Motivation 2.0

When you’re little, no one tells you how hard adulting really is. You think it will be about having money, staying up late, and eating ice cream for breakfast. They don’t say that your paycheck will be laughable, that you’ll live for naps, and that ice cream for breakfast is out of necessity, not pleasure.I always thought adults were super motivated to go to work and come home to raise their families. Then I became one. And most days I have as much motivation as a high school senior in June. None. Whatsoever.20180319_1750081693936423.pngEvery night I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. with high hopes that one day I’ll be able to stick with it. Still, 95% of the time I hit snooze or shut the alarm off, and before I know it, it’s practically time to leave for work. Whoops!

So, how do you find motivation?

The 5 Second Rule

If you haven’t heard of the book The 5 Second Rule, here’s the one-liner rule that author Mel Robins gives:

“If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds, or your brain will kill the idea.”

20180319_1740541646501122.png

A nice Audible pick!

While it may not be a life-shattering revelation, the 5-4-3-2-1 approach has gotten me up and out of bed on many occasions. It’s even gotten me to speak up in meetings, tell friends how much they mean to me, and work through a few of my other struggles.

It’s something to consider if you need an extra push to make things happen.

The will to work out

I usually lack motivation when it comes to working out. Yes. Seriously. It’s a constant struggle to leave my warm bed, change into my workout clothes, and tiptoe down into my basement gym which is a solid 57 degrees.

img_20180319_064126_8261759063216.jpg

This morning’s badass-ness 😉

Motivation is fluid, which means that it can be hard to keep the momentum because different things drive us all at different times. I know, personally, that some days my motivation is abundant and I can accomplish my entire task list and then some. Today – for instance, I woke up ON TIME, worked out for about an hour, burned over 500 calories, and got in over 4,000 steps before 7 am. Other days, just getting out of bed or washing my hair feels like an accomplishment.

Where does motivation come from?

For me, it comes from a desire to be my healthiest self AND to look great for my upcoming trips to California and Miami. That last reason might be a little superficial, but it’s a strong one.

In order to stick with a goal, you have to find something that – even on your darkest of days – will keep you moving.

Here’ are a few ideas. If you’re motivated by:

Challenge – play a game to be better than you were the day before.

Food – treat yourself to your favorite meal after you complete a big task (like purging your garage of junk).

Money – set aside some dough after every workout and buy yourself something fun when you’ve finished a program or month’s work of workouts.

Likes – if you’re into social media (like really, really into it), post about your progress and rack up those likes!

Just do it

In the end, take a lesson from Nike and just get it done. On the days when you don’t want to get out of bed – and there will be plenty – 5-4-3-2-1 it and move! Especially when you really don’t want to.

Cheers!

 

Finding the Balance: Self Care

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to start out this series. There are so many great topics on finding the balance that they almost compete with each other. Then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks in my intestines.

This morning I woke up at 5 am, changed into my gym clothes, got some water, and headed down to the basement to bust out my 61-minute workout. Everything was going great until about 10 minutes in when I started to feel queasy. I pressed pause. Tried again. Tapped out at 16 minutes.

20180302_1043541278248895.jpg

This. Never. Happens. This is how I know I’m sick. So, after much internal debate, I called out for the first time in almost two years at my job. Time for a little self-care.

Feeling Stressed

I’ve been feeling very stressed lately – at home and work. Its never ending – there is ALWAYS something to be worried or uneasy about. Even when I’m having a good time on the weekend, I’m reminded of what’s to come on Monday.

If you’ve read any of my Sugar Detox posts, you know that I haven’t been feeling well since I started cutting the crap out of my diet – ironic, right? Even after two months, nothing has leveled out. I went through extensive allergy and blood testing that cost over $800 and I’m no closer to finding out the cause of my discomfort. Talk about frustration.

Last week I talked about not having the time to fit it all in. Well, I think I peaked yesterday. It got to a point where I just couldn’t manage – it was like someone dropped all my marbles and I couldn’t pick them up fast enough before they rolled off into the unknown. Before bed, my mind was dissecting the day, and I went to sleep pretty sick to my stomach about all of my tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. Not good.

Fun Ways to Self-Care

How often do you stop and do things for yourself? I think the only two things I consistently do for myself are read, work out, and pray/meditate each morning. And oddly enough, working out stresses my body out more.

Here are a few ideas – they are by no means a complete list – but they can help get you started finding the balance in your everyday.

Color

Adult coloring books are so fun! I thought it was great when they first became popular because here I was finishing up my old Disney or Barbie books, when I could have been fancying up a page of curse words. Bull shit, am I right? If that’s not your cup of tea, there are mild versions of flowers, landscapes, houses, cats – you name it. Just get yourself a pack of crayons, markers, or colored pencils and have at it. You don’t even have to stay in the lines 😉

img_20170612_222313_8371104102853.jpg

Read

Okay, so maybe reading isn’t fun for everyone, but I read over 50 books last year, so it’s definitely entertaining for me. The thing is, you could read about ANYTHING. If you can think it, someone has probably written about it. I’m a crime fiction or PD girl, usually, but I also enjoy a little chick lit – Sophie Kinsella, Jodi Picoult, and Liane Moriarty. Curl up with a book, a cuppa, (I read a lot of Aussie lit!), a blanket, and get lost in another world. Somehow Sophie’s books always make me feel better about myself. Win!

img_20170215_141434_3001750524832.jpg

This is a must-read for EVERYONE.

Exercise

Now, I don’t expect everyone to wake up before the sun and bang out an hour-long workout. I won’t impose my antics on you. Exercise comes in many forms – long walks on the beach, chasing a toddler on a mission, trip to the dog park, line dancing, club dancing, watching dirty dancing (kidding) – you get the idea. It doesn’t have to feel like work, but exercise is shown to make people happy, so why wouldn’t you at least try? Don’t believe me? Take a lesson from Elle Woods.

Craft

Do you crochet? Bake? Needlepoint? Arrange flowers? Sew buttons? If it relaxes you, find time to do it every day. If you get upset that your version doesn’t look like the Pinterest version, this one might not be for you. Shop on Etsy instead.

img_20170423_160708_648385328974.jpg

My happy place is in the kitchen. These are Pinterest inspired.

Bathe

Hot tub. Pool. Beach. Bathtub. Pick the one that interests you and take a trip – even if it’s just ten paces away to the next room. Nothing beats a good soak, especially if there are BUBBLES! Pour yourself a glass of wine (or sparkling juice!), play some soothing tunes, and light a candle. As an added bonus, throw in some Epsom salts, essential oils, or a fun bath bomb. Ahhh the relaxation.

20171013_172028136136463.png

Halloween Special bubble bar from LUSH. So many suds!

Uh, note: I wouldn’t recommend any of the above for anything but a tub 😉

Take a Happiness Challenge

I’m on day 99 of my second #100HappyDays Challenge. The main idea is to post a picture on social media of something that makes you happy each day for 100 days. Is it possible? Well, I can attest that all days won’t be happy. In fact, some will be downright miserable. But, if you can find something good – just one little thing – in each day, your life will be a little bit brighter. I’d recommend you at least try it. Its fun to look for a piece of happiness each day and it’s nice to look back on those moments after the challenge has ended.

img_20170522_183645_679815373557.jpg

My inspiration.

Do Yoga / Meditate / Pray

This really could be its own topic. Matter of fact, it might be (Gucci Mane voice). I’ll leave the good stuff for another day, but if you’re into quiet time, you might want to investigate the power of prayer, meditation, and yoga. They do wonders for the body and soul.

img_20170328_075534_6261364146432.jpg

Don’t lose sight of you

You can still take care of others and do things for yourself. It doesn’t make you selfish. Quite the opposite, actually. It helps you do everything a little bit better because you’re you at your best. I feel like I should start reciting a Dr. Seuss poem right now!

How do you relax? How do you take care of yourself? I want to know!

Check out the first post and stay tuned next week to learn about finding the balance at work.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Finding the Balance

To me, peace is sitting in the dim light with a cup of tea, a book, and a nice fuzzy blanket. I enjoy silence above many things. It’s so calming to sit with oneself and read, meditate, or pray. In fact, I’ve worked this quiet time into my daily routine each morning. After I rise and before I press play on my workout, I spend a little time on my yoga mat praying, journaling, and setting my intentions for the day. The only noise I hear is the rumbling of the furnace when it kicks on and off. I am at complete peace.

img_20170602_125004_601937952528.jpg

A rare lunch break reading sesh.

Lately, though, I’ve been having trouble finding the balance between many things outside of this brief morning routine. Typically the topic of balance comes into focus when talking about work-life balance. Everyone wants more weekend, vacation time, PTO. I think I just need more day.

I struggle with the fact that five days a week I work a 9-hour day (with a lunch in between, sometimes) and come home with a depleted energy supply. It leaves little time to spend with my husband (why can’t we both work from home?), crochet (I’m working on an Etsy shop), write (one day I’ll finish a book), cook (do we really have to eat dinner every night?), read (there are so many books on my list), study Spanish (I want to be fluent by December), as well as the countless other things I want to do.

You may be thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot!” Yes, I have a very FULL life. It’s full of many wonderful people, things, hobbies – you name it. But it’s also overflowing with stress and anxiety when I can’t fit in ALL THE THINGS. Most days I overextend myself until around 11 pm when I can barely keep my eyes open. Then I wake up at 5 am the next day to do it all again.

What ends up happening is that I crave vacations to escape my everyday life. Everything is blissful while I’m away – no qualms about waking up just before noon, no deadlines to meet, and the biggest worry is whether to order a Pina Colada or Angry Orchard at the poolside bar. Then, when I come back to reality, it’s almost as if a deep depression settles in. I feel worse than before I left. The peace I sometimes feel melts into a despair that’s hard to break out of.

img_20160817_1316491922932603.jpg

Isn’t this heavenly?

I just experienced the cycle this week after I came back from a long weekend in Canada. I realized that I end up surviving – not living – until my next break. I can tell you that there are exactly 57 days until I board the plane for California – a place I have been dying to visit for about two decades. After that, there are two months until we drive to Florida for our annual vacation.

This is clearly not a healthy way to think, live, or rationalize. And I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way. So, I’ve decided to create a six-week Finding the Balance series, where I’ll share ideas to combat stress, live in the moment, and find a little zen in every day. We only get one life, so why not choose to be happy?

img_20171124_212134_1521066354303.jpg

A friend sent me this beautiful card. It inspired me to complete a second 100 Happy Days challenge.

Check back every Friday for the next six weeks. Let’s make this year our happiest yet!

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

The Showdown: Whole30 vs. 21-Day Sugar Detox

You might be wondering why a girl who swore she’d never do another Whole30 again, just completed a 21-Day Sugar Detox. Aren’t they practically the same?

Well, there are many similarities when it comes to what food groups you can and can’t eat, but in my opinion, the other restrictions put on the Whole30 can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food.

Whole30

img_5591

The premise of the program is to eat clean, whole foods for 30 days, but of course, that’s just the first layer of a very well thought out program. Eat three meals a day, large and nutritious enough to sustain you until your next meal. Don’t skip breakfast. Stop eating a few hours before you go to bed. Veggies are “required” at every meal and fruits, which should be eaten sparingly, can be eaten with a meal. Snacking is discouraged – not forbidden – but it really depends on how active your lifestyle is.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits, healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, condiments, and supplements like collagen
  • NO Foods: added sugar in all forms (even honey), alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, protein or meal replacement shakes, and the recreation of baked goods, junk food, or treats turned into healthier options.

21-Day Sugar Detox

20171230_2313091224965881.jpg

The Sugar Detox is all about cutting sweet cravings naturally to eliminate short and long-term side effects of sugar addiction including mood swings, fatigue, depression, and even PCOS. There are three levels to the program, and all meal plans include three meals and a snack – which definitely comes in handy during the gap between lunch and dinner.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits (only green-tipped bananas, green apples, and grapefruit) healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, homemade condiments without sugar or date paste, and supplements like 100% pure protein powder
  • NO Foods: gluten-containing grains, starchy veggies like cassava and plantains, legumes, cashews, all other fruits, dairy, alcohol, supplements with multiple ingredients (like Shakeology)
  • Plan 1: The least strict, allows for the addition of gluten-free grains, legumes, and full-fat dairy
  • Plan 2: The in-between plan, allows for full-fat dairy
  • Plan 3: The most strict, avoids both gluten-free grains and full-fat dairy

The similarities

Both programs…

  • focus on cutting cravings and eating healthier by eliminating foods that may cause triggers or irritation over a period of time.
  • observe and encourage a reintroduction period after completion of the main program.

The differences

Helloooooo Captain Obvious – one is 30 days, the other is 21. Wink wink.

Sweeteners

Whole30 gives you options when it comes to using natural sugars – sweeten ketchup or bbq sauce with date paste, choose any fruit you’d like as long as it’s eaten with a meal, and grab a Larabar or RX Bar to snack on the go.

img_2936

The beautiful variety.

21-Day Sugar Detox says NO to any kind of sugars, whether natural or artificial, you can only choose between green apples, grapefruit, and green-tipped bananas, but they don’t have to be eaten with a meal, and really, you’ll be hard-pressed to find compliant on-the-go snacks.

Treats & Desserts

Whole30 says absolutely NOT to recreating desserts, the creators even coined the phrase SWYPO (Sex with Your Pants On) to describe this. The basic premise is that your eating habits and behaviors will remain the same if you keep eating the way you always have. If you regularly eat doughnuts for breakfast, recreating paleo doughnuts doesn’t do a thing to change your old habit.

21-Day Sugar Detox is pretty lax when it comes to this, in fact, there are recipes for pumpkin pancakes, coconut milk smoothies, apple cinnamon doughnuts, and almond butter cups right in the back of the book! (One day I even made banana pancakes for breakfast and I didn’t feel so restricted to EGGS – see photo.)

20180120_0856011637072591.jpg

Quick and easy banana “pancakes”

Snacking

Whole30 says to limit snacking unless you have a very busy or active lifestyle, in which case it’s unavoidable.

21-Day Sugar Detox says YES ma’am to snacking and even has it built right into the meal plan. This was helpful at work and actually kept me AWAY from the vending machines because I had enough food throughout the day.

Overall

After the Whole30 I could not wait to go back to my previous (aka gluttonous) ways of eating. The perceived restriction was just too much. I felt like a little kid being told no – it just made me want to break the rules even more! I mean, what harm can one paleo doughnut do?

wp-1470270458215.jpg

Whole30 perfect plate.

The program definitely wasn’t intended this way, but I replaced my sugary junk food (not allowed) with sugary fruits and Whole30 packaged snacks (allowed) and ended up feeling guilty for it. Of course, my taste profile didn’t change because I was still relying on sweet things to get me by.

I didn’t lose any weight or experience any miraculous changes. If anything, I just felt hungry and powerless. I rebelled against the lifestyle that was essentially trying to help. Then I ended up going on vacation soon after and pretty much ruined any of the progress I had made.

After the 21-Day Sugar Detox, I jumped right into the reintroduction period, as advised, and walked away with a healthier mindset. I didn’t have any desire to wreck the progress I made.

During the 21-Day Sugar Detox I made healthier choices – granola made with nuts instead of grains, coconut flour doughnuts “sweetened” with applesauce, chia pudding. All of these were recreated treats (SWYPO in Whole30 lingo), and yet, after the Detox, I had absolutely NO desire to run to Dunkin’ and scarf down a dozen “real” doughnuts. Why? Because I didn’t feel deprived for an ENTIRE freakin’ month.

I didn’t indulge in sugary sweets because I didn’t have the option – it just wasn’t in my meal plan. So, over the course of 21 days, my tastes started to change. I no longer craved super sweet things, but was content with spicy, or even better, umami. And banana with almond butter tasted pretty damn near dessert!

20180119_17382075038486.jpg

These two give me that umami fix!

Today is day 29 and I’m almost done with my reintroduction period, with no desire to stuff my face with any of my old favorite junk foods – I have untouched ice cream and salt and vinegar kettle chips in my kitchen as I type.

The bottom line: So, which method is right for you? Maybe one, maybe both, maybe even none! All I can do is provide you with my experiences and tell you to do your own research. Many people swear by the Whole30. It’s definitely more popular, but does that make it better? In my opinion, the 21-Day Sugar Detox is very realistic and achievable while the Whole30 is quite the opposite and fosters an unhealthy relationship with food.

Motivation, where art thou?

In simple terms, motivation is the desire to do things. One quick Google search will produce almost 500 million results including articles, books, images, and studies on motivation. “5 Ways Millennials Can Fine Motivation At Work” (Forbes). “This Navy SEAL Says Your Lack of Motivation Does Not Matter…” (Inc.com). “Motivation may be less limited than we think” (Science Daily). You get the idea.

What does this tell you? Other than bundles of contradicting information, it shows that motivation is a hot topic and many people must be in dire need of it.

About two years ago I read a book called “What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work” by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. It included a code to take an assessment that would produce my top motivators. Usually, I’m skeptical about these types of assessments because who knows me better than I do? It turns out that my results were SPOT ON.

I’m driven by challenge, creativity, autonomy, and money.

20170927_1020222146149863.jpg

At the time, this book helped me understand that I wasn’t getting what I needed out of my job. I felt stuck and couldn’t understand why I had no desire to get up and go to work anymore (other than the hour-long commute I faced every morning, of course!). I realized that I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing. It wasn’t creative, there was a ton of “red tape,” I felt micro-managed, and the pay wasn’t nearly enough for the work I was doing and the distance I was traveling. Even though I knew my work, in a way, helped other people, that wasn’t a big enough factor to keep me motivated.

The authors suggest trying to revise your work responsibilities to better suit your needs to be more productive. If you try it, and it doesn’t work, move on. That’s exactly what I ended up doing.

What motivates you?

The first step in getting motivated is finding out what exactly drives YOU. I highly recommend taking The Motivators Assessment for yourself – even if you don’t want to read the book, you can purchase a code online. You’ll end up with a detailed printout of top motivators that I have found invaluable.

Motivation is fluid, which means that it can be hard to keep the momentum because different things drive us all at different times. I know, personally, that some days my motivation is abundant and I can accomplish my entire task list and then some. Those are the days I get in 7,000 steps before 9am. Other days, just getting out of bed feels like an accomplishment. Sound familiar?

You have to find something that – even on your darkest of days – will keep you moving.

Look forward to your reward

Let’s say you’re driven by chocolate. Get a special bag of truffles and reward yourself with one after doing something big – like organizing your kitchen cabinets or meal prepping for the week. This way you have something to look forward to. (I promise that one chocolate won’t break your eating plan, if you’re sticking to one. Plus, it’s better to eat one than the entire bag!)

Make it a game

Maybe you’re motivated by a good challenge like I am. Some days I dare myself to burn 5-10 more calories in my workout than I did the day before. If I do, I can revel in the satisfaction that is “winning.” If I don’t, I make it my goal for the next day.

Just get it done

There will be days when you won’t want to get out of bed. The worst thing you can do is punish yourself for it. I allow 3-5 minutes of wallowing (or snoozing the alarm) before I break out of the funk. Let the feeling pass, pick yourself up, and just do the task – even when you really don’t want to. The ability to do so is the sign of a successful person.

20170929_1322171453717380.jpg

A passage from Big Magic.

 

While no book, article, etc. can give you motivation, they can give you ideas on how to motivate yourself. Here are a few favorites that have helped me along the way:

What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy

 

DISCLOSURE: This post is not sponsored by any of the books or authors appearing above. I appreciate your support for books and programs that I love, but I will not receive any commission or affiliate compensation if you make a purchase. I just really enjoyed these reads and hope that you can also snag some positive takeaways.

Happy Reading!

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

20171001_101758134949643.png

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

20171001_101540100887532.png

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!

An obsession is coming 

Photo property of Beachbody, LLC

This January, Autumn Calabrese is back with a new Beachbody fitness program. You know her – celebrity fitness trainer and creator of 21 Day Fix, Country Heat, and the cooking show Fixate, to name a few.

80-Day Obsession – a program designed to sculpt your abs and booty.

When the news first broke at the beginning of the month, I was less than thrilled. An 80-day program? That’s like a lifetime. I quickly dismissed the idea and went back to Letting Shi(f)t Go.

Then I thought about it. In the scheme of things, 80 days is not very long. It’s less than three months – the probationary period before benefits kick in at a new job, the first trimester of pregnancy, a quarter of a year. In fact, several other Beachbody programs run longer. In other words, it’s doable.

I thought about chunking the program into four 20-day cycles and how each new cycle would be an opportunity to take before and after photos, reset the mind, and begin anew. It would be good to challenge myself to make a BIG commitment, and to show others that even with a full-time job, a family, and a few freelance jobs on the side, it’s still totally possible to work on yourself. Now I’m actually excited for it to begin!

What I know

  • The program lasts 80 days (duh) and will begin in January
  • New workouts are released every Monday-Friday
  • High-intensity workouts build on previous ones – no repeats
  • Times vary from 45-60 minutes a day (much like in Core de Force)
  • It follows the container system, with precise guidelines of when to eat what
  • There will be tacos!

Preparation

So maybe you aren’t in the mindset to fully commit right now. It’s going to be an extreme 80 days. Luckily, you still have about four months to get your mind and body ready for it. Start by completing some of Autumn’s other programs – 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and Hammer & Chisel.

Before you say “Oh, hell no!” I encourage you to believe in yourself. Before you think you can’t commit to 80 days, see my idea for breaking it down (above). Before you say that 45-60 minutes a day is just unreasonable, remember that a one-hour workout is just 4% of your day. It might take some rearranging of your schedule (I wake up at 5 am to get my workout in before I go to my day job), but it’s definitely worth it. Your body (and your mind) will thank you.

Always remember – nothing is impossible.