Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Weigh-In & Weekend Recap

WeightB.F. %

Ugh. It's Monday already? I feel like I hardly had a weekend at all, but regardless, I'm doing things a little differently today and starting it off with a weigh-in. Since July 24th 2009, I've weighed in every Friday without fail, through ups and downs. Lately though, having the weigh-in on Friday has given way to a yeah! it's the weekend, I can eat whatever I want and make up for it during the week next week! mentality.

Which is not a really great mentality to have, hence the Monday morning weigh-in. I won't snarfle food like a little starving piggy if I know that I have to step on a scale two days later. Work weeks are hardly ever a problem for me if I take the time to meal plan on the weekends. Speaking of meal planning, I did a good bit of that this past weekend. I made chili to bring for lunch and I made some more rye bread for sandwiches. My rye bread was a little deformed though:

Eric thought my ugly bread was particularly amusing,
so he decided to caption it with a napkin. *shakes head*

I've also decided to make a swap with my scheduled training runs and use the C25K app from ZenLabs. I've been having such a hard time sticking to the plan because everything has been feeling so hard (yeah, I know I was sick but still) that I realized I need to scale back. If I start completing things that feel easy, I can build up to the point where four miles feels easy again. I've reassembled my treadmill to help out with this, in case I get home and it's dark already.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Queen Whinerface

I feel like the queen of the state of whiners this week. My tummy hurt when I woke up on Wednesday and later that morning, in a frantic dash to the bathroom at work, I smashed the door into my knee in just the right place. I thought I was either going to vomit or pass out. In the six years I've worked here, I've never smashed the door into my knee. Now I have a huge black and blue on my knee and it still hurts a little bit. Add in the fact that my clothes continue to feel uncomfortable, I can't seem to find my rhythm and I think it's pretty self-explanatory why I feel like the queen of whiners.

I've been toying around with the idea of keeping a picture log of all the food that I eat in a day as an extra level of culpability. I normally think the idea is silly but I might try it for a week next week, just to see if making it public helps keep me out of the stupid candy jars at work. Candy's okay sometimes but when it becomes an every day occurrence and when you are hardly doing any exercise anyhow, it's a problem. I guess I'll give it a whirl, it can't hurt.

In order to do that though, I'll have to make a grocery trip to Wegmans. I simultaneously love and hate Wegmans. The parking lot and navigating the store drive my blood pressure through the roof. People seem to forget all common courtesy and situational awareness the moment they walk through the door with the cart. Parking in the middle of the aisles, that's cool right? Stopping to have a conversation with someone and blocking the entire path through an aisle, that's cool too right? It also seems like the moment you politely say, "Excuse me," to get past the clusterfluff in front of you, you get the evil eye because you're the jerk that wants to actually shop. Grr, that store, I swear.

I finally replaced my FitBit Zip with a newer and pinker version, since I'm trying to get back into the flow and lose the sevenish pounds I put on during the whole house hunting/summer injury process.

My old one died a couple months ago and I couldn't revive it, no matter how hard I tried. I don't really need it for the calorie count it's displaying but knowing how many steps I get in a day is a helpful metric especially with a desk job. If anyone wants to be wants to be my Fitbit friend, here's the link. I'll add a little icon over on the right too.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turkey Trot Training Plan

I ran my first turkey trot race in 2006 at 178lbs. My dad drove me out and waited in the car, reading the newspaper while I ran. It was a hard race. I was cold and slow, but it didn't really matter. The sense of accomplishment I got from doing something that was the antithesis of the overly indulgent holiday was awesome. Then after I lost all the weight and started running again, it only made sense I'd run a turkey trot that year. I did and I've run one every year since I made my goal weight. Due to the whole injury, I haven't run a race since last year's turkey trot and I was starting to worry that I wouldn't be able to run one this year.

I didn't really need to be worried though, because through the help of my PT and my own persistence, I'm ready to run again. And hey, look at that, it conveniently works out that my first race back will be my favorite race of the year! My training plan this year may look slightly pathetic and light on the mileage but I've been hurt two years in a row now. It's time to use some caution in building back to my version of prime racing form.

The plan (in convenient table form!) looks like this:

M T W R F Sa Su
Week 1 (9/16) 2.2 km Lifting Off Zumba Lifting 2.2 km 2.4 km & Reformer
Week 2 (9/23) Lifting Reformer 2.4 km Zumba Lifting 2.6km 2.6km
Week 3 (9/30) 2.8km Lifting 2.8km Zumba Lifting Off 3.0 km & Reformer
Week 4 (10/7) 3.0 km Lifting 3.4 km Zumba Lifting Off 3.4 km & Reformer
Week 5 (10/14) 3.8 km Lifting 3.8 km Zumba Lifting Off 4.2 km & Reformer
Week 6 (10/21) 4.2 km Lifting 4.6 km Zumba Lifting Off 4.6 km & Reformer
Week 7 (10/28) 5.0 km Lifting 5.0 km Zumba Lifting 5.8 km Off
Week 8 (11/4) 5.8 km Lifting 6.6 km Zumba Lifting Off 6.6 km & Reformer
Week 9 (11/11) 6.8 km Lifting 6.8 km Zumba Lifting Off 7.0 km & Reformer
Week 10 (11/18) 7.0 km Lifting 7.0 km w/hill repeats Zumba Lifting Off 7.0 km tempo & Reformer
Week 11 (11/25) 7.0 km easy Lifting Off Gobble Wobble 5K Easy day 7.0 km w/hill repeats Reformer?

I'm not setting a time goal this year, as just running the race will be enough of an accomplishment. I've already run once so far this week and it still felt awkward. I can tell my breathing patterns are getting better though because it's becoming easier to breathe into my belly while I run. I've dropped down to one Zumba class a week to better accommodate my two weekly lifting sessions because I think they're more important to developing a well-balanced level of fitness.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chocolate Granola

Quite some time ago, Kashi discontinued my most favoritest granola ever.  Apparently it didn't have enough fans, which makes me question the entire populace as a whole. How can chocolate granola not be popular? It is chocolate! Well, maybe it was the little flakes of dried coconut that had a particular propensity to stab me in the gums, but regardless I was pretty sad.

Fortunately, this was about the same time that the dark chocolate and oats bars by Nature Valley started appearing in stores. And for a long time, smashing them up to bits inside of the packaging was sufficient. Late last year though, I started to yearn for real chocolate granola again. I suppose got tired of delicately opening the smashed up package of oat bars and their disturbing inability to absorb any of my yogurt.

So, I set out to engineer myself a perfect blend of my two favorite chocolate-oat mixtures. My recipe went through many iterations and several phases where it was terrible. But finally! Finally I have perfected it and am ready to share it. Please note that I am providing this recipe with traditional cup and teaspoon measurements in addition to the gram measurements. I bake using weight as it's more accurate so the gram measurements are my preferred methodology.

Chocolate Granola (PDF)
Recipe by Sarah Pickett

2 cups (160g) rolled oats
1 cup (16g) brown rice puffs
1/3 cup (34g) oat flour
½ teaspoon (2g) salt
½ teaspoon (2g) baking soda
1/3 cup (60g) mini chocolate chips
¼ cup (56g) vegetable oil
3 tablespoons (63g) blackstrap molasses
3 tablespoons (63g) honey
1/3 cup (38g) packed brown sugar

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Once the oven is up to temperature, spread the oats in a rimmed baking sheet and toast for minutes, or just until fragrant (slightly nutty).
  3. While the oats are toasting, combine the first 6 ingredients making sure that the chocolate chips are on top.
  4. Pour the freshly toasted oats on top of the chocolate chips and let the mixture set for 2-3 minutes to allow the chocolate melt.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
    Pour the mixture directly into a rimmed non-stick pan or a pan covered with parchment paper and squish the mixture evenly into the pan.
  6. Place the mixture into the oven for 10 minutes.
    • For chewy granola: Cook 2 minutes longer and then cool completely.
    • For crunchy granola: After ten minutes, stir the mixture around with a spatula and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir the mixture again and cook for 2 minutes more. Allow to cool on a rack.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Earrings

I started to type up a whole post with the rundown of the last few days but I got bored halfway through writing it. That probably means you'll get bored reading through it, so I'm just going to hit the highlights with my favorite, the bulleted list:
  • Thursday: Soggy (despite the overpriced garbage bag poncho..) ugly Patriots night game that (surprisingly) resulted in a win
  • Friday: Got home at 2am from ugly soggy Patriots game only to get up five hours later and watch the movers move stuff, the rest of the day was spent unpacking and reassembling. I'm glad I had enough brain power to reassemble the bed first.
  • Saturday: Slept poorly in new house, listening to creaks and squeaks, not used to it yet! Not really sure what I did this day except buy groceries and generally be tired-hungry-grumpy. Eric can attest to this.
  • Sunday: Did stuff? I think? My brain was so tired from the previous three days that I don't think it was working right.
With all that, going to work yesterday was (almost) a relief with its normalcy. Since we've moved now and there's no more major life events on the horizon for this year, I think I can finally settle back into a routine. I've already made myself a little training plan with the goal of running my favorite Thanksgiving 5K race. I'll probably get around to sharing it within the next week but it's so simple I don't know if it's worth it. Maybe, we'll see. I've already completed day one by heading out for a 2.2 km run. It seems short but I'm building up slowly so I can master my form and not get injured again.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, check out my new earrings!
Pumpkin Pie Earrings
via Acdmc on Etsy
I may have purchased them with the express purpose of wearing them while I host Thanksgiving this year. And possibly because they are super cute. Actually, it's mostly because they're super cute. I'll probably wear them to work before Thanksgiving too. It'll fit right in with my Donut Panic shirt.

Monday, September 16, 2013

(Re)released into the wild

Several weeks ago I had my final PT appointment of this go-round. I've definitely made significant progress since I started a few months ago, but at the same time it feels as if I was given a brand new user's guide to how to run my own body. Everything I do feels awkward right now, especially running. I will have to continue to do my homework and remain cognizant of my posture, but I can handle that. I know I was asked to share the exercises I've been doing quite some time ago, but I'm reticent to share all of them. Frankly, I don't want anyone finding them, self-diagnosing themselves with the same problem I have and then following my exercises blindly. My routine is designed for me and my problems, not you and yours!

That being said, I will happily share two of the most important (and easy) ones that everyone could do without harming themselves. The absolute most important do-not-skip "exercise" that my PT has had me doing the entire time is breathing. Yup, breathing.

Belly Breathing a.k.a Diaphragmatic Breathing
Want to know whether you're a chest-breather or a belly-breather? It's pretty easy to test. Lie down on the floor with your knees comfortably bent and feet flat on the floor. Gently rest your hand on your tummy and just take a deep breath without giving it any thought. If the hand on your tummy doesn't move, then you're a chest-breather just like me.

Since I'm a habitual chest-breather, I struggled with the mental aspect of redirecting my breath
into my belly. It felt awkward and unnatural at first. I yawned a lot while doing it (still do) and never felt like I could get good deep breath in. Part of that problem was attributed to my inability to exhale correctly (yup, totally failed on all accounts of breathing here). I asked my PT about it and he directed me to take one quick full deep breath into my belly and then slowly (like a leaky tire) exhale until I felt a tiny "crunch" sensation in my abdominal muscles. That also felt uncomfortable and counter intuitive. However, I've persisted and worked on this every single day since my first appointment. I'm finally seeing the fruits of my labor as I catch myself unconsciously breathing into my belly, but there are also points throughout the day where I catch myself shallowly breathing into my chest.

Kneeling Rock Back
I love this exercise. I don't know why exactly; I can't explain it. It's extremely simple but so effective, useful and it's great between squat sets. The best way to explain this is with a video (courtesy Reg Bourcier via YouTube):

I've been doing the first and most simple variant of this exercise with a half-full water bottle on my lower back. The water bottle acts as a level, providing feedback regarding the stability of my pelvis throughout the range of motion. I've never done the second variant that is shown but now that I've seen it, I'm probably going to try it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cotton brain

For the last week or so, the weather had been steadily heading into comfortable autumnal territory. Then today, in true New England fashion, the high is 93 and the humidity levels leave me feeling uncomfortably soggy. I knew it was going to be a rough day when I tried to get out of bed and had to sit back down because it made me dizzy. On top of that, I feel like I have cotton in my brain. I may have blogged about it in passing but if I haven't, I suffer from migraines at infrequent intervals. One of my triggers is drastic changes in barometric pressure and today would certainly qualify. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the sinus pressure I have right now doesn't develop into a full-blown migraine with aura as that would pretty much ruin my day.

So, since my brain feels like it's stuffed with cotton today, this post is going to be all over the place. You're just going to have to deal with it.

This past Saturday, Mom, Charlie and I had a marathon move-in cleaning session of the house. I'd thought about hiring cleaners but with such a short time frame, I wasn't able to get anyone. On the upside, it did save us some money and I got to see the dog. I'll take any excuse to see the puppy! Even though Charlie didn't do much except chew up paper towels and then curl up in a portable chair looking mopey. I think he's hit his adolescent phase and isn't all that interested in boring, cleaning humans. His presence kept morale up despite his attitude though.

Cleaning is boring. Sleeping is better.
The major appliances (refrigerator, washer and dryer) were also delivered last Saturday. Then yesterday the new dishwasher (because the old one was brown on the inside...gross) was installed. Between the appliances and the cleaning, the house is finally starting to feel like ours. I can't wait for the movers to come and move us on Friday since it'll take my life out of the temporary holding pattern it's been in for the last two weeks. Ooh, and I'll be able to stock the new fridge with food! I've also been hoping to get some pictures of the interior of the house to share, but I (foolishly) packed away my zoom lens and so it'll have to wait.

Or I'll take phone-cam pictures.

I haven't decided yet.

I'll leave you with a cute little video of Charlie and the paper towels.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Strawberry Runners

I haven't really talked much about my deck garden this year. Mostly that's just because it's not really a garden when it's a single planter pot. I hadn't intended for it to only hold three different types of plants, but there was a minor disaster in April (it was a busy month) with my seedlings. The only seedlings I started myself that were hardy enough to survive the lack of water were my johnny jump-ups and my petunias. They both thrived for their seasons and I was quite pleased with my ability to keep them alive.

Johnny Jump-Ups (tricolor violas)

Debonair Dusty Rose Petunias

The other plants in my pot were my pineberry plants. I purchased two of them from Burpee on a whim because I thought they looked neat. Pineberries are a strawberry cultivar that have been bred to have white flesh and red seeds; they also taste like pineapple crossed with a strawberry, hence the name. I wasn't sure that they'd do well in my pot, but I wanted to try anyhow. To my own amazement, they've thrived despite the excessively wet summer we've had. They've done so well that they're now sending out runners.

Runners everywhere! There were berries in the left middle of this photograph,
but I ate them before I took the picture.
Strawberry plants are vining plants so they propagate themselves by sending out vines with tiny little plant nubs on them. When the nub grows enough leaves, it'll also start to grow its own roots.

Itty bitty little roots
Since my plant is in a planter and all my vines shoot out into nowhere, the tiny baby plant growing on the vine has no where to root and grow. Fortunately, once the roots have formed, you can snip off the whole vine, trim down both sides of the new plant and stick it in a pot to grow.

I'm pretty excited about this! It means that next year I'll be able to have a real garden and maybe, just maybe, I'll get more than 10 edible pineberries.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Diamond Candle Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway! The winner of the candle is Howell Lee, who will be receiving an email from me with instructions shortly. :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

We bought a house!

I've been keeping quiet on this topic because I didn't want to jinx it. Buying a home was something that I wanted so much that I felt if I got too excited about it, the universe would squash me like a bug. It did that in a couple cases without me even bringing it up here on the blog. And I especially didn't want to bring it up after our mortgage broker completely screwed up our loan application and sent it to an address that doesn't even exist. That mishap on top of all the other little things that the broker got wrong had me in a nervous huff for most of the mortgage securing process.
Image courtesy the Zillow listing that just won't go away.
I'm still shaking my head in disbelief recalling it; seriously, how hard is it to get our current address correct? It really shouldn't be that hard, given the preapproval loan application was right. Thankfully, our loan analyst turned out to be competent and helped us get everything corrected and accurate. We got our mortgage commitment letters right on time and made our deadline to secure financing a whole day early. Our approval to close from the underwriters came shortly there after and we closed without any major issues on August 30th.

Now that we've closed, I feel like it's safe to discuss the entire process of finding a home. At the end of May, we signed a contract with my friend and realtor, Margie, who was able to get us set up with a customized MLS search. We dragged Margie all over the place and to many different houses. In fact, I will illustrate the amount of houses that we saw with a photograph since we kept every listing sheet we got.
So many houses!
At first, we didn't have a really good idea of what we were looking for in a home. After a couple weeks of seeing houses, we had developed a picture of what we wanted: 4br/2.5ba, 2 car garage, central air/heat and a reasonably open floor plan. We came across a house in the middle of June that we liked so much we decided we wanted to put in offer in on it. Unfortunately, this house also had no permits for some pretty important features. When the seller's agent told us they had a second offer on the house, we decided the house wasn't worth it and withdrew to continue our search.

We stumbled across our home one day on either ZipRealty or Zillow. It was just outside of our price range but I suspected it's listing price was more than the house was actually worth. We both knew we had to see it because, on paper, it checked all of our boxes. It was love at first sight for me; perhaps Eric too, but he'd have to tell you. We put in an offer the day after we saw the property only to find out that a second offer had come in at the same time and was better than ours. We provided our best and final offer, but they ended up going with the other offer anyhow.

At this point, I was demoralized. House hunting is exhausting and I was about ready to call it quits and take a break for a month. Little did I know that all I had to do was wait three days. The other offer fell through and the list agent wanted to know if we were still interested, which of course we were. Everything went relatively smoothly from there, and now we are homeowners!

I'm excited to move in and I'm excited-overwhelmed to fix the disaster that is currently the garden.

Weeds everywhere..