“New” (to us) Car and More Workout Videos

I did a second Jillian Michaels’ workout today to stay warm during our freezing cold temps (we are up to feels like 2 degrees!). I mean, in comparison to others, we are lucky, but I really don’t like to go out unless it feels like more than 15 degrees. Today I did “No More Trouble Zones.” This was a very similar workout – 6 circuits, each targeting different parts of your body. This one does require light weights, but that is still pretty minimal equipment. It also had a lot more ab work which was exactly what I needed – my core is so weak that the residual soreness makes it painful to sneeze!

Of course, Ms. Michaels had numerous silly things to say again in this video. Notable examples: “You don’t burn any calories if you are only working out your arms” and “I don’t like machines at the gym for inner thigh workouts because you don’t want to use weights and build muscles there, you want to use your own bodyweight in order to make the muscles long and lean.” Um, I hate to break it to you, person who is actually a professional in this field, but you do burn calories moving only your arms – just fewer calories than moving both your arms and legs, which is what I am presuming you meant in this context, as you were explaining why we work both at once. Furthermore, bodyweight counts as weight, especially for beginners, who are probably carrying extra weight in those areas and would not be able to handle additional weight. No matter how much weight you use, if you are pushing yourself on your workouts and eating properly, you will gain muscle, meaning that your workouts are building muscle just like the ones at the gym. No matter how much fat you lose, if you do not gain muscle, your inner thighs will still not look “lean.” This isn’t even getting into the idea of whether women “should” be muscly or not and how certain areas of our bodies “should” look. I’ll have you know that I’ve run 2 half marathons and my inner thighs are still terrifying according to your standards, Jillian. I think it is pretty cleat that nothing will “fix” them, not even your leg lifts.


Now, on to my other exciting news. A few days ago, I was complaining about the situation that Kris and I are in for car buying. We had hoped this year after I moved back to go down to one car so that we could upgrade a bit, but the timing was a bit off (the story of our lives this year!). I was annoyed that I would not be getting the exact car I wanted, but now that it is over and we have our “new” (6-year-old) car I am feeling much better.

I am going to miss my old car dearly. My old car was a 2008 Chevy HHR that my dad helped me pick out RIGHT before cash for clunkers would have occurred. I had purchased a 15ish year old Grand Am that was a POS less than a year earlier and was really itching to upgrade. My dad saw an HHR at the mall and decided it was the perfect car for a young woman who wants a cheaper, smaller car, but still needs to haul a few things once in a while. A few months later when I was actually ready to get a different vehicle, we went down the dealer who’d had it at the mall, and the exact same car my dad had seen – in bright orange – was there. Keep in mind that this was pretty much the height of the car recession, so it was pretty much impossible for them to sell cars. I obviously got an incredibly good deal on it – the dealer where we got our “new” car has an HHR of the same year (but with less miles and in better shape than mine) listed for only about $1,000 less than I paid all those years ago. That car and I have been through a lot – multiple moves, hundreds of trips between Indiana and PA, and several phases of my life. I actually told the car that I loved it was going to miss it. Here are some pictures of my favorite orange car all decorated up for our wedding:

Our financial situation made it less feasible to keep two cars around, especially if one of us can’t drive! Hence, the HHR had to go, even if I loved it. Plus, it was time to move from a car that is “me” to a car that will be good to share with Kris for a family. Even if this car is not the EXACT one I was itching for (a brand new Subaru Forester that we cannot afford at the moment), it really does have all the features we wanted: AWD so that it isn’t as terrible in the snow; a roof rack to put the bicycles (and other cargo) on; plenty of cargo space for all of Belle’s crap (and ours, I suppose); heated leather seats because I’m always freezing and like to spoil myself with luxury items; and good safety ratings for all of those wrecks that I get into. It does have slightly worse MPG than the HHR (17ish vs. 20ish) and it isn’t orange, so it will be hard to spot in parking lots, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. Here are some pictures:

Yeah, it doesn’t get much more generic looking. And someone else on our block has the same one. I bet I actually break down in a parking lot crying because I can’t find it someday.

Luxurious interior!

Space for ALL THE THINGS!

 

 

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Traveling Light

Sorry to disappear for a few days. I had to head back out to Indiana in order to move some of my things back home. The trip was bittersweet – I was able to see a large number of my friends and have a nice time with them, but moving my things home was so final, even if I’ll have to go back out there a few more times. I know I was moving home in a couple of months anyway, so these mixed feelings would have occurred anyway, but that doesn’t make it any easier. This was my home away from home for 4 years and some of my best friends in the world are there.

Then, the day after I returned home, there was a shooting on campus (I was a student at Purdue). While it appears to be a murder that happened to take place on a college campus rather than a traditional “campus shooting” (side note: isn’t it messed up that school shootings are so normal that I need to point out this one is weird?) it was still terrifying to think that something like this could have happened to one of my friends, colleagues, or former students.

In order to move things home, I had to make sure that there was a lot of room in my car. Now, my car is surprisingly roomy due to the ability to lay the seats down completely flat and the wide hatch opening (I have a Chevy HHR), but I had Kris and Belle along for the ride, and they usually are not in the vehicle for these trips. Kris and I packed nothing but 1.5 backpacks (one had only a computer in it so I could stuff it with stuff from my office) and a tote bag for Belle for a 5 day trip. We were able to fit all of my remaining clothing (about 2 suitcases); a ton of my office supplies; all of my toiletries; all of my sewing equipment; several stuffed animals; a printer; and my Keurig into that car with us. I was quite impressed with my abilities, and the opportunity to bring Kris and Belle along to show off while simultaneously bringing all this stuff home was worth the hassle of traveling lightly.

I had no idea that traveling lightly would hinder my health so much, though. I wasn’t expecting this to be the healthiest trip in the first place. I typically slack off when traveling as it is truly one of those rare things that don’t occur every day, and I have been doing somewhat poorly lately due to the stressful changes in my life and the discouragement I feel from being unable to run very often. I will say that not all of my food choices were terrible – I had a lovely lunch of stuffed grape leaves, grilled mushroom kebabs, rice, and hummus with pita bread one day. This trip was probably one of my least healthy, though, because I didn’t even try to work out! I didn’t pack any workout clothes because I would “have some there.” Technically, I did, and I could have ran on the treadmill, but “not packing anything” ranked high on my list of excuses for not working out. I guess in the end it was me, rather than my packing skills that led to me not working out – I really had the ability to work out, but I’d already told myself I didn’t really need to because I was “on a trip.”

The other problem was the snow. I had at least thought that even if I didn’t get real workouts in that I would be able to get some walking in. I had even promised Kris that we could go to the Tippecanoe Battlefield and walk on the Wabash Trail a little so that he could see where I fell down the cliff. It was snowing terribly, though, and we had not brought any snowboots with us, so it was difficult to even walk the dogs in the parking lot of my apartment. You see, we left on Thursday in order to avoid the snow that was predicted Friday, but the storm moved south and ended up hitting us around Columbus. It didn’t seem bad at first but then people started wrecking all around us (I mean this literally). I am a relatively talented snow driver, but this was one of my scariest moments on the road and I actually had to pull of and collect myself before starting up again, and I very seriously considered getting a hotel in Columbus instead of moving along. It was 2 pm. It took us nearly 13 hours to make the 9-10 hour trip because of the snow and several other wrecks along the highway, and when we got to Lafayette, the roads were not plowed at all and the town had received like 5 inches of snow, making our last few miles very frustrating. It then snowed like 5 more inches on Saturday, making it nearly impossible to walk around. I will blame the weather and my inability to pack snowboots for my lack of exercise rather than blaming myself here.

We sent this picture to my mom from I-70 in Ohio to assure here that the roads were “perfectly fine” after my freakout.

We also managed to bring one other thing home, though this doesn’t really count in my “light” traveling because it didn’t have to fit in my car – my bicycle! Now Kris and I can actually start working towards the huge rides we have planned this summer if the snow ever melts. While we had no real snow on the way home (we left 2 hours later and managed to arrive earlier than we had on the way out), bringing the bike home made the return trip stressful. I have a super cheap bike rack and I am always terrified the whole contraption is going to go crashing down while I am on the highway ruining my bike, or, worse, causing a wreck. I tend to become very distracted by watching it in the rearview mirror and sometimes just put the bike in the car even though it takes up a ton of room so that I don’t have to deal with the stress. Note: this is mostly my worrisome nature coming out. The bike rack works perfectly fine and I would even recommend it to others given that it has survived through multiple 600+ mile trips. It is available on Amazon, though I will say I paid $10 less for it. I even gave it a 5 star review on there because I was so impressed but I just cannot be calm when I am using it. I think on my next vehicle I will get a roof rack – I don’t care if they are safer or not, I think I would feel better if I couldn’t see the bike back there threatening to fall at any moment.

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.

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!

Christmas: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I really meant to have a post about Christmas earlier (like, on Christmas day), but let’s just start by saying that my Christmas this year was um… interesting. I basically felt like doing nothing for about 2 days afterwards and just really started being productive yesterday. I think at some point in there I cleaned my kitchen? I did try to take down the decorations, but they just sort of laid under my coffee table for awhile (most are properly put away now!).

Let’s start with the really bad new first, so that the post gets happier as it moves on: on Christmas day, right before we were going to eat lunch, my husband had a completely random seizure. He has had some medical issues in the past that can cause seizures, but he has never had one before so we really weren’t expecting it and so it was terrifying and confusing at the time. Luckily he is already a patient at a great neuro practice nearby so I am hopeful that they will be able to figure out what is going on.

In general, he is fine – he left the hospital after only 2 hours with a diagnosis of a sinus infection – but the whole incident has really thrown a wrench in all of our plans. In Pennsylvania, if you have a seizure, you cannot drive for 6 months, meaning that I have to shift my plans to finish up my PhD out in Indiana a bit so that I can stay here with him. I’m still trying to figure some details out but things are starting to fall into place and get back to normal. I must say I am surprised at how weird it is to have to drive him around – the first 3 years of our relationship he did not have a license so I thought it would be like riding a bicycle! Then again, this is me, and my return to bicycling was clumsy, so I am fairly certain I am going to forget to pick him up from work at least once. Sorry honey.

I was also surprised at how hard this incident hit me in terms of my weight loss maintenance. Typically, structure helps me to deal with stressful situations and I loosen up on my diet when trying to relax. For example, I somehow managed to stick with calorie counting pretty closely during Kris’s previous medical adventures, while taking exams that would determine whether I earned my master’s degree or not, and even at funerals!

I don’t think I’ve actually gained any significant weight, but this Christmas was the most off-track I have ever been. It started when it was snowy in the days leading up to Christmas – I was really down on myself about not being able to run and having trouble eating the low amount of calories that resting/doing super boring home workouts permits. I then decided that I would let up on calorie counting at my parents’ for Christmas because I was already slipping and it would be difficult to do there and I could get right back on track when I got home. I think I wasn’t TOO bad about what I ate there in general but to me not having the exact amount of calories quantified always makes me feel like I’m probably eating enough to gain 10 lbs a day.

Then, I went home on Christmas day completely stressed out and accompanied by 2 gallon bags full of homemade chex mix and no less than 4 dozen Christmas cookies.  Once again, reflecting on what I’ve eaten today in comparison to the days I wasn’t counting here shows me it wasn’t THAT bad, and I have been sticking with running the whole time, but I still felt miserable and off. I think part of it is that there are additional personal worries for me compared to past problems – I was really looking forward to the class I was going to teach, and this would have been my last semester with not only many of my friends I have made at school, but also with my roommate/best friend and her dog. I’m starting to calm down about all of that, though, which is helping.

The silver lining to all of this is that I have been reminded of what wonderful family, friends, and mentors I have. Everyone around me has been 100% supportive and helpful. It was especially nice to be reminded that my family is always there for me. Last time Kris had medical problems and I had to take time off from school they eventually came around but initially were far less understanding and supportive. I am also glad that I get to spend some extra time with Kris and Belle, who I would otherwise be missing terribly pretty soon (though I will probably have to spend a different period of time away from them instead). I have really had a lot of time to think about my priorities, and while spending time with them has always been high on the theoretical list, it certainly has renewed importance.


Apologies that the first half of this post was so depressing and self-reflective. I just felt weird not talking about it at all on the blog, especially as it is directly impacting my attempts to maintain my weight loss. If I’d had a perfectly normal Christmas, I’d probably be making jokes about how I have to burn off the few extra calories I consumed eating cookies, not reflecting on the reasons I didn’t count calories for about 10 days and how that made me feel  (it really felt much longer – to say only 10 days makes it sound like it wasn’t even that big of a deal!). Now on to the good things!

  • My mom and I made a bunch of wonderful Christmas cookies and homemade chex mix! Some were really messed up (not the chex mix, it was perfect, as always) but we still had fun. Our turtles, for example, failed because we cooked the condensed milk on high instead of low (we decided to call them sea monsters). My mom nearly had a panic attack over making sugar cookies. And my grandpa bought the wrong kind of Reese cups for the peanut butter cookies so they looked like aliens.

I actually have photographic evidence of this.

  • Belle actually opened her own Christmas presents! She never does this, which is weird considering that she is pretty destructive. She got some treats, a stuffed alien, and a stuffed horse head with red eyes that we have dubbed “demon horse.” We forgot demon horse there so there are no pictures. Here, we bought her a stuffed duck that she ignores. Go figure.

Opening presents!

 

She also got to BE a present!

  • Presents! Most of the presents I got for people went over well. Even my biggest “flops” weren’t that bad – I made Kris some custom etched beer glasses and they didn’t work so well, but he liked the gesture and I will be able to make more in the future when I am more practiced. I also bought “texting” gloves for my dad that don’t work for texting, but are still nice gloves. Now I just have to find gloves that are able to text, be warm and durable enough for someone who works outdoors in the winter a lot, and fit his aesthetic (read: camo). I’m sure I’ll have fun with that!
  • More presents! Kris and I also got a number of exciting presents! He did really well buying me a new flipbelt to carry my stuff while I run (it works PERFECTLY, I highly recommend. He also got me a couple of sweaters and blouses (he really prides himself on being able to find clothes for me, and because he does a good job, I find it adorable). We got a number of things for the kitchen that I will be able to make exciting stuff with: a wine rack, a crockpot, a food processor, and a KITCHENAID!!! EEE!!! (It is that exciting that it can make me go EEE in a mostly depressing post like this). We also got some new bedding (my parents got us a down comforter and we bought ourselves new stuff to go with it).

The new mixer versus our old one that was broken and only went one speed.

 

The wine rack. My mom was super worried I wouldn’t like it because it was from a secondhand store, but I think it is perfect!

 

Belle enjoying the new bedding (less than 2 minutes after it was put on).

Not Dreading the Dreadmill & Christmas Gift Lists

No “Food Friday” post today. My most exciting food moments of the week were going out for sushi (I love sushi, but I swear it is the only thing Kris wants to eat lately) and making snickerdoodle blondies, and neither one of those is particularly new or exciting. Sorry that there have not been many of these lately – I guess my eating habits have been quite boring lately!

Instead, I have sort of a double post on two things that really have nothing to do with each other. Enjoy, because I probably won’t be able to post much while visiting my family Saturday-Wednesday.


Less than a year ago, I was absolutely terrified of treadmills. Even when it got cold last winter and I finally moved my running into the gym I stuck to the indoor track for a few weeks. Then I attempted walking on the treadmill. And finally, I sucked it up and did a nice slow 5K to ease myself into it. They still aren’t my favorite thing, but now that I do not have access to one, I realize that I miss them because they allow me to run in bad weather conditions.

Due to the snow and ice, I still haven’t run – since Sunday! This is one of the longest breaks I have taken from running in the last year and I am not really enjoying it. All it does is make me feel lazy and introduce weird anxieties into my life like “what if I can’t run three miles anymore” or “what if I’m really slow now.” These thoughts make absolutely no sense (after all, it’s only been 5 days), but this is exactly one of the reasons that I run. I *might* be a ridiculously high stress person normally, and running really helps me to not be like that (instead I’m just a high stress person). I think this is especially telling because I’ve still been working out about 20 minutes a day at home. There is no way that I am getting out of shape or being lazy, but my brain is acting like I haven’t run in 6 months or something! Ugh. It must be obvious that I am feeling this way, too, because yesterday Kris basically okay-ed me joining a gym or getting a treadmill for the house for next winter when I am home full-time! Hopefully I can find some time/place to run when I am visiting my family – their treadmill is broken, and I could use my mom’s stationary bike to get some good cardio in, but it’s not the same.

I *should* be able to go for a run today, though. I’ve been able to tell that even if the park isn’t clean, the sidewalks along the roads mostly are, so I could run there if I absolutely had to. I don’t really like running on sidewalks, though, because I am more likely to trip and I have to contend with traffic at major intersections. It was in the high 30s yesterday, though, and should be in the 40s today, so I am thinking that most of the snow will melt and I will be good to go on my normal route. Either way, I really need to get out there – I am going to Kris’s office Christmas party tonight and I need to preemptively burn off cookies and beer! After I write this post I’m going to finally get dressed and take Belle for a walk so I will see what the state of things are then.


Now on to the second part of the post, which is of course basically a rant. Due to the impending holiday, I have been seeing gift idea lists for people who are into fitness and I must say that in my opinion, some of these are just TERRIBLE ideas. Now, many of these gifts are not inherently bad ideas – they would be good ideas for specific people, but they are not really appropriate for a list of random gift suggestions for a friend/relative who is a bit into fitness. They are the type of thing you should ONLY buy people who have specifically asked for them, not the type of thing you should buy people after Googling “gift ideas for health nut friend.”

First, we have meal/weight loss plan subscriptions. Yes, I have actually seen this suggested. Now, if you know someone who is on a specific plan (i.e. Weight Watchers) and you know they are thinking of discontinuing it for monetary reasons, this might not be a bad idea. But to randomly get it for someone who seems like they like to watch what they eat? No. Just no. First of all, it presumptuous because it implies the person cannot accomplish their goals without supervision/guidance (this is being nice to the gift giver and assuming that the person even has a goal that such a plan would be appropriate for, otherwise such a gift is just plain rude). Second, even if the person had expressed vague interest in such a plan, I imagine that unless the gift giver knows EXACTLY what plan the person wants to follow, this could really backfire. Like, if the person on the receiving end of this gift was thinking of trying Nutrisystem and you paid for Weight Watchers instead, you’ve put them in an awkward position. It’s like if your eldery grandparents with only good intentions went out and bought you a Microsoft Surface when you wanted an Ipad. It seems rude to return it for something that to the gift-giver is functionally the same darn thing, but you would really hate the gift because it wasn’t quite what you wanted, and then you feel like an ass. I hope this makes sense.

Second, we have the 80,000 gadgets intended to keep track of your bodily data, such as Fitbits with bodyfat scales that sync up to MyFitnessPal (or whatever). These are bad gifts for the reasons I already mentioned – a bit presumptuous, and what if you wanted the Jawbone thingy instead of the Fitbit thingy? There are two additional problems with such gifts, though. First, they constantly keep track of numbers such as calories, weight, and body fat. It is difficult to know whether a person can handle being constantly updated with that information or not. I am very good at dealing with calories, for example, but try to force myself to weigh once a week or less because otherwise I get very caught up with my weight. If I had some sort of freaking scale that synced up with all of my other data and constantly reminded me to get on it and was aware of every 5 pound fluctuation up and down I’d probably drive myself nuts (and I  mean this literally, there is not a word of humor in this sentence). I just can’t handle that, which is why I don’t own a scale. I weigh myself at gyms and other people’s homes so that I can limit myself. The point is that for many people, one or more of these numbers might be problematic, so don’t buy them this stuff unless they have specifically asked for it. Second, I have a feeling that these are things that are going to get rarely used by even the biggest data and fitness geeks because they just look ugly. Like, who is going to wear a Fitbit to work all day everyday? Maybe this is one of most “just my personal opinion” points here but I think if a numbers-cruncher such as myself thinks that looking silly isn’t worth it for a few numbers, there are not many people who are going to be willing to make that sacrifice.

So, what do I suggest instead? Stick with known quantities or things that aren’t offensive and presumptuous. If you know they are a runner, for example, you could buy them things like clothing/accessories, energy gels, or small things they could use at home like handweights or foam rollers. These types of things are easy to return exchange for inoffensive reasons (i.e. it didn’t fit, that flavor upsets my stomach) or are things that most people use (i.e. handweights don’t really imply that the giver thinks you need to lose weight/get fit to the point of a meal plan!). If you want to go for a more DIY route, make them some healthy holiday treats for a nice break in the sugar-cookie flood that Christmas is or do something like make them a display case for medals/bib numbers. If all else fails, just get them a gift card to a store that you know sells things for their hobby. It is less thoughtful than the other gifts, but it at least shows that you pay attention to their hobby, and is not necessarily NOT thoughtful. For example, my husband loves Warhammer, but everyone just gets him Games Workshop gift cards because we know we’d mess up trying to get him actual miniatures, so it is probably more thoughtful than a) getting him the wrong miniatures or b) just giving him like a Visa gift card and socks (except for runners – runners actually want and love all the running socks).

Have a happy holiday everyone, and hopefully I have a Christmas of running shorts and Clif bars rather than scales that follow me around!

Thanksgiving Break Recap

I technically got back from Thanksgiving break on Sunday, so apologies for procrastinating on putting something up about it. I was just really tired and I’ve been kind of busy this week (the semester is finally wrapping up AND I got an expansion pack for Civilization 5) so I hadn’t gotten around to making a post.


My break started out AMAZINGLY. First, my roommate and I celebrated our own mini-Thanksgiving the night before I left. I think it turned out pretty well considering that I planned it in like one day and made almost nothing from scratch. Except chocolate chip cookie pie (which is unfortunately not pictured). Note: I substitute oatmeal for the nuts, which is the best way to make this recipe. Unless you prefer nuts, which is ok, I guess. Also – warning: NOT HEALTHY AT ALL.

Not sure how I did it, but the crescents turned out quite well. And the prepacked marinated turkey was surprisingly good!

The “best” part came next. I had originally purchased a plane ticket to fly into Harrisburg after my classes ended on Tuesday. Now that I had no classes, I was a little disappointed that I would not be getting in to see Kris until 11 pm. Then, I discovered that I could switch my ticket to another time that day for $75 or less. How exciting – a flight was getting into Harrisburg right after Kris was getting off work AND it was free to change to it. I was super excited – but I should have known better. I was flying, after all, which cannot go well. That is the job of the TSA, after all – to make sure everyone has a miserable experience in airports (or at least I think that is their purpose?).

I ended up missing my connecting flight, meaning that I would be stuck in Cleveland for 5 hours until the already delayed next flight left. It was snowing in Cleveland and freezing rain in central/southeast PA (they were cancelling flights into Philly) so I was quite worried about getting stuck in Cleveland. I obviously wound up crying in the airport and eating a bunch of unhealthy food (I had the worst latte and cupcake ever). At least there was a brewery with giant beers nearby!

My awesome dinner at Great Lakes Brewing Company, where I had a beer named after the burning river incident and they inexplicably COVERED my fries in parsley. I mean, everything tasted great, but that was odd.

I did eventually make it home early… at 10 instead of 11. It was pouring rain in Harrisburg and Belle had a panic attack. I’m sure part of it was her exposure to her new safer car harness.

Look how upset she is 😦

I was also really not looking forward to the drive because of the giant snow/rain storm hitting the east coast. Both of our mothers were sending us thousands of panicked text messages not only about whether I was ever going to make it from Cleveland to Harrisburg but about how we probably shouldn’t drive to Charlotte after all this. We went down 95 instead of 81 though (95 is further east) which only added “1” hour to the trip (like 2 or 3 with traffic) and kept us away from the really bad weather in that part of Virginia. We actually never saw snow once (it stopped snowing in North Carolina right around when we crossed the border). We also got to see some interesting sights by going this way, such as 7 cops with people pulled over in a row near Duke and this really weird redneck/Italian/Mexican part of Charlotte (“Guns & Thrift” was near a Mexican grocery store, and “Scottish Plaza” had nothing but Mexican and Italian restaurants and stores with their names in Spanish). There was at least one good part of the drive: the return to civilization (i.e. the east coast) meant the return of Sheetz (Wawas were also present, but they are the worst)!

Coffee and donuts for our road trip! White chocolate mocha and blueberry fritters are pictured.

We did finally make it to South Carolina where we had a lovely time…other than the weather. Of course because we were coming down from up north they had record low temperatures. Look how bundled up Kris and I were for our Turkey Trot:

Freezing in the car after picking up our packets.

At least the Turkey Trot went well other than the temperatures (I actually NEVER got sweaty the whole time because I didn’t thaw out until like mile 2). Kris ran about the furthest he has ever run in one go, and we got to run through this super swanky neighborhood.  The race was also huge! We watched the start of the 8K and it took 5 full minutes for all the runners to pass us near the starting line! They also had nice medals and t-shirts for everyone (sorry no pic, the medal is in Harrisburg and the shirt is dirty). My only “complaint” is that I would have preferred hot chocolate over ice cold water after the race, but I guess I wouldn’t expect a race in Charlotte to plan for that!

We spent the rest of the break mostly just chilling and doing some light black Friday shopping (I got a jacket for myself and some Christmas presents for others; the only thing we bought on super sale was a video game for Kris’s brother). I decided that for the first time this semester that other than the Turkey Trot I would take a short break from working out as well in order to relax. It was nice, except that coupling that decision with Thankgiving/traveling (I always eat poorly with traveling) lead to me being pretty bloaty upon my return. I think I have nothing to fear, though, considering that my weight is back down to normal despite eating pizza almost every day since returning. Plus, buckeyes are always worth it. Luckily, our drive home was uneventful (we were able to take shorter route) and we were able to enjoy a nice date night (sushi!) before I left the next day. Now I just have to drive back in a week!