So this is (was) Christmas…

Christmas is over already??

Totally went by in a blur, so much so that I barely took any pictures!

Well, correction: I barely took any pictures of the actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities other than some pre-party baking with my sister and the little one and a couple of randoms with Scott.

Pre-baking fun with the cutest niece on the PLANET. I can’t even stand how cute she is. Check these out:

Couple things I learned while attempting to bake cookies with my sister and niece. One – baking and 3-month olds don’t mix. But that’s ok. I did the baking while Jen and Isabel kept me entertained. And two – OMG Isabel is just the cutest, she’s found her hands and loves to suck on her fingers or anyone else’s fingers if they’re within reach. And she’s just SO much more sturdy now than before, makes this auntie far less nervous about hanging out with her, that’s for sure. πŸ˜‰

Let’s see – what else did this holiday include? Lots of food and cheer to be had. And I’m proud to say that there were very few moments of guilt over the Christmas indulgences…I dare say I did manage to avoid overdoing it for the most part, at least (hey I’m not perfect, right??).

Including a few of these on Christmas morning:

Not gonna lie, not a bad way to kick off the holiday while the hubs and I opened our gifts to eachother. This was an awesome holiday season for us – we hosted both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day which yes, was a TON of work, but totally worth it. Our families appreciated all the hard work we put into the food and drinks and enjoyed themselves so much. From this hostess, that makes me ONE very happy girl, fo ‘sho.

Another great way to kick off the holiday? A cold, wintry run on Christmas morning. Scott and I ran an easy 5k on Christmas morning and it was perfect. It let us get out there and enjoy the cool air and quiet morning (there was NOBODY out there that’s for sure!) and gave us some peace and “us” time before the holiday truly began. I even remembered to take a pic (though failed at taking many pics of the actual parties, DUH!):

And now today, post-holiday buzz, we’re hunkering down for a pretty damn big blizzard that’s planning to hit later today. We’re also without water at the moment (water main break at the foot of our street – what luck, right??). This has put a bit of a kink in my plans for the day which did temporarily put me in a wicked funk (again, not perfect!) but I’m now “over it” and resigning myself to a day on the couch where we’ll definitely be “conserving” water and drinking wine. I mean, that *is* the smart thing to do, right?? πŸ˜‰

Cathe Friedrich’s (holy) High Reps

Holy high reps.

‘Nuff said.

I finally got around to trying the third of Cathe Friedrich’s brand spankin’ new workouts and chose to pop the High Reps workout in on Saturday morning.

I just finished the STS mesocycle 2 four week cycle and am about to go into “active recovery week” before diving into the final cycle in the rotation. Given that, I figured I’d tack on one more weight workout to my regime last week before taking a break from the weights this week.

And boy, was I not prepared for what High Reps had planned for me! It was nonstop, like whoa. But SO SO SO awesome, I can’t even begin to describe it. But I’ll try – this is a “review” style blog post afterall, right?? πŸ˜‰

So the focus of this particular workout from Cathe is a total body, endurance-style workout. Which meant high, high, high rep counts and light weights. It felt a LOT like the BTS Group Power program at my gym, but on speed or something! The workout is broken down by body part, that is, after a brief warm-up that left me sweaty and warm – you know it’s gonna be a goodie when the WARM-UP is intense. LOL.

Each set of exercises breaks down into a series of weight work – usually a combination of barbells, dumbells and resistance band work and includes 3-4 exercises down in close succession for each body part. This is very different than Group Power in that each body part is only worked for one exercise with high reps, not three to FOUR done with high reps. PHEW. Cathe sure does know how to take it up a notch…or ten. πŸ˜‰

Cathe does a really nice job in this workout in terms of mixing up both the style of weight lifting (balancing free weights with barbell work) but also the succession of moves. You might do an upper body series (like shoulders) and then switch to some leg work before going back to another upper body set (say, back) and so on. It was nice to break up the workout that way versus doing ALL legs and then ALL upper body.

By the end of this workout, I was wobbly and my entire body felt nice and fried…in the best possible way, of course. Waking up this morning, I totally felt it especially in my upper body and back.

Holy high reps is all I gotta say (again).

LOVED this workout (shocker, I know).

**********

In other news, I promised my buddy Heather I’d post some pics from our first “ladies day out” with my niece Isabel this weekend. We hit the outlets near my sister’s house for a little shopping where I proceeded to buy every cute outfit I could get my hands on for Isabel. I just couldn’t help myself – she HAS to look stylish afterall, doesn’t she??

Just look at that face!!

 

 

Sometimes, I wonder – revisited

So, I promised you I’d return to the “Sometimes I wonder” blog I posted the other day. But, after re-reading it today, I realized that many of the things I was “wondering” about, I sort of already addressed in follow-on blog posts on balance, body image and all that jazz.

But what I didn’t return to was this:

Sometimes I wonder……if marriage should be hard work to maintain (they should – more on this later).

So here’s the deal.

Scott and I have a great marriage.

But it’s work. A LOT of work.

And I seriously mean that in the best way possible.

Marriage isn’t easy. But then again, as Teddy Roosevelt so famously said:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led diffcult lives and led them well.”

And that’s the mantra we try to live by.

As I’ve mentioned here on this blog before, we’ve had our stumbles along the way, but it was those stumbles that brought us to where we are today. With the realization that we need to constantly work on our relationship to keep that spark alive as it will fade with time if not constantly fed “fuel” (pardon the lame analogy!).

That’s one of the big reasons why working out together is so important to us. It’s unique “us” time versus the traditional date nights out or date nights in and the quick little getaways to Boston (like we did this weekend!). The time we spend working out, we have some of our best conversations. It’s why I LOVE having him as my running buddy – because we have that time to talk, dream, let our thoughts wander and intertwine with one another’s.

I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt that he is the one and only for me. Forever. I know some don’t subscribe to the mindset that there is just one person out there to make their heart whole (and honestly, I don’t disagree with those that feel this way, to each his/her own), but Scott is it for me. He’s my best friend, my biggest fan, the love of my life, and more often than not, my better half (gee, I really hope he’s reading this part, ha!).

So long story short – marriage takes work. Every single day.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

**********

The other piece I never addressed again in my previous post was my comment on friendships and that they should NOT take work to maintain.

Quite the opposite of what I feel about marriage.

And here’s why: Good friends, those worth keeping for years and years to come, just come naturally. Those friendships where, no matter how much time passes, you can always pick up where you left off without skipping a beat? THOSE are the friends worth keeping. Not the friends you have to justify your every move to, right down to the things that make you YOU (Heather posted about this very topic recently, wholeheartedly agree). Friendships involve give and take and it should feel pretty evenly split. You shouldn’t have to give, give, give and never have that feeling reciprocated. If you do, that “friend” of yours might not be the true friend you’d hope they’d be.

This is a mindset I’ve carried with me over the years and it’s never let me down – I have friends from various stages of my life. Some are friends that mix and mingle with my other friends, some are totally separate. Some are even virtual (hello bloggy friends!). But that’s ok. They are all my friends for good reason, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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PS. If you haven’t seen it already, I’m a featured blogger at Fitblogger today and, as it turns out, I’m the first-ever “Workout Wednesday” blogger over at Healthy Living Blogs. Check it out! Both are great healthy living communities – if you aren’t part of either group, I’d highly recommend it.

Nothing really quite compares…

…to the sound of my grandparents voice on the other end of the line after a long day.

So said my Facebook status tonight.

And I mean it.

There is nothing that can compare to the comforting sound of their voices on the other end of the line, always proud, always supportive, always sharing some cute tidbit from their day.

And it reminds me just how lucky I am to have two of my grandparents in such great health and sound mind. As my sister Jen blogged about recently, who made the very same observation after one of their twice-weekly visits to her house to see their grandaughter and great-grandaughter, too.

I feel so lucky. So loved. So supported. Absolutely blessed.

It’s times like this that I don’t even need those daily inspirations from Joel Osteen to pick me up on a down day. Or to dig really really deep for those little things to make me smile. To get me through another day.

The love of family. Nothing really quite compares now does it?

<< I know, random post ‘o the week over here. I just had to take this opportunity to capture how a simple conversation with my grandparents made me feel. If for no other reason than to refer to this blog post next time I’m having one of *those* days. Thank you for indulging me! πŸ˜‰ >>

 

A Thanksgiving day PR

Well, it finally happened.

I PR’d my first race!

And, quite fittingly, it was my third time running the Wild Turkey Run on Thanksgiving Day.

So, five miles later and I PR’d at 51:28 which is just about :30 seconds faster than I ran it last year.

Not a HUGE leap but still – a PR! I’ll take it!

I’m especially thankful and totally felt that rush of gratitude around mile three (more on this mile in a sec) when I realized I was running and my knees did not hurt. Not a bit. So I picked up the pace, with a happy grin on my face that I, quite simply, am able to run. Again. πŸ™‚

It’s #TheLittleThings, right?

So back to mile three, though. I was overcome by pride and giggly emotion at this spot on the route.

Why?

Because this is the loop that winds through the cutest neighborhood where ALL the neighbors come out to whoop and holler as we pass by with music blaring, horns blowing. A total riot…especially since, in lieu of a water station they have a bloody mary and beer station instead. HA! And no, I did not partake. πŸ˜‰

Once we got past mile three I could see up ahead that we were winding our way towards that fateful spot in mile 12 of the half marathon where I took off like a bandit. Running up that hill and around the bend, I saw the finish line where the half took us this past September and wow, what a rush of emotion *again*. I, of course, physically felt WAY better passing by that finish line than I did during the actual half, but I digress. Just being there again brought me right back and pretty much confirmed that I will definitely do another half next year. I just can’t help myself!

One thing I did learn from this race is that I definitely had more in the tank at the end than I should have. I am so used to holding back during a longer run or race that I was holding back expecting the race to be a lot farther than it was. I did kick it nicely at the end but realized quickly that I should’ve been kicking it more throughout that last mile because I definitely had it in me. Lesson learned for next time!

Anyway, I’m psyched at the PR and ready to go off and celebrate all of the things I’ve been thankful for this year. I hope you all have an awesome, relaxing and food-filled day surrounded by loved ones.

XO!

Motivation mojo – where are you hiding?

Let’s call this a mini “Confessions of a Fitness blogger” post, shall we?

I’m not always motivated to workout.

*GASP*

I know, I know. Despite what you all may think – I do have moments where I fight with myself to get ‘er done.

Case in point – here’s what’s been running through my head the past hour or so…

God, what a day. I really need to get my workout in tonight.<editor’s note – was supposed to hit Ride this AM, but the rain, coupled with a slight scratchy throat and I nixed it for fear of coming down with a cold which would be bad, bad, bad>

<sigh> But I’m hungry. And tired. And grumpy. And I miss my couch.

Buuuut Sunday was my rest day and today was supposed to be a cardio day sooooo…

And that’s where I stopped and thought to myself:

SELF! What is your motivation today???

Well – my friends, my only motivation for working out tonight is to SHAKE OFF this mood I’m in. As I’ve said a million times before, nobody ever regrets going to the gym when all is said and done.

And so, that’s that. I WILL get my cardio groove on tonight, probably in the form of a Kick workout in front of my TV. It always does the “shake-it-off” trick, that’s for sure.

AND since this blog is oh-so-good for that thing called accountability? You bet your ass I”ll be back tomorrow to report back on how that workout went. πŸ˜‰

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#TheLittleThings for today – I’m thankful for this blog for letting me be me. For letting my voice shine through, even when in the form of a “confession” like tonight’s post turned out to be. AND a huge thank you to all of you for helping me to surpass the 20k hits to my blog which I happened to notice last night. How cool! Here’s to 20k more hits and then some. πŸ™‚

 

Trusting my gut (or trying to)

So, it’s time I started at least trying to trust my gut a little bit more.

I mean, instinct is not something that leads you astray, am I right?

Now, *what* could I possibly be referring to, you ask?

None other than the knee issue I’ve only partially admitted to up until now.

After dutifully avoiding running all week this past week in favor of spinning, ellipitcal-ing and anything else low-impact I could think of (which isn’t much, I soon realized), I gave running a shot this morning.

Which would be fine, considering I gave it a rest this week and all, right?

Welllll, notsomuch.

And, I’m most frustrated with myself for not listening to my gut instinct – I woke up knowing that my knee still wasn’t quite right. It had ached during the night a bit and, in fact, my other knee was starting to bug me, too. The patella strap I purchased last week was definitely helping, yes. But it can’t mask an injury, it can only aid in recovery.

But alas, I figured armed with my patella strap, my running tights (Under Armor – totally did the trick on a blustery, chilly fall morning, btw), my trusty heart rate monitor, and Scott by my side, that this morning’s run would be just great. I even told myself that I’d try for 4 or 5 but if I was feeling really good maybe I’d go for the 6-7 mile loop instead.

Wow, talk about delusional. I was TOTALLY ignoring my gut that was telling me “um hello, your right knee still hurts and now your left knee is bugging you, what are you doing trying to run on that???”

As you can imagine, after a couple of miles, my knees won the battle and instinct finally kicked in. We turned around after less than 4 miles. And it was the right decision. Not quite as “right” as if I’d admitted right out of the gate that a run was not the best move today, but still – at least the instinct took over eventually, right??

So long story short – this is me beating myself up for not listening when I knew what the right thing to do was, deep-down. I have to give my knees a rest – and a week of rest just isn’t enough. So I’m giving myself another week of cross-training only, no running, at all.

And this time, if after the week is over, my knees are telling me “no,” I’m going to listen, like a good girl. I pinky swear.

But I’m not gonna like it. Just sayin’.

Hmph *arms crossed*

In other news, I’m still totally digging #TheLittleThings. It’s forced me to have perspective, which I’m constantly struggling with…and it’s forced me to remember and embrace my mantra about balance…I think that’s why the whole instinct thing today really bugged me. I was veering away from balance in favor of getting back to running. Yes, I love, love, love to run, but will it kill me to give it a rest until I heal? No. Not in the slightest.

So – what am I thankful for today?Β  A couple of things.

1 – That my sister is healthy and home safe and sound with Isabel. And that we were instrumental in getting her there, both mentally and physically. I am so proud of her and so thankful that we could be there when she needed it most.

2 – That it’s been an amazing weekend spent with some great friends. Pizza Friday was a total hit, for one. And – we just got home from hanging with some of my favorite Kick friends, watching football, of course. All in all, life is pretty damn good – and I shouldn’t complain, not at all.

Balance with a capital “B”

By now, you all know I’m a big proponent of balance.

Balance in how I eat.

Balance in how I workout.

Balance in how I manage my career.

I love balance. I crave it. I love feeling centered, grounded and not bound by endless rules (‘cept those rules like I can NOT go to bed with dishes in the sink – a certain friend of mine teases me about this one all the time!!)

I find that when balance is lacking in any of those areas above, I feel “off,” like I’m missing something.

What I’ve learned this week while I’ve been my sister’s “keeper” if you will (btw, LOVE that book…but I digress) is that even in times of chaos, I STILL manage to find balance.

My husband thinks I’m a little nuts, but doing things like:

Fitting in a workout today even though I thought it would never happen. Made me feel great – STS left my back and tri’s fried, just in time to bounce Isabel in my arms to rid her of a gas bubble (which is a workout in and of itself).

Sweeping the floor after I cleaned up all the dinner dishes and pans from a pretty darn tasty chicken stir fry with brown rice. Yes, it could wait but I wanted to do it, I like to do it. It made me feel good that everything was in it’s place.

Writing a blog post after being absent from it since Monday (the horror!). But, this is my own little creation, my own little haven, I love to feed it with whatever is on my mind, even if it’s rambles like tonight’s post. πŸ™‚

So – while my sister continues to recover, I am forever thankful for this time with her, with my sister Jo who is here with us tonight, and for the time spent with Isabel. It’s been such fun watching her develop quite the little personality. Bonding with her, watching Scott bond with her (who has quite the magic touch, I’m totally impressed!), leaves me in awe. She’s a doll and I love her very much. Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, it means getting a little creative, re-creating my “normal” routine for the short term. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

I am woman, hear me roar

Ok – I’ll preface this blog post (and in defense of my goofy blog title!) with the fact that I am utterly exausted, leaving me a little bit slap-happy on this fine Wednesday evening. So don’t mind me. πŸ˜‰

Why am I in such a sorry state tonight, you ask?

Well – I got a very big dose of reality last night while watching over my sis (as she continues on her long road of recovery) and my adorable niece Isabel. I spent the night with her, giving her a much-needed rest while Scott and I took turns caring for Isabel, jumpingΒ  (literally) at her every gurgle and coo.

For. The. Entire. Night.

As in one hour of sleep. Tops.

Whoa.

And THIS, my friends, is why being a woman is an amazing thing. (sorry guys – you’re ok too, I swear πŸ˜‰

I can’t even imagine what being a “real” mom is all about – I had one measly night of it and I was floored! (I won’t lie – I was pleasantly surprised that I made it through the work day with *only* one venti from Starbucks – that’s my “usual” order on 7-8 hrs of sleep, mind you. I fully credit being physically fit for helping me to dig deep to get through today, seriously!)

But I digress – being a woman, and a mom…and a wife, and a friend, and a sister, and a…well, you get the picture. It’sΒ  quite simply an incredible feat and I give boat loads of credit to all of you wonderful women out there who are also moms. I have no idea how you do it, I bow down to you!

I will say that, while stunned by how much work (both physical and mental) being a mom is, it really does make me that much more proud to be a woman, and a damn good auntie-in-training, too.

Like I said…I am woman, hear me roar. πŸ˜‰

****And on that note, I promise tomorrow’s post will be far less slap-happy and full of my usual sage advice and words of fitness wisdom…or something like that. πŸ˜‰ ***

Vacation of a lifetime – legit

<< Warning! Uber long blog post below – my apologies in advance πŸ˜‰ >>

I’m baaaack πŸ™‚

Sorry I left you high and dry for my ENTIRE 10-day vacation, but, not gonna lie – the whole “buh-bye” to routine (in every sense of the word) was exactly what I needed.

I just experienced the BEST vacation of a lifetime.

Hands down the most incredible 10 days of my life (aside from my wedding/honeymoon, of course!).

Not only did I start off on the high of completing the Wicked Half with four minutes to spare against my goal time, but the nearly two weeks away was filled with so many memories, celebrations and uhh, lots of wine, and almost no routine to be seen for as far as the eye could see. πŸ˜‰

I could probably write about five blog posts JUST about this vacation but I’m sure you’d get sick of hearing me gush after awhile so, very similar to my sister, I’ll share a few memories and poignant moments and leave it at that (well – that plus some pictures, as promised, Heather!).

A couple of stats, first…

  • 25 vineyards visited (far too many to choose just ONE favorite!)
  • 15 bottles of wine consumed amongst our clan during the stay in Healdsburg (this does NOT include the 4-5 tastings per day either, ahem!)
  • A million and a half memories and laughable quotes (we literally wrote them down so as not to forget them later…for example: “Miiiike Ditka” or “That’s what she said…” or “Weeeeeee” <—from the Geico commercial that cracks me up every.single.time.)
  • One star sighting – yes, we did meet one famous dude by the name of Squire Fridell. For those of you in my age group, that would be “our” Ronald McDonald and the guy in the current Toyota commercials. Well, long story short, we had a private tour and tasting of his vineyard at his private home. Um yeah, not much can top that. It was unreal.
  • And um, a total of FOUR workouts over TEN days. For me, this is totally out of character as you all know by now – this from the girl who hates even ONE rest day in a week. Thoroughly needed, thoroughly enjoyed, and thoroughly allowed me to breathe in the entire epic vacation in a way I never imagined.

And now, for some memorable moments:

  • Celebrations – of birthdays: ringing in the big 3-1 with Jolene (and with Jen in spirit – took a zillion pics just for her!) while floating high above Napa Valley in a hot air balloon is not a memory I’ll soon forget. I sense that this year will be a special one, filled with lots of milestones and accomplishments – I just hope that “31” is ready for me, it doesn’t know what I have in store for it, yet πŸ˜‰
  • Celebrations – of love: watching Scott’s best friend Vinnie wed Gen was an awesome experience. They are so in love and two of the NICEST people you’ll ever meet. It was an honor to be in their presence on their big day. And, not gonna lie, seeing Scott in a tux – wowza, sight for sore eyes, hehe.
  • Celebrations – of friendships: Spending a week+ away with a group of close friends could either be a recipe for disaster or one of the most special adventures ever. As you can imagine, we fell into the latter group – we had the BEST time together, laughed at every single chance we could, enjoyed every last sip of wine and morsel of food, and just enjoyed the best company around. I am so thankful and grateful for amazing friendships like these. (despite the one or two minor disagreements we had – mostly revolving around “feeding time” – we women are a hungry bunch, once hunger strikes, you do NOT want to cross us, LOL)

As I said, I could TOTALLY ramble for hours about this trip – it was worth every single penny, every vacation day spent away from work, routine, my kitties, my workouts – for memories that I will never, EVER, forget. And if you need any vineyard recommendations for the Healdsburg/Dry Creek area of Sonoma County, you know where to find me. Just don’t lay a hand on my fully-stocked wine fridge, heh. πŸ˜‰

 

At the wedding - with the best in-laws around!

 

 

At Michel-Schlumberger amidst the vines!

 

 

Check out those grapes - at Field Stone Vineyard, our fave

 

 

Sister shot - at Thumprint Cellars tasting room in Healdsburg Square

 

 

At Hawley's tasting room in the Square - with Jess, Jo and Meg

 

 

At Seguesio - great Zin's and a special blend, Omadi that Scott and I bought to save for a special occasion

 

 

View from our hot air balloon at a fellow ballooner nearby. Gorgeous, right??

 

 

Scott and I with Jeannine and Shane at Gary Farrell