February 17, 2019

Trash to Treasure: How I've Been Utilizing Facebook Marketplace to Makeover Our Home

This winter has just been flying by. It's kind of crazy to me that we started working on our DIY home makeover back in August, and it is now mid-February. I honestly thought we'd be done by October or November! But one thing leads to another and another, and the list just keeps growing.

I am dying to take some "after" photos of the whole renovation, but the main thing we have left to do is the baseboards on the floor. (We also want to do a backsplash, but I'm not concerned with that right now). I've been dreading and procrastinating the baseboards because of all the miter cuts we'll have to make, but my brother has the tools we need to do the cuts and the trim nailer, so I'm hoping to get it done this week.

Most of the things we've bought for our home makeover have been preowned or repurposed in some way. I've used LOTS of paint to update things--the guys at Sherwin Williams are very familiar with my face by now--and I've utilized Facebook Marketplace to get furniture or decorative items that I just don't want to buy new.

Check out these bar stools I bought for $60 (for the pair)!

They are very nice quality and look brand new. They are black with gray cushions, which match perfectly in the dining room. I had been searching for a few months for the right stools, and I even went to a couple of stores looking for them. I just couldn't justify spending $150 per stool at the store, however! Especially for ones that I didn't love. These ones are perfect.

As I mentioned already, I bought my living room furniture from Facebook Marketplace. There was the crazy coincidence of finding my orange mid-century modern sofa and chair ($300 and $100 respectively, and completely worth it considering the quality of the pieces). 

And then the other sofa that I managed to get for $50, not even realizing until I brought it home that it's a Sherrill brand! Again, a top quality piece that is super comfy (I'm sitting on it now). (How does Estelle wind up in so many of my photos?! hahaha)

One of my favorite finds was a console/bench from Pottery Barn. First, I had NO idea just how expensive Pottery Barn is until I looked this up ($600). I had been looking for a bench for our shoes/hats/gloves by the front door. I paid $60 for it. 

Well, when I got this home, I just realized I couldn't possibly "waste" it by using it for that purpose! It was too nice. Instead, we included it in the living room, where it fits right under the window. We keep our "ugly" stuff in there--the cable modem and router, remote controls, etc. 

This isn't the greatest quality picture, but it's nice--trust me!

Speaking of Pottery Barn, I also bought an amazing PB orange wool rug for $50. The original receipt was included and it was $329.

I bought a very nice floor lamp to replace our cheap-looking Walmart one that we've had probably 10 years. This one is very heavy and solid. I love it! I don't have a photo of this handy.

I've also been selling items on Facebook Marketplace, and I really wish I'd thought to do it a long time ago. I love that I get to call the shots--"here is the price, and you can pick it up at this location at this time". I always meet in a public spot, but the people I've "met", even for the short interactions, have been wonderful. It's even helping me to become less shy, which is a shocker. 

Yesterday, I listed Eli's Pokemon cards for $50 (not having any clue what they were worth) and immediately I got several messages with people who want them. I was shocked! So he is pretty excited to get that money. The cards had been sitting in his closet for a few years.

I've made several hundred dollars from selling a coffee table, ottoman, a couple of clocks and paintings, a Keurig, an Instant Pot, a cat tree, and probably some more things I'm forgetting. It's nice to get the money from selling stuff and then use it for things we need or want for the home makeover.

I had been looking for a chandelier and some lighting fixtures for months, and I was checking Lowe's for clearance ones. I just couldn't find any. Even on Facebook Marketplace. FINALLY, I was at Lowe's last week and saw that they were clearancing out several floor models that had already been marked down (one chandelier was regularly $189, then on clearance for $90-ish--then the floor model was marked down to $38! I bought it and three other fixtures that matched--all three for less than $80.

Unfortunately, when we hung the chandelier, I really didn't like it. It just wasn't my style. So, I returned those and bought some simple fixtures that I absolutely love. I had $90 worth of store credit at Menards, so they didn't cost anything out of pocket. It's funny, my kids kept exclaiming how much they love them.

Speaking of my kids, I was organizing my closet the other day and I came across this list that Noah wrote a long time ago. I searched my blog to see if I had written about it, and I did! Here is the post where I explained it. But if you don't want to click over--Noah was on an HGTV kick when he was eight years old, and he was always telling us the things that were "dated" in our house. So, he wrote a list of what we needed to do:

Hahaha! I doubt that the slightly eclectic look I'm choosing now is what he had in mind, but six years later, he got every single wish on his list! ;) 

February 11, 2019

Crispy Potato Halves (Recipe)

Crispy Potato Halves (recipe)

My husband and I are OBSESSED with these potatoes! They take a long time to bake, but the prep time is minimal and when you have the time, they are more than worth it. The perfect side dish!

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Crispy Potato Halves

For each serving:

1 (5 oz) potato
1 tsp. olive oil
dash salt
dash pepper
dash garlic powder
dash onion powder
dash chili powder

Preheat oven to 350.  Slice potato in half length-wise.  Stab the flat side of the potato a few times with a knife. Spread 1/2 tsp oil on the flat side of each half, and sprinkle with the spices. Turn the halves face down onto a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serve with ketchup or sour cream and chives.

February 09, 2019

Sobriety Musings: My History With Alcohol and What I've Learned in 39 Days Sober

My history with alcohol and what I've learned in the last 39 days without.

Holy smokes, have I been a lazy blogger! I didn't realize until just now that it's been over a week since my last post. I had no idea what to really write about, so I thought I'd give an update on my "Dry 2019" personal challenge (no alcohol for the entire year).

It feels kind of odd to call this "sobriety", because when I hear that word, I immediate think of an alcoholic who is in recovery. However, when I looked up the meaning of sobriety, it read: "The act of being sober". Haha! So, I looked up sober, and it's simply: "Not affected by alcohol; not drunk".

So, by definition, I am in sobriety. Sober.

When I started this personal challenge, I didn't think of myself as an alcoholic; when I picture an alcoholic, Frank Gallagher is the first thing that pops into my mind, haha. Of course, he is on the extreme end of the alcoholic spectrum. Since I was nothing at all like that, the term alcoholic didn't seem to apply to me.

Is there a spectrum? I've come to believe there is. Stone cold sober is at one end, and Frank Gallagher is at the other (Frank is a character on the show Shameless, if you've not seen it). For the first week of sobriety, I wondered exactly where I fell on that spectrum.

And honestly, I still don't know. I was never physically dependent on alcohol (and I'm grateful for that!). However, I've been thinking... for me to want to have thought of this challenge, alcohol had to have played a pretty important (negative) roll in my life. Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing it!

Today, I am 39 days sober and counting. Being sober for this long has given me some "Aha!" moments about my use of alcohol. I'll try and sum up some of it here. First, some background:

I had always been what most people refer to as a "social drinker"--having a few drinks at parties, basically. My first drink was when I was 17--apple pucker schnapps (ohhhh, how gross when I think of it now!)--and I didn't drink again until college. I lived in a dorm, and like most freshmen, we had parties fairly frequently.

I got married a couple of years later, in 2003, and then pregnant a couple of months after that, which meant no drinking for a long time. Nine months after having Noah, I was pregnant with Eli. So, I had gone pretty much two years without drinking at all.

Once I was done having kids and parties were few and far between, I didn't drink much. In 2009, my friend Renee and I started a wine club for our girlfriends, where we would meet once a month to sample several different types of wine. I was NOT a fan of wine at the time, but I liked the idea of trying different kinds to see if there was one I liked.

Eventually, I really started to like it--the "acquired taste" that drinkers tell non-drinkers will happen if they continue to try it. Once I started to enjoy it, I began to include it in my diet regimen. I would save my Weight Watchers points for a 5-6 oz glass and a piece of chocolate nearly every day. It was never a problem.

Then, in 2014, my anxiety got REALLY bad. I was getting several not-so-nice comments on my blog, and just the thought of writing a blog post made me feel sick. I wrote a whole post about it: Freeing Myself of the Anxiety from Social Media. That post explains it in detail.

Anyway, I got in the habit of pouring a glass of wine when I sat down to write a blog post. It wasn't unusual to finish the bottle of wine by the time I was done writing (believe it or not, writing a blog post, even a very simple one, takes me several hours--I have been working on this one for three days now, hahaha). The wine quieted the anxiety that was sure to skyrocket when I clicked "Publish" on my post.

Since then, I've gone back and forth from drinking a lot to not drinking much at all. For most of 2017, I hardly drank anything--I was very happy after my bipolar diagnosis and starting the proper bipolar medication, and I had no desire to drink at all. (I do want to mention here that bipolar and addiction go hand-in-hand; it's rare to find someone with bipolar who doesn't have an addiction of some sort--alcohol, food, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex, etc.)

Toward the end of the year, however, I had a lot of emotional stuff going on (mainly from worrying about Jerry and some other family stuff) and I used alcohol to relieve the stress. I found that when I drank, I could numb the uncomfortable feelings for a while. I didn't think of it as a problem, because I wasn't dependent on it, I wasn't day drinking, and I wasn't getting "drunk". It just made me feel happier for a few hours.

Sometime in 2018, I started drinking more out of habit than anything else. When working on the house for days on end, I'd have a few beers while sanding, painting, sawing, etc. Or I'd pour a glass of wine when I sat down at the end of a long day.

And even though I wasn't getting drunk, I would wake up in the mornings feeling crappy. I'm clearly not 21 years old anymore, and the older I get, the side effects of drinking get worse (I've listed the details in this post). I decided that I should probably quit before it became a "real" problem.

Even though I wasn't physically addicted, I found it so hard to quit! I hadn't realized it, but somewhere along the way, it became a significant part of my life.

So, in November of 2018, I started thinking about going for a full year without drinking in order to see if I felt better. I was hoping for less mood shifts, better sleep, less anxiety, no depression, and several other things. I could have chosen 30 days, or 90 days, or some other number, but I didn't think that was enough time to truly see what sort of role alcohol played in my life.

In order to make sure that I would stick with it, I announced here on my blog as well as on my personal Facebook page. I thought announcing it to my friends on Facebook would be the easiest way to explain why I wouldn't be drinking if we go out or have a get together or whatever. And I have to say, if I hadn't been so public, I certainly would have quit within the first week!

The first few days weren't bad, simply because I was excited about doing something new. However, the next few weeks were very tough! Here is what I learned:


  The main reason I would drink (other than in social situations) was to relieve stress and/or anxiety. In sobriety, I am still having a very hard time finding other ways to relieve stress and relax. Maybe one day, I can be one of those people who exercises, takes a hot bath, or drinks tea for stress relief, but I'm not there yet.

  I found myself substituting food for alcohol. I may not be consuming calories from alcohol, but I definitely made up for that with food. (I'm doing better with that now, for the past week or so--eating a planned snack and sticking to small portions).

  I find myself feeling like something is missing. I'm sure this will go away with time, but because drinking while in particular circumstances had become such an ingrained habit, it's going to take a while to feel fulfilled while sober. It's no longer an option for quick stress relief. And God help me when I get on a plane to travel in a couple of months! 

  When friends post photos of them drinking, I feel like I'm missing out. Like I said before, though, I think I'm just romanticizing the idea of it rather than the act itself.


  My quality of sleep has improved drastically. I don't wake up during the night anymore, and I can't explain how huge this is for me. I used to wake up multiple times a night, tossing and turning. Now, I sleep for about six hours and even though that isn't the "ideal" eight hours we are told to aim for, my body is well rested because of the quality of sleep.

  I have a lot more energy in the mornings. Instead of waking up to my alarm and then dreading getting out of bed to start the day, I usually wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 (my alarm is set for 6:00 on school days) and I have no problem getting out of bed right away.

  I've been more active in the evenings. I find myself feeling antsy after dinner and the anxiety starts to build, so I have been working on any sort of project I can think of to keep my mind and body occupied. I have been organizing several areas of my house, and I really like how "neat" everything is when I am done.

I even made a pretty fun wall clock (it's a chalkboard!) and I'm working on a cat "hotel"--Hotel Catifornia (Jerry's name for it, haha). It's not as big of a deal as it sounds--it's literally just an old book shelf that I painted and cut windows in. Basically a slightly-glorified triple story cat bed. I will post pictures when I'm done with it.

Here is the wall clock I made, though. It's about six feet in diameter!

huge chalkboard wall clock

  Sex. (Mom, if you're reading, skip this part). Wine was always my go-to for feeling sexy and getting in the mood. I've never had much of a libido, and I was so sure that quitting drinking would make it non-existent and sex would be boring. However, I found the opposite to be true. For some real TMI, I will just state that orgasms are much better and last longer. 🙈

  I've mentioned before that I used to get super bloated sometimes for reasons unknown (and that is why I experimented with intermittent fasting). Since I stopped drinking, I haven't gotten that uncomfortable bloated feeling even once! This is the most significant change for me. Alcohol didn't always make me feel bloated, which is why I never put two and two together. But now that I haven't had any issues with severe bloating, I don't really think it's a coincidence.

  Finally, and this may just be a coincidence also, but my appetite has decreased (as of a couple of weeks ago). I eat breakfast (toast with cinnamon raisin peanut butter) and then I don't eat again until dinner at four or five o'clock. I don't have any cravings--how weird is that?! Even when I'm physically hungry, it's hard to choose something to eat because I just don't have a big appetite.

Unfortunately, I haven't made progress with my weight, but I think that's because I was substituting food for the alcohol for the first few weeks. Now that I'm no longer doing that, I hope to start seeing some of the 35 pounds I gained last year come off.

  I'm really happy about the example I'm setting for the kids. I'm not anti-drinking (in moderation), but I want them to see that it's okay NOT to drink, too.

So, it's been 39 days and this is how it's going so far. Per the suggestion from about a dozen readers, I got the book This Naked Mind. I'm about 3/4 of the way through it, and I really like it!

After a couple of chapters, I even got out a highlighter--something I never do--and highlighted things that stuck out to me. Maybe I will write a review when I'm done with it. I do find it to be very repetitive, however, so I'm having a hard time finishing the last little bit of it. Even after this year is over, I don't think I'll ever see alcohol the same way again, thanks to the book.

I realize that the musings of 39 days of sobriety isn't exactly super insightful, but as part of this experiment, I wanted to document any changes I notice in sobriety along the way. I certainly don't feel like one of those people who is clearly "high on life" and is practically bursting at the seams with a sober, happy existence, sans alcohol--maybe that will come in time, who knows?--but I have definitely noticed some very positive changes. Hopefully there is more to come! :)

(Several people have asked if I will drink again when this experiment is over. It's way too early for me to say! Right now, I'm just committed to a year.)

I'm going to try to post a few times this week. I really don't want to get in the habit of only posting once a week or so. I'm very nervous about posting this, because it's such a personal thing to share, but I'm sure there are people who probably have a lot of the same things going on. It's always nice not to feel alone!

Have a great weekend, Friends!

January 31, 2019

Why Is Losing Weight So Important, Anyway?

I found this post hiding in my "drafts" folder. I wrote it about a year ago, and I remember choosing not to publish it just yet because it sounded much more serious than I was intending. I had been going through photos when I realized that I knew my approximate weight in each photo over the last couple of decades as well as how insecure I was feeling when the picture was taken.

It hit me hard: Why is losing weight so damn important?!

I thought it was kind of funny at just how important my weight had been for pretty much my entire life. So, I wrote this post about it. I found just how hard it was to explain these thoughts, and I ended up saving the post for another day. In reading it recently, I still have all the same thoughts--even though my weight is 30 pounds higher than it was when I wrote it. Anyway, here goes...

So, I've been "maintaining" my weight loss for, oh, eight or so years now (I put "maintaining" in quotes because you all know that my weight varies by, I don't know, 30 freaking pounds).

For the last couple of years, while doing a fair share of people watching, I've found myself wondering, "At what point in our society did losing the weight and being thin become so important, anyway? Who decided what size is aesthetically 'good' or 'not good'? If I was never told that I was fat, and I grew up around people of all different sizes, would I still desire to lose weight?"

Throughout my entire life, I dreamed of being thin. Like, literally--I went to sleep at night and had angelic dreams that I was pocket-sized and adorable. I spent time--so much time--during my life reading endless magazine articles, books, websites, blogs, and everything else about weight loss that I could get my hands on. I devoured success stories as if they were scoops of premium ice cream.

All with the hope of becoming thin.

If I added up all of the time I spent thinking about losing weight, planning on losing weight, calculating weight loss numbers, praying I'd lose weight, cooking to lose weight, going to weight loss meetings, writing down meal plans to lose weight, and/or any of the other things having to do with weight loss, it would probably add up to about 36-1/2 years. (I just turned 37 on Friday.)

When I was a teenager, I wanted a boyfriend. So badly. And I just "knew" that I couldn't have a boyfriend until I lost weight. So rather than meet and talk to boys, I planned on how I was going to lose weight so that I could meet and talk to boys.

In college, I wanted to fit in with my roommates. I wanted to borrow clothes and go to parties that only thin girls were allowed to go to (maybe they welcomed girls of all sizes, but I would never find that out). Instead of going to parties with my friends, I planned on how I was going to lose weight so that I could go to parties with my friends.

In my 20's, I didn't want to be the "fat friend". I wanted to go out with my girlfriends and not be the invisible one. I wanted to dance and feel "hot" in cute clothes, and be funny, outgoing, and likable. Instead, I remained a wallflower who made all the plans of doing those things when I got thin.

Now, I'm in my mid-30's (or, at 37, is it late-30's? Let's go with mid-), I am finding myself wondering more and more frequently why being thin is so damned important.

I have overweight friends who are funny, likable, very pretty, and outgoing. You don't have to be thin to be any of those things.

I see couples (typically at weddings) who are "fat and happy"--somewhat overweight, laughing, dancing, eating cake, having a great time. And it makes me wonder why I never felt like that was good enough. Why did I insist on spending so much time worrying about losing weight before I could be happy?

If I could go back in time, would I do it all differently? I like to think that I would. I would still have liked to lose the weight to be more able-bodied and healthy, but did I really have to set specific weight goals, count every Weight Watcher Point or calorie, and turn down some really yummy foods to get just a few pounds thinner? Nope. I wish I had learned in the beginning that it just doesn't matter that much.

Yet, after all of this, I admit that being thin is still important to me.

I know, right?

I almost feel ashamed to admit it after I wrote all of the above. I wish I was one of those people that could say "weight is just a number, it doesn't mean anything".

To be honest, I feel my best when I am at my healthy goal weight range of 130-135. I feel prettier when I am thinner. I feel more confident. And as sad as it is, I feel more worthy. (I'm not saying this is how it should be--it's just the honest truth of how I feel.)

When I see overweight women, I don't look at them and think that they are ugly or insecure or less worthy. I don't feel like they "need" to lose weight, or that they "should" lose weight. Maybe they don't even want to lose weight! So, it doesn't make any sense to me why I should feel any differently about myself.

Over the last four years or so, though, I have certainly gotten more relaxed about it all (in stages). I no longer read weight loss books or magazine articles. I don't watch The Biggest Loser (is that even on TV anymore?) while eating a pint of ice cream and planning to start my diet tomorrow. I don't obsessively plan on how I'm going to lose weight and write out all the numbers. I refuse to try trendy diets. I eat cake at celebrations--a corner piece with gobs of frosting if I can get one.

That is not to say that I don't care about my weight. I'm sure it's clear from my blog that I am unhappy with my recent weight gain and I really want to take it off--even if I only take off half of it! I spend much more time thinking about it than I would like. It's impossible not to be hyperaware after having lost this much weight and having it so ingrained in my thoughts. But it isn't the center of my life anymore. (Also evidenced by the topics I write about on my blog shifting further away from weight loss.)

This post is all over the place... do I want to be thin? Do I want to be fat and happy? WHAT, Katie, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT? (I've taken my bipolar meds today, I swear.)

I want to be balanced. I want to find and maintain a weight range that isn't a big struggle. I want to eat the foods I love, even if it means weighing a couple pounds more that I prefer. I want to be able to exercise and be active without obsessing over it. I want to be able to eat reasonable portion sizes without weighing, measuring, and looking up how many calories are in my food. I want to be happy with my clothing size, whether that's a 4 or 14, or anything in between. I want to stop worrying about gaining back all the weight.

I want to feel secure and that I'm good enough just the way I am.

Will I be able to have all these things? Well, I'm always hopeful! I'm (forever) working on them, and I usually learn quite a bit from my mistakes in the past. I do wish I hadn't wasted so much of my life obsessing over weight loss, though. With the exception of a couple of extremes (being overweight to the point where it negatively affects one's health, for example), losing weight just isn't that important (in my opinion).

Now, I just have to work on truly believing that.

There is no rush. There is no finish line.

There is no "right" weight to aim for. I will have setbacks. I will have to adjust things as I get older and wiser. I will have to remind myself every day that there is so much more to life than being thin and we don't need to be thin to experience those things!

January 26, 2019

Reverse Heart Rate Training

I just made up the term "reverse heart rate training" because I wasn't really sure what to call the little experiment I've been doing.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I wanted to get back into a good exercise habit--ideally, running 3+ times per week, even if only for 30 minutes. I chose to follow my own Base Building training plan, a running plan meant for new (or returning) runners who haven't been running regularly and need to build up a base before training for a race or adding speed work.

Building a base is actually very important. According to the RRCA (who I have my running coach certification from) a solid base is when you've run 300-500 miles. By running regularly, and building up mileage slowly, your legs adapt to the stress from running and get stronger for next time. If you try to do too much too soon, your performance won't be optimal and risk of injury is high.

In the beginning, running even one mile at first seems SO intimidating, but by building up a base, eventually that one mile will feel like an easy walk in the park. When I first started running, there was no way that I ever would have believed I'd one day run 26.2 miles. When I did my 12, 14, 16+ mile training runs for my marathons, running a mile was barely a warm-up!

When you're first starting out, though, it feels like it will take an eternity to get to that point. Right now, I feel like I am a true beginner again. Well, a little step up from that, actually--I knew I could run three miles, even if it was super slow.

The Base Building training plan starts at 30 minutes, 3 times per week, so I thought it would be a good way to ease back into running regularly. There isn't any speed work; it's all easy running, which is SUPER important.

A quick explanation of low heart rate training:

When I was training to run a personal best in the 10K (November 2015 to April 2016), I experimented with low heart rate training. My goal overall was to run my easy runs at a truly easy pace; to do that, I used my heart rate monitor. I had to keep my heart rate under 146 (180 bpm minus my age, which was then 34).

At the time, this was slow for me. It was about an 11:00/mile pace, and I did this for 80% of my time spent running. The other 20% was spent doing intervals or tempo runs. And you know what? I ran my fastest 10K time (49:03), despite training at such a slow pace.

What happens is that your cardiovascular system gets more efficient as you run at a lower heart rate. When starting out, your pace might be 13:00/mile when keeping your heart rate low, but as you train, you will eventually get faster while keeping your heart rate the same. So after several months, you may be running an 11:00/mile pace while maintaining that same heart rate.

Running at that heart rate feels very easy (as it should, because it's for "easy" runs) and it helps build endurance. Doing the speed work for 20% of the time spent running per week is what makes us faster overall, but it's the 80% of the time spent doing easy runs that help us to maintain that pace for an entire race. (I highly recommend reading 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald for more info on that method.)

So, in a nutshell, low heart rate training is when you keep your heart rate at or below a particular number (I like to use Dr. Phil Maffetone's formula of 180 minus one's age), and train regularly at that heart rate. Eventually, you will get faster while maintaining that same heart rate, improving your endurance.

So, what the heck is "reverse" heart rate training?

This is not an actual training method that I'm aware of; it's just something that I decided to experiment with, mostly to keep from getting bored with training. When I have a purpose for running, like this little experiment, I have a different perspective.

Anyway, since I expect to be on the treadmill most of the time this winter (I just don't have the drive to run outside when it's super cold; hopefully I will again someday), I decided to try something different. Instead of running at my low heart rate and allowing my pace to get faster, I have been running at a set speed on the treadmill to see if my heart rate gets lower over time.

I'm super out of shape right now, and even running at 5.0 mph on the treadmill felt tough during my first run of this Base Building training plan (I started on January 15). I didn't think of this "reverse heart rate training" until after that first run, so I didn't maintain that speed the whole time. During the first run, I added a couple of "sprints" at 6.0 mph (and wow, that felt SO hard--I remember when my easy runs were done faster than that).

After seeing how far "off" my Garmin's distance and pace were compared to the treadmill, I knew that heart rate training was going to be hard to monitor. However, doing the reverse (maintaining same speed, and monitoring my heart rate) would work regardless of what my Garmin read. It's not ideal, because easy runs should feel very easy, but I only plan to do this until I run outside again.

For the second run, I set the treadmill at 5.0 mph and didn't touch it during the entire 30 minutes. And I've done that for each subsequent run.

I've only run five times since January 15 (per the schedule) but I already felt much better during the fifth run than I did the first. And my heart rate has gotten lower during each run as well. I wasn't expecting to see much of a difference so quickly, but it's been really interesting to see it actually working.

My average heart rate for the last three runs has decreased--151, 150, and then 147 bpm.

I really wish that my Garmin would be more accurate on the treadmill, but considering all the trials I did with it before, I was never able to get it to read correctly. A lot of it depends on the speed I am running, too.

I know that my treadmill isn't reading correctly, either. The treadmill's timer goes faster than "real time". When 1 minute of real times passes, the treadmill counts it as 60.5 seconds. That doesn't seem like a big deal, but during a 30 minute run, it adds 15 seconds. I always start my Garmin exactly 10 seconds after the treadmill (to allow the treadmill belt to get moving).

So, when I finish a 30-minute run, the timer on the treadmill reads 30:25 (or a little after, because I stop the Garmin first). The timer on the Garmin works correctly, but the distance for treadmill running is off--there is no way that I'm running close to a 13:00/mile pace.

In this photo, for example... I had started the treadmill, and then when it read 00:10, I started my Garmin. (I stopped the treadmill three seconds after stopping the Garmin)

After years of running at all different speeds, I know what general pace I'm running. If the treadmill's distance is correct, then the pace I'm running would be 11:48 (using a correct timer). That's nearly a minute per mile faster than the Garmin reads, and 12 seconds per mile faster than the treadmill reads.

Regardless, I can at least monitor as my heart rate (hopefully) decreases over time while running at the same pace during each run, no matter what pace that is. Once my heart rate is able to stay under 143 (eek! I turned 37 yesterday, so 180 minus my age is now 143 bpm), then I will increase the speed to 5.1 mph for each run. Each time my heart rate is able to stay under 143, then I'll increase the speed again.

And hopefully, by the time spring is here and I start running outside again, I will be in better overall shape. Then, I can go back to doing traditional heart rate training.

I'm starting to think of the running in the same mindset that I have for giving up alcohol. With the alcohol, I just stopped altogether on January 1st, and now there is no question about it--I simply don't drink, no matter what. As for the running, I've started to look at it as something that I will do no matter what. It's only 30 minutes, and if I want to get back to doing it regularly, I have to just suck it up and do it. It feels hard right now, but I know that it gets easier. Eventually, it will be habit that I don't even question.

This new way of monitoring improvement in my fitness feels like enough to keep me interested for a while, at least! Haha

I'm supposed to be in Arizona right now. My flight was yesterday morning, and I was planning on going there to visit my friend, Sarah (whose wedding I attended in 2011). Her birthday is on January 22 and mine is January 25; when we were kids, we lived a couple of houses apart, and we used to celebrate our birthdays together. We thought it would be fun to get together for our birthdays this year.

However, on Thursday morning, she woke up very sick. Her kids have had croup a couple of times this year, and she ended up getting sick the day before my visit. We had planned to go hiking in Sedona, but that would have been miserable for her. So, we ended up canceling the visit. We'll try again another time.

I was looking forward to the warmer weather there! While we had temps in the 40's and 50's here in Michigan a couple of weeks ago, the temps dropped drastically last week. Check out the weather from Monday morning!

The day before, we had gotten dumped on with snow. A ton of it.

I shoveled the driveway three times during the day so that when Jerry got home from work, the driveway would be clear. The snow was coming down hard even while I was shoveling, and it was so windy that the snow was flying in sideways. It was SO cold.

I took this picture to show Jerry what I looked like after shoveling, even though it looks more like I had just gotten done doing a sweaty workout. Instead, I couldn't even feel my toes, my face was stinging, my nose was running horribly, and the snowflakes had embedded in my hair as they melted. You can't tell from the pic, but my hair was actually frozen when I came inside. The wind made my hair go all over the place, even while wearing a hat. We're supposed to get more snow on Monday, too.

In other news, we are almost done installing the new flooring. I love love love it, and I will post pictures as soon as we finish the floor and move the furniture back into place!

January 20, 2019

The Story of Our Home

I've been writing a LOT lately about the DIY renovations I've been doing since August. I've done everything from removing a textured ceiling, taping and mudding drywall, sanding until I developed carpal tunnel (gah!), priming and painting (we've gone through about 17 gallons of paint and 6 gallons of primer!), building countertops, laminating countertops, making an epoxy countertop, building my own island, and a bunch of other stuff.

If you're not into DIY stuff, then I'm sure you've lost interest long ago. For those of you that are, I hope the stories are mildly entertaining, at least. I happen to love seeing others' DIY projects!

Anyway, I've been going through photos so that I can do a large "before and after" type post when we are totally done. And it made me think about all the changes we've made over the years (nothing nearly as big as what we're doing now). It's fun to look at the old pics!

It also gave me the idea to share the story of our home and how we came to live here when we got married. What had been a "starter home" is now where we plan to stay for the foreseeable future.

So, here's the story of our home. We live in a "manufactured home" (a.k.a. trailer, double-wide, whatever you'd like to call it.). Jerry and I usually refer to it as our "house", unless we are frustrated at something that falls apart or needs to be replaced or upgraded, and then we say "trailer", hahaha). I am not knocking trailers--this one has been good to us, and I actually really like it.

When we got married, we bought a plot of land in a neighborhood, picked out the layout and color scheme of our home, and hired a contractor to get our home onto a foundation within a timely manner. We never really thought we'd stay here this long. And we actually put our house up for sale way back in 2005 (we moved here in 2003).

However, I got pregnant with Eli, so we postponed the sale... and then lots of time went by. The housing market had crashed within a year after we bought it, so we would have lost quite a bit of money if we'd sold it.

And now, we really like it here. Our house will be paid off in about four years and the size (about 1600 square feet) is fine for us. I've never had a big desire to have a huge house--I prefer cozy, probably because I grew up in a household of six people in a 1700 square foot ranch. I REALLY love the land plot that we bought, which is my main reason for wanting to stay here.

We live just across from a state land nature preservation (or, as we call it, "the woods"). We see deer, ducks, geese, turtles, squirrels, eagles, beavers, and even a fox or two just across the street. We are a five-minute walk from Lake Erie. We live in a neighborhood (which I prefer to having a large property).

Also, I really like our house. We have looked at others through the years when we've thought about moving, but I couldn't find a layout that I liked as much as what we have now. I love the size of my kitchen and my pantry. I think our home feels intimate, and not too "sterile". I like to think that people feel comfortable coming over.

It's interesting, because Jerry and I are totally cool with living here--we like it. But when we moved in here, the "grown-ups" in our lives kept referring to this as a temporary "starter" home. A lot of people don't understand why we don't want to upgrade to new construction or to find a house with acres of property.

I had a garage sale one time, and this woman who came lived at the tip of the peninsula nearby, so her house was right on the water. I run through that area all the time (or, at least, I used to) and I've never had the desire to live on the lake. I'm just not a lakes/oceans person. Anyway, this woman commented to me about how horrible it must be to live across the street from the woods. She literally shuddered and said, "I don't know why anyone would want to live here instead of on the water".

I'm not joking. How rude! Her comment was very ignorant, so it didn't bother me. And seriously... how pretty are the sunsets?

Jerry and I were basically kids when we moved in here. We got married in August 2003--I was 21 and Jerry was 22. We lived with my parents until December 2003, when our house was finally ready to move in. At 21 years old, I knew NOTHING about keeping house. (And when I'd chosen to get a manufactured home instead of build, it was just simpler.)

In choosing the layout and materials and all that for the manufactured home, I didn't think to ask about upgrades. I did upgrade the roof pitch (at my cousin's suggestion) so that it was higher and didn't look so much like a trailer. After living here for several years, we started to notice more and more the poor quality of materials that were used.

I've always been very thrifty, as you've probably noticed from my blog. I rarely buy new clothes (I love Salvation Army!), "garage saleing" is a verb in my family, I borrow library books instead of buying books, I buy used furniture, and I'm just generally very aware of costs.

I pick and choose where to spend money--I may only buy used clothes, and I always pick up a penny when I find one on the ground, but I did spend over $200 on a set of Brooklinen bedding. (COMPLETELY worth it! If you want a $25 coupon, you can use this link; it will also give me a $25 coupon for referring you, so you will be my best friend). People choose how to spend their money, buying what is important to them, and I don't judge that at all.

Anyway, we've always wanted to make improvements on the house. There are SO many things I wish we'd have done differently when we moved in, but we were young and stupid, and had no clue what we were doing.

Now, we are seeing all the problems that occur when living in a manufactured home--nothing is standard! The doors, the faucets, window sizes, and even the WALLS are different from a standard stick-built home. So, finding replacement parts through the years has been challenging, to say the least.

As we've been giving our house a makeover recently, we've discovered several things we can do that we didn't think we were able to. Like our bedroom doors, for example. I have always HATED that we have a huge gap underneath the doors--2 inches! (As you can see below, having toddlers meant there was no hope for a sex life, hahaha)

A couple of months ago, I started digging deep into why those gaps are necessary. And you know what? I learned that they aren't! If we have another form of cold air return to the furnace (like any house needs, not just trailers),  then we don't have to have giant gaps under the doors. So, we bought some door slabs from Lowe's to finally hang new bedroom doors (and they were cheap, like $35 a piece!).

And I love them! The doors alone made a huge difference in the overall look. We have a couple more to do (Eli's room needs a new door frame, so that's a bigger project). I really wish I'd done this years ago.

Our house isn't anything amazing or breathtaking or whatever. But it has character. My doctor probably could have diagnosed my bipolar simply by walking through my house, hahaha. I'm a little eclectic and I like color, so my taste is spread throughout ;) But the most important thing is that Jerry and I like it, because we've chosen this to be our home.

That said, we definitely have hideous taste in décor. When I was looking through photos, I couldn't stop cringing! But with the changes we've made over the last five months, I love love love the new look. Whether it's what's "in" or not, we make decisions based on what we like and what is practical for us at the time. Even if we cringe about it later! ;)

And now that we've been making improvements on the inside, changes that make us feel excited about, we are proud to call it our home. Once we are finished with the current renovation, I will post photos to see the whole "after" effect. It's pretty dramatic!

January 19, 2019

An Epoxy Nightmare

A nightmare, literally. I have had several dreams that I am stressing out over the stupid epoxy. The last I wrote regarding the epoxy countertop that I made, I had finished with the first coat and it looked great! I was very happy with it. I just had to wait to get a second gallon of it because the first gallon wasn't enough.

Apparently, the story wasn't over and I'd spoken (much) too soon!

I ordered the epoxy last week, and in the meantime, I worked on getting everything else done so that all we have left is the flooring (and a couple of other things that can wait). The island counter has been a bit stressful (in a fun, learning experience kind of way), but it's finally done and ready to attach to the island.

I shared photos of the island countertop after we'd put the first gallon of epoxy on it. When I ordered the first gallon, I had measured the counter out very well and ordered one gallon based on a square footage chart on the manufacturer's website. Because we changed our plans from using nickels to using the vintage-looking cards, we didn't have enough epoxy (the nickels would have taken up more space). But since the first gallon went smoothly, I simply ordered another and waited to finish it off.

When the second gallon got here three days later, I followed the instructions for adding another layer of epoxy. I sanded the previous layer, wiped it with acetone, and prepared to mix the epoxy. I cleaned the bathroom really well so that there weren't any pet hairs or fibers floating around (we're keeping the island counter in the bathroom with a space heater because the air temp must be 75+ for 72 hours while curing).

I mixed up the epoxy just like I had before, and I poured it on. A lot of it wound up on the floor, because it flows over the sides to self-level to 1/8 inch (thankfully, I'd laid out plastic to catch the excess epoxy). However, I must have started heavy handed when pouring one side, because I ran out by the time I got to the other end of the counter.

This epoxy self-levels to 1/8 of an inch, no matter what you do to it. You cannot spread it around--it's VERY odd when you're applying it. It kind of looks like you're trying to mix oil and water at a depth of 1/8 inch. The texture is kind of like warm honey. It's super slippery on plastic (or other epoxy) but like superglue to anything else (including skin).

Once the epoxy is mixed, you only have about 20 minutes to remove any air bubbles by skimming a blow torch across the surface--wait any longer, and the epoxy will already be curing. I was panicked about not having enough epoxy to spread to the other side, so I started scooping up the epoxy from the plastic on the floor with my hands and drizzling it in the gaps on the countertop. Meanwhile, the plastic I was walking on became SO SLIPPERY (imagine a Slip 'n Slide with oil all over it) and I was trying to maneuver in the cramped bathroom, picking up epoxy and drizzling it on the countertop.

Because of the space heater, my face was pouring sweat and I was trying to keep any sweat from dripping onto the epoxy. My hands and feet were completely coated in epoxy, so anything I touched was going to get epoxy on it. I grabbed an old towel to wipe my hands enough to use the torch to pop bubbles.


I was going through matches by the handful, lighting and relighting the blow torch. I was able to light it long enough to pop a few bubbles at a time, so I just repeated that as much as I could. When I was satisfied, I grabbed the towel and as I was maneuvering out of the bathroom, I dropped the towel onto the epoxy.

Lint was embedded into the epoxy all over one end of the counter, and I knew it was hopeless. I took out as much of it as I could, but still, I had to order a third gallon of epoxy. My dad and Jerry kept telling me it looked okay, but I was super disappointed and upset that I screwed it up so badly.

The third gallon of epoxy arrived four days ago, and again, I prepped the counter. I spent a lot of time sanding down the previous layer so that I could remove the little pieces of lint that had gotten stuck on it. I managed to sand it down really well, and I prepared the bathroom to avoid all the issues that had happened before.

I put the counter onto a bench, so that the counter was up higher (easier to work with). I got several rags--some wet, some dry--for whatever I may end up needing. I laid down a huge sheet of plastic underneath the counter and taped it to the floor. I had the epoxy buckets and stirs ready to go. Timer on my phone ready. A spare bottle of fuel for the blow torch (I later discovered that the previous one didn't have enough to stay lit, so this time there were two).

I even put on a Bondiband to keep sweat from falling off my face and onto the table, hahaha.

I felt completely ready. Jerry was on standby with the blow torch while I poured the epoxy. I was careful to pour it more evenly and slowly so that I wouldn't run out. Well, turns out I did run out. I didn't realize just how difficult the self-leveling epoxy would be to work with.

Again, I started scooping from the plastic and drizzling it into the bare spots. Thankfully, I managed to scoop enough and the whole table was covered with the final coat. I was so relieved! Then I called Jerry in there with the blow torch.


He switched out the fuel canister, and still... nothing. He started panicking and called my dad for another canister (my parents live less than a mile away), and my dad started looking for other canisters in his garage. He called our next door neighbor for one--no luck. While he was trying to find a solution, I knew I had pretty much zero time left until the epoxy would start curing beyond repair.

So, I lit a match and held it over some bubbles on the surface, and they popped. For the next 10 minutes or so, I slid all over the place on the slippery plastic, maneuvering in the tight space, lighting match after match after match, popping as many bubbles as I could. I was shocked that it was actually working.

And when I was done, it looked like glass. It was nearly perfect!

I laid a towel on my bedroom floor to step on, and then I closed the bathroom door and left the counter alone. I didn't want to risk opening the door and letting in pet hair, fibers, lint, dust, whatever.

Meanwhile, I was a MESS. I had epoxy all over my arms and legs, hands and feet. According to the instructions, you simply use acetone to remove it. I quickly learned that acetone doesn't work well.

I spent about an hour rubbing at it with acetone (I'm sure I was more flammable than the blow torch at that point, haha). I still wasn't able to get it all off, and everything was sticking to me. There was a very funny moment when I tried to hand Jerry something, and it stuck to my hand. We both laughed about it because it was just like that scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when Clark gets tree sap all over everything.

Like I mentioned before, I think that an awesome idea for a home improvement TV show would be to simply film amateurs who DIY their home improvements (without intervention from an expert). I really wish I had the whole epoxy mess on video, because it would be hilarious to watch now that I know it turned out okay.

The next morning, I didn't hear the hum of the space heater. I went into the bathroom, and it had TURNED OFF overnight. It's crucial to maintain a temp of 75+ F for 72 hours, or else the epoxy will turn opaque with thousands of minuscule bubbles. I turned the heater back on and hoped for the best. After all I did to make the countertop, I would have been horrified for it to be ruined beyond repair simply because the heater turned off.

Several hours later, it shut off again. (We really need to quit borrowing things from my dad! haha) We brought in a propane heater, but I was nervous to use it (even though it's meant for indoor use). I turned that on just for a while to let the electric heater "rest". That seemed to have done the trick, because the electric heater didn't shut off again after that.

Last night, we hit the 72 hour mark. And thankfully, the countertop looks good!

I feel like I was well prepared to do this project, but I didn't anticipate not having enough epoxy (seriously, the company needs to change that chart!), the blow torch not working, and the space heater turning off. Let me say, if you ever do a project with epoxy, 1) Choose a different brand of epoxy, one that is not self-leveling; and 2) Prepare for the worst case scenario and have a ton of back-up items on hand.

So, it was an epoxy nightmare but I actually look back on it and don't feel bad about it. It was a learning experience and it makes for an entertaining story ;)

In other news, Jerry and I were able to order the flooring this month! We'd hoped to have gotten it a few months ago, but we had several unexpected expenses and then Christmas, so we had to put it off until now.

This project is entirely Jerry's. He installed our bathroom floor (vinyl planks) and he did a great job. So, I promised him I won't say a single word about how he chooses to do things, even if I would do them differently ;)  I am going to trust that he will figure everything out and hopefully we will have a new floor next week. This is our renovation's biggest expense by far, so I am really nervous about it. Jerry is nervous, too, but only because he doesn't want me to get upset if he messes something up.

Me? Upset? It's like he doesn't even know me. ;)

It made me laugh, because after the island countertop fiasco (my doing) I have no right to get mad, no matter what happens with this flooring. (I really am confident that he's going to do a great job, though.)

Anyway, I did run a couple of times this week, like promised (tomorrow is the end of the first week of the Base Building plan). Still no alcohol. And I worked on another project while I was waiting for the epoxy to cure. But this post is so long already... I'll save it for another day (tomorrow, hopefully).

January 12, 2019

Bipolar Decision Making (and My Plan to Get Back to Running)

Before I get into this post, I just have to tell you about the nightmare that happened a few days ago. One of my readers/friends notified me about a pin on Pinterest that was my before and after photo, and it was linked not to my blog, but to another website. I went onto Pinterest to find the post and report it.

I was nothing less than shocked at what I discovered. There is a person who created an EXACT duplicate of my blog. Then, they pinned EVERY SINGLE PHOTO that I've ever posted to my blog--there were well over 4,000 pictures that they pinned. And every single one of those 4,000+ pins led to their website.

I was so irritated! To file a complaint with Pinterest to have it removed, they want you to give them the url to each an every pin that you are complaining about. There was no way that I could do that with 4,000 pins, so I ended up emailing them and they said to give them the url for each board that contained my photos. This person's Pinterest account was made up of SOLELY photos from my blog. Nothing else!

Long story short, after a lot of emails and copying and pasting urls, I finally got Pinterest to remove everything and the website shut down. But it was the biggest waste of my time.

Anyway, I'm trying to take more measures against this happening. You may notice that if you try to right-click something on my blog, you won't be able to. Also, you will not be able to highlight the writing on my blog (that person had copied all of my blog posts). It's not much in the way of preventing this from happening again, but I'm hoping to make it a little more challenging.

Okay, on to the real post...

I haven't written much about mental health/illness lately, and this particular topic wasn't something I gave much thought to--until I learned that it's another trait of a person with bipolar disorder. I'm talking about decision making. (If you're new here, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2017--you can read about my coming to terms with it on this post: A Crazy New Chapter)

Sometimes, I have the hardest time making the most basic of decisions, and it's super frustrating for me. A lot of times, it will even bring me to tears. It's not just a hem-hawing process... I get so mad at myself for not being able to just MAKE A CHOICE. ANY CHOICE.

I'm not talking about big decisions such as which house to buy, or when the time is right to have children, or even as small as selecting a mattress. I'm talking about decisions like whether I want cream in my coffee or where to go out to eat, or whether to read, watch TV, or write before I go to bed. And it's not just a thoughtful, "Hmm, which do I want?" My brain literally cannot make a decision--it's like the part of my brain that is responsible for decision-making is paralyzed.

This happens around other people sometimes, too, which is embarrassing. When I was visiting Caitlin in Boston, for example, we went to Mike's Pastry shop (normally my favorite!!) and I simply couldn't decide what to get. It was agonizing, and not in a "fun" way. It was actually upsetting to me. Most people would just pick something, even if they were unsure.

I, however, cannot even verbalize a choice. I try so hard to just make a simple decision, but it becomes too much for me and I end up not making any choice at all. I'll ask someone to choose for me. Thankfully, Jerry understands this; when he can see me struggling, he'll say, "Let's do this!" and just choose.

Jerry took this photo of me staring into the pantry, trying to decide what to eat for a snack. Sounds silly, but I stood there for probably 20 minutes, and I was so frustrated that I couldn't just make a choice. Jerry took the photo because he thought it was "cute" that I was so indecisive. (This was in 2013, years before I was diagnosed with bipolar, so he thought my inability to make decisions was just a quirk.) Clearly, I did not find it "cute".

In Boston, I ended up not buying anything at Mike's. Then, after walking to the corner outside, Caitlin said I should just go get something because I would want it later. I finally just bought something (I don't even remember what, probably carrot cake) but you would have thought I was trying to decide whether to keep $10,000 or flip a coin for double or nothing.

That was just an example off the top of my head, but I run into this pretty frequently, about twice a week. My kids don't understand why I can't decide things, but thankfully, I can use it as a lesson to explain to them that it's one of the traits about bipolar that affects me. My kids have learned SO much about bipolar, depression, anxiety, and even suicide because I want them to be educated about mental illness and I talk about it openly with them.

Anyway, that is one problem when it comes to decision making as far as my bipolar is concerned. There is another one that is a problem as well, especially sharing my life on the internet as a blogger.

When I am hypomanic, or even in a mixed state (having symptoms of depression and hypomania at the same time), I tend to rush into decisions without thinking them through. In other words, I'm very impulsive. This has gotten me into trouble lots of times (hello, $14,000 of debt). Since starting my bipolar meds, though, it's gotten much better. (I was able to stick with a budget for the long term and pay off all of my debt!)

I bring all of this up because I've been so up in the air lately about several decisions. I try not to post about things unless I'm absolutely certain about it because I hate failing at goals or changing my mind about what/how to do things. It's embarrassing to renege on 80% of what I've committed to.

You may be thinking that I'm talking about my decision to stop drinking for all of 2019--but I'm not. I'm still 100% committed to that decision, and I'm doing well with it. One thing that I blog about a lot (or at least I used to) is running; ironically (or not), it's also one thing that I tend to renege on. Haha!

"I'm going to follow this running plan!"
Two weeks later: "I got bored with it, so I'll do this instead!"
A week later: "I just read this book about a running method, so I want to give it a try!"
Three days later: "I don't like the way that made me feel, so I think I'll do this one."
A month later: "I'm just going to run when I feel like it, so I don't feel pressured."
Two weeks later: "Well, I haven't gone for a single run, so I need to follow a schedule. I know! I will make the strictest schedule imaginable, announce it on my blog, and then plan to write all about my training."
A month later: "Still haven't written about it. Or even done it. Maybe I'll try something else."

And so on and so on. This particularly happens when I'm hypomanic, even if it's only mild hypomania. I get all gung-ho about something, and then it loses its luster shortly afterward.

So, I realize it's probably annoying to read about my constant mind-changing; but hopefully by explaining it here, it'll be more understandable. I've been trying to be more careful about making impulsive decisions and I've been able to focus more since I started my bipolar medication.

I can only say THANK GOD that I didn't start my whole home makeover project on a whim and then lose interest halfway through. Can you imagine?!

A lot of times, I have trouble deciding what plans/goals to post here, for fear of it being a rash decision. For example, I had been thinking about giving up alcohol for all of 2019 for months ahead of time. I told Jerry about it and I thought long and hard before I decided that I was going to do it. It was only then that I felt confident enough to post it here. I didn't even feel like just posting it on my blog was good enough, so I also shared it with my friends on Facebook!

When I wrote my goals for 2019, I included exercise--I want to get back to exercising regularly. I'd prefer that to be running, but even if I just walk, that's better than nothing. Three times a week for 30 minutes. Not much to ask!

However, I think that was too vague. I seem to always go to one extreme or another (train for a marathon or not run at all), and it's a hard thought process to break.

At this moment, my thoughts about this are:

I want to do something specific and that's a bit of a challenge.
I want to follow an actual schedule.
I want to push myself to get back into shape, but I also want to be happy and not feel so much pressure--so I need to find a balance.

Like I explained, having bipolar makes me impulsive sometimes, so tomorrow, I could be feeling the exact opposite as right now. However, as human beings, we are free to change our minds any time we like. While I hope to be able to stick to whatever plan I come up with, I recognize that I may need to change things up in order to fit into my life better.

Soooo, you can quote me on this, but that quote may change at a moment's notice. Just a forewarning, haha. Since my exercise plan was pretty vague for 2019, I'd like to make it more specific so that it's as black and white as the drinking/non-drinking. I want a measurable goal.

I'm very, very out of shape right now, because I've only run about 500 miles in the last TWO YEARS combined. Which brings me to a goal that I'd like to set--a goal that I've not tried before.

I know, I know... I said that I didn't want to follow a training plan or be very specific in my exercise goals. But, surprise, surprise, I changed my mind ;)

I want to make a goal to run 700 miles this year.

That's roughly 1.9 miles per day, if I was going to run every single day (I'm not). I feel like this is ambitious, but doable. I will feel very accomplished if I'm able to do it; and if I fall short, even if I "only" hit 300 miles run, it'll still be more than the last two years.

I'll make a tracker and somehow check off each mile that I run. I'd like to do a reward system, too--for each milestone I hit (10 miles, 25 miles, 50, 100, etc.) I will reward myself with something. (I haven't decided on those yet.)

I don't care about my running pace at ALL, so I'm not going to worry about it. I really, really just want to get back to running a few times a week to help with my anxiety (and for several other reasons, but the anxiety is a big one now that I can't use alcohol to make me feel less anxious).

I've chosen to follow my "Base Building for Beginners" running plan. I think this is a great plan not only for beginners, but for people who are getting back to running after a hiatus. It starts with just 30 minutes, three times per week. The plan is 16 weeks long, which will bring me into May. The longest run (in the final weeks) tops out at 60 minutes--definitely doable!

In following the plan, I feel like I will have guidance as to exactly what I'm supposed to do and when. Another key bipolar trait that I have is that I am my best self when I have a set schedule and routine. A change in my routine can throw me off quite a bit; and when I don't have a schedule, I tend to procrastinate. By having a plan telling me what to do and when, it takes any decision making off the table.

And since I have such a hard time with decisions sometimes, I think this will likely help my mood as well. It's a win-win!

My first run, per the schedule, will be on Tuesday morning. A simple 30-minute run at an easy pace. After writing all this out, I'm looking forward to doing it!

Are all of you that made New Year's Resolutions doing well so far? I wrote a Facebook post to discuss not drinking, and it's very interesting and motivating to read others' thoughts on it. Feel free to chime in there, if you'd like!

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