Week 12: Folly fitness + paddle boarding adventures

Aviana beachWe spent the past week at Folly Beach with my husband’s family. I commuted to work for the first few days of the week and was able to take a few little time off at the end of the week to enjoy the beach.

The family enjoyed spending every day at the beach and we got to utilize the beach for some activities that we do not typically get to do. TJ ran on the beach all but two mornings, when he went kayaking. TJ also played a lot of football on the beach with his dad and brother. The one morning that I was not working I was able to run on the beach with TJ and the other morning I tried paddle boarding for the first time. Running on the beach is more difficult than running on solid ground and I felt it more in my calves than when I run on pavement. It was also a nice change being able to watch the water while running instead of just looking at houses.

Paddle boarding was also a fun experience. I have been saying since we moved here that I Paddleboarding1wanted to try it, but never followed through. I rented a board from COA next to Bowen Island restaurant. They were amazing! They provided me all of the equipment I needed (board, paddle, map, wet bag and life jacket) and they also provided instruction before I started on the different paddling techniques. They also put your board in the water for you and assisted you on the board and back off when you were finished. TJ kayaked with his father next to me while I was paddle boarding and there were dolphins around us almost the whole three hours. We also took TJ’s family to the last Party in the Park on Tuesday night. While it was hot for them due to not being used to the hot weather, we all enjoyed the event. They do not have events like Party in the Park in Pennsylvania where you can listen to music for free in such a beautiful setting.

My biggest concern of this week was the diet aspect that we have worked so hard to change. TJ’s parents rented a house, which gave us the ability to cook most meals instead of eating at a restaurant or having take out. We did splurge a few times to try restaurants near Folly like Bowen Island and the Drop In. TJ also went to the grocery store with his family which gave him the ability to monitor some of the food that was being purchased.

As I mentioned in a previous post, both sets of grandparents do not get to see our kids often so they tend to spoil them, which includes giving them a lot of unhealthy snacks. Aviana is able to vocalize her wants more now than during prior family visits so her snacking was actually decreased. She was also really active and distracted by other activities where she did not focus on eating. We have found that she tends to lean on food when she gets bored, so keeping her active is key to minimizing snacking. We are now home and onto trying to make yet another adjustment getting the kids and ourselves back to reality and out of beach mode.

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest

Week 11: Beach trip planning + fresh veggie recipes

We have spent a lot of time this week focusing on our upcoming week at the beach. TJ’s family rented a house on Folly Beach for the week and we will be staying with them.

There is a lot more that goes into packing for a week away when you have to pack for the kids also. I typically make lists to keep myself from both over-packing and forgetting a necessity, but my list for this upcoming week is overwhelming in itself. Here’s to hoping that I don’t forget anything important so I don’t have to drive back home at some point throughout the week! This is also the first little vacation where we have planned nothing but to relax. However, I am hoping I can finally try paddle boarding while I am there and I want to walk the main road to see all of the little shops. We will also have our dogs, so we can utilize the nightly dog hours on the beach. Our lab used to love getting in the water at the beach, but since having the kids it has been too hard to get the dogs and the kids to the beach at the same time.

We had the opportunity to promote the Fit Family Challenge this week at CVS on Main Street in Summerville. I took Aviana to this event with me while TJ stayed home with Taven. The radio representative asked what advice I could offer to everyone that I had learned throughout the Fit Family Challenge thus far. So far, I have learned that it is always important to stay active and that even 15 minutes is better than no exercise at all. I have also learned some new activities that I could do with Aviana and new snacks that are healthy.

After the event at CVS, we met with Katie and two other girls from MUSC at Crowfield. They developed a workout for the family to do together. The workout was a total of 20 minutes. Taven rode in the stroller while Aviana walked with us. We stopped every few minutes and each time did something different: push ups, squats, jumping jacks, or lunges. This workout was wonderful for Aviana and wore her out for the night.

I tried a few new recipes this week. We had gotten cauliflower in our Gary Organic box so I decided to try a recipe that I had found to use cauliflower to make alfredo sauce. (See recipe below). Alfredo sauce is one of TJ’s favorite things, but we don’t eat it often. The sauce turned out really well and was a lot less time-consuming than I had thought it would be after reading the recipe. We have also been getting a lot of small tomatoes in our garden so I mixed them with mozzarella and balsamic vinegar for a side with dinner. It was a nice and light side with our dinner and a good snack at work the next day!

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

1 head of cauliflower

4 cups of vegetable broth

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of pepper

Pinch of salt

Tablespoon of butter

2 chopped cloves of garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup whipping cream

1. Boil cut cauliflower in the vegetable broth. While boiling the cauliflower, sautee the garlic in butter.

2. After the cauliflower is soft, place cauliflower and broth into blender with nutmeg, salt, pepper and olive oil. Blend until smooth.

3. Add contents of blender to pan with garlic and butter. Add whipping cream and let simmer until ready to serve.

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest

Week 10: Getting a kick out of Tae Bo

I was not able to meet with Katie (the MUSC trainer) on Tuesday for my training session so we rescheduled for later in the week. Instead of doing a training session, Katie invited me to go to Tae Bo with her. I have done a Tae Bo video one time when I was younger that my mom had bought, but outside of that I have never done Tae Bo or anything related like kickboxing.

I went into the class with low expectations knowing that it was a fast-paced workout. The class was huge compared to the other classes that I have attended. It was fast-paced, but it was manageable. There were times where I was not able to catch on to the move that was being done. However, there was one girl in the class that was really helpful and stopped to show it to me slower. It was explained to me after that the classes get easier because you are able to anticipate what will be coming next and you know the movements that you will be doing throughout the class. I would definitely encourage anyone to try a Tae Bo class. This experience has allowed me access to several different exercise class opportunities and it is always fun to try something new!

TJ has been continuing to work with keeping the kids active throughout the day while I am at work. He is still taking them on morning walks with the dogs after breakfast. We also filled up the kiddy pool this week in the backyard. Aviana has been having a blast in the pool along with the dogs. I’m not sure if Aviana or Bruiser, our lab, love it more! Aviana also tried a new fruit, a small plum, which came in our bimonthly box from Gary Organic’s. They are just her size so she did not waste any of it and she was able to easily grab it from the refrigerator. We also took another trip to the Farmer’s Market in Summerville this weekend to get blueberries, watermelon and corn on the cob. While we were there getting our fruit, there was a woman cutting samples of a lemon watermelon. We didn’t get to try it but will definitely look for it next time we are there.

We took our second family beach trip this weekend and our first trip to Sullivan’s Island for the summer. Our friends joined us, so Aviana had extra people to play with her. Aviana spent the majority of the time in the water or playing with buckets full of water on the beach. Taven discovered the sand for the first time and loved digging his hands into the sand. Sullivan’s Island is by far our favorite beach to take the kids. The waves are not as strong as they are at Folly and it is not as crowded as Isle of Palms.

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest


Week 9: Adjusting to our summer schedule

Enjoying the fresh air at a "Party in the Park" event in Mount Pleasant.

Enjoying the fresh air at a “Party in the Park” event in Mount Pleasant.

This week was very eventful for my family. We did so many activities, but it sure did wear us down! TJ had his last two days of school this week, which were teacher workdays. He took both of the kids with him since we didn’t have a babysitter. They both loved the attention as two of TJ’s former students watched them while he got work done. We also went to the Party in the Park on Tuesday. This was our first time attending Party in the Park but we will definitely be attending another one this month. We enjoyed being able to relax with the kids and listen to live music.

I attended my second spinning class this past weekend and felt a lot more comfortable. I was able to adjust the bike without any help and knew what to expect. I also met with Katie again for another training session on Tuesday after work. We did another new workout utilizing the indoor track, where I did numerous exercises using weights as I walked around the track followed by running a lap. On Thursday, my friend asked me to attend a Zumba class with her near my house. I had not gone to a Zumba class since I lived in Pennsylvania but was excited to go. The class was fun and it was nice to do a workout with some friends!

We experienced another big transition this week for our family. My nana left to go back home to Pennsylvania, which changed the atmosphere of our house. We are now working on getting the children on a schedule that works for us since TJ is off for the summer. Taven has been used to getting up at 3:15 a.m. with me while I get ready for work. However, we are now trying to get him to sleep in until at least 6 a.m. TJ and the kids are also going for morning walks every day after breakfast!

Aviana has been enjoying her days with her daddy and they have been doing special activities together when Taven takes a nap, like making homemade squash bread and art projects. She is so excited to show me what she has done with Daddy when I get home from work. We have had an easier time getting workouts in, too, with this transition and TJ has been able to prep dinner before I get home, which makes our evenings easier! I look forward to enjoying this summer with great family time and healthy living!

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest

Week 8: A new “spin” on exercise

I finally got to attend my first spinning class (at the MUSC Wellness Center) this past weekend! It was a really good experience. I walked into the class not knowing anyone and being unsure how to set up the bike. I never realized all of the adjustments that needed to be done to the bikes used for spinning classes. One of the women in the class helped me get started with the adjustments and then the instructor helped me after he came into the room. He explained the adjustments to me and the reason behind each one, which was helpful. He had put together a longer workout for this particular class due to it being a holiday weekend. I think I did pretty well considering it was my first class.

On Tuesday, I went to another training session with Katie. She developed another new workout for me which focused mainly on my arm and abs. The plank series was definitely the toughest part of the workout since my arms were already tired from the arm work.

Vanessa's fishWe took the kids to the beach for the first time this season over the weekend. Aviana loves the beach, so it was no surprise that we had trouble getting her out of the water. Taven wasn’t so sure about the beach in the beginning but was all smiles before long. TJ and I also went fishing over the weekend with a friend of ours and caught some Spanish Mackerel.

Throughout the week, Aviana started imitating a dance that she had seen on a television show. This started a fun little dance party that night which continued to occur a few times last week. She makes sure that everyone participates, including the baby!

Shellman-Vest saladI opened up my refrigerator this week and realized that I had salad items that were about to go bad so we had a large salad with everything remaining in the fridge. I hate throwing away fresh vegetables and fruit that goes bad! This week I also noticed the difference in my hunger when I miss my protein shake in the morning. I have been drinking a protein shake in the morning daily since I met with the nutritionist. One morning I forgot it on the counter on my way out the door. I was starving during work that day!

I look forward to the week ahead as my husband is finally done teaching for the summer and gets to stay home with the kids.

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest

Week 7: Preparing for change

I feel like I have not made much progress this week. I was feeling that way toward the end of last week when I went to write the blog post and it carried over into this week. We are in the homestretch of my husband wrapping up the school year, which will mean my grandmother is also leaving. She has been with us for the past two months watching our children while we work.

Our routines are going to significantly change once my husband is off, but for now it is very chaotic with all of the extra stuff we have going on. On Sunday, I went to MUSC and was extremely excited to finally get there to take a spinning and yoga class. I left my house early and got there a half-hour before the first class was going to start. However, I forgot to double-check the time and was actually an hour-and-a-half early for the class. Since I had driven there and already gotten into the wellness center, I decided to do a workout even though I was too early for the classes. I didn’t think I could make it through the classes after doing cardio, so I will be going back this weekend to finally do the classes. Luckily, I know the right time now!

I also met again on Tuesday with Katie, the trainer at MUSC, and did another amazing circuit workout. I have left there feeling accomplished! Every Tuesday that I have gone and completed her workout I have felt this way and wish that I could replicate that at home. Having a trainer there really helps to push you through when you feel like quitting, and it reminds me of why I loved group fitness classes so much in the past.

We have a lot planned for this upcoming weekend, which hopefully will be a driving force to get me back on track. We will be going to the beach, helping friends move into their new home and getting together with friends for a birthday celebration. Our elliptical machine was also fixed this week, which will make it easier and more convenient to do cardio at home.

Our hanging strawberry and tomato plants.

Our hanging strawberry and tomato plants.

The rest of my family did well this week. TJ was able to lift, golf or play racquetball almost every day. He also participated in field day with the kids in his homeroom class at work. I had to hear about how sore his legs were from a very competitive tug-of-war tournament.

Toward the end of the week, TJ surprised Aviana and took her to the hunting land to ride on the 4-wheeler, which she absolutely loved! She was able to see a turkey and a deer while they were riding through the property.

Aviana is also continuing to eat healthy snacks and has been going outside everyday to play in our back yard. In respect to our eating habits, we are starting to be able to eat from our garden and we are continuing to get bi-weekly vegetable and fruit boxes from Gary’s Organic. Having fresh vegetables and fruits help us to make better choices throughout the week.

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest

Week 6: Cardio challenges and a fresh take on snacks

This week, Aviana discovered a new favorite snack: fruit on sticks.

This week, Aviana discovered a new favorite snack: fruit on sticks.

My husband, TJ, spent this past weekend in Pennsylvania watching his brother graduate from college, while the kids and I spent the weekend attending the Habitat Festival in Summerville. The festival was nice to take the kids to because it was small with a lot for them to do. Aviana had a blast running around and even made herself a new stuffed animal at the stuff-your-own-animal stand.

Aviana and I also met up with TJ this week at the eighth-grade dance he was chaperoning at Berkeley Middle School, where he teaches. It was her night with just TJ and me, which she always loves. She got all dressed up in her “cute dress and hair bow,” as she says, and once she warmed up, she danced with the kids for the rest of the night. She loved all of the attention and the kids were so good with her.

I had my second visit this week with a personal trainer at the MUSC Wellness Center, where I did a different circuit workout from last week. This workout began on the step machine for a warm up, followed by a full-body workout using the TRX machine and a cool down on the treadmill. I had never used the TRX machine before, nor do I ever remember seeing it. It was awkward at first getting used to how you had to use the machine. However, I would recommend using it if you ever have a chance. I felt the after-effects of the arm portion of the workout for two days after! Katie (the trainer) and I also discussed what a good circuit workout would be for me to do at home in between meeting with her. She suggested doing a circuit including two minutes of cardio, followed by crunches, squats and push-ups. I’m supposed to repeat the circuit five times, with alternations (changes in incline or resistance) being done each time I do the two-minute cardio section. I have been able to do the crunches, squats and push-ups, but the cardio section has been tough. Our elliptical machine broke about a week ago and is still in the process of being fixed. One part was replaced, which led to another part breaking, so we are waiting to get the part for the technician to come and replace it. With both kids in the house, it has proved to be more difficult doing cardio without the elliptical. Previously, I would go running with my husband and just put Aviana in the jogging stroller, but we can’t do that anymore because we only have one jogging stroller with two kids.

Our biggest challenge right now is scheduling and figuring out how both of us can get to workout with the kids. But once we figure it out, it will change again since TJ is almost done with work for the summer.

Nutritionally, we have been doing better lately. We get Gary’s Organic boxes every other week, our garden is finally starting to come up, and the farmers markets are open. We always tend to eat better when we have fresh fruits and vegetables, especially since I hate wasting anything! I have also been able to follow through consistently with having 20 grams of protein in the mornings, as recommended by Ms. Petitpain at MUSC and it definitely helps.

Aviana also found a new favorite snack this week. For Mother’s Day, TJ sent me an edible fruit arrangement, which Aviana helped eat. She discovered that she loves fruit on sticks. So, we saved the sticks from the arrangement and have been using them to make her snacks of grapes and strawberries.

Finding time to exercise and eating habits continue to be our struggles, but we are grateful that we can utilize MUSC’s experts to help us make small yet effective changes in our lives.

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest

Week 5: A new work-out routine and healthy eating tips

Aviana, age 2, gets some outdoor activity by jumping in boxes made with sidewalk chalk.

Aviana, age 2, gets some outdoor activity by jumping in boxes made with sidewalk chalk.

This week we took the kids to the FamJam in Marion Square, sponsored by the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. We all had a lot of fun looking at the booths, having lunch and watching the performers. Aviana absolutely loved the princesses. Her reaction when she saw “Belle” and “Alice” was priceless! She also loved watching the break dancing performers. I haven’t seen something keep her attention for that long in awhile. I also took the kids on Monday to the Isle of Palms to watch a turtle get released from the Aquarium. Aviana wasn’t able to see a lot with all of the people but she got to play in the water and she ran around on the beach. It was also Taven’s first time at the beach. He was covered in sand by the time we left, but didn’t seem to mind!

rsz_running1My husband and I went running on Sunday, which was the first time I have attempted running in about two months. The last time that I ran I got a pain in my knee that lasted almost two weeks. I have been trying other types of exercise since then like the elliptical and Insanity workouts. I experienced the same pain on Sunday in my knee when I ran,  which was frustrating. Luckily, it only lasted one day because I had my first workout with Katie, a trainer at MUSC. Katie put together a 30-minute full-body circuit workout for me. The workout utilized the machines and weights at the gym and was meant to be a quick workout I can do in between taking care of the kids. The workout was not something I was used too because I typically do body-weight workouts instead of using weights. I look forward to working on increasing the amount of weight and learning more from Katie. She was wonderful!

After my workout, I met with Ms. Petitpain, a nutritionist, who discussed my food journal with me. I work from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., so we discussed a lot about my schedule and how it affects my eating habits. We also talked about small changes that I can make in my everyday diet. Ms. Petitpain suggested eating 20 grams of protein within the two hours after waking up. I have started to do this by having a protein shake in the morning. I am planning on buying some other high-protein foods to have in the morning when I go to the grocery store. I loved some of the other options of high-protein food we talked about, like Greek yogurt and hard-boiled eggs. Another suggestion was to make double vegetables for dinner so I can always have vegetables with my lunch, since I tend to take leftovers.

I got the chance to sign our family up for the Fit Family Challenge this week. I am looking forward to being able to track our activities to earn points. I hope you’re looking forward to logging in your activities too!

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest

Week 4: Hitting the Gym

The Vest Family visits the Summerville Farmers Market.

The Vest family visited the Summerville Farmers Market on Saturday, May 3, 2014. During their visit, they bought a watermelon and salad ingredients.

I had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Newton (interim director of the MUSC Wellness Center) this week at MUSC to talk about my fitness goals again and how my family has been doing since the initial meeting.

I will be starting classes on Sunday and meeting with a trainer one time a week. The classes on Sundays will be spinning and yoga. I have always wanted to try both of these forms of exercise but have never had the opportunity.

Gym memberships tend to be expensive and since having our daughter we felt it would be hard for both of us to utilize a gym. Therefore, my husband and I have always found alternative ways to work out without spending money on a gym membership, such as running, using our at home elliptical machine/weights or doing “Insanity” workouts since moving to Charleston.

In my home state of Pennsylvania, I was a member of the gym affiliated with the hospital I worked for. I would do classes (step, Zumba, circuit) when they were offered in addition to individual workouts. The classes always made me work harder and were more fun than doing an individual workout. So, I’m hoping these new classes are both fun and rewarding.

I have also never had the chance to work with a trainer, so I have focused my at-home workouts on what I have read on the internet or what I learned throughout the years I was a diver, so all of this is really exciting.

The largest challenge this week was when our elliptical machine broke! It didn’t impact my ability to work out, but gave me one less option. Luckily, it is under warranty and they were able to send out the parts and schedule a technician to come and fix it next week. I have been doing Insanity DVDs this week since the elliptical is not working.

On Thursday, my husband was golfing and my daughter was sleeping so I had my son in his bouncer chair while I completed an Insanity workout. He was surprisingly entertained and would run his legs every time I did high-knee running or switch kicks. It was so cute!

I was reading “Parents” magazine this week and found a “tone your tummy” with baby workout. I did this with Taven twice this week, which he loved. It involved exercises called row your baby, bird dog, plank and baby boat pose.

During my meeting at MUSC, I was given a fun activity to do with my two-year-old daughter. The activity involved having her jump back and forth over an item. I used sidewalk chalk and drew a line on the driveway and taught her to jump over the line. I also drew boxes on the driveway and had her jump in each box. She laughed the whole time! Aviana was able to imitate me and did pretty well. I’m looking forward to being able to watch her get better at her body awareness and agility. We have been continuing to utilize the calendar star system that we started last week and that has been helping us keep motivated.

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest

Week 3: Our “30 in 30″ challenge

This week brought the challenge of returning to our normal schedule. Our main focus was to get in plenty of workouts and eat healthy. My husband returned to work from his spring break, which put my daily routine back to normal. He made the decision that he was going to set a goal to do 30 workouts in 30 days. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to accomplish 30 in 30, but agreed to try. We felt a fun and easy way to track it would be to individually put a star on the calendar each day we completed a workout and a second star each day we eat healthy. It has been working so far to motivate me because my competitiveness comes out and I don’t want him to have more stars than me.

One family issue that we have been having is our daughter’s behavior in the evening. walksAviana, age 2 1/2, has not been taking naps since we pulled her out of daycare when I had my son. I feel her behavior change comes from not being stimulated enough throughout the day. We saw a significant improvement last week when she was more active so we made a few small changes this week. We have started taking her to the park more, taking her outside to play in the yard, or going on walks around our development with our dogs. We also talked to the family member who watches her during the day about stimulating her more. She has been a much happier child and has been listening better, which improves the overall mood of the household.

rsz_beecity_057I took the babies and my nana to Bee City (a small petting zoo) this week, too. We went there with my parents last summer and despite loving the animals my daughter was terrified to feed any of them. She absolutely loved it this year and fed all of the animals. They also added a new area with birds since the last time we were there. Aviana had a bird land on her head in the new area, which has been all she has talked about since.

- Submitted by Vanessa Vest