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?

New Year’s Goals Check-In: May

Holy smokes, it’s June! We’re nearly halfway through the year. How the heck did that happen?

You know what a new month means: a breakdown of my goals for the New Year. A lot of my answers to my goals are, “classwork is my focus right now” and I’m fine with hat, especially given that the A&P II I’m taking is only 10 weeks long, compared to the usual 16 weeks, so I’m cramming in a lot in a short time. I’m already feeling the pressure and am doing my best to balance life.

That being said, here’s how I did in May:

Personal Goals

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

Even though I gained some items after going through a pile of too-big clothes I had put aside, I still have no casual/weekend clothes. I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Stitch Fix and hope that although they will have my style profile down, they push me outside my comfort zone a bit as well. I won’t receive the shipment until July and I can’t wait to share with you!

Stitch Fix Logo

  • Take more pictures: B

Picture taking has been mostly for blogging, but it’s becoming more and more of a habit, so I’m happy for that. Once my class is over, I want to go through our vacation pictures more thoroughly to organize and make notes on them as well as get them printed for a real photo album. And then there are our wedding pics…

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: B+

Another month without much meal planning, but we’re still eating plenty clean and healthy. WHH has been making up some of his own recipes, such as the sausage and pasta stir fry we had the other night that I was too hungry to take a second to take a picture of.

Something new that I did get a picture of was Brussels sprouts on the grill! I cooked them a bit in the oven first with some olive oil and garlic salt, and then onto some skewers and the barbie they went! We had to take off a few of the outer leaves on some of them, but they were delicious!

Grilled Brussesls sprouts

  • Travel: A

With our plane tickets to Colorado booked and filling in some details with my brother, we need to get a bit of a loose itinerary, and start to think about booking some places to stay when we’re not with my brother. This vacation is well-timed to be a couple of weeks after the end of my course. I will be wanting some R&R and to finally enjoy the summer!

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: A

I made a conscious effort at this one this past month. Instead of eating weekend meals in front of a screen (whether the TV, my phone, or my computer), I’ve made myself sit down and read a magazine or a book. I’ve enjoyed this immensely and found a lot of satisfaction in finally being able to read something other than my textbook or A Storm of Swords (as much as I enjoy the series, I’ve been reading it since late last fall).

Check out this interesting stat I came across in my Women’s Health Magazine.

Americans ate 118 fewer calories in 2010 vs 2005

This month has consisted of nothing but the necessary, so a no-go on the Pinterest board. I’m scaling it again because of classwork.

  • Simplify house further: B+

Another bag of items went off to be donated as well as another Thred Up bag in the mail! We’re getting there, little by little!

  • Meet with financial advisor: TBD

As I said last month, I’m scheduling this for the end of the summer when I will be done with classes for a few weeks and can properly concentrate. This time I just took it off so it doesn’t affect my GPA. 😉

  • Write reviews, such as for products and travel:C+

Have not done this, but scaled due to class. Will try to make a better effort this month and do it in small chunks instead of thinking of all of the different places I should review and get overwhelmed. As my co-worker says, you need to eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Elephants_at_Amboseli_national_park_against_Mount_Kilimanjaro

I feel as though I have a line of elephants to eat. Image c/o amoghavarsha.com

Professional:

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

I finished A&P I with a 95% average and am in the third week of A&P II. The weather was too lovely this weekend to be stuck in the basement, so I tucked myself into a little corner outside to do my endocrine system dissection. WHH admitted his sick curiosity had him peeking over at me while he was doing yard work. He gave some pretty priceless faces.

A&P II dissection kit

  • Start nursing school: TBD

Still on the wait-list for Fall 2014. Focusing on getting through A&P II, and then I’ll go from there.

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B

The blog has unfortunately fallen by the wayside a bit thanks to classwork. I’m okay with it for now since that is where my focus needs to be, hence why I’m not being harsher with my grading.

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

Constantly thinking about this even though I just need to concentrate on one thing at a time. It’s always in the back of my mind, though.

Health and Wellness:

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

I finished the Return to Running program in May after six months of making my way back to running! I haven’t pushed my body much since that time as my plantar fasciitis has been rearing its ugly head a bit. It’s partially my fault–I haven’t been as religious with icing and massaging–and partially being on my feet for two weeks at work. Now that I’m back at my desk, it’s getting a little better. I’ve been varying my routes and surfaces a lot, so that has been fun.

New England white church

I love the quintessential New England sights during my runs.

Something that’s not so fun is my nagging tennis elbow. When I went back to the orthopedist earlier in May, he told me to take the next four weeks and stretch–that’s it. Well, I  have, and guess what? No difference. I haven’t stayed off of it completely because I don’t want the tendon to get tight from no use, but I don’t do anything that hurts it.

I go back to him on Monday and I’m kind of dreading it. I know he’ll offer me another cortisone injection and will make a convincing argument, but I don’t want it. PRP or prolotherapy are the last options before surgery, which I also definitely don’t want. While it’s holding me back from doing a lot of workout moves that I want, I am just going with the flow more than I used to.

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

We’re still conscious of the types of meats, dairy, and other food we buy. I’ve been going to Whole Foods more regularly to buy their organic almond milk, which is surprisingly less expensive than our usual grocery store. I go through a decent amount of it every week between smoothies and my new obsession, overnight oats.

Gluten free overnight oats

That brings us to the end. A recap my monthly grades for the year:
January: C
February: B-
March: B+
April: B+
May…B+! Still holding steady and I will take it!

For the past two months I’ve talked about how I want to work on slowing down. It hasn’t happened to the degree I would like, but both myself and WHH are conscious of taking small steps to make it happen. June isn’t quite as jam-packed for us as May was, but it is slowly filling up. It’s often WHH’s busiest month at work as the school year comes to a close and everyone’s rushing to get everything done.

Though he is technically off for two months, he will be keeping himself busy with some classes and curriculum planning because he finally got his dream job last month: a full-time high school art teacher. So proud of this guy.

Two thumbs up

Out celebrating last month

All in all, June is still looking busy, but we have time planned to kick back and relax, if only for short bursts of time. I know we’ll make every effort to enjoy those moments, no matter how brief, so that it recharges us to go on to the next thing.

Questions: How are you doing with any goals you set for the year? Do you have time planned in the next month to relax a bit? Any accomplishments that you want to brag about?

Friday Favorite: Podcast Edition

Good morning and Happy Friday! It’s been a bit of a crazy week, both at work and home. A&P II started this week and is only a 10 week class (compared to the usual 16 weeks), so I’m thinking things are about to get a bit crazier. I’ve been contemplating the idea of moving to only two posts a week. While I’m sad to do this, I feel it’s what I need to do to maintain my classwork and my sanity. We’ll see how it works out in the coming weeks, but I hope you’ll still stop by!

Speaking of sanity, know what kept me sane during my crazy commute to Boston and now keeps me going during my runs? Podcasts! I’ve found that listening to podcasts, while entertaining and educational, also help me with pacing. When I listened to music during my runs, I would always match my pace to the beat of the song, which would inevitably mess me up. I know many people make playlists for running based on BPM, but I don’ t know that I have the creativity or music library for that.

You already know my girl Jillian Michaels has one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. She makes me laugh, she’s informative, and has a very funny and thoughtful sidekick/producer named Janice Ungaro (who I quickly met at Jillian’s Maximize You Life Tour last year!).

Jillian Michaels Podcast

My new favorite podcast that makes me feel like I’m cheating on Jillian is Evan Brand’s Not Just Paleo. As the name of the podcast implies, he doesn’t preach about paleo, though it is something he’s passionate about. The thing I love about his podcast is he has a variety of knowledgeable guests that he has great questions for. Though I just started listening about a month ago and am not up to date on the most recent ones, my favorites so far have been podcast #71 with guest Dr. Ray McClanahan, a podiatrist who quickly made me re-think my approach to footwear and podcast # 72 with guest Dr. Tim Gerstmar, a naturopathic doctor.

Not Just Paleo podcast

Moving on to a more running-specific podcast is Kinetic Revolution’s Train Smarter. Though I’ve only listened to one podcast so far, I found it incredibly informative. Kinetic Revolution is a group of running coaches and physiotherapists that provide services for runners, triathletes, and endurance athletes. Needless to say, they know a lot about running. Plus, listening to British accents is always fun!

Kinetic Revolution Train Smarter Podcast

The last podcast is based on one of my favorite books, Freakonomics (I have not yet read SuperFreakonomics or their newest book that was just released this month, Think Like a Freak, but they’re on my list!). For anyone who hasn’t heard of Freakonomics, it’s a book by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner that  exposes the hidden side of just about everything, from how real estate agents really make money, to why crime may have dropped suddenly in the 90s. They also have a movie (it’s available free on Amazon Prime Instant!), though it’s basically just illustrating the book, so if you don’t want to read the book, it’s a good CliffsNotes version.

Anyway, back to the podcast. They have a variety of topics that they break down for you with research, such as “How to Make People Quit Smoking,” “Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?” and “Would a Big Bucket of Cash Really Change Your Life?” One of my absolute favorite episodes is The Economist’s Guide to Parenting. I won’t spoil it–you’ll just have to give it a listen! If you’re a research nerd like me, or just want to know the numbers behind the results, this is the podcast for you. Not to mention the Steven and Stephen are funny in a nerdy kind of way.

Freakonomics Radio Podcast

When I was commuting to Boston I used to listen to a lot of the different How Stuff Works podcasts. Stuff You Should Know with the hysterical Josh and Chuck was the main one I listened to, as well as Stuff Mom Never Told You and Stuff You Missed in History Class. I haven’t listened to them in a while since I already have a full library of podcasts, but will download a podcast here and there if there’s an episode I’m particularly interested in.

A lot of other bloggers I follow have written about their favorite podcasts. Funnily enough, Carrots ‘n’ Cake shared some of her favorite podcasts just earlier this week. I know a lot of people, WH bro included, who are fans of NPR’s This American Life, such as Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point. Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers is another NPR fan, liking Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.

Questions: Do you listen to podcasts? When you work out or when you commute? What are some of your favorite podcasts?

New Year’s Goals Check-In: April

Happy May! How did the month of April look for you? Anything you’re looking forward to in the next month? Here’s a breakdown of my goals for the New Year and how I did in April:

Personal Goals

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

After putting away the winter clothes and taking out the spring/summer clothes, I’m good for now, though I will probably need some summer clothes since I was running low last year. I also remembered a bag of clothes I had put aside from the tailor when I lost too much weight. I tried the clothes on and three of the five items now fit well enough that I don’t need them taken in. Still tempted to try Stitch Fix.

  • Take more pictures: B

I’m still taking a lot of pictures and keeping them organized moving forward. We received our Shutterfly book and it’s such a nice little memento to look through. I still want to go back through our vacation pictures more thoroughly to organize/make notes on them and get more printed for an old-fashioned photo album. And wedding pics? Yeah…

Shutterfly vacation book

A funny series of picture from the top of the incredibly sunny Jungfraujoch.

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: A-

This past month we’ve been flying by the seat of our pants a bit. It’s been crazy with work, studying, working out, and family/friends, so we’ve been less creative than usual and definitely have not done much meal planning. I’m going to curve this grade a bit, though, because class comes first and we’re still eating plenty clean and healthy.

One new recipe I did make? Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie from Cook Smarts. Yummy, yum, yum!

Deconstructed shepherd's pie

One thing I have been really good at: “use it up” recipes. That is, using up all of the leftovers in my fridge for a random meal. Last night I had some eggplant, pepper, shallot, Brussels sprouts leaves, stewed tomatoes,and tempeh that needed to be used. Et voila, a take on ratatouille:

Left over meal

  • Travel: A

Tickets to Colorado are booked! Now we need fill in the blanks of where to stay (hopefully with my brother in the Boulder area for a few days) and what to do (hiking, horseback riding, etc.). I would love any suggestions if you’ve been there before!

A trip to the Netherlands to visit friends is still possible later this year, though not probable.

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: B+

When aren’t I reading?! I feel like all I do is read! This month’s school assignments have included incredibly long chapters, as well as double chapters this past week. I’m a regular book’s worth (~300 pages) through A Storm of Swords (which is even longer!)!

TV has been average, with some of our favorite shows all back on at the same time (A Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Vikings, and Call the Midwife). We try to portion it out so we watch on weekends nights only. Do you watch any of these shows? We only know two other people who watch Vikings and can’t believe it’s not more popular given how popular GOT is. Lagertha is one of my favorite characters because she is so bad a$$. I could go on and on about how good this show is (not as good as GOT, though), but since this is my reading instead of watching TV goal, I’ll save myself the shame.

History Channel Vikings

Speaking of shame…I have a “french fry” (no good for me, but tastes so good!) show: Total Divas. I am absolutely fascinated by this world of tough, athletic women that throw themselves around. I may even follow the Bella Twins on Instagram and Twitter. I try to watch only when I’m foam rolling or icing, because I really don’t have time for this.

Total Divas

This month has consisted of nothing but the necessary, so a no-go on the Pinterest board. I’m scaling it because classwork is to blame (so she says after talking about TV shows!) and I’m not going to give myself a hard time for not getting to it when that’s what I’m spending most of my time on.

  • Simplify house further: B+

Yet another bag of items off to be donated as well as a Thred Up bag to be sent! Still no-go on the dreaded closet, but see legitimate excuse above.

Thred Up logo

  • Meet with financial advisor: C+

Still haven’t done this. I’m thinking I may move it to the end of the summer when I will be done with classes for a few weeks and can properly concentrate. Scaled accordingly.

  • Write reviews, such as for products and travel:C+

Ugh. I am seriously tanking this month. April obviously kicked my butt. Will re-assess the TV situation for sure.

Professional:

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

It’s my last week of A&P I (still holding a 95% average!) and A&P II starts in three weeks, so I get one week off in between.

Dissection for Anatomy & Physiology I

  • Start nursing school: TBD

Still on the wait-list for Fall 2014. My focus is on finishing A&P I, getting through A&P II, and then I’ll go from there.

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B+

I had my first guest post this month and was definitely better with posting at more consistent times and prepping more posts ahead of time, so I feel really good about that given how busy the month was.

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

Still not a focus right now, though it is on my mind a lot . A possibility for the fall…

Health and Wellness:

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

No quite as good as last month. My focus has been mainly on trying to maintain a routine during some busy weeks, and to keep moving forward in my Return to Running program. I have ventured out on some trails, though, and have made a big effort to find new routes at every chance.

April train run

Friday’s run was stage 16! My right knee felt a little funny during part of the run, so I’ve been icing and taking it easy the past few days. It’s my weird knee that acts up from time to time. I think I overdid it during one of Jillian’s workouts that had a lot of plyo training. I just need to not do that anymore. My knees never like me after I do. Trying not to think too much about it.

Hill running

Lots of hills on Friday’s run. Kept saying to myself, “You can do this!”  instead of “When will this hill end?!”

I’m done with the 12 days of prednisone for my tennis elbow and while it felt fabulous the first few days, pain and stiffness shortly returned. After being in training all week last week and not doing much computer mousing, it definitely felt looser and I was able to do some wall and knee push-ups for the first time since December. I think that may be the key: keeping it loose long enough so I can strengthen it. I asked for another ergonomic evaluation at work, hoping that might help the situation. I go back to my orthopedist tomorrow and will probably refuse the second cortisone injection I’m sure they’re going to offer me. Second opinion is next.

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

We’ve continued to make an effort to buy more natural meats, whether they’re vegetarian-fed (the cheapest of the natural meats), grass-fed, and/or organic. I’ve also been checking out the 365 Everyday Value brand at Whole Foods a lot more and the prices are not only reasonable, they’re often less than Market Basket’s equivalent. Love it!

365 Everday Value logo

To recap my monthly grades so far:

January: C
February: B-
March: B+
And April…B+! Whew…I seriously thought it was going to go down. I’ll take a steady B+ for now given how crazy this month was.

Last month I mentioned that I wanted to focus on more on slowing down. That didn’t exactly happen and as this new month started I was thinking how every day was going by so quickly and I felt like I was doing what I could to just get through it, making sure to eat healthy, work out, get my school work done, and maybe have time to read for pleasure and/or watch TV, let alone get to house stuff.

We did have some fun, having friends over one weekend night, attending some family events, and then celebrating my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday in style at Nebo in Boston (delicious food, great service, and gluten-free menu!). But it’s still a lot. WHH has a lot going on, too, but I’m hoping as his school year comes to a close in the next two months and the lazy days of summer are upon us, we’ll find time to stop and smell the roses. For now, I’ll have to just enjoy the little moments, such as this beautiful scene I caught on my way to work this morning.

May sunrise

Questions: How are you doing with any goals you set for the year? Did April go by as quickly and crazily for you or were you able to stop and enjoy it?

Friday Favorite: Light Alarm Clocks

Happy Friday! We made it! Boy, what a week! In honor of that, I’m going to keep it short and sweet today.

I was lying in bed wondering what wonderful item I could tell you about today. I happened to glance over at my nightstand and the proverbial lightbulb went off in my head when I saw one of my favorite purchases from over three years ago: our light alarm clock.

Bookshelf

Ours is the Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, but there are a bunch of models out there for you to choose from. I originally saw the concept in a Gaiam catalog years ago and knew when I saw it that I’d want one. (As a side note: Am I the only one who wants one of everything on their website? I think  I need to work for them!) They tend to be a bit on the pricey side for an alarm clock, but to me they’re worth every penny. I ended up using Christmas money to buy it so I didn’t feel quite so guilty.

I bought it because I couldn’t stand waking up to the radio or alarm every day. I would wake up with a jolt as soon as it went off. My heart would race and I would instantly feel stress hormones coursing through my body. Not a great way to start the day. This is so much nicer, gentler, and more natural.

How exactly does it work? It wakes you up by gradually increasing the light over a certain interval of time (I believe it’s about 20-30 minutes). The idea is that it’s closer to the way sunlight would wake you up if you didn’t have to get up in the dark like we do. In case the light doesn’t wake you up, there’s a back-up alarm. You can choose from the radio, a beeping, or, my preference, chirping birds. The sound increases gradually at the time you set for the alarm to go off and gets louder over 30 seconds or so.

I actually have my light set at level 1 (the lowest) and that easily wakes me up in a dark bedroom. On the weekends, I’ll put it up to about 3 as our bedroom tends to be a little lighter thanks to being able to wake up later. For picture purposes, though, here’s what the range might look like. From this:

Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, low

Over the course of 10-15 minutes, it might become this:

Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, high

Most of the time I wake up before the alarm goes off. And even when the birds start to chirp, it’s a pleasant sound. It’s so realistic that now when I happen to hear birds outside chirping, I go to check that my alarm isn’t going off. 😉

I can’t recommend this enough. As I said, we’ve had it over three years and I’m so happy with it. Plus, it doubles as a bedside light and a radio (which I always forget it has). After daily use, we haven’t even had to replace the light bulb yet.

I’m off to re-do stage 16 this afternoon. My foot’s been bothering me a little bit and my calf has been tight. I think it’s because I’ve been sitting a bit more during the day this week thanks to training. It won’t be an easy run on account of glute and hamstring soreness from Wednesday’s workout (I ended up doing Jillian Michael’s No More Trouble Zones chest/abs/glutes/biceps/core/lower body sets instead of Killer Abs as I had tentatively planned). Running with sore glutes and hammies always makes you appreciate how those muscles come into play when you run.

I’ll leave you with perhaps one of my favorite things I’ve seen this week: green grass on our lawn!

Green grass

Questions: What do you use to wake up every day? Do you have a favorite item you’d like to share? Anything fun planned for the weekend?

 

 

What’s Working Lately

Happy Monday! This weekend flew by! The weather was pretty gross here in Massachusetts-back to the 40s, rainy, and just dreary. Though it made staying in and doing homework for most of it a bit easier, I suppose. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze in another run in between showers. It threatened the whole time, but I outran the storm clouds!

April showers

As I was running, and feeling so grateful that I had made it to stage 16 relatively uneventfully, I was thinking about what’s been working for me lately to get me to this point. Of course, then I started thinking about all the things in my life that are just kind of geling, which then lead me to think about some things that aren’t. So, in true type-A fashion, I started making some lists when I got home. 🙂

What’s Working 

  • My current workout routine: This consists of running 2-3x a week using the Return to Running program faithfully. I’ve also made sure to incorporate one yoga routine a week, one barre3 workout, and strengthening.
  • Injury prevention: As I’ve been amping up the running, I’m sure to massage and do an ice rub following each outing. In addition to icing on the day of the run, I’ve also been icing my foot nearly every single night when I get in bed to read for about 10-20 min. Foam rolling 1-2 times a week, especially along the IT band and into my glutes, has helped keep my glute injury at bay.

Ice massage for plantar fasciitis

  • Running on varied surfaces: My feet really love me when I run on grass, so I make a point to have a trail run or a run along an area with grass in one of my weekly runs. I can really feel the difference and I think this has helped to keep the plantar fasciitis at bay.
  • Chipping away at homework: For the first half of the semester, I did the bulk of my homework on the weekends. Of course, this left me trying to cram a lot of information into a short time and not getting much else done on the weekends. I’ve been trying to make a point of doing one hour of homework every night. Breaking big jobs into smaller tasks is a concept I need to work on. I let myself get overwhelmed with the big picture, decide to tackle it all at once, and stress myself out unnecessarily.

Proper dissection safety

 Dissection time!

  • Getting to bed earlier: My energy has been so much better lately thanks to making an effort to getting to bed about 15-20 minutes earlier. It makes the evening shorter, but it’s so worth it!

Of course, this list leads me to consider the opposite topic…

What’s Not Working

  • My diet: I seem to be hovering a pound or two higher than my usual range the past few weeks. This wouldn’t bother me except that I feel uncomfortable and have a heaviness in my midsection. Is it true weight gain? Is it because of the time of the month? Is it irregularity? Is it the prednisone? Whatever it is, something needs to change. I’m definitely not my usual self. So I’ve decided to try to cut down my dairy intake a bit. I love my morning yogurt parfaits, but I shouldn’t have them every.single.day. I’m also going to refocus on my fruit and vegetable intake, decrease my sugar, increase my fiber, and double-check my calories as all this running has made me a bit rungry. I also ordered the RawJuvenate’s 2 Week Detox Kit through a Groupon (it includes that supergreens mix I loved from my Greatist box!). I’ll be having this for breakfast every day and am hoping it will help “reset” my system. My goal isn’t to lose weight, but be back to feeling myself.

Pumpkin, kale, and almond butter smoothie

This morning’s pumpkin, kale, & almond butter protein smoothie

  • My tennis elbow: The prednisone worked great for the first few days. I felt like a new woman! But then, even though I was still on it (two more days to go), I started feeling the tightness more and more. I’m not back to where I started, but it’s not near the result I was hoping for based on how I felt the first few days. I’m going to try some ART therapy tomorrow to see if I can loosen up the muscles before it comes back with a vengeance. If that doesn’t work, I’m going for a second opinion. I saw what life could be without the constant pain and tightness and I want that back!

On the Edge of Not Working

  • My current life pace: I feel like I’m right on the edge of being overwhelmed. I’ve been able to work everything in so far with taking class and having it fit into my life (that is, still being able to work out regularly, prepare fresh, healthy meals, keep up with the house, blog, and have a social life). But there are times when I feel like the balance could almost tip. In that case, I will need to assess what can go and what can stay because this path I’m on is important to me. Whatever is in the way of that will have to go, whether it’s changing up blogging to only twice a week, or giving up TV altogether.

That’s that for now. A bit of a mind dump, but I wanted to share what’s working for me in case there’s something there that could help you. I think it’s good to assess our day-to-day life to make sure we’re living a happy, healthy life. We only have this day, this moment, and we need to make the most of it.

Aim High graphic

Questions: What about you? What’s working for you lately? What’s not working?

 

Friday Favorite: Composting

I cannot believe it’s already the last Friday of the month! Where did this month go?! Did the month go by quickly for you as well?

April 2014 calendar free printable

The good thing? As the month goes on, we’re seeing more and more signs of life here in Massachusetts. The forsythias are finally blooming (always one of the first signs of spring here in New England)!

Forsythia bloom

The crab apple in our backyard is starting to bud. This tree was one of the most wonderful surprises when we bought our house. When we moved in, it had just started flowering and though it only lasts about a week, it is quite a sight to see. It should bloom in about a week or so (always around WHH’s birthday) and I’ll be sure to share pictures.

Crab apple budding

While we’re on the subject of the great outdoors, and since it’s Earth Month, I have to tell you about one of the most-used items in our household: our simplehuman Compost Pail that we received for Christmas nearly four years ago. This thing has gotten daily use since that time and it still looks (nearly) brand new (the hack job the previous owners did on the backsplash is a whole ‘nother story…):

SimpleHuman compost pail

In keeping with a whole health mentality, it was important to us to start composting once we bought our house. Aside from the personal reasons (enriching our own soil), composting can have a larger part in helping to decrease the amount of methane generated via landfills and therefore cut down on climate warming gases. Climate change can have huge effects on our health, from air quality to allergens to a host of animal-, food-, and water-borne diseases. This issue is not going away unless we make conscious efforts to change our ways. And given that the severity of this past winter is probably linked to climate change, I’ll do whatever I can to make it better!

Felt pads on bottom of compost pail

We added felt pads to the bottom of our pail

Shall we take a peak inside? I promise you, it’s not scary. In fact, this picture is a good example of what not to do: don’t forget to take the tags off of your fruit! Those were a couple of apples that had gone bad (for once we had too many!) and we roughly chopped them up before tossing them in. The food will break down more easily if you chop it into smaller pieces instead of keeping it whole or in large pieces, such as a watermelon rind.

SimpleHuman compost pail open

As you can see, the cap has lip in it in which you can put charcoal filters to help with any aromas that might escape. We’ve never bought any replacements, however, and have never had a problem with smell. We end up emptying it about once a week and I can’t tell you how much it has reduced our weekly garbage!

So where does it go when we empty it? To our makeshift compost bin:

Trash barrel compost bin

We had an extra bucket and decided to use it for this purpose. We poked holes in the top to allow for some slight respiration, if you will.

Trash barrel compost bin cover with holes

Shall we take a peak inside this one? It’s a bit scarier, but believe it or not, does not smell at all. I take that back–it does smell, but not like you think it would. It smells earthy. Like really damp dirt.

Trash barrel compost bin inside food

And here it is once WHH turned it and added some yard waste to it to mix it a bit better:

Trash barrel compost bin top off yard waste

We try to mix it up with a good old-fashioned pitch fork and then layer in some yard waste every month or so, just to keep an even balance of nitrogen and carbon (more on that later). We can go months without emptying it. When the sun hits the barrel, even in the winter, it gets quite warm inside, and ends up “cooking” the mixture down.

So what happens when it does get full? It goes off to our larger compost pile beside our vegetable garden, where it joins more of our grass clippings, some leaves, various other yard waste, and Wilbur’s used hay.

Compost pile outside

WHH will turn the larger pile and then bury the newer mixture near the bottom of the pile to keep it all “cooking” evenly. That’s really all there is to it. We do it the cheap and easy way, but you can get fancier and have a tumbler compost bin or cage in your compost pile.

So what do you do with all of this black gold? If you don’t have time for or interest in gardening, you can use it as fill around your yard or topsoil around your trees and plants. If you are more of the gardener type, you can use it as a near-organic source of nutrients for the soil. We try to keep it as natural as possible and don’t use any fertilizer, but we do buy manure to add a little somethin’ somethin’ for our veggie garden. I love being able to go outside and pick what I want for dinner!

Garden foods

We were still picking from our garden into late fall last year.

Peppers eggplant tomato from garden

Plus, you never know, you might get a rogue acorn squash that decided to grow out of your compost pile, which we were pleasantly surprised with last year:

Acorn squash from compost pile

That giant acorn squash plant on the right outside of the garden grew from our compost pile!

Here’s a quick list of what we do put in our compost bin and pile:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Leaves, grass, and hay
  • Charcoal from the fireplace (once it’s been out for a few weeks)
  • Occasionally, rabbit manure
  • Newspaper

And here’s what we do not put in:

  • Anything animal-derived (no bones, flesh, dairy, etc.)
  • Anything cooked (unless it was fruit or veggie cooked without any added oils)
  • Anything containing oil
  • Typical carbohydrates (breads, pasta, etc.)

You want to have about a 3:1 mix of “browns” (carbon-rich materials such as wood chips, straw, branches, and leaves) to “greens” (nitrogen-rich materials such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps). We honestly don’t pay attention to this much and ours comes out okay. I’m sure if we made more of an effort it would be even better. So you’ll get out of it what you put in, but even minimal effort is worth it!

That’s just the quick and dirty way, but if you’re interested in learning more, here are a couple of useful links to help get your started:

EarthEasy Compost Guide

EPA’s Composting at Home

In running news, I’m heading out to do stage 15 this afternoon along the river. I can’t believe I’ve finally gotten this far! It’s been such a long time coming. I still don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but for the first time in over a year I’m seriously thinking about training for races. Sure, there’s still that crazy marathon idea I have in the back of my mind, but I need to start with a 5k or two and then a 10k!

Return to running stage 15

Questions: Do you have a garden? Do you compost? If you compost, do you have any secret tips? If you don’t compost, would you think about trying it? Any races you’re eyeing lately?

 *In an effort to maintain transparency, please note that Amazon links are affiliate links.

Quick Tip: Run on the Grass

Where did the weekend go? Did yours go by as quickly as mine? My dreaded weekend task wasn’t as bad as I led myself to believe. Tedious, a bit smelly (like paint fumes), and frustrating at times, but overall not too bad. I found the connective tissue encasing each muscle and muscle group to be fascinating. It was like a thick cobweb or thin batting like you’d use for a quilt.

However, when I came across what I believe was the IT band, it was much different. It has a silvery appearance to it, and almost had an iridescence.  The fibers were thick and hard to pull apart from the muscle compared to the other connective tissue. When they did come apart, the fibers had distinct vertical threads that looked like fiberglass when I held it up to the light. It seemed more plastic than (previously) living tissue. I thought anyone out there who deals with IT band issues might find that interesting.

iliotibial band

Speaking of injury, I have been flying through my Return to Running stages lately! I’m now at stage 13! I’ve gone up a stage or two a week for the past month and couldn’t be happier. The big trick with keeping my plantar fasciitis at bay, besides keeping up with my strengthening and stretching routine, has been consistent icing. I do an ice massage the day I run, after rolling my arch on my Foot Rubz and lacrosse ball, then make sure to slap an ice pack on it every single night while I’m reading in bed. That’s all! I forgot to do it after my Friday run and guess what? Discomfort the past two day.

My only problem now is building my cardio and leg endurance back up! I stayed in shape cardio and muscle-wise during my injury, but there’s nothing like running to make you feel out of shape!

Return to Running program

The other thing I think that has helped me brings me to today’s tip: running on the grass. Whenever I’m running around my neighborhood, I try to run on the grass whenever I get a chance. It’s usually the grass between the sidewalk and the street, but sometimes it’s the edge of someone’s lawn if there is no sidewalk. If the edge of the lawn is really nice, I won’t, but if it’s yucky crabgrass like in front of our house, I’ll run on the very edge of it. Use your best judgement–you don’t want your neighbors getting mad at you!

Running on grass

If the snow weren’t there, I’d be running along the fence

It even becomes a bit of a game for me, dodging the trees that interrupt my path, then jumping back on the grass. Makes the run a bit more interesting.

Why do I do it? The softer terrain is better on your feet and joints. Pavement and sidewalks are notoriously hard on your feet, the effects of which travel all the way up the body.

I can feel the difference right away. Friday’s run along the river near my work was heavenly because I was able to stay on a large piece of grass the entire time. My foot didn’t bother me in the least, not even during my warm-up!

Running path along the river

Of course, I had to be careful to dodge the roots of the trees and dog poo. No need to twist my ankle or ruin my shoes. Running on an uneven/grass/trail surface makes it a bit more challenging to look ahead  instead of down the entire time, which is generally better form for running, but all in all, it feels so much better.

Questions: How was your weekend? Do anything unusual? How’s your running or workout routine going? Do you run or walk on the grass to save your feet and body?

New Year’s Goals Check-In: March

Personal Goals

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

I don’t need any clothes right now. We’ll see what happens as I put away our winter clothes and take out the spring/summer clothes and take an inventory. I am tempted to try Stitch Fix, though…

  • Take more pictures: B+

I’m still taking a decent amount of pictures and–even better–keeping them organized moving forward. We just made our free Shutterfly book. I’m not crazy about the quality of the book or the options, but hey, it was (mostly) free (had to pay S&H and for a few extra pages). Looking over our pictures to choose for the book made me want to go back through them more thoroughly to organize/make notes on them.

Europe vacation Shutterfly book

 

The plan this month is to frame a wedding picture and get albums for our proofs.

  •  Make a new menu item weekly: A-

We have been making at least one new recipe each week and I’m happy to report that they’re mostly “real” recipes, with some made-up ones thrown in there. I’m joining in on Carrots ‘n’ Cake’s April Cookbook Challenge  to break into more of that giant Bittman book. She also did a great series on shopping at WF/Trader Joe’s on a budget, which has inspired me to be better about meal planning and perhaps be able to shop at WF more!

Coconut curry peanut butter stir fry

  • Travel:A-

Excited to have more definite plans! We’re making definite plans to go to Colorado to visit my brother when he moves there this summer. We’re hoping to spend 5-7 days in the Boulder/Denver area and would love any suggestions if you’ve been there before!

A trip to the Netherlands to visit friends is looking less and less like a possibility this year. The flights are just too darn expensive for us. We will see how things look in the fall, but I wouldn’t go without WHH and he can’t take time away from school.

  • Read more, especially instead of watching TV: B+

I finally finished A Clash of Kings and am now on to A Storm of Swords (which is even longer!)! Still lots of reading for class. Moved the Blog, Inc. book to the coffee table in the living room to encourage me to read that instead of watching TV, which has been much more minimal this month.

A Sword of Storms

As you saw earlier in the month, we finished the inexpensive industrial-inspired shelves for the kitchen. We haven’t gotten to much else, but as I’ve said before, school is the priority. School, healthy eating, working out, everyday life (I include that in everyday life).

  • Simplify house further: C+

Not quite as good as last month, but we’re slowly getting there. Another bag of items off to be donated and a bunch of (empty) boxes cleared out of the basement. That dreaded closet, though…

  • Meet with financial advisor: C+

Even though we haven’t done this yet, we have a plan. Taxes were done last month, so we have more information to go on.

  • Write reviews, such as for products and travel:C+

Though I still need to go back and do reviews from our travel last summer, I’ve been really good moving forward with items I buy and things we do. So, I’ve upped my score this month.

Professional:

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

Still on A&P I right now and signed up for A&P II for the summer. Plus, my average is now up to 95%!

Skeleton model for Anatomy and Physiology I

  • Start nursing school: ?

As I told you last month, I’m on the wait-list for Fall 2014. I’ve decided to just focus on the next few months for right now: get through A&P I&II, and start thinking about my plan for the fall in mid-summer. I still need to take microbiology (fun!), so that’s a possibility for the fall.

  • Get better at WordPress and blogging in general: B

I’m continuing to learn new things every day and further develop my voice and focus. I would like to get better at preparing my posts even more ahead of time and posting at set times on the days I post. WHH is working on the logo and new banner. I have a few exciting things going on this month: a new product review and my first guest blogger! Stay tuned…

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

Again, not a focus right now, though it is on my mind constantly. We’ll see what the fall brings. I’d love some feedback from anyone out there who is certified in either field. I’m definitely interested in doing both, especially since I strongly feel they go together.

Health and Wellness:

  • Try new physical endeavor as my body continues to heal from all of the injuries last year: A-

I’m happy that I’m still headed in the right direction, slowly but surely. I’ve told myself I wouldn’t worry about how long it would take to come back and I’m following through on that promise to myself. Workouts have been mostly at home due to budgeting time for class, so no swimming or spin classes yet, but I’ve still been able to mix it up. I recently tried one of the Ballet Beautiful DVDs I’ve heard so much about. It seemed to be a more traditional ballet-type class. I personally didn’t love it and I’m not sure why. Perhaps because I was looking for more instruction on form? I think I just prefer the more yoga/pilates-influenced barre workouts.

Ballet Beautiful Body Blast DVD

I have my first race on Sunday as the running club representative from my work, though I will be walk/running it. I had a bit of a set-back with my plantar fasciitis last month, but I think it had to do more with breaking in my orthotics. I’m finally at stage 9 (yesterday’s run!) of the Return to Running program. Who knows, maybe that marathon talk wasn’t so crazy?

Outside run

In terms of my tennis elbow, occupational therapy has been going well. I’m happy to report that I’ve seen some slow improvements. I’ve been mostly staying off of my elbow (no upper body workouts or yoga poses), but I tested it out a bit last week with the ballet workout. It didn’t hurt while I was doing it, so I went ahead. It was probably a bit too much, too quickly, which resulted in it being painful for a few days, but then luckily died back down. A good sign, says the OT.

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

We’ve been really good at making an effort to buy more natural meats, whether they’re vegetarian-fed (the cheapest of the natural meats), grass-fed, and/or organic. Whenever I see some of the meat is on sale (usually because it’s about to expire), I stock up! It’s great having it at our disposal in the freezer and I love knowing we’re reducing our exposure to all kinds of weird hormones and chemicals.

Grass fed beef on sale frozen

To recap my monthly grades so far:

January: C

February: B-

This month’s overall GPA is…  B+. Not bad, not bad at all. Going in the right direction. I’ll take it.

One thing I do want to focus on more this month as we have so much going on is making sure to take the time to slow down. Life is going by so fast and I want to just press the pause button! WHH and I had a little celebration for our 13 year anniversary (being together) and it was such a nice treat on a random weeknight: dinner out after we both worked out (and showered), followed by dessert at one of those fro-yo sundae bars I’ve never been to, then curling up on the couch to watch the phenomenal Walking Dead finale. We are usually go-go-go on weekdays (work, workout, dinner prep and eat, showers, studying, prep for next day, sleep), so it was so nice to truly enjoy the night and not feel like we had to do anything.

Whisky sour

WHH’s been on a whisky kick lately thanks to a friend from KY introducing him to the good stuff.

Questions: How are you doing with any goals you set for the year? Do you feel like life is going by too fast sometimes? What do you do to try to slow it down?

Friday Favorite: Greatist Parcel Favorites

Happy Friday! I’m a little under the weather here, but I really can’t complain since I managed to evade any sickness for the entire fall and winter using this approach. I’m not willing to say, “I’m sick” just yet–I still think I can beat this thing before it gets the best of me.

Emergen-C, echinacea tea, licorice tea, coffee

I usually have my coffee black, but need milk when I feel sick!

For today’s favorite, I wanted to revisit some of the items I received in my Parcel Greatist box (full Parcel Greatist box review post here). I’m personally always curious about how much people actually like the items they received from a subscription box and if they’d make a point to go out and buy them, so I’d thought I’d do a run-down of the items that really stood out and that I plan to buy.

Greatist Parcel Box

December’s Box:

Salamandra Naturals Lavender Soap: This soap was seriously great! All natural and exfoliating but also hydrating. Sign me up! Bonus: if you follow Salamandra Soaps on Twitter, you get a discount! Just use discount code twitter.

Salamandra Lavender Oats Soap back

January’s box (yes, that’s all for December’s box, but this box was much better!):

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds: I enjoyed these so much that I promptly went out and bought more once I was all out. I love that they add more protein, fiber, and Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) to my weekend smoothies.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Raw Green Organics Super Greens: These are another item that I have thoroughly enjoyed adding to my smoothies! It is a healthy, antioxidant-rich organic vegetable blend packed with EFAs, amino acids, phytonutrients and fiber. It’s definitely on the expensive side, but my small packet lasted me well over a month of having two smoothies a week, so a little bit goes a long way.

RawJuvenate Organic Super Greens

Look at how green it makes my smoothie!

Smoothie using RawJuvenate Organic Super Greens

Amala Hydrating Cream Cleanser, Yogurt Mask, and Face Cream: Another expensive item, I know, but I can’t begin to tell you how well this moisturized my skin compared to my regular moisturizer! My usual cream quickly sinks into my skin, hydrating it, but leaving the surface a bit dry. This cream was not only absorbed, but left a barrier on the top of my skin, making it feel smooth and nourished. Add to that the fact that my skin didn’t freak out, and that they use organic plants and custom distill them, and this is definitely a quality product. I will be adding this to my Christmas wish list!

Amala hydrate collection

After having sore heels last weekend, I think I’m back on the upswing. I was able to go out yesterday and felt pretty good. I changed things up and instead of using KT tape and my old orthotics, used only my new orthotics. Both of my heels hurt for the first five minutes of walking, but since they both hurt I decided it was because I was still breaking in my orthotics.

Langer custom orthotic

New orthotic on right, old orthotic on left

Once I started my run/walk intervals (stage 7), they felt much better. The Achilles of my PF foot felt a bit tight, but no pain. The only real problem was my feet felt clunky, almost as though I had cinderblocks in my shoes, to the point that I felt my form was off. It was probably a combination of the fact that I was coming down with something (my legs felt fatigued) and adjusting to the weight/stability of the orthotics themselves. But I just had to get out and enjoy the first day of spring!

Questions: Do you have a subscription box? If so, which one(s) and what are some of your favorite products that you’ve received? Did you do anything to celebrate the first day of spring?