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!

Don’t Call it a Comeback

After a 2-month hiatus from running, I hit the pavement again yesterday! My chiropractor finally said I could start testing out exercises like running, so I didn’t waste much time getting out there!

My first run was slow. I was exhausted from little sleep, my left foot felt uncomfortable in my shoe the entire time (a good reminder that I need new shoes), and my knees were achey. Despite all of that, though, I was just so damn happy to be running again, no matter how slow or how many walk breaks I needed (excluding my warm-up and cool-down, I needed about 3 total).

img_3243I ran/walked 1.74 miles with an average turtle pace of 16.12 minutes. That’s a heck of a lot slower than my previous 10 to 12-minute paces a couple months ago, but I was deliberate in my slowness. I knew if I tried to go too fast or too hard on this first run, I’d regret it and maybe even cause a setback. So I’m taking things slow and steady in hopes that I can continue running.

I won’t be taking up my run streak again any time soon. Right now I think I’m going to try to maintain a schedule of running a few days a week up to every other day and see how things go. I don’t have any pace or mileage goals; right now, the only goal is to just keep running.

I’m also doing some moderate upper body/shoulder strength training, too! I’m using resistance bands rather than weights (I’m weak AF after a year of zero upper body training), and it will be a slow recovery process. But it’s progress nonetheless.

In my last post I talked about how little sleep I’ve been getting and my resolve to give up caffeine as a last-resort effort to improve things. I’m happy to report that I’ve moved past the horrible withdrawal headaches I had the first few days. Unfortunately, it seems the caffeine, or lack of, has had little impact on my sleep. I’m still getting less than 5 hours of sleep each night (and less than 4 the last couple nights).

I’m considering giving magnesium another try. Apparently some options come in a lotion form, so maybe I’ll like that better than the spray I bought. I’m also considering switching back to Benadryl from the current antihistamine I use before bed occasionally (usually when I’ve had something for dinner that gave me hives) and trying something like Tylenol PM. My concern is most medications that make other people sleepy seem to have the opposite effect on me and I just feel totally wired.

For now, I’m going to continue with the decaf, because now that I’m past the withdrawals, I don’t see an urgent need to go back to regular coffee. And I’m going to keep running and doing whatever other exercises I can in hopes that might help my sleep, too.

 

Missing Running

Things have been a little quiet on the blog lately, mostly because my personal life has been chaotic. I’ve been struggling both mentally and physically since I had to stop running over a month ago (chiropractor’s orders). I had plans to run a 10k at the end of May and that’s just not going to happen. Maybe if I got cleared to run in the next week I could pull off a 5k, but I think the 10k is out of reach at this point. So that’s frustrating.

On top of that, I really have had zero physical activity over the past month. I went to the gym once and did the elliptical and it was awful. Way worse than the “dreadmill”. So I’m not getting much exercise, I’ve been sore from my adjustments and muscle work at the chiropractor, and I feel like I’m not making much progress with it. My shoulder still hurts and although they tried to have me do exercises last week, I was so sore afterwards that they’ll probably delay those even longer.

I know it will eventually get better and I’ll be able to do more than I could do this time last year, but the waiting is hard. Especially since running was about so much more than staying in shape for me. First and foremost, it got me out of the house at least once every day (work from home problems). But it’s also an outlet for anger, frustration, sadness, writing blocks, and so much more. So now I have all these pent-up feelings and I don’t have a way to release them.

IMG_3169.jpgThe past month or so has been hard for lots of other reasons, too. My freelance work was slow for a while, which really stresses me out (and I couldn’t run to relieve that stress!). Then, my grandpa passed away, so I had to cut back on the little bit of work I did have so I could be with my family. It was all hard and exhausting, but the amount of people who came to the visitation and/or funeral was incredible and I’m so grateful to everyone who stood in line for almost an hour or more just to say hi and chat for a minute.

In spite of all the sadness and stress and exhaustion, good things are in the works. My freelance work is picking back up and I’ve got some promising full-time opportunities on the horizon as well. It’s been hard to stay positive lately, but I’m trying.

For now, I’m going to keep working hard, and maybe try to write a blog post more than once a month! I’ve got some other posts I’m working on so be on the lookout for those!

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.

200 Days of Running!

Last Friday was a milestone: My run streak made it to day 200. As of today, I’m on day 206.

To be honest, there were times in the weeks leading up to that day I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I was having random pains. I was tired. I felt sluggish. But I pushed through to the other side, and here I am on day 206 feeling great again (and in need of new shoes!).

I’ve done things in last 200+ days I never thought I could. I’ve run at least a mile each day (though lately it’s at least 1.5 – 3 miles). I ran while I was on vacation. I ran 2 5ks and PR’d the second. My speed has improved. I’m training for a 10k (and eventually a half marathon!). I’ve been harassed.

I ran in single-digit temperatures. I ran in the snow on Christmas Eve. I ran on the treadmill at the gym when I could. not. take. the cold anymore. I’ve lost weight and I’ve got some definite muscle definition in my legs (eating Whole30 for the first 45 days of the year definitely helped in this department).

More important than the physical gains, however, is the mental strength I’ve gained. I’ve learned I can push through and keep going, even when things are hard, even when it hurts. I can do hard things and I can do them with confidence.

That strength and confidence has spilled over into other areas of my life. I’ve finally made both my mental and physical health a priority.  I’m asking for what I want. I have a more positive outlook, despite facing some serious obstacles and hardships. I know I’ll survive because I already know I can do hard things and I can keep going, even when it hurts.

I only wish I had started this run streak sooner. I feel like I have grown so much in the past 200 days. I’m physically and mentally stronger. I’m taking more risks and trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone. Running has done so much for me already. I can’t wait to see what the next 100 days bring.

Happy running!

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.

Whole30: Halfway There

I’m halfway through my Whole30! Find out how it’s going:

Yesterday was day 15 of my Whole30, which means I’m halfway there! It’s amazing how even though this is my eighth round (I think), I’m still learning new things. It’s also funny how some things get easier, but it’s a pretty safe bet that no matter how many times I do this, some aspect of it will always be hard (and it’s rarely the same thing!).

This round I’ve had a lot of help from The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook and The Whole30 Day by Day. The cookbook has tons of meals with short ingredient lists and fast cook and/or prep times. I’ve tried several so far and have enjoyed each and every one. That’s including the ones where I improvised because I forgot to buy something or didn’t read the recipe thoroughly so I bought the wrong thing.img_2858

I can tell you one thing. Improvising in the kitchen is not something I ever would have done during my first several rounds of Whole30. And certainly not before the Whole30. My kitchen skills have improved tremendously over these eight-ish rounds and it probably would not have happened if it weren’t for all the tips they provide on their social media and in their books.


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In addition to trying lots of new dishes to keep things from getting boring this round, I’m also tracking things in the Day by Day book. It’s got tips, motivational passages, hacks, and more to keep me feeling motivated and to reassure me about where I am in the process. It also has spots for me to write down my NSVs (non-scale victories) and reflect on how I think I’m doing.

It’s everything I wanted for my first several rounds of the program but I lacked the discipline to actually follow through with (changing your eating habits is hard ‘yo). I basically carry it around with me all day (I work from home, so this is slightly less weird than it sounds) and write down what I ate and how I’m feeling. I also start every morning by reading the tip, motivation, and FAQ pages for that day. And I end the day by journaling about how things went and actionable things I can do to ensure success tomorrow.

While these two books have made a huge difference in how well this round is going compared to past rounds I’ve completed, I know a lot just has to do with me and my own motivation. I’m more confident in the kitchen, so I’m less afraid to try new recipes and buy weird-sounding ingredients (nutritional yeast, aka “nooch”, anyone?). I’m also really motivated by the pain I’m in.

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I’ve been dealing with pain from a shoulder injury for almost a year now. After seeing two doctors, having two different sets of x-rays taken, physical therapy, and an MRI, I still have zero answers for what’s wrong with it. My sole motivation for this round of Whole30 was to eliminate inflammatory foods to see if it helps relieve some of my shoulder pain.

Guess what? It’s day 15 and I’m finally starting to notice a slight improvement. Enough so that I’ve started working in some light shoulder mobility exercises when I’m at the gym. That’s a HUGE NSV for me, and I hope I continue to see improvements throughout the next 15 days. I am fully prepared to extend the program if it’s improving but there’s still some pain at the end of the 30 days. Then I plant to tackle the reintroduction to figure out which foods are causing the inflammation.

Other NSVs I’ve experienced so far:
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  • I no longer wake up with a headache every morning
  • My skin is much clearer
  • My belly isn’t constantly bloated/uncomfortable
  • I fit into a pair of jeans I haven’t been able to wear in over a year
  • My energy levels are higher and more stable throughout the day (I mean, I’m writing a blog post after working all day. If that’s not energy, I don’t know what is)

I’m still waiting for my sleep to improve and get more consistent. Part of my sleep problems are related to stress, I’m sure (stay tuned for a post about how I’m managing it). I’m also still waiting to see improvements in my running. Right now I’m not running much faster or farther than I was before I started. I suspect that will change soon though, and I can’t wait!

Are you doing the Whole30? What day are you on and how’s it going? What NSVs have you experienced so far?