354. Random Thoughts Thursday

I could probably write  a separate post for everything here, and I probably should for content, but I don’t feel like it.  So instead I present you with a bunch of randomness currently on my mind.

Last weekend was quite the weekend for me.  It was full of all kinds of firsts.  I ran 16 miles for the first time (along with 14 and 15 miles along the way!) I shot a gun (multiple guns actually) for the first time ever, and I made homemade bagels for the first time. (FINALLY! I’ve only been talking about making homemade bagels for about 3 years now!) It was quite an impressive weekend really.

The boy owns guns and likes to go shoot them with his buddies. I have no interest in guns and even less interest in shooting them. Plus, I’m a disaster on my own; I don’t need to be a disaster with a deadly weapon in hand. But I know the boy likes guns, and I knew he would REALLY like it if I went shooting with him one day. So for Christmas I applied for my FOID card (Firearm Owners ID – It’s an Illinois thing. Illinois loves it some gun laws.) and gave the boy a copy of the application along with a note promising to take him shooting once I received my FOID. We finally picked a weekend and went. Honestly, I was surprised by how nervous, uncomfortable, and just plain scared I was to begin with. When we walked into the range, I would flinch or jump every time someone would fire a shot. I was on the verge of tears for at least the first 20 minutes simply because that’s how I most often react to the stress of nervousness/ being uncomfortable. Ultimately I had a good time. I would definitely go again but probably not anytime soon. Nik puts up with a lot of my ridiculousness (and my various kitchen experiments) so it was nice to do something that was really all for him.

I don’t know if I was feeling extra ballsy after my adventures with guns or if it was just fresh in my mind because I found a recipe when I was pulling recipes from old issues of Cooking Light and Vegetarian Times to add to my recipe binder, but I decided I was also going to make homemade bagels on Saturday.
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I used this recipe from the November 2011 issue of Cooking Light. I’m not sure why I waited so long to make my own bagels, but I’m glad I finally did this because these bagels were AWESOME! I stuck to the recipe pretty closely to make sure they came out right, but I did make a few minor changes:

  1. I left out the barley malt syrup because a) I didn’t have any and b) I didn’t feel like trying to track it down. The recipe says you can leave it out so I wasn’t worried.
  2. I brushed the bagels with egg yolk thinned with water. I also topped half of them with salt, minced onion, poppy seed and sesame seeds to make everything bagels.
  3. I only made 11. I had 6 that were about 3.5 oz and 5 that were about 4.5 oz. I could have cut down all the 4.5 oz bagels to make a 12th bagel, but I was too lazy.
  4. I baked for almost twice the suggested time. I cooked them until golden brown on top and hallow sounding.

I totally rocked my February Challenge, and I feel like a rock star for it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for some time now, you know how good I am at failing at my fitness challenges.  Last month, I killed.  I blew my goal of 175 activity points (which I increased about a week into the challenge from the original 150 points) out of the water clocking in at 212 activity points for the month.  I tracked 26 out of 29 complete days.  I did fall short on my fitness class goal only attending 4 out of 5 classes.  However, that was a scheduling failure rather than me blowing things off.  There are a pretty limited number of classes I can actually attend to begin with since I don’t get home until about 6 in the evening. When you account for my Weight Watchers meetings on Tuesdays, my darts league on Wednesdays, and my training runs on Mondays and Thursdays, I’m left with Friday, Saturday and Sunday for classes.  There aren’t any evening classes on Friday and I run on either Saturday or Sunday.  That leaves me one day a week to do classes and since there were only 4 weeks in February, well…getting to 5 classes wasn’t really realistic with marathon training taking top priority.  What’s important is that I didn’t fall short of the goal simply because I was being lazy.  So because I feel like my challenge was a huge success despite that, I’ve decided to go ahead and reward my successes.   I’ve deviated from my original reward plan though and ordered How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (the reward for my bonus weight loss goal) instead of the fitbook.  There is a method to my madness though kids.

The reason I went ahead and ordered the cookbook instead of the fitbook is because I’m following Michelle’s lead and going for a Meatless March.  Back in September 2010, I made the decision to stop eating animals.  I never proclaimed myself a vegetarian because I expected to eat meat again, and I have.  Lately though, I’ve been wanting to get back to a primarily meatless diet.  This seemed like a great way to do it!

I signed up for my fifth half marathon yesterday.  The Rock n Roll race series was offering a Leap Day discount of $29 off any race.  I’m usually able to pass up a deal, but that’s a really great discount.  I decided to snap it up and registered for the Chicago Rock n Roll half marathon on July 22nd.  I was hesitant to sign up since I hate running in the heat.  (Really, I just hate the heat.)  But it was hard to pass up such a deal, especially when it would be an encore performance, and a chance to kick ass, of my very first half marathon.

Last week I decided to impulse buy a cast iron skillet, a cast iron grill pan and The New Rules of Lifting for Women off Amazon.  I haven’t used the skillet yet, but I’m a fan of the other two items thus far.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Have a happy Thursday!

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347. Missions Accomplished

Yesterday I mentioned one of my February goals is to cross 5 items of my Mission 101 lists; however, I haven’t given you many updates on some of the goals I’ve recently knocked off the list. Since December I’ve crossed 4items off my list, reached a major milestone in completing another goals, made definitely progress toward other goals and revised a few goals as well.

The first weekend of December, Nik and I took a road trip some place I’ve never been before.  We decided to take a long weekend, and I suggested a mini vacation down to St. Louis for a Blackhawks vs. Blues hockey game.  The game was awesome – at least a third of the people there were Chicago fans – and I had a blast going on the trip with Nik.  But I think I’ve decided that road trips just really aren’t my thing.  I’m like a baby or little kid.  As soon as you put me in the car, I pass out.  Being asleep for most of the trip kind of takes the fun out of a road trip no?

I also sent out holiday cards this year, er, last year.  Every year since I graduated college, I’ve intended to send out holiday cards, but I never managed to actually do it.  I bought stamps first figuring if I bought the stamps then I had no excuse not to buy and send cards.  One of my mom’s friends makes handmade cards so I bought a bunch of cards from her and sent them to my family and friends.

And since my holiday spirit seems to be at an all-time high, I also participated in a gift “tree” of sorts.  Back in September my company did a service project that involved painting the lockers in a local community elementary school that is struggle to be kept open in the face of dropping enrollment.  Part of that process is to make the school aesthetically pleasing.  It needs to look like a place you want to send your kids to school.  For Christmas this year, my company decided to do a Secret Santa project for the kids in the school with the goal of getting a gift for all 119 students.  The school is in a very low-income area so for some of the kids, these would be the only gifts they get this year.  I picked two students – a boy and a girl both ages 5 – 6 – and got them each a game and a book.  (Yeah, I’m that jerk who gave educational gifts.)

Another item I tackled in December was to knit myself a scarf.  I took up knitting back in college, but somewhere along the way, I fell off the needles.  I’ve wanted to get back into it, but I just never did.  I mean, I only knew the knit stitch and I’d never attempted anything more difficult than a scarf. And frankly, you can only knit so many scarves before a) your bored and b) you have more scarves than you or your friends know what to do with.  Then for my birthday, Laura sent me a little Mission 101 jump start kit which included two knitting books.  Since then I’ve reading the book and messing around learning different stitches.  A couple weeks ago, a woman I regularly talk with on the train and bus brought me a set of circular needles.  I suddenly had everything I needed.  I just finished a horizontally knitted scarf.  It was the same basic knit stitch of all the scarves I’ve made in the past, but for this scarf I used the circular needles and each row is the length of the scarf rather than the width of the scarf.  I’m very excited about it!  I’ll definitely be posting a picture when I actually wear it.  (I only had one skein of yarn so I made it pretty thin making it more of a fashion scarf then a “for warmth” scarf.)

I also recently hit the half-way mark of reading 101 books.  This is pretty impressive considering I didn’t REALLY start this goal until sometimes in the middle of 2011.

I’ve also updated a few of my goals.  In an ideal world, I would complete all 101 goals as originally written, but this isn’t an ideal world.  Circumstances change.  Priorities change.  Relationships change. Desires and interests change.   So here are my “replacement goals:”

#4 Finish a marathon

#23 Figure out what I want to be when I grow up

#36 Volunteer at a race

#37 Go hiking or biking in a National Park

346. Goals, Goals, Goals: February 5 Challenge

I didn’t set any specific January goals; I just chose my verb for the year. (It’s dare in case you don’t remember.)  However, this month it’s back to goals, goals, goals.   I’m going back to a numbers based challenge like my December to Remember, but on a slightly smaller scale.  I’m also focusing on my verb by picking goals that require me to push myself a little bit.  And of course I’ve got myself a clever challenge name.

February 5 Challenge

This month’s challenge revolves around the number 5 because my ultimate goal for February is to be down 5 pounds.  However, losing 5 pounds is not actually one of my goals.  It’s so of a bonus goal.  The hope is that reaching my 5 goals for the month will get my to the 5 pound mark.  I’ll be tracking this month’s goals on Laura’s group tracking sheet (BOTD February Challenge Tracker) so be sure to check that often.

The Goals

  1. Earn 150 activity points
  2. Track 25 complete days
  3. Complete 5 items on my Mission 101 list
  4. Attend 5 group fitness classes
  5. Do 5 strength training sessions

The Reward

If I reach all 5 goals, I’m going to buy a Fitbook.  I love the concept, and people who have them seem to love them.  I’ve been tossing around the idea of getting one, but I’ve yet to commit to buying one.  I’ve always got a zillion tracking options so I don’t really need the Fitbook, but I love the idea of them especially for tracking workouts.  Mostly, I probably just want to play around with it.

If I reach my goal of 5 pounds lost I’m going to buy How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.  I’ve had this cookbook on my wish list or a while, but I always talk myself out of it because Do I really need another cookbook?   However, I’ve been doing a great job of making recipes from my cookbooks over the last two month so another cookbook is totally in order!

342. In The News: Is BMI Ever TMI?

http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/12/is-bmi-ever-tmi/

I came across this article (That one, above, click the link and read.  I’ll wait.) today which I found really interesting.  There’s a new law in Georgia intended to combat childhood obesity.  Students will be weighed in PE classes, and their BMI information will be sent home to their parents.  The information is also being reported to the state.  There’s definitely an element of privacy/ personal rights and responsibility here, but that’s not something I really see as a huge issue.  In the age of Facebook, Twitter, and the airing of your personal business all over the internet, I often struggle to buy into the invasion of privacy argument.  I’m not saying that isn’t a concern for some: just that it’s not a concern for me.  My concern is whether or not this is an effective method or a wasted effort.

I tend to agree with one of the individual, Randy Weiner, who was quoted in the article.  I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad law, particularly because the information is being provided to parents not the children themselves.  I think the intention is good, but ultimately I don’t think it will be highly effective.  If the parent’s don’t value good health and nutrition then giving them information about their child’s BMI probably isn’t going to change much.

While I think much of the responsibility for childhood obesity falls to the parent’s, I do think schools can impact change.  Personally, I think the more effective way for schools to combat childhood obesity is through education, better nutrition in school lunches, and increase activity for students.  Those are the kind of laws I would like to see passed because those are the kind of laws I think would have the biggest impact overall.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s any sort of “quick-fix” or immediate way to reduce childhood obesity.  Obesity in general is deeply ingrained in our current culture, and I think it order to really impact change, we need to be focusing on more long-term efforts like educating our children so they can, hopefully, grow into healthy(ier) adults and raise children who are healthier than they were.

What do you think?  Do you think this is a good law?  Do you think it’s an effective way to impact change in the current childhood obesity rates?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

340. Goals, Goals, Goals: 2012 Verb

It only took 10 days, but I’ve finally decided on my 2012 verb.  Since I hadn’t planned on choosing a verb again this year, I really hadn’t put any thought into it until last week.  Prior to that, I had developed some very specific goals for the year.   I looked at those goals to try and distinguish a common theme.  I also thought about 2011: the ways I grew and change throughout the course of the year and how I wanted to carry that over into 2012.

As I pondered, it became increasingly clear what I wanted 2012 to be all about.  I wanted 2012 to be about learning and growing, expanding my horizons, testing my limits, and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, taking on things that scare me and trying new things.

I actually had a difficult time settling on a single verb, but ultimately it boiled down to one: DARE.

verbal auxiliary

: to be sufficiently courageous to

intransitive verb

: to have sufficient courage

transitive verb

1

a: to challenge to perform an action especially as a proof of courage

b: to confront boldly : defy

2

: to have the courage to contend against, venture, or try

From Merriam-Webster

2012 will be the year I dare myself to take on new experiences, to push myself further, to move beyond my comfort zone, and to have the courage to do things I never thought I’d do.  You know, like sign up for a marathon.

Of course there are other things I will dare to do this year: reach my goal weight, try something different with my running, become a Weight Watchers Lifetime member, stick to a strength training routine, volunteer my time, finish out items on my mission 101 list, and so much more!

 

337. 2011 in Review: Dedicated

Instead of setting goals or making New Year’s Resolutions last year, I followed Rachel’s lead and choose a verb.  My verb for 2011 was dedicate.  Honestly, my verb, much like many New Year’s Resolutions, fell from the front of my mind pretty quickly.  Despite the fact that it wasn’t at the forefront of my thoughts and actions, I do think it was lurking there somewhere in my subconscious driving at least some of my thoughts and goals.  I didn’t think I’d made much “progress” with it until I really stopped and looked back at the year.

In 2011…

…I wanted to dedicate myself to my health which I definitely did in the second half of the year when I joined Weight Watchers and started seriously working toward finally reaching my goal weight.  I finished the year feeling pretty damn good about my progress and myself.

…I wanted to dedicate myself to fitness and running.  Exercise and fitness is always my biggest struggle.  I set goals.  I flake out on goals.  I set high expectations, and fall short.  However, despite my many failed fitness challenges throughout 2011, I still feel like I did manage to truly dedicate myself.  In May, I finished the Wisconsin Half Marathon, crushing my PR by nearly 25 minutes.  In October, I finished Dallas 13.1 knocking another 10 minutes off my PR with a finishing time of 2:24:22.  Then there was my almost 5K PR in April, my definite 5K PR in October, and knocking out my goal of a sub-28 minute 5K a short time later.   I know all of these PRs are a direct result of my increasing dedication to training and fitness in general.  Even fitness challenge failures still have a positive impact.

…I wanted to dedicate time to myself.  I don’t think I did this in quite the way I intended when I set the goal a year ago.  When I set this goal I was thinking about taking time to sit around by myself doing nothing; however, I think I did even better than that.  Dedicating myself to my health and my running was dedicating time to myself.  I dedicated to my Weight Watcher’s meetings every week regardless of what was going on.  I dedicated myself to hours of running, usually alone, when I’d rather be sleeping or hanging out.  I dedicated myself to going to bed early getting adequate sleep most nights.  I used my commute “wisely” to read more than 45 books this year.

…I wanted to dedicate time to my blog.  This is one area I really do feel like I fell short.  I truly enjoy blogging, but I also find myself consistently struggling with it.  A lack of inspiration/ motivation to write, a failure to prioritize writing posts, and at time a complete disconnect with my purpose.  I feel like I’m constantly working and reworking my blog without ever really making progress.  I get frustrated because I feel like I should have figured it out by now, after 2 years.  There will be more to come on this though.

…I wanted to dedicate myself to growing up.  This is another thing that didn’t happen in quite the way I expected, but I feel like I left 2011 more mature and ready to really move forward into “adulthood.”  And honestly, I don’t think I could adequately explain myself much further on this one,  so I’m going to leave it at that.

Honestly, I haven’t made a ton of progress on my 2012 goals.  I wasn’t even sure how I planned on approaching them.  But after writing this post and really looking back at 2011, I think choosing a verb was a great plan which I intend to do again this year.  I’ll be back with my 2012 verb in the next week or so.

329. Goals, Goals, Goals: December to Remember

There were actually several factors that went into my decision to create a challenge for myself in the month of December.  I absolutely fell in love with the idea of Cassie’s All About the Numbers Challenge, and I was even more inspired by her success with it.  Another was my realization that I need to be a little bit harder on myself combined with setting some fairly aggressive year-end weight loss goals.  My goal is to hit my 10% mark by the end of the year.  It’s less than 1.5lbs per week which is doable, but with my already slow rate of weight loss and the holidays in the mix, it’s definitely going to be a challenge.  On top of all that, I really want to head into the New Year with solid momentum.  I don’t want to have to be trying to play catch-up come January 1st.  So here’s how it’s going go down…

December to Remember Header Girl Can Do

The Guildelines
I’ve got a list of 9 goals below.

I’ve got until December 31st to complete them.

I’m going to post weekly updates on Saturdays (which is extra convenient since December 31st is a Saturday.)

I’m going to take measurements and before/ after pictures (which I may or may not end up sharing here.)

The Goals

  1. Run 75 miles
  2. Cross Train 250 minutes
  3. Strength Train 150 minutes
  4. Hold a 2 minute plank
  5. 2 “real” push-ups
  6. Hold a 90 second wall squat
  7. Track food/ points 25 complete days
  8. Make 15 new healthy recipes from my cookbook stash
  9. 160 servings of fruits and veggies.

The Reward
If I complete all 9 goals, I’m giving myself $100 to go buy new winter work-out/ running gear.  If I complete all 9 goals AND hit my 10% mark at/ by my January 3rd weigh in, I’m giving myself an extra $50 to spend.  I’m seriously lacking in the winter gear department.  I have 1 pair of long pants and 3 long sleeves shirts.  My running gloves are too big, and I need a decent jacket.

So there’s my challenge to myself.   I’m going to hold myself accountable and allow myself to be pissed off at myself if I start slacking.  I’m determined to make this happen.