2017 Goals Check In

A look back at my 2017 goals and how I’m doing.

Way back at the beginning of the year, I set 12 attainable goals. Or so I thought. I didn’t do a mid-year check-in, so now that Fall is here, I thought I’d take a look back to see how I’m doing on those goals. (Spoiler: Not great.)

  1. Strength training. This was the first goal on my list. At the time I set this goal, I had been participating in the Harder to Kill program with Steph Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo. I was lifting weights and doing functional movements and felt strong and wanted to get stronger. Then I hurt my shoulder. I’ll be honest, I tried to lift weights anyway—more than once. Eventually, I finally realized I wasn’t going to get better if I kept doing that. Here I am months later, still with no definitive answer as to what’s wrong (I’ll do a separate post about my shoulder later). So this goal is (and has been) on hold for a while.
  2. Yoga. My second goal was to do more yoga. During the month of January, I was doing a 30 day yoga challenge. It was a great way to start the year, but I suspect that may have either caused or contributed to my shoulder injury. Again, I tried to keep pushing through it, but eventually had to just give it up. I can’t wait for the day I can start doing yoga again. It’s such a great way for me to de-stress, plus it’s great cross-training, too. Some day, my mat and I will be reunited.
  3. Travel. This one has actually been a bit of a success. We went to Pensacola back in April for our first real vacation since our honeymoon. I also went to visit my husband in Carmel, IN while he’s been out of town for work. Most recently, we went to Kansas City, MO for the Chiefs home opener. And in a few short weeks I’ll be jetting off to Savannah, GA to visit my best friend for a few days! We may try to squeeze in another weekend getaway or two in later this year, too!
  4. Write. I’m a writer, so you’d think this is an unnecessary goal. But I spend so much of my time writing for other people (clients/bosses) that it’s hard to find the time, energy, and inspiration to write for myself. Over the summer, when I was really struggling with depression and low energy levels, I did almost no writing. Now that I’m finally starting to feel “normal” again, most of my writing has been here on the blog. Which I’m totally okay with. I love writing about running and exercise/nutrition in general, and writing about these topics means I’m also constantly learning.
  5. Read. I set a goal to read one book a month. Totally doable, right? Wrong. I’m not sure how many books I’ve read so far this year, but it’s been nowhere near that many.
  6. Business plan. This one has been on hold. I can’t settle on exactly what I want to do and how. And I need to figure that out before I can make an actual business plan. So maybe I’ll make some progress on this later this year. Or maybe next year. We’ll see.
  7. Volunteer. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything I’ve volunteered for this year. Once I gave up freelancing and went back to a regular full-time job, it got much harder to make time for stuff like this (and exercise, too). I have pinpointed a few organizations that I would like to volunteer with in the future, so that’s a start at least.
  8. Sustainability. At some point last year we started using cloth napkins and really cut down on our use of disposable items like paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. Since then I’ve been trying to find other ways to reduce the amount of waste we create. My progress was pretty minimal until I discovered the magic of Norwex. Their microfiber cloths allow you to clean using just water. This eliminates the need for extremely wasteful things like Clorox wipes (which I used all the time), Swiffer pads, and more. I also love their makeup remover cloths, which are reusable and remove my makeup with just water. So I eliminate the waste of makeup remover wipes/cotton squares and save money! The company itself is also working really hard to reduce waste from plastic, so I feel good about purchasing their products. (Note: I am officially a Norwex consultant now because I really do love and believe in the products, but I’m not here to sell you stuff.)
  9. Minimalism. Basically, I set a goal to accumulate less stuff. I’ve sort of done okay at this, but there’s a whole lot I need to purge from our home, too. I have yet to create a capsule wardrobe, but I do have a pretty limited number of clothes I wear to work, so we’ll call that progress. I’ve also been better about saying “no” to things I really don’t need or want.
  10. Marriage. Our first year of marriage was hard. We really put it through the ringer by packing up and moving to Dallas less than 3 months after we got married. For 2017, I really wanted to focus on making our relationship as good as we possibly can. I can’t say 2017 has really been easier on us since my husband has been traveling so much for work. But we are taking steps to make sure we’re in a good place. I think this is a goal that’s always going to be a work in progress, and that’s okay.
  11. Social media. My goal was to spend less time on social media. I did take a hiatus earlier in the year, which was pretty great, honestly. But then I got sucked back in. No matter what I try, I can’t seem to find sustainable ways to minimize the amount of time I spend mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. My husband and I are trying to be better about not doing that when we’re together so that we’re actually spending quality time with each other rather than our phones.
  12. Outside. My final goal was simply to spend more time outside this year. I’m not sure I did too well with this the first 3/4 of the year. Since I started running again, though, I’m spending much more time outside. I’m also making a conscious effort to get outside once an hour to take a break from work, stretch, and soak up some vitamin D. We’ll see how long that lasts once winter sets in.

Running was not a goal I had for this year, but all the progress I’ve made has me really excited. You can bet you’ll see some running-related goals on next year’s list!

Did you set any goals for 2017? Are you making any progress? Did you achieve any? Let me know!

Tips for Healthy Living

A couple tips for living a healthy lifestyle.

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Elysium Health. Since I’d never heard of the company, I did some digging. What I found is that they’re a health/wellness company that focuses on cellular health (sounds cool, right?). In my research, I found they have a scientific advisory board comprised of 7 Nobel Laureates, which definitely got my attention.

I was excited to see Elysium included one of my own tips for healthy living in their graphic, along with tips from 3 others. The final graphic, which I’ve included below, turned out great, and includes some great tips on healthy living–both from Elysium and the other bloggers.

ElysiumSCBGa

You can learn more about their supplement for cellular health here. (Please note I have not used this supplement, nor am I endorsing the use of any supplements–always talk with your doctor before taking any new supplements.)

As you can see in the graphic, one of my tips is to find an exercise you love and a time of day that works best for you. Yes, variety is good, but sometimes (especially when you’re getting started), just finding something you enjoy is a great way to start. For me, I love running and yoga, and I really like to start my day with exercise. I’ve been running every morning for 22 days in a row now because yoga is off the table (seeing an orthopedist for my shoulder soon).

Here are my 2 other tips for healthy living:

  1. Stay active throughout the day. We’re more sedentary than ever, so staying active is a true challenge. As a writer, I’m glued to my desk and computer all day long. Making a conscious effort to get up and move is crucial. I use my FitBit to give me a reminder to move every hour and I get up and take a quick walk around the office parking lot. It gives me time to stretch my legs and gives my mind a break (especially helpful for combating writer’s block).
  2. Make mindful decisions about your nutrition. You should never follow a diet just because that’s what everyone else is doing. You have to find what works for you. I’m still working on this and my diet is always a work in progress. I highly recommend the Whole30, as it’s a great way to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle while also figuring out which foods are affecting you in a negative way.

What tips do you have for leading a healthier lifestyle? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Talk Sports Bras

I don’t know about you, but sports bras have been one of the worst things about trying to live an active life. They’re either not supportive at all or you have to be a magician to get them on and take them off.

I think my first sports bras were the totally non-supportive Champion ones from Target. And since I’ve been well-endowed since before middle school, I had to wear at least two at a time.

Those are what I’d wear to play softball in high school and during gym glasses. They provided zero support, even when doubled up.

In college, as I got more interested in running, I knew I needed something with better support. Luckily, I found Under Armour. I got two black racerback sports bras, which had actual cup sizes (rather than small, medium, large, etc.). This was so long ago, I’m not even sure they still make these bras, but they look similar to this one (please note the below does not come in cup sizes):

Those were more supportive and allowed me to run comfortably for the most part. I still have them, but they’ve stretched out over the years so they’re less than ideal for high impact exercise.

Later in college I discovered Moving Comfort sports bras by Brooks Running. They not only had bras with cup sizes, but band sizes too—and they had options that were actually cute.

My first Moving Comfort bra was a pink and gray Juno style, which is a racerback that goes over your head, but also has the traditional bra clasps in the back:

That bra served me well for a few years, but they were a little expensive on a college student budget, so I never bought a second one. A few years later (after gaining some weight), I started doing yoga.

I loved yoga, but none of my sports bras were right for it. Although the Juno was very supportive for high impact sports like running, it was a little too small and low-cut, making it useless for yoga. Same goes for my slightly stretched out Under Armour bras.

Basically, any time we did forward folds or downward dogs, my chest shifted around so much that I had to readjust every time we were upright again. Pretty distracting.

Eventually, I went to Lululemon to try some of their bras. I wanted something cute but also supportive. What I left with was definitely cute, but definitely not supportive:

The shifting was worse during yoga with that bra, so there’s no way I could ever run in it. I now reserve that bra for doing chores around the house and other very low-impact, fully upright activities.

After asking around, I had a few people recommend a different style by Moving Comfort/Brooks Running. The Fiona was the most recommended style because it has fuller coverage than the Juno and it’s also easy to put on/take off, because it’s not a racerback.

So I finally went and bought one. The Fiona is not cute. The bigger size you need, the less cute the bra (sports or regular). I went with a black one.

It fits well, it’s comfortable, and it provides the support and coverage I need. It still isn’t the one though.

The Fiona has this lining in it that isn’t sewn down. So it wrinkles and can be uncomfortable in general. I also really dislike the band, which constantly folds up. This may or may not have something to do with that lining issue.

While the Fiona is certainly one of the better sports bras I’ve purchased, it’s still not perfect. Maybe the perfect sports bra doesn’t exist. (Or maybe the perfect ones are all out of my price range.)

For now, I’m alternating between the Fiona and the Juno (with my Under Armour ones ready when I haven’t done laundry) while I search for better options.

Have you struggled to find the perfect sports bra? What brands/styles have you tried? Have you found the one? Let me know!

—AB

Exciting Things Happening

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here. We went on vacation the first week of April, and catching back up with work and other exciting things just made the rest of the month total chaos. I’ll start with telling you about our vacation:

Vacation started with Opening Day. We spent most of the day downtown enjoying the beautiful weather before watching the Cardinals beat the Cubs that night. The next morning, we left for Pensacola, FL. We drove, and somewhere in Tennessee, my check engine light came on. I texted my cousin who does all the work on my cars and he said as long as the light wasn’t flashing, we were okay, but he said to stop by an Autozone to have them pull the code. We did, and fortunately, it was nothing to worry about (we stopped at a Chevy dealer to double check before we drove the rest of the way).

The rest of the trip was uneventful, as any good vacation should be. We ate at all our favorite restaurants and tried a few new places too. We got to go to the beach twice, and we got in the water, believe it or not! The water wasn’t as cold as I expected, but the windiness made getting out of the water freezing! I didn’t have any books to read with me at the beach because I was in between library loans (I had just returned one and was on several waiting lists for others, which, of course, weren’t available until we got back).

It ended up being a great vacation, albeit a little too short (driving really cuts down on the amount of time you get to spend relaxing!).

When we got back from vacation, things were more than a little hectic. We still hadn’t finished our taxes, mice were still nesting in our oven (that should probably be its own post), and my car needed an oil change, plus we needed to figure out exactly why the check engine light came on.

On top of all that, I got called in to interview for a job I had applied for. The interview went really well and they offered me the job the next day. After some negotiations, I accepted the job! I put in my two weeks’ with my freelancing jobs and I start my new job as a full-time copywriter tomorrow! 🙂

All this craziness and stress had not helped my shoulder, though, and my other shoulder started hurting too. I went back to the doctor but got no answers, which was really frustrating. Finally, I decided to try getting a massage to see if that would help. It was only my second massage ever, and it was my first deep tissue massage. It ended up being so much better than my first. It didn’t eliminate my shoulder pain right away, but by the next day, I felt so much looser and more relaxed in my shoulders, upper back, and neck. I may need to make deep tissue massages a regular addition to my self-care. I’m still having some slight tenderness in my right shoulder, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was before.

I’ve been running a lot more lately to make up for all the yoga I’m not doing. Most of my runs have been with Copper, which makes them more challenging because she stops so suddenly! That stopping and starting really works the legs! My runs are slowly improving, though, so at least I’m seeing some progress. I’m probably going to start doing some light weightlifting again to start re-strengthening my arms. More than a month without any weightlifting has made me weak! I’m considering going back to yoga, too, and just avoiding/modifying poses that will cause my shoulder too much irritation. We’ll see how my first week at the new job goes!

I hope you’ve all been well! I’m hoping to blog a little more frequently now that things are starting to calm down! 🙂

-AB

 

Setbacks

I finally decided on Monday that I should maybe ask my yoga instructor what she thinks about my shoulder problem. Her response? Get it looked at asap. Bummer.

I attempted to see the doctor on Wednesday but, thanks to an insurance snafu, had to reschedule for today. My doctor said it could either be tendinitis in my rotator cuff or a slight tear in the tendon. Either way, I’m under strict orders to avoid weight-bearing exercises for two full weeks. So no yoga. 😦

She also gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer. If I don’t see any improvements within the first week, she said she wants me to take the anti-inflammatory for a full month. She said I’m too young to have to have shoulder surgery, but didn’t really say what the next steps would be if the rest and anti-inflammatories don’t help.

While I was there I asked her about a few other things. One thing was, thankfully, totally normal and nothing to worry about. The other could be some sort of deficiency, so we did some blood work. We’ll see what that turns up.

I guess since yoga is pretty much off-limits (at least a normal flow practice is anyway), I should get back into running this week. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone out for a run (that whole lack of energy thing is mostly to blame, but also pure laziness). We’ll see what the weather does. St. Louis is expecting snow tomorrow.

If you have any exercise tips for me that don’t involve my shoulder, I’d appreciate it! Hope you guys have a great weekend!

-AB

Marching On

Despite being a short month, February felt incredibly long. While I managed to make some progress toward some of my goals for this year, I fell behind on others. I completely stopped my strength training and went from doing yoga every day to doing it just two days a week (if that). At some point at the end of January I messed up my shoulder and more than a month later, it still hurts. I’ve tried taking ibuprofen, icing it, stretching, and mobility exercises only to find temporary relief.

I’m giving it another week with some new exercises and more ibuprofen before I give up and go to the doctor. Because I need my shoulder working properly. I already have bad knees! I can’t have a bad shoulder too–I have big yoga goals this year…like doing hand-stands and whatnot. I need strong shoulders for that!

So on the exercise front, things are not going so well. I haven’t had a ton of energy lately. It seems to take me everything I’ve got just to get out of bed most mornings, despite getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night.

I did manage to make more of an effort to work on some personal writing projects in February. In the past month I’ve written and revised a new poem and wrote and article I’m hoping to submit to an online publication pretty soon. Re-dedicating myself to creative writing has really sparked my motivation. I’ve got some great ideas for some future projects that I can’t wait to work on.

I have pretty much completely cut out all the foods I’m allergic and/or sensitive to, including dairy, gluten, and eggs. I’ve been doing dairy-/gluten-free on and off for several years now, so that was never a huge deal to me. But throwing eggs in the mix has been a huge source of frustration. My options for eating out are so much more limited, and breakfast options are pretty much non-existent.

What’s even more frustrating is that even after cutting all this junk out of my diet, I still don’t feel great. I was hoping I’d have more energy, fewer breakouts, etc., but no. I seem to wake up every other day with a new pimple or zit, the eczema on my toes won’t go away, and I’m as tired as ever.

We’re looking into gym memberships so my hubby and I can start working out. Our thinking is that if we’re paying for it, we’re more likely to use it. And I’m hoping that if we go to the gym together, we can motivate each other and keep each of us accountable. I know once we get going, the energy and motivation will come back. It’s the getting started part that’s the hardest.

As far as my goals for budgeting/saving/paying off debt goes, we’ve made some progress! I paid off one credit card last month and put my entire paycheck from my second freelance gig toward another. It was a really good feeling. We’ve also been setting aside money in three separate savings accounts: Emergency, Vacation, and Car Repairs/Home Renovations.

We booked our next vacation, and we’ve been using money from the Home Renovation account to slowly but surely make some necessary upgrades in our house. Most recently, we installed a new toilet and vanity in our master bathroom, because what was in there looked ancient. We have a long way to go with our house, but it’s a start. And we are more committed than ever to putting money into savings (or towards debt) when we have extra. We aren’t quite budgeting, but we have a system right now that seems to be working pretty well for us, so I’m not gonna mess with it.

In an effort to save money and save me the frustration of eating out multiple times a week (really hard when you can’t have gluten, dairy, and eggs), we meal prepped together on Sunday. It went by so much more quickly with both of us doing it together and we have plenty of quick and easy (and healthy!) meals for the week now! We are going to make more of an effort to meal prep together so we aren’t eating out as often.

This month, I’m hoping to spend a little more time exercising (providing the shoulder pain goes away) and a lot more time reading and writing!

How are your 2017 goals coming along? Have you run into any obstacles? How are you dealing with them?

2017 Goals Check-In

I posted my 12 goals for 2017 about a month ago. Now that we’re a month into the new year, I figured I’d do a check-in to see how things are going. Some things I have really focused on while others I’ve made little to no progress with at all. I started the year off by doing yoga every day (31 Days of Yoga by Yoga with Adriene) which was incredible. I’m going to continue trying to practice yoga every day.

I can’t remember the last time I did any strength training exercises. I was feeling a little under the weather early in the month and thought lifting weights would just make me feel worse. Since I’ve been doing yoga–sometimes twice a day–I just haven’t gotten back into the weights. I’m hoping to get back to that this month. I also have not gone for a run in what seems like forever. I’m just not cut out for cold weather running, and the days it has been warmer, I haven’t felt up to getting out there.

We haven’t done any traveling yet, but we’ve got a nice vacation fund going. We’re hoping to take our first trip sometime this March or April. It’s kind of up in the air right now, but hopefully we get it planned soon.

Toward the end of the month, I finally got some inspiration to do a little writing. As a freelance copywriter, that’s all I do, all day every day. By the end of the day, it’s hard to find the energy or inspiration to do my own thing. But for the past week or so, I’ve been working on a little side project that I’m pretty excited about! Hopefully I can get it finished in another week or two.

I’m not quite sure if I’m on track for my “read one book a month” goal. But I’m almost finished with our first book of the year for book club and I’ve got a long TBR list going. I finally gave up on audiobooks. They just aren’t for me. But I’ve been making it more of a priority to read at least a little bit each day, so I think that’s going to help me with this goal.

I finally took that social media hiatus I’ve been thinking about for more than a month. I’ve been social-media-free for two full days now and it has felt great. I have so much free time now that I’m not constantly checking Facebook. I’ve been reading, writing, and I even got my violin out and got it tuned yesterday.

I haven’t made a ton of progress on my other goals so far, but it’s still early in the year, so I’m not too worried. I’m excited about the changes I’ve made so far and looking forward to making more changes to bring me closer to my goals.

Tell me about your 2017 goals. Are you still going strong after one month?