Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Currently: January 2018

Watching: "Chopped," "Beat Bobby Flay," and "Worst Cooks in America."
Basically, I'm obsessed with the Food Network.

Listening to: the "Waitress" soundtrack.
I've been listening to it for a long time, but after seeing the show last month, I can't get enough of it.

Shopping for: wedding stuff.
I feel like there's constantly something I need to be scouting out. At the moment, I'm fixated on my jewelry. I didn't think it'd be this hard to find simple pearl jewelry that suits my style for the day.

Wearing: workout clothes.
I've been doing two workouts a day pretty often for the past month. And it's going to continue for two more months. You know what this means? LOTS OF LAUNDRY.

Snacking on: apple and peanut butter.
The other day, it was actually my dinner. 

Obsessing over: Funko pop dolls.
Every time I see them in a store, I have to scour the selection to see if there's one I need to add to my collection.

Looking forward to: game night with friends this weekend.
I haven't seen these friends in more than a month. It's crazy. And overdue.

Dreading: more cold weather this weekend.
We were sub-zero and in the single digits for a few days (but it felt like forever) and then it warmed up this week. Almost 50 yesterday. We're headed back down this weekend. Boo. This is the worst part of winter.

Yeah, my life is pretty boring. But I'm OK with boring, honestly. It's much better than drama.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Music Monday: Kimiko Glenn - "When He Sees Me"

Ever since I saw "Waitress" last month, I have been obsessed with the soundtrack. This song, in particular, is a favorite.

Until I went searching for this video, I didn't even realize Kimiko Glenn played the role of Dawn on Broadway. Kimiko was in the touring cast of "Spring Awakening" and I adored that entire group of people. I guess I lost track of Kimiko. But she is fantastic on this number. I wish I could have seen her entire portrayal.

The character of Dawn is quirky and lovable from the beginning. She comes off as naive, and to some extent she is, but she is extremely likeable and injects a lot of humor into the show.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Sweats: Xtreme is here again

Xtreme Revolution is back!!!

Xtreme Revolution is an eight-week fitness program offered at my office. It includes intense workouts and nutritional guidance. This will be my third year participating, and I am really excited about it.

This photo was taken during last year's Xtreme Revolution session. The camaraderie and motivation are awesome.

The program starts tomorrow. We kick off by getting weighed and measured, and then we have a presentation about nutrition.

Workouts begin on Tuesday. Here's how each week of the program will look:

There are six class times each day -- 6:15 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 4:45 p.m. Each class is 30 minutes.

This year, we don't have to sign up for a specific time slot or go at the same time every day. Not that they ever really held anyone to that in the past. I'm going to be aiming to do the 6:15 class and one of the noon ones. Yep, I'm going to attempt two-a-days. I'm slightly concerned that the 6:15 class will be really full and then I'll have to wait for a shower, which won't really work since I need to be at my desk at 7 a.m. I have made it just fine for past 6:15 a.m. workouts, but those classes have been small. But ... I'm going to try the morning class and see if I can make it. If not, I'll do noon and afternoon (unless I have to work at my other job after work). If two classes a day get to be too repetitive for me, I think I'll try and complement the day's workout with solo effort -- running or doing my own bit of strength training, whichever is the opposite of the class focus that day. Either way, I really want to hit it hard these next eight weeks.

There are more than 200 people signed up this year, and we're divided into divisions and teams. I'm in Colby's Division on Team Cream of the Crop. My team captain has already reached out with a motivational email.  Here's how we'll earn points for our team:

I'm ready to get started and am looking forward to challenging myself over the next eight weeks. Wish me luck!


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Off
Tuesday - Strength with a little cardio (35 mins)
Wednesday - Xtreme Cardio (30 mins)
Thursday - Barre with Britt (30 mins)
Friday - Flex Friday (30 mins)
Saturday - Circuit workout with Sean (35 mins)

Friday, January 5, 2018

The flightmare after Christmas

Sean and I booked flights a few months ago so we could go to Indianapolis for Christmas with his extended family. Because of job in past years, he hasn't been able to go in five years. He also really wanted me to meet some of his aunts, uncles, cousins, and especially his grandfather, before the wedding. We found a good deal on flights, so we bought them and began planning.

Saturday morning, we got up at 2:45 a.m. and were at the airport an hour later. Security was a breeze. Probably because it was an ungodly hour. Either way, we were feeling optimistic. We were set to depart Des Moines at 5:25 a.m., have a short layover in Chicago O'Hare, and arrive in Indianapolis at 9:45 a.m.

By 5 a.m., we didn't see any flight crew. No gate agent. Nothing. This was a little alarming, but we tried to stay optimistic. As departure time grew closer, everyone at our gate was restless and we began hearing rumblings that the plane was struggling to warm up enough for the engine to start. I figured this was an easy fix and we'd be in the air soon. But as 6 a.m. neared, I decided to go to the gate agent (who had announced we'd be delayed but didn't say by how much) and see if we could change our connection flight. I knew there was no way we'd get to Chicago in time to change terminals and board our 7:50 a.m. flight to continue to Indy. She was able to put us on one that would leave Chicago at 3:30 p.m. Not ideal, but I figured at least we'd have plenty of time to make the connection. And we'd be in Indianapolis in time to have dinner with the family.

Over the next several hours, there were no announcements from the gate agent. Nothing to tell us when we might be leaving. The time on the screen kept changing, but nothing seemed firm. Our flight crew had left the plane saying it was too cold to be out there and a few of them said they were going to try and get released to go back to the hotel until this was sorted out. (That should have been my first clue that this was not just a slight delay, but I was clueless.)

This photo was taken around 9 a.m. Our travel day was already long and we didn't yet know how long it would be.

Our crew (who had left the gate to hide away from all the questions) was paged to come back to the gate around 11 a.m. It felt like we were making progress. Especially when they all got on the plane and didn't immediately come back off as they had so many times over the course of the morning. But by noon, we still hadn't gone anywhere and there was no indication we would be anytime soon. Other flights (from other airlines) were arriving and departing without issue, but all of the flights on this particular airline were delayed. Significantly.

I went up to the gate agent again and asked if she thought we'd get to Chicago in time for that 3:30 flight. She couldn't guarantee it and it didn't seem likely to me at this point, so we re-booked again. Our new connecting flight would leave Chicago at 8:50 p.m. and get into Indianapolis around 11 p.m. This was not at all appealing, but it seemed to be our only hope.

Beer before noon? Why not.

Sean and I took a break from the gate and went to watch the rest of the Iowa State game (they won!) and get some food. We heard from other passengers on our flight that the gate agent told them we wouldn't leave Des Moines until at least 5:15 p.m. Some even heard 6 p.m. as the estimated departure.

At this point, there were some tears of frustration as Sean and I discussed what we should do. Some people on my Facebook began chiming in that I should have just driven to Indy. In hindsight, this would have been the better option. But when I booked the flights, they actually were shorter than driving. It should also be noted that I hate driving in winter, and making the 500-mile-ish trek to somewhere two states away just didn't seem like a smart idea. And by this point, Sean and I had been up for more than 12 hours and hadn't gotten the best sleep the previous night either. Driving really wasn't an option. So we decided to hang in there.

A little after 3, we headed back towards our gate to see if there was any new information. On our way, we ran into another passenger from our flight who said there was a flight leaving for Chicago in a few minutes and there might be some extra seats on it. Sean and I were delighted when we secured what turned out to be the last two seats on that flight. Finally, at 3:30 p.m., nearly 12 hours after we'd gotten to the airport, we were in the air.

We landed in Chicago around 5 p.m. and hung around for three hours until our next flight. We eventually arrived in Indianapolis at 11 p.m. that night. We were exhausted but happy to finally be at our destination.

I hoped for better luck on our return flight, but my hopes didn't last long. About an hour before we were set to head to the airport, we learned our flight was delayed 90 minutes, which means we'd miss our connecting flight. I called the airline and after being on hold for about 25 minutes, we were booked onto a later connecting flight. It would delay our arrival at home by two hours, but the customer service rep assured me it was the best option and he would send me a confirmation email with the flight details. When, ten minutes later, I didn't have the promised email confirmation, I got nervous. I decided I didn't trust the airline at this point and we ended up renting a car and driving home. We were back in Des Moines at 8:30 p.m. When I checked the airline site later, I discovered our flight from Indianapolis didn't end up leaving until 8 p.m. There's no way we would have made it to Des Moines that night. Oh, and I never did receive an email confirmation of that changed flight.

I know delays happen, but this was my worst air travel experience by far. We lost time with Sean's family (and he obviously doesn't see them often), and we ended up spending a lot more money than we had planned on (three airport meals and a rental car). I've filed a complaint with the airline, but I highly doubt anything will be done about it.

Tell me about your worst flight experience.
Any advice on how to get the airline to care?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

This & That 1/4

:: If you followed me on social media last weekend, you might have gotten a hint about my flight woes. Come back tomorrow for A LOT more detail. But suffice to say, it hasn't made me eager to fly anywhere again for a long time.

:: Despite our rough route to Indianapolis, I had a great time meeting Sean's extended family over the weekend. They wasted no time making me feel welcome and look forward to getting to know them more in the future.

:: I saw "Pitch Perfect 3" a few weeks ago. Nothing will ever beat the first one for me, but it was still fun and enjoyable. I thought they wrapped up the franchise perfectly.

:: I have Saturday AND Sunday off this weekend. I hardly know what to do with myself. But I'm sure I'll figure something out.

:: I'm trying to figure out how to be more consistent with this blogging thing. But some days, I just don't have time. Other days, I just don't feel like it. Any tips or advice?
 What's new with you this week?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wedding Wednesday: Not sweating it

Like any bride-to-be, I've been scouring Pinterest and message boards for wedding information and insights. I just want to make sure I'm not forgetting or overlooking an aspect that might be important. 

One topic keeps popping out at me over and over again -- sweating for the wedding.

When I got measured for my dress, I was between sizes. I told the bridal store to order the larger size. They seemed stunned by this. I decided I would rather have it altered than worry about losing weight to fit into it. I'm guessing a lot of brides go the other route. That has been obvious as I continued with wedding planning. 

I saw fitness center and supplement representatives at all three of the wedding showcases/fairs I went to. 

There are countless workouts on Pinterest that refer to fitting into the dress or a bridal bootcamp.

It seems some women, once they announce their engagement, are being approached by fitness and health gurus among their friends lists who want to help them lose weight for the wedding.

I even saw one bride say her parents want to contribute money to the wedding, but have given her sort of a challenge to earn it. They'll give her $60 for every pound she loses before her big day.

As if there isn't enough to worry about in wedding planning, it seems some people have decided to add self-consciousness to the bride's plate.

I've had people ask me (after I mention a workout) if I'm sweating for the wedding or worried about fitting into my dress.

My answer: NO.

I mean, when I do two workouts a day, I've joked that it's because I have a wedding dress to fit into in a few months. But it's not a serious answer. I double up on workouts because I want to challenge myself. I do it for me. I've been active for a long time (definitely long before I got engaged). I've also been working on my eating habits for a long time. My fitness goals extend beyond my wedding day.

Working out, for me, is not just about losing weight. It's about getting stronger, feeling more confident, and taking a mental break from life. Honestly, I'm trying to find a way to work out the morning of my wedding because I feel like it will help me through the day.

Now, I'm sure there are people who do put in a little extra effort into their fitness and diet leading up to their wedding day. That's fine. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it.

My problem is when people assume all brides-to-be want to lose weight for the wedding. And somehow they feel the need to bring it up unprompted. It bothers me a lot. Not only is it rude (her body and weight are none of your business), but it also sends a negative message to that bride. You're telling her you think she needs to change. Why does she need to get fit for this one day?

Spoiler alert: She doesn't. Someone has already said he/she wants to spend the rest of his/her life with her. Obviously, she is loved as she is. And hopefully she loves herself enough to stand up to anyone who thinks otherwise.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday Sweats: 2017 victories and goals for 2018

I learned so much about my health and fitness this year. I have two excellent trainers at my office, and I've been motivated by some of my Instagram and blog follows. I've challenged myself and succeeded more often than not. I may not have seen the scale move much (except to just bounce back and forth), but I definitely feel like I made progress in becoming healthier and fitter.

Now, let's look at my goals for the past year.

These were my fitness goals for 2017:

> Do more yoga.
I did yoga almost daily last January. I think it was a bit much. I still haven't fallen in love with yoga even though I know it would be so good for my body and my mind. I'll keep trying.

> Conquer push-ups.
My goal was to do 37 on my toes. I don't know if I got there (and I'm not going to drop and do them at this moment). But I did do 20 on my toes at one point earlier this year. And just the other day, I did 100 (in segments of 20) on my knees.

> Join or find a running group.
I tried to start a running group with people from my Facebook friends list. But it didn't go well. I only had one actual running meet-up. After that, nothing. However, I did find a group of women at work to run with every Wednesday. So I'm calling this a victory.

That's not too bad on the goals.

Beginning of 2017:

End of 2017:

Do the photos show the progress I feel? I'm not sure, but ... that's OK. I still feel it and that's a win for me.

Here are my fitness goals for 2018:

> Do at least one new race.
I've done so many local races, but there are still more I want to try. I need to choose one and do it.

> Take on monthly fitness challenges.
There are a ton on Pinterest -- planks, squats, etc. I want to get stronger and adding one little element to my regular routine will definitely help.

> Be kinder to myself.
I know this one will be hard to measure, but I really need to enforce it. I need to stop being so hard on myself if I decide to take a rest day or indulge in some poor food choices or if I'm not as fast as I want to be. I also need to stop comparing my fitness journey or workout to those around me. I also need to just take general good care of myself -- meditation, eating well, getting plenty of rest, etc.

What are your fitness goals for the new year?

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 highlights and looking ahead

There are only a few days left in 2017, so it's time to look back and see what a year it's been.

The year started off with a bang ... or rather a ring. That's right, if you'll recall, I got engaged on New Year's!!

That was probably the biggest thing that happened to me, but definitely not the only thing.

In February, we went to see Sean's brother perform with the national tour of "42nd Street."

In March, we bought a house!

In June, I published another book.

There were also a few concerts: Tim Stop, Trombone Shorty, Parachute, Kris Allen, Stephen Kellogg, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ed Sheeran, James Blunt, Pentatonix, and Foo Fighters.

And a few Broadway shows: "42nd Street," "The Curious Incident of a Dog in Nighttime," "An American in Paris," "Something Rotten," "The Color Purple," & "Waitress."

2018 has some challenges and a lot of promise in store. I'm looking forward to my wedding and a few other things that will surely provide some new adventures.


As I've said many times in the past, I don't do resolutions. I prefer to set goals and aim to try some new things. 

Check out how I did this year ...

2017 Goals

:: Pay off another credit card.
I'm halfway to doing this. I'm calling that a win with everything else I have going on.

:: Clean out the closet in my living room.
I kind of had to because I moved.

:: Go away for a weekend with Sean and/or friends.
Sean and I went to Omaha a few times (once for fun and once for a wedding) and also to Davenport (for his college reunion). I'm calling this a win.

:: Buy a house.

:: Make wine.
Sigh. Nope.

Since we're headed into a new year, I need some new goals.

2018 Goals

:: Pay off another credit card.

:: Make wine.

:: Ride to the High Trestle Trail Bridge.

:: Visit a new city or state.

I think that's a pretty good list.


What are your goals for the new year?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Hide the scale

 One of the women I with whom I work out told me she's gained eight pounds in the last few months.

Another woman in my office told me she gained three pounds over Thanksgiving weekend.

They both seemed so defeated and miserable as they said it. And the first one has been forcing herself onto the treadmill in the evenings (in addition to our regular workouts).

I used to be just like them. I would get on the scale weekly (sometimes, shamefully, more frequently). It occasionally gave me joy, when the number would dip a little. But more often than not, it just made me feel bad about myself. It made me suddenly second guess everything I'd eaten that week and any workout I skipped or "went easy" on. I decided at some point that I didn't need that kind of self-hatred and instead find a way to love myself. The scale was counterproductive to that. So I stopped weighing myself.

I don't know exactly how long I went without getting on the scale, but I finally had to at the doctor a few weeks ago. The number was about the same as it was a year ago. But I KNOW I'm in better shape than I was a year ago. How do I know? Well, I can do more push-ups and sit-ups. I'm even able to get through several of the hated burpees before I get tired. I feel better in my clothing and I don't find a lot to hate when I look at myself in the mirror (with or without clothes).

That is my progress meter.

I have spent a lot of years hating my body and trying to change it to conform to some number on the scale. Sure, I'm still not exactly where I want to be, but I've decided I'm more successful when I celebrate and take care of my body. So that's what I'm working on, and trust me, it's a constant battle, especially with voices around me talking about their war with the scale and their own body issues. And there are days I'm curious about my weight, to see if I've made any progress, but I remind myself that progress for me isn't and shouldn't be measured in pounds.

These Ed Sheeran lyrics are spot on.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Monday Morning Madness (30 mins)
Tuesday - Total Body Strength (30 mins)
Wednesday - Rested (I was not feeling well, so I skipped all workouts)
Thursday - RIPPED (30 mins)
Friday - Flex Friday (30 mins)
Saturday - Off

Thursday, December 14, 2017

This & That 12/14

:: When we bought a Broadway season ticket package, we were mostly excited about "Hamilton" (which we'll be seeing in a few months). But I was probably equally excited about "Waitress." I love love love Sara Bareilles and have yet to see her perform live. Seeing people perform her music (yep, she wrote everything in the show) will do for now. It was a fantastic production -- lots of feels, great talent, perfect soundtrack.... oh yeah, and there were little jars of pie. Mmmm.

:: House cleaning tasks have become an afterthought this week. I'm still trying to recover from a busy weekend and also battling a bit of sickness that's trying to creep in. I don't have time for that!! Or for cleaning, it seems. Ugh.

:: We had a really mild fall. While I enjoyed not having to wear a coat for most of it, I was sad there was no gradual cool down. Instead, we're right into the cold. But that also means it's soup and stew weather. I plan to make a lot of them this winter. Do you have a favorite tried and true recipe?

:: As I mentioned last week, my best friend got married over the weekend. It was a beautiful and fun event. No wedding is without hiccups, but the bride and groom handled them perfectly and the festivities were a success.
Of course beers happened!!

What's on your mind this week?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Show Us Your Books: November & 2017 favorites

Life According to Steph

I read a lot more in November than I expected to. I thought I wouldn't have much time with NaNoWriMo going on, but I honestly feel like reading while I'm writing actually helps me. And I was so into this series that I made it a reward for spending time writing. It worked out pretty well. I didn't complete NaNoWriMo (only wrote 32,563 words), but I did feel somewhat productive. And I read four books ... all one series, but still four books.

True North series (four books total)
by Sarina Bowen

I don't recall how I discovered this series, but the description of the third book intrigued me. There was mystery in the past of both lead characters and they somehow brought each other through the feelings associated things that happened to each of them. I know that's vague, but I don't want to give up too much. I loved the characters so much I decided I wanted to read the rest of the series too. All of the books can be read as stand-alones, but it does help to know the Shipley family before diving into some of the stories. After reading the entire series, Zach and Lark (from the third book) are still my favorites.


And, now we're closing another year of reading. I need to finish six more books to reach my goal for the year. I don't think I'm going to make it, but I'm going to try. Regardless,  below were my top five favorite books of the year, in no particular order:

I'm looking forward to finding more gems and adventures in 2018.

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