2013: Year In Review

I spent a lot of time reflecting last week about 2013. My initial thoughts were that it had been filled with a lot of struggle. But as I looked through my photos and posts from this year I began to knit together a much more complex picture.

This year has been filled with struggle. But it has also been filled with strength. There have been moments of triumph weaved in and out of the day to day difficulties and I am so happy that I took the time to think back on everything that has happened from a bird’s eye view.

I don’t know if you plan on doing any sort of reflecting before we tick through to 2014, but I would highly recommend it. For me this has been such a learning year and a week ago I was feeling a little bummed because I hadn’t accomplished everything I had set out to do. But after looking back over the last 365 days, I feel prouder than ever (and slightly more exhausted – ha!)

I want to thank you for being a part of this year in my life. I can’t wait to see what happens next.


We started off strong doing our first Whole 30 of 2013. Some people wonder why we do crazy nutrition challenges like this, but I am telling you, I learn something new every single time. This time around not only did a bunch of you readers and I all do it together — which was awesome because it introduced me to a million new and awesome blog buddies — but I also discovered my favorite no fuss weeknight meal: Crispy Chorizo and Kale. It takes about 15 minutes and tastes DIVINE. Both were worth 30 days of Clean Eats, I swear!
Best Weeknight Meal

I looked back at my January Favorites from earlier this year and surprisingly I still LOVE them all. Apparently January was a good month!

February, on the other hand, was the month that changed EVERYTHING: I got a new job! And boy did it turn my world upside down.

I had made my goals and plans for the year and had started to aggressively pursue them all, but this professional opportunity had me throwing all those goals up in the air and catching only what I could as they all came crashing to the ground. It’s funny how life likes to throw curve balls just when you think you’ve got something under control. :)

I was still hitting the gym, but rather than keeping the forward progress going I was really just keeping myself sane. Turns out this would actually be just perfect for the moment.

Best Stress Reliever

March brought the CrossFit Games Open which, as usual, was such a fun experience in the gym. My performance wasn’t stellar, nor was it where I wanted it to be but I had to cut myself some slack because along with Day Job changes, I was also training for a running event. There was A LOT going on and I wasn’t in my best CrossFit shape ever. Looking back, I’m not sure HOW I juggled all of that during that time. Or, more accurately, how I thought it was reasonable that I juggle all of that AND BE SUCCESSFUL. But you know me, I was determined to keep plugging away and to make it fun, DAMMIT. This mostly meant I drank a lot of champagne. As a general rule, champagne always brings the fun no matter what you’re doing. :)

Best Post Wod Recovery Drink

Speaking of fun, we added an exciting new addition to our family in March as well! Of course my mother would rather us have added an actual baby to our family, but I like to think that this car brought us one step closer. Some day soon, Mama! Just be patient! :)

Best New Addition

It was long overdue for us to upgrade our car situation, prior to this purchase our “newest” car was 14 years old, but the big sell on this car (besides the fact that it belonged to a friend who had taken great care of it and needed to off load it in a hurry) was that it was super roomy and friendly for the REAL best new addition to our family in 2013.

The Real Best New Addition

Even though we technically got Buster at the end of 2012, this was the first full year we spent as a family of three. Though it hasn’t been all smooth sailing — Buster’s digestive system is more temperamental than a toddler — I have never been more grateful for a random addition to the family! He has opened my heart and my mind this year and made me realize that maybe I do have a little nurturer inside of me. My ability to love and care for him has has made me feel slightly less anxious about potentially moving on to the “Parenting” phase of our lives. I have high hopes that 2014 will be the year we get on that. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time.

April continued with some gym progress and A LOT of running progress — including running my first 10 miler! It was actually a super awful run, but something I needed to do mentally before I finally embarked on the event I had been training all winter/early spring for: The Relay. OMG THE RELAY! We’ll get to that in just a second, trust me, but to wrap up April — it was also the month that I taught my first HOLY SHIT I’M GETTING PAID FOR THIS Paleo Cooking Class.

Best Cavegirl Impersonation

It was a great experience, but boy that whole “Next Food Network Star” stuff is NO JOKE! With all of the mounting responsibilities I had going on at work I decided not to teach more classes this year, but it is definitely something I will do again. You know I like to get out of my comfort zone every once in a while.

April wasn’t all roses and sunshine though, it was actually the beginning of a little weight creeping back on due to stress. It was panic inducing at first, and it was a major red flag that “Hey Holly, this new job has shaken up your priorities and these are the consequences.” It was a tough pill to swallow for me (and frankly it still is. More on THAT at the beginning of January, for sure) but it was about mid-year when I started to realize that this fitness journey that had been so successful and mostly effortless for me over the last 3 years was changing. Learning how to adapt was clearly going to be my next challenge.

But first — first I had a CRAZY ASS RELAY to run:

Best Group of Likeminded Crazy People

I’ve already written so much about The Relay that I won’t get into it too much here, but I think the feeling that sums up that whole experience is: OMG WHAT WERE WE THINKING? And also: MAN I CAN’T BELIEVE I DID THAT. I am still simultaneously proud of and horrified by that entire experience. :)

The Relay, Part One
The Relay, Part Two
The Relay, Part Three

Best Feeling of Accomplishment

As if The Relay wasn’t enough stress for the month, I was put on a special project at work in May that was going to require A LOT of out of state travel. The downside was that I’m not suuuuuuper into flying. In fact, I have been known hold hands with strangers during particularly bumpy patches. :)

Best Opportunity to Overcome Fear

But the upside was — the travel required was mostly to Iowa. And guess who lives in Iowa?

Best Internet BFF Reunion

AndreAnna totally kept me sane in Iowa this year, and she also kept me in pedicures! True Story: I’m pretty sure the only time I got pedicures this year was with her. And if you want to know the truth, it’s probably time I get back to Iowa. Thank god it’s boot season! :)

Speaking of BFFs, in June my California BFF got married! We had such a wonderful time going down to the Central Coast to celebrate and I am seriously already planning our next trip down there.

Best Wedding Fish Face Selfie

Garrett + I get a little antsy if we don’t get to hang with Sarah AT LEAST once or twice a year (this is what happens when you live with the same roommate for SIX YEARS) so I think maybe in February or March we’ll have to make that happen.

In July I spent more time on planes, more time in the Midwest (this time Ohio!), and more time trying to get my workout mojo going. Finding balance between work life and workout life was a real theme this year, and I happily added a little yoga into the mix this month in order to balance out all of the stress I was juggling. That was a real gift of 2013, getting back into Bikram, and I am so grateful for it.

I also got back into cleaner eating (we did our second MOSTLY Whole 30) and as such I got a little crazy with the food prepping.

Best Household OCD Exhibit

Nutrition is the foundation of my sanity (SERIOUSLY) and it was another thing I struggled with to a big extreme this year. Lots of work travel threw me off and my general exhaustion meant that we did a lot more takeout than usual. Frankly, I am still wondering why Chipotle doesn’t have a frequent buyer card! All year long food was a swinging pendulum for me, and one I would like to get more control over in 2014. I have done enough experimenting that I know exactly what kind of food works best for my body. In 2014 I want to explore the reasons that I use to keep me from sticking to those foods. (Ooooh, psychology! :))

In August I reorganized my Pinterest Recipe Boards which was such a small, silly project but one that represented getting back to having a little “Me Time.” The term “Me Time” makes me gag, but I really struggled this year to find time to read, relax or just dick around on the internet, you know? The Importance of Dicking Around – this will be the title of my first book.  ha! But jokes aside, August was the month that I finally prioritized the importance down time.

Part of that was out of necessity, this was the month that my grandma passed away suddenly, and I think that deaths in your family always put the value of time into perspective. August was a month of quiet reflection for me, on this blog and in life. I just wanted to stay close to home and spend time with those I love.

Best Date Night

September was another month that was slowly dominated by Day Job related things and of course MORE work travel. (Back to Iowa! And Internet BFFs!) It was kind of a big deal for me though because (as dumb as this sounds) this month was the first time in my life I ever packed for a 5 day trip in ONLY a carry on.

Best Pack Job Of My Life

I feel like I have not adequately described on this blog what a chronic overpacker I have been all of my life, so that’s why this is such a noteable and memorable event for me. VICTORY!!!!! :)

It was also the month that I impressed my coworkers during a Team Building even where we had to do a Photo Scavenger Hunt.  I remember this because it was the month that I realized “Ok, maybe I haven’t lost ALL of my CrossFit skills this year. THERE’S HOPE!” So that was a relief!
Best Party Trick

Unfortunately it was also the month of this:

Best Worst Testicle Shaped Sunburn

I really think that picture speaks for itself. Oh September, you were definitely a month of laughs! And also the month of our third Whole 30. Three Whole 30s? Wow. I am proud of that. They get easier every time, I tell ya!

In October I turned 35, and WOW did that feel weird. Also: I was back in Iowa. Boy I sure got to know that state this year, didn’t I? Iowa is seriously filled with the BEST people, and I feel lucky that my work travel has taken me there so often. I have new friends there, a fun CrossFit gym that was my home away from home when I was on the road, and every once in a while I think “Hmmm…maybe I could live here.” I’m not dying to get out of California just yet, but you never know…

Best New Toy

October was definitely sponsored by caffeine this year, which worked out well since we finally got a Keurig. I say this without an ounce of hyperbole:  IT WAS TOTALLY LIFE CHANGING! October was also sponsored by Cortisol (eek!) because along with work travel, aging, and general life craziness, Buster had a surgical procedure done that had us holding our breath for one very long day towards the end of the month. He was such a trooper though, and pulled through like a champ. I love that little poochie like my own child and I’m not even ashamed!
Best Cone of Shame Face

November went by in a flash! And I finally had the realization that this was NOT my year for fitness. OOF, that was a hard thing to admit. This was a growing year for me in so many ways (especially in pant size — ha!), but not so much for me in the gym. I’m still mourning that a little, but as I look back over these pictures and think back on everything I’ve accomplished this year I have no regrets. There are many different seasons in life, and this just wasn’t my season for fire breathing. I know there will be another. Maybe it will be 2014? :::crosses fingers::::

This was, however, my season to do a major hair overhaul.

Best Impulse Decision

SNIP SNIP: I was clearly feeling the need for change last month because the pace of this year has been insane. Sometimes when I feel out of control in certain areas I like to exercise extreme control in others. This year that manifested itself in CHOPPING OFF MY HAIR. It’s been an adjustment, but one that I am mostly enjoying. Maybe next year I’ll chop it all off? Oooooh, or get some crazy extensions. Who knows? :)

Best Feeling of Bliss

December didn’t offer much rest for the weary, but there have been pockets of absolute bliss in there that make me feel excited for what’s to come. This picture of Garrett and I is one of the few pictures we took together this year. I was going through my photos at the last minute trying to see if I could get my act together and make a Christmas card a few weeks ago and I realized we didn’t have much to choose from. While this picture doesn’t make us look like flawless supermodels, what I love about it is that it is so representative of us this entire year (and not just because we are full of wine! ha! Oh this year THERE WAS SOME WINE.)

This year we have grown together in so many ways — both with new jobs, new routines, and new responsibilities. But all the while this year we have made time to check in and prioritize our relationship. It was a great year for us personally, and when I look at that picture I can see it in all of the lines on our faces, the bags under our eyes and ahem, my multiple chins. haha If I have to grow older, I’m so so so supremely glad I get to do it with Garrett.

Best Effort

This many not have been the year of checking things off lists, but it is for sure the year of Superior Effort! I feel 100% confident in saying I gave 2013 everything I had. While my priorities ended in such a different place than they began, I am so happy with how things evolved this year. I did the very best I could with the knowledge that I had and in many ways I’m going into 2014 feeling stronger and more confident than ever.

It’s been a year of change and growth and struggling and learning, and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!

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4 comments to 2013: Year In Review

  • MaryK
    December 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Come on marriage and babies in 2014.

  • R Gorden
    December 31, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Can you re-share your chorizo and kale recipe? I can’t find it anywhere and am starting another Whole 30 tomorrow. Please and thank you!

  • Lisa
    January 6, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Seconding the request for the Crispy Chorizo and Kale recipe. Please? I made some homemade chorizo from Well Fed 2 and now I am already happy food dancing at the thought.

    And YES, best/worst sunburn ever. 😀

  • Lisa
    January 6, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Found it R Gorden – search the site for “crispy kale”.





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