Month: June 2014

What a Weekend!

This weekend was so much fun!

On Friday, we went to Top Golf, one of our favorite places.  It is kind of like darts and golf mixed together.  Needless to say, I did horribly, but I had fun!

Saturday was my bridal shower!

Danny Amy champagne

It was at one of our favorite restaurants, a winery/brewery near our house.

The shower had an old, new, borrowed, blue theme, and my sister and bridesmaids worked so hard on it!  They are pretty awesome.

Bridal Party

Our house is currently full of boxes and awesome gifts.  We are lucky, lucky people!

It’s especially exciting, because now this wedding business is for real!  🙂  Less than three months left!  Eek!

Danny Amy Wine

Saturday night, we went to a barbecue, and I did a lot of playing with my baby BFF, which was a great way to end the day.

Sunday, we were tired.  I had fun organizing some of the gifts, though, so I was moving around.

Later that day, we went strawberry picking, which was such a fun break from the norm.  I forgot to make Danny send me the pictures from his phone, so you will just have to imagine this one.  🙂

Finally, we rounded out our weekend with my sister’s birthday celebration.  We hung out at my parents’ house and made strawberry milkshakes.  Delish!

I’m linking up on Katie’s Marvelous Mondays!

What was marvelous about your weekend?

The Best Time of Day to Exercise

On a run the other day, I got to thinking about the best time to exercise…at least in my world.  So, I thought I’d share my opinion with you and see if it helps you build your workouts into your day!

I LOVE to work out in the morning.  I can feel a serious difference in my workouts based on the time of day.

My ideal morning would consist of waking up (when I want to), eating some breakfast, hanging out with a cup of coffee and reading for a little while, and then getting my workout in.  Here’s why that plan works so well for me:

The little caffeine jolt definitely gives me some spark.

Patio study

There is actually some science behind this one.

“Caffeine sustains duration, maximizes effort at 85% of VO2 max in cyclists, and quickens speed in an endurance event.  Perceived exertion decreases and high-intensity efforts seem less taxing.” –ACE’s Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals, pg. 196

I haven’t had the day’s events to wear me out.

I also definitely feel that exercising in the morning gives me more energy as I go about the rest of my day.

It’s beautiful outside.

love exercising outside.  In the morning, there is just a different, calming feeling outside.  Not to mention the fact that it is much cooler if you are heading outside in the summer.

I should just find a way to put this sunrise in every post so I can keep looking at it.  :)

I should just find a way to put this sunrise in every post so I can keep looking at it. 🙂

It can become a comforting step in a morning routine.

We all know how a crazy day can get in the way of a planned afternoon/evening workout.  Sticking with mornings can build in a nice feeling in your routine.  Plus, it’s great to go about the rest of your day knowing that your workout is done.

Of course, I have the luxury right now of being able to exercise in the morning.  Life gets in the way of our ideal schedule at times, but this is what works for me and the way I plan when my schedule allows it.


Side note: Happy birthday to my beautiful sister, Ashley!  Love you!

Amy Ashley


What is YOUR favorite time of day to exercise?

 

Six Places

Happy Friday!

If you’ve been following along, Friday’s have become a bit of a survey-ish routine.  Today is no different.  On to the next step of the 10-day (or, for me, waaaay longer) You Challenge I found on PB Fingers.

10 day you

Today’s installment is six places.  This is likely to be quite random.  You’ve been warned.  🙂

1. Starved Rock

IMG_0666

 

Where we got engaged.  ‘Nuff said.

…But I’ll say more.  This state park is in central Illinois and is ranked as one of the best in America (at least so I’ve heard).  The hiking will not disappoint, and there are lots of great waterfalls.  This place will always be a special one in our hearts.  🙂

2. Peoria, Illinois

Not even sure what that building is, but it's pretty!

Not even sure what that building is, but it’s pretty!

Another central Illinois location, but this one is special on a certain day of the year.  For the past two years, I have participated in the St. Jude Peoria Run.  I run with the LaSalle-Peru group, which is a 66 mile relay-style trek running all the way to Peoria to raise money for the children at St. Jude.  On this day, Peoria seems like the greatest place in the world.

3. Willis Tower

IMG_0481

 

If you are a Chicagoan, you likely know the pain I experienced from not typing “Sears Tower” for that heading.

Names aside, I finally worked up the guts to step out on “the ledge” at the Skydeck last April.  It has since been all over the news that the protective coating on the glass ledge shattered.  They say this is exactly what was supposed to happen, but you can pretty much bet the farm that this first time out on the ledge was also the last.

See, I told ya things would get random.

4. Central Park

IMG_0085

 

I can’t really explain why, but I am just in love with this place.

5. Florida

IMG_0991

 

Pretty much the best sunrise ever.  I could listen to the ocean all day.

6. Any restaurant with a view

Can't really see the view through our selfie

Can’t really see the view through our selfie…

Let me revise…just about any restaurant with a view.  Bonus points for being outside in good weather and being on the water.  This is pretty much my one non-negotiable activity on vacations.

Have you been to these places?

What places do I need to add to my list?

 

 

 

 

CICW: Finding Weight Loss Success

It’s Can’ts into Can’s Wednesday!

This week, I decided to bring in someone who inspires me- my sister, Ashley.  I am so proud of her for so many reasons, and her perseverance through her weight loss journey is one.  So, I asked her to write about it.  Enjoy!


 

Hi everyone!

My name is Ashley,  Amy’s sister.  She asked me to stop by and share with all of you how I turned one of my can’ts into cans.

I would like to share my journey so far on the Weight Watchers program.   With Amy’s upcoming wedding and a few other situations going on in my life, I decided in January that this new year was going to be my year; it was going to be the year I really focus on being the person I want to be, for now and my future. 

On January 17th, 2014, I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting.  Being as frugal and, in all honesty, cheap as I am, I very rarely spend money on myself, so I was hesitant to commit to this new journey.  But, alas, I stayed for the meeting and enrolled myself in the monthly program.  

The number on the scale that initial meeting was the highest I had ever seen, and I never realized I was placing blame on everything else but my weight.    Prior to deciding on weight loss I discovered a love for Zumba and Hip Hop Hustle, but I would find my lack of energy at the end of class to be a struggle, and I would blame a long day at work or being hungry.  I never blamed it on my weight, unhealthy food choices or being dehydrated.  

Before: Fall 2013

Before: Fall 2013

That was until I had lost my first 15 pounds.  

I realized on a Monday night dancing Zumba that I had done 5 jumps in a row without having to look around to see if anyone noticed I faked them, because I did NOT fake them.  I realized then how great I was feeling.  

Today I am down 35 pounds, still working towards a goal  I do not have.  The reason I do not have that goal is because I am celebrating any victory I come across.  I am celebrating  the fact I can shop with my family and friends now without having to only buy shoes because I can’t find clothing in my size, I am celebrating the fact  I have stuck with this for so long when I have never stayed with something for this long before giving up on myself.  

Spring/Summer 2014- down about 35 pounds

Spring/Summer 2014- down about 35 pounds

I look forward to my weekly meetings, and enjoy being surrounded by people who are feeling what I have felt and celebrating the victories, no matter how big or small.

While weight loss takes a tremendous amount of commitment, strength and self discipline, it is not impossible.  If you are struggling with your weight, I encourage you to look at the positives–start a journal about who you want to be, what worked and what didn’t.  Everyone is different, but find a friend or family member to help hold you accountable to your menu choices.  You can even find a fellow Weight Watcher.   What it all boils down to is finding your anchor.  Find the one (or many) things that keep you going on this path.   I have many anchors that I will not bore you with as some are extremely simple, but my main anchor is this:

015b16a4d51e028dd62eeb2571257226b1c914d6d2

This charm holder gets a lot of giggles from the men who are following the Weight Watchers program, but, for me, it is my token for hard work, the one thing that will never be taken away from me.  This is the “gift” members receive after  1 month on the program, you are given an empty key ring that you have to fill up yourself.   Each charm I already have means something, and each charm I am working towards will mean even more.  Who ever knew a hunk of metal could tell a story huh!?

 So that’s a little bit about my story on the success of weight loss.  While I still have a long road ahead, nothing seems so long when you take it one step at a time.  

Note: Weight Watchers does not work for everyone, and it is not a diet.  Weight Watchers is a life style change that allows you to eat what you want and encourages you to make smart meal choices and live an active life!  This is my story, and all opinions above are my own.


I think that is my favorite Can’ts into Cans story so far.  🙂  Thanks so much, Ashley, for sharing this.  I am so proud of you!

Have you experienced a similar journey?  Tell us about it!

Let’s give Ashley some shout-outs and extra motivation to keep up her journey! 🙂

Marvelous Monday: Milwaukee Edition

Happy Monday everyone!  Maybe it’s the coffee, but it’s nice to be back in the swing of things this morning.  June has been a whirlwind of a month so far, but it has been so much fun!

This weekend was no exception, so it’s a great time for my first link-up to Katie’s Marvelous Mondays!

This weekend, my fiance and I headed up to Milwaukee.  Our first stop was the Milwaukee Public Market, which we had heard so many great things about.  It was adorable, but a little overwhelming.  So, we headed across the street to the market’s annex, which had a great restaurant with rooftop dining.  Enter brunch and beers!  I mean, it is Milwaukee, after all.

01b35e53a396673701c9bd60f904c2014c1e62f691

Next up, we drove to our hotel and checked in.  Much to my dismay, I found that we could have brought our dog!  I didn’t even think to check!  Oh well, she was off having more fun at Grandma’s.

Showing off for her friend/reflection that lives in the fireplace

Showing off for her friend/reflection that lives in the fireplace

Next up, we took a walk through town to do a little shopping.  On the trip back, we stopped at this cool outdoor bar right on the river.

IMG_1013

Sure enough, though, the rain brought us inside to watch some World Cup.

By the time we got back to the hotel, we needed a nap!  🙂

Later on, we headed out to dinner.  The weather hadn’t been cooperating for most of the day, but, somehow, as soon as we left the restaurant, it was beautiful!  So, it was time for another walk, this time on the lake.

IMG_1017

The next morning, we headed to New Berlin, a town outside of Milwaukee, for a long drive competition that Danny was participating in.

Hazy morning, but better afternoon

Hazy morning, but better afternoon

We hung out at the golf course all day for the competition, which was really cool to see.  I had a great time, because it felt good to be able to cheer him on.  He has been to many of my races and been cheering me on, so I was excited that the tables had turned.

IMG_1026

He took third place and qualified for regionals!

What were the highlights of your weekend?

Ever been to a long drive competition?  What did you think?

 

Seven Wants

Happy Friday folks!  As has been my little Friday tradition these days, I am moving on with the 10 Day You Challenge (which, if you’re doing the math, is likely to take me 10 weeks, not 10 days) that I found on PB Fingers.

20140613-125311-46391806.jpg

On the agenda for today is seven wants.  So, here we go!

1. For my fiance to move on to the next round (level?) of his long drive competition.

My fiance is quite the golfer.  This weekend, we are reading up to Milwaukee for him to participate in a long drive competition.  I’m pretty excited, because he has been so great about cheering me on in races, that I am looking forward to be able to cheer him on in something he loves.  It should be good times.

2. New running shoes

I haven’t been running as much these days due to these shin splints that I just can’t seem to fully get rid of, so I have been rocking the same shoes for nearly a year.  It’s definitely time for a some new ones.

3. To keep my dog with me forever.

Libby

 

Best. Dog. Ever.  Can’t imagine life without her.

4. To make the summer go slower

20140613-125432-46472123.jpg

I can’t believe this trip was already a week ago…where is the summer going?!?

5. To write a book.

Put it on the to-do list.

6. More bike rides with my favorite guy

IMG_0941

We will have to be talking about this later today.

7. To be truly happy

Cheesy, but isn’t that what we all want?

What do you want today?

 

 

Cants into Cans Wednesday: My Struggle with Disordered Eating

Happy Wednesday!  June sure is flying by…can we slow down this summer a little bit please?

Today’s post jumps into some territory that was a major struggle for me at one time and has been something I have worked hard to get under control: disordered eating.

First of all, disordered eating is not the same as an eating disorder.

According to Brigham Young University (which, by the way, has a fantastic Q&A page about disordered eating), disordered eating is…

“eating in a way that could or does harm you physically or psychologically. The disordered eating can be a result of a desire to lose weight, control weight, and to manage emotions.”

There is a long list of common signs of disordered eating on the BYU page, but here is what they were for me:

  • Very strong fear of gaining five pounds
  • Following strict food rules
  • Cutting entire food groups from your diet
  • Thinking about food more than 50% of the time
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Eating a lot of no- or low-calorie foods
  • Lying about how much you’ve eaten
  • Considering foods to be good or bad

So, here is how it all started.

When I ran my first half marathon, I had this amazing sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  I was recently getting back on my feet after a difficult time and was really struggling with self confidence.  This half marathon gave me a huge boost.

IMG_0007

After this race, I was hooked.  So, I began to plan what I wanted to do differently for the next time around.  One of the things that popped into my head was that I had gained a little weight during training.  I’m sure you know how it is…I ran 10 miles today so I can eat some extra pizza and all that.

So, I peeked around at some blogs and found that many people have this same issue.  Many suggested tracking food and counting calories.  So, when I started training for my second half, I downloaded an app and began counting my calories.  I had a range that I wanted to fall under at the end of the day, and I made sure to hit it.

At first, it was really interesting.  Then, it got harder than I thought.  So, I started planning my meals in advance.  This way, I knew what I needed to buy at the grocery store, it took away the annoyance of standing in front of the fridge trying to decide what to have for dinner, and I knew I would fall into my goal range.

Before I knew it, I was becoming addicted.  Somehow, I always “failed” (in my eyes) by eating more than I had planned (therefore, “too much”) at certain times.  I would beat myself up about this incessantly.

The next half marathon came around, and I finished, but didn’t meet my goal.  Commence more beating up on myself.  And more calorie counting.

IMG_0097

I continued this way for another 8 months, at least.  I planned and counted every day for nearly a year and a half, only allowing myself a day “off” on my birthday and Christmas.

Finally, one day, my friend at work asked me if I wanted to go out for chips and  a margarita on Friday afternoon.  I searched all day for an excuse not to go, because those calories were not factored in to my plan for the day (I typically scheduled in times I knew I would be going out).  Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was going to miss out on time with my friend because of “bad” food.  Yikes.

I clearly remember texting my sister that day about how ridiculous that was.  At this moment, I knew it was time to make a change.  So, I deleted the calorie counting app.  And, man, did it feel good.

After deleting the app, I never turned back.  That is not to say, however, that is wasn’t easy.  I started going to therapy to look at my rules and thinking and try to change it.  From there, I have come SO far.  I even finally PR’d and met my goal for the half marathon that I couldn’t hit when I was restricting my eating.

IMG_0400

Now, looking back, I still don’t know what truly made me go there with my eating.  Maybe it was a search for a sense of control in my life that I wasn’t getting otherwise.  Who knows.  Today, I still have moments when I go back to some of my old ways, specifically viewing foods as “bad” and “good.”  Now that I deal with numerous diet restrictions for my stomach issues, I don’t allow myself to view foods as “bad” and “good” (if I can help it).  With so many things I actually can’t eat, I allow myself to have what I can.  I try to focus on whole foods, since those are what make me feel good.  I guess that would be my biggest help, being mindful about food and focus on how it makes me feel.

I will admit that I have definitely put back on the weight that I had lost when I was restricting.  However, I feel totally different.  There are certainly moments, many of them, when I am not mindful, but I try to do the best I can and not beat myself up about any of it.  Despite the step up in jeans size, I have more confidence now than I think I have ever had in my life.  That is WAY more meaningful to me than some number that I made up because that is where I felt I “should” be.

IMG_0941

A couple disclaimers:  When I started calorie counting, I was most definitely not in a situation where I needed to be losing weight.  Calorie counting can be really beneficial for some, but, for me, it turned in to a source of negativity.  I am not saying anyone shouldn’t count calories, it just really didn’t work for me.

Also, if you experience symptoms of disordered eating, I can’t tell you enough how much it helped me to talk to someone about it.  We sometimes feel like there is a stigma behind these things, but I could write for days on how much this helped me.

Wow, that post got long.  No question today.  Comment if you want, don’t if you don’t.  🙂  I just really hope this post helps someone who might be struggling with these same issues.  Even just writing it was a help to me.  So, thanks for reading.

 

 

A Few Days in Paradise

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent a good portion of last week on vacation in Florida.

01e0f2dc63ee0b12dedad7d4acf2a953c6455fefab

Many of my friends from college got together to take this little trip in celebration of our 30th birthdays, which are coming up this fall.

We rented a cute little duplex in Cape Canaveral, just two blocks from the beach.  It was a great trip!

On our first day, we flew in to Orlando, so we decided to stop at Downtown Disney.  We figured we should get our little Disney fix, but didn’t want to pay for the parks and deal with the crowds.  Downtown Disney is a nice little strip of restaurants and shops with free admission!

Had to send this picture to my sister...she used to LOVE Lady and the Tramp!

Had to send this picture to my sister…she used to LOVE Lady and the Tramp!

Next, we took the 45-minute drive to Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach and got settled in the house.  Sure enough, it started raining.  So, we headed out to dinner.

I ate shark!

I ate shark!

The next day, we got up early and headed to the beach.  It was gorgeous!  We worked on looking for shells, reading, swimming, and lounging in the sun.  It was hard work.

IMG_0975

A rainy afternoon (well, actually, they were all rainy afternoons) took us sight-seeing and in search of manatees, to no avail.

The next morning was another one spent at the beach.  The rainy afternoon was spent shopping and playing games around the house.  When, the weather finally cleared up, we walked to the Pier in Cocoa Beach for dinner and sightseeing.  We got within a foot of a huge pelican!

Our last morning started early with sunrise on the beach.

01ce48fc8a26c648b7898917661f3889639c9ed243

 

The rest of the day was spent shopping and eating out before heading to the airport for the (very bumpy, blah) trip home.

This trip was so needed and was so awesome for many reasons:

  • I got to reconnect with some people who were very important to me not so very long ago whom I have lost touch with.
  • I felt like I was totally myself and took time to appreciate the little things.
  • I didn’t care about makeup or doing my hair, because what was the point?
  • I ate amazing seafood.
  • I was able to truly relax and reflect on my life, where I’ve been, and where I’m going.  It kind of gave me a focus on what is important again.

Have you been on a great vacation lately?

 

 

Why You Should Learn to Love Yoga

Over the past few days, I have been on an awesome trip to Florida with my college girlfriends.

Awesome sunrise

Awesome sunrise

It was the perfect vacation, but, man oh man, am I tired.  I forgot that traveling was so exhausting!

Speaking of traveling, if you read my eight fears post, holy cow did I have to live through that on the flight home.  Turbulence city.  Not fun.

But I digress.  This morning, I wanted to get a workout in, but my body was just not having it.  So, I thought yoga would be the perfect way to go.

I will be the first to admit that I am NOT a yogi.  In fact, I usually stray from yoga, because I like a little more intensity in my workouts.  However, I started focusing on yoga when I was marathon training, and it made a big difference in how I felt, especially when I was dedicated to it.

I do not have a membership to a yoga studio, as I am, admittedly, too cheap for it (although I absolutely loved the one real yoga class I went to).  Lately, I have been using Grokker, which is a fantastic web resource for all sorts of yoga and fitness workouts as well as recipes.

Today, I did Amber Hensy’s Creative Asana: Full Flow for Healthy Hips.  It was awesome.  Just the right intensity, a little bit of a sweat, a great stretch, and a nice ending relaxation.

I felt so great afterwards, that it got me thinking about why even the doubters (like me at one time) should learn to love yoga:

  • It makes you stretch things you didn’t even know needed stretching.  My first yoga class had a great instructor who actually sat down with me before hand to ask where I felt tightness and what my fitness goals were.  At the time, I was running rather religiously, and so she focused the class on hips (the luxury of a very small class).  I knew my hips were sore, but I had no idea they needed to be opened as badly as they did.  It was really eye-opening.
  • Yoga helps you focus on yourself and eliminate outside forces.  Believe it or not, I used yoga ideas on my extremely not fun plane ride home last night.  As I mentioned, the turbulence was pretty bad for most of the nearly three-hour trip.  At times, I was truly ready to panic.  But, I remembered some of my yoga practices and tried to find my center and pull my attention in to that.  Those little moments of eliminating the stress outside of me really helped me through the anxiety-ridden ride.
  • It can be easily tailored to your fitness level.   In today’s video, Amber explained the next step of a pose.  However, before moving forward, she encouraged everyone to ask herself why she is taking the next step.  Then, without judgement, take it if you are ready.  Usually, I would move forward into a uncomfortable and frustrating pose that I wasn’t yet ready for.  This simple advice made me realize that there was no real reason to push myself beyond my limits and eliminate the benefits of staying in my comfortable-but-pushing zone.
  • It ends with an amazing few moments of relaxation that maybe the only ones you get in your day.  I can’t remember the fancy yoga name for it, but each yoga practice ends with a deep relaxation session.  Some on Grokker are rather short to save time, but even the short ones provide this blissful moment of quiet and calm.  I will admit that I often have a hard time shutting my brain off, but even just the body relaxation is a welcome change.

While I am not a dedicated practitioner of yoga, I like to try to incorporate it into my fitness routine once a week.  It gives my body a great opportunity to recharge while still staying in motion and building flexibility.

Are you in to yoga?  What do you enjoy about it?  If not, what is holding you back?

Any yoga advice?

Random question: Anyone want to share their worst-flight-ever stories? (Sorry to start with the negative.  My trip recap post will allow for more positive.)

Eight Fears

Happy Friday! It has turned into my little Friday tradition for the last couple of weeks to do a little getting-to-know-me post, inspired by this challenge that I found on PB Fingers.

20140613-125311-46391806.jpg

1. Orca whales

I have no idea why I have this fear, but when I am overwhelmed, I will inevitably have a bad dream involving a whale.

20140613-125432-46472123.jpg

2. Not being in control

This is a big reason I am not a big fan of flying.

3. Failure

Sometimes, this inhibits me, but I have gotten a lot better with taking risks. It’s also really helpful that I have kind of just gone for a lot of things and have seen success. It’s the possibility for bigger failures with stronger consequences that freaks me out.

4. Having my dog wander away and not be able to find her way home

I sure do love my Libby girl!

20140613-130050-46850290.jpg

5. Driving in the snow

…something I sure got to do a lot of in this Illinois winter.

6. Getting lost without a cell phone

One time, my sister and I went for a hike in a small forest preserve near us and took a wrong turn. We knew generally how to get back, but we didn’t know how long it would take us to get there. Even that was scary.

20140613-130554-47154668.jpg

7. Getting sick before a big event

I was SO nervous about this before running my first half marathon and full marathon. Now, I’m nervous about getting sick before the wedding! Vitamins will be a must.

20140613-130717-47237001.jpg

8. Knowing there is nothing beneath me

I wouldn’t call it a fear of heights, but I like to feel secure and on solid ground. I am not much of a risk-taker. My fiancé is lucky he got me to step out on to the SkyDeck. 🙂

20140613-130932-47372017.jpg

Can you identify with any of these fears?
Any advice for me to get over them?