Sunday, August 11, 2013
Wow, this free time thing is AMAZING!!!
Most of my days have been pretty much the same as the first few: work, hit the gym, then do something relaxing before hitting the sack. I'm getting great sleep.
At first, my husband and I were going out to eat since we had time. But the scale started creeping up on me so I had to nix that. But it was really nice while it lasted!
My very first weekend of total freedom was fantastic, too. I caught up on sleep (really shocked that it took over a week to feel fully rested, but it's been years so I guess I shouldn't be surprised, right?), and then, on a whim, called up friends and headed out on a bike ride. We covered 20 miles that day - woo hoo!
The next day we went to Six Flags for some mega-fun. I haven't been there in years! The last time I was there, I was too big to ride some of the rides. I was so embarassed and dejected after being asked to get off the ride. How humiliating!! So no surprise that I wasn't super-excited to go. But hubby bought us season tickets as my graduation gift, so not letting that go to waste. After waiting in line for well over an hour, I was scared to get into the car, but I fit in the seat and the harness went over me just fine. No embarassment, no shame. Just a fun-filled day of roller coasters and carnival games! Yay for losing weight!!
Nothing as exciting as all that this past week, just really enjoying life. I took some time to buy some new makeup, which I haven't been able to do in awhile, and spent some time playing the piano (wow, am I rusty!). I even hit the garden for a little while and weeded out the 4-foot high thistle...I'm guessing the neighbors are shocked.
Last but not least, my friend Peggy and I sat down and registered for our fall races. We are doing the Lake Country Half Marathon, the Tough Mudder, Al's Run (an 8k race), and the Lake Country Duathlon. I've never run an 8k or done a duathlon before, so this should be fun!
I am cooking again, though not with as much gusto as I used to. I'm hoping that I will learn to love cooking again as I settle into a rhythm. My routine was completely disrupted with graduation, so now I must form new habits. I'm trying to make them all good ones.
What do you guys do after work? What good habits do you have that I can adopt?
I'm thinking about doing a little yoga every night before bed. Anyone have any tips?
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
After four long years of hard work, I am finally done with my master's degree. Now, I have to learn how to live my life again. Here's how it's going so far...
Day 1 (Sunday): PARTY!!!!!!!!! My hubby threw me the best grad party ever. We spent 10 hours outdoors with dear friends and family. We played baseball and volleyball (and I have the bruises to prove it), went hiking, and found a few geocaches. It was a great day. I ate and drank too much, but it was such a relief to not have any deadlines looming, I felt I deserved a break.
Day 2 (Monday): Back to work. Wow, super sore today!! Guess all that fresh air and exercise took its toll on me. After work, I took some time to clean the house a bit before hitting the gym.
Day 3 (Tuesday): Woke up sore again, but had a ton of energy! I worked from home and took advantage of that structure to get in a lunchtime workout. Focused on cardio and flexibility - wow that yoga feels good! I cranked some music and danced while doing chores, then headed out for an evening kickball game. We lost, but had fun doing it! The whole team was doing synchronized push-ups on the bench. Fitness losers, ha-ha!!
Day 4 (Today): Woke up a little groggy from the late night, but otherwise feeling fine. The dark circles under my eyes are gone. My skin looks brighter - hmmm, is this what less stress can do? Had planned a workout after work today, but ended up cleaning the house instead. Got 6 rooms clutter-free and got caught up on laundry. I came across a document I was supposed to review and sign back in March. I sat right down and took care of it - took about an hour. Feels amazing to be able to get stuff done without worrying about what I'm NOT doing.
Tomorrow I'm planning on getting up early to exercise before work. Haven't done that in ages!! I'm liking this free time, SparkFriends. The scale hasn't budged in 11 months. I sense a change coming...
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Yesterday my friend Peggy and I competed in the Geneva Lakes Amazing Race for the third year in a row. We had a blast, as always. The race was done in six parts. The goal was to finish with the most points. Raising more money gave you helpers, while doing challenges well gave you points. We got to pick and choose most of the challenges that we did, but some were mandatory.
Part One: Fundraising
Every team must raise $1000 to compete. That's easier than it sounds. We do a charity rummage each year, and earn enough for two teams to complete. So now my husband and his brother compete, too. This year, we raised $2650. Yay!
Part Two: Pre-Race Challenge
The night before the race, organizers host a pasta dinner. They also include a bonus challenge to help teams get a head start. This year's challenge was to eat and identify 14 Jelly Belly bean flavors. Of course they used the nasty ones. We identified 12 of the 14 (got Earth Worm and Dirt mixed up...understandably), so earned 24 bonus points. Other flavors: baby wipes, grass, dog food, rotten egg, vomit, boogers, ear wax, pencil shavings, skunk spray, centipede, soap, and one other that I can't remember. Probably a good thing.
Part Three: Race morning!
Phase 1 of the actual race took place in Whitewater, about 30 minutes from our base camp in Lake Geneva. There are penalties for being late for check-in, so we were a bit stressed, but still had fun. We started strong and did many of the challenges, which included:
* Get inked! We had to find a specific tattoo parlor from clues and put on a temporary tattoo. 10 points
* Campus bingo! We had to locate a bingo card and run around the UW-Whitewater campus finding answers to the clues until we had 5 in a row on the bingo card. It was pouring rain, so this one was quite difficult. But we finished fast and headed to our next challenge. 30 points
* Sweet Spot! We found the right cafe and had to dig through buckets of M&Ms to find the two that had X's marked on them. Hard to do, but we figured out a good technique and earned our 10 points quickly.
* Get Cheesy! This one was great fun. We had to find a park using the clues and when we got there, Peggy put on a shower cap that I covered in shaving cream. I then threw cheese balls at her until I got 15 to stick on her head. Hilarious!! 10 points
*Re-creation! We had to find a brochure at a grocery store and recreate it by locating the building and taking an identical picture for 10 points.
*Joy of the Games! We found the right park and had to play four holes of frisbee golf, go through a very tall maze, and sink all four baskets on this highly unusual hoop:
We struggled getting the top basket, but finally got the angle right and snagged 30 points.
*Puzzles!! Along the way, we had to take pictures of specific things and solve some word puzzles and sudokus for extra points. We earned 67 extra points - woo hoo!
End of phase 1: 191 points...and second place! (We opted out of one challenge worth 30 points - it was pouring rain and the challenge required riding bikes. Lucky for us they cancelled it. Everyone who went there got an alternate challenge that apparently took a very long time.)
Part four: Race afternoon
After eating a foot-long turkey sub hand's free (and we both were eating the same sub, kind of like Lady and the Tramp but nowhere near as romantic), we got to start the next phase. That's me in the purple in the photo above...got some sub in my cheeks! Phase 2 of the race brought us to Elkhorn, where we did some really fun challenges.
*Money in the Bank! Find the right bank and correctly name all the states in one region of the US (we chose Midwest), then dig through boxes of quarters to find the matching states. They estimated it would take 40 minutes. We finished in 10. Yay! 30 points
*Rising Tide! We had to figure out the location from its old name (thank goodness for smartphones!), then build a plumbing system to move water from one bucket to another by hooking it up to a car battery. My hubby's an engineer and a fish enthusiast, so I have helped him hook up pumps, hoses, and tubes many times. Easy-peasy for 30 points!
*Going to the Dogs! We bought food and supplies for a local animal shelter for 20 points. Bonus of 5 points for having our total come to exactly $8.69, including tax.
*Ghosts in the Graveyard! We had to find the earliest date of birth in the entire cemetary. Luckily it was a small one. 10 points
*Be Very, Very Quiet! We located the local library and spent time filling in a questionnaire with information that could only be found by walking around. This one took longer than the estimated 20 minutes, but we still found all the answers and snagged 10 points. Sshhhh!
We didn't have time to do three of the challenges, so missed out on 50 points. But we stayed in the pack with 110 more points and a total of 301, so we were fired up for the final phase!
Part five: Race afternoon II
Phase 3 of the race kept us on the base camp grounds. This phase was TOUGH!! I know they were trying to separate the pack, and it worked. We only managed four of the seven challenges available to us. To get the challenges, though, we first had to complete 5 different minute to win it style activities, which was pretty fun. We moved bags with our teeth, stacked soda cans with spaghetti noodles, balanced dice on tongue depressors, shook ping pong balls out of boxes strapped to our hips, and balanced two golf balls on top of each other.
(That's not us, but you get the idea.)
*Whatever Floats Your Boat! Using cardboard and duct tape, we had to make a lake-worthy vessel. Peggy and I grabbed a huge piece of cardboard and fashioned into a canoe. We used our duct tape to keep it curved and seal the bottom and sides so no water would come in. Peggy manned it since she is very light. She had a couple wobbly moments but stayed out of the lake and rowed to shore from the end of the dock. 30 points and lots of complements on our color-coordinated duct tape. I wish I had pictures!
*Tired Out! So aptly named. We had to go a mile along the shore to pick up our clue. The problem was, there was no real trail and the overgrowth was so bad our arms and legs got ripped to shreds. At one point, we even had to climb a barbed-wire fence! When we reached the end, we got two slap bracelets and two raw eggs to bring back to the starting line as proof we made it. (If we broke the eggs, we'd lose 5 points.) Peggy and I didn't want to go back that way so tried to find another trail. All we found was a swamp, so we had to go overland once more. We got to the road by climbing another barbed-wire fence. Peggy ran on ahead while I teed up the next clues, but we felt so defeated. What was supposed to be a 30-minute challenge took us an hour and we were pretty beat up. We didn't break the eggs, though, so got the full 35 points.
*Driver's Ed! Even though we were tired, we didn't want to end on a low note, so we pushed on. We had 25 minutes left to get as many points as we could. We opted for the low-pointers and prayed we could do them quickly. This one was a blindfolded golf cart obstacle course. I drove and Peggy guided me through the course. We didn't hit any of the obstacles and got our 10 points in a hurry. We also had so much fun we recharged and regained our fighting spirit!
*Have a Ball! With 10 minutes to spare, we dared another challenge. (Risky since you lose 10 points a minute for being late!) This one had us digging through a giant mound of golf balls for the one with the smiley face on it. Tick-tock, tick-tock. We were just about to give up when Peggy found one. 10 more points and back we went to base camp!
We netted 85 points this round for a total of 396. We had no idea where we stood any more. We figured we fell pretty far behind when we got off course.
Part six: Laser Tag!
As a final push for points, all teams got to compete in a laser tag game. We had to run from one side of a park to the other without getting shot out by our assigned "hunter". Even though we knew we were out of the running, Peggy and I decided to postpone our stretch and nourishment to give this last challenge a go. Good thing we did! We ran from tree to tree in an effort to avoid getting shot. You get four hits before you are out. Our hunter ran up on us and then his gun "jammed" - while he fixed it, we sprinted to the finish line. We each got shot four times in the back but crossed the finish line before he got us each a fifth time. Whew!! That earned us 31 points.
At the end of the day (which was about 10 hours), we had 427 points. We thought we might in fourth or fifth place. As they announced the top six teams in descending order, Peggy whispered to me that we did worse than we thought since they were at third place and still hadn't announced us. With only two places left, we knew we were out of it - after all, we took 13th out of 17 teams last year. So when they read off second place, we didn't register at first. Who is Team Puzzled? Oh wait - that's us!! Even with all the pain and suffering in the final round, we managed to take second place. Go team!!
We are now super-stoked for next year's race. We still can't believe it, and are thoroughly amazed with our progress from last place in year one to second place in year three. Can we win it next year? Who knows?? But one thing I do know - it will be a blast!!
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Wow, time has been getting away from me this year. I started a new job in January and have been working some major hours in addition to going to grad school. It seriously kicked my butt and I lost track of everything except work and hitting the gym three times a week (at least I kept that up!).
But everything else had to give. It just became too much. I lost touch with friends, stopped updating Facebook, stopped writing blogs. I didn't do events, plan meals, or cook. No more daily walks with hubby. In fact, I hardly spent any time with him at all.
I wanted the fancy new job with the exciting description and high visibility. I wanted the stepping stone to future leadership potential. And I got it. This is definitely an example for the "be careful what you wish for" journal.
Now it's time to rebalance. My big project is nearly over and the two new ones haven't geared up yet. I'm nearly done with school - July 27, to be exact.
This weekend I vowed I wouldn't work. I left early on Friday, too. I am reclaiming my life, and my life includes Spark and my wonderful friends here! I will figure out a way to keep my work and home lives in balance. I've been stuck since September. It's time to kick it into high gear and take back my life.
I'm sorry I've been gone, SparkFriends! Hope you can forgive me for disappearing. I miss you so much, and I'm thrilled to be back!!
Monday, March 11, 2013
I have had very little oomph in the past 6 months and it shows. The scale has not budged one pound. I do this every year, and I'm sick of it. The plus side this year is that I didn't regain anything over the winter. I will credit my 3x/week sessions with the trainer for keeping my weight stable. Thanks, JP!!
So now spring is here and I've got my spark back! The clocks changed yesterday and so did my attitude. Last night I hopped on the bike trainer for a quick burn before bed. I got up this morning at 6:00 (ok, 6:30) and did a cardio boot camp.
You know what? I forgot how good it feels to do that kind of stuff. Not only was I super-productive at work, but I felt strong enough to ignore the cravings that popped into my head today. I had energy when I got to the gym after work, and I had an amazing session. Then I came home and cooked dinner! (That might not seem like much, but for those who know me...that's a big deal.)
It's close to bedtime now, and I'm feeling tired but not exhausted. I can't wait for morning so I can do another cardio boot camp and eat some yummy cereal (Trader Joe's honey oat clusters - you must try them!). I burned nearly 1000 calories today and ate within range. I feel amazing.
Tomorrow I'm going to hit the pool for my first swim of the year. Come on, everyone! Let's do this!!
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