Thursday, January 31, 2013

man oh manischewitz.

so, we finished p90x.

*cue the celebratory parade, streamers, and confetti*

confession: it took us more than 90 days. at first, i was determined to follow the program completely by the book, going so far as to go back and make up the workouts that we had to miss. but then i realized that there were just some days we didnt have a spare minute (let alone a whole hour+) for working out. and then we took a couple weeks off for thanksgiving and christmas. and after that, whenever we had to miss a day i was just happy that the end was one day closer.

we actually did our last workout right before we left for the ski trip earlier this month, but its taken me a while to gather my thoughts about the whole experience.

first things first, i should probably back up a little and start with the beginning: why exactly did i want to do this crazy thing in the first place? to be honest, it was because of my non-resolution to feel good about myself in a bathing suit. simple as that. its not like i was super-obese or anything. in fact, i am blessed with a relatively tiny figure. but i am also cursed with a relatively tiny figure that tends to accumulate all its extra pounds around my midsection: in my belly, hips, butt, and upper thighs. and lets just say that this summer i had a few extra pounds of post-wedding comfort weight hanging around, negatively affecting my view of myself.

may 2012                                july 2012
seeing these and other pictures of myself was kind of a shock to me - my overflowing love handles and prego-looking belly were not what i was expecting to look like - especially since i thought i had been doing reasonably well at living a healthy lifestyle. i worked out twice a week, and made an effort to not eat too much terrible food. but as much as i didnt want to hear it at the time, the lady at my health screening in june was probably right when she told me that even though all my numbers (weight, bmi, cholesterol, etc) were ok and within the right range, there were still more things that i could be doing.
so i did something. with Mark as my main encourager, we started p90x, stopped eating sugar, and i made an effort to include more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein into our diet. i didnt do it all perfectly. but i did it. and i even learned a few things along the way:
1. it is ok to collapse in tears, as long as you pick yourself back up again. or have a loving and supportive husband nearby to pick your sorry butt up off the ground where you fell after your legs just gave out. you can cry because its hard. you can cry because you feel like a failure. but the important thing is that you just keep going. (unless of course you are physically injured, in which case you best take a break)
2. i am stronger than i thought, both physically and mentally. in the past 3 months i have worked harder, sweated more, lifted heavier weights, and pushed myself harder than i ever thought possible. when i felt like i was completely spent, i did one more rep. one more exercise. and i am still standing on the other side. i have also realized that it is possible to work all day, then work out, and still have time for food, laundry, and spending time with friends and family. its a pretty delicate balance, and sometimes the dishes get overlooked, but it can be done. and it feels pretty awesome.

july 2012. i just like this picture of me, lovehandles and all.
photo credit: the talented Sarah Hurst
3. what you put in your body before a workout matters. allow me to set the scene for you: it's day 5 of week 11. we are in the home stretch. this particular workout is one that we have done every single week, and i have been consistently improving. until today. 'no tears, no tears, you can do this' i say to myself as i hang from the pull-up bar, willing my body to move. i manage one half-hearted (assisted) pull-up before my arms give out and the time runs out. to compare: i did eight in the very first week. why the difference? it probably had a LOT to do with the fact that spending the preceding day and a half sitting on the couch, and eating junkfood all day after staying up late with friends didn't exactly do me any favors when it came to upping my energy level for that day's workout. turns out that not all exercise cliche's are without any truth: proper feuling is important: garbage in, garbage out.

4. fitness and health cannot be measured by a number on the scale. and pounds are not directly correlated with inches. when i started this program, i had a goal weight that i set in my head. i never said it out loud, shared it with anyone, or wrote it down anywhere. 13+ weeks later, i never hit that goal weight. not even close. and yet i know for a fact that i am in as good (if not better) shape than i have been since probably high school. and that super small goal weight? i'm probably never going to hit it. and i'm ok with that. it was kind of unrealistic anyway.

day 1 vs. day 90-ish. i lost five pounds. and got a haircut.
i can't believe i'm putting these pictures on the internet.

5. encouragement is a great motivator. it helps to have someone in your life who will say 'wow, you have lost more weight, haven't you?' every time they see you. (thanks, Diane!) it takes some of the sting out of the unchanging number on the scale, even when you're eating well and working your tail off. graciously take all the compliments you can get - even the strange ones like 'your shoulders are looking really good!' they are all awesome. even the ones that probably weren't meant to be compliments. (i'm looking at you, skinny girls in the bathroom who commented on the size of my calves while i was STILL WITHIN EARSHOT. you are bad whisperers.)

so now that we made it through the program, what comes next? my goal at the moment is mostly maintenance with maybe some more progress. keep eating well, keep trying to find new good foods to incorporate into our meal plans, and keep working out. at this point, i dont think i could go back to just two nights of jazzercise per week. i'm hooked. i took a whole week off after our last official p90x workout, and by the end of that week i was pretty excited to get back to my weights again.

as far as a set workout plan/regimen, i'm still in the process of figuring out what is going to work best for me in the long run going forward. also, i think this post is plenty long enough already, so i think the specifics are going to have to wait for another post on another day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

when he has a bad day.

you know it's bad when:
     you have to leave in ten minutes, and he is still in bed even though you have been informing him of the time for the past half an hour. you know it takes him at least fifteen minutes to get ready. this is not a good start to the day.
how to make it worse:
     let him know that you are annoyed. passive-aggressively (but mostly aggressively) inform him that you are not going to play this game today and he needs to get out of bed right now. sigh and stomp around as he tells you not to yell at him and stays in bed another five minutes.
how to make it better:
     instead of being mad that he is going to make you late, do whatever you can to help him to speed up his morning. make his protein shake for him. grab a granola bar for him to eat in the car. apologize for getting upset earlier. tell him you love him.

you know it's bad when:
     he gets discouraged just thinking about thinking about making a decision about what to do about financial planning, retirement savings, life insurance, budgeting, etc.
how to make it worse:
     remind him that he has had the past two-plus weeks to think about this, so why did he put it off until the last moment possible? in fact, why does he put everything off until the last possible moment? doesnt he know how stressed out this makes you? (i didnt say this, but i did think it)
how to make it better:
     offer to update the budget, which you have been meaning to do all month anyway. that way, at least the first step is done and he will have a better base point to work from. tell him you love him.

you know it's bad when:
      he is getting visibly and physically frustrated with attempting to take the christmas tree out of its base.
how to make it worse:
      jump in to help. when he snaps at you, snap right back. backhandedly offer to clean out the base to put it away. end up covered in sap, bleeding, and ugly crying at yourself in the bathroom mirror.
how to make it better:
      i dont really know. i didnt do so hot with this one. it was just bad all around.

you know it's bad when:
     he said he was going to take a nap, but instead has been puttering around the house all day working on little projects in a big sigh-y funk.
how to make it worse:
     once he takes your not-so-subtle hint that a nap might actually be a good idea, (tip: say something like "why dont you just take a stupid nap already" in your most obnoxious voice) be annoyed that he is napping. decide to make as much noise as possible in and around the room that he decided to nap in, just to let him know you are annoyed.
how to make it better:
     the laundry can wait. you didnt really need to slam those books onto their shelf. and the vaccuum? really? stop making so much unneccesary noise. offer to turn off the lights for a more nap-friendly environment. pick a quiet activity to do for the next half an hour or so until he wakes up.

you know it's bad when:
     you go out to dinner (his suggestion) and he just sits silently across the table from you.
how to make it worse:
     ask him a string of random questions in an effort to spark a conversation. be sure to include "whatcha thinking?" "are you ok?" and "how's your dinner?" be disappointed in the one-word answers that are provided.
how to make it better:
     tell him to ask you a question. do not freak out when he busts out a big-deal question instead of the 'whats your favorite color'-type question you were anticipating. answer honestly. ask him a related question. be amazed at the quality conversation that ensues.

i dont really know why i feel the need to share this story. it was a really ugly day at our house - not exactly something that i'm proud of. then again, maybe thats exactly why i feel like sharing it. because we are far from perfect. and yet, here we are. two imperfect sinners brought together by the grace of God to navigate this life as a team. and sometimes bad days just happen and there's nothing you can do to avoid them completely. blame it on hormones, or stress, or the phase of the moon, but the truth is that without God all our days would be this bad or worse.

the tail end of the full moon that turned my hubs into a werewolf.

 there is no fool-proof ten-step program to successfully dealing with days like these. but thankfully, God gives us grace upon grace when we are less than graceful. and also: beautiful, brand new ,blank-slate mornings.

the sunrise opposite the moon.
 "...those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy."
Psalm 65:8

Monday, January 28, 2013

meal plan monday: jan 28.

i am sick of meal planning. yes, i recognize its benefits and i appreciate the stress it alleviates in my life. and yet, at least in its current format, i am so over it. its boring. its bland. and i've lost some really good recipes in my archives that i'm just too lazy to scroll back through every time i want to find a specific recipe. i think its time for a change.

but i'm not there yet. i'm not sure what should change or how to best implement said change. and so until i figure those things out, here's another lame-old meal plan for this week just so i can go to the grocery store with a plan so Mark can stop scrounging around the cupboards trying to find something to eat.

Monday: taco night.
Tuesday: soup from a can.
Wednesday: crock pot roast and veggies.
Thursday: fish, rice, and a veggie.
Friday: grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Saturday: grilled chicken penne pesto pasta with roasted asparagus.
Sunday: Super Bowl deliciosity.

if anyone has any suggestions for how i could change up my meal planning process so that i dont just give up on it, pleasepleaseplease let me know!

Friday, January 25, 2013

daffodils dont understand thermometers.

like guys - do you not realize that we are dealing with single digits this week? if you have the option, why not stay down in the warm ground until we at least get up to a reasonable temperature out here? i mean, i'm all for bringing on spring, but this just seems a little extreme. winter has barely just begun! they're calling for snow tonight! and are you prepared to deal with that? i sure hope so. because you're so very pretty when you bloom.

and yes, because i know you're wondering, TWO cars drove by while i was crouched at the end of my driveway taking pictures of the ground around my mailbox like some sort of crazy lady. the things i do for you guys...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

mark's first "small" project of the year.

if i were a "real" home improvement blogger, i would be splitting this project into bite-sized, pinnable, tutorial-type posts. they would be titled things like:
"removing a warped fireplace mantel,"
"the most complicated way to hide all those obnoxious tv wires,"
"mounting a tv into brick: must-have tips and tools."
but instead, i'm just going to throw a bunch of pictures and some rambling words in the general direction of a coherent post because thats the way i roll, yo.
just as a reminder, this is our fireplace. in the two-plus years we have lived here, we have spraypainted over the 80's gold surround, and upgraded the molding and trim all around it. tucked away at the very bottom of our maybe-someday-fireplace-to-do-list were ideas i had about replacing the warped wood mantel, maybe painting the brick, and mounting a tv in that prime tv-mounting space.


mark was not 100% on board with all of these ideas. he liked the wood mantel. (so did i, but it was hard to put anything on the left side of it without it sliding off) he thought painting the brick might not actually be good for resale value. and he didnt think we needed a big tv taking away the focus in this room from the fireplace.

fast forward to this Christmas, when he had apparently finally had enough of attempting to see the score of the baseball and football games on the tiny 12-inch screen we were working with since April. enter a 40" hdtv and a blu-ray player. because why not. Merry Christmas to us!

i tried to convince him to wait until after the holidays to start this project. i think he made it 4 days after Christmas before he started in on his first long weekend of work. first up: electrical.

to keep all the wiring hidden, it was going to have to be run through the walls. by only cutting the drywall behind the baseboards, mark opened up enough space to work with, but didnt have to worry about any additional drywall work or touch up painting when it came time to put it all back together again.

since he is an overachiever, he decided to add a new circuit to the breaker that is dedicated to the upstairs entertainment area. there are two new outlets on this circuit that he added. his headlamp came in very handy for this part of the job.

next up: removing the old mantel. we were hoping to remove it in one big piece, since it was such a nice thick chunk of wood we figured we could reuse it somehow. but all the prybars and screwdrivers in the world would not make it budge. so mark broke out the handsaw. and a couple strokes in, the mantel just popped right off the old glue that was holding it on. in one nice big piece. with a nice big sawcut in it.

mark scraped all of the old glue off of the brick to prep the surface for the new mantel he was building.  oh, did i not mention that mark was building the new mantel? because he did. it was all part of his master plan for concealing all the wiring.

he started by drilling a hole through the bottom piece of the mantel and into the brick. this gave the mantel a definite centerpoint that made trying it on at different stages in the building process to check measurements were always the same, since that one hole could be lined up by sticking a drill bit in it.

and then, mark built a mantel. i dont have a lot of technical details about the how-to of this, but i know it involved some wood, some glue, and a nail gun. forgive me, i was much to busy being a giant sloth-ball on the couch and reading my way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which i have since finished! what a good story!) you're pretty lucky i took breaks at all to take a couple pictures of the progress mark was making.

if the angle of these pictures looks similar, its probably because i didnt really bother to move from my super comfy setup on the couch. ever. but this gives you kind of an idea of how this thing is built. like a big, long, hollow box that wraps around the side of the brick, with intermediate supports to keep it all in shape.

the top piece is the only part of the box that is not connected. yup, it just sits there. there was talk of velcro or magnets to hold it in place, but it turns out it works just fine without that extra bit of planning or hassle. it had to be removable so that the wiring inside it can be accessed if the need should ever arise.

once the mantel was all built and painted and attached to the brick with three giant masonry screws, there was still a little more wiring to do. mark added an outlet box inside the mantel along with a surge protector power strip for the tv. since the mantel is hollow, all the wires can run inside of it, and then down through the wall to the other new outlet under the window without ever being seen. its really pretty slick.

the last step in the project was to actually mount the tv to the brick. we toyed with the idea of just sitting it on the mantel, but ultimately decided it would look more sleek, be able to be tilted for a better viewing experience from the couch, and leave the mantel more open if it were mounted. so mark, armed with a borrowed hammer drill, did just that.

and there you have it! with just over two weekends worth of work, we have a new mantel and upstairs tv!

we celebrated the end of the project and tested the picture quality of the tv by watching the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy over the course of a week. (we watched them mostly on the weeknights, half-a-movie at a time.) the verdict? they were good. i liked the books better. i can cross it off my list! mark liked being able to finally watch them with me, and is in love with the upgraded technology and actually being able to read the score of the football games.

since i took that last picture, the cable guy has come and gone, the wires have all been safely stashed either in the mantel or behind the walls, and the walls and baseboards have all been reattached. there's just one more tiny piece of wire-concealing that needs to be taken care of, and then this "small" project will be finished just in time for mark to move onto his next one.

Monday, January 21, 2013

meal plan monday: jan 21.

thanks to Meg, i think i might have found my new favorite way to cook fish!

this whole "fish in a disposable packet" thing made for super easy prep and cleanup, and the fish and veggies were delicious. even Mark, who is not a huge veggie eater, said that he really liked these ones, and ate them all. (it might have helped that i seasoned then with old bay)

this week, i'm not trying anything new. just a string of tried-and-true favorites with a date night thrown into the mix just to keep life fresh and exciting!

Monday: turkey burgers. (recipe)
Tuesday: pasta in vodka sauce.
Wednesday: crock pot chili. (recipe)
Thursday: tilapia with rice and a veggie.
Friday: date night!
Saturday: taco night.
Sunday: soup from a can.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

just a dash.

my sister didnt believe that it was possible to buy fresh cilantro by the quarter-ounce. before tuesday, i didnt know this was possible either. i thought it only came by the bunch and i was doomed to either plan tons of recipes in a row that all used cilantro, or end up throwing away the majority of the fresh herbs i bought because i couldnt use them all in time.

well, overabundant herbs beware! you are no match for my grocery store skillz and single-serving cilantro! you doubt? a demonstration!

more convenient? yes. more expensive? also yes. i'm thinking that the ultimate solution to my fresh-herb conundrum might involve trying my hand again at growing an herb garden and praying that my black thumb doesnt doom it to being a pile of dead sticks like the oregano...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

snow bunny.

its been two years since i have been on skis. before that, it had been YEARS since i willingly strapped my feet into silly boots attached to matchsticks and threw myself haphazardly down snow-covered mountains. (i was in middle school and obviously invincible) my most recent excursion on the slopes, while it was a lot of fun, lasted just a few hours and ended with burning thighs, frustrated tears, and many many spectacular wipeouts.

i'm what you could call not-very-good-at-skiing.

so when my in-laws proposed a long weekend ski-trip, i was a little nervous. ok i lie. i was borderline terrified. i didnt know what to expect, or what to do, or what to PACK. i stressed for at least a week leading up to the trip. but eventually i figured i could maybe spend a couple hours on the slopes, and then hunker down with a good book and a giant mug of hot chocolate in front of a roaring fireplace somewhere in the lodge and wait out the rest of the weekend. the hubs would be able to ski to his hearts content, and i wouldn't be at risk for any broken bones. it would be wonderful, relaxing, and fun for everyone.

so imagine my surprise when on the afternoon of my first day on the mountain, not only was i still skiing, but i found myself here:

the camera adds 10 pounds, and the winter coat adds another 30.  

that is the top of a black diamond. for those not fluent in ski-speak, a black diamond is one of the toughest designations a trail can recieve. see that thing that appears to be a sheer drop-off behind us? that's exactly what it is. i had my sister-in-law take this picture of us just in case i never made it to the bottom.

and then, i skiied right off the edge of that mountain. and amazingly, i made it to the bottom. upright. no flailing, no falling, no having to embarrassingly gather my skis and poles from all over the mountainside while everyone on the lift laughed at me. we were all equally surprised and impressed.

and then i did it again.

by the end of the trip, i was the one convincing Mark to stay out on the slopes a little longer, saying things like "let's just do this black diamond two more times before we head in for the day." for serious. ask him. i couldn't make this up if i tried.

there were no tears the entire weekend. i only wiped out twice, and my skis stayed on both times. i really only lost control twice and a half other times. and thanks to an afternoon rain shower on the second day, i also had plenty of time for hot chocolate, reading, "racquetball," swimming, and chillaxin' in the hot tub. my only regret is that i never found that roaring fireplace.

so what's the deal? why the sudden big difference in my skiing abilities after a two year hiatus? i honestly have no idea. my best guess is magic. or aliens. (or p90x) but whatever the reason, i'm thankful for it. because all my fears and nervousness and stress about this long ski weekend turned out to all be unfounded. i spent a wonderful, relaxing, fun winter vacation with my husband and his family, and i'm kind of excited to do it again sometime. if only to see whether or not this whole trip was just a fluke.

and in case it is, i'll be sure to bring a good book to enjoy by the fire.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

meal plan (tues)day: jan 15.

no worries mom, we ARE eating this week.

it just turns out that the monday after a 4-day vacation weekend has the tendency to be a little full - what with the bags to unpack, laundry to do, and you know that whole actually going to work thing, i didnt quite make it around to meal planning the entire week yesterday. instead, i made just enough of a plan to make it through dinnertime, and then i sat down on the couch with the hubs and watched the second half of the Two Towers.

priorities: i obviously have them.

Monday: penne with meat sauce.
Tuesday: soup from a can.
Wednesday: crock pot chicken tacos. (recipe)-ish
Thursday: citrus herb chicken with rice.
Friday: Meg's fish packets. (recipe)
Saturday: turkey burgers. (recipe)
Sunday: pasta in vodka sauce (jar sauce, that is)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

cubicle buddy.

say hello to my little friend.

he hangs out on the plant that hangs in the corner of my cube directly behind my desk chair. he's been there just like that for a full week. i can't decide if he's the kind of friend that's got my back, or the kind that's just hanging around and waiting for the opportune time to stab me in the back. 


i'm not really sure i want to find out.

Monday, January 7, 2013

meal plan monday: jan 7.

i think this might be the easiest week i have ever had the pleasure to meal plan, since we're taking a post-holiday mini-vacation this week/weekend. you know, it turns out we really liked the three-day-work-week-paired-with-a-four-day-weekend combo, and we decided that two in a row we got for Christmas and New Years just didnt quite cut it. so we're heading out right after work on wednesday, and not coming home until sometime sunday, which means i only have two dinners to really plan. no leftovers needed. minimal grocery shopping to be done. this is the LIFE, y'all!

so the good news is that meal planning and grocery shopping are officially non-stressors this week. unfortunately, the bad news is that they have more than been replaced with the terror that is packing. ugh.

Monday: fish, rice, and a veggie.
Tuesday: grilled cheese with tomato soup. (finally the last day of p90x!)
Wednesday - Saturday: skiing with the in-laws.
Sunday: soup from a can.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

a new year of non-resolutions.

well, here we are in a brand new year. brand-spankin'-new. nothing on the calendar but pure, unadulturated potential. this year could be anything and everything. i am so excited.

it turns out i really liked the way i handled resolutions last year: as non-resolutions. just a list of random things that i thought i might like to do. so i made a new list for this year. since this is the year that will go down in history as the one in which i turned the big two-six, there are twenty-six things on my list. these are not the only things that i hope to do in 2013, but they are the first ones that popped in my head and got written down.

several of the items on this year's list are leftovers from last year's list that didn't get done in 2012, but are things that i would still like to do. some are big and will take all year. some are smaller and should be pretty simple. i could probably sort them into categories like personal, professional, home, and health. or take time to prioritize them and put them in some sort of order. but i'm not going to. so here they are all a-jumble: just the way i like them. 

run a 5k. have pretty flower beds. finish reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy & watch the movies with the hubs. go skiing. get real curtains on my windows. have regular personal time with God. ride my bike. a lot. maintain my weight. finish Mansfield Park. read more non-fiction books. clean out my closet. make my marriage a priority. go to the dentist. close my other bank account. put new music on my iPod. go to Wyoming. apply for the PE exam. organize the craft corner. do a pull up. take more pictures of me and Mark together. finish Mark's quilt. get a sewing machine. go to the beach. split the guest room back into two. implement a new budget. try at least one new healthy recipe per month.

so here we go - new year, new list, all awesome.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

meal plan monday: dec 31.

ok yes. today is jan 1. i know that. Happy New Year! i'm just a day behind this week - i made my meal plan for the week yesterday, but then i was too busy getting completely sucked into the Lord of the Rings trilogy to type it up and post it.

yes, really.

i am on chapter 5 and one page of Book 1 of the Two Towers. (the Ents are on the move!) i started the trilogy at the end of last week. it took me a little over 2 days to finish the Fellowship of the Ring. and then i moved right on to the next book.

Mark is very impressed. and also very gracious, since he is using his extra time off work to do super productive things like build a new mantel and upstairs entertainment center while i sit on the couch in my pajamas and ask him random questions that he refuses to answer like "hey is Tom Bombadil a bad guy?" and yell out exclamations like "well like DUH - i knew like a month ago that Gollum was following you" and "ugh i can't believe you are so dumb FRODO."

i am an awesome wife.

but hey, i did manage to get dressed in real clothes yesterday and go to the grocery store. a very productive day indeed.

Monday: TWO new years eve parties. so much food!
Tuesday: tilapia, rice, and a veggie.
Wednesday: citrus herb chicken, rice, and a veggie.
Thursday: crock pot chicken enchilada soup. (recipe)
Friday: lazy lasagna.
Saturday: dinner with the Hippler's.
Sunday: breakfast for dinner.