Life in Pictures Link Up #1

Happy Friday! I was asked by Linda at Fit Fed and Happy to participate in her Life in Picture Link Up. I was happy to join in because I can definitely be wordy at times and this particular day’s pictures say it all!
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What is “Life In Pictures”?

Take as many pictures as you want throughout the week or day to recount the things you did avoiding as much text as possible. Your job is to guess what happened! For more info, click here. 
Fit Fed and Happy
Tuesday, 1/27:
Blizzard morning
Blizzard Juno
Blizzard Juno
Blizzard Juno
Squash and black bean chili
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Bookplate signature
Chocolate peanut butter dessert
Snow at door
Blizzard snow drifts at windows
Blizzard snow covering stairs
Blizzard Juno at night
Questions: Do you like telling stories differently? Were you in the blizzard’s path? Are you hoping a particular team wins the Superbowl? (Go Pats!)
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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Let’s mix it up and do some fun Friday Favorites, shall we? Here are some of my recent favorites:

Watching…Top Chef

I’m definitely getting more inspiration in the kitchen by watching this show. Only one more episode left! I like them all so I’ll be pretty happy with whoever wins. Plus, the fact that it takes place in Boston this season is icing on the cake!

Top Chef Boston

Source

Listening…to sports radio, trying to figure out what the heck is going on with #deflategate. I can’t believe my beloved Patriots, especially Tom, would cheat. I wonder if you tested all balls at every single NFL game if they end up getting deflated by the second half.

98.5 The Sports Hub

Source

Eating…this delicious roasted carrot soup. The recipe is from the January/February 2015 issue of Women’s Health Magazine in which they talk about soups as the juices for cold weather. Couldn’t agree more! We haven’t broken out our juicer since late fall and all I’ve been craving is some nice, warm soup! Don’t have time to make your own? Check out a family friend, The Splendid Spoon, where you can buy delicious soup online.

Roasted carrot soup

Drinking…Emergen-C and Echinacea tea. 😦 Was a bit sick midweek, so I’ve been having it 1-2x a day since my symptoms came on. I swear they made me better within a day!

Echinacea tea Emergen-C

Wearing…my bunny slippers under my desk at work. My feet get so, so cold all the time, especially in the winter. I recently learned that it’s something WH bro and I share, so there’s got to be some genetic component to it.

Bunny slippers

Reducing…my chemical exposure. We asked for stainless steel cookware for Christmas to replace our nicked-up non-stick cookware that creeped me out every time I used it. There’s a bit of a learning curve (e.g., don’t soak in water, don’t use abrasive cleaners, don’t add butter/oil until after the pan has heated up-which is the opposite of non-stick, etc.), but I am happy with how evenly it cooks our food. Plus, it should last us a lifetime! Talk about a win for reducing consumer consumption and being healthier!

Stainless steel cookware

Re-purposing a salad from Portland Pie

Questions: What are some of your favorites lately? Do you watch Top Chef? Made any good soups lately? Have perpetually cold (or hot) feet? Are you concerned with reducing your chemical exposure?

Last Week’s Workouts

Hi all! How many of you have today off? Not so for me, but WHH does. #jealous

I wanted to mix things up a bit and share my workouts from last week and the plan for this week. If you seem to like this format, perhaps it will become a weekly post. Here’s what last week looked like (compared to what was planned):

workout log

I was so happy I was able to get in a couple of walks during lunch last week. I’ve been trying to balance schoolwork during lunch with wanting to get in some movement. I’ve also been trying to balance fashion with function when it gets really cold. Just kidding. When it gets wicked cold I don’t care how ridiculous I look during my lunch walk.

winter layers

Under the coat: tights, pants, dress, cardigan, fleece

Given how warm yesterday was (forties!), I’m hoping that trend continues this week so I can get in a few more walks. Here’s the tentative plan for this week:

workout log

I had one of my best treadmill runs yesterday! I’ve had to move most of my runs indoors given the cold weather and icy roads. Within one run, my old glute issues started coming back. I knew Chi Running would have a good answer on how to adjust your form for treadmill running. Per their suggestion, I was sure to keep the incline at 1.5% or higher and keep my speed only a little above what I normally do outside.

I also used a metronome for the first half of the run and when I felt comfortable with my stride (and bored of hearing, “beep beep beep beep”), I moved over to a 180 BPM playlist on Spotify. And you know what? No pain! I was so happy that I didn’t have to give up on treadmill running completely this winter.

Questions: How were your workouts last week? Have any fun ones planned for this week? If you’re predominantly an outdoor runner, do you have a hard time transitioning to the treadmill?

5 Easy Ways to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2015! We’re officially two weeks into the new year and you know what that means? The gyms start to look back to normal. Yes, only two weeks in and many will give up on their New Year’s resolutions. You may have seen my tweet last week about the stats for only one week in…

So if you’re struggling with your resolutions for the new year, here are some easy ways to help you stay on track:

  1. Make it easier to say no.

Trying to give up cigarettes, eat fewer sweets, or drink less? Get yourself out of situations where you’re likely to cave, at least for the short-term.

Ice cream is my kryptonite so I exercise the majority of my willpower at the grocery store by rarely buying it. That way it isn’t calling to me from the freezer after dinner. What if WHH wants ice cream? We get a flavor I don’t like. When we do get ice cream, I like to get the higher quality kind and those usually come in smaller containers which mean it doesn’t last as long! Or try going for a healthier substitute and having a small dish of plain yogurt with peanut butter mixed in or puréed frozen bananas.

I’ve also been known to “ruin” ice cream so I won’t be tempted to eat it. What about the guilt of wasting food? I’m not wasting it because it goes down the pipes one way or another: either your body processes it or it doesn’t, but it all ends up in the same place. I feel much worse about throwing rotten fruits or veggies I didn’t get to into our compost.

Pouring water over ice cream

Homemade ice cream, ruined on purpose

  1. Be specific.

You vow to “get healthier.” What does that mean to you? Losing weight, eating better, reducing your stress? Pick a very specific goal, such as, “I will work out at least 3 times a week,” instead. It’s easier to stick to something more specific.

  1. Don’t make too many resolutions

This was a problem I had with my goals for last year. Though I ended up being able to stick to most of them, I found doing my monthly posts overwhelming. That’s because making too many changes at once is overwhelming, which means we’re more likely to give up on all of them.  I made a lot fewer resolutions this year.

New Years Resolutions lis

Try focusing on making one goal this year or, if you really want to make more changes, limit it to one goal in each area of your life (such as home, work, health). You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to achieve your goal when you’re able to focus on just one. Not only that, but being able to achieve one goal will lead to other good changes in your life. If you accomplish your first goal, you may end up accomplishing more than you anticipated!

  1. Find a way to measure your progress

If you’re trying to lose weight, track your weight, your measurements, or your clothing size. If you’re trying to sleep more, track how much you sleep every night and what kept you for sleeping as much as you wanted. Seeing a visual of your progress is highly motivating and can help you make changes as you come across setbacks. There are lots of tools out there to help you measure your progress, from a good ‘ole paper and pen to inexpensive apps to more expensive gadgets.

  1. Plan

We all know the saying, “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” This couldn’t be more true than with achieving goals. How will you incorporate your resolution into your life? How will you keep it going when the going gets tough? If your goal is to drink more water, for example, maybe you plan to bring a water bottle to work, keep a water bottle in your car, have a special cup for you at home, and add one to your gym bag. That way, you have no excuse not to drink water!

A simple tool I use to plan my workouts (and also as a kind of measurement of my progress) is a spreadsheet! You may remember me talking about this in my post on keeping an exercise log. I still use this approach nearly a year later because it works so well for me. I’m a spreadsheet dork, but you could use it for a variety of goals! The possibilities are endless (and free if you use Google docs!).

Workout spreadsheet

 (Conditional formatting for anything over 30 minutes-more on that in another post!)

Questions: Are you struggling with your New Year’s resolutions or goals? What have you done to stay or bring yourself back on track? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

2015 New Year’s Goals

Hi there! I know it may seem a bit late to be posting my goals only now, but I wanted to review last year’s and have time to really think about what I wanted to accomplish this year following the craziness of the holidays. As you know, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. From the name to the concept, I have mixed feelings. You can read more about my thoughts on the subject in last year’s New Year’s Goals post.

2015 goals list

I actually have very few brand-spanking new goals this year. Most of my goals are continuations from last year. I think I did good work on them last year, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement and growth. The sky really is the limit sometimes.

I also scaled back on the number. I had a few too many last year, which I felt left me unable to truly focus on each of them, and given goal #1 below, you’ll see why I scaled back a bit.

Personal Goals

NEW:

  • Be present

This is my “theme” of the year, if you will. Last year I started the year’s theme on my birthday and carried it through the year. While I will continue to live out that theme as well, I want to shift my focus a bit.

As you may have noticed in my last few New Year’s update posts, I griped a lot about how time seemed to be going by too quickly. At the beginning of December, knowing the rush that the next few weeks would be, I vowed take at least one moment each day, even if only for less than a minute, to be present. I plan to continue to focus on this in the new year until it becomes a habit.

Here & Now sign

c/o blog.whileyouwereaway.org/

  • Volunteer

I went to orientation for our local animal shelter back in early December as I wanted to volunteer to work in the barn. They required a certain amount of hours per week I am unable to commit to while I’m still taking class, so I hope to get back to that once I’m done with class.

OLD:

  • Continue to try new foods and incorporate them into our weekly meals

bourbon mixed drinksDoes having a bourbon mixed drink for the first time count?

  • Travel
    • NYC this spring?
    • Big trip this summer: We’re starting to brainstorm and my first choice is Ireland! Husband is thinking National Parks in the west.  Any other suggestions for affordable (<$3000) trips from the East coast?
  • Continue to read more, especially once my class is over late winter

Game of Thrones books

These dense books took up most of 2014 (+ the fourth one)

Professional Goals

NEW:

  • Start nursing school in the fall! I am so excited to finally be on my way!

OLD:

  • Continue to work on the blog, learn more about blogging, and network with other bloggers
  • As time allows, get personal training and/or nutritionist certification. Maybe I’m crazy for still having this up here…

Health and Wellness Goals

NEW:

  • Be able to do an unassisted pull-up

An unassisted pull-up is one of those exercises that, to me, exemplifies great upper body strength. I want to go after that.

Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar

We have one of these door frame pull-up gadgets at home, so I can get on that one easily enough, adding in the assisted machine at the gym. Anyone have any tips for attacking this one?

Questions: Did you make any New Year’s resolutions or goals? If so, would like to share them? Do you have mixed feelings about resolutions?

2014 New Year’s Goals Check-In

Happy New Year all! Can you believe we’re already more than a week into the new year? Last year went by so quickly!

2015 winterscape

I know many of you followed along with my monthly goal updates for 2014, which abruptly ended in June thanks to my crazy summer schedule. I didn’t want to just let it slide, though, so here’s one last check-in. And as for this year’s goals? Stay tuned for those in my next post!

One big, overarching theme? I didn’t take into account how much time I would need to devote to class and thus not be able to devote to everything else. This means I didn’t get as much done as hoped, but am happy with how much I did get done given my limited time.

Anatomy & Physiology book

Personal Goals

  • Try a new trend/clothing item I wouldn’t normally: A?

Believe it or not, towards the second half of the year, my approach to my wardrobe took a completely new approach. I started minimizing big time, donating items I didn’t love, keeping things that I did love but that were too big (for potential maternity clothes some day), and selling other items on ThreadUp. Some of this minimizing was inspired by Caroline at Un-Fancy, Jennifer of The Daily Connoisseur/Madame Chic, and Anuschka of Into Mind. I was trying to be someone I really wasn’t by going for the trends, and in developing more of a minimalist wardrobe, I feel I’m being more true to myself. I love being able to know exactly what I have to wear for certain occasions and having some great go-to pieces. I still have a few gaps to fill, but I’ll get there slowly. I’m all about quality, not quantity.

Into Mind Minimalist Wardrobe

c/o Into Mind

  • Take more pictures: B

I’ve been decent about taking pictures, and made more of an effort over the holidays. I’ve found that if I tag team it with the husband, we get some great pics. I would love to make a 2014 “yearbook” of sorts in the coming months, inspired by Young House’s Love annual albums (who else misses them?!). Something of slightly better quality than our (mostly free) Shutterfly album. We finally picked a wedding picture to be framed, too! Woohoo! Only took an entire year!

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: B

While we didn’t make a new item every week, we certainly expanded our horizons food-wise. I credit a lot of this to watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and continuing our open-mindedness following our trip to Europe. I’ve even developed a higher tolerance to spicy foods, which the husband is very happy about!

Korean side dishes

Side dishes from a recent trip to a Korean restaurant

  • Travel: B+

We had a quick weekend away in Maine for a family wedding, made it out to Colorado to visit my brother, and went away to western Massachusetts for our five-year anniversary. Add in some random weekends at my parents’ lake house and another at their new ski condo, and I’d say that’s pretty successful given my schoolwork schedule.

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: A-

I definitely went through phases of making a conscious effort with this. Instead of eating weekend meals in front of a screen (whether the TV, my phone, or my computer), I make myself sit down and read a magazine or a book. Though I enjoy less screen time, I also look forward to sitting down to eat dinner and watching an episode of one of our new favorite shows, Chopped, with WHH. It may sound silly, but we have learned a lot from this show, becoming more adventurous in the kitchen and looking forward to trying even more new foods. The way the chefs have to make do with the ingredients has definitely inspired me to try different concoctions at home.

Chopped tv show logo

I do so much reading with my current class (microbiology) and now that I’m onto the last published Game of Thrones book, A Dance with Dragons, that I look forward to watching a bit of the show and discussing with WHH what we’d do in their situation. But overall, TV consumption is down!

A Dance with Dragons, A Feast for Crows

Four down, one to go! 

Haha. I think this one was a bit ambitious given everything that was going on. The newly renamed TRY / In 2015 board got very little love last year aside from our homemade kitchen shelves, refinishing our new kitchen island, and adding some mixer attachment hooks on the inside.

Refinished kitchen island

There are definitely some items on my radar to do for this year, such as organizing my gift wrap that currently resides in the basement (I’ve always loved wrapping gifts!), creating vacation boxes to hold those random papers from our trips, and getting new items on the blank walls in our bedroom and living room in addition to the photo book already mentioned. I think these will be manageable given my class is over in March.

  • Simplify house further: A

I have to give myself a pat on the back–I seriously rocked this one this year, especially towards the second half of the year. In addition to minimizing my wardrobe, I took a good, hard look at some stuff and had no problem getting rid of it. I’ve gotten better with separating the emotional attachment of items. My mom’s been giving me a bunch of stuff lately as she’s been cleaning out their house, such as my old ski jacket (below) that still kind of fit me.

One quick trick for getting through the emotional part? Take a picture to remember it! A picture takes up a lot less room, physically and mentally.

Old coat

(This was actually cool back in the early ’90s…I think…)

I have loved the effects of minimizing our house and hope to continue this trend into the new year.

  • Meet with financial advisor: A

We got this done in the fall and were actually so relieved that we’re on track with retirement! What a weight off of our shoulders! We’re going to meet with him a few more times to figure out how to best plan for future expenses (travel, next house, next cars, etc.) to put us in the best place financially. The better off we are, the more choices we have!

  • Write reviews, such as for products and travel: B-

I have been good about this moving forward, but still think about the great places we went and haven’t done yet. I’ll hope to get to this once class is done.

Walkabout Florence Riomaggiore

One of the highlights of our trip: this tour of Cinque Terre (this is at the last stop in Riomaggiore)

Professional:

  • Take co-requisite courses for nursing school: A+

A&P I & II are all done and I’m about halfway through my last class, microbiology!

  • Start nursing school: TBD

I’m officially in to start this fall! Woohoo!!!

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the blog has been put on the back-burner due to classwork. Since I wasn’t doing much with it the second half of the year, I’m not going to worry too much about this one. I seriously don’t know how I managed to write three times a week last winter and spring without losing my mind!

blog banner

This could use some jazzing up

  • As time allows, get personal training and/or nutritionist certification: TBD

I obviously didn’t have the time to do this last year. Classwork was my first priority

Health and Wellness:

  • Try a new physical endeavor as my body continues to heal from all of the injuries last year: B+

I didn’t get as far as I hoped given my never-ending tennis elbow saga (which, knock on wood, is still going well!) combined with the nagging plantar fasciitis (again, knock on wood, going well!). However, I did branch out from my regular Jillian Michaels love affair to include barre3 and more yoga than I had previously. I even felt confident enough in my elbow to get back to some kettlebell workouts last month! More on this subject in another post.

Stadium running

First time working out at a local stadium this year

  • Work on reducing exposure to pesticides, hormones, chemicals, and other toxins: A

Though we already had a low-chemical lifestyle, I wanted to do more. I tried hard this past year to find affordable, yet effective replacements for our everyday items. The majority of my beauty routine, which is minimal anyway, is now “green” or chemical free (I use EWG’s “Skin Deep” database to double-check all beauty/hair/body items). We concentrated on buying more of our regular items organic, meat being the biggest, and most expensive change. We also frequented more farmers’ markets.

Finally, the end! A recap of January through May:
January: C
February: B-
March: B+
April: B+
May: B+

And the final for this review: B+

Yay! I will take that! I bit off a bit more than I could chew given everything going on and trying to maintain my sanity at the same time, so I am very happy with that!

Questions: Did you make any resolutions or goals last year? How did you do with them? Did you hold yourself accountable at the end of the year?