Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My 10k training plan + why I like training plans

Hey friends!

Now that I've shared how I started running, I thought I'd share my 10k training plan with you! I realize a lot of you have zero interest in running, so feel free to skip this post. No hard feelings. :)

I finished this plan this past Sunday. When I picked this plan, all I really knew was that I wanted a new plan for a farther distance. I arbitrarily picked a 10k, which is 6.2 miles (not knowing there was such a thing as an 8k) and started googling training plans.

I found the one I'm used here. I did the beginner plan. (I won't post the whole thing because I figure there might be some kind of copyright on it.)

It's a seven-week plan. Basically, the plan starts out pretty slowly -- If you've just finished Couch to 5k or can run 20ish minutes, you might even be able to skip to halfway through the second week. I hadn't been running regularly, so I started at the beginning, but added time when I felt capable.

It was definitely challenging, but, like Couch to 5k, not impossible. Sometimes it's scary (running four miles for this plan was the first time I'd EVER run four miles!). But it's definitely been doable. Edited to add: I'm gonna be honest, the last run was hard as hell. But I made it.

This was also the first plan I've done that has the short runs during the week and a long run per week style, which I've heard other runners talk about. I liked it. I also didn't stick strictly to the days they prescribe. I moved my runs around during the week to accommodate the weather and my schedule.

So there it is. Use it if you'd like. I like it.

Now, onto why I like training plans

I started running in May of 2012 on an eight-week plan that lasted pretty well through the summer. Somehow I kept running into August -- not sure what exactly I was running. I finally did my first 5k in September.

And then I pretty much stopped running.

And then I ran a horrendous-feeling 5k in October.

And then I pretty much stopped running.

I had started grad school, which for me also entails a 30-hour-a-week internship. I had moved in with my bf. Life just got busy.

But I didn't want to stop running, thus my search for a new training plan.

I like training plans because they hold me accountable. I love coming home from a run and highlighting it to prove I've done it. And the idea that next week builds on this week is motivating to me. I understand that if I don't run my four miles this week, there's not a snowball's chance in a cat scanner that I'm going to be able to run five miles next week.

Those two simple things -- checking a run off the list and knowing that it enables me to run next week -- keep me motivated. So I love training plans.

I wonder what I'll do next. If training plans continue to be my motivation, does that mean my distance will keep increasing and increasing? I'd love to do a half marathon, but don't know if I really have any desire to run a full marathon.

Right now, I'm trying out some speedwork. I just signed up for a 5k in February and I'd like to see how fast I can run it. I'll keep you updated, I'm sure! (whether you like it or not!)

What about you all? Whether running is your gig or you have another fitness love -- what keeps you motivated?



Friday, January 25, 2013

Book review: The Summoning


The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost - and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? it's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House...before its skeletons come back to haunt me.


The Summoning is a quick and easy read targeted at the younger end of the YA fan base.

The main character Chloe is 15 and starts the book with typical teenage concerns: boys, friends, parents, etc. Then she sees a ghost in her school, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and is sent to a group home for "troubled teens."

The Summoning is entertaining. I never wanted to put it down, and it went in a few different directions that surprised me -- I don't think the author ever did what I was expecting.

But.

I think the author was laying a lot of ground work for the future of the series, which left it with a bit of an unsatisfying end.

Not a whole lot really happens in The Summoning, but a lot is alluded to, and I think it'll get to that eventually. And obviously the author wouldn't give everything away in the first book of the series. But the book should be able to stand on its own, and I don't think it completely does. Also, there's a ton that's brought up early in the book that the author never gets back to. So I think there's a LOT that can happen in the next books.

There are great twists and turns and it definitely kept me interested. I gave it three stars on Goodreads.

Have any of you read The Summoning? What did you think?



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thoughts on using my heart rate monitor

Hey friends!

I figured it was about time for an update on my heart rate monitor (HRM) experiences. If you need to catch up, I posted about it here. But here's some quick facts:

--I bought a Timex Personal Trainer Heart Rate Monitor for around $40 off Amazon.
--I wanted to use it to track calories, and hopefully to gauge myself when I begin to do some running speedwork.
--I thought setup was pretty easy and was eager to start using it!

As of now, I've used my HRM for three runs (wish it was more...).

Ease of Use
After the first run, I accidentally deleted all my information of the run. I looked at it once, but not long enough to really remember what I was seeing, then it was gone.

So I learned my first lesson for this particular HRM -- I need to take off the sensor before I view my information. Otherwise, after I view it, it starts counting again, even if I'm just standing there. Thus the calorie count goes from like 452 to 4. Annoying, but manageable.

Other than that, it's super easy. One button to turn it on, one to turn it off, one to recall information.

Comfort
I was a little concerned about the comfort of the sensor but once I put my sensor on, I mostly don't notice it's there. There is a slight pressure because I strap it so tightly, but it doesn't really bother me. It slips under my sports bra a little bit and has been staying in place without any during-the-run adjustment so far. Yay!

Calorie Counting
As I mentioned, a big reason I wanted a HRM in the first place was so I could be more accurate when counting calories. I didn't trust my running app or MyFitnessPal because they had no gauge of how hard I was working.

The verdict?

I'm still not sure I trust the HRM. The results from the three sources are just SO different, I don't know what's right anymore.

For example, here are the stats from my last two runs:

Distance:                                              Two miles                                            Five miles
Time:                                                     21:45                                                     55:23
MyFitnessPal calories:                        238                                                        550
Nike Running App calories:                207                                                        505
HRM calories:                                       428                                                       1040

So, as you can see, my HRM reads out that I'm burning nearly twice as many calories as Nike thinks I'm burning and more than twice as many calories as MyFitnessPal thinks I'm burning.

And I just don't know who to trust anymore.

I did some quick internet research (which obviously makes me an expert) and found this article. If you're interested in the subject, I highly recommend you read that article, but for anyone else, here's the basic point:

Calorie estimates from different tools are going to be all over the place unless you have an "indirect calorimeter device, which most commonly comes in the form of a 5-pound backpack-sized contraption that analyzes your oxygen consumption using a face mask or mouthpiece." And if you want to use one of those, you've got to shell out  $30,000 to $50,000 and maybe also work in a lab where one is used because that's where they're usually found.

Otherwise, you can use a tool created for Joe Schmo exerciser, which is likely a ballpark guess rather than an accurate calorie counter.

Some, apparently, are fancier than  my little HRM and will measure your temperature, how much you're sweating, where and for how long you slow or stop, etc. etc. Some just measure your heart rate.

So, all in all, I suppose I'm happy with my HRM. I'm never going to get a completely accurate count. I think for the purposes of my personal calorie counting on MyFitnessPal, I might start doing an average of all my results or something, but I might cheat toward the HRM, since it is actually measuring something.

Utility
I've signed up for a 5k in February and I'm almost at the end of my current training plan. Next I think I'm going to start doing some speed work, and I think the HRM will be really helpful for that! It will help me measure whether I'm really giving it all on my faster laps or if I just feel like I'm really giving my all. :)

Other than that, I think I need to play with my settings a little bit. It measures how long you're in your "target" heart rate zone, and my low is ridiculously low -- I beat it by sitting still I think. But once I tinker with that, I think it will also help me make sure I don't slack off in any of my workouts. I think it'll be really great for Zumba, since it's really easy to half-ass Zumba.



One more interesting fact -- I described before the process I used to find my "max heart rate" -- when I had to sit and stand and sit and stand for three minutes and whatnot. I read on another blog that the writer calculated hers by taking 220 and subtracting her age! And I read somewhere that another blogger (can't remember who, sorry!) found hers by lying still for a few minutes. Maybe less scientific, but definitely easier. :)

I hope you're all having a fabulous Thursday!! Any big plans for the weekend? I'll be seeing The Perks of Being a Wallflower and running 6.2 miles!! eep! :)




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter workouts outside

Hey friends!

So, I knew it was crazy to start a running training plan in the middle of December, when the semester was about to end and I wasn't always guaranteed to have somewhere to run inside.

But I did it anyway.

And today I thought I'd share my experience for other crazies out there running when it's 32 degrees (or less!) Although, let me preface this by saying that I don't live in the north, like my cousin in Madison who has been posting pictures of the weather at like -4 degrees, where it's ridiiiiculously cold. But it was below freezing, so I'm talking about it anyway.

One of the tricky things about running in the winter is that you want to be cold for the first couple minutes. Honest. You should feel a little underdressed because once you start moving, you will get HOT under all those layers.  I had days that were in the low thirties and I was still rolling up my sleeves or peeling off clothes.

Here's what I typically wear (although it should be adjusted according to the exact temperature!):




First layer is always these awesome leggings. I lucked out and my sister happened to steal these from either our high school or a football player in high school.

However, I've seen similar pairs out in the world -- they're just stretchy, thick, spandexy leggings. Not cotton or sweater or anything like that. I love them because they keep me warm and don't make me hot.

I always wear shorts over them because they look really awkward otherwise.

When it was super cold (high twenties and low thirties was the coldest I ran in) I work a long sleeve shirt and sweatpants over the leggings. This day must not have been so bad.













I recently found these gloves (the style Tamara refers to as "hobo gloves") at Kohls and got them for four bucks! These help with warmth (obviously) but also protect my skin from the cold winter air. I think that's super important because before I got these my hands were really suffering!

They're perfect for me because I like to be able to check my distance/change my music and normal gloves don't allow that as easily. Also, when I get hot, I can let my fingers breathe.

Finally I top it off with a running jacket I got at Target for around 25ish dollars and a fleece hat my bff's mom made for me for Christmas in high school. The important thing about the hat is that it covers my ears. And when it was colder, I did a hoodie instead of the jacket. :)


I also usually put on some chapstick before going out -- cold wind is not so great for my lips!

Do any of you work out outside in the winter? What are your winter workout essentials?



Monday, January 21, 2013

This weekend I... [1.21.13]

This weekend I got to be part of an event for the leadership group I work with! We toured several companies, includine the Kauffman Center in Kansas City, which was So. Gorgeous.
And on Saturday I got to help facilitate team-building activities among the freshmen in the group, which was really awesome. I was the one who found all the activities and planned the day and it was really cool to see it all through. AND. I'll be working more and more with the freshmen this semester, which I'm really excited about!


This weekend I went on a "date" with my wonderful friend Blake! I was even adventurous and tried Pad Thai for dinner, which was awesome!
I'm usually awful about trying new foods (that's why it's one of my 24 before 24 goals!), so this was a Big Deal. Also! I bought a sweet potato and a pomegranate this weekend at the grocery store, which are both new foods. More adventure!!

This weekend I finally gave Pat his Christmas present, which was a trip to the Boulevard Brewing Company for their infamous tour! Sam also came because I figured it would be more fun for Pat if he had his bff with him, especially since I don't drink beer.




It was fun! And really cool, even for a non-beer drinker. Also, in the picture above, those giant tanks on the left? Yeah, full of beer.

This weekend I also made funfetti cookies. Yum!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I start class this week. Meh. I'm sure I'll let you know how it goes!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Book review: Reached

Reached by Ally Condie

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday. Because this book is the third in a series, it will automatically contain spoilers for the first two books, which can be found here and here.

After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

I gave all three books in this series a three-star rating. Whoops? It's hard to review the third book in a series, especially when I haven't reviewed the other two books on my blog. 

The Matched trilogy is about Cassia, a girl who lives in a future society that controls citizens lives very much, from their jobs to whom they marry to how many children they can have. Typical dystopian. The first book, Matched, kicks off when Cassia is matched to be married to her lifelong bff Xander. But through a technological glitch, Cassia gets a glimpse at a different future the Society never had planned for her. And she starts to wonder, what if she pursues that alternate future?

All in all, I was pretty satisfied with Reached as a conclusion to the series. While the first book is told only from Cassia's perspective, the second adds in Ky's perspective, and the third has Cassia's, Ky's and Xander's perspectives. I usually don't like alternating perspectives because they don't allow you to get to know any of the characters really well -- but, since we had the whole series to get to know these characters, I felt like it really worked.

A common problem, I think, with series-ending books is that the author tries to wrap everything up, give everyone a happy ending, and tie a nice bow around it all. On the one hand, I want some of that. I don't want to see characters I have grown to love unhappy or, worse, dead. 

But on the other hand, I sometimes hate it. It's not realistic and feels false. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Reached strikes a really great balance of happy endings and leaving some things undecided. The end feels realistic, but there are still some loose ends, some less-than-perfect futures that are still possible. And I like that.

I liked the series a lot and definitely recommend it to readers who like a bit of romance and adventure. :)

Have any of you read all or part of this series? What did you think? (Please be wary of spoilers but feel free to email me! :)




Thursday, January 17, 2013

Heart rate monitor: Initial thoughts and set up

So I posted a while back about my hesitation in buying a heart rate monitor (HRM) -- and by that, I mean that I told you I'd almost made it through the Amazon check-out twice and couldn't pull the trigger.

I initially wanted a HRM because it gives a read out of how many calories you burn during exercise. I've been calorie counting for over a year, but I know it's very inaccurate. I rarely take the time to measure food like I should and I don't trust MyFitnessPal or my running app about how many calories I'm burning. A HRM would at least help me be a little more accurate.

It's not the most expensive piece of fitness equipment out there -- mine rounded up to around $40. I chose the Timex Personal Trainer Heart Rate Monitor, which my former roommate Laura had used when she first started getting healthy. She's since moved on to greener HRM pastures, but seemed to love her first one and had recommended it to me before.

But even with the low-ish cost relative to other fitness equipment (and clothes!), $40 is still a chunk of change for me. Especially since I wasn't really sure how to use it or if it would be helpful for me.

I finally bought it later that night, and it arrived in the mail Tuesday.

I thought while I figure out how to use it I would kind of keep you updated. Maybe if any of you are debating the purchase, this will be helpful for you. Or maybe just entertaining. Who knows?

I've been doing a lot of fitness-y posts lately. I'm sorry if that's not really your thing. But it's what's inspiring me to write lately! Feel free to skip around or skip it all together. No hurt feelings. :)


It arrived!
I came home to an Amazon box. It's here! Yay! This HRM comes with a watch that reads out your results


and a sensor that you strap around your torso, under your sternum (basically where your bra band usually goes).
Sorry, blurry picture, but the sensor is that black stripe under my blue sports bra.
I struggled a little bit to figure out how to do the settings, like my weight. Pat showed me that he'd already figured all that out and then helped me figure out the rest.

I read through the books -- it comes with a practical booklet about how to use the functions and another helpful one about what a heart rate really means in the realm of your training (as in, if you're in this zone of heart rates, you're doing work toward a lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, etc.) I loved this book because it gave me some ideas of how using a HRM would be helpful for my running/training/fitness goals.

We then started playing with the sensor. It's kind of a plastic-y bar thing with an elastic strap. The strap might end up actually being too big for me if the elastic stretches at all over time. I'm not sure if there are other sizes.

It was a little difficult to get the sensor to work for me. Wetting the sensor bar helped, but also pressing it flush against my skin. I think as I continue to wear it, it may stretch/mold more to me and not be so stuck in its original position.

The sensor itself beeps quietly, but I don't think anyone but me will really notice. The watch can alert you to the time or if you reach a target heart rate, but for now I have that turned off.

Finding my maximum heart rate
Before you start using the heart rate monitor, the book suggests a couple of "tests."

The point of these tests is to figure out your maximum heart rate. And, in case you didn't know, your heart rate is measured by how many times your heart pumps per minute. :) Knowing your heart rate helps you to gauge how hard you're working at a physical endeavor while you're wearing your HRM.

So for me, if I decide I want to speed train, I might set a target heart rate for a slower jog and a target heart rate for a faster pace, and then alternate between the two.

The tests to figure out your maximum heart rate are simple.

In the first, you step up and down a step for three minutes. (As in, right foot up, left foot up, right foot down, left foot down.) They ask you to do that 30 times per minute, so a total of 90 step-ups.

In the second test you sit down and stand up at the same pace -- 30 times per minute for three minutes.

This was actually a pretty difficult pace to keep! I ended up burning nearly a hundred calories (according to my new HRM!) during the two tests.

Then you do some math and you have your maximum heart rate! I did the heart rate tests while I was getting ready for work -- meaning my roommates were sleeping. :) Easy peasy.

I've only used my heart rate monitor for one run so far -- I'll post again soon after I've used it a couple more times and let you know what I think!

Do any of you use a heart rate monitor? How do you use yours? OR have you ever thought about buying one?



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Workout playlist

Hey friends!

I mentioned a while back that I might share my playlist and there was some interest. (ok, one person... this is for you Jordan! ;)

So whether you like it or not, I'm telling you. That's kind of my attitude with all my posts lately. :)

Before I start, a quick note for runners: A lot of my songs are good for me based on my pace. At my fastest, I usually run a 10:30 mile, and my slowest adds around a minute. So some of the songs that work for me might be slow/fast for you. If you're interested in pacing your run according to your music, jog.fm is a great resource to find songs that match your pace.

That only works for me to a certain extent, though. I like songs with words, so instrumentals are out for me. Also, some songs are slower and aim for you to run at 2x the pace of the beat, which also doesn't work very well for me. So it's not guaranteed.

Anyway. On to the music! Please note that not all of these are appropriate for work/small children.

First, a few favorites:


Lucky Strike by Maroon Five -- a recent find through jog.fm, this song ups my pace sooo much! Love it!

Club Can't Handle Me by Flo Rida -- my classic favorite

And, of course, Starships by Nicki Minaj :)

Others on my playlist:

Best Damn Thing -- Avril Lavigne (I know. I KNOW. but I love this song. No judgement on any of these, friends.)
We R Who We R -- Ke$ha
Hello -- Martin Solveig & Dragonette

There's some others, but I feel like I skip them more than I play them, so I'll leave them off. 

Do you all have a go-to workout playlist? What's it called? Mine's called Tom Hanks. (as in, Run, Forrest!)







PS. Thank you all for your comments on yesterday's post! I hope I didn't imply that there's a "right" way -- of course everyone will feel differently. You all had so many perspectives; definitely fulfilled my curiosity and abated my confusion. :) 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

An engagement question

No. Stop it. Pat and I are not getting engaged.

But it is engagement season, so I had a question for you all....

Do you expect/want your future someone to ask your parents' (or uncle's, or grandfather's, or brother's) permission before proposing? Or, alternately, did your someone ask? Or, even more alternately, does this custom baffle you like it does me?
My dad does seem rather intimidating, no?

I'm not against it. But I do think it's an odd custom, nowadays. I've talked to my parents because the whole thing confuses me so. Independent, feminist me says "No one owns me and has permission to give me away or take me or own me, dang it!" Neither my parents, nor I, have any expectations of my future husband asking their permission.

But I wouldn't be offended.

It all just confuses me.

The weird thing is, I have seen a split -- either people never even thought about it, think it's a crazy old custom, or they absolutely expect it. And these categories cross region and religion. I've heard of people on both coasts (and in between) and of all religions asking for permission.

So it doesn't seem to be a Christian thing or a Southern thing -- although those two groups might be more apt to ask for permission.

Anyone have any thoughts on the matter? Do you want your someone to ask permission to ask for your hand?







Edited to add: I realized I can't respond to comments in the comment section? Don't know how to fix that. But I think a big difference I was missing is permission vs blessing. Hope this post wasn't offensive to any -- seriously just wanted to hear everyone's thoughts about it! xoxo

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book review: Sweethearts


Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.


I don't have a whole lot to say about this book.

I loved Jenna's voice. I thought it was realistic and easy to relate to. All the characters were really well written and believable -- I didn't ever look up, didn't doubt any of the characters' actions.

I liked the depiction of her high school relationship, too. The way sometimes we were in relationships and didn't really know why except that the other person was reasonably good looking and wanted to kiss you.

I also really enjoyed Jenna's journey of self-discovery. She really grows as a character through the book, which is something I think a lot of the books I've read have been missing lately, so yay!

The author does that thing where there's a mysterious event in the past that they keep referring to and is revealed over several chapters. I usually don't love that tactic. I'd rather learn it all at once and create tension and interest in other ways. But it's a tool authors use often, so I try not to judge it too harshly.

Overall, I thought Sweethearts was really well-written and believable. I gave it three stars, because it's good, but it just didn't speak to me in particular... ya know? But I definitely recommend it as an easy, quick read. It delves into a few deeper/darker subjects and handles them really well (specifically, eating issues, abuse, and learning to be yourself).

Have any of you read Sweethearts? What did you think?



Thursday, January 10, 2013

Random about me stuffs

Hey friends!

It would be a sleepy Thursday around here -- it's the day after an OT win for KU basketball. It's raining (and nobody told me it was going to rain). And after I got ready this morning, I climbed back in bed with sleeping Patrick for juuuust a few minutes.

So it would be a sleepy Thursday if I hadn't put off all my work earlier in the week. Oops?

Anyway. I'm on my lunch break now. Tonight I'm driving into the KC area (there's so many towns packed into one area I have no idea where I'm actually going -- thank goodness for my GPS, Steve) to grab dinner with my wonderful friend Jenna. And then I'm going home and hopefully to bed early. We'll see.

So on a pretend lazy day, I'm going to be a halfway lazy blogger. :)

The wonderful Amanda at Happy. Asia. Girl. recently gave me the Liebster Blogging Award. I've gotten this award before but I don't always answer the questions. (I did once -- here!) If you gave me the award and I failed to thank you, I'll do it now. Thank you, friend! It means the world to me to have found so many kindred spirits through blogging, and I appreciate you all.

Ok, now on to the challenge. I'm supposed to answer Amanda's questions and list some random facts. Here goes:

Amanda's questions:

ONE. If you were a food what food would you be?
Probably pasta of some sort. Maybe mac and cheese. Because you are what you eat!

TWO. What is a secret goal that you have?
If you follow me on Pinterest you may have caught on to this one -- I want to stop being a lazy vegetarian. I want to stop assuming I'm getting all the right things and start educating myself. And I want to try new forms of veggie protein. More on this to come, I'm sure. :)

THREE. Tell us about your car (or public transit of choice)
My car is a 97 Honda Accord named Betsy. She's maroon, which is one of the most difficult colors because she does not stick out in a parking lot at all. I've had her since I was 16 and hope to keep her for a while still, although she's just over 205,000 miles now. I get anxious when people ask me how she's doing because something usually happens after I say she's fine.

FOUR. All time favorite vacation?
Oh gosh. Um. Well, I studied abroad. That was pretty neat. But otherwise, our trips to the beach were always the best. No crazy stories, I'm afraid. Just lots of happy memories of reading and naps on the beach and card games with cousins.

FIVE. Describe your perfect Saturday
Waking up early and walking to the beach for sunrise. Going for a run that leaves me feeling energetic and accomplished and alive. Cooking good food with Pat. Playing cards with friends. Staying up late with my parents and sisters (and pets!) talking. Climbing under the covers in our home to go to sleep.

SIX. Three words to sum you up
I can't choose.
(see what I did there? :)

SEVEN. Favorite member of your family (answer at your own risk)
Am I allowed to say Chewy?

EIGHT. Favorite quote?
Oh I have many. Of course. Here are two.
"It's all in the view... For any one of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. You never know for sure, so you'd better make every second count." -- Sarah Dessen in The Truth about Forever

"When by now and tree by leaf, she laughed his joy, she cried his grief." -- from my favorite e.e. cummings poem, Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town

NINE. What would your friends say your catch phrase is?
Haha, I'm not sure. Maybe "oh gosh." I say that a lot, for good things and bad things and difficult questions. :) Edit: I just thought of my real answer. (although my first answer still stands) My friends would probably tell you I make a lot of noises. Mwerrs and mrowls and other gibberish. I even put them in blogs and emails and tweets. Just learn to love it, k?

TEN. speaking of catch phrase, which category do you rock at?
I always choose the Everything category. Because I think it gives everyone a fair chance and because I rock them all. :) (no, but seriously. I do)

ELEVEN. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Geez, Amanda! Hit me with a harder question, will ya? Truth is, I don't. I don't have a five-year plan. I'm still figuring everything out (hence the title of my blog). I'd like to be somewhere happy with Pat and able to visit my family often. Is that a good enough answer? :)

And here's some random facts:

ONE. Two nights ago, I said "There's nothing going on over there!" in my sleep.

TWO. I name things.  You may have picked that up from the mentions of Steve the GPS and Betsy the car in this post. Also named: Eva the phone, Stanley and Sylvia the plants, Maggie the other GPS, G the iPod. Eva was preceded by Simon and Alex. Probably more I'm not thinking of.

THREE. I always put my left shoe on first.

FOUR. I trade bathroom mirror shots of our clothes with Shauna. Like, when one of us wears colored pants or a fancy scarf. I've been meaning to take a picture today, actually...

FIVE. I have a heart rate monitor in my shopping bag at Amazon. I've gone through most of the order twice today but can't commit.

SIX. I have been craving Mexican food since the middle of December.

SEVEN. I can't think of any more. How many facts was I supposed to give?


I hope you all have enjoyed me talking about myself. :)

How is your Thursday going? Is it lazy where you are too?



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A (modified) Couch to 5k plan -- How I started to run

Hey friends!

Today I thought I'd quickly share the training plan I used when I first started running.

One thing I really loved about this plan was that it's based on times, not distances. Many running training plans are distance based. As in, run 1.5 miles Monday, 2 miles Wednesday, etc. I thought that was so intimidating! When I started, running two minutes straight was a challenge. There was no way I was going out and running half a mile on my first try.

Also, at the time, I didn't have a smart phone with apps to easily measure distance, but I did have a phone with a stop watch. So a time-based training plan was perfect for me.

Week One
Run two minutes, then walk one. Do four cycles.

Week Two
Run four minutes, walk two. Do four cycles.

Week Three
Run eight minutes, walk two. Do four cycles.

Week Four
Run ten minutes, walk one. Do three cycles.

Week Five
Run fourteen minutes, walk two. Run sixteen minutes, walk two. Run fourteen minutes.
*This was the scariest week for me, but I did it! If you can only do 14 on the middle run, that's ok too.

Week Six
Run seventeen minutes, walk two, run seventeen.
*This week they also asked that we start practicing a finish-line push: for the last 30 seconds of each run, see if you can up your pace!

Week Seven
Run seventeen minutes, walk one only if you have to, run seventeen minutes

Week Eight
Run 34 minutes or a 5k!!



I also made this picture version that should be pinnable/printable/shareable!



A couple more things about this plan:

Every week was scary. Each week I was terrified of the new number I had to run -- whether it was four minutes or 17. But I was able to complete each week's challenge. It wasn't always easy, but I did it. I bet you can too.

If you can't, though -- if you find that you're super struggling with a week, figure out what you can do. Can't do ten minutes yet? Repeat the week before. Or, try nine minutes.

Finally, we were advised to do a five-minute warm-up "brisk walk" and to run three or four times a week on this plan. I think I mostly did three times a week. See what you can do, check out your energy levels, and go for it!


If you're trying this plan, please let me know! I'd love to hear about if/how it works for you!

Have any of you made running- or fitness-based goals for 2013? I'd love to hear about them!










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Saturday, January 5, 2013

The difference a year makes

One of my favorite things I do (yep, I'm generalizing that much) is keep a five year journal. Since I've had it for more than a year now, every day when I write in it, I can see what I did on the same day last year. Cool, yeah?

A year ago today, I found a way to increase my daily movement for the first time.

It wasn't really part of a resolution -- I'd tried calorie counting the previous November and started to try to get in shape then, but it just didn't work out.

Then, in January, inspired by many other bloggers' resolutions and successes, I decided to start trying again. I started actually, really counting calories and watching what I ate January third.

January fifth, I ate my lunch at my desk and used my break to walk for half an hour. In the realm of fitness, if marathons and triathlons and iron mans, it was a tiny, tiny accomplishment. But it was a start.

If you've been around for a while already, you might remember a few posts about my walks at lunch time, because I kept it up. It was the PERFECT way for me to start. It was easy, not too big of a step out of my comfort zone, and -- as little as the change was -- it made a HUGE difference -- I lost weight, I felt better about myself, I loved having a break in my day to get my mind off work. It was so good for me in so many ways.


Last week, I went running while it was snowing. The snowflakes were huge and falling super slowly and it was wonderful and trippy. It was, by far, my best running experience ever. And, maybe, one of the coolest things I've ever done independently, for myself, because I could and because I wanted to.

If I hadn't started a year ago, just by walking at lunch time, I'd never be where I am today.

I get really tired of seeing the "lose 10 pounds in four weeks!" kind of ads. And, if I'm being honest, I get tired of seeing people who've experienced a lot of success a lot faster than me, even if they did it the healthy way. I'm really bad at comparing myself to others.

So today, I'm not going to post numbers of how far I've run or how fast or how much I've lost. Soon, I will be posting the training plans I've followed, what I tend to wear for running in cold weather, and my playlist (if anyone is interested?).

I still have a ways to go. I've been stuck at the same weight for 6ish months, maybe more? and some of my jeans I bought since I've lost weight are feeling a little snug again. I'd like to get rid of those last few pounds, I could always eat better, and I'm definitely still working on running farther and faster.

But let me tell you -- I feel like I have come so, so far from that first day when I walked on my lunch break. 

I run now. Regularly. To better myself, to beat my old records, for the heck of it, and for fun

I'm pounds from where I was last January 5, and, if you count all the distance I've walked, run, volleyballed and zumbaed, I'm miles and miles from where I was.


A lot of people have their minds on goals and on fitness this time of year, myself included. I've come a long way, but I'm still not where I want to be, and I'm still working slowly toward getting there.

I hope -- if you're trying to get healthier, if fitness is a goal you've set for yourself this year -- I hope you'll see each small change as a huge success. Because it is. Each time you change something small, it prepares you for the next change.

And you know what? You should be investing in yourself. Because you are wonderful and amazing and deserve to be the best you. 

And because, even if each change you make seems miniscule -- when they all add up, who knows where you'll be one year from now?

***

I'm sending lots of love and positive vibes to everyone with a goal -- fitness related and otherwise -- this January. May you all feel encouraged, may you beat the bad days, may you find ways to make the small changes that turn into big changes.


xoxo,



Friday, January 4, 2013

Book review: Legend


Legend by Marie Lu

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.


Unfortunately I didn't love this book. It does have a 4.08 on Goodreads, so if you'd like to read other reviews, go there. But here's my thoughts, for any who care.

ONE. The plot of this story seems like it would be great. I love a good dystopian novel. But for me, it didn't measure up. A lot of the world-building needed to be more specific. I didn't understand why I should hate the Republic for most of the book. I didn't know that it was only the western US until re-reading the description just now. I just needed more information so I could be invested in Day, who fights against the Republic.

TWO. The characters were not good. Many parts that needed to have emotion didn't. At all. I didn't care what happened to anyone except Tess, a not-major-but-not-minor character. Which made me really apathetic about the entire book.

That's a lot of it, really. There were other things I didn't like as I was reading it, but if these two problems --my confusion and my lack of connection to the characters -- were solved, I might have enjoyed the book.

I gave it two stars on Goodreads. It wasn't the worst thing I've ever read -- I made it through -- but I certainly don't recommend it.

Have any of you read this book? It's well liked on Goodreads. What did you think?



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, friends

Have you ever heard the superstition that how you spend your New Year's Day is how you'll spend the rest of that year?

Starting at midnight, I rang in 2013 with my mom and little sister.

We played Scrabble and played cards and took lots of silly animal pictures.

I slept in and went for my first run of the year. It wasn't super fast, it wasn't super far, but I ran.

I tried a new recipe and ate dinner with (sadly not all of) my family. I sat with them in the living room and read Harry Potter, my mom hemmed my pants and we all watched Big Bang Theory.

It's been a quiet day and a quiet evening at home.

If the rest of my year turns out to be peaceful and happy like today, I think it would be all right. A good run, good food, good company... yes please.

Of course my only complaint is that not everyone I love played a part in my day. My older sister is back in Kansas and Pat is a bajillion miles away still -- but we'll be fixing that problem on Saturday.

***

I've been a bit quiet on the blog -- sorry about that, friends. Enjoying my vacation from work and school. I'll try to get back into the swing of things soon.


Hoping you all had a wonderful New Year's Day and wishing you all a fabulous 2013.


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