May 21, 2018

A Weekend in Kansas City

What a weekend!

I am at the Kansas City airport right now, waiting to catch my flight back to Detroit. Bonnie's flight was a couple of hours earlier than mine, so I have some time to kill.

Caitlin (from Boston), and Bonnie (from Virginia) met me in Kansas City to stay the weekend at Andrea's house. I met Caitlin and Bonnie when I invited them to join my Ragnar SoCal team in 2014. Andrea was on my From Fat to Finish Line team in 2013.

They came to my house for a girls weekend in 2016, and Andrea invited us to her house this year. Andrea's kids were on vacation, and her husband was on a work trip; so, she had the house to herself, and it was a good time for visitors.

It was my first time in Kansas City, and it was great! I didn't know much about KC, but whenever I have looked up fun travel destinations in the U.S., it is usually in the top 10. Also, the kids and I have been watching Switched at Birth lately, which is "set" in KC (but filmed in California, from what I understand, so it's not actually Kansas City--they just call it that on the show)--so my kids thought it was pretty cool that I was going there!

I arrived on Friday morning, and Caitlin and Bonnie arrived at the same time--so Andrea picked all three of us up at the airport. Then we went to Andrea's house and dropped off our bags. Her house is in Kansas, and I can't even tell you how many times we crossed the Kansas/Missouri border over they weekend! It's so odd to be so close to the state line that you cross it that frequently.

On Friday, I was excited to try Kansas City barbecue--that was the one request that I had while we were there. I'm not a huge barbecue person, but whenever I told someone that I was going to Kansas City, they told me that I have to try the barbecue! And in the opinion of several people on Instagram, Joe's was the place to go.

It wasn't at all what I was expecting (I was picturing a full service restaurant, likely expensive...) but it was so much better! It was very busy, but the food was cheap and tasted AMAZING. Andrea and I each got a sandwich to share (the brisket and the pulled pork). I liked them both, but I actually like the brisket better (which surprises me, because I don't normally eat much beef).

I didn't get a picture of our food--the place was crowded and fast-paced--but it was delicious ;)

After that, we were planning on going to a drive-in theater to see The Sandlot. I was SO excited when we saw on the website that it was showing! One of my 40 things to do by the time I'm 40 years old is to go to a drive-in theater, and the fact that it was showing The Sandlot made it even better.

We were super bummed, then, when we got there and discovered that's what they'd played the night before. On Friday, they were playing Show Dogs. We didn't really know what that was, but a quick Google search told us that we shouldn't stay, haha. So, I didn't get to cross that item off my list this weekend, but I have lots of time for that one.

On Saturday, we went to the farmer's market and to some fun little shops (including thrift and antique shops!). For lunch, we went to a little place that sells tons of different kinds of crêpes. While I LOVE crêpes, I wasn't at all hungry for lunch, so I didn't get one (I know, crazy, right?! But I'm really trying to listen to my body and eat when I'm hungry). Andrea and Caitlin got dessert ones, and they looked amazing! (Andrea let me try hers--and it tasted as good as it looked).

On the way back, Andrea took us through Mission Hills, a very ritzy neighborhood that is referred to often on Switched at Birth. It's where some of the main characters live. I was mesmerized by the houses--they were enormous and super impressive. I mostly wanted to just tell my kids that I was in Mission Hills, though ;)

On Saturday night, we had reservations to do an "Escape Room" challenge. I've been wanting to try one of these for a couple of years, but never really had the opportunity--the other girls thought it would be fun, so we booked a private room at Escape Room Kansas City.

When Andrea booked it, she said the only one left was their most challenging room. I was pretty nervous about it, because I had no idea what to expect. And when the person working there told us that it only has a 5% success rate, I thought we might as well quit before we started! But Andrea took that as a challenge, and was determined that we'd do it ;)

I don't want to write to much, so I don't spoil it for others, but it was SO MUCH FUN. I had a blast, and I want to do so many more Escape Room challenges now! We kicked ass, and we actually ended up completing it. We only had ONE SECOND left on the clock when we were done!

Such a weird picture, but it was fun to do. The room was sideways and we were upright, so you just rotate the photo. I was standing up on the right side of the room, so when it's rotated, it looks like the floor.

It was such a huge adrenaline rush, and the hour was up so quickly. It reminded me a lot of a game that I used to play on my phone, and I think the game actually helped me to understand more about how it all worked. Anyway, we were all feeling fantastic after that. Finishing was awesome, but with just one second to go made it even better.

The state of my hair shows just how stressful the whole experience was, haha.

On Sunday, we actually took a road trip to Nebraska and Iowa. I had been planning to rent a car before going to the airport on Monday (today) and driving myself up there to cross those states off of my list, but the other girls thought a short road trip sounded fun. So, we all went up to Nebraska for lunch!

We went to a little local Mexican restaurant, and our waiter was (unintentionally) hilarious. Andrea asked how big a medium sized side of guacamole is, wondering if it was big enough for us to share as an appetizer. She asked, "Is the medium size big?" and held out her hands to gesture what a "big" size meant. We thought he'd tell us that it was enough for us to share, or for two people, or to at least show us with his hands how big it is. Instead, he said, "No--a medium is medium!" like we were crazy for asking such a stupid question. We were cracking up when he left the table.

That evening, we had reservations at a comedy club to see Josh Blue. I had never heard of him, but Andrea said that she really liked his comedy. I love comedy shows, so I was excited to go.

The opening comedians were fantastic, and Josh Blue was hysterical. He has Cerebral Palsy, and he refers to it often in his jokes. I don't know much about Cerebral Palsy, and watching his show actually made me really interested in learning more about it.

Today, we had a really laid back morning at Andrea's before heading to the airport. It was a fun and very busy weekend, and I'm so glad that we did it. We talked about doing it again next year at Bonnie's house.

Now, I'm excited to get home to Jerry, the kids, and the pets. Andrea has two (very funny) dogs, and it made me miss Joey. I'm sure my weigh-in isn't going to be pretty on Wednesday, but we definitely had our share of good food (and fun) in KC!


May 14, 2018

A Summer Challenge (for anyone who wants to join in!)

I know that it's only mid-May, but my kids reminded me that they don't have many days of school left. Can you believe that summer is approaching so quickly?!

I've done this Summer Running Checklist for the past couple of years, and I've decided to take it to the next level this year and turn it into a challenge. Also, in addition to the running list, I also added a "Summer Walking Checklist" for those that don't run. (It is nearly identical to the running list, but it is specifically worded for walkers).

This challenge is for those of you who want to run or walk through the summer, but you aren't going to be training for anything big, and you're not sure you want to do a strict schedule. You may just want to loosely follow a plan in order to get you moving through the summer.

Most importantly, exercise should be FUN! Summer is all about fun, but I used to completely dread summer runs. Michigan gets very hot and sticky (the humidity is terrible here, despite what you may think about Michigan weather). And what is more fun than challenging yourself and sharing about it with others? ;)

The object of the challenge is to complete as many of the runs on the checklist as you can. These are all items that just about anyone can do--whether you walk or run. You can go as fast or as slow as you'd like, because these workouts aren't based on speed or distance. They are just lists of things to make your walk or run a little more interesting!

To make things even more fun, I create a Facebook group just for people who want to give the challenge a try. In the group, you can post photos from your runs/walks, write about each experience, tell us about whether it was a good or bad run/walk, etc. Brag, complain, ask questions, whatever you'd like! But it's basically an accountability group for those of us who want to attempt to complete the challenge list this summer.

The challenge starts on June 21st and ends on September 22nd (from the start of summer to the end of summer). I really hope that you'll join in and follow along with others who are doing it as well!

Here is a link to the (closed) Facebook group:

Runs for Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge

I chose a closed group so that only other members can see what you share. You will have to request to join, so please be patient with me. I will approve you, as long as you don't look like a spam account. I'm not a fan of lurkers, either, so please take a minute to introduce yourself! ;)

I run a couple of other Facebook groups, so I will not always be around in this group--which is why I need your help to keep it interesting. Share things with each other! Make friends! Once in a while I might do a giveaway or some sort of prize for people who are actively working on the challenge as well as posting in the group. I haven't sorted out all the details yet, but I will get it worked out before we start on June 21st.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the challenge checklists (you can click on the photo to view/print the PDF):

Once you join the Facebook group (if you want to; obviously, you don't have to), then print out either your walking challenge or your running challenge sheet. Then, starting on June 21st, start working on each run/walk on the list in any order you choose.

There are a few that have to be done on certain days... there is one that has to be done ON June 21st, because it's the summer solstice--the first day of summer. If you run between 6:06 and 6:08 AM, you will have run from spring to summer! Summer officially starts at 6:07 AM ET. (This is explained on the challenge sheet.)

Like I said, do them in any order you'd like. And then if you're in the Facebook group, it would be great if you posted pictures of your completed runs! And yes, if you would like some runs to count for more than one run on the checklist, that's up to you. For example, if you take a mid-run selfie while you're doing a rainy run, you can count that as both the selfie run and the rainy run. You can basically make up your own rules! I don't know what I would count them both together, but if you want to, go right ahead.

Okay, and there you have it! I hope you are as excited as I am to knock some things off this list this summer :)

May 12, 2018

A Great Marriage Despite (Bi)Polar Opposite Partners

Just a forewarning, this post may be a little (or a lot) sappy. I'm married to a pretty cool guy, and I might do some gushing here and there ;)

A reader recently submitted a question via my blog topic suggestion form, and it's a question I've actually been asked quite a few times recently. It differs from the normal topics on my blog, so I thought it would be fun to write about.

The reader asked:
"Hi! Would love to hear more about your marriage; you mentioned how you and your husband have nothing in common on one of your recent posts... my husband and I are the same way... I'd love to hear some ideas of how you find common interests and make it work, growing your relationship!"
First, some background...

Jerry and I met when I was 17 and he was 18. Here is the story of how we met. I knew from our first date that I was going to marry him, and I even wrote it in my journal that night. We were young when we got engaged--20 and 21--and were married the following year. So, we were together for four years before we got married; and this August, we will celebrate our 15-year wedding anniversary.

When we got married, it was clear that people thought we were too young. We were each others' first real relationship, and we were inexperienced with life in general. But somehow, I had no doubts whatsoever about the marriage. We got along so well, and we truly loved spending time together.

Fast forward to 2018, and we are still very happily married! We most certainly have our ups and downs like any other couple, and we've had good years and not-so-great years; but overall, I would say our marriage is very successful.

Which is odd, because we are complete opposites of each other. When I say opposites, I mean we have NOTHING in common.

As a side note, I want to share a very mind-blowing statistic that relates to us. In the United States and Canada, at least 40% of all marriages fail--those obviously aren't great odds. But in a relationship where one partner has bipolar disorder? There is a whopping 90% failure rate! (source) I wrote a post about how bipolar has affected my marriage which may help explain why we have managed to stay a part of that 10% success statistic so far.

Anyway, how do Jerry and I not only manage to stay together, but also manage to stay together happily while we have no common interests?

  Because we are opposites, we balance each other out really well. For example, Jerry is very social and outgoing, while I am very introverted and a homebody. So, if not for him, I would likely have zero social life; and if not for me, he would never spend any time at home. In ways like that, opposites really do attract.

  Jerry and I also trust each other with all of our being--I've never trusted anyone like I trust him, and I am very comfortable talking to him about anything at all. He feels the same about me. We don't have any secrets from each other, and we really enjoy talking about our feelings. It makes communication so much easier when you don't have to hold anything back! If I'm mad at him for whatever reason, I don't have to beat around the bush... I can just tell him. And if my mood is a little too crazy for him, he can tell me so.

  As far as our interests go... this is a tougher issue. My therapist actually brought this up with me recently, because she asked what we're going to do to stay happy when the kids move out of the house. We'll only have each other for entertainment most of the time, so we need to find hobbies or activities that we both enjoy doing together.

Up until I started losing weight, much of our relationship revolved around food. We enjoyed going out to eat, and even binge eating in the evenings. After the kids were in bed, we'd dig out some junk food and watch a movie (while eating the entire time). It was no wonder we both gained so much weight! In December 1999, Jerry weighed about 155 pounds; by 2009, he was up to 253 pounds (we had the same starting weight, hahaha).

  Once we started living a healthier and more active lifestyle, we weren't able to use the movies and eating as a "date night" and we had to look at other options. So, we started thinking outside our little box, and trying new things for our "dates". Jerry is typically up for anything at all (another thing that we don't have in common--I am much more reserved), so we tried anything I suggested.

Now, there are a lot of times we compromise on dates--if it's something that Jerry really wants to do, I will do it for him. And vice versa. However, we've also managed to find some things that we both really like and look forward to!

Here are some examples of dates we both enjoy:

  Going out for drinks and Keno at the local bar

  Having another couple over to play Euchre (or other games)

  Having a movie night at home--cuddling up on the couch with a snack and watching a movie

  Going through old photos and reminiscing

  Taking selfies and video selfies while being goofy

  A picnic in the park

  A long walk or bike ride (we both have to be in the mood for this, which is rare)

  Thrift shopping at Salvation Army or at garage sales

  Doing our own thing... together. (I might sit on the couch and write a blog post while he plays a game on the Xbox. It sounds lame, but we enjoy each other's company even when not doing the same activity.)

  Sitting on the back deck in the summer with a cold beer and just chatting

  Comedy clubs

  Taking "couples" quizzes or answering questions out loud (we recently had a BLAST going through this book below (Amazon affiliate link) and seeing how compatible we are--the results are that we are extremely incompatible, hahaha)

And that's about all I can come up with right now. There are things we each enjoy doing individually, so we'll do those things with a friend to spare each other having to do something we don't really like.

  Something else we do that I think helps us stay happy in our marriage is that we go on solo trips sometimes. Since we have such different interests, we'll each plan visits with friends who have the same interests we do. Then, we can get our fix of doing the things we enjoy with someone else who enjoys it as well. 

For example, I'm going to Kansas City this weekend to spend time with a few of my girlfriends, doing "girlfriend-y" things ;) In July, Jerry is going to Wisconsin to visit a friend and go to some beer festival. He's happy that I get to go have fun doing things that he's not interested in, and I'm happy that he's going to attend a beer festival with someone who is just as excited as he is about beer. We text each other pictures throughout our trips and then excitedly recap the details for each other when we get home. We love hearing the excitement in each other's voices as we share our favorite parts of the trip.

And one of the best parts is that we actually miss each other--being away from each other for a few days sort of renews the "butterflies" feeling. It gives our relationship a little "boost"! (We do go on trips together, as well; but those are difficult to plan, because we have such different interests.) 

I know going on solo trips isn't for everyone, so I'm not suggesting that all couples do it. But Jerry and I trust each other so completely that we sincerely want each other to do the things that we enjoy, even if it doesn't involve one of us. Hopefully that makes sense!

  Another thing that helps our marriage stay alive is that we express our gratitude for each other. I am SO grateful every single day that he gets up and goes to work a 12 hour shift in order to provide for our family. I never take this for granted, and I make sure to tell him this often. I don't ever want him to doubt that I am grateful for what he does for our family.

(Funny story behind this picture... Jerry told me to take a selfie of me looking all happy while he was in the ER and post it on Instagram so that my "haters" would talk about how much of a pretentious asshole I am. He was a little high on morphine, and he told me to take a video... so I took a video of him telling me all about how I should post this photo for my haters. It was hilarious! He later had no recollection of saying those things.) 

And likewise, Jerry thanks me for doing the things that I believe are "expected" of me... doing the laundry, cooking dinner, going grocery shopping, etc. He notices when I buy something at the grocery store that he didn't ask for, but that I think he would like. He gets excited that I make it a point to cook his favorite dinner on a day that is particularly stressful for him. 

Since we've been together so long, it would be easy to take everything for granted, because it's so routine. But we make sure to continue to let each other know that the little things matter and that we are grateful for each other.

  Finally, we don't compare our relationship to others. Our expectations are reasonable (I am not expecting to go on dates like they portray on The Bachelor, for example!). We don't force ourselves to do the stereotypical romance--roses, fancy candlelight dinners, etc. We consider it a "date" when we go grocery shopping together! 

We enjoy each other's company, no matter what we're doing. I think that stems from fully trusting each other, sharing our honest feelings, showing our gratitude for each other, and laughing together. The laughter is key for us! We have lots of inside jokes that nobody would understand but us, and we love the opportunity to bring them up. 

In one final, sappy, note, I think our marriage is happy because Jerry and I are best friends. A best friend is someone you can have fun with in pretty much any circumstance, even if it's just sitting on the couch and chatting. We trust each other completely, and we love spending time together. 

We may not be compatible when it comes to the direction of the toilet paper roll (it MUST go over, not under, damnit!) or have the same interests in hobbies, but we fit together like Legos. (I warned you that this post would be sappy!)

If you have any secrets to a happy marriage that you'd like to share, please do! I'd love to read them. 

May 10, 2018

A Catch-Up Post

I have been SO busy lately that I haven't had many chances to sit down and write a real post.

Yesterday, my blog-reader-turned-friend, Emily, came over to spend the day with me. She lives three hours away (on the western side of Michigan), so she stayed over night last night and headed home early this morning.

Yesterday morning, we went for a run at the State Park.

After lunch, we actually went to the tattoo shop where Eli and I got our ears pierced so that Emily could get her nose pierced! She's been wanting to do it for a while, and she thought it'd be a fun thing to do while she was here. I was very tempted to get another ear piercing, but I restrained myself.

Last night, we tried our hands at macramé! One of the items on my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list is to learn a new skill, and she thought it would be fun to for us try macramé. Earlier in the day, we went to the craft store to buy some supplies; Emily had a book with patterns in it, and we chose a wall hanging pattern that looked fun.

Immediately, I knew I was going to love macramé--it's basically where you tie different sorts of knots in rope cording. I thought it was going to be fairly easy, but holy cow! I only made it through about four rows before I called it quits (for now, anyway). I think it would be much easier if I had someone show me how to do it, but trying to read the directions and figure it out was really difficult. Emily hadn't done it before either, so it was like the blind leading the blind as we tried to figure it out. So funny, though!

My kids' sports have also kept me super busy--every single day we have practices, meets, games... this is our first year with school sports, and I had no idea the amount of time it would take. (Eli is running track, and Noah is playing baseball.)

It's been fun, though! I love going to the track meets and baseball games. For a while, I was not happy with the baseball program. We paid quite a bit for him to play--after the school sports fee, uniform, helmet, a new bat (his bat didn't fit the regulations for school ball), etc, I hoped that he would absolutely love playing.

But he didn't. He said he doesn't really fit in with the kids on the team, because they all played ball together last year and this is his first year (he's played summer ball since he was 3 years old, but never for the school). The coach stuck him in right field and never even WATCHED him in a different position--Noah has always played infield positions, and he's very good.

Each of their games is a double header, but the coach only had Noah play one of the two games, then benched him for the second. (There are only 13 kids on the team, so it wasn't necessary to bench ANY of the kids for a whole game.)

I didn't want to be "that parent" who complained about my kid's playing time and all that, so I didn't say anything at first. But when I was talking to the coach after one of the games about something unrelated, I casually asked if he'd ever seen Noah play another position. He told me no, and I was shocked--how do you put together a team without seeing what each player can do?

I told him that Noah is very good at catching (his favorite position) and second base, and basically any infield position; so maybe at practice, he could let Noah show him what he could do in other positions. I hoped he would give Noah a try, but I wasn't going to push the issue if he didn't. But after the next practice, Noah came home and told me that he'd played second base at practice, and did really well.

At the following game, the coach put him in as catcher (for both games!) and he did awesome. He made some great plays. In the second game, he hit a single. Then stole second base. Then stole third. While he was on third, a pitch went past the catcher, so Noah took off to steal home. It was a SUPER close play at home plate--Noah dove for the plate, and the catcher dove for the tag. The umpire called him out, but then the catcher dropped the ball right after the tag! So Noah ended up getting a run in with the steal, which was super exciting.

Anyway, I'm glad that I said something to his coach, because now Noah is liking baseball much more. There is nothing wrong with right field, but he needed more action to stay interested. (As a parent, it's much more nerve-wracking watching him play with all the action, but I'm glad that he's liking it now!)

As far as Eli goes, he's really been enjoying track. The track team is huge (probably 45 kids?) and he's certainly not the fastest (or even close to the fastest) on the team; but he likes it, and that's what matters. (He likes cross country better because he can run long and slower; while for track, the kids are insanely fast, running 5-6:00 minute miles.)

Eli's events are the shortest distances--the 70-meter and 100-meter dash. It's kind of funny, actually, because his meets are usually about 2 to 2-1/2 hours long, and Eli only runs for less than 30 seconds total! He even told me that he likes the meets better than practices, because he "doesn't really have to run at the meets". BAHAHA, he's definitely his mother's son ;)

I love watching the other events, though, particularly the 4x100 relay. That's when there is a kid every 100 meters (the track is 400 meters around, so there are four kids per relay team). The first kid runs 100 meters and passes the baton to the second kid who runs 100 meters, and so on. The kids that do this race are typically the fastest runners on the whole team, and it's a super exciting race to watch! I especially love watching the teams' anchors (the last runner of the relay, and usually the fastest) battle out the last 100 meters for the finish line. It's always very close, and so exciting!

Yesterday's Wednesday Weigh-in wasn't great, just as I expected. I gained back the weight I'd lost the previous week.

I haven't been doing well at all with calorie counting since we had people over for Cinco de Mayo--it's been hard getting back on track. I leave for Kansas City in a week, and I want to at least get a week under my belt before I leave, so that it's easier not to go overboard while I'm there.

(I can't remember if I wrote about it yet, but I am going to Kansas City to visit Andrea, my Ragnar teammate from my From Fat to Finish Line team. Caitlin and Bonnie, my Ragnar SoCal teammates, are going, too! Caitlin is my friend from Boston that I write about frequently, and Bonnie is my friend from Virginia. We had a girls weekend at my house in 2016, so now we're going to have one at Andrea's house. I'm super excited, because I've never been to Kansas City before!)

Even though I haven't been doing well with the calorie counting, I've been staying on target with my running. My main goal was to do 30 minutes, 3-5 days a week (ideally, I would do 5; but being realistic, I am happy with 3).

My heart rate is still higher than ideal for "easy running", but I haven't been paying much attention to the numbers at all--which is nice! The only number I look at is the timer--haha, 30 minutes and I'm done. I'm getting back into the habit of running in the mornings, too. I was waiting until afternoon, which meant I had to rush to get done and be ready to go to the kids' games/meets, and it was stressful. I'd like to make my runs a morning habit, just like they used to be!


May 7, 2018

Mental Health Monday: Mentally Healthy Habits

Lately, as I've been juggling the 15 pounds I picked up over the last six months or so, I've been trying really hard to focus on changing the bad habits I've gotten into. To name a few of them:

  Drinking coffee again (and adding cream and sugar, making it 130 calories per mug!)

  Eating way too much ice cream

  Eating when I'm not hungry

  Being lazier (not terribly, but my hobbies aren't active ones)

  Drinking alcohol (not very frequently, but when I do, I can't stop with just one or two--I used to have no problem having a glass of wine every night, but recently, I've been wanting more and more).

... And several other things, I'm sure. My habits are nowhere near as bad as they were when I was obese, but I need to nip these NOW before they continue to get worse.

However, that's not what I was planning to write about today. For "Mental Health Monday", I thought I'd write about some habits that are good for my mental health. This is a lot tougher for me, because I'm very hard on myself.

Here are some habits that I'd like to break (or make):

  I want to stop focusing on and pointing out all of my flaws when I look in the mirror. I could list all the things I don't like about my looks, but then I would just be feeding this bad habit. Jerry said it drives him CRAZY when I point something out to him--"Look how gross this loose skin on my thigh looks" or "Look how jiggly my butt is", etc. I want to consciously think about and dismiss any bad thoughts about my body. My body looks how it looks, and there isn't much I can do about it except take care of myself.

  I want to start going to bed earlier. I am in the terrible habit of staying up until after 1:00 in the morning, and then getting up at 6:00 with the kids. So, I'm not getting much sleep. The problem is, I'm never tired at night! It's hard to make myself go to bed as early as I do--otherwise, I'd probably stay up until 3:00. I'd like to develop a good bedtime routine that will teach my body it's time to sleep at a decent hour.

  I've written before about how my biggest fear is getting Alzheimer's disease. I am more scared to get Alzheimer's than I am of dying. I watched my grandma go through it, and then after having that huge scare in the hospital (I wrote about it in the link above), it's in my mind all the time. Exercise (30 minutes, 3-4 times per week) and getting enough sleep are two major correlations for prevention; but also, using our minds in ways that we don't get to every day. So, I'd like to get in the habit of doing some mind games (memory games, problem solving, etc.) to use my brain a little more.

These are a couple of puzzles that my dad's friend made out of wood. They were the
most challenging puzzles I've ever done!! Looks can be deceiving. 

  I want to stop convincing myself that I'm a failure when I make a mistake. This week, for instance, I didn't follow through with several of the goals I set last week--and I'm pretty sure I'm going to see a gain on the scale on Wednesday. Already, I'm starting to hear my mind calling me a failure, and I really need to believe that mistakes will happen, and it doesn't mean I'm a failure.

  I've been listening to some good podcasts lately, and they have helped me in all sorts of ways. There are a lot of inspiring mental health podcasts, and I especially like to listen to other peoples' stories of success (overcoming obstacles in their lives). So, I'd like to continue to draw inspiration from these. Instead of listening to music when I run, I listen to podcasts.

  I'd like to create a vision board. Even if they are hokey, I think that by looking at the positive things I'd like to change/make happen can do nothing but good. I think it will make me feel good just by looking at it. The thought of starting this is overwhelming to me, because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I really need to stop thinking about it and just do it already!

  I want to reduce the stress I put on myself. I am a big procrastinator, and it causes me a lot of stress and anxiety. For example, I get overwhelmed with email, and instead of tackling a little each day, I just put it off until I finally just spend a whole day replying to emails. Then I feel guilty that my replies are so late! I really should make a good schedule for blogging and emails, which will reduce my stress a lot.

  Even though this one will be hard for me, I'd like to start calling a friend on the phone once in a while to chat instead of always texting. I used to LOVE talking on the phone, but somewhere over the last 20 years, I started getting very anxious about it. However, I think it would be a good way to connect with friends--always a good thing to do for my mental health.

  Finally, I'd like to make sure that I take time every single day to do something that I enjoy--even if it's  completely unproductive. One of my favorite things to do is just sit on the steps of my front porch and listen to a podcast while I drink some tea or water. It's peaceful, and just 10 minutes of that sounds great!

What are some mentally healthy habits that you all do? I'd love some more ideas!

May 2, 2018

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 0

Like I said in my last post, I'd like to get back to doing Wednesday Weigh-ins. I tend to stop doing them when I am continuously gaining weight, because it just makes feeling bad feel even worse. I have no idea if I'm actually going to be successful at dropping this extra weight right now, but I figured I'd start with a Week 0 weigh-in.

I wrote the post with my plan to get back to my goal weight just three days ago, so I wasn't expecting much of a drop today on the scale. I've been doing really well at getting back to calorie counting and eating four times a day. It actually feels nice to get back into it--I always felt in control and my anxiety wasn't bad at all.

On Sunday, it was really nice outside, so I went for a run outdoors instead of on the treadmill (my go-to lately). I overdressed, and was HOT during the run; when I got home, nothing sounded more appealing to me than a popsicle. So, I had a watermelon Outshine bar (sooooo good!) and sat on the porch for a while.

Last month was a bad month for me because I've been feeling depressed. When I am depressed, I have the classic symptom of losing interest in things that used to interest me. And when I lose interest, I stop caring and lose that sense of control.

Lately, my house has been messier, I was eating too much, and disregarding our budget. We spent too much money last month, and we only had $9 leftover to pay down on the credit card! I had been hoping to pay it off completely last month, but it's going to take until June to pay it off now (as long as we stick to our budget).

I've been feeling really bad about myself for all this--the not caring, I mean. So, I finally decided to work on caring again. I really miss how good I felt last year, which is what inspired me to start working on things again (and making my "40 Goals by 40 Years Old" list).

It's kind of amazing what just a few days of eating well, running, sticking with our budget, cleaning the house, etc. can do! Even if the weight itself doesn't come off, I still feel happier and in control by working on it.

Anyway, today's weight was down just a hair from a few days ago. Like I said, I didn't expect much, because my last weigh-in was Sunday. I was at 147.6.

So, at 146.8, I'm down just shy of a pound since then. I'm considering this my official starting weight of my new plan.

I started documenting my "40 Goals" list on Instagram, so that I don't bombard my blog with pictures of my bullet journal. (I'll still include them occasionally, if they're relevant.) But if you're interested in following along, my goals account is @runsforcookies_bujo. Let me know if you have a bullet journal account so I can follow you! I love looking through others' journals.


April 29, 2018

My Plan to Get Back to My Goal Weight

... AGAIN.

Man, when I look over the last nine years of my weight graph, there are SO many ups and downs. It really does resemble a roller coaster. The first part is the biggest drop, followed by several smaller ones. Thankfully, I haven't even come close to gaining it all back.

After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the gains and losses made a lot of sense. Usually, I'll have one or two hypomanic episodes a year and one or two depressive episodes a year (mostly, it's one and one). My weight has become pretty predictable based on my moods what episode I'm in.

Right now, I feel like I'm in a "mixed state" of bipolar--that is when you have both symptoms of mania and symptoms of depression going on at the same time. It's extremely frustrating, and if it continues, I might have to change up my meds. I see my psychiatrist in May, so we'll talk about it then.

Anyway, I really want to get my weight back down to my "happy" weight range (which is about 130-135). My "magic number" is 133. This morning, my weight was at 147.4, so I'm 14.4 pounds over my goal.

Each time I think I've finally hit a peak and I'm going to stop gaining or start losing again, and stop feeling depressed, it just doesn't happen. So, I'm going to try to make it happen by using the same things I've done before that have helped.

Here is my basic plan:


Count calories. Ugh, I have a love/hate relationship with counting anything. I am guaranteed to lose weight when I count, but it gets to be tedious. All last year, I didn't count a single calorie, and I did really well! I thought I'd be able to live that way forever. But once I started feeling depressed, it's like my body stopped helping me out by telling me when to eat and when not to.

I wrote a whole post about how I used calorie counting to get back to my goal weight, and that is basically what I'm going to do again. Instead of My Fitness Pal, I'm using the Fat Secret app. I like Fat Secret much better.

Like last time (2015), I'm not aiming for a particular calorie goal. I'm going to eat what I feel is a "reasonable" amount of the food that I want most and see what that works out to. Back then, over the course of 15 weeks, it averaged out to 1568 per day--some days I ate much more and some days I ate less. It just depended on what my body was telling me that day.

And like last time, I'm going to have a high-calorie day once a week (NOT a cheat day). I don't believe in "cheat days", because it makes it sound like you're doing something wrong. To me, a high-calorie day involves eating the same VOLUME of food, but choosing more calorically dense foods.

For example, I might order pizza for dinner, which is about 1,000 calories (as opposed to the usual 500 or so I'd eat normally). The volume of food I eat remains the same, but the calories are higher. On those days, I usually end up eating about 2,500 to 3,500 calories.

I feel my best and lose weight my best when I'm eating four times per day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a bedtime treat. People always ask, "Don't you get hungry between meals?" and the short answer is yes. I do get hungry, but I'm not starving. And I think hunger is good! I want to feel hungry when it's time to eat a meal, because the food tastes so much better.

Binge Eating

As far as binge eating, I'm not sure that I've had a true "binge" in a long time. A very long time. I've certainly overeaten to the point where I'm very full, but I don't think the binge definition applied to those situations.

However, I've been revisiting the old Brain Over Binge mentality anyway, to avoid overeating. Brain Over Binge now has a free podcast that explains the whole concept. The podcasts are short, and I listen to 2-3 episodes over a period of 30-minute runs (I listen to podcasts at 1.5x speed). Of course, the book goes into more depth, and I highly recommend it. There is now a recovery guide to go along with it, which I haven't checked out yet--but I will probably buy one to see what it's all about.

In a nutshell: I'm going to be counting calories again, much in the same way that I did in 2015-2016. For all the details, you can check out this post: How I Calorie Counted My Way Back to Goal Weight.


Just like with my weight loss, my running (and exercise in general) has had plenty of ups and downs over the years. I have trained long and slow for marathons, I have trained hard and fast for a 10K PR, and I've done everything in-between. I've been injured and taken time off, I've been injured and stupidly NOT taken time off, I took almost a full year off of running just because I was burnt out on it. I've run for fun, and I've run to burn calories. Hell, I ran in a documentary!

I've even been known to run for cookies ;)

Currently, I'm at the point of running for fitness. Not to be in tip-top shape like I was after 10K training, but to stay healthy and mostly-fit as I approach my 40's(!).

For the last two weeks, I've been running for 30 minutes a day (Monday through Friday). That's IT. I don't even reach three miles in that amount of time! All but one of the runs has been on the treadmill, because when running for just 30 minutes, I honestly kind of like the treadmill. I put on a podcast (I'll share in another post what I've been listening to) and run at an easy 5.0-5.1 mph pace until I reach 30 minutes.

I am thoroughly enjoying this way of exercising right now. It all started with a conversation with my good childhood friend, Lance, when he came over a few weeks ago. He recently became a dad, and his schedule changed quite a bit.

When we were kids, his (affectionate) nickname was "Chubs" because he was, well, chubby. (Looking back, that was a terrible nickname--but because his friends were the ones saying it, and he laughed about it, we thought it was okay.)

As he got older, he slimmed out quite a bit--and he admitted it wasn't in a healthy way for a while. He wasn't diagnosed with an eating disorder, but from what he described, I believe he was anorexic. But now he is at a good weight for his height (still on the slim side, for sure, but in a healthy range). And yes, I got his permission to post about this.

While he was at his thinnest, I was at my heaviest-at-the-time in college:

So now, he eats healthy foods--not too much or too little, and he avoids sweets as much as possible by simply not buying them. I had the hardest time comprehending this--he has a huge sweet tooth just like me, and I never would have guessed that!

See? Two peas in a pod, eating frosting.

And as for exercise, he said that he goes to the gym before work (at 5:00 am!) to do 30 minutes of cardio--whatever he feels like doing that day. Maybe the treadmill, the elliptical, the bike, whatever. It's so very simple! I realized that as close as Lance and I were, we never really had a conversation about his story.

I love this picture from when we were two! We recreate it occasionally; the second photo was obviously from my wedding.

I was very inspired while listening to this (and asking him a trillion questions--"But HOW do you not buy sweets?!"). The simplicity of just eating without putting too much thought into everything and exercising 30 minutes Monday through Friday sounded really appealing to me. Jerry thought the same thing, so we started calling it "The Lance Diet", hahaha. He doesn't count calories, but I think I need to do it, at least for a while, until I re-learn what portions my body feels best with.


To stay accountable, I'd like to get back to posting my Wednesday Weigh-ins again. It was really discouraging, because the scale was just going up and up and I stopped weighing myself much at all. I would also like to keep up with my bullet journal as a tracker, because I find it so fun to work on! It's definitely more of a hobby than a chore for me, so the bullet journal will help. I'll share some of my pages here, if that interests anyone.

Some of the goals in my habit tracker are to work toward my 40 Goals Before I Turn 40 Years Old list.


I'm still trying to avoid drinking as much as possible, but I'm not at the point of quitting completely. Logically, I KNOW that it's best to quit--alcohol basically counteracts my mood stabilizer, which can send me into hypomania or depression very easily. Basically, anything that alters one's mood can do that--including caffeine!

The alcohol has been a challenge, because it's such a social thing. I have no problem when I'm just at home doing my usual things, but going out with friends or having friends over here makes me want to be like them and enjoy a few drinks. On Saturday, for example, I'm having a couple of friends and their families over for Cinco de Mayo, and of course I want to make margaritas!

So, my plan is to work on cutting back more and more, until I drink only on very special/rare occasions or even get to the point where I can quit completely.

Mental Health

Because my mental health plays a large role in my weight loss/gain/loss/gain, I am going to continue my journey toward being my happiest self. I want to do the things that make my happy, make the decisions that are best for ME (and my family), and not worry about what others think or have to say about it.

Ever since I had that breakthrough in therapy about a year ago, I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted from me. I don't have to try to be someone I'm not, pretend to enjoy things that I don't, do things I don't want to do, etc., just to please other people. I am comfortable speaking my mind, even if it causes conflict.

This has greatly reduced my anxiety, which has reduced/eliminated my binge eating.


Finally, I want to blog more. I always feel good when I write, but lately, I just haven't felt like I've had much to write about. I included a suggestions form on my blog, which can be found here, so if there is something you want me to write about or a burning question you don't mind my answering on the blog, please feel free! I won't use your name.

Actually, I've done a ton of revamping on my blog recently; so, if you find yourself bored, you can always peruse the tabs at the top of the blog.

To sum it all up, my plan to get back to my goal weight is:

  • Count calories without a particular calorie goal in mind
  • Eat four times per day, what I consider a "modest" portion
  • Eat what I want most (listen to my body)
  • Run 30 minutes a day on the treadmill (aim for 5 times a week, but I'd settle for 3-4 times)
  • Stay accountable by posting weigh-ins again
  • Limiting/avoiding alcohol
  • Blog more frequently

And there you have it! Let's hope that sometime in the next 2-3 months, I'll see my goal weight again.

April 24, 2018

A Tutorial for How to Draw Outlines in Your Bullet Journal

The last time I posted a photo of my bullet journal page that shows the map of the United States (where I color in the states that I've visited), I had several people ask me how to do it. I promised a tutorial, and since I was going to put it in a new book anyways, I took some photos to explain. It's very easy!

No, I didn't draw it freehand--I wish I was that good! I used the same technique that I used when I painted the sign for John and Ric's house. You basically just make your own carbon paper with a pencil...

First, print out a map outline of the United States. I used this one, and printed it at 100% size. You can adjust the size based on the size of your journal.

Then, turn it over and using a pencil, shade the entire back of the map, like this:

When you shade in the whole back, turn it back over so that the map is facing up. Carefully set it on your journal in the spot that you want the map outline.

I use a few tiny pieces of scotch tape to hold it in place (you don't have to do that, but it keeps the paper from shifting while you're outlining).

Once you have the map where you want it, use a ballpoint pen to trace the entire map.

I stupidly used a black pen over black printer ink, so you can't see very well what you've already traced--I would use a different color pen so you can be sure to trace the whole thing. I missed a few lines, which was annoying to have to fix later.

You want to press firmly with the pen, so you may want to place some paper under the journal page you're working on so it doesn't indent the pages underneath. You don't have to press super hard, though--it'll transfer pretty easily as long as you shaded in the back of the paper well.

Once you've traced the entire map with the pen, carefully remove the printed map, and you should see an outline from the graphite of the pencil. Then, just use your marker to trace over the graphite!

See? Super easy.

To answer some other questions about my bullet journal...

I'm not super into the bullet journaling stuff like some people are--people make AMAZING pages (just search Pinterest, and you'll be floored!). So, I don't have all the fancy tools that people use. My materials consist of: markers, colored pencils, a regular old #2 pencil, an eraser, a ruler, a stencil for circles (always hard to freehand), and White-Out (for all the mistakes! haha).

As for the specifics (Amazon affiliate links):

(And no, I have no idea how to pronounce the brands of the journal or the markers!)

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