Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Favorites: Hair and skin staples

Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk
Long name. Incredible product. I scrunch this into my curls after my mousse. It gives my hair moisture and a delicious smell that solicits tons of compliments. It can be difficult to find. I usually buy it at Target and Walgreens, but I've also found it at HyVee (a local grocery store).  And I usually buy two at a time so I'm sure not to run out.

Schmidt's Natural Deodorant
I learned about this from Ricci. I'm currently using the Lavender & Sage, but I've liked the other scents I used too (Bergamot & Lime and Ylang-Ylang Calendula). I really want to try the Coconut & Pineapple and Jasmine Tea, but they are not easy to find in the store and I can't quite justify the shipping to order them online. I did have a bit of a learning curve with these deodorants. I was applying too much. I'm used to doing 5-10 swipes with regular deodorant. My pits did NOT like that. Two, max. That's enough.

Mary Kay ClearProof Charcoal Mask
I use this once a week or so. Every time I put it on, Sean says I look like a luchador and has even nicknamed me "El Ginjor."  Ha ha ha. All funny business aside, it does a great job of pulling impurities out of my skin and leaving it super soft.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

This & That 4/19

:: I have Saturday AND Sunday off this weekend. I have no idea what to do with myself. Just kidding. Both days have some exciting things, which is why I needed the days off. It's going to be nice to have a real weekend.
 :: A while back, Holly had an Instagram post about fitness guilt. Sometimes, she's hard on herself when she takes a day off from working out. I suffer from the same guilt when I don't feel like I'm doing enough with my workouts. The same guilt applies to when I don't feel like I'm productive enough when I have time off.  I need to work on easier on myself and issuing a reminder that rest is good for the body and mind too.

:: My wedding is just under two months away and the interim time is quickly filling up. In the next few weeks, I have our couples shower, my hair trial, my final dress fitting, and my bachelorette party. I also have some meetings with a few vendors to finalize things. Whee.

:: Sean and I are working at getting better about planning out a week's worth of meals and shopping for those ingredients on the weekends. Sometimes plans change, which kinds of throws us off, but we've done pretty well. How do you plan your food for the week?

What's on your mind this week?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Music Monday: Kelly Clarkson - "I Don't Think About You"

It's been almost 16 years since we first saw Kelly Clarkson dominate on "American Idol." There have been a lot of Idol winners since then. And even winners on other talent shows. Some have done well. Others have kind of faded back into oblivion. But Kelly continues to prove why she is the benchmark for all of those competitors. That voice of hers just won't quit. And who would want it to?

Her latest song is a powerful ballad, and the video seems to be telling a story very close to her heart, which makes it even more poignant.

Damn. I love that girl's voice. I sure wouldn't mind seeing her live someday.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Sweats: Group vs. solo

Some people like to work out alone.
Some people like to work out in groups.
I'm one of those strange people who likes both.

This winter, almost all of my workouts were in group fitness classes.  And I loved them. I thrived on the camaraderie. I needed the motivation from the person next to me. I enjoyed having someone with whom to commiserate after a particularly tough sweat session. 
Taken after a dance fitness happy hour. So much fun!

Now that spring seems to finally be here, I'm mixing in some solo workouts. Namely, running. It's a great escape after a day spent talking to people (in person and on the phone). It's a welcome break from my computer and all social media. It's a nice chance to just be inside my own head and push myself. 
A recent running selfie.

I don't think I could ever go solely one route with my workouts. If I always worked out solo, I don't think I'd challenge myself as much and I'd probably get in a rut. If I always worked out in groups, I might get a little burned out from all the interaction. 

I like the balance of both, and I'm so glad the seasons have changed to where I can enjoy both.

Do you prefer working out solo or with friends/in a group setting?


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Cardio with Colby (30 mins)
Tuesday - 2-mile run outdoors + a little walking (30 mins)
Wednesday - FitFusion (60 mins)
Thursday - Barre with Britt (30 mins) + 3-mile run outdoors (35 mins)
Friday - Flex Friday (30 mins) + 1 mile
Saturday - Off

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Favorites: My desk foods edition

My desk at work holds a lot of things -- lotions, hair ties, tea, coffee (some K-Cups as well as filters and ground beans), etc. If I'm going to spend that many hours a day at work, I want to have everything I need. That includes food. Here are a few favorites I like to keep on hand.

Kodiak Cakes instant cups
So tasty!! I've had the cinnamon and maple ones as well as the blueberry muffin for breakfast. I keep the double chocolate muffin ones in my desk for when I need to assuage my sweet tooth in the afternoon. It's healthier than a trip to the vending machine.

Peanut Butter (natural no-stir only)
I keep a jar in my desk all the time. It makes for an easy breakfast or lunch (I just need to take some bread with me). I've also been known to stir some into greek yogurt or spread some on a banana. And I'm not above just a plain spoonful.

Protein bars
These are a nice mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. I'm not loyal to any one brand. In fact, I have to switch it up often because I get bored with the same brands and flavors. My current favorites (besides the one pictured) are KIND Almond & Coconut (tastes like a Girl Scouts Samoa/Caramel Delight) and Clif Sierra Trail Mix.

What are your favorite foods you keep in your desk or in your place of work?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

This & That 4/12

:: Monday was the Mondayest Monday ever. Bad news coupled with cloudy weather and some work irritation just made me feel a little blah by day's end. A beer and a fresh manicure helped a little.

:: This month is Autism Awareness Month. I don't know if I've mentioned it here, but my fiance has Asperger's Syndrome. It's generally considered to be on the "higher functioning" end of the spectrum, so most people don't even realize it when they meet Sean. Still, I've learned a lot about Asperger's in the last two years. Some see it as a disability, but I don't see it that way at all. In many ways, it is one of my fiance's strengths. He sometimes sees and feels things differently, which allows me a new perspective.

:: Spring seems to finally be arriving here in my neighborhood. Temperatures in the 70s yesterday and today. Then again, we have snow in the forecast again Sunday, so maybe Mother Nature is not yet done teasing us. Ugh. I'm so ready for green grass, grilling, and outdoor running.

:: I picked up this book from the library earlier this week after a friend recommended it. The author is Patton Oswalt's late wife, and I can't wait to read it. I'm doing my best to power through my current read so I can get to this one.

What's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wedding Wednesday: The realities of planning a wedding

Movies and television have warped my idea of what it meant to be a bride-to-be. Even though I tried to be realistic, I think my hopes were still too high. I expected celebrations, champagne, lots of gushing with friends and colleagues about my plans, and just general happiness. I was not prepared for the stress and disappointments.

Here are a few of the harsh realities I have had to swallow during this process:
Everything is more expensive than you anticipated.  
Even in trying to keep things simple, I'm finding it all adds up. Not just the big things -- venue, food, etc. There's also a noise permit, the license, favors, bridal party gifts, accessories, wedding weekend accommodations, etc. Every time I turn around, there's another expense.

Figure out what your time is worth. 
Some people are really good at DIY projects. I'm not. I'd like to be, but I'm not. As a result, I've spent a lot of money on Etsy getting handmade products. I probably could have attempted them on my own, but there would have been lots of stress and probably some tears and some swear words. I decided the money was worth it.

No one will care as much about your wedding as you do.  
My big day is super important to me. And it's important to about a handful of other people. For everyone else, it's just kind of something that's on their calendar. They don't spend hours a week thinking about it. They don't agonize over every detail. Then again, that could be a blessing. (See next point.)

Things will not go as planned.  
There have already been a few hiccups in this planning process. The good news is (since no one cares as much as I do) is that those hiccups and any future snafus will go unnoticed by 98 percent of the people. Silver lining, right?

Weddings are an inconvenience. 
I try really hard to be accommodating and amenable in all areas of my life so as not to inconvenience others. That has not been possible with my wedding. People have to spend money. People have to travel. My brewery job will have a staff shortage on my wedding day. I am trying hard not to feel guilty about any of this, but that's been a tough battle.
... and one I'm sure I'll face in a few months.
Someone will hate something about your wedding.
The wine was too cheap. The food wasn't good. The beer selection was terrible. The music was boring. The decorations were lame. The dress was plain. I expect many of these things will be said about my wedding. Hopefully not directly to me, but ... you never know. People are weird. And rude.

All that said, I am not sorry I'm getting married. I do not regret any of my decisions for this wedding. It's going to reflect who Sean and I are, and it's going to be a heck of a party. And then I get to continue doing life with Sean. That's the reward for all of this.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Show Us Your Books: March 2018

Life According to Steph

After a disappointing February, I seem to have found my reading groove again. I finished three books during the month of March.

I remember reading another Dina Silver book ("One Pink Line") a while ago. I remembered that I really liked her characters and her writing style, so I picked this one up. It's a spin-off of the first one I read, so it was fun to be reacquainted with the characters again. This story was very dramatic and had a lot of ups and downs. Chloe and Tyler's chemistry was intense from the start but seemed to fizzle. Chloe became a little annoying and Tyler became completely unlikable. Cam, Chloe's loyal best friend (who definitely had a thing for her while she continued pining for Tyler), was probably my favorite character. I wouldn't mind another story about him.

Lexi Ryan is a runaway bride after discovering her twin is pregnant with her fiance's baby ... on her wedding day. She escapes to Jackson Harbor, where she finds a new beginning and a job as a nanny for the daughter of a widowed doctor. She quickly becomes enveloped in his family ... until her past and the secrets she's kept from him come crashing into her new world. I loved meeting the Jackson family and can't wait to read the next one in the series.

I powered through this one to try and figure out why Sawyer left town when he and Reena were teenagers. I never really got that answered fully. And I could not figure out why Reena was so hung up on him. Sure, he was charming, but he was flaky, unmotivated, and a bit narcissistic. I still gave it three stars because I thought the writing was good and I would read another book by this author.

I already have a good jump on my April reads with a book that incorporates two of my favorite things -- suspense and steamy romance. Hopefully that keeps my reading mojo going in the right direction.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Music Monday: Andy Grammer - "Grow"

I'm a big fan of Andy Grammer's tunes. I've seen him live once, and own all of his album. Admittedly and inexplicably, it took me a while to buy his latest offering.

I finally clicked "purchase" after my fitness instructor used the song, "Grow" in our Xtreme Revolution final presentation. It has such a great message and beat.

For example, here's the chorus:
You gotta grow
Love yourself and be kind, water your soul
Celebrate, find your light
It don't matter who you are, where you're going, you're not old
We all know, yeah, we all know
Gotta grow

Now go listen to the whole thing.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Sweats: March 2018 recap

March goals:
- Continue with regular classes after Xtreme.
I definitely did this. I haven't missed many days.

- Get in some running.
I'm pretty sure I only ran three times in the month of March, and only once was that running not part of another workout. I'll take it though.

I logged a two-mile run during my lunch break on March 15.
Number of days I worked out: 20

Miles Ran: 2

Personal victory: A friend grabbed my arm and said, "whoa! I can tell you've been working out." It sounds cheesy, but it was a real and genuine moment. And I was super proud.


April goals:
- Run at least twice each week.

- 'Power down' earlier on weeknights. Put phone/book away by 9:30.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Independent strength circuit workout + 1 mile on the treadmill (45 mins)
Tuesday - 2 miles on the treadmill (21:36)
Wednesday - FitFusion (60 mins)
Thursday - Barre with Britt (30 mins) + 2 miles outside (21:52)
Friday - Flex Friday (30 mins)
Saturday - Off

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Best of the Bunch: March 2018

Steph wrote about what it means to really be there for someone, particularly in a time of grief. She analyzes her own methods as well as those she's observed.  Also, Steph is one of the biggest champions for women, and she throws up some Women's History Month thoughts in this post.

Joey explains why adults should be reading young adult novels. I didn't really think about it in the way she presented. But now I am. Additionally, she talked about the perils of multi-tasking.

Jana penned a great note to her daughter about money. We all need to be talking to our children about finances. It's a skill I have had to learn the hard way. And am still learning.

Kelly takes a look at the concept of balance. She insists it's possible but doesn't necessarily look the way we think it does. My favorite line was "balance is not perfection."

Looking for your next good read? Go check out Jen's favorite books so far this year.

Nadine shares a secret mom behavior. Maybe you have one to disclose too.

OK, and this post is from April, but I wanted to include it because Samm's baby is undergoing surgery on Monday. I'm sure they could use all the prayers and good vibes possible.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Show Us Your Books: February 2018

Life According to Steph

I am highly disappointed in my February reading. I only picked up one book. And I only finished one book. It took me a long time to get through it, but not because it was a particularly long or difficult book. For whatever reason, my interest just wasn't there. Sigh. So should we talk about my solo completion?

The synopsis of this book is what pulled me in. A happily married mother of three receives a photograph in the mail one day that turns her life upside down. They didn't give much more information than that and, of course, I HAD to read it and find out what kind of photo could destroy a woman's life as she knows it. And it took a long time for me to get that answer. Well, the author describes the photo early on, but that alone doesn't explain why it was so unsettling. The story wavers between past and present, and all of it is written as a letter from the woman to her son. Maybe that's why I had so much trouble with it -- the writing style was really uncomfortable for me, for some reason. I've read other books in this style, but usually it's mixed in with some third person writing, which helps a little. I also had a hard time finding any affection or even empathy for the main character. She just wasn't very likeable and came off as kind of rude, pouty, and entitled at times. I'm glad I stuck with the book and finished it because it does make some points about how small decisions can have bigger effects. But I haven't yet decided if I'll pick up another book by this author.

As I said, I'm disappointed in myself and am going to try and at least double my efforts in March.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Sweats: Overcoming Xtreme disappointment

Xtreme Revolution is over. 

On Monday, we had our last workout. An email last week promised an easy one, but it certainly wasn't that light. It wasn't the toughest of the eight weeks, but it was no picnic.

On Tuesday, we did assessments, in which we did as many of each of the following things in a minute -- push-ups, sit-ups, x jumps, burpees, jump rope. Then we compared our numbers to the pre-Xtreme numbers. I lost my sheet from the start of Xtreme, so I have no idea if I actually improved. Admittedly, I wasn't feeling great the morning of assessments.  I had a massive headache which made jumping and sitting up quickly painful.

On Wednesday, we did our post-Xtreme measurements. I went in feeling like I probably made some progress but probably wouldn't have the huge results I had last year (I lost seven inches). I was wrong. And not in a good way. I went down one pound, lost half an inch in my hips, and a quarter inch in my thigh. But every other number went up, including my body fat percentage, my bicep, my waist ... EVERYTHING. I was so frustrated. I had worked hard for eight weeks, pushing myself through tough workouts and sometimes even doubling up. I wasn't perfect with my eating habits, but I didn't indulge too often. I pouted over the numbers for the rest of the day, skipping my planned afternoon workout and instead throwing myself a pity party.

On Thursday, I decided it was time to rebound. 

The workout I created for myself on Thursday.

Post-workout stats.

I decided I wasn't going to let bad numbers define me or stop me. I don't work out for the numbers on the scale or the measuring tape. I work out to challenge myself and get stronger, which I undoubtedly have. That workout above? I never would have attempted that on my own a year ago. Probably not even six months ago. The numbers may not show it, but I am definitely more fit than I was eight weeks ago, and I plan to continue that journey. 

Post-workout sweaty selfie.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Xtreme Cardio (30 mins)
Tuesday - Xtreme Assessments + Workout (30 mins)
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Cardio & Strength Circuit (40 mins)
Friday -Say HI (high impact) to the weekend (30 mins) + Flex Friday (30 mins)
Saturday - Off


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Best of the Bunch: January & February 2018

I had kind of a blogging and blog-reading drought in the first two months of the year. So there were probably a lot of great posts, but because of my lack of interest in blogging, I probably missed most of them. Regardless, here are three that I really enjoyed.

A new year brings a fresh sense of self and goals for a lot of people. I really liked Taylor's list of 18 things to focus on in 2018. I need to keep a few of those in mind for myself for a more peaceful year. She also did a great job of voicing her thoughts on the latest school shooting.

I have a lot of self-doubt. Way more than I probably should. I've accomplished a lot, but too often I feel like I'm not doing things the way other people think I should. When I feel like that, I need to go back and read Joey's post entitled, "Stop waiting for the world to tell you you're not enough."

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