Tag Archives: mental health

Solo Run for Boston

Last week was… a train wreck. By Friday night, I was a mess of emotions all tied up in one slightly bizarre and wholly confusing package. After drinking many more beers than usual with a group of friends and then braving a rainstorm and a hectic metro ride home, I crawled into bed more than ready to close the book on the week. Saturday morning, I decided to do what I do when I’m sad or angry or frustrated… I ran. I went into this run with no expectations. I decided to just go out and see how far I got.

I’ve seen so many great events around DC and other cities where runners are getting together to Run for Boston. I chose to run solo for Boston. Just me, my sneakers, and my city. I decided to bring you guys along for a little tour because the weather was perfect and this was just what I needed to work through some emotions and emerge with a renewed spirit.

My first stop was the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington. I also checked out some beautiful spring flowers.

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Then it was down onto path for a quick view of Arlington Cemetery.

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Up off the trail and heading towards the Memorial Bridge.

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And down onto the Mount Vernon trail for a run along the Potomac River. Mount Vernon is one of my favorite trails in the entire area. The views of DC are the best.

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All the way down to Roaches Run (which I hate the name of because roaches are my biggest fear). I had a lovely view of some kids playing soccer and the planes taking off from Reagan Airport.

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Then I turned around and headed back towards the Memorial Bridge. I love running under the highway. Gorgeous views abound.

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I continued on Mount Vernon Trail under the Memorial Bridge towards Rosslyn and the Key Bridge.

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This is my favorite place ever… a short stretch of boards running adjacent to the highway. It’s like a mini-oasis.

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A quick hello to Roosevelt Island… another favorite place.

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And up the ramp to Rosslyn. I took an unintentionally creepy picture of this guy… sorry dude!

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Through Rosslyn and up the hill towards home! I have come to love ending my runs on this hill. It’s the perfect sense of accomplishment for the end of a run.

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End of the day I covered 8.5 miles and it was the perfect way to start my weekend off right.

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Questions for you guys:

– Do you exercise when you’re feeling down?

– How did you get active this weekend?

– Thoughts on running solo?

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Intuitive Eating 21 Day Challenge – Final Thoughts

I spent the month of March focusing on Intuitive Eating. I participated in the Studio Eats 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge, had three one-on-one calls with Jamie, attended one group conference call, and read most of the book. (My initial thoughts on the challenge can be found here). It’s April and it’s time to reflect.

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How did the month go? In a word (ok two)… life changing. I really don’t want to turn into the “anti-diet” crusader or anything… but this approach to eating and living works for me. I am a chronic, life-long devotee to dieting and I needed something serious to make a change in my life. Deep down, I’ve always felt that there was something wrong with my body and the way I look. I was heavy as a kid… it’s not completely shocking that I felt this way. I used dieting and restricting to feel control. The best part about my IE journey is that I feel more in control now than I ever have, and I’m not dieting for pretty much the first time ever.

Right now I am eating and drinking what I want, when I want. I have found that by giving myself complete free reign over my eating and exercising, I am eating less, feeling more satisfied, not binge eating, and finding much more pleasure in my workouts. The ultimate moment of truth came last week though. I decided to not weigh myself for the entire month of March, which terrified me. I have this irrational fear that if I’m not dieting and monitoring myself, I’m going to balloon up and gain a ton of weight. I was feeling nervous, I mean I had been eating EVERYTHING I wanted for a whole month. I took a deep breath and stepped on the scale. And it hadn’t changed even an ounce. I weighed exactly the same, and I had enjoyed my life so much more in that month. That’s when I knew this was for me.

What was the hardest part? Learning to trust myself again. I have accepted responsibility for being overweight throughout my life. So I thought I was flawed. There was something about me that wasn’t programmed correctly. When left to my own devices, I would get fat again. The hardest part about this journey was to stop fighting myself. I told Jamie during one of our calls that I had a really hard time realizing what “hungry” felt like, because I only ever allowed myself to eat when I was “ravenous”. She pointed on that this is common in chronic dieters. I had this perception that I only deserved to eat a certain amount, at certain times, and only when I was absolutely starving. Throughout this month, I have worked really hard to trust my body to tell me when it needs fuel and what it is craving. Totally wild.

What am I focusing on now? I want to continue to honor my hungry, feel my fullness, and throw out my food rules. I am also working on challenging the external food police. The past weekend I was at a restaurant and ordered a salad and an entree. Our waiter made a completely harmless comment like “Are you sure you want all of that?” (apparently my entree was comically large… half of it is currently sitting in my refrigerator). In the past, such a comment would have sent me into a tailspin. But now that I’m challenging the “food police,” I simply laughed and told him I was sure I could handle it.

I am also working on the issue of body acceptance. That’s going to be a big one for me, because deep down I wish I looked fundamentally different than I do. But I never will. I will always have the same basic shape / frame and it’s due time I got “good” with that. Every day, I stand in front of the mirror and make myself say something positive about my body. When I’m exercising in front of a mirror, I do the same thing. I force myself to say positive things like “You look so strong”. It might seem very narcissistic, but don’t worry I only say it in my head 🙂 Jamie and I discussed this issue on our last call and I know I have the power to change how I view myself. It’s all mental!

Questions for you guys:

  • How do you express “body acceptance”?
  • What lifestyle works for you? We’re all different after all!

D.N.S.

This weekend I D.N.S.ed (Did Not Start) my first race ever. There… now it’s out there. It’s Tuesday and I’m still not 100% “over it”. You guys know that my knee injury has had a flare up this winter and I made the decision back in January to defer down to the half marathon from the full for the Rock’n’Roll USA race. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to do the half. But that’s exactly what happened.

Friday, I was certain I was running this race. I picked up my packet, chatted about running with other coworkers who were racing, and even enjoyed some pasta for dinner in preparation. But slowly over the course of the evening the doubt started creeping in. My knees were hurting. Now, for some unknown reason, my right ankle has also started hurting. Was I really ready to run 13.1 miles? As much as, in my mind, the half marathon isn’t an intimidating distance for me (I’ve run like 10 before… not exactly new), it’s still a lot of miles for your body.

A year and a half ago, I pushed myself to run the Rock’n’Roll Savannah half marathon injured and it was freakin’ miserable (not to mention it took me like 2.5 hrs to finish, felt like a very painful eternity). Did I want to do that again? Cue… the… FREAKOUT.

Thankfully my bff Sarah was there with me (she is my lady life-partner) to talk me down off. I set my alarm, laid out some clothes, and got into bed still thinking I was going to run. But I laid there… and laid there… and laid there. I couldn’t sleep. My mind my racing, my joints were throbbing, and suddenly my stomach was hurting (just nerves I think). At 5:30 am my eyes were wide open again (even before my alarm, which NEVER happens) and I knew I shouldn’t run this race. I crawled back into bed in miserable defeat and lay there in a pathetic pile of self pity.

Intellectually, I know I did the right thing. Could I have finished? Definitely. Would it have been fun? Probably not. Would it have been the kindest thing I could do to my body? Definitely not. Could I have potentially injured myself? Extremely likely. I run a bajillion races … what is one race in the grand scheme of things? Even though I intellectually knew all of this… emotionally, I was still super bummed. I was SO embarrassed at the thought of telling people I hadn’t raced (which let’s be honest… no one actually cares except me). I was disappointed in myself because I felt like I had “given up”.

But I remind myself that holding back is a sign of running maturity. I remind myself that running for many years to come is more important than running one race. I remind myself that I am human, I am imperfect, and that is absolutely fine.

So that is my sad, melancholy eulogy for  the race that just wasn’t meant to be. I am shifting my focus to healing my knees and getting back in the game. Everyone loves a good comeback story right?

Questions for you guys:

– Have you ever D.N.S.ed a race before? Tell me about it!

– How do you show kindness to your body?

Book Review: The Fault in our Stars

Let me start by recommending that you just go read this book IMMEDIATELY. I opened it on Friday evening a couple weekends ago and finished it on that Sunday morning. I couldn’t put it down. I inhaled this book and it was so.damn.good. Unlike my previous book reviews (examples here, here, and here) this is not a part of any online book club. I just read it on my own and simply HAD to write about it.

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Quick Synopsis: Fundamentally this book is about a teenage girl, Hazel, who is living with terminal thyroid cancer. She begrudgingly attends a support group of young people who are either living with, in remission from, or dying of cancer. Here she meets Augustus, a teenage boy who lost a leg to osteosarcoma but is currently NEC (No Evidence of Cancer). To boil the story down to it’s complete bare bones… they fall in love and experience a life of love, loss, death, heartbreak and disappointment together. I won’t spoil any of the plot for you since I sincerely encourage you to read the book yourself, but get ready to laugh and cry all within the same chapter because this book is an emotional roller coaster.

How did it make me feel? Well, let me start with a little peek into my history. There isn’t a person out there who hasn’t been touched by cancer, so I won’t insult anyone by saying that I “felt this book” more personally than anyone else. But it struck pretty close to home in probably more ways than I would’ve liked. When I was 14, my older brother (then 17) was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. Unlike Augutus’s osteosarcoma, which typically presents in large bones (like the femur – hence why many children with this cancer are amputees), my brother’s Ewing’s Sarcoma fell into the soft tissue of his spinal cord. There was a time when we weren’t sure he would walk again. Although his prognosis was always good, I don’t think anyone in my family would describe the year that followed as anything less than complete hell. Obviously, I wasn’t the one who was sick so I won’t even begin to equate my feelings on the situation to how my brother felt during that time. But cancer struck all of us in some way that year.

Personally, I hated talking about it. I wanted to compartmentalize it, but it felt like cancer invaded every aspect of my life. While I imagine some might find Hazel’s sarcastic and course attitude towards her illness, her family, and everyone around her off putting, I completely related to it. I think her portrayal was just so… honest. I couldn’t help but smile when they would sarcastically refer to things as “Cancer Perks” because even I got them! I was excused from being late to school, an older boy who previously bullied me suddenly stopped, and everyone was feeding us lasagna (To be clear, I am grateful to everyone who brought food to our home because that is thoughtful and caring. But my dad and I ate lasagna every night for a week early on in treatment. To this day, I have a slight aversion to lasagna).

I feel like this is the book that everyone was afraid to write about kids with cancer. They’re not always strong and sometimes people praising their strength only makes expectations even harder to meet. Augustus and Hazel were so unabashedly unapologetic in the book, it was so refreshing. The scene where Isaac is smashing the trophies on the ground was just… perfect. Cancer blows and it’s freaking unfair. And that’s just the honest truth. This book was nothing short of cathartic.

Note: To end things on a more positive note, I wanted to be clear that after spinal surgery, one year of chemotherapy, a course of radiation my brother has been cancer free for almost 10 years (it’ll be 10 years this June if I’m not mistaken… what what!). I also wanted to thank my fiance’s super awesome brother, Dave, for giving me this book for Christmas this year. It was an awesome gift 🙂

Intuitive Eating – 21 Day Challenge

I wasn’t 100% certain I was going to write about this on the blog because it’s kind of personal. But I’m starting to think that my “secrecy” about dieting / food and my embarrassment to discuss with others really only further perpetuates some of my issues. This month, I am participating in the Studio Eat’s 21 day Intuitive Eating Challenge.

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Intuitive Eating resonates with me because I have lived in dieting hell for so long, I don’t even know what eating normally would be like. In an honest conversation with Mike not too long ago, I was so exasperated I was just like, “I just hate everyone who doesn’t have to deal with this. Like… how can they just EAT like it’s NO BIG DEAL???” Andddd then I was like, woah… that is one super crazy sentence. So I enrolled in this challenge. I also downloaded the book and am currently working my way through it.

Jamie (who is running the challenge) wrote this great post after conducting all her introductory phone calls with challenge participants. It is so worth a read because it is so freaking true. I am TIRED. So, this is an experiment. Three weeks of not counting calories, restricting, or judging. Eating what I want, when I want. Listening and observing with the intention of learning, not judging. What foods make me satisfied / feel good? What foods don’t? When am I hungry? When am I full? Trying to relearn to enjoy food and find eating pleasurable.

Here are some observations / lessons / thoughts from the first 5 days:

  • The first two – three days of the challenge, I completely resisted it. I was hanging on to this idea that I needed to lose weight, and, once I did that, then I could focus on “improving my relationship with food.” If I could just get to the weight I think I want to be, some of this would go away on its own. However, deep down, I know this isn’t true. Because I’ve never been happy with my body. Never. Not when I was fat, not when I was the thinnest I’ve ever been… never. Then a member of the challenge posted this quote in the Facebook group from Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth: “When you live a life based on the externally imposed and inflexible need to be thin, it is impossible to develop trust in your ability to eat what satisfies you because what you are believing is that being thin will satisfy you.” Mind. Blown.
  • I didn’t realize how many “food rules” I had created for myself. I thought I had a pretty balanced approach to eating, but, once we were told to throw out all the rules and eat whatever the hell we wanted, I realized that wasn’t true. Some of the foods I was eliminating or majorly restricting included pasta, rice, sandwiches, nut butters, whole eggs, red meat, cheese and olive oil in addition to the obvious sweets, candy, cookies, and fried foods. Literally the only foods I allowed myself to eat without guilt were plain vegetables, fruit, and chicken. I don’t even really like chicken that much… bleh. God, no wonder I felt so much pressure about food… look at all these guidelines I had set!
  • I don’t enjoy 75% of the meals I eat in a given day. I eat breakfast and lunch mindlessly at my desk out of Tupperware with a plastic fork. I don’t savor it or take my time because I just want to get it over with. Same for my meals outside of work. Eating anything ultimately comes with such guilt and shame, it sabotages any potential enjoyment. In addition to focusing on exactly WHAT I want to eat, I’m also trying to focus on how / where I’m eating.

I have a lot of work to do. The last couple days have been really great but I’m worried about the long-term sustainability. Sometimes all it takes is one unflattering picture to knock me well off course. I know a key piece for me, in addition to the actual food/eating, is going to be figuring out how to love my body the way it is. I’m working on it. Will check back soon with an update but for now… feeling good… wary of the future?

[Note – Jamie is actually re-doing the challenge in April, so if you’re interested in the concept of IE I HIGHLY recommend it. The price is really reasonable and you get two 15 minute one-on-one calls with Jamie, continuous access to Jamie via email, access to a secret facebook group of all participants (where Jamie comments / responds regularly), and a daily email exploring one aspect of IE. ]

Book Review: Blackberry Winter

The February Peanut Butter Fingers Book Club selection was Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio. I literally tore through this book with astounding speed. I would pick up my Kindle to read before going to bed and read a quarter of the book. One of the issues with reading on Kindle is, I have no idea how big this book is in real life (according to Amazon its 320 pages… I’m shocked it felt so much shorter). I’m super excited to finally be getting a post up BEFORE the PBF deadline. Hopefully I can figure out how to link up with her before Tuesday… wish me luck!

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First a brief synopsis: “Blackberry winter” is actually a meteorological term for a late season cold snap or storm – I’ve learned something new already! The book starts in Depression Era Seattle in May 1933. A single mother, Vera Ray, is forced to leave her son, Daniel, at home while she goes to work the night shift as a maid at a fancy hotel. A freak snow storm hits and when she returns home, her son has vanished. Jump ahead to Seattle in May 2011 and behold another freak snow storm hits on the exact same day. A reporter, Claire, is assigned to write a story about these two snow storms for her newspaper, when she discovers the unsolved abduction of Daniel Ray. Claire and her husband have recently suffered their own loss after an accident caused her to lose a baby. The two storys continue to unfold as you race to solve the mystery of Daniel Ray. I won’t give you any spoilers… but wow, it’s a pretty awesome ending.

My general reaction: I really enjoyed this book. It was a fast, easy read and I definitely felt myself emotionally connecting with the characters. It made me want to read more books set during the Depression. Not that I expect those to be exciting “light” reading, but I definitely don’t read much about that time period so I thought it might be time to expand my horizons. I was a little disappointed that it was another “mystery” type book, considering last month’s book, The Secret Keeper, was a similar idea of jumping between past and present to solve a mystery. Makes for a VERY entertaining read, but I’m hoping next month’s book has a little more variety.

How did this book make me feel? Hmm, well that is an interesting question. I guess it made me think a lot about love, relationships, and marriage (marriage is a pretty central theme in my life right now). Clearly Claire and Ethan are having major marital issues because they can’t seem to see the other person’s perspective. But it’s the Charles and Vera story line that intrigued me the most. I just felt like Vera was so hasty to run away, thinking she would ruin Charles’ life if she stayed. She gave him no credit, no chance to do the right thing, which is all he had ever done by her. I know she was supposedly doing the “selfless thing” but did she do the right thing by him?? It didn’t seem like it in the end. Did she really love him? That kind of suggested to me that, deep down, she didn’t actually trust him. She didn’t trust in their love and their ability to withstand obstacles.

It makes me think about my own relationship and my own impending marriage. I remember having a momentary doubt that perhaps we hadn’t been together long enough to know that we were right for marriage. But then I realized that I trusted Mike and our relationship so completely, that I had no doubt we could handle whatever life had to throw at us. Love isn’t always about knowing or being certain. Sometimes, it’s about having faith and jumping in with both feet.

On a slightly different note, I will start with a confession. The thought of having children terrifies me. I know that I want them, but I kind of want to have a panic attack when I think about actually having one. The Claire story line with her running while pregnant, getting hit by a car, and losing the baby hit WAY too close to home for me. I don’t have a lot of concrete feelings to articulate, but it just heightened my worry that if and when I ever am pregnant I will be so terrified I won’t be able to live my normal life. Any other lady runners out there have this same reaction??

So here are some questions for you:

– If you read Blackberry Winter, what did you think? How did this book make you feel?

– If you haven’t read Blackberry Winter, what are you reading right now?? I’m always interested in good book recs 🙂

Pinterest is Bullying Me… and other thoughts on being a bride

Mike and I have now officially been engaged for 4 weeks. Woah, right? I actually got a new laptop this week (thanks Dad!) and Mike obviously set it up for me because I don’t know how to do it myself. He made himself a profile on the laptop too and I jokingly said, “Who do you think you are??? Setting up a profile on my computer??” and he response was, “Um… like… your future husband?” That was so cute to hear. I’m such a wedding planning novice and I’m definitely feeling pretty out of my element. We haven’t set an official date yet and have only just begun looking at venues. However, I have some feelings and thoughts on being a bride that I thought I’d share with the internets 🙂

1. Pinterest is a bully. I don’t really do the Pinterest thing but I did set up a couple secret boards to share with my friend Elsa. It’s helping me keep track of a couple things I’m finding around the internet. But other than that I’ve really been steering clear of Pinterest for wedding ideas. All it does is make me feel bad that I’m not going to spend the months leading up to the wedding making handmade needle point handkerchiefs to hand out during the ceremony or serving rosemary infused pink lemonade in mason jars wrapped in burlap and raffia during my idyllic outdoor wedding ceremony. I obviously want a beautiful wedding and honestly have so much respect for those wonderfully crafty and talented people who want to do that. But it’s not who I am, and I really don’t want to get bogged down in comparing our wedding to what it “should” be.

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2. 90% of wedding dresses are strapless. I don’t know if you’ve taken a look at me recently but I have broader shoulders than your average lady. I look like a middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins in a strapless dress. Thanks… but no thanks. Thankfully I am noticing somewhat of a trend away from strapless and a lot of really gorgeous offerings within my budget. I have no concept of what I think will look good on my figure, so I have a lot of trying on ahead of me.

3. I think a lot of Bridezillas are just really hungry. For someone who already has body image issues, being a “bride” is an emotional minefield. When I signed up for TheKnot.com, one of the first items on my “to do” list they gave was, “Get in wedding day shape! – eat right, join a gym, or even hire a personal trainer!” (To be clear, my post about getting Lady Ripped is not b/c I want to get in “wedding day shape” I just want to stop having this knee injury flare up). Do I want to look my absolute best for my wedding day? Absolutely! But I want to look my best, not starving. Emotionally, I have been all over the map on this issue for the past 4 weeks. Immediately after we started talking about the wedding, I started feeling my dumb inner voice telling me that I’m fat and I need to lose weight. Think of all the pictures they’re going to take of you! You’re going to look like a beached whale in white! Honestly, I’m nervous about this. I’ve shared these concerns with Mike, my mom, and my MOH because I need their support in the next year. I am committed to not reverting to old, very bad habits, but I’m definitely feeling the pressure. Any words of wisdom?

4. There are only a few things that REALLY matter. I’m thrilled to be planning a wedding with Mike. I couldn’t be luckier to have such a wonderful future husband and future family. No matter what happens on our wedding day, I get to spend every day for the rest of my life with Mike, and that’s the happiest thought of all. My approach to wedding planning is: focus on the things that really matter to me, be flexible on things that don’t, ask for help (especially from my mom), enjoy the process (I’m majorly type A so planning is super fun to me… let’s keep it that way), stick to the budget, stay grounded, simplify, and don’t sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day the only things that matter in the whole world are the four Fs.

This guy (my fiance):

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These three (my family):

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Her (my best friend):

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And these two (my faithful felines):

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Marathon Musings – Week 9

This post is alternately titled “The week that wasn’t”. Did I run? Yes. Did I strength train? Yes. Did I do yoga? Yes. But am I where I should be for  more than halfway to a marathon? Absolutely not. Despite scaling back my training exponentially this week… I’m still in pain.

Last night, after a good conversation with Mike, I’ve made the decision that it’s time to call it on the marathon. My knee isn’t ready for this right now. Everything in my body is screaming at me that continuing to push to train for this marathon isn’t the right decision. It’s time to stop fighting it and listen. One mantra that Tina uses a lot that I really love is… “Accept and adjust.” I know there’s going to be another marathon in my future, but it’s not going to be this March.

I won’t lie, thinking about having to admit that I was “giving up” on the blog gave me huge pause. But then I stopped at reminded myself two very important things. 1 – I’m not giving up. I’m not quitting. I am making a decision about what is right for my body and my mind. And 2 – As Amy also pointed out at one time, I can’t live my life as exhibit for this blog. (A “publicity stunt” as so so eloquently put it!)

Also… I’ve already run a marathon. Life bucket list item accomplished. Why can’t I just let it lie?? During our talk (that was probably painful for him but I really like to just beat a subject to death before letting it go), I confessed that I felt like I couldn’t be a hardcore runner or athlete without running marathons. I have this horrible habit of thinking that I should be able to do everything (and do it well) and if I can’t, I’m lacking in some way.

But I am a runner. I am a runner whether or not I ever run another marathon ever again. This is just an opportunity for me to find a different challenge. The challenge that is right for me at this moment in my life. And if you know me at all… you know I’m going to find one. This morning I woke up with a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Accept… and adjust.

Luckily, the marathon I chose has a half marathon too! I’ve decided to defer down to the half and still fundrace for Back On My Feet! So Marathon Musings is going to change… to Half Marathon Musings! I’ve still got a half marathon coming up this spring and who knows… maybe there’s a new PR in it for me? 🙂

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Here’s to running in health and happiness for many years to come!!

Winter To Do List Check In

Let me reiterate again how much I love having a seasonal to do list! Doesn’t feel too pressured (I have three months at a time after all) but it’s also short enough to keep my accountable. You can see my original Winter To Do List as well as my Summer and Fall to do lists.

Here’s a check in on my Winter To Do List!

  • Love Marathon Training – It’s going. My training has encountered some issues (seen here and here)… I definitely am enjoying training so much more this time around. Last time I felt completely suffocated by the training. So far, not feeling that way! What’s still getting in the way is my confidence, but I think I’m making good progress!
  • Strength Train at least 2 times per week – This is going well so far! I’ve been drawing inspiration from bloggers, magazines, and workout videos to keep my strength training routines interesting. I really do feel better when I do it and it makes my knee so much happier 🙂
  • Read More, Watch TV Less – Definitely cutting WAY down on TV (except Downton Abbey and Nashville but I love them and I won’t stop!) I like background noise, which is often TV by default. However, Mike and I have started listening to Songza a lot at home (We’re currently listening to the station “Beach Grooves”.) This allows us to put on music without having to actually pick the album or artist (which sometimes becomes such an arduous task.) I’m also getting in bed earlier to read instead of watching TV to unwind and spending weekend downtime in bed or on the balcony with a book instead of on the couch with the remote. It’s making me enjoy the TV I do watch so much more. Like Sarah Silverman says, “Make it a treat!”
  • Read a classic novel I haven’t read yet – I’m about 1/3 of the way through Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. So far I think I like it but I haven’t gotten completely engrossed in it. I’ve been reading a lot of other books but for some reason I find it really hard to get into some of the classics. I tried A Clockwork Orange but omg the slang makes reading it SO tedious. I still want to try again though. Also considering Atlas Shrugged (my bestie and her bf both just read it and loved it) or Brave New World. I’ve had a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on my bedside table for probably six months now… might be time to crack it open.
  • Watch 5 “classic” movies I haven’t seen yet – I have watched The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe but other than that I’m not doing SUPER well. I’m hoping to get another one in soon. The classic movies collection on Netflix Instant is pretty pathetic (as is the selection on Netflix Instant in general unfortunately). I have Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Graduate in our queue. Still want to get an Audrey Hepburn movie in there and a couple Kubrick movies…
  • Read at least three full news articles per day – I’m getting there. I’ve been using the newstand app on my iPhone a lot more. I wouldn’t say I’m doing it every day yet but I’m definitely reading more and actively seeking out more information… which I suppose is the point. 
  • Go to Zoolights – Unfortuntaely, this did not happen due to Mike’s mono. That’s ok though… another year will come for Zoolights 🙂
  • Do at least one additional “Christmas” activity in DC – Ditto on the above. 
  • Make 2 new-to-me holiday desserts – I made a gingerbread cake roll and a carrot cake! I am hoping to try out a couple new recipes before the end of the winter too. I’m participating in a crock pot challenge and want to try using my crock pot to make a dessert.
  • Play with Fig and Little Mac a little bit every day – Again, won’t say I’m doing it every single day but I am definitely much more mindful of it. They play with each other all the time but they really do like to interact with me besides just petting and snuggling. We’ve definitely upped the play time.
  • Participate in another blog related “challenge” – I signed up for and started Courtney’s 2012 Closeout Workout Challenge but mono / sickness kinda side lined me. I did a lot but I kinda stopped checking in and probably didn’t hit 2012 reps. That’s ok! I’m currently participating in the PB Fingers Crock Pot Challenge (try 10 new crock pot recipes by the end of February) and Gretchen Rubin’s 21 Day Relationship Challenge (every day she emails one tip to improve your relationships and so far I am LOVING it)
  • Participate in at least three volunteer opportunities – Hmm let’s see… I volunteered at DC Central Kitchen with my coworkers in December, which I LOVE. I also technically volunteered with Girls on the Run DC for their fall 5K in early December, but it was not a positive experience to put it lightly. I’m not going to say more b/c I won’t “knock” an awesome charity on my blog, but I’d like to get at least two more volunteer opportunities in before the end of the winter. I am fund-racing for Back on my Feet for the marathon in March, so I’m hoping maybe a volunteer opportunity could come out of that as well.
  • Practice yoga three times per week (even if it’s only for a few minutes) – This still isn’t going THAT well. I’m doing yoga more than I was in the fall but I’m still not at 3 x per week. I have started going to a studio occasionally, which definitely helps. I want to focus on grabbing 10 free minutes to practice instead of not doing it at all.
  • Tackle the “little tasks” right away (“One minute rule”) – This little mantra has totally stuck with me… it’s awesome. Taking care of my space feels so much less arduous 🙂 Big success on this one.
  • Go skiing at least three times (weather permitting) – Well unfortunately, Mike’s doctor has recommended he not ski until end of January (just incase his spleen was still swollen and he had a bad spill), which definitely puts a damper on these plans! We’re still hoping to go a couple times in February to get some skiing in this season.
  • Try three new restaurants in our neighborhood – Hmm let’s see. We have tried an Indian place in our neighborhood with another couple so I guess that’s only one? Need to identify two others and make it happen!
  • Tackle a new ethnic cuisine at home – Haven’t tackled this yet. I’ve been more focused on my baking task. Still want to try making dosas. Or perhaps something Asian like dumplings or summer rolls? I was intrigued by this recipe on Cupcakes and Cashmere.
  • Learn more about wine – Bahahaha… nope. Still clueless. I did buy a bottle of red wine at Trader Joe’s today that was 40 cents more expensive than the cheapest bottle… does that count??? But seriously… someone teach me (preferably for free?)
  • Spend Wisely – This is one of my favorite resolutions of the season actually! Normally my relationship with money is so singularly focused on saving / frugality. I always felt guilty after any splurge and scrimped in places it didn’t really make sense. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve purchased and have been able to do that while still being financially responsible. FTW!
  • Practice gratitude This has been such a good practice for me. I’m not saying I’m zen because I am far from zen and I certainly don’t feel grateful all day every day. But by spending just a minute every day feeling grateful, I am able to frame my day in a much more positive light. Also makes handling the blows a little bit easier too 🙂

Book Review: What Alice Forgot

Apparently I’m just not understanding the PB Fingers Book Club thing but I swear I’m going to figure it out! I was finished with this book WELL before the deadline, but I didn’t realize you were supposed to write it up on your blog FIRST, and then she would link to your blog when she reviewed it. Lesson learned. That’ll be my goal for next month. I did want to talk about the December selection though because it was a really interesting book!

I’ve defined POTR in my mind as a “wellness blog”. I wouldn’t consider it a food blog or even healthy living blog, since those seem to require me posting all my meals in a given day and a daily workout report. Instead, I think I’m aiming to address all areas of wellness in a place that is both personal and informational. When I decided I wanted to add books to the blog, I had to ask myself why? I think the Happiness Project was more obvious because it did SO MUCH for my general happiness and disposition, which is a crucial part of wellness. However, I think books in general (for me) play a huge role in my wellness. In my definition, wellness is more than eating right and exercising (which I write a lot about on here). There’s also a mental / emotional component to it that, for me at least, is probably the most critical. Therefore, I’d like to spend one post per week talking about some aspect of wellness OTHER than diet and exercise. Book reviews fall in this category for me because I’m not really interested in discussing the plot. I’m interested in discussing my reaction to the book, the way it made me feel, and the questions it raised in my mind. So without further ado… a book review for you!

So the December PB Fingers book club pick was… What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. To give you a very very very bare bones plot summary… basically the last thing Alice remembers is being 29, happily married, and expecting her first child. Suddenly she wakes up from an apparent fall at the gym to find that she is actually 39, has three children, and is in the middle of a bitter divorce from her husband. The remainder of the book follows her as she struggles to remember what happened over the last 10 years that has changed her life so drastically.

Source

I, for whatever reason, am pretty hit or miss when it comes to novels. I LOVE non fiction books and read a ton of memoirs (usually of the dark and gritty variety… call me weird, that’s ok with me) The novels I do enjoy tend to be more historical fiction, dystopian, etc. Something besides “regular every day life”. But for some reason, this book really captivated me. I was reading it on my Kindle and would open it up whenever I had a minute… on the metro, in the elevator. I also stayed up WAY too late reading on numerous occasions. I almost felt like I was scrambling and rushing through the first part of the book, because I was so desperate to find out more of Alice’s memories! The author did a great job simulating that desire for more information. She really put you in Alice’s place almost. There were places I felt like things were kind of dragging but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

Mike wasn’t a huge fan of me reading this book. Which is a weird thing to say and makes him sound weird and controlling, which he is definitely not. But the way Alice’s marriage to Nick completely disintegrates over the course of 10 years, from honestly nothing more than stress, work pressure, and lack of communication, really upset me. We would be sitting together reading and I would look up very concerned and ask Mike if he really thought that he and I could make it forever or if he thought that we were supportive enough of each other. He said he preferred when I was reading The Happiness Project because I was… well… happier! But this book really made me think. Not that I didn’t already know it, but relationships are HARD. Not only with your significant other but also friends and family members. You have to work at those relationships all the time or they can slip away before you realize. Interestingly enough, I found that Alice’s relationships with Nick and her sister Elizabeth were most damaged by the things they DIDN’T say to each other, or felt like they couldn’t say.

I also found myself for most of the book being like “Wow, Alice sucks.” The way information was unfolding and being relayed it made her sound well… terrible! And Gina too for that matter. There was even a little part of me that was like “No wonder your marriage fell apart… look how horrible you were!” I also got the feeling that Alice kind of felt that way about herself too. But then when her memories all come flooding back to her on Mother’s Day, I realized she wasn’t horrible at all. She was just a normal person, experiencing every day stresses, and trying to find her own path. It showed me again how important it is not to judge someone’s actions or behaviors. 99% of the time there’s a back story there that you have NO idea about.

While I definitely found myself sad at many points in the book, I’m really glad I read it. It really inspired me to put in the effort in all of my relationships. Making sure I say what I’m feeling and make time to show affection even when I’m tired, overworked, or grumpy. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested!

Here’s a link to Julie’s write up for the book club (I also used her picture since I didn’t have the book in hardcopy). The January book club pick is “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton. It looks pretty interesting to me… somewhat similar to “Atonement” it appears, which is an all time favorite of mine (I actually love basically everything Ian McEwan has ever written and was gifted his most recent book “Sweet Tooth” for Christmas!) I was hoping everyone would pick “The Fault in Our Stars” because Mike’s brother gave that to me as a Christmas gift and I’ve been wanting to get into it. I think I will keep up with the group though and try and squeeze in some others this month 🙂 I actually just subscribed to Audible.com and might give it a try with this one!