Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Goals

2013 has held loads of change for me. While it has been the only year since high school that I haven't had multiple jobs (hooray for only one W-2!), much has changed in my personal life. After breaking free from a terrible relationship, I found myself growing and changing in ways that I find amazing. I found CrossFit not too long after that breakup, which catapulted my life down a new and healthy path. I'd always been interested in healthy food and being fit, but my commitment to those interests had been a roller coaster of highs and lows. Finding my physical strength gave me the confidence to make improvements in other areas of my life, which I talk a little bit about below. Goals 1-5 are areas that I want to begin/continue improving on that relate to the way I treat myself, others, and my future, behavioral goals, if you will. Goals 6-10 are fitness goals that I can work towards in the gym.
  1. Eliminate debt: because, duh. So many doors would be open to me if I didn't have those extra bills hanging over my head each month. With the exception of a car payment, I'm going to attempt to pay off as much debt as I can this year.
  2. Fill out the FAFSA: If I'm even considering going back to school, which I very well may be, I'll need to have this done.
  3. Get more sleep: at least 7 hours a night. This means I'm going to have to go to bed earlier, and if I want to start working out in the mornings as well as in the evenings, I'll have to go to be even earlier
  4. Cut out negative self-talk and negative thoughts towards others: How awesome would the world be if we quit thinking the worst of ourselves and others? I'm starting with myself on this one and making a big effort to stop harsh and judgmental thoughts.
  5. Volunteer: In 2013, I was given $100 by my company to donate to a charity of my choice. I chose Girls on the Run because I really get their purpose.  As a girl that often felt inferior growing up, I would have loved the chance to have encouraging female coaches and friends who were all working towards a goal (and achieving it!). I want to do more with Girls on the Run in 2014.
  6. Run a half-marathon
  7. Muscle-up
  8. 150lb Front Squat/175lb Back Squat
  9. 150lb Clean & Jerk
  10. 115lb Snatch
Here's to a Healthy and Happy 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Due to the amount of travel both Nick and I have been doing over the holidays, I didn't decorate my apartment much for Christmas this year. I feel a little bad about it, especially considering that my Christmas spirit was not at an all time high this year. I'm telling myself that I'm going to be able to use all the energy that would've otherwise gone to taking down the holiday decorations is going to go towards making a fresh start in 2014.

There were three festive things that I didn't forego, however.

1. Christmas Music: I've been playing "Today's Christmas Radio" on Pandora around the house for days. I grew up singing all the time and the familiarity of most of these songs makes it easy to sing along too. Of course, I only do this when I'm alone. Haha.

2. Holiday Scents:

3. My Festive Mani: Another kit of lacquer strips from Sephora. These aren't lasting as well as the Essie kit, but they're still shiny and pretty resilient. They look so much like real candy canes in person!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013


I love that our box does training cycles with testing weeks at the beginning and end of each cycle so you can measure progress. Last week was a re-testing after a cycle that was focused on squats/squat speed and depth and snatches/shoulder strength.

We have a new coach at MTM that really helped me correct some things on my form and hit PR's all throughout this cycle. I did my first unassisted pull up not too long ago and am working on my kip and stringing those pull ups together. Friends in my class have threatened to not let me use a band at all starting in January, so I'm trying to be as ready as possible.

My other PR's from this cycle:

HBBS: On September 2, my 1RM was 125lbs. While we didn't retest for a 1RM, I did hit a 3RM set at 125lb and a 2RM set at 130lbs.

Front Squat: September through November, my 1RM was stuck at 105lbs. This week, on 12/16, I found a new 1RM at 115lbs!

Snatch: For the longest time, my snatch was stuck at 75lbs. It didn't matter if I was doing 1 rep or 3 reps, I was lifting 75lbs and failing at anything higher. Thanks to 5.5 lb barbells, my 3RM went from 75lbs to 76lbs (every little bit counts!). I also hit a snatch PR with a 2RM set of 81lbs! This felt like such a victory!

It feels so good knowing that I'm getting stronger. I never want to stop pressing on towards goals. Though I don't know where CrossFit will take me, I know want to do more than simply find a decent weight to lift and maintain.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Awesome Gadget

I recently admitted to my boss that being able to shop from my phone is deadly to me after I bought a yogurt maker from Groupon on the way back to the office from a client visit. I should not have shopping apps on my phone! But I do, and I occasionally find some really good deals on fun/useful/unique items, like this one:

3M Filtrete 4-Bottle Water Station
It's basically a water filter that filters tap water directly into four 16.9 oz BPA free bottles so that you can reach into your fridge, grab a water bottle, and go. This is great for all the times I'm running out the door and don't have time to fill up my Nalgene bottle from my Brita pitcher, or if I need a water bottle and the pitcher is out (often). The bottle size is also much easier to use with Nuun tablets or Crystal Light type flavor packets which are meant for 16.9 oz of water. Rarely am I ever without a water bottle of some sort. I feel incomplete without one! It's been so long since I've been a soda drinker that I don't crave sweet drinks, but I do notice myself wanting to snack more when my real issue is thirst. Anything that curbs the snack attacks is a good thing in my book!

The filter is really fast. It's a disk that sits in the top section. When the bottles are connected, they each push up on an individual valve that allows water to filter through, but stops it from leaking out when the bottle is removed. It's seriously neat. I can't stress enough how much I love grab-and-go items that help keep me on the right track.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why I May Never Pay for Another Gel Manicure Ever Again

Exactly ten days ago, I was in Texas for a client's Christmas party. Earlier that week, I'd finished peeling off the last remnants of my Gelish manicure that I'd paid around $25 for less that two weeks prior. It was chipping, cracking, and peeling probably a week after I got it and I'd let it go a little longer. There was no way I could attend an event with nails like that, so I peeled it all off.

My nails did not look great after peeling off the cured polish. I needed a buffer and file BAD, at the very least. I realized I'd have a few hours between events while in Texas and decided that I should seize the moment and fix my manicure situation.

I considered going to a salon and having them done, but I was feeling fairly exhausted since I'd been awake and traveling since 5:30 am that morning. I was already in Target, buying a sweater (it gets cold in Texas! Who knew?), so I swung by the nail polish section. I had nearly decided on a mega sparkly top coat that I was going to wear by itself because I was not about to spend an additional $8 on a colored base that I probably already owned, when I glanced over at the nail sticker selection. I'd always been scared to try them because I thought I'd screw them up and then I would have wasted my money (they're not cheap), or that they wouldn't last nearly long enough to be worth it. Since I already had a file/buffer combo in my basket, I figured the worst that could happen would be that I'd go to the party with au naturel nails that had been buffed to a shine.

I chose Essie SleekSticks in "Stickers and Stones" and headed back to my hotel. I filed and buffed my nails first, then got to work sticking the UV cured stickers on my nails. Once I got the hang of it, it was a fairly quick process, maybe 15 minutes from start to finish. My only complaint was that sometimes the textured dots of this design fell on the edge of my nail and made filing the excess sticker off a little tricky to do without damaging the design. Overall, though, I was REALLY impressed. It took way less time than painting my nails and waiting for them to dry would've taken. Here is the finished result:

And here they are ten whole days later:

There's a little wear on the ends and some separation back by the cuticles that had just started to catch on my hair when I'd wash it, but overall they held on strong. I think it helped that I'd held a hair dryer set on low over each hand after I'd put the stickers on, then pressed them down again to make sure they were on really well.

I was worried about removing them. The package didn't have instructions for that step and I assumed that it would be difficult and damaging to my nail, like peeling off a gel manicure. Once again, this product amazed me! I know, I should've stopped doubting it after receiving compliments on my nails for 10 days straight, but I'm a skeptic. For as well as they were stuck on there, they peeled right off as a single piece. There was a little residue left on my nails, not unlike the rubber cement they use to stick labels to magazines, and it rubbed right off.

My Outfit for the Party
I highly recommend Essie SleekSticks! They're so much cheaper than paying for a long-wearing manicure, so much less stressful than attempting nail art on your own, and you don't have to wait for them to dry. They will definitely be my go-to nail product anytime I have a special event.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Holidays: Making Spirits and Scales Soar

It starts with Thanksgiving, sometimes several rounds of eating, depending on your group of family and friends. The Christmas parties come next: work, clients, gym, book club, to name a few. Christmas itself is usually multiple occurrences of cookies and comfort food, too. New Year's Eve is next, with surefire snacking until the wee hours of the New Year. Of course, between all of these celebrations, your schedule is probably so packed that the drive-through seems like a sensible solution to the state of "hangry" you find yourself in.

Come January 2nd, you look in the mirror and hardly recognize the person staring back at you who looks at least 20lbs heavier than you know you are. You become one of the thousands of people joining a gym to fight off the bulge for another 1-11 months, until the holidays come again.

Sound familiar? This year, I'm bound and determined to NOT have that as my story. My job is in it's second year of "The Holiday Weight Maintenance Challenge", from which you win a prize if you can maintain your weight from before Thanksgiving through the New Year within a 2 lb window. I admit that last year, I barely made it into the window, for shame.

To help avoid the danger zone this year, I'm participating in the gym's "Holiday Nutrition Challenge", which has laid out five nutritional stages that CrossFit encourages (Eating Clean, Gluten Free, Zone, Paleo, Eat to Perform), and challenges you to pick one that is one step above where you currently are and stick to it for 20 days in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The idea is that you will be building good habits and encouraging good food choices at holiday events which will offset any weight gain brought on by holiday indulgences.

Nick and I picked the Eating Clean phase to try to stick to, with a smattering of the Gluten Free stage. We already ate pretty clean, but I knew that I definitely wanted to push myself to eliminate more processed foods and added sugar and salt from my diet. The Monday night after Thanksgiving, we went on a huge shopping trip and collected a serious stock of veggies, sweet potatoes, chicken and fish.

It makes sense, right? Sure, we have to get up a little earlier or take a little more time out of our evenings to prepare healthy dinners and brown bag lunches, but living a long and healthy life while getting a boost towards our fitness goals is certainly worth it. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Resolutions

Lately, I've been evaluating where I'm at in life and what I'm doing, specifically when it comes to my career and hobbies. I've found myself repeating the phrase, "I need to find a way to make my hobbies start paying me instead of me paying my hobbies." While my overall goal for my life's work isn't crystal clear yet, a few general step are. What I mean is, I don't know for sure if life will lead me to go back to school, but if it does (and it very well may) there are a few roadblocks that I need to remove so that I'm ready to take on an opportunity if one presents itself.

I was going through my "Notes" app on my iPad today and came across a list from January of this year. It was my 2013 Resolutions. Some of these will still be goals next year, that's for sure, and I definitely hope that I do a better job of accomplishing 2014's goals than I did with 2013's.

1. Stop swearing - Umm, maybe I did this? I think there has been a definite improvement in the quality of my speech, although I can't say I never swear.
2. Exercise regularly - Yes! As long as you are measuring from June-now. I'm really happy to have achieved this one and created a positive and healthy habit in my life.
3. Don't snack - That would be a negative, Ghostrider. I am a munch-aholic. The desk job is definitely a major contributor, as I notice that I don't snack when I am up and busy doing things.
4. Eat organic - Yes and no. I do it when I can or if I know something has a high level of pesticides.
5. Move out on my own - Check. As of the first week of November, I am roommate free. Time will tell how my budget does with this one.
6. Eliminate credit card debt - Sadly, no. You can count on seeing this one on my list of 2014 goals.
7. Be organized! - Maybe. I definitely don't have a system perfected, by any means, but I may have improved slightly.
8. Shop at Marc's and Aldi more - In general, no, although I am going there tonight. This is another 2014 goal that will hopefully help with #6.

Overall, my results are not so good. I do think that I am in a much better place this New Year's than last year and hopefully that will give be a better shot at 2014 being the year the magic really starts to happen.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Philadelphia Mini Tour

Instead of braving the crowds to go shopping on Black Friday, Nick and I headed into Philadelphia to see some of the historical sites. We had thought it would be deserted, since everyone else was out shopping, but it was just as packed as any mall. While a lot of the attractions are free, you still need to sign up for a tour time slot, like at Independence Hall. It was so busy that the whole day's worth of tickets had been given out by 2pm when we got there. 

Luckily for us, the line for the Liberty Bell was moving quickly and we did get to go through that building and have our picture taken with the bell. I guess the rest of the attractions will have to wait until our next visit. 

On our wanders through the city, we stumbled into a fantastic little shop full of ugly Christmas sweaters! Anything you could imagine finding on a sweater (and some things you'd never imagine finding) was in this shop. I was so tempted to buy the one in this picture for my cousin, who jokes about becoming a crazy cat lady and was just saying at Thanksgiving dinner that she wanted a sweater with cats on it. 

Speaking of Christmas shopping, I'm almost finished! I'm doing about 95% of my shopping online, since I've been running around the country like mad lately and the last thing I want to do with a night off is head to the mall. Sometimes the shopping experience is a thrill for me, but right now the ease of making several larger purchases online is much more thrilling.