New Horizons: Getting Used to Them.

Beautiful Nashville from the Walking Bridge over the Cumberland river - taken on my run this morning!
Beautiful Nashville from the Walking Bridge over the Cumberland river – taken on my run this morning!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Since I’ve poured my life out on paper or in a draft to therapeutically process it. There’s a million reasons, more like excuses.

Life is too devastatingly beautiful not to be chronicled. I want to pen long essays about the most romantic day of my life. I want to document every recipe I mess up so I can properly celebrate the ones I nail. I want to be imaginarily accountable through the web to pursue my health and fitness whims. I long to ramble about the tiny ah-ha moments I have. I do.

I don’t quite know how to label the funk I’ve been in. I use the big “D” word because it best matches the non-feelings I’ve had, the emptiness I’ve been feeling. The cause is complex and it’s not just as simple as saying, “the post-wedding blues.” I think wedding planning was just keeping me sufficiently distracted from my fears of calling a new place home. I’m scared of finally losing the excuse of, “we just moved here,” to explain my anti-social behavior.

Most of my social media is Cleveland. The twitter feeds, the blogs, the instagram accounts, the sports teams, I follow – 90% Cleveland. Yet here I am, not living in Cleveland. I try desperately to remember what it was like moving back to Cleveland after college. How did I meet so many wonderful people? So quickly? I’m scared that I won’t be able to replicate that here and I just feel stunted. Paralyzed. Life is moving on back home, big picture and small. New restaurants are opening that I would love to patron. When there’s crisis in my family, I feel helpless; which is the worst kind of torture for a control freak like myself. I want to be there to fix everything, to make everything okay. But I can’t. And I feel so disconnected.

Not only have I made less than an applausable effort to join the community here, but I feel like I’m drifting further those I intend to stay in touch with because I don’t have much to say. I’ve never been less interesting. I’m not working a traditional full-time job, I’m no longer in school, the wedding/honeymoon are over, and I don’t have any meaningful hobbies. I simply don’t have anything going on worth picking up a phone to call someone and tell them about. I find myself shirking away from responding to a friendly e-mail asking, “how’s it going?” What’s “it”? I wish I knew.

The fun part is I can write this because as of about a week ago, maybe, I started to get some purpose back. Back on a workout schedule, back to attempting to make better food choices, back to losing what I gained back that I worked so hard to lose last year. I’m reading again, and by golly, I’m going to a book club on Monday and send me to the moon if I punk out and don’t go. It’s only Thursday and I’m already a quarter of the way through the book! I want to write about the books I read, wouldn’t that be lovely? And the wine I drink.

Everything is OK. I just needed to get this out of my system because the moments I’m willing to be vulnerable are few and far between but boy are they invigorating.

 

“And the danger is that in this move toward new horizons and far directions, that I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness.”  Sylvia Plath

DIY Skin Care: How I Tame My Crazy-Ass Pores

20150311_192031

Slowly but surely, I am incorporating more natural elements into my lifestyle. One of the big areas for me, is skincare. It’s no secret, my skin sucks. It blows. It’s turrible – as Barkley would say. Starting in 6th grade I had terrible acne, was bullied, blah blah blah. Main point, I thought it would go away. By the time middle school ended. Or of course by the time I graduated from high school. Or definitely by the time I finished college. Nope. My acne, like a bumpy little shadow, followed me into adulthood. Cute, right?

I have spent so much time (and money) slathering salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide onto my skin that I thought it might be time to try something different. One major thing is diet, but that’s super complicated and I’m not even sure of my own perfect dietary formula yet. I’m talking topical.

Oil – friend or foe? Two years ago, I would have said foe. My skin is oily, why would I fight fire with fire? As it would turn out, oil vs. oil is a fair fight. A good one, even. My stance was first weakened at the knees when Kimberly, from Smitten in Cleveland, posts a piece on her holy grail cleansing oil, and my eyes were opened. Her first step is to wash your hands, and while while this might sound super basic for washing your face 101, it’s honestly something I had never thought about. If washing your face with oil was something she did, then it couldn’t be wrong, but I didn’t want to be right..yet…I guess.

Recently, I made my own DIY exfoliating face wash with coconut oil and quite frankly, I’m mad about it.

20150311_192031Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 2-3 drops of lavender essential oils

Directions

Mix! I use this 4-5 times a week – usually in the evening. It has taken some time to get acquainted with how my skin feels a little “oily” afterward. I just wasn’t used to not completely stripping my face of oil day-in and day-out.

Inspiration: I think this was from a MindBodyGreen article, but honestly, I can’t find it!

My newest DIY face mask is so simple and involved Grapeseed Oil, which is so convenient because I just started cooking with it recently too! Grapeseed might even be able to help tighten skin and reduce the appearance of pores (which is great, because the pores on my nose are the number and size of the potholes after this winter.)

20150311_192132

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fine sea salt (seriously, as fine as possible – otherwise, it scratches!)

Directions

Mix! Glop on. Leave for 3-5 minutes then rinse! Afterwards, my skin feels a little “tight” so I use a rosewater toner on a cotton ball to calm everyone down.

Inspiration: Instructables

Do you have any favorite DIY skin care recipes?

Then and Now: A Glimpse into 2004.

December 7, 2004

An Introduction. Don’t worry, this isn’t a life story. I just think it’s only fair to give you some background. It’s hard to decide what to write though. Lately I’ve been focusing on the present and who I’m trying to become. Being stuck on my past mistakes, and my old life has been getting me no where. For that reason, I won’t introduce myself with my past or who I’ve been for that matter.

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My Catharsis.

How to lose yourself.

I’m pontificating on how I seem to have lost myself over the past few months. Moving is hard. But sure, everybody knows that. By August of 2014, I thought I could handle anything. I had tackled moving where I lived, five times in the past four years. I had finally gotten my health/weight into check. I survived a strenuous graduate school summer session where I worked full time and had class Monday through Thursday until ten at night. I persevered through selling our condo while I was still in school and working and managed to help pack us up and move into my Gram’s house for the remainder of our time in Cleveland. How hard, after all of that, could living in Nashville actually be?

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Wedding Wednesday: Top 10 Tips for Winning Four Weddings

If wedding planning continues to happen but no blogs posts are written about it – is the planning happening at all?

March was the last time I had a “Wedding Wednesday” post, but rest assured, I’m still getting married.

Say Yes to the Dress

Prior to being betrothed, the only “wedding show” I subscribed to was Say Yes to the Dress. One might think that having seen every episode from all seven(?) seasons would have made dress shopping more difficult. Nay. I was not plagued by the same complications as beauty pageant queens. When I saw the dress on SYTTD after he popped the question, I thought knew it was the one…until I found out that particular dress was about half of our wedding budget. Fortunately, it was a few seasons old and the general idea had trickled down the designer chain, so then when I saw a similar dress, but within a price range I could probably rationalize for wearing for one whole day, I knew it was the one.

Four Weddings

This is real, people.

One of my bridesmaids recommended watching Four Weddings. This is an hour-long “reality” program where four brides attend each other’s weddings and then rank them in four different categories (overall experience, dress, venue, and food.) The winner gets a dream honeymoon! I wouldn’t dare subject my wedding to any aspect of reality television, but I’ve caught enough episodes now to put down some hard and fast rules for locking in the win.

Top 10 Tips for Winning TLC’s Four Weddings

1. Do not have your ceremony and/or reception outside in the elements.

The risk here is far greater than the reward. No matter how delicious your food it, how fun the DJ is, or how spot on the decor is, if this whiny brats are freezing, sweating, rained on, or the wind blows their hair into their lip gloss – you’re done. Outdoor weddings also open the door to potential outsiders being visible during your ceremony. Major points will be deducted for any strange old man in a nearby hot tub or little kids running around and being, well, little kids.

2. If you claim a theme – go all out.

Setting expectations is key. The brides all meet at a neutral location prior to each other’s weddings for some friendly trash talking but also to dish on what they’re planning. I recommend setting the bar low and over-delivering. If you tell these women your wedding is Cinderella themed, and you don’t show up in a glass pumpkin pulled by a fairy godmother and white stallions, kiss your dream honeymoon goodbye. Pick themes that are as vague and simple as possible, like, purple, autumn, nautical, beach. Sure, these are more open for interpretation, but you’re more likely to get them to understand your definition of these things than why there was no actual Christmas tree at a Christmas-themed wedding.

I would *not* recommend zombie themed.

3. Bonus points for shit on or hanging from the ceiling.

Any one can put vases on tables, if you really thirst for a Four Weddings win, it’s all about the vertical. I’m talking paper lanterns, tulle draping, chandeliers, hanging baskets of flowers, etc. There will be asides of the other brides talking about the ceiling decorations like it must have taken magic to make it happen. Extra bonus points if this is done inside of a tent.

4. Grand entrances and exits are bonus points.

If you’re considering an extravagant entrance or exit – do it. Make it happen. Some entrance ideas include being dropped off by a yacht, horse and carriage, are setting off firecrackers before the bride walks down the aisle. For your exit? Vintage automobiles, helicopters, or a monster truck.

5. Don’t have special guests that overshadow the couple.

It’s not uncommon for extravagant brides to arrange for some special visitors or entertainment during cocktail hour or perhaps after dinner. Unless it’s the bride and her belly dancing troop or an extremely well coordinated flash mob, skip it. Marilyn Monroe Impersonators, sword swallowers, and zombies dancing the Thriller dance, need not apply.

6. Serve cocktail hour food fast, often, and in copious amounts and options.

I’m not sure what the filming schedule looks like for Four Weddings but I’m sure it’s a long, brutal day. Feed these bitches. Feed them frequently. There’s no easier way to start the reception off on the wrong foot by making them chase down elusive staff carrying tiny hor d’oeuvres or leaving them to fend like wolves over a meager cheese and vegetable table. This may also be a good time to talk about the signature drink. Points will be deducted for drinks containing gin or tequila, or tasting too strong, so basically, your signature drink should be some awful fruity drink with an alliterative moniker.

7. Buffets are not recommended.

There must be something about standing in line for food that turns people into the most judgmental, picky, negative humans. Lord have mercy. For the record – I like buffets. I won’t be having one for spatial reasons, but I love the thought of being able to serve myself like a mature adult who can be responsible for their own dinner selection and portions. However, for Four Weddings, buffets nine out of ten times are going to cause problems. There’s too many loose ends from long lines, to keeping food heated/chilled, or possibly running out.

8. Food is critical. It must be flavorful, cooked to perfection, and be neither too ethnic nor too plain.

Food is granted it’s own category for judging, as it should be, but I also believe it carries a strong correlation to the overall experience score – ergo food is basically a double whammy. Proteins that are “stuffed” get bonus points – especially if it involves cheese. If steak is involved, sadly, it should be cooked medium or beyond. I’ve never seen so many upset ladies about red, juicy, steak. That being said, all things must be easy to eat – no chopsticks, no long pastas, and nothing super spicey.

9. Guests should not take off clothing on the dance floor.

I can’t stress this enough. The easiest way to offend at least two of the three attending bridal judges is to have intoxicated wedding guests in a state of undress on the dance floor. Count yourself out if aforementioned shirtless (possibly pantless) guests tries to dance with these budding reality TV stars. While we’re on the topic, why is the tie always left on? Shouldn’t that be the first thing off?

10. Candy bars. And go all out. Maybe just [insert trendiest wedding dessert trend here.]

This may have more to do with the time these shows were taped, 2009-2011-ish, but holy moly do these ladies LOVE candy bars. Chocolate, cotton candy, pop rocks, taffy, you name it. I think perhaps this is/was cupcakes 2012-2014. What will 2015’s “it” dessert trend be?!

Honorable Mention Tips

  • Over-emphasized kisses – possibly involving a dip or the groom pumping his fist in the air
  • Personally written vows -with tears being shed while reading them, from both the bride and groom

What do you think, am I missing anything?

Decisions: My next “book.”

Picking out the next book to read is proving difficult for me. I’ve been reading the same, wonderful book for for so long, I’m not even sure I remember how to pick out the next book. Or what kind of a book I want to read.

I never questioned why I was reading the book I was reading, and I enjoyed it enough, but I’m not sure I picked it out. It definitely came highly recommended. It’s tough when you finish a good book. It’s like saying goodbye to a close friend. Donating a favorite coat.

What to pour over now? Should it be an adventure? Something relaxing? A romance? Something challenging or something familiar? I keep picking up books, peering into them, but I haven’t gotten past the introductions of any yet. I simply don’t know what I want to read next and I’m stalling.

When I pick up a book, I must finish it. I’m the worst at quitting. Inevitably I pick the book back up because I cannot stand the idea of leaving a book unfinished, even it it makes me miserable. Because if this, I’m pretty leery of what to read next. I want to love it. I want it to be a book I’ll be happy to talk about with others.

There’s a lot of pressure to read the perfect book, now. Mostly self-imposed. I have an MBA now, so I should REALLY be able to choose and read an amazing book. I’ve received so many recommendations, too. It’s difficult to sort through all of them.

Surely, I need to pick a book and commit. I hadn’t been planning on reading a new book until early next year, and if there’s one thing I know about myself, I like to stick to the plans. At this time, I planned to be still working 8-5 in an office and school in the evenings. Now, I have this gift of time to dive into a new book and I’m hesitating. I feel like coward. I feel like I’m misrepresenting the opportunity I have to find a marvelous book to indulge in.

Despite my doubts in myself, I have faith in world around me. I know the right book will come along and I just need to be open to it, and trying to put myself in places where I will uncover my next read.

Goal Setting: The number and place I’m aiming for.

The hangover, the morning after I posted my weight for the whole wide web to see…isn’t that bad. I was all, “look at it!” and you guys were all like, “I see it!” and even some of you went the extra mile and reached out with kind words, advice, and to let me know we’re rowing the same boat. Ya’ll make posting in this blog too easy.

I know what I don’t want to be, tired, greasy, or uncomfortable in my own skin. It’s important to know what I don’t want or like to be. More importantly though, is to decide what I do want to be and how I want to feel.

I need to write some goals, some rewards, and then make a plan. Plans are very important for me because I love big pictures and big goals. I do not excel at breaking things down. Then, all of a sudden, I get close to the deadline and I didn’t even know where or how to start.

Digression 1

Keeping “to-do” lists is a passion of mine. I was able to transfer (mostly) to e-books but my list of stuff to accomplish stays on paper. There’s just nothing technologically (yet) that gives me the same satisfaction of crossing something off my do list or, even better, highlighting it in a bold, neon color to signify it’s completeness. However, I’ve been learning to slowly improve how I write down my tasks.

Old Task Framing:

  • New printer ink

New Task Framing:

  • Get printer ink number
  • Order ink on Amazon
  • Install new printer ink

See the difference?

Back on Track

I’m likely to set goals like “Lose 10 pounds” “Run a half marathon in under two hours” “Eat meat no more than once a day” but those are pretty vague. They’re not “SMART” – I talking about smart goals here for your reference. So, I need to figure out what I want, what my specific goals are, and then start taking steps FORWARD towards them.

Digression 2

I capitalized “forward” because even after a wonderfully clean day yesterday, full of tea, and smoothies, and apples, I swung through Taco Bell this morning for breakfast, because why not? Face palm. I have nothing to say for myself. Yes I do. Having not yet tried it, I was curious. And they have something similar to the crunchwrap, which is what I always used to get. My review? Not bad. I used some mild sauce and really enjoyed it. Nothing like fake eggs wrapped in a fully processed tortilla for breakfast. Full disclosure, I added four cinnabon poppers to the order. They were disgusting. That being said, I would like to tell you that I just threw them out, but I didn’t. Instead, I just took a bite out of each one, squeezed out as much frosting as I could, and ate them. Much more edible once adjusted. As sarcastically as possible, let me say, I’m a monster.

Back on Track, Again

How Do I Want To Feel, Health-wise

Lets stick to health/fitness. “How Do I Want to Feel” becomes an entirely different question as a whole. Very philosophical. Very complex.

  • I hope to feel energetic, happy, disciplined but not rigid, glowy, and flexible – both in mind and body.
  • I would enjoy being up early in the mornings, because that’s when I’m at my best.
  • Running a half marathon in under two hours really is a goal of mine.
  • My favorite pair of jean shorts fit last June for the first time since senior year of college, I’d like to be able to wear those year round.
  • Meatless Mondays is an alliteration I would like to really get behind. Along with the idea of trying to eat meat no more than once a day.
I like to think this is how I look in them. Especially if that is Chipotle.

There’s so much I would like to be and do. It’s hard to know where to start. That being said, I know if I try to do everything at once, even all in small steps, it won’t be sustainable. Prioritizing will be important.

What’s Next

These will always been a work in progress but there are a few easy things to start with, some big, some small.

  1. Aim for 120 lbs. feel completely content to fall short but why not aim big (or little)? Reward: Tattoo – I know exactly what it will be. I’ve wanted it for longer than I can remember and there’s been no new ink on this canvas in eight years. I can’t believe it’s been eight years. Digression 3: The spots I’ve considered eligible for tattoos are incredibly limited. I never wanted to get something in a place that could limit what kind of wedding dress I get. It is certainly an archaic thought and I have no problem with brides with tattoos, but for me personally, it’s been a great general rule and has ensured that when I pass people on my walk down the aisle, they aren’t then looking upon a 12 in. diameter Sublime sun.* Back on Track: I don’t really have a timeline for being at 120, it’s about a 17 lb. weight loss at the moment and that sounds like a lot so I’m going to break it up into chunks. Let’s start with getting to 130 (~7 lb.) by Halloween and 125 by Thanksgiving. Of course, most importantly is being healthy, gradual, and feeling good.
  2. Run a Half Marathon in under two hours on November 1. There’s one locally that looks perfect and will give me something to work towards. I came in at 2:06 last time, I just know I can do it! (Workout plan to come.)
  3. No more fast food. None. If it has a drive-thru window, I’m not getting food from it.
  4. Wake up with the sun. This ranges from 5:30 a.m. to just a minute shy of 7 a.m. This goal makes me really excited.
*This is the exact tattoo I wanted but decided to wait on. Very lovely tattoo but I’m grateful to not have it permanently on my body.

 

I think that’s good for now.

What are a few of your goals? How do you want to feel?

 

How I Lost 20 lbs. in Four Months: Where I stand now.

This post has been swimming around in my head for a while. It’s hard for me to talk about weight. My weight. Weight in general. Weight. I put out my “before” pictures earlier this year and left everyone hanging about the “after.” It’s difficult to talk about weight in theory but I’ve always been leery of putting the numbers out there. I’ve worried about how it might be perceived if I present my numbers in a negative light when they are someone else’s good numbers. I’m lucky to have this worry. That being said – my eating habits have sucked recently (always) and I haven’t been feeling great between all the meals and the drinks. If I’m 160 lbs. but I wake up energized and my body fat percentage is low and I fit into all of my favorite clothes, than 160 is GREAT. But if I’m 135 and tired all the time and jiggling in all the wrong places and battling blemishes – that is NOT great.

I’d like to be an open book about my fitness/health journey and I don’t see why that can’t include numbers. I wouldn’t call myself shameless but at the same time, I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of. I cannot worry others may judge their journey against mine; I can just pray they understand every journey is different and difficult, and no one’s is better or worse than another’s.

A Step Back: The Before

Right around the turn of the new year, I stepped on a scale and saw the number I had been waiting for, 150. 1-5-0. Sure, it was post- a couple of beers and some nachos and I had no business stepping on the scale at that moment, but I did, and there it was.

Prior to that fateful moment, I always wondered “what it would take” for me to get serious about my eating habits. I have been pretty pleased with my fitness journey, albeit not very consistent but very much present. My lack of self-control around dips, chips, cheese, and wine has only grown more disconcerting as my metabolism slows and the bad habits become more and more ingrained. It got to a point where I was quietly hoping “something would happen.” Something like I read in all of those inspiring weight-loss stories. I’ve read, “I realized I was too tired to get off the couch to play dolls with my four-year-old daughter” or, “I was diagnosed with diabetes” or, “I wanted to surprise my spouse when they arrived home from active duty.” What would mine be? I’m not sure exactly when I decided, but a voice in me said, “if you ever see 150.”

150 pounds crept up behind me quietly. I think I was in the high 130s when I ran the half marathon in early October and it was all downhill from there. A slow, delicious downhill. Or should I call it uphill? Let’s call it whatever hill that means I was gaining weight. I can come up with all of the excuses in the world but it always boils down to one thing – poor self-control. I eat when I’m not hungry. I graze out of boredom. I feed my stress with instant gratification. There was also the holidays; my family, both old and new, do not disappoint at the kitchen table.

There I was standing on the scale staring at 150. I didn’t cry. I let out an exasperated breath and plopped back down on the couch – no longer interesting in the college football bowl game. I was staring down the barrel at three upcoming, 16-week long, graduate classes. I was signed up for the Cleveland Rite Aid half-marathon. How I was treating my body had to change.

The Before Pictures: (In case you forgot) (and NOT that there was anything wrong with the way I physically looked – I can’t stress energy levels and how I felt, enough.)

beforepicture

The After

Four months later, April 2014, I stepped on the scale to the tune of 130 lbs. It’s a little embarrassing how simple this was, but I’m happy to share:

  1. No more fast food. And if I had to stop at a fast food joint for sustenance, it needed to be not fried.
  2. Having class three days a week really cut down on the happy hours and the dinners. This was sad for my social schedule but great for my wallet and waistline.
  3. Water. All the water. I loathe water. But I bought a water bottle that I loved and filled it up all the time and would challenge myself to finish it by particular time intervals. When I was really struggling, I would disguise it with crystal light.
  4. Cut out booze during the week. Or at least to one glass of red wine. It’s also important to note that I stopped pouring a quarter of the bottle into a glass and pouring actual 5 ounces of wine.
  5. Worked Out/Trained for my half marathon. This one is last and least because I was pretty terrible about sticking to my workout plan between work and school. For me personally, getting my body/mind in shape seems to be 85% diet, 15% fitness. One of the biggest benefits of working out for me is that it is time I can’t be eating.

The After Pictures

skinnymini

I’m going to miss that hallway mirror. Waiting for those elevators built in great selfie-buffer in the mornings. Though I won’t miss waiting for those old elevators.

The Weight-loss Hangover.

Twenty pounds in four months. I was pretty pleased with myself. Then, May happened. Historically the craziest month for me and my family and this one was no different. I didn’t really gain weight but my 1-5 new habits really started slipping. Finals wreaked havoc on me and my “post-half marathon binge eating and not working out” period outlasted it’s welcome. I made it down to 127 lbs. in early June but it’s all be back uphill since then. That was my post-food poisoning weight.

June was class four nights a week followed by a week long vacation at the beginning of July, all while house selling and hunting. July was house-packing and moving. End of July, into August, was my final graduate class, living with Gram, and finally making the move to Nashville. All while continuing to work full time. I was reckless with goodbye drinks and dinners. How do you leave Cleveland for an extended period of time without getting corned beef at Slyman’s, Stoli Dolis at Treehouse, a late-night slice of pizza at Edison’s (after the Stoli Dolis), wings at Winking Lizard, cupcakes at Cookie & a Cupcake, and on and on?

A long weekend on the West Coast and cozy lake house trip later…here I am, September of 2014, clocking in at:

  • 137 lbs.
  • 27.5% body fat
  • 24.2 BMI
  • And I feel like shit.
  • I’m groggy.
  • I’m blemished.
  • And my stomach would put me in time out if it could.

Where do we go from here? Obviously nothing drastic but I need to hit the refresh button in my life and get back on track. I sense a lot of water, veggies, and sweat sessions coming up in my life, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

What do you do to get back on track after a derailment?