Friday, November 27, 2009

Boston recap

So as you may remember, a few weeks ago I went to Boston for the weekend. My family lives there and I spent a lot of time growing up there, so it's definitely my second home. While I was there I met up with my spark besties - Heather and Stef. Stef lives in Boston and Heather in Albany, so they were both much closer to Boston than to Texas, which made perfect sense why we met up over this trip!

We really didn't get the ball rolling with picture taking (hey, we're all new bloggers!) until we ran our 5K on Sunday morning. Saturday we did spend part of the day in Boston.

Me and Stef (and my HUGE jacket because I was freezing!)

Heather and Stef

Heather and me

We really had a wonderful day in the city. We went to a neat little cafe called The Parish Cafe. It was incredible! Stef and I ordered the same sandwich and afterwards realized how stupid it was for us to not split it. We also walked around Newbury street and went into Paper Source and Victoria's Secret!

Sunday we awoke BRIGHT and early to run our 5K. We ran the Luv2Run Boston 5K in Soldiers Field park in Cambridge. This was Heathers and my second 5K and Stef's first. Let me tell you that I was SO nervous for this 5K. My previous 5K I ran with Matt back in September and I finished the entire thing without walking in about 45 minutes. But I had been training like crazy for that race and not so much for this race. Prior to this race, I hadn't been running consistently due to that little foot injury I had. My main goal for this race was to stick by Stef's side and NOT to walk.

When we arrived, there were not many people there. We checked in and received our race bibs and took some pictures in the parking lot. As soon I saw my race bib, I started feeling better about the race. I was #19, which is the number of my MOST favorite baseball player - Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox. Having #19 on my bib and running in Boston, I started feeling a little better about the race. This must be a good sign!

I was cold and refused to take off my hoodie until I had to!

Next we figured out that the race was sponsored by RoadID. Welllll, I had my RoadID on and so did Stef!! This was definitely sign #2 of a good race.

RoadID Power!

Stef and I sporting the RoadIDs together.

We finished taking our pictures in the parking lot...


The three of us!

... and then we walked briskly around the parking lot and stretched some. Everyone was lined up at the finish line which was NOT the start line, so right as the race begin everyone running the race had to walk together a little ways down the sidwalk to the start line. The buzzer went off and we started running! Stef and I stayed to the back as much as we could and let the rush of runners pass us. Heather was a little ways above us, but kept circling back to catch us. We three had already established that since Heather runs MUCH faster than Stef and I, that she would run ahead and we would stay towards the back. Finally I motioned for Heather to keep going and she went on her merry way.

Now it was just Stef and I and after the initial rush of people flew by us, I looked around and realized we were basically at the end of the pack. This was a little disheartening for me. I figured there would be people walking some of the race and we definitely wouldn't be the last to cross the finish line, but it sure started to look that way. I guess that's the difference with racing in Boston since it's SUCH a running town!

The other hard part about the race was the course layout. The course was NOT closed, so we had people whipping by us on bikes, with dogs, running, etc. There were no water stations, no markers to show you how far you had gone. We had no clue what time we would finish the race in until about 5 minutes before we crossed the finish line. It was really frustrating. Also, the two of us were definitely running too fast. We started out WAY too fast (I think we were trying to keep up with Heather some) and had to tell each other to slow down in the beginning. We definitely should have said it again to each other, but didn't. I didn't want to slow down or walk because I wanted Stef to have the best first 5K possible and she didn't want to slow down because she thought I was ALREADY running too slow. No way sister, I was trying to keep up with you!

Of course we didn't realize this until the end of the race, but it was good nonetheless. Neither of us walked and we were both able to sprint to the finish line at the end and pass a woman who was running/walking the whole race and being rather obnxious. Seriously when we would catch up with this woman, she would take off - only to walk again a minute later. She was being very rude about it too - we were NOT trying to beat her, we were both simply trying to finish the race.

So Stef and I crossed at 40:45, almost a 5 minute time difference from my first 5K. I was SOOOO proud of Stef. She did a fantastic job. I was also VERY proud of Heather, who finished in about 35 minutes. That's incredible and I definitely can't do that!

Post race after grabbing gatorade and some fruit to calm our stomachs

Stef's dog Tyson was there to cheer us across the finish line too!

It was a fantastic race and I am so pleased with the outcome. Even if only 2 people finished behind Stef and I, the three of us chose to wake up early on Sunday and run instead of sleeping in and eating room service. We also chose to stay in Saturday night and eat a healthy pizza dinner and go to bed early instead of staying out drinking all night. That's really all that matters. And I'll take 5 minutes shaved off my 5K time any day! Here's to hoping I can shave 5 minutes off the next one and be in Heather's time bracket!!

I can't wait for my next 5K!

Lexi's day in the park

FINALLY I brought my camera up to work so I can put all the pictures on my work computer to upload. I can easily do this at home, but my computer is old and super slow compared to my work computer. Since I blog old school through the blogger website, it easily takes me about an hour to do a picture post at home - which is why you don't see that many of them. Now that I have it (somewhat) set-up to upload at work I can now put pictures on my blog MUCH more frequently!

So about a month ago (wow, I'm lame) Matt and I decided to pack some food, some beers and the dog up and head down to a park right next to our apartment. It was SUCH a nice afternoon. We had a really great meal and there were a few flag football games going on, so we were able to watch those games as we sat and talked. Lexi seemed to have a good time too, despite being tied to a tree. At one point she definitely tried to run off to chase a squirrel but didn't get too far  because she was tied up! While we were there, we tried to take a few pictures as a family. Yeah, those didn't turn out toooo well - but here are a few of the highlights.

At first, she was pretty happy just laying there.

And then as we started taking pictures, she realized she wanted to be part of the happenings.

She decided she needed pictures with both of us!

Then we tried to take family portraits and she lost interest. Her face cracks me up SO much in this picture.

But once family portraits were done (there were a lot more but SO not flattering - sorry!), she was back to being happy again!

And she even decided she needed sunglasses to shade her poor eyes!

We really did have a great day and I know Lexi enjoyed being outside and being part of the family pictures, even if her face didn't really show it!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The battles of the Type A personality

As many of you may have figured out by now, I have an extremely type A personality. I have MANY of the classic characteristics: Ambitious, perfectionist, impatient, competitive, can't relax, consumed with time, needs to be in control, constantly stressed. Mostly, too, I'm anxious.. about everything. I'm consumed with nervous energy and it fills my entire body. I actually have a generalized anxiety disorder that I likely have had since birth, but has become more strong due to some personal circumstances I've gone through in the past few years of my life.

I've come to realize in the past few months that I actually feel my best and work my best when I accept these facets of my personality and use them as strengths instead of weaknesses. The times in my life when I've felt the best and been the most productive are the times when I've actually been the most type A. College is my best example that I could share with you. I thrived in college because I was completely in control of EVERYTHING and it was amazing. I find that when I'm not in control, or feel like I have control, I feel stress - almost instantly. So, in college.. I was able to let all of my type A characteristics come out and I felt safe. I was able to be a perfectionist with the notes I took in class, the assignments I turned in and my tests. I was able to be competitive and not feel like an overachiever. I could be ambitious and go for two degrees and take the hardest course loads. I hardly had time to relax because I was so busy, so I didn't have to worry about that! The point is that, for me, I was the MOST productive in college that I've ever been in my life.

One of the things that kept me grounded throughout my later years in college (the years where I really buckled down and worked solely on my degree work) was my day planner. I have had the exact same day planner for the past 4 years. Yep, since 2006 folks. Every year I go to Barnes and Noble and pick up a refill and I see the exact same format that I've seen the prior year. This planner has become such an integral part of my life that I think I would literally cry for a week straight if I lost it. It has birthdays, anniversaries, bills, paychecks, a structure for how every single paycheck will be spent. It has recipes, notes, papers sticking out out of random weeks of things I need to keep on hand at all times. My planner goes with me EVERYWHERE. Every day when I come to work I pull my phone and my planner out on my desk and they sit there with me all day. And every single year when I go buy a new one, I spend a solid hour writing down everything from the previous year into the new year and color-code where necessary (you wish I was kidding).

The planner is by week and each day is broken down into half hour blocks for Monday-Saturday from 8am-9pm. It has a section up top where the date is that I can write general reminders about that day. It has a section on the side for calls and emails for each day. It has a monthly section in the beginning (which strangely I don't use right now but I should) and a by day map out of the next year in the back. It has a little tab I can tear out as each week passes so I can easily find my way to the current week. And best of all, right now I have a red cover for it. It's stylish and it plans out every day of my life.

A few weeks ago I was feeling a little undue stress about certain events going on in January. I wanted to open my planner and start writing down these events, but thus my planner stops at January 3. So I went online to Barnes and noble and tried to find a refill on there. No luck. I talked myself off the ledge (figuratively of course) and told myself to wait closer to Christmas. They will eventually go on sale for 50% off and I should wait until then, like i do every year. Well fast forward to today and I felt this same stress. I thought about it today and reasoned with myself that if an extra $10 to buy the planner now meant I would not be stressed out periodically over the coming weeks when I felt the need to write down something, it was worth it. So over lunch I went off to Barnes and Noble. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I was so excited!!! Imagine how un-excited I was when I got to the store and could not find this planner anywhere! How in the world could I have bought this same planner for the past 4 years and now this year, they are not carrying them anymore? Once again, trying to avoid a panic attack I went to the help desk and handed over my trusty planner for the guy to find a serial number (or something on). I'm sure this man thought I was crazy, but I didn't care. I need a 2010 planner! He could not find anything in his system, nor in the store and told me to check back in a few weeks to see if more come in.

Not going to happen buddy.

I looked at their calendars but realized none of them would work. I preceded to drive down the plaza to an office_____ (depot? max? no clue) and look there. At first all I found were "At a glance" calendars, which clearly by the name you know that's not going to work for me. I did actually find one that broke down every day into 15 minute increments! Remember when I told you my weekly routine is broken down that way. I was almost sold when I realized it was missing two very important things that my current planner has: a tear out tab to know which week you are on, and the ability to hold papers, notes, etc in between the pages. This one was much larger than my current and had a ring binding instead of my current book binding.  I left the store empty handed and sad.

I realize that telling you these things make me sound even more OCD than you thought I was at first, but I'm okay with that. Having this planner reduces my stress and that is all that matters. My planner is a huge part of my life and it's important to me. I will not settle on just any planner. I need something that is going to fit my needs. And an extra $10 to buy a planner now is worth it. Sometimes in life you need to pick your battles. My battle with stress is better combated by having a planner that works for me, and I recognize that it's a worthy investment.

Strangely though, after this series of events and revelations - I did realize today that I was being dramatic and my world will not end if I don't get this exact same planner. After looking at several other planners today, I noticed a few things that I don't like about my current planner. I also realized that if I wasn't going back to school in 2010, I could easily just buy a planner without the hours broken down - as I don't even use that feature right now. I work a desk job where I work in excel all day long. There is nothing I could write in the planner for work that needs to be there. I generally just make lists and arbitrarily assign them to a block of time for my personal things right now. But once school starts, I will be back to my old ways - writing down every class, study session, test and paper and color coding all of them. My planner will look alive again!

After remembering I'm about to go back to school, I knew that with all the change approaching in my life, I could not accept the change of having a different planner next year. It might seem silly, but this planner has been with me when I've been my best in life and I want it there for the next phase, one that I still feel very anxious about. After I came back from Barnes and Noble today, I searched online and finally found a refill from the companies website and paid $20 with shipping for the refill. But that is probably the best $20 I will spend for the next year because it has bought me peace of mind, a channel for my quirks and a means to survive through a time of change and uncertainty. I'll take it!

Welcome to the mind of a Type A personality!

100 Day Challenge

The problem:

I am in a plateau. I have been for about 6 weeks. I am going insane and therefore not focusing on the important small steps to get myself out of the plateau. Instead I am choosing to not track my food, not work out and cry because I feel like giving up. This has been heightened by the fact that it's the holidays and I can't shake the feeling that I won't be able to lose during the holidays. It also is magnified by the fact that come January 19th, I start 16 hours of school plus 40 hours of work a week and I'm convinced I'm going to not make it and my health will be the thing that slacks.

The attack plan:

Join a 100 day challenge 3 of my spark friends are doing. We have set 5-6 goals of things to do for the next 100 days. We are tracking these things every day and competing to see who has the most check marks. I have 6 goals, so I have 600 possible check marks to get.

The goals:

I have chosen achievable and important small steps so I can make it through the holidays, through the start of school and close to half way through the semester.

1. Drink 100 oz of water a day

2. Eat a minimum of 2 fruits and 3 veggies each day

3. No eating out unless for a special occasion (birthdays, work functions, meeting distant friends, etc)

4. At least 10 minutes of activity each day

5. Track ALL food

6. Weekly: Accomplish all weekly goals. If I miss a goal, I miss a day's checkmark. Two goals missed, two checkmarks, etc.

The reward:

We have a small reward for the group that we are still deciding on. My personal reward will be a Garmin Forerunner if I can get 90% of my checkmarks. I need 540 total.

The results:

I'm on day 2 and I am ALREADY down .8 pounds from my last low over a month ago. That means that I'm back on the low side of the 3-5 pounds I've been bouncing between and am making progress already.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Managing your life and your time

I would love to tell you that I'm just having a rough time with blogging lately, but in all honestly, I'm having a rough time with everything in life! I'm not sure why - I'm not sure when it started.. I just have been off and it's been virtually impossible for me to feel caught up.

The truth is, there will never be a time when life runs 100% smoothly. There are many parts and pieces to everyone's life, and sometimes it's hard to manage all of them. This past summer I found that I was having a lot of problems with managing all these aspects of my life and I was feeling stress constantly with TIME. I always thought I was horrible with time and that I could never manage my time, but that's because I didn't know how. Since then, I've learned several tricks to manage time and lately - I've been slacking on them. Thus, I feel like things aren't getting done, I feel like out of control and that's making me feel a little stressed.

Everyone's life has some main categories of focus and everyone's focus is different. Here are MY main categories that I make time for (in no particular order other than family being the top priority):

1. Family (Matt and Lexi)
2. Friends/Social (this includes blogging and spark!)
3. Exercise
4. Eating well (cooking, shopping, planning)
5. Work
6. Keeping a clean house (cleaning, laundry, dishes)
7. Relaxing
8. Financial (budgeting, paying bills, planning)
9. And soon, school!

So at any given time, I don't feel like I'm managing one of these areas well. Right now, I feel like I've been slacking on family, blogging and exercise. Matt and I have had opposite schedules lately and it's been rough. I've been swamped at work, which is where I usually blog so the blog has been pushed aside. I realized this is a problem today because people have been bugging me about posting my 5K recap! As with exercise, I have been sticking to my plan of strength and yoga and doing a great job, but my cardio is slacking. Things have been coming up and I've been pushing exercise off to the side and that's NOT okay. So as I pick back up the exercise, I feel another area of focus start to slip away and I slack there. I'm not feeling very great about all of this lately! 

I have two tools that I've used before, but haven't been 100% successful for me. I've got to find a way to get these things working for me!

One trick I have is to utilize a weekly goals sheet. This is a sheet with rows on the left side for big categories in life. Across the top in columns are the days of the week. Each week, you sit down with this sheet and fill out one thing you will do (and on which day) to maintain that aspect of your life. As you complete the tasks, you highlight them (so you can see where your strong focuses are) and over time you can look back and see where you are lacking. The sheet I use has these categories:

1. Social
2. Financial
3. Task/Chore
4. Work/Career
5. Self care
6. Health
7. Spiritual
8. Marital (Relationship)

I've filled out this sheet, week after week and I have not ONCE crossed off everything. One thing that I've realized (since I started writing this blog! I love epiphanies), is that my life doesn't always fit into these neat little categories. I'm not a spiritual person by nature, so maybe instead of focusing on a spiritual thing to do, I'll plan my blogging. Instead of just writing down "quality time" (something I always do) in the relationship row, I'll plan out a date for us. My life is a series of choices I make about what I want to do and I can't feel like I "should" be doing other things because that's the norm. This will be the first change I make.

Second, I have a weekly routine that I've built and try to follow each week. This routine is broken down into 15 minute blocks (because I'm THAT OCD) and so everything that I need to do in a week has a time and day. I have flex time built into the routine so that I can move things around or just have a spontaneous night and not have to worry about anything. The first step in me doing this was to write down the things I have to do and the things I want to do, and make time for them all. Things that I have to do, but never really would do, involved stuff like dusting, cleaning my mirrors, vacuuming, etc. I grew up in a very messy family and it's been a personal mission of my adult life to have a clean house as often as I can. I never want to relive not being able to invite people over because our house was such a mess. But since I'm not a cleaner by habit yet, I have to make a conscious effort to clean. The things that I want to do, but never make time for, involved reading, making cards, taking time to clean my car. The routine gives me the time and ability to tackle the big stressors in my life and make time for them each week. Each week as I maintain these stressors, they never build up and hence it never stresses me out!

This is such a great tool, in theory. But I've found as I put it in practice, that I got discouraged pretty often. I mostly get discouraged because I feel like I'm constantly busy. But I have realized that I didn't put enough time to relax into my routine. I also was a big overachiever about certain tasks. I wrote down that I wanted to read for 30 minutes before bed. In theory, that sounds like a great idea and a great way to relax! But what if I wanted to watch TV one night and I missed reading? Missing the things on my routine was giving me stress and ultimately after a few months of using it, I threw it out the window. I haven't even looked at that routine in a solid month. I've got to go back and revamp this. Some things I will not do every single day, like reading. Some things I won't do every single week, like making cards. Ultimately this routine is going to give me the lifestyle I want and it's going to eliminate all the struggles between the areas of focus.

The main focus of getting back into these habits and utilizing these tools is so I can maintain my sanity come January 19th. I'm taking 16 hours in the spring on top of working 40 hours a week and I KNOW that if I feel stress right now about these areas of my life, I'm going to have a mental breakdown probably on January 20th. So right now is time for me to buckle down and to make my weekly goals, to re-do my routine and stick with these things every day. And if I can achieve this, I will no longer have to come on here apologizing to all my readers, with my tail between my legs, because I've been a bad blogger. I can tell you right now - blogging is a low priority for me and therefore, it's not going to happen every day like some bloggers can do. But I'm okay with that.

I can remember in college when I worked as a waitress, my boss told me one day the importance of the girls that could only work 2 days a week and gave away their other shifts versus girls like me who worked every day and picked up shifts on my off days. He told me that having a balance between the people whose job was a low priority and the people whose job was a high priority made the restaurant and the scheduling work more efficiently. You have to have both groups so that you always have enough people on the schedule. That's how I see bloggers. Instead of comparing myself to the super bloggers that blog multiple times per day and show you their every meal, I will just resign myself to the bloggers who blog when they can and have no set way of blogging and I'll become the best blogger in that category that I can. I'm tired of feeling like I should be apologizing to everyone!  

I'll be working on revamping these tools over the next few days and come Monday, it's on! Anyone want to join me on this mission?

(All this being said, I will try to make some time to upload pictures to my home computer and do a 5K recap sometime soon. I AM sorry about that because people are apparently waiting on my pictures. Whoops.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Changing the game

After my totally lame, whining and borderline pity party of a post I wrote yesterday about yoga, I decided NO MORE. I have two options regarding yoga: I can give up, or I can make it my focus.

Guess which one I chose?

I won't lie - I'm in a rut. And sadly, I've been in this rut since the last week of September. I was so dedicated and focused to running my first 5K that it consumed me and once my 5K was over and I accomplished my goal, I started slacking. I stopped running as much and I really just lost focus of what I'm doing because I had no more BIG goals. I started spinning again, and while I LOVE spinning it's just not something that you can really focus solely on like you can with running. So I spin and I run and that's really all I've been doing the past 5-6 weeks. That also means my weight loss has like halted. It was going pretty slow regardless, but I mean I've been up and down that same 3-5 pounds for weeks. I'm done with it!

The next big step in my running career (other than improving my 5K time, which I'm doing without much effort) is to run a 10K. I'm just not quite ready to do that right now. I've been feeling frustrated with running lately because I want to go longer and farther but it just doesn't seem as interesting to me right now. I'm loving the 2.5-3 mile hilly routes I'm doing in my neighborhood and anything more just seems "blah". So clearly, it's time to focus on something other than running.

My new focus involves yoga (how'd you guess?!), but it's not solely yoga. In order to become better at yoga, I really need to improve my entire core and my muscles all over my body. Strength HAS to become my next focus. And to be honest, I'm really really scared and not excited about this. I love ridiculously hard, heart throbbing cardio. That's my thing. Strength is so NOT my thing. Strength hurts and makes me sore and makes me feel discouraged and I feel like I'm just bulking myself up. I KNOW that I'm not bulking up, it just feels that way. I feel like I have too much weight to lose still to focus on toning and building muscle. Don't worry, I know all the arguments about how muscle burns more calories than fat and building muscle will boost my BMR. I just have been choosing to ignore those facts, I guess until now :)

I reached out to my spark friends yesterday about tips for yoga and how I can get better and I had SO many great responses! I decided to do a little yoga each day (Sun salutations seemed to be the most recommended) and still attend the 1 hour yoga class Wednesday nights. There is also a 1 hour yoga class at my gym Monday nights, so I can always bump it up to two nights a week if I want. It also was suggested I try a body "pump" or "works" or what have you on the name, type class that involves strength training to music. My gym has one tonight that I'm going to attend and try. I am SO nervous, but I have serious issues with working out at home so I need to do some of this in the gym so I'll actually go! Unlike Caitlin, who recently admitted she relishes being the inexperienced newbie, I detest that feeling. It makes me anxious and I feel like everyone will stare at me because I'll be so lost and pathetic, but I'm going to push those fears aside tonight and just GO.

New Plan: I will make strength/core work my priority over the next 2 months. I am still working out the kinks to my new plan, but I believe it will look like this:

Sunday: Long run/strength (3-4 miles)
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Short run (2 to 2.5 miles)
Wednesday: Strength/yoga
Thursday: Spin
Friday: Body works (or a run if I need it)
Saturday: Off/rec volleyball

I bought the book, Lift like a man look like a goddess, a month ago based on the excellent recommendation of Stef. It's just been waiting for me to read it, so I'm going to start reading that soon. My goal is to have this book read and start doing their strength plans by Thanksgiving. Until then, I'll just focus on some core work at home on the days I should be doing strength.

I also have been informed of the wonderful Oh she glow's Whittle my Middle challenge. This is probably the perfect thing for me right now with my new concentration, it's just a matter of doing it. I have a stability ball, but don't really want to inflate it and use it (it takes up SO much space when it's not being used), so I'm actually going to use Heather's modified plan of exercises. They look like they are more on my skill level, and frankly I'm too lazy to make my own plan! This is great too because I can track all these exercises on spark too since she gave us the spark demonstrations!

I'm super nervous about this plan but I'm also excited. I NEED this change. I just hope it can help me feel better and feel like I'm going somewhere again!

I'm also doing some revisions to my nutrition, but I'll save those for another post!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Namaste. I hate yoga.

A little spark advice (from my spark calendar today):

"Say no to negative goals. If your goals say don't, never or stop, reword them. Focus on what you CAN do (like eat 3 fruit daily), not what you CAN'T do (eat sweets). You'll be more motivated and successful!"

This is EXCELLENT! Thanks spark!

Also, I am slated to talk about yoga today because I'm having major problems with it. I started doing yoga about two months ago when I joined LA fitness. I decided to start doing yoga because I don't have great balance and I am NOT flexible. Clearly these are two areas of my health I want to improve and I hear that yoga is the best solution. Also, (please don't lecture), I don't do strength training right now so yoga is the closest I get to a good strength workout.

(I KNOW, I KNOW, I need to do strength. I'm working on this...)

My gym offers two night yoga classes - Monday and Wednesday. At first, I tried going to both classes each week. I wasn't sparing any of my other workouts, so twice a week yoga meant 8 workouts a week. That wasn't happening. It's a lot less pressure for tell myself to go once a week instead of twice, so I brought it down to once a week. Then, you know, things came up and I didn't go. Last night I finally went for the first time probably a month.


Seriously, what did I expect? I haven't done it in a month, it's going to be hard. But, last night was only the third class I attended. Yeah, my body still sucks at being flexible. I have all the right excuses for why yoga is SO hard for me, but yet I'm having such a hard time believing I'll ever improve with yoga.

I've tried to relate it to running and realize HOW hard running was at first. And sure that's true, but I wasn't running for an hour at first. This yoga class I attend is one hour. One hour where all I do is mentally bash myself because I can't do what everyone else is doing. Then comes the pain. I know I shouldn't complete a pose to the point of pain, but there are so many things that cause my body to cramp up. My hips are the worst. I tried to do a side leg lift (one knee on the ground the other out to the side) and my hip just froze and cramped. We also had to sit in a backwards "W" last night and I can't do that - like, literally I can't do that. I am missing cartilage in my hips, so sitting in that position causes bone on bone contact and I was told from childhood that I should not sit that way.

It's frustrating. I want to give up every time I'm that class. But the competitive and ambitious side of me wants to stick it out because I'm not a quitter. And the healthy side of me wants to stick it out because it's unsatisfactory that I have no flexibility.

So, dear yogis, what is my problem? Is it that I am just not flexible and I will improve with each class? Or is my body just not meant to move in those ways? The problem with my hip has never, ever, bothered me other than not being able to bend and move in certain ways. I want to believe that the side leg lifts that I have such problems with is a matter of my hip flexors being weak. How long until these cramps go away? Should I be doing like 10 minutes of yoga every night before bed on top of this hour long class once a week? If so, which poses should I do?

Seriously, I'm lost on this and I'm frustrated and I know I'm being negative about it and I'm trying to stop. I just want to be flexible and have a stronger core. Why is this so hard!?!?!

Namaste. Right now, I hate yoga!

(hate is a strong word, but it's appropriate to describe my frustration at this point)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back on track month

I wrote this last week, on 11-2, but forgot to post. I've tweaked it a bit, but the general thought is still the same!

It seems like everyone and their dog is doing a back on track month for November right now. It's funny (to me) that people are trying to get back on track in November - because isn't that technically the start of the holidays? What has happened in October that has caused us all to feel like we need to get back on track? And can we even get back on track with the holidays approaching?

Don't get me wrong - I am not saying I'm not part of this group. I definitely need to get back on track too.

I feel like the holidays wouldn't be so bad if we could take out the huge build-up of anxiety that comes with it's arrival. It's like we convince ourselves that being healthy during the holidays is impossible. This makes us more susceptible to slip up because we've already established a negative connotation to the holidays in regards to our health. It's like telling yourself all day that you don't want to work out. Your workout is going to be awful because you've convinced yourself it will be a negative experience. Tell yourself all day you're going to have a great workout, and it will be a great workout.

Stupid mind and it's trickery and games.

So what's so bad about the holidays? You spend a lot of time with friends and family and that's great. Some of these people may not choose to be healthy, but so do a lot of other people we come in contact with every day. Sure there are some special holiday treats that we all have, but we face the temptation of treats all the time. You don't always have a set routine because events come up and people are off of school and work, but that's the same as the weekends - right? If you break down each of the challenges we all face in the holiday season, you are able to see that these challenges are the same that we face every day. So are the holidays hard because these challenges are more frequent and large scale in nature? Or because we enter the holiday season with the preconceived notion of how hard it will be?

I don't have the answer. I wish I did. But I'm going to approach this holiday season as if it's a mental battle. I will tell myself that I am in control of my body, my nutrition and my actions. I will apply my acknowledgement that when I have the option to be healthy I will take it, so I don't feel guilty if I don't have the option. I'm also going to simplify my life as much as I can. I normally make a long list of monthly goals, but I'm going to just focus on two things this month - consistent exercise and eating what I've planned to eat instead of what is just there. You know, you go into the office and someone brought in a huge bowl of candy? I'm not eating it unless I planned ahead to have it! I won't be going out/eating out unless I plan it in advance. I'll be in New Jersey with Matt's family for (almost) an entire week over Christmas and I will do my best then also because I'm in control! Even if they don't have the healthiest food I would choose, I still am in control of my portions and hopefully I can help his mom with some of the cooking so I can health-ify it a little!

I am going to grab the holidays by the horns and make my own path instead of following in everyone else's footsteps. For me, just sticking to these two little principles of exercising and controlling what I'm eating is going to make the difference. I don't need a long list of goals to get my head lost around. I don't need the disappointment of not meeting these specific goals or the stress of achieving them. I just need to tell myself every morning that I AM in control, that I CAN do it, and that I AM THE ODD DUCK.

I'm the girl that makes it through the holidays losing weight, not gaining

I've also joined two holiday challenges - one sponsored by spark and the other is the POTM challenge, so I can stay accountable. These challenges are small and simple in nature, just like my plan is.I'm the one that makes it through the holidays losing instead of gaining.

I will keep repeating these mantras to myself today (and the entire Holiday Season!):

*I am in control of my body, my nutrition and my actions.

*Change your mentality and everything else will follow.

*Pick the healthy option when it's available so you don't feel guilty when there is no healthy option.

*Don't approach healthy living as a diet. Approach it as a way of life. You WILL eat holiday treats, you will choose how many and which ones you have. And you will enjoy every single one that you have! Life is too short to not enjoy it.

Good luck to you all in this unofficial Back on track month!

What are you doing to stay on track (or get BACK on track) this holiday season?

From the store to your plate

I just need to say that I haven been SO busy but I miss you all so much. I also really miss blogging. Blogging keeps me accountable, it keeps me aware and it keeps me connected to the people who support me the most. I think my google reader has like... 500 unread blogs?! OMG I have no idea how I'm going to get through that, but I will.

I wrote a really good blog last week about the upcoming holidays and how I'm planning to attack them, but I never posted it. Sigh! So don't worry, I'll probably re-vamp that entry today and post it. I plan to have my Boston trip and 5K recap up this week too. I would love to do it now, but I don't have my camera cord at work. Damn!

I also have been thinking of new ways to improve my blog. Since I don't really enjoy recapping every meal and every day of my life, I've been thinking of a few new series to start on the blog. I don't know why I'm not much of a recapper.. I guess I just don't feel like it's an adequate use of my time, you know? I was there, I saw what I did and most of it doesn't seem that special to share with the internet! But I've been thinking about starting a "Meals to eat cold" series, since I'll be in desperate need of these meals when I'm taking night classes next semester. I also thought I might start a series on budgeting and saving money. This is something I've been working on very hard in the past year and after speaking with Heather this weekend about it, I decided I might have some great tips to share! Also, I somehow managed yesterday to only spend $75 on groceries for the week (mostly just food for me, but some for Matt too!) and have a TON of food, so I'm feeling pretty proud and excited about my new budgeting tactics.

So that is what is on my radar right now. Also, you know, just getting back on track. I had not tracked my food for a solid week, week and a half before yesterday. Yesterday was a little rough because we had almost NO food in our house, so I had to rely on eating out for breakfast, lunch and snack. I had a hodge podge of leftover items that had to be eaten ASAP for dinner and made a big pot of chicken chili (if it's good, recipe to come soon!) that I'm having for lunch today. I also batch cooked a lot of rice. I'm really excited.

So here are the things I bought yesterday. I first researched what was on sale at a few local markets and picked the market that had what I wanted. I also kept my options flexible while shopping. Instead of being specific about exactly WHICH fruits/veggies I wanted to buy, I looked around the market and picked the ones that were cheapest. I also did this with cheese and granola. I bought my granola and some dried beans from the bulk sections (SO much cheaper!) rather than buying them pre-packaged. This allows me to get as much as I want, rather than being limited to what is in the bag.

At the "farmers market", Spouts (I LOVE this store) I spent $30 and bought:

Dried kidney beans
Dried pinto beans
Pepper jack cheese
Cheddar popchips
Boneless pork chops
Chicken tenders ($1.97 a pound! I bought  ~4 pounds and froze most of it)
Acorn squash
Honeycrisp apples ($.99 a pound!)
Red bell pepper
Red cabbage

Then I went to wal-mart to buy the other staples. I spent $45 and bought:

4 lbs baby carrots (for our dog, she eats half dog food/half carrots twice a day.. on sale though $1.25 a pound)
Celery hearts (should have bought at farmer's market but forgot)
2 loaves bread
Asparagus (I wasn't planning to buy this but it was on sale for $1.88 a pound)
Frozen corn
Skim milk
Canned tomatoes (for chili)
Enchilada sauce (for chili)
Dill pickles (seriously been craving these)
Chili beans (for chili)
Sliced ham (for Matt)
Shredded 2% cheese
Sliced 2% cheese
String cheese
2 bags brown rice
Turmeric spice

It looks like we like cheese a lot, huh!? :) The pepper jack above is for me for hummus sammies. The string cheese is a great snack. The shredded and sliced 2% is mostly for Matt, though I will use a little bit.

So I bought ALL of this yesterday for $75. I was VERY pleased with myself and excited all at the same time. I have some great veggies to eat this week and have already made rice and beans for the week too. I bought some chobani earlier in the day so I can have yogurt/granola for breakfast. I have a plan, I have the right food and I have the will to cook. It looks like it'll be a great week!

I also hope (this week maybe) to start showing you guys what exactly I buy, and then how I use it to make meals. I think so often people tell you the things to buy (or the things they buy) but don't show you what they actually bought or how they put it all together. I can tell you that fruits and veggies are great for you until I'm blue in the face, but I think if I don't SHOW you how to use the produce, it doesn't really help you all.

Now what to do with my acorn squash... I know I'm going to stuff half of it. The rest, I'm not sure yet. I'll get back to you on this!