The Year of You

learning to live without limits

Part 1…it’s all about the journey. — November 8, 2017

Part 1…it’s all about the journey.

I write a lot about running on this blog, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret….I don’t love running. When I think about what I do in a week, running makes up less than 10% of my weekly activity and  in the words of my three year old son “it’s not my favorite”. What I do enjoy is a good challenge which on most days means strength and high intensity cardio…and lately boxing (which I will get into in one of the later posts). Over the next several weeks I am going to post a series on what I really spend my time doing…and its not running. The series will be broken into several parts including the journey thus far, the nutrition, the work/activity, tips, tricks and lessons learned and thoughts about what is next for 2018. As always, each post will include a summary of what I’m doing/have done and key lessons I’ve learned….so let’s jump in.

For those of you who have read my earlier blog posts, you are pretty familiar with what got  me started on this fitness journey, but for the sake of any new readers I’ll do a brief recap. For 2016, I set a goal to run a 5k each month. I set this goal in December of 2015 when I was doing nothing…and I mean absolutely nothing.  No exercise or really any effort at any physical activity. I wanted to be fit and healthy (who doesn’t) but my actions did nothing to support this desire. To get myself motivated towards this goal and to keep myself accountable, I decided to take it public. Once I professed my 2016 goal on Facebook….there was no turning back. I was not going to give up. There are a lot of strategies you can use to hold yourself accountable, and broadcasting to the masses is one of them.

Since my goal started in the winter, most of my weekday runs were on a treadmill at my work fitness center. This was fine for awhile and then I started to get seriously bored on that damn treadmill. One day, I decided to venture into a class that was offered at my gym to try something new and it pretty much changed my life. While I made the decision to take that class and each subsequent class and training session since, I credit a lot of what I have been able to do to the convenience of my work fitness center and the amazing instruction of our fitness center superhero Stephanie. She makes learning to build a healthier lifestyle enjoyable and attainable. I started taking her classes and haven’t looked back. She opened up a whole new world of health and fitness for me.  Fast forward two years and 5 million burpees later, training and working out is the best part of my day. If I could, I would spend most my day training. The key for me and this lifestyle come from a few basic concepts that I have outlined below.

1.) Make it fun….i.e. enjoy the process. If you find working out a dread, find a way to keep it interesting. This may be working out with a friend and using it as a time to catch-up. This may be taking a Zumba class which is a seriously good cardio workout that doesn’t feel like you are working out. It may be doing strength training while listening to an audio book and using it as a time to “read” more books while building your strength. Find a crafty way to trick yourself. Personally, I think group fitness classes are a great way to start. I like the atmosphere of a group class, and a good instructor will explain modifications that can be performed to make the exercises harder or easier depending on where you are at.

2.) Hold yourself accountable, set goals and track progress. As I mentioned earlier I typically build accountability for myself by making my goals public. This is not for everyone but there are endless books on building good habits. To get you started, I recommend anything by Gretchen Rubin. Another key way to hold yourself accountable is to set measurable goals. My goals are always evolving with what I have going on in my life, but I’m always setting small goals and then tracking my progress.

3.) Make it convenient. This is a big one. I don’t want to gloss over the point I made earlier about having a fitness center at work. I realize that this is a huge luxury and that it isn’t easy for everyone to use their lunch hour to workout. What you can do to make it easier is to take out some of the guesswork. Plan your workouts for the week in advance so that you don’t even have to think about it. While you are at it, plan what you will do in each workout. Unless I am taking a class or have a training session, I always know exactly what I am going to do before I workout. Another tip to get you going, set out your clothes the night before so that you don’t have to fumble around in the dark looking for your socks. Take out the barriers preventing you from getting to that workout and you will find that it becomes less of a task and more of a habit.

4.) Finally, make small incremental changes to see sustainable results. I really believe in making small incremental changes rather than big bold sweeping changes. I was recently discussing an approach to start working out with a few colleagues at work and challenged them to consider starting small.  Making small changes makes the process seem manageable and eventually these small changes become easy and then you layer on more small changes. These small changes get you closer and closer to your bigger goals. Small changes are where it is at and it has helped me sustain and maintain all of the positive changes that I have made.

5.) It’s a journey without a destination. What took me the longest to learn is that being fit is a journey with no end. What happens on the day you reach your ultimate fitness goal? You either start a new fitness journey or you stop…and I’m guessing that after all that work and effort that you aren’t going to stop.

Next time, we talk nutrition.

I Just Felt Like Running  — November 3, 2017

I Just Felt Like Running 

It’s been almost a month since I participated in my first half marathon. Not only was it my first organized half marathon, but it was the first and only time that I have ever run more than eleven consecutive miles. All things considered, the race itself went better than I could have anticipated. I performed better than I expected coming in just under the two-hour goal that I had for myself (1:59:28) and had no major issues. I walked away with all of my toenails and no chaffing and I consider that a success. This was a bucket list item for me and while I’m not sure I will sign-up for another half marathon, I am glad that I participated. Being the half marathon novice that I am, I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned through this experience.

Pre- Race

  1. Training plan: optional. There are tons of half marathon training plans available, just search Pinterest and you will be overwhelmed. Personally, I didn’t follow a plan. I only like to run one day a week and most plans called for multiple running days.  Instead, I decided to focus on building distance on my once a week run. Each week I either added a mile or worked to improve speed of the mileage that I had built up. Once I hit ten miles, I stopped adding distance. Probably a fail on my part, but the ten miles was long enough. My plan for the last three miles was to rely on the energy of the other runners and the finish line…and it worked.
  2. Closely monitor all water, activity and nutrition on the days leading up to the run. Running for two hours will leave you feeling pretty crappy towards the end if you aren’t careful. To avoid dehydration during the race, I started increasing my water consumption three days before. In addition, I tried to keep my workouts pretty standard. I didn’t add anything new or unexpected to prevent any muscle tightness or soreness leading up to the race. That being said, I didn’t stop working out. Keep things as normal as possible.  This includes food too. Don’t eat anything new on race morning…you don’t want to deal with any unexpected side effects.
  3. Run a dress rehearsal. Make sure you do a fairly long distance run in the clothing you intend to wear to the half. This will prevent any unpleasant wardrobe malfunctions, think leggings that don’t stay up, chaffing  or uncomfortable socks. I am super sensitive to these kind of things, and will fixate on anything that feels out-of-place so I keep a pretty standard uniform when running.
  4. Plan your entertainment. It was surprising to me how many people on the course weren’t listening to music. This would kill me. I know it is generally recommended not to use earbuds for safety reasons, but if I didn’t have something to listen too I am not sure that I could complete the course. Make sure you pick something that will keep you motivated. I’ve found that when I run to audio books or podcasts, my pace is significantly slower than when I run to music. For the half, I used music only to help with motivation. Rock My Run is my go-to.
  5. Establish Coping Strategies.  I knew this would be a challenging physical activity for me. Knowing this, I established some tactics in advance to help me through it. First, create a mantra for yourself and use that mantra during the really tough parts of the race. I used my family motto which is “we can do hard things”. I adapted it to “you can do hard things” and would repeat this to myself during the tough times. It helped….a lot. Do not underestimate the power of a mantra. Another strategy I used was to come to an agreement with myself (ie my body) that I would go as fast as I could go in that moment. This gave me the freedom to slow down or speed up if need be, but always to keep pushing myself to do my best.

During the Race

  1. Find Motivation on the Course.   You will find motivation in unexpected places. I had no idea how much the spectators would impact my motivation. It was reflected in my pace too. The areas where there were more people watching the race resulted in a slightly faster pace. Also keep an eye out for the posters. The posters for these larger organized races are fantastic. My personal favorite posters included: “Smile, If you aren’t wearing underwear” and “Worst parade, ever”.  It seems small, but having something to make you laugh on mile 9 can really save you.
  2. Save a little juice for the last two miles. I knew that I would need to conserve a little energy to really push myself those last two miles. I wanted to cross the finish line strong. I had come that far and there was no way that I was going to shuffle across the finish line.

Post Race

The best way that I can describe my post race experience (once I came down off the high of completing a half marathon) was the feeling of being hung over. I was dehydrated, I was exhausted, my brain felt foggy, I had a headache from lack of caffeine (I skipped the coffee that morning) and I. Was. Hungry. Two recommendations….have a game plan for brunch after the race. We ended up bouncing between three restaurants because we didn’t want to wait 20 minutes to eat and ultimately wasted too much damn time. Also, keep moving. You will feel inclined to sit on your butt the rest of the day and don’t get me wrong you deserve rest…but don’t stop moving all together. Your body will tighten up. Finally, Jason and I wobbled into Denny’s like two 90 year olds who just had hip replacement surgery. It was painful. Final note about post race, expect to be somewhat sore the next several days. Make sure to stretch and foam roll as soon as you can. The million dollar question right now is will I do another half?  The answer…probably yes, but I’ve got a few other things that I am going to work on first and one of those just required me to buy a mouth guard.  Until next time.

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Preparing For Battle — September 26, 2017

Preparing For Battle

 

I wrote about The Battlegrounds obstacle course run in an earlier post, but I love it so much that I am writing about it again. This past weekend Jason and I participated in the Battlegrounds for the second time, the first being this past May. It is a 5 mile, 30+ military style obstacle course mud run. It is challenging, but it is such an awesome event.

Jason and I signed-up for a morning wave this time because we wanted to participate in the timed competitive waves, and this decision had its pros and cons. Both the competitive and  the non-competitive waves do the same course, but the untimed afternoon waves definitely draw a larger crowd. The smaller crowds in the morning meant that Jason and I never had to wait for an obstacle.  We also never felt like we were held up waiting to pass people in front of us and there were no lines for the showers once we had finished. Cons, there was only Jason and I to help each other out and the caliber of athlete competing at our same time was much higher which isn’t necessarily a con, but intimidating nonetheless. All in all, I would definitely stick with the morning waves if we decide to do this a third time.

As our start timed neared, I did my usual three bathroom breaks (I’ve got a ridiculously anxious birthed two children kind of mom bladder) followed by pacing. I’m not the most fun person to be around before any type of competition. Our 10am wave was upon us and before I knew it we were off. Although we had run this course in May, it was so different this time. The four inches of mud that we had run in May (that we thought was normal) was nowhere to be seen.  The running paths were a typical cross-country grassy trail and it was fantastic. No more sliding around cautiously navigating each step. Once we got going, we hit our stride.

 It was hot, so very hot for a late September day and every disgusting mud pool felt refreshing. As each obstacle arrived, we cleared them together.  There were a few obstacles that gave me concern and I was beyond thrilled to clear both of them by myself. The first being the quarter pipe wall and the second being the gauntlet. The gauntlet had the chain link fence that left me with no feeling in my pointer finger for over a week the last time. In May, I didn’t make it through the gauntlet. This time I scaled the fence and cleared to the other side. I was not letting go of that fence….and no matter what I was not going into that water. I have never been as impressed with my strength as I was holding on to the fence with only my upper body strength as my feet lost their footing. Once the gauntlet was past us we knew we were close to the finish line. We crossed together, muddy, legs cramping and exhausted but it felt so good. So what can I share with you about my experience with an obstacle course run?

1. Decide in advance how you want to approach the event. Are you going in super competitive or are you doing it for the experience(keep in mind this is a spectrum and both can be achieved simultaneously). For me, being competitive is having fun so I was going in for the competition. My competition was not with others though…it was with myself. I knew that some of the obstacles would be damn near impossible for me, but I was going to use everything that I had to overcome them. I let myself pass by only two obstacles and they were the type of obstacles that I hate. I hate them not because they are overly challenging but because they are dangerous. They involve throwing yourself up over a fairly high wall (which isn’t really that terrible) and then essentially falling to the ground on the other side of the wall (this is the bad part). I am not about to blow my knees jumping over a 6 foot wall only to fall 6 feet down on the other side. That’s just stupid.

2. Acknowledge that no matter how fit you are, you will feel like you have the body of a 90 year-old within three hours of completing the course. You do not want to schedule anything major the rest of the day because you will be walking around like Betty White by dinner time. Your bed will never feel as good as it does that night when your head hits the pillow. I’ve also come to realize that since I do not have access to an obstacle training course, there is no real way for me to practically train for this other than to build endurance and strength and just go for it. No matter how fit you are…it will be challenging and sometimes it is just challenging because the pool of water you just slid into is freezing cold and your muddy shoes are making it really difficult to swim.

3. Do not wear your best shoes or really any shoes that you want to keep. Both times I have left my shoes behind. They served me well during the event and went out on a high note.  Even more important, make sure your shoes have decent grip and tie them tight! I almost lost one of my shoes during the very first obstacle. Luckily, both of my shoes completed the Battlegrounds with me.

4. Expect strangers to be super encouraging and supportive.  While it is competitive, you are really only competing against yourself. The last race, I had strangers helping me over walls. Everyone is struggling together towards the same mission of completing the obstacle and crossing the finish line.

5. Finally and most importantly, you will feel an amazing high once you cross that finish line, and will immediately want to sign-up for the next one.  You will be beyond impressed with your abilities and wonder how in the heck you managed to achieve what you just did. No matter what I write, you really wont appreciate how amazing it is until you experience it. It’s kind of like childbirth in that sense, but instead of leaving with a baby you leave with a t-shirt and legs covered in bruises.

The next Battlegrounds is on May 19, 2018….it’s only one hour from the St. Louis area, includes free parking, pictures, bag check, shirt and post finish beer. I am not getting paid to write these things, but it really is a great value for the experience and you don’t have to drive that far. Hope to see you there!  Battlegrounds Website

 

(I feel like I need to include a sixth lesson that you will expect your pictures to come out really badass and then these will be the gems that you get….)

 

The Five Reasons I’ve Stopped Posting on My Blog and Other Excuses I Tell Myself — September 22, 2017

The Five Reasons I’ve Stopped Posting on My Blog and Other Excuses I Tell Myself

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I’ve stopped updating my blog. I think about my blog regularly, but I just haven’t been able to get myself to post anything. In the true spirit of blogging, I’ve decided to evaluate this resistance in the form of a list because bloggers love lists.

The five reasons I’ve stopped posting to my blog:

  1. In the words of my three year old son “I don’t wanna and you can’t make me”: I’ve stopped posting because I haven’t felt like doing it. I no longer aim to do things just because I feel like I have to. I have to want to do it.
  2. I felt like an imposter: I’ve really struggled with imposter syndrome. Who am I to write anything about any topic? I’m not a writer…I’m not a health professional…what do I know?
  3. Life’s been busy: I know everyone says this and its true, but writing takes time.
  4. I felt exposed: Blogging means putting yourself out there. Anytime you share your thoughts or ideas with the world you are opening yourself up, and this truly freaked me out (especially when my blog started receiving followers that I didn’t know).
  5. Go big or go home, right?: I will never be the blogger who has 1000’s of followers or one who includes professional pictures with every post. It’s not my goal for this blog. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with this, but my “all in or all out” mindset had me questioning the point of even continuing.

So there they are…the five excuses that I have been repeating to myself every week when I think about posting. That’s right…I said excuses. When I started looking at this list as a list of excuses instead of reasons, it changed my view. I hate excuses. I hate making them and I hate hearing them. As I thought about this, I decided it was time for a rebranding. Shift the blog to what I want it to be now.

So what am I really trying to accomplish with this blog? The answer to this question is this…my life is a work in progress. I am on an endless journey of growth and through this journey I like to push myself and try new things and at times I obsess over these things. I strive to become the most skilled novice you will ever meet. I jump in, I research, I ask questions and I work at it. I am the tenacious novice….the passionate nonprofessional. Going forward, what I aim to do is share what I find through throwing myself into whatever I am obsessing over in that minute. I will never be the authority on any topic, but I will give real honest feedback and insight into my experiences in hopes that you too will gain something from what I learn.

 

 

75 and Sunny with a 100% Chance of a Shower — August 6, 2017

75 and Sunny with a 100% Chance of a Shower

 

How about this weather? What a beautiful weekend. On Friday, The fam loaded up the car and headed north making the same trek that Jason and I have made more times than we could count. This trip was different though. It was the first time we took the boys to the Chicago area for fun. Usually we have some family event and don’t usually have time to do anything on our own. This trip we had all day Saturday to show the kids around the area where Jason and I learned how to be adults….where we both went to college. Everytime we are up north, it still feels like home. I know all of the streets better than our true home and can navigate around with minimal GPS guidance. It is also the land of my kind of drivers.  A no nonsense group of aggressive drivers who reside in the suburbs of chicago. I love these people and I love this place.

We decided to venture to the city on Saturday splitting our day between the Museum of Science and Indusry (MSI) and the Shedd Aquarium. The MSI was so much fun. We spent 4 hours there and could have easily spent the whole day. The boys were a great age to explore MSI. Shedd was way to crowded for my liking and after losing Shane for a terribly long 60 seconds, I was done with Shedd for the day. Don’t get me wrong, great aquarium just not on the day we went.

A stranger offered to take our picture after seeing our selfie struggle
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The selfie struggle…

We ended the day in Naperville where Jason went to school. I love downtown Naperville and after dinner we took the boys to the Riverwalk where Jason and I would go for after dinner walks when we lived there.  I’m not sure if it was the beautiful 75 degree weather, the live music or the frozen yogurt, but we chatted about what it would be like to live in the area and both agreed that we would consider moving there under the right circumstances. We shall see. We have a pretty nice gig in the St Louis area.

The weekend ended celebrating one of my very best friends in the entire world who is getting married this October. It was an absolutely beautiful shower for the most deserving person. Jorie may be the single most caring person that I know and she always has a special place in my heart no matter how far apart we are or how long it’s been since I’ve seen her (but hopefully not too long between visits). I can’t wait for the wedding in just two short months.

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Jorie and her maids

 

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The Loft girls

Three and a half hours left on the trek back home….until next time.

Starting from a happy place — July 29, 2017

Starting from a happy place

First things first. I want to take this minute to explain why I keep up with this blog. I think it started as one thing and has morphed a bit, and now I am just kind of going with it. What you are about to read (or have read from me in the past) may seem idealistic or ridiculous or sometimes downright impossible…and I understand that. At different times in my life, many things seemed unfeasible for me and there are lots of things now that I want to do that feel impossible. Everyone should absolutely do what works for them and their priorities and their life. I never intend to write from a place of judgment (except when it comes to people who don’t like watermelon…those people are just idiots). Instead, I try to write from a place of positivity and growth. If through my experiences, I can give one person something that benefits their life, then I am happy. Finally, my posts are in no way intended to be “look at my perfect life, I have it all figured out”…because my life is not perfect and I very rarely have anything figured out, but when I do stumble upon something that works for me I want to share. I am on a daily quest for growth and if I can help someone on their journey then that is a good day.

For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about my morning routine, and how I could refocus this routine to start each day feeling a little better. I thrive on personal growth and my morning just didn’t feel like a reflection of me and my priorities. I would often feel very frazzled and exhausted by the time I dropped my son off at daycare at 7:00am, and this frazzled state would follow me throughout the day.

I firmly believe in the power and benefits of a good morning routine and taking control of your day using each morning as an opportunity to set the pace. If you feel successful in your morning, your confidence, motivation and discipline will be with you the rest of your day. The morning is also when I feel like I have the most motivation and willpower. After several weeks of researching the morning routines of successful individuals or individuals who I admire, I decided to take action and give some new things a try.

Thinking about it now, my former morning routine was such a time waster. It included checking my many forms of social media to see what I missed and just generally wasting time trying to get my mind and body to wake up. I was often left feeling like I lost valuable time, and aside from feeling like I wasted time each morning, I wanted to feel better…to feel happier walking out the door each day. I reflected on how happy I was each morning while on vacation and wanted to replicate some of those activities. I would run on the beach at sunrise and then sit down with coffee and my journal and enjoy the silence before everyone else woke up. This was my time. I loved this time, and that feeling of peace.

During those weeks of routine evaluation, I started to map out what I wanted my morning to look like incorporating activities that are important to me. I knew I wanted to include some form of physical activity to get my body moving and wake myself up. I also wanted to include something to get my brain going for the day; something to learn from and to also set my priorities.

Starting with the physical activity, I decided that walking my dogs would fit perfectly in this new routine. I would get some extra steps each day, my dogs would get a walk in before it got too hot and I could also listen to a podcast to get my brain activated. It was perfect. To accommodate the addition of my morning walk meant that I would need to wake up 15 minutes earlier each day which sounded so. terribly. painful. On that first day, I adjusted my alarm to get up a bit earlier and forced myself out of bed. The action of getting out of bed earlier than I really needed to (or wanted to for that matter) was so powerful. I was starting my day with discipline. Forcing myself out of the warm comfy bed to do something that in that minute felt super undesirable. This small action of my feet hitting the floor was my first win of the day.

After returning from our walk, I knew that I wanted to include meditation. Meditation was one of those activities that seemed impossible to me, but I still really wanted to give it a shot. I had been trying to meditate on my own for a few months, but it just wasn’t working. I couldn’t find the right time in the day and it was frustrating.  I decided to start using the app Headspace and it has made this practice so much more achievable for me. It removed the barriers and made the practice of meditation seem so simple. I can’t say enough about how much meditation helps me throughout my day. I am able to handle the “noise” of my day so much more effectively. My decision-making abilities seem clearer and I just feel a bit more at peace.

After I meditate (which typically takes less than 10 minutes), I start to organize my day which includes my “To Do” list. I prioritize the personal and work related items that I want to accomplish that day. Once my list is complete, I grab my journal and very simply write three things that I am grateful for. I believe that starting your day from a grateful place allows gratitude to build and expand throughout your day. It shifts my mood and cultivates more awareness. It helps me be more mindful in my decisions.

From my alarm until finishing my gratitude journal entries is 35 minutes.  The rest of my normal morning of getting myself and the kids ready and out the door by 6:45a picks up from here. By 7:00a, I feel like I have already accomplished so much, and on most days that frazzled feeling is gone. My brain and soul are ready to go and I’ve already logged a few active minutes. I carry this energy throughout my day.

For me, routines and habits are the foundation of a successful day. Small changes to my morning routine helped me become more present by rethinking my daily activities. I challenge you to think about your morning routine. What small changes can you make to get yourself out the door in a happier place? I challenge you to jot down a few items over the next few weeks. What would you include in your ideal morning? Incorporate a few of these changes for yourself.  If the changes don’t feel right, make adjustments. The final point I will make is that it is so important to understand that there is no one size fits all approach here. What I do works for me, but you need to do what works for you which is why I encourage you to think about what makes you feel good and determine your priorities.

Finally, here are a few tricks that I use on myself to establish new habits and routines:

Establish a plan in advance of when you expect to start the new activity. By establishing a plan, you are making a commitment to yourself and no one wants to start the day disappointing themselves.

-Now that your plan is set, prepare for the plan. Make it super easy on yourself and set out anything that you might need so that all you have to do is grab and go. For me this is setting out clothes and the dogs’ leashes for the walk. The less I have to do, the more likely I am to follow through.

Establish and build discipline. Knowing that you can sleep 15 minutes longer, but you get your butt out of bed instead…that right there is discipline. I feel like discipline isn’t discussed enough, but discipline breads success. Establish this discipline within the first five minutes of your day and that small insignificant action of getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button feels like a huge win.

Anchoring new habits with familiar habits. When starting a new habit, build it into an existing habit or routine. Combine activities that feel familiar with activities that are new.

-Finally, reward yourself. I love coffee….I mean really love it, but I don’t allow myself to have coffee until after I’ve completed the most important parts of my morning routine. It is my reward after finishing my gratitude journal entries.

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My obsessions this week help make this new morning routine possible.

Headspace App: The Headspace App provides guided mediation in the form of short three to ten minute sessions. The initial sessions are free, but it requires a subscription the further you get. I love this app. I have tried meditating on my own, but often felt like I was wasting time sitting quietly with my eyes closed. This guided meditation ensures that I have a successful session.

Gratitude Journals: I don’t have a special gratitude journal, but instead I make entries in my normal journal. Every morning I write very short entries describing what I am grateful for that day. It starts my day in a grateful place that changes my state of mind for the day. My journal of choice comes from a store in Australia called Typo. When I was there for work earlier this year, I stocked-up (and thankfully so because shipping to the States is $40).

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Small Buffalo Journal (lined) from Typo. Its glittery and perfect. I love it.

Ink Cards App: Unrelated to my morning routine, but worth the obsession. I have used this app on and off for several years. Little known fact….I am adamantly against traditional greeting cards such as Hallmark cards or really any card you can find in a store. I often refuse to buy cards unless the card is the vessel to hold the gift. If I must buy a card, I’ll try to find something clever on Etsy…OR I will use Ink Cards. Ink Cards allows you to pick a card template, add a photo, enter the address and off it goes. The typical card including postage is $1.99. I will  use this app to send cards to grandparents or other out-of-town family members just to let them know that we are thinking of them. From start to finish, it takes no more than three minutes to prepare the card and complete the transaction, and hopefully put a smile on someone’s face.

 

Obsessions: the summer edition — July 20, 2017

Obsessions: the summer edition

This week I’ve decided to do a post exclusively on things I am obsessing over this summer. I haven’t included any obsessions in the last few posts, and thought what the heck.

So here we go, here are the things I have been obsessing over this summer.

Target’s Monthly Beauty Boxes: Love them. Seriously. Target comes out with a new box each month filled with full size and sample size beauty products. I have found some awesome products through these boxes (each box typically costs $7.00). Some of the products that I’ve received are also on my obsession list:

  • Sun Bum Tan Wipes: I am a pale individual. Due to a considerable amount of  lake and beach time this last month, I have somehow managed a tan, but most of the time I am an unnatural shade of fluorescent white. The sun just doesn’t like me…and that’s okay. When I have an event coming up like a wedding, I’ll use these wipes on my arms and legs two days before the event to take the edge off my paleness. They are super easy to use and I haven’t had any issues with streaks. Love them.
  • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Lip Shine in Radiant Rose: This was a full size sample from the target beauty box, and has become my go-to lip gloss. I don’t know what else to say about it…I just really like it. I’ve ordered it in two other colors, but don’t tell Jason…I am supposed to be working on my online shopping problem.

Podcast Speeds: Big shout out to the Wall Street Journal for recently publishing an article on using the speed feature of the Apple podcast app. I had no idea that this existed, but this feature has changed how I listen to podcasts. I always seem to have more podcasts than I have time to listen. By increasing the speed to 1.5x (this seems to be the fastest I can go right now, 2x speed just sounds like chipmunks), I am now able to consume more podcasts and still feel like I am actively listening. It’s amazing how quickly your brain adjusts to the increased speed….and yes, I realize that I am a huge nerd but I love podcasts.

Watermelon: There are so many watermelon haters out there…and honestly I just feel bad for them. How can you not like a good seedless watermelon in the summer? I know this fruit is at the bottom of the list of healthy fruits, but it’s delicious and I love it and it just screams summer.

Jason’s famous margarita: I’m really picky about my mixed drinks. I like to know exactly what is in them so I can figure roughly how much sugar I am consuming. Jason created a “skinny” margarita for me that he has refined over the last few months and I don’t feel guilty drinking it. The recipe includes five basic ingredients: Tequila, orange juice, lime juice, agave nectar, ice.

Recipe: One shot lime juice, One shot orange juice, Two shots tequila, agave nectar to taste, Ice.

I prefer my margaritas frozen, so we use our small ninja to blend the ingredients. If you aren’t going to blend the drink, I recommend using a shaker to mix the agave through. Enjoy!img_4822

 

Riding a Bike: Last month I rode a bike for the first time in 15 years. I use spin bikes fairly regularly, but riding an actual bike was different….and harder. I liked it so much that I borrowed a bike this past weekend and spent an hour touring my neighborhood. Bike riding is great cardio plus you stay a bit cooler than if you were to go for a run. It’s also a great way to creep on your neighbors and check out homes that are for sale. Bike riding also pairs perfectly with a podcast at 1.5x speed.

Next Time: I have been fascinated with morning routines lately. In my next post, I plan to talk about my routine, the changes that I have recently made to this routine and why I think it’s so important to start your day out right.

 

My Daily Journey Back in Time — July 14, 2017

My Daily Journey Back in Time

I have an absolutely terrible memory; it has steadily declined since having kids. Early on as a mom, I realized how important it was for me to remember the everyday moments…the memories that probably don’t warrant a picture, but are momentous nonetheless. In July of 2012, I started keeping daily notecards to record these “little” momentous daily events. My inspiration was from Pinterest…obviously, right? Pinterest was life at that time. Now that I have been doing these daily notecards for five years, it has become a part of my daily routine. Right before I go to bed each night, I find that day’s notecard and jot down the important parts of the day. It takes me no more than two minutes and one of those minutes is spent reading the lines from previous years.  It’s my daily journey back in time, and I am so thankful that I started doing this.

Each index card represents one day. If you were starting today, you would write July 14th  at the top of the index card. One the first line you would write “2017”, and include a sentence or two describing the highlights from the day. Each day you would do this, and just move that day’s card to the back of the box once complete. As a side note, I realize that there is probably an App to do this, but that’s just not for me. To each their own, but just as I prefer writing in my journal over typing out an entry in an online journal…it just loses something for me. 

For anyone interested in starting this, here is what you need to know. It is really super simple. First, you will need to procure two things. 1.) At least 366 lined regular size index cards (366 because of leap year). 2.) A recipe card box to hold the index cards, make sure it is large enough. I bought mine on Etsy because I wanted something a little nicer than the plastic ones.

Link to Index Card Holder Similar to Mine

A few tips from my five years of doing this.

  1. Don’t write about the weather…unless it is something crazy.
  2. Don’t say “today was a good day”. 2012 Lauren has a few of these and they drive me crazy now. Explain what was so great about the day.
  3. Don’t leave out the unfavorable moments. If it was momentous, include it.
  4. If you are going on vacation or traveling, bring those day’s cards with you. It will make it easier to keep your routine instead of trying to remember what you did that day when you get home.
  5. If you can’t think of anything to write, do a “point in time” review. “Ex. Chase is really into soccer right now and loves all things Pokémon. Shane is really into trucks right now and loves watching Octonauts.” I will do this every now and again when it feels like an ordinary day. It’s fun to look back at their progression. You can do this with anything, favorite foods, toys, activities. Maybe they are currently obsessed with the color yellow. Write it down on a day when you are struggling to come up with something.
  6. I think it goes without saying, but you don’t have to always write about your kids.

These notecards have been such a blessing to me. When I started doing this, I had no idea how much I would appreciate these each day. From remembering Chase’s obsession with dragon’s to the oddity of Shane smelling like scrambled eggs as a baby…(yes, weird). I don’t think I would have remembered these little momentous daily events without my notecards.

 

 

Camping, dancing and reunions: Our Independence Day week — July 9, 2017

Camping, dancing and reunions: Our Independence Day week

Every Independence Day we spend a few days at Bull Shoals lake with Jason’s family. You can say what you want about camping (and believe me, I hate most things about camping), but you can’t dispute that it is a time for enjoying the simplicity in things and slowing down. This year was probably our best trip yet. Every year the boys enjoy the lake more, and despite a rainy day, we still had so much fun on the lake. As I was laying in my raft on the lake, I would catch myself in a state of full appreciation. Appreciation for my family and the time together, appreciate for the relaxation, and appreciation for the beautiful sunny days.  I could feel my brain storing these moments as memories.

Jason and I left the boys with my in-laws mid-week and we drove up north for the wedding of one of Jason’s best friends from college. This wedding has been many years in the making, and the celebration of this couple was perfect. Add in a full night of dancing with Jason (I think I logged 200 active minutes of straight dancing) which may or may not have included me performing a full rendition of Footloose with one of the groomsman (one can only hope that someone recorded it) and you pretty much have one heck of a party. It was so great to see this group of guys that have stayed so close. I wish we could see them more often.

Our final stop of the week was back home for Jason’s 15 year high school reunion and our hometown picnic. We made the drive home and Jason was able to catch up with some of his good high school friends. I always look forward to the picnic, but this year may have changed things for me. I often write my blog posts mostly for my own sake,  but if you take one thing away, I hope it is this: Be thankful for what you have. Appreciate the good times. Appreciate the simple times. These will be your memories.

 

The Island — June 23, 2017

The Island

It feels like forever since I’ve written anything. It has been a busy few weeks and the busyness of this summer  has just begun. Last week we spent the week on Anna Maria Island.  It is one of our favorite places to travel, and every time we visit we talk about retiring there. This year was our third trip to the island…the first one being ten years ago when Jason proposed. We love this place. The sunsets and sunrises are amazing, the island has an awesome laid back vibe (nothing overly developed or commercial), the water is clear and the beaches are perfection. If we didn’t have a family rule of not traveling to the same place every year, we would definitely vacation on AMI every single year.

The day after we got back from AMI, we headed up north for one of the many weddings we have this year.  2017 is the year of weddings for Jason and I with five of our close friends getting hitched before the end of the year. This past weekend we danced our butts off at the absolutely beautiful wedding of Jill and Rich. Jill and I met in college and immediately became friends and ultimately ended up living together for the next three years. I love this girl and probably wouldn’t have survived college without her.  I couldn’t be happier for her and the beautiful life she is starting with Rich.

In two short weeks we head back north for the wedding of Justin and April.  Jason is in this wedding and has known both Justin and April since he started college. There is no doubt in my mind that this wedding will also be a ridiculously good time. Hopefully my dance pants are wrinkle free and ready to go.

Until next time…