Keeping the Sanity

Stress is an everyday occurence for me it seems, just as I’m sure it is for the majority of everybody else. Whether it’s stress at work, stress planning the wedding, stress from trying to follow healthy eating and a workout schedule, etc., etc., it’s something that I deal with, and I’m sure I’m not dealing with it the best way.

I’ve had bouts of binge eating all my life. I’ll do real well eating right, trying to not deprive myself of the tasty things, but then something happens and I just can’t help myself. Some times it’s just one time one day, but some times it can last a week. It can be spurred on by a number of things, but mainly stress that I don’t know how to handle.

So I try to combat it with more intense workouts at the gym, which can then stress my body to a point of injury–not good. It’s a delicate balance that I think is something I’m not the only one trying to deal with.

But on those good days where I can manage my stress in a healthy manner, I enjoy working out my frustrations  in a shower of sweat, whether it’s by a long run or a great weight session. These are the times that I like the fitness classes that make you think about what you’re doing and what you’ll do next–you don’t have time to think about anything else. And, if the workout was intense enough, you’ll be soaked with sweat, breathing hard, and hopefully have forgotten what was stressing you out before.

During work hours, when a workout just isn’t feasible, I find it best to have a good laugh with friends. I’m lucky enough to have a couple that I’ve somehow gotten close to, and we can laugh over just about anything. And some times that’s all you can do is laugh. As one co-worker said, “I’m just going to start laughing–that’s all we can do about it anyway.” A very valid point. If you’re not in a position to make the changes, you have to figure out how to roll with the punches and try to not let things drag you down too much.

I think that’s what has always drawn me to the gym. Ever since college, I’ve figured how to work out my stress/frustrations/anger on something like weight machines or the pavement (loved using the boxing bags when I was kickboxing–that’s got to be the best way to work out any aggression, trust me).

One time someone asked me why I workout so much. I just smile and say, “To keep this pleasant disposition through the nine hours I’m here at work.”

What is your favorite way to workout the day’s stresses?


Is A Wedding Too Much?

So it’s not unusual for couples who are planning their weddings to utter the words, “Why don’t we just elope?” True, the stress of planning is not what you dream about when your dream wedding is on your mind. (If you were that type of girl growing up. I can honestly say that I never dream about, nor pretended, my wedding when I was growing up. I never thought about my wedding until Matt put that ring on my finger.)

Well…is it sad that Matt and I are already at that point? Well, I’m not but Matt is. This weekend, while at an agility trial in Nashville, some friends were trying to talk me into just eloping, or just getting married while I’m in Reno for the AKC National Agility Championships. Now granted, I know they were just giving me a hard time, but still, it gets you thinking: “Is it really asking too much to celebrate the start of your marriage with family and friends in a ceremony and reception?”

I can understand why some people go on and make the occasion about them–I had some friends get married in Mexico because she knew it would be too crazy to try to get her divorced parents and family together for the occasion. There’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest. But it’s not me.

I’m not the kind of girl who is always looking for the spotlight and to be the center of attention. And while I never did dream about my wedding, I am now. OK, ok, so maybe the dreams are more like minor nightmares, but it does show that I’m at least a little excited about the upcoming wedding, right?

And it’s not like I’m asking to spend thousands of dollars on the event. I’m all for doing as many DIY projects as needed and calling in as many favors as needed. I’m not asking to have a bling-tastic wedding band or a five-star band to play at the reception. I’m all good with a DJ that is at least a decent MC and I’m OK with just using my engagement ring as the ring for now (until we can afford a band that will actually match up with my ring).

I just want a day that I can feel beautiful, have all of my family and friends together in one place, and have a big party and celebrate the start of the rest of my life with Matt. Is a wedding too much to ask to accomplish these needs?

Going for a Spin

A couple of years ago I decided to try the one class that made me nervous, and now I love it. Have you tried it? I love spinning. I love how you’re in control, and while they say no one really knows how hard you’re working, I still get competitive and want to work harder than my neighbor. I love how you can get your heart rate sky-high, then bring it back down and surge it back up again…all within a few minutes. And I come out of there soaked, tired, but happy.

I love the pounding music, too. Although some times I’ve had instructors play rock music that just seems like it drones on and on, the ones that play the best beats bring me back to their classes.

Now I’ve heard a few instructors suggest doing a few separate exercises for those that spin often, mostly to work on strengthening your core. Here’s my typical spinning workout:

  1. Stake out a bike and set it to the correct position for me (if you’ve never gone to a spin class, be sure to ask your instructor how to do so), then leave my water bottle and towel at my bike.
  2. Warm-up: I usually walk/run a half mile around the track in the gym at an easy pace, just to get my muscles warm.
  3. Light stretch, concentrating on my legs and my back for the most part.
  4. Ab workout: this may consist of straight leg raises (lower abs), bicycle crunches (obliques), raised leg crunches (legs raised either 90* or straight up, I’ll reach up towards my toes to lift my shoulder blades off the floor), etc., etc. I tend to do this for about 15 minutes or so, depending on how much time I have before class.
  5. Plank: I try to fit in at least a 45 plank on my forearms. If I have time, I’ll do side planks on each side as well.
  6. Light stretch again, then head to the spin studio for class.
  7. After class, I stretch more than the instructor has us do in class. I focus on my calves, hamstrings, and the outside of my hips.

I always make sure I drink plenty of water throughout the class and afterwards, because you lose a lot of water in those 45 minutes. When I come home, I usually drink a some Powerade Zero to help replenish a few minerals as well.

Tonight I participated in probably my last spin class for quite a while. I’ll start my 12-week training schedule, and I’ve been warned about doing much spinning while training. I don’t want to risk any undue stress on my hip flexors. So, I won’t be doing much spinning while I’m training.

Are there other activities that you’ve had to give up while participating in your running training programs?

Goals: Week #2

Last week I started the inaugural weekly goal post because I wanted to be held accountable for making better/healthier choices and be proud of how I’ve done because everyone who reads this blog can keep me honest.

So, let’s recap last week:

  • Drink more water: I did very well with this, drinking at least three water bottles’ full everyday, for at least the recommended two liters.
  • Chill on snacks: I did decent with this one, until towards the end of the week when I was exhausted and just craving carbs (i.e., Baby Swiss Cheezits in my co-worker’s desk) like crazy.
  • Run and stretch more: I did my yoga DVDs twice last week, which was great, and I ran three times on the treadmill, adding more stretching at the end of my runs than I had.

This week I’m going to keep the above goals, but add one other:

  • Decide on what half-marathon training program I’m going to go with and then design it to fit my schedule and my ability, then start and stick to it! I officially start my 12-week half-marathon training program a week from today, so I’m already starting to get nervous, as I previously shared. I just want to be able to be on the right track so I can get through the 13.1 miles without injury and around 2:20.

Last week’s workouts consisted running on the treadmill, weight and circuit training on my own, two yoga DVD workouts, plus quite a few walks (some running, especially in grass and up hills) with the dogs for their conditioning.

Another Monday means another week to do better!

Making Progress for the Wedding

This weekend has been a success in a couple of ways: 1.) We got a good start on making solid decisions on the wedding and 2.) I made lasagna for the first time and it turned out delicious!

Finally get to mark one thing off my list!

Saturday Matt and I drove the one hour to Louisville and had dinner at BJ’s Brewhouse, while watching Notre Dame upset Syracuse (shout out to my fellow Irish fans). Then we ventured to the suburbs to meet with a potential wedding photographer. This was the second photographer we’ve met with, and while I figured I was set with the first set (a pair of sisters from closer to Lexington), I had to agree that experience trumped youth this one time. The photographer and his partner have been doing wedding photography since 1987 and offered a nice line of products with our photo package that wasn’t offered by the other photographers. Matt seemed to really like them, and after I let it be known a few things I didn’t like, they softened and agreed with a couple of my options I wanted. We told them we’d like to talk and left with the contract. I made Matt drive to the Homemade Pie & Ice Cream Kitchen so we could talk it over a piece of yummy pie (or a cupcake for Matt) and we decided to go for it. So, I’m emailing them to save our date and we’ll be filling out the contract with the deposit this week. Mark one thing off our ever-growing list!

Another positive step for the wedding was going to our first store to register! I had some concerns that perhaps eight months was a little too early, but different places, including, said 6-8 months was the right timeframe. Plus Matt really wanted to go, so I didn’t want to argue with him actually wanting to be proactive with wedding planning. (Also, the next couple of months will be crazy for me, so we have to squeeze in these little things when we can, I guess.) We spent at least two hours at Bed, Bath & Beyond–but let me tell you, they take great care of their customers! They were great at asking the right questions and then helping you create your registry. It was a lot of fun, but exhausting too.

One tip I can share right now with future brides: make sure you have a plethora of different price ranges for gifts so you can be sure you’re not asking guests to shell out more money than they can just to satisfy your registry. I’ve been on the guest-end of weddings many times (and more as a bridesmaid/MOH), and it’s hard when you’re on such a limited budget to do gifts for the shower and the wedding and stay on the registry. Also, make sure you have fun with your registry–don’t get only serious things, but maybe some stuff that is definitely you. On top of the usual towels and bathroom decor we registered for a couple of things for the dogs–why not? They’re part of our family, too, and our family and friends know that and will probably get a big kick out of purchasing those items. (And I have a feeling my agility friends will be nabbing those gifts rather quickly.)

We only went to BB&B today, but we plan to hit Target in a couple of weeks and perhaps one other place. We’re undecided what that third place will be–Wal-Mart? Meijer? JC Penney? Where else do people do registries?

Also, I hope to make more of a decision for the DJ in the next week or two. If I can, I’ll hit my self-imposed deadline of reserving the photographer, caterer, and DJ by the end of January. Not too bad, right?

Next up: Creating our own Save The Dates (online and print) to send in the month of February…and not spend too much money on them.

Oh yeah…I’ll be sharing the story on the lasagna in an upcoming post. I also have a great way to eat sweet potatoes on the skinny side that I want to share, but I forgot to take a photo of the potatoes before Matt and I ate them up the other night.

Rare Weekends Off

With my schedule of agility trials, horse shows to work, and just general life and travel, it’s rare that I have an entire weekend off from having to be somewhere at a certain time. The past few weekends have been an extreme rarity because I’ve had three off in a row. I’ve learned to really relish them and make sure I take advantage of that calmness that comes with a weekend off.

Who doesn't feel like this on Fridays?

Typical weekends off for me means cleaning the house, doing laundry, grocery shopping with Matt, and trying to find a way to get outdoors with the dogs and burn off our extra energy. Matt and I are different in a way when it comes to weekends off–for him weekends off means doing absolutely nothing but playing his Xbox or watching football/basketball games. He’s OK with not going anywhere or doing anything. Me, on the other hand, I can’t stand not doing something. I can only stay in the house for so long before I go stir crazy, and I feel like the dogs feel the same way. So I use them as an excuse to get us out of the house and active–great ploy, huh? 😉

It’s weekends like this that I wish I was already in the midst of my half-marathon training. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still running and trying to get in longer, outdoor, runs in on these weekends off, but I know my schedule is going to start getting crazy starting this coming weekend when we travel to Tennessee for an agility trial. I already mentioned my concerns about my trip to Reno in the middle of my training. But there will be other weekends where I will be at trials and not able to get in my long runs. So I’m going to have figure my training schedule in a way that’ll allow me to get in my long runs, but also be sure that I’m not pushing myself too much to the point of injury.

I know I’m still lucky in the fact that I don’t have kids to juggle with my training as well–instead I just have the craziness of my dogs, wedding planning, and my life in general.

So what do your rare weekends off look like? How do you juggle a training schedule when those rare weekends off don’t occur?

Half-Marathon Training Uncertainties

Uncertainties that flood my mind don't serve me well in the gym.

The countdown to the start of my training program for my first half-marathon is around week to go. I’ve been running for a few years now, and I’ve run in five 5Ks and one 3K in that time. I was training for a 10K last year until I suffered a stress fracture which impeded my running for a few months, and I never did find another 10K locally to attempt.

So while I don’t really believe that I’m a complete neophyte when it comes to running, I know I still have a lot to learn and a lot more miles to put under my soles. So as I get closer to starting my 12-week training program, I have some trepidation:

  • How do I know which training program is best for me–Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 or Novice 2? My goal is to keep a 10 minute mile throughout the race.
  • How will I keep myself from getting bored? I like to run, but I also like to lift weights, hike, take spin classes, and cardio kickboxing. What can I do that won’t jeopardize my running training?
  • I’m used to working out at least 5 days a week, and I love to sweat. Am I going to go crazy on the days that I’m supposed to rest or do yoga? (I do yoga twice a week in the mornings I don’t run before work, but after work I then go to the gym and weight lift and do some other type of cardio.)
  • I’ve had some IT band issues in the past as I have added mileage, and I fear that might impede my training and my race. I don’t want to be limping across the finish line.
  • I will be travelling to Reno, Nev., four weeks before the Half–I don’t know how much I’ll get to run while competing with my Corgi, Dally, at the AKC National Agility Championships, and I’ll be away from home for five days. How much will that affect my training? I hope to try to at least run a mile here and there during the event, but I really doubt I’ll be able to get in my scheduled 10 miles. (Would taking almost a week off be a hindrance or benefit that close to the race?)
  • And finally, I’m concerned about my nutrition and eating habits during training. I can be a binge eater after being so good with my meals, and while I’ve increased my mileage, my appetite has become ravenous lately. I was hoping to use this training as an opportunity for a little more weight loss and toning towards my wedding day. I’m not sure how to manage a healthy, but filling nutrition plan during training.

Have other runners felt these uncertainties? Any tips or reassurance would be much appreciated.

Weekly Goals: Inaugural Post

This week I decided I should do a weekly goals post, partly to keep myself accountable and partly to encourage others to create goals to work towards for the week. So here is my inaugural post.

Chug a lug, chug a lug

For January 16-22:

  • Drink more water throughout the day. Last week, for some reason, I struggled to drink two water bottles while at work. I was happy to get two new water bottles for Christmas, both able to hold about 750 mL of water, so I need to use them. A Twitter buddy, Derek (@RunfosRunner, with Runfos), sent me a link that explains how much water you need a day. For women, it’s about 2.2 liters (men, 3). So for me, that’s about two bottles full. However, for me I feel better drinking at least three bottles through the day. They say drinking more water will help curve cravings or hunger…which leads me to the next goal….
  • Chill on the snacks. Lately I’ve found myself really hungry and battling cravings. I’m sure part of it is due to how much more I’m eating, but I’m craving sugar (which I tend to do out of the blue some times) and some times bingeing. So I’m hoping that drinking more water and trying to increase my willpower with food will make things better nutrition-wise.
  • Run and stretch more. I officially start training for my first half-marathon in a couple of weeks, so I don’t want to start pushing myself too hard too soon. Last week I ran only one day due to a slight nagging cramp in my calf. This morning I ran 5 miles on the treadmill, which is the farthest I have run on a treadmill ever. Sunday’s forecast is looking gorgeous for January–upper 50s and sunny! Can we say outdoor run to soak up the sun??

So there you have it. I drank 4 Reebok water bottles full of water today, plus two 20 ounces of Powerade Zero, so I’m already well on my way.

What’s your goal(s) for your week?

Wedding Planning: Where to Start?

So here we are, less than nine months until W-Day (Wedding Day), and so far I have the groom and the dress. Yep…that’s about it. I’ve been reading magazines like Brides and The Knot. I’ve logged onto and created a wedding website. And we have somewhat of a budget–I just know I’m not dealing with a lot of money, so things are tight.

I would love to have this cake topper, but for $130, that's way too much. (Source:

We did have a friend’s brother do our enagement photos on my parents’ farm. But a wedding photographer? Nope. We have a few ideas, but we haven’t signed any contracts.

Matt knows who he wants for the caterer–a local BBQ joint. So, that’s easy, right? Now if I can just get him to make the phone call and get more information.

A baker? Nope. We’re on the fence about that–we don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a cake, but we want it to be delicious and something special. We are thinking of having a simple 2-tier cake with a sheet cake to feed be able to feed the rest of the guests. And I don’t want anything extravagant. I’m all for a simple icing job (no fondant, please) and then having my mom decorate the cake with flowers like she did my sister’s weddig. It’s simple, but still pretty and pretty on the budget.

A DJ? Nope. We met a couple of prospective DJs at the last bridal fair we attended, but their price is way more than I figured. I don’t need any big, fancy productions or light shows. I just want someone who has a plethora of music in a great variety (I’m talking country, old school rock, hip hop, whatever me or my guests want), with a few lights, and a great personality to be able to host the reception. Also, it’d be easiest to have the DJ provide the ceremony music for a few songs we’re having played.

An officiant? Nope. Well, we thought we had one, that I’ve seen perform a friend’s wedding and I was already comfortable with, but he’s no longer performing weddings. Boo. So now we’re stuck trying to figure how to find someone with a great personality and that we can be comfortable with. But that’s hard when you don’t attend church in the area. We’ve toyed with the idea of having a friend become ordained online, but is that too corny? Or asking for the possibility of the ordained friend being too nervous to perform in front of the crowd?

A ceremony/reception site? Well, we think we have that down. We have the choice between two friends’ horse farms just north of Lexington, we just have to make the final decision and hope the friend is trully, 100% alright with us having our wedding there with a tent and lots of cars and people.

We attended a bridal fair in hopes of being put on the path to wedding planning, but instead I came home overwhelmed and more lost than I was before. I know there’s no right or wrong way to plan a wedding, but when you see wedding shows on television and the bride talks about spending nine months of solid planning, or how choosing the vendors is the easiest part, it scares me more. I have a full-time job, with a packed schedule of running/gym workouts and agility training/trials with the dogs, not to mention come Spring and Summer I’ll start reffing sand volleyball games at the local German bar again (great side gig that I started in 2010–possibly more about that later). So where will I find the time to plan the wedding and accomplish the DIY details I’m going to have to do to try to have the type of wedding I’d like?

How does the everyday, busy, girl plan their wedding when they’re on a tight budget? I’ve never been the type of girl to read bridal magazines before even being in a serious relationship, nor have I ever dreamed about or planned my wedding in my teens.

So here I am…feeling without direction towards what’s supposed to be the biggest day of my life. Ugh.

Resolutioners–Sticking with the Goal

January is halfway complete, so it makes me think of those who made that annual resolution to join a gym and get healthy.  How successful have they been?

First off, let me say that I am one of those that gripes and grumbles at the increase of cars in the parking lotand having to sign up earlier for spin class. I catch myself rolling my eyes at gym newbies (aka what I call “resolutioners”) who take their time on the machines. The resolutioners tend to slow me down when I’m on a mission of a quick HIIT (high intensity interval training) session, which I never appreciate. However, I totally understand that they really do mean well and they are trying to better their life. You can’t fault anyone for giving it a good old fashion try. (And if I am ever able to study and get my personal trainer’s certification, I’ll welcome any client–resolutioner or pro!)

I wish there was a handbook for the resolutionist–just for every new member of a gym to encourage them to keep with the program, while not looking out of place:

1.) If you don’t know how a machine works, ask! I don’t mind pausing to show someone how to get the best use of the machine. You don’t want to hurt yourself before you get started.

2.) Don’t sit and dawdle on the machines or benches. I’m always on a time limit. I don’t want to wait to do a 30-second exercise.

3.) Leave your phone in the car or in your gym bag–it doesn’t belong on the elliptical or on the weight room benches. Once again, my time is precious. I also appreciate my time being unplugged from technology (minus my MP3 player and the treadmill, of course). Trust me, you will too.

4.) Don’t be afraid to park farther away from the front door. It’s not Christmas. You don’t need to stalk me for a close parking spot. (I park my truck towards the back of the lot, anyway.) You’re here to workout and burn calories. Start that process by walking a few more steps.

And, finally…

5.) Stick with it! Don’t get discouraged if the scale isn’t moving as quickly as you’d like. A change in your health takes a long time. Be proud of every minute you spend in the gym, sweating away your stress, sadness, lunch, etc. Any little bit helps!

I celebrate March as being free from the resolutioners because they usually slack off by then, or they’ve morphed into a regular, like me. This year I hope to see more regulars at the gym.

What other tips would you share with a resolutionist at your gym?