goal, accomplished.

Five year ago, it was around this time that I decided to get healthy. This was taken of me and a friend on spring break during my junior year of college.

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I’ve been running for years now, a feat I never thought I was capable, but on Sunday, I ran my first official 5k. I feel silly in saying I felt emotional during the race, considering I’ve run the 5k distance hundreds of time and even more miles than that, but the “official” part of the run made it seem a little bit more special, an accomplishment. This was a checkmark on my bucket list and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m proud of myself. My journey has been a testament to the idea that hard work pays off. And as I say to so many people who say they hate running or could never be a runner, if the girl above on the left could do it, they can too.

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As I had had a productive Saturday , there wasn’t much that needed to be done on Sunday by way of chores for the week. Since it was cloudy and I got my exercise in early, I spent some quality time with my couch, watching 30 Rock, writing, and eating this grilled cheese with extra soup from my lunches ahead:

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As I am writing this in the afternoon, I will not have yet watched The Oscars, but by the time the post goes live, I will have watched and continued to relax. The next couple of weekends will be busy with visitors, so I’m content to curl up now.

On Saturday, I slept in and enjoyed a pancake breakfast before heading out for some errands. First on the list was to collect my racing bib and t-shirt. Next, I went to the gym and worked my shoulders, ab/adductors, glutes, and core before finishing up with a quick cycling session and stretching my legs for race day. I also did my grocery shopping and meal prepping, guzzled a lot of water to stay super hydrated, then headed out for a karaoke night with some friends.

I thought I’d suffer from stage fright, but apparently, I love holding that mic…

Going back to Friday, I did a whole lot of nothing, except force myself to the gym a bit on the late side than usual and watch 30 Rock. The trick is to drive there and go through the motions without overthinking. Habits are easy to follow! It was an early night ‘cus this girl was tired!

Overall, this weekend was the perfect combination of relaxing, active, and productive. I’ll just ignore the fact it was colder on the southern west coast than it was in the northern east coast where my family resides. This is what I get for all the teasing I’ve done whenever it snowed.

Have a great Monday!

why we celebrate birthdays

We celebrate birthdays because we’re lucky to be alive. Each day of every year is a gift. It’s the people we celebrate life with that matters, which is why I am thinking most of one person today, my Auntie Bea.

Today would have been her 81st birthday.

A year ago, my family celebrated with dinner. It was the final time we would all be together, but it was memorable for other reasons too. We laughed a lot, as we always did. I’ve never seen anyone more excited about eating ice cream than Auntie Bea that day. That just made us all laugh harder.

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I miss her. My heart isn’t healed, nor will it ever be, but I feel her with me every day. There are little moments and big, but they all strike a pang in my heart and help me remember. I’m so thankful for all the wonderful memories that I can keep with me.

Celebrate birthdays, your own and those of the ones you love. Life is a gift and a birthday is a perfect way to remember that.

Auntie Bea, here’s hoping you have a huge bowl of ice cream and a VO and water, ice on the side.

reset eating

If you are a fan of eating, like I am, then following a balanced diet can be difficult. Fall starts us out with tons of tempting treats, which is followed up with winter (when we’re covered up) and we greet the holidays with abandon. Spring might make us feel as though we should rein in the eating a bit, but the days get warmer and ice cream (although a valid year-long treat) seems that much more appealing.

I think the stress of my move has revealed itself most in my eating, and unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who “just can’t eat” when they’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. I’ve not gone completely off the wagon, but there are definitely things I need to cut back on.

Here’s how I hit refresh.

No, I’m not a fan of the juice cleanse or other crash diets, although I will up my water and tea intake (exnay on the honey). I don’t love the idea of tracking every calorie for the rest of my life, but I when I feel as though I’ve been consistently overeating for too long, I’ll download a free app and force myself to pay more attention to what I’m putting into my mouth because, much like at Target, the little things add up.

While I do not believe in completely cutting things out, such as essential nutrients found in fats and carbs, I do try to make a solid return to eating as clean and fresh as possible. I’m good about eating my fruits and veggies, but I’ll include even more in the form of soups, salads, or stir frys for lunches. I’ll make sure that my snacks are planned and packed in advance: hard-boiled eggs with a piece of fruit, trail mixes, peanut butter toast, hummus or almond butter with carrots and celery sticks, yogurt and berries with walnuts are all go to faves.

But mostly, it means not dipping a hand into the candy bowl at work or giving into every craving for chocolate. The more you eat sugar, the more you want sugar. I do indulge my voracious sweet tooth on the regular, but I try to make a real effort to eat a treat mindfully, slowly, and with a lot of appreciation so I can enjoy it and not feel as though I need more.

In the beginning of my weight loss journey- FIVE years ago, FIVE – I got a lot of leeway on the eating front because I hadn’t been working out and the addition of exercise to my life was astronomical. Obviously I changed my eating habits for the better, but exercise will only get me so far with weight loss these days and as I grow older, my metabolism will also be less forgiving.

Although, of note, I believe my exercise routine helped kick my cold in three days while others around me suffered for weeks. Just sayin’.

Eating can be stressful, especially if you aren’t feeling healthy or strong, but it’s also an enjoyable experience that should always be enjoyed. I find that when I’m overeating, I’m enjoying what I’m eating far less. It becomes a dirty little secret, makes me feel guilty and sick, which detracts from my confidence. Food and eating is not the enemy, but a return to moderation is always important and always possible.

The most important part of hitting the refresh button for me is finding a positive mindset. My body and mind are strongest together. If I feel bad about myself or have negative feelings towards my body, I tend to be crankier, more anxious, and unhappy. But by treating my body well even in the smallest ways, like wearing a ridiculous face mask, working through a particularly challenging workout routine, getting a pedicure, doing yoga, going for a walk, or just standing in the mirror and offering myself a genuine smile, I find I can face the day in a brighter way.

I got this reminder for a reason.

 

 

workout updates

I’m quite pleased with my new workout routine I crafted a week ago. Before, I would either do total body almost every day or break it in different variations of triceps, biceps, chest, back, shoulders, and legs. For whatever reason, my body rebels against leg day and I have struggled to not resent those days.

However, I think I’ve found my antidote. Many people who do split routines do legs all in one, but this time around, I decided to break it up much like I do with the upper body. Here’s what my new routine looks like:

Day One: Triceps, Chest, Quads, Core

Day Two: Quick Total Body (Run Day)

Day Three: Biceps, Back, Hamstrings, Core

Day Four: Quick Total Body (Run Day)

Day Five: Shoulders, Ab/Adductors, Glutes, Core

Day Six: Yoga (Run Day)

And on the seventh day, I deserve a helluva rest!

Again, I’m only on my second week of this routine, but my muscles are sore and feel as though they have received the proper attention to each group. On Week 1, I ran through each exercise in three sets of twelve reps and Week 2 is four sets of ten reps at a slightly higher weight. For Week 3, I’ll do three sets of fifteen reps at a lower weight, and then my highest weight on Week 4 for five sets of eight reps.

Repeat.

For strength training, I like to incorporate body strength moves with weight training for the best results. For example, I’ll throw in some plyometric moves to hit my lower body, such as jumping lunges or jumping squats, and for my upper body, I’ll add a lot of push-ups and triceps dips. This adds a nice little dose of breathless to the equation.

For my core training, which I do every day at the end of my strength routine, I’ve tried to be better about hitting each spot of the comprehensive core. I do a lot to hit the obliques, like twists and lean downs, as well as stretch out the upper and lower portions of my stomach with rollouts or leg lifts, and finally strengthen the lower back  and pelvic regions with supermans and hip lifts.

On my non-run days, I do little bouts of high intensity cardio, including the spin bike and jump roping. It’s been awhile since I’ve jump roped, but I’m getting back into it and I just love it. It’s one of the best total body workouts you can do.

I’ve left the gym feeling sweaty and accomplished, which is really the reason we go in the first place. Or at least for me. I can’t speak for you.

My workouts are intense, but I love the challenge. My problem area has always been the eating and I know I need to rein in the sugar and extracurricular eating I tend to do when stressed or bored. Mindlessness is nobody’s friend, but I am feeling better about it.

What makes you feel strong?

long weekend aesthetic

It’s Tuesday, but it feels like a Monday, but it will be Friday sooner, so…

This weekend was a relaxing one, thanks in large part to the rainy, dreary weather. No, I’m not back on the east coast. The west coast is enduring its “usual” winter according to locals. It’s not cold, but the amount of rain we’ve gotten since I arrived in September is unreal.

Speaking of my arrival, we’re officially past the five months part of being out here. Things are solid, albeit still on the lonely side, but I think being a little lonely for a bit is an important part of life. I’m developing more independence and growing ever more comfortable with being just with me. Although, it’s not like I don’t have any friends and family out here, don’t fret.

I’d like to start this post off reminding you of my humanity, as last week I was in a meal prepping frenzy and allowed my lentil soup to simmer for a few minutes too long. In theory, this lentil ball would have made an excellent meatball substitute, but I brought it to work one day and was promptly judged, so I dumped it. It don’t look right! (Yes, I’m unaware of the incorrect grammar of that sentence).

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Not everything can look as perfect as the pancakes I forgot to snap a picture of before devouring yesterday morning.

Going back to the weekend, on Friday, all I wanted to do was sit on my couch and binge watch 30 Rock (remember, for research purposes), but nature had other plans and took away my power. Since it was still raining and all sorts of cozy, I hopped into bed early (I got home late from work to have drinks with friends) and promptly fell asleep. I did hear the heat kick in and sense the outside lights flicker on in a dreamy, sleepy haze during the night, so the power wasn’t lost for long.

On Saturday, I took my time in the morning with a pancake breakfast and a kick-butt workout. After, I went out for pizza and ice cream with a friend, which is the kind of night that cannot be beat.

In the rain, you can always find the rainbow.

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I always think of my Grandma when I see a rainbow because we chased them in Ireland on our trip a few years ago. Hi, Grandma!

The forecast earlier in the week called for a bright and sunny day on Sunday, but it was overcast and windy. It made for excellent running weather and I felt stronger than I have in a lo-ong time. I love running outside. I do not love running on the treadmill. Thankfully the sun is staying out longer and longer and soon I’ll be able to run outside after work too. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be running my first 5k this weekend.

After my run, I headed downtown with my friend Brad, where we first discovered LA’s Grand Central Market. I opted for a chicken parm sandwich and saved the second half for a later meal. The journey was really so I could introduce Brad to the wonder that is the Last Bookstore. We had some fun and snapped some completely non-staged pictures…

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Okay, so maybe a little staged. But doesn’t it look magical? We enjoyed hiding in this nook full of encyclopedias and discussing the tragedy that is The Cursed Child. JK Rowling is still the queen, don’t you fret.

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We had actually planned to go to the beach, but my weather app was wrong, and this was a far more appropriate plan.

Back at home, I grocery shopped. I ask you, when is Trader Joes not crowded? It’s certainly not the case on a later Sunday evening. I also meal prepped, salads and store-bought soup (don’t judge me!) for this shortened week. The rest of the evening was relaxing and yet again rainy.

I didn’t sleep in quite as long on Monday because I was afraid it would affect my sleep cycle, but I certainly slept longer than I usually would on a weeknight. More pancakes and 30 Rock watching ensued before I headed out to a local coffee shop to write with Brad.

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Dirty = espresso in my chai latte. Quote on my journal from Meryl Streep quoting Carrie Fisher in her speech against the current president. I was actually quite productive in my writing, which followed into my workout, and again with my laundry. I might have been let a little too loose in Target as I came home with a basket full of food related items and bath related items. After preparing for the week ahead, I sat down to write this blog post and do some more writing.

I’m trying to be more consistent. Happy Tuesday vibes!

Beware the Pigeons

Happy Monday! A little recap of the weekend lies ahead.

On Friday, there was nothing more that I wanted to do than sit on my couch and veg. I watched some 30 Rock and just chilled, but was lulled to sleep fairly early.

I even ended up waking before my alarm on Saturday to eat a pancake breakfast and work it out at the gym.

In the afternoon, I went to the Science Center to try and be smarter see the Pixar Exhibit. My first impression was of these beautiful trees that made me feel as though I was transported to a magical world.

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Expectations were high, but then I met up with my cousins and we got lunch. Tables were full, so we ate outside and I can’t tell you how many birds surrounded the seating area. Every so often, as one, they would fly away suddenly. Long story short, on one of these instances, a pigeon clipped my head with its wing.

I got hit in the head by a pigeon.

I don’t know how else to emphasize this. Such an instance has inspired me to blog again because although ridiculous, it is also hilarious. A few minutes later, I was then hit in the head by a balloon that a kid popped. On the way home, I was worried for my noggin, you know, rule of three, but thankfully, all circumstances seemed to end there.

Back to the reason I was at the museum in the first place, the Pixar Exhibit, it was cool, but overcrowded by kids with minimal supervision and limited understanding of any of the science behind it. I give the museum itself an, eh, but that, as my cousin Sebastian pointed out, is probably thanks in large part to the Boston Museum of Science being amazing. Nothing else can quite live up to it.

Because I’m a cool cat, the rest of my Saturday included grocery shopping, meal prepping for the week ahead, lots of Netflix (30 Rock and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), writing, and reading. I wanted to watch Saturday Night Live, well, live, but I was tired and ending up falling asleep early.

On Sunday, I slept in a bit, enjoyed breakfast, and tried to make a lentil soup that ended up looking more like lentil goop. I’m sure you’ll see evidence of this travesty at some point this week because although it looks disgusting, I’m not above eating it. For the record, it still tastes well enough.

I was quite active, starting with Yoga on the new mat I purchased for 7 dollars. This feels like a steal, so please don’t take that away from me. I ran through my own routine, which oiled me up for the best run I’ve had in awhile.

Speaking of running, while my family suffered another snow storm back home on the east coast, I took to the sunny streets of Los Angeles for a sweaty run. It was in the seventies something and amazing outside.

Maybe I wasn’t the nicest daughter/sister/cousin by sending out this shot, but I couldn’t resist. At least many of them get a snow day today!

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After my run, I fueled up with a piece of peanut butter toast and yogurt with strawberries and lots of water before I decided it was far too nice out to be locked up inside and took my bike out for a spin.

With the beach on my mind, there was only one destination intended, but the ride was not smooth. For whatever reason (there’s a reason), this ride was hard and slow (-er than usual) and I realized, on my eighth mile back from the beach and because another rider called out to me, that my back tire was low. Whoops. Here I was thinking I was out of shape, when really, I’m in excellent shape to ride that long on a flat tire. That’s what I’m telling myself.

Once at the beach, I pulled over to do some writing while taking in this view.

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Had I not been by bike, I would’ve stayed to watch the sunset, but it’s February and the weather has been what it’s been, so I think I’ve got some sunsets in my future (knock on wood).

For the rest of the afternoon, I had some errands to run and things to do, but once I got home, I made myself dinner, threw in the laundry, and prepped for the week ahead, including a new workout plan. Call me a nerd, but there’s something satisfying about a new workout plan.

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As I write this on Sunday night, I’m hoping to wake up earlier than usual and exercise in the morning. It all depends on how I sleep tonight. It would be nice to just go home, eat, write, and sleep in the evenings, but thus far, I’ve been consistent with my post-work exercising. My body’s ideal workout time is late morning, early afternoon, which is prime for very few people’s schedules. Pick your poison I guess!

No matter how your Monday or week goes, at least you won’t get hit in the head by a pigeon. Probably.