Thursday, December 29, 2016

Goodbye 2016, hello new year and new goals!

It's the end of 2016 already and here I am on my last week of work for the year and I'm reflecting on what I've done this year and what I want to do better in 2017... Yes, I should be focusing on work, but all of my co-workers are either on holiday or are home sick. So my focus is very blurred here... Luckily the daydreaming was just a thought of "OH! I should blog to reflect on this year!" and not a full out blog post AT work. Anyhoo...

The big topic surrounding new years is always resolutions and the things we want to change or improve on from the previous year. I feel like in order to make resolutions, I need to look at what I've accomplished what I find valuable. From there, goals/resolutions are made!

I guess my accomplishments could be grouped in two (alright, three) ways:
  • Professional
  • Personal
  • Health
Professionally, I feel like I have made leaps and bounds since last year. Last year, I received the WORST review of my professional (and academic I guess) life that I have ever received. Just so I don't get in trouble here (like my co-workers ACTUALLY care enough to look up my blog), let's just say that it sucked. A LOT. It made me question my intelligence, my ability to be a professional consultant, and just everything in my life. After about a month of sulking and worrying about losing my job, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and decided not to let that review dictate my career. I wasn't two pages worth of (HARSH) criticism, but I had to prove that to myself and my co-workers. My support system (and of course myself) got me through that rough patch, enough so, where I am now involved in two professional organizations and am in the process of studying for the Fundamentals of Geology exam in April. These are stepping stones for my expected promotion in April and are what lead me to receiving an award at work! I still can't believe that I went from "fear of losing my job" to "major asset" in the matter of a few months... I'm just so excited. 

I've been thinking a lot about this dilemma and whether it's my personal insecurities, or if other women in scientific/engineering fields go through the same thing. Or if it's just people in general. I am constantly second-guessing myself and whether I'm "fit" to do the job that I'm doing... like I didn't get a BA/BS degree in physics, geology, geological engineering, minor in math and environmental science... like I didn't take a crap-ton of coursework on hydrogeology that would allow me to make confident decisions in my field. I guess I just wonder if other young professionals feel the same way the first five or so years out of college. Is it a woman-in-science/engineering thing? Is it a first person in the family to go to college thing? I'm sure it's not uncommon, but it'd be a great thing to discuss over coffee with someone :)

Personal accomplishments were also made in 2016. One thing that I wanted to work on was to let others hear my feelings and listen to others more tentatively. This goes out particularly to my significant other and my closest friends and family. I'm definitely still working on this, but I am conscious about when I'm probably not listening my best and I'm keeping things too bottled up. I think my relationship with my significant other has gotten stronger after trying to listen to each other more, even though we still have issues to work out. What really helped out relationship, was backpacking in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the UP of Michigan in October. He had never been backpacking before and it was an experience I desperately wanted to share with him, especially knowing how much he enjoyed car-camping. We had a lot of fun being with each other and my best friend and her husband. The trip gave us time to connect as a couple while creating some very fond memories. It went so well, that BOTH of the boys want to go again! Whew!

I think what really came out of that trip is my yearning to focus on my experiences with people. Weeks can go by and with all of our busy lives, they tend to blend together and it can leave you sitting back thinking, "What the hell did I do this past month?!" I'm hoping to find a balance between having valuable experiences with those I love in my life and also keep my professional life moving forward. 

Now, I know health is also a personal topic, but I feel like it is still so separate from my personal life and deserves a few paragraphs on its own. I learned a lot of new things this year thanks to starting and completing three rounds of Whole30! I did them almost concurrently (with a day or two in between) and I was starting to feel really optimistic about my future health goals. My workout performance was improving, my overall attitude was improving, and as a plus I was losing weight and gaining muscle! My downfall overall was that I wasn't REALLY paying attention to the reintroduction process as much as I should have. I also went straight into "rewarding" myself with a glass of Merlot or some other treat after 30 days...

I'm going to start my fourth Whole30 starting January 2, 2017 and this time I want to pay attention to my body and how my mind craves things. I'm very much a binge eater and eat more when I'm stressed. I want to take more time to learn how my mind connects to my body and hopefully take away more significant information this time around. Who knows, maybe I'll just continue to a Whole60 or 90?!

So, overall these are things that I hope to accomplish and/or work towards in 2017:

  • Acceptance of things I can't change and confidence in my decisions I have made
  • Communicate with the people I love, whether it's good or bad news. Do this in a considerate and constructive way.
  • Confidence, confidence, confidence! I say this three times because it is a constant struggle.
  • Read more and watch TV/movies less! Or get out and about in some shape or form.
  • This applies to the previous bullet, but just live a healthier life in general... that includes being more active, making dem gainz at the gym, and focusing on healthy foods (less binge-eating).
  • Spend less money on things I just don't plain need... maybe purge my closet even more! Create experiences, don't spend it purchasing things.

I'm going to be taking more time to reflect on these things over the next few days, but this is just skimming the surface of things that I'd like to work on this next year and in my life in general. I am truly blessed to have the people (and fuzzy-kids) I have in my life. I can't wait to create more memories, but here is a snippet of things from 2016 I found memorable:

Everglades tour my significant other and I took in January during a vacation with his family to Key Largo.

We adopted our second furry child, Jude, in February. Soon afterward, I decided to start volunteering for the shelter we adopted him from, Dane County Friends of Ferals.

Went to Cave of the Mounds for my 26th birthday in April! It was such a blast from the past and I had a lot of fun celebrating with my closest friends.
The part I love about my job are the opportunities to travel! Right after my birthday, I was sent to Montrose, CO to do some soil and groundwater sampling. This is in Bangs Canyon on the Mica Mine trail.
I started my first Whole30 April 28, 2016! My life was literally changed from this point... I have significantly increased the amount of Whole30 and paleo cookbooks and I have started to really enjoy cooking!
In May, I went to see Lion King The Musical for the first time with my mom. I have wanted to see it since it came out when I was seven years old. I literally cried during the first song I was so happy!

Camping for 4th of July with my significant other's family! It's a spot his family owns on the Wisconsin River. We had lots of fun canoeing the river in the afternoon, watching fireworks at night, and falling asleep to the sound of the river.
I went on my first solo backpacking trip to Blue Mound State Park in mid-July (during my third round of Whole30). I spent the first night alone, but my dad stayed the second night to drop off a new stove since mine decided to die the first day... it ended up being a very beautiful weekend and the hikes were gorgeous!
View of the Wisconsin River right before the beautiful stars came out during our annual camping trip in August. We usually do an overnight on the Wisconsin River with our "camping family". It's usually a pirate-y day of drinking and canoeing followed by some kind of stumbling to the tent through the sand. This year I canoed with my mom and we had a really memorable time together, despite our bickering about steering ;)
My two girl friends and I decided to spend a weekend in Milwaukee in August for a 5K Mud Run (Dirty Girl Mud Run) and the State Fair. I got us a free hotel in Milwaukee for two nights and we had a really sweet girls weekend!
I was pretty diligent about my workout routine in September. Lots of really good sweat sessions! I hope to pick this habit back up in the new year!
My significant other and I went on a week long backpacking trip with my best friend and her husband in October to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the UP of Michigan. It was such a beautiful experience to be there literally as the colors were changing. We can't wait to visit again soon! We're thinking of making it a bi-annual trip between the two of us :)
Oh ya, and to round out that October vacation, we went to see the Packers play the Giants! Of course, we beat em!
Halloween costumes this year! A lot of effort was put into both the couple costume (cupcake and baker) and my individual costume I wore to work (Rosie the Riveter)!
Well... I wouldn't call it a GOOD memory, but the USA elected a new president this November. We will see how things change over the next four years, but all we can do is live our life the best we can and try and keep a sense of humor (my shirt says iVoteCat). I also consistently sport a cat phone cover, #CracyCatLady lol.
I completed my most recent 5K race (Run Santa Run) the beginning of December. It was a ton of fun!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Blue Mound State Park Weekend Backpacking Trip!

Today officially marks my 8th day of my Round 3 Whole30! Yay! The best part about doing these back-to-back is I don't have the tiredness/crankiness that is usually associated with the first week.  Since ya know, my body isn't withdrawing much from regular sugar consumption.  I'm running on 6 hours of sleep and I'm actually doing better than I expected.

I've been pretty diligent about my workout routine as well! My goal is to be more active, at least 30 minutes a day, and if I get a hard workout in that will burn some calories, THE BETTER!  My run on the treatmill yesterday (it's too hot/humid for me to be running outside at 4pm) went really well too.  I was running a lot faster than I had been just a few months ago and I kept the incline higher than I did a few months ago as well.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm 25 lbs lighter, my diet has changed, or a combination of both.  Either way, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself as I was sweating like a pig afterward ;)  I'm looking forward to some cross-training at home after work.

Now for the original topic at hand, my backpacking trip this weekend! Since I started working my big girl job, I've felt very disconnected with nature and real camping.  I used to go on a backpacking trip every year since I started, and that has been put to the wayside for other things.  I am going on a backpacking trip in October with my significant other, but I just cannot wait that long.  As a young person, I don't have much PTO, so I decided a weekend trip would fit my needs for now.

I am really excited to go to Blue Mound State Park!  Not only is it part of the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, but their hiking looks fantastic.  Their trails have hilariously pun-ny geology names such as "Holy Schist", "Basalt & Pepper", and "Gneiss & Smooth" that is just the icing on the cake for me.  Although I love backpacking, that does create a predicament for me since I am mid-Whole30.  Usual meals consist of things such as oatmeal, noodles, and rice.

So I took to the internet!  I was extremely delighted to find the blog, Backcountry Paleo - AIP and paleo sustenance for the adventurous life, which was a lifesaver!  I am so excited to try making some of her dehydrated meals when I have more time.  Until then, I bought some Paleo Meals To Go for dinner and came up with a simple breakfast/lunch routine that I think can work for two days:

·         Pickled eggs
·         Nuts (almonds/pistachios)
·         Freeze dried fruit (Aldi)
·         Freeze-dried veggies
·         Coffee/tea
·         Tuna
·         Nuts
·         Dehydrated fruit
·         Freeze-dried veggies
PaleoMeals To Go (Summit Savory Chicken & Beef Stew)

I'm looking forward to a beautiful weekend in nature to relax and hike!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Whole30 - Lap 3

Gee, one day I'll be more consistent about posting...

Well folks, I finished my second Whole30 on July 5th and I think it went relatively well for my second round (and let me tell you, that celebratory glass of merlot I had last night, was amaze-balls)!  I was pretty concerned after reading some postings that the second Whole30 can actually be more difficult than the first!  I even made it through 4th of July without a slip-up which I shocked even myself on.  I do have to agree, it was difficult since much of the "newness" is gone on the second time around and I was quite frustrated that I wasn't seeing the same results I saw with the first.

The first round, I lost 20 lbs.  Oh ya, I was feeling AMAZING.  After this second one, I only lost 5.  I'm only 5 lbs away from my goal weight for August!  BUT the Whole30 program reminds everyone that there's plenty of Non-Scale Victories (NSV) that occur as a result of eating this way.  For example, my skin continued to stay relatively in control, even though I still have hormone issues from my birth control.  I have more energy, despite my hypo-thyroid.  I went down a pant/dress size and my clothes just fit better in general.  My mood and confidence seemed to be more under control than they were pre-Whole30.  I even started biking to/from work at the end of my second round which helped improve my mood even more!  Overall, I have plenty to be thankful for.  It's not what you see on the scale that defines you, right?

I have been rolling the idea around in my brain regarding the goals I have for this third round.  Now that I have a routine that works for me and my busy schedule, I decided to be more proactive about my workout schedule.  I always found that working out really pushed my body to the next level of toning up.  The endorphin's don't hurt either!  I have a mud run coming up August 13th that I'd like to be in better shape for (even though it's not really a competitive race) and I start training for my second half marathon August 22nd.  All the more reason to get my butt going in order to see how this lifestyle really affects my performance!

Doing some more research into the premise of Whole30, part of the goal is to change your body from a carb-fueled system to a fat-fueled system.  Carbs, from my understanding, are easily burned and fats are slowly burned.  Which is why many runners and athletes carb up before a big race or event!  Fat-fueled workouts can actually benefit athletes in the long run.  While carbs give athletes that "bolt" of energy after their pre-workout snack, fat-fueling your body will actually allow you to workout/perform LONGER. As one would imagine, a longer/slower burn seems to make more sense for someone who wants to run half-full marathons, am I right?

From my understanding, the transition isn't easy, but I'm hoping after two previous rounds of eating this way, my body won't be so jolted by this change.  Whole30 recommends a pre and post workout on top of your three regular meals.  Pre-workout should consist of a protein/fat and post-workout should be a protein/carb.

My intended meals are as follows:
Pre-WO: 1 hard boiled egg & 1-2 scoops of a nut butter (almond or sunbutter)
Post-WO: 1/2 sliced chicken breast & 1/2 baked sweet potato
M1, M1, M3: as usual, unless my body needs something tweaked

I can not express enough how much I love this new lifestyle change.  This is the most free I've felt eating in a long time!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Camping Prep!

For those who know me... you know I am a freak about planning.  Planning a vacation, camping trip, trip to the zoo, backpacking... whatever.  You best believe I have a list made, usually written out, way before anyone else.

The whole idea behind me starting and stopping my Whole30 was to be finished before Memorial Day weekend.  Why you may ask?  Because it is tradition in my (camping)family to camp Friday-Monday, live by a campfire, and drink/eat copious amounts of alcohol/food all the while.  Not Whole30 compliant.  BUT I was thinking that I didn't really want to ruin all of the hard work I put in for the past month, so I decided I wanted to eat Whole30 and drink as "responsibly" as possible.

A lot of the meal plan ideas I read on Pinterest were rubbish... because people consider staying in a RV with a stove/water camping. I'll fight you bro, it's not. End of story. BUT car camping isn't really roughing it either, so I found a middle-ground that may work for others that want to enjoy the great outdoors without having the guilt of heavy foods.

Keep in mind that the ingredients I will be using are all Whole30 approved (aka the ranch, mayo, bacon, etc) except the vodka.  Also, some of these foods aren't exactly in the spirit of Whole30 per say (sweet potato chips).

Day 1 (1/2 travel day)
Meal 1 - Hard boiled egg, banana
Meal 2 - Leftovers
Meal 3 - Bacon wrapped asparagus, hot dogs

Day 2 
Meal 1 - Twice baked breakfast sweet potatoes, banana
Meal 2 - Taco meat in lettuce boats, sunbutter+apple, carrots
Meal 3 - Chicken avocado burgers, roasted veggies in foil

Day 3
Meal 1 - Whole30 Breakfast bake, banana
Meal 2 - Cold cut lettuce boat with ranch, potluck broccoli salad, sunbutter+apple
Meal 3 - Grilled Mediterranean Chicken foil packs

Day 4 (1/2 travel day)
Meal 1 - Whole30 Breakfast bake, banana
Meal 2 - Cold cut lettuce boat with ranch, sunbutter+apple, potluck broccoli salad
Meal 3 - Leftovers

- Almonds, pistachios
- Sliced veggies (carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes)
- Red pepper dip (for the veggies)
- Sweet potato chips
- Ketchup
- Mayo
- Ranch
- Sunbutter
- Water
- Homemade bloody mary mix
- Seltzer water
- Lemons
- Vodka

I think the trick to eating delicious foods with limited resources in camp is to prep-prep-prep! Notice there are some items highlighted in orange and some in red.  Things in orange will be prepped the day before I leave and the stuff in red will be prepped the weekend before I leave and will be frozen/vacuum sealed.  Told ya I'm a freak ;)

There were a few other snacks I was thinking of such as Apple Cookies and Ultimate Dill Tuna Salad Bites.

So this is my start to healthy camping!  I have also been on the lookout on Pinterest for good meals to dehydrate and vacuum seal for my backpacking trip in October!  Those too, will be Whole30 meals :)

Happy trails!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Whole30 Journey Thus Far (Day 21)

It feels like it's been EONS since I've posted on my blog... I mean, it's probably been about two years at the very least.  I have been busy starting my career post-graduation and figuring out what post-college life is really all about.  It's about working... and proving that you're an asset... and all the corporate BS you hear/read about... BUT the nuggets of feeling like you're making a difference and doing what you love make it all worth it!

The weirdest thing is I feel like I have more free time since graduating, but the hours I have available aren't "primo" for working out (aka ass-crack of dawn or when I'm starving for dinner after work).  So, I fell into quite a bit of a slump. And by slump, I mean I got back to the weight I was before I started working out.  Five years of hard work.  50 lbs gained.  Toned muscle un-sculpted.  Pretty much one of the worst feelings EVER.

I had gained about 20 lbs back within the first year after graduating, but I was still running quite a bit and hitting the gym.  Was eating not so healthy and drinking quite a bit, so that is probably the reason there.  And then I got assigned to a three month project in northern Wisconsin for work.  To those unfamiliar, northern Wisconsin is NOT known for their health food.  They are known for beer, cheese, fried fish, and ice cream.  So three months in that junk-food haven, although surrounded by beautiful forest and lake, got me to where I was April 2016.  Just over 200 lbs and hating it.

Don't get me wrong, be big and beautiful the way you are, but that's just not a healthy weight for my body type.  My left hip and knees were starting to bother me again, I was getting winded easier, and running felt like I was pushing through Jello.  I feel comfortable when I can hike the way I want to, run the way I like, and do my usual kick-assery out in the field for work.  Which lead me to the Whole30...

The program is based off of eating more natural foods that fuel your body and help you develop a better relationship with food.  If I have a bad day at work, that time of month, bored... I can plow down half a bag of tortilla chips with salsa or a pint of Ben and Jerry's and have terrible guilt for the next 24 hours.  NOT a healthy relationship... that's called a binge eating disorder folks.  The Whole30 is just this:

"...short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system"

The premise is to eat real foods and not eat/do the following:

  • Added sugar of any kind, real or artificial
  • Alcohol
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
  • Re-created junk foods with "approved" ingredients
The last rule is what really turned me onto the program.  It leads us to walk away from this obsession that many of us, myself included, have with the quantitative aspects of our bodies and instead focus on what's inside and how you feel.  They also have had people testify that their Hashimoto's Thyroiditis has improved and their hormone levels have gone back to normal thanks to changing their lifestyle!  What I would give to be medication free!

Again, this is only technically a 30 day reset, but the idea is to use what you learned from the program and re-introduce foods you've cut out slowly to see how your body reacts.  For me, I could see myself continuing to eat paleo and drinking a glass of wine every once in awhile post-Whole30.  Definitely the occasional coconut milk ice cream for the summer months.  Ya know, the important stuff ;) The beauty of the program is it doesn't need to be JUST 30 days.  If you're still having a tough time with food, you can make it a Whole60 or Whole90 if you REALLY are committed.  Or you've had a few bad months and need to get back on track? Do another Whole30 to reset yourself!  The food has been AMAZING, even my non-Whole30er significant other likes it!  

The reason why I started blogging again is because I FINALLY have re-cooped my energy from starting this new lifestyle and I have started running/working out again starting this past Monday (May 16th)!  I am currently on Day 21, which is about the time they say you start getting your energy back.

I have the Dirty Girl Mud Run coming up August 13th and I want to be able to really have fun with it!  After that, I begin training for my second half marathon August 28th!  I have lots of things to look forward to, and I want to keep track of my progress on here as best as I can.  I'm thinking recipe/photo posting, personal progress/workout updates... neat geology stuff... ya know, the important things in life.

Maybe if I am feeling a little discouraged later down the road, I can look back at these posts and see WHY I am working my tail off once again!

Happy trails!

(Some of my favorite meals thus far...Sorry most of these don't have provided recipes.  They were in the Whole30 Cookbook which is copyrighted)

Paleo Breakfast Muffins for work breakfasts

Pork Chops with Spiced Applesauce - Day 1

Shepherd's Pie - Day 12

Slow Cooker Pot Roast - Day 13

Stuffed Peppers - Day 20

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Muggy summer runnin'

As promised, I will be sharing my initial measurements going into my half marathon training for the second time.  From head to toe, drum roll please...

Neck = 13.25"
Upper arms = 11.5"
Chest = 38.75"
Upper rib cage = 35"
Waist = 33.5"
Hips = 41.5"
Thighs = 25.75"
Calves = 16"

Weight = 167.6 lb
Size = 8-10

I'm far from Sir-Mix-A-Lot's dream lady, but whatever.

Thanks to my mom for helping me awkwardly take all of these measurements!  Some things I'm hoping to improve upon are shrinking my arms, thighs, and hips since these appear to be the least toned.  I know the last time I was training, I was down to 150 lbs, but really, I'm trying not to focus on the weight, but rather how fit I feel and toning of my body (which I hope that's how EVERYONE feels about fitness).  Muscle weighs more than fat anyway folks!

Today was my first legitimate Saturday run which consisted of 3 miles.   Since I've been sporadically running this distance with my "regular" workout routine prior to this, I wasn't terribly worried about it.  I was hoping to increase my speed to under a 11 min/mile, but unfortunately my body had other plans in mind.  I went to the Madison farmers market earlier this morning and was not patient enough to wait for my "ultra healthy" blackberry scone to digest a bit more before tackling the run.  

I had a side stitch for the first mile and a half, but once I conquered my breathing strategy, I was able to finish strong enough to cut off a minute off my original pace.

I'm actually rather proud that my boyfriend and I had to go out to eat before a party tonight, and I stuck to my guns and got the chicken cashew salad with fat free raspberry vinaigrette.  I think focusing on the little accomplishments is what's important.  Looking forward to a night of drinking and running a 4 mile hangover cure Sunday morning.  I'm hoping to try a new healthy recipe this next week and post how it goes.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Getting the running gears greased up

Since I last blogged I've been a bit of a lazy bum unfortunately.  Apparently there's been a summer cold going around and I just had to catch it.  Seriously, wtf.

Today I finally felt up to par enough to get back on my training schedule and keep up with my race preparation.  I was at a bit of a time crunch since I wanted to put in an extra hour at work (to make up for taking sick time on Tuesday) and I had a newbie dinner with an executive of my company at 6pm.  Instead of skipping my workout and pigging out on free and yummy food, I decided to push myself and run the fastest 5K I could.

The result?  I ran with an 11:36 minute/mile, which wasn't my fastest, but was still challenging after a few days of sickness.  I actually ran faster (11:03) the previous Friday in Lodi with more hills, not on a treadmill, which I thought was strange.

I decided to take a picture of my sweaty self before madly dashing to dinner, so here ya go:

Cotton makes workouts look WAY more impressive/sweaty.

I also decided to finally mark up the ol' calendar with my training regimen.  I'm a bit further along than I "should" be according to "The Non Runner's Marathon Guide For Women", but I'm viewing this as a good thing; allowing me to focus on speed the second time around.  Tomorrow is a rest day (which I might cross train for since I skipped so many days earlier this week) and I have a 3 mile run on Saturday.  Hopefully I can push for under an 11 min/mile!

I'm hoping to take some measurements before my next blog and record those so I can let the cyber world know my physiological changes as well as my physical accomplishments during this journey.  So... don't judge ;)