Toxic Relationships – A time for change

When the seasons change, I feel the tuck to reevaluate my life, my relationships and goals. It just seems natural to me. Fresh starts. Even though I’ve been quite busy playing around with my new vacuum sealer, these are things that I often need to think about.

Recently a friend and I were talking about how we miss having real and authentic relationships, as well as, conversations that are meaningful and pure. We don’t ask people how they are doing “just because” we are asking because we TRULY care. We want to know the good, bad and ugly. We want and are willing to invest time and emotion into the relationship.

I had mentioned to my friend that I have a very small group of true relational friends. These friends know me better than I know myself. They aren’t afraid of telling me the truth, even if it might sting for a short while. We are able to have real conversations that don’t just skim the surfaces of life.

I know lots of people and have a larger “circle” of friends, but some of these so called “friends” I would put our relationships into the category of “Toxic Friendship”. This isn’t to say that I don’t care about the person or that when I do spend time with them that the time isn’t enjoyed- it is. But at the root of those relationships there are toxins that leave a bad after taste in my mouth. I walk away from our time spent together thinking- what did we discuss? Do I actually know this person? Are they being honest with themselves and me?

As I have milled over these thoughts and the relationships in my life over the last week or so, I just happened to jump on Runner’s World to see if there were any new and exciting running articles that I would enjoy. I came across Kristin Armstrong’s newest blog post. Go read the article yourself. It is worth the few minutes of reading.

Gorgeous friend described that kind of connection like sugar, which I thought was so smart that I asked her if I could steal it (she said yes). You crave it, but it’s dissatisfying, it makes you want more, but ultimately you just crash and get a headache. Real connection and intimacy is like a meal, not a sugar fix.

After reading the post I sat speechless and teary eyed. Kristin hit the nail on the head.

I want to have “real deal meal” relationships in my life. I am sick of “sugar fixes” that only satisfy for a quick amount of time.

What kind of relationships will you fill your life with? What kind of friend are you?

Sealing Food with the Best Vacuum Sealer

vacuum sealerIf you are a home cook or a homeowner in general then I’m sure you often look to find the best ways of maintaining your home and cooking more efficiently. This probably means trialing new appliances that might come out because a lot of times, these will increase your productivity and make everything a lot easier for you.

A vacuum sealer is one piece of technology that has been around for a few years but has only become more popular recently. This increased awareness is probably something that is urging you on to buy the best vacuum sealer. And if you’ve owned and used an appliance like this then I’m sure you’re looking to upgrade your existing sealer and take advantage of the latest technology integrated into the new machines available to buy right now.

If you haven’t been introduced to this appliance then it might be worth giving you a quick intro of what this is all abound. This machine will allow you to pack your food into a bag and seal it after removing all of the air through the use of a vacuum. This removal of air will prevent the deterioration of food that commonly suffers when there is exposure to air. In simple terms, things like meat and cereal can be sealed using this machine and as a consequence, the contents of the sealed bag will be preserved for a lot longer than when they are exposed to the air. This is all common sense and trust me, it works amazingly well. In my opinion, this is highly advantageous to average people today because essentially, we can just seal the food, freeze it and then take it out to eat whenever we need to. This means that you can prepare all of your food for the next few weeks in advance and have it ready to eat within minutes and when required.

In addition to the above point, the best vacuum sealer will also prevent wastage of food. This is another common issue encountered in most households because believe it or not, we do tend to waste a lot of food. With an appliance like this, freezing your food will mean that you don’t have to throw it out! The best part about this is that you can seal it in a fairly small bag and freeze it for a later date.

So from some of the above points, I’m sure you’ve realised that I love vacuum sealers and have definitely tried a few of them during my time. My current personal machine is the FoodSaver 4840 and from reading vacuum sealer reviews from other users, you’ll notice that this is also the best FoodSaver vacuum sealer available right now. Let me explain why.

First of all, this is an appliance that is made by a highly reliable and well-known brand. As a matter of fact, FoodSaver is probably the main company that makes these vacuum sealers. In addition to this, the FoodSaver 4840 is brilliant in terms of how well it performs and its overall features in general. The first thing to note that it comes in a compact design that will look good on the kitchen counter. But the main feature that really stands out for me is that this vacuum sealer is a 2-in-1 automatic machine. This is the main unique selling point of this. This aspect certainly improves the performance because you’ll be able to seal fish and all kinds of meats and keep them fresh for a long time. This can even include keeping the stock fresh for several months. Because the air has been sucked out, there is no danger from bacteria as they don’t have the ideal conditions to survive. There is also a smaller attachment that will allow you to seal the bags by hand and this will have its own advantages.

I’ve been using the FoodSaver 4840 for a year or so now and I still think this is the best vacuum sealer around. I like to prepare in advance and buy meat on discounts and deals and this is the only machine that allows me to keep it fresh for such a long time. In my home, this vacuum sealer reduces the wastage of food and it also minimizes the cost of food because I can easily buy different foods on deals and offers and then keep them stored away until needed.

Living a Dream

DreamOriginally I was going to blog about how good I am at procrastinating and wasting very valuable time on my weekends of no work and how I think wasting as much time as possible should be a blog challenge soon.

Then I woke up this morning for the first morning in well over 5ish weeks with little hip pain and did a happy dance. Literally. I did a little jig, drank coffee, ate oatmeal and went on a walk. All with close to no hip pain.

Nothing is better than black coffee in the morning.

It was so hard not to break into running stride on my walk this morning. I know that the little big pup I am watching right now would have loved to run as well. But, I just couldn’t get myself to break into stride. I was trying to be a “smart” runner.

I went through out my day being very, very careful not to irritate my hip. I thought that for sure I would get the awful pain sometime, but it never came.

Muddy. Being muddy is not my favorite thing in the world.

I gave into my “I am dying to run” thoughts and laced up my trails shoes and went and met the Dirty Herd for a trail run. To my disbelieve I never got any bad hip pain.

It is still hard for me to believe that my hip didn’t hurt so bad that the pain made me stop running and even harder for me not to run too far or too fast tonight. I only ran 2 miles, but it was the best “come back” run I could have done!

The trails were super muddy. I even managed to run right out of my shoe in a mud hole.

My white socks now look like a late spilled on them.

Mud was everywhere. My new clean trail shoes are no longer new clean trail shoes. They are now “real” trail shoes.

Now that this post is almost the length of a novel, I will stop rambling.

I am hoping for a few more “come back” runs this week. It will take everything in me not to run the heck out of my week.

Reducing Refined Sugars

When the reducing refined sugars challenge started my one goal was to reduce the amount of sweets (cookie, cake, chocolate, lattes, ice cream, etc.) that I was consuming in hopes that my crazy cravings would subside.

Yes there is sugar in bread, pastas, beer, wine but I was more concerned about the amount of sweets I was consuming. It is so easy to have just one cookie and quickly turn back for two cookies. I was sick of feeling sluggish and having intense cravings for more SWEETS. I never felt fully satisfied after a meal till I had eaten a sweet treat.

My mom found this little gem the other day. Even at 1-year old I had a deep love for sugar.

At the beginning of the month I let myself have just a bite or two of something to “try” it. (I have no idea why I thought I had to “try” a sweet treat. I definitely knew it would taste delicious) I quickly learned that this way of thinking was not going to work. I had to go all or nothing.

This challenge has not been easy by any means. Seriously. I have turned down some amazing looking desserts at social events the last month. For goodness sakes, I turned down Costco cake at my sister’s birthday. On a very positive note, I do not have the side effects that Amy-Lynn has suffered from.

It is a slow process, but I am finally starting to see some patterns in my intense cravings for sweets, salt and savory and my eating habits in general.

Just yesterday I went to eat a bite of chocolate pudding and found myself thinking “this is too sweet.” and offering to my housemate to eat.

Baking Irish Car Bomb cupcakes should not have happened last week.

Has this challenge been worth it? YES.

Has this challenge made me rethink my eating? YES.

Will this challenge last past January 31, 2017? YES/NO. This challenge has changed my way of thinking towards sugar and how it makes me feel. I will continue to be mindful of the amount of sweets I eat, but I have no plans of cutting sweets out completely for the long haul.

Cheers to a reduced sugar life!

How to be a morning workout fan?

Morning ExerciseMorning workouts are no joke. It takes motivation to get out of bed before the sunrises and hours before you have to be at work.

Maybe you’re not a morning person now. No fear. A few easy steps and practice can make morning workouts a habit in no time.

Pack everything you will need for the next day the night before.

Work bag – check

Purse – check

Breakfast/lunch/snacks – check

Gym bag – check

Hint: I personally have found it easiest to have two sets of toiletries. One set for home and one for the gym bag. There is nothing worse than getting in the shower and realizing you have forgotten your body wash. I am totally cool with no showers on a non-workout day, but sometimes a girl just has to shower after a sweaty workout.

Make a commitment to meet friends.

Hitting the snooze button multiple times is not as tempting when you know someone else has already gotten up and is counting on you.

Have a workout planned that you’re looking forward to.

Maybe it is a new strength training routine or a class (Hello, 5:30am spin class). Have fun with the workouts. If you are not looking forward to the workout that lays ahead, getting up early is going to be even harder.

Go to bed early!

Out of all the steps to make early morning workouts happen, going to bed can be he hardest. This chick loves to go to bed early. Yet I still find myself going to bed later than I should. Quality sleep is important for the body and mind to repair and perform at its highest level. Make sleep a priority.

Yes, I do go to bed around 9pm most nights and LOVE it!

Just commit to doing morning workouts.

Commit and do it! Knowing your workout is done before many people are out of bed is a great feeling. There is no such thing as putting workouts off if it is done first thing in the morning. Make it happen. You will not regret a morning workout.

Have fun!

You workout because you want to, not because you have to!

Change = Growth

Change and GrowthThe person I am today is definitely not the person I was 3 years ago, not even the person I was 9 months ago, nor the person I was 6 months ago. The changes make me happy. They make me excited.

Back in November 2014 I took my first swim lesson. I was only going to learn how to swim so I could use swimming as a cross training tool during my next marathon season. I truly had no intentions of ever doing a triathlon, even though I LOVE biking and running. Swimming back and forth, back and forth in a pool seemed so boring to me. (Side note: I did find swimming very, very boring for a good 2 years.)

Slowly I dragged myself to the pool 1-2 days/ week for the next 4 months. I dreaded every swim. I never looked forward to swimming. I would have rather been running or biking. Then in March 2015 I was injured once again from running too much, too quickly and my spring marathon goals were left high and dry. Being how I always work better under some pressure and am Type A goal oriented I decided to sign up for a sprint triathlon. I was scared to death. If I survived the open water swim in Lake Michigan it would be a true miracle, and I knew without any doubt I would truly survive the bike and run portion of the triathlon.

On July 8, 2015 I stood on the shore of Lake Michigan about to begin my first triathlon. Happy news- I survived and was forever hooked on the triathlon. The swim was not easy in low 60-degree water with waves, but it was doable. The bike and run were a blast. I loved the challenge. I loved the competition. I loved the logistics needed to maneuver transitions. I immediately went home and signed up for my next triathlon just 2 weeks later.

I continued to swim, bike and run. Swimming was becoming ever so slightly more doable. April 2016 I decided that I was too comfortable in my training. I was ready and in need of a challenge. Something that made me a little scared. I signed up for my first Olympic triathlon. I continued to swim hard, bike often and run as my heart desired. After countless open water swims in June I felt confident and ready to compete in my first Olympic triathlon.

On race morning I stood staring at Lake Michigan and the big swells, praying that I could make the 1.5k swim to the pier. The race ended up not going as planned. None the less, within 15 minutes of finishing I was already planning my next race. What could I improve on? Where were my strengths? What were my weaknesses?

2015 race season ended up being extremely memorable. It will go down in history as the year that I discovered I loved triathlons more than I loved running races, and the year that I learned to embrace swimming.

All this to say that I am ready to take another leap in my training and racing. I am ready for a challenge that seems way too big to handle. I am ready for my first 70.3!

In just 20 weeks I will be in my wetsuit waiting for the horn to sound the start of my first 70.3. Am I slightly crazy? Sure. Am I so excited? YES!

Because I Wanted It

MarathonSince being sidelines from distance running, I have been dreaming of running another 1/2 marathon PR. I have been planning on how I would reach a new PR. I have been envisioning what the race would look like. I have been dreaming about crossing that finish line knowing that I had just made my goal.

When I first heard the beginning plans of the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, I was sitting in a work meeting. I knew then, that if I didn’t have to “work” Gazelle Girl Half it was going to be my “come back” race. I then sat down at my computer and began writing my “Come Bake Half Marathon Plan”. The excitement began to rise, not only within myself and the thought of running another 1/2, but in the running community as women began coming together- supporting, encouraging and training together.

As my training got harder, nerves started to grow. Thankfully I have a large support group of fellow runners that listened to my running sagas and helped me get over the hurdles of doubt, fear and were also there for me when I had a great run. At the beginning of every speed workout I would have butterflies in my stomach- would I be able to actually run that fast? As I prepared for every long run by myself- was I mentally strong enough to run 10, 11, 12, 13 miles by myself on a treadmill? But one thing never left my heart- the goal of running a PR at Gazelle Girl Half Marathon.

As I trained over 14 weeks the thoughts of being injured always lingered. I hated that I have such a fear of being injured again, but more than that I loved that I learned how to listen to my body and knew when to rest, when to spend extra time foam rolling, that taking epsom salt baths really do make me feel better and that running makes me a better version of myself.

When race week arrived, I didn’t think I would survive taper week. Surprise, I did survive taper week. Why is it that the one week you get the least amount of exercise, you are the most hungry And why are you always the most tired on taper week? These things will remain a mystery to me, but I am happy that I made it successfully through another taper week.

Race weekend began!

We then gorged ourselves in Olive Garden. Including but not limited to lots of bread sticks dipped in Alfredo sauce, pizza, lots of salad and pasta. Lessons Learned for the future- Don’t go 5-6 hours without eating and then look at an Olive Garden menu, everything will sound delicious. Don’t order 2 meals because you can’t decide what sounds better to eat. Order the lunch portion of the pasta dish.

I was fortunate to sleep in on Saturday morning and got to walk to the start of the race to meet my fellow Gazelle Girls.

I lined up at the start line with 1999 other female runners. I put in my head phones, turned on my Gazelle Girl playlist and got into my running zone. I honestly didn’t notice too much during the race except the amazing spectators, my music and my damn watch that kept telling me that I was on pace.

I felt really, really good till about mile 11.5. It was then that I got a stinkn’ side stitch and my legs felt like lead. I saw my father for the first time right around mile 11.5 and he was able to get my coat and gloves that I had been carrying since mile 1.5. I thought I would want my coat because of the rain/snow mix, but I got way too warm.

Even at mile 11.5 I knew that I was pushing it close to my goal time. I turned the second to last corner on the course and knew that I had less than 2 minutes to make it to the finish line. I took off sprinting. I prayed that I would not throw up, because that is all I wanted to do at that point. I didn’t even have the energy to smile and raise my arms as I crossed the finish line I stopped my watch immediately and knew then that I had made my goal by at least 25 seconds! I have never been so happy to finish a race and to know that dreams do come true when you train your butt off!

We celebrated the race with drinks, food, and friends.

5 Hours Without Coffee

Coffee WithdrawalHi, I am Adam and I am a coffee addict.

The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.

On an average day I drink about 32-48 oz of dark roast coffee. Yup, I drink more hot, steam and delicious black coffee than more people drink water per day. My love of coffee is rooted deep inside me. When I think of my childhood memories of spending early mornings with my father and grandfather, we ALWAYS had coffee and breakfast before the sun was had risen. Every night after family dinner, my parents would make a pot of coffee and then continue to sit at the dinner table drinking coffee and talking about their days.

My love of coffee really took off when I was living and working in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Most days were started by 5:30am and no one functioned without a healthy dose of Community Coffee. I learned to drink my coffee super hot, super dark and without any sugar or cream.

For the last 5 or so years, my coffee addiction as ran rapid. People go on vacation and they bring me back coffee. Friends family from Texas visits Michigan and they bring me 4 lbs of Community Coffee so I no longer have to mail order it.

Ever so often my coffee drinking gets out of hand. Then the worst thing has to happen – I have to cut down on my coffee intake and live with a throbbing headache for a week.

I have reached my tipping point once again. The fact that on Saturday I only drank 1 ½ mugs of coffee and by early afternoon I had a headache, I knew I had to take charge of the coffee problem.

Sunday started off like any other day but one thing was missing- my coffee. I decided I would go cold turkey. No coffee for 1 week.

Then by 12pm I had a throbbing headache and was determined to push through. Then something hit me. Why was I doing this? Why couldn’t I simply just enjoy one or two cups of coffee and be ok?

Life is too short not to enjoy the simple things in life.

I quickly trotted over to the Keurig at work and made myself one delicious cup of coffee and considered it my personal feat that I made it 5 hours of being awake without drinking coffee.

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