Weekend Reflection and Recap: Grateful

I’m sitting down on this Sunday night, just wanting to share how grateful I am for this life, by recapping my weekend. When life undoubtedly gets stressful, I can always go back to this moment just to recognize how much I have to be thankful for.

My Husband and I have been in a routine I like to call “Zen Sundays”. Basically we relax, light candles, I usually take a bath, give foot rubs, and take a zen attitude about going to work and school on Monday.

This Sunday evening I feel grateful that I have a job that I can make money at for tomorrow, a beautiful house, an amazing and kind husband, time to spend with family and friends, health, and fitness. I could keep listing, but the point is this Sunday evening is not just “Zen Sunday”, it is also “Grateful Sunday”.

Friday: I am a substitute teacher so usually I just see kids for one or two days then move on to the next classroom. I accepted somewhat of a long term sub job with first graders, which is a whole different world. 6 and 7 year olds require so much compassion and patience, so this has been a good challenge for me. I got to do Cinco de Mayo activities with them on Friday and since I will be with them next week too, I am getting them up and moving, using GoNoodle activities all them time. Feeling fulfilled in your job is priceless.

I get home on Friday, after a day commuting an hour each back and forth, feeling a bit drained but my brother is here to stay the night! If you have ever lived away from home, you may know what a gift it is to get to see your family, even for just one evening. Together we walked to Michael’s mexican restaurant in the Old Market of Omaha. We had a great evening, I took my brother and his friend past Warren Buffett’s house, which is really just a typical house. It was a fitting tourist attraction, since they were in town for the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’s meeting.

Saturday: Speaking of the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’s meeting, my Saturday morning started off early, 4:30 in the morning to be exact. You see I told my brother and his friend I would drive them to the meeting so that they could get in line first, to get a spot to see Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger speak. As hard as it was initially to get up, driving them to the meeting was interesting and I got to see 18,000 other people heading towards downtown with the same excitement.

I did end up getting to go back to bed for a few hours, but I woke up made a lovely breakfast later. My husband and I had agreed to help lay mulch down at our in-laws. Now I’m not going to lie, this was hard work and sucked a little bit. But it was a great chance to be outside, getting dirty and be helpful. Will and I put in three good hours of work, which we can feel today, and I officially got my first sunburn of the year.

My brother-in-law, Hector, who uses a wheelchair asked if he could spend some time at my house. I was at first reluctant, Hector is very energetic and I was in no mood to entertain after all the yard work, but agreed he could come over as long as he didn’t complain if he was bored. I have had Hector stay at my house many times, but this is the first where we had access to a van that could transport his powerchair (motorized wheelchair).

When we got home I made the salsa that I had meaning to make for the last two days. I had fresh cilantro, jalapeños, and tomatoes in the fridge that I did not want to go to waste. I also ended up making some guacamole, which turned out great. Perfect afternoon pre-run snack.

I am glad Hector came over because he motivated me to go out for a run.  I was feeling bad because I missed a run this week, and felt like I was making up excuses and losing momentum on my half marathon training. I always knew that training for a half marathon would be time consuming, and I am really starting to learn the sacrifices that need to be made in order to stay the path. It’s hard to say no to friends, or skip netflix binges, just to make time for a run, but I’m learning to prioritize.

I asked hector if he would like to follow along for a 5 or 6 mile run. Hector was very excited to go with me and agreed to be my waterboy. I wasn’t sure how well this would work as far as him keeping up with me…

…Well, this worked out great because little did I know, Hector’s powerchair can go at the speed of a 7 minute mile, which I definitely don’t pace at in my long runs! Hector is also the funniest little ball of energy, and was not shy about cheering me on going up big hills, or when I started to slow down. I have officially given him the title of my running coach.

The best part about my run was that even after I made it to 5 miles, and then 6 miles I kept going. The end of my run was at a bit of an incline, but I just kept telling myself that I was almost there and that Hector was right there with me when I reach 7 miles.

I’m back on track after the 7 miles. I had the greatest runner’s high after. In order to complete this run, I had to turn down going to a friend’s going away party, which was really hard.

When we got back to my house, Hector took a short nap. Will says I actually tired him out which is no easy feat.

My Saturday evening consisted of taking a long Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt bath, meditating, stretching out, doing a Neutrogena Light Therapy mask and going to bed early. It felt so rewarding.

Sunday: Again I made a great breakfast for Hector, Will, and I, to start the day. Having time to wake up and do this is one of my favorite parts of weekends.

Being in the midwest, the first weekend of May is also a first weekend for Farmer’s Market. Our good friends invited us to go with them to the Omaha Farmer’s Market, which was so lovely to walk around and take in the people and booths.

I ended up getting some Rhubarb, a Basil plant, a Ghost Pepper plant, and a Jalapeño Pepper Plant. Although the pepper plants may have been an ambitious undertaking, I am going to try my best and yield a crop. Besides they were only a dollar each. Expectations were low but if this is possible the peppers will eventually be a great addition to my homemade salsa.

After walking around in the most perfect, 75 degrees and sunny weather, we grabbed a coffee from Jones Bros Cupcakes, which I had never tried before, but would recommend. They even had Nitro Cold Brew coffee, which I was pretty excited about. We ended up back at our friends playing a few games of Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros (which I won!).

After that Will took his Sunday afternoon nap, which is his bliss. I went for a walk in the 80 degree weather in the city, which is my bliss.

While on my walk, I found myself listening to a great podcast conversation, Waking up with Sam Harris, Episode #74: What Should We Eat?A Conversation with Gary Taubes. If you are not familiar With Gary Taubes, he wrote the book  Good Calorie, Bad Calorie, which I have read, but this podcast was a great synopsis of the information in is book. As you may have figured out from my last post, I am obsessed with podcasts, so this is my official recommendation of the week.

I ended up finding a quiet green space where I sat for a bit, and then my mom happened to call. Again, keeping in touch with family from states away is important to me so having a long phone call where we recapped our weekends was so great.

After a little meal prep and hanging out with my pet rabbit, Diablo on my balcony, I am here. Waiting for laundry to be done, eating rhubarb crisp and writing a blog post. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Plus I have this week to look forward to. I am going to Chance the Rapper’s concert, his musically is undeniably positive and puts me in a good mood. I will see some old friends at the concert. And Joanna Jedrzejczyk fights at UFC 211, and she is one of my favorite fighters! And such a beast!

One thing I am going to try and improve on this week is my sleep. Sleep, is the time that you make “gains”, so I must not neglect it as I have this past week.

As you can see I have lots to be grateful for and looking forward to, enjoy your “Grateful Sunday”.



Life Update: Moving to the “Big City” and Training for a Half Marathon

Spring every year brings about so many big events and changes to my life. It also is an easy time to be active, living in the midwest, when it warms up. Thankfully being active outdoors makes it easy for me to manage any stress that comes along with changes.

In the last week I moved from my apartment that was next to a cornfield in Lincoln, Nebraska, to a little house downtown in the “big city” of Omaha. My friend told me that life living downtown isn’t much different, there’s just more people and places. Well, so far after one week I am loving this change, but it is a different way of life when the people and places are so much closer. Don’t get me wrong Omaha really is a smaller city compared to most urban environments in the United states, but it is still a huge lifestyle change for me.

This move so far really feels like it is making a positive impact on my running journey. I have felt embarrassed to call myself a runner, even though it is something that I have been focusing on for the last year. I consistently have been running two miles a few times a week. My favorite runs were last summer in the Nebraska heat with my husband along my side. We had a hill at the end of our path near our old house that we called the “ankle breaker”. I told my husband at the end of our runs he should feel free to go at an “all out” pace to finish, even if that meant leaving me in the dust. Being the sweetheart he is, he reluctantly agreed, and I would try as I might to keep up.

He really is the best running partner.

By the end of the summer I was keeping up, and dare I say I even beat my husband on the ankle breaker, once or twice. Maybe. We even increased our runs from 2 miles to 4 miles by the end of the summer. Running felt incredible for the first time.

I started logging my miles on a calendar and really noting what helped my performance. Diet and hydration became very obvious factors for me.

Compare this to a few years ago before I began my weight loss journey. I started crying after running for a minute and a half. No joke. I hated it and it felt awful.

I’ve never considered myself a runner, even when I played multiple sports growing up. Running was punishment and to this day I have awful memories of having to run “killers” in basketball or laps on the soccer field.

How I felt last summer, post-runs, on top of the world!

After my running this summer I stagnated over the winter and dreaded getting onto the treadmill. I did keep up with running two miles a few times a week and that helped me manage stress and maintain good cardiovascular health. Running on an indoor track really helped me with this as well.

I feel as though this change in my living situation along with the changing seasons will give me the momentum I need to start training for a half marathon. I don’t know when or where, and I have a long ways to go but I want to just put it out into the universe. I am going to run a half marathon.

City energy makes me want to go out and run! I feel like I am ready to make the sacrifices in my time to start really investing in my running journey. Today I am just excited to put it out there and darnit! I AM CALLING MYSELF A RUNNER NOW.

Thanks for keeping reading about the beginning of my journey, I would love if you had any tips or suggestions when it comes to running a half marathon, leave a comment!

Happy trails,

Gotta Get my Steps! (Why I Love my Fitbit)

Since June 6th of 2015, there have been exactly three days that I have not worn my Fitbit. And yes, it killed me to miss out on the steps I was getting those days. I actually resented the walking that I normally celebrate.

A popular question my friends and family ask me is “are you still getting your steps?” I am mildly irritated with this question. OF COURSE I am still getting my steps. I typically set a goal for my Fitbit steps at the beginning of the month. I also pride myself on harassing others who have a Fitbit, “WHY ARE YOU NOT WEARING YOUR FITBIT TODAY?”

I originally had a purple Fitbit Charge HR, possibly the ugliest of all the Fitbits. I didn’t care, I wore that thing every day and slept with it to track sleep quality at night. Looking back on old photos, I can always spot that big purple dinosaur on my wrist. 

Of all the things that I boast regarding my Fitbit, I am still amazed at the accuracy of the sleep measurement. Exactly a year after getting my first Fitbit, I ran it into the ground, and it died RIP… For an early birthday present, I was forced by my step addiction to order a brand new Fitbit Alta off amazon prime.

Although I miss a few features of the Charge HR, I love the Alta’s more feminine appearance in comparison and even got the pink leather band to switch out.

I can’t help that I am this person, the fanfare of my 20,000 (15,000 in the winter) steps buzzing on my wrist is so rewarding. Getting badges and alerting friends that I have pulled ahead is exhilarating to me. I dare anyone to start a Fitbit competition with me! I am a champion of the “Workweek Hustle”.

As you can see my Fitbit steps thrive in the summer and suffer in the winter, February of 2016 being my worst.

I will admit, winter in the midwest is hard on the Fitbit steps, but one of the greatest benefits of having a Fitbit for me is realizing when I am being sedentary. My Fitbit really pushes me when I had a busy day at school or a lazy weekend day. If 3 o’clock rolls around and I am not even at 5,000 steps I feel the pressure to put in some time walking or running.  

I love walking around the track on my lunch break, and I realize without a tool of accountability I would not be so motivated to move. My Fitbit really has made me a mindful person to how sedentary I am and holds me accountable to getting enough sleep. 

I often get asked why I don’t get an Apple Watch. From what I have hear about the Apple Watch, it doesn’t have enough features yet to make me buy into the higher price point.

However, I am very open to wearable technology– I really do use the features of getting texts and calls to scroll onto my Fitbit via bluetooth. A convenient little buzz on my wrist tells me when my phone is going off and who is trying to call or text. It gives me peace of mind when I can’t have my phone handy. I also often use the silent (vibrating) alarm everyday for reminders.

Happy Stepping,

Beginning the Bikram Yoga

Last month I was in a bit of a workout slump. I don’t have much excess income, and my tuition right now pays for me to go to a 28 million dollar rec center (seriously). So I would feel guilty paying for a gym membership. Other group fitness classes that I have gone to in the past are not at convenient times. My at home yoga practice was getting lazy, and I didn’t feel much motivation to go to my typical overpriced studio. As you can see the slump was REAL.

I knew it was time to switch it up and add something new into the mix to help my motivation, so I started to do some research of what other options I had near by. One thing that I have loved in the past is heated yoga. Most of the heated classes I have tried in my area were kinda weak, and I never knew what I was getting, depending on the instructor. Also, I am a self proclaimed Sauna Queen, so I really enjoy an intense sweat.

I have always wanted to try Bikram Yoga, maybe I have been listening to too much JRE (Joe Rogan’s Podcast). While browsing classes near me on my MindBody App I found a really small and very holistic studio that offers Bikram.

I find trying new fitness classes or yoga studios intimidating, I assume most people do. But they hardest part is starting. I found in this new class people were there for the common goal of doing something good for themselves that day, just as every yoga practice should be. So far I am suprised at how much I like the smaller class size, normally I try to just blend in with the masses in a yoga class.

The class is a small– just 3-4 people– and is highly regimented, as all Bikram classes everywhere include the same 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises. It’s a challenging practice and many of the poses required lots of focus. My instructor really pushes keeping the eyes open and being present even throughout the savasanas.

While Yoga itself has many proven benefits, there is not an overpowering amount of scientific evidence that Bikram’s method leads to superior results. There are some sketchy controversies about Bikram the guru himself (Controversy), but I think if you love to sweat and get stretched out you will enjoy this practice. Being very cognizant about hydrating before and replenishing electrolytes after has helped me benefit from this practice.

With the 105 degree heat and 40% humidity, going to Bikram during the midwest frost warms up my bones at the end of the day. I get an awesome sweat going on and I can already feel an improvement in my flexibility and balance. Balance (literally balancing my body) is something I have really been working on in the last few months, because it is beneficial for longevity.

An aspect that I find beneficial is the challenge of completing a 90 minute class. There are some breathing exercises that are mixed in as well and those definitely feel a little funky at first (https://youtu.be/amkJraCgIng Kinda like this guy) . The reward of getting into the final savasana and feeling the cool air at the end of the 90 minutes is an incredible reward.

I intend to keep my Bikram practice going for as long as I like it. The great thing about it is I know what to expect and where ever life takes me I can enjoy this same practice. Right now I am in the mode where I have momentum and I am inspired by the improvement I see each class. I am proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new.

Working on my wellness,