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.

Let that SHI(F)T go!

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Photo property of Beachbody, LLC.

Anything is possible when you remove the phrase “I can’t” from your vocabulary. I have to admit that I was initially intimidated by SHIFT SHOP. The moves are intense, and the meal plan is pretty strict. I wanted to fully commit myself to a program that is known for getting people great results in record time, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and jumped right in. I’m so glad I did.

This Beachbody workout is for everyone. Whether you’re new to fitness, a seasoned pro, or trying to bust through a weight loss plateau. It’s hard, but trust me, you CAN do this.

SHIFT SHOP is 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 (including me) will save these for round two.

I stream my workouts right from Beachbody on Demand (BOD)*. I am so in love with my BOD subscription. For a low monthly price of $8.25, you can access to ALL the Beachbody programs available (including any future releases). This service is the Holy Grail – the Netflix of Fitness!

Before You Begin

Make sure to track your results! Take measurements, weigh yourself, and figure out your container breakdown (more details under “Nutrition”).

Nutrition

Start each day off right – with breakfast. This can be a shake or another healthier option like scrambled egg stuffed sweet potatoes or Icelandic yogurt with berries, pistachios, and cacao nibs. I’m on a yogurt kick lately – I love adding a lot of mix ins to vanilla.

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A delicious mix of white plum, coconut chips, and pistachios!

A little Sunday meal prep can help you stay on track! I recently started using my Instant Pot for this, and it has helped tremendously.

The program recommends three meals and two snacks, but you can design your own plan. I’ve gotten into the habit of eating three filling meals with minimal snacking. Do what works best for you.

There are over 80 recipes designed just for SHIFT SHOP including Turkey and Brussels Sprouts Frittata, Pork & Sweet Potato Kabobs, and Watermelon Heirloom Salad. Yum!

I love that the newer Beachbody programs all use the same container breakdowns in some way. While SHIFT SHOP is really it’s own plan that varies by week, you still use the Portion Fix containers as a guide. A simple formula can help you figure out how many of each container you get per day. My plan is based on a 1,200-1,499 calorie diet. This turns out to be plenty of food, but SHIFT SHOP allows for unlimited veggies, so if you’re still hungry, pile on the greens! This plan can also be designed around a vegetarian or gluten free lifestyle.

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Snap peas are seriously the BEST snack. Plus, they satisfy that need for a crunch!

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water during the workouts and throughout the day – at least half of your body weight. It will cut down on hunger, keep you hydrated, and help prevent your muscles from cramping. Both Beachbody Performance Energize and Hydrate are encouraged for ultimate performance.

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I drink this before every workout to push harder and burn more calories.

Equipment

  • Agility Markers – (these can also be printed from BOD)
  • Weights
  • Yoga Mat
  • Towel (for Sunday stretch)
  • PT Sandbag (optional, used for Deluxe workouts)
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Great quality and definitely worth the investment – especially if you love the program.

The Workouts

I love every workout in the SHIFT SHOP and actually look forward to my daily 5 am sweat sesh. The variety is great – there are alternating cardio speed and fat-burning strength workouts for each of the three weeks, all building on the previous week’s sessions.

Week 1 workouts are 25 minutes, Week 2 are 35, and Week 3 are 45. If you get the Deluxe Kit (or have a BOD subscription), bonus workouts are 50 minutes. All are fun and challenging.

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Check out this calorie burn from Speed 45.

There is a modifier for every move, so you don’t have to worry about giving up or falling behind. Remember, remove the words “I can’t” from your vocabulary, and you’ll be capable of amazing things.

Each week ends with a 20-minute stretch or rest day. Some days you’ll supplement the workouts with a 12-minute core workout (15 minutes for the Deluxe). If your muscles are sore and you are so inclined, I highly recommend the Relief workout from Core de Force. It can be done each night right before bed – and get this: the trainers show up in their jammies!

The Trainer

Chris Downing – Officially Beachbody’s newest Super Trainer, Chris 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).

The Results

SHIFT SHOP works. You can expect to see results after the first week if you’re consistent with both workouts and healthy eating. This my favorite program. Overall, I lost 6.4 pounds and 9 inches during my first round, but most importantly, I gained strength, definition, and confidence. Nothing compares to feeling comfortable in your own skin.

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My 3-Day Refresh & SHIFT SHOP results.

Bottom Line: I have and will continue to recommend this program to everyone. Give it a try. If you decide it’s not for you, Beachbody offers a 30-day money back guarantee (less s&h). If you do like it and you see results, be sure to submit your before and after photos, weight, and measurements to the Beachbody Challenge and they will send you a FREE t-shirt. Either way, you really can’t lose.

 

 

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

*Other package options available online. Team Beachbody Coaches save 25%.

Visit teambeachbody.com for more information on programs, to sign up for Beachbody On Demand, and to request me as your FREE coach! (Note: I will receive a commission from any purchase made through these Beachbody links – see full disclosure for more information.)

 

Fire up your workouts

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I could begin and end my review with one sentence: Energize is liquid gold. Seriously, if you’re looking for a pre-workout that’s going to give you a boost and help you power through every tough workout, look no further.

Beachbody’s Performance line was designed to help you go faster, harder, and stronger so you can get the results you want and crush those goals.

Energize has been scientifically shown to:*

  • Improve performance
  • Increase energy & endurance
  • Sharpen focus & reaction time

Nutrition

Energize is lemon flavored, and to me it tastes like summertime lemonade – yum! There are only 10 calories and 4g of carbs per serving. Just mix with water, shake, and chug!

Beta-alanine – buffers muscle acid buildup, slowing down muscle fatigue.

Green Tea – helps improve reaction time & enhance energy.

Quercetin – helps improve performance & recovery.

The Tingles

A few people have reported a tingling sensation after drinking. If this happens to you, don’t be alarmed! Thank the low-dose of caffeine from the green tea for this – it means it’s working. If you’re a regular coffee drinker or you consume other forms of caffeine (like Monster), you probably won’t even notice.

It Works

The proof is in the pudding. On average, I would say I burn about 10% more calories when I drink Energize prior to working out. Below you can see the same workout (SHIFT SHOP – Speed 25) completed around the same time of day. The only difference? One time I drank Energize, the other I didn’t! IMG_20170720_164823_672000The Bottom Line: I recommend this to everyone. If you want results, Energize will give you the boost you need. It doesn’t get anymore real than that. Plus, it tastes great!

Energize is available in packets of 10 or a 40-serving tub.**

 

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your doctor before trying any new supplement.

**Visit teambeachbody.com for current pricing.

 

 

 

In an instant!

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Birthday present from my mom!

Last year I kept hearing about the Instant Pot and how amazing it was. “Cook pulled pork in record time!” “Hottest kitchen item around!” “You need to buy this NOW!” I did a little research and was, at first, a bit turned off by the hefty price tag. Then I started to see all of the amazing foods that could be cooked in the pressure cooker, and all of the time saved by using it, and knew I had to have it.

When my mom surprised me with the Instant Pot for my birthday, I was ecstatic. Seriously an amazing gift for a cook (or want to be cook)! I used it that day. And I’ve used it every week since.

It’s taken me a while to actually write up a review because I wanted to make sure I covered everything. I had a lot of questions in the beginning and if you’re on the fence about the purchase, I’m sure you have a ton too.

Below you’ll find some of the basics.

Pronunciation

Instant Pot, not Instapot – for some reason I keep seeing that one floating out there. Two words – okay?

Who is it for?

This product is good for people with 9-5 jobs, those who want to meal prep but just don’t have the time, people who hate cooking, people who love cooking, people who love gadgets. On second thought, this product is good for people.

Is it worth the money?

I get this ALL the time. If you look at the Instant Pot as just a cooking tool, it seems hella expensive. Retail price for the 6 qt 7-in-1 (IP-DUO60) is $99.99, albeit a step down from last year’s going rate of $129.99.

But, in essence, you’re not just buying a cooking tool. You’re getting a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer complete with a sauté/browning feature, neatly packaged into one item. That’s big. As much as I love my Crock-Pot, I haven’t used it once since getting the Instant Pot.

Instead of wondering if it’s worth the money, think about how much your time is worth. If this device can cut cook time by 50 or even 75 percent, would it help you out? Would you be more inclined to cook?

What does it do?

Literally, everything described above. It cooks good meals in record time – think 7 minutes for easy-peel hard boiled eggs, 35-minute shredded chicken, 15-minute chili. If you’ve made your own bone broth, you know it can take 24-48 hours on the stove top and 8+ hours in the slow cooker. With the Instant Pot, you can have it in two.

What are all those buttons?

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Ha. There are a lot of controls and that can be intimidating. You typically won’t use all of them. On any given day I tend to use the bottom 8 and the – + buttons because they really cover everything. The Soup, Rice, etc. just take the guesswork out of manual programming.

  • High Pressure – most meals are cooked on this setting
  • Manual – I make most of my dishes in this setting because I get to control the time (and have found that some recipes require more or less than recommended)
  • Timer – changes the input so you can adjust the time for manual cooking
  • Less & More – adjust the time needed for a particular dish
  • Keep Warm/Cancel – stops the cooking and keeps your dish warm until you’re ready/shuts off the Instant Pot entirely
  • Sauté – a good feature to brown meat before adding the rest of the ingredients to the pot
  • The other buttons are not used as frequently, but I would like to include a video of how and when to use them.

How much liquid do you need?

Rule of thumb is 1-2 cups of liquid for every recipe. So, if you are cooking two chicken breasts, 1 cup of chicken broth (or water) would be sufficient. Add more if you want extra juice. The nice thing about the Instant Pot is that liquid under pressure does not evaporate – if you start out with 1 cup, you’ll end up with 1 cup.

Is it safe?

This isn’t your grandmother’s pressure cooker. You know, the one that used rattle, whistle, and shake like it was going to explode? Now, that was scary.

There are 10 proven safety mechanisms including lid close detection (unit will beep and not start until the lid is properly fastened and locked) and high-temperature warning (pressure will not build up in the pot if there is not enough liquid or moisture).

After reading through your user manual and seeing how it works, you should feel completely comfortable using it.

Note: It is important to only use/buy items and accessories that are manufactured and tested by Instant Pot. In particular, the sealing rings have been tested and passed UL, FDA, and LFGB safety tests. The same cannot be said about 3rd party companies/products.

Does it really cook that fast?

Yes. And maybe not. I don’t want you to get discouraged here, but I have to be honest. Many of the recipes don’t account for the time it takes to pressurize the chamber. So, while hard boiled eggs only take 7 minutes to cook, there is an extra 10-15 minutes of pressure time that must be factored in.

But the unit is amazing and will cook a lot of your slow cooker favorites (think pulled pork) in record time.

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So easy to peel – I wanted to cry tears of joy!

How do you clean it?

It’s easy to clean out the Instant Pot. Just remove the stainless steel cooking pot, scrub with hot soapy water and dry. Clean the lid with a damp cloth or sponge, then remove the inner flexible sealing ring and clean in hot soapy water. The cooking pot and sealing ring can also be placed in the dishwasher. I always wipe down the surface of the unit when done in case there are any spills.

Note: After the first use the bottom of my pot was stained. I scrubbed and scrubbed, but couldn’t get it back to its original state. This has not affected cooking in any way but is worth mentioning in case you experience something similar. If this really bugs you, you can purchase a new pot for around $34 on Amazon.

What items and accessories are available?

There are a number of different accessories made especially for the Instant Pot, including sealing rings, cookbooks, tempered glass lids, silicone safety mitts, etc.

Check out Amazon for a full listing and to purchase.

Why I like it

The Instant Pot is very helpful to me when I’m meal prepping on the weekends and if – no, when – I forget to take the meat out of the freezer before I leave for work.

I’ve never been able to cook anything so fast, so good, and so tender. The meat falls off the bone and shreds easily, meals are more flavorful, and there are so many fun recipes online or you can easily adapt your own. Check Pinterest for ideas. Some of my favorites include Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole and Crack Chicken by Adventures of a Nurse.

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Thanks to the Instant Pot’s growing popularity, there are now several cookbooks specifically for pressure-cooking. My favorite it is Paleo Cooking with Your Instant Pot by Jennifer Robins, one of my favorite girl bosses. Her recipes are easy to follow and taste great.

Besides the normal slow cooker favorites, you can make all sorts of dishes including soup, bread, cheesecake, yogurt, and rice pudding. It’s really a lot of fun!

Bottom Line

This is one of the best investments you can make – and THE best investment for your kitchen. The Instant Pot is a HUGE time saver. That fact, alone, should have you running to Amazon (figuratively, or course) and buying one for you and a friend. If you use it regularly, and you will, it will quickly pay for itself. If you still have hesitations and are uneasy about the price, Amazon has two big sales where you may be able to snag one for a lower price – Prime Day and Black Friday. Be on the lookout!

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Chili in the making!

 

Please Note: This post is not sponsored by Instant Pot and I am not affiliated with the company in any way. I also do not receive any compensation from the Amazon links included above. All opinions are my own.  

Get your dance on

Let me just say this – I never knew dancing to country music could be so much fun! At first I was really unsure about Country Heat. A lot of Beachbody coaches and friends of mine were posting great things about the program, saying it was easy enough for people who can’t dance (AKA me). I tried a preview track online (Routine 1: Country Swing) and was hooked from the very first move. You don’t have to be a dancer to start or rock this program, but you will be a better one by the end of it.

 

This Beachbody workout is for you if you don’t really like putting the “work” in workouts, you want something with minimal commitment, you like to dance like a fool when no one’s watching, and/or you’re a country girl (or guy!) at heart. I honestly can’t think of any reasons why you wouldn’t want to try it. If you’re new to working out, this would make a great first program.

 

Country Heat lasts 30 days with a rest day on Sunday to give your body a break – so technically it’s only 26 days, which is totally doable. If you get the Deluxe package, you get a couple additional workouts to help you burn more calories and get fit faster.

 

What’s enticing about this program is that it’s so much fun that you don’t even feel like you’re working out. even so, you’ll still work up a sweat be the end. Most days the routines are approximately 30 minutes. You also have the option to add a quick line dance before or after your workout for an extra challenge. After your first week there are 7 days that include a second, 25-minute workout called Dance Conditioning.

 

This is the first program I’ve purchased digitally from Beachbody on Demand (BOD). My reason was simple – I did NOT want another set of portion control containers. (At the time of purchase, Beachbody had not released a DVD only set.) I couldn’t be happier with my BOD subscription. I stream the workouts on the big screen with my Amazon Firestick. I can easily access my purchased programs and try others that are available in the member library. Since the Firestick is portable, I can virtually take my workouts with me wherever I go – even on vacation.

Cost*

  • •Country Heat Base DVD Package w/o containers – $39.90 + s&h
  • •Country Heat Base DVD Package w/containers – $59.85 + s&h
  • •Country Heat Deluxe DVD Package – $119.70 + s&h
  • •Country Heat & Shakeology Challenge Pack – $140 + s&h

Before You Begin

Make sure to track your results! Take measurements, weigh yourself, and figure out your container breakdown (more details under “Nutrition”).

Watch the move breakdown videos; trust me – they will come in handy.

Nutrition

Start each day off right – with breakfast. This can be a shake or another healthier option like sweet potato hash and eggs. I’m a fan of eating non-traditional breakfasts. Sweet potato chocolate chili, anyone?

A little Sunday meal prep can help you stay on track!

The program recommends eating small meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. I’ve gotten into the habit of eating 3 filling meals with minimal snacking. Do what works best for you. The included recipe booklet has fun meals such as Double Chocolate Cookies, Smoked Baked Beans, and Southwest Breakfast Scramble. You can even have a glass of wine a couple of days a week!

I love that the newer Beachbody programs all use the same container breakdowns. It makes it super easy to stay on top of your nutrition as you move through the programs. Use a simple formula to figure out how many of each container you get per day. Mine are based on a 1,200-1,499 calorie diet: 4Red (protein), 3Green (veggies), 2Purple (fruits), 2Yellow (carbs), 1Blue (healthy fats), 1Orange (nuts and seeds), and 2Teaspoons (oils). This turns out to be plenty of food, but if you’re still hungry, and a glass of water doesn’t do the trick, add another green or red. This plan can also be designed around a vegetarian or gluten free lifestyle.

The fix containers help you eat just the right amount.

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water during the workouts and throughout the day – at least half of your body weight. It will cut down on hunger and keep you hydrated. It might not seem like you’ll need it, but these workouts get you really sweaty.

My favorite way to keep hydrated – with my Healthy Human water bottle.

Optional Equipment

Yoga mat / towel for Dance Conditioning workouts

The Workouts

(In the Deluxe Program) there are 7 workouts that are alternated between the weeks. Each has 22 moves total and they are broken into pairs. You do the first move for 8 counts, the second move for 8, you put them together for 4 repetitions and then you move on to the next set. You might not get them down right away – I didn’t – but, by the end of the week, you’ll be good to go.

Dance Conditioning makes an appearance in week 2 and is only done 7 of the 26 working days. This is more about stretching and bodywork than it is about dancing, but it’s still fun and feels really good.

There are also two bonus line dances that you can add before or after your workout. One is a complete routine set to a song called “Night Crawl,” which was developed by Jody Messina specifically for this program. The other is a routine set to Jill Johnson’s “Cowboy Up.” At the end, Autumn will show you how to do the turns required in “real” country line dancing.

The dance routines feature well-known music tracks such as “Footloose,” “That’s My Kinda Night,” “5 1 5 0,” and “I Like It, I Love It.”

The Trainer

Image is the property of Beachbody, LLC.

Autumn Calabrese – Celebrity Fitness Trainer, creator of the 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix EXTREME, co-creator of Hammer & Chisel, and author of the Fixate cookbook. She’s a doll and her upbeat attitude will motivate you to finish every rep.

The Results

A lot of people seem to love this program – and I can definitely add myself to that list. I read a ton of positive reviews online. You can definitely expect to see results in week two if you follow through. This is one of my favorites. I looked forward to my workouts every day. Overall I lost a few pounds, but for me, the biggest victory way realizing that I actually enjoy working out. I honestly never thought I would be the type of person who worked out every day. Since starting Country Heat in October, I’ve worked out 5-6 days a week. And most recently, I’ve been on a 7-day streak since January 2nd.

The Beachbody app makes it easy and fun to log and track workouts.

Bottom Line: I have and will continue to recommend this to all of my friends and family. Try it out for yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? If you decide it’s not really your thing, Beachbody offers a 30-day money back guarantee (less s&h). If you do like it and you see results, be sure to submit your before and after photos, weight, and measurements to the Beachbody Challenge and they will send you a FREE t-shirt. Either way, you really can’t lose.

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

*Other package options available online. Team Beachbody Club members save 10%, coaches save 25%. Prices valid as of 2/1/2017. Visit teambeachbody.com/KPfitMiss for more information on programs, to sign up for Beachbody On Demand, and to request me as your FREE coach!