I Finished the January Whole30 But…

I’m not stopping at 30 days!

FFC47689-CEF1-4C6C-8E10-193496F631AC-19105-0000117502365E44.jpgAs of today, I’m on day 32, and I’m going to keep going for a while. The past 30 days have been pretty great (I’ll get to my non-scale victories shortly), but it’s just not enough this time. My primary motivation for this round was to see how it would affect my shoulder. And while it has eliminated that 24/7 chronic pain I was dealing with, I think it could be better.

So I’m going to keep on keepin’ on for another 10-15 days at least to see just how much better my shoulder can feel. I also didn’t see as much improvement in my sleep and energy as I’d hoped I would (I mostly blame this on stress), so I’d like to see if those get any better as well.

IMG_2863.jpgMy experience wasn’t all negative, though! Before I get to all my amazing NSVs, I want to talk about the two books that were total game changers for this round of my Whole30. First, The Whole30 Day by Day is the journal I wanted to keep during my first several rounds but was too lazy to do so. I was able to keep track of how I was doing and feeling, the NSVs I was seeing, and it offered tips and tricks to help get me through those “kill all the things” days.

For those 30 days, I read and journaled in that book every morning and night. It became a familiar ritual (which I’m now replacing with journaling and meditation) that gave me some perspective on the day ahead and allowed me to reflect on what I learned. I’m not saying I couldn’t do another round without this book, but man, it would be hard.

IMG_2858.jpgThe second book that made a huge difference for this round was The Whole30 Fast & Easy cookbook. This book was full of new and exciting recipes to try, most of which involved few ingredients and minimal prep/cook time. I tried a bunch of them and they were all delicious (although many did not turn out nearly as pretty as the photos in the book!). I even got creative when I realized I was missing a few ingredients and/or bought the wrong things. Improvisation is not something I would have been comfortable with prior to this round.

And with that non-scale victory, let’s get into the list: IMG_2942.jpg

  • Tried one or more new recipes per week
  • Got really good at meal prepping
  • Relied on my allergy medicine less (I was taking one every night, now I’m taking it as-needed)
  • No more belly bloat
  • Fit back into my favorite pair of jeans
  • Tried beets again (still don’t like them, but I gave them another shot)
  • Clear skin
  • Lightened under-eye circles
  • Tried new Lacroix flavors and discovered I love the grapefruit one
  • Ran almost 55 miles over the month and started training for a 10k (more on that in a separate post to follow)
  • I met my goal of exercising every day during my Whole30
  • Created healthy rituals and routines that aren’t focused around food, like journaling each morning and reading before bed each night
  • Gained more confidence in my appearance and my abilities
  • Had the energy and courage to tackle hard things
  • Stopped waking up every morning with a headache
  • Fewer stomach aches
  • No more brain fog

I didn’t weight myself before starting and I didn’t take any “before” photos. The weight wasn’t that important to me—I just wanted my clothes to fit better, and they do! There are probably more that I’m forgetting, but that’s a pretty impressive list of NSVs if I do say so myself. Hopefully in another week or two I can say my shoulder is almost pain free and I’m sleeping better. Time will tell!

In the meantime, I’m reading Food Freedom Forever, which I started about half-way through my Whole30. It’s another game changer and I highly recommend it!

Did you do the January Whole30? How did it go? If you haven’t done a Whole30, but you’re curious, let me know how I can help!

*Please note this post contains 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.

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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!

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.

IMG_2405.jpg
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.

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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?

 

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!

Getting Back into Blogging—And Running

I took a long and unintended hiatus from blogging. I started a new job back in May and things have been a little hectic ever since.

I had a lot going on personally, which I decided was better not to share on a public platform. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t muster the energy or creativity to do any writing, let alone blogging.

That low energy also meant I was hardly making healthy food choices. When you have so little energy, eating paleo is hardly practical. I turned instead to fast food and other convenience junk foods.

I gained weight, felt like crap, and definitely did not have the energy to exercise. It was a vicious cycle that I’m finally breaking.

With the exception of my lunch on Monday, I’ve cleaned up my diet quite a bit. It hasn’t all been paleo because a couple things have had small amounts of sugar. But it’s progress.

I also started running again. Since I’m still dealing with shoulder pain (since February!) running is one of the few exercises I can do. I am finally going to physical therapy for my shoulder, which I found out has an arthritic spur that’s causing me pain.

After reading an article on runnersworld.com about a runner who has run 250+ days in a row, I was intrigued. She called it a “run streak”, and the only requirement was that she had to run at least a mile every day.

That’s the part that sounded so intriguing. Since I’m a slow runner, long runs take forever. We’re talking 40+ minutes for 3-ish miles, which doesn’t include warmups or cool downs.

But I can run a mile in 12-ish minutes. That’s a much smaller time commitment to try to fit into a busy schedule. So I figured, why not?

I started this past Sunday, and have successfully run at least one mile every day for 5 days. The furthest I’ve run so far is 1.25 miles. I imagine that I’ll eventually start doing some longer runs, especially on the weekends. But for now, running a mile every day is a small but achievable win.

Have you ever tried a run streak (or any other kind of streak)? How long were you able to stick with it?

Thanks for reading!

—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