My 30 Before 30 List

On July 11, I celebrated my 29th birthday with my husband in Chicago. A few days prior, I completed my “30 before 30” bucket list. In other words, 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. Some of these items are small and manageable. Others are stretch goals. Some may be downright impossible. But I wanted a good mix of all three on my list. Below is my list, with a few items redacted for personal reasons:
  1. Run a 10k: Training in progress!
  2. Run a half marathon
  3. Run a marathon (I know it’s unlikely I’ll run all 3 of these in the span of a year, but I’d at least like to start my marathon training before I turn 30 next year)
  4. *redacted*
  5. Read 30 books: In progress!
  6. Take a solo trip
  7. Go for a hike
  8. Learn another language: In progress!
  9. Begin yoga teacher training
  10. Visit my cousin Jen
  11. Take a spontaneous road trip
  12. Visit a national park
  13. Go camping
  14. Ride a bike
  15. Have a “yes” day
  16. Have a “treat yo’self” day
  17. Take a cooking or knife skills class
  18. *redacted*
  19. Create a Sunday ritual/tradition
  20. Get an essay or article published (DONE! But I hope I can get more than one published)
  21. Travel to a new city
  22. Run in Bellefountaine Cemetery
  23. Start writing my memoir
  24. Write poetry again
  25. Learn a new instrument
  26. Attend a yoga retreat
  27. Learn to make Mom’s chicken and dumplings
  28. Do a handstand
  29. Start a garden
  30. Reduce single-use plastics in my home
I am happy with my list and I think most of the items on here are doable. Some are stretch goals for sure, but hopefully I can make them happen. You only turn 30 once!
Have you ever created a “30 before 30” or similar list? How did you do? Let me know!

The End of an Era

My run streak has come to an end.

That probably sounds a little dramatic, but it’s how I feel right now. I finally went to see a chiropractor to find out if they could do anything to help with the shoulder pain I’ve been dealing with for over a year now. Turns out, my shoulder pain is probably the result of some neck problems, which were probably the result of one or more concussions I had in high school and college.

So the chiropractor is going to start working on my neck, which should relieve my shoulder pain and will probably help quite a few other issues I’ve had over the years. Unfortunately, that means ending my run streak. I asked him twice, just to make sure I actually had to end it. [And I thought briefly about continuing it anyway, but decided I’d rather be pain free and re-start my run streak at a later date.]

Not only do I have to end my run streak, but I can’t do many other physical activities either. He said I could still go to the gym and do things like the stationary bike or elliptical as long as I’m not moving my arms and I’m not hunched over. Those sound worse than the treadmill, to be honest. After about a week or two of adjustments, I should be able to start running again, but it will be a while before I’m doing upper-body work again (not that I was doing much to begin with).

So my 4.5 mile run on Tuesday was my last for a while. I made it 218 days and ran over 370 miles. That run streak pulled me out of a depression that had lasted most of last summer. It showed me just how strong I am. And it reminded me how much I love running. Over those 218 days and 370 miles, I got faster and ran farther.

Now I have to let it go and put my goals on hold. It’s frustrating to say the least. I’m trying to remind myself that a healthy, pain-free shoulder will be a good thing. Because eventually I’ll be able to do other exercises I haven’t done in over a year. Like yoga and lifting weights. I’ll eventually have some upper body strength again, which I completely lost over the past year. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally be able to achieve my goal of doing a headstand.

It was hard starting the past two days without a run. I’ve started the majority of the last 218 days that way and it’s been amazing. I’ve seen a lot of sunrises. I’ve run in the heat and freezing cold; in the snow and rain. I’ve put a lot of miles on my two pairs of running shoes, which are in dire need of retirement. I’ve found money on my runs and seen a car accident. I’ve run on vacations and overcame my hatred of the treadmill. I’ve run through soreness and head colds and on holidays and weekends. I’ve run through every possible excuse to not run.

It’s hard to let it go, even though it’s only for a week or two. But I know when I come back, I’ll make even bigger gains in my training. Once my shoulder is feeling better and I can start doing upper-body exercises again, I’ll be able to cross-train properly, which will make a huge difference in my endurance, speed, and overall strength.

Doing what’s right for your body isn’t always easy, but I’m choosing to take this time to rest and regroup so I can come back better than ever, even if I am starting over at day 1.

2017 Reflections

2017 didn’t exactly go as planned…find out how I did on my goals for this year.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Now that the holiday stress is behind me, I can focus on reflecting on the past year and preparing for the next.

To say this year did not go as planned would be a gross understatement. I didn’t achieve many of my goals. I went from freelancer to full-time copywriter, and back to freelancer. I started running again and did it for 100+ days in a row. I gave up yoga (for now). I’ve struggled with physical pain and depression off and on for much of the year. I had great intentions on getting healthy but ended up eating a lot of pizza and drinking too much beer.

I set 12 goals for myself for 2017. Here’s how I did with each:

  1. Strength Training: This goal was at the top of my list. January was off to a good start, but after I hurt my shoulder, I eventually gave it up altogether. I am attempting to slowly rehab my shoulder, so maybe I’ll make some gains in the strength department in 2018.
  2. Yoga: Similarly, I had lofty goals of making yoga part of my daily routine. That didn’t last long after I injured my shoulder. I’m hoping once it heals, I can work yoga back in, as it will be great cross-training for my running.
  3. Travel: I did pretty well with this one. I went on my first vacation alone to visit my best friend in Savannah in October. We also went to Kansas City a couple times, twice to Carmel, IN, and way back in April we went to Pensacola. We’ve got some big travel plans for next year, too! So I’d say this one was a total success!
  4. Write: As a professional writer, I don’t do nearly enough writing for myself. Finally, I made journaling part of my morning routine. It’s not the next great poem or novel or anything. It’s mostly just to clear my head. But it helps. I also added two publications to my portfolio this month! The first was an article I wrote about the benefits of massage, which you can read here (and my husband adorably framed it for me and hung it in my office as part of my Christmas gift). The second was a feature I did about a line-dancing teacher in Cape who’s keeping seniors active, which you can read here.
  5. Read: I set a goal to read just one book a month and I totally and utterly failed. There’s always next year, though. I’m trying to incorporate reading at least a chapter before bed each night, so hopefully by starting now, it will be easier to continue with next year.
  6. Business Plan: I wanted to create a business plan this year, but this is basically impossible when you have no idea what you really want to do. Maybe next year.
  7. Volunteer: I don’t think I volunteered at all this year. I do, however, have some volunteering opportunities already lined up for next year, so that’s something.
  8. Sustainability: With this one,  I’ve made progress, then I back-tracked. Then I make progress again. I think this will always just be a work in progress.
  9. Minimalism: This one was harder than I thought it would be. And it’s nearly impossible to accomplish when you and your husband are not on the same page.
  10. Marriage: I really wanted to focus on investing more time in our marriage and really focus on us, but that’s really hard since my husband travels a lot for work. I think, fortunately, all marriages are a constant work in progress,  so we aren’t necessarily failing.
  11. Social Media: I wanted to spend less time on social media and I have done miserably awful with this goal. I just can’t seem to do it. Any time I’m bored, I start scrolling through Facebook (which is also pretty boring, to be honest). I need to come up with a solution that will get me to put down my phone and do a meaningful activity instead when I’m “bored” (or have writer’s block).
  12. Outside: I wanted to simply spend more time outside this year. And while I didn’t do so hot with this one for the first half of the year, my running streak certainly made up for it! Thanks to my streak, I’ve spent a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes outside every day for 100+ days. Not a terribly long time, but it’s a start.

Stay tuned for my post about my goals for 2018!

What were your goals for 2017?  Which ones did you achieve? Are there any you’re carrying over into the new year? Or are you giving up on some altogether?

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