Wow, I can’t believe how time just flies. It’s been nothing short of an exciting and crazy start to summer for our family. Let’s just say we have lots of adventures packed in: camping trips, fishing, scouts, football, tennis, baseball, basketball, band, water parks, swimming, friends, fireworks and more!!!
Scout camping fun with my youngest!
In the meantime, I’ve been working on something really HUGE and SCARY but totally EXCITING at the same time. It’s actually completely unrelated to running and health, but I wanted to share my latest endeavors because it has to do in part with my last post about working with kids and finally figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. (and why I’ve been so absent).
Back in March, I had an experience that lit a fire under me (it actually made me so angry and sad at the same time, but I won’t get into it here). The experience opened up my eyes to the state of our current education and the quality of the people who teach our children.
I’m someone who wants to help everyone… I know that’s impossible… but, I know I can be part of the solution! If only I can make a difference for one… or two… maybe a handful of children and their families?!
And so I started talking to my teacher friends; mostly, my Paraprofessional friends.
What’s a Paraprofessional, you ask? It’s a very special someone for many students and parents and teachers.
They are the aides in the classrooms helping the teachers. They are the ones on the sidelines who actually do much of the loving and care-giving, documenting and one-on-one guiding. They reassure students, work with emotions and behaviors across the full spectrum, they monitor in the lunch-room and they teach solutions on the playground, they talk to teachers, parents, administrators and do a ton of work behind the scenes. In my opinion, they don’t get enough credit for the massive amount of work they do for our children who need the most help in the classroom!!!
And so, back in April, I initially applied for my Paraprofesional license! A few days later, I was encouraged to apply as a Substitute Teacher which means I can accept a much broader role as an educator and at the end of May, my request was approved! The last week of school gave me two opportunities to work and I enjoyed it immensely!
Like this just makes me even more of a Sucker!
In the meantime, I also thought about going back to school. It’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. I started working with a university whose program I really respected and one that would allow me to do a majority of my studies online during the day while kids are in school and be the soccer mom in the evenings and weekends. In the end, I’ll be able to get my teaching license and master’s degree in special education after 2 years!
There was just one problem!
My undgraduate grades were too low to waive taking the GRE and so I studied my well-rounded tushy off for 4 straight weeks into June!!! I carried this huge notebook and study guide from the library with me everywhere and was constantly quizzing myself on vocabulary, comprehension and math problems. I studied at baseball games, when I woke up, right after lunch, after dinner and into the late nights when I couldn’t sleep, on the airplane, on vacation, and in the car (my hubs was driving).
My family was awesome cheering me on every time I studied. Mr. Dino was there to help, too!
Let’s just say remembering how to do proportions and rate word problems after 20+ years of actually learning how to do them was a huge challenge along with re-learning quadratic equations and geometry even though math used to be my strongest subject! (There was actually a word problem involving and cyclist and runner on a track and I had to figure out how many times the runner would get passed in a certain amount of time… that NEVER happens in real life, does it?! PLEASE!).
Thankfully, my 7th grader and Kahn Academy helped me with most of it!!! #humbled
The first week of June, I drove to the test site and after 4 of the longest mentally challenging hours I’ve had in a very long time, I walked away with the scores I needed!!! HIP-HIP-HOORAY! (I’ve gotten better, but I’ve always strugged with test anxiety so, this felt so great because I was about ready to take the darn thing again 21 days later if I had to).
And, today I officially sent in my official application to start school in the fall (gulp, August). I hope to find out before the end of July, but I’m excited and hopeful right now, so please cross a few fingers and toes for me.
In the meantime, I’m now focusing on my first ‘race’ of the year this weekend. It’s a brand new 5K in my neck of the woods… which happens to conclude with a pancake breakfast! The next official race is in September – The Fox Valley Half-Marathon. I’ll start officially training in about 2 weeks, but for now, I’m kicking it off with new shoes
The biggest sadness for me this year, though, is missing the Christmas in July 12-hour event I was hoping to join in on. My plantar fasciitis was no joke and I still have to be careful. This was our crew last year and most of them will be back! I’ll be there as part of the volunteer crew on the back half of their race so I can cheer for them and feed them… and maybe carry them as they limp to their cars, but it won’t be the same as toughing out a longer ultra race with my compadres.
My UBAGE gals! They are a special bunch. And yes, I mean that kind of special, too!!!
Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. And this is where I’m hoping to be headed. I plan to still blog and run, so I appreciate you all reading whenever I get a chance to digitally spill my guts to you all.
I’m back from my sabbatical. I didn’t mean to take a blog break for so long, but I didn’t feel the urge to write for a while. It’s been a good break for me as I’ve taken a little breather from social media to focus on other things. Some HUGE things… more on that in a bit.
I came from a refreshing spring break with my family where we celebrated the life of my Dad in a beautiful military ceremony. Our family is fairly private and I told very few friends that he passed away last July 5th from congestive heart failure. He lived a very full 85 years. Even thinking about him now brings me to tears, but I’m starting to talk about him more with my kids keeping his legacy alive with all the wonderful memories I have with him and the lessons he taught us.
My Dad suffered from diabetes and severe dementia for a long time… most caregivers thought he had Alzheimer’s at the end, but he still remembered a few of us in his last days. While it frustrated all of us, I can laugh now about how my Dad would get mad so quickly at one of us about something trivial and 20 minutes later… sometimes even mid-conversation completely forget why he was so angry, or that there was even a fight! We couldn’t stay mad at him for very long because we knew how frustrated he was, too.
The one thing that makes me sad, though, is that my Dad never remembered he had grandchildren and so my children never really knew him like I did (though he was always happy to see them when we told him). He looooved food, the outdoors, and working in the yard. His favorite food was ice-cream and he got to share one last bite with my 9-year old who learned about death first-hand last summer as we sat by his bedside for the last few days. Hospice even let my parents’ dog spend the last day right next to him.
I’m not sure why, but since coming back from that trip I haven’t wanted to exercise in over a month! I don’t think I’m depressed, but with my PF slowly getting better, I hesitate to make it worse and am embracing the fat pockets on my derriere. LOL! Do I get any credit for going so far as to put on my workout clothes and then clean our house or take care of other personal business that’s been neglected? (don’t answer that).
Last week, I tortured myself working outside for a couple of days with our blooming spring yard and now am paying the price with a full-blown head & chest cold that started out with sneezing and snotting for 2 days from allergies! Oye.
But my yard looks pretty! #priorities
So now what?
I’m figuring out what I want to be when I grow up! (I know, long overdue!).
If you didn’t already know, I’m one of the “Lunch Ladies” supervising lunch and recess at my boys’ elementary school. I started a year and a half ago and WOWZERS… did my eyes get opened to the highs and lows and huge challenges of working in our schools today.
I’m sure I haven’t even come close to the complete range of emotion when working with kids, but let’s just say I’ve sent kids to the principal and I’ve gotten hugs all in the same day. I open juice boxes and fruit snacks, help kids make friends, encourage good manners and kindness, clean up after them and teach them to clean up after themselves. I can honestly say that my initial view of how we teach and discipline our children has changed 180 degrees from when I first started.
The best example of how perspective and expectations can change so dramatically is to share a little story…
I remember going to my friend’s house who had three kids when I just had a baby. I’m not proud, but I admit I judged her. But, I also now LOVE and appreciate her even more for keeping it real and showing me what being a great mom is all about. Her house looked like a tornado had touched down. Not just in one room, but the whole freaking house!!!
“REALLY?”, I thought to myself, “Who lives like this?”.
Fast-forward 12 years… we do. Perspective changes when you cram in 3 very active boys, 2 dogs, and work. I seriously have a huge pile of laundry on my floor next to me as I write. (Where in the he!!fire does all of it come from because I just folded a truck-load yesterday and we did not wear this many clothes in 2 days?!!! #hatesocks)
And the dish washer got partially emptied in the hurry of getting kids out of the house (they do it, not me… Boys, we need to complete the pass and go for the touchdown on our chores!).
I have a second office on our formal dining room table because our real office has no room to sit down and spread out. #summerproject Who am I kidding?!
And that’s just part of the reality lurking in our house.
But, my yard is pretty. (Leo, get your paws out of my flowerbeds!!! Sigh)
Long-story short, I now have a completely different perspective of what family-life is all about (messy and happy and not a clean house) and have changed my expectations about what we should be focused on to raise healthy, happy, kind, generous, hard-working, critically-thinking, well-adjusted grown men! I’m sure that perspective might change a few years down the road as we get into full-blown teenager life! OMG, my son will be learning to drive in a little over a year….
It so happened I was in the market for a new belt because the one I’d had for 3 years just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I hope you’ll keep reading (and watching below) to learn why I think this belt is the best thing since sliced bread.
SLS3 is a German company that creates and develops their products from scratch, is thoroughly tested by athletes and then, if deemed awesome, put into production! They know that runners, cyclist and triathletes want high-performance gear that does its job without getting in the way.
As you know, I love photography and my phone is permanently attached to me at all times so I can catch the perfect shot. However, when the weather is bad, I am always putting my Samsung Galaxy S6 in a plastic sandwich baggie for protection from the elements.
Now I don’t have to worry because the belt has a top-grade stretchable waterproof polyurethane lining with water-proof zipper.
Another critical benefit is the large capacity of the belt when needed.
I run too long and with my allergies and asthma, I need to carry extra junk that most people don’t have that could literally save my life… and save you from having to call 911 and perform CPR on me as my running partner! And, I run long enough that I also need to carry fuel with me, but not necessarily water since our trails have tons of easy access, so being as minimalist as possible on these runs, is great!
The bonus? My large Samsung Galaxy S6 (and your new iPhone) will also fit easily in either of the pockets. I think the Samsung Note might also make it, too! There is plenty of room for cash, credit cards, sports gels, energy bars, inhalers and any other essential supplies.
The SLS3 belt is soooo roomy, it’s almost ridiculous! Watch this!
I appreciate that it’s a fully adjustable belt fitting sizes 24″-38″. I’m a woman’s size 8-10 with hips and there is still room for the belt to expand (like I do!). It’s very comfortable to wear while running.
Use it every day if you want to – this belt can take a beating. I thought it might be a great alternative to keep my money and phone safe while going down Splash Mountain at the amusement park this summer, or take it on our bike rides into town for ice-cream. It is fully washable, so any spilled ice-cream can come right out!
If you’re fashion conscious, it comes in several great colors, too!
SLS3 shared a special 40% off coupon especially for my readers when you use the coupon code on anything in their store. Use coupon code: BLOG40.
Do you know of 5 ways to control portions when you eat out?
Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with old friends and catch-up from hibernating over the past few winter months. Unfortunately, it’s also meant going out to eat… which also brings out the opportunity for me to make food choices.
Sometimes, they are terrible not great decisions.
I’ve often wondered why I make these bad decisions and have no sense of self-control when faced with the ‘Hungry Farmer Skillet’ filled with bacon, bacon and more bacon (and cheese).
Well, it might have something to do with the fact my Dad was born in 1929, the day after Black Friday! His habits were partially imbedded by living in the era of having nothing and being able to McGuyver everything.
If you know anyone who grew up in the Great Depression, you know they learned to be very frugal, save everything, create something from nothing, embodied strong work-ethic and because they never knew when their next meal might be, they ate everything given to them at the time.
And so, I grew up being told I needed to finish everything on my plate, even if I was already full.
There was no such thing as wasting food.
My Dad, as much as he loved us, would insist we could not leave the table until we emptied our plates. We didn’t throw anything away!
So guess what I do now? Yup. I have a really hard time leaving any food on my plate. In fact, for years, I would also finish everything my kids left on their plates, too!
Lately, I’ve been very focused on this particular habit and have discovered a few tricks that are working for me.
I recently read an article stating successful people are great decision makers. They don’t waffle and change their minds. They act and move forward.
Be decisive! Choose a door!
I’m a waffler when it comes to the restaurant menu because everything sounds yummy, but not anymore. If this is you, too and you know you’re going out to eat ahead of time, get on the restaurant website, find the menu and do a little research to find a menu item that satisfies your nutritional needs.
Decide what you’re going to order ahead of time and stick to it.
The other benefit of doing this is realizing the high fat/calories/sugar all the menu items have ahead of time really making the temptation to order the Double Cheese Everything Burger an absolute no-go!
SPLIT THE MEAL
American meals are HUGE and completely over-portioned at most restaurants.
When my husband and I returned from living in Hawaii for three years, we were so used to ordering a side-item or appetizer because the portions are considerably less (it’s an asian thing). And so imagine our surprise when we had a toddler who loved fries and we ordered a side for the three of us to share that was bigger than one of our adults meals… which also came with fries! #gutbomb
It’s easy in many restaurants to split the meal with a health-conscious friend. Not only do you save a few dimes, but you save your waist-line, too.
One thing I’ve started doing with lunch and dinner meals is asking for a To-Go box when the meal comes out and automatically splitting my meal in half to take home for a second meal another day (unless it’s a nice salad).
If I don’t order the to-go box early, I’m tempted to pick at my food as we converse and the next thing I know, I’ve eaten too much, or the whole darn thing.
I also have three growing boys and so part of me thinks that by taking home a To-Go Box with part of my meal, I’ll have one less snack or meal that I need to cook for them as they eat their way through our fridge!
ASK TO BE OLDER (AND WISER)
About a week ago, my girlfriends and I met for breakfast at a place near us famously known for huge, delicious portions.
As I was mulling over the menu, I stated that everything looked like it was too much food and I was trying to be good. My friend, Jennifer, suggested we ask if we can order off the Senior menu.
Much to our surprise, the waitress said, YES!
Remember the adage that it never hurts to ask? And you’ll never get what you don’t ask for?
I may get in trouble for this, but please share which restaurants result in success (Double Yolk the day we visited).
OR ACT YOUR AGE!
My oldest son has always been big for his age and hasn’t eaten off the kids menu since he was in third grade as an 8-year old!
In fact, it’s been a personal goal of his to find the biggest breakfast choice on the menu to see if he can eat the entire thing! (and he usually does). He’s so big now he usually helps the rest of the family polish off their meals, too!
If you have kids who can technically order off the children’s menu, but eat as much as, or more than you do, have them pick out a kids menu item you would like. Then, ask your son or daughter what they’d like off the regular menu.
When you go to order, be honest, but let the server know your child would like your menu item and you’d like his!
Usually, they don’t bat and eye and make a comment about how much kids grow! It’s a great way to control your portions and save a little money, too.
EAT SLOWLY, FEEL FULL
Enjoy your meal!
I really think Americans are so focused on the FAST part of FAST FOOD that we forget to really sit, smell, look at and taste our food. We literally inhale the contents of our plates as we rush to the next thing.
When meeting with family and friends, I’m consciously focused on having a great conversation. And now, it’s a secret contest for me.
I do everything I can to finish my food after everyone else. I will push my food around the plate, stall, drink more water, ask questions and put my fork down and really listen while someone is talking.
This way, I’m taking time to chew and enjoy good food, while giving my brain enough time to register when I’m really full. As a result, I’m finding it easier to leave food on my plate, or transfer any extra’s to my To-Go box!
Hopefully, these five ideas will help you control the amount of food you consume when eating out to an amount more reasonable for your body.
Do you have any other great tips to follow when eating out to stay healthy? Do you have a history of eating more than you should like I do?
Hey Friends! Yesterday I got the urge to do my first stair workout. Have you ever done one before?
I tried to look online but I couldn’t find anything that was at least 30 minutes long with weights, so I took a few minutes to create something that perhaps you might enjoy!
I recorded a short video with an explanation of the stair circuit I did with suggested modifications. You don’t need fancy equipment or gym membership to get started on the road to more muscles and higher metabolism!
(p.s. ignore my really messy basement. The boys live down there and I rarely check it out – YIKES!)
Before you start this workout, put your music on, dance for 5 minutes to warm up and then and do this set of exercises (circuit) 2-3 times for a great heart-pumping and muscle building workout!
pushups :30 seconds
skip-a-step stairs 1x-4x depending on your fitness level
bicep curls :30 seconds
skip-a-step stairs 1x-4x
:30 second plank
skip-a-step stairs 1x-4x
:30 seconds side planks (left & right)
skip-a-step stairs 1x-4x
tricep dips :30 seconds
(If you don’t have stairs, do 30 secs of Jumping Jacks and 30 secs of squats to get the heart rate up!).
Grab water and go again! Take short breaks when you need them. Lastly, take a few minutes to cool down and stretch.
When I finished, I was breathing hard and sweating… it was awesome to use what I had in my own house!
It’s really important to get in some high-quality protein within 30-mins of your workout for optimal recovery, too. I personally get in anywhere from 24g to 35 grams of protein plus a post-recovery product called Amped Recover that I love, too.
I’ll probably start creating a stair circuit or two each week to mix it up and post here, so if you want it, be sure to sign up for email blog updates!
Do you ever do stair workouts? Are there any good resources I’ve missed that I should share with my readers?
Hey there friends, I wanted to write a quick update and let you know that I’m still here, but am in winter hiding for a bit.
Everything is just fine and I’m taking a little break from, well, everything.
Well, not everything.
I’m working on fixing some things with ME. I’m still on the injured list, but I’m managing to get in a 20-60 minute workout every day with 1-2 rest days a week. Lots of planks, ab work, squats, lunges and other heart-raising fun. Everything except for running.
And that’s okay for now.
I started writing a blog post over a week ago, but since it’s filled with some research and science, I’ve hesitated on pushing the ‘publish’ button until I’ve written it to my satisfaction. I also want to learn how to do a few things before I publish it, like creating infographics, so I don’t steal someone else’s hard work! If you have a good resource for that, I’d love to know!
In the meantime, I’ve been without a printer for 2 weeks and just bought a fancy one a few days ago. Today the printer and I spent 2 hours battling it out through my router and laptop trying to get everything to magically connect and print through thin-air! You’d think with the amount of money we spent, I could just snap my fingers and WAH-LAH… it would just happen. But not quite.
Spring cleaning has also hit our house pretty hard and I do a little every day to tackle some big projects I’ve been putting by the wayside for months… maybe years. It’s amazing how much time I have now that I’m not running for hours and hours every week. (Dare I say, I kind of like it).
We are also in the process of selling a house in another state and that’s been a big time suck with decision-making for us. Thankfully, I have the most amazing realtor in the history of real estate who is worth her weight in gold and will definitely earn the commission when we sell it (anyone buying in Vegas?!).
This was my favorite house to live in, in terms of upgrades you want in a house. While I’m not a fan of the exterior, I still want to take some of the awesomeness, like the hand-sculpted hardwood floors, and someday put them in our current place…. can you say LOOOVE?!
And of course, the kids want the pool, but it’s not really practical here in the mid-west where it’s winter 6-months a year!
So yes, everything is fine and dandy with me… I’ve just stepped off the blogging planet for a moment.
I want to try to start blogging more regularity and about anything I feel like writing about. It’ll probably start in the next week or two as I get to report for jury duty tomorrow! I’ve never served on one outside of the military… sadly, we sent the man to jail for a long time. I’m just hoping that if I end up on the jury, the trial lasts a day or two and it’s a simple matter. Time will tell.
Have you ever served on a jury duty before? How did that go? Have you ever just stepped back and taken a break from everything, even running, before?
It’s time for me to come clean. With all the talk about goal setting the end of 2015, I had ultras on my mind for this year! I was pumped up as I ramped up my distances.
BUT (can I increase the font x100 here?)
I did it too fast and now I’m paying the price. I bit off more than I could chew.
It’s been 3 weeks since I decided to stop running because of my plantar fasciitis heel pain in hopes of healing what turns out to be an injury that takes forever and a day to fix.
The only thing I haven’t tried, yet, is acupuncture, physical therapy (ugh) and a cortisone shot (bigger UGH). I just ordered a foot wrap to help with healing, too.
Now I need more patience on the…. shall I say it… heeling end?!
This morning I woke up at 6 am and looked outside to see the most gorgeous sunrise. And I cried (over spilt milk). I’m depressed because I can’t run.
It’s my favorite time of day to go out and meet up with my running friends, or even just take Mr. Leo for some alone time. (He’s hating not running, too).
What happens when I don’t run Mr. Leo!
I miss running terribly. Seeing all the instagram, facebook and blog posts has me running in the opposite direction… not the kind of running I want to be doing.
As I write, I’m sitting here thinking that my butt is huge and I’m flabby because I’ve skipped working out this past week while eating buttered popcorn and chocolate chip brownies to cheer myself up, simultaneously realizing how incredibly stupid this is because now all the hard work I’ve done is going down the proverbial drain.
It occurs to me that I’m focusing on the wrong plan and that’s causing me to be sad because of something I cannot do.
Perhaps it’s time for me to adjust my sails. This is just a big bump in the road and I need to get over, around and through it. The challenge and desire to do more has always been there and now it’s a different injury I will conquer in time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the crazy person who loves to run for hours and hours and hours, but right now it’s not possible.
Instead of a lot of running posts, you’ll start seeing me focus on strengthening my body and healing it so I can run again. While it’s a far cry from those ultra runs I love, maybe this is a blessing in disguise.
Every cloud has a silver lining… as a runner, you know I’ll go the extra mile to get back on track. I think yoga and strength training need to take up a permanent residence in my cross-training regimen, so I’ll be SLOWLY bringing those into my training plans on a more regular basis.
I also need to really buckle down on making healthier meal choices (Racing Weight). I can’t give in to my bad habits of the past.
So, I’m officially deciding all plans for ultra’s this year are on hold. In fact, I’m not planning one single official PR race at all until I can fix my body. None. Zero. Zip.
I have one race that I have my heart set on, but if I get to that point in July and I can’t cut the mustard (not the cheese… I know what you were thinking! LOL!), I will go out and sleep on a cot rain or shine, pour margaritas all night and later sangria’s the next morning while handing out pickles and boiled potaotes all night long to my fellow Ultra Badass Babes!
Please. Please. If you take just one thing away from my post here today, be patient with your training. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Don’t chew off more than you can swallow.
Last but not least, have you ever had to completely change your goals for the entire year before? (and bragging rights goes to the person who know how many idioms I used!)