Wednesday, July 31, 2013

weight loss wednesday: week 5

I'm a tad frustrated. I haven't lost any more weight. I have a meeting with my trainer on Friday to make sure I'm doing my workouts correctly. In the meantime, here are some possible reasons as to why I'm not losing weight:

-I have extremely low vitamin d levels. It's hard to lose weight with low vitamin d. (Seriously, I'm not making that up. google it!). I was put on 2,000 iu a day a few weeks ago, but my internist has upped it to 4,000 just on Monday. I'm gonna be walking on sunshine ya'll!
-I'm building a ton of muscle. I'm trying to tone as well as lose weight. I'm up to pushing 70lbs on the sitting row machine and 60 on shoulder and chest press. My arms are getting really strong. My legs are getting stronger with the bike and walking/jogging I'm doing.
-I had to miss Zumba and that's a high calorie loss workout for me.
-I haven't been swimming, because of my eye situation, and that's where I burn a ton of calories also.

So, I think I just need to work with my trainer on doing higher burning workouts at the gym. I also need him to help me with the whole shin splint situation.

Workout Log
  • Thursday 7/25 Couch to 5k training in the morning, and a double header softball game in the afternoon. We only played 1/2 the second game though, so it's not like it was a super intense work out.
  • Friday 7/26. I'm the crazy fool who woke up early the day I was leaving for vacation to go work out. I did my circuit training and burned about 300 calories.
  • Saturday 7/27 Rode my bike 8 miles around Mackinac Island. We stopped a lot and weren't going fast, but still. A good workout!
  • Sunday 7/28 Off day, unless you count walking around Bronners Christmas Store.
  • Monday 7/29 My Birthday! I woke up early, attempted to do Couch to 5k but got severe shin splints so I stopped and did 3 miles on the bike, 15 minutes on the nustep, and weights.
  • Tuesday 7/30 I was really way too tired to work out Tuesday morning, so I went in the afternoon instead and once again attempted couch to 5k training, but once again my shin splints were very painful. So I did the bike again, and weights.
  • Wednesday 7/31 Still a little iffy about my eye. So I did 4 miles on the bike, 12 minutes on the nustep, and 10 minutes on the row machine which is freaking HARD. Also did a quick set of weights for my arms.
Other Random Things
  • Although the numbers on the scale don't reflect what I want to see, I feel so much better and stronger. Now I just want the pounds to shed off.
  • It's possible to make healthy choices when eating fast food. Fries sound good, but a small fry is 310 calories. Add a crispy chicken sandwich (my personal favorite) into the mix, and your meal is 850 calories and a ton of fat/salt! I went to Wendy's on Friday and I got a grilled chicken sandwich without the bun and a baked potato, plain with just salt and pepper on it. (and only a little salt). My meal was about 440 calories, half of what I would normally choose.
  • Subway has the healthiest "fast food" breakfast. Although I try to keep breakfast at work or bring it with me, sometimes I forget. So I did some random googling of nutrition menus to see what the healthiest breakfast was. Subway wins. I can get a 3" flatbread with egg white, pepper jack cheese, ham, and green pepper for just 106 calories. That's way less than anything on a McDonalds menu, or even Tim Horton's.  Plus Subway's website has a cool "calculate your own" tool so you can see if what you want to add makes a difference.
  • Be weary of salads! Not every salad is healthy! Get the dressing on the side and take out cheese.
  • Try to cook at home as often as possible, try new recipes. When you do cook, immediately put half in a Tupperware to bring to work for lunch. That way you won't overeat at dinner.
  • Go for a walk at work. Even if it's just around the building. I force myself to get up at least once a day and take a quick walk around the building. Except now I have to bring a coworker because there was a murder in the apartment complex next door.  Isn't life exciting?
  • Recruit your friends to work out or to make healthy eating choices. It's so much easier to do this when the people around you are being careful, too.
  • I know that not every gym is like this, but mine has trainers walking around the place at all times helping you with machines. Today I was having issues on the bike, I felt like I wasn't going fast enough. I got up and asked a trainer to come over and she told me my seat was too low. It was a quick fix, but it helped a ton. So don't be afraid to ask!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

9 Months

Dear Ryan,
My birthday was yesterday and the best gift was that I got to see you. I kept talking about it all day, that I was most excited to be able to see you at dinner. You sat right next to me and I fed you bananas and applesauce. You made a big mess, but you sure love those bananas. It was so good to see you and have you next to me. You did totally try to steal one of my gifts, though. Except you only wanted the paper. I let you have it. The poor people at the restaurant had a big mess to clean up.

Oh! And guess what? You're like totally crawling now. It's so weird! Just a few weeks ago, you couldn't do it and now you're crawling all over the place. And you're starting to love that dog Clancy of yours even more now that you have more strength to pull on his ears and his hair. He loves you too. He protects you.

I got to see you swim around in your little pool a few weeks ago. You were so happy splish splashing around. I hope you continue to love the water, because kid, we've GOT to get you to Ft. Walton Beach! I can't go in the salt water with you because I'm allergic, but the pool, count me in!

Your mommy and daddy went on a trip over the weekend so Grandma and Grandpa Carolin stayed with you. They took such good care of you. They are wonderful grandparents to you and they adore you. They raised us all so well, and now they are passing on their wisdom to you. You were in such good care and comfort with them. You're lucky to have them as grandparents. Very lucky. Don't ever forget that.

We are just 3 months away from you turning 1 year old. It's so hard to believe it's happening that quickly. I'll never forget that day or holding you for the first time. I'll never forget that little smile of yours. You are the most important person in my life, Ry. I love you!

Love, Aunt Megan

Monday, July 29, 2013

26th Birthday!

I'm 26 today.

That feels old, to me.

Probably because when I was 16 and dreaming of my life 10 years ahead, I imagined I'd be married, have this really awesome job, maybe even be pregnant or have a kid.


I'm 26, trying to figure out this whole dating thing, have a pretty okay job, and I am most definatley not pregnant nor do I have a kid.

But that's okay. I've really learned to be happy with my age and not put so much stress on myself to find my happily ever after. Because in reality life IS a happily ever after. We're here and we're alive and breathing and shouldn't that be enough? I just play life day by day, one step and one bill at a time.

Last year I loved my birthday post. I'm not so sure I can top it this year. Instead, I am going to list random facts about my birthday.

  • I share a birthday with Martina McBride and Elise Testone (American Idol Season 10).
  • My birthday is Oprah's 1/2 birthday. That makes us soul sisters, obviously.
  • As a kid I could never bring in birthday treats on my actual birthday. Once in a while I'd bring them on my 1/2 birthday, just to feel normal.
  • Every day at Mercy they announce the birthdays of students and staff. Summer birthday's get missed. My sophomore year, my friends got special permission to announce my 1/2 birthday so that I could feel special.
  • The most sentimental birthday present I ever received was from my friend Alicia. She got a mirror and decorated it, and then put a post it on it that said  something like "You've given me a gift I could ever ask for- YOU!".
  • Coolest birthday I had was last year, when I got to have breakfast with Melinda Doolittle, my favorite Idol contestant ever.
  • On my 1st Birthday I shoved my hands into the cake and then all over my hair. I had to take a bath before I could open presents.
  • My family doesn't do anything huge for birthday's, but we always got to pick our favorite meal. I usually picked sish kabobs.
  • I seem to be out of town for my birthday a lot. Chicago with my daddy, up north with my friends growing up, Mercy Volunteer Corps orientation, Indianapolis the past two years.
  • Fire is the element for those born on July 29th. I just learned this today, and it's weird, because it's the symbol I chose when I was a retreat leader in high school. We are supposed to have a very positive energy and enthusiasm.
  • There is a hilarious video of me on my 2nd birthday opening a gift. It's a big box and I am so excited that I rip it to shreds and then peek in. I see it's Big Bird and start yelling "BIG BIRD BIG BIRD" and try to tear it out of the box. My mom leaves to go get it out of the box and I push aside every other gift I got in anticipation.
  • Today my coworkers went freaking above and beyond. I got a beautiful, delicious cake from a well known bakery, cards, wine, a Taylor Swift album, and a fruit basket.
I have enjoyed my 26 years here on Earth. I know that sounds kinda silly, but I have. I've had a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns. But I'm here and I'm alive. I've picked up something from each and every person I've met, I've been influenced by words, music, and art. I love people and hearing stories. I try to be positive, and when I am not I have someone in my life who whips me into shape. I aim to please, I want to help other people, I hate to see people get sad. I love nature and quiet time and comfy clothes. I have a strong faith and believe that God is right by my side. He has put some amazing people in my life.

Happy Birthday to me, and thank you to each and every single one of you who have influenced my life. I think that's the best part about my life. Each of you. I know a lot of people read this but don't comment or tell me you read it, and I just want you to know if you're reading this right now, I love the crap out of you and I hope you're happy today. I hope you find peace or hope or sunshine or whatever it is you need. And please know that you are special to me. Hugs to everyone!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Girls Weekend!

For a few months now, a group of gals and I have been planning a trip to head to Northern Michigan for the weekend. I've got to hand it to my friend Kristen for handling all the details. Thanks Kristen!

My roommates and I packed up Lauren's car on Friday morning and headed up 75. The trip was quick (mostly because I slept for all of it). We met up with the other group of girls (four of them) at the local grocery store to get some essential items for the weekend. We grabbed lunch and then found our cute little cottage. After throwing our bags on the beds and putting groceries away, we headed to the beach. know.. it was cloudy and cold outside. Michigan weather has officially gone bipolar on us, folks. So since the beach didn't work out, we headed to the indoor pool instead. That's where the fun started. A group of 7 girls in the pool, doing synchronized swimming and taking silly pictures. Acting like we were children. Laughing hysterically. Just the way it should be.

After our pool time we went back to the cottage and had a great family meal together- pasta, salad, and garlic bread. We talked, listened to music, popped in a Disney sing a long VHS. Everything a girls weekend should be. It was soon discovered that I would be the bug killer for the weekend. Once in a while I'd hear a collective "MEGAN!" and I'd come running, squashing bugs and flushing them down the toilet. The best one was when I shot down the stairs, jumped over two of the girls, and got a spider with one fell swoop. Bug Killing Skills, you guys. I have them.

Saturday morning started early. We all got ready, ate breakfast and hopped in the cars to head to Mackinac Island.  We took the ferry from Mackinaw City over, which takes you under the bridge. It was really awesome, but also FREEZING because it was once again chilly outside, and with the wind mixed in it felt like we had suddenly moved to Alaska. Brr. But it was still a beautiful view. I'm glad we chose that option!

When we got on the Island we did a little shopping, and then we rented bikes and took a bike ride around the island. This was my favorite part of the weekend. The 7 of us in a single file line riding our bikes for 8 miles. Early on in the ride, we spotted the Catholic church on the Island. Lauren and Sam knew I wanted to stop there and came in with me, and everyone else waited outside for me. The church is beautiful, and I realized it was started by Jesuits, which made me even happier. Lauren I discovered a mini "museum" in the church basement and I'm sure she noticed the massive smile on my face. It just felt right to be in there. I felt something in that Church.

I took it upon myself to be last in line on our bike ride. I wanted to make sure everyone else was okay, and it was fun to watch them have fun. We'd stop every few miles to take pictures, and we laughed a lot during the ride. I kept yelling things out to my friends, but since I was in the back I really couldn't hear them. I made myself laugh, a lot. I looked like a darn fool, riding my bike and smiling so big. But I don't care, because those two hours were pretty perfect.

After the bike ride our group split up, and Sam, Lauren, and I finished our shopping. We found a lot of cool things, got some fudge (a must at Mackinac Island), and people watched. There were a few weddings happening that day, and it was cute to see everyone dressed up.

Our crew took the 5:30 ferry back to Mackinaw City to get our cars. This time we rode on the bottom of the ferry so we'd be warm. Excellent choice. By the time we got back to our cottage, our tummies were grumbling. Lauren and I grilled the brauts (please be proud of us, we don't grill). While the other girls made corn and salad. Lauren and I only had one moment of panic, but I'd say we did pretty well. We giggled, sipped on beer, and cooked the meat. We felt so accomplished.

After we ate and cleared the table, we wanted to start a campfire. Except none of us have done that before. But, somehow, Lauren and I got it going. It took a while. It would start and then go out, but we eventually got a really good fire going. And again, we only had one moment one of panic when Lauren's pants almost caught on fire, but other than that, we ROCKED that fire. I was so proud of us! Then our group just sat around the fire, chatting, watching videos, making videos, laughing. Eventually it started to rain so we headed back inside for more story telling and laughing. It was another favorite moment from the weekend.

I think we all slept pretty well Saturday night. After biking 8 miles and walking probably 4 or 5, we were pretty exhausted. Our bodies were thankful for the rest.

Sunday morning Sam, Lauren and I packed up our car and headed out earlier than the rest of the gang. We had a lovely breakfast and drove for a few hours before stopping at Frankenmuth, another Michigan favorite. We went to Bronner's Christmas Store, the largest Christmas store in the United States, and each bought a few ornaments. We poked around a few other stores, grabbed a big lunch, and then sailed on home.

It was honestly a really great weekend. The weather sucked, but the company was spectacular and the beauty of Michigan made it all worth it. Plus I loved spending so much time with my roommates, even though I see them almost every day. Our friendship just seems to get stronger, and I'd do anything for those two. At one point on our bike ride the two of them were in front of me and I just said "guys? I love you.". I do. They are amazing friends.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the weekend. They probably won't make sense to most of you, but I gotta save these somewhere!"

"One of these days some lucky fella's gonna get an Ipass"-Mary
"Can a bear like come in the house?"-Sam
"The pants girl the pants!"-Mary
"Look, it looks like afterbirth"-Mary
"Squirt something in there!"-Tracy
"It's either fireworks...or a bear"-Me
"I feel like I'm straddling a pole"-Kristen
"How do you use a vcr?"-Julie
"Let me set the die"-Lauren
"It's either leaves...or bacon"-Mary
"How do I change my profile picture?" Sam "Just change it"-Kristen
"They never have Lady and the Tramp stuff. Guess they have something against tramps"-Sam

As you can tell, that Mary girl is pretty darn hilarious. She had us cracking up. Everyone was so fun this weekend, I just loved it. Thank you girls for such a beautiful time!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

weight loss wednesday: week 4

Workout Log
  • 7/18. One of my proudest days of this journey so far. I did week 2, day 2 of couch 2 5k training without stopping. I also played softball in the 93 degree heat. And I played a good game- minus the time the ball dropped out of my glove when trying to get someone out at home. But other than that, I did well. I hit the ball further than I usually do and made it on base every time. And I wasn't tired running the bases, which is a difference. I used to feel out of breath just running to first base! We won our game 11-6.
  • 7/19 I gave myself a rest day. I had suffered a very intense and strange migraine Thursday post workout and pre softball game. Needed a rest!
  • 7/20 Crazy storm caused the gym to lose power, so I did Couch to 5k training outside. Did pretty well, added an extra 30 seconds of running.
  • 7/21 Still no power at the gym. Instead, I went to my parents house and helped them move stuff out of their basement. We made at least 10 trips up and down the steps carrying heavy items, so I know I burned some calories.
  • 7/22 I had to go to the eye doctor to get my eyes checked because they have been bothering me. They didn't find anything wrong, but want me to come back in a week if my problem continues. And so far, my problem has continued. Still feel a little glow in my eyes. I came home from the doctor and sat in my house with the light off and  sunglasses on, working from home. Then I took a nap and slept through Zumba. No workout on Monday.
  • 7/23 Woke up early and did couch to 5k. did okay except I forced myself to stop a few times to drink water so that I would not get dehydrated. Burned about 200 calories.
  • 7/24 This is usually my swim day, but since my eyes have been acting crazy  I didn't want to add chlorine to the mix. I have goggles, but still, wanted to be careful. I didn't work out Wednesday.

Things I'm Proud Of
  • On Thursday my parents took me to grab some dinner after the softball game. They had already had dinner, but I had not because I had a big lunch that day. So we went to Coney Island. I had an omelet with egg whites instead of eggs, no hash browns, and a dry English muffin instead of toast. And I didn't even ask them for a bite of their large chocolate sundae's.
  • Had lunch with my roomie Lauren on Saturday. Had a turkey sub with fruit instead of fries.
  • Turned down a Panera brownie at work. I . LOVE. PANERA. BROWNIES.
  • Brought grilled chicken strips and broccoli for lunch at work today.

Other thoughts/Observations
  • Weekends are really, really hard for me. I made some choices this past weekend that weren't the healthiest. Nothing horrible, but I could have done better. I just need to stay focused. I'm worried about this weekend because I'm headed Up North with my friends for three days. It's also my birthday weekend. I'll need to watch my snacking and choices, and be strict on drinking water and eating healthy. Hope I can do it! And I'm going to try to squeeze in some workouts. Maybe go for a little jog or hike, and I'm planning on bike riding on Saturday at Mackinac Island.
  • Saw someone yesterday who I had not seen in about 3 months and doesn't read my blogs or facebook. Her first words "Are you losing weight? You look good!" Score.
  • There are days I don't feel as focused as others. This week has been hard because I'm doing a lot of traveling for work and am trying to get ready for the weekend. But I know I can do it.

5k Training
I am repeating week 2. I did it well this week, but I have some extra weeks hidden before the big day. So I've decided to repeat week 2 and try to increase my speed a bit. Although, I am not really increasing my speed, because I make myself stop to drink water. But hey. I'll get there. And I know I may be last.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm a Two.

Have you guys ever taken an Enneagram test?

I'm a Two.

Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.
  • Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
  • Basic Desire: To feel loved
How to Get Along with Me
  • Tell me that you appreciate me. Be specific.
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  • Share fun times with me.
  • Take an interest in my problems, though I will probably try to focus on yours.
  • Let me know that I am important and special to you.
  • Be gentle if you decide to criticize me.
    In Intimate Relationships
  • Reassure me that I am interesting to you.
  • Reassure me often that you love me.
  • Tell me I'm attractive and that you're glad to be seen with me.
What I Like About Being a Two
  • being able to relate easily to people and to make friends
  • knowing what people need and being able to make their lives better
  • being generous, caring, and warm
  • being sensitive to and perceptive about others' feelings
  • being enthusiastic and fun-loving, and having a good sense of humor
What's Hard About Being a Two
  • not being able to say no
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling drained from overdoing for others
  • not doing things I really like to do for myself for fear of being selfish
  • criticizing myself for not feeling as loving as I think I should
  • being upset that others don't tune in to me as much as I tune in to them
  • working so hard to be tactful and considerate that I suppress my real feelings
I cannot tell you how perfectly this describes me. I am sure that anyone reading this who knows me is giggling, and nodding, because this is SO. ME. Just yesterday I texted two of my friends to make sure they knew I loved them.

Just thought I'd share these today. I love things like this. I love figuring out I'm not alone in the world or with my feelings. I want to know what number you are!

You can take the test here and get a detailed description of results here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

have a slice of youtube.

Like most internet addicts, I check youtube frequently for the latest videos. There are three this week that I feel the need to share with the world via my blog. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

1. Best Maid Of Honor Toast Ever

First of all, can we talk about how she rocks those sparkly shoes and hoodie? And that's not all. She wrote and performed this rap for her sister, which I think is amazing. I would never have the guts to actually do that, but I love to write...and rap. This girl pulled it off. She wrote about the couple their family and her relationship with her sister. It makes me so happy how happy she and the guests are. She performs it perfectly.

2. The Wizard of Ahhhs

I have watched this video about 25 times today. I'm a huge fan of Penatonix, an accapella group featured on The Sing Off last season. They collaborated with Todrick Hall, youtube extraordinaire and former American Idol contestant, to write and create this amazing video. It's the story of Wizard of OZ, using modern songs done accapella. The music, creativity and costumes in this are just AMAZING. The best part is probably the use of the 5 different "Home" songs at the end.

PS: While you're on youtube check out Penatonix and Todrick's channels. Both have amazing stuff!

3. Kids React to Cheerios Commercial
Pretty much everyone has posted this on Facebook so you may have seen it by now. But if you haven't, it's time you do. This video will warm your heart. It's beautiful. The kids have such pure hearts. Please watch.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 3

Well kids, I have lost about 4 lbs. I say about because if you remember correctly, I did not weigh myself exactly when I started, which was about a month ago now. But this morning I stepped on the scale pre breakfast and pre workout, and it looks like I've lost about 4 lbs since I first weighed myself. This is good. I am happy with it. I was a little discouraged last night, thinking maybe I had lost more, but after thinking about it more, I know that this is going to take time. I also know it takes women longer to lose weight. I also know that my low vitamin d levels make it harder. I also know that I am building muscle. So yeah, I will get there. I'm happy, and I'm feeling better than ever, which I think is what counts.

Workout Log
  • Thursday 7/11 I didn't wake up early to work out because I knew I was going to be going to the Bruno Mars concert and would be getting home very late Thursday night. But, I assure you I burned at least 200 calories dancing at the concert. They should make that an option on myfitnesspal - concert dancing.
  • Friday 7/12 We got home around 11:30/12 on Thursday. And I was so pumped from the concert I didn't fall asleep until about 2. So there was no way I was getting up at 5. And I couldn't work out after work because I had plans with some old friends.
  • Saturday 7/13  I rarely sleep in on Saturday's anymore, but I was exhausted from a busy Thursday and Friday so I slept until 10:30. Finally headed to the gym around 12 and did day 3 of couch to 5k training, and biked 4 miles plus did weights for my arms.
  • Sunday 7/14 Woke up to the news about Cory Monteith. Let myself lay in bed for a few hours reading articles and watching videos. Then went to the gym to let out some of my emotion. Did 20 minutes on the bike at high resistance, 15 minutes on the nustep at high workload, and 12 minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 speed and 4.0 incline. Burned about 350 calories. Then did weights.
  • Monday 7/15 Zumba! I missed it last week due to Gilda's Club volunteering, so I was glad to be back. Always a good workout. We had a different instructor this week, and she is out of her damn mind. I mean, I loved her energy, but she did not stop once and went super fast.
  • Tuesday 7/16 I went to bed way too late Monday so I didn't get up early. I was bummed. I hate working out after work. I was dreading it. I thought of a million excuses to not go. In fact, as I Was stuck in traffic just a few miles from the gym, I went to put my hair up and realized I didn't have a hair tie. So I thought welp, can't work out, no hair tie. But then I forced myself to turn into the Rite Aid parking lot and pick up some hair ties. I took my sweet time getting ready in the locker room before I finally headed up to the exercise area. I got on the treadmill and did Week 2, Day 1 of Couch to 5k training. I once again thought I was gonna die. I am not and never have been a runner, so even running for 1:30 straight kills me. And that's what week 2 is, a rotation between running for 1:30, walking for 2 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. But I did it. I did have to stop twice very briefly just to catch my breath, but I did it! I'm a little worried about the 5k because I run at a very slow pace and am just under 2 miles now, but I know I'll get there eventually. I followed up my training with 3 miles on the bike and then did weights for my arms.
  • Wednesday 7/17 Swimming. Did my routine of 2 laps freestyle, 2 laps kickboard, 2 laps breast stroke, 2 laps kickboard, 2 laps backstroke, 2 laps kickboard, repeat. I am getting faster, and I take less breaks.
Tips and Tricks I've Learned
  • If you don't like to eat breakfast, keep something at work. I hate making breakfast at home because I like to just get up, get showered and dressed and leave. So I keep oatmeal at work and make it when I come in. On the days I work out in the morning, I eat a banana at home and then oatmeal or yogurt with granola at work.
  • Swimming will make you really, really hungry. So if you're swimming as a workout, fill your lunchbox with extra healthy snacks for your day. Cucumbers, peppers, almonds, carrots, and apples are some of my favorites and are all very low in calories.
  • Don't let yourself "starve" because then you will overeat. If I am hungry at 11 am, I eat some granola, fruit, or almonds and drink a ton of water. It holds me over until lunch.
  • Eat slowly.
  • You CAN say no to sweets and treats at work! People will understand, you won't offend the person who brought donuts in for a meeting.
  • Bring a book, kindle, or ipad to the gym. It is fun to read on the bike. Most other machines aren't good for reading. I tried it on the treadmill the other day and got dizzy, but the bike, you're pretty stationary except your legs. When I'm reading on the bike, I don't even realize how fast time goes by. Pretty soon I've gone 4 miles.
  • No one is actually looking at you at the gym. This has always been a fear of mine, that people are looking at me and judging me. But they aren't. Everyone is in their own little world.
  • If you listen to music while you work out, you can sort of hide in your own world. I forget other people are around me when I'm jamming.
    • Speaking of music....I don't make a playlist for the gym, I just turn my Ipod on and let the music come to me. Here are some songs I've found to be helpful during a workout
Florence and The Machines, Shake It Off
Fall Out Boy, My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark
Fall Out Boy, Dead on Arrival
Casey Abrams, Get Out
Mumford And Sons, I Will Wait
Alex Clare, Too Close
The Band Perry, Done
Kelly Clarkson, Walk Away
Imagine Dragons, Radioactive

Other Changes I am Noticing
  • I 100% feel better about myself. In fact, today when I got dressed, I thought to I look good.
  • I am helping other people. I text/tweet three of my friends in the mornings when I get up to get them up too or to just say good luck or hope you get a good workout in! It is so helpful to know there are other people who are up and working out! And Sam has started going to the gym at her office after work.
  • I can literally feel my muscles getting stronger. It's a strange feeling to be honest, haha. Yesterday I flexed my thigh muscle on accident and went "damn". My arms are stronger too. I'll be curious to see if that affects my softball playing
  • I am getting faster at swimming.
  • Even though I am not a fast runner and I tire easily, I wouldn't have been able to do what I'm doing now four weeks ago.
  • I'm able to push myself hard on the bike and get 3-4 miles in at a high resistance.
There was a moment, on the treadmill during my training, when I thought "I'm not going to be able to do this. There's no way. I should try to get out of the 5k". And then something snapped and I changed that to "No. You CAN do it. Even if you are the last one to cross the finish line". So guys, if I am the last person to cross the finish line on October 12th, please don't laugh at me.

That's it for this week!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday Tunes: Sara Bareilles

If you haven't sat and listened to a Sara Bareilles (why is her last name so hard to spell?) album in it's entirety, you are seriously cheating your ears out of a treat.

Sara is incredible. Both her eloquent lyrics and powerful vocals make her an outstanding artist. Plus, she's kind of geeky and goofy, and always speaks her mind and has a bit of a potty mouth. I've always related to her because many of her songs touch on the topic of anxiety and fear. I appreciate that she can put those feelings into words and song.

Her latest album, "The Blessed Unrest", has been highly anticipated by fans. It dropped today, and it is just what I wanted from her. More stories through music. That is where she excels. A good song is one that makes you think and one that stays on your mind for a while. This album is full of those tracks.

Here are my four favorites. I hope you enjoy.

Manhattan- This is a deeply heartbreaking song that is clearly about a break up. Perhaps the love started and blossomed in this city, because Sara sings that she is going to give Manhattan back to that person, since she can't have them anymore or that relationship.

Little Black Dress- This tune has a similar sound to some of Sara's past singles, with just a touch more jazz. I could see it hitting radio waves. It's another one of her "screw you, don't tell me what to do" songs that she does so well.

I Choose You- This is such a sweet love song. When I was reading the lyrics I literally said "aww" out loud. I hope I feel this way someday. That's my wish.

December- Kind of a downer of a song, but I relate to it so much that I had to share it. December is clearly a rough month for Sara. Maybe brings back painful memories or maybe the cold and dark are hard to get through. I definitely feel her on that, except that my month is April.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Catherine McAuley'sSuscipe

"Today is the beginning of a new week, and so we pray Catherine McAuley's Suscipe". I heard this every Monday morning for four years.

Mercy High School is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, founded by Catherine McAuley. And I was lucky enough to be a student there. It shaped who I am today. I loved every moment of high school and I wouldn't change a thing.

I've been out of high school for 8 years now, but I am still very much connected to Mercy and the Sisters. I am a former Mercy Volunteer Corps member and an associate to the Sisters of Mercy.

A tradition I have kept? I say the suscipe every Monday morning. I have it on my desk, so really I can say it whenever I want, but I make sure to do it on Monday's.

My God, I am yours for time and eternity.
Teach me to cast myself entirely
into the arms of your loving providence
with the most lively, unlimited confidence
in your compassionate, tender pity.
Grant me, O most merciful Redeemer,
That whatever you ordain or permit
may be acceptable to me.
Take from my heart all painful anxiety;
suffer nothing to sadden me but sin,
nothing to delight me but the hope
of coming to the possession of you,
My God and my All, in your
everlasting kingdom.
Even though I heard these words every Monday for four years, I still get chills when I read this out loud. The words are so beautiful and so meaningful. Nearly every time I read it, something new pops out at me. It gives me so much to think about, to be grateful for, and to hope for.  It is one of my "go to's" when I am in need of comfort and peace, and of just knowing that I am not alone.

Say the prayer out loud, slowly. Then repeat it. Give each word a thought. I can almost guarantee something will jump out at you.

The prayer is so clearly stating that our lives our gifts from God. We are called to build a relationship with Him, to trust in His plan and to know that He will bring us through the challenges that we face.

"Take from my heart all painful anxiety" is my mantra. On my worst days struggling with anxiety, I say this over and over again. It is almost comforting to know that Catherine felt the same way. Since I hope to model my life after her and her good works, it's like I have a friend in my journey. God does not abandon us in our darkest times.



Sunday, July 14, 2013

RIP Cory.

I consider myself a big Glee fan. I rarely, if ever, miss an episode. I know all the story lines, who has dated who, the friendships, the performances and songs. I know each actor's name in real life and a little bit about each of them. I follow pretty much every cast member from seasons 1-3 on twitter. I own seasons 1 and 2 on dvd. I love Glee.

Finn is a lovable character because he's so goofy and awkward. He wants whats best for people but doesn't always have the best way of expressing it- over time we saw him get better at that. He wears his heart on his sleeve. Off screen, Cory Monteith was a charmer. He was always smiling and joking around, he did not hesitate to show his love for his girlfriend and fellow cast mate Lea Michelle. He was just as goofy.

Those of us in the Glee fandom knew of Cory's issues with drugs and alcohol as a teen, and we knew that he was in rehab earlier this year for the same issues.

But I don't think one of us expected to wake up today and read the headlines that Cory was found dead in his hotel room due to a drug overdose.

This is one of the only celebrity deaths to really shake me up. Like, I almost threw up. I don't know if it's because I saw his face on my tv screen every Thursday for four years or if it's the nature of his death, but I am absolutely devastated over this loss.It saddens me that Cory's soul was so tortured, and yet he seemed so happy. It just shows you that you never know what people are going through. I know that he does not have to fight those battles anymore, but I sure wish it didn't have to end like this.

Millions of people across the world looked up to him. Maybe that's why it hurts. Knowing how real Glee is for so many of us. It's a show that gave us hope, and Cory was a huge part of that. He was part of the Glee family.

My heart hurts for Lea, for Cory's family and friends and fellow cast mates. By the looks of twitter, it is obvious the impact he made on other celebrities lives. He was, truly, a wonderful young man.

I also break for the young fans. I'm almost 26 years old and extremely shaken up and saddened over this loss, I cannot imagine the pain and confusion of the teens. If I could, I'd invite every Glee fan over to my house so that we could all hug each other. I hope those kids know- you'll be okay. I promise. Glee lost a family member, and you lost someone you love and admire, but you will be okay.

Glee fans, <3 and="" believing.="" don="" hugs.="" p="" stop="" t="">Glee cast, all my prayers to you as your grieve the lost of your friend and "brother".
Lea, I have no words other than all the love in the world is being sent out to you today.
Cory, you really were a beautiful person. May you rest in peace. Thank you for your bravery.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ellie Goulding/Bruno Mars concert

When I parked my car this morning, I grabbed my iced coffee and purse and ran through the doors, past our lovely receptionist and right into my coworker Sue's office. I slammed my stuff down on the table and leaned myself against the wall with the biggest smile on my face, and all I could say was "SUE".

That, my friends, is my morning after reaction to the Ellie Goulding/Bruno Mars concert.

I told you few weeks ago about my love for these artists, and mentioned that I'd be seeing them live. The concert was even better than I could have imagined.

We got there JUST in time for Ellie. The usher took our tickets as she was singing her first song. Ellie's set was about 40 minutes long, and in those 40 minutes I heard some of my favorite songs from her, including "Figure 8", "Explosions", and "Only You". She played the drums in a few of the songs and shook her hair all over the place in beat with the music. She closed her set with three of her hits- "Anything Could Happen", "Need Your Love", and "Lights". The crowd went crazy for "Anything Could Happen". It was like suddenly everyone woke up and realized who was on the stage. I was already a fan of Ellie, but now I'm an even bigger fan and want to see her live again.

We had to wait about another 40 minutes for Bruno to hit the stage, but it was well worth the wait. I'll take you through most of the concert happenings, but I just want you to know ahead of time that this is one of those concerts where I was in a complete state of bliss for 99% of the time- just one minor moment of sadness, but that will be explained in a bit.

So he opened the show with "Moonshine" and I knew immediately we were in for a treat. Bruno and his band are so in sync with one another. There are no crazy gimmicks, set changes, or backup dancers- the boys just do their thing. They dance, sing, and play instruments, and it's pretty obvious within seconds of the show how passionate they are.

Bruno's next song was "Natalie", which, is one of my favorite songs from his new album, in fact it is tied for the favorite spot. It's an angry song, but it's so upbeat and catchy that I cannot help but love it. I was happy and could have gone home right then and there just because I got to hear that song live. I can't remember the last time I had that much fun screaming angry words outloud.

Now, since some of my tweets didn't go through last night, I am not sure the exact order of the rest of the concert but I'll do my darndest to explain it to ya'll. He sang "Treasure", his latest single, which is a fun throwback type song that I blast when I hear in the car, and last night I danced my tail off to it.

Bruno sang "Billionaire", which is really the song that put him on the map when he was a guest artist on the track with Travis  McCoy. I legit almost cried because the words in that song talk about how one day he'll be famous, playing in a different city every night. And now, fours years later, here he is, playing an arena show with hundreds of people singing the words to his song. He's come so far since Billionaire!

He then sang part of "The First Time", off his debut album, and that is when I REALLY started to flip. His voice was just. Incredible. He got really into the song and it was very...intimate.

He did "Marry You", and the crowd loved it. Most people know that song, it has become a popular wedding tune and was done well on Glee.

Then Bruno did my favorite song from the new album, If I Knew. He introduced it by saying it was influenced by Motown music. Which, if you give the song a listen, is pretty obvious. It's very old school. At the end of the song he mashed it with his 2010 hit "It Will Rain", from  the Twilight Soundtrack. The two songs mashed well together and I wasn't expecting to hear "It will Rain" so I was pretty pumped. His voice in these two songs in particular was absolutely killer.

So Bru Bru took a little break from singing to interact with a lucky girl in the front row. He chatted with her and challenged his bandmates to "swoon her". One of this bandmates, Phillip, who's been around since the beginning, said the something like "you should just runaway with us" which made Bruno go into a little bit of "Runaway", a song that is not featured on his albums. It is my favorite "unknown" Bruno Song. I screamed so loud because I was NOT expecting that. In fact, earlier that night, I was explaining to Lauren how I became a Bruno Mars fan, which is that one day I was bouncing around youtube and I randomly stumbled on "Runaway". I fell in love with the voice, and that's how my love for Bruno came about. So to hear just a teaser of that song was incredible. Then, of course, they went into a fan favorite "Runaway Baby". The band really gets into that song.  The dance moves were- wow.

Can't remember when exactly he sang "Show Me", a reggae type song, but he did, and even though it's not a hit, people loved it.

Bruno took his guitar at one point and started an acoustic version of "Nothin on You", which he is again a guest vocal on for rap singer B.O.B. I loved that he did this song, and everyone in the audience did too. I think everyone had kind of forgotten about that song until we heard it again!

Then Bru Bru came out with just him and the microphone. He teased his next song by saying "this is the hardest song I've ever written, and the hardest song I ever have to perform live". It was, of course, "When I Was Your Man". For personal reasons, I hate that song, and turn it every time I hear it on the radio, so I had a difficult time functioning during the live performance of it. I had to sit down and kind of buried my head in my hands. It was a bit of a downer for me, but I cannot deny that Bruno's voice was heartbreaking and chilling as he sang it. You could tell it was very difficult for him.

Bruno got a little break after that song as his keyboard player did a killer solo. The lights turned red, and my gut told me "Grenade" was about to happen. My gut was right. Crowd went crazy and Bruno performed it in a way I can't really describe. They changed the outro a bit to drag it out, so that he kept repeating "you won't do the same" again and again. It was....amazing.

Last song before the encore was another fan favorite, "Just The Way You Are". Bruno looked so happy to sing that tune, dedicating it to us in Detroit (and yes, I realize he does that with every city, but darn it, I felt special). It was a fun little sing a long with the crowd and the band.

The lights went out and the band left the stage, but of course we knew they'd be back to sing the hit "Locked Out of Heaven", which they did, and sprayed gold glitter flakes all over the arena floor. Everyone was dancing and jumping up and down.

I really thought the show was over, and all of the sudden a neon green gorilla flashed on the screen. I. LOST. IT. I knew what was coming- the very inappropriate yet absolutely amazing song, "Gorilla". I was shocked that he closed the show with that song but honestly what better way to say goodnight than to leave us with a song like that. Well, the children and their parents in the audience probably didn't appreciate it, but I sure did.

I walked out of that show with the biggest smile. It was honestly in my top five favorite concerts, and I say that a lot, but I mean it. It was an experience. A girl walking out next to me felt the same way. I heard her say to her friend "I only knew one song, and I've been to a million concerts, but that's the best concert I've ever seen". I mean COME ON. You don't say that about a concert where you only know ONE song! Just shows how incredible he is as a performer.

It's the best $40 I've spent in a long time. I really encourage you to see Bruno if he comes to your town- Sam said so last night and I agree- this is a show you go to, no doubt about it. You go. It's entertaining, it's good music.

Can you tell I had a good time? Because I had like, a really, really good time. It was one of those nights where I was so lost in the music I didn't even care that people were probably staring at me like I was a fool.  All I know is I was with my two best friends and had one of the best times I've had in a while.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 2

Welcome to week 2 of Weight Loss Wednesday!

I don't know if I've lost weight because I didn't weigh myself when I started. Like I said before, I'm not going to stress over numbers.

However, when I was putting my make up on Monday, I did feel like my face was a wee smaller. That made me happy.

So, things are still going well. This is going to be a slow process, and I'm okay with that. I don't want to lose weight really fast and then gain it back. I want to lose the weight and keep it off with a lifestyle change.

Workout Log
  • Thursday 7/4: Off. Gym was closed due to 4th of July. I did do a lot of running around with my pals, though.
  • Friday 7/5: Off again. I had every intention of waking up Friday morning and hitting the gym before work. But I only got two hours of sleep Thursday. I could have gone after, but I also discovered Friday that my debit card number was stolen. So between no sleep and that stress, I needed to go home and sleep. I didn't even go out with my friends that night.
  • Saturday 7/6: First day of Couch to 5k Training! (More on that later). 30 minutes of walking/running mixed, then did weights for my arms.
  • Sunday 7/7: Circuit training: 10 minutes on the Nustep, 12 minutes on the treadmill at a fast pace walk and 3.5 incline, 15 minutes on the bike, weight rotation, ab/core workout to finish.
  • Monday 7/8: I squeezed in a workout in between work and going to my monthly volunteer role at Gilda's Club. I was able to do my circuit training again, this time doing a lot of ab/core workout. Which is probably my least favorite thing in the world.
  • Tuesday 7/9 My alarm didn't go off at 5:15, and I woke up at my normal "work wake up time" of 6:20. So instead I hit the gym after work and did my day 2 of couch to 5k training. And then did weights for my arms, followed up my 2 miles on the bike. When I got home that night, I didn't think I'd make it off the chair.
  • Wednesday 7/10 Swam laps for 40 minutes before work. This is my new swimming routine: 2 laps freestyle, 2 laps on the kickboard, 2 laps breast stroke,  2 laps on the kickboard, 2 laps back stroke, repeat four times.
What about food?
Well, you see, folks, this was a Holiday weekend. Which made eating healthy even trickier. Plus we had a lot of friends in and out of our little house. But I give myself a pat on the back, because I think I did pretty well.  I'm sick o  f the pasta salad/potato salad gunk though. I can literally still feel it sitting in my tummy and I didn't even eat that much of it.

I am finding it kind of fun to go out to eat and find healthy options. I get tired of salad's fast, so instead I get creative. Saturday I went out with my parents to Olga's, my favorite. Normally I would have gotten a Three Cheese Olga and fries. Instead, I got a cup of white bean chicken chili (only 170 calories!) and a grilled chicken Olga. On Sunday I went to lunch at Logan's with Sam. I found their "health nut" menu and ordered grilled chicken with a mushroom skewer and side "health nut" salad which is just lettuce, carrots, and vinaigrette dressing.

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday nights is cook dinner. Because I take it easy on Sunday's, I tend to muster up the must energy in the evening to actually cook, and not just my usual pop a turkey burger in the George foreman. I mean COOK. And this past Sunday I made one of my favorite meals I've ever done.

I chopped chicken breasts into cubes and cooked them in the skillet, adding pepper and garlic for taste. At the same time, I boiled penne noodles. Once the chicken was cooked, I dumped it out onto paper towel. Then, in the same skillet, I put asparagus and mushrooms in there plus a cup of low sodium chicken broth. I let the veggies steam for about 5 minutes. When the noodles and veggies were done I mixed everything together. I did not add cheese or sauce, to cut on calories. It was DELICIOUS. Next time I might add more veggies and maybe just a hint more garlic, but other than that it was really good. I realize noodles aren't the best option, but it was a filling meal and I liked making and eating it.

I'll keep you posted on my cooking adventures. We bought a small, 14 inch grill over the weekend and we're looking forward to grilling outside. if you have any recipes, send them my way! I want to keep cooking on Sunday's, and I usually cook enough for my roomies to enjoy as well.

Well, like I said, I know this is going to be a process. I do plan on weighing myself this weekend and then checking twice a month so that I at least know that I'm doing okay.

My main goal that I work for right now is to burn at least 600 calories in my workouts. So far I'm hitting about 300-400 in 5k/circuit, 600 in swimming, and 1,000 with Zumba. I'll get there with my 5k and circuit training, as soon as my endurance builds up and I'm able to push myself more.

I'm also really working on watching my sugar intake. I haven't been so great at that but I will start looking more closely at it when I put my food into myfitnesspal.

Noticing any changes?
Like I said, my face seems to be smaller. That could just be wishful thinking, but I swear it does.
I feel more energetic, especially on the days I go to the gym.
I found myself wishing the gym was open on the 4th of July.
I had a freaking dream about the gym.
I went grocery shopping after my workout on Sunday and was so full of adrenaline that I had to resist the urge to jog up and down the aisles.
I make up Zumba dances in the car.
I look up weight loss success stories.
I track everything I eat with a calorie counter. You don't want to know how many calories are in one potato skin. You also do not want to know how many calories are in Costco muffins. Holy. Smokes.
My calf muscles are getting stronger. This was the very first change I noticed.
I don't mind getting up at 5:15 in the morning.
I got my first "you look like you're losing weight" comment yesterday and I did a little dance.

What's this about a 5K?
Alright, so listen. I've done a few 5k's before. I even walked a 1/2 marathon back in 2010. So signing up for a 5k may not seem like a big deal.

Except this one is, because I'm running it. Not walking, running.

The date of the 5k is October 12th, and it is to raise funds for Gilda's Club. Gilda's Club is a free cancer support community. I volunteer for it, and it's one of the coolest things that I am part of. It has dozens of support groups for each kind of cancer, lectures, workshops, grief support groups, and social events. My volunteer role is front desk duty. On the 2nd Monday of each month, I sit at the front desk and make phone calls to members about upcoming meetings/groups, greet members and direct them to the proper room for their meeting, answer phones, etc. So I get to see all the cool things they have going on, and let me tell, you they ALWAYS have something going on. In each room of the house, there is a different meeting happening. The people there are the sweetest, the members are incredibly brave, and the mission of the organization is truly amazing.

Because it's a nonprofit, they rely on their fundraising events to keep the whole "free" thing going to the members. The 5k is one of their biggest fundraisers, so I am participating to help them raise money to continue to run such awesome programs.

And I'm training to run the freaking thing.

I am not a runner. Duh. Anyone on a weight loss journey is probably not a runner. I hate running, but I am going to become a runner for this event.

I am using the Couch to 5k training plan. I have an app on my phone that I can use while training. It's a cool app because all you have to do is hit start, and it tells you what to do. The first time I used it I literally thought I was going to die right there on the treadmill. And Day 1, Week 1 is just running for 60 seconds, walk for 90 seconds, repeat for a total of 20 minutes plus a 5 minute warm up and cool down. Doesn't seem that tough...but it was. I was sweating so much I felt like I was in the pool. My legs hurt, my lungs were screaming. But I did it.

The Couch to 5k training program takes you through 8 weeks of training, so by the time I'm done I should be able to run for a straight 30 minutes. The thought of that right now makes me want to cry, but I know I can do it if I work hard enough. The key is not to give up. The training is 3 days a week, so I have mixed it into my workout schedule. I talked to my trainer at the gym about it too, and he thinks it's a marvelous idea to help with weight loss, and encouraged me to continue to do the core/weight exercises on those days too. I laughed when he said that, but he was serious.

So yeah, I'm GOING to run this 5k. No doubt about it. I might be slow, but it's going to happen.

If you want to support me, I ask that you do so my donating to Gilda's Club through my runner page:

I would like to raise $100, but of course, will be glad with any I can help donate to Gilda's Club. And if you live in the area, please consider joining me to do the 5k or come cheer me on!

So that's this week's update. Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

God Moments.

This is a topic that I've touched on many, many times in this blog and will probably continue to discuss until the day I hit that "delete account" button. Which isn't happening anytime soon, might I add.

My repetitive point? God knows what you need, when you need it.

I firmly believe that and I always will.

Let's take last week, for example. I had a really, really rough week. My anxiety peaked, I barely slept, and my debit card number was stolen on Friday. I just didn't feel in the best of moods.

On my drive from the gym on Sunday morning back to my house, a million things were going through my mind. I wondered if I'd be able to pay for my groceries, if a close friend was angry with me, I worried about another friend going through a hard time. I was energized from working out but also deeply confused and emotional.

That was when U2's "Beautiful Day" started playing on the radio. I smiled, listened, and changed the station. "One" by U2 was playing on another station. And finally, as I pulled into the grocery store, I switched to yet another station to find "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2. Weird, right? Not really.

Laurence, my amazing, sweet cousin who passed away at age 16 from a brain cancer, was the biggest U2 fan I ever met. I knew, in that moment, that he was trying to tell me something. I mean three U2 songs don't just play on three different radio stations all the time. It was my message from Laurence that everything is going to be okay, and that he continues to watch over me.

EDIT: Since writing this blog, I found out exactly what Laurence was trying to tell me. When I left the gym tonight, I once again heard a U2 song, "Mysterious Ways". Moments later, I was on the phone with my parents, who informed me that Patrick, Laurence's dad, is in the ICU because as he was mixing pool chemicals, they exploded. He is going to be okay, but it will be a long road. His lungs were injured and he has burn marks on his face. Please keep him in your prayers as he recovers.

Things like that are "God moments" for me.

Other moments are conversations with complete strangers that make me walk away feeling fulfilled. Like the other night when I was at Gilda's Club. I was doing my usual front desk duty when a cheerful older woman walked in. She started chatting away as I took her to get a cup of tea and walk her to her meeting. She asked my name, and when I told her she said "OH! God's pearl!". Then she asked for my middle name, and her response to that was "Oh! God's promise!". I smiled and told her she was good and that she sure knew her names. She laughed and said "well you'll get me if your last name could also be a first name.". Well, it can. So I told her my last name and she clapped and gasped and said "STRONG WOMAN! and joy! your name means joy!" She was so happy to share this information with me, and I was happy to see how excited she was. I smiled the rest of the night.

The last moment, or example, is when special people being brought into your life. My roomies and I were having a late night wine induced convo about this stuff the other day, about knowing that certain people are brought into your life for a reason. I brought up my coworkers. That even though not every day at my job is paradise, I wouldn't swap my coworkers for anything, and I know that they were supposed to be in my life. I have learned so much from them. I've celebrated three birthday's with them and I really, truly feel like I have grown up at this job. Since I've specifically mentioned other coworkers before in this blog, for this example I'll use Peggy, our clinical supervisor. She didn't always hold that role. Up until a year ago she was out in the field as a nurse case manager. I barely even saw her, only every other Wednesday for our team meeting. But even back when she was in the field, I felt a special connection to her. I never really knew why. But now that she's in the office every day with me, I know why. I know she and I have a special relationship that I can't quite explain. She is tough on me when she needs to be but I also know we care about each other. It's sorta mother/daughterish. There have been days when I've come into work really not sure if I could make it, either due to a rough night or just too much going on. She notices. She'll call me into her office or come into mine and close the door and ask me what's wrong. Once she said "I can see it in your eyes". She asks about my weight loss progress and supports me in that (except she did force me to eat banana pie today).

Another person would be my mom's friend Paula. She's the one who really kickstarted this whole weight loss journey thing and honestly she was the kind of person I needed to do so. She's a doctor herself so she helped me figure out all of the blood work stuff, set me up an appointment with the gym, etc. She was gentle but honest in her approach of what I needed to do to get healthy. I am extremely grateful she was brought into my life so that I could get going on this.

So yeah, I know this post may be a little boring or repetitive, but I just had to share some more reminders of God's role in my life and the music and people He brings into it every day.

Tell me some of your "God moments", or " A ha moments".

Tuesday Tunes: Mandisa

I have a long history of being a fan of Mandisa. It started when she was a contestant on American Idol. Which, as most of you know, is my favorite TV show. That was back in 2006. Mandisa caught media attention on the show because after leaving the room for her audition, Simon commented "do we have to get a bigger stage this year?". Between the taping of that show and the top 24 reveal, Mandisa saw that episode air on TV. So when she sat in front of the judges to learn her fate, she forgave Simon, saying that Jesus would do the same thing.

Mandisa has never been shy about her relationship with Jesus and her strong life as a Christian. That's one of the reasons I connect with her. She loves God and loves the blessings in her life, and she's bold enough to talk about it.

Post Idol, Mandisa's Christian music career took off. She's been extremely successful. She's been nominated for three Grammy's and six Dove awards, gone on crazy tours, and wrote a book about her experience on Idol as well as her weight and food addiction.

Ding ding ding. Reason number two why I connect with Mandisa in a major way. Food. The first time I got my hands on her book, I cried throughout nearly every chapter, because she was speaking the words I felt, I had just never known how to express them. It wasn't until I read that book that I realized I wasn't alone in my battle with weight and emotional eating.

Mandisa started a weight loss journey after writing her book, and has lost over 100 pounds since. Her music even speaks of the freedom she feels from breaking her food addiction. She has served as an inspiration to so many people, including myself. I have tried and failed the whole weight loss journey several times, but as you all know I'm back on it now, and Mandisa continues to be one of my biggest inspirations.

I have sort of a personal connection with this amazing woman, although I have not seen her in quite some time. But back in my senior year of college, I randomly got a myspace message from her. It was a response to a message I had sent her almost two years prior but had never gotten an answer. (I wasn't upset and didn't even think twice about it- I figured she was too busy. I had completely forgotten that I had even sent it). Anyways, we became fast myspace message buds. She encouraged me through some things I was really struggling with, mainly my relationship with God and trusting in his plan.

I have had the honor of meeting Mandisa four times and I can tell you she's one of the brightest, kindest people I've ever had the honor of meeting. It's been a few years, because every time she has a show in the Michigan area I can't go, but I'm still a fan.

I tell you ALL of this to tell you: she has a new single out today. And if you listen to the Christian radio stations, you've probably already heard it. But if you don't, I'll tell you about it. It's called Overcomer. Unfortunatley it's not on Youtube yet, but you can find it in Spotify (that link takes you directly to the song) if you're a spotify user and want to try the song out. You can also preview it on Itunes. Mandisa herself sent me the link to the video after she read this blog :) Here it is! Give it a listen!

So, what is the song about? Mandisa recently did an quick interview to answer that question, and she said it was for her brothers and sisters in Christ to know that they have already won their battles, of whatever it is they are going through,  God is there, and now all they have to do is fight every day.


I love that message. I need that message. We all do, I'm sure. Sometimes I get so caught up in my challenges and problems that I forget that God is there, watching me and giving me the strength to fight through it. Here are the lyrics to Mandisa's song.

Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T Mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing's really going right
Looking for a ray of hope

Whatever it is you may be going through
I know He's not gonna let it get the best of you

You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You're not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when He reminds You
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer

Everybody's been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Oh, you're not alone
Just take a breath, don't forget
Hang on to His promises
He wants You to know

The same Man, the Great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of You
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There's nothing He can't do
He's telling You

How inspired are you right now after reading those words and hearing that song! It's so powerful! The first time I heard it I was full of joy and strength. It's the kind of song that I'll be playing when I need a pick me up. I mean the lyrics themselves are enough to help you through a rough moment- you're an overcomer! I'm an overcomer!

Thank you, Mandisa, for this powerful song to help us when we need it.

Go grab Overcomer on Itunes
Follow Mandisa on Twitter
Like Mandisa on Facebook

Sunday, July 7, 2013

my favorite doll

Editors Note: The story I am sharing today is not meant, in any way shape or form, to offend anyone, it is simply to tell a story about the way I was raised.

When I was about three, I asked my mom and dad for a black baby doll for an upcoming birthday present. I had see the commercials for a black cabbage patch doll, and I desperately wanted her.

My mom happened to casually mention this to one of our neighbors at the time. Said neighbor was shocked, and appalled, telling my mom she shouldn't buy it for me because it would "give me the wrong idea". I'm not exactly sure what my mom's response to this, but I'm going to guess it was an eye roll.

I got the doll. And I loved her just as much, if not more, than my other dolls. I'm not even sure if I named her, but I pretty much named all of my dolls Emily, so we'll go with that. This is Emily and I.

Years later my mom told me the story about our neighbor and I felt my veins fill with rage. The wrong idea? What exactly does that mean? 

Because I have always been under the impression that each of us are created equal, no matter the color of our skin. That not one of us is better than the other. That we were placed on this earth to love and accept one another. Just as shocked as this neighbor was that I would want a black baby doll, I was shocked that she cared, or that it mattered at all.

 I'm still shocked. I can feel myself getting angry as I sit and type this now. I was born in 1987, so this whole situation went down in the early 90's. THE EARLY 90'S! Racism was that strong in my very own neighborhood in the early 90's! And even today, is still exists. I still hear comments about race, religion, equality, almost every single day. When is it going to stop?

Maybe it's just me, but that's just not how my parents raised me. I was kind and loving to everybody. So wanting a black baby doll meant nothing special to me. I just wanted to play with her.

This past Holiday weekend my parents were doing their big summer cleaning. Every year they clean out every closet, cupboard, drawer, and bookshelf. They donate unwanted items to food banks and Salvation Army stores. I got a text from my mom on Thursday that they were on my room. The text read something like

We're doing a room to room. Yours is next! Everything must go!

In a quick panic, I texted her back Don't get rid of any pictures or yearbooks! As the queen of nostalgia, my pictures, yearbooks, and boxes of letters are very important to me.

Later that day, she called to tell me their progress. "Oh, and we put all your dolls in a bag to give a way".


She laughed, and sent my dad to go save my doll from the bag. I didn't care if they got rid of every other doll (well, besides my American Girl Dolls), but they could NOT get rid of her. She's way too special to me.

I was at my parents house this weekend to seek out the damage. Upon walking in my room, there was my doll, perched up on my bed, in the exact outfit you see her in the picture above- an old, ratty pink onesie with a hood. (Pacifier is gone, tho).  And, at almost 26 years old, I grabbed her and hugged her, tightly, and proceeded to take a nap with her in my arms.

I know. Creepy.

But I love that doll. And instead of leaving her at my parents house, I brought her back to my house with me.

Sam took a picture to prove it.

I know. Also creepy.

I guess she serves as a reminder of my childhood, and of my parents. Of standing up against hate. She is a reminder of the gratitude I have for God for putting love and acceptance in my heart at such a young age.

I know I said I don't remember if I named her, but I'm just gonna go with Emily. And I'll never get rid of her.

To our neighbor who thought I'd get the "wrong idea": I certainly hope that you have opened your mind a little bit more. And if the "wrong idea" means you were worried I'd grow up to be accepting of people of other colors, well, you were right. But I'm pretty damn proud of that.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday

Welcome to a new segment of my blog: Weight Loss Wednesday!

I really thought about making the entire blog about weight loss, but that thought only lasted about a second before I realized how much I'd miss things like Tuesday Tunes/Top Ten Tuesday, short story's, letters to Ryan, and general posts. So, I'm gonna stab at doing it every Wednesday.

I'm about two weeks into my weight loss journey.

But here's the thing.

I didn't weigh myself when I started.

I know. I know. How am I on a weight loss journey without knowing my exact starting weight?

Maybe I'm weird, but I don't want to obsess over numbers. I want to track my progress based on how I feel and how my clothes feel, not the scale. Because I've been through this enough times to know that if the number isn't what I want it to be, I'll give up.

So instead, I took a picture of myself today. And I'll take one every month. Plus, at my new gym they measured by body fat, so I will do that every month also.

Since I'm new to Weight Loss Wednesday, here's a little background info.

What made you start this journey?
Well, I've sorted of hinted at this before. But what really kicked it off was a big talk I had with my parents a few weeks ago. It was when I was having those headaches/dizzy spells and we thought it perhaps could be high blood pressure. It wasn't...but I decided I still wanted to do something about my weight. I got a bunch of blood work done and learned that I am borderline diabetic. I am not quite there, but if I don't do something, I will be. So that was a big reason.

The other reason is really no secret to my friends and family, so I might as well spill to the internet as well, right? Right. I've also hinted at this (mostly in my Ryan letters) but back in March, the guy I was dating at the time broke my heart. We had only been together 3.5 months, but I had never had such strong feelings for someone in my life. So I was pretty devastated when he chose his ex girlfriend over me. The break up was a big, big mess and it caused me to go into a funk. I turned very negative and didn't take care of myself. I gained weight and wasn't happy. It was only a few weeks ago when I decided I really can't let him have that kind of control over me. So part of my motivation is that whole situation. I'm gonna turn all that negativity into positivity.

What gym do you go to?
I joined Sola Life and Fitness and I'm obsessed. I love talking about my gym. I heard about it through a family friend. It is a reasonable price and that price includes personal trainers, fitness classes, nutrition classes, use of the pool, etc. When you first join you have a fitness assessment and the trainers give you a personal program to use. I love it. I've sent a few people there and will send anyone else who asks about it. The people there are awesome, it's clean, and it's super nice. They have new machines, the classes are FANTASTIC. I just can't get enough!

What do you do at the gym?
I mix it up. I am not the kind of person who can do the same thing all the time or I get incredibly bored.

1-2x a week I do Zumba. Monday evenings (except the Monday's that I volunteer at Gilda's club, which is only once a month) and Saturday mornings. I love Zumba, it's one of the best ways to exercise because it's fun. You burn anywhere from 600-1000 calories per class, so it's a great work out.

1-2x a week I swim. Swimming is my FAVORITE way of exercising. I love being in the water, and when I'm doing it as a work out I push myself really hard and do a bunch of laps. I usually am in there for about 40-50 minutes. I kick back and forth or do laps. The other day all the lap lanes were full so I used the walking lane and did lunges back and forth and used water weights will I did them. Wednesday's have become my swim day, and Sunday's when I go to the gym I swim too. But I don't/won't go every Sunday. That's kinda my day.

1-2 x a week I do my cardio/circuit training. This one I don't love so much, but I'm learning new things and starting to like it more. I change this up based on the plan my trainer and I worked on. Today I did 10 minutes on the Nustep, 10 minutes on the treadmill (at an incline), 10 minutes on the bike, and then 10 minutes of weights/core.

So I go about 5-6 days a week. I do not go on Thursday's because I have softball. And I try not to go on Sunday's because it's my day to rest and relax before a new week, but this past Sunday I did because I woke up WANTING to go. My goal is to go at least 4 days a week.

What are you eating?
Well, again, I like to change it up. Just like I get bored with exercise, I get bored with food, and if I made myself eat celery sticks and grilled chicken every day I'd go nuts. So I am just careful about what I eat and portion size.

My food diary for yesterday looked like this:
Breakfast: Egg white and turkey on an English muffin
1 glass Orange juice

Lunch: Panera Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
Pretzel Crisps

Snack: Trail Mix

Dinner: Lean Turkey Burger, no bun
Red Skin potatoes

Dessert: Banana w/ 2 tbsp. peanut butter.

There are clearly things I could do better on (soup was cream based which is probably a no no, and I could have chosen carrots over trail mix). But, I decided early on that I wasn't going to completely deny myself food, because that is just getting myself up to cheat. What I am trying to do is watch my sodium intake.

How Do You Feel?

No, seriously, I do feel sore.

But I kinda like feeling sore, because it means I'm working hard. when I crawl into bed at night I can feel my muscles relax.

I feel better. So much better. And it's only been two weeks. I just feel more energetic, and accomplished. I also am rubbing off on some people around me. I get to work first now because I go to gym in the morning, and everyone asks what workout I did that day. My two roommates have started watching their diets and are going to start working out. I love that we can all do this together!

What Will You Write About Every Week?
Who knows? I sure don't! I might share a new recipe I learned, a new workout I enjoy, pictures, etc. I really have no idea. But I hope you read, comment, and share your tips and tricks!

Tuesday Tunes: Ellie Goulding and Bruno Mars

Only 9 more days until I get to see Bruno Mars live in concert! I adore him. I remember when he first came on the scene and I immediately bought his album and listened to all his unreleased music. I was a tad obsessed. I've never seen him live, so I am ecstatic to do so next week. His music is incredible.

I'm also super excited that he's bringing Ellie Goulding out on the road with him! His two opening acts are either Fitz and the Tantrums or Ellie, and I'm a mega fan of both. The Detroit show gets Ellie.

So, to help in my excitement for the show, I'm choosing one song from each of their albums for you to enjoy as much as I do!

Ellie Goulding
Album: Lights, 2011
Song: Your Biggest Mistake

Album: Halycon, 2012
Song: I Know You Care

Bruno Mars
Album: Doo Wops and Hooligans, 2010
Song: Runaway Baby
Album: Unorthodox Jukebox, 2012
Song: If I Knew
What'd you think?