Questions of the Month: February

Three steps to a satisfying lunch!

Step one: Brown rice base

Brown rice

Step two: Top with roasted Brussels sprouts and pork

brussels sprouts pork

Step three: Top with vodka sauce and stir

vodka sauce brown rice bowl

Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Now let’s move right into some Q&A fun!

Questions of the Month: February 

It’s time for another edition of Questions of the Month where I address common reader questions that I received throughout the month of February. Let’s do this!

  • How do you create your workout images?

I briefly touched on this in a previous blog post: Everyday Blogging Tools. I am still quite the smitten kitten when it comes to using PicMonkey to create workout images.

Cardio Circuit Workout

The website is extremely user-friendly! I used to create all of my workout images using Excel and Microsoft Paint, but PicMonkey is easier and offers a lot more creative options. I’ve used it for a lot of things outside of workout images and even created our holiday card and Friendsgiving invitation with PicMonkey.

  • Your Crock Pot Challenge made me want to try some crock pot recipes, but I don’t have a crock pot. What crock pot do you use and would you recommend it? 

Ryan and I got our crock pot as a wedding gift from our friends Kaitlyn and Kailon. (They actually got engaged two weeks ago! Yahoo!) We use the Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Slow Cooker.

Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Slow Cooker

I highly recommend it because it has 2, 4 and 6-quart interchangeable cooking vessels. We typically use the 2-quart option since we’re a small family, but the larger options are perfect when we’re entertaining or want to make a larger recipe to have leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.

  • I’ve noticed that a lot of your circuit workouts say to complete a certain exercise for 20, 40 or 60 seconds. How do you monitor the time? Do you just estimate, use an app on your phone or do you use something else?

Luckily my gym has a clock posted on the wall with a second hand, so I usually just watch that. Ryan, on the other hand, does a lot of timed workouts and uses a GymBoss timer that beeps to signal when the time he programs into the timer is up. He raves about it! One of my friends who teaches group exercise classes at our gym uses the free Stopwatch app on her phone to monitor the time for certain exercises during her boot camp class, so that might be worth checking out as well.

Past Questions of the Month:

  • January 2013: Tips for new bloggers, wrist wallet for running fuel, 5K training plans
  • November 2012: Red lipstick, vitamins and non-healthy living blogs
  • July 2012: Sadie’s harness, half marathon training, peanut butter
  • March 2012: Heart rate monitor/running watch, roasting vegetables, planning workouts, protein powder


    • Kirstin says

      It’s actually got a clip on it, you can put it on an arm band, waist band, or wherever. Lots of the people in my running club use them for exactly that.


  1. says

    I have a pretty old and basic crock pot. I love how yours has interchangeable cooking pots! That would really come in handy for larger dishes that I need to halve so it’ll all fit in my little ol’ crock pot. Good thing my birthday is coming up next month. 🙂


  2. Lizzie says

    I downloaded a free app on my iPhone called Interval Timer, which is awesome. The time intervals are completely customizable- warm up, high and low interval cycles, rest time in between, and how many times you want to complete the cycle. I use this for tabata workouts and love it!


    • Arwen says

      I’ve used one similar to this that’s called HIIT Interval Training on my android (also free) — you just put in your work and rest time and how many rounds, then it whistles (like a coach’s whistle) when you are to start and stop.


  3. says

    I have a gym boss and love it. I got it after getting hooked on bodyrock a while ago. I never use it at the gym though because I feel like it’s super annoying! During the summer I work out on my apartment roof sun deck and let it beep away!


  4. says

    Mmm…your Lunch bowl looks great!
    For some reason I still have yet to use my crockpot. I have it sitting on my counter, but just never get the ingredients together beforehand. Oops.
    I love my gymboss timer, it’s so worth the money!


  5. says

    Yum! Love Brussels sprouts. Lately I’ve been making meal bowls by cooking up some veggies and protein, and then making a sauce or a gravy with canned coconut milk and whatever spices I’m feeling. SO delicious. I’m obsessed!


  6. Sami says

    Hi Julie, I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year now and recently I’ve started going back through your old posts. I came across Ryan’s first guest post from 2010 – it was so funny! And, really sweet. I love your blog and you and Ryan are so inspiring; just thought I’d share that with you!


  7. says

    I have a gymboss and love it… well should say I loved it. I had two and they both died from heavy use and wear/tear. I now use the GymBoss app on my phone and actually like it better because I can put in an unlimited number of intervals. Works great!


  8. Katie says

    I just got PicMonkey today (the monthly version), but for some reason I’m super confused by it! How do you create your workout images? Do you go to the collage or just edit picture? I have no idea how you get a plain background like that and it’s driving me mad!


  9. says

    I LOVE PicMonkey!! So fun!! I use Bit Timer on my phone for a timer app… itz awesome because you can program work time and rest time and how many rounds you want so it continuously is running and counting and keeping track of the workout!


  10. says

    haha add vodka sauce to anything and voila!! haha soo good — there is an iPhone app called FitnessTimer that I use to do interval training. I love it and it’s so easy to change :]


  11. says

    I’ve used multiple options…GymBoss, clock on the wall, my Nike+ GPS sportswatch (has a stopwatch), etc. I love using my sportswatch now, but before that the GymBoss was great. Super easy to use and great way to track!

    Oh and I LOVE the lunch idea. I’m stealing it for my recipe book. Looks like something I’d make at home on a normal day! 🙂


  12. says

    You’re the person who got me hooked on PicMonkey, and now I use it for everything! Thanks 🙂 Also, I’m a huge fan of my Gymboss interval timer. My sister got it for me for Christmas and I have used it for almost every day since. I’m sure phone apps work well, too.


  13. says

    I actually put a couple picmonkey tutorials on my blog, one of which was for my “weekly workout” images that are similar to your workouts. I’d be more than happy to email you the link to send along to whoever asked you that question!


    • Katie says

      Hi Katie- thank you so much! After a little poking around I found your tutorial. It definitely helped to demystify the process. 🙂 Thank you!


  14. Holly says

    I just ordered the Hamilton beach 3 in 1 crock pot since mine cracked last week… 🙁 I’m so excited for the different size crocks because my husband and son won’t eat leftovers much, so a smaller size will reduce waste!! I’m excited! Keep those recipes and pics of your meals coming, they are so inspiring!!


  15. says

    I’m with Ryan- I can’t do interval workouts without the audio sound of a person or beep telling me when time is up. I just can’t seem to work hard enough if I’m constantly checking my time. I downloaded a Tabata timer app on my iPhone, and there are a few others I’ve seen as well. Highly recommend them!


  16. says

    I’ve never heard of GymBoss. I’ll give that a shot. My gym has a clock but if I’m on the other side of the room and I have sweat in my eyes, I can’t see a thing! The beeper would be much easier.


  17. says

    i’m a BIG fan of the easy foodage, because i’m pretty lame in the kitchen. that sounds super yummy, and since i’m fine with the plain jane palette a favorite of mine is brown rice (or couscous) a slew of black beans and shrimp. 🙂


  18. Brittany Brewer says

    Hi Julie, I know you have posted about this before but what type of sneakers do you use for other workouts other than running? I usually do Jillian Michaels DVDs and I am also thinking of taking a Body Pump class at my local gym and I need some better sneakers. I tried searching for your other posts but I could not find it. Thanks!


  19. says

    I’ve always wondered how you created those cool workout images. I know it takes me forever to create graphics, so I will have to give picmonkey a shot! Definitely love the fonts you use 🙂


  20. Gina says

    I recently discovered your blog and have really enjoyed reading your posts. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe, but I have to confess I was a little confused (and excited–haha) because I read it on my phone and the screen cut off at, “top it off with vodka.”



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