOP, ending with the 50 minute Super Shift workouts.

The Trainer

In Action

Chris Downing – a Beachbody Super Trainer who has trained both amateur and pro athletes, including individuals at all different fitness levels. He pushes you to do your best and give it your all. An amazing motivational coach – he will have you laughing your behind off (literally).

To learn more about the original program, check out my previous post.

Bottom Line: I can’t wait to test my strength. Workouts officially launch on October 22 – and I’m sure they will be just as good, if not better, than the original SHIFT SHOP workouts. Challenge packs and accessories go on sale today! Visit teambeachbody.com for more info.

Prove Yourself

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…always consult your doctor before beginning an intense exercise, fitness, and/or diet program.

Visit teambeachbody.com for more information on programs or sign up for Beachbody On Demand to try SHIFT SHOP!

That 9 to 5 Life

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Hello Healthy Box. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from hellohealthybox.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Let me just say this – I never knew what a challenge it would be to work in an office full time and still eat clean, keep fit, and be active. Every time I turn around there is an office party – someone retiring, getting married, having a baby, celebrating a birthday. We also have food for every holiday – even those unofficial ones like National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. And don’t get me started on those vending machines. Twix ice cream bars? Yes, please! Actually, make it two.

All of those little calories we think nothing of – a few pieces of candy here, a slice of cake there – add up. Before you know it, you’ve got that little 9-5 belly.

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That’s where Hello Healthy Box comes in. I can’t say enough positive things about this company and program! It’s solved the “I don’t have time” problem of many a working woman. The box provides you with 4 grab-and-go meals to eat during the workday, taking the guesswork out of meal prep. There’s no tracking or calorie counting. Just add your own dinner, some veggies, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s that simple.

The Program

Each new customer will purchase a starter pack, a 2-week initial supply of food for $198.00 + state tax & ground shipping to your location. Thereafter, you can order in weekly increments. The 2-week supply gets you 56 foods for about $14 per day. Not bad, considering a morning coffee alone will set you back about $5.

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Some of the meals from my first 2 weeks

Each day is pretty simple:

  • Choose 4 packaged foods, spaced throughout the workday
  • Add 2 cups of veggies at lunch
  • Eat a 4 oz serving of protein and 2 cups of veggies for dinner
  • Drink at least 64 oz of water
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Veggies are delish! Who loves my vintage plates??

Helpful Things to Know

  • This IS a diet program. If you follow it as recommended, you can lose 1-3 pounds a week.
  • There are a lot of restrictions for the weight loss phase – no sugar, starchy veggies, grains, wine, processed foods, etc. It’s in line with keto.
  • The program is designed to help you control 80% of your daily food choices.
  • Soups, meals, drinks, etc. come powdered. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting this, but everything is very portable and easy to prepare with just water.
  • You can still eat out and make healthy choices (salad w/ chicken, steak & steamed veggies, etc).
  • Feeling tired and achy at the start is normal because our bodies are so used to being fueled by a sugar rush at all hours of the day.
  • To ensure you’re seeing results, I’d recommend weighing weekly.
  • Always, always consult your doctor to make sure a new diet is safe for you. Meals are high protein, low carb, and low sugar, which could be a shock to your body if you’re not used to them.
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My favorite sloppy joes over spaghetti squash sauteed with bacon. Yum!

This program is for you if you:

  • work in an office setting
  • have a busy schedule
  • don’t have (or don’t care to) meal prep
  • have poor eating habits
  • need something quick to grab on the go
  • want to get healthy but just don’t know where to start
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Most of my meals during the week are eaten right here – at my desk.

Things I Loved

No program is perfect. And I’m sure there will be things I loved that others won’t and vice versa. I’m a pretty picky eater, so I wasn’t a fan of some of the foods. But this is actually built into the plan. The company knows that everyone won’t love everything. In fact, they even mention that customers will usually find 6-10 foods they love and repeat them for the weight loss phase of the program. Fortunately, I was able to find more than 10 things I was happy to eat more than once.

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Cream of chicken soup with a side salad for lunch.

Below are a few other things I really loved:

  • The Welcome Guide is a really helpful blueprint for success with the program. I used it as a quick reference whenever I needed a refresher.
  • I saw a weight reduction right away; I was down 3 lbs in the first 4 days.
  • There’s a great variety. A lot of the food choices were super yummy and easy for me to grab a bar on-the-go or sip soup out of a mug in a meeting.
  • The high-protein / high-fiber foods and eating schedule kept me full between meals.
  • If you’re not crazy about some of the meals, you can swap them.
  • If you’re not satisfied, there’s a 100% Money Back Guarantee (less shipping) within 15 days of purchase.

Things I Wasn’t Crazy About:

Anytime I write a review, it’s important that I share the truth with my readers so you won’t be swayed into trying something without all the facts. One of the toughest things for me was skipping my meal prep. By now you all know that I get a little crazy with Sunday Prep, even going so far as to plan everything out in Excel. It just works for my Type A personality.

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Tomato soup with sauteed veggies.

Below are a few more things that I wasn’t 100% crazy about:

  • Most items don’t have ingredients or nutritional facts on the package, but they are available online.
  • Carrots are not allowed (starchy veggie). They are such an easy and versatile veggie and one of my favorites.
  • I missed adding a mashed banana (fruit not allowed) to my morning oatmeal.
  • I like sweetening my foods with natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and dates, but only artificial sweeteners are allowed.
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Making healthy choices outside of the box – Greek salad from the diner!

My Results

Halfway into week two, I was seeing great results and decided to extend the program another week. It was just too easy to pack my food for the day. During this time, I was “forced” to drink more water, eat more veggies, and resist the urge to grab unhealthy foods during the day. This was definitely helpful because it made me try new spices to flavor veggies, practice more self-control around some of my favorite foods, and gain a new appreciation for healthy dinners. I even bypassed cupcakes and apple cider doughnuts at the office (one of my favorite fall treats!).

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My performance has been on point. I didn’t even need pre-workout!

I was able to pinpoint a few veggies that don’t love me (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower), and I decided to remain decided to eat low carb, and high protein, fat, and veggie after the 21 days.

Overall, I lost 8.2 lbs during the 3 weeks of using Hello Healthy Box and working out 6 days a week. In addition, my energy levels are remaining high throughout the day and I’ve received so many comments about my clear and glowing skin!

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Sometimes I ate these chips for breakfast. Because, yum!

Bottom Line: The program really works if you follow it. It takes the guesswork out of what to eat during the workday and just makes life easier. I would recommend Hello Healthy Box to anyone who has been struggling with their weight and falls into one of the above categories. This may just be the answer you were looking for – it was for me!

Bonus: Use code Snacker25 to get $25 off your first box!!

7 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

For the last few years, I’ve been diligently working out and eating healthy. But a few weeks ago I stepped on the scale and was horrified that the number had quickly risen, meaning all the hard work I put into 80 Day Obsession had completely vanished. Instead of feeling discouraged, I felt motivated to get down to a more comfortable weight and to keep it there.

Here are a few reasons why you might not be losing weight:

1. You’re Not Drinking Enough

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. That’s how I feel most days. I’m sure I sound like a drama queen, but I’m really not a fan of water unless it’s really cold and I’m really hot. But as I learned five years ago, dehydration sucks. So does a kidney infection. Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to drink at least 64 ounces a day, so that means getting creative.

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Love shaking up some limeade in this cup!

Sip herbal tea to reap some of the benefits. Try sparkling water with a splash of lemon or lime and teaspoon of stevia, add a few drops of essential oil, or even try it with a little salt. Yes. Salt, lime…and tequila!

2. You’re Not Tracking Your Food

I’m definitely an advocate for tracking every bite and drink you have. Why? Because you need to see if what you eat has any bearing on the scale or how you’re feeling. Does broccoli cause bloat? (It does for me.) Maybe you need to switch to a different veggie, like cucumber. Did your weight increase after that brownie sundae with whipped cream? (Most times one little “cheat” won’t hurt you.) Track everything – even that stray grape or cracker or bite of your kid’s chicken nugget. It all adds ups and most likely, you don’t realize how much you’re actually eating in one day.

You don’t have to get fancy for this – the notes app on your phone or a dollar store journal will be fine. But if you are looking for something with an easy to follow outline, I recommend this one.

3. You Have a Desk Job

I’ve been sitting on my ass for going on 8 years now. Landed my first desk job in September 2010 and haven’t looked back. Recently, I did a little research on the correlation between sitting and health. Did you know that even if you live actively outside of your 9 to 5, you are still at risk for health problems including diabetes and heart disease? Not to mention all of the office temptations that lead you to nibble ALL DAY LONG.

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Remember last year’s Ice Cream Soda day? My department has food days ALL. THE. TIME.

The best way to combat this 9 to 5 fatigue is by taking breaks. I like to get up at least once an hour and stretch my legs. Walk to the break room, fill up your water bottle, or go outside and soak up the sunshine. I also enjoy taking trips to my library right down the road.

4. You Have a Love Affair with Sugar

Sugar is addicting. It just tastes so, so good. In brownies and ice cream and cake and, well, everything. You eat and then overeat because you’re hooked on the sweet stuff. Sugar is sneaky too. It hides everywhere. The third ingredient in Hidden Valley Ranch is sugar. That’s what makes it so difficult to do a Whole30 or sugar detox – you have to read ALL the labels. Even if it’s something you think wouldn’t or shouldn’t have sugar. Like salad dressing. Watch out for all of those other sugars in disguise too – maple syrup, agave, honey, dextrose, fructose – the list goes on.

I’d recommend that everyone do a Sugar Detox to wean themselves off the bad stuff. It’s only 21 days (the time it takes to foster new habits) and is very realistic and attainable. Otherwise, just read your labels and limit your sugar consumption. Women are only supposed to have 25 grams or 6 teaspoons per day; 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons for men. How many are in that pumpkin spice latte you just ordered?

5. You’re Stressed

Oh, good ol’ stress. There are two types – good stressors and bad ones. The bad ones – like feeling anxious about an exam or a typical day at work – can make you demolish a whole pint of Cherry Garcia in one sitting. The good – like a new baby or a raise – also usually result in food celebrations including cake and alcohol (for the latter, of course). Cortisol, the stress hormone, revs up that appetite, making you hungry for junk.

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My absolute favorite snack!

To combat stress, try taking a walk, drinking a cup of tea, lighting a candle (not at work), taking a bath (also not at work), or rubbing a drop of lavender essential oil on your temples. When all else fails, make sure you have some healthy snacks to indulge in, like a slice of power seed bread with almond butter and banana. Yum!

6. You’re Not Eating the Right Foods

I thought I was being healthy by swapping out white rice for brown, white pasta for corn and quinoa. Nope! Not for me. I recently learned that while I love carbs, they don’t love me. Just one cup of “healthy” brown rice has 45 grams of carbs. Yikes. It turns out that my body doesn’t even need that many carbs per DAY. Same is true with healthy fat. Avocado, almond butter, coconut milk, cheese – all good in moderation.

Do some experimenting to see what works for you. I notice a HUGE difference in my body when I avoid carb overload – more energy, clarity, and a little ring around my belly disappears. Tracking your food will help with this too (see reason #2).

7. You’ve Lost Sight of Your Goal

Failure happens when you lose sight of your goals. Remember the saying “out of sight out of mind”? It’s true. I’ve learned so much from following Mel Robin’s 5 Second Rule. Get things done when they are top of mind or you just won’t. It’s the same with your goals – when they aren’t top of mind, they just fall by the wayside. Then before you know it, you’re sitting at your desk snacking on peanut M&Ms, wondering how you got 20 pounds overweight. Duh, girl.

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Crushing those 2018 goals rn!

If you have a vision board, keep it visible. I just pinned mine to my cubical wall so I can be reminded of where I want to be by New Year’s Eve. You’ve still got 3.5 months to make shit happen. Get on it.

The Bottom Line: If you gained it, you can lose it. Please don’t get discouraged or wait until January 1st to restart. Today is the day to make a change one step at a time. You got this!

It’s (Almost) Fall, Y’all

This is usually one of my featured posts for October, but I’m really over the hot and humid Summer weather. Gimme all the hoodies, boots, apple crisp, jack-o lanterns, crunchy leaf piles – you name it! I’m so ready.

If you haven’t already guessed, autumn is my favorite season. Most of all, I love that you can walk from the front door to the car without breaking into a sweat. It’s one of the best times to get out and get moving. And what better way to do that, than to check out some of the area’s best haunted attractions.

My husband and I started a tradition of visiting different haunted houses/hayrides each weekend from late September through the end of October. This will be our SIXTH year. Not only is it a crazy good time, but between the scares, belly laughs, and trekking through cornfields and woods, it’s also a pretty awesome way to burn some calories and squeeze in a few thousand extra steps. Gotta make room for the apple crisp and cider doughnuts at the end!

In my experience, PA is good for haunts – they are perfectly creepy, gory, and even downright funny. Actors are allowed to touch you in the sense that they can poke, prod, run fingers through hair, and in some cases, put you in a cage or jump up on a wagon and drag you off. Call me crazy, but I think these things add to the suspense, fear, and entertainment, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Tips

  • Plan Ahead – We (well, I) like to map out our haunts in early September so we have a clear action plan. Some of the places we travel to are over 3 hours away (this is serious stuff!). If you don’t want to drive 6 hours or more round trip, check out some local hotels and make a weekend getaway out of it.
  • Visit Early – Most attractions are open the last two weekends of September, which is actually the perfect time to go. Lines are short and you can get by with paying for the base ticket instead of upgrading (see below).
  • Dress in Layers – Fall weather is unpredictable. Remember the time it snowed on Halloween? It’s always a good idea to wear pants if you will be in a wooded area (deer ticks). Two years ago we needed hand and foot warmers because the wagon ride was so cold. Last year I worked up a sweat in a t-shirt. Just check the weather before you go.
  • Wear Proper Footwear – This shouldn’t have to be said, but still – don’t wear flip-flops, sandals, or heels because…duh. Choose something that will support your feet while walking on uneven ground. Boots or sneakers are always good options.
  • Splurge for the VIP Pass – When it comes to haunted attractions (and amusement parks), I really believe in going all-out. You might spend $25 or more per person for a VIP ticket, but that will allow you to skip the lines and go first. Why is this a big deal? Believe it or not, you could be waiting in line for hours before you even get to go through one attraction. That just sucks the fun right out of everything. Do yourself a favor – get this pass and you can do the royalty wave to everyone else as you board your wagon.

NY/PA Attractions

#6 – The Barn of Terror

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Photo property of The Barn of Terror

My Rating: 1.5 Stars

Location: Lake Katrine, NY

Cost: CASH ONLY – ATM on site

  • $33 per person (2017 price)

Theme: Creepy Farm Family

Duration: About 60 minutes

Review: I kept waiting for something to happen and it just didn’t. First you walk through an 8-room barn and silo, then you take a bus down to a corn maze. The barn was dark and the costumes were pretty cheap and mostly looked the same – bloody hockey mask and black robe. The corn maze was so boring I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Truly disappointing that the space is there, but the creativity isn’t. After 16 years in business (this year), you would think there would be more excitement.

Bottom Line: Don’t waste your time. Regardless of the stellar reviews on Facebook, this “haunt” is not worth your time or money. The only reason it gets 1.5 stars is that I got quite a few steps in thanks to the corn maze.

#5 – Headless Horseman

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My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Location: Ulster Park, NY

Cost: Prices cheaper online.

  • $45.90 + tax – Online Ticket
  • $49.95 + tax – On-site Ticket
  • $25 extra for Scream Pass (aka VIP badge of honor)
  • Special discount for opening night

Theme: The Hollow

Duration: 2.5-3 hours (depending on wait times)

Review: There are 10 attractions (including a hayride, corn maze, and several haunted houses) and a little “village” of gift shops and cafes, which makes for a full evening. All guests must go through a bag check / metal detector after purchasing tickets. Keep this in mind because that line gets long fast and all ticket holders are considered equal until you pass through the gates. The hayride theme changes slightly every year, but the other attractions are pretty much “fixed.” Once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. Last year we went on opening night back in September and were disappointed that the company didn’t take advantage of their 25th year in business to do something special for the guests. It was like any other year with the ridiculously long lines and predictable haunts.

Bottom Line: If you live in or around the Hudson Valley, it’s worth it at least once. Otherwise, meh.

#4 – Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride

My Rating: 3 Stars

Location: Glen Mills, PA

Cost:

  • $43 –  Combo – General admission to all three events
  • $79.50 – VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events
  • $104.50 – Super VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events, PLUS: VIP parking, hot dog, popcorn, soft drink, and t-shirt

Theme: The Walking Dead Meets Prehistoric Times

Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There were zombies, there were dinosaurs. There were also spiders, snakes, and clowns. A scare for everyone. It was just okay. We went on a weekend in September – there weren’t any lines so we were able to get by on just the base ticket. There were only three attractions – hayride, corn maze, and haunted house. The theme was a bit odd, but the special effects were pretty cool. I love Psycho and A&E’s Bates Motel series, but there was little connection to both. I think the majority of my disappointment stems from just wanting more.

Bottom Line: If you’re in the area, I would recommend checking it out for a fun evening. But if you have to drive over an hour, I’d say skip it.

#3 – Pure Terror Scream Park

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My Rating: 4 Stars

Location: Monroe, NY

Cost: CASH ONLY. Prices cheaper on-site.

  • $45.25 – Online General Admission
  • $68.69 – Online VIP Admission

Theme: Clowns

Duration: 90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There were clowns. Lots of clowns. There were also spiders and very dark places. A scare for everyone, really. After I got over the frustration of finding the place, parking, and waiting in line, it was fun. We went on opening night so it was cheaper and there were fewer people. There are six haunted houses that are seriously awesome. One group is admitted at a time, which causes a really long wait in line, but a better experience once you’re actually inside. The makeup and special effects were so good that it was hard to tell real person from prop. I love that they incorporated the 2017 release of IT into one of the houses – very nice touch! Last year was our first visit, but according to the website, the content is freshened up each year. This will definitely be an annual trip!

Bottom Line: Don’t wait – add this to your list.

#2 Pennhurst Haunted Asylum

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My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Location: Spring City, PA

Cost: Online tickets have varying service charges

  • $20 – Individual Attraction Tickets
  • $35-45 – Combo Pass – General admission to 3 haunted attractions
  • $49 – Super Combo Pass – General admission to 4 haunted attractions
  • $78 – Pennhurst VIP Pass – Front of the line privileges to all 4 haunted attractions

Theme: Insane Asylum

Duration: Approx. 2 hours

Review: This place is really cool because it used to be a real asylum. The original buildings have been re-purposed to create a haunted insane asylum, catacombs, and more. There isn’t a hayride, but you won’t be disappointed by the 3 main attractions: Pennhurst Asylum, The Morgue (new for 2018), and Containment Tunnels. The Mayflower After Dark is a self-guided tour of an original campus building. There are creepy clowns and walking dead, but the real terror here is the idea of the insane asylum and the horrible things that were probably done there. That and the fact that you spend a lot of time walking in near darkness and through strobe lights. While you are waiting on the lines, you may or may not be terrorized by the cast members. Luckily, the VIP pass will help you avoid this. I (we) can’t wait to visit again this year!

Bottom Line: You’ve gotta go! This one will be on your list for years to come.

 #1 Reaper’s Revenge Haunted Attraction

My Rating: 5 Stars

Location: Scranton, PA

Cost: CASH ONLY – ATM on-site; Online tickets have a $2.75 service charge

  • $35-45– General Admission
  • $70 – VIP Package
  • $25 VIP Upgrade (on-site ONLY)
  • $3 – Parking

Theme: All Things Creepy

Duration: 75-90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There are 4 attractions including a hayride, dark forest walk-through, pitch-black indoor walk-through, and zombie maze. There are hillbillies, spiders, zombies, government officials (scariest of all). The Grim Reaper and Michael Myers even make appearances out in the woods. There’s also something really cool that happens during the hayride, but you’ll have to just take my word for it because saying too much would just ruin it. The combination of so many different attractions and a super long and enjoyable hayride makes this my (our) number one choice. The first time we did this, we were laughing, we were screaming, we were having so much fun. We wanted to do it again. Last year we made a special trip on Friday, October 13th – right after we got hitched!!

Bottom Line: Make the trip. I don’t care if you’re in California, Florida, or Toronto. It’s worth it.

I hope you go and have a great. I’d love to know if I’m missing out on any good ones 🙂

Happy (Almost) Fall!