July 31, 2020

An Accidentally Scenic Walk

On our way up north yesterday, we planned to drive the whole way to Jeanie's (9-10 hours) with just one stop so that the kids could have lunch. Once you cross the Mackinac Bridge (which connects the lower and upper peninsulas) there really isn't anything at all as far as places to stop and eat.

Jeanie's place is 4-1/2 hours from the bridge, so we decided to stop in Mackinaw City (where the bridge starts). Since I'm intermittently fasting, I chose to go for a walk instead of eating lunch (also, we had Joey with us). I had already gotten up early to walk on the treadmill before we left the house in the morning, so by going for a walk at lunch time, I could get my second 45-minute workout done.

There was a neighborhood off of the main street, so I figured that I would just walk around the neighborhood until the boys were done eating. As I was walking, I caught a glimpse of the Mackinac Bridge, and I headed in that direction to check it out.

It turns out, I'd come across a small park with a beach right at the base of the bridge. It was so cool to see! It was very small--the entire length was maybe 1/3 of a mile--but there weren't very many people there.

Joey was dying to run into the water, so stopped to let him play for a few minutes. I love that I got a picture of him with the bridge in the background. I tried to get a good selfie of the two of us, but he had NO interest in getting a posed photo. He just wanted to play in the water. (In the photo above, it looks like he is sweetly trying to give me dog kisses, but he was really just trying to turn his head to see behind us, hahaha).

So, my second workout was interrupted a few times for photos, but it was worth it! (I stopped my Garmin when I stopped to take pictures).

I am happy I got in my second walk before arriving at Jeanie's. Getting it done early feels good!

July 30, 2020

RECIPE: S'mores Pie (a single serving!)

I posted this recipe ages ago on my previous blog, and then transferred it to Runs for Cookies in 2011. But considering I'm going up north to my sister's property, and there will likely be campfires and s'mores, I thought it would be a good time to update the post.

This is the easiest dessert ever to make, and it looks so cute! These are made in mini pie crusts, so they are for one serving. And for those who love s'mores but don't like getting marshmallow all over your face (I'm not one of those people, but hey...) this can be eaten with a fork. Young kids can even make it with very little help, and it's fun to eat an entire little pie by yourself!

This isn't really much of a recipe, with only three ingredients... but it's a yummy treat!

Here is a printer-friendly version!

S'mores Pie  (Serves 1)

1 mini graham cracker pie crust (I find these in a six-pack by Keebler)
1/3 cup mini marshmallows
1 Tbsp. milk chocolate chips (semi-sweet work fine, too, but for a more “s’mores” taste, the milk chocolate are perfect)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the marshmallows into the pie crust, and then sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes, watching closely--take it out of the oven when the marshmallows puff up and begin to turn a toasty brown color.

July 29, 2020

Getting Ready for Vacation

I have to keep this super short, because we are busy doing laundry and packing and getting things ready to go up north to my sister's place.

Jeanie and Shawn (my sister and her husband) live in Illinois, but they have property in the upper peninsula of Michigan. We went there a few years ago for the fourth of July. Since we had to cancel all of our travel plans for this year due to COVID, we thought we could at least do a mini-vacation up north.

I'm not an outdoorsy person by any means, but the boys really love it up there and I'd love to spend some time with Jeanie and Shawn. The last time I was there, I spent most of my time with Luke (who was just four months old at the time) or lying in my hammock reading a book. It was also fun to play cornhole and to sit around the campfire. (Look how little Eli was! And me... I would kill to look that thin again!)

In order to get in my two workouts tomorrow, I have to wake up at 3:30 AM to walk on the treadmill! Yikes. It's a 9-10 hour drive, so I think when the kids are ready to eat, Jerry will take them somewhere to eat and I'll do my second 45-minute walk. Then we'll finish the drive. (I SO wish that I could walk over the Mackinac Bridge! But it's only open to pedestrians once a year for a registered walk/run.)

I am really worried about leaving the kittens alone. They are so used to us being here! We do have a house sitter/pet sitter (although Joey's coming with us) so the kittens won't be totally alone. But still, I just hope they don't get sad or think we're not coming back. Phoebe and Estelle are used to it, so I'm not worried about them.

I bought two 2.5-gallon jugs of water to bring with us so I can refill my water bottle and get in my gallon each day. (Jeanie has bottled water, but I certainly don't want to use that many water bottles--so I just bought a couple of big jugs.)

Anyways, I hate to cut this off now, but I have lots to pack. We're only going for a few days, but I need to come up with several pairs of exercise clothing--and I don't have much that still fits me. (Some of it is getting looser, though!)

I'm going to try to prepare some posts that will automatically publish over the next few days so that I'll for sure get in a blog post every day (I really don't want to break my blogging streak). Cell service up there is sketchy, so I don't know if I'll be able to blog while I'm there.

I'm also going to try to clear out some of my inbox during the long drive (obviously while Jerry is driving). Ten hours is a long time to get some things done!

July 28, 2020

Daily Routine, Finances, and Long Term Goals

I don't have a photo for this post, so here is one of Chick and Duck sharing the top of this little bed thing. I think the way Duck is lying on it is hilarious! They are clearly too big to share it now.

Lately, I have been feeling like I'm Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. With the COVID quarantine, all of the days started blending together a few months ago. I literally couldn't tell if it was Wednesday or Sunday!

In a way, it was nice--the kids and I didn't have to be anywhere and we could all just spend our days doing projects and hobbies that we normally wouldn't have time for. (Even Jerry had a few weeks off because he had been exposed at work to someone who tested positive with COVID.) Things have been opening up a bit, but it's still recommended to practice social distancing and masks are mandatory in public areas.

I haven't been going to the grocery store more than once every two weeks or so, but our stock in the pantry is down to slim pickin's. For the most part, our days are the same--except I do take Eli to his fishing spots and Noah to see his small group of friends (a few of them went bike riding today).

For me, especially this past week, each day feels the same. And it's not a bad thing! I really love the routine. I feel comfortable when I have a routine rather than chaos (even if it's controlled chaos).

Since I started 75 Hard, my day typically looks like this:

  • Wake up.
  • Sit in bed and journal, read my non-fiction book for 75 Hard, and drink a quart of water.
  • Ideally, I would write a blog in this time frame, but it depends on what time I wake up.
  • Get out of bed, brush my teeth, etc., and dress for my walk.
  • Take a progress photo in the mirror for 75 Hard.
  • Go for a 45-minute walk with Joey (he's gotten used to my taking him, and I feel guilty if I try to leave him at home).
  • Come home and drink another quart of water.
  • Change into "work" clothes for the garage (my paint-spattered ones). 
  • Go out to the garage and work on whatever I'm doing out there. Today, I finished up one section of it and started moving things back to where they should be. Drink another quart of water.
  • If I don't work on the garage, then I do errands, chores around the house, etc.
  • I also blog at some point.
  • Come inside and change back into my workout clothes (yes, the same ones). Go for a 45-minute walk or bike ride. Drink a fourth quart of water.
  • Take a shower and start getting dinner ready.
  • Eat dinner with the family, maybe watch a show or something together.
  • "Me time"... play Best Fiends or read a book, usually.
  • Bed time.
  • Repeat.

I had planned on blogging earlier today, but I realized I needed to get our monthly finances done. That just means paying bills, transferring money around, etc. Today took extra long because I had to deal with two credit card companies.

We have a negative balance on the Discover card because Eli's trip to Washington D.C. was canceled, and I'd already paid for it in full. The refund went back to the Discover, which was already paid in full. So I requested a check for the balance, which will be about $1200--nice! (I let him buy a fishing rod and reel with some of the money because of his canceled trip.)

We also have a negative balance on the Delta American Express because I bought our plane tickets to San Francisco on that card (to get Delta points). Since we had to cancel that trip, I hoped to get a refund. Oddly, they refunded two of our tickets, but gave us airline vouchers for the other two. I asked to open a dispute to try to get a refund for the other two. I feel like it should be a refund for all four tickets or none at all. Anyway, I requested a check for our negative balance on that card, which is roughly $1000.

One of the nice things about the quarantine is that we've been able to save up a decent little nest egg in our savings account. It's so strange that a few years ago, we were $14,000 in debt and had NO savings. Then I started the zero sum budgeting and we managed to pay all of that off in 14 months. I never would have thought we could do that!

I've been continuing with the budget, doing it every single month, and it hasn't failed us yet. I love that we have some money in savings in case we need it. If Jerry was to lose his job for whatever reason, we have enough for cover us for a couple of months. Again, I never thought I'd be able to say that!

Noah took his driving test today to get his driver's license, and he passed (I knew he would--he's super responsible and a great driver). He also bought a car from Adam. It's an old car, but it only has 50,000 miles on it. Noah has been saving money here and there for the last year or so, but I had no expectations that he'd get a car this soon. However, Adam gave him a great deal on it and Noah was thrilled.

Speaking of Adam, we got notice from the Detroit Free Press Marathon that they aren't going to be doing the race this year (not a shocker). We were offered the option to defer it to 2021 or to get a 50% refund. Adam, Jerry, and I were planning to run it together (Adam's first ever race); but since I haven't been training, I'm kind of relieved. I chose to get the refund--it really sucks that we only get 50% of it back (the race was $100 per person) but I don't know where I'm going to be in a year as far as fitness goes, so I don't want to commit right now.

My main goal for the remainder of this year is to get my head back in the game to be my best self--mentally and physically. This 75 Hard challenge is getting me there, and I hope that I'll be able to continue to work on myself in these ways (and more) when the 75 days are over.

In a perfect world, I'd be back at my goal weight by the end of the year and feel confident in a plan to keep it off. I would also be working on adding running to my routine--even if it's just a little here and there. I find that sometimes when I'm walking, I have the urge to run.

Yesterday, I tried running from the end of my street to my driveway, and it felt SO hard. My legs felt extremely heavy. I think if I can get some weight off and get in somewhat decent shape with the walking and bike riding, the running may feel easier. And if it feels easier, I'd be much more likely to do it again.

I think that stepping down from coaching cross country was the right decision for me. The season consumes my life each year, and even though I loved it, I wasn't able to focus on anything else. I'd really like to take the time to focus on getting the best ME back. I miss the confidence I felt and the control I had over my choices. I will miss cross country, but I won't miss the stress or the toll it takes on me mentally and physically.

Even if I don't get back to running, I think I can stick with walking for 45 minutes a day. It goes by surprisingly fast and I love listening to audiobooks and podcasts. (Bike riding seems to take forever; probably because I don't use headphones to distract me.) Even when the kids go back to school, I can easily make the time to walk for 45 minutes.

Well, it's already past my bed time (today was a super busy day, otherwise I would have posted this morning). So I'm going to read my book for a few minutes and then try to get to bed!

July 27, 2020

75 Hard: Week 1 Recap

First, if you don't know what 75 Hard is, you can read about it in this post.

I can't believe it's been a week already since I started 75 Hard. I thought time would drag on, but it's flying by and I feel amazing--a million times better (mentally and physically) than I did just a week ago. It's done a ton for my overall mood.

Going into this, I was feeling so out-of-control with everything. I was constantly planning for "tomorrow" on getting back on track with my diet and exercise, but mentally, I just couldn't get there. I needed to feel better mentally so that I could have the strength to focus on the physical. I wasn't feeling depressed, per se, but just angry and disgusted with myself for losing all focus.

It's only been a week since I started this mental challenge, but I was feeling better by Day 3. This is the longest I've stuck with any sort of plan in who-knows-how long. And the best part is, I don't hate it; I don't feel like I'm white-knuckling my way through a torturous 75 days. Sure, I could make it "harder" by cutting out food groups and doing insane workouts, but the main reason I wanted to do this challenge is to get my head back in the game.

So, to recap this week... there are a lot of things to keep track of! I've been using a habit tracker app to check things off as I do them, but it's become completely routine now. I actually get most of the items done in the morning.

Drink one gallon of water every day.

This one is easy for me. I have a quart-sized water bottle, and I typically drink the whole thing within five minutes or so. I stop counting the number of times I refill it after my fourth bottle, but I probably drink one or two more after that. So I'm drinking about 1-1.5 gallons of water. That seems like so much!

Take a progress photo every day.

I do this right after I get dressed to go for my walk in the morning. I just take a full-body selfie and in the mirror in my bathroom. I'm not going to post the photos (at least not yet!) because they are terribly unflattering. Depending on how this challenge goes, I may post them later.

Today, I compared the one from a week ago to the one from today, and I already notice a difference in my stomach (a lot of the weight I've gained has been in my stomach).

Diet of choice + no alcohol.

I'm doing intermittent fasting with a 4-hour window. I keep this flexible as far as what time I plan to "break the fast" because I want to be able to allow for social situations. But I typically eat at 4:00.

I've love being able to make and eat very filling dinners. Before, I was always trying to keep calories low for each meal so that I could spread them throughout the day; now, I've had to adjust things to make the calories higher (since I'm condensing a day's worth of calories down to a 4-hour window).

After I eat, I feel totally satisfied until I go to bed, which is so different from when I was counting calories. I always used to "need" a snack at night, but the intermittent fasting helps in a several ways:

1) I love that I don't think about food all the time. I literally don't think about it until I'm cooking and getting ready to eat. When counting calories, all I could think about was food!

2) I like being hungry when it's time to eat because everything tastes SO good. Food always tastes better when I'm hungry. 

3) I love that I can eat until I'm full. I don't eat until I'm completely stuffed, but I eat until I am full enough to not want any more food. 

4) I'm eating healthier foods. Because I'm condensing everything down to a small window, I want to make sure to eat something nutritious. But I don't restrict myself from anything, though. 

5) I don't feel weak during the day like I sometimes did when counting calories. I don't know how or why this is, because I'm probably getting the same amount of calories (I haven't counted, but I can guesstimate). The only time I feel tired is immediately after eating. But even that is starting to fade. It was most noticeable the first few days.

6) This is something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. If I had to follow a particular "diet" for this 75 Hard challenge, I wouldn't have decided to do the challenge. I like doing things that I find work well for me and that I know I can maintain. 

Needless to say, I'm feeling great about the intermittent fasting!

Read 10 pages of a non-fiction/educational/self-awareness-type book.

I've been reading 'The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are' by BrenĂ© Brown (Amazon affiliate link). I received this from my friend Emily as a gift, and I read half of it back in 2017. I LOVED what I read and it really changed the way I was viewing things.

It helped me to stop worrying about what others think of me, which was a huge deal. Writing vulnerable posts on my blog opens up the door to receive some harsh/rude/cruel comments that used to hurt my feelings. After reading (half of) this book, I truly realized why those comments spoke more about the commenter than about me, and it actually gave me sympathy for the commenters. Comments still sting sometimes, but I'm able to look at them differently and realize it's not really about me.

I felt so empowered after half the book that I stopped reading it! Not very smart. I thinks it's a great book for the 75 Hard reading, so I started it from the beginning and will finish it this time. It's been a good refresher, and this time, I'm reading "actively"--highlighting and really absorbing different parts.

Workout 45 minutes twice a day (at least one must be outdoors).

The hardest part of the whole challenge for me is the second 45-minute workout. Even though I'm only walking or riding my bike, I would rather be doing something else (something lazy). But I love that this challenge forces me to do it because I feel better for it.

I find that doing the first one right after getting up helps a lot. If I was to procrastinate this, I'd have a VERY hard time doing both workouts. And like I mentioned before, because I'm not doing hardcore workouts, I don't struggle with dreading it. 

Here is what my first week's workouts looked like (all were outdoors):

I like looking at my heart rate, especially to see how it works in the MAF zone. I'm surprised that my heart rate gets higher with bike riding than it does with walking, because bike riding feels easier. I have no idea why my heart rate was so high for my walk on Thursday. Since Garmin Connect was done, I didn't log any notes.

So, the first week of 75 Hard is in the books, and I'm loving the changes I'm seeing/feeling already. This week may be more challenging because I'm going up north to visit my sister, but I'm still planning to do the checklist every single day!

July 26, 2020

An Adrenaline Rush

Tomorrow, I'll write a summary of my first week of 75 Hard. Today is Day 7--I can't believe how fast this week has gone by! You can see how much I've walked this week by looking at all the loose change I picked up ;)  This is quite a haul--28 cents! Haha.

Speaking of... has anyone else heard about a coin shortage? I thought it was so odd! Instead of giving back coins for cash-paying customers at Kroger, they credit their Kroger card with the coins they were supposed to get back. And at Lowe's there was a sign about the coin shortage as well. Apparently, because the banks were closed due to quarantine (along with other places to turn in coins), the banks are short on coins. Interesting!

Yesterday was a crazy day--I'd posted about what happened with my parents' bikes and then I went out on my walk for 45 minutes. Then I worked in the garage until about 2:00 (I primed the ledge that I attached to the 2x4 sills--hopefully I'll get them painted today. My carpal tunnel has been bad, so my progress is slow). Then I came inside to change clothes and go for a second walk.

I'd like to ride my bike, but I need another day or two for my butt bones to stop hurting! (I'm sure there is a real name for them, but I keep calling them butt bones because that's the best way to describe them.) My shin splints are better. The only pain issue I have when walking is my left ankle.

This is the ankle that I injured when I fell off the ladder at Nathan's. It hasn't been the same since I fell--I think that was in February? Maybe March. I can walk (and even treadmill run) on it just fine, but whenever I supinate my left foot, I have a sharp pain. And since walking on the side of the road against traffic makes my left foot supinate a little, it causes the pain.

It's not stopping me from walking, though! In the spots where there is dirt or gravel on the side of the road, I like to walk on that. It's softer and doesn't slope like the road does. Also, I've been trying to walk on the righthand side of the road (where it's safe) so it's my right foot that supinates a bit rather than my left.

Anyway, I haven't missed any of my 45-minute workouts this week. It's always a little hard to motivate myself to do a second one each day, but the fact that I'm walking instead of running helps a lot. It's not super strenuous and I find it more enjoyable. I would love to start running again someday, but during this 75 Hard challenge, I prefer to do exercises that aren't as strenuous so that I don't get burnt out and quit. (Or injured)

Just before I was heading out for my walk yesterday, I saw a text message from a reader/friend who said to check my Runs for Cookies Facebook page because someone found my parents' bikes. My adrenaline shot sky high! I wasn't sure of the circumstances, but I wanted to make sure to claim them  before someone else did.

My hands were shaking from the adrenaline, and I hurriedly got the computer to look at Facebook. I saw that I had tons of notifications from people tagging me to let me know about the bikes. I was SO SHOCKED when I realized that they had been found--and that through social media, people connected the dots and linked the found bikes with my parents' lost bikes.

I want to give a shout out to George (manager) and Kevin (owner) from Straight Line Paint & Body (an auto body shop) in Port Huron, MI--I spoke with George on the phone last night and he said that yesterday morning, he noticed two bikes behind the dumpsters at work.

Rather than ignore them and leave them there for someone else to deal with, he took photos of them and posted them to a Port Huron Facebook page as a "found" item. Some people commented, "Hey, I saw these bikes in a post about a couple who had their bikes stolen". Then people tagged me in that post, and tagged Kevin and George in my post, and that's how we got connected.

Kevin called my mom right away and they made arrangements for my parents to drive up there and get their bikes back.

I was in so much shock that my post had actually helped (I knew it was a long shot) and I was so excited! Like I said, my adrenaline was sky high, so I headed out for my walk after messaging George and Kevin.

I was walking faster than I usually do, and I asked Jerry if he would pick me up if I just walked straight out for 45 minutes--I really wanted a change of scenery and I miss my old running routes (when I was running 6+ miles at a time).

It was a great walk. A great day altogether! :)

July 25, 2020

An Ironic and Not-So-Happy Anniversary (UPDATED!)

Yesterday was my parents' 49th wedding anniversary. It's not too common to come across couples who have been married so long!

To celebrate, they decided to take an overnight trip in the "thumb" of Michigan along the lakeshore so that they could ride their bikes (their favorite pastime). My parents love riding bikes, especially along the beach. This photo is from Thursday...

A few years ago, my siblings and I all chipped in money to get some comfortable bikes for them--my parents have always been thrifty, and they have a hard time justifying spending a lot of money on a luxury (rather than necessity) but we knew they would really enjoy nice bikes.

My dad has a chronic pain condition and when he has flare-ups, some movements are hard for him. There was a particular model of bike that he'd rented while on vacation and it was much easier for him to ride. That's when my sister had the idea to get my parents the bikes they'd really liked whiile on vacation and asked my brothers and I if we'd like to pitch in, too.

Since Jeanie lives in Illinois, and Brian was on a trip, and Nathan was working, they asked me to give my parents the card with the money for their bikes and to take a video so they could "be there" when I gave it to them.

I would like to share the video, but I can't get ahold of my mom to get her permission right now. It's one of those feel-good videos that really tugs at your heartstrings. They were so surprised and grateful. They were laughing because they were passing the card back and forth saying, "Here, you read it!" because they would each get choked up as they were reading.

This is a photo of my dad when he received his bike (notice that there isn't a standard bar you have to step over in order to get on the bike):

Now, I write about their bikes in past tense because someone stole their bikes while they were staying at the hotel on Thursday night. On a bike-riding adventure. For their 49th wedding anniversary.

I am SO furious. Not just about the fact that they don't have their bikes anymore, but that someone had no shame in cutting a bike lock and taking SOMEONE ELSE'S STUFF right off of their truck. (The bikes were locked to a trailer on the hitch of their truck at the hotel--which was the Holiday Inn in Port Huron, so if you happen to live nearby, maybe you can keep an eye out for the bikes to show up on a garage sale Facebook page or something.)

The person had cut the lock, left their own bike on the ground next to the truck, along with a water bottle, and taken my parents' bikes. Thankfully, they didn't damage the truck (which my dad had just gotten a few weeks ago) but the bolts to the bike trailer were missing (which became a problem... see below).

As you can imagine they were really disappointed not to have their bikes yesterday to continue their riding. And they had to spend the morning filing a police report.

Bikes are sold out pretty much everywhere right now because of the quarantine. Still, they decided to go to Walmart and see if they could find a couple of bikes to ride yesterday. Out of pure luck (kind of an ironic word in this case), they happened to get there just as a new shipment of bikes was arriving.

They bought a couple of cheap bikes to replace theirs so they could still ride on their anniversary. Because of the missing bolts to the trailer, my dad had to go to Lowe's in search of something temporary he could use to hold the bikes to the trailer. (The bolts needed for that particular trailer are specialized for that trailer, so you can't just buy them off the shelf.)

They were able to get the bikes on the trailer to go riding at their next destination, and my mom says that they enjoyed the day. But she also said how violating it feels to have someone take your things like that. I know that feeling well... several years ago, someone broke into our garage and stole a few things (including an ipod from my car). It wasn't about the actual stuff they took... it was the fact that they came into OUR garage, into OUR car, and rifled through OUR things, taking what they pleased. It's violating! I despise thieves.

I posted about this on Facebook yesterday, and some people suggested a GoFundMe for new bikes for my parents. While I would love to do that, my parents wouldn't feel comfortable accepting it. When I told my mom about it (I didn't want to do it without checking with her first) she said she was very touched but wouldn't feel right using other peoples' money and she wanted to tell everyone to go out and do something nice for someone.

My parents' homeowners insurance will cover the bikes, but they have a $500 deductible and it may raise the cost of their insurance by filing a claim. So my mom is debating whether they will file a claim or not.

They'd filed a police report, and the officer who went to the hotel was super nice and actually seemed to care about trying to get their bikes back. (It would be a miracle if they did.) There was no surveillance camera to get a photo of the thief.

I went on Facebook Marketplace to see if the bikes were listed for sale in that area (no luck). I'll keep checking.

So, anyway, my mom says that they really enjoyed their anniversary and didn't want to let the bikes ruin it. They were able to ride their own bikes all day on Thursday before they were stolen on Thursday night.

Maybe their 50th anniversary next year will be extra special! They certainly deserve it.

UPDATE 7/25:

The bikes have been found!! Thanks to the power of social media, one of my Facebook followers spotted a post by someone who had found my parents' bikes tossed behind a dumpster. I contacted him and my parents are going to pick them up tomorrow.

I still cannot believe the power of social media. I am so grateful for everyone who shared the Facebook post and for the man who posted that he found them--and then for the people who connected the dots! (When I posted about the bikes, I told Jerry that it would be a true MIRACLE if they were found and my parents got them back. But I had to try!)

July 24, 2020

Bike Riding vs. Walking

I had a successful Day 4 of 75 Hard. I can't believe I've made it this far, to be honest!

To give my shin splints a rest, I decided to go for a bike ride in the morning instead of walking. I immediately felt like turning around and doing the walking instead. My "butt bones" hurt so bad from sitting on the bike seat! I kept going, though, hoping it would subside (it didn't--I just hope that I'll get used to it eventually and it'll stop hurting).

If I'd noticed the 6.99 miles before I arrived home, I would've gone a touch farther to hit 7.00--I'm sure that number will bug some of you, haha ;)

Anyway, I found it interesting during each of my (two) bike rides in the past four days that my heart rate is higher when riding my bike than it gets when I walk. In fact, riding my bike puts me right in my MAF heart rate training zone (132-142 bpm).

I never would have thought that to be the case. Biking feels easier to me than walking as fast as my legs will go. When I walk really fast, I can dip into my MAF zone, but it's super uncomfortable and makes the walk not very enjoyable. I have to be very conscious of it. When I ride my bike at a comfortable pace (I keep it on a low speed while in the neighborhoods because I have to pedal more rotations to gain momentum--but it still keeps me slow enough for "neighborhood riding".)

I wanted to find the details on Garmin Connect for my heart rate from yesterday as comparison, but Garmin's app has been "down for maintenance" for 24 hours now. I haven't been able to upload my workouts.

If my butt would quit hurting, I'd like to bike ride more often... maybe one walk a day and one bike ride a day for my 75 Hard challenge. I feel like being in my MAF heart rate zone while intermittent fasting is going to be the most efficient way to burn fat.

Speaking of, the intermittent fasting is getting easier, too. I found that, since I eat a large meal to break the fast and follow it with decaf coffee (with cream) and a snack or dessert of some sort, I'm full enough that I don't even want to eat again for the rest of the evening. Since I eat at 4:00 pm, it's really interesting to me that I don't even have the desire to eat in the evenings--whereas, before, I would snack up until it was time to go to bed. I never felt satisfied. Now I do.

(And yesterday, the kids made cheesecake brownies--I didn't even have a tiny bit of longing to eat one. It didn't even sound good. Very odd for me!)

For my second workout yesterday, I went for a walk in an unfamiliar area (to walk in, at least--I know it well by car). Noah had an appointment and I had an hour to kill, so I killed two birds with one stone--I walked to Lowe's, bought the wood filler I needed, and then walked back to my car. I still had about 15 minutes to go (I'd stopped my watch for the 10 minutes I was in Lowe's), so I just did an out and back from the car.

The timing worked out perfectly--ordinarily, I would have just sat in the car (the waiting room was closed because of COVID). So, it felt good to get the walk done without it even disrupting my day at all.

The walk was totally different from what I'm used to. I live in a very rural area, and I'm not used to busy roads. Walking along this road was a little scary! There was a sidewalk, but the cars were going fast and felt so close. It felt cool to experience a change of scenery, though. I noticed my pace was faster without trying to go faster--it just naturally happened because I was out of my element. My first mile was about 16:00-ish, if I remember correctly.

This 75 Hard challenge has really helped get me into a routine. As I've said many times, I thrive on routine--especially considering I have bipolar disorder. Who knows what will happen when the kids go back to school and my routine changes again, but for now, I feel like I'm back in control. Something I haven't felt in a long time!

I'm really glad that Adam asked me to do this challenge with him. I'm ready to start Day 5--I'm going to take Eli to a fishing area and go for a walk while he fishes.

July 23, 2020

Changing Up the Routine

Little Duck was just chilling on the floor like this. It looks like such an awkward position--I couldn't stop laughing!

Since I have been so productive in the mornings over the past few days as I work on a better sleep schedule, I thought it might be nice to blog in the mornings, too--before I start my day. That way, I don't feel rushed at the end of the day when I know I need to get to bed soon.

So, I'll save what I was going to write about today for tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I'll just share this...

I was putting away laundry and got really sick of the socks that are always "left over" in the hamper--the ones without a match. It drives me crazy! I used to get so irritated with my family because MY socks always have pairs... clearly, they just lose theirs in their bedrooms or something. ;)

Well, a couple of months ago, I noticed that one of my very favorite Balega running socks was missing. After it clearly wasn't going to show up, I started to rethink what could have happened to the socks. There is no way that they could have gotten out of the dryer--there is no spot for them to escape.

The washer, however, was a different story. I had a feeling that they could slip over the top edge of the washing bin (it's a top load washer) and wind up underneath it somehow. So, I ended up Googling, "How to find missing socks in the washing machine" (and was surprised at how many hits came up... I guess it's a very common problem).

I decided to investigate. I unplugged the washer so as not to electrocute myself, and then I removed the back panel. I stuck a flashlight in there and you know what I found? One lone sock. MY sock!

So now I'm back to thinking my family is just irresponsible with their laundry ;)

Meanwhile, though, my boys were actually spending "quality" time together--something they never do. They have such opposite personalities that they never hang out together, and it bums me out. I wish they'd realize they could have a best friend right in the same house!

Anyway, after I found my sock, I discovered the boys in the kitchen making cheesecake brownies. Together. They were even talking! I snuck around the corner and took a few photos to capture the unique moment.

I can't believe how grown up they are!

July 22, 2020

75 Hard - Day 3

I can't come up with a creative title, so this will have to do. I made it through Day 3 of 75 Hard! I feel like if I can get through a week or so, I'll have a long enough streak going that I won't even have thoughts of quitting.

That's usually how things work for me... once I have a solid streak, I don't want to break it, so I become very determined to see it through.

I've been staying super busy, which has helped to keep me on track. The last few days, I've gotten up really early in the morning--like 5:00 or 5:30! I write in my "Some Lines A Day" journal for couple of minutes, then do the 10 pages of reading for 75 Hard while drinking a quart of water--all before I get out of bed.

Then when I do get up, I immediately go for a walk (workout #1 for the day) and take a progress photo in the mirror. So, by 8:00-ish in the morning, I've already done most of the 75 Hard checklist for the day!

Today, I walked Joey this morning (he loves this new routine). It kept looking like it was going to rain, and I was hoping it would. The humidity was 98% and the rain would have felt great. Also, I could check my "rainy walk" off of my Cookies Summer Challenge checklist.

While I was out, I happened to see three rabbits fairly close to the road, spread in a triangle. They were lying down and just starting at Joey and me. It was the weirdest thing! I see rabbits all the time, but I've never seen them do that before. I wonder if they were protecting a nest or something...? I was surprised they didn't run off when we walked by.

The pictures make them look kind of far away, but they were fairly close to the road and they didn't even flinch when Joey and I stopped to watch them for a minute.

Anyway, I've just never seen rabbits do that before. It didn't end up raining during the walk, so I decided to cross off my "bridge walk" on the checklist. It wasn't a very exciting bridge, and I was hoping to hold out for a good one, but I couldn't think of another walk to check off the list. So, here is the bridge. I know, it's intimidating! ;)

Since I've been walking so much, I got shin splints--especially in my left leg, and it's really sore. I also feel pain in the spot where I had my stress fracture five years ago. I know that it's because of the slope in the road. When I walk, I always walk against traffic (which is what pedestrians are "supposed" to do). However, that means I'm always walking with my left foot on the slope. My doctor said that is likely what caused my stress fracture.

So, even though it felt totally weird, I walked on the opposite side of the road, in the direction of traffic. I felt so much relief in my leg when I did that. I'm going to have to make sure to switch it up so that I'm doing each side of the road evenly. The last thing I want is another stress fracture! I've also been rotating my shoes.

After my walk, I drank another quart of water (halfway to my goal for the day). Then I went to Lowe's and bought a bunch of 2x6 boards for the garage. Of course, I left the paper that I'd written the measurements on at home, so I didn't know how many boards to buy. I took a guess and bought 10.

When I got home, I immediately got to work cutting and installing the boards around the perimeter of the garage. When I finished, I had just eight inches of one board left! I couldn't have made a better guess as to how many boards to buy. And I drank another quart of water while I was working.

I forgot to buy wood filler to fill in the little holes from the trim nailer and the screws, so I couldn't prime and paint today. I'll have to buy some tomorrow. I am so excited to see what it looks like when it's done! But even more excited for it to just BE DONE because I want to move all the stuff in the garage back into place.

When I was done working in the garage, it was around 1:00; I decided to do my second workout for 75 Hard. Again, I was sure it was going to rain. To be safe, though, I figured I'd do part of my walk on the beach so that I could cross that one off the list. I hadn't been down to the beach in a long time, so I was shocked when I got down there and saw it was completely underwater!

Jerry and I used to walk along this beach once in a while. It wasn't huge, but there was plenty of space for us to walk in the sand for at least a half mile or so. Needless to say, I turned around and nixed that idea. Of course, as soon as I got home and took off my shoes, it started raining.

As long as I stay busy like I have been, the intermittent fasting isn't hard at all. I break my fast at dinner (an early 4:00) and then have a snack a few hours later. I haven't weighed myself, but I don't really want to for a while. I am feeling really good about this 75 Hard right now, and I feel like if I don't see the scale move downward, I'll get discouraged. I really am doing this challenge to become mentally stronger.

I know it's only been three days, but I am happy with how I'm doing with it. It's been a while since I stuck with anything for three days! Haha.

July 21, 2020

The One Where Duck Helped Me Start Day 2 of 75 Hard

For the past couple of days, I've actually made myself go to bed by 11:00 (last night I was asleep by 10:30). I have been trying to get in a nightly routine where I am done on my computer by 9:00 and then I read on my Kindle until 10:30 or so (when I start falling asleep).

I've always had trouble falling asleep so early, but I think that reading a book without distraction makes me tired enough to fall asleep. And then when I go to bed THAT early, I have woken up earlier for the past couple of days, too. This morning, I was up at 5:00 and wide awake to start the day.

This is how my day started... Duck was determined to help me start my 75 Hard challenge. First, he decided that since my eyes were open, it was time to get up.

Then I wrote a few lines in my 'Some Lines A Day' journal (Amazon affiliate link). Journaling is not part of 75 Hard, but a habit I want to get into.

Then I started drinking my water, and Duck was all about licking the condensation from the bottle while I drank.

Then I read my non-fiction book (I'm reading 'The Complete Guide to Fasting' by Dr. Jason Fung. I liked 'The Obesity Code' (Amazon affiliate links) so much that I started this one. I'm not loving it so far, so I may find something else to read for 75 Hard instead and maybe listen to this as an audiobook like I did with 'The Obesity Code'.)

Duck was clearly intrigued by it, though.

By the time Jerry got home from work at 6:15, I was ready to head out for my first workout of the day--a 45 minute walk. Duck decided not to help me with that one.

I actually wanted to check off one of the walks on my Cookies Summer Challenge list, so I walked until I reached three miles. When I walk, I feel like I'm going faster than I actually am. My pace always surprises me. I took Joey with me this morning.

I did the "progression walk", where each mile is faster than the previous.

When I got home, I drank another quart of water and then changed right into my painting clothes so I could work on the garage some more. I felt like I had so much energy! It was only 7:30 or so, but I had already checked off my 75 Hard list: 1) Two quarts of water; 2) Reading 10 pages; 3) One outdoor 45-minute workout; 4) Taking a progression picture.

I did quite a bit in the garage today. Remember that 2x4 sill that runs along the top of the concrete foundation wall, just below the drywall? I had no idea what to do with it.

I decided to use a bunch of scrap boards my brother had given me to nail to the edge of it all the way around the perimeter. Then, I'll buy some 2x6 boards to put on top of those, so it'll be a little ledge all the way around. It's hard to describe, so I'll take a picture once I get the 2x6's.

But today, I used the table saw to cut down all the boards into 2.5-inch wide pieces (I probably had 25 of them when I was done!). Then I used a trim nailer to attach the to the side of the 2x4's. It already looks better than before.

When I decided to be done with the garage for the day, it was 1:00. Jerry was still sleeping, so I decided to get in my second workout of the day and then I could just relax for the rest of the day. Since I started that one between 12 PM and 2 PM, I counted it as my lunch time walk for Cookies Summer Challenge.

My legs were definitely feeling tired. I had gotten in over 15,000 steps before 2:00 PM, which is a LOT for me.

I was feeling hungry by the time my intermittent fasting "eating window" started at 4:00. It was weird--I felt super energetic all day and then right after I ate dinner, I felt like my whole body just crashed. I got SO tired. After Jerry left for work, I started reading my book. I just started Suzanne Collins' new book, 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'  (Amazon affiliate link) a couple of days ago and I'm loving it! It's a prequel to The Hunger Games. Almost right away, I started falling asleep.

The urge to sleep was so strong that I actually climbed in bed and took a nap. I never, ever take naps! I don't know if it's the extra exercise, or getting up early, or the intermittent fasting, or what--but it was so unlike me to fall asleep during the day. I woke up at 8:00 and knew I had to get up and write my blog post, so here I am.

Anyway, I completed Day 2 of 75 Hard and I'm feeling good about it! The part that I find the hardest is the second workout of the day. I wanted to go for a bike ride today but my butt bones hurt too much from yesterday, haha.

I'm going to read some more of my book and hopefully get another good night's sleep tonight. It would be nice if I can get in the habit of being in bed by 10:30 every night and wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 to start the day with my water, non-fiction reading, and first workout.

I feel really good about the last two days and I feel like this 75 Hard challenge will be good for my self-esteem. I have been feeling terrible about myself lately and being able to stick with something like this makes me feel good and it makes me want to keep going. Of course, I have 73 days to go ;)

July 20, 2020

75 Hard: A Mental Toughness Challenge

I swore I wasn't going to post about this for a while because you all know me... I start things and only finish them about 10% of the time. It sounds like a terrible track record, but if I had given up what I started before reaching every accomplishment in my life, I never would have achieved some of my proudest moments.

  • I tried to lose weight about 10 trillion times before I was finally successful.
  • I tried to give up alcohol for 30 days (and failed) lots of times before I finally decided to give it up for a YEAR in 2019 and was successful.
  • I tried to make a blogging streak of 30, 60, 90+ days several times, and failed. Right now, I've blogged every single day since January 1st (I made the goal to blog daily for a year)

My point is that I'm going to try a lot of things in life and fail. Over and over. Until one day, maybe I'll have a win.

My other point is that it's embarrassing to post "I'm going to do _______!!" and then a week later, admitting that I failed. This has happened numerous times--over the last few years, especially. So each time I post something like this, I'm nervous that it'll be just another of those times.

Which is exactly why I didn't want to share this just yet. It's just another new challenge that appealed to me and I'd like to try it. Will I succeed? I have no idea. Will I learn from it? Probably. Will it be harmful to at least give it a whirl? Nope.

But I decided to post it because I think that MOST people try and fail over and over until they have a win. I don't think many people achieve everything that they say they are going to do. So I'm not alone in that (at least I don't think so).

That right there is the only reason I keep trying new things, new challenges, new ways of doing things. Most of the time, I fail to achieve what I set out for; but a small percentage of the time, I kick ass. And MAYBE this will be one of those times that I kick ass and I can feel really good about it.

When Adam was over a couple of days ago, he told me about a challenge he is doing called 75 Hard.

I could make this post a trillion times longer than my other posts, but I'll try to keep it brief and then give you a couple of resources to check out for yourself.

75 Hard is basically a plan for mental toughness--something I've been lacking REALLY badly lately. There are some physical aspects to it, yes, but the entire point of it is to make yourself extremely disciplined so that you DON'T quit your goals and you DON'T make excuses not to do things. To quote Andy Frisella, the creator the plan:
"This is not a physical challenge. It is a mental challenge, designed to develop all of the characteristics you lack in life that have landed you where you are at. The physical transformations that occur are just the by-product of the mental transformations you will make."
I used to feel mentally tough. Sometimes, when I put my mind to something, nothing can stop me. But other times, I talk myself out of the steps I need to take in order to hit my goals. I really want to feel that mental toughness again!

The plan is 75 days long, and it consists of five components:

1) Follow a diet. This can be any diet you choose. Again, the point is not a "physical fitness" plan, but a mental toughness plan. So, before you start, you choose whatever diet you'd like to follow. Personally, I'm going to go with intermittent fasting. I've been dabbling with it lately and I'd really like to give it a good, hard try. I think 75 days should be a good amount of time.

Following a diet also includes giving up alcohol (this is a rule of the 75 Hard challenge). And there are NO cheat meals allowed (like people who eat clean six days a week and then have a cheat day, etc.)

2) Workout for 45 minutes twice a day, and one must be outside. Adam totally lost me at this. I said no way! But then he explained that it doesn't have to be running, or cross fit, or Insanity, or anything like that. I could choose to do walking, riding a bike, aqua jogging if the pool ever opens, yoga, lifting weights, whatever. As long as I do two 45-minute workouts a day, it counts.

The workouts cannot be together, like a 90 minute workout. They have to be done separately. AND one of them has to be done outdoors. The reason for this is because you can't always control your environment. Sometimes you might have to workout in the rain, snow, excessive heat or cold, or other miserable conditions. This toughens you up mentally because you just have to get it done, regardless of the circumstances. No excuses.

3) Take a progress picture every single day. I am doing simple mirror selfies. The reason for the progress photos is again, to develop a habit--no excuses. Also, it's because people usually hate having their picture taken and mental toughness is built on stepping out of your comfort zone. Finally, even if you don't see a difference on a daily basis, you can eventually flip through the pictures and notice the changes.

4) Drink one gallon of water every day. This doesn't really require an explanation. The point isn't just because water is healthy, but because it's a habit to form, and habits require mental strength. Also, people tend to focus on the big changes rather than the "easy" ones, but the "easy" ones like drinking water are just as important in mental toughness.

5) Read 10 pages of a non-fiction, self-development book every day. Reading 10 pages sounds like nothing, but it's one of those "easy goals" that can get overlooked. It's easy to say, "Oh, I'll just read 20 pages tomorrow". But that's not acceptable for 75 Hard.

So, the huge kicker is that if you fail or modify ANY of these for any reason, even just something tiny, then you have to start over again from Day 1.

When Adam showed me the rules of the challenge, I really focused on what he was saying and thought that it was do-able. The hardest part for me will be the diet and exercise (which is probably the hardest for everyone). However, I REALLY want to develop mental toughness--I used to be very mentally tough, and I know that I can be if I want it badly enough.

Also, I've already been working on intermittent fasting and on the Cookies Summer Challenge, so this will just solidify that. And add a few more things.

When I decided to lose 30 pounds and run a 10K PR (starting in 2015; my race was in April of 2016) I felt a fire inside of me that could not be extinguished for ANYTHING. I wanted that PR so badly and I worked my ass off for it. And I can't even describe how good it felt to go for something that seemed impossible and actually DO IT. I miss that discipline, that determination.

So, today was Day 1 of 75 Hard for me. Miraculously, my knee felt 100% back to normal when I woke up this morning--so weird!--so I went for a walk. While I walked, I listened to an excellent podcast that describes this whole 75 Hard challenge and the meaning behind each of the components. Remember, it's not about physical fitness--it's a challenge for mental toughness.

The podcast episode can be found here on iTunes or here on Spotify. (Just FYI, there is very explicit language throughout). If you want a clean explanation, there is one on his website.

I drank my gallon of water, I took my progress photo, I read 10 pages of a book, and I went for a bike ride as my second workout of the day (I had to dust off my bike and put air in the tires... I can't even remember the last time I rode it!). And as long as I don't eat anything else before bed, then I will have stuck with the intermittent fasting. So, Day 1 was a success! Just 74 more to go ;)

July 19, 2020

Random Camera Roll Pics

I'm not going to write a post today. I was up super late last night with Jerry and Adam (late even for ME), and then I got up early because my body just doesn't like to sleep in. I did do a little work on the garage this morning, but I somehow hurt my knee (I don't remember doing it--I just woke up today and my left knee hurts SO bad). My knee was killing me in the garage, so I went back in the house and set up camp on the couch.

I'm feeling super restless--mentally, I want to go do something! But physically, my knee just won't cooperate. I hope that it's not serious. It's so weird that I can't remember injuring it in any way.

Anyways, I just thought it'd be fun to post some random photos that I have on my phone's camera roll. Mainly just things that I took pictures of and don't really fit in anywhere else!

I'm really in the mood to read a book today, so I'm going to spend the evening doing that.

So, here are some random pictures that are on my camera roll...

This is a sign that my friend Jessica posted (I don't know if she took the picture or not). I love the message!

While it may not be the prettiest sandwich, this is Eli's famous grilled cheese. It's simply HEAVENLY. He made this up all on his own several years ago when I was teaching him how to cook. Here is how he makes it: Add some olive oil to a skillet on medium heat, then chop an onion very fine and add it to the oil. Add lots of garlic (several cloves, minced). Turn the heat down to low and let the onions and garlic sweat so they infuse the oil.

Meanwhile, top a piece of good Italian bread with two slices of Havarti cheese and another piece of bread. Then set the sandwich down into the skillet, right on top of the onions and garlic. Increase heat just a touch to medium-low (to avoid burning the garlic) and cook low and slow until the cheese is melted, flipping over halfway through. Devour immediately. 

This is the "before" photo of a futon we have in our garage. It's just an old second-hand one that we stuck out there in the "man cave" section of the garage. All of the furniture out there is old and worn (and I'm not going to buy new furniture for our garage!) so I figured I'd at least paint some of it and make a new cover for the futon mattress. I'll post an "after" photo when I am done. I'm not painting the metal--just the wood.

This is just a picture of Jerry at work, wearing his mask. I kind of like the skull masks he bought!

An adorable picture of Luke and Riley playing in the rain :)

The only reason this is on my cameral roll is because I found it recently and sent it to my mom. This is from 2014, right when Mark was signed into hospice care and we learned we couldn't bring him to my parents' house--he was going to his nephew's house. I was super upset about it all, and my mom told Jerry and me to go out to dinner to get away.

Noah knew that I was upset about Mark, and he set up this little "nest" for me to relax when I came home. The note reads, "To, Mama! Love you hope you feel well soon! :)"  I don't remember this at all! I must have taken the picture because of how cute it was that he did that, but I don't remember it actually happening.

Jerry bought me a Bingo scratch-off ticket a few days ago, and I won $5 (the same as he paid for it, of course). When we were dating, I would go out to my car after work and sometimes there would be a bottle of Cherry 7-Up (my favorite) and a Bingo scratch-off ticket. He knew I liked to take my time scratching them off, so it was just something fun he'd do once in a while to show he was thinking of me.

Luke and Riley got ice cream from the ice cream truck for the first time while at my parents' house, and I thought it was hilarious to see the packaging vs the actual ice cream. It reminds me of my frozen Smart Ones meals, hahaha.

Adam doesn't eat meat, so when he came over yesterday for dinner, I made Chick Pea Tikka Masala. This is the third time I've made it, and it's SO SO good! I don't even love chick peas, but the sauce is insanely delicious and therefore, the chick peas are, too. Here is the recipe that I used (I skipped the cilantro).

As part of the Cookies Summer Challenge list, I signed up for a virtual race. I just have to get in 20 miles (running, walking, etc) between July 26 and August 8. I thought this would be the perfect medal to have in order to represent this 2020. (So far...)

Finally, I just found this meme funny. Mainly because it's so true! ;)

Okay, I'm off to read my book! I am turning off all distractions so that I actually spend time reading it.

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