2015 Goals vs. Reality

I did turn 40 this year. It actually happened. And I must admit, I’m not dealing with it all that well. I’m more vain and shallow than I realized! I spend entirely too much time focusing on new wrinkles and saggy skin. I’m thinking about trying some kind of dermal filler or Botox or something. Just a little something to perk up my skin. Part of it is that I work in a very young industry, and I don’t want to show my age. Part of it too is just pure vanity.

But enough of that!

Last year was the first year that I truly made a set of New Year’s resolutions and then followed through with them. I have never been a goal setter, but this past year has been a game changer for sure. I never realized how vocalizing a goal would help me to really think about what I needed to do to actually make it happen. Yes, it took me til 40 to understand this!

I was far from perfect in reaching my goals this year. Some of that was my fault and some of it wasn’t. Here’s how things ended up:

  1. Learn to do a handstand. FAIL. Not necessarily from lack of effort though. I worked pretty hard to build up my upper body strength, but there wasn’t much I could do about my wrist. They are weak, slightly arthritic, and leaning towards carpal tunnel syndrome. I have pretty lousy joints overall. Thus, no handstand for me, but I have peace about that.
  2. Pay off our credit card debt and personal loans. SUCCESS. I also paid off my car! We were lucky enough to both make good bonuses this year, along with nice salary increases, and we made some money when we sold our house. I’m very happy to say we knocked out all of our consumer debt other than my husband’s car, and that’s just because we’re waiting to see what VW is going to do about the “clean” diesel debacle.
  3. Be less anal. I’m calling this a SUCCESS. I think I’m little bit more go-with-the-flow. I can’t change who I am inside, but I am committed to continually finding compromise with other people and their ways of doing things.
  4. Run a half marathon. SUCCESS. Boom.
  5. Downsize. SUCCESS. Man, I was all over the place with this one over the year. We went from looking at one bedroom condos and vacation cabins, to almost buying a five bedroom house, to ending up in a perfect-sized three bedroom with almost an acre. We’re sort of turning it into that cabin we also wanted too 🙂
  6. Meditate. FAIL. I tried. I don’t like it. I know it’s something that you get better at, and the couple of times I did it, I did feel more relaxed and clear headed. But making it into an obligation sort of took away the benefit. Maybe one day…
  7. Drink less. FAIL. I’m trying not to beat myself up about this one. I did a few alcohol-free weeks, and I’ve cut back recently as I’ve been losing weight, but this summer, I relied on our end of day cocktails to help with the stress of my new job and our move (mostly during our two month hotel stay).
  8. Go to marriage counseling. FAIL. We never went, not once. We talked about it. We talked about us, our relationship. I think we don’t have as much motivation to go to therapy together because we’re crazy in love and really do like and enjoy each other 95% of the time. It’s not like our marriage is in trouble or anything. We’re totally committed to each other and plan on spending our lives together. But I know there are old hurts we need to resolve eventually, things that always seem to bubble back up when you least expect them. To be continued.
  9. Write. SUCCESS. This will be my 117th blog post, according to WordPress. This is undoubtedly the most I’ve ever written in a year. I’m also doing social media posts for two non-profits, so I’m writing some there as well. I would still like to learn to write essays, so hopefully I’ll have some time and energy to devote to that in 2016.
  10. Continue to evolve my relationship with food. I think I can call this a SUCCESS. This summer was eye-opening, as I experienced stress-eating (and the accompanying weight gain) for the first time. Not good! I also had to pretty much admit defeat when it came to controlling what I was eating during that time. My self-discipline was stretched thin during the first few months of my new job. I thought I could use this blog as motivation to lose weight, but instead I just added on a few more pounds. In hindsight, I was just barely keeping everything together, so it was a bad time to diet. Over the year, I think I tried every kind of fad diet or gimmick I could find. NONE of it worked (shocking, I know). But now that things are settled, I’ve been able to lose 9 pounds since Thanksgiving. And this was during the holidays and a trip to Chicago that had the express pupose of eating! I’m feeling good about that. I’m understanding what works for me. For example, I am do not have success with low carb. Or Paleo. For me, I need to eat tons of vegetables and fruit, and add in protein when I’m craving it. I need to be very restrictive about the types of food I eat, especially fat. The more fat I eat, the more I crave it. It’s worse than sugar for me. And if I’m restricting what I eat all day, then dammit, it’s totally fine to have a glass of wine or a martini at night. I can’t be good all the time 🙂
  11. Try some minimalism projects. This is sort of a toss up, but I’m calling it a SUCCESS. Mostly, I realized I’m not a true minimalist, so while it’s not what I was expecting, it’s a great lesson. I like to keep the clutter very low and to stay organized, but I like to have stuff too. I prefer to have things just-so, rather than make-do. If I have things that are as perfect as they can be, I won’t want more things. So I’m going through my life and our home and working on that that now.
  12. Practice empathy, be more compassionate and stop being so judgy. SUCCESS. Now, being compassionate and empathetic is a life-long project and something I will always be working towards. But what I realize now, here at the end of the year, that most of what I meant by this was directed towards my co-workers. We were all way too close and they were driving me crazy. Getting away from them helped me stop being so judgy. Other people’s life choices are none of my business.
  13. Do a volunteer activity once a month. MIXED. I did not volunteer for most of the year. I did donate a fair amount of money, but it’s not until the last couple of months that I’ve been actively volunteering. But I would say I made up for lost time! As a social media volunteer, I’ve been posting for my two charities several times a week, and daily around Thanksgiving during the shopping madness. Moving into 2016, we’re working on an agreed-upon posting schedule so I can better organize my time.
  14. Travel less often, but more memorably. SUCCESS. We started the year at the beach, and then made trips to Asheville, Jekyll Island, Louisville, and Chicago. I also traveled for work, to Portland, New York, and Dallas. It was not as much travel as 2014, but we were able to stay in nicer places and do more while were there. This is a trend we’ll continue.
  15. Find a new job. SUCCESS. I knew it would be tough, but it’s been tougher than I imagined. But all these hard things are absolutely helping me grow, and I have learned so much. I miss my old company and my friends there, and I have the feeling I’ll go back there one day. I definitely needed to leave though, so I don’t regret that.

Of my 15 original goals, I had success with 10 & 1/2. The importance of each of these waxed and waned throughout the year. I really struggled over the summer and early fall to accomplish much besides working, running, and keeping my head above water. I’ve also struggled to find a true focus for this blog, but since I’m enjoying writing here, it’s not something I’m too concerned with 🙂

In all honestly, I’m pretty damn pleased with myself for setting these goals and following through with them. Even the ones I failed at, I truly did make attempts to follow through. Mostly they just became less of a priority as the year went on. I added in some goals here and there, with varying degrees of success. I’m excited for a new beginning and have lots of great ideas for 2016. See you then!

How was your 2015? Are you happy with your progress? And what are your thoughts on resolutions? Will you be setting any this year?

 

‘Tis the Season

It’s so almost Christmas, y’all! Of course my workload has been intense, but I feel like maybe (fingers crossed) things are lightening up and I’ll get to enjoy the rest of December. It’s been crazy so far. Jack and I spent a few days in Chicago, eating ALL THE FOOD. We were lucky enough to have great weather – sunny and in the ’50s. I’ll take it! We walked all over and tried to eat at as many great restaurants as possible. The Girl and the Goat absolutely lived up to the hype. If you go, get the cauliflower, or just make it at home. We also ate at one of Rick Bayless’ restaurants and got the burger from Au Cheval. Normally when we travel we aren’t such tourists, but since we only had a couple of days, we wanted to hit at least a few of Chicago’s more famous restaurants. And they did not disappoint!

We also got a hot tub! Finally! I cannot even remember how long I’ve wanted our own hot tub. We have rented so many mountain cabins, only to never go hiking and instead spend the weekend in the hot tub. The delivery came at an great time, as we’ve both been dealing with back/neck/hip injuries and this is crazy therapeutic. I know some people hear “hot tub” and think “ew,” but for me, it’s relaxing and comforting and I love that Jack and I just hang out and talk. And maybe have a mimosa 🙂 Much better than vegging out in front of the TV or ignoring each other while we’re on our laptops.

We decorated our new home a little over the top for Christmas. I don’t know how many strands of lights we put up. We also hung ornaments in the bushes, and Jack got a couple of those inflatable things. (Not a fan, but it’s his house too and it’s cute how excited he was about them.) Our TV room is like the coziest room ever. We finally got the fireplace in working condition, and I hung up our new stockings. I even totally dorked out and hung up stockings for the dogs. And did I mention they have their names on them? Barf 😉

We’ve been so busy, meeting our neighbors, doing house projects, exploring our new town, managing my volunteer projects, catching up with old friends, being buried in work. This past weekend was my niece’s 6th birthday party, and this weekend is my Dad’s 73rd, so we’re spending lots of time with family as well. Somehow, we even feel like we’re kind of on top of the Christmas plans too. We sent out our cards and have like 75% of our shopping done. Last year, we took our families to the beach instead of giving gifts, and turns out we really missed gift-giving. Also, this is the first year (in 15 years! crazy!) that Jack’s kids will spend Christmas with us. True, they definitely aren’t kids anymore (they are in their 20s and 30s), but it’s still going to be awesome having everyone spend the night here and be together on Christmas morning. ❤

In other news, my back is doing much better and I’ve been able to do a few short jogs over the past two weeks. I also FINALLY got motivated enough to get back on the diet train, and I’ve lost about 6 pounds so far. Eight more to go – hopefully in the next 5 weeks before we head down to Mexico in late January. So far December has been a much healthier month. I’m eating primarily a vegan diet, and this amazing weather (today’s high is supposed to be 70, with sunny skies) is motivating me to be outside. I’ve done something athletic every day this month but one, and that was the day after we got back from Chicago and I was exhausted and slammed at work.

I’m also continuing to think about my goals for next year and what my resolutions are going to be. So much of what I’m able to accomplish will depend on what my job is like. There are times when it’s 70 hours a week and times when it’s 30. I still haven’t mastered the art of working from home either. I tend to be productive until mid-afternoon, then I hit a wall. In an office setting, I could talk to my co-workers or walk to get coffee or something, but here, I end up playing games on my phone or taking a nap with my computer next to me in bed. Not so good 😦

But for now, I’m going to keep enjoying the holiday season. Jack and I are so damn lucky to have the lives we have, with our families near us, in our cute little house, with our awesome marriage, and with laps full of little dogs. It’s so important to remind ourselves of that when we’re pulling our hair out at work. We are so blessed 🙂

How is your holiday season going? Do you have a love/hate relationship with this time of year? Are you thinking about your goals for 2016, or are you just enjoying what you have right now?

Low Carb Life

I’ve been trying to lose about 10 pounds over the past couple of months but not only did I not succeed at losing any weight, I actually ended up gaining a couple more pounds. This put me at my highest weight since the freshman 15 (ok, maybe it was 30 for me), back in the ’90s. No fun!

So I finally got fed up and took what I consider to be drastic step: a low carb diet. Jack and I have done this once before, last September actually, and found that it’s a good way to get back in control after a summer of too-much-fun and poolside drinking. When we did it last fall I had less weight to lose, and so while I only dropped about three pounds, I could see a difference in my face and how my clothes fit.

The idea behind a low carb diet is that your body will get into ketosis, and you’ll start burning fat for energy, instead of being fueled primarily by carbs. I’m definitely no scientist, but that’s my understanding of it 🙂 You do feel crappy for the first few days, while your body is getting used to the change. Last fall, when we did the diet in earnest, I did feel bad, but I was motivated. This time, I pretty much didn’t feel a change. I don’t know if this is because I was already feeling kind of lousy and tired from unhealthy habits, but I was convinced I wasn’t even in ketosis because I didn’t feel any different. But I got my ketostix and was happy to see that I was indeed in ketosis, after just a few days. I also lost about four pounds in the first few days. I know this is mostly water weight, but it’s motivating nonetheless. All my clothes fit SO much better after just a week!

The best part about this diet is it forces me to chill with all the sugar. I’ve always been a big fan of dessert, but training for my half-marathon last spring really cemented my sugar habit. We literally were eating Snickers before (and during) our long runs. I was at the point that I was craving sweets after every meal – even breakfast. Gross.

The worst part about this diet is, well, there are two things. One, it’s really easy to eat a ton of meat on this diet, which I don’t enjoy and do feel guilty about. Two, it really affects my energy level on my runs. I only ran twice in the last week and I felt exhausted throughout both of them.

Because this diet focuses heavily on eating a lot of fat, it’s important to eat healthier fats (avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut oil) rather than bacon all day, every day. I do have a heavy reliance on cheese, but that’s not necessarily a new thing for me 🙂 I’m eating shrimp, salmon, and chicken, and trying not to mow down on cheeseburgers. I’m also eating a ton of fresh veggies: big salads, stir-fries, roasted cauliflower. A couple of strawberries and a bite of dark chocolate when I do have a sweet tooth. All this fresh, yummy, mostly-healthy food, combined with good fats (heavy cream in coffee = true love), means I’m staying satisfied and not very interested in snacks. It also keeps me away from the booze, which is a good thing.

As for running, I have to accept I’m not going to be making any big gains right now. I’m spending more time in the gym, and we did two hikes this weekend. I absolutely feel less energetic when I’m working out, so it seems like a good time to do some weight training, rather than just aerobic activities. I’m also going to bed around 9:00 and getting a ton of rest, which is completely delicious.

I’m planning on keeping with this low carb diet for awhile. The more I do it, the less I crave. And I’m happy that I’m not really craving ice cream or bread. What I really want is a bowl of oatmeal, with honey and milk and walnuts and raisins. How wholesome 🙂

Have you ever tried a low carb/keto diet? What weight loss strategy works for you?

It’s Fall, Y’all!

Like most people, I always get excited as a season transitions into the next one. Then, of course, I get tired of the cold/heat/humidity/rain/darkness/sunniness/etc, and start looking forward to the end of that season. That said, this has been a long, hot, stressful, not-much-fun summer, and fall is for sure my favorite time of the year, so this transition feels extra-special to me. This weekend there is a chance that the temps will be as low as 50°, so that pretty much demands we be outside. Here’s hoping we actually make it to the mountains for some hiking, since every time we plan something like that, Jack ends up with a work emergency and we cancel our plans. The only bad news is we have all our cooler weather clothes in storage, still being homeless and all, so we might need to hit up Old Navy for some warmer clothes. Oh, the humanity 😉

The seasonal transition also helps me with motivation for making good changes. I’ve been reading a lot of posts about people still getting that back-to-school urge to get organized/get focused/get new outfits. After more than a decade and a half out of this routine (grad school was year-round, lucky me!), I can finally say I don’t get this feeling anymore, at least not just with fall. Each time the weather changes, I feel like totally overhauling my home and my routine. In general, I just love a clean slate 🙂

I was excited to see this post from the Crunchy Radish (who you should definitely be following!) yesterday. She helped me to really organize my thoughts on the changes I’m making as we roll into this lovely weather. My goals, based on her recommendations:

  1. Try a new workout: I’m excited to incorporate weight training back into my schedule. I’ve been doing a lot of running this summer, to take advantage of the early morning light and the good sweat. Being in this hotel with a gym right downstairs, I’ve been getting back into my weight lifting routine. I’ll also be doing my best to fit in some hiking on the weekends, and I’ve already started going back to hot yoga once a week. It’s the best in the colder months.
  2. Unplug: This is a tough one! Now that I mostly work remotely, I’m online more than ever, with less actual human interaction. I also have to be available for more hours of the day, which means I can’t really cut the cord with my laptop until after 8pm. All my reading is done online. I must make it a priority to hit up the good ol’ library for some actual books. I’m going to head there this weekend; it’s a good time to make a date with my mom 🙂
  3. Be a veghead: So, I usually eat a plant-heavy diet, but this summer, with the stress of moving, living out of boxes, and the carbs I’ve scarfed down before my runs, my diet has gotten horrible. Let’s not forget the stress eating I’ve done as a result of my new job, plus all the life-is-really-hard-right-now -I-should-reward-myself thinking that has lead to waaay too many desserts. I’m up 8 pounds since the early spring. I tried to motivate myself to lose weight by posting about it here, but it was a total failure. Jack and I started a low-carb diet on Tuesday. It’s the best way we’ve found to keep ourselves on track. The bad part about it is that it can easily become very meat-centric, so I’m trying to find ways to keep it healthier and more veggie-focused. Sure, it’s harder, with this tiny hotel kitchen and no oven, but we’re eating lots of eggs and salads and stir-fry, with some shrimp and turkey for leaner protein. I’m hoping to spend some time this weekend at my parents’ house, so I can take advantage of their full-sized kitchen to prep a bunch of food for next week.
  4. Sleep deep: This is something I’m always mindful of, and I really get 8 hours of sleep most nights. It’s not always the most restful (hello three dogs and a snoring husband!), but at least I’m in bed. I’ve gotten off-schedule a bit in the hotel, but I’m still a pretty dedicated sleeper 🙂 (Edit: Check out these wonderful tips from Deliciously Ella. I think it’s time for me to start a new ritual of reading an actual book in bed before I fall asleep.)
  5. Focus on you: Again, I think I’m already mindful of this. As I’ve gotten older, I think I compare myself less to what others have/don’t have. I do try to focus on self-improvement, and I’m lucky that I am happy with the work I’ve put in to getting my life to where it is at this point. I get really down on myself, however, about gaining weight and not having enough willpower. I know there is room for more structure and less laziness in my days, and I know I have to set restrictions in my routine to keep myself healthy. If I am on-track with the other items in this list, that will help to keep my head clear and my self-confidence up.
  6. Baby goals: Love this! I know it’s important to have stretch goals, to work towards doing something crazy, but it’s also necessary to have lots of smaller, very realistic goals along the way to feel like I’m accomplishing something. As an example, with our low-carb diet, we cut waaay back on the drinking. But rather than say, no drinks til we lose 10 pounds, we said, no drinks til Friday night this week. For our finances, instead of saying we can’t go out at all, we’re limiting ourselves to $50 a week, so we can make it more meaningful and have a night out to look forward to.

What are your goals for this fall? Do you find yourself more motivated with a new season?

Hot Times in the Suburbs

Hellllloooooo!

You’ll be glad to know I am in a much better headspace today than during my last couple of posts. We moved on Friday and are settled in at our awesome little hotel. (Seriously, if you travel with your pets, this is the BEST brand we’ve found. They don’t do doggy happy hours or anything, but they’re super pet-friendly AND you get a kitchen and yummy free breakfast daily!) All of our stuff is in storage. I had no idea how much the move was hanging over me. I thought all my stress was from not having a house to move into and from work, but apparently a large part of it was being unsettled, with everything in boxes, and trying to get the townhouse ready for the move. Now that it’s finished, a weight has been lifted!

I’ve come to understand that now is not the best time to be on a diet, so I’m chilling on my Lose Ten by Summer’s End goal. Yes, it might be just excuse-making, but everything is too chaotic for me to be successful. I’ve found myself stress-eating for the first time in my life. It sucks. So I’m just trying to be gentle with myself, and make mostly smart/healthy choices. The good news is that I continue to stick with my running, I’m working out again, and today I’m going to hot yoga for the first time in probably three years.

My goal is to just enjoy the rest of the summer. We haven’t gotten to do much of that, since we were showing the house and then packing it up and looking for a new one. We are going to make an offer on another house today (fingers crossed that third time’s a charm!) so I’m hopeful that’s the end of the house hunting. Our hotel is really close to my family, so I plan to spend as much time with them as possible. I also plan to work from the pool, enjoy the greenway, eat tons of salads from the Whole Foods right down the street, and do some hiking on the weekends. We’re here for at least a month, and since chores are basically non-existent, I might as well take ALL that time for being good to myself 🙂

What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

July in Review

just realized I didn’t do a review of my goals/progress for last month. It was a crazy month, but still, this makes me feel pretty scatterbrained.

TOO-MANY-TABS

{INPIRATION: momentarily tapped out}

Anyway. We didn’t get the house. The appraisal came in waaay under the agreed-upon price. There was no way we were going to make up that big of a difference with cash at closing, and the crazy seller wouldn’t budge. Good luck to him with that, btw. Now we are starting all over again, with the super fun difference that we’re moving in a week and a half. To a hotel. I love me some hotel stays, don’t get me wrong. I loooove hotels. But living in one, for at least a month, with three dogs and two people who mostly work from home (work from hotel?) — that is no luxury. It’s also a giant waste of money, as was the cost of the home inspection and appraisal we just paid for on the house we didn’t get. Good times!

I’m also pretty much failing on the lose ten pounds goal. I’m up, I’m down. I have a few really good days and then blow it all when my boss takes us out or I spend the weekend in Louisville. I’m struggling with balancing my eating while working from home. I mean, I’m literally five feet from my fridge. I need to be better about going into the office (or at least not working in my kitchen).

At least my running is going pretty well. I ran four days in a row last week, which I never do, and the second two were better than the first two. I have to say though: this summer is a bitch down here in Atlanta. The temperature got into the 90s in May and hasn’t gotten out. It’s suffocating. It’s sticky. It’s NOT FUN. It’s not even pleasurable to be at the pool because it’s pretty much been like bath water since early June.

We also had a reasonably frugal month. We’ve been really good about not going out and not buying lunch. We didn’t buy any clothes. We had our wine at home. We ate through most of what we had in the pantry and freezer and really limited our grocery budget. Good thing we did that, since this move is going to be much more expensive than we had planned. (Did I mention we have to live in a hotel for a month???)

This is much less formal review of my 2015 goals because I am not feeling very formal right now. I am feeling a little beat down instead. Remind me never to change jobs, go on a diet, and buy a new house at the same time again, ‘kay?

Lose 10: Update #2

So. This whole losing ten pounds thing. It’s reaaaaaallllly hard. It’s really not working. My weight is all over the place, depending on how much sodium I eat, or how much wine I drink, or whether or not I sweat buckets on my morning run. This week it’s been as high as 132 and as low as 127. I’m not sure if I’m losing weight or not.

This is absolutely frustrating and demoralizing.

As of this past Tuesday, I’m back MyFitnessPal. I loathe tracking everything I eat, drink, and do, but it seems to be what I need. It keeps me hyper-aware of what I’m consuming. It will also be helpful, if after a few more weeks I’m still seeing days in the 130s, to better pinpoint the foods and activities that are most beneficial.

In addition to the motivation I’ve got from the promise I made here, I also have two trips planned that are helping to keep me dedicated to this plan, despite my lack of progress. I have my first trip to Dallas to meet my new clients at the end of September, and Jack and I just booked a week in Mexico for January (!!!). It is so important for my confidence at work to feel I look my best. I’m generally older than most of the people I work with, so at least I need to be thin and well-dressed! Shallow, perhaps, but it really helps me feel less insecure. As for our winter vacation, we were excited to realize we have enough travel reward points to cover our flights and hotel, so we can save our money for meals and activities. I would love to spend that week in a bikini and for once not be self-conscious.

I’ll keep on keepin’ on with this diet. (The good news is my running is going well. I’ve been very dedicated to getting out there at least four days a week, despite the ridiculously suffocating heat and humidity we’ve had since May.) I’m only two weeks into my Lose 10 plan, and I’m for once focusing on the Big Picture instead of trying to lose five pounds in a week.

Here’s to a healthy and fun summer weekend!