Live Well: 2014 Resolutions Scorecard

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A few of you may remember that one year ago, I wrote a post about making specific New Year's resolutions. The best thing about specific resolutions, I argued at the time, was that you can measure your success or failure. Because how can someone know if they've truly succeeded in their resolutions to "work harder" "be happier" or "get in better shape"?

As a result, I think the only fair thing would be to actually go ahead and see how I did on my resolutions. Here's how:

Resolution #1: By the end of the year, be able to run up the Lyon Street stairs without stopping.

Result: Success!

This one was a bit of a surprise, even to me. I chose to make my resolution about the stairs because I have never, ever been able to run the entire length without stopping. (They are LONG. And steep. It's hard to describe - you'll just have to come visit me and I will show you!). I also chose the stairs because it's very measurable - you can either run them or you can't. However, I did not spend my year working out on the stairs. I spent my year going to Crossfit. And while that should have made me more fit, I wasn't sure if it would make me a better stair runner.

Last Friday, I decided to go test myself. And I made it, much to my own surprise. While I know I'm in better shape now than I was a year ago, I think at least 50% of my success came from a determination not to quit once I hit that final flight! Either way, I'm happy. (The photo above was my celebratory photo from the top.)

Resolution #2: Read 18 books by the end of the year.

Result: Success!

I have mixed feelings about the success of this resolution. While I made it to 18 books (19, actually) I purposely selected shorter books, and I didn't end up reading many books that I loved. So it ended up being 19 short, rather mediocre books. I'm happy I made reading more of a focus last year, but I think I can do even better. More to come when I talk 2015 resolutions tomorrow.

Resolution #3: Take an international trip (and no, our trip to BVI did not count).

Result: Fail

Yep - I failed at this one. We DID make it to Hawaii (which was amazing - I really need to recap that trip sometime soon), but we didn't end up going anywhere internationally. Just like with resolution #2, my main takeaway from my performance on this one is that there is room for improvement in 2015. Our trip to Hawaii made me realize how much I enjoy traveling, and how much more of the world I want to see. Expect to see this same resolution on my list for years to come!

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Well - we made it through Monday! All of us at work were laughing about how much yesterday morning felt like the first day of school. Most people had taken off at least one week for the holidays, a tiny timeframe compared to the average school winter vacation, but an eternity when you work a 9-to-5 (or 6 or 7...) job! Just like when I was going to school, I had trouble getting to sleep on Sunday, the night before my first day back. And just like school, the first day felt kind of long and kind of tiring, but at least I got to come home and celebrate with a delicious dinner + an episode of Gilmore Girls. Speaking of which...Gilmore Girls and Friends being on Netflix is simultaneously the best and worst thing that ever happened to me/my productivity.

Back tomorrow with 2015 resolutions!

Be Well: My Favorite Products - Clear Skin Edition

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I realized yesterday that it's been quite awhile since I last wrote about my favorite beauty products. The products I use and the routine I follow have actually changed quite a bit in the last few months, so I figured it was about time I filled you all in!

As you may remember from some of my other posts, I've been in an almost life-long struggle with my skin. I've been fighting the good fight against acne for 10-15 years now. Some days have been darker than others (middle school, when I went on Accutane for the first time and it gave me the worst acne of my life for several months, when my dermatologist unexpectedly died of a drug overdose, etc.) but the issue has always been there.

After trying to hack it on my own for the last year, I finally decided to visit a well-reviewed facialist in my neighborhood - leave no stone unturned, right? During my first appointment she was full of optimistic statements about all the changes I was going to see in my skin if I adopted her regimen. To say that I was skeptical of those statements would be the understatement of the year. But hope springs eternal, so I somewhat begrudgingly bought the products she recommended to me, and went home and stuck to the skincare regimen she recommended to me like my life depended on it.

And you know what? It worked. Okay, my skin is far from perfect. FAR from perfect, still. But the products she turned me onto (mostly natural stuff) have caused a noticeable improvement. I always thought that my skin problems were internal - after years of religiously washing, moisturizing, and applying acne treatments to my skin, I thought I was beyond help. But it seems like my skin was revolting against all the unnatural ingredients in the products I was using. It's almost depressing to think that some of my worst acne troubles could have been lessened by just swapping out what I was putting on my face.

All of this is the VERY long way of saying that I'd like to introduce a few of those products to you now - this isn't all of what I'm using, but it's a good start.

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First up: La Bella Donna mineral foundation. When my facialist first recommended that I switch to this foundation, my only reaction was NO. WAY. NO WAY is that loose powder going to be enough to cover all the redness, scarring, and acne I have hanging out on my face. But my facialist insisted I let her try some on me, which helped me realized that this stuff provides a surprising amount of coverage. I also realized I needed to embrace that skincare is a continuous loop - having bad acne makes you want to put heavy makeup on your skin, which causes bad acne. I desperately needed to break out of that cycle, and this foundation did it for me.

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Osmosis facial cleansers. This stuff just makes my skin feel good. I wash with "Cleanse" in the shower every morning and "Purify" with my Clarisonic brush every night. My facialist advised trying to wash my face for two minutes straight every morning and every night - something I've been sticking to.

DSC_1556And my last (new) favorite product - an everyday makeup brush cleaner, which can be found at Sephora. Seriously - how was I not using this before? I've always been pretty good about cleaning my makeup brushes, but I would only get the opportunity to do a full clean every few weeks (or months, when I got lazy). Now I use this stuff every day - you just spray a bit on the brush you just used and rub that brush on a clean towel to remove the makeup. I feel so much better about the tools I'm using on my skin now - I can't recommend it enough. Plus, it's only $7!

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Well, another fun weekend comes to a close. Some of our weekend's highlights included: making a return trip to TBD for dinner on Friday night because they have the most paleo-friendly menu I've seen, getting about 10 hours of sleep Friday night after an exhausting week, going to brunch with friends on Saturday morning, cooking on Saturday night for the first time in FOREVER, then spending Sunday walking around in the beautiful weather, taking a nap, making a big dinner, and, as always, watching Mad Men.

The only sad part of the weekend was not getting to be home for Mother's Day and my brother's graduation. I love living in San Francisco, but living 2,000 miles away from your family never stops being hard. Luckily, my youngest brother and sister are coming to visit this Thursday, and I couldn't be more excited. Not only do I get to spend three fun-filled days with them, but their arrival marks the end of our Whole30. Pretty great stuff.

Have a wonderful Monday.

Live Well: Recipe for the Perfect Weekend

You know, just the view of the bay from our neighborhood.

I have to admit - although the past few weekends have been enjoyable, something about them has been a bit lackluster. Part of the problem has been cold weather, part has been residual workweek exhaustion and worries, and part has been our Whole30.

Because our diet is pretty limited right now, I've been hesitant to make plans with friends. I mean, no one likes to hang out the weirdo at a small dinner party who awkwardly and nervously avoids bread, pasta, and cheese at every turn. When you don't eat those things but your friends do while in your presence, they almost always feel like you're judging them, even when you're not.

But this past weekend we were blessed with a trifecta - the weather was beautiful, I didn't have any work stuff hanging heavy on me, and I put extra effort into making plans with friends (by scoping out restaurant menus beforehand). Here's my recipe for the perfect weekend:

1. Get off of work before 6PM on Friday.

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2. Enjoy a long dinner with one of your oldest friends and his wife at a great restaurant.

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3. Wake up the next morning and get a great workout. Note - I am usually NOT a selfie person, but after Saturday's CrossFit workout I felt compelled to document just how sweaty and red I was looking. For those of you who are interesting in this kind of thing, this is what we did:

Warm-up: 5x5 squats @ 75%

Workout: In groups of three, complete

Run 800 meters

150 thrusters

150 calories rowing

150 burpees

Run 800 meters

= death

4. Have your husband cook you a delicious brunch

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5. Take a long walk around your beautiful neighborhood. (Unfortunately, that is not my husband and me laying on the grass. I agree, it would be a lot cooler if it was.)

6. Get dressed up for dinner, only to forget your memory card, making the camera you carted to dinner with you totally useless. (Don't worry, you know me - I'll just re-wear that outfit this week.)

7. Go to a delicious early dinner with friends (who were lovely and accommodating of our weird diet when we discovered that everything is served family-style).

8. Go see niche artsy films like you used to in college. (We saw Locke. Not unexpectedly, we loved it.)

9. Wake up and take your poor body that endured that CrossFit class to yoga.

10. Eat a delicious brunch at Kitchen Story. (Seriously - so good. And the wait for two people at noon on a Sunday was only 20 minutes! Unheard of by San Francisco standards.)

11. Take an afternoon nap.

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12.  Make totally delicious, totally easy, totally Whole30-compliant tuna and avocado lettuce wraps for Sunday dinner.

13. Close out your Sunday by watching Mad Men. (I'm still devastated that we're only getting seven episodes this year.)

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I hope everyone had a similarly spectacular weekend. I'm also pretty excited about the upcoming week - for the first time in a LONG time, I will not be flying anywhere - woohoo!

Enjoy your Monday - I'll see you back here tomorrow.