April 29, 2019

Transformation Tuesday - A New Series Introduction

(That picture is supposed to be us looking shocked, haha)

As I've been posting so many home remodel before and after photos lately, my mom gave me an idea for my blog, and I think it would be really fun to do!

I know that Transformation Tuesday is popular on Instagram, and usually refers to weight loss. While my blog did start as a weight loss blog in 2011, as you may have noticed, it's evolved into more of a lifestyle blog. I write about the weight issues, sure, but also mental health/illness, running (more as a coach instead of a runner now!), budgeting (like when we paid off our debt), and most recently, DIY projects.

When it comes to a "transformation", there are TONS of things that it could apply to. And my mom suggested that I accept before and after transformation photos from readers--about anything at all.I love this idea!

Here are a few examples of transformations:

A before and after of a new haircut
Bedroom makeover
New countertops or paint on the walls
Painted or stained furniture
Cleaning out a closet (as an organizer, these photos are like porn for me)
Before and after of addiction vs clean and/or sober (I love these!)
Before and after weight loss pictures
Your rescue pet's before and after photos (these are my favorite!)

So, I'd like to try this idea out and see if there is any interest. Some guidelines to submit photos for Transformation Tuesday:

1) Email one "before" photo and one "after" photo, of anything you'd like, to: transformations (at) runsforcookies (dot) com.

Please keep the photos separate rather than collaging them, and don't use filters or Photoshop on the photos. I feel like everything is filtered these days, and filters tend to invalidate the "wow" factor. Finally, please don't add words to the photos--I'd like to keep the photos uniform, so I may end up adding things like, "table and chair before" and "table and chairs after" to the photos; or I may just leave them as-is. Not sure yet.

2) You may include a link to your personal blog or social media page if you'd like (no business or promotional pages--this will be at my discretion). Include a very brief description (examples on my photos below). I'm sure the photos will explain themselves for the most part. As shown in my examples, I'll include:
Brief description of the transformation
First Name, Location, Few words of who you are (if you want me to leave out name/location, just let me know)

3) If there is someone in the photo, just make sure it's cool with them that I share it here.

4) Depending on the amount of submissions I receive, I may end up having to save some for the following week(s). I will eventually post all of them, but I'd like to limit each post to 6-8 or so.

5) If necessary, I may crop or resize the photos simply to fit uniformly into the post, but I will try to keep them as original as possible.

So, I went through some photos on my computer and found several different examples of transformations. Here are mine:

Before installing new carpet in my bedroom and after. It looks so much better!
-Katie, Michigan, new DIY'er for home projects

bedroom carpet before

bedroom carpet after

Before and after knitting my new nephew a baby blanket!
-Katie, Michigan, hobby knitter and crocheter

skeins of yarn

baby blanket

Before and after dying my son Eli's hair blue. He was thrilled!
-Katie, Michigan, "cool mom"

blonde hair

blue hair

The day we chose Joey at the animal shelter and after he spent some time with his new forever family. Please, people, ADOPT--don't shop! He's been amazing for my family.
-Katie, Michigan, advocate for animal rescue and adoption

shelter dog before

shelter dog after adoption

My nephew Luke, before and after ;)
-Katie, Michigan, happy auntie

ultrasound photo of Luke

Luke as a newborn

Before attempting a personal record at the Muskrat Run 5K... and after. Winning second female overall!
-Katie, Michigan, former runner (current walker)

Before running the 5K

After running the 5K

Teaching Eli to cook a stir-fry; from chopping veggies to a yummy chicken stir-fry with spicy sauce.
-Katie, Michigan, stay-at-home mom

Chopping carrots

chicken stir-fry with rice

Before and after telling Joey he's a "good boy"!
-Katie, Michigan, dog mom to a lab/chow mix named after Joey Tribbiani

Joey before being told he's a good boy

Joey after being told he's a good boy

Before and after my "little" brother ran his first ULTRAMARATHON!
-Katie, Michigan, super proud sister to an amazing Army veteran

Nathan pre-race photo for ultramarathon

Nathan after finishing ultramarathon

The canvas before and after my dad painted this picture for my house. He self-taught by watching Bob Ross!
-Katie, Michigan, proud daughter of the next Bob Ross

blank canvas

Dad's painting of lighthouse

Before and after of the 1,000 piece puzzle I used to keep my hands busy and stop snacking!
-Katie, Michigan, going through a hypomanic puzzle phase

1,000 piece puzzle before

1,000 piece puzzle after

The Asian Pear tree my mom bought me that looked like a stick. Five years later, there still isn't any fruit, so I hope it's the correct tree! Haha.
-Katie, Michigan, born without a green thumb

Asian Pear tree before

Asian Pear tree five years later

Before and after painting my bedroom furniture--bed headboard and footboard, dresser, and two nightstands. Here is the nightstand.
-Katie, Michigan, new DIY'er

nightstand before painting

nightstand after painting

I love seeing things like these! So please please be creative, and no matter how silly your own transformation may seem, send me photos! Again, check the guidelines at the top of the post and send the photos to transformations (at) runsforcookies (dot) com.

I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Also, what are your thoughts? Is this something that you all would be interested in seeing once a week? I happen to love transformation photos, and I think this will be awesome. I just need people to participate ;) Remember, no transformation is too small/insignificant!

April 25, 2019

Thoughts On My Current Weight (and Wednesday Weigh-In)

Thoughts on My Body

I was going to post this yesterday, but I was feeling rushed and decided to wait so that I could write my current thoughts about my weight and where I am right now. Not that it's super exciting or anything, but I feel much better than I ever have about my body, weight, and exercise, and I think it's worth writing about.

I never thought I would be at such a "high" weight and be comfortable--even content--with it. I put "high" in quotes because it's all relative; I'm almost 40 pounds up from my lowest weight. When I first dipped into the 160's a few years ago, I panicked and started Weight Watchers (or calorie counting?) to get my weight back down. That number was so important.

As of yesterday morning, I was at 160.0 pounds. Down a little from my last weigh-in.

Wednesday Weigh-In

I tried explaining to Jerry where my mindset is right now, and I had such a hard time describing it. I'm not sure I'll do much better here, but I'll try.

When I posted my high weight a couple of months ago (165-something) somebody mentioned that my current high weight was their GOAL weight, and for some reason, that really struck a chord with me. I started to feel more accepting and introspective of my goals.

Interestingly, quitting drinking has made me really think about why we do the things we do, including weight loss. Why did I feel like it would be awkward to be the only one not drinking at a get-together? Why did I feel it was so important to get down to and maintain a weight under 135 pounds?

Thinking about the drinking is what led to the weight, so I'll start with that. Not drinking is no longer an issue for me--I don't have cravings and I don't feel "left out" or awkward. And I started realizing that if anyone feels awkward, it's usually people who are drinking around people who aren't. I'm not judgmental at all, and I couldn't care less about who is or is not drinking. However, when I used to drink, I always used to notice when someone wasn't drinking. And I wouldn't even think of ordering a drink at a restaurant if my companion wasn't drinking. It would have felt awkward.

I asked myself recently who I was trying to impress. Anybody can drink; it's not like I was doing something "special". So, why did I feel like I wasn't "cool" for not drinking? It seemed so ridiculous to me (and this is the part I have such a hard time explaining to Jerry). I have no idea if people judge me for not drinking, but why would I feel that mattered? Do I really care if I look "uncool" for not drinking?

And the answer is no. I don't care if people judge, because I'm not trying to impress anyone. If people feel awkward drinking around me, it's not my fault. I never even bring up the not drinking (people have asked and I give a short explanation, but I try not to make it a "thing"). I'm doing what I'm doing because it's what I want to do; there is no reason to live life trying to fit in or impress others.

Which brings me to the weight issue...

I weigh 160 pounds. I wear a size 10. So what? I'm not at my lowest weight, I can no longer say I'm 100+ pounds below my starting weight of 253, I'm not a size 2 or 4. Does anyone really care?! I'm approaching 40 years old and I have two kids. I think I look pretty good!

mirror selfie

I don't know why I never gave it much thought before. I think having a blog that is so public about my issues with weight made me feel pressured to be an "ideal" success story--dropping the weight until I'm not just average, but thin. Not just exercising for health, but a marathon runner. Going from obese to average wasn't good enough--I felt like I had to stand out because so many people were interested in (and impressed with) my story.

And yes, the story is more dramatic when I can say I lost 137 pounds, ran three marathons, and could run a sub-8:00 mile for 6+ miles. But other than using those numbers to feel like a valid success story, WHO CARES? I don't care what other people weigh or how hardcore their exercise is. Sure, it might be impressive to learn, but it's not something that sticks with me for longer than that moment. I don't think about how fast they are or how skinny they are or anything like that. So, why should I try to have "impressive" numbers?

It seems so ridiculous now!

It was then that I became peaceful and content with my weight. I used to think I was content with where I was, and I tried convincing myself (and others) of that. Subconsciously, though, I was assuming that I'd get my weight back down to "thin" and then I'd *actually* been content.

I can honestly say that even if I don't lose another pound, I am content with where I am. As long as I am healthy and able-bodied to be active and enjoy life, I'm cool with this body. I'm done trying to impress anyone with my weight loss and/or running success stats.

As for my current habits...

Since making peace with my body, I've also made peace with food and exercise. I don't count calories or anything else. I don't even try to eat "intuitively"--which always felt like a diet, too. I eat what I like, and I try to make my portion size what I feel is ideal (not stuffing myself, but not feeling deprived). I don't put much thought into it at all, actually. And after I eat, it's totally out of my mind. I don't feel guilty or worry about how it will affect my weight.

For exercise, I've been walking. I haven't been following any sort of plan (even the one I wrote several weeks ago). Instead, I take Joey for long-ish walks, focusing more on just being mobile than on "exercising". I've learned that my body gets stiff and achy when I spend a few days being inactive, so even just going for a stroll makes me feel good. I'm sure I'll start riding my bike (for pleasure) as the weather warms up, too.

Every evening after dinner, we (Jerry, Noah, Eli, and I) take Joey on a walk around the neighborhood. We used to do this all the time, and it's so nice--we get to talk about what's going on with each of us without the distraction of phones, computers, TV, etc. My kids love their phones, but even they really like going on these relatively short (20 minutes or so) walks in the evenings. There have been a few times where all I want to do is sit down and chill after dinner, but I feel like the walks have been important--not just for exercise, but for family time--and we do it regardless.

Is going for strolls with the family as impressive as running several miles a day? Nope. Does it matter to me? Nope.

I thought about the irony of posting a weigh-in every Wednesday (or Thursday or Friday) when it clearly doesn't matter; but the transparency of it validates that I am not ashamed. So I think I'll continue to do it, at least for a while.

I saw this on Instagram (not sure where it originated--I am told it is from "The F*ck It Diet" book author) and I thought it was highly appropriate here:

"You are not alive just to pay bills and lose weight"

Amen to that!

April 23, 2019

Shameless, My Pantry, and a New Toy

Yikes! I haven't written much at all this month. I haven't really felt like writing lately; I'm not sure why, but I just haven't had the desire to, so my computer has remained untouched for well over a week. Everything is fine! It just feels nice to take a break from the blog (and anything on the computer, really).

Things haven't been too exciting around here. Jerry went to Chicago for five days to attend a Star Wars Celebration. I was absolutely not interested in that, obviously, but I'm really glad he got to go. When he first learned of it last year and the location was announced, he immediately bought a ticket (it's about a 4-1/2 hour drive from here). I was going to rent him a car to take, but discovered it was actually cheaper to fly! So, he flew in on Thursday morning and came home on Monday night.

He had a blast while he was there among his fellow Star Wars nerds ;)  He sent me several selfies of him with actors from the Star Wars movies, but I had no idea who they were because I don't watch Star Wars. I did, however, get very excited when he sent me this one...

Cameron Monaghan, from the Showtime show Shameless! Jerry and I have been watching Shameless since the airing of the pilot episode, and it is our very favorite show. Jerry caught Cameron as he was walking out and asked if he could get a selfie "to make the wife jealous", haha. And, of course, I totally was!

While Jerry was in Chicago, I worked on our pantry (I hadn't done anything with it other than the flooring while making over the kitchen). The pantry is relatively big--12 feet by 4-1/2 feet. The original layout of our house had a room between the kitchen and the master bedroom that they called a "sunroom". I had no need for a sunroom, so I had the builders divide it in two--half of it became the master bedroom closet and the other half became the kitchen pantry. I'm so glad I did that, because I love having a big pantry!

I have never been a fan of the wire shelving--things fall through the cracks and they are hard to clean. They're just awkward. I had a bunch of leftover boards from building shelves in the boys' closets, and I still had my dad's miter saw here (as well as my brother's tools), so I decided to take on the project of building shelves for the pantry.

First, I removed the textured ceiling in the pantry and finished the seams with drywall tape and compound (also leftover). Then I painted the walls with leftover paint from the boys' bedrooms. I cut shelves from plywood and built them in from wall to wall. I made the shelves 16" deep instead of 12", like the wire shelves had been, and that increased the storage space. I also left the far wall open instead of adding more shelves so that it wasn't so awkward to store the broom, Swiffer, and vacuum.

I painted the shelves white and put contact paper on top of each. The pantry looks so much better! This "before" photo is from 2011, but it hadn't changed at all...

I do wish I'd painted the walls white or a very light gray rather than the blue. The blue looks bright in the boys' bedrooms, but I'm sure that's because they have windows. The pantry obviously doesn't have windows, so it's darker in there than I'd like (I had to lighten the picture a bit so you could see it). Still, it's a drastic improvement.

Now the only parts of the house that need an update are the master closet and my laundry room, which I'll probably work on this summer.

I'm still reading quite a bit. I didn't turn on the TV even once while Jerry was in Chicago, and I like to read whenever I get some spare time. I had a $70 credit for Amazon, and I decided to use it to get a Kindle Paperwhite. (It was $150 for the ad-free version, but somehow using the credit made it feel like I was only spending $80. I also got 20% cash back on my credit card for it!)

Anyway, I absolutely love it. I had always used my iPad Mini to read ebooks, and I just assumed that a Kindle was basically the same thing. The Paperwhite is amazing, though! I especially love it because there is no glare on the screen, making it very easy to read outside (just as if I'm reading an actual paperback). I'm going to love reading outside this summer!

(This current book is Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit)

The Kindle Paperwhite is also less than half the weight of my iPad--the main reason I wanted it. The iPad is heavy and irritates my carpal tunnel, but the Kindle weighs about the same as my iPhone 6. It's smaller in size than the iPad, too--roughly the same size as an average paperback book, only very thin.

I've always preferred using an actual paperback to reading ebooks whenever possible, but the Kindle Paperwhite has converted me. It's not awkward to hold, like a paperback is when you're reading the beginning or end and there aren't many pages on one side.

I just finished a book called Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. It's about the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest, in which 12 people died during a summit attempt. There was a lot of controversy about the incident, in part due to Krakauer being there as a journalist for Outdoor magazine. Into Thin Air is his memoir about the event.

I knew nothing about mountain climbing when I started the book, but he did a great job explaining the hows, whats, and whys. He also shared a little about the people that were going to attempt the summit that May 1996 and it was sad to read about them, knowing their fate. I found the book pretty fascinating and I learned a lot about mountain climbing--which only reinforced that it was something I have absolutely zero desire to try.

I'll post a Wednesday Weigh-In tomorrow. I had taken pictures last week but never got around to posting. I've been doing good with my eating--focusing on smaller portions--and I've been walking. I haven't been following the walking plan (I got off schedule when Jerry was gone) but I've been walking nonetheless. Despite my weight being in the low 160's, I actually feel really healthy right now. And I like not being so focused on numbers.

Eli's playing baseball for the school and his first game (a double header) is today. This time of year gets very busy! But I'll at least check in for a Wednesday Weigh-In tomorrow.

April 14, 2019

DIY Kitchen Makeover, Part 4: The Final Before and After Photos

DIY Kitchen Makeover, Part 4

This post is continued from:

DIY Kitchen Makeover, Part 3
DIY Kitchen Makeover, Part 2
DIY Kitchen Makeover, Part 1

Finally... simple before and after pictures of the whole kitchen/living room/dining room combination.

I didn't have any proper "before" photos. I'm so bummed I didn't think to do that! So, I just went through the photos I had on my computer and chose some where you can see the kitchen. Just ignore the people in the photos. ;)

A brief description of before:

- brown oak-color everywhere (cupboards, trim, sheet linoleum floor, crown molding, doors... so much oak color!)
- a sort of burgundy and brown colored laminate countertop (with oak trim!)
- textured ceiling ("stomped"--kind of like a popcorn ceiling)
- a skylight (again, with oak trim)
- deep red/burgundy walls
- lots of cupboards--a few unnecessary
- unusable snack bar (the cupboards overhead were too low to sit there)
- a tiny wall next to the snack bar that held up cupboards over the bar top
- a small countertop and cupboards next to refrigerator, held up by another tiny wall
- one end of kitchen completely open to dining room and living room
- shallow double-basin sink
- standard "trailer" doors, one leading to pantry and one leading to laundry room
- sliding glass door that leads to our deck outside

Some pictures from before:

before the remodel

kitchen before remodel

before the remodel

before the remodel

Not very good "before" photos, but you get the idea. And here are the "after" photos. (I used Brian's camera with a wide angle lens, so if they looked slightly warped, that's thanks to my stellar photography skills).

Also, no--my house is never this clean! Haha, I just cleaned it this much to take the "after" photos.

kitchen after DIY makeover

kitchen after DIY makeover

kitchen after DIY makeover

kitchen after DIY makeover

kitchen after DIY makeover

kitchen after DIY makeover

kitchen after DIY makeover

kitchen after DIY makeover

The final result:

kitchen, living room, dining room after remodel

kitchen and dining room after remodel

kitchen and dining room after remodel

kitchen, living room, and dining room after remodel

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