Happy New Year! I’m Doing the January Whole30…

Find out why I’m doing the January Whole30 and what all the excitement is about!

Except I’m starting on tomorrow instead of today. My reason? It’s my husband’s birthday, and every year we go to his favorite bar and have yummy food, cold beer, and then head over to the casino.

So although I’m eager to start my January Whole30, I love this tradition and so does he. We’re going to enjoy it and savor every french fry and every sip of beer. Then tomorrow I’ll do all my meal prepping so we’ve got healthy, delicious, Whole30-compliant food for the rest of the week.

january whole30If you’ve been following along for a while, you know this isn’t my first Whole30. Heck, it’s not even my third or fourth. It’s more like my eighth (although I’ve lost count). So why am I doing another round of Whole30?

Well, a lot of my healthy habits got derailed last year. Between my shoulder injury and a few bouts of depression, I lacked the energy and motivation I needed to cook nutritious meals for myself.

By the end of the year, it was painfully obvious I wasn’t giving my body the fuel it needed. My skin was dry and cracked, and I kept getting pimples because I was eating too much dairy. My clothes were fitting tight and I felt bloated constantly despite the fact that I’ve been running a mile or more every day since August.

In general, I just had low energy levels, again, despite exercising every day. So it’s well past time for a reset. Plus, I got The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook and The Whole30 Day by Day, which I am so excited to use during my January Whole30.

The cookbook has tons of quick meals ranging from slow cooker to one-pot/pan/skillet meals, and I’m excited to give those a try. I think they’ll be perfect for a January Whole30 since it will be a busy month for me. Plus, those quick meals will ease me back into cooking regularly without making it a long, drawn-out ordeal every night.

I’m particularly excited to use the Day by Day book, though. It’s part journal, part timeline, part coaching and cheering from Whole30 headmistress herself, Melissa Hartwig. It will make tracking what I eat and how it makes me feel (especially during reintroduction) so much easier. It will also make it easier to pinpoint and track any non-scale victories I experience, like more energy and better sleep.

After I finish my Whole30, I also intend to read Food Freedom Forever, which I finally got as an ebook, but still haven’t read yet! I figure post-January Whole30 will be the perfect time to read it and make a plan for my own food freedom in 2018.

I am so excited to start my year off with the Whole30. It’s definitely going to help with my goal of being healthier and happier this year.

Have you ever done a Whole30? Are you planning to do one this year? Why or why not? Is there something holding you back?

*Please note the links to the Whole30 books are affiliate links.


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?

100 Days of Running

Reflections on 100 days of running.

My run streak reached 100 days last Wednesday (and is still going strong—day 108 today)! If you had told me 100+ days ago that I’d run 100 days in a row, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

I’ve accomplished so much over the past 100 days. I’ve run two 5ks (and PR’d in the second!). My pace has improved. I’ve pushed my limits on speed and distance. I’ve learned when it’s time to take it easy.

Most importantly, I’ve learned my body is capable of far more than I give it credit for. This run streak started because of my shoulder injury, which was keeping me from doing yoga and lifting weights. In fact, I had stopped exercising regularly altogether after my shoulder injury.

My run streak added much-needed regular exercise back into my life. It reminded me to be grateful for what I am capable of rather than dwelling on all the things I can’t do.

The face of someone who spent the last 100 days running!

I have no idea if I’ve lost weight. (My clothes aren’t fitting much looser, so probably not.) But the weight loss (or lack of) doesn’t matter. I feel better. My mind is clearer. My body hurts the way it should after exercise.

Running every day has made me want to improve other aspects of my life, too. I’m trying to make my way back to eating mostly paleo (and I’m planning to do the January Whole30!). I’m trying to make my sleep a priority so I’m rested enough to run every day. And I’m making more time in my days for quiet reflection and journaling.

These 100 days haven’t been easy (I’ve been harassed twice now), but they’ve been 100% worth it. I don’t have any specific run streak goals. I just want to keep the streak alive for as long as possible. I do have plans to run a 10k and half marathon in 2018, though. Stay tuned for my posts reflecting on 2017 and all my goals for 2018!

Have you ever tried a running streak? (Or any other type of streak?) How did it go and how long did it last? Let me know in the comments!

Turkey Trot Recap

PR’d the heck out of my Turkey Trot this year!

IMG_2561.jpgHey there! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! I started the Thanksgiving holiday off by going to see Rudolph at The Fox the night before with our nieces. It wasn’t nearly as awful as this self-proclaimed Grinch expected, and our nieces loved it.

The next morning, I ran my second Turkey Trot 5k, which was my second race (and 5k) of the year. They moved the race from one of the area high schools to SIUE, so things were a little unorganized compared with last year. The race didn’t start on time, which made me anxious since we had to bet at my in-laws’ for lunch in just a few hours.

Once the race started, though, I felt pretty good. I intentionally started off a little slow so I wouldn’t lose steam by the end of the race. When I checked my pace after mile 1, though, it was at about 10:15. That was much faster than I expected, so I slowed down a little more. Mid-race there was no shade, so I started to get warm. I pulled off my gloves and my ear muffs (which is really like a big headband I wear over my ears…I don’t know what those are called).

My second mile ended up being a little slower, but not by much. I was still well under an 11-minute pace. Around this time the relatively flat course began a slight incline. There weren’t any hills. It was just a slight incline that persisted for most of mile 3. It was brutal.

IMG_2564.jpgAs I approached the finish line, the clock said something along the lines of 34:45. I was determined to finish under 35 minutes since I was so close. I picked up my pace, huffing and puffing the rest of the way across the finish line. I immediately used my inhaler (my asthma is the worst when the weather is cold).

My husband (aka the best cheering squad ever) took my picture as I crossed the finish line. A minute or so after I met up with him, I got a text with my race results. Although the clock was at 34-something as I crossed the finish line, my official course time was 33:20. That’s a full 3 minutes faster than my last 5k! It’s also two minutes faster than last year’s turkey trot.

I am so, so proud of myself. I’ve got an almost 100-day run streak going and it’s been hard to really see progress day to day because my pace seems to fluctuate a lot. This race showed me I am improving, even if progress is slow.

IMG_2568.jpgAfter the race, we went home to shower and then went over to my in-laws’ house for lunch. We ate turkey, drank beer, and looked through the Black Friday ads with our nieces.

Later, we went to visit my grandpa in the nursing home and then went over to my aunt and uncle’s house for dessert. All in all, it was a good day.

Over the weekend, we got our house decorated for Christmas and I went to another Thanksgiving get together with my mom’s family.

It was a weekend full of PR’s, good food, family, and friends. It was crazy and hectic and a little stressful, but it was a great way to kick off the holidays.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Did any of you run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving? How’d it go?


Run Streak Day 76: The Day I Was Harassed by a Group of Teenage Boys

Running and sexual harassment.

I’m on day 78 of my run streak. I’ve been running semi-regularly since college. In all that time, I’ve never experienced any harassment (while running) as awful as what I experienced the other day.

The weather on Sunday was warm, so rather than just doing a mile, I figured I’d take advantage of the warmer temps and do a 5k instead. I think my neighborhood is relatively safe. I run by myself regularly at almost any time but late at night. I don’t carry mace, mostly because I don’t want another thing taking up space in my pockets. That, and I’m also (probably) unnecessarily worried I’ll accidentally mace myself. All I carry with me on my runs are my phone and keys.

I used to run with my oldest dog, Copper, but her constant stops and starts for potty breaks made it harder, and she’s not great on longer distances. Plus, when we got our puppy, Penny, I didn’t feel like it was fair to take one and not the other (and you’re not supposed to run with dogs until they’re a year old or so). I did always feel a little safer having Copper with me, though, despite not being that intimidating.

On Sunday, about halfway through my run, I saw a group of teenage boys up ahead. I slowed my pace down and tried to count them. I counted at least 7, but there were probably 10 or more. A couple of them were bouncing basketballs, so I hoped they were going to the nearby school to play basketball.

I was hoping that by slowing down they’d eventually turn toward the school and I could keep going. But they kept stopping and starting again, so I had to make a decision: Either run through them, or cross the street and try to run past them. I crossed the street.

I didn’t pick up my pace enough, though, so we reached the next intersection at the same time. Rather than them continuing straight or turning right toward the school, they turned left—toward me. I tried to run past them, but ended up running through them anyway.

As I did, they started murmuring comments, most of which I didn’t hear. I heard two distinct comments, though, as I ran past. One was “Damn, mama.” The other: “Let me eat that pussy.” I kept going, pretending I didn’t hear them. When I was sure none of them had followed me and they had moved on, I stopped. I cried.

A million thoughts raced through my mind. Those were teenage boys. The oldest in the group couldn’t have been more than 15. Some looked as young as 10. And those are the things they thought were appropriate to yell out to a woman running down the street.

I was angry. Frustrated. Embarrassed and ashamed, even. There I was, middle of the day on a Sunday, just trying to get my run in and push myself to run farther than normal. I wasn’t wearing anything revealing. My outfit consisted of capris and a t-shirt. I did nothing to provoke them (unless they were upset that I crossed the street to try to avoid them).

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced harassment on a run. I’ve been honked at and stared at. I’ve occasionally had guys yells things at me, usually from a car as they drove by. But I’ve never experienced anything as bad as this.

I struggled to finish my run after that. I was fighting back tears and trying my hardest to breathe. I had to walk a couple more times after that. I finished the run about a minute faster than the pace of my last 5k. I should have been proud of that PR. Instead, I was angry that I was forced to stop at all. How much faster could I have finished if that hadn’t happened? Instead of being excited about my improved pace, I was angry they kept me from doing better.

Of course, the anger, coupled with the shame and embarrassment, was followed by blame and thoughts of “What could I have done differently?” I could carry mace, but that wouldn’t do any good with a group that size. My dog may have been a better deterrent in this case, but even that’s questionable.

Regardless, none of them touched me, or made any attempt to (as far as I know). Macing someone for making comments as they pass by is probably an overreaction.

Two days later, I still feel uneasy. I’m still trying to figure out what I can do to keep myself safe when running by myself. At the same time, I’m entirely frustrated that these are things I have to think about at all.

Why should I need to carry mace or run with an 80-pound dog? Why are women forced to constantly find ways to protect themselves from predatory men (and boys)? Why are we not teaching our sons that harassment is not okay?

Instead, female runners (and women in general), have to think:

Is this area safe enough for me to run alone? 

Is this area well-lit enough for early morning or late evening runs? 

Is my phone fully charged in case I need to call someone in an emergency? 

Should I skip the music for this run so I am 100% aware of my surroundings? 

Will I have enough energy to fight back or run away if I’m attacked half-way through my run? 

Do I have anything I can use as a weapon if necessary (i.e. keys, mace, etc.)?

These are just a few of the things women have to think about every time they go out for a run. Men rarely (if ever) worry about these things when they run (or go out drinking with friends, or go shopping late in the evening).

I could write about this topic for days, but I’ll leave you with a couple questions:

What safety precautions do you take when you go out for a run? Do you carry mace? What would you have done in my situation? 

If you have sons (or little brothers or nephews or cousins, etc.), do you intend to teach them what harassment is and that it’s not okay? Will you also teach them how to recognize harassment and stop others from doing it? 

Race to the Shrine 5K Recap & Other Updates

Find out if I PR’d in my most recent race and what I found out about my shoulder.

Another race, another medal.

I ran my first race of the year on Saturday! The weather was perfect and the course was hilly.

After 60+ days of running, I expected to do a little better than I did. I was disappointed in my pace and overall time. My official race time was 36:57 with a pace of 11:54.

Despite being disappointed in my time/pace, I was proud that I only stopped to walk twice, and that was at two of the water stations. Aside from that, I kept on running—something I don’t think I’ve ever done before.

Although I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I know why. I haven’t been pushing myself lately. Part of that is from pure exhaustion (4:30 a.m. wakeup calls from a 5-month-old puppy are ruff rough). But it’s also because I’ve been kinda lazy. I haven’t wanted to put in the work.

Penny, Copper, & Me. They suck at selfies.

I haven’t pushed myself much to improve my speed. And I haven’t been taking the time on weekends to run longer distances. Finding the time to get enough sleep and run more than a mile has been really difficult lately.

That’s all changing as we speak, though. You see, I quit my job yesterday (for reasons I won’t discuss here). So until I find another job, I’m back to freelancing, which is definitely not the worst thing.

Basically, now I get to make my own schedule again. So if I want to go run a 5K in the middle of the week instead of on the weekend, I can. While this certainly isn’t how I wanted things to happen, I’m going to make the best of it.

It will give me the opportunity to find the perfect job, while also prioritizing my health and my goals.

Speaking of health, I got the results back from my MRI on my shoulder. Fortunately (I think), there was nothing visibly wrong with it. My doctor said it’s possible there’s a microscopic tear the MRI didn’t pick up, but the only way to find out is through surgery.

She recommended I continue taking anti-inflammatory meds and doing strengthening exercises and that we only consider surgery if it continues to not improve, or gets worse.

Obviously, something like surgery is out of the question anyway since I quit my job, but I wasn’t really considering surgery to begin with. I’m frustrated that I have no real solution for my pain, but I’m also relieved it doesn’t require surgery (at least not yet).

So there you have it. No race PR (unless you count not stopping to walk as a PR), no job, and no solutions for my shoulder.

It all sounds rather negative. And just a few short months ago, all this probably would have been devastating to me. Right now, though, I feel like I’m in a really good place. I’m only looking at the positives of all this.

Not getting a PR means I can improve before my next race (Turkey Trot). Quitting my job means I’m creating space in my life for a much better opportunity, whatever that may be. And having a negative MRI means I can heal my shoulder on my own, without painful and expensive surgery.

What’s going on in your world this week? Any recent PRs? How do you handle negative issues and tough situations?


Shoulder Woes

A non-update/rant about my injured shoulder.

I thought I’d have semi-good news to report, but I don’t. In fact, I almost deleted this post altogether, assuming I’d have some news. So far, I don’t know anything new.

To recap, my shoulder has been hurting since February. I suspect it at least started as an overuse injury.

I went into the New Year at full speed, doing both strength training and yoga every day. By February, I couldn’t do basic yoga poses without feeling some pain in my right shoulder.

The pain has has never been excruciating—more like an annoyance on most days—so I kept putting off going to the doctor thinking it would eventually go away. It didn’t, so I finally went to my primary care doctor.

To start, they did a basic exam and then put me on anti-inflammatory meds. I had terrible insurance at the time, so I put off getting x-rays. Eventually, after getting new insurance through my current job and still having pain, I went for x-rays.

My doctor said I had a bone spur and wanted me to do physical therapy. Well, after about 5 sessions of that, my shoulder was feeling the same, if not worse. So they sent me to an orthopedist.

The orthopedist did more x-rays. After looking at the x-rays, discussing my symptoms, and looking at my range of motion, she said it’s likely that I tore something. But since I’m only 28 and otherwise healthy and active, she wanted to take a more conservative treatment approach.

So she gave me a cortisone shot in the office (and holy hell was I in pain the rest of the day) and told me she wanted me to try another 4-6 weeks of physical therapy now that we had a better idea of what’s wrong.

A couple hours after I scheduled my first PT session, they called me back to let me know my insurance wouldn’t cover more sessions since I haven’t met my deductible. This meant it would cost me $130 per visit. That’s a whole lot of money in just a month’s time.

I canceled the appointment and called my doctor’s office to see if there was another option. Instead of PT, she decided to go straight for an MRI (an arthrogram—meaning they use contrast dye—to be specific) to determine exactly what’s torn and where.

My MRI was originally scheduled for today after work. They called me yesterday to confirm the appointment, and then called back a couple hours later saying they needed to reschedule. Apparently when they made the first appointment, they didn’t pay attention to the fact that my doctor wanted an arthrogram.

I could have rescheduled for Thursday, but I’m flying to Georgia that day, so I had to push it to the week after I get back. So my appointment is a week from today. A week more of pain and a week more of wondering whether or not I’ll need surgery to fix whatever’s wrong.

Really, I’m just bummed. I’ve been dealing with this since February, which is frustrating. I’ve spent more than half the year injured and in pain. Sure, part of that is my fault for not getting it checked out sooner, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

How do you stay positive when injuries or other ailments are causing you pain and keeping you from being as active as you’d like?