Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February Goals

Tomorrow I'll be posting a wrap-up of how I did with my January goals, but today I want to talk about how I am moving forward in February.  January was a great month, but I realized that I am going to have to tweak my approach going on.  For starters, I want to take more of a wellness approach to my life, and take the emphasis off of weight loss.  I want to make weight loss incidental to wellness, not the other way around.

  1. Continue to exercise 5 days a week.
  2. Add a second yoga practice on a day I am already working out, like Thursday, to allow for additional stretching
  3. Stick to a $230 grocery budget
  4. Help our food budget go further by making one vegetarian meal a week
  5. ...And even further by finding ways to incorporate food we already have in the house into meal planning
  6. Eat at least 1 cup of fruit or veg at breakfast, and two cups of veg at lunch and dinner EVERY day
  7. Make a tiered Barcelona skirt out of thrifted sheet, make aprons for Viv's Vintage as needed
  8. Continue to record my weekly gratitude exercise, and write a note to at least one person explaining why I appreciate them
  9. Have a date night with A
  10. Take one day for myself
  11. Spend 10 minutes each weekday cleaning and organizing the house
  12. Work on decorating our bedroom
  13. Spend 12 hours/week studying for school
I feel like February is going to be a very busy month!  I am, however, really excited to see the outcomes of these goals!  Some of these goals won't take too much extra time, while others are going to take some careful planning.  The organizing/cleaning and decorating goals have to do with my desire to improve our home environment.  Out of all of the Circle of Life areas, I am choosing to change this one this month for a few reasons.  The first one is that it seems like the easiest area to make big changes to.  The second reason is that I really can tell a difference in my mood and energy when I have a clean, beautiful home!  By having a nice home, I know that my outlook on other areas of my life will start to improve as well.

What are you looking forward to in February?  Are you changing your approach to your goals, or did the approach you chose in January work so well that you are going to stick with it?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A radiant life

I've had a lot of ideas lately about things I would really love to talk about in this space, things that have nothing to do with diet, exercise, and weight loss.  They go a step beyond that into total wellness.  You really can't experience Radiance (in my opinion) until you begin to focus on wellness.  Total wellness is not an east subject to talk or think about.  It is easy to tell yourself that if you can get your exercise and your diet right, the rest will take care of itself.

But if that were true, I doubt that the US would have the same epidemic of obesity that we currently face.  Yes, diet and exercise are important.  But really, our entire life is important.  If you aren't sleeping enough, and your stress level is too high, you will never be able to achieve lasting weight loss success.  If you don't have a strong support system around you, the chances of ever meeting your goals drop substantially.  It's a sad truth to have to face.

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition teaches in its Health Counseling program that if one area of your life is out of balance, it will have a negative impact on the rest of your life.  I experienced this truth firsthand.  I was stuck in a job I hated.  My diet suffered, as did my relationship with my boyfriend.  Every other aspect of my life began to suffer because I was so unhappy in one area of my life.  The different aspects of our life are not discrete; they impact each other in ways we can not imagine until we stop to look at what's really going on.  IIN created a great tool to help determine if your life is in balance.  It's called the Circle of Life.  The idea is that you mark each area of the circle.  If you are exceptionally satisfied with that area of your life, you mark the area closer to the outer edge of the circle.  The less happy you are with that area of your life, the closer that mark moves to the inside of the circle.

The Circle of Life
So, based on this idea, I made you all a sample of what my Circle of Life looks like right now.  I'm going to warn you, it isn't very round.

What we can see from this is that the areas of my life I am least satisfied with are my home environment, spiritual life, finances, and health.  I love connecting the dots, because it helps me visualize how one area may drag down the other areas in my life.  Throughout the next few months, I'm going to be showing you how I am working through each area in my life, and how my Circle of Life changes as I go.  I hope that you will try making your own circle of life, and maybe see how you can bring more joy into your life as well!

I hope you are experiencing radiance in your Sunday activities!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweetly Saturday

Despite my post to the contrary yesterday, there really is a lot that I have to be thankful for this week.  I think that sometimes it becomes really easy to focus on the negative, so I'm really glad that I post my gratitude once every week.  Plus, it makes my Saturdays that much sweeter when I can post about some really good stuff.

1)  I learned how to do cool stuff like adding word bubbles to my pictures using the Google+ photo editor.  Pretty groovy.

2)  Yup, coffee.  It really is something that has become a ritual for me.  I love to smell it while it's too hot to drink.  I love that first sip and how it wakes up my palate.  Yum.

3) Zicam and Emergen-C.  I was certainly feeling much better today, and I know that good self-care played a role in this epic turn-around.

4)  Saturday sale at ARC.  I LOVE ARC.  I love what they stand for, and what they seek to do in the developmentally disabled community.  I love shopping at their thrift stores.  But I really love the Saturday sale at ARC.  So much so, that I usually over-indulge in all of the great deals.  Whoops.

5)  New blogs.  Sometimes I flip through blogs, and follow link after link until one just pops out as being awesome.  This week I found Vintage Revivals.  I so absolutely love it, people.  I love how honest Mandi is with her readers about who she is, and what she loves.  I read her most recent post, and knew that I was instantly going to be blog stalking her from here on out.

6)  Time alone at home.  I love A dearly.  Truly, I do.  But sometimes it's nice to come home and have some time to myself.  Especially if I want to do something kinda embarrassing, like listen to late 90's boybands and stuff like that.  Not that i would ever do that, I just like that, you know, I can if I want to.

7)  Super great co-workers that can make me laugh, even when I'm grumpy, tired, and sick.  Ewie, you're the bomb-diggity.

I hope your Saturday is sweet!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Not a bright shiny week...

2 day persistent headache turns out to be a head cold.

School turns out to be far more time consuming than I remember.

Felt too yucky to work out this morning

My patience for all things has deteriorated.

For everyone's sake, please keep your hands inside the vehicle, and stay at least 25 feet away from the crazy woman...

Thursday, January 26, 2012


The fish in this picture do a great job of illustrating the state of my mind right now.  Absolutely overwhelmed.  I feel pulled in a million directions.  Who knew 3 100 level classes could put such a strain on my time?  The last time I took 100 level classes, it was a walk in the park.  Show up, maybe read the text, spend 20 minutes on homework, and BOOM you have an A.

Not this time, my friends.  I originally thought I might need 6-8 hours/week for studying.  So far, it is week 2, and I am already figuring I will need closer to 12 hours of studying each week.  That means I need to "find" 6 more hours in my weekly schedule for study time.

What can I sacrifice?  What is least important?  How in the world do I make it all fit without going insane?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Time to be me

On Monday as I was zipping around town on my scooter, I had lots of time to think.  I love my scooter for that reason (and many more).  There is no radio blasting, and my max speed is 40 mph on a steep downhill.  There is time for introspection that I seem to be missing in other areas of my daily life.  The thought that came to me was "Isn't it time to be more you?"

I find myself sometimes wary of being me.  I am an odd, odd bird sometimes.  I ping-pong between being wildly outgoing and social, and being a hermit whose only interest is the current book they're reading.  I'm obsessed with my cat.  My boss has told me that my wardrobe reminds her of a teacher's wardrobe.  I like things that are obviously hand-made.  I give myself insomnia from worrying.  I'm not a big fan of crowded places.  In the summer I'm happiest in hippie skirts twirling around the garden picking lettuce and tomatoes.  I love fancy dresses and heels.  I like to eat dinner leftovers for breakfast.  I love that I am the youngest person in my water aerobics class by a long shot.  Like I said, odd bird.

But what is really so wrong with that?  Over the years I have come to value the people in my life who are most unlike me.  I love the fresh perspective they bring to my world.  The way they see everything I see, but maybe I have to tilt my frame of reference 10 degrees to the right to understand why they see something that way.  Sometimes, I never understand, and that's ok too.

I hold back a lot of my real beliefs and opinions.  I don't want to offend people.  I don't want people to have a lower opinion of me.  I don't want to stick my neck out there and let them see what I'm really all about.  And in that way, I'm not being me.  It shouldn't matter so much what someone else might think.  If I value others for how they differ from me, shouldn't I expect the same in return?  The freedom to be myself has always existed, so long as I am brave enough to be myself.  There is nothing wrong with who I am, and I should be proud of it.  Crazy cat lady and all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Since school started up again last week, I have been feeling a crunch to get things done.  While I feel that I have good time management skills, sometimes I have to go back to the basics and really think through what I am getting ready to manage.  So I decided to sit down and figure out my week.  The first step was to determine the major activities that I need to account for.

1)  Work
2)  Exercise
3)  School
4)  Time with A
5)  Sewing/crafting time
6)  Blogging time

Once I had these categories broken out, I needed to put them all in a schedule.  I use a weekly calendar that is broken down by the hour between 6am and 11:00pm.  For most people, I assume this would work for you as well.  My calendar came to me as a Mary Kay handout, but you could easily make your own in Excel.  I choose to color coordinate mine, as it helps my right-brain to process everything.  My left brain just likes the idea of a schedule period and doesn't care how I block things out on a schedule, just that I do it.  Here's the schedule I made for this week:

In the morning, I blocked out an extra hour on accident for work time (blue), but this works for me as getting ready time/driving time.  Work and exercise (pink) were the first 2 things I put in, as they are the things I tend to be for sure on.  You will notice I have Wednesdays and Saturdays off from working out right now; I am hoping that eventually I will be working out 6 days a week.  The next thing to go in was school (purple).  Right now, I am allotting 6 hours a week to school.  Since this week I had both Sunday and Monday off, I am using Monday to get the majority of my studying done.  I tried to split up the rest so that I don't get too overwhelmed.  Green time is A time.  We do spend more time with each other than this, I promise!  But I wanted to carve out time that was just for us, where we wouldn't be distracted with other things.  Orange is for sewing/crafting.  What with our friends' store opening in under 2 weeks, I need to have time where I can feel good about creating and not feel burdened to do anything else.  Putting it in the schedule allows me to not feel guilty about indulging in this hobby.  Last was blogging (red) time.  I knew coming in to this semester that I did not want to blog every. single. day.  But, I still wanted to have a blog that had new content almost every day.  The solution to that was to schedule my blog posts in advance.  That way, I can have new content regularly, but I personally don't have to stress about it.  This I love.

So there is my schedule in a nutshell!  It is a rough schedule, and the times on it are approximate.  I know I won't be following it by the minute.  Yet the simple act of planning it out helps me relax enough to know that I can get through everything that needs to be done!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Planing Monday

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  I know I am enjoying my day off so far!  This morning I took the Scooter to do my errands.... Probably not my best idea, as I've been home nearly 2 hours and haven't fully recovered yet!

On Saturday I did my menu planning and grocery shopping.  I picked 6 meals that I hope will take me through next Sunday.  As such, I'm counting that shopping trip as the last one for January.  I still have a couple of things to pick up for meals, but as of right now, I know I did not stick to my grocery budget.  Whoops.  Part of me is really unhappy about this, but another part reminds me that quality of food is still important.  With that being said, I do have a plan for next month to help me stick to the budget better.  Stay tuned to hear what it is!

This week I wanted to spotlight some of the produce we picked up from the CSA.  I planned my meals so that as many of them featured CSA produce as possible.

1)  Beef chop suey (beef and veggie stir-fry with rice noodles) and Chinese cabbage salad.  This featured 2 different kinds of cabbage from the CSA box, the napa cabbage, and purple cabbage.  This was our dinner on Saturday night, and I had leftovers of it last night.  As A pointed out, they were dishes that had subtle flavors.  We loved the veggie-ness of the meal, too.  The picture below is of the cabbage salad.  It was vaguely cole-slaw like, but really benefited from the addition of jicama.

2)  Salmon with Spinach, fennel and apple salad.  We're going to be having this tonight, and I m really looking forward to it.  We both like seafood, but I haven't been making it as much lately, because of price considerations, and the overall quality of seafood in a landlocked state (usually not the best).

3)  Black bean chili with roasted winter squash.  Black bean chili is one of my favorite winter dinners.  I thought, what better to pair it with than some yummy sweet winter squash?  I think those cute little winter squash are going to make cute "bowls" once they're cut in half, seeded, and roasted!

4)  Chicken souvlaki with greek salad.  Yum.

5)  Mexican spiced pork with avocado salsa and black beans.  The salsa is  veggie explosion, and I am using double the salsa for each serving, so I don't feel bad about not serving a "formal" vegetable side with this one.

6)  Kidneys cooked in butter, mustard, and parsley sauce with creamed onions and green salad.  I feel like I need to explain this.  Yes, kindeys like the organ meat, not like the bean.  A and I have been talking for a while about introducing some organ meat to our diets.  There are a lot of reasons for this, and I don't think today is the day to go there.  We are really excited to give this a try and see how it works out!

What are you eating this week?  Are you trying anything new?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sweetly Saturday

Wow!  January is absolutely flying by!  I can't believe that this month is more than two-thirds over, it seems like it just began!  This was such a great week, and I have much to be thankful for this week. 

Let's start with date night!  I was a little frustrated with A at the start of the night,  but it still turned out to be a great evening, and a nice way to spend some time together.  I am so thankful for date nights, and a great guy.

I am thankful that ALL of this stuff (plus 7 heads of cabbage) came in our Winter share CSA box that we picked up on Thursday.  Score!

I am thankful that school has started, and one of my teachers is offering over 100 points in extra credit throughout the semester.

I am thankful that I am starting to see progress in my abilities during workouts!  I am not tiring as easily as I used to.

I'm thankful that A bought me this cute as heck stationary!  It will be great for to-do lists, etc.

What are you thankful for this week?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Something New

No, I'm not collecting "somethings" for a wedding yet.  Someday.  This week, the Shine Project challenge was to try something you had never before done  It couldn't simply be a new restaurant, or going to a new movie.  It had to be a never-ever, something off the map for you.  It took me a while to come up with an idea.  Many of the never-evers on my list either require tons of planning and prep, or are summer-time activities (you can't climb a fourteener in January!)  But at last I settled on painting classes.  I keep getting these groupon ad living social deals about taking painting classes.  I think about it for 10 seconds or so, decide it isn't for me, and **delete** it's gone.  But part of me was whispering that it wanted to try.  Part of me still wishes I had more talent with a pant brush.

So I googled painting studios, and found a very cute place in Boulder called Posh Splat painting studio.  They had a ton of available classes, and their prices weren't too bad.  So, I took the plunge, and $70 later, A and I were committed to a Thursday night painting class.

"Western Skies" was the theme for our class.  Our instructor painted the one on the right during our class

I went into the class remembering all of the kind euphemisms of the late Bob Ross (may he rest in peace), and found a lovely environment of supportive people.  Somehow, A ad I ended up being the only people in the class, and we had a great time working with our instructor on our paintings.  A and I are both very critical of our own work usually, so this was a good exercise in self-acceptance and love.  Oh, and a good exercise in who could come up with the most Bob Ross-like things to say.  The man was a genius, I tell you.  The two other staff members present besides our instructor were also so kind, and very encouraging.  A and I were surprised that in just under 2 hours, we had each created our own "Western Sky."

Not only was it fun, but it was a good excuse to have a date night.  Score!  Not only did I knock out a challenge for Shine Project, but I met my goal of having a real date with A.

Did you try anything new this week?  Oh, and A and I would love to hear which of our VERY amateur paintings you like best!  Please cast your vote!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Free Coffee

My fave mug

In Mid-late December, a Corner Bakery Cafe opened just a mile away from my office.  I was stoked, because their food is yummy.  I was over the moon with elation when I found out that the first hundred people through the door on opening day got free coffee for a year.  Boys and girls, I knew I had to be all over that like frat boys on a fresh keg.

So I got in line at 5:15am to wait my turn.  I was somewhere around 60th in line.  Sweet.  Victory was mine, I just had to wait... and wait.  Did I mention it was very very cold?  It was.  But, oh, for the love of coffee I can do almost anything.

The free-ness of my coffee is the greatest thing ever.  Yes, we have coffee at work.  Yes, I have a coffee pot at home.  But knowing I can walk into a restaurant, flash a card, and in seconds have coffee is the best.  AND they have 4 different kinds to pick from!  I mean, you don't get that kind of variety on a daily basis at home.  That variety, I am pleased to say, made me shift my way of thinking.  I always shook my head at people who drink decaf.  Why?  Drink tea, or cocoa.  I mean, I get it if you're pregnant and you just need to pretend you aren't missing out on your fave caffeinating ritual.  But for the long term?  No way.

...Until I tried the decaf at Corner Bakery.  Last week, I left my house too late to stop in and get my coffee before work.  After work, I wanted my coffee.  But, with me getting up so early in the morning to work out, I forced myself, just that once (I promised myself, just this one time, never ever again), would I grab the decaf.

And then I had to eat my words.  It was one of the best cups of coffee I have had in a long time.  It was so perfect, exactly what I wanted and needed in that cup of roasted goodness.  So crap.  How is any other cup going to compare?  Do I have to give up caffeine in favor of yummy?  Why would they do something like this to me?  I can't really be wanting to give up my Hazelnut coffee in flavor of after-dinner decaf, can I?

My head was spinning as I considered the options.  I knew there was only one thing I could do: go half-caff during the day, and decaf at night.  My half-caff is not as good, but I don't feel so weird about drinking it first thing in the morning.  And really, I've noticed that if I have more than a couple of cups of regular in the morning after a workout, I get really anxious the rest of the day.

Do I think I'll ever be a fully decaf person?  Probably not.  But as long as I have free coffee, I know that the decaf at Corner Bakery and I will be b.f.f.'s.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Never Ending List

Part of today's to-do list before I thought too hard about it.  Really want cute paper to write my to-dos on

I feel like my to-do list is endless.  I guess this is both a good and a bad thing at the same time.  On the one hand, if your list is long, you are always busy and there is less time to become bored and complacent.  On the other hand, some things just always keep getting pushed to the back of the list because new things come up that are super-high priority.  I guess those things are the things that "don't matter" or "are optional", but I really don't think so.  I think it's the things that make me nervous.  Like sending off that gift that I think they'll love, but I'm not 100% certain.  Or sending a note to that person who's having a hard time, and I am afraid they'll take my sentiment the wrong way.  Most of the time, the things I hesitate to do are either self-enrichment, or reaching out to others.  The everyday tasks of laundry, shopping, cooking, going to the bank are easy.  But for whatever reason, being there for myself and others is hard.  I hate to admit it, because I love being there for people.  I just want them to come to me.  It feels less intimidating.  But don't the other people who are too afraid to come to me deserve a friend too?

Do you find yourself consistently avoiding certain to-dos?  What are they?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Listening to your body

Over and over, I hear my massage therapist tell me that he wishes more people listened to their body, and knew what was going on with it.  I always thought this was ind-of strange.  It's your body.  How can you ignore it?  You are with it all of the time!  Yet sadly, it seems that we have selective hearing when it comes to ourselves.  We know it's sore after we work out, and we use that as our excuse to stop or to take a rest day.   But if we listened all of the time, what story would we hear?

Please don't sit at a computer all day, our neck is straining forward, and our eyes are weakening...

Please let me move and play, and don't become hateful when I don't perform the way I did when you were 16...

Please be careful of the shoulder.  We torqued it yesterday, and it will get worse if it isn't allowed rest...

I have different kinds of sore.  Not all of them mean stop, some of them simply are to help us remain mindful...

When is the last time you simply sat and got in touch with where your body is at and what it needs more of?  How long has it been since you really honored the wants and needs of our body?

On Friday I skipped my 6am water aerobics class because I was simply exhausted, and my body was feeling extreme fatigue.  Instead, I went to hot yoga on Sunday.  The hot yoga was plenty challenging, and was exactly what I needed.  Changing your schedule around to allow for your body's needs is perfectly ok, as long as you actually still get in the workouts you need, and you don't constantly use it as an excuse to sit on the couch eating bon bons.

But how do you get back in touch with your body?  There are a couple of ways.  The first is to spend some time in meditation.  During this meditation, the goal is to observe your body casually.  Don't try to adjust anything, or make judgements.  Just make mental notes, like:  I'm having a hard time relaxing my right shoulder.  Or, my legs are restless.  The simple act of spending a few minutes checking in will help you feel more connected throughout your day.  Another option is to not zone out during your work-outs.  It's so tempting, and easy to do.  It is far more difficult to stay present, but the results you will see from choosing to remain in the moment are far greater than if you just show up and think about something else while your body does the work.  By integrating the body and mind, not only will you be better equipped to achieve the results you've been dreaming of, you will also be less likely to injure yourself.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Waste not

So, usually on Mondays I talk about what I and I will be having throughout the wee.  However, I won't be collecting our produce from our farm CSA until Tuesday night, so I won't be posting about our meal plan until Wednesday.  However, I feel like I have something more pressing to talk about today.  The politics of food.  I know that many people would tel me that food politics don't exist.  However, with every purchase a consumer makes, they influence the direction the Country is moving in.  Food especially, is an important area we have direct influence over.

On Saturday, I watched a show on the Food Network called "The Big Waste".  If you did not catch it already, please make it a point to watch this pivotal show.  Four famous chefs are split into 2 teams, and then given the challenge of feeding 100 people using only products that would be considered food waste by grocery stores, bakeries, butchers, etc.  The chefs start out by talking about how they are concerned they will not be able to find enough food to use.  What they find is an entirely different situation.  It hardly seems that the chefs have to work to find food that is about to be wasted.

In America, we have been trained that our fresh food should look perfect, and that we can not buy products that have a sell by date that is anything less that 5 days in the future.  The truth is, most food has imperfections.  Imperfections are not bad, they are just a natural part of the food growing process.   Most imperfections do not impact the flavor or quality of the food, but they do impact how we perceive food.  If there is a slight mark, we will assume that it has gone bad.

What if I told you, in fact, that you are actually missing out on some of the best produce, just because it "isn't up to standards"?

These are some tomatoes that came out of our friend Viv's garden last summer.  Her tomatoes are always the best tasting, but they don't always look the best.  It isn't even challenging to cut around the area where the skin split, and it's absolutely worth the effort.

The show also highlighted a man who considers himself a "freegan", a man who gets all of his sustenance from food that others waste.  He routinely sifts through the trash behind grocery stores and finds large amounts of produce that is perfectly fit for consumption.

This show made me pretty sad.  We live in a country with dire food issues.  On one end of the spectrum, we have people with obesity issues, people who may not understand proper nutrition, and are not eating a healthy diet.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are thousands of people suffering from hunger.  And instead of this "waste" aka perfectly good food going to help those in need, it is going in the garbage, and we are feeding people in need processed shelf-stable food that further contributes to our trending obesity issue.

Does anyone else see a major problem with a simple solution?  Why don't we teach people how to work with food with blemishes?  Why don't we give food that is not quite perfect to the food banks that are seeing record shortages?  Why don't we teach people how to cook something that does not come out of a box or a can?

The real answer is very political indeed.  But instead of getting into that today (we will get there, believe me), let's just hope that it is because nobody is considering this as an option.  So, if you are bold, I ask you to consider the problem of food waste, and what steps you could take to see it significantly reduced in your community.  While I would love to think that my community is above such waste, I now this notion might be unrealistic.  One thing I will be interested to see this summer is how much of the food produced on the farm I invest in through a CSA handles food waste, and how much of their crops they choose to waste each season on the compost pile.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sweetly Saturday

Well everyone, it's Saturday again!  A great day to remember all of the great things that happened in the past week.  A few of the things I am thankful for this week:

  1. An incredible future mother in law.  She makes my heart smile
  2. Our friend Viv, and the amazing opportunity she is giving A and I to be vendors in her new Vintage store
  3. Being able to go spend a day skiing with A
  4. Knowing when to give my body a rest, even if it's a scheduled work-out day
  5. Fitness instructors and coaches who encourage people to work within their own limitations
  6. 3 day weekends
  7. The new computer I bought this week so I can be ready for school
  8. The courage to try something new (school-wise)
  9. Student loans that will pay for the computer I bought
  10. My kitty who just always wants to play and snuggle
  11. That A starts back to school on Tuesday, and is one step closer to graduation
Isn't he just the cutest? Taking a break at the resort!
 I hope you all have a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, January 13, 2012

20 seconds

This week, Ashley challenged her readers to exercise 20 seconds of insane courage (inspired by the movie "We Bought a Zoo") and see what came of it.  She reminded us that the most extraordinary things can come from ordinary people making just one right choice.

I'm not going to lie, I couldn't think of a single thing that was looming in my life that I would need 20 seconds of insane courage to get to work on.

I could think of many choices I make throughout my day that do require dedication and drive.  But for some reason, dedication and drive don't always bridge the gap from possible to impossible.  That is where courage comes in.  You need the courage to make the hop, skip, jump, or leap to that next platform, that next goal.  And this got me thinking, are courage and desire separate things, or just two facets of the same broad concept?

I have a desire to reclaim my healthy body, and then in turn to help others reclaim their health.  In order to help others, I need to achieve things that I normally would say are impossible.  Impossible that I will willingly work out at 6am five days a week.  Check.  Impossible that I will stick with logging my journey online further than 3 or 4 posts.  Check.  Impossible that I will share these blog posts with others, and not keep them to myself so that no one can see my mistakes and flubs.  Check.

So what is the next impossible?

Boulder Reservoir, Boulder, CO
 The next impossible is completing my first ever triathlon.  Completing my first ever one day century bike ride (so far I've only done a one day 50 mile ride).  And, conquering "the project", a rock climbing route that has escaped me for several years now.    The crux is 5 feet off the ground.  I hear it gets better from there... kinda.  Here you can see my friend Mitch working the crux:
It's pretty tough stuff.  I have tried it I don't know how many times.  One day, it will be a victory.

I can't say that I really know how all of this will go.  These are a lot of things that I always put in the "not for me" bin, because I was afraid.  Partly of failing, but also of succeeding.  Success brings pressure to be able to replicate that success, and I don't want to work so hard to achieve something, and then have it slip away like a ship in the night.  It takes courage to do something once, knowing it might just be a freak occurrence.  Knowing that it might be the best you will ever be at __________.  But that, in and of itself, must be worth it to take the leap and just do.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Your inner child workout

As kids, we ran, and jumped, and danced because it was fun.  There was an innate awesomeness involved in being able to be play, to huff and puff with exertion.  Don't you wish you could have that back?  Well, the good news is that you can!  Just because you are older now does not mean you can not still enjoy those same types of activities.  Below, I've highlighted some of childrens' most beloved pastimes and some great adult friendly alternatives.  Before you know it, you'll be having a blast while blasting away calories.  Mind you, you can also just wrangle up some of your friends for a rousing game of freeze tag if you're really feeling the need.

The tree climber:  As a child, you dreamed about climbing bigger and better trees.  You even liked the way tree bark and sap felt under your hands.  Your mom was forever patching your clothes where they had snagged on tree branches.  Today, how about you try rock climbing?  The grittiness of the rock will remind you of your days climbing trees, and with the advent of harnesses, ropes, and protective gear, you won't have to worry about falling and breaking yourself.  More and more recreation centers are offering rock walls, and there are entire gyms dedicated to the sport of rock climbing.  It's a great calorie burner too;  the average person can burn up to 12 calories per minute rock climbing!

The daredevil:  By the time you were 12, the nurses in the ER knew you by sight.  You were always seeking the biggest rush, the latest thrill.  Now that you're older, you still love that burst of adrenaline, but have realized that it you want to meet your grandchildren, you might have to play it a little bit safer.  Maybe you should try water sports, like wake boarding, water skiing, white water rafting, and kayaking in the summer.  In the winter, you might try skiing, snowboarding, or even hockey.  All of these activities will definitely give you the adrenaline rush you've been craving for so long, but are safe enough that as long as you take some basic lessons you can survive the experience.  The calorie burns vary for these activities, but it sounds like you're probably more interested in the rush than you are the burn.

The Kickball MVP:  You were usually picked first for any game in the school yard.  You still hold the record at your elementary school from 2 decades ago for your mad skills at kickball.  You miss being able to flip a coin to see which team goes first, and you love the camaraderie of working in a team to achieve success.  Your winning attitude needs to grab your friends and join recreational league sports!  Many local recreation departments offer adult leagues for team sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, and softball.  Some fees may apply, but isn't winning your division championship totally worth it?

The Mermaid/Merman:  From Memorial day to Labor day you were always in the water.  Your mom grimaced when your hair turned that lovely shade of not-quite green, and your dad joked that you might just grow gills.  You though Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" was dumb for not wanting to live under the sea.  These days, you might try water aerobics.  No, it isn't just for older women with joint problems.  The water acts as a natural resistance to your movement, providing you with cardio and conditioning at the same time.  Plus, most classes allow you to work to your skill level, meaning you can make it as easy or as challenging as you need it to be.  Follow it up with a trip down the water slide, and you'll feel like a kid all over again.

Hell on two wheels:  You logged more miles on your huffy than you did your first car.  As soon as dad took the training wheels off, you rode into the sunset and never looked back... until you got your license to drive.  These days, you can rekindle your live of the bike by finding a local cycling club.  They will host group rides that will give you an all new appreciation for the splendor of your area, and you'll probably never look at "that hill" the same way again.  Information on cycling clubs is usually available at bike shops, or you can check out websites like meet-up.com to see if any rides are taking place in your area.

The creative one:  You spent your recess time coming up with skits and plays, and loved to put on big productions.  You practically twirled in your sleep.  The great news is, there are about a thousand options for you to try, you dancing queen.  With the popularity of shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars there are literally hundreds of workout dvds and video games for wii and kinect that center around moving and grooving.  If you're into the social aspect, try a Zumba class.  While you might not always be on the beat, remember to always be fabulous!

Do any of these ring true for you?  Has there been a burning desire within you to try something new?  Challenge yourself to pick one new workout... something you've never tried, or haven't participated in in a long time, and let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Girl talk

(...I know there are a couple of men that read my blog, and I am sorry that this post is directed mostly at women, but this is what is on my mind.)

If you were to come over to my house for some girl time, we'd probably start off with tea, that I would serve you in one of my antique teacups.

This vegan chocolate raspberry cake is one of my favorite things to bake
And I would probably bake something totally yummy, but all-together unhealthy.

And after we'd settled in with our yummy goodness, I would spill my heart and soul.  So let's practice, okay?  Grab your favorite warm beverage and a snack, and I'll spill my guts.

I've been way stressed out lately.  I've had more of those days where "you wish you had never gotten out of bed" than I feel like I have the right to have.  I mean, I have a good job, a wonderful boyfriend, all of these blessings, and yet there are those days when nothing goes quite right, and none of that good stuff seems to matter.  It's hard to get out of those funks, but I know that I have to.  I have obligations.  I have goals and dreams, and none of them can be conquered if I live my life in bed.  I let those days, and the things that happen in those days define who I am.  But that isn't who I am, and that is not who I will become.  I'm bad at letting things go.

I have a lot of fear.  Fear that I'm not good enough.  Fear about the health of my family.  Fear about money.  Fear about all of the what if's in life.  It is making me exhausted.  I almost never feel fully awake and energized, and I think it is because I spend too much time worrying.

I'm not really losing any weight.  I kinda knew this would happen, but decided to go ahead and give myself a January weight goal anyway.  I think I came to terms with the fact that my current diet (that follows the letter of the law of my January goals) would not be enough to jump-start my diet on the 4th of January.  I'm kind of torn about how I feel about this.  One the one hand, I would rather make small changes each month that yield big results.  On the other hand, I'm American, and I am a results yesterday kinda girl.  I haven't figured out how I will feel if I do not lose 5 pounds by the end of January, but I know that I probably need to figure that out, as well as what changes I need to make next in order to start seeing the results my brain is demanding.

I'm really scared about school.  I start back to school next Tuesday to start on a BS in Accounting.  It will be my second BS degree.  I have always felt like a drifter, and have never found a path I truly love.  I like the idea of an accounting degree.  I enjoy accounting tasks and activities.  I'm just a little apprehensive that I will put time, money, and effort into getting this degree, and decide one year later it's not right for me.  As my dad would say, "On the bright side, you can cross that off of your list of things you might want to do for the rest of your life."  I think part of it is that I have so many goals, dreams, hopes, that no one career could ever encompass that.  I want to be able to LIVE life out loud, not just sit on the sidelines.  I don't particularly like being limited.

I really have the best boyfriend ever.  Even when I'm grumpy, he is there for me.

I hope you enjoyed the snack, and I know I enjoyed venting!  Hope that everyone is having a great week!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


As I've stumbled around the blogging world this past week, I have noticed that the camps on whether new year's resolutions are worth it or a waste of time are decisively split. I can't say that I disagree with either side. On the one hand, the new year is a perfect time to evaluate where you are and make changes accordingly. On the other, hand we are constantly an in progress work of art, and should be fine-tuning ourselves to be the best on a daily basis. If you're really doing this fine-tuning, then a resolution is kind of needless.

Oy, the arguments are enough to make anyone confused. All week, I waffled back and forth about how I really felt about this subject, and I think I finally found my answer.

The amazing and wonderful Seth Braun came out to Boulder, CO last spring to give a talk about Creative Entrepreneurship. Since Seth was my mentor at the time for my Health Counseling program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition(IIN), I was so excited to get to learn from him in person. During the talk, he talked about how we have to have an over-arching set of goals and ideals that we are consistently reaching for. These don't have to be specific, they can be vague notions of what we wish to create. These over-arching goals help determine what direction we will focus our thoughts and efforts in for the set time frame. Once this direction has been established, specific goals to reach that final destination can be mapped out. But it is only once we have an end in mind that we can begin to chart that course.

I really feel like this is what I wanted to accomplish with resolutions this year. It wasn't to set a very specific set of goals for myself; it was to make a decision about which direction I plan to take my life for the next 12 months. 
Looking in the direction of my dreams!

I know that in 12 months I want to be ready to transfer from Front Range to Regis University to complete a BS in Accounting. I know that I want to be back in the same shape I was in the summer of 2008, when I had 18% body fat and worked out 6 days a week. I know that I want to be establishing a solid foundation for my future with A, and reconciling my finances to that dream. But those are such broad concepts. There are many ways to go about them.

So what could I do today, this week, this month to achieve these ends? That's where my monthly goals came in to play. What steps will I choose to take to attempt to achieve my desired results? Will those steps result in success or failure? The great thing about setting monthly goals within a bigger set of goals is that if something is not working, I can change it for the next month. I don't always have to do the same things, I just need to keep moving forward in the direction I wish to go.

And in the end, where I am 12 months from now will not be the same place that I am right now, for better or for worse. But at that time, I will be able to look up and see how close I came to meeting those big ideals, and make the crucial decision about if I need to continue in that same direction, or if it is time to change course, and pursue a new set of goals and dreams.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Planning Monday

This week for my menu planning, I decided to focus on cleaning out what A and I already have in our kitchen. This winter, we decided to become members of the Community Supported Agriculture program through Grant Family Farms. With Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA's), people invest money in the farm pre-planting season to help cover the expenses of running a farm. Throughout the season, members receive a share of the crops from the farm. It is a great way to get a lot of high quality produce for a reasonable price, and support a local farm.

With our winter share, we receive a large box of storage-produce once a month. Since we are scheduled to pick up another box in just over a week, we really need to eat as much of what was in the last box as we can. Not only that, but I just realized my freezer door barely shuts! Whenever I buy meat that will be used more than 2 days in the future, I freeze it. That way, if I don't get around to making something, I can use it a different time. With all of this meat and produce, I decided it was more than high time to get to using everything up so that I have space in my kitchen again. In addition to the slow cooker soup I had planned for last week (didn't get prepared, so it was bumped to this week), I have chosen 5 other meals that I have most of the ingredients for already at home. My grocery list has less than a dozen items for the entire week!

Meal #1: Artichoke and Potato Soup from 12 Months of Monastery Soups. I plan to make this with kohlrabi, a tuber vegetable not unlike a potato. I've never worked with kohlrabi before, so I am very interested in seeing how it turns out. I'm going to serve the soup with sausages we have in the freezer.
Meet Kohlrabi.  Kinda cute, huh?

Meal #2: Indian Spiced Chicken and Spinach from Quick from Scratch Chicken Cookbook. I am going to serve this with rice and a salad with an Asian dressing.

Meal #3: Arroz con Pollo from Quick from Scratch Chicken Cookbook.

Meal #4: Spiced pork with Cabbage from 5 Ingredient Favorites.

one of 4 heads of cabbage we received in our CSA share

Meal #5: Tuscan White Beans with garlic and sage from Vegan Planet, served over couscous with roasted beets and turnips.

I am so excited to try everything out! I am also thrilled that we will be safely within our food budget this month, simply by being mindful of the items we already have. It gives me confidence that when I shrink our food budget next month, we will still be able to meet our goal.

Just an aside, the meatloaf I made last night turned out great! I made some major modifications to the recipe, but in the end, A and I both heartily approved of the recipe. I think with the book How to Cheat on your man in the Kitchen, the key (at least for A and I) is to use their recipes as a kind of jumping off point, but with the knowledge that some significant adaptations will have to be made to suit our tastes. We liked the idea of sneaking even more vegetables into our diet, we just weren't huge fans of a lot of their recipes. I will certainly give them another try down the road, but for now there are so many other great recipes to try, we are moving right on down the line.

Did you try any culinary experiments last week that fizzled? Did you have a major success? What meal are you most excited for this week?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday wrap-up

Well, we made it through week one of the new year!  it really feels like it has been longer than that for me.  I managed to make it to the gym 5 days this week, and A and I went skiing on Monday.  This week definitely had its ups and downs.  While I did great on my work-outs, I ate out more than I had intended, and I felt really stressed out all week.  Oh, and in case you all are wondering:

(cue up the biggest loser ominous weigh-in music) My current weight is 159.6 lbs.  I'll be talking more about that and my weight loss goals later this week.  But as promised, I want to tell you about how the last meal planning Monday's meals turned out!

We went out to dinner twice last week, and last night neither of us was hungry.  I cooked 3 dinners this week, and then I cooked lunch today, and plan to do dinner today as well.  We are saving the slow cooker cabbage soup for this week, so I will only have to pick out 5 additional meals.  Without further ado, here are my comments on the 4 that I did make so far:

Mushroom and Bulgar pilaf:  The store did not have Bulgar, so I substituted pearled barley instead.  I cooked the kale twice (steamed, then sauteed), and it came out really tender.  I liked how it was a filling meal without having to rely on meat.

Linguine with cherry tomatoes and 5-herb pesto:  I made to take to A's mom's house for lunch today, and we had it with sandwiches.  I had some yellow cherry tomatoes in my fridge that I had gotten on sale, and they worked well in the dish.  My tarragon I bought for the pesto went bad before I could make it, so instead I added some extra spinach to bulk things up without taking away from the green, fresh, flavor.  I also used orzo, becfause I had it on hand, and I like the way it works with a small pasta instead of a noodle.

Fearless Fried chicken:  I love fried chicken.  It is one of my favorite meals of all time.  This one did not do it for me.  I don't know if it was the coating, or just the fact that it was not fried, but something in this was off.  Bummer.

Barbell burgers:  Again, not one of my favorite burgers.  It had a lot of tomato paste in it, which made me think more of meatloaf than a burger.  A really wanted salad, so we had salad instead of fries.  I would make these again, but I don't think I would add the tomato paste.

Tonight we are making the meatloaf.  A is not the biggest fan of meatloaf, but I confess that it is one of my personal faves, so hopefully this recipe does not disappoint!  We are also gearing up for another great week of home-cooked meals!  Did you have a favorite meal that you tried this week?  Were you able to stick to your goals, or was it really hard?  What are you using as your motivation to succeed this week?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sweetly Saturday

Don't you feel like Saturday is one of the better days of the week to express gratitude?  It is just such a happy, laid back kind of day.  Since one of my goals this month is to make a list of things that I am grateful for each week, I decided that Saturdays would be the best day to share just a little more warm fuzzy with everyone.
  1. I am grateful to have a warm, safe space to live with kind, considerate neighbors
  2. I am grateful that I have a boyfriend who loves me, despite, and sometimes even for all of my faults and foibles
  3. I am grateful that I have the ability to exercise, and that I am healthy
  4. I am grateful that while me mom's battle with cancer is not over, that she has a great prognosis
  5. I am grateful that I was raised by a mother who is stubborn, and believes in perseverance
  6. I am grateful for feeling an increase in energy since I started working out again
  7. I am grateful that I have a career that I enjoy, and co-workers who can not be beat
  8. I am grateful that technology allows us to reach out to people we may not see or hear from often
  9. I am grateful that every day we get to start all over, and have a new opportunity to make something great
  10. I am grateful that the weather has been so nice this last week
  11. But most of all, I am VERY GRATEFUL to everyone who has provided encouragement for this new blogging endeavor.  I might have quit already if it weren't for all of you!
I love writing a list of all of the things I am grateful for.  It helps me to focus on the things I do have, not on the things I may not have.  I would like to challenge you to think about what you are grateful for and write it down as well.  Then, please let me know how if it was helpful and why!

Friday, January 6, 2012

What would you change?

Have you all ever been over to The Shine Project?  Ashley is a super inspiring woman on a mission to change underprivileged schools nationwide.  She is a super motivator, and I look forward to her daily inspiring posts.  For the New Year, Ashley is starting a series of weekly challenges to help people become their best versions of themselves, and talks about the journey of change, that it can not be overnight, it must be slow.

This week, the challenge was to choose the one thing in the world that you would change if you could, and then come up with steps that you could take this week to make that change happen.

This challenge made me think for a long time.  The thing that kept coming to mind was, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"  This is a question that has been asked of me many times.  However, it was always asked within the context of a situation.  "What would you do with your Mary Kay business if you knew you could not fail?"  "What would your exercise goals be if you knew you could not fail?"  When I thought about all of the things I would do if I knew I could not fail, I came up with "I would change the world by resolving our relationships (as a society) with food."

That's me on the left.  As you can tell, my relationship with food has not always been the best.

I think that America has a very toxic relationship with food.  You know those friends you have who are just poison to you?  Those people who drag you down over and over again, and give very little in return?  People, we have those relationships with food.  The good news is, there is only one human brain involved in our relationship with food, meaning it is in our power to heal these relationships.  Unfortunately, America is not an isolated society, and the results of our food relatioships has spread across the world faster than the black plague spread across Europe.

When I thought about what I could do to make the first small step in this change, I realized I had already made it:  I started this blog to help myself lead a more balanced life, and share with others the steps I am taking to get there.  As a rejection and failure phobe, this is a big thing for me to put it all out there like this.  So beyond that, what was I willing to do?  So far, I really had not put myself and my blog out there to people other than my friends and family.  The next step for me was, naturally, to promote my blog to ::gasp:: people I don't know, and reach out to out bloggers sharing similar messages.  So this week, I started making comments on blog posts that I found interesting, useful, or meaningful.  I don't know why, but commenting on a strangers' blog seems very intimidating to me.  I think it is, in part, because I don't want my comment to be taken in the wrong way, and it seems more likely that a stranger will misconstrue my comments.  But I did it anyway, and you know what?  I didn't get any emails saying that I had mortally offended them, or calling me a bad person.  Success!

So now I ask you:  How would you change the world?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What kind of exercise is right for you?

No, this is not a cheesy quiz-type post similar to an article you might find in a magazine.  This is a free-form "gentle mental" (thanks Diane!) exercise to help you hone in on exercises that might be really effective and still really enjoyable for you at the same time.  Since not every type of exercise is right for everyone at the present time in their life, it is important to periodically review your plan and see where you can make tweaks.

  • What were your favorite activities as a kid?  Did you prefer team sports or individual sports?  Did you like to do things that required hand-eye coordination or lots of agility?  Did you love to dance?  Chances are, you might still love some of these same activities.  Many Rec centers and communities offer dance and sports programs for adults at a reasonable cost.
Cycling is something I loved as a kid, and still love!
  • Do you like to sweat?  Or does the idea of sweating firm your resolve to stay on the couch?  Physical activity and exercise can be as simple as taking 3 ten minute walks a day.  Research has shown that your daily exercise is just as effective when broken into 10 minute segments as it would be if performed consecutively.
  • Remember that schedule we talked about on Tuesday?  When could you fit in exercise?  What options for exercise are available to you during that time?  Are there certain types of exercise you are unable to do at that time (many people have told me they too get too hot if they exercise in the morning).  Is there any type of exercise you would enjoy doing that fits into your schedule?  If not, and you pick something you don't enjoy you are less likely to stick with it.
  • What are your goals?  If your goal is to be able to hike a fourteener this summer, you're going to need to develop stamina, core strength, back strength, and leg strength.  Youre also going to want to practice hill climbs.  Conversely, if your goal is to be able to do the splits when you're sixty, you're going to want to focus more on flexibility and body weight toning. 
  • Besides your goals, what do you hope to gain from your workout?  Do you hope to feel a sense of calm?  Do you want more energy?  Do you just need to have a safe space to work through your emotions?  Different types of exercise will offer you each of these benefits if you choose wisely.

Now that we've figured out what types of exercise might be best suited for you, get out and get started!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Well, It's Wednesday, all right

I hate it when a day of the week feels like the very thing that everyone grumbles about.  Even with having Monday off of work, it already feels like it has been a long week.  Monday, A and I went skiing for the first time this year.  We had a great time, but I could tell we were out of practice.  Afterward, we treated ourselves:

Yummy micro-brewed wheat beer and chicken nachos!  I truly feel that there is nothing more satisfying after having gone after it on the slopes.

Tuesday was back to work.  The first week of the month is always the busiest, and since it was the first day of the new year we were open, it was even more so.

Today was a project day.  We had nearly 400 envelopes we needed to label and stuff.  Our supplies arrived right around 12:30.  Here's Emily showing off just about half of our labeling fun:

While all of this should have made for a fast week, I find myself struggling with my feelings a lot.  I know that I resolved to no longer suppress my emotions, but it is really hard.  I don't really feel comfortable sharing my stresses and my fears, my worries and my complaints with those around me, because I tend to obsess about them.  Like, a lot.  There are still things that happened in my life when I was 12 that still make me anxious just thinking about them.  So it just seems safer a lot of the time to pretend that nothing is  troubling me, especially during the work day.  I understand the theory that by acknowledging my thoughts, my fears, and my emotions that they will no longer have power over me.  I think that it is the next step of allowing myself to feel those emotions as they are happening that is really stopping me in my tracks.

...One struggle at a time I suppose.  In better news, I have been a good girl and made it to the gym every day this week.  This morning I went to my first spinning class in several years.  It was a humbling experience, and I am glad I went.  I look forward to making it a permanent part of my work-out routine.  *Side note, I can only do spinning workouts in the morning if my spin bike is positioned to get a direct blast of cold air from a fan.  No fan, no happy Kristen.*