Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back in the Running Shoes

Fitness has been on the back burner for a while for me. Even though I spent a month or two doing some dedicated winter running, I was quickly sidetracked with planning for my June wedding (oh my gosh!). Yup, I finally found my perfect partner in crime and couldn't be happier. Joe and I met through mutual friends, and enjoyed a wonderful nine months of not-so-wonderful long-distance dating before he decided he needed to move back to the Twin Cities. Three months later, a week after our one year anniversary, on a cold and windy day, he proposed to me at Minnehaha Falls Park. My response was probably not typical - I'm not incredibly lady-like. I spent a short moment letting the question sink in then began jumping up and down saying "yes! yes!" I was giddy, to say the least. :)

So, flash to a week later. We've told our families and friends and have been asked a thousand times if we've set a date. That question made me cringe just a little. I wanted to let the feeling of being engaged sink in a bit and to just enjoy it. However, we soon learned that our date options were actually pretty limited, as Joe's sister's and brother-in-law's military obligations are sending them out of the country soon. Basically this meant that, if we wanted them to be there, we had to get married within the next four months, or wait until 2015. Easy choice! Neither one of us wanted to wait.

It was a whirlwind four months of planning, crafting, and making arrangements. It was very stressful at times and I was so thankful to have a loving fiancé supporting me through the emotional roller-coaster. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have made any other choice. That short planning period forced us to focus on what was most important to us and not get too caught up in the modern wedding industry.

We didn't really have a rain plan for our outdoor ceremony and picnic reception. If it did rain, my plan was to "dance in it." The fold-up umbrellas went unused because we were blessed with a gorgeous day, in the middle of a week of rain and clouds. In fact, the sun peeked out a little stronger just as we were beginning our vows. Somebody was smiling on us that day.
(Photo courtesy of the fantastic Sean Berry)
Now that I am starting to come down from the wedding festivities, I'm enjoying getting back to the day-to-day. Summer arrived late in Minnesota, but it's here in full force now and along with the warmer temperatures comes a new motivation to be active. I want to enjoy these few fine months to their fullest. (nice alliteration, eh?) Not to mention, I need to fit into an already-purchased bridesmaid gown in a few months. How's that for a kick in the pants? ;)

Here's what I've been up to, health and fitness-wise:
One of my favorite perks of running
is enjoying nature.
  • annual checkups with the doctor, optometrist, and dentist - I've had a tendency to put these off indefinitely in the past. Not anymore!
  • I've resumed tracking my eating habits. I'm using My Fitness Pal again because it worked for me before.
  • I'm running again. I was running on and off during the wedding planning, but not with any regularity. This week, I've resumed a past habit of running three times a week. It's just enough to be doable, but not overwhelming. I'm starting off slow and for relatively short distances of a couple of miles, but it's a heck of a lot more than sitting on a couch.
  • I've joined a DietBet for the month of July. DietBet is a neat concept. The games are set up by anyone that has a login. Users can buy into the bet for the preset price, usually somewhere between $10-50. They submit proof of their weight via a couple of quick photos on the scale, then are challenged to lose 4% of their weight in 4 weeks. During that time, they share supportive messages via the game's page. Those that make it to the goal will split the pot. It's a win-win. Fiscal and community motivation!
  • I'm focusing on making small better choices every single day; one scoop of ice cream instead of two, walking up the stairs instead of taking the escalator, water instead of pop at the movie theater. These seemingly tiny choices add up in a big way over time.
This worked for me before. It will work again.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Some years ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. It's not something I usually advertise, though it is probably obvious to some people because it is plays a role in every single day of my life.

Initially, I thought my anxiety had first reared its ugly head when I was in a rough patch of my mid-20s. After much contemplation, I realized it had been prevalent in my life since before high school, just without a name. Upon diagnosis, I was offered medication, which I accepted gladly. At that point, I was feeling absolutely crippled by fear. Thankfully, I have a wonderful doctor, who concerns herself with whole body and mind health. I was given suggested reading and encouraged to up my physical activity to work through my mental challenges.

My journey of healing while under the influence of medication has been an arduous process, but with many rewards. I'm slowly rediscovering what it means to grow healthy friendships. I found the strength to leave a job situation that was unhealthy for me and have begun working for a company with a vivid and friendly culture. I overcame my anxiousness to reach out and began volunteering in a field that makes me very happy. I've been on a fitness journey that has had ups and downs, but each cycle leaves me feeling stronger and more committed to reaching lifelong aspirations. All of this is adding up to a stronger and healthier mind.

My depression waned as I made changes in my life and started working towards my own goals rather than those of others. However, the anxiety will probably always play some small role in my life. I've been weaning off of medication over the last year or so, which is a huge step for me. For years it was my lifeline, and then I decided I wanted to learn to face the day without a chemical running through my system. I have learned mental and physical tools to work through the struggles, hopefully without popping a pill.

In the meantime, I am fighting through the symptoms of withdrawal. That word has such a terrible connotation to me - as if I were an addict - but there's no denying that my body and brain became accustomed to having that chemical support to keep things in order. Changes are bound to throw it out of whack. I've been experiencing vertigo and disrupted sleep, as well as more anxiety. For years, I haven't recalled dreaming heavily or anything that I dreamed about. Lately I have been waking up from very intense and mentally exhausting dreams. In some ways, I feel clearer, more hopeful, excited to take on the world. But my introversion is in full force this spring as I work through the changes (and whirlwind wedding planning). I pray that I am not pushing people away in the meantime.

It's been a while since I've been motivated to write here. Minnesota has been under the cloak of a very long winter. This week, the days became suddenly much brighter and the temperatures soared to glorious 70s. People have seemingly come back to life. They are in their yards soaking up the rays. I'm starting seeds in plans of having herbs to use in a month or two. The birds are returning, then windows are wide open, and the grass is slowly returning to beautiful greens. In a word, there is hope.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The daylight hours are quickly becoming shorter as winter approaches in Minnesota. In years past, the cold, darkness, and *ahem* precipitation have largely kept me indoors. I've dabbled in winter sports here and there, but in recent years, never really participated in them to any degree. This is going to change.

A few years ago, I received a gift of snowshoes, which I love. This is going to be the year I actually get out and use them regularly. The best thing about snowshoes is that they require no trails. You can wander anywhere that there is a decent amount of snow to traverse.

I'm also getting excited thinking about hitting the ski slopes for the first time in... nearly ten years. (My chin dropped as I figured that timeframe in my head.) In junior and senior high school, I participated in a downhill ski club, going to a nearby ski hill every week for a large portion of each winter. One of those years I was even lucky enough to venture to Vail, CO for a week with a friend and his family. It was absolutely amazing and the sensation of those mountains has still not left me even fifteen years later. Being knee-deep in powder on an early run, amidst a grove of massive pine trees, has to be one of the most beautiful memories that I've known.

This year, I'll be incorporating running into my winter days. I adore my new gym membership and what it has to offer. I appreciate that on those days when I really don't feel like suiting up in layers and facing a bitter wind, that I can just throw on a single layer and hit the treadmill.  However, if you know me at all, you know that I would have a very hard time bringing this entirely indoors for months on end. I'd miss my beloved lake runs terribly, the sunshine on my face, and the endless fresh air.

Running in the spring, summer and fall were fairly easy to gradually adjust to. It was pretty easy to plan for whatever weather each day threw at me by either wearing a short-sleeved shirt or a tank top, yoga pants or capris, regular socks or ankle socks, etc. A Minnesota winter, on the other hand, is going to hit with temperatures ranging from 40 degrees (F) above zero to 40 degrees below. The winds will howl and sting my face. The snow will fall and be gorgeous for a day or two, but turn into hazardous slush and ice fairly quickly. I realized I needed a cold weather running primer.

 (image via Ransacker)

I'm a member of the REI coop, and tend to follow their class schedule fairly closely. Luckily, they offered a Cold Weather Running class this past week at the Roseville location, led by REI employee Chris Bennett-Gagner. I attended with my friend and fellow runner, Meredith. I'm not going to share every tidbit of the class, as much of it entailed just passing around gear that REI offers to show us our options, but here are some notes:
  • Protect yourself against the elements. Consider that you will face potential hypothermia, frostbite, wind-chills, and dry air. Wear layers; two to three depending on the weather conditions and your personal comfort levels (test out different options on different days to see what works for you). You will need in your wardrobe: a lightweight and wicking base layer, a heavyweight insulating layer, and a wind/water resistant outer layer. Wool regulates temperatures well and has odor-preventing lanolin. Synthetics wick well. Avoid cotton.
  • Head protection options include: a face mask, a Buff, hat, ear covers (Ear Bags, 180s or ear muffs), a fleece headband, and neck gaiters. Protect your eyes; the sun will glare off the snow. Consider polarized lenses. Use anti-fog fluid on glasses and sunglasses.
  • Hand protection: mittens are warmer than gloves. Consider lobster gloves for a combination of warmth and dexterity. Wrist warmers will also help keep your hands warm. One tends to not notice their fingers going numb, or ignore it when they are running, so it's important to have warm handwear.
  • Winter and trail specific running shoes are best. Some now come with Gore-Tex liners for warmth. Look for rubbery and nubby traction. Look for EVA soles as they are less affected by cold temperatures than polyurethane. Use duct tape on an older pair of running shoes for budget friendly water resistance. Consider traction devices such as Yaktrax Pro.
  • Stay hydrated. You will likely sweat less than in the summer, but you are breathing dryer air. Keep your water bottle close to your body to prevent freezing and/or warm it up before heading outside. Adding a drink mix powder to your water will help lower the freezing point.
  • On really cold days, warm up indoors first, using stairs, a treadmill, or by doing housework. You should start slowly outside - walk for a while first.
  • If your path is icy, run on packed snow along the trail for better traction. Take shorter, quicker steps on questionable terrain. Work on improving your balance with exercises such as standing on one foot and then the other while washing dishes or jumping around pieces of tape on the floor (similar to hopscotch).
  • Consider mid-day runs versus morning/night as the temperatures tend to be higher.
  • Safety is important! With less daylight hours, it will be more difficult for drivers to see you. Wear bright colors, reflective vests/armbands, headlamps, and/or blinky lights.
I'm a Minnesota girl since birth - I can handle the cold, but the aspect that is most daunting to me is the darkness. It's hard enough for me to keep myself upright while not moving 5-6 mph on ice and snow! It's going to be an interesting, and healthy, winter!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A chance encounter

Sometimes people come into our lives at just the right moment, briefly as it may be. Allow me to explain.

Yesterday, I had the day off, thanks to Mr. Columbus and his "discovery" of the already discovered Americas. Hey, I'll take it. I slept in, way in for me - 9:30 or so. I woke up to sunny skies, 65-70 degrees, and the rustle of the wind through the colorful autumn leaves. "A perfect day for a run," I thought! I ate a small breakfast, tied on my shoes, and off I went. I was enjoying the sunshine on my face and the crunch of the leaves below my feet as I walked to warm up. I was excited to hit the trail around my favorite lake as I haven't run there in at least a few weeks and when I arrived, I immediately picked up my pace to a slow jog.

I'm working on week three of Bridge to 10k, which entails three intervals of 17/1. All went well through my first of the 17 minute running intervals, until I stopped to take a picture. I almost blacked out, and started walking again right away to keep the blood moving anywhere but my head. I walked for a minute, caught my breath, and started on my second interval. Suddenly, I started to feel really fatigued. What the heck? This is day 3 of 17 minute intervals! I should be able to do this, easy peasy, right? Not so much. After I started feeling some pain in my shin, and realized that my lungs were not going to allow me to finish, I gave in and walked the last mile or so of the loop around the lake.

I was beating myself up non-stop as soon as I slowed to a walk. I should be able to do this! I had such great momentum so far in the B210k plan - what was happening?? I told myself that I could have kept running if I had only pushed myself a little harder - if I had ignored my painful shin and tired body. What was my problem??

My path home took me by a Peace Garden. I've lived near this garden for 8 months now and never really took the time to wander it, but was suddenly compelled to do so. I wasn't ready to go home yet. I wanted to sit and soak up the beautiful fall sights and smells and try to get past my crappy run. I enjoyed ten minutes or so sitting on a rock, watching a bumble bee gather pollen, again noticing the warmth of the sun on my skin. I was calming down a bit (but still a little bothered), so made my way out of the garden and towards home. As I stepped out onto the sidewalk, an elderly gentleman hobbled my direction. He had a friendly face partially hidden by a hat and I didn't catch his eye, but as he passed me he said "Lookin' fit!"

I melted. I laughed happily and said thank you. We went our separate ways, but he had made my day. He had reminded me that no matter how bad that one run was, it's really all about the bigger picture. I've made some huge strides (pun intended) towards a healthier me, and today's bad run, or tomorrow's calorie count slip-up really mean very little in the end.

So thank you, kind sir. You reminded me of how far I've come and made the challenges ahead seem a little easier to conquer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Looking ahead...

The cooler nights of the past week, the dew on the grass in the morning, and the sun just peeking gently over the horizon as I rise for work, all have me thinking ahead to fall. I know, I know, summer JUST arrived here in Minnesota, but I can still appreciate the warm days while daydreaming about wearing tights and boots, snuggling up in blankets to sleep, and feeling cozy instead of sweaty in my apartment. :o)

I'm a super goal-oriented person, as I've come to recognize only in recent past. In light of this, I've started setting myself some real health and fitness goals for the upcoming fall. This should help me stay better on track as the days grow cooler and shorter and it becomes more difficult for me to fit my exercise in. Goals, both short-term and long-term, are a huge motivator for me.

As mentioned in my previous post, I had planned to run the upcoming Torchlight 5k. This has been moved to next summer's to-do list, along with the Surly Trail Loppet, due to a few reasons. I'm sad to miss out on a chance to run with a few of my friends that I haven't run with before, but I was frustrated to find that I can no longer get my REI membership discount for the race. In addition, as I was pondering whether to register or not, an invitation to a birthday celebration for a friend on that same evening came my way. This friend is someone whom I've talked with online several times, yet missed connecting with in real life quite a few times. I jumped at this chance.

In place of the Torchlight 5k, I will be running the Challenge Charities America the Beautiful 5k with a few of the people that I ran/walked my first 5k with in May. It is in mid-September and will be a fantastic way to bookend my summer; a walk/run 5k in May, followed by C25k training throughout the summer, followed by my first all-running 5k in September (on the same course, no less). :D

A few other fitness goals that I have set for myself in the coming months are:
  • to begin regular strength-training. I have the cardio down pat and my weight is dropping at a fairly steady pace. It's time to work these muscles and become a bit more well-rounded physically (so to speak). I will likely be doing at least one kettlebell workout per week. I'd also like to integrate some training using The New Rules of Lifting for Women that has taken the blog world by storm lately. Quite a few women that I trust are hailing its virtues.
  • to FINALLY begin regular yoga practice. I've dabbled in this a bit on my own, but have always been wary that I may not be using proper form, and thus injuring myself in the long run. I did a little digging and found a 6 week beginning yoga class starting in September at a nearby non-profit studio. I've been prescribed yoga on more than one occasion by my incredibly wonderful physician to help me keep my anxiety under control. It took me a long time to work up the nerve to go to a public studio, but the fact that this is a non-profit has me much more comfortable. My friend, Meredith, will be joining me and it will make it all the more fun! I look forward to building my strength, gaining more flexibility, and enjoying a new activity with a friend.
  • to sign up for (and USE) a gym membership. I'll likely end up at the YWCA. Again, that non-profit aspect really appeals to me. I don't like the idea of having my health sold to me. I also love the idea that I'll be helping others in the community through my membership. Luckily, my friend Kris is a member of the Y and has invited me to join her as a guest to check out the club. I look forward to doing so sometime in the next couple of weeks. I absolutely need to make sure I have a membership before the summer weather begins to fade.
I'm hoping that I can get a good start on all of these things in the next month, if not sooner. I will be sure to update on my progress as time allows. Please hold me to this! Isn't that what this is all about? Accountability!

On that note, I need to go have an awesome run to make up for Monday's craptastic flop of a run. It's a new day, right?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Queue the "Pomp & Circumstance"

So I completed the Couch to 5k program a couple of weeks ago, but I'm not sure I can call myself a graduate. I have not run a full 3.1 miles as of yet. BUT, I have been running around a nearby lake quite regularly, which happens to be about 2.94 miles. Close enough? I think so. ;)

My first official running 5k will be the Torchlight 5k later this month. I'll be running along-side several friends and I'm absolutely jazzed! I wanted to run the race when I first heard about it, but knew I wouldn't be quite ready for its originally scheduled date in mid-July. As fate would have it, it was rescheduled for a month later due to excessive heat. YES! It looks like a really fun course along the downtown Minneapolis stretch of the Mississippi; down one side, across the Plymouth Ave bridge, down the other side, and then across the beautiful Stone Arch Bridge to the finish line.

We are so blessed here in Minnesota with many gorgeous places to run. Minneapolis is a city of many lakes, rivers and streams with winding paths along them. We are a city dedicated to fitness, as is illustrated by many national studies, and so there are races to be found somewhere in the metro nearly every weekend of the summer, many weekdays, and even throughout the bitterly cold winter. Crazy? Maybe. Hardcore? You betcha!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

ch ch ch changes!

I've been in a battle with Blogger and Flickr over the past few days, trying to share some photos of what's been going on in my life lately. Either I'm doing something wrong or there are restrictions on uploading over the library's internet. Either way - UGH! So, a text only post, it is.

It's been on and off rainforest-like in the Midwest the past several weeks. It's not lending itself well to outdoor running, which at the moment, is my easiest option. In fact, I took almost an entire week off while it was consistently in the high 90s and humid. Otherwise I've been squeezing in runs in the wee hours of the morning on weekends, or late in the evenings, which require an after-work nap to keep me energized. It's been a challenge, but so very worth it. I'm seeing so many positive changes already, only three months after starting on this leg of my journey.

  • down 20+ pounds
  • again fitting into a lot of my cute clothing that I had purchased a few years back and had grown too big for, cinching my belts, giving away clothing that is too large for me now
  • finding it easier to climb the stairs to my apartment
  • sleeping better
  • feeling more energized
  • in a better mood and experiencing less anxiety, even in situations where I previously would have found myself absolutely overwhelmed with it
  • seeing the muscles grow in my legs, which is so cool
  • able to bike farther and faster than this spring
  • able to run for 30 minutes straight, when just 6 weeks ago, I couldn't run for 3
I cannot possibly express how valuable the time and energy put into getting healthy is in the long run. Sure, it can be a pain in the butt to wake up a little early or to force yourself to exercise after a long day at work. Of course I've struggled with food cravings, and bad days where I didn't make the best choices. But over time I'm making more positive choices than negative ones and they are adding up to very pleasing results. :D If you're on such a journey of your own, keep at it! You won't regret it!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

a plug

I met Jen, a Priorfatgirl, at an event of hers in early May. She has lost 100+ pounds and created for herself a much healthier body and lifestyle. Her message, along with those of the people she surrounded herself with, changed me for the better. She is hosting another such event on Saturday, August 6th, and I hope you will consider joining us!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


(I am hoping this post isn't too much of a downer. It is meant to be mostly analytical and to express the hope that I am holding in my heart.)

Years ago, I struggled to know who I was. I was focussed mostly on being what other people wanted. My life has changed dramatically since then and now I'm spreading my wings. Part of this entails forming new relationships of all types. This has never really been my strong suit. I'm an introvert. I'm shy. I'm very cautious around new people until I feel that I can let loose, and most troubling of all, I so often feel like I can't relate.

Being an unmarried, childless, newly solo renter, immediately puts me in a different category than most of my 30-something peers. In addition, my hobbies and interests sometimes feel like they are, not only a little strange, but generally not very condusive to forming close friendships. I'm a little bit geeky, but not geeky enough to talk shop. I don't keep up with any of the popular television series. I don't have cable and every time I sit down to a flick, I feel like I'm wasting time. I'm sort of crafty, but the crafty world always feels mostly like a place of solitude while diligently working on the project of the moment. My physical hobbies, biking and running, are most comfortably done solo. I hate the idea of not being able to keep up with those around me, like I'm too out of shape to go at any pace but my own. I love to garden and cook, but am not well-outfitted for either at this phase of my life and both are generally done alone anyway.

Worst of all, I have a difficult time carrying on a conversation. I am not an opinionated person. I live by a "to each their own unless someone is getting hurt" policy. I don't really care much about what is going on in the pop culture world. I try to avoid getting too wrangled up in politics because it exacerbates my anxiety issues. I know a lot of very intelligent and kind people, but never quite feel like I'm on the same wavelength.

So, I'm in a lonely place sometimes, but who isn't, I guess? What's my solution? I'm forcing myself to step outside of my comfort zone. OVER AND OVER.

For a year and a half, I've been volunteering for a couple of causes that I hold dear. It took me two years prior to that to build up the confidence to do so. In doing so, I've met a lot of sweet people, but somehow never connect beyond that weekly small-talk.

In becoming more physically active and starting this blog, I've discovered a beautiful community of supportive and caring people. Still, sometimes I just feel so... different... so... removed.

I need to keep at this; volunteering, taking classes, going to various events, putting myself out there amongst people. I need to continue to relearn what it means to be a good friend, a skill that I lost during a decade of emotional angst and fear. I need to learn patience with the organic nature of friendships. I hope to someday again know the feeling of having a best friend who also holds me in the same regard.

Please be patient with me, world, and I will offer you the same.

Saturday, July 02, 2011


I was very disappointed in myself on Wednesday, C25K w7d2, which entailed a 25 minute run. I had done 25 minute runs last Friday and this Monday without too much trouble. I was able to talk myself through the walls around 10 minutes and push myself through the last 5 minutes relatively easily.

Wednesday was different. I started feeling myself hitting a wall around 8 or 9 minutes, then another around 15, then looked at my time in desparation around 18, hoping that I was almost done. I was having a mental argument with myself over whether or not I should give up and start walking. The previous two runs had gone so well but today my legs felt like lead. I finally pulled the plug, and slowed to a walk around 19 minutes, a mere 6 minutes from the end. I felt an instant sense of failure. Granted, it was a toasty 84 degrees when I laced up my shoes, and the humidity was pretty high, too. Still... it was frustrating.

I fight with frustration over my own failures occasionally. Who doesn't? I know, from the outside, this might not seem like a huge deal. Just redo day 2 and move on, right? It still represents, to me, a failure of mind over matter, which has been a driving force for me during much of this training. I count on my brain one-upping my body! I need it to be able to keep pushing me through the hilly areas or the sluggish feelings. If I don't have that, what DO I have to keep me going on this journey?

The end of the work week was HOT - 95-100 degrees hot - and so I decided to delay d3 until this morning. I woke up naturally around 6:30am. My body clock is pretty reliable. I laid in bed for a while, trying to convince myself to try to sleep in on this beautiful weekend morning, without success. After a pbj to calm my waking stomach, I strapped on my shoes, popped in the ear buds, and hit the sidewalk. As expected, I was nervous. I couldn't get Wednesday's run out of my mind. But this morning was different. 70 degrees, sunny, breezy, and full of the promise of a long summer holiday weekend.

During the first part of the run, I had to consciously slow myself down several times, knowing I had a ways to go. Then that heavy feeling in my legs started to set in around 14 minutes. "Oh no! I'm not going to make it," was my first thought and then, "I HAVE to make it," my second. I'm anxiously awaiting the next week's C25K podcast to get away from a song in this week's that honestly kind of creeps me out. Reason enough to finish, right?!

I made a shortcut in my route, apparently subconsciously thinking that if I made it to my usual stopping point earlier, that the time would go faster. ;) I began to pull out every trick in my book, breathing exercises, mantras, turning only down the downhill/shady streets, thinking about ice cream... and then finally, that beloved voice telling me I had one minute left! That last minute is always painful, but somehow not. Knowing the end is in sight makes it conquerable.

At the end of that 25 minutes. I bent over for a moment to catch my breath and nearly passed out. I decided I'd better just keep walking. The sense of accomplishment started to wash away the exhaustion and give me tingles. Once at home, I sat down to relax for a moment, and commemorated my victory with the neighbor girl's sidewalk chalk.

From Still chasing skies...

I hope you are also able to conquer whatever obstacles you encounter this week!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home sweet home

I moved to Minneapolis in February and it has already become HOME. I've lived in the suburbs for 12+ years, driving up into Minneapolis proper at least weekly for events, restaurants, museums and shows. I've always loved the lakes area and Uptown, downtown and Nordeast. Only this year did I finally make the move to my first solo apartment and into one of my favorite Minneapolis neighborhoods.

It didn't take long for it to feel like I belong here. I noticed within days of moving in that one of my neighbors lets her cats run the building. It's fun to come up the steps to see a kitty in the stairwell window. They're friendly and they make me smile. A day or so after that, while walking to my car, I discovered the sweater on the nearby tree. I'm a crafty person when the mood strikes me and always appreciate rogue artworks.

(picture of tree sweater to be added when Blogger decided it wants to cooperate)

As spring arrived, and warmer temperatures started to bring us all out of the woodwork, I started exploring the neighborhood a bit more. The gorgeous tree-lined streets almost feel magical. The diversity of the area, in race and culture, in financial class, in age and stage of life, feels so incredible. Growing up in a mostly middle-class, caucasian town, I found myself craving the rainbow of the city. Looking back, I remember being so excited every time my family would come into the "big city" for a day trip. Now I understand why. The energy of the city is my lifeblood.

The best part of my new neighborhood? It's conducive to exercise! I'm an outdoorsy girl. I hate to waste the short months of Minnesota summer holed up in an air conditioned building. Being so close to the lakes, I am regularly motivated to bike or walk around them. The beautiful tree-canopied streets, each one lined with very different houses from an era gone-by, make me WANT to explore them, be it on foot or on bike. I look forward to my runs when I am able to take in the greenery and flowers in the well-loved yards. I can run in one direction and stick to relatively flat streets or meander in the other direction to hillier streets and a very different experience. I'm a short bike ride from many amazing stores and restaurants. I'm close to the Midtown Greenway, an amazing bike route that cuts across the city. When I do finally give in to Mother Nature and buy a gym membership (October?), I have easy access to many of the major clubs and a ton of smaller ones. In short, I love it here. It's a perfect for me and is doing wonderful things for my health. :o)

What's your favorite outdoor place to exercise?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

C25K: A Love Story

(The days and weeks slip by so quickly in the summer, and everything - including online life - goes to the wayside. I haven't forgotten about this blog. I've just been busy living. :o)

I was the girl that walked half of the mile in gym class. I was the girl who avoided most anything to do with running for 30+ years of her life. Then I found Couch to 5K.

C25K: a love story

Couch to 5K has been so good to me. I started the program in early May. I did week one, which was a series of one minute runs, alternating with 30 second walks. Easy peasy. I felt really good about it. Week two was equally good as far as my cardio ramping up. I could feel myself get stronger by the day and was finally experiencing the "runner's high" that I had often heard about.

Then, in the midst of week three, I started to feel a burning in both of my shins. I've had shin splints before, but this felt different. I started to do some research, being the semi-nerd and information hound that I am. I learned that this pain might be caused by my calf muscles growing and the fibers beginning to pull away from my shin bones. How EW is that?! The good news is that this pain subsides in time as those fibers re-form and reconnect. Treatment was simply to keep at it, with rest days of course, icing and elevating after runs. I also found that wrapping my calves with ACE bandages during runs helped immensely with the discomfort as well.

So here I was, week three, in some mild pain, but still feeling the uber-motivation that got me started on this ride to begin with. The run/walk intervals were starting to get longer and I was starting to feel it. I've never felt very fit cardiovascularily (is that a word?) and now I was feeling like a dang slug. Early in w3, I had realized that if I kept on schedule with the nine-week program, that I would graduate the Friday before my birthday. What a gift to myself that would be! And so, it was frustrating to be unable to keep up with the 3 minute run intervals and realize that I may have to repeat w3. I hemmed and hawed over it, stewed over it, and then got over it. I repeated w3 and was super glad that I did. I finished with flying colors.

(I ran the w4 intervals for two weeks as well before moving on to w5, running with wrapped legs. I iced and elevated upon returning home while fortifying my soul with old LOST episodes. During this time my calf/shin pain had all but disappeared completely.)

Last week, When I learned what the intervals for w5 were like, I nearly had a panic attack (not really). It starts with reasonably easy alternating sets of 5 minute runs and 3 minute walks, but then ramps up FAST. Day three had in store for me ONE LONG 20 MINUTE RUN. *gulp*

By Friday (my d3), I had myself pretty nervous about that run and was pretty convinced that I'd be unable to finish it. Wouldn't ya know it, I rocked it! I had run for TWENTY FREAKING MINUTES! Week 5, check! Runner's high, check!

Now I'm on w6. D1 was... okay. My mood has been sluggish, probably due to the rainy, dreary weather, and this translated heavily to my run. In addition, after two GLORIOUS pain-free weeks, while doing my cool-down walk, my right leg twinged in pain and my face probably showed it as well. Granted, I had been hitting some hills, which I'm coming to learn, are much harder on one's legs than flat terrain. Okay, lesson learned. The rest of the week will be spent running the slightly less gorgeous, but flatter streets to my north. Can the solution be that simple? Let's hope so.

What makes this a love story? Remember at that priorfatgirl meeting when I said to the group that, "I'm not a runner"...? Well now I can say, without hesitation, that I am undoubtedly a runner. I am not yet fast or accomplished, but most days I look forward with glee to my next run. I am excited by the changes that it is making in me, both physically and mentally. I do believe that this makes me A RUNNER. C25K, I love you.

Are you now, or have you ever used the Couch to 5K program? If so, what was your experience like?

Update: I ran d2 last night in the rain and it was great. No pain. whew!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Baby, it's hot outside.

It's 102F in my city right now. Thankfully, the humidity is low, but it's still uncomfortable. I'm definitely a 60-70 degree gal.

I ran my first day of C25K for the week on Sunday night, a day early, because of the Heat Advisories for Mon-Weds. It's only two days later and I'm already getting antsy for activity. Unfortunately, most of my options involve being out in the heat as I don't have a gym membership. I'm considering cracking up my bedroom window AC and doing some yoga, but I have a feeling that alone won't get it out of my system.

What do you do for physical activity when it's too hot to think?
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Monday, June 06, 2011

Why am I here? (Act three)

Over the course of a few weeks, I found myself engaged in what these amazing people were up to and starting to consider that running might just be an option for me. (huh???) I had heard many mentions of a program called Couch to 5k and was curious about it. It seemed to work for many of my peers. I was working on something called 30 Days of Biking at the time, and so decided that, at the end of the month of April, I would buy some running shoes and give Couch to 5k (c25k) a try.

30 Days of Biking started to fizzle out for me around mid-April as the weather was uncooperative and I was just getting too busy as summer approached. I started to read up on c25k, running shoes and equipment, and started to get engrossed in a few healthy living blogs.

As my relationship with the #priorfatpack started to grow via Twitter, I began reading about their lives and journeys on their blogs. I was starting to get pumped up! If these, seemingly very normal, people could do this, why couldn't I? I bought running shoes and started c25k on May 2nd. (DUN DUN DUN!) More on this later.

One of the #priorfatpack gals, Misty, asked if I had a blog that she could follow. Actually, several people had asked if I had a blog and I had to say no. Misty started quietly urging me to start writing. I thought back to when I was really involved in the livejournal community many years ago and how much I had enjoyed that. Okay, I was in, easy as that. So here I am.

Please excuse my messes while I get settled in.
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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Why am I here? (Act two)

So, the day of the gathering at the coffee house, I was really nervous. I'm not good in situations with a lot of people, especially when I don't know the majority of them. Yet, shortly after these ladies started sharing their stories, I began to feel comfortable. They had such amazing attitudes and welcoming smiles. I noticed myself speaking up here and there, when I would normally be hiding in a corner.

When it came time to introduce myself, I still hated the feeling of 20-some pairs of eyes on me, but I knew that they were not judging me, but were listening to what I had to say. I explained that I've come from a place of post-relationship anxiety and depression and a lot of emotional eating. I told them that I had worked hard to lose weight and turned around to gain most of it right back again. I was ashamed, but knew I was amongst friends.

Across the room, a gal with an outgoing and passionate personality (based on what I saw during those couple of hours), mentioned a group of Twitter friends who were using the hashtag #priorfatpack to communicate about an upcoming 5K that they were running. It would be the first for most of them. I shrugged it off at first because, as I had described myself, I was not a runner. It still stuck in the back of my mind as she mentioned it another time before we parted ways.

My curiosity got the better of me and, after I made my way home, I looked up #priorfatpack on Twitter. I think it took me a day or two to join the conversation, but then something came over me. I started cheering on these women (and one man), most of whom I had only met once.

(to be continued in Act three)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why am I here? (Act one)

What brought me back to blog land? I blame my friends Meredith and Misty. Nearly two months ago, Meredith invited me out to a coffee meeting with Jen from and several of her friends that are on weight loss journeys along with her.

Allow me to step back in time a bit. I've been overweight for much of my adult life. Not huge, but definitely not healthy and not where I want to be. (How I got there is an entire post in itself, so I'll save that for later.) This weight issue has been on my mind daily for over a decade, to which I'm sure anyone who has carried around any extra poundage in our society can relate. It's in your face daily when you get up and look in the mirror to brush your teeth. It's in your face on billboards and magazine pages and tv shows; the images of what we should look like. It's hard to ignore.

In early 2008, a friend at work mentioned to me that some others were doing a weight loss pool. We would each throw in 10 bucks, have an initial weigh-in, a mid-point weigh in, and a final weigh-in after a few months. The person that had lost the highest percentage of their weight (to keep it a fair contest) would win the moola. I thought, 'what the heck,' and threw in my cash. I was at a point where I was completely sick of myself in many ways (not just my weight), and this was a step in the right direction.

The guy I was dating at the time had a tendency to get very caught up in ideas and run with them, usually dragging me right along with, for better or for worse. He jumped on the weight-loss bandwagon right along with me, which was awesome. We started to eat healthy(er), be more active, and focus on the goal of winning me that cash! Skip forward four months. I kicked some ass. I lost 30ish pounds in that time. I felt awesome. I won the contest. I was proud of myself for the first time in a long time. The best part was that people at work were noticing and commenting on nearly a daily basis.

Then my world caved in on me. I'll save you the gory details, but let's just say it involved a breakup of a very long relationship (think 9 years), and what felt like the collapse of my entire being. I continued to lose weight, but not in a healthy way. I simply did not feel like eating. I would have an apple and some crackers for the entire day. I went on like this for a couple of weeks, lost another 10 pounds, and felt horrible (mentally and physically). Then I started enjoying too many nights out, too many beers, too many snacks. I ate to deal with my pain and packed back on a few pounds here and there.

Fast forward another 8 or 9 months. I went on my first date with my guy. It was blissful. Well, as blissful as it could be considering we were and are both in major states of flux in our lives. So we ate. We ate because it was something we had in common - a big love of cooking and a huge love of eating. We ate because we were celebrating our new found joy in sharing time together. All of this celebrating started to add up and we began to pack on the pounds.

Now, I won't speak for him, but let's just say that I gained back almost all of the weight that I had worked so hard to lose a year or so prior. I got mad at myself. I kicked myself in the butt every time I got dressed in the morning and felt my pants a little tighter. I mumbled hating words to myself as I ripped a hole in my jeans simply by getting into the high seat of my guy's truck (they had grown too tight). I cursed myself every time I had to buy new clothes in a larger size. Just a year and a half prior, I had donated all sorts of clothes in those sizes when I had LOST the weight. Now here I was gaining it all back again?!

So, early April, Meredith invited me to the coffee group. I went, semi-reluctantly, semi-excitedly. I'm shy until I am sure that I can let loose around people. But I went, and I'm so grateful that I did. There were twenty or so amazing women, of all ages, sitting around a large circle of tables. I was nervous at first, but soon go into the positive energy that was radiating off of every single one of those women. It was obvious that they were there with love in their hearts. No one was judging anyone. They were supportive and inspiring. I was hooked.

(to be continued...)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Years. It's been years since I shared pieces of my live on the internet via anything more formal than facebook. I sat down to start up a new blog and ran into this old one that was sitting on Blogger collecting dust. Feel free to read back if you wish - there's not a lot here - just some silliness. Back in the day, my livejournal held a little bit more of my life, but it's been long since collecting dust as well.

It's time to start anew. Well, not entirely anew. I'm going to continue on the same old blog because I am not necessarily an entirely new person. I have gone through some huge changes in recent years, but the current me is still very much built on the foundation of the old me, cracks and all.

I'm excited to delve into the blog world again. There is such a huge network of amazing people out there, just waiting to be interacted with. And with that, I say welcome, take off your shoes and stay awhile. May I make you a cup of tea?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

In my referrer logs: "calvin and hobbes neo cubism"

Sounds like someone's writing a bad high school term paper.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I may just end up boxing up a rock and sending it off via U.S. mail. Cool.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Oi, excuse my laziness. I've been keeping better tabs on my livejournal - read that if you want.

I need to do something about this thing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Saturday, October 25, 2003

I envy the creative minds behind the gorgeous art at Epilogue.
Here's a really cute use for those old jeans you've got lying around. Ya know, the ones that don't fit anymore? Or the ones that got mangled in the washing machine (our washer eats denim, num num) or that you loved so dearly they look like swiss cheese...
Amazon now has a feature allowing one to search for a book by any set of words within the text. Imagine the data entry staff this endeavor required!

Friday, August 22, 2003

Friday Five

1. When was the last time you laughed?
at dinner with my boy and a roomie, discussing the upcoming weekend

2. Who was the last person you had an argument with?
Matt, thankfully a while ago

3. Who was the last person you emailed?
a gal that I met on Livejournal who's going to send me some really neat socks she found

4. When was the last time you bathed?
a couple of hours ago, long hair's STILL wet

5. What was the last thing you ate?
hardshell tacos

Monday, August 18, 2003

Mr. Little Guy. I think this is so wonderful. I might have to go wander Lake Harriet sometime and leave a note.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

A friend of mine got a little write up in USA Today about his participation in a Flash Mob.

I love this post blaming the recent East coast "power outtage" on a flash mob.

This trend is seems to be storming the country. It's fascinating and I love it! Someone email me directions for the next one. :o)

Friday, July 18, 2003

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Astrojax look neat. They also look simple enough for even my bumbling hands to control.

I know I've known someone that owned a set of these at one point or another, but I don't think I've ever seen them in action. Anyone have any experience with them?

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Here we are getting settled into the new place and we finally have high-speed internet at our fingertips again. Incredibly, I didn't miss it all that much, other than when I'd be in conversation with someone, we'd have a question about something and say "check the internet." It's not that simple with dial-up and one phone line. Especially dial-up that takes anywhere from two to ten minutes to actually connect properly.

We've been busy, of course, trying to deal with situations like this:

and playing a little bit of this:

and ending up like this:

and this:

Yup, Squirt is back in our midst! He's making us all a little sniffly, but he's such a joy to have pouncing around. He seems to be settling in okay, as well, and has already attempted a 5am attempt at cooking. We woke up to a small crash and Matt went up the stairs to find the spice rack and all of its contents tumbled across the counter.

So anyway, back to some form of normalness, if it's possible in our lives. ;o)

Monday, May 19, 2003

This page represents my life. At the moment my life is very boring and predictable. There isn't much to see, but there is quite a bit of non-coherent reading material inside. It needs a revamping. This will come. Soon, I hope. For now, there is packing up and cleaning to be done.