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Pleasantly Piquant

My Healthy Journey: 30-Day Plank Challenge

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects

This time, for the 30-Day Plank Challenge, I’m going to give you all the exercises and the schedule up front so you can follow along every day, and then I can just check in.

The plank strengthens your core, a complex series of muscles that includes your entire body, minus your legs, head, and arms. It doesn’t take equipment, machines, or special apparel. All you need is a little motivation.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: 30-Day Plank Challenge”

My Healthy Journey: Progress and Prep for the Holidays

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

It’s that time of year when food is unavoidable. We’re just a week away from Thanksgiving, and a month away from Christmas. And while I have plenty of resolutions I could line up for the new year, there are a lot of things I’m trying to focus on to stay on a healthy track for the holidays.

It’s starting with healthier recipes. I love to cook, and I love the Thanksgiving classics, so finding ways to lighten those is definitely key. Luckily for me (and for you), finding those recipes on Pinterest is part of my job description. Check out our Holidays board and stay tuned on social media and on this blog all this month and in December for holiday food ideas. They can help make both lighter meals and menu planning easier.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: Progress and Prep for the Holidays”

My Healthy Journey: Mixing Procrastination and Halloween

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

So, I know I’ve mentioned before now that Halloween candy is hard for me to resist, but I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned that Halloween is also my favorite holiday.

I did theater as a kid, and dressing up and doing fun makeup is my favorite part, but I love lots of things about Halloween.

I have enough candy in the house all month long to really damage a person’s insides. (There are candy dishes in multiple rooms of the house, and bags of it stashed in other multiple rooms.) I love caramel apples. I love Curtis Orchard, for you Champaign area residents, and their cider and donuts. I love the creepy and cute decorations. I love horror movies, even the bad ones.  I love seeing little kids in costume* all over the neighborhood, and I’m not normally a kid-person either, so that’s saying something. (I have an irrational fear that my arms will suddenly give out, and I will drop and kill any child I am holding.)

*If you too love seeing babies in costumes, you have to look at this blog post with our social media recap from last week. Have you ever seen a happier and cuter Chucky?

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: Mixing Procrastination and Halloween”

My Healthy Journey: New Missions

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I have finished a mission people!

I finished the food tracking mission on Monday by completing 4 weeks of it!  Then it gave me the option to continue, and, while I still haven’t found a food tracking app I love yet, I decided keeping it up was probably a good idea.

My next goal with this is to start actually counting calories. As I suspected it would, food tracking shows what an inconsistent eater I am. Hopefully, if I can find a good way to start counting, I can actually see how bad my diet is for me.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: New Missions”

My Healthy Journey: The End of a Challenge

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

For Day 18 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

18 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 16 Push-Ups.

For Day 19 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

20 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and Push-Ups.

For Days 18 and 19 on the advanced track, you will do:

24 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Push-Ups, and 20 Shoulder Presses.

And then, you’re done!

My Healthy Journey: Days 14, 15, 16, and 17

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

For Day 14 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

16 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 14 Push-Ups.

For Days 15 and 16 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

18 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 16 Push-Ups.

For Days 14 and 15 on the advanced track, you will do:

20 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 16 Push-Ups.

For Day 16 on the advanced track, you will do:

22 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 14 Push-Ups.

For Day 17 on both tracks, you will rest.

Good luck!

My Healthy Journey: Return to Focus

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

Today, our new websites launched! (Feel free to marvel at their beauty at HealthAlliance.org  and Medicare.HealthAlliance.org, you know, if you’re into awesome health insurance websites.) Which means I will have time to worry about being healthy again!

Despite the craze that has been the last nine days, (which has felt like one really looonnng week,) I have actually done okay with my goals this week.

My teeth have definitely reduced the amount I’m eating, but I have been successfully food-tracking. Eatly, the app I used to help last week, was really not my favorite. You upload a picture of your food, and then other people rank its health to give you a rating of your food. It also tells you how healthy you ate last week in relation to other users. I only uploaded four meals, and it told me that I ate less healthy than 63% of users. To be fair, for three of the things I uploaded, I deserved that. But overall from looking at other people’s photos, it is really a place to upload pictures that say “Look at how healthy I’m being!” Which, who really needs?

So this week I will be trying an app called MyPlate Calorie Tracker, from Livestrong. It helps you keep track of how healthy your diet actually is.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: Return to Focus”

My Healthy Journey: Days 9 and 10

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

You’re more than halfway there!

For Day 9 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

14 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

For Day 9 on the advanced track, you will do:

16 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

For Day 10 on both tracks you rest!

My Healthy Journey: Days 7 and 8

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

The 19-Day Arm Challenge continues!

For Day 7 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

12 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 10 Push-Ups.

For Day 8:

14 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

For Day 7 on the advanced track, you will do:

16 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

For Day 8:

16 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

My Healthy Journey: Dental Adventures

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

So I know I was ready for my new week on Monday, but so far this week is not off to a much better start than the last.

I hate going to the dentist, and I hadn’t since before I went to college. Well, this weekend, I chipped a tooth and I had to suck it up and go. Which has resulted in more than 6 hours of lots of different dental work on Monday and Tuesday.

Because of that, my food log is going pretty poorly so far, mostly because I haven’t eaten much this week. Also, all I’ve been doing in my spare time is lying on the right side of my face to help with the pain. But I’m going back to being a fully-functioning person today!

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: Dental Adventures”

My Healthy Journey: Missteps

So far, my healthy journey isn’t going that well. Sometimes, life feels so busy that it gets in the way, and that has been the last week for me. On the web team, this is literally our busiest, craziest time of year. Combine that with simple, but necessary errands, and suddenly I’m not home until 7 o’clock at night once in the last week. By the time I am (sometimes) done with cooking, eating, and catching up on our social media, I am almost falling into bed.

This means, that the arm challenge halted in its tracks, and there was no post-dinner dancing to be had. Yes, I know, measly effort.

But I did track my food! I started with pictures, but by Friday had forgotten entirely, so instead, I will just list them for last week.

Tuesday:
Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Cherry Nutri-Grain Bar
Plate of green beans and potatoes with ham leftovers
Applesauce cup with cinnamon
Turkey and swiss sandwich on wheat with tortilla chips
Glass of red wine
One deviled-egg half
A Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, a small Laffy Taffy and one of those Halloween caramel-apple suckers
Half a microwave package of kettle corn popcorn

Wednesday:
Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Lemon Herb Chicken Piccata frozen meal
Drumstick ice cream cone
Can of cherry Coke
Ham and pineapple frozen pizza
One Redd’s apple ale
A Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and a small Laffy Taffy
The other half of the microwave popcorn

Thursday:
Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Bowl of Kashi oat flakes and blueberry clusters
Homemade chicken stir-fry with edamame, carrots, red pepper, pineapple and scrambled egg over rice and sesame peanut noodle combo.
Oven-baked pineapple and cream cheese wontons with soy sesame dipping sauce
One Redd’s apple ale

Friday:
Black Dog pulled pork sandwich with sweet potato fries
Glass of Pepsi
Leftover stir-fry
One Redd’s apple ale

Saturday:
Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Some candy (I wasn’t keeping track)
A can of Coke
Chips and salsa
S’mores graham cracker bar
One mojito
Bowl of cornflakes

Sunday:
Cup of coffee with vanilla creamer
Glass of orange-mango juice
Two over-easy eggs, two pieces of bacon, two frozen waffles with syrup
Can of cherry Coke
Peanut butter cup, Tootsie pop and two small Laffy Taffy
Chips and salsa and sour cream
Grilled cheese sandwich with one piece of leftover bacon

As you can see, balanced eating is not my strong point. And I swing wildly from eating a lot on Tuesday to eating very little other days.

But it is a new week and I am determined to do better! This next week, I’m going to try an app called Eatly for your iPhone (it does cost $1.99,) that allows you take pictures of your food and get them rated by health. I will also be keeping a list though, because I’m sure there’s no point in taking a picture of a Coke.

I also hope you hadn’t all started and were waiting desperately for more of the arm challenge, since I am just now giving you day 3 and 4, but that means you have had plenty of time to think about it and get on board!

For Day 3 for both tracks, you rest.

For Day 4 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

12 Bicep Curls and Overhead Tricep Extensions, and 10 Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and Push-Ups.

For Day 4 on the advanced track, you will do:

14 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, and Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

Good luck! And don’t beat yourself up when you get off to a rough start, there’s always a new week or day. That’s what I’m trying to tell myself at least. Check back on Wednesday for more arm challenge (I promise!)

My Healthy Journey: Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It…

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

We’re diving back into Rally this week, and I’m picking my missions. But first, an overview of some of the things that you can do once you’ve registered on Rally.

Once you’ve taken your health assessment and are in Rally, there are four major categories to explore.

The first is missions. Missions are little challenges meant to help you make healthier life choices. There are really amazing options on here, and they’re still making more. Based on your assessment, some are recommended for you specifically, and then there’s a whole list of other ones you can explore.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It…”

My Healthy Journey: The 19-Day Arm Challenge, Day 1

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

Hi all! You’re back with me, Allison, for the 19-Day Arm Challenge! I’m starting this a few days later than my co-workers so that I could blog it to you. Here are some details:

What You Need:

You will need 5-pound hand-weights, or if you feel those are too light, try 8 or 10-pound ones instead.

About a half hour every day.

These are also exercises you could easily do during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show, so don’t let that time stop you! There are also rest days built in. They are a key part of strength training because they give your muscle tissue time to heal and increase your strength. So if you have to miss a day, it’s ok!

That’s it! That’s all you need to do the challenge with me.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: The 19-Day Arm Challenge, Day 1”

My Healthy Journey: New Beginnings

This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

Hi blogosphere!

My name is Allison Shields, and I started working for Health Alliance as the web copywriter in July. That means that I work on our social media, this blog, and our websites.

I turn 25 this month, and I’m probably pretty unhealthy. I worked at Starbucks before coming here, so I have a pretty good caffeine addiction. I don’t eat regular meals, and one of my favorite snacks is still candy. I love to cook, but I don’t do it nearly often enough. I regularly skip meals because of time constraints and to keep from putting on weight instead of changing my eating habits.

Continue reading “My Healthy Journey: New Beginnings”

New York, New York

Longing for a place that isn’t your home is a phenomenon that I don’t understand, but regularly suffer from. In fact, the number one place I don’t long for is the town I’m from.

Right now, New York City has been haunting my dreams. I never wanted to leave. I’ve always wanted to go back. And as the once important things tying me to my home fall away, all I think about is New York.

Continue reading “New York, New York”

Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.

-Kurt Vonnegut

Featured post

Paranormal Activity 4 and Sinister Reviews

It’s here! Halloween is my favorite holiday, and horror movie season is upon us! That means that I have spent my last two weekends seeing the new releases in the genre. Here’s my report:

Sinister Grade: D+ to C-

I was pumped for this movie. The trailers made it look like it was going to be at least as entertaining as I find Insidious. Sadly, my elevated expectations always lead to horror disappointments. Ethan Hawke, much like Patrick Wilson, is a very good actor, leading credence to a movie that does not earn it.

When I watched Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, within the first 15 minutes when I saw the ring of mushrooms, I thought “Oh my god, it’s fairies.” It took less than 15 more for me to realize that it was tooth fairies in particular. I don’t know what the current fascination with turning childhood stories and lore into horror movies, but I would like to give a word of advice to all those horror writers: it’s stupid. Really stupid. This movie followed in those footsteps:

Continue reading “Paranormal Activity 4 and Sinister Reviews”

Seven Psychopaths

I cannot wait for this movie! From the director of In Bruges, with Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, this will certainly be great.

Video Monday

I don’t care if you decided these bands are overrated now that they’ve achieved critical success. These new videos are still fun:

 

Lollapalooza

So a month later, let’s address Lolla. I may have dehydrated myself near to death Friday during Black Sabbath, but at least I was only like 10 rows away from the stage. I may have gotten drenched and broken my arm on Saturday, but at least I was only like 3 rows from Frank Ocean. And Sunday had Jack White, which is why I went.

Continue reading “Lollapalooza”

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