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.

Romance

Happy Monday, everyone!

Perhaps I would have discussed this on Friday, on the actual holiday, however, we celebrated Valentine’s Day on Saturday the 15th this year.

Because we wanted to stick it to the man.

Well. Also, we had a friend’s birthday celebration that happened to be on Valentine’s Day, but again, we didn’t care.

It’s a silly day. One that creates competition in the workplace of who got the biggest floral arrangement, and causes singles to drink and gorge in misery or rage or just because they have nothing better to do because all of their friends with significant others were being all mushy with their forced romanticism (see my Valentine’s Day of 2012).

So last year, when my boyfriend and I were approaching our first Valentine’s Day celebration, we discussed the topic with apprehension. Or at least until we realized our feelings towards the Hallmark holiday were generally the same.

In the end, we decided to hit up a nearby hole in the wall for Thai food. And the only reason we didn’t order it to go was because the place was empty. Completely empty. And we felt kinda bad about it.

For good measure, we did also get each other Valentine’s Day gifts. I gave him random pantry items from the Walgreens around the corner from my office. “I love how cheesy you are” (mac n’ cheese) and “so glad you’re never a jerk” (beef jerky). He got me a coffee table book about Justin Bieber.

Match made in heaven.

So this year, we discussed maybe doing something nice and a bit more formal/romantic, but why fix what’s not broken?

He got me an immersion blender that I’ve had on my wish list for years. His reasoning was not so much because I wanted it (I really did), but to “keep me in the kitchen where I belong”.

Smart ass. Don’t take that the wrong way- he really just loves my cooking and baking.

Besides… he knows who the boss is in the house:

nuts about you

Dinner again was Thai food (after we took a trip to Home Depot because we are, in fact, the most romantic couple in the entire world). Same local hole in the wall. We’ve started a tradition now. Which is awesome because I have no problem forever associating pad woon sen with February 14th.

Plus, the leftovers are always bomb diggity.

IMG_3951

And that’s important.

The End.

Cruisin’

The title of this post is a really lame reference, guys.

Because I really hate country music, and I missed the bandwagon (by what- 8 months? a year?), but I can’t stop listing to that stupid song “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line. In my defense, I didn’t start liking it until after I heard the remix that features Nelly.

Nevermind that Nelly has totally sold out since he started doing Honey Nut Cheerio ads and the song may now be even more lame now that he’s associated with it.

Nelly. Get it together.

Either way, it’s happening. But if that is one of the things getting me through my workouts, then so be it. Because my lungs are still failing me a bit as they still rattle with mucus from time to time.

I’m sexy.

Anyway, I’ve gotten myself up to 2 miles in the morning. And a bunch of walking. We’re about halfway there when it comes to getting back into the normal routine.

Cruisin’.

So yeah. When I haven’t been doing that, I’ve been doing stuff like working my butt off on a few extremely pressing deadlines (proposal writing is not for the faint of heart, my friends). And when I haven’t been working towards deadlines, I’ve been on the serious hunt for the new Oreos. Where are my cookie dough and marshmallow crispy?!?!?!

Seriously. WHERE ARE THEY?

I have convinced myself that all my problems, such as lack of running and too much work, will be solved as soon as I have them secured in my greedy paws. My boyfriend said he’d like to try them, too, when I find them.

That’s cute.

Like I said I’d share or something.

Please excuse me. I must now go and cruise some more…

coffee at work

And by cruise, I mean live on coffee until my biometric screening at work this morning. My biometric screening is at 10:50 and we have to fast for it. No breakfast has been consumed. Heads may roll. Byyyyeeeeeeeee….

 

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Humble Pie

I am a morning gym person.

Like early morning.

4:30am kind of early.

Sure, it’s a little unorthodox, but I don’t mind. I never have to wait for a machine and the majority of the gym crazies/pervs are still sound asleep. My workouts are 99.9% uninterrupted and 99.9% productive. I leave out the .01% because hey- no one’s perfect. Not even me.

Although I’m pretty close.

But let’s move on.

So I’ve gotten used to my morning routine over the years, and it’s really no trouble at all to go through a super intense speed workout or break out 4 miles a few times a week as part of my cardio.

But then the respiratory infection struck. So I’m not sure what I expected on my first real workout back since before I got sick.

Yesterday I ran one mile. It was a very trying experience. Which reminded me of when I was 10 and almost always in the last quarter of the class to stumble across the finish line for the one-mile fitness test in school.

Or when my mom, ON THE FIRST TIME SHE MET MY BOYFRIEND, laughed about how she had a hard time watching me when I joined track in 8th grade because she basically spent the entire time praying I’d fully make it around the track (thanks, mom).

However, I suppose my one mile was better than laying like a zombie on the couch and wondering how many times I’ll wake myself up in the middle of the night with a massive coughing fit. And considering that if I laugh hard enough, I still currently also spend 2 minutes wheezing and catching my breath, things could be worse. So I guess we’ll take the wins where we can get them.

Today was even one AND A  HALF miles!

Slow and steady. Bleh. Someone pass me more green tea and mucinex.

SW-sick-week-is-over

Country Germs

Thought I left ya again, huh?

No. I’m still here. Just preoccupied. Because it finally happened.

6 years in the making.

It was only just a matter of time.

I got sick. Like really sick.

Yes, it had been 6 years since I’ve had anything worse than the common cold. The boyfriend thinks I possess “country germs” from my growing up on a farm that make me immune to most sickness and the common cold. He’s probably right. I am basically a super human.

However, when I finally do fall to illness?

I go down hard.

Over the course of last Monday, I went from happy/chipper/yaysies to crawling/grasping the stair case while panting for breath on my way home. I then proceeded to bed by 7:00 that evening and sleep on and off for over 18 hours.

At one point, I actually fell asleep trying to motivate myself to get up to go get something to eat. And then it happened again.

Which is hilarious. I NEVER skip a meal, but the kitchen was just so far away from my bed (err… 15 feet).

Body aches. Chills. Sore throat. Fever. No makeup.

Hot mess, indeed.

Thank goodness the boyfriend came home with gifts:

I'm pretty sure grandma only intended for this to be used for stomach-related issues, but it's a comfort thing.

Sprite and saltines. My grandma’s remedy. I’m pretty sure grandma only intended for this to be used for stomach-related issues, but it’s a comfort thing.

I had a few days of “not so bad”, and then I took another nose dive. And the thing is, I most definitely should have gone to the doctor earlier. So this is me kicking myself. Because instead, I kept up the optimistic “surely I’ll feel better tomorrow if I continue to rest today” mentality. Nope. So by Day 8 (yesterday), I was ready for the doctor, who proceeded to inform me of my severe  upper respiratory infection. Was this what I started with a week earlier? I don’t really think so as the symptoms seemed to change over the course of the week, but I don’t really care. Because now I have antibiotics and life is so much better.

photo 3

Since the sprite and saltines didn’t work completely, later on in the week we also tried my boyfriend’s grandma’s cure-all: matzo ball soup.

Maybe had I gone to the doctor on days 1 or 2, I wouldn’t have had to cancel on dinner plans, a book club, and make a quick exit at a Super Bowl party I instantly realized I shouldn’t have been at. Such is life.

So we’re finally on our way to recovery. Thanks sickness, it’s been fun. See ya in another 6 years, mmmmk?

Oh… and now I have leftover sprite to mix with vodka.

Winning?

Don’t Tell Kim

I have a 20-lb kettle bell at home. It sits idly in the corner. Right next to a set of dumbbells I will never be able to pick up and a balance board I’m not stupid enough to attempt to use- even under supervision (Hello, my name is “Girl who falls down a lot”).  But yes, the kettle bell. It’s way too big for a girl my size to do much with. My mom gave it to me after she realized this, too, after my aunt gave it to her because said aunt tried to use it and threw her back out. It’s had many homes. But very little love. So when lil’ Miss Kimmers decided to focus one of her strength training classes on kettle bells? And I get to use ones that are more size appropriate? I’m in.

Who’s Kim?

This is Kim:

Kim and I were ZOOMA Ambassadors together back in 2012.... ah the good ol' days...

Kim and I were ZOOMA Ambassadors together back in 2012…. ah the good ol’ days…

Kim is one of my oldest blog friends (4 years now? Holy cow!) and one of the toughest chicks I know. Within the last year, she started teaching classes for Essential Fitness, LLC and has been gracious enough to invite some of us to take a Saturday class with her every other month or so.

As mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of strength training. In other words, I hate strength training with a passion and currently consider hitting a few weight machines and some planks as “good enough” during the week. BUT, since she always gets bunch of ladies together to do it, and it’s always stuff I never do on my own (obviously), I try to make it each time. A step outside of my comfort zone. Let’s call it personal growth.

This last Saturday was focused on kettle bells AND boxing. Neither of which I know anything about. So clearly I was going to be awesome at it.

1545215_10151862466852823_790914338_n

All the ladies. Pre-workout. So happy and full of smiles…. all wiped away after 60 minutes… just like that…

Did I mention Kim is also the most hyper-active girl I know? Energy seeps out of her every pore. I don’t think she sleeps at night. Just sits and taps her foot waiting for the rest of the world to wake back up. A blessing and a curse when it comes to personality traits of personal trainers. We really move for the entire hour. Swings and step ups and boxing during sit-ups and planks and triceps and steps while boxing…

This is why I hurt today. It’s Monday. 2 days after the fact. Glutes on fire.

Don’t tell Kim, but I sorta love it. Because she knows I slack on my strength. And she made sure I know that’s not ok.

Thanks, Kim. :)

Also, don’t tell Kim that I face dove into pizza that night to reward myself for a job well done.

Shhhh…..

There was salad as a side. So whatever.

What did you do outside of your comfort one this weekend? On top of the strength training, I also drank Merlot instead of my usual Cabernet.

…does that not count?

A New Plan

So many people have asked me what my race plans are for this next year.

Ok fine, like three. And one is my boyfriend’s dad who probably just asked to make conversation.

Anyway, my answer was always the same.
“Oh, I don’t know… I may take this year off from the longer races….”13.1

And then my best friend Laura decides she wants to repeat our awesomeness from last year when we ran the Allstate 13.1 Chicago. I wasn’t really hot on the idea at first, but I do enjoy how it’s a reason for people to come visit me. So we signed up for this year’s Michelob Ultra 13.1 Chicago.

It is amazing the hoops you can get me to jump through with the promise of a visit: run 13.1 miles, put in 12 weeks of solid training, and drink less wine. I must REALLY miss my friends.

Anyway, instead of telling you all about this grand plan I’ve meticulously written out and will follow with no deviation whatsoever, I will present you with my “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of half marathon training. Because, let’s face it, I’m too-hard headed to have something (or someone?) tell me what to do.

Do
1. Take the strength and core training effort up a notch. It’s the core that gets you there, my friends. PLANKS FOR EVERYONE!
2. Progressively add a mile to each long run on the weekends. Since the mister and I are generally pretty lame on Fridays by staying in and having a threesome with Redbox, I think we’re ok here.
3. Eat less sugar. My snackage needs an overhaul. I work in the Loop and am within walking distance of no less than 4 cupcake shops. We also won’t even get started with my newfound love of gourmet donut shops.
4. Crosstrain more. I love me some treadmill action in the mornings before work. But perhaps it’s time to rekindle my relationship with the elliptical. Or stairs. Or the row machine. Groan.
5. Keep hydrated. Keeping hydrated does not include drinking more Diet Coke. Stop drinking Diet Coke, Amy. Stop it.

a-gallon-of-diet-coke-straight-to-the-dome

Don’t
1. Die. That’s my main goal of this race. Don’t die. No speed goals… just live to get through the finish line and to the beer station. Stay alive to have a happy day of shenanigans afterwards. Simple stuff.
2. Skip weekend runs. I have a couple of weekends out of town scheduled when my so-called training plan should start, so I may have to do some recruiting to get people to think it’s a good idea to join me on those days (don’t tell the boyfriend that it’s most definitely going to be him).
3. Stress out. From prior experience, I know that at about the 9-10 mile run days are where I start to lose it. Motivation starts to drop. Enjoyment goes out the window. You know… the most important things you need to get through the workout? I have to remember this is an activity I signed up for in hopes of having fun with my friend. We shall treat it as such.
4. Die. Oh, did I write that one down already? Well. Yeah. It’s an important one. We can mention it again.

So there you have it. My new half marathon training plan.

When will it start, you ask?

Um. March? ish?

Or maybe after one last slab of cake from Magnolia Bakery?

Yeah. Let’s go with that.

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