Monday, February 20, 2017

Shouldless Days in San Diego - Part 1

We've been back from San Diego for a week now and I am finally getting around to posting my recap!  We had a really nice 4-day getaway. Life has felt really busy lately, so it was great to get away and relax for 4 days. We were hoping to soak up lots of sun, but the weather wasn't as nice as we were hoping (rain, fog, overcast skies). But we made the most of it!  Here's a (picture-heavy) recap of our time!

We stayed in an airbnb in the Mission Beach area of San Diego. This was a great area to stay because it was fairly central and we were so close (less than a block!) to the beach. When we had our windows open, we could hear the waves.  #bliss

On Thursday morning I was up before Phil so I walked to a local coffee shop for my morning caffeine fix and walked back along the beach. It was so beautiful out at that point of the day. Little did I know that was the last time I was going to see blue skies until our day of departure. Womp womp.

Shortly after I took that picture, heavy fog moved in. We had plans to go to Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve in the La Jolla area. We thought that the fog would maybe burn off by the time we got up there or during our hike. We were wrong. So we didn't get great views of the ocean, but we still had a great time!

The terrain was rugged and beautiful! This picture gives you an idea of how foggy it was!
There are several short hikes in the area but the most popular one is the beach hike.

The foggy weather made the beach look mysterious and beautiful
 After walking along the beach for a while, we headed back to the trail head.
Navigating the dense fog back to the trail head.
By the time we got done hiking, we were starting to get hungry. Since we were close to La Jolla, we stopped there for lunch at Bubba's Smokehouse (which was really good!). La Jolla is definitely a much more "ritzy" area than where we were staying (think Cartier and other high end shops). At one point we had considered staying in La Jolla, but I'm glad we didn't as we are more of the Pacific Beach types (which is touristy, but more low key/not ritzy).

One draw of the La Jolla area is La Jolla Cove. We walked down there after lunch. This little passageway/cove was especially cool.

It's crazy to think that the topography of the area occurred naturally. 

We had been out and about for quite a chunk of time at this point, so we decided to head back to our condo and relax for awhile. 
Wine + a good book
After relaxing for awhile, we went for a walk on the beach.  It was chilly and misty so we had the beach to ourselves.

Phil found some sand dollars for me
 This picture gives you an idea of how foggy it was!

It was a great first day!  I'll be back later this week with part 2 of the recap!

Have you been to San Diego?

Friday, February 17, 2017


Hello Friday!  I hope everyone had a great week!  This week has felt a bit busy for me between getting caught up after being gone and other evening commitments.  I need to do some recap posts about our San Diego trip (which was awesome!) so hopefully I'll get those written this weekend.  Here's how my week shaped up!

The high of my week was going to our wedding food tasting on Wednesday night. We were really happy with the food and feel good about the choices we made. But I was most excited about the fact that they are going to let us bring in French macarons from an outside bakery. They typically charge you for bringing in outside food for dessert but since maracons are not something they make, they are letting us bring them in with no extra charge.  Macarons are my favorite dessert and it was really important to have them at our wedding since they are so me (and Phil loves them too!)  So we'll have macarons and an assortment of other mini desserts for our dessert table.  We are skipping the wedding cake because a) I'm gluten free and gluten free cake is NOT good usually, and b) neither of us really LOVES cake. That means we won't have a 'cake cutting' but neither of us really cares that much about that tradition.   

The low of my week was feeling concerned about all the political drama.  I'm very uncomfortable with the relationship between our current administration and Russia.  

A book I am reading is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah which is my book club's March book. Because I live under a rock/don't have cable/don't watch much TV, I did not know who Trevor Noah was (he's the host of The Daily Show). Noah was born and raised in South Africa. He mom is black and his father is white. He was "born a crime" because it was illegal for a mixed race couple to have a child. If the government found out about his birth, his parents could have been imprisoned for 4-5 years. I'm about 50 pages in and am really enjoying it so far. Each chapter tells the story of his life, but between each chapter, he talks about race relations and Apartheid in South Africa so I am learning a lot.  

A recipe I made this week is Red and Green Enchiladas. I made these on Valentine's Day and Phil made Mexican rice to have as a side.  This is Phil's favorite meal and one of my favorites as well!  (One note about the recipe - should say 1 4 oz can of sliced olives, not a 14 oz can. We actually use a bigger can than the recipe calls for because we love olives. but 14 oz is A LOT of olives!)

For my workouts I started the 21 day Fix program. I did the total body cardio on Monday, upper fix on Tuesday, and lower fix on Wednesday. Yesterday I went to a barre class with some girlfriends instead of doing the pilates fix, and this morning I did the cardio fix before work.  I love that the workouts are only 30 minutes which makes them really easy to fit into your day! This weekend I'll do another fix workout on Saturday and then on Sunday I have a session with my personal trainer.  It feels soooo good to be back to working out 6-7 days a week after not working out very much when I was recovering from hip surgery!!

The best money I spent was on the 2nd deposit for our wedding venue.  I use "best" lightly as it was quite the chunk of change...  Phil and I keep reminding ourselves that it will be great to show our guests one of our favorite areas of Minneapolis.  It just comes at a high cost!  

My plans this weekend include going to an engagement celebration dinner tonight hosted by one of Phil's college friends.  It's French-themed!!  :)  On Saturday we are going to have another couple over to grill because the weather is going to be unseasonably warm! On Sunday I have a person training session in the afternoon but not much else planned.  I might try to tackle some wedding-related errands that day. We have Monday off, too, so it's a long weekend for us! On Monday I'm going to a yoga sculpt class at Core Power Yoga and then I have a doctor's appointment in the afternoon and a video chat with a friend scheduled after that!  So all in all our weekend isn't *too* busy which is nice!!

What was the high of your week? What was the best thing you spent money on this week?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Core de Force Program Review

Hello from San Diego!!  As I mentioned in my post last week, I did the Core de Force Program in January. Here is my review of the program.


Core de Force is a 30-day program of mixed-martial arts-inspired workouts (i.e. kick-boxing style workouts). There is no equipment required. The workouts can be grouped into 3 categories:  cardio, strength training, and core. The cardio and strength training workouts are typically broken down into 3 minute rounds with a 30 second period for recovery. For the cardio workouts, you will typically do a move for 1 minute, then a 30 second high-intensity x's 2.  For the strength training workouts, you will do 2-3 different moves during the 3 minute round. The core workouts tend to be done in 45 second to 1 minute increments.

- No equipment needed. If you get the CDs, you just need access to a computer or DVD player. If you have the on demand membership (which I HIGHLY recommend), you just need access to a laptop or device such an iPad.
- There is a lot of variety to the program.  There are 4 different cardio workouts, 2 different strength training workouts, and 2 different core workouts.
- The workouts are fun!  If you have some aggression that you need to workout, this workout is perfect because you do lots of kicking and punching.
- The workouts are fairly low impact and there is a person that does modifications for each move of the workout. Sometimes I have to modify because my hip can't handle lots of jumping moves, and sometimes I have to modify because of my level of fitness. For example, I am a looooong ways from being able to do tricep push-ups, but the modification from the knees is still challenging!

- In the latter half of the program, you combine cardio and core work every day so it can be a big time commitment. The longest cardio workout is about 45 minutes and the core programs are either 5 minutes or 15 minutes. So in the final weeks you might be working out for an hour which can be harder to fit in. Other beach body programs feature workouts that are 25-30 minutes so you might want to try one of those program is your time is limited.
- Some of the moves are a bit confusing. They do have a 'learn it and work it' segment that is separate from the workouts. They break down the moves during these segments, but you might feel awkward when doing the workouts as there is a lot of jumping and switching legs and such.  I learned to get over not feeling like I was doing it right.  You'll do the workouts over and over and there is a person doing modifications if you need to take it down a level. Just be prepared to feel like you are clumsy and have 2 left feet at times.

Again, I want to emphasis that I am merely sharing my experience with this program. They worked great for me so I figure maybe some of you will benefit from checking them out.  I get ZERO compensation from posting about them!  But if you want to check it out, I can put you in touch with my friend (who is super nice and won't pressure you into buying it!).  Plus they have a special deal right now where you can get on demand access for one year for $99!

Have you tried a beach body program or other online program?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Activism Through Reading: Book 1

A lot has happened since the start of 2017.  What has disappointed me the most is the Executive Order that banned persons from "terror" prone countries from entering the US for 90 days and suspended the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated for nationals of countries for whom members of Trump's Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.

The statement by Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham reflects how I feel about this ruling:

"Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.” {source}

I do not like to discuss politics on my blog as it's just not something I've ever been comfortable with. But this is an issue that I feel so strongly about, especially after working in an ESL classroom with adult immigrants - most of which are refugees. I have seen the faces of our refugee population and I have heard their stories.  It is heart-breaking.  

I've given a lot of thought about what I can do to raise awareness about this issue.  And what I keep coming back to is books.  I have my own thoughts and feelings about this issue, but maybe I can raise even more awareness by reading books on the topic and suggesting that others read them as well.  I'm calling it my "Activism Through Reading" project. Every 6 weeks, I will select a title and announce it here.  Maybe no one besides me will read the book.  But even if one other person reads it and it opens their mind a bit more, I will call it a success.  

I'm starting by reading a book that will advance our knowledge of other religions, including the Muslim faith.  My first selection is "The Faith Club" by Ranya Tabari Idliby, Priscilla Warner and Suzanne Oliver. There are countless books about religion but I decided to pick a memoir-style book as memoirs feel very accessible. "The Faith Club" is a memoir of spiritual reflection in three voices that will make readers feel as if they are eavesdropping on the authors' private conversations, provocative discussions, and often controversial opinions and conclusions. The authors wrestle with the issues of antisemitism, prejudice against Muslims, and preconceptions of Christians at a time when fundamentalists dominate the public face of Christianity.  

If you are looking for a way to expand your understanding of the issues that are being debated in our world and particularly in the U.S., I encourage you to join me in reading this book.  My goal is to post my review and some discussion questions in 6 weeks, which falls around March 21st.  

I'm also open to suggestions for future books to read, so suggest away!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Looking Forward: Birthday Edition

Good morning and happy Monday!  It's an especially happy Monday for me as today is my birthday - I turn 36!  The last year was an awesome one, but I know the year to come is going to be even better.  Instead of reflecting back on the last year, today I am going to share some things I'm excited about in the coming year!

Today I am looking forward to a quiet birthday celebration with my favorite person. I'll start the evening off with a session with my personal trainer and then Phil and I will order in Indian food (because I don't want to cook on my birthday and I don't feel like eating out on a Monday!). I've requested macarons from my favorite bakery for my birthday dessert.

This week I'm looking forward to a weekend away in San Diego. The weather forecast looks wonderful (low- to mid-70s!). I can't wait to spend 4 full days with Phil. I'm especially looking forward to running along the ocean, going for walks on the beach, soaking up some vitamin D, hiking at the Torry Pines State Preserve and exploring a new city!

This month I'm looking forward to my wedding dress coming in!  I'm so in love with the dress I've selected!  I can't wait to try it on!

In March I'm looking forward to a DIY wedding project weekend with my mom and sisters-in-law!  With 4 of us working on projects, I'm hopeful we'll be able to get lots done!

In April I'm looking forward to attending my 2 wedding showers. My local college friends are hosting one in Minneapolis and my family is hosting one over Easter weekend.  I feel fortunate that friends and family are putting so much time and effort into planning some special celebrations for us!  I'm also looking forward to celebrating Easter with both of our families as Phil's mom is coming with us to the lake for the shower and will celebrate Easter with my family.

In May I'm looking forward to my "Girls Gone Mild" bachelorette party (that theme is soooo me), but I'm especially looking forward to our wedding and honeymoon!!  I still feel like I'm living a dream.  I can't wait to say "I do" to my best friend, surrounded by family and friends, and to jet away to Maui for 9 full days of relaxation and exploration!!

This summer I'm looking forward to weekends at the lake with family. My sister that lives in AZ will be in North Dakota this summer as her husband needs to be in Fargo to log some flying hours through the Air Force. They'll be at the lake every weekend so my goal is to get there more often than we usually do so we can get extra time with them!

This fall I'm looking forward to my girls trip with my mom, sisters, and sisters-in-law. We go somewhere every other year and this year I think we are going to San Diego!  I'm totally ok with going to a warm, sunny, and fun place twice in one year.  ;)  I'm so glad that we established this tradition 4 years ago!

What are some things that you are looking forward to this year?

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Change in My Approach to Working Out

Working out has been a big focus in my life for quite some time. However, my approach to working out has really changed recently. Up until I moved in with Phil, I had access to a gym within my condo or apartment buildings. Working out was pretty easy because I could be at the gym in 5 minutes which made it very easy to fit in workouts either before or after work.

That all changed last May when I moved in with Phil and I quickly realized how much more difficult  it is to find time to workout when you don't have a gym in your home!  Plus, I had hip surgery the week after I moved in and spent the summer and fall rehabbing my hip joint.  In summers past, most of my workouts would have happened outdoors as I tend to run and bike a lot in the summer, but that wasn't possible since my hip was still healing.

This fall, I started to regain strength in my hip and was able to start to do more intense workouts and classes at the gym. Except I quickly realize that it's hard to get to the gym as often as I would like since my schedule is so busy. Between work travel and after-work commitments, it was darn near impossible to get to the gym 5-6 days a week, which is how often I prefer to workout. It takes me about 15 minutes to drive to the gym, so between driving there and back + working out, I was gone for 1.5-2 hours.  And that is a serious chunk of my free time in the evening.

You are probably thinking - why don't you just work out in the morning instead?  Well, morning gym workouts don't work for me since I take the bus to work and it's a logistical nightmare to drive to the gym and try to take a bus from there. Yes, I could have figured it out, but I need to be at work by 7:30 so it was going to require really early morning and showering/getting ready at the gym (which I'm NOT comfortable doing as I just can't get behind the whole 'being naked in front of strangers' thing). Nor did I feel comfortable leaving my car at the gym all day while I was at work.

Come December, I was starting to feel frustrated. I wasn't as toned as I like to be and I didn't feel great since I wasn't working out consistently.  I knew something had to change.  Here's what I decided to do.

1.  I signed up for a beach body program*.  A high school friend is a beach body coach and she posted some videos of her Core de Force workouts.  They looked really fun so I decided to give it a try. I was attracted to this program because it doesn't require ANY equipment.  Shortly after I signed up, Beach Body offered annual access to all of their programs for $99 for the entire year.  I snapped up that deal as I figured it would be a great way to have access to lots of different programs. I tend to get bored easily so I need variety! Plus it has a handy dandy little tracker that shows you how much you have worked out!

Kind of crazy that I've done 57 workouts since I joined in late December!!  I've done a lot of double workout days, though as Core de Force combines cardio or strength training with core and lately I've been combining T25 workouts with PiYo.

2.  I made an at home gym.  My at home workout space could not have less ambiance (our basement is unfinished so I workout in a room that has cement floors and is kind of dark). But what it lacks in ambiance, it makes up for in convenience.  I bought these mats and this weight set. I set up a little table for my laptop as right now I'm using the various beach body programs. It's kind of like working out in a dungeon, but it works for me.  Setting up an at-home gym has made it possible for me to do morning workouts as I don't have to worry about waking Phil up with all of my jumping around!

3.  I kept my gym membership but go to a different location. I have a membership to the Y and was going to a location that is about 2 miles from our house.  Except driving there and back added on so much time, which made it harder for me to motivate myself to go on week nights. So now I go to the downtown Y, which is 2 blocks from my office. That way I can get my workout in but still take the bus home. I just hate driving so much, so anything that cuts out driving is a win for me. I've been trying to run at the downtown gym twice a week and will try to get to the gym in our neighborhood once over the weekend for a class.

4.  I started to work with a personal trainer.  This was a bit of a splurge and is something I am doing temporarily so I can get toned up for my wedding. My company was acquired 2 years ago and we joined their benefits in January. One of their benefits is that they will pay for 50% of your gym fees, including personal trainer sessions, up to $650/year!  That is how I am justifying the cost of working with a personal trainer, who happens to be a friend of mine and is giving me a discounted rate.

My approach to working out will change once the weather warms up and I can run outdoors. There are some people who run outdoors year round but I am paranoid about slipping and falling as our paths can be icy in the winter. So for now, my workouts are all indoors. Come spring, I will likely drop my gym membership for the summer/fall since I can get my cardio workouts in outdoors.

So there you have it.  A long and meandering post about working out.  I sometimes think there is this perception that working out comes easily to those who have a history of being active. This post shows that that isn't necessarily the case. Life changes either due to a move, an injury, being in a relationship or having a child and you have to figure out a new way to get your workouts in. Working out is such an important part of being a healthy individual, regardless of whether or not you are at your ideal weight.  So if you are struggling to fit your workouts in due to your life circumstances, try thinking outside the box. For example, I never thought I'd need an at-home gym to stay active, but it turns out I do!

Stay tuned for my review of the Core de Force program!

What are you doing to stay active these days?  Have you gone through a change that has made it harder to stay active?  

* I am not compensated in anyway to mention the Beach Body programs. However, if you are curious about trying one out, I can put you in touch with a coach.  If you choose to try it out, I'm not compensated in any way.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February Happiness Project: My Relationship

It's time to shift my focus from organization to my February focus:  my relationship with Phil. Don't get me wrong, things are wonderful between us but in my opinion, there is always room for improvement. January was super busy for me and I was gone a lot.  And things really pile up when you are away, like mail, bills, laundry, cleaning, etc.  So when I was home, I was focused on keeping up with my adulting tasks. And, of course, I've been very busy with wedding planning.  The to do list is so dang long so I spend a lot of time on my computer in the evenings.  

In February, I'd like to work on being less distracted and more present in my relationship.  I don't want us to get into the habit of sitting side-by-side on the couch, staring at our computer screens.  So here are some goals I am setting for the month.

1. One meal at the dining room table each week.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but most of our meals are eaten on the couch while we watch the news or a show on netflix.  Part of this is because we are often heating up leftovers or doing our own things for dinner so it doesn't always make sense to sit at the dining room table.  But when we eat on the couch, we aren't facing each other, nor are we all that focused on talking to each other.  So once a week I would like to make a point to eat dinner at the dining room table.  Ideally I'd like to have 2 meals/week at the dining room table, but I'm starting with baby steps!

2.  No screen time after 8 pm. I'm terrible about being on my phone or laptop right up until the point that we go to bed.  Phil is far less reliant on his phone (which is typical for men, I think) so he checks it far less often than I do and rarely texts or emails people.  I'm the opposite as I will have long back and forth text message or whatsapp conversations with friends, and I will scroll through facebook at times.  I deleted the Facebook ap off my phone this week, though, so that will help. But in February, I will put my phone out of sight at 8 pm and leave it alone until we go to bed around 10. 

3.  Relax more.  On the weekends, Phil is often asking me to please relax.  For example, he will often make brunch for us on Saturdays but while he's making brunch, I'm in the kitchen doing meal prep or dishes.  He will tell me repeatedly to please go sit down on the couch and relax and he will bring me brunch but I usually power through what I am doing.  I know I need to find ways to relax more, and when he's making me a meal, I should relax and enjoy it.  Phil usually goes to his mom's for the whole day on Sunday so my goal is to try to do more of my meal planning on Sundays when he's gone so that I can relax more with him on Saturdays.  That doesn't mean I will spend the entire day on the couch next to him. But I recognize that I need to work on taking more time to relax and spend some quiet time with him.

It helps that we have a long weekend getaway to look forward to next week as that getaway will be all about relaxing and enjoying time together doing things we love to do.  We've also agreed that we won't discuss the wedding at all as we both need a break (especially me!) from thinking and talking about wedding plans!

Is there a goal or intention you plan to focus on in February? Are you the 'busier' person in your relationship?  Do you have a hard time relaxing like I do?