Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fitness This Week 12/17/2014

Hello! Much has been going on. I was a bridesmaid to my gorgeous sister-in-law at the beginning of November, and had a blast at her wedding! The following weekend, we attended Jeff's friend's wedding at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. It was such a neat experience being able to browse the exhibits with no one else there. Then, I got to see Atmosphere for the ninth or tenth time, and it was a fantastic show as usual. I always love seeing folks play at The National in Richmond.

The last week in November, Jeff and I finally got to go on our long-planned eastern Caribbean cruise! We drove to Port Canaveral and hopped aboard the Carnival Sunshine to visit Nassau, Saint Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk. All except for Nassau were new ports for both of us! The level of beauty once you get farther east into the Caribbean is unparalleled by anything I've seen in real life before. Just random rock islands jutting out into the sea, waves breaking and spraying against them... it was so lovely. We realized when we got home that we'd done a great job at being in the moment while on vacation. We didn't worry about work, chores, or guilty feelings about the amounts of food we were eating. We just savored each flavor as it blessed our tongues. It was heavenly! There are a ton of contradictory remarks out there in ship reviews about Carnival Sunshine - it's marketed as a new ship, when it's really just the Carnival Destiny with a huge refurbishment and overhaul. It's a pretty old ship. My overall impression is that the ship is still in great shape, the staff were pleased to be aboard the Sunshine, and that areas that get too crowded can just be avoided. There was always so much going on that if we got to a comedy show and the line looked too long, we just figured out a more quiet place we could people-watch or catch some live music. We spent a ton of time in the Red Frog Pub, because not a lot of other folks did, and because there was trivia there! Trivia that we were actually kind of good at! We almost won three times - but only truly won once. Our prize was a giant 101oz tube of Thirsty Frog beer!

Most folks struggle with fitness on vacation and right afterwards. I am no exception! I actually felt lazy, and slightly guilty last week when I realized my husband had done more workouts than I had... this is just such a drastic reversal from the past few years! I'm so proud of that man. He really works it when he's got the energy. I, however, have been full of excuses: Mom is still visiting, and she might get mad if I don't spend more time with her instead of going to the gym every day. It's December, so my body wants a few extra pounds to keep me warm this winter. I put on ten pounds every winter and then lose it again, which is totally fine and healthy (no, it's not.).


Anyways, this week I'm trying something new. I'm following my first major rule when it comes to building new habits (or building them back up, because sometimes you just go back a few steps): START SMALL! I really just want to have more active days than nonactive days, but having checklists or plans that dictated which workout I'd do on which day have sometimes been more of a problem for me than an aide. It's easy for me to get frustrated with missing a planned workout, and then frustration easily morphs into self-loathing, which sometimes triggers very self-destructive things. Usually beginning with skipping MORE workouts.

So this week I've decided I've just got a "magic number" of workouts that I'd like to hit. I want to get in eight workouts. This is still a lot by many standards! My fitness interests are so widespread, and I like to include a lot of variation each week to avoid boredom. I intend to get three strength workouts completed (working on week 1 of a Weider X DVD system I picked up super cheap on a Walmart Rollback deal), three yoga sessions, and two cardio sessions.

We'll see how this goes. So far I am doing great! I did the second of three Weider workouts this morning, got a great hour of self-guided yoga in yesterday, and have already done one of the cardio sessions. So all that remains is one more strength, two yoga sessions, and one more cardio workout which should occur after work today at the YMCA. I'm hoping that seeing the little checklist will motivate me to check the items off quickly, and then I'll have some leftover energy for bonus workouts over the weekend. But there's a huge possibility that I'll see the last little checkmark and think, "I can wait until Sunday to do that last yoga session, I'm relaxing now!" For now, I'll just try to stay in this moment on this day, and hope that I make it to my cardio date at the YMCA. The hubby and I have big plans to go out for Northern Neck Burgers tonight since they're donating part of tonight's proceeds to the local high school's wrestling team... whatever, it's an excuse! Haha :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Staunton River State Park Camping Trip - Part Two

I'm totally going to finish this trip recap!

I don't have any more fun pictures to post with this one, though. Wait! Maybe I have a picture of our campfire. I'll check in a minute. Now I must focus on remembering where the hell we went two weeks ago.

We woke up sweating in our tent, because it was super humid that weekend and never even got chilly overnight. I think that next year I'll aim for two weekends after Labor Day. I like camping to require our awesome, flannel, double sleeping bag. We sparked a pretty great morning campfire and made some delicious breakfast quesadillas! Jeff did a great job making sure our foil packets didn't leak the eggs out like they usually end up doing. We like to use chopped up kielbasa, eggs, onions, peppers, and plenty of cheese.

The bathhouses at Staunton River are a little older than some of the newer ones in state parks we've visited. They don't have the family shower rooms on the outside of the buildings. My shower was a little cold, but that was welcome to help me prepare for the sticky air outside. We got all cleaned up, straightened up the campsite and tent, and headed out for our winery adventure.

We visited a few of the wineries on the Southern Virginia Wine Trail a couple of years ago on a trip to see some of my family in South Boston. I wanted to sample some more, and check out a few new ones, so we started our day with a beautiful, back-road drive to Annefield Vineyards. This began the day of living-room-tastings - each place we visited had tastings offered directly inside their homes. This was a new experience for us, and happened at all three of our stops - it was such a nice treat! It feels like you're visiting a friend. The old farmhouse at Annefield has been renovated to an amazingly beautiful condition, and since they talked about plans to build a separate tasting room, I'd hurry out there to visit before the main house is off-limits! The wines were mostly dry and very tasty.

Our next stop was Hunting Creek Vineyards and another living room tasting area. Their wines are delicious and cleverly named, including Temptation, Indulgence, and Repentance. We loved all of them and bought a bottle of the Decadence, I think. I love the art on their labels. They told us that a kid in the area drew it. It's remarkable! Perhaps as a lover of trees, I am biased.

Jeffrey was very excited about our final stop at White Oak Mountain Meadery, because mead is old and ancient, and he likes old and ancient stuff. We called ahead as the website asks, and Betsy East told us to, "come on out!" We were delighted to be invited inside for tasting and a lesson about mead, right at the dinner table of Mr. and Mrs. East. We learned about the entire process of attracting bees, collecting honey, and all the different ways to combine it with yeast and water to create delicious, alcoholey mead. I was amazed at the variety of flavors between the bottles - even ones that had no fruit added tasted drastically different depending on factors in bottling. If you visit the meadery, be prepared to listen and learn about everything that goes into this art.

Did we eat lunch? I don't think we ate lunch. Wow, that's a lot of alcohol tasting with no lunch. We had some snacks in the car (CHILI CHEESE FRITOS CHYEAH). Wait! We totally had lunch! We decided to have a late lunch and then cook dinner at the campsite (since we cheated the night before and went out for Mexican). We took a break between Hunting Creek and the meadery to enjoy some grub from Southern Plenty, a charming spot in the historic downtown area of South Boston. We ordered at the counter... I cannot remember what we ate at all. I do remember ooohing and aaahing about it for the duration of our meal. And I remember that they had a ton of local art, canned goods, and other neat things to browse through while we waited on our lunch.

So, phew! After our adventurous day, we headed back to camp and lit the fire to grill some hot dogs.

We enjoyed a few hours sitting far away from our campfire because it was too hot, then turned in for another night of no-blanket-sleeping. Despite the humidity, our trip was very fun! I love how cozy our campsites always end up being.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Staunton River State Park Camping Trip - Part One

My husband and I finally got our camping gear out of the closet and went on a weekend trip! I put it off in the spring, summer got busy with Mom's surgery, and I couldn't stand the idea of a whole year going by without pitching the tent and wrapping some breakfast quesadillas in aluminum foil to toss on the fire. I wanted to throw a quick entry together so that I'll remember some of the special places we stopped during our adventure.

We had to wait around for the DirecTv technician to come by and install our new HD receiver on Friday morning. Jeff has been wanting to upgrade for a while, but I was resistant. I don't like paying extra for the HD when we can't use the included On Demand features (no internet at home). Also, I have hours of old Fit TV programming saved on the DVR receiver we've been using, and didn't want to sacrifice some of those old favorites. I finally conceded and agreed to the new receiver, putting the old receiver in our den. Sheesh. I feel like a moron for all my, "It won't even be that big a difference!" arguments... it's like we have a brand new TV! I almost wanted to cancel the trip to veg out in front of it all weekend, but no! The great outdoors awaited us!

We took the route I used to drive to Longwood - I64 to I295, use the Route 10 cut-through to I95, hop on 288 North, and hop off for the long haul on Route 360 West. We stopped at Walmart to pick up a new cooler, since we'd been meaning to for a while and saw the trip as a great excuse. Next up was lunchtime!

I searched for a small, locally-owned and well-reviewed place on TripAdvisor while Jeff navigated the Friday afternoon traffic. Twenty minutes later, we were at Hatcher Dining and Catering in Amelia Courthouse, and were greeted with an enthusiastic, "HELLO!" from the woman behind the counter and the other table of patrons enjoying a late lunch. Jeff got a tuna salad special, and I ordered the grilled ham and cheese with their special side for the day, green beans. Everything was super tasty. Their desserts looked fresh, but we were too stuffed to eat anything else... so I got some pecan pie and carrot cake to enjoy later tee hee.

A few hours and a few fun back roads later, we found Staunton River State Park and got our campsite all set up. The tent was still in great condition, our canopy was sturdy, and our two camping chairs made for a perfect home for the next two days.

We headed to South Boston for dinner with a craving for some Mexican grub. I've got some family in this area, and have seen a few Facebook posts of them at Mi Caretta, so we headed there to check it out. Holy guacamole! It was fantastic. I tried the Texas Quesadilla, which I try anywhere that offers it as a dish. It's just like the biggest freaking quesadilla you can get. It's got all the proteins in it, plus cheesy goodness, and onions and peppers. Jeff had the shrimp chimichanga and made lots of funny moaning noises that indicated lots of enjoyment over on that side of the booth. We also had a good time speculating about who would sit in this chair:

Heh heh. Jeff snapped another picture of me sitting in the low chair, but it's on his phone, and I have already bugged him at work enough this week for things like: finding some kirtan music for me, making pasta salad for me, buying sandwich baggies for me, etc.

Okay this trip report is getting a little more long-winded than I'd expected! Stay tuned for part two, in which I will cover our excellent winery sampling on Saturday complete with a meadery! Bees?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Self-Care: We All Have Our Own Definition

Not too much is going on. My emotional health has been much better. It always seems to improve when I'm on top of my self-care. Self-care is such a buzzword these days. I think I've seen three or four Tiny Buddha posts directly focused on self-care or self-love in the past couple of weeks. The term can mean tons of different things to different people. I think it's a good idea to write down your definition of self-care and what it looks like in your life.

Self-care for me means:
  • Mindfulness. When I am loving myself, I pay attention to my thoughts, desires, emotions, and physical sensations as they arise, and I try not to judge anything. This is the same thing I'd do with a friend I dearly love. Pay attention. It does not look like me shuffling through my day worrying about the past or future, ignoring my body's sensations.
  • Good food. My body craves nourishment from foods high in vitamins and nutrients. Sometimes, I just want my hunger to go away, so I cram horribly unhealthy foods into my body, thinking it will satisfy me. This usually leads to feelings of regret, unworthiness, and overall blah. Self-care looks like a ton of greens, sweet potatoes, chicken, and other foods that I enjoy that also give me healthy benefits.
  • Creativity. I'm caring for myself when I schedule a few minutes each week to be creative, even if I feel like I'm being irresponsible by not spending that time doing housework or something else in my "busyness" trap. I spend a few minutes stitching some seams, counting cross-stitches, or just writing out a few words that come from my gut.
  • Slowing down. It's so easy to forget about the amazing strides I've taken with fitness. Sometimes all I can think about are the fitspo models, who are often photoshopped and who have very different genes than I do. So I want to ramp up my workouts, dial up the intensity, and go all out in order to become the fittest woman on the planet. This usually leads to burnout or injury, which just starts me down a long road away from self-care. My body needs more time in slow, meditative motion. 

My ideas of self-care are constantly evolving. Some days, self-care looks very stereotypical - I take a long bath, paint my toenails, and curl up with a good book and a kitty on my lap. Most days, however, no one can really see the effort that goes into slowly building up a sense of worth. Most of us have to put in a lot of work to feel valid enough to walk this earth with everyone else.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Catching Up Part Two... And Being Here

It's still so difficult to just be here. I'm daydreaming about the cruise in November. I'm thinking about memories from college and before and after and everywhere. I'm wondering where Jeff is on his drive to work. I'm anywhere but here. Here is a little tough. Anyways, more catching up:

The sewing area in my home is tucked into a corner of the guest room, so I didn't try too hard to make time with my machine while my folks were in town. I'm almost finished with the huge quilt top I've been working on for a special gift - just three long seams to go on the main piece, and then I'll figure out what type of border I want, find the perfect backing, and hire someone to put it all together and do the quilting. I did get to work on a delightful cross-stitch and have almost finished. It's from the new color pack that DMC thread is selling. The new colors are amazingly vibrant, and I'm hoping to hang this tropical piece on the wall in my sewing area and then build an awesome tropics theme as my area grows.

I mentioned in my last post that Jeff and I were able to spend some time in Baltimore, and we've also been doing some other fun things. We stayed in a cabin at Occoneechee State Park with my sister and her husband in April, and all of us went to a great wine festival in Clarksville. I went to another wine festival at Saude Creek with a friend and her husband, and really enjoyed their setup. There has been lots of great wine and beer tasting this spring and summer.
Jeff and I drove to Myrtle Beach over the Fourth of July to spend the day with my aunt and uncle at an ocean club they belong to. There was a giant pool, cookout food, fun on the beach, and yummy drinks. I stuck to Captain and pineapple, which is my favorite summertime sunshine drink. Jeff got a horrible sunburn! I've never seen him burn before, so this was a huge deal. My poor guy. My skin somehow escaped the horror this year. I'm working on my lawn mower tan, which just consists of wearing something strapless when I cut grass. I really enjoyed laying out last weekend and have been contemplating heading to our little river beach this weekend for a few hours, but who knows how I'll feel in a few days. All I can really know is right now, right here. And while right here is a person who would love to head out to lay on the sand, right here is the beginning of my work day. All week I dream up the fun and exciting things I plan to do on the weekend, and then most weekends I either feel compelled to get everything possible done around the house or I feel like doing nothing but rest.

So here. I still have that feeling of not enough lurking in my brain too often. I have gotten up early for exercise and meditation all three mornings this week. I even did mini second workouts the last two afternoons. I got all caught up on the laundry and cleaning, and the grass is looking great. I got seven and a half hours of sleep last night. It's not enough, though. I still feel deficient almost all the time. It's not hopeless; I do a great job at recognizing when I'm caught in that mindset and then trying to honestly look at the truths that help me see that I have the same inherent worth that I see in everyone else. It's just annoying and frustrating that despite working as hard as I can, reading so many books about acceptance, making better choices for myself and the world - this little, persistent voice telling me that I need to be doing more remains so strong in my awareness.

It feels great to put that all into words. For the past month, I've been lost and listening only to that voice, ignoring the voices of compassion and love that shine through as soon as I stop striving so hard and appreciate exactly where I stand. I forgot that these feet touch this earth so many times a day, and that each step is a moment where I can touch the presence that permeates everyone and everything in this universe.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Catching Up While Being Here

It's been an incredibly busy start to the summer. I'm feeling a little uprooted. My blog is a great place to try to lay a few outlines and set a few goals. Trying to do all the thinking and planning in my head has not been helpful, as usual.

Mom's Surgery:
My mom had brain surgery last month. Brain surgery! She has had a very rare meningioma for several years, which is a noncancerous tumor. Doctors at the University of Virginia hospital attempted to remove it in 2008 with a full craniotomy, but her heart stopped under the anesthesia for several minutes, and the surgery was cancelled. It was one of the scariest experiences of my lifetime so far. Everyone agreed that there was no need to try again if the tumor stayed put. Unfortunately, it began to grow again about a year ago, threatening to damage her optic nerve or other sensitive areas of the brain. A new technology to remove these small tumors has been developed since her last scare, and she was able to have it removed with a much less invasive procedure involving a slit in the eyelid, a bunch of scary stuff I don't like to think about involving scraping and sucking and drilling a hole into her skull, and voila! No tumor!

Mom and my stepdad Ronnie were in town for about a month surrounding the surgery. We all spent some time sightseeing in Baltimore for a few days before her procedure at Johns Hopkins, which was really meaningful. I enjoyed spending some quality time with my parents. Every other time they've visited since their move to South Dakota, they've been almost constantly busy with rental maintenance and visiting other folks. Jeffrey and I were able to have a few romantic moments during that week too. We saw Atmosphere in Philadelphia, traveled a few new back roads together, dorked out at the Aquarium and Science Center, and found some new favorite beers at Heavy Seas Brewery. He was incredibly supportive through all my moodiness before, during, and following the surgery and stress.

I'm so happy the surgery went so well, and that I was able to have so much time with my folks around. However, having company jacks my schedule up in a major way. Having guests in the guest room means that workouts and kale smoothies in the morning seem too loud, and that despite them telling me not to worry about waking them, I just don't feel good about not letting them sleep through my 5am get-ready-for-work bullshit. I really fell out of my daily workout habit, and didn't put a lot of thought or mindfulness into my nutrition during the entire month of June. Throw in some added stress, a week alone at work while the boss went to a wedding, and less sleep than normal. This is a huge part of my feeling uprooted. For the record though, as soon as Ma and Ronnie drove away, I was sobbing and whining about how I wish I could see them everyday.

Fitness Certification:
I passed! I am officially an ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor! I was so nervous on test day, but I managed to pass with a slightly above average score. I'd been daydreaming about hooking up with the yoga instructor in Deltaville to discuss possibly lending her space to me for a boot camp, but I'm still feeling way too inexperienced and insecure. Plus, I put all my daydreams on hold while Ma was in town and healing. I really feel it would be smartest to actually attend a few different classes with varying instructors and styles, and continue to practice on my own to find my "instructor personality," which sounds lame but totally won't be when I find mine.

More to come in a few days.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Finished Friendship Cross-Stitch

Just stopping in to share a picture of a piece I finished up for my best friend's birthday. I finished a few months ago but didn't want to post any pictures anywhere online until after I gave her the gift. This was my first work on linen, 28 count, and I used DMC threads. I was hoping to post a link to the pattern designer, but googling is not helping me out with this, so... sorry.

Anyways, LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!!!!!!!!

Stitching is fun!

I'm in the middle a of a HUGE, top-secret quilting project, in which I am actually just piecing together a quilt top and then sending it off to someone else to quilt and bind. So I haven't been getting much stitching in. I'm hoping to work on some bookmarks in a few weeks after I get the bulk of this quilt top finished and sewn.

Monday, March 17, 2014

ACE Exam Booked; Worries Kick In

First off, acknowledgement: It's been a while. I went to South Dakota. I had holidays. I had my first wedding anniversary. I have not blogged. I've been feeling a little unsure of myself, and it's pretty difficult to etch my thoughts and beliefs into permanent blogditude during a time full of doubt. Today, though, I made a commitment! I booked my ACE Group Fitness Exam, to be taken May 30th in Richmond. My worried mind clicked into overdrive as soon as I hit the button to submit my final payment.

This makes no sense. I don't intend to become a full-time group fitness instructor upon certification, and I might not even want to work part-time. I already feel exhausted with my long commute and early hours with my full-time gig. I didn't even stick to a commitment to attend group fitness classes in Gloucester, because waiting around for 45 minutes felt so burdensome when I could be headed home to eat dinner and climb into bed before 8pm. I don't want to commit to anything on weekends. I love having the ability to just take off to the mountains or visit friends across the state. Truthfully, I don't like much about making commitments. I might not ever teach a group fitness class, even if I do earn my cert.

I have bullshitted so much with my study materials. I keep a textbook in my tote, but the last time I pulled it out to do any reading was over three months ago. There's been no consistency, though I definitely get caught up and interested when I do take the time to stick my nose in the books. It's going to be tough to stick to the study plan I finished up this morning, even though I planned a liberal amount of time to absorb all the information.

I could fail. I could quite literally fail by failing the exam. I could pass the exam and then do nothing with it, which could easily translate to feelings of failure. My brain seems to be channeling its turn-these-feelings-into-failure-and-regret mechanism much more than usual.


I could fail the exam and be proud of myself for making an attempt to learn something new. I could pass the exam, never teach a class, but feel a little pride in knowing that I mastered a new skill. I could pass the exam and explore my options in actually using it to teach some classes and have some fun. Who knows? I know that today, I'm nervous but proud of myself for making a commitment to take the test.