Good bye, winter… thanks for being a jerk.

That’s right, we’re done here. Go away.

After being blessed with a couple of mild winters (if only I could go back and cherish them more), this winter was a beast.

And that trip to Aruba I took with the mister at the beginning of December?

Well it was fun. But we’re kicking ourselves for not pushing it into January/February… you know, preferably over the timing of one of the polar vortexes.

However, I shall try to not be bitter about the last 3-4 months of complete commuting misery and spending down time, completely neglecting the idea of socialization, isolated in the apartment under multiple blankets.

Supposedly spring is here. And it seems we’re almost done with days under 35 degrees, so perhaps a celebration is in order.

This news was celebrated with a walk on one of the lake paths in the city I live in.

lake arlington

It’s really hard to celebrate spring when the bitter wind keeps you from enjoying 42 degrees. It’s even harder to celebrate when the lake is still very much a solid sheet of ice.

Take what you can get, I suppose.

I’m also celebrating something else today.

My return to spinning!

spin class

The instructor is a real killer (in a good way?), and it’s taken over a month after my respiratory infection for me to be positive I can withstand the endurance required.

He made me pay for my absence. But it was a great way to start a Friday.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get work done and get out. Additionally, my mom is calling right now. She’s flying in today and is completely in crisis mode when it comes to if she should bring her spring jacket or winter coat since we’re going to be experiencing temperatures from both seasons while she’s here. (I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE, WINTER! GOOD BYE!)

Really important stuff, guys.

Have a great weekend!

Relax and Reset

How is it that by the time Friday comes around, I am sooooo POOPED?

Fighting the daily urge to collapse face-down into a snow drift is, like, super hard, guysssss.

But we made it. And those snow piles are slowly starting to melt. Life will continue on!

And do you know what I planned for this crazy St. Patty’s weekend?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Other than taking my boyfriend’s niece out to lunch. But they didn’t serve green beer at the restaurant we went to. I checked.

It never hurts to ask.

I didn’t mind being lame, though. It was a welcome change. Because this was the one and only weekend I had that didn’t have people coming in or trips to visit other people. Rest. Recharge. Prepare myself for the weeks of crazy. I’m excited. And now I’m ready.

If you are ever in need of a weekend of recharge and reset, I suggest the following:

1. Redbox. And since my boyfriend went out, I got to pick ALL THE GIRLY THINGS to watch. I’m looking at you, new Rachel McAdams romantic comedy.
2. Wine. Because isn’t every work week a long one?
3. Sushi. Because I suppose if you’re going to go the untraditional St. Patty’s weekend route, you really have to go ALL OUT.

Lobster and asparagus rolls. I think I found my favorite order....

Lobster and avocado rolls. I think I found my favorite order….

4. Running. 5 miles to be exact. Not that it is something COMPLETELY out of the norm, but it’s the milestone run that marks the beginning of weekend long runs. Some lunges via Jillian also happened. I enjoy taking her 7-circuit “No More Trouble Zones” strength training dvd and breaking them into 2-3 circuit workouts to add on to my normal gym routine. Because I don’t have the attention span for much more than that. We’ve already discussed this, though. Anyway…
5. Reading. We’re reading “The Signature of All Things” for one of my book clubs. I’m not even able to attend this one, but I’m a big enough nerd to still keep up with the reading. And this one is a long one. IN IT TO WIN IT.
6. Wine.

Oh… did I mention that one already?

Well… you get my point.

So how do you two know each other?

“Oh we’re friends from the internet.”
*crickets*

“Christian mingle.”
“Prison pen pals.”

Basically, whatever you want to believe in order to stop the questions from coming in.

IMG_4139

Kelly and I started really getting into blogging at about the same time (4.5 years ago? has it been that long?) and as newbies in the world of healthy living blogs, and as just really awesome people, we clung to each other immediately. Comments on blogs turned to emails turned to facebook turned to sister wife connections turned to wedding dates turned to internet besties for life.

WordPress was essentially our Eharmony for finding a new friend.

Funny how that happens.

So anyway, Kelly booked this trip in January and we had grand plans to enjoy the lovely early March weekend with a long run along the lakefront. We both have races we’re training for. We both like being active. We both really wanted to counteract the deep dish madness to happen later in the evening.

It was 39 degrees and she felt a strain in her hip flexor.

I ended up just running a few miles in the morning and the rest of the cardio came from strolling up and down Michigan Avenue. Close enough.

We got thirsty and made our way to the lounge in the Hancock Building. It's a cheaper alternative to getting the view of the Chicago skyline than visiting Sears Tower (yes, I still call it that). Plus, you get a drink. Everyone wins.

We got thirsty and made our way to the lounge in the Hancock Building. It’s a cheaper alternative to getting the view of the Chicago skyline than visiting Sears Tower (yes, I still call it that). Plus, you get a drink. Everyone wins.

We figured the deep dish pizza was still ok.

Because cheese deliciousness deserves to be famous on instagram.

Because cheese deliciousness deserves to be famous on instagram.

Same goes for the pub crawl we participated in on Saturday.

Don’t think the irony isn’t lost on me that Kelly and I met through our healthy living blogs and we spent the weekend only eating fried food and cheese-filled things coupled with beer and wine and then more beer. We’re an odd breed.

Her visit was way too short, as most visits from good friends go. And as a lady with many of my super close gal pals living anywhere other than where I do, departures are terribly sad.

IMG_4110

However, I suppose it makes planning the next trip so much more exciting. Which I shall do as I am making up for my “long run” of 4 miles (omg- half marathon training has officially started, just in such an underwhelming fashion) skipped on the treadmill at some point this week. I’m good at multi-tasking like that.

One piece of deep dish pizza = 21314807234 miles

Or something like that.

The Book Club Files

Nerd Fact: I belong to 2 book clubs.
Nerd Fact: I sorta love it.

I don’t know if it’s me getting older, or maybe it’s just a new trend among our generation, but I feel like I know quite a few people who have joined or started book clubs over the last few years.

Why not, right? We all read things. We all like to be social. We all like food. Combine all those things and BAM, you have a book club.

It just seems so obvious.

That and it just really seems like a solid grown-up thing to do. And I’m trying to be more grown up. So there.

Anyway, Miss Katie sent the word around that she was starting a book club and I jumped on it. I also still have my “city” book club, but I live in the excess. Like a baller.

So Friday night, after navigating a new suburb I have never been to before (look- I’m also becoming more locally savvy by joining a book club!), I was at Kelly’s door, as she was the host of the evening. Her back door, because I couldn’t figure out the parking/house set up. She didn’t seem to mind.

She made us all vegetarian lasagna.And someone brought homemade sushi. HOMEMADE SUSHI, people.

I have to show you a picture, otherwise you'd never believe me.

I have to show you a picture, otherwise you’d never believe me.

Clearly that all goes well together with cake batter puppy chow and the unpictured red velvet cake balls. photo 3

When it comes to the cake balls, I prefer to not disclose the amount I consumed.

Don’t you wish you had a book club?

It was a crazy busy week for me, so I didn’t have a chance to make food, but I still found a way to really say “I like book clubs and I like to party”.

I bring the fun.

I bring the fun.

We drank all the wines. And then talked about the book. And then talked about upcoming races because we mostly come from a healthy living blogs background.

It was bound to happen.

All this is really making me wonder why my friends and I just don’t start a dinner club. Perhaps we need to have a cultural stimulus first. Who knows?

Who of you is in a book club? And what have you read recently?

And now I just realized I didn’t even mention the book we read. It was “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. Basically, it’s a sweet story told through the eyes of a dog and if you’re a dog person, you may ball your eyes out. You’ve been warned.

The Morning Routine

Over the past few years, I’ve become a big supporter of the early morning workout.

You get it out of the way early. It’s a great way to kick-start your energy (or at least until you get your grubby paws on some coffee). The crazies tend to visit the gym later on. And most importantly, you don’t have to wait, throw ‘bows, or pull hair in order to secure a machine.

Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

However, I suppose there is one drawback. Since I’m not willing to get up any early than I currently do (hello 4:30am alarm), I have a limited amount of time to get the best workout in that I possibly can before I have to jump in the shower and make a mad dash to catch my  train into the city.

Challenge accepted.

This is my typical gym-going experience these days:

Get to gym. Walk to lockers. Throw stuff in lockers. Look in mirror. Immediately look away from what was seen in mirror because no one should look at themselves before sunrise. Walk out to the main area.

Find treadmill in the furthest-most corner of the cardio area. I like this spot for a number of reasons, which include getting to look out of the window (much like a hamster on a wheel in a cage) and avoiding the pre-shower odor most of us expel in the wee morning hours (be honest with yourself- you know you have this, too). Additionally, the one person I’m ok with being around likes to jump on the machine next to mine and go about the same pace/length of time I do. We don’t really talk, but we run together with a silent mutual agreement to push each other along. A slight nod and smiles are passed along after we’re finished. Teamwork.

I’ve pretty much gotten over my respiratory ailments, so I generally aim for 35-40ish minutes of good cardio fun. This leaves me without about 10-15 minutes (sometimes 20 if I’m feeling wreckless to my train schedule) to my disposal. I used to never venture over to the strength training areas, but since I’m making meager attempts to become more well-rounded, this is my compromise.

Baby steps, guys.

Core work is my favorite, or at least the lesser of the evils. Specifically, planks. Sometimes squats/lunges when I’m feeling sassy.

early morning planking

Oh haaaaiiiiiiii!

Again, I KNOW I do not have the most efficient workout routine. I KNOW I’d see better results faster if I did it differently. More focus on one area/more reps/heavier weights/blah blah blah.

But I like my workouts. And I still like getting up in the morning to do them. It’s not a drag myself to my doom sort of situation, so we’re not going to chance it by messing up a good thing.

Besides. The weekend is a different ballgame since there’s more time. Plus there’s still the occasional Jillian Michaels video I do when no one else is home and I still have Kim to tell me how to do it properly once every couple of months.

So it’s allllll gooooooddddd.

Rage Against The Machine

As mentioned previously, I moved in with my boyfriend last fall. We live in the condo that he owns while trying to save up for the ultimate of adulthood purchases- a house. And given that the housing market in Chicago is nothing less than ridiculous, we’re really trying to make the best purchase possible because, let’s face it, we’re going to be hanging our hats there for a very… very… very long time.

I mean seriously, Chicago, it’s like you think only rich people should have 2 bathrooms and a yard with grass. How extravagant.

But I digress.

So anyway, the goal is to start prepping his current place for renters. Which includes installing a “new to us” dishwasher.

photo 1

Because obviously it’s not like WE needed a functioning dishwasher. But whoever comes in after us does.

Let me tell you about the old dishwasher.

We had to pre-rinse the dishes before they went in. No matter what food was stuck on before. Because the dishwasher didn’t so much “clean” the dishes of food and grit, it just got them hot and “sanitized” them for future use.

And it would only fully “sanitize” the dishes if we ran it twice. Because otherwise, the dish soap tablet wouldn’t fully melt and do its job. And you just threw it in the machine, not in the compartment that was meant for it- because then it DEFINITELY would not melt- even after two cycles.

Also, when getting ready to start the dishwasher, it was important to first run hot water in the sink for a minute or so. Otherwise, it’s like the hot water wouldn’t work right and then, again, the soap wouldn’t melt and do the job.

Then, when unloading said machine, we had to fully inspect each dish to make sure it was actually clean. Usually about 1/4 of the load would fail the inspection and back into the machine it went.

I hated that stupid machine.

But I love my boyfriend very much. So I dealt with it. And learned to love hand washing dishes again because it seemed like a better use of my time.

And then a miracle happened. Our friend bought a house and remodeled the kitchen. He was about to throw out the old dishwasher when my boyfriend flew in to the rescue and saved it from impending doom.

Yesterday we installed the dishwasher. Actually, he did most of the work and I provided entertainment and snark from the couch. At one point I had to help tip the new dishwasher so he could screw on a nozzle thingy (technical term- clearly). So yes, we installed the dishwasher together.

The rest of the time, I stayed out of his way and from the constant firing of swear words.

And yes, staying out of his way means lounging/napping on the couch while he works. Before you judge me, let's note that I have been the only one to unload the new dishwasher at this point in time.

And yes, staying out of his way means lounging/napping on the couch while he works. Before you judge me, let’s note that I have been the only one to unload the new dishwasher at this point in time.

And now…

My life is complete. We have a fully functioning dishwasher. It melts dishwasher soap in one try. No need for post-wash dish inspection. And it even matches the rest of the kitchen appliances.

And then we lived happily ever after.

Or at least until we start to bicker about who is supposed to empty the dishwasher next.

Let’s talk about nightmare do-it-yourselfs. Aaaaannnddd go!

They’re Chasing You

Last week I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when my cube neighbor peeks over the divider and says “um, our boss wants to see you and me in her office right now”.

But I just had a meeting with her… is something wrong? I haven’t caused a disturbance in cube land for at least two days (perhaps a record- I’m very chatty)… what did we do?!?

Turns out she knows me and my other coworker were super into running and she just HAD to show us the app a consultant was discussing in a strategy meeting the day before.zombies, run app

Zombies, Run.

It’s essentially you running around trying to save a township from being taken over by zombies.

It’s weird.

But why not? Ideally, it’s something to be used outside, but according to the app, it can also be used on a treadmill. You just have to be a little more imaginative.

The first day, I ran 3 miles and collected medical supplies while alluding zombies waiting for me in the abandoned hospital’s parking lot. So, you know, a pretty productive Sunday afternoon.

zombies, run app

If you’ll notice, they have you pick up all the essentials of surving the zombie attacks. Like underwear. This must really be important, because I think I’ve picked up no less than 10 packs of underwear since I started. Perhaps they take into account that it’s normal for people to defecate themselves when encountering the living dead? I dunno.

And you’ll never really do the same thing once.  There are multiple “Seasons” and each season has over 20 “missions” to choose from. Plus there are additional missions you can complete on the side. It’s like you’re training for the apocalypse. So this is pretty important stuff, guys.

It coordinates with your playlist, too. My only wish is it would also sync up with Pandora/Songza. Maybe it does, but technology is hard for me, so I’ll figure it out… in 6 months or so…

Anyway, if you’re feeling feisty and don’t mind the $3.99 price tag of the app, try it (I totally did not get compensated to use it- I just really love finding new ways to mix up workouts when the treadmill is my main mode of fitness during the winter)!

If anything, you’re proactively preparing for the apocalypse when zombies try to take over the world. Doomsday prepping. It’s a big deal.

Now excuse me guys, I have to lure more zombies out of the township. They need me.

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