Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Quick Update with Pictures

Guys, sorry that it's been awhile since I've written a post (though I'm sure everyone is used to it by now ha ha).  Work has been totally turnt up the last 2-3 weeks which is great, grand and wonderful overall, it's just a big adjustment since I doubled my workload so I'm trying to balance things.  I feel like I don't have time to blog or to work on my music project, both of which are important to me so I'm stressing about it.  I've been a bit overwhelmed lately and feeling like I bit off more than I can chew.  Ultimately it's a good thing to be out of my comfort zone and to push myself, I've just got to force myself to get organized so I can fit in everything in my life.

ANYWAYS, I thought I'd just do some quick updates with photos!

1.  It's cherry blossom season in Oregon!  

Despite the crappy weather, we got out this weekend and enjoyed the cherry blossoms that were blooming alongside the riverfront in Portland.  It seems all of Portland had the same idea, it was crazy busy!  We also creeped on a couple who were getting their pictures taken under the trees.  The bride had the most beautiful dress!  I'm sure their pictures came out really amazing.

2.  So far so good with the foundation free challenge for April

Going without makeup is SUPER weird but I'm getting used to it slowly.  Shockingly, the world has not crumbled nor has anyone said anything to me about it.  I have to admit that it's nice to have one less thing to do in the mornings, and it's also cut down on my skin routine at night since I'm not having to really work to get makeup off my face.

3.  Molly turned 9 on Wednesday!

I can't believe how much time has passed, but we celebrated Molly turning 9 last Wednesday.  As is tradition we had a little "party" for her (really just a photo op with party hats)  I made her little oatmeal banana cupcakes with melted peanut butter as the frosting.  We sang to her, she jumped up and almost pushed a lit candle into my face, then she proceeded to swallow the cupcake whole and almost choke.  You know, a basic evening at our house.

4.  I can officially raise my game with strength training

So my highest set of dumbbells are a pair of 15 pounders, and I have slowly come to the point where I've outgrown 30 pounds for many of the exercises I do, especially lower body ones.  I'm able to pretty easily do 30 pounds for certain upper body exercises too such as chest presses, closed rows and those types of things.  While I'm not trying to turn into She-ra, I do want to push my strength capabilities a little.  I started pricing out dumbbells and realized that if I am going to keep progressing that I might want to instead invest in some adjustable dumbbells, specifically Powerblocks.  Powerblocks are not cheap, but ultimately continuing to buy weights up to 50 pounds was not only more expensive, but was going to cause an issue with space in our house. (It's already ridiculous!)  I started saving up the money little by little to purchase the set I wanted that goes up to 50 pounds per hand, but it was definitely going to take me a bit to get them.

Eric surprised me last week with an Amazon gift card for half the amount of the weights, basically telling me that he was proud of me, wanted to support me and wanted me to have the weights I wanted sooner.  I was totally blown away by that, it came out of nowhere!!  I was additionally excited because I'd already saved up half of what I needed to get my weights, so I was able to order them on the spot.  They came in yesterday and I just about peed myself when we drove up to the house and saw them sitting on our stoop!  They are even cooler in person than I'd imagined!

I don't foresee wanting to lift heavier than this, so these weights are going to be the only ones I need for a very, very long time.  I am so thankful that no matter what, Eric always has my back and supports me.  Some men are weird about women who lift, so I'm happy to be with someone who not only supports me, but pushes me!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Foundation Free April

Today's post is going to be girly and talking about makeup/skin stuff, so if any guys happen to be reading this today, sorry!

So I am very self conscious about my face because I have some pretty big pores and also have mild rosacea, so my cheeks and chin are always a bit red.  I've always treated my face pretty horribly (not removing makeup really, not wearing sunscreen or really any moisturizer), and to be honest I think it was part of my low self esteem when I was heavier.  As my weight has dropped I've had more and more urges to take care of other aspects of my appearance, and I've really committed to taking better care of my skin for the last 7 months or so.  I have a set routine both in the mornings and evenings, wear sunscreen daily and have been really, really good about removing my makeup at night.  This is pretty huge for me and while I don't want a head pat for basic adulting, I'm pretty proud for sticking to a skincare routine for the first time ever.  I am not a girly girl really, so forcing myself to take the time to "foo-foo" as my mom calls it goes against my nature.  As a result of my routine though the redness has lessened some and my skin doesn't feel tight anymore because it's actually moisturized!  I've also started getting carded again a bit more, which feeds my vanity and encourages me to keep doing my routine!  

I decided to take things a step further and do a new goal that's a bit scary (or a bit scary as a lady anyways!) and that's to try to go makeup free* for the month of April.  (*I will likely still wear mascara during the week since that isn't contributing to my skin issues, and since my eyes are something I like to highlight.  I don't wear lipstick or gloss anymore anyways, so I'll just stick with my SPF balm.)  I know this is a very frivolous thing to have as a goal, but it is a bit of a stretch goal for me since I am so self conscious about the redness in my face.  I don't want to show up to work looking like I crawled out of Mordor, but my skin has some issues that I think are related to wearing foundation and  I just have the feeling if I just bit the bullet and went without foundation for awhile that my skin would improve gradually.  I always notice my skin looks happiest by the end of Sunday when I've been makeup free all weekend.

It will be kind of scary to go without makeup, I know that sounds vapid and silly, but women are conditioned from birth that you don't look "put together" without it, and I'm no different.  I don't really care on the weekends when I'm just running around locally, but work will be challenging.  You just have these thoughts of wondering if people will think something is wrong with you, if you'll be treated differently at work, all kinds of craziness that will likely not happen.  I just keep telling myself that I'm still the same person, still kick ass at my job and that the state of the world won't crumble if I don't wear makeup!  At the end of the day I have red cheeks, it's not like I'm the Elephant Man, so I think doing an experiment like this will be a good reminder of that.  Also, ironically April is Rosacea Awareness Month!  I didn't pick April as a challenge month knowing that, so it seems a bit like fate.

I picked up a couple of different products that vary from my normal skin routine, basically more geared towards sensitive skin.  I'll have to post updates (and of course selfies) on how things go!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Physical Fitness Test: Round 2

Fitness Blender suggests you do a physical fitness test before certain programs of theirs, just so that you can measure your progress from the beginning vs. the end.  You do a timed mile, see how many squats you can do, how long you can hold a static plank, how many push ups you can do, and how far you can reach past your heels.  I did one last year at the beginning and end of FB Fit, so I was definitely curious to see what my numbers have been since I've completed several of their programs since then.

So I'd kept quiet about this, but recently I've had pangs about running,.  I've waffled that maybe I could start running casually again now that I'm lighter, do a race and see how it would be getting back into it.  I almost signed up for the Flying Pig 5k, and there have been races here and there here in Portland I have toyed with signing up for, but stopped because of the prices.  (almost $100 for a half marathon??  Seriously?)  I figured that the timed mile would be a good way to put a toe into the pool as it were.  Let's just say that my timed mile threw a bucket of ice water on all these "oh, maybe it would be fun to start running again" designs.  About 5 steps in I was immediately like, "yep, still hate this."  It's the craziest thing to me, I did a damn marathon yet running this one mile mentally felt like torture.  Every bad feeling about it came flooding back.

Physically it was okay during.  I really should have warmed up before I got out there since we had just gotten home from work and I'd been sitting all day, but I was trying to dodge a storm (made it back in the nick of time), and honestly just wanted to get it over with.  I am so salty about my time though because I was able to hit 10:02 back in June the last time I did a PFT, but this time I finished in 10:25.  It's not like it's vastly different, it's still a sub-11 which for me is pretty fast.  But I expected to at least be at the same level as the last test since I'm lighter and have pretty consistently worked out.  We can speculate that maybe I'd have hit 10:02 or better if I'd been more warmed up, but the fact of the matter is that I didn't.  Anyway, today I woke up with the very familiar pains I get from running, and it just reminded me how much I hurt ALL of the time when I used running as my primary exercise.  From sore feet to achy knee joints to a pissy aductor muscle, it all came flooding back.  I have sore muscles here and there with strength training, but I never hurt now the way I used to.  I think it's safe to say that my running days are over unless I am doing another PFT or being chased by a murderer.

As for the rest of my numbers...I'm not that happy with them.  I mean I didn't go into it thinking that I was going to have superhero level fitness, but I just expected a bit more from myself than what happened.  Again we can speculate whether being tired from the workday and not warmed up affected me, but I just felt a bit disappointed regardless.  The only 4 extra squats I achieved this time probably was the most surprising, especially since I love leg workouts the most and feel the strongest doing those.  I was only 10 seconds better on the plank and I am so pissed and annoyed about the push ups.  Push ups are the one thing that I just cannot seem to improve upon, any time I have to do them in a workout I feel as weak as I did day one.  To be honest, I don't go out of my way to work on them, but I've made pretty significant improvements when it comes to strength training my upper body so  I just thought I'd be a bit stronger and be able to at least do more than 15.  I know I need to quit being a titty baby about it and just simply do push ups regularly to try to improve it.

I know I should be more positive, improvements are improvements, I just really wanted to do better!  Hopefully at the end of the 4 weeks I can do a bit more.

I did my first FB Sweat workout today and it was brutal!  It was a lower body one (I was thankful for that since my arms were still sore from the damn push ups, ridiculous) and my legs were definitely singing to me afterwards!

I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thinner Thursday

Previous Weight: 183.2
Current Weight:  182 pounds
Difference: 1.2 pound loss

I am so grateful that my bad week last week/Sunday binge didn't do a ton of damage.  This week has been much better than last, I feel a bit more like myself again!  I don't know if I'm recovering a bit still, but I find that unlike last week, now I'm not really hungry much at all.  Bodies are so weird, I literally never could feel full last week despite eating horribly and often, this week is the opposite.  I've somewhat tried to honor that, mainly by skipping/delaying breakfast or just having something really light.  I usually am starving by the time we leave work, but I've been fine until dinner this past week.

I've also committed to my workouts again this week and have been trying to push myself as much as I can.  It's been fun just kind of free styling a schedule this week before I start a new structured program.  On Saturday I start a new program called FB Sweat, which is much more geared towards fat loss than it is lifting.  Strength training will still be involved in the workouts I imagine, but I think I can expect a lot more HIIT and cardio.  I do love strength training more than I do HIIT, but I feel like it's good to mix things up and make sure that I'm keeping up with my endurance and flexibility as well as strength.  I'm likely going to do my fitness test tomorrow, so it will actually be interesting to compare that one to the one that I did back in June, because I've continued to do various FB workouts without continued fitness tests to compare my progress.

That's really all I have for now, sorry for the short post.  This week has been crazy!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Entering the Confessional

So, I had a bad binge last night.

Binges are thankfully very few and far between for me now, but there are tell tale signs when I'm in the "danger zone" (1. I hate myself for typing that, 2. Do I have to give Kenny Loggins residuals?)  I felt it coming all last week, just these feelings of being out of control and anxious that I could not get past.  A lot is changing for me at work, and while it's ultimately all good and something I wanted, it's this big shift and very nerve wracking.  There was also a lot of stuff that was disruptive to our normal routine that just had me feeling like I was flailing all week.  These feelings were just building all week until I binged on Sunday.  What was to be an evening of being super productive, prepping meals and some other household stuff that needed to be done turned into an evening of feeling really sick and gross.  I'm very disappointed in myself.  I knew deep in my heart that the "break" I was giving myself last week on eating and exercising didn't feel right.  Even in writing my last post "I was like, you're BSing yourself girl", yet I didn't listen to myself..  Ultimately, it's a good reminder that one is never safe or out of the woods in this journey.  You will fail and do an emotional face plant about a million times.  All you can do is keep getting back up and walking forward.  Yes it's exhausting as hell, but is there any other option really?

I am moving forward and took steps to get back on track today, starting by confessing to Eric what I'd done last night (he was gone when it happened).  It's not like he's my keeper or my judge and jury, but the worst part about binge eating is the secretiveness of it.  The binging in secret and then being ashamed in secret turns into a vicious cycle.  I find that saying, "I'm not proud of this, but this happened" to someone I trust helps break the cycle for me.  He of course was supportive as always, but also gently called me out on the fact that I didn't work out all last week, and that I should get back to it this week since it helps so much with my stress levels and emotions.  And he's right, I'm always so mad at myself when I don't work out because I feel so good when I do!  Forcing myself to do my workouts usually recalibrates my brain and could have possibly prevented the binge.  I'm glad that we're at a point in our relationship where he can call me out on these things and be loving while also not enabling me.  I rescheduled my new Fitness Blender program to start this Saturday (I was supposed to start it this weekend), and loaded my calendar this week with old favorites that I know I'll be enthusiastic about.

I ate way less today, not from a self punishment standpoint, but I honestly just didn't feel well physically due to the binge last night so I listened to that and respected it.  I wasn't even hungry until 10:30, so I ate a banana as a late breakfast.  Lunch was an English muffin with peanut butter and a clementine.  Otherwise it's back to normal, and I do have our weekly menu planned/the groceries bought, so I'll be able to jump right back into it.  Tonight we're having chicken noodle soup with vegetables, so I'm pretty enthused for that.  I'm actually making homemade stock, so it should be extra tasty and also a nice gentle thing to eat.  The only good thing about this rotten weather is that it's still cold enough for soup!

I also took steps to get organized and feel in control at work.  I've got a lot of new job duties (and VP eyeballs on me) compared to before, so last week I was totally freaking out trying to get my ish together and worrying about screwing up.  I came in today and right away made to do lists and assigned specific blocks of time for specific tasks instead of frantically trying to juggle everything at once.  I couldn't believe what a difference it made to my day today and how much better I felt.  It seems so simple and stupid, but sometimes these things are hindsight.  Being organized and strict is not my strong suit as you guys know, but I am doing my best to work on that!  It will definitely help me in the long run for work.

Anyway guys, thanks for hanging with me.  It feels good to be honest about things and put it out there.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thinner Thursday

Previous Weight:  181.2
Current Weight:  183.2
Difference: 2 pound gain

I was expecting that one this week.  It's been a weird week to be honest, I don't know if it's the daylight savings thing or the weather we've been getting but for the first time in awhile I've had a week where I am "down" and utterly unmotivated.  I actually took all of this week off from working out and have also felt like I'm constantly hungry for absolutely no reason, so my eating habits have been off.  Usually I have one snack a day devoted to whatever extra thing I want after dinner, but this week I've wanted to eat constantly.  It's very weird.

Part of me feels supremely guilty about it because I don't want to backslide.  I think the line between "I need a break" and "I'm making excuses and slacking off" is very thin, and I don't want to cross it.  At the same time, I'm trying to build trust within myself so that I can tell when I'm bullshitting myself and when I actually do need a break, and I really felt I just needed to take a few days off.  We've had a really busy week on both a work and a social obligation front, and I was also pretty physically wiped out from a yard project on Sunday, so I feel taking a break was needed.  I have a new Fitness Blender program starting Saturday, so it will be good to start something fresh and just get right back to normal.  Ultimately I think I'm just having a bad week, as humans are prone to do!

I really do think the weather has contributed a bit to my slump this week.  I like living in Oregon most of the time, but the rain can be really draining emotionally after a certain point, and we've had a really awful winter.  Besides the ice nonsense, it's rained nonstop and we've broken every existing record for rainfall that existed!  I read an article yesterday that in 5.5 months, we've reached the rainfall levels we normally get in a year.  I definitely believe it.  I used to kind of be depressed about summer and heat, but the last couple of years things have shifted for me, and I'm really becoming down during the winter and spring.  I didn't realize how much until we went to LA and I got some sun and felt so energetic!  The constant rain and grey skies definitely take a toll.  I really should get one of those happy lamps for my desk!  I take Vitamin D but sometimes wonder if it even does anything!  Thankfully we are getting a couple days of nice weather this weekend, so I should be able to finish up my yard project and soak up some sun.

Sunday I did a complete overhaul of our backyard all by my lonesome, and it was crazy but desperately needed.  I should have taken some pictures of the before and after, but basically I ripped up some garden boxes and rearranged things in the yard to have a much more low maintenance setup.  I used to grow a lot of vegetables but as any gardener knows, that's tons of work!  If I had the right setup I'd be more into it,l but my backyard is not only tiny but it gets punished by the sun in the summer, so my vegetables often ended up burned and stressed because I couldn't keep up with the water they needed.  We also have tons of slugs, so the bastards would eat about half the things I planted if the cabbage moths didn't land on it and lay their gross eggs first.  The last few years I've shifted to just having an herb garden and also hardy flowers like lavender and salvia, and it's worked out much better.  Not only does it require less water but I'm constantly using herbs for cooking, so it's very economical to have a huge bed dedicated to just that.  The flowers have resulted in a lot of honey bees and hummingbirds visiting the yard too, so that's fun!  I'm pretty passionate about honeybee conservation, so anything I can do to help the poor things out feels good.

ANYWAY, basically Sunday was rearranging my yard in order to better fit the goal of just keeping flowers, cleaning up things, and giving Molly more room to wander.  I'm pretty excited because I also took the existing garden boxes and turned them into one super tall box, so now I won't have to crouch to tend to my herbs!  I worked out there for probably 4 hours or so.  It was brutal, but I will say that the strength training I've done over the past year made the aftermath night and day for me.  Normally yard work would pretty much ruin me for a week, especially my lower back, but I woke up on Monday slightly sore but otherwise okay.  It was definitely draining, make no mistake, but at least I wasn't crippled.  I still have more to do this week, I have to buy barkdust to recover the yard, and also I need to buy new herbs for my bed since the ice storm killed everything except for my very stubborn rosemary.  (Bless that plant, I'm convinced that it's too mean to die).  I plan on getting mainly parsley, chives and cilantro since that's what I use the most of.  I also ordered a ton of sunflower seeds to plant, hopefully despite the stupid squirrels thieving them and Molly stomping around like Godzilla destroying Tokyo, I can get at least a few to grow!  Every year I plant sunflowers and only seem to be able to get one to grow thanks to all of the rascally animals I'm surrounded with!

It actually makes me look forward to summer.  I can't wait for everything to start blooming because I miss seeing my little hummingbirds everyday, and miss sitting outside and reading!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Catch Up

Much like Joe Walsh, life has been pretty good to me lately.  Things have settled into a comfortable groove and routine, and I'm enjoying the calm.  Life is less busy on the concert and travel front (though picking up a bit this year) due to finances, but that's okay honestly.  Here's just a snippet of what's going on in our world (forgive the stream of consciousness!):


This July will be my two year anniversary of working at my new job, which is so hard to believe!  Like any job it has its pluses and minuses, but overall I'm really happy here and can't complain!  From a health/stress standpoint, there is no comparison to where I was, so I'm really grateful for that.  Having an actual work/life balance while also being appreciated as is is pretty amazing!  I recently pushed to be involved with a project here dealing with social media, and found out a couple weeks ago that I will not only be involved with the project but will be eventually taking it over!  I don't have "career" designs in the sense of "I want to be X when I grow up", but I've been interested in my career shifting towards social media for a bit, so this development is pretty cool for me.


July will also be my two year anniversary of volunteering at the dog shelter, which definitely blows my mind!  It's been a really unexpected joy in my life and made me feel like I'm actually doing good in the world.  When I initially volunteered I worried that it would be a sad or negative experience, but it's been the opposite.  I have seen some upsetting things like bait dogs, abuse cases, etc, and have also dealt with some difficult dogs, but being able to help show them kindness/affection and teach them good behaviors has actually been overwhelmingly positive as opposed to negative.  Ultimately we're helping them have a better life and find loving homes, so I feel really good about what we do at the end of the day!  Our shelter moves dogs in and out pretty quickly (they are no kill thank goodness), so I have a constant parade of different dogs in my life.  I always come home with an entertaining story and of course selfies!

Smokey, master of the sneak attack kiss.

Helen, aka Batdog
Luke, a total bro.

My own crazy dog Molly is still doing great.  She is getting to be an old girl (9 this month!), I can't believe how much grey she has in her face now.  Next month will be 4 years since we adopted her, yet another "how the time flies" milestone.  Personality wise she is still the same demanding diva, like when she pouts and sulks over things like us not feeding her 2 hours ahead of schedule.  Like legitimately turns her back on us (while cutting her eyes back to make sure you're noticing the tantrum) sulking:

But she's pretty and knows when to turn on the charm, so she gets away with it.


Eric is still doing great, he's still the same hardest working man in matrimony as always!  I've been so proud of him, he has his own side project related to the Rock Hall, basically a music and Rock Hall analysis blog, and it's really taken off.  He's even been mentioned by the music writer in the Cleveland Plain Dealer!  He's really kind of chipped away and shouldered his way into that world, and I'm so proud!  He's a better writer than I'll ever be, so I love reading his stuff.  I've never seen anyone so passionate and knowledgeable about music, so it's wonderful watching him do something he loves.

We are celebrating 10 years of marriage in May, and I know I keep saying "oh I can't believe [insert event]" but it really is crazy that 10 years have passed and even crazier that someone has put up with my shenanigans for that long!  I told you guys he was the hardest working man in matrimony!  Seriously though, he's pretty awesome and I'm very lucky.


So travel...I've got a lot of good trips coming up this year.  We've kind of had to take a hiatus from traveling like we used to just to save money, (that's the one drawback of our new job is not being able to live like Scrooge McDuck) but it's honestly made all the stuff coming up this year all that more exciting!

May is a big month, especially because I am for the very first time meeting a group of women that I am thankful and proud to call friends.  I've talked about my Lovely Ladies group (and our love for Alan Rickman) here and there on the blog, but basically we're all fitness bloggers who kind of stumbled upon one another.  That led to a weight loss support group being created, but turned into SO much more than that.  Anyway, we have become very close and like family over the last couple of years, so we finally decided to meet in person.  A few of them are doing races at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati (including Meg who is doing the full!!) so we're all going to spend the weekend together.  I'm just part of the cheer squad, but I am so excited to finally meet the women who make my life pretty awesome on a daily basis.
At the end of May, Eric and I are headed to Chincoteague, VA for our anniversary.  When I was a little girl my grandmother gave me a series of books called "Misty of Chincoteague" about a group of wild horses on this island off the coast of Virginia.  The wonderful thing is, it's a real place and there really are wild ponies there!  I've wanted to go all of my life, so I am beyond stoked.  It just seems like a wonderful little beach town, so I can't wait for us to kayak, hike, take nature cruises and just relax!
In July we're taking a trip to Bend, Oregon, which will be pretty cool since I've never been.  It wasn't something we'd planned on really, and I'm a bit ashamed to say that the only reason we decided to take the trip was because of Molly.  July 4th is miserable hell for us every year because of fireworks and the fact that our street becomes a warzone.  To say that Molly doesn't handle it well is an understatement, and every year becomes a horrible evening of trying to console an inconsolable, panicked dog and results in a sleepless night for us.  (Usually nights plural since the rednecks around us feel the need to blow off fireworks for several days in a row.)  It upsets both of us so badly to see Molly like that and absolutely nothing works to calm her, not even sedatives.  After a miserable January between New Years Eve and election night, we decided that we had to go somewhere for July 4th in order for all of us to somewhat keep our sanity.  After some research we discovered the Bend area has very few fireworks (it's pretty much wilderness), so we decided to rent a house there for almost a week.  Despite the somewhat negative reason we originally booked the vacation, we're pretty stoked.  It's in a beautiful area with lots of nature and that type of thing around, so it will be nice to go somewhere remote to relax.  I also hope that it ends up being a helpful solution for Molly!

We'll pretty much never NOT have a pile of concerts to go to, though we did calm down considerably last year!  This year is ramping up again, we're seeing Roger Waters, Nick Cave, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Neil Diamond, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Depeche Mode.  Of course that's who we're seeing for now, someone else always manages to creep into the schedule!

Those are about all of the updates I've got.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thinner Thursday

Previous Weight:  182
Current Weight:  181.2
Difference:  0.8

Definitely no complaints this week!  I probably could have lost a bit more, but last night I was hungry and decided on a second helping of pasta, and a couple glasses of champagne, AND tiny ice cream cones from Trader Joe's.  Always a brilliant and solid move before a weigh in!

It's funny, a lot of soul searching has come up recently in our household about drinking and what our relationship is with it now.  I don't drink nearly as much as I used to, some of that is because the calorie hit isn't worth it most days, but a lot of it is that I'm starting to get negative physical reactions to it.  Lately if I have a couple drinks at night, I will wake up in full body sweats and not be able to go back to sleep for several hours.  Not fun, let me tell you!  I'm also pretty bloated and usually have a headache the next day unless I pound about a gallon of water, not to mention the poor food choices I usually make during.  In fact, I woke up this morning with a headache even though I just had 2 glasses of champagne.  Sigh. It's just made me question how worth it any of that is, and obviously makes me concerned about the health implications as well.  I don't know that I would ever stop drinking all together, but it's becoming less and less of a need/identity to me which is a very weird sensation.  It's also very difficult because we live in an area where beer and wine are an artform and a craft that the city prides itself on.  It's everywhere, you can't escape it, and it's so easy to give in to the expectation that beer/wine will be had with most meals.  Cutting back will be challenging, but I guess like anything else foodwise, you just do it and soldier on.  Anyway, a new world and thought process to explore I suppose!  Apparently I am getting old!

Speaking of health, I'm happy to report that my new doctor is pretty awesome and my appointment last Friday went well!  He was a really nice guy, had the good grace to laugh at my bad jokes, ignored that I was nervous/babbling and really listened to me.  The main thing I loved was that I felt he genuinely believed me when I was telling him what I had tried to solve my issues, including lifestyle changes.  For instance, I don't think my last doctor believed how much water I drank a day and it's like, no seriously, it's well over 100 ounces usually.  He didn't even make me feel dumb about the colon cancer study and in fact we had a really good talk about it!  At the end of the day we both decided that while the study was indeed very troubling, it was highly unlikely that I would be at risk.  At the same time he said that if I was truly stressed and it was keeping me up at night that he would absolutely order a colonoscopy be done for me.  It was just nice to have a doctor not be anti-test for once!  We both agreed that since my system did respond the FODMAP diet that it was more than likely a dietary sensitivity that needs to be figured out.

The course we're taking at the moment is him referring me to a naturopath who specializes in digestive issues.  He said not only does she do elimination diets and testing but she also does acupuncture, which is something I've actually been very curious about since some people with my issues have seen improvements from acupuncture treatments.  I am completely game for whatever at this point, even another elimination diet!  It sounds like she's pretty awesome and does things in a very prescribed way.  I need to sit down and call her and get rolling with an appointment.

The one thing that really sucked was that I was due for the TDAP vaccine, so I did go ahead and get it like the good science loving, disease hating lass I am.  But as any of you who have had the shot know, they hurt like a bastard!  I'm usually not a baby about pain, but my arm was a wreck all weekend.  Every time I rolled on it Friday night it woke me up, plus I had an upper body workout on Saturday and thought I was going to die every time I did something like chest flys!

To end on a good note, apparently my new scale IS accurate.  My weight at the doctor was 185 point something, and that was after lunch and several cups of tea.  Typically my weight bounces up about 3-5 pounds after meals so, I guess the 182 last Thursday was right.  Sorry about sounding so in disbelief about it, it's just hard to believe since I've been thinking I've been a certain weight for however many weeks, and now I'm actually closer to my goals than I thought!  I was kind of wondering because it's like, I look slimmer in certain pictures than my old scale was indicating, but I was chalking that to body recomping!  Anyways, all's well that ends well!

Tomorrow instead of a favorites thing, I may actually just talk about fun stuff.  I realized that I never talk about Molly or Eric anymore or post pictures!  I don't want to totally be robotic and talk about numbers and this that and the other all the time, so I may play fun picture catch up with you guys tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Calorie Counting

I'm on a rant roll!

You guys know I love Fitness Blender.  I really do.  To have workouts this comprehensive and professionally done provided to people FOR FREE is truly admirable and shows that they care about people and not profit.  Their workouts have changed my life and really have made me feel joy at doing physical activity.  I never dread going up and doing my workouts, in fact I'm always excited to see if today's the day that I can lift heavier on certain motions or do jump squats instead of regular squats, etc.  Hitting those milestones has brought a lot of pride and self confidence into my life that I didn't really have before.  My body has changed in ways that I never dreamed or expected, and they've changed the way I've viewed fitness and activity and how it fits into my life.  I'm very thankful they exist.

You guys sense the "but" coming, don't you?

The one subject that I pretty heavily disagree with them on is eating, not so much the nutrition aspect, but their pretty heavy disapproval of calorie counting.  Kelli released a video a few months back on her journey to health, and when she was younger suffered from disordered eating.  She fell into obsessive and dangerous habits with calorie counting, and basically now uses intuitive eating instead.  She frequently makes negative comments on calorie counting in any recipe or nutrition post they share, and the subtext seems to be that ANY form of calorie counting is disordered eating.  It really makes me uncomfortable and frankly pisses me off a bit, but I just kind of ignore it and do my thing that I know works.  Kelli's experience is hers, and mine is mine, both are valid.  Then I saw this exchange under a recipe post yesterday that set me off:


Here's a counter perspective to those that demonize calorie counting.  Calorie counting has quite literally saved my life and trying to eat strictly with intuitive eating leads to bad things for me.  There are some of us who simply don't register "full" during meals, and I am one of them.  I speed eat every meal as though it's my last despite years of trying to break that habit, which causes me to overeat if I'm free ranging so to speak.  (Not to mention that left to my own devices I always "intuitively" need 3 cupcakes and 3 burgers a week, you know what I mean?)  Using calorie counting and portioning has removed this battle from my daily life and has actually trained me to recognize when I'm full.  I used to have a lot of shame, stress and anxiety around food that I have managed to eliminate by using calorie counting instead of a vague "eat healthfully" eating style.  It took a once mysterious and complicated issue and made it very simple, and tracking my food encompasses about 3 minutes of my life per day.  It's honestly a huge weight off of my mind and spirit and makes me regret that I didn't have this come to Jesus with myself years ago.  It really is simple and a lot like budgeting.  I've got so much a day to "spend" and I make smart choices based on what I have in my calorie bank.  Do I sometimes pull from "savings" for a  a treat I really want?  You bet your ass I do, and I don't feel bad about it, I just course correct a little the next day.  I'm also at the point where in some instances, I can trust myself to rely on intuition.  If I'm sitting on the couch at night after dinner and my stomach is rumbling with genuine hunger, it lets me know that I likely underestimated my calories burned for the day after a tougher workout, so I get up and get a banana, nuts or some popcorn and have a little something extra.  No biggie.  For me personally, calorie counting has given me freedom rather than restriction.

Calorie counting is a tool and just like any tool, it can be abused by the person using it.  This goes for about a million things including exercise, medication, the internet, so on and so forth.  I do understand that people with eating disorders or people who get obsessive should likely NOT use calorie counting.  Totally valid.  I just really am a bit irked that some people twist it to where any form of calorie counting is somehow an eating disorder, and that "normal" people don't calorie count.  It is unfortunate if calorie counting causes you to be obsessive or have a bad relationship with food, but just as I wouldn't make the blanket statement that intuitive eating always leads to overeating for everyone, I think it's unfair and slightly irresponsible to imply that calorie counting is an unhealthy behavior that will lead to an eating disorder for others.

The thing that makes me sad is that Kelli and I are on the same side ultimately.  Food shouldn't be a battle and life should be balanced.  A majority of your diet should be a mix of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, heart healthy fats and grains, but you should also allow for those simple pleasures such as a really nice dessert, beer, cheese or whatever your thing is.  Holidays, vacations and special events shouldn't be about stress or guilt and what you should or shouldn't eat.  That's exactly the life I (and many others!) am able to lead via calorie counting, and it would be nice if there weren't scare tactics surrounding it!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thinner Thursday and Doctor Musings

So, last week I told you guys that my scale was wonky and I was getting a new one.  I did my first weigh in on the new one this morning and I don't know.

Previous Weight:  186
Current Weight:  182 (???)
Difference: 4 pounds

I don't want to sound crazy and obsessive, but I'm having a hard time completely trusting the new scale.  I think I definitely lost weight since last week, but I don't know about 4 pounds.  Just to compare, I stepped on my old one and it said that I was 184.6, which sounds more on the nose so now I'm in a bit of a tailspin.  It didn't help that when I got the scale the other day and did the dumbbell test, it was typically about .4 pounds under (ie reading 14.6 vs 15 pounds).  The old scale reads 0.8 pounds over.  So either my dumbbells are totally wonky, both scales are inaccurate, my scales are accurate with bodies but not dumbbells or I'm legit insane.  (We definitely know the latter to be true).

Since it's the beginning of the month I also took measurements and lost 1.5 inches overall (0.5 in my bust and 1 in my hips!).  So I dunno, maybe I am 182.  I feel like I look thinner than 186 but also don't want to be delusional at the same time.  I actually have an appointment with my new GP tomorrow so I'll be interested to see what their scale says.  Unfortunately it will be after lunchtime, so even that will be a bit off, SIGH.  I may just try to eat a light lunch so as not to throw things off too badly and then grab a banana right after my appointment.  I don't want to get too hung up about scale numbers, especially when they're in my favor, but at the same time I also don't want to feel complacent about it and always assume the lowest number is the correct one.

As I said, I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and am very hopeful but nervous.  The GP I was with left that office, so I have to find someone new.  In some ways I'm really bummed, I liked that my last doctor was very supportive of weight loss and lifestyle changes over throwing medication at me (other than my BP meds obviously).  He was an ultra marathoner, so we always had great chats about running, our favorite races, I was able to ask his advice on running specific injuries and all of that.  What I was less impressed with was how hard I had to battle with him over figuring out my digestive issues.  He was convinced that goji berries (I'm serious) and Colace would fix my issues, and didn't seem to believe that I was up to taking 8 Colace a day every day with literally NOTHING happening.  I basically had to insult the poor guy and raise my voice at him to get him to suggest the FODMAP diet, which kind of helped but is not a long term solution.  I'm still not convinced IBS-C is my issue, so I'm back to the drawing board.  Hopefully new guy can help me out.  I'm probably going to start off on a bad foot with him because I'm basically going to tell him I will flip a table if he tells me to take Colace or Miralax.  I won't really word it like that, but you have no idea how many times I've had doctors just try to shove laxatives at me to get me out of the office.  Either I have bad luck or maybe it's me doing something wrong, but I'm pretty astounded at how flippant the doctors I've seen are about gut health.

There are two potential tests I want to talk to him about, one being a hydrogen breath test that measures for small intestine bacterial growth (I think it's called a SIBO test).  I talked to a girl with similar issues to mine, and she did this test and it came back positive, but antibiotics and small diet changes fixed things for her.  This definitely sounds like a good direction to start in, especially since the FODMAP diet seemed to indicate that something of that nature could be going on for me.

The other thing, and this is a bit scarier and nuclear, but I was prompted to think about due to the recent colon cancer study released this week saying that colon and rectal cancers in people ages 20 to 39 years old have dramatically increased since the mid 80s.  The study is pretty sobering, especially since some of the symptoms line up with what's going on with me.  The most scary thing is that most of the people didn't even really realize they had it.  One girl was 22 and in stage 4 before she got diagnosed, and a big part of that is that doctors simply aren't looking to test people that young for colon cancer.  My experience has definitely been that doctors I've seen are pretty unwilling to take digestive issues seriously, much less think of testing for something like this, so there is a fear that something like this could happen.  Now at the end of the day, I assume my risk is pretty low and this likely isn't my issue, it's just more something to think about I suppose.  I would rather have all avenues explored and eliminated than to shrug it off, then drop dead a year from now.  While I was obese when my issues started, I don't have any other of the risk factors such as being a smoker or having a family history.  So we'll see.  I'm just going to discuss it with him and see what he says.  Hopefully he won't scoff because that will piss me off, lol.

Anyway that's about it.  I'll be busy tomorrow so I don't know if I'll get a Favorites Friday post up.  This week has been pretty steady and not exciting on the workout and meal front!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bob Harper

So I'm feeling a bit feisty today and wanted to write a blog post about Bob Harper and the unfortunate recent heart attack he suffered.  While I jumped off the Biggest Loser bandwagon many years ago, I did and still do like Bob quite a bit.  I always got the sense that he was very uncomfortable with the same things that started making me uncomfortable with the show, plus he just seems like a decent person who wants to help people who want the help.  Like many this week, I was sad and shocked to learn that he had a heart attack and have been very watchful of any new news on his condition since I'm still suffering from 2016 Celebrity Death PTSD.  (That's an official diagnosis and you can't tell me any different.)  And because I'm a glutton for punishment, I did what you should never do, and that's look at the comment section of the Facebook posts/articles I've been reading on him.  Sigh.  It's 2017, shouldn't I know by now to not look at an internet comment section?

Obviously there were lots of well wishes and all of that, but half of the comments were all TRIUMPH over the fact that a fit person had a heart attack.  I was going to screen cap a bunch of them, but I'm too lazy to black out names and all of that.  Basically they all boil down to "Hur dur, see, this is why working out and being healthy doesn't matter, you're just going to die anyways."  Or "this is why you shouldn't fat shame people because fat people can be healthy too."

First of all not to be sanctimonious, but can we maybe NOT be gleeful that someone had a heart attack and almost died, regardless of who they are and what their weight is?  So many of these comments came across as "yaaas, thin people can die too!", and it really grossed me out.

Secondly, this is a complicated issue, and I'm going to do my best to rant about in a sensitive way that hopefully doesn't piss off people who read this.  And I want to start by saying that fat (OR thin) shaming is never good or right.  Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, dignity and respect regardless of sex, race, religion, nationality, class and yes, size.  I feel like this is a basic principle we can all agree on, no?  Basically, we should all do our best to go through life without being a dick to people.  Having said that, facts and science are not shaming.  Being overweight and having unhealthy eating habits DOES significantly increase your risk for disease, including cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.  This isn't something I'm pulling out of my butt and saying to shame anyone, it's peer reviewed, science based evidence.  It's not that I take any pleasure in these facts or feel smug about it, I just am recognizing they exist.  We're living in an age where being supportive of the scientific community is CRITICAL.  I don't have patience for science denial.  If you subscribe to the "we're all going to die anyway" attitude, that's fine and your choice, but you don't get to make up your own science.

"But Bob was fit and healthy and had a heart attack!  In fact he had it at the gym!"  Yes, Bob Harper is crazy fit and had a heart attack.  (Let's also note that he was given immediate attention by a DOCTOR who was also working out at the gym).  He also has a family history of heart disease, and unfortunately his own mother died of a heart attack.  Being healthy doesn't make you immortal nor does it eliminate risks if certain diseases run in your family.  I personally also have a ton of heart disease history in my family and am currently on blood pressure medication.  I also store most of my fat in my waist, which is the worst place if you have a history of heart disease.  I will likely always be on blood pressure medication seeing that most of my family (fairly active, fit people) take it.  I will always need to monitor and try to reduce my belly fat.  While working my way towards a healthy weight and eating better will never eliminate my genetic risk for heart disease, it along with medication and regular medical checkups sure as hell can reduce the risk.  Even if I were to have a heart attack, the effort I make now towards living a healthier life increases my chance of survival and recovery.  Generally in life, don't we do our best to decrease our chance of dying?  We wear seat belts in cars, helmets on bikes/motorcycles, we cover up electrical sockets around little kids, we put babies in car seats, we don't take more than a certain dosage of medicine at a time, etc.  We happily and without question do all of those things because there is research saying that if you don't do them, our risk of death increases right?  So why in the ever loving hell are weight and lifestyle changes ANY different and why do people want so desperately to disprove the science on it?  It would literally be like saying "I'm not going to put my baby in a car seat, they'll be fine laying across the backseat.  All these stupid researchers don't know what they're talking about anyways!"

Look, I'm not trying to rag on people.  I get that lifestyle changes are very difficult and sometimes can be a drag.  Trust me, I struggle every damn day trying to be better and healthier.  I fail a lot of days because I fight against my own laziness and terrible habits.  But I keep pushing forward and keep trying to change because it's worth it to me to live longer and feel better while I'm doing it.  I feel the physical benefits from lifestyle changes such as not getting heartburn anymore, less achy joints, more restful sleep, better breathing, better balance, the list goes on.  I used to have frightening symptoms such as really bad pressure and numbness in my head, episodes of heart racing and other things that definitely indicated that I was on my way to heart attack and stroke territory if I didn't turn things around.  I haven't had those types of symptoms in awhile.  There is nothing about my old life that's worth going back to now that I've felt what it feels like to be healthier.

At the end of the day, we all have free will and have to make our own choices with the information we're given.  If you're not at a place where you can or want to make changes in your life, that's okay, I truly do get it.  I myself wasn't able to get it together until I got a "you're going to die if you keep down this path" from a doctor.  It's not the choice itself I judge, it's the thumbing of the nose at science that irritates the fire out of me.  It's the joy taken at someone like Bob Harper almost dying because it's "proof" that health doesn't matter.

Anyway, sorry about the rant, I hope it didn't piss anyone off, and I also wish Bob a full and speedy recovery!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Favorites Friday

Happy Friday!  Here's some favorites of the week!

Favorite Workouts

I just started two Fitness Blender programs at the same time, FB Flex (upper body) and FB Booty (lower body).  Each program has 3 workouts a week, so I just staggered them so I have 6 days of alternating workouts!  Hopefully that makes sense.

The favorite one that I can recall for this week is the Upper Body - Guaranteed Muscle Burnout workout led by Daniel.  I am trying my best to start really pushing myself to lift heavier on upper body workouts.  It's really, really tough for me since my arms are nowhere near what my legs are.  I've almost outgrown my weights for lower body exercises, but still struggle and can only do 10 to 16 pounds total for many upper body lifting exercises.  I definitely want that to change, and the only want to make it change is to push much harder, so I really went for it this workout and lifted as hard as I could stand while keeping good form.  I shook the entire workout and pretty much melted into the floor by the time I was done, but felt so proud after!  I was so sore for 2 days, but I definitely saw how much I'm capable of pushing!

Favorite Recipes

Not shockingly, my two favorite recipes this week were courtesy of Cooking Light!

Banana Bacon Nut Toast

This was really, really tasty.  I've always scoffed at the whole Elvis peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich folklore, but I've gotta say that Elvis was on the money here.  Bacon in small quantities is not only delicious obviously, but it's not really high in calories, and there's just enough here to provide a nice smoky saltiness to the banana's sweetness, the pecans add a nice crunch and the nut butter adds creaminess and makes it feel extra indulgent.  I'd been in a breakfast rut lately, and this definitely made me excited about eating in the mornings again!

The recipe is here, but I slightly tweaked it.  I used a half a banana on my toast and also used Trader Joe's mixed nut butter (reviewed below) instead of straight up almond butter.  I was surprised at how filling this was!

Peruvian Steak and Sweet Potato Bowl

This was another dish that really hit the mark when it comes to having complimentary flavors, texture and color.  It's also a very simple dish, especially if you make the beans and rice in advance.  It also made me question why I don't cook flank steak more since it's both inexpensive and delicious!  The crunchiness of the pumpkin seeds (can't you tell I love crunchy things in dishes?) really added to this and kicked it up a level.

I think this dish would have been just as good without the dressing, but the dressing was really nice.  The recipe is here.  (Just to note, I did tweak the dressing based on what I had on hand.  I used harissa paste instead of chipotle chilies and used Grade A maple syrup instead of honey.)  Also if you want to kick your beans up a notch, add a half to full teaspoon of lime zest.  It especially elevated a dish like this!

Favorite Products

Please pardon me while I look like a total schill for Trader Joe's this week, but I picked up two impulse purchases there that ended up being amazing!

Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter

I saw this on the shelf when we were shopping Saturday and grabbed it on an impulse and I'm so glad I did!  I eat peanut butter all of the time (although I have to be careful with brands because it can cause horrible heartburn for me), but really am not a fan of almond butter.  It just has a muddy taste to me and doesn't really do much for me.  The mixed nut aspect of this really appealed to me however since I love cashews, hazelnuts and pecans, and I definitely wasn't disappointed.  You can definitely taste all the the individual nuts going on in there, so it gives it a more complex flavor.  I also like that it stays sort of liquidy, for lack of a better term.  It just feels lighter than peanut butter and makes it really easy to drizzle over things, and I especially enjoyed drizzling it over a banana for a nice hefty snack in the afternoons.

Trader Joe's Almond Butter Granola

I was looking for some granola just to mix up breakfast this week and also impulsively grabbed this at TJ's.  Oh my God.  Usually I'm whatevs about granola, especially since most of it is sickly sweet and the serving sizes are too tiny to be worth it.  This one is a very generous half cup serving and is delicious!  The whole almonds in it provide a great crunch and toastiness, and to me it's not as sweet as other granolas I've tried.  I've really been enjoying it as a topping for smoothie bowls this week (it's not fancy, I just pour smoothies into a bowl instead of a cup) and it's really been so delicious and filling.  It does have 9 grams of sugar a serving but you know, YOLO.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thinner Thursday and Recapping our Los Angeles Trip! (Part 2)

Ug sorry guys, work exploded so I wasn't able to get my Part 2 recap up when I wanted.  Before we get to that, I wanted to do my weigh in with a small caveat.  Long story short, I discovered my scale is inaccurate (in my favor) by anywhere from 0.4 to 0.8 pounds and has been for God knows how long.  In the scale's defense, it is around 11 years old, so I just think the calibration is probably way off and old girl needs to be retired.  I am continuing to do my weigh ins on it until I can get a new one just to continue to be accountable, but keeping in mind that the number might not be 100% accurate.

Previous Weight:  186.8
Current Weight:  186
Difference:  0.80 pound loss

I'm really happy with that obviously and definitely suspect I'm lower than that due to the way my jeans are fitting.  I've had a good stomach week too (not sure why, I'm not doing anything different?), so I'm definitely less bloated.  Anyway, good stuff!  Now on to the rest of our LA trip!

Day 2:  Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Chez Jay and Santa Monica Pier

We were obviously feeling a bit crispy the morning of Day Two after the holy shit death metal extravaganza, but we all sucked it up and ended up having an amazing and really packed day.  We started up at Griffith Observatory, which is one of the coolest touristy things you can do in my opinion.  I'd never been IN the observatory since it was closed the one time we went, but thankfully it was open.  It is SO cool!  I loved looking at all of the exhibits, especially the Tesla coil demonstration!

It was a stunningly beautiful day, so walking outside of the observatory was a real treat too.  LA has gotten so much rain lately that everything was lush and green, which was something I hadn't experienced there before.

And because I'm very mature and ladylike, I couldn't pass up this opportunity...

Afterwards Eric drove us down to Los Feliz and took us to lunch at a diner called House of Pies.  I hadn't eaten much for breakfast that morning so I was pretty hungry, and ended up getting a delicious BLT and split a piece of apple pie ala mode with Eric.  I am usually not a huge pie person, but theirs was really awesome!

After lunch we definitely needed to walk around and be active, so we took my aunt and uncle to the Hollywood Forever cemetery.  Now I know that seems ghoulish to some, but I really like cemeteries for some strange reason.  They are just always so peaceful and quiet, and especially in a frantic city like LA that can be a bit of an oasis.  I strongly encourage you to check this one out, it's incredibly beautiful and is a great place to walk around, and to me it is interesting to see all of the celebrity graves.  There is a fantastic statue of Johnny Ramone, and there are a lot of other people like Estelle Getty, Mel Blanc, Mickey Rooney, Cecil B. Demille and tons of other interesting celebrities who shaped Hollywood buried there.

One of the coolest aspects of the cemetery is that they have a ton of peacocks roaming the grounds.  I'm not sure why, but it definitely adds to the beauty of the place!  We were lucky enough to see one of the males put his feathers on full display when he felt threatened by another male, and it was very fascinating because he was somehow making his tail feathers vibrate?  I'd seen peacocks fan out their tails but had never seen this behavior, so it was pretty cool to witness!

After all of that excitement, we definitely needed a quick nap and shower, so we headed back to the rental for a quick break.  For the record, I personally think vacation rentals are a much better deal than getting a hotel room.  Sometimes it's a little bit rolling the dice, but we got a whole apartment that fit the 4 of us with room to spare, a full kitchen/fridge and a parking space (so impt in Hollywood!) for a fraction of what a hotel would have been.

So this day actually was my aunt and uncle's 12th wedding anniversary, so we took them down to Santa Monica to an old school place called Chez Jay for dinner.  Chez Jay is hard to describe, I suppose it's technically a dive bar, but it's really so much more than that due to its history!  It was a frequent hangout for celebrities like Jim Morrison, the Rat Pack, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe.  Daniel Ellsberg reportedly handed the Pentagon Papers to a NYT reporter while having dinner there (in the booth we sat in this trip I might add!).  There's many, many more stories like that and you can just feel the history when you walk in there.  It's very dark and intimate.  I love it!  They also have super tasty seafood dinners, and all of us ended up getting the Swordfish Bearnaise for dinner.  Delicious!

After that we took a walk to the Santa Monica pier to take in all of the energy and the lights.  I'd been on the pier during the day but never at night, and it was so beautiful.  We walked the whole length, just enjoying the breeze and all of the musicians.  I also decided to be brave and get on the ferris wheel (momma does NOT do heights), and ended up being so happy that I did!  Their ferris wheel was actually pretty sturdy and didn't swing all over the place, so I actually was able to relax and enjoy the gorgeous view!  The moon was insane that night, it was really huge and bright and there were a lot of stars out too.  Hopefully they won't mind that I shared this, but I HAD to share this pic I snapped of my aunt and uncle while we were on the ferris wheel!  Aren't they cute?!

I also had to post this silly as hell souvenir photo that we got afterwards.  I mean of course we had to buy this, because how can you not buy it?  I just love that Eric looks very unimpressed by the impending death flying our way.

After the ferris wheel we each got a frozen custard for dessert, then I made everyone go down to the beach!  Even though this photo is dark, I really love it.  I was just so happy in that moment, standing with my feet in the ocean and taking in all the views of the pier.  It was the perfect night!

Day 3:  Universal Studios, The Rock Walk and El Compadre

Oh boy, this was yet another action packed day, but SO much fun.  We got to Universal Studios pretty early, I feel like it was around 9 am or so and didn't leave until 3:30 or 4 at the least!  I love this beautiful statue that greets you when you walk into the park.

So, the last time we were at Universal they were in the process of building the Simpsons and Harry Potter attractions, so we were excited to check them out now that they were done.  We were definitely not disappointed!  The Simpsons stuff was such a head trip, they didn't miss a single detail from the nuclear plant to Moe's to Krusty Burger!  They even had a Lard Lad donut stand, and I cannot stress how ENORMOUS the donuts were.  I later looked on MFP and the whole donut was over 1600 calories!!  (Don't worry, the 4 of us split that whopper).  It was shockingly tasty, as was the Krusty Burger and the Duff beer in Moe's!  The Duff beer was a bit outrageous though, they served it in a 24 ounce glass!  Eric and I just split one, and even that was almost too much.

The first thing we did actually was go on the backlot tour, which is my favorite part.  It's so fun to get to see all of the different sets and hear about the history of the studio.  They of course have all these cheesy special effects things sprinkled in, but that's what makes it fun!  They have this awesome King Kong 3D thing during the tour, and while I usually am not the biggest fan of rides, this is so well done and realistic!  (I believe I educated some kids behind me on every swear that exists the first time I ever experienced it!)  They had actually added to the experience when we took the tour this time, and when King Kong crunches into a dinosaur or snorts, they spray water in your face to make it seem like you're getting splattered with blood or mucus.  It's gross and awesome at the same time!

The Harry Potter attraction is absolutely exquisite.  I really give them props for what a beautiful job they did building that world, and there was definitely a lot of care and attention to detail.  It was really cute seeing how excited the little kids were (most of them were dressed up), and hell, even the adults were pretty excited!

I did get a frozen butterbeer, and it was very good although a bit sweet!

We also watched the Animal Actors show (I know some might find it cheesy, but we're all animal lovers so we liked it!) and did the Jurassic Park ride as well as the Simpsons ride.  I definitely was out of my comfort zone with getting on rides, it's not something I really do ever because I get horrible motion sickness.  The Jurassic Park ride is pretty mellow until the end so I can tolerate that, but the Simpsons ride is super intense and I had to keep my eyes closed the whole time because of the 3D they were using.  Every time I opened my eyes it made me super queasy since the ride was also pretty violently jerky.  Even Eric admitted that it was a bit too intense, and he doesn't nearly have the issues that I do with motion sickness and all of that.  Anyways, we survived!

For our Hollywood finale we visited the Rock Walk in front of the Guitar Center in Hollywood, then went to dinner at El Compadre.  If you are a music fan, make sure you go out of your way to get to the Rock Walk, it's basically the Walk of Fame but for musicians.  There are dozens upon dozens of hand prints of musicians who shaped the music industry.  I snapped tons of pics, but had to post my Brian Wilson picture.  :)

In general LA has amazing Mexican food, but El Compadre is really special.  It's another dark, intimate place, and not only do they have amazing food, but they light their margaritas on fire!

We had such a wonderful dinner.  My dinner choice of grilled shrimp tacos technically was healthy, but me choosing to eat a thousand chips with guacamole and two flaming margaritas probably didn't help my health goals!  Ah well, I enjoyed every bite of it honestly, even though we all rolled out of there stuffed to the gills.  Afterwards we took a stroll around the neighborhood and we walked past Eric's old apartment that he lived in before moving up here, which was sentimental for me to since that's where I stayed when we were long distance dating and I would come to visit!

Anyway, that's it.  Thanks for bearing with me spamming you guys so many pictures (and trust me, this was the culled down version).  It was just such an amazing time with my family that I wanted to share.  We definitely made some fantastic memories!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Recapping our Los Angeles Trip! (Part 1)

Hey guys!  I decided to be nice to myself and not do Thinner Thursday last week.  I know that's a cop out, but I stepped on the scale post vacation, had a stroke, then decided this week was probably going to be more accurate as to what's going on.  I think my body is probably still reeling from traveling, sodium and not being in a routine, so I'm just going to give it a week to settle!  For honesty's sake, my weight was 191 when I weighed, but I am pretty positive that it's mostly water weight/bloating, especially since we had Chinese delivered for a quick dinner the night we got back and I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.  In place of that and Favorites Friday, I wanted to recap our Los Angeles trip, which was absolutely wonderful!  It was busy, action packed and I had an amazing time with Eric and my aunt/uncle!  We had a lot of laughs, and it was fun getting to experience some of our favorite LA stuff through their eyes.  I've had the blog so long that I can't remember what I've told you guys and what I haven't, but basically Eric lived in Los Angeles for 11 years before we met.  He was an entertainment journalist for many years before leaving that industry for the corporate world.  We met through work (I was at the Portland office), and I went down for a training and we met in person for the first time.  Lightening bolts, destiny, fireworks, all of that, and then he moved up to be with me.  We go back to LA a lot since his brother lives there, and I've really grown fond of it and have come to appreciate its history.  We always have a blast!  Anyway, Eric is the best tour guide for LA you could have, and my aunt and uncle wanted him to take us around and show the sights.

For the most part I did okay from a health standpoint.  I would rate myself a solid B- I guess?  I was probably the most "behaved" the first two days when it came to food, but we really went for gusto on Day 3 with both food and alcohol.  I don't really regret when I overindulged, it was all stuff that I can get only in Los Angeles, I was having a good time and it was worth the water weight/extra pound or two to be honest.  I did stay faithful to tracking in MFP, so my streak is still going strong!

I admittedly didn't end up doing my Fitness Blender workouts.  We had a rough night our first night there and ended up sleeping probably about 2 hours max?  We rented this VRBO in Hollywood, and during the first night there was someone either a street over or possibly in the same building who decided to start practicing/singing death metal songs.  (You know the type I'm talking about, the one where it's screaming and not singing.)  Anyways, it was like a full on like we were standing in a club, shaking the room volume that went on from like 2 am to 6 am.  We were all pretty despondent about it, especially since we'd been up since 3 am Saturday and all of that jazz.  Since it's LA, there's no point really in calling the cops unless someone is being murdered in front of you pretty much.  We did talk to our rental guy in the morning and he felt horrible, and he found out that apparently these psychos did get the cops called on them and there was a complaint filed.  It was literally THE only negative thing that happened the whole trip.  Anyway, my larger point was that I sure as hell wasn't doing a workout after that night, and then the rest of the time I decided to prioritize spending time with family instead of fretting whether I was burning an extra 100 calories a day.

We did get in plenty of activity.  I don't wear a calorie tracker like a Fitbit or anything, but we were definitely crossing some miles every day.  Not enough to burn off what we ate certainly, but we definitely didn't laze about.  We all even took stairs instead of escalators where possible, took walks after meals, etc.  We walked so much that my foot freaked out and my plantar fascitiis flared up briefly, but thankfully went away!

I thought I would go day by day with recaps of what we did and show you guys some of my pictures!  I know I've been terrible about posting pics on the blog lately, and today will definitely make up for it!

Day 1:  Canter's, Farmer's Market and the Rainbow

The one thing I love about going down to LA is that travel wise for us it's so EASY.  The flights are cheap, plentiful and only take about 2 hours.  We got down there in record time, and even though getting up at 3 am majorly sucked, it was so awesome to land in LA at 9:30 with a full day ahead of us!  After checking into our rental and dropping our bags, we went back out for lunch at Canter's Deli.  If you're not familiar, it's an old school deli in Hollywood that's been around since 1931!  Eric first took me there because it was a place that the members of Guns N' Roses used to eat, in fact this famous picture was taken at a booth in Canter's:

I absolutely love this place and beg to go every time we go down to LA.  I don't know what it is, it's just that it's not fussy, it's very authentic and it's a place that regular people go.  They have the bakery counter to end all bakery counters, but I always get a black and white cookie.  I will rarely leave LA without getting my black and white fix at Canter's.  We all got a cookie each, and it was seriously like the best batch they've ever made!  (I just stuck with matzo ball soup and an egg cream for lunch).

 Afterwards we drove over to the Grove and the Farmer's Market to show my aunt and uncle around.  We were stuffed to the gills so we didn't really buy anything other than pastries for breakfast in the morning.  I opted for a couple of small rugelach, nothing too crazy.  The best part was that there was a booth selling soaps that benefited injured rescue animals, and they had an adorable rescue goat you could pet!  As you know I instantly become 5 years old whenever I see an animal, so I asked the lady running the booth if I could pet him, and she told me yes then handed me a french fry to feed it.  So cute!

After roaming around at the market we came back to our rental and caught a quick nap so we'd be a bit refreshed for the evening.  Since we had time and Hollywood Blvd was literally around the corner from our rental, we took a walk up there to take in all of the insanity.  Even though I am not the biggest fan of mascots, I was brave (ie had a glass of wine in me) and took a picture with "Finn" from Star Wars!

And then I took pictures with my man.  <3

Afterwards we met up with my BIL/SIL at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset, yet another one of my most beloved spots in LA.  They have pretty amazing pizza, it's another laid back place where you can just chill, there's a lot of great history and there's a good chance you'll see a celebrity in there!  It's dark in there and basically lit up with just Christmas lights, so it feels a bit like a mobster speakeasy.  My aunt and uncle fell in love with it too, which made me very happy!  We had a really nice time catching up with Jeff and Nicole, noshing on yummy pizza (I only had 2 slices but wanted like 9!) and throwing back some beer.  Afterwards we walked up and down Sunset to show them all of the historical bars (ie Whiskey a Go Go, The Viper Room, The Roxy, etc).

Holy crap you guys...this is so long lol.  I have 2 more days to recap (with pics), so I think I'm going to cut the post here and do a two parter since I don't want to torture you too much and have the posts be 79 pages long!  Stay tuned later this week for part 2 of our adventures!