2012 Goals – How’d I Do?

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This picture makes me laugh EVERY TIME I look at it, it is so ridiculous!

So. I made a lot of goals this year, just as I do every year. Some were stretch goals, some were easy goals, some I wrote down once and never even thought of again (ahem, my entire home improvement category!)

No matter whether I nailed them, or never even came close, I had so much fun reaching for the stars this year, and that’s why I will definitely be sharing my 2013 Goals this week. I think it’s fun to write down what you want. I think it’s fun to watch how those intentions change. I think it’s fun to see so many things checked off after a year of hard work.

For those of you who are interested, here is how my 2012 goals shook out. If I crossed them off, they got completed. If they are in italics, there may have been some progress. If I left them alone, they were probably a fail.

Personal

Plan a wedding/stay sane/pay cash
Get Married
Get Knocked Up :)
(These 3 will stay on the list, have no fear!)
Um…learn about being pregnant and all that… I did A LOT of research this year
Continue to keep a Hostess Journal
Write more Thank You Notes
Give more gifts
Be more curious, be less judgmental
Move closer towards your professional goals CHECK PLUS

Verdict: We consciously put a few of those personal goals on hold so I could pursue some of my professional goals and this year I had the kind of professional year (in my day job, and otherwise) that I couldn’t even have dreamed of when I made that list last year. I want to focus more on those family/nesting type goals in 2013 because 2012 was THE YEAR OF MY JOBS. And man could I just kiss Garrett on the mouth for all of his support in those endeavors.

Relationship

Plan one fun outing per month (day trip/weekender/date night)
Have dinner with friends once per month (This was an epic FAIL)

Verdict: This was a tough relationship year and you know what, we TOTALLY got through it even more committed than ever. I’m proud of that. Now, we need to work on nurturing some of our other relationships too.

Cheers!

Travel – THE DREAM LIST

New Mexico – to visit Garrett’s parents (I’m checking this off bc Garrett got to go)
New Orleans – for The Blathering
Los Angeles – potentially if I do the AIDS Ride with my aunt
Sonoma Weekend – Jim and Gina’s wedding
The Midwest – because it’s been a while
Portland Oregon – potentially for the SCAA Annual Expo
Austin Texas – If Formula One can get their shit together
Maui – because the condo is free, even if plane tickets are not

Verdict: We did okay. This was a Dream List afterall.
Glarifees all around! #sonoma #drinkup

Style

Cultivate a wardrobe that makes me happy Check! Too bad I have just about grown out of it after all those Christmas cookies. :)
Find a skincare routine that suits my stubborn face I made lots of progress
Buy a pair of investment jeans
Continue keeping an outfit list – sounds lame, SUPER HELPFUL I love doing this. I’m a nerd
Continue curating a visual style journal on Pinterest
Continue keeping a clothing wishlist in your purse to avoid unnecessary purchases

Verdict: I had fun this year with style. I didn’t take it too seriously, but I did make an effort at it. It’s fun. It makes me feel good. I’m going to continue it.
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Finances

Come up with better banking systems Definitely better. Not “Best” just yet.
Add to Savings
Pay for wedding in cash Nope, but I did enough professional hustling that when the time comes, WE WILL. YES.

Verdict: 2012 was very good to me financially and for that I am so grateful.

Home Improvement

Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Replace Kitchen Counter
Add Tile Backsplash
Remove kitchen wallpaper
Hang Art in kitchen
Redo Office
Paint Master Bath
Redo Master Bedroom
Deal with Front Courtyard
Buy Patio Furniture
Install Alarm
Buy a shed
Plan and execute Spring/Summer/Fall gardens

Verdict: I’m not even putting Home Improvement goals on my list next year. If they get done, they will just be icing on the cake.

Fitness

Unassisted pullup This one is rolling over.
Non girl pushups in WODs
Track WODs better
Hit Goal Weight BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAH I got over that idea this year.
Toes to Bar
Run mile in under 10 minutes, regularly I did it once, so I’m checking that off.
5K in 30 minutes or less

Verdict: I think for about 3/4 of the year my fitness was on point. After the half marathon I was just kind of like “Yeah, I’ll do that later.” I don’t like my life without regular fitness goals in it, so 2013 will surely have some of those!

100 kb snatches (each arm) + 100 burpees + 100 degree weather = HOT MESS!

Nutrition


Continue posting weekly meal plans
I did it until it got boring. Then I stopped.
Cook with more greens
Cook with more game FAIL
Get regular about fish oil supplementation FCLO is where it’s at!
Find Garrett better PWO options

Verdict: Similar to fitness, 3/4 of the year ruled. I am firmly entrenched in this Paleo lifestyle so much so that it is just second nature. I’m having fun fine tuning exactly how I need to tweak it to work for me and my life/performance goals.
Taco Salad using a new vinaigrette

Documentation

Complete Project Life Album
Complete Personal Albums for me and G
Vacation Minibooks
Week in the Life Album

Verdict: I enjoyed it so much this year that I will do Project Life again next year, but beyond that I document enough here. No need to add extra pressure.

Blog

Post 52 recipes
Redesign site so it is more useful
Stick to editorial calendar more regularly
Write a Free Paleo E Book so you don’t have to keep sending the same email over and over again when friends ask :)
Share your inspiration with others

Books

Read 50 books – I read 40. We’re all good.
Write 26 individual book reviews
Continue with Monthly reading recaps
Include Garrett’s book reviews on the blog – he wrote one. And then he was like “Uh, blogging is hard.” :)
Participate in BlogHer Book Club
Succeed with The Bookshelf Project I made progress. So it’s all good.

Verdict: Books! I love you. I will continue to read you! And talk about you here because I am nerdy.
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I’m ready to close this chapter, so I’m off to put on my sweat pants and fire up my netflix to ring in the New Year!

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The Weekend + The Countdown + The Before Photos

This was such a great weekend to end the New Year, can I tell you? Mucho relaxing as we basically continued out trend of being completely ridiculous homebodies. We watched a lot of Homeland, tried to sleep late (Buster isn’t that into us sleeping late since he is used to getting breakfast at 6am, but we TRIED) and also read a ton in the bathtub. Well, *I* read in the bathtub — to be clear. :) Garrett mostly shot zombies on the computer while I was doing that, which was just fine by me.

We ventured out for a walk in the park on Saturday with the dog and once again his mind was mostly blown. He enjoys all walks, but this one particular park that we take him to just always makes him so happy!
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OMG SQUIRRELS!

It was just one of those days where everywhere I looked it seemed like everything was just so beautiful. I know that sounds cheesy, but it doesn’t make it any less true. It was crispy and wintery and despite there being more leaves on the ground than in the trees everything was green, the park was buzzing and I was just happy to out in the world hanging with my two favorite dudes.
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Sunday, I woke up completely determined to RIGHT THIS SHIP, as it were. It’s been a fun season of indulgences but I’m ready to get back to healthy habits, a more active lifestyle and just a general fresh start. I headed out in the morning and took a 3 mile run with my friend Heather (who rocks for dragging my ass outside!) I was NOT happy about it (also, please ignore the bad hair, but please note: Mama Elsa Face) but when I finished I felt amazing. I love that post-run feeling and need to get back to a place in my life where I look forward to it more than I dread lacing up my sneakers.
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Obviously the biggest thing that affects how I feel is the food I put into my body, so I can’t tell you how excited I feel about the Whole 30 is right around the corner (STARTING WEDNESDAY. YESSSS!) I made a loose meal plan for the week (which I’ll share tomorrow) and then did my grocery shopping to get ready. I posted this photo on Instagram yesterday but I think it is worth reposting.
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This is totally my inner-crotchety-old-lady coming out, but I captioned it: Can we all agree to stop saying that (Paleo and) the Whole 30 is SO MUCH meat? Because really, to be frank, IT’S A SHIT TON OF VEGETABLES. That is the truth. And while I understand that it can be a major transition to rid your diet of grains, etc – I am sort of getting tired of people talking about ALL OF THE MEAT. Yes, your protein sources will come from animals (unless you’re a vegetarian, this is no change whatsoever from this Standard American Diet we all leave behind.) But if you are doing it right, it is a variety of protein sources: eggs, fish, shellfish, pork, chicken, beef, lamb… and the rest of your plate is delicious, nutritious vegetables. Man, sometimes I would like to tattoo that on my forehead. Sorry I got a little nutty there for a second. Oh wait, one more last little peeve and then I’m done: VEGETABLES ARE CARBOHYDRATES, PEOPLE. So check out that table FULL OF CARBS and get excited. :) Ok, end rant. Holy shit, that’s why I never let my Food Ranting Old Lady out. She’s no fun.

Anyway, ranting aside I prepped tons of vegetables, cooked up some protein sources and then went to call it a night.
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But instead of leaving well enough alone I then thought to myself “Hey Self, you should post some before pictures.” And just the very thought of that made me want to throw myself off of a cliff, but I did it anyway because back fat needs to be documented. No wait, that’s not right. I did it because I’ve always said that taking photos is a really helpful indicator of body changes, so I am rationalizing showing you these by telling myself that the After Photos will be worth it.

Diptic

I do NOT feel happy about these, but I’m willing to keep it real for you all. If you end up posting before pics too, link me PLEASE. Pretty PLEASE.

Anyway, here’s to rolling the dice and better After Photos and sugar free meals filled with green things and out door activity. 2013 is going to start with a bang, folks! I’m so glad you will be here to join me!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

5 Make-Ahead Whole 30 Meals

I love a meal that you can make on the weekend that will just keep on getting better throughout the week. During the Whole 30, because there is a larger emphasis on cooking at home that during my normal life, I definitely like to have some simple meals ready to go in the fridge for nights when I would normally just say “Screw it, let’s just go out to dinner!”

Here are 5 awesome options for meals you can make on a Sunday but eat all week long. (Click the photos to take you to the recipes.)

1. Caribbean Plantain and Meat Casserole from Baltic Maid

2. Damn Good Chili

3. Paleo Shepherd’s Pie from Eat Boutique

4. Roasted Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Soup

5. Melt in Your Mouth Beef Stew from Health-Bent


(In this one I’d just substitute ghee for butter to make it Whole 30 compliant.)

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If you have a favorite Make-Ahead recipe that is Whole 30 compliant, don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments so everyone can check it out!

 

Happy Prepping and even Happier (Healthy) Eating!

Fun Things To Read On A Friday

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Hey…riddle me this, folks: how is it that Friday comes so quickly when you are on vacation? WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?

Regardless, we are here and it is the gateway to the weekend…heck yeah! Ooooh, also it’s my last link post of the year! I am so excited about 2013 in all of its blank-slate-ness. YESSSSSSS. Dorkiness: Engaged. :)

Do you have any fun plan or traditions to ring in the new year? I’m going to be brainstorming some goals and enjoying my last bit of vacation before I go back to work. This may include continuing my media binge, meal planning to a ridiculous degree for the January Whole 30, reading library books like it’s going out of style, taking one too many mid-day bubble baths and sucking time away on Pinterest. Aaaah, vacation, why can you not be Real Life?

In the meantime, here are some fun things you may enjoy reading:

*There were a lot of great points in this post about The Things Successful People Don’t Do.

*Thinking about starting a blog this year? Check out 5 Great Books for Blogging. Whenever I learn or try something new I always look for books to read. Pages full of information, old-school highlighter in hand is still my favorite way to learn.

*If you are more high-tech than me though, maybe check out these 15 Pinterest Boards for Blog Tips & Advice

*Speaking of books though, I have serious love for awesome book covers! The Half Priced Books Blog rounded up the Best Book Covers of 2012 and it is total eye-candy. (Not to mention inspiration for your reading list!) If that doesn’t inspire you though, check out The Atlantic’s Books to Look Forward to in 2013.

*2012’s Most Annoying Word? Agree or Disagree.

*I laughed and related to a few things in Penelope Trunk’s post this week about 15 Things Overacheivers Do. Some really good links in that one. Have fun falling down an internet rabbit hole.

*This roundup of Money Saving Tips in the Kitchen had some real gems in it that surprisingly I hadn’t seen on Pinterest (YET. :))

*I know BuzzFeed is kind of stupid, but I swear I sometimes snort laugh through their posts. Especially the 50 Most WTF Animal Pics of the Year. OHMAHGAWD. #48. #45. #19. I don’t know. I guess I’m easily amused.

*Last but not least, because I needed another social media channel to manage like I needed a hole in the head, I started a tumblr. I’m saying it is where I am storing my internet leftovers, which basically means my instagram photos, crap I feel like scrapbooking from the internet, definitely more workout + food specific stuff, and just generally things that are too detailed for this site or don’t really fit anywhere else. Also, I’m leaving up the “Ask Me Anything” prompt, so if you have any random questions for me, head over there to interrogate! heh. I can’t promise it will be organized, but I can promise you are welcome to follow along in all its jumbled glory if you are into that.

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Hope you have a great weekend folks, and it is full of lots of laughs!

A Whole 30 Level Set

As we gear up to start our January Whole 30 (Just FYI: I’ve decided we are officially going from January 2-31 -though I’m not closing the door to actually doing it for 60 days) I’ve been paying specific attention to the current state of my health. I’m noting how I look, how I feel and also how my body is performing because I want to get a baseline of where I am starting. This is so important, and in just a second I’m going to encourage you to do the same thing. But I want to do a little bit of housekeeping before we start.

First of all, I was OVERWHELMED by the number of readers here who are planning to participate in the January Whole 30 with us. When I wrote that post last week I was hoping a few of you would dive in, and that maybe we could all complain about our sugar withdrawals together. But between the emails I got, the tweets, and the comments on that post OVER ONE HUNDRED OF YOU WHO READ HERE DAILY ARE PARTICIPATING.

Holy heck on a ham sandwich, that is amazing! OVER ONE HUNDRED. I am flabbergasted. So because of that, I definitely feel like I want to make sure I’m facilitating some community instead of just bitching about my food for 30 days, because who does that help, really? But before we start let’s all get on the same page here.

If you are doing the Whole 30, I think it is important to respect that it is a proprietary program — it’s not just some random 30 “cleanse or detox” it has an actual protocol. It’s a free protocol, so it’s not like you have to buy something to do the Whole 30, but it is specifically developed and designed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig over at Whole 9 Life.

Here it is, from the horse’s mouth:

Established in April 2009, the Whole30® is Whole9’s original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days.

The physical benefits of the Whole30 include improved body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, attention span, mental attitude and athletic performance.

The psychological benefits of the Whole30 include changing long-standing, unhealthy patterns related to food, eating and your body image, and a dramatic reduction or elimination of food cravings, particularly sugar and carbohydrates.

So of course if you want to achieve all of those awesome results, you have to play by the rules, right?

The rules and A METRIC TON of easily digestible information regarding the science behind the rules are available in their book It Starts with Food. But even if you don’t want to buy and read the book, the information can still be found out there for free.

*Want a PDF outlining exactly what the program is: here you go!

A few things worth noting: You should not be counting calories, you are not dieting, you do not need to be counting carbs, and this isn’t really a “detox.” The Whole 30 is designed to give you 30 days to focus on how your body looks, feels and performs when you are eating only “Good Food”. Good Food is outlined in detail on the Whole 9 site but I’ll give ya the cliffs notes right here. They stick to 4 parameters:

1. Promote a Healthy Psychological Response
2. Promote a Healthy Hormonal Response
3. Support a Healthy Gut
4. Support Immune Function and Minimize Inflammation

*****And THAT, is the Whole 30 in a nutshell******

Now, if you are not going to follow the program that they outline, this doesn’t mean that your 30 days are a waste, or that you are a terrible person, or that you aren’t “being healthy” or any other crazy judgment, but it does mean that you aren’t doing a Whole 30. I don’t say that to be the food police, and I certainly am completely supportive and encouraging of any and all food experimentation that feels right to you right now (YOU KNOW THIS!) but I felt like it was worth noting that when it comes to the Whole 30: there is a specific protocol to follow. It’s what makes it The Whole 30, and not a Paleo/Primal/Sugar Detox challenge. And before we get started I wanted to underscore that this is what we will be doing in January and what I plan to be sharing my strategies for.


While we are talking about getting rolling on this Whole 30, here are a few of my favorite resources from the Whole 9 site:
A “Good/Better/Best” Grocery Shopping Guide (hint: everything doesn’t have to be grass-fed, organic, hippy-ville to be transformative)
Look, there is even a Vegetarian Version (This is why I particularly love Dallas and Melissa — they are quite inclusive in their pursuit of spreading the word on good food.)
Meal Planning Guide (This may spark some inspiration for your own meal planning)

****If you have any favorite resources to share, please do so for everyone reading in the comments!

The last thing I want to talk about, and the thing I want to encourage you to do before you get started is to acknowledge the current state your health in all its glory. :) If you are anything like me, December has been a liiiiiittle bit lax on the health front. Maybe you’ve been eating more cookies than kale, maybe you have been working out, maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve been sleeping great, or maybe you are just a little bit cranky and think the holidays may be to blame. Because there are a million ways to measure health that don’t include the scale, I encourage you to do a quick audit of how you are feeling right now. Make this a December to Remember. :) Need some ideas about things to think about, check out this post. This will help you see how much changes in January, and I am glad to share my own with you. So here comes the complete honest truth.

*My body composition is suffering. I don’t think my CrossFit friends are ready for all this jelly. And I’m not a fan of all this jelly when I have to run, jump and huck myself over a bar.
*My face feels like it has a rash. Constantly. It doesn’t, but it feels like it. Unpleasant.
*I am so so sluggish these days. My motivation to do anything is at an all time low. Garrett said to me the other night “I haven’t seen you sit on the couch this much in the entire 7 years we’ve been together.” It’s epic, my current level of laziness.
*Constant dehydration. No matter what I drink I just feel dry and thirsty. The red wine isn’t helping either.
*My face feels puffy constantly. I am completely certain each time I look in the mirror I’m going to see Mama Elsa staring back at me.

*Two Words: Back Fat. I don’t really need to expand on this one, do I? There is nothing worse than a preponderance of back fat.
*My nails are splitting. This is no bueno for my manicure.
*Vampire Bite Acne. I heard Diane say this on the most recent Balanced Bites Podcast and was like “Yes! That’s it! This is what I have! Acne that looks like I’ve been bitten by a vampire on my neck!” Oh wait…NO! NO NO NO NO NO. Nobody wants to relate to this.
*Speaking of Acne I don’t even want to discuss how much I’m breaking out.
*Icky Body Image. I have the time and money to go shopping right now and the desire to get a few new items for my wardrobe. But THE LAST THING I feel like doing right now is shopping for clothes. UGH.

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And that is really the state of my health right now. I can’t wait to get started with January’s Whole 30. I’m looking forward to turning all of this around, and I know from experience it can be done quickly with a little dedication.

I’ve got some meal planning inspiration, some recipes and more motivation coming this weekend, but until then here’s what you can do for me, and everyone playing along:

*If you blog about your Current State of Health, leave a link in the comments.
*If you are going to be writing about your Whole 30 experience leave a link to your site in the comments so we can all add you to our feed readers.
*If you don’t have a blog, feel free to leave your list in the comments.

Let’s help each other out, y’all!

2012: Year In Review

I’ve been a little moody these days, mostly because I’ve been shoving my face with sugar and awful-but-delicious treats, and I keep saying overly dramatic things like “WHAT DOES IT ALLLLLLL MEEEEEEEEAAAAAAN?” Well, okay, I’m not being that dramatic, but I have felt prone to reflect on how fast 2012 went by, which of course means I wonder if I actually accomplished anything.

The truth is: This has been a BIG year for me.

I forced myself to think back and really wrap my brain around all the great stuff that has happened, and I am so SO happy that I did. Any sugar related melancholy has all but been replaced by a feeling of extreme gratitude for everything I have packed in to the last 350+ days. 2012 has was a year full of challenges, surprises, accomplishments and most importantly SO MUCH FUN, so I thought I’d share some of the best moments.


Despite getting off to a somewhat embarrassing start, I still have so much love for this phone. I can’t imagine how I ever lived without it. Frankly it made this entire post possible, because every single photo was taken with it.


I stepped out of my comfort zone and participated in a local filmmaker’s project about Paleo. But what if I sounded stupid? But what if I looked lame? But what if my house isn’t decorated right or clean enough? But what if I have no idea what I’m talking about? But what if I just TRIED IT AND SAW WHAT HAPPENED? And what happened was I met some great folks and clarified my commitment to share my own story whenever the opportunity arose.

We took a road trip to visit one of my BFFs in February and had such a wonderful time. It was an epic weekend, actually and probably needs to happen again soon. Time spent with good friends is always worth the investment.

This book was the most entertaining, adventurous, when-can-I-get-back-to-it, page-turning book I read this year. It wasn’t life changing, but it was just so much fun!


I’m so grateful that Garrett + I continued CrossFit this year. Not only has it been great for both of us individually, but it strengthened our relationship during a really tough year. Having hobbies that we enjoy together is something I hope we continue for the rest of our lives.

We went to a number of weddings this year and enjoyed them all, but for Garrett this was the first year he has ever been a Best Man and he completely nailed it, giving a loving and heartfelt speech for his best friend and his awesome wife.

Portland was everything and nothing like we expected. It was the first real ADVENTURE we took all year and if you remember, we ate our way through that city.


Always say yes to pink pants. I can’t really recommend that enough.

The drink that got me through the summer this year had some surprisingly refreshing ingredients and wasn’t a million calories. WIN!


One of the things that blogging has brought me is an awesome group of local lady friends who I might never have met otherwise. This year we all made an effort to regularly get together for brunch, booze and gossip and it is something I feel so grateful for. Smart, supportive lady-friends? There’s not too much better than that.

We took a hike down in Marin County with friends and the view from the top was completely worth it to our weary legs. Getting outside to exercise was something Garrett + I did more this year than any other year and it was AWESOME. This will be continued.


We spent a summer weekend up in Lake Tahoe cheering on our athletes from our CrossFit box at a fun competition. Even though I’m just there taking pictures and screaming loudly, I always feel inspired when I leave a competitive event. I’m not in a season of life where competing is something I could do, but I’ll tell you what, it reminds me that I can always push myself a little harder and get a little better result.

We had a ton of fun celebrating the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games (GEEK OUT!) with traditional British pub food. We cooked up some Scotch Eggs and some Shepherd’s Pie and cheered on Team USA this summer.


I had been Paleo for 2 years before reading this book yet I found it so packed full of useful information I have now read it more than once. It also gave us the courage this year to try our first Whole 30 in August, which has (no exaggeration) been life changing. During our next Whole 30 I plan to share some of the nuggets that were the most illuminating to me after all this time, but if you are on the fence about picking this up: DO IT! I think knowing the WHYs behind the Whole 30 are really important for success.

This year we only planted a summer garden and even that didn’t do too great. We did end up with a lot of late season tomatoes though, so it wasn’t a total bust. I promise this every year, but I mean it this time: 2013 will be the year of multiple gardening seasons! Mark my word!

Um…you knew Buster would show up, right? I mean, obviously. The way Buster came into our lives is one of the many things that happened this year that felt like divine intervention. There’s really not much else to say about our days with Buster except that they have truly, so far, been THE BEST.


(Original Photo Credit: Dave Humphreys)

About 5 years ago I heard a woman speak about how veganism had transformed her life. Her passion was absolutely contagious and despite veganism ultimately not being the path for me, I remember thinking, “How awesome of a job would it be to get paid to speak from your heart about something so transformative?” This year I got to do exactly that, and while I was up in the gorgeous mountains of Colorado I realized that I had manifested something that had once been a fleeting “I wish” thought into Actual Real Life. That was one of the more powerful moments of my year. To everyone who organized, participated, attended or supported that event, I thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart.

The older I get, the more committed I become to having experiences than having things. My ideal day out? Good company, a good meal, good wine and absolutely nowhere to be. I turned 34 this year, and despite the back and forth that is constantly happening in my brain of “are you doing enough?” (which at this point is just background noise :)) I am by far the happiest I have ever been. My 30s have been good so far.

I have put a lot of pressure on myself at the end of the year because I keep feeling like I didn’t make any huge fitness strides. And then I remind myself YOU RAN YOUR FIRST HALF MARATHON, you idiot! How quickly we forget. I am really proud of that accomplishment, but more important than crossing the finish line, I feel like it opened up a whole new world of fitness to me. I have to remind myself that you can not be the fastest runner, heaviest lifter, best business woman, most amazing girlfriend/daughter/family member, awesomest house cleaner and most creative genius ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Everything has its season. The end of this year was for my running goals and for some recovery. Can’t wait to see what next year holds, fitness-wise.


My Facebook feed is sure glad that election is over.

I think that picture says enough. :)

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I want to thank each and every one of you who take the time to keep up with this site. The fact that you come back here to read, offer advice, interact, or share a laugh is a huge gift in my life and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel grateful for the opportunity to share here. I wish you all a wonderful and safe holiday, and I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings for all of us!

Thank you for being here.

Fun Things To Read On A Friday


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This image makes me happy. Other things making me happy: my ten day vacation that starts today, my dog’s cute face and the fact that I am no longer sick! HOLLA! Being sick sucks and I am happy to close that chapter this week. Shall we move right along and talk about some fun links? Well okay then, I aim to please:

*I’m so excited that so many of you are going to do the Whole 30 with us in January. Hooray for support! The thing that helped me the most the last time around was being OVER-PREPARED. But don’t feel like you have to spend y30 days standing at the stove. Yes, you will be cooking a lot, but if you think about your strategy beforehand you can do it pretty efficiently. Check out this awesome video from The Kitchn on How To Cook A Week’s Worth of Vegetables in One Afternoon. While I definitely eat WAY more veggies than that in a week, I love the sentiment and calm behind it. PS How gorgeous is that kitchen? PPS Extra inspiration available if you read about Melissa’s 60 Minute Cooking WOD.

*We are just about 10 days out from 2013 and goals are certainly on my mind. I loved this very real perspective about goal setting. Lots of good points in both the actual post and Danielle LaPorte’s post which he mentions.

*By far the FUNNIEST thing I read all week: 101 Amazing Things Women Said On Twitter This Year.

*My library queue is now full to the brim with some of your great book suggestions the other day. Coming to a bookshelf near me soon is: The History of Love, The Gargoyle, Bond Girl, How to Be A Woman, The Night Circus and Still Alice. Thanks you all!

*Next year I’m determined to build an awesome PROFESSIONAL capsule wardrobe. When it comes to specific events and casual clothes I think I have it pretty nailed down. But I want to have more fun with my work wardrobe and still remain appropriate in my somewhat conservative office. I’ve been browsing lots of fun wardrobe checklists for inspiration.

Lastly, a few quick links about some of the less fun, more newsworthy events being talked about online:

*Oh Instagram! You caused quite a stir this week, didn’t you? I have no idea whether I’m going to keep my account or not, but if you are dying to opt out here’s a helpful tutorial on How To Download Your Instagram Photos and Kill Your Account.

*Regarding the tragedy in Newtown, CT I have been purposefully quiet, and it is mostly because I think there are enough eloquent voices out there expressing the sadness that people are feeling. But I am trying not to focus on the sadness. These words in Maggie’s post actually were comforting.

A single man can’t cause us to despair of humanity when we consider the dozens of teachers who put their lives between him and our children, the hundreds of responders who rushed to find him, and the millions like them — ordinary people with the capacity for great good.

And Sarah had some great advice on how to stay optimistic during tough times. It’s a great perspective that applies not only to great tragedies, but everyday life.

 

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We have to seek out the good in order to see it. I wish you all a weekend overflowing with the good!

15 Small Steps to Kickstart Big Change

Whether you get excited about the prospect of making New Year’s Resolutions or think it all sounds like a lot of talk without the results, a fresh start on the calendar is always a great time to work towards Awesome-izing Your Life. Awesome-ize. It’s a word. Look it up. :) Sure, this sometimes requires undertaking a large-scale project, but I can honestly say that year after year I’ve often found that it is the tiny little changes that we make over time that ended up having the biggest impact. So if you don’t have the energy to come up with a Giant Resolution to tackle in 2013, how about some taking a few baby steps? You never know, over time some of these may create a domino effect of change you never even knew you wanted to make!

1. Find a Way to Enjoy Eating More Vegetables

Overhauling your diet is such a popular resolution, and trust me, I am obviously a fan. But it takes a huge commitment. What if you just took one little step? Commit to finding some healthy recipes that you actually like. Learn to love brussels sprouts (hint: add bacon). Try making the best broccoli ever. Serve up a giant bowl of spicy kale chips with your lunch instead of those Honey Dijon Kettle Chips. No big deal, right? Just a little change.

Things are right about to get delicious!

2. Commit to Being In More Photos

This post about Moms Staying in the Picture was all over the place this year and despite not being a mom, I loved the sentiment. Who cares if you still need to lose 10 lbs or you don’t love your hair — your life is still worth documenting. Whether it is making sure you are in the vacation pics instead of staying behind the camera, do what you have to do to honor your life NOW. Learn how to take a good self portrait. Your future self will want to remember exactly what that experience looked like.

3. Get Your Online Communication In Check

Do a quick audit of your social media channels: what are you putting out there? Do you mindlessly complain online? Bitch about politics? Only share pictures of your kids or dog? (ahem, GUILTY) Social Media Platforms aren’t going away, so maybe it’s time to come up with a strategy. How do you want to read to the world? What you put out there is important.


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4. Have Friends Over For A Casual Dinner

Sometimes when I think of “having people over” I talk myself out of it because I don’t need another stressful event on my To-Do List. Make 2013 the year that you perfect Casual Entertaining. Filet Mignon is not required to have an awesome evening of conversation with good friends. Stick to an easy Dinner Party Style Recipe. Or Heck, have a pot luck. Play a game. Watch a movie. Keep it simple.

5. Improve Communication With Your Spouse

I mentioned that this last year was a challenging year for Garrett and I, and many of the things we struggled with were miscommunications. So vague, yet so important. One of the things we started doing a while back was to sit down on Sundays and talk about the up coming week while answering these 5 questions (well, 4 questions, we aren’t really the “pray for each other” types.) Sure it seemed a little formal at first, but it has been really amazing how the answers can really set the stage for better communication.

6. Do a Side by Side Taste Test & Discover What You REALLY Like

My favorite part of wine tasting is when you get to see how a wine changes when paired with different foods. Comparative tasting is super fun, and also really illuminating. The next time you are buying yourself some coffee, wine, chocolate, gin, whatever — pick up two types and taste them side by side. I find that tasting two like things side by side helps me get to know exactly what I like I even better.

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7. Send More Handwritten Notes

Whether it’s a thank you note, a birthday card, or just a postcard to say hello — send your sentiments by hand. Who doesn’t love to receive mail?

8. Get Sucked Into a Series of Books

Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, Sookie Stackhouse, 50 Shades of Grey — whatever it takes, just find a series of books that will suck you in and keep you thinking about turning the pages to find out what happens next.

9. Create a Stash of One Pot Meal Recipes For Those Busy Weeks

Martha Stewart has a long list that includes 49 One Pot Meals. Last year I shared 30 Nights of Paleo Crock Pot Meals (and I still use so many of those!) It is so helpful to have a go-to stash of easy recipes.

10. Try a New Workout

I’ve talked before about the importance of finding YOUR fitness but you can’t actually find it if you don’t start looking. Ask your friend to take you to her yoga class, try that spin class at your gym that you think might look fun. Email the owner of a CrossFit gym to find out what the next steps are (how un-scary is email?). Pick up a workout video on Amazon. Just try something new…who knows, you may find something you LOVE!

11. Read a Self Help Book

Sure it sounds cheesy, but what if you put the eye roll on pause, embraced the woo-woo and actually learned something that changed your life? I spent a lot of my early 20s drowning in embarrassing self help books and I often look back and chuckle about it. But the other day I was having a conversation with a coworker about reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and I was DUMBFOUNDED by how much of that book I have unknowingly incorporated into my life. I read it when I was 22! Pick up something cheesy and motivational. (My favorite: Louise Hay Wisdom Cards) Maybe it won’t change your life today, but perhaps it will marinate and then one day you will realize how much it has changed you.

Need some cheesy Wednesday motivation? Me too!!!

12. Adopt a Pet

So maybe this is a bigger “small step” but listen, you don’t have to run out and buy a dog. But can I tell you the most surprising thing that has changed about my life since Buster came into it? I have less fear. Wait…what? I don’t know how to explain it, but now that I have something that is counting on me to be it’s protector, I feel bold in the face of my silly fears. It’s little things like how I used to jump at every little sound in our backyard at night but now if my dog needs to go to the bathroom, I don’t even think twice about heading out into the great black boogey man abyss in the middle of the night for Buster. Hey Monsters, COME AT ME BRO!
I've got my eye on you.

13. Buy Yourself Something You Have No Business Buying

Of course the implication here is within reason, so don’t go out and get yourself a Ferrari that matches Justin Bieber’s, but maybe you’ve been running for a year and still haven’t gotten yourself a Garmin, or maybe you want that pricey perfume that you think smells super great. Maybe you want a Clarisonic because The Internet makes you think your face will be a leathery piece of sandpaper if you don’t purchase one. Whatever. TREAT YO SELF.

14. Get a Dramatic Haircut

Whenever I feel schlubby about my appearance, a dramatic haircut always helps. I don’t necessarily mean cut it all off, but change the style. New hair is always a good act of self care that can motivate you to take your appearance into consideration. And just think, the worst case scenario is that you will get to buy hats with wild abandon. :)

15. Find a Mantra

I know, I know mantras are right up there with self-help books and hippy woo woo. But mantras also have the ability to focus your thoughts and channel your energy into meaningful change. Pick something that resonates with you in your heart, and keep it close and repeat it often. My new mantra for 2013:

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I will be repeating that often, I assure you.

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What little changes are YOU planning on making for the new year?

January Whole 30? LET’S DO THIS

Garrett and I are doing another Whole 30 in January. If we are being totally honest here, my body is kind of begging for it with all of the peppermint and chocolate covered breakfast I have been eating lately. I’d probably dive right in to a Holiday Whole 30 except I totally concur that it’s a terrible idea.

The thing about sugar + booze (and even excessive gluten for me to a degree) is that it just absolutely wreaks havoc on my life. Sure it tastes good for a bit (hell, in some cases ahem Nutella ahem it tastes AMAZING) but the consequences go so much further than just a sugar crash or a Sunday morning hangover. It just seeps its way into so many aspects of my life.

I have been enjoying some delicious treats lately, but I am also not sleeping as well, drinking more coffee than I should to get through the day, lacking energy to work out regularly, I’ve been laid up on my couch sick for two days and I have zero energy or desire to cook. This is not who I am. But this is most certainly who I am on sugar, booze and gluten. It’s all a by product of my holiday indulging and though I went into it with open eyes and don’t necessarily regret it, that doesn’t mean it is without consequences. And I’m ready to pay the piper so I can get back to being the version of myself that I love: happy, healthy, fit, energized and motivated. Because seriously? This ass-shaped dent in my couch really doesn’t go with my living room decor.

So Garrett and are I gearing up to have another awesome month of crystal clean eating. It’s going to be a super good time and I really can’t wait, because as I said on Day 21 of our first Whole 30:

…now I know that I am only 30 days away from inspiration. 21 days, even at the most. From feeling like my best self. And I can do all that without to much grumbling really. And knowing that, has given me confidence and a security blanket that I didn’t even know I needed.

Just reading that makes me remember how awesome that felt. And right now, I am feeling many things but awesome is not one of them. :) So I wanted to see who is out there that might be interested joining me. Are you already planning on participating in the January Whole 30? Are you thinking about it? Are you on the fence?

Let’s do it together!

It will be fun. And in just 30 days, we will be seriously ready to kick off 2013 in the best way ever.

If you have any questions or concerns about it, or you are still teetering on the fence, let me convince you. Leave your questions in the comments, or if you are doing it let me know. We can all keep each other accountable. We can blog our awesome recipe finds. We can share in our successes and our struggles. It’s going to feel fantastic — well, uh after that initial WAIT WHERE IS MY SUGAR feeling wears off. hehe. And heck, it’s only 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days right? Need some more convincing? Here are a few of my favorite reads.

Resources – Motivation:

*10 Tips to Make Your Whole 30 A Success
*Whole 30 as a vegetarian? — Kathleen did the Whole 30 even though she doesn’t eat meat and has great meal plans and inspiration and a few recipes to boot!
*Why 100% Commitment is Important

Resources – Food:

*A Month of Whole 30 Dinner Ideas
*A Month of Whole 30 Freezer Meals
*Well Fed – The BEST Whole 30 approved cookbook around. Full of deliciousness!
*My Whole 30 Pinterest Board – It is slim pickins right now but I will be adding some awesome inspiration in the next week so stay tuned!

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So what do ya say? Have I convinced you to join me? Take the plunge.

November + December Books

I’m reading more cookbooks than novels these days but I at least wanted to check in one final time to wrap up the books I read this year. The grand total ended up around 39. Maybe I’ll squeeze one more in just to make it a round 40. Hmmm…something to think about.

I’m probably going to switch up my book reviews next year just because doing a monthly round up is feeling a little boring but I haven’t quite figured out how just yet. My fellow book nerds: I’m open to suggestions. Anyone write book reviews that you love? How do they keep it interesting? Anyway, here is a quick review of the last few books I read this year:

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Little Children by Tom Perrotta
– This was my suggestion for Book Club this month and I have to admit I was a little nervous. The last book I suggested for a Book Club was so hated that years later we are all still laughing about it. I thought this would be better, I enjoy Tom Perrotta, it got made into a movie — what could go wrong? And for the most part, nothing did go wrong. It was a really engrossing read. But it is a bit of a heavy book, so I would definitely say you have to be in the right mood.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
– I think I’ve obsessed about this book enough on the blog. WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ IT YET?

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White Jacket Required by Jenna Weber – Ah, man. I really didn’t love this book, and I feel kind of bummed about that because Jenna’s blog is one that I enjoy. While I rarely cook her recipes because they are so un-Paleo it’s not worth tweaking, I really enjoy her food photography, book recommendations, travel stories and perspective on life. But this book? Was a great concept but sort of missed on the execution. I feel like it suffered from really poor editing because the stories were disjointed and one chapter didn’t really lead into the next, but it was clearly NOT a book of stand alone essays. Also, I felt like things were portrayed a bit different than they were on her blog which is always kind of interesting. And the recipes either felt forced into the stories or they just completely didn’t belong at all. It was kind of a bummer actually, but I will still enjoy her website. I just don’t think every website translates into a memoir. I mean, HELLO, remember Dooce’s memoir?


StregnthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
— This book includes a personality assessment and then which determine your overall strengths. The book then breaks down strategies to take advantage of each strength in the work place. While it is definitely a professional book, I think is has a lot of practical application in life as well. I was not surprised that my most emphasized strength was “Acheiver.” The paragraph describing that theme was as follows:
You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day — workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment.

BWAHAHAHAHA! No one who reads this blog will feel surprised by that, I’m sure. Hey, at least I come by my crazy honestly. What I didn’t love though, were the suggestions for how to take advantage of this part of my personality. Two of the suggestions were just to “Understand you probably don’t need as much sleep as other people” and to “Accept that you will feel dissatisfied with things even when you are achieving.” I know this is about harnessing the “strength” of this theme, but I just didn’t love that it ended there. Like, really? I’m doomed to be a psychotic insomniac goal setter who will constantly disappointed? WHERE IS THE SILVER LINING HERE? :) Anyone else read this book? What did you think?

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Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio — This book was just okay for me in the beginning. I wasn’t really sucked into the story, but as the mystery began to unravel I felt my page turning quicken. Not my favorite of Jio’s books but definitely a good fluffy book to curl up with on a rainy day.

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And that’s really it. Actually, now that I have confessed my achiever tendencies to you all (ha! confessed!) I can be totally honest with you and tell you that I am ABSOLUTELY going to read one more book to make it an even 40 for the year. Care to suggest one? :)

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