Weekend in pictures (kinda)…

So, I promised lots of pictures from this weekend. Well – I sorta didn’t take that many so I’m going to do my best to portray the weekend in pictures – but you’ll have to use your imagination in some cases. Sorry folks, I’m a fitness blogger by nature, which doesn’t require lots of pictures – I don’t know how you foodie bloggers find time to take all those awesome pictures! I could use some tips, clearly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

To kick off this weekend? A fantastic celebration with my fellow Kickers on Friday night that thank you God included celebrating my own passing of the big bad Kick assessment. I seriously didn’t think it would happen in time, and even if I did hear, I was so afraid I’d fail. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. ๐Ÿ™‚ And we were able to celebrate in style, all having passed and all ready to celebrate, fo sho! <sorry – no pictures from Friday, fail!!>

Saturday started with a great run with Scott – not a very long one, just about 4, 4.2 miles, but it was the perfect way to get the day rolling before the festivities began. Party started around noon and went all day and into the night. Lots of sangria was had. Lots of food was eaten – including Scott’s first taste of steamers, which he actually *did* like, much to his family’s surprise (coming from being such a picky eater before he met me!). This is an action shot of his first taste of the steamers – check out his dad in the background. So cute.

Sunday – toes in the sand. Spent the whole day at the beach with my sis and Scott. Best way to spend Scott’s birthday, ever. Nothing like that first whiff of ocean air or the sand between your toes (and sorry for the repeat pic, told you I am horrible at pictures!! Just realizing now that I don’t even have any of me and Jo and I spent the entire weekend with her, how is that possible??)

And finally, last night – Scott’s birthday dinner. After cleaning up from our day at the beach, I left in search of the perfect birthday dinner. What else could it be but Scott’s fave? Filet mignon, mixed greens salad and steamed yellow beans. With Zinfandel. Annnd prosecco and strawberries for dessert, while watching Wedding Crashers (that movie just never gets old if you ask me!). And yes, we *may* have managed to polish off both the Zin and the Prosecco. It was a great night to say the least. ๐Ÿ™‚

Scott manning the grill!

Check out that meal, MMM!

The birthday boy, ready to dig in!

And voila, two very happy campers. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ahh, just reliving the weekend while writing this blog makes me so very happy. Not gonna lie, totally not ready to go back to work tomorrow but the good news is it’s a short week AND summer Friday’s start at work this week, meaning I’ll be out of the office around 3pm on Friday which makes me one very happy girl!

Drumroll please…!!

….I PASSED MY GROUP KICK ASSESSMENT!!!

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no words. Just sheer excitement, relief, joy, and most of all, pride (much like I have for my sister who passed her assessment this week too).

Six MONTHS of endless sweat, kicks, jabs, uppercuts, and yes, a few tears.

But it was ALL worth it for this very moment…my FIRE is back and it’s not going anywhere!

Bring it!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Getting your fire back

As most of you know by now, I’m a big fan of Joel Osteen thanks to my grandparents (and my sis who loves listening to his show each week on Sunday nights, too). I started getting a daily email from him with inspirational words of wisdom mixed with scripture and have found that to really help me get my head in the game in the morning. I’ve needed it, lately, in particular.

Well – his email yesterday was spot on with how I was feeling towards the end of the day: pretty beat up and lacking the usual spring in my step…my “Positive Polly” pants were definitely nowhere to be seen. I’d scanned the email from Joel in the morning yesterday but didn’t really let it sink it, though I did tuck it in the back of my mind as something I should probably re-read later in the day. And, when I did, it totally hit me right where it needed to. Here’s a snippet:

Let me ask you, do you go out each day knowing that favor is already in your future? Or have you gotten stuck in a rut staring at a mountain of disappointment, setbacks or difficulty?

That’s what happened to the people of Israel. They were headed toward their promised land. They had big goals and big dreams, but along the way they hit some setbacks and had some disappointments. They got so discouraged that they gave up on their dreams and just settled where they were. One day God said to them, “You have dwelt long enough on this mountain.” He was saying, “It’s time to move past this and embrace the blessing in your future.”

I believe God is saying that to each one of us today. You’ve been where you are long enough. God is saying, “This is a new day. Get your fire back. Where you are is not where you’re supposed to stay.” If you’ll be determined to move past your mountain, He will lead you and empower you to live in favor and blessing in every area of your life!

No lie – I seriously got goosebumps as I re-read this while blogging. You all know I’ve felt a little up and down lately but this is exactly what I needed to turn that corner.ย  It’s totally time to get my fire back, move forward and embrace the blessing in my future.

I don’t know why, but it just gives me such a sense of calm today – and has put me in an incredible mood.ย  Part of my mood I totally give credit to this morning’s workout – weight lifting with Scott at the gym just prior to getting our asses handed to us in Ride. It was pretty awesome. LOVE a good sweat!!

Anyway, I thought the timing was good for a little inspiration today – especially as we head into the long weekend, which you all know I’m planning to thoroughly enjoy. And, not gonna lie, I hope one of those “blessings” in my future is passing my Group Kick assessment. I’m DYING to hear from them and seriously hope I do before the day ends today. Fingers and toes are still crossed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Long weekend in 3, 2, 1…

The countdown to the long weekend has begun – and the weather is looking phenomenal around these parts, I’m THRILLED. The exact right way to celebrate Scott’s birthday too, which he’s totally excited for – especially since we’re throwing a pretty mean partay on Saturday that entails the following:

Sangria (stay tuned for a recipe which you’ll find on Living a Zinful Life in short order)

Steak tips (that Scott likes to let “bathe” for two days with his super-special marinade, which you might also see on the other blog!)

Pasta salad with veggies

Antipasto salad (Scott’s dad makes a mean version which he brings every year, MM!)

A huge veggie/dip platter

Steamers (A first for Scott, he has texture issues with food typically but this one was all his idea, we’ll see how it goes LOL)

Various other munchies

And that’s all just for part one of the bash. The second part involves burgers (regular and turkey), a cheese platter, more pasta salad, fruit salad and, of course, more sangria.

So, you could say that this will be one giant eating and drinking fest – one that I’m totally indulging in, because it’s just necessary sometimes. (and I plan on a lonnng run in the AM on Saturday to mentally and physically prepare for it, ha!). I promise to report back with lots of pictures and updates (people pictures too, just for you, Heather!).

*****

In other news…

I had an awesome run this morning with Scott and ended up using yesterday as a rest day, even though I totally didn’t want to. I’ve got to get better about accepting a once per week rest day, I have such issues with it sometimes!

I’m SUPER DUPER proud of my sis who passed her Group Kick assessment! She found out yesterday so now I’m totally dying in anticipation of finding out if I’ve also passed. It would be awesome to find out before tomorrow – a few of us Kickers (including Steph!)ย  are meeting up for drinks tomorrow night to celebrate, so hopefully we’ll be celebrating BOTH of us passing, so please, please, please keep your fingers and toes crossed!

And finally – I surpassed the 10k visitor mark yesterday! WOO! I’m suuuuch a dorky blogger, but that totally excited me when I saw that this morning when I logged into WordPress. ๐Ÿ™‚

Me this week: random, scattered, disheveled

AHHHHHHH.

I’m a mess. I’m so scattered and all over the place this week and I think I might be going a little bit crazy (unless I was already there to begin with…no comments from the peanut gallery!).

I don’t even have a hard and fast reason for it, I just am. It’s one of those weeks where I have a LOT to get done at work in advance of the long weekend (thank GOD for that shining light at the end of the tunnel) and a TON going on on the home front to accomplish before the big Memorial Day weekend cookout/birthday bash for Scott we throw every year at this time. For some reason, this year we’re determined to make it the best ever (more on this in another post, promise), so we’ve been doing a ton of prep work this week to get ready. Nobody throws a party quite like the Sutera’s, just sayin’. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So I guess I do have some reasons for feeling scattered, but still, it’s just lots of little things that have piled up into one big, gigantic stress knot in my shoulder. I’ve got to breathe – inhale, exhale….

Other things on my mind (in no particular order)?

  • I didn’t workout this morning because my brain (and Scott’s) would NOT turn off last night so I ended up restless and sleepless much of the night. Which means I must leave work right on time to get a weight workout in (thinking of STS tonight, I’ve missed it!) – which means I’ve got to knock this day outta the park on the work front. Oy.
  • BTS has my Group Kick video assessment. EEK. This means it’s just a matter of time before I know if I’ve passed. Or failed. No pressure or anything.
  • And, last but not least: I need a vacation. Badly. I think part of my scattered/disheveled/stressed feelings are stemming from the fact that I’ve been go, go, going for months and months with no rest for the weary. I’m tired. REALLY tired. And I’d love a “real” vacation – though this weekend’s “staycation” was a nice mini-reprieve, not gonna lie. I DO have lots of fun planned for the summer/fall but it just seems a wee bit far off in the distance right now – I know, I know, I’ve got to live in the moment and enjoy the little things – like a FAB long weekend coming up. This is sorta why I’m even writing today’s post to begin with. To shake it off, knock some sense into myself and get happy again.

Phew. That’s better.

Wow, I’ve been doing a lot of “blogging it out” lately – hopefully ya’ll don’t mind. I really do appreciate all of your comments and support lately – especially after my post the other day about my dear friend, it meant so much to me.

On that note, I’m off to tackle this day full-force and promise to shake it off – it IS Wednesday which means the week is half over (though I TOTALLY thought it was Thursday until about a half hour ago, ha!).

******

Random side blog note – I just realized, I’m almost at 10k hits since I started my blog! I’m so excited!!

It’s not fair…

Sometimes life isn’t fair. But dammit, I wish it were.

I’m intentionally being vague here to protect the privacy of one of my dearest friends who is going through a particularly challenging time, but felt like it was the right thing to do by blogging about it here in the context of perspective and being grateful.

Honestly, I feel helpless. There is nothing I can do or say that will make her feel better or change what it is that she’s going through. She’s been dealt an incredibly tough hand and she’s shown strength and perseverance throughout, same goes for her husband who’s in this with her and I’ve seen them grow stronger together, by the day. It’s incredible, really.

It’s just crazy to me that life can be so unfair sometimes and can provide such challenges to those that don’t deserve them. But then, challenges are what makes each of us stronger, in ourselves, and in our faith, whatever faith that might be. I know she’ll come out of this stronger and will find faith, but right now, I wish there was a “fast-forward” button to get her to that point quicker.

I guess my point here is about faith and perspective and accepting that we are supposed to “bloom right where we’re planted” no matter what we’re currently dealing with. A hard thing to do, no doubt. But, while it might not come easy, it might take time (and in some cases, a LOT of time), it’ll happen. And, most of all, God does have a plan for all of us, even if it’s not blatantly apparent at this very moment. (I think we’d all love to be able to ‘see’ what He sees in our future, at least a glimpse or two would be nice).

Anyway, this blog post is totally unrelated to my “usual” blog fodder, but I hope you’ll give me a “pass” in favor of perspective…

Diet vs. Exercise: The Smackdown

Hey, ya’ll! Sorry for being a little lax in my blogging the last couple days but I was busy stay-cationing with Scott this weekend, so hopefully you don’t mind. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There were frozen cocktails on the deck (thanks Heather for the low-cal version of theย  straweberry/pineapple daiquiri’s I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend!), awesome steel-drum and carribbean-inspired tunes on our iTunes playlist, lots of yummy treats, and best of all – lots of time with the hubs, which I’m thoroughly enjoying while he’s gainfully unemployed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

That’s my weekend in a nutshell – and now that I’m sunned-out from some awesome sunshine blazing down on our deck the last two days, I’m sitting on the couch with the Red Sox playing in the background and was inspired to blog based on an article I just read in Woman’s Health. The article was about diet vs. exercise. Basically, the premise behind the story was that yes, a healthy diet AND exercise is the ideal scenario, but not everyone can do both depending on the goals they’re trying to achieve. And, while I applaud the writers at Woman’s Health for acknowledging that sometimes its hard to strike a balance and achieve both, I didn’t necessarily agree with the article in its entirety.

Here’s the thing. I am ALL for balance – um hello, I just spent the weekend eating and drinking things i normally don’t eat/drink all that often – and enjoyed every bit of it. But, I’m also not for taking the “easy way out” in life (I managed to also run a 4 miler, a 7 milers and another 4-miler this weekend too, thankyouverymuch) and that’s sort of the vibe I got from the article. The story was set up to identify a series of goals and then offered a recommendation for the better option for reaching those goals – diet or exercise. For instance, their view is that if you’re trying to lose weight – choose a lower-cal diet because “it’s easier to cut 500 calories from your diet than it is to burn 500 calories at the gym.” While that may be true, c’mon – don’t take the easy way out! How about a compromise? Burn 250 calories at the gym AND cut 250 calories from your diet. Doesn’t that sound even more “doable” than one vs. the other? And I can almost guarantee that once you get started with a more balanced diet and a bit of an exercise routine (notice I said “a bit of an exercise routine” and not a “hardcore” exercise or diet routine?), you’re more apt to stick with it. Seriously, once a habit is in place, it’s MUCH harder to quit that habit (coffee drinkers, nail-biters, hair twirlers, etc. – you know exactly what I mean by habit).

While some of their points were good (i,e. if you’re trying to prevent cancer – diet and exercise is important), I sort of got the feeling that they were more apt to recommend a calorie-cut vs. suggesting exercise as the best bet. And, while there is clearly a case for cutting calories in certain cases, I can’t say that you can really make broad brush-stroke recommendations in this day and age. And maybe I’m just overly critical of the story because it felt generic (and honestly, they do have to write for a FAIRLY generic audience of readers), it just struck me as not really jiving with the balance mantra I try to live by.

Anyway, I’d love your thoughts on this concept in general. Are you more apt to focus on slashing calories vs. adding an extra workout to your schedule during the week? Do you think one is more beneficial than the other? Or is a mix of both the best bet? You know where I stand on the debate, I’d love to know where you stand. ๐Ÿ™‚

What a difference a minute makes

Thanks to the fine ladies on the Cathe Forums (the Crazy, Strong and Loving It thread – well said, no?) for pushing me to take a rest day yesterday despite my urge to run after work given the AMAZING weather we’re experiencing this week. My calves have been screaming at me since a step workout I did on Tuesday night (Imax3 from Cathe gets me every time!) and it was finally time for me to listen to my body and take a rest day. It was worth it for the run I had this morning with Scott, though my calves are STILL killing me. How does that happen?!

Anyway, as the title of my post alludes to, it’s true – what a huge difference a minute makes. And by that, I mean the minute between the alarm clock rustling me from my sleep at 5:45 and the minute where I debate “Do I get up and get it done or do I stay in bed and run tonight?” And you know exactly what I mean by that debate. You lay there still half-asleep wondering if it’s really worth it and then, as you lay there and start to wake up, you realize that duh, you’re wide awake, stop being such a sally and get your butt out of bed! At least that’s exactly what I did this morning. And it endedย  up being worth every step of the 4-ish mile run Scott and I ran. The birds were chirping, the breeze was springy and fresh and it was the exact right way to get my day going.

And THAT, my friends, is what gets me out of bed in the morning. If you can find one thing that motivates you to get your workout done early in the day (especially on a Friday vs. having to work out AFTER work on a Friday which c’mon, is WAY worse in my opinion!), you’ll be able to make a habit out of it. I promise. I know, it sounds way easier in theory than in practice, but it REALLY is worth it if you can get into a routine that works for you (AM or PM).

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as a few friends (IRL and in blogger world) have been asking me how I get and stay so motivated, even when I’m tired, I had a rough day, or whatever other million excuses I can drum up for not working out.ย  Another reason to get moving now? It’s springtime – the sun is up MUCH earlier now than in the fall/winter so if you can swing yourself into the habit now, imagine how much easier it’ll be to get ‘er done once its NOT so warm and sunny and bright in the morning. Just sayin’. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Happy Friday, ya’ll!

Remembering

Today marks one year since my Nonna passed away.

In her words:

“Piangerre al morto sono lagrime perse.”

This loosely translates to “If you cry for the dead, you lose your tears.” With that in mind, I’m going to *try* my best to write this post without shedding a tear, though I can’t promise there won’t be a few.

She was a huge influence on my sisters and I growing up and we all loved her very much. We held a special place in her heart as her FIRST grandchildren, and triplets at that. She was very, very proud of us.

So, when she passed, we made the decision to deliver a portion of her eulogy to honor her life and what she meant to us. We had so many memories from our childhood to our adult years – she was always imparting such wisdom but in just the right “Nonna” way. In part, it read as follows:

Being her first grandchildren and triplets we got a lot of her attention. My sisters and I have some very fond memories of Nonna:

1) eating โ€œnonna soupโ€โ€“ she would put the soup into bowls for us, and weโ€™d bring them on the porch to let them cool down, then weโ€™d put grated cheese on top, and eat it with bread. We would ask her to make the soup with the meatballs all the time โ€“ for our birthday and for holidays. And she would make it for us whenever we asked, because she couldnโ€™t believe we could love โ€œjustโ€ soup so much.

2) hiding under the dining room table, and in the cabinets, playing with pans. When weโ€™d hide under the table and play, Nonna would peek under at us.

3)ย  yucky celery โ€“ also know as fresh anise or finnochio. We LOVED this stuff as kids, but we always called it yucky celery. Nonna figured out what we wanted when we asked for yucky celery.

4) Nonna would babysit us. She would lay between us until we fell asleep, and she always used to tell the story of the time we were falling asleep but one of us slowly shifted our arm over her head, and held hands with another sister.

5) As kids we would dress up in my Aunt Carmelaโ€™s bridesmaid outfits and parade around the table at Nonna’s and she would sing ‘Here comes the bride’ and she would say someday you will ‘go married’

It’s these memories I cherish. They are still vivid in my mind and bring a smile to my face every time. So, while I’m sad as I think about how much I miss her, I’m also very happy because I feel her all around me and know she’s looking down on us as happy and as proud as ever.

Whew. Just a few tears shed while writing this post. I think she’d be ok with that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In closing, a picture of my Nonna, taken at my sister Jen‘s wedding. One of her proudest days, I’d say.