Active Jobs and Weight Loss Maintenance

I had a fairly productive day today!

Kris and I have been practicing getting up early because… I start a new job next week! I’ll need to be there at 8 am everyday, and while I’m used to getting up to take Kris to work by 8:30, I’m not quite used to getting up early enough to get both of us ready and out the door half an hour earlier! The good news is that the weather is warming up so we should both be able to bike to work, cutting down on the inconvenience that will arise from having 1 car and slightly different hours. Today getting up early was necessary, because Kris had a doctor’s appointment in another town at 8:30. No worries, just some boring (because they were normal) bloodwork results.

After we got home, I had to really motivate myself to go for my run (the rest of this post will get more into why I was so demotivated), but I went out and got in 4 miles before our “100% chance of rain” weather started around lunchtime. Then, after I got home, I set to work making a lunchbox for my bike that I adapted from this tutorial (I lined mine and put in insulation so that I can keep things cold with an icepack). I have panniers, but liked the idea of a bag I could attach somewhere else if I needed more room in the panniers or if it was a more casual day and all I needed to bring along was my purse and a lunch! While constructing it went very well (I made Kris one for Christmas so I was practiced at all of the quirks of the project), I did run into a couple of obstacles:

Misty trying to help. She also tried to climb into my sewing machine case! Oh, and that cute shoe fabric is the lining.

The bag is bigger than the triangle below my top tube 😦 I told Kris I’ll just have to buy a second bike so that I can use the lunchbox 😉

After all of that I even made a “nice” dinner of lentil curry for us. Now I’m sitting at Panera Bread relaxing. Warning: they somehow put twice as many calories into their baked goods as other businesses. The carrot cake muffin I had was almost worth it, though. The cinnamon crunch bagel (which I should have had instead) is more than worth it.


Now, on to the topic of this day’s post. When I started working as a server, I knew it would be a more active job and was glad that might help to burn off some of my winter fluffiness I’d packed on. I soon realized, though, that I was insatiably hungry all of the time and regularly going over my calorie limits – and still going to bed hungry! I felt very guilty about all of the breadsticks, mozzarella sticks, and wings I was devouring at work on top of all of my other food, and, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago when I set myself some short-term goals for the month, was guessing rather than losing weight I had probably gained it.

When I weighed myself at the beginning of March, though, I hadn’t gained a pound – I had to ask myself “why?”

When I began to think about it more seriously, I considered the fact that most calorie counters have an adjustment for how active your job is. I’ve always put in “sedentary” even though my jobs (teacher, retail) could probably be classified as closer to “lightly active” because I did not believe that I was burning the 200 extra calories that MyFitnessPal claimed per day at those jobs – I figured an extra active day was just an added bonus.

When I began working at the pizza place, I operated under the same assumption: perhaps I’d burn a few extra calories, but I’d just consider it an added bonus. When I realized that I was maintaining my weight pretty well despite my terrible diet, I looked to see what MFP thought I should be eating in my new occupation, which it classifies as “active” and was at first surprised to see it was 400 calories! But then I thought about it – I burn about 60 calories on a 20 minute (1 mile) walk. If I am walking for, say, 3 hours out of my shift, that would be over 500 calories burned – plus I am usually carrying heavy things around while doing it! I haven’t made it a habit to add 400 extra calories in a day, but I’ve felt WAY less guilty about munching on a breadstick if I am truly hungry since making that realization.

I would say that there are cons to having a more active job, though. If one’s active job is at a restaurant or retail store (well, one were food will be available), the temptation to eat food that is “bad” for you will be high once the insatiable hunger hits. Now, a breadstick isn’t inherently “bad,” but it isn’t very filling so if I eat that instead of a more filling snack, I am more likely to be hungry and eat even more calories later. I am also more likely to eat things that are calorie bombs, sending me well over my calorie limit even with the extra calories I burnt at my job, such as multiple slices of deep dish pizza (that I don’t even like! I’m just starving!).

If one doesn’t work at a restaurant, I’m guessing the opposite problem occurs – you are starving, but are too busy at work to get food, and are therefore under-fueled, irritable, and likely to grab fast food on the way home. I’m guessing in either scenario you are also more likely to want to come home and relax with a glass (or two) of wine/beer! I am guessing that you can connect many of the goals I have set myself for March with these particular problems that arise from working an active job at a restaurant, such as allowing fewer calories to be “empty” calories and trying to eliminate eating without purpose while at work.

My main approaches to combating this have been to bring healthy snacks along with me and to make sure that if I have a calorie bomb at work, I use it to replace my dinner (usually it turns out I’m not hungry after eating something like half a stromboli and 4 mozzarella sticks anyway).

Another problem I have found is that burning all of those calories at work is physically exhausting. Often, when I head out for a run, my legs are tired, stiff, and painful the whole time. The tiredness in my legs really slows me down – on days they are fresher, I am much much closer to my old paces; days like yesterday and today, I’m struggling to stay under 10 minutes per mile. My legs aren’t the only part of me that is sore, either – I’ve found that simple workouts with 3 lb weights as part of workout videos are more difficult now, even though I’m stronger, because my arms are always worn out! In general, I think that trying to work out 6 days per week AND work such an active job has really taken a toll on me – I don’t get any “real” rest days, so I always feel a bit run down. My run yesterday was miserable – my legs were in pain the whole time, and I felt sick to my stomach, which made it hard to motivate myself today. I felt a bit better today, but my legs still felt like crap, so I might give myself some “rest” tomorrow (I have an 8 hour shift) by skipping my 45 minute home workout I had planned to see if that helps at all.

Now, the fun part of all of this reflection will be that I’m moving to what is going to be, at least in comparison, a very sedentary job next week. Don’t worry, I have some plans for that I am working on to stay active and healthy 🙂

Advertisements

March Goals

I typically don’t set monthly goals, but I’ve felt quite blah about my fitness progress lately (in addition to 1,000 other things), and I have a race coming up at the end of the month, so I thought setting some concrete goals for myself would help me to a) get my ass back into gear and b) be slightly less miserable to be around.

My first step in preparing for this month of getting back on track was to weigh myself. I do this rarely, not only because I don’t like to fixate on day-to-day fluctuations in weight, but because I only own a Wii Fit, not a real scale, so weighing myself is annoying and innacurrate. It is  usually better to just get on it once in awhile to make sure I’m not trending dangerously up or down and base my assessment more on how my clothes fit.

The problem with losing 110 lbs, though, is that because I am almost constantly afraid of gaining my weight back, I imagine that my clothes are becoming tight/ I am becoming fluffier even when that is not the case. I assumed that based on my “terrible” eating over the last 2 months since I last weighed myself, I was going to have to set a weight loss goal (I was guessing I had gained at the very least 10 lbs). Imagine my surprise when I got on the scale to find that my weight my exactly the same as it was in early January (128ish). Now, I’m sure I haven’t exactly maintained my weight to the ounce, but it was a signal to me that I have been overreacting about my “bad” eating, especially with all the activity from my occupation that I do not account for.

I am very glad to find that I don’t have to set a weight loss goal for the month! That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to try to fix up my diet a bit, though – I probably have been eating a bit too much pizza and ice cream for the sake of overall health and nutrition, even if my waist line has been spared the consequences thus far. With that being said, here are my goals for March:

  • Work out at least 5 days per week (4 runs and 2 days of strength training, one can be doubled up)
  • Actually stick to my calorie goals  on a weekly basis – perhaps try to figure out how much more I should be eating now that I have a more active job if I want to be able to eat more to reflect that
  • Follow the “80%” rule – the idea I often see touted on the internet that a “diet” should allow for 80% “good” eating and “20%” bad if you want to actually be successful and non-miserable. While I am obviously not going on a diet, I would like to try to pay more attention to how many of my calories are coming from completely non-nutritious snacks, like Cadbury Creme Eggs (side note: their calorie amount just isn’t fair)
  • Don’t eat anything that isn’t “worth it” from the pizza buffet at work. While this is a more subjective goal, what I mean by this is don’t just randomly eat pizza rolls and dessert breadsticks just because they are there; rather, do something like eat a couple slices of pizza and a couple mozzarella sticks because I haven’t eaten lunch yet. Basically, only eat with actual purpose.
  • Only drink 5 alcoholic beverages per week. While I don’t have an alcohol problem, it is basically empty calories, and I usually have at least 1-2 drinks (usually just non-exciting beer like Yuengling, too) per night, which is at least 150 calories of actual nutrition I could get per day. This allowance gives me enough slack to have one after a stressful night at work or when relaxing on an evening off.

March is off to a great start so far! The weather is good (until tomorrow); I’ve set some goals; and I got in a TON of exercise today – a 5K run (under 30 minutes for the first time in months) AND a 5K walk with Kris and Belle.

Long Weekend, Long Run

Kris and I had quite the interesting and eventful long weekend!


Saturday

On Saturday, we woke up to….more snow! Apparently 10 inches on Thursday wasn’t enough.

I was supposed to work noon – 8ish but I ended up working more of a 3-7 shift because we were so slow that they had me come in late. This gave me time to join Kris and Belle for a walk, which was fun because Belle LOVES fresh snow, apparently. On a typical cold day, Belle barely wants to go outside; with the fresh snow lately, she has been SUPER excited to go for walks and jump around in the snow, even if it is too deep for her properly walk through.

I also ordered a Roku 3 on Saturday morning! For the last several years, we have been using our Xbox live subscription to watch Netflix on our TV. Kris hardly does any console gaming anymore, though, (he has converted to mostly PC) so the subscription seemed like a waste of money. Technically, a Roku 3 costs more than one year of Xbox live, but the goal is for the thing to last more than one year. Our only hang up: it is supposed to arrive on Friday, and our last day of Xbox live is tomorrow! I am hoping the box arrives early so we don’t have to huddle around the laptop to watch House of Cards.


Sunday

Sunday was the day of my long run. I was DREADING going for this run… 5 miles on the potentially icy sidewalks?! I knew I had to do it, though – I haven’t run that far in nearly 2 months, and in a few weeks I need to run twice that distance! The run went better than I had anticipated, with only a few random blocks that had not been shoveled. I will say that after my 5 mile run yesterday and 3 mile run today on those uneven surfaces with varying degrees of traction I am quite sore.

This was the worst – completely snow covered for an entire block. Fun fact: my GPS thinks this is a 300 foot elevation change, for some reason.

When I got home from work, which was fortunately not cut in half (remember, I am a server, so a short shift on a Saturday + slow business from the bad weather meant a HUGE cut in wages for the week), Kris and I tried letting the “stray” kitty that has been coming around. We noticed she was friendly and started regularly leaving food out for her about 3 weeks ago. Our landlord recently told us that she was abandoned by some neighbors that moved out which helped us to understand why a “stray” was so friendly and dependent on people for food. She is so friendly that we were worried she had been de-clawed because she has never tried to scratch us! She is very scared of Belle (I don’t blame her – Belle is not directly aggressive towards her, but is confused and distressed by her presence) but we are slowly working towards acclimating the two of them.


Monday

Today was incredibly eventful!

Since Kris is a government employee, the hardworking taxpayers of our commonwealth paid him to stay home and celebrate the most important of all holidays, President’s Day (that was sarcasm). We started out the day with some cinnamon rolls and attempts at cat-dog diplomacy. It went ok. The cat was too nervous to eat, but she successfully swatted at Belle’s tail and stepped on Belle once without anything terrible happening.

What a scaredy cat! She doesn’t have a name yet. We are considering both “Turtle” and “Gandalf the Grey” to suit her coloring.

We then finished watching Battlestar Galactica. I know we are about 10 years behind, but Kris and I are terrible at watching TV. And by terrible, I don’t mean that we watch so much TV that it is a bad habit or something. I mean that we actually struggle to watch TV. It is difficult for us to watch more than 2 episodes of a show in a row so we are incredibly slow at these things. It has been several years, so I shouldn’t worry about spoilers, but I am talking about the end of a series, so all I will say is that while I liked the “big picture” ending in terms of where they ended up, there were several elements of the last season, especially in the last few episodes, that I found pointless or that tarnished previous events in the show.

Because we finished this show we were able to move on to our two episodes of House of Cards for the day! As a political scientist, I obviously love this show. I will also say that as a political scientist I find none of the characters on the show surprising. What can I say – my discipline fosters political cynicism. Obviously no spoilers here, but my only concern with the show right now is that I am afraid they are too conveniently disposing of certain plot points from the previous season. I am willing to watch the whole season before finalizing that judgement, though. Also, no matter what Claire does, I will always admire her fashion choices. If I had a bazillion dollars I would probably dress exactly like her.

I think these looks would work just fine with curly brown hair and freckles. I already own big plastic glasses and a blue button down. Mine might have been $4 at Goodwill, though. I don’t really have an image source, I found it on Pinterest.

I also committed to a major decision today…”new” smartphones. Kris and I have had smartphones with Verizon for about 4 years, and our contract expires this week. When we originally got them, it was the best deal because he gets an employee discount and we had truly unlimited data. Obviously the cell phone service provider market has changed over the last 4 years, though, and now we are paying nearly $200 a month for two phones and if we renew our contract we will lose unlimited data. One of Kris’s coworkers recently switched his family to T-Mobile, where he is paying less than half of what we currently pay. The data won’t be as “truly” unlimited (our speeds will be slowed at a certain point), but there won’t be a sharp limit like we would have with Verizon, and we will save A LOT of money. His service in our area is perfectly fine and a friend with T-Mobile was able to use her phone at my parents, so I feel fine about switching away from the coverage that Verizon provides (always a concern because they live in the middle of nowhere; so do Kris’s parents but not a single provider gets service at their home so that is irrelevant). I had been putting off committing to the T-Mobile decision because of the upfront cost, though – while we would still save money with the financing plans they offer for phones, we knew we would save even more if we brought our own purchased phones on in the long run. At the suggestion of many things I have read on the internet and Kris’s coworker, we broke down and purchased 2 used Nexus 4’s today. We got the phones for less than $200 each so after 4 months the phones will essentially be paid for in savings – less time if we can sell our own phones – but because we have always relied on Verizon phone subsidization and always purchased brand new phones it is a little bit scary to be doing this. I hope that it works out!


Unfortunately, this weekend was not all fun and excitement, at least in terms of health. I am very proud of myself for sticking to my commitment to run, despite the snow and ice – trust me, it was tempting to give up while slogging through 12 inches of snow only .6 miles into a 5 mile run on Sunday – but my diet has been terrible lately. I will have one or two “good” days a week where I stick to my calorie limit, but the rest of the days have been relatively bad.

I will start out strong in the morning, and most of my meals with be healthy, but a big problem has been my work schedule. I have to eat before my shifts or I will be STARVING and eat a bunch of unhealthy pizza place food, and sometimes I end up eating a bunch of it anyway (especially if I work during the times when we have our pizza buffet and I am encouraged to take food home that is being thrown away); sometimes my shifts are long so I have to eat during them anyway; and I am invariably hungry when I get home from work. I feel less “bad” if I come home and have something like nuts, hummus and crackers, or fat-free popcorn, but “good” calories still count. I just hope I am burning some extra calories with my more active job.

My general attitude has been a problem as well. I am still on the hunt for a full-time job, obviously, and despite the fact that I should be elated that I have had numerous interviews after only being on the job market for about 6 weeks, I can only feel fear that I will never get a job offer and I will spend the rest of my life waiting tables with a master’s degree. I have expressed this fear on here several times, so I apologize for being repetitive and whiny, but it has been a major issue with my diet. This was especially true this weekend – I had a really bad night at work on Saturday (pissed off a table) and spent most of the night crying after I got home. Yesterday and today were a lot better, but a lot of today’s “fun” came from eating unhealthy food – we started with cinnamon rolls, went out for Mexican and ice cream, and I have eaten about 2 lbs of chocolates I bought when I was feeling miserable still on Sunday morning. I just want to eat out of nervousness, boredom, and sadness all of the sudden, which is surprising to me because this has not been a real obstacle before. I know I am just making excuses and that it might actually help me to feel better if I were to increase the healthiness of my diet but it has just been a bigger obstacle lately. Hopefully I can stick to my goals a little better in the coming week. Who knows – maybe I’ll even get some good news on the job front?

Organization Spree!

Today I was finally able to go for a run! I went at some point last week, but it has either been too cold/rainy/icy to go since. The last time I went for a run I was INCREDIBLY slow (probably due to not running for like, a week) and even felt sick in the middle. Today I thought everything was going fine until I looked at my watch and it seemed that my pace had dropped precipitously. I then realized that the watch was about .3 miles behind my actual distance, but I figured it wasn’t a big deal and I’d just keep an eye on my watch in the future to see if it keeps messing up. When I got home and uploaded the workout, though, it corrected the distance. Because of it’s error, it added in a space of .3 miles where it said I ran something like 3:00 per mile, which was amusing. Hopefully it goes back to working correctly!

My run today was also interesting because of all the people out gawking at the river. It is slightly flooded right now (hoping we don’t get any rain for awhile so it can go back down) and covered in ice. Because it was sort of sunny and warm (mostly cloudy and 40 degrees) people were actually venturing out into the park and I swear I saw like 5 separate families taking pictures of the river, and most of them were taking pictures with tablets, which gave me great amusement. To be fair, I did take a picture of the river yesterday when we had super thick fog and it was really really creepy.

The dark thing in the mist is an island in the middle of the river. Keep in mind that island is close enough that Google Maps used to think I lived on it.

I also got to see a local stray cat that hangs around. There are three main cats, and this is the friendly one. He typically hangs out at a neighbor’s across the street but they must have been ignoring him today, because he followed me for a whole block and then when I got to my porch was like jumping all over me and meowing until Kris brought him (or her, I guess) out some food. Belle was apparently super jealous while I was standing out there with the cat and kept pushing the window blinds open to watch us. Then she wouldn’t stop sniffing me when I came in!

Observe my beautiful and well-matched running outfit.


Kris and I have actually spent most of the weekend re-organizing the house now that I am home for a lengthy time period. I think organizing/buying the new things that organizing entails helps us to deal with stress, too, which is another reason we are doing it. We have a lot of plans for what to do over the next couple of weeks/months:

  • Move my sewing stuff out of the living room in order to set up a bike storage area.
  • Get some sort of cabinet for the dining room to store extra kitchen stuff in.
  • Clean up our gross basement that never really recovered from the last flood so that we can store more things down there and perhaps put in a small gym/Warhammer play area.
  • Clean up the guest room so that it can be a Warhammer crafting/sewing area in addition to being a guest room.
  • Set up the office so that both Kris and I can fit in there.

This weekend we decided to tackle setting up the office. We started by moving all of the Warhammer and sewing stuff into the guest room, which is now a disaster zone and will probably have to be the next project. We then took the large desk that was in the office out to move to the basement for storage so that we could move in the desk I had been using for sewing, a filing cabinet that had been in the sewing area, and a new small desk that we bought. With a little bit of rearranging – and a lot of throwing away random old papers we had been keeping since 2007 or so – we were able to fit everything in.

“Before” (technically from the day we moved in, so it was WAY messier today):

After:

My area. This is to the right of the doorway . You cannot see this area in the before photo, the white bookshelf in the corner of this photo was where the desk was, and the big desk extended all the way to where the bookshelf is now or even past that point.

Where the old desk used to be. The taller bookshelf was moved from where Kris’s desk is now. He is using the filing cabinet as an ottoman.

Kris’s desk area as seen from mine. I am glad we were able to set up dual workspaces in such a tiny room! In the before photo, this area is to the left of the door and was where the taller bookshelf was.

The only thing that doesn’t really fit: Belle’s bed (it used to lay under the large desk). She only used it when she was scared, anyway. To give you an idea of how little she uses this particular bed, it was her first bed we ever bought her. She has gone through like 5 other beds in various parts of the house, and this one is still in near-perfect condition.

We also got a bit of a headstart on the basement – while looking for a cheapo desk for me, we found some plastic shelving units for the basement, and with that and the old desk, we were able to clean up the stuff were were storing in the basement quite a bit, giving us room to move around and clean so we can put in a full-size Warhammer play table. That will be a lengthy project, though, as the old tenant left a bunch of crap here and all of it was covered in floodwater and therefore needs to be disposed of. Some of this is really frustrating – my parents are going to give us some old weights, but they have no weight bench. There is a weight bench in the basement, but the floodwaters ruined it. This means I will have to throw it away and buy a new one. There are also two road bikes down there that are in terrible condition. I am hoping that if we wash them down we can perhaps selvage the frames, but I am afraid they will be rusted or ruined in some other way (they are so dirty/muddy I cannot tell). 

Speaking of throwing things away – re-organizing really shows me how wasteful we can be, even though we try very hard not to make needless purchases. We have so much stuff to take to Goodwill and throw away that it might take multiple weeks! If it was summer, I’d say we have nearly enough for a yard sale! Things we are giving away include a men’s leather coat (received secondhand; Kris didn’t like it); a waffle iron (purchased at a yard sale); and about 4 cups that match each other but nothing else (the others broke). In short, all nice things that people might actually want. We also have a bunch of Christmas decor we could probably get rid of – we have no less than three artificial trees (I’m allergic to pine), two of which are too small and one that is worn and needs replaced. I feel less bad about the garbage – things like Belle’s crate that she destroyed and old clothes with holes that are not worth repairing. It’s just frustrating because I feel like we must be doing something wrong to accumulate so much crap. 

Races I’m Considering

The past few days have been really busy! On Monday, we were supposed to go to a pub trivia thing, but the person who actually lives in the town where trivia was taking place cancelled, so we decided to go out for Mexican and go play board games with the other people who were supposed to go to trivia with us. The Mexican place was ok – it was at least better than the big regional chain that is around here, which was weird because it is apparently owned by them.

On Tuesday, I had a job interview and had to take Kris to the doctor about his seizure. I was overqualified for the job, so I think they might not hire me, and Kris’s doctor answered about zero questions.

Today, I attempted to make bread and failed (more on that another time) and had to deal with my computer randomly deciding that although my wireless internet was working that none of the browsers would work. The only way to fix it was to uninstall Norton Antivirus, so hopefully “Windows Defender” serves some protective purpose! I also start my part-time waitress job today (I am still interviewing for full-time positions, but took this just in case) so hopefully that goes better than the bread and computer issues did.

In other news, the “polar vortex” has finally moved on. It didn’t get as cold here as it did elsewhere, but it was still pretty darn cold! Belle was displeased with the weather, anyway. It hasn’t really warmed up enough to go running yet, either. Well, perhaps it would have been warm enough if I had waited until this afternoon, but that wasn’t really going to work for me today if I wanted to shower before doing anything else, so I just worked out at home again. I really hope it becomes a) more than 20 degrees and b) not snowy quite soon!

At least my time cooped up in the house has given me some time to think about what races I might want to do this year. I’ve included a list of several – comments are welcome, as I am clearly quite undecided and cannot possibly do ALL of these!


5K

  • Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K. This is one I’m actually “committed” to doing (meaning I signed up virtually). I’m going to try for 25 minutes, but it’s unlikely I’ll achieve that goal due to my lack of running lately. I’ll still have fun doing my first virtual 5K, though!
  • Grape Strides 5K. Apparently this is a 5K “wine run,” whatever that means. I think it would mean that I couldn’t take it too seriously, but I also think it might be a really unique experience!
  • Spirit of Gettysburg 5K. “The Spirit of Gettysburg 5K travels the first day of the historic Battle of Gettysburg.” You need to say no more to entice me.
  • Capital View 5K. A 5K that runs through a park that allows you to view the Harrisburg skyline, which sounds nice. There is also a “Dalmatian Dash” fun run. I wonder if they have breed restrictions on dogs :p
  • Chocolate Miracle 5K Race. I do have a later rant about Hershey coming up that you will see biases me against racing there, but this race actually sounds nice. They are promising free ice cream, cookies, and coffee!!

10 K

  • Hershey 10K. A 10K that goes through Hersheypark. I have a giant rant about Hershey on the half marathon description but I might be ok with this as it is mostly in the park and is short and I can’t find many other 10Ks.
  • ???

Half Marathon

  • Cook Forest Half Marathon. This course is up near where my parents live and I know that it would be very scenic, which is one reason I would like to run this. It is the day before the Capital 10 Miler, however, so I’d have to pick one or the other (mostly due to the races being on opposite sides of the state).
  • Various German/Amish Themed Half-Marathons (Rumpsringa; 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut). Both of these races sound super fun! They are both small and have great prizes (German weather houses!) and at least one has the promise of beer. I’d probably be more likely to do the Rumspringa because it’s closer to my house, but the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut sounds like it’s a bit more silly, which might be fun. Plus that is the one that promises beer!
  • The Harrisburg Half Marathon. I can only seem to find information on the 2013 race, but if this actually exists I might run it. Races in Harrisburg tend to follow the same routes, so I’d be really familiar with the course, and most of it would be within walking distance of my home. I don’t really see many downsides to running this.
  • Hershey Half Marathon. I’m not sure about this one because I am not 100% certain that I’ll be in central PA in the fall, but if I am, I suppose I should run it because it’s sort of “the race everyone does” around here. Still, it is the same weekend as the Runner’s World Festival, so I might do that instead. FYI, the website makes  the town* of Hershey sound way cooler than it really is. I mean, the theme park is cool, but see how they keep emphasizing the kiss-shaped street lights? That’s because other than a few road names that is the only Hershey themed part of town. And don’t get too excited about the “chocolate aid” station. According to my ob-gyn, who told me she ran it last year, chocolate is a lot less appetizing during a half marathon than one might think.
  • The Blue-Gray Half Marathon. This half-marathon is held in Gettysburg and assigns participants to the North and the South, with each team running different courses. As suggested by my willingness to do the Gettysburg 5K, the nerd in me longs to do this race, but there is once again the risk that I won’t be in the area. It is also the weekend after Hershey/Runner’s World so if I do one of those I might have to give up on this or just run it really, really, slow.

Dare I Say…Marathon?!

  • The Harrisburg Marathon. When I was more certain I would be in Harrisburg in the fall, I had cautiously mentioned to Kris that I might aim to do this. It is supposed to be a mostly flat, relatively easy course, which I think would be nice for a first marathon. Like most races in Harrisburg (they are all run on the same damn course), it has the added benefit of being able to walk to the starting area!

Other

  • Capital 10 Miler. I already mentioned I was thinking of this. It doesn’t seem like anything particularly special, but, once again, I could theoretically walk to the starting line, which is nice.
  • Runner’s World Half & Festival. You run a 5K and 10K one day, and a half the next. One of my Facebook friends did this in 2013 and it looked like a lot of fun! There are like 50 other races this particular weekend I would like to do, though.
  • Double Creek Bike Tour. I did the half-marathon last year, but Kris and I might do one of the bike rides (not races, so no pressure) this year.
  • Mad Anthony Half. I thought about doing this, because my family claims we are somehow related to Mad Anthony Wayne, so that might have been fun, but I am now refusing due to the fact that they are not supportive of the race having a colonial era theme. Where is the fun in that?!
  • Buck Ridge Burn. A trail race on part of the Appalachian Trail. Do I want to challenge myself to complete the whole 13.1, or challenge myself to get a good time on the trail 5K?
  • LCCM Duathlon. I’ve thought about branching out into tri’s, but I am a completely unprepared swimmer. Perhaps it would be a good idea to experiment first with a very short duathlon, which involves only running and biking.
  • Lower Allen Park Adventure Run. I’ve always wanted to try an adventure race, but the Warrior Dash is so overhyped and expensive, and Tough Mudder and Spartan race are probably too long for me right now. This is a smaller, local event so it might be nice to attempt this instead.

*Fun fact: Hershey, PA is not a real town. It is just the part of Derry Township, PA where all the chocolate stuff is.

New Year’s Resolutions

Time for the obligatory New Year’s Resolutions. Last year I made only one: to run a half marathon, which I was able to complete! Though this may have been my only legitimate resolution, I did have several other goals I set over the year and achieved (such as completing said half marathon in under 2 hours). This year I figure that I can start out by trying to plan out several of these smaller goals in addition to bigger resolutions.


Running Resolutions and Goals

  • Complete as many races as I did last year (5). The only race I had been seriously planning to do was the Indy Mini, but I’ve had to change that plan as I won’t be in Indiana in May. I’m glad I procrastinated on registering! The main race on my radar right now is the Capital 10 Miler, now. I would also like to do another 5K so that I can finally get an official time under 25 minutes; another half marathon just so that I can force myself to train up to the 13.1 miles again (and maybe decrease my time); and a 10K because I’ve never actually done one (the trail race was a quarter marathon, and was actually a bit long, so more like 7 miles than 6.2).
  • Run more miles than I did in 2013. According to Runkeeper, I ran about 818 miles last year (I’m sure I forgot some, but we will have to go with that number). Looking back at the data shows that my winter months (Jan.-Mar. and Dec.) were very low so I bet if I could increase those I could get up to 900 miles. I will see how well I do at the beginning of this year and adjust from there.

General Fitness/Health Resolutions and Goals

  • The obvious one: continue to maintain my weight loss for another year. Perhaps I should actually weigh myself for the first time in like a month so that I know where I’m starting. Ugh. Hopefully the Wii is still working, I’d hate to buy a scale.
  • Eat more vegetables. I don’t like this one that much because I like quantifiable goals, but it needs to be done. I basically eat no veggies except spinach and carrots and I eat maybe 2 servings a day. Oops. I think this is especially important as I am trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my diet – I don’t want to become a carbivore!!
  • Take a 50 mile bike ride. Kris and I did 20 last summer with almost no training so I am hoping we can work our way up to this goal if we actually try.
  • Try to strength train at least once a week. I hate strength training and do it very sporadically, but I know it helps to prevent running injuries and is healthy for me in other ways because it increases not only my strength but also my bone density.

Other

  • Read a novel. I’ve read a grand total of 3 books since starting graduate school in 2010: Under the Dome, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones. Graduate school messes up your ability to read for fun. I actually cried and yelled at Kris one time when he suggested I try to do so because the memory of enjoying it in the past was so painful. I’ve read about 100 pages of Clash of Kings so I could start by picking that back up again. I also looked up the hours for the library, which I feel is amazing progress.
  • Step outside my comfort zone with friend-making. I’m really outgoing once I’ve been put into a social situation so once I am in one I make friends easily but I am bad at setting them up because I get anxious about new experiences. I feel like while I’m here in Harrisburg I should try to join a club or something. I’ve thought about joining a gym at least, but that isn’t really the best for friend making unless you do classes or something, and it’s kind of pricey. Even my super introvert husband is in a local Warhammer club, I’m sure I could come up with something!!

Good Riddance, 2013

2013 has not been the best year. The year started with the sudden death of my grandmother, who I was very close to (my mom and I lived with my grandparents until I was 8). It also included my husband having numerous medical issues, numerous bad luck type expenses (major car issues, part of my bike being stolen, etc.), and me having to give up on my goal of earning a second master’s degree. I’m sure I’m actually forgetting bad stuff in that list, to be honest. The year also had highlights, though, so I thought I’d go through a few of them to remind myself that while it was probably one of my worst years, if I look at the big picture rather than focus on these small problems, the year has been pretty good!

January

  • I finished my first quilt! My grandmother taught me how to sew and got me into quilting. Normally I just quilt small things (table runners, purses, etc.) but she bought me the materials to make my own quilt and after I found out that she had cancer (October 2012) I made a goal to finish it before she passed away (don’t worry, I did, and she saw it over skype). In 2014 I plan to finish some of the quilts she had been working on.

The awesome quilt. It had some issues with the binding, but whatever, it was my first quilt.

  • I returned to graduate school! I had taken off fall semester of 2012 for my husband’s medical issues and was able to return for both semesters in 2013. Leaving once and returning gives me hope that I will return and finish eventually!

February

River on her first day home, being a pit-ball.

March

  • Every year my roommate and I try to throw an epic fancy cheese and wine party. We had it this year for her birthday and as an added bonus made it a masquerade!

Selfie in my sweet masquerade mask.

  • Ran my first 5k! You can read all about it on my race report!

April

  • I replaced my running shoes for the first time.

  • Played hookie from an academic conference to go see Sue (and other, lesser dinosaurs and I suppose a few other things) at the Chicago Field Museum.

  • Ran my 2nd 5K and almost broke 25 minutes (I have done it a few times in training, but never officially in a race).

Pre-race selfie.

  • Won an outstanding teaching assistant award for the political science department. Mostly because I had the patience to not yell at kids who didn’t know that Obama is not a dictator (regardless of your opinion on him, he still has to deal with Congress, so he is not factually a dictator). Hopefully my roommate wins outstanding independent instructor award this year for the patience she exhibited dealing with kids who were not only ignorant but argumentative about it (like, yelling at her for displaying statistics from reputable sources because they just “can’t be true” levels of ignorant and argumentative, and that is just the tip of the iceberg).

May

  • Independently taught my first upper-level statistics course. It was intense to teach 2 hours a day for 4 weeks but I loved it!

Bathroom mirror selfie before my first day of teaching.

  • Belle and River were introduced (because Kris came to visit in Indiana). Belle did get injured while there due to having a panic attack, but it had a silver lining: River became nicer to her because she was trying to protect her, and I bonded with my students after explaining to them that my poor doggie bled all over their exams.

Belle and River slept on this bed while Kris and I slept on an air mattress.

My roomie observed that this photo shows their true nature: Bellie begging for belly rubs and River slowing encroaching on my space.

Injured Bellie 😦

  • Two friends of mine got married and Kris was able to attend the (awesomely geeky) wedding with me.

Guests were asked to wear their Harry Potter house colors. We represented Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw!

I won the Tardis cookie jar centerpiece (as I said, awesomely geeky) and was gifted the Corgi for watching their furbabies during bachelor/bacherlorette festivities.

June

  • My roommate and I moved into a nice apartment that did not have awful maintenance men who pretend to fix your AC (ours was broken in the old place for 11 months, including months where it was so hot the dog starting throwing up).
  • Kris and I got bicycles!

Don’t worry, I bought a better lock!

  • Ran my first half marathon and beat my goal of finishing in under 2 hours! I don’t actually have any really good pictures of this, as the pro photographer didn’t catch me. There is a picture of me crossing on the post, though.
  • Finally took our delayed honeymoon to New York, where we went from loving to hating Brooklyn in the course of an afternoon and saw Wicked (which was amazing). But seriously, Brooklyn, we could only take so much hipster and you guys were apparently too cool to sell us overpriced craft beers (we were ignored in a bar).

On the Brooklyn Bridge.

They seriously gave us these cups for wine. And filled them with about 1 inch of wine.

July

  • I turned 24. Not the most exciting of ages. Really I just want to be 25 so I can save on car insurance, though I will miss saying that I am in my “early 20s.” At least I got a nice present – a GPS watch!

  • Chopped my hair off! It is so much nicer for running to be able to tuck it into a hat like a dude and wash and dry it in minutes (I can seriously blow dry my hair in under 2 minutes). I also get tons of compliments on it!

  • Kris and I went to another wedding. I mostly am posting these pictures from weddings because Kris and I are adorable. 
  • With my birthday money, I accessorizedmy bike.

August

  • Celebrated our one year wedding anniversary!

Cake from Kris’s family.

September

  • Quit the horrible second Master’s program (this was both good and bad).
  • Acquired my first running injury by falling down a hill (read:cliff) while trail running.

October

  • Ran my second half marathon. Again, it was in the rain and quite unpleasant. At least I didn’t do worse the second time around!

I look so thrilled to be there.

November

  • Made a mini-Thanksgiving for roomie/BFF and I.

  • Road-tripped to South Carolina for Thanksgiving after being stuck in the Cleveland Airport for hours.

Belle hating her harness.

Evidence of civilization.

  • Forced Kris to do his first 5K – a turkey trot – with me in record low temperatures for the area.

December

  • Got to come home to Kris and Belle to celebrate the holidays and got tons of awesome Christmas presents!

  • Kris and I plan to celebrate the new year by hanging out at home with Belle (if there are fireworks we don’t want her to panic) drinking wine and eating butternut squash and black bean enchiladas rather than the traditional pork and sauerkraut (that is the tradition in this area). I don’t really hate sauerkraut THAT much but my family always picks on me about it so I basically don’t eat it out of spite. Amusingly, I told my mom I couldn’t make it because I don’t have a crockpot and then I wound up getting a crockpot from her for Christmas.

See, when you look at it that way, the year doesn’t seem half bad! Not only did I run my first race, but I ran 5 races and was able to maintain my weight loss (well, within a reasonable range of about +/- 5 lbs) all year. Here is to hoping that 2014 is even better. Happy New Year everyone!