Be Well: Ouch

Image via fitness19.com

I have a confession to make: I haven't worked out in over a month.

Well, I hadn't worked out in over a month until this past Saturday.

Although I've been traveling, and working, and just generally running around in life like crazy lately, it's still not a good excuse for how badly I fell off the workout wagon. But your exercise routine is one of those things that tend to snowball - just like getting on a good streak can mean you're consistently in the gym for weeks (heck, months!), one week off can turn into...five weeks off.

This is where I should be giving you great advice for how to get back on the wagon, but to be honest, I don't have much wisdom to impart. When it comes to that first workout, you pretty much just have to force yourself to do it. It should get easier from there.

It should...but it doesn't. If you work out properly that first time back, you should end up sore. Really sore. And that's where I am right now. My legs are so stiff that walking around my apartment is a challenge. Not a single fiber of my body wants me to work out again, but I know I have to - it's the only way this gets easier (other than giving up altogether, which isn't an option). My advice here: take it slow, but don't be too easy on yourself. On Sunday morning I went to yoga (most painful yoga class of my life) and this morning I went to yoga again. After this, it's going to be a week of running stairs, doing pushups, and generally hoisting myself back up onto that workout wagon. I know I can do it.

If you have any great tips for getting back into the swing of things, I'd love to hear them!

Eat Well: Elimination // Whole30

Image via wholeliving.com

I've been going back and forth on whether or not to tell y'all about this.

On Monday, my husband and I started the Whole30, an increasingly popular diet. Well, the founders of the Whole30 would probably resist the moniker "diet" - it's more about cutting "bad" foods out of your life and only eating naturally occurring things. But you get the point.

To be honest, as far as "diets" go, the Whole30 is up my alley. I've never been able to stick to a diet where you count calories and measure your portions with the end goal of losing weight. What I have done are "elimination diets" - I've given up all dessert for Lent, I've given up gluten for a month, I've given up eating out for a month, etc. I thought I was unique in this, but apparently it's a thing.

In the Whole30, you cut entire food groups out of your diet (desserts, grains, white potatoes, soy, etc.) and can eat as much meat and vegetables as you want which is great because 1) portion control is not my thing but 2) there's only so much meat, vegetables, and fruit you can eat before you're stuffed.

I'll be honest - I was hesitating to tell you guys about this eating experiment because I wanted to avoid accountability on all fronts. Generally when I've tried stuff like this in the past I haven't done a great job - and I'd rather fail in private than fail in public. However, I spent the past two days on a business trip in Wisconsin and somehow managed to stick to the tenets of the plan. You really don't realize how carb-y American food is until you try to buy dinner in an airport. Nonetheless, the fact that I made it through two crazy, travel-filled days means I can easily take on another 27 days at home! And I want you guys to keep me honest. So that's the deal.

Also, please note that this diet did not keep me from pinning about a million Oreo brownie recipes on Pinterest last night. My body may be in the process of giving up sugar, but my mind is still addicted.

Also, the Whole30 website appears to be down, so I can't link to it right now - you should definitely Google it yourself, though!

Be Well: Shape Up

image via shape.com

I've had a rocky relationship with Shape magazine. When I was younger, it was the magazine I always reached for first - it comes as no surprise to you that I've always been interested in exercise and living a healthy life. Shape was obviously a perfect fit for me.

However, over the past few years I've become increasingly frustrated with the fact that they never feature workouts that highlight the importance of lifting heavy weights. I can only read the sentence "requires 2-3 lb. weights" so many times before the intensity of my eye rolls gives me a killer headache. For a magazine that's supposed to help women learn how to live a healthy life, I couldn't help but think that they were doing a spectacularly poor job providing truthful and useful information about exercise.

I haven't read an issue in a few months, but when I was in the nail salon this past weekend I decided to pick up the January/February issue. Were my complaints about their workout features resolved? Not really. But they did have a downright awesome spread on the average American diet that really restored my opinion of the magazine. Seriously, if you haven't read it yet, grab the January issue if you get a chance - the statistics on the foods many of us eat every day are astounding. But it's not all bad news - they also outline an awesome plan for eating healthy, focusing on meat and veggies. Overall, I thought the issue contained the most inspirational yet useful tips to help you keep your 2014 healthy eating resolutions that I've seen - you should definitely check it out.

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I just want to take a moment and celebrate how enjoyable my life has been over the last 24 hours. Yesterday, Wednesday, was a rare day where I was able to get to work a bit later than usual and leave work earlier than usual. I was in my car by 6:00 at the end of the day - a very enjoyable change of pace amid weeks where leaving at 7:00 felt like leaving early. I got to go home, hang out with my husband, catch up on Downton Abbey, read these awesome Vulture articles, listen to this amazing song from Her half a dozen times, and go to bed early enough to make it to the gym this morning. Maybe that sounds like an average night to you, but for me it was wonderful.

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Finally, don't forget to enter the giveaway hosted by The Distillery if you haven't already! (See yesterday's post for further details.) All you have to do is follow them on Facebook and/or Instagram - hop to it!

Have a great Thursday!

Live Well: New Year's Revelation

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I was initially hesitant about doing a New Year's resolution post. You've probably already read 100 other blog posts and articles with the title "New Year, New You!" Is there really anything new I can add? However, after surveying what's been offered up so far, I realized there is one key thing missing.

Measurability.

If you've been on Pinterest, watched anyone be interviewed, or read a single magazine so far this year (like, in the past two days) you've probably heard things like "I resolve to eat better! smile more! stress less!" about a billion times. Every time I hear one of those phrases described as a "New Year's resolution," I shudder. How in the world can you either succeed or fail at any of those?

What I mean by that is this: there is absolutely no way for me to measure whether or not I have "stressed less" two weeks from now, six months from now, or when 2015 (good lord, 2015?!) rolls around. By phrasing my "resolution" that way, I've set myself up for certain success or certain failure, depending on what kind of person I am - if I want to make myself feel better, I can say "oh yeah, I was definitely less stressed this year." If I take a more negative view, I can mark "stress less" as yet another resolution that fell by the wayside.

As you've probably noticed in other posts on this blog, I am a HUGE proponent of being organized, being specific, and having a plan. I think New Year's resolutions are one of the best places where those principles should be put into practice. But how can I do that?

I'm so glad you asked!

I want to take a second to brag on my husband - on January 1, 2013, he turned to me and said "one of my resolutions this year is to make the bed every morning." Notice he didn't say "keep our apartment cleaner" or "be more organized." Instead, he picked one specific thing to focus on, and applied a measurable requirement to it. And you know what? He was 100% successful. We made our bed every single day in 2013.

For me, those two pieces are the key to a valuable New Year's resolution - specificity and measurability. Maybe that sounds overly scientific, but if you are serious about improving your life in 2014, I think being specific and measured in how you go about that is the only way to keep yourself honest.

So, I came up with a few specific and measurable personal New Year's resolutions. I plan on revisiting this post one year from now to see how I did - that's probably the best way to keep myself on track!

1) Instead of "exercise more" ...

By the end of the year, be able to run up the Lyon Street steps without stopping

image via

I could not find a photo that does these stairs justice. The Lyon Street steps are a huge set of stairs at the far end of my neighborhood that go from the bottom of the hill closest to my house to the very top. The steps themselves span several blocks (there are ~300+ stairs in total).

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, I've intermittently run these stairs as a workout. However, I have never been able to run their entire length without stopping. I've decided that 2014 is the year where that will change - I'm determined to get to the top.

This leads me into a few sub-goals - like most people, I want to get healthier in 2014. But I want a way to measure whether or not I meet that goal. Resolving to be able to run the stairs will help me stick with my goal to go to Crossfit 3-4 times every week, and yoga once every week. If I stick to that plan, I will undoubtedly be in better shape by 2015 (and will also be queen of the Lyon Street steps).

2) Instead of "read more" ...

Read 18 books by the end of the year

image via

At the end of 2012, one of my acquaintances posted on Facebook about how they had achieved their 2012 New Year's resolution to read 52 books in the course of the year. I was super impressed. That person's post inspired me to start tracking what I read using Goodreads. Last year, I tracked everything I read starting on January 1.

For whatever reason, in January of last year I half-heartedly resolved to read 13 books during the year. I didn't make it - I ended up only getting to 12. While 12 is still respectable, I know I can do better. So, this year I resolve to read at least 18 books during 2014. Hopefully that will mean less Facebook, more regular books for this girl.

3) Instead of "travel more" ...

Take an international trip (and no, our upcoming trip to BVI does not count).

How amazing is this bedding?? Image via Urban Outfitters, which is where this bedspread is available.

This is the goal I'm most nervous about including on this list, because it will be the biggest challenge for me. Not because I dislike international travel (I don't) but because putting in the time to plan a trip is something that I have been incredibly lazy about ever since I became an adult. It was a near-miracle that we even planned our honeymoon.

My husband and I haven't really taken a trip just the two of us since our honeymoon, which I think is a shame. There are so many places I want to see, and I think we should fit in as much as we can before we have children. So, I'm resolving to go on vacation. Internationally. This year. Hopefully saying that here that will kick me into gear.

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I sincerely hope that all of the information above is helpful as you formulate your own goals, whether they be New Year's resolutions, KPIs at work, or a list of things you want to do by the end of the day.

Now for a completely random subject change (and a window into my life lately) - if watching 30 Rock were a New Year's resolution, I would be killing it. My husband and I are not typically binge television watchers, but for the past few days we have been blowing through 30 Rock episodes like we're getting paid to watch them. I'm completely obsessed. Although I've seen most of the episodes before, watching them back-to-back in order has made me appreciate the jokes so much more. The fact that we live in a world where a large segment of the population doesn't understand or like the humor on 30 Rock makes me sad for this country. If you haven't watched it before, what are you doing?! Log onto Netflix NOW and watch away. You won't regret it (at least, I sincerely hope you don't).

Have a wonderful Thursday!