How to find a workout that sparks joy

I am probably one of the very few who didn’t fall head over heels for Transform:20, the new workout by Beachbody Super Trainer Shaun T. I tried a sample workout before launch and just wasn’t feeling it, so I knew I wouldn’t be motivated to complete it.

Many people who say they hate working out just haven’t found the right workout…yet.

Personally, I hate going to the gym. I’ve tried it time and time again, but I just don’t feel comfortable in that scene. Last year, my husband and I started building our own home gym, and I feel like it’s pretty complete now. The great thing is that it doesn’t even have to be expensive! We found a barely used NordicTrack treadmill on Facebook Marketplace for $150, picked up a barbell set from DICK’S Sporting Goods, and scored a nice spin bike from Bath and Beyond (coupon eligible!).

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Said bike! Isn’t it great?

The above, coupled with a dance floor, huge projector, and many other odds and ends, makes our gym my happy place.

What works for me

After years of experimenting with different workouts, I’ve found a few that stand out as favorites. Instead of just sticking with one workout program, I decided to create a schedule incorporating all of my favorites. Two days a week I’ll do pure cardio, in the form of dance or step. (I’ve found that I’m better suited for longer cardio sessions in the evenings, so if I plan it right, I can bust out my workouts after work while my husband goes to the local gym.) Three days will be cardio/resistance in the form of spin and weight lifting. Two days are reserved for light workouts such as yoga, or just an old fashioned rest day.

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Some of my favorite dance workouts!

My current schedule looks like this:

  • Mon/Wed – 60 mins Cardio (Evening)
  • Tues/Fri/Sat – 15-30 min Spin & 30 mins Strength Training (Morning)
  • Thurs/Sun – Rest/Yoga/Meditation

How can you find your perfect workout?

  1. Do more of things you already enjoy. Like hiking? Plan outings with friends or take your fur baby for extra long walks on a local trail. Love dancing at the club? Bring the energy home. YouTube has some fun workouts, but you could also opt for something more regimented, like Beachbody’s Cize or Country Heat (pictured above) – both amazingly fun!
  2. Try something new. A lot of gyms and online classes offer free trials or discounts for first-time members/users. Keep your eyes peeled for deals. I just scored great ones from the Sweat app (3 months for $1) and Peloton Digital (3 months for $19.49 plus tax).
  3. Take note of what your friends are doing. A friend of mine is into spin class. I did some research and found out that local classes are pretty expensive – like $150 a month. It ended up being cheaper to buy a bike and pedal away in the comfort of my own home. One of my friends loves yoga, another does MMA, a few others are runners. Ask to join a workout and see what you think.

Really, it’s just about experimenting. Not everyone will love every workout. If a workout doesn’t spark joy, kick it to the curb and say “thank you, next.”

Warning: Unpopular opinion shared below. 

At the end of last year, I decided to cancel my Beachbody Coach account. After toying with the idea for a while, I had a few revelations that culminated in one huge Eureka moment before my 29th birthday: it just wasn’t bringing me joy. And like Marie Kondo says, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart.” I feel like this is true with material objects AND every other aspect of life.

I’ve completed so many fitness programs and so, so many reviews, but at a point, I feel like it just gets old. You drop pounds, you gain them again. You restrict your diet, then you add in cheat days, and finally, life just becomes one big feast. At this point, I should look and feel like a fitness competitor (insert laughing so hard I’m crying emoji). But instead, like many other loyal Beachbody groupies, I’m right where I started, ready to “begin again” with the next program launch.

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The beginning of LIIFT4.

While I’ve loved programs like Shift Shop and LIIFT4, I could only complete them so many times before they just got…well…stale. So, after four years of Beachbody, I’ve decided to bid adieu to coaching and BOD. Don’t get me wrong, $99 a year is a great price for what you get – if you use it.

In the last few weeks, I’ve tried classes from Sweat by Kayla Itsines, AKT (Kelly Ripa’s trainer), Jillian Michaels, and BodyBoss. While good, none of them are really worth the $20+ a month, in my opinion.

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Calorie burn from a Body Step workout.

This year, I’ve decided to DIY my own fitness plan, incorporating all of my favorite things – dance, HIIT, strength training, and biking. Stay tuned for future posts on what that looks like and how you can create your own!

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New gym equipment coming soon!!

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.

 

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!

Fall Fun

Autumn is my favorite season. I love the crisp hoodie weather, the crunch of the leaves, spooky Halloween stories, carved pumpkins, all things apple (crisp, cider, pie), spicy scents, and the thrill of it. Most of all, I love that you can move around and be outside without sweating bullets. It’s one of the best times to get out and get moving. And what better way to do that, then to check out some of the area’s best haunted attractions!

My fiancé and I started a tradition of going around to different haunted houses hayrides each weekend in October. This is our fifth year (and we actually expanded the fun into September)! 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 a few calories and sneak in 2,000+ steps. Afterwards, you can enjoy a few fall snacks to put those calories (and then some) back on. Uhhh…triple win?!

I’m really not sure what’s going on in the state of Pennsylvania, but they have some kickass haunts. They are perfectly creepy, gory, and even downright funny. But beware, because if you are traveling from New York or another state that has strict rules about practically everything, you will be in for a shock. Some of the haunts in PA don’t have any metal detectors or security checks, and actors are allowed to touch you. (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.

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, you could see about hotels or other things you could do in the area 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. (Keep this in mind for next year.) 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 (think deer ticks). I usually opt for jeans, boots, a long sleeve shirt, and a fleece jacket. One time last year we needed hand and foot warmers because the wagon ride was so cold. Two weeks ago I went in a t-shirt and was still hot. 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. Wear something that will support your feet while walking on uneven ground. Boots or sneakers are always a good choice.
  • 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 first.

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

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 was severely lacking. After 15 years in business, you would think there would be more excitement.

Bottom Line: 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

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Location: Ulster Park, NY

Cost:

  • It’s cheaper to buy tickets online, but plan ahead because tickets are non-refundable due to weather. You can, however, use them for another night.
  • $45.90 + tax – Online Ticket
  • $49.95 + tax – On-site Ticket
  • $25 extra for Scream Pass (aka VIP badge of honor)

Theme: A Series of Haunts

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. This year I went on opening night back in September and was really 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 near the Hudson Valley, try it at least once, but I wouldn’t go out of my way.

#4 – Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Location: Glen Mills, PA

Cost:

  • $40 –  (Base) Combo – General admission to all three events
  • $75 – VIP Combo – Front of the line privileges to all three events
  • $100 – 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 would say skip it.

#3 – Pure Terror Scream Park

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My Rating: 4 Stars

Location: Monroe, NY

Cost:

  • Prices are cheaper on-site. Cash only.
  • $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 new release of IT into one of the houses – very nice touch! This was my first visit, but according to the website, the content is freshened up each year. Will most likely make this an annual trip.

Bottom Line: Definitely check it out!

 

#2 Pennhurst Haunted Asylum

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Location: Spring City, PA

Cost:

  • $18 – Individual Attraction Tickets
  • $35-44 – Combo Pass
    • General admission to 3 haunted attractions
  • $39-48 – Super Combo Pass
    • General admission to 4 haunted attractions
  • $78 – Pennhurst VIP Pass
    • Front of the line privileges to all 4 haunted attractions
  • Note: online tickets have varying service charges

Theme: Insane Asylum

Duration: Approx. 2 hours

Review: This place is really cool because it is actually an asylum turned haunted house. The original buildings have been repurposed 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:  Dungeon of Lost Souls, Containment Tunnels (new for 2017), and Mayflower After Dark. 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. Again, do the royalty wave as you enter. I can’t wait to visit again this year!

Note: This is the ONLY haunted attraction that actually reduced some of their prices for the 2017 season. Very impressive.

Bottom Line: You’ve gotta go. I’m sure 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)

  • $45– General Admission
  • $70 – VIP Package
  • $3 – Parking
  • Note: online tickets have a $2.75 service charge

Theme: All Things Creepy

Duration: 75-90 minutes (minimum)

Review: There are 4 attractions including a hayride, dark forest walkthrough, pitch-black indoor walkthrough, and zombie maze. There are hillbillies, spiders, zombies, government officials (super scary), and the Grim Reaper and Michael Myers 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 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. This year we are making a special trip on Friday the 13th 😉

Note: The price increased $10 from last year. I’m not crazy about it, but I still think this one comes out on top.

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 time this fall. I’d love to know if I’m missing out on any good ones 🙂

Happy October!

On a roll!

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I first came across foam rolling on Pinterest when I was looking for a way to relieve my sore muscles. Once a little pain sets in, it can put a HUGE damper on motivation, and it’s easy to forego workouts altogether. In one respect, soreness means you’re doing something right. Too much, however, could indicate dehydration or the need for a good old-fashioned stretch.

Recently, a friend of mine posted a photo of her foam roller and said that it was one of her greatest investments. After that, rollers kept popping up everywhere – Instagram, Facebook, you name it! To be honest, that first one only caught my eye because it was bright pink, but after a little research, I knew I had to have one.

What is foam rolling, anyway?

Foam rolling is a soft massaging therapy that you can do on your own with a roller made of – you guessed it – foam! It’s also known as self-myofascial release and is a hell of a lot cheaper to do at home.

The “real” myofascial release that you would go to a licensed therapist for is a pretty expensive treatment that involves applying pressure to your connective tissue to reduce pain and increase motion. To get the best results, a series of 4 sessions are recommended. For a full treatment, including info session and diagnosis, you could pay upwards of $600. Yikes!

GRID Foam Roller

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The roller you choose makes all the difference. It may be painful to roll at first, but once you form a routine, you’ll start to experience great results. Some of the benefits include better sleep (kiss those restless legs goodbye!), increased flexibility, and reduced muscle pain. My recommendation is the GRID foam roller by TriggerPoint. For just $39.99 (plus shipping), you’ll be well on your way to feeling better. Compare that to what you’d pay for just one session at a wellness center!

The GRID is designed to replicate an actual massage, and as you roll, you can feel the different pressure points rubbing against all of your tight muscles. Unlike most rollers that have a foam core, this one has a hollow core that is wrapped in a thin layer of foam, making it firmer with the ability to withstand up to 500 pounds of static weight. At just over a foot long and less than six inches wide, you can literally take your GRID foam roller anywhere! And the best part? The product is backed by a 30-day guarantee and one-year warranty, so roll your heart out!

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As part of my cooldown after each workout, I roll my back, glutes, hamstrings, I.T. band, hip-flexors, and calves, for about 30 seconds on each body part. It feels so good. Plus, I’ve never slept better! Around nighttime, I was getting aches and odd sensations in my legs that would wake me up at odd hours, especially after a tough workout. Since I started rolling with the GRID, I haven’t had any trouble sleeping through the night. I’m seriously amazed.

Bottom Line

This is a must-have purchase for everyone who works out. If I could only choose one recovery tool, this would be it. The only decision you need to make is which of the five fun colors you want!

Check out TriggerPoint’s website for more information and to view the entire product line, including massage balls, DVDs, guidebooks, and more!

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by TriggerPoint. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise or fitness program (yes, even foam rolling!). Use this roller and all other fitness tools at your own risk.