Friday, February 22, 2013

The Home Stretch

This has been a big week for me.

I wrapped up all the work I had for my three classes early, which gave me just under 3 weeks off till I start my LAST SEMESTER OF COLLEGE.  Next semester I have one class, plus my capstone "class" in which I really just have to tidy up a final project for another class and present to the IT faculty and boardmembers at school before I graduate.  In June.  I am graduating.  In June. 

I really must be in shock because there was a time when I thought that when I reached this point in time, I'd feel such a sense of relief and so carefree that this extremely tough semester was behind me and I have just a few weeks left.  But that sense of relief escapes me for the moment.  It's like I know I'm heading down the home stretch, but it hasn't hit me yet.  After early May, I will be class-free, project-free, homework-free, paper-writing-free, discussion-board-free.... School has been such a timesuck in my life for the past two years, I really can't imagine life without it.

But don't worry.  I won't be enrolling into a Master's program come fall, mark my words.  I fully intend on reaping the benefits of my BS degree and relaxing.  I can't wait to read a book for fun.  I can't wait to wake up on a Sunday morning and not tick off in my head all the things I have to do to finish my schoolwork and turn it in by midnight.

I'm really proud of myself.  And I can't even put into words how excited I am that my daughter will get to watch me graduate.  I know she's really young, and maybe she won't remember it, but having her there means everything to me.

:::switching topics:::

Know what other home stretch I'm heading down?  The Candy-Free February home stretch.  This month was way tougher than last, folks.  I don't even miss soda.  I may have had maybe one soda a week this month.  If that.  I can count 3 all month.  I'm just not interested anymore.  I even had water with my lunch and my dinner tonight.

But Skittles?  And Reese's PB Cups?  I miss those stinkers.  I miss 'em a lot.  I miss 'em so much I'm debating having them for breakfast on March 1st.

Just kidding.  Not really.  Ok I am.  No, I'm really not.

But the past two months have taught me something.  I mentioned last time that I just need to practice more discipline.  I will probably let candy back into my life but I will really need to discipline myself.  Thanks to My Fitness Pal, I think this should be easy enough.  I'm back counting my calories again and I've been rowing the past 3 weeks and I'm already feeling great.  I signed up for a monthly rowing package tonight so I'm super committed at this point.  Next week I will go 3x a week to step up my game.

As for my March resolution, I think I'm done with self-punishment for a while and denying myself something I love is just not in the cards for next month.  Instead, I'm adding some activity to my workout regimen.  March is going to be Yoga-A-Day March.  I did some research and found a few specific moves that target an area on my body I want to focus on, and the plan is to do those moves every day, at some point.  It's a short routine, maybe 20-30 minutes.

And thinking ahead to April... running a 5k was one of my goals for this year.  I read a little bit about the Couch to 5k workout plan and I think I'm going to start this in April.  It's a 3x a week workout.  So I can row 3x a week, and do the C25K thing 3x a week, and have one rest day.  With any luck, yoga will become a habit and I can do that as well (see how I'm filling up my time now that school is winding down?  Aaron has always said that I always have to be "doing something", that I can never just sit around and relax).... and by June, by graduation, I should be sa-lammin'.  Well that's the idea anyway.  :)

Past that, I haven't thought any more about my resolutions.  I like focusing on my health though so I'm sure I can come up with more things that fall in that category.

Not that anybody reads this, but I realize I haven't posted any pictures in a while.  This IS a blog about photography too, so I will try and take care of that really soon.

Happy weekend, everyone.  I'm just gonna go fall into bed and pass out for now.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Candy-Free February Update II

How's this for awesomeness?

Today is Valentine's Day.  And while there is a chocolate cake sitting on my Valentine's-bedecked dining room table right now just waiting to be cut into after dinner tonight, I am not dying to eat it.  I am also not dying for candy either.


You know what?  This falls right in line with what happened last month.  Around the middle of the month I just didn't care about soda anymore.  But then towards the end I started wanting it again... and since I know that's what's coming in the next couple of weeks, I will be prepared for it.  Candy, be warned.  I am armored against you.  You will not break me down in the next two weeks!

I know the next two weeks will be fine and I am eager - perhaps almost too eager - to start my March monthly resolution.  March will officially be - da da da daaaaa - Yoga-A-Day March.

I've done some research and found about 5 moves that I can do every day with ease.  Shouldn't take me too long so I can do them in the morning or in the evening.  I plan on doing them even if I am rowing that day (it would actually probably do me some good).  Speaking of rowing, I will be rowing 3 times a week by the time March rolls around.

And and and!  As if all of this wasn't enough, next week I will be experimenting some with my smoothies.  I'm going to add spinach (been too scared to till now) and also oatmeal.  Maybe not to the same smoothie, we'll see.  I'm going to try one at a time and see how it goes.  I don't eat anything green really so I need the spinach and I think the oatmeal will help beef it up a little to keep me fuller till lunch.

To give an update on my dairy-free exploration: The Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks aren't half bad at all.  I think for most things I could substitute them for regular butter safely.  But for some things it might take some trial and error.  I might always keep butter in my fridge but mostly use the vegan ones.  We'll just have to see.  I also picked up some vanilla almond milk, which is not opened yet but may be opened soon.  Stoked about this too!

So.  By the end of this month, I will be soda-free and candy-free.  March will be a new test for me - it will be adding something to my daily routine instead of removing from it. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Oreos are NOT candy

At the grocery store yesterday:

Me:  Ooo!  Oreos are on sale.
Aaron:  What?  You can't buy Oreos.
Me:  Why not?
Aaron:  Aren't we in the middle of Candy-Free February?  I read your blog, you know.
Me:  Oh.  Well, I have a coupon for them.
Aaron:  So?
Me:  Well they double coupons here!  AND they are on sale.  So I can get two packages for...
Aaron:  (shaking his head)
Me:  What?!
Aaron:  Nothing mama, you do whatever you want. 
Me:  Oreos are NOT candy!
Aaron:  Okay...
Me:  Grrr.
Aaron:  (laughs)
Me:  Well, I'm just going to get them.  They are 2 for $6 and I have a $1 off coupon and they double here which means we'll get 2 for $4 which is a really good deal...
Aaron:  Okay....
Me:  I just won't eat the whole package in one sitting.

Why did I post this?

So those two packages of Oreos remain unopened through the rest of February.  He's the best husband in the world because though he was trying to clue me in on me 'replacing' again, he was also willing to let me buy them because he knew it would make me happy.  You know, a few months ago we were on vacation and I was lamenting my curves, the ones I like and the ones I can't get rid of, and he made a point of telling me that he really does love me no matter what.  He loves me exactly as I am and wouldn't have me any other way.

I was just thinking about this conversation today and he's right, I was rationalizing, I was justifying, I was replacing.  So, I got two packages of Oreos for a great deal, but I'm not opening them this month.

Thanks Pookie.  I love you.  <3

Friday, February 8, 2013

Candy-Free February Update

Alright folks, I'ma be honest.

I'm not even halfway through Candy-Free February, and I am struggling pretty bad.

And, if I'm being 110% honest with myself, I'm cheating by replacing candy with other sweet things that I have no business ingesting.  Like, milkshakes.  On an almost-daily basis.  (I think I've had 2 this week, and I'm craving one now.)

Two or three milkshakes in one week?  I might as well toss my scale out the window.

So, a couple of things have crossed my mind.

First -- that maybe depriving myself of things I love (instead of controlling my intake and being disciplined) is hurting me more than helping me.  Maybe I need a little more of an internal "You know Cristin, you don't really need to eat 34768456415 mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - six should do" and a little less internal "EAT ALL THE CANDY!"

Second -- maybe I need to focus a little less on my diet and a little more on my activity.  It doesn't matter what I cut out of my diet -- if I keep finding ways to cheat myself by replacement, my waistline isn't going anywhere.  It's got to be a combination of diet habits and activity.

With that said though, I'm not giving up on Candy-Free February.  I'm going to finish it!  And enjoy a Big PB Cup on March 1st.

I started rowing again this week, after about 6 weeks off to see how I would handle this semester's course load.  I'm rowing twice next week, and probably twice the following week.  But I need to commit to a package.  I'm going to wait towards the end of February though, because committing to a package at RowZone is dependent upon a few other factors going on right now.

Aside from that though, I've always wanted to try yoga.  So I think March will be Yoga-A-Day March.  I'm going to put together a short yoga routine for myself and force myself to do it every single day, no excuses.  That, paired with diet changes and rowing, should do a lot for my health in a short amount of time.

I hope yoga is a habit that ends up staying with me, just like being soda-free has been.

Speaking of soda: I drank a Sprite the other night and it tasted positively syrupy.  I think soda might really be out of my system.  Success!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Is a dairy-free month in my future?

Just checking in to say.... I'm tossing around the idea of going dairy-free for a month as part of my year of mini-resolutions.

Dairy items I can't live without: milk, butter, and cheese.

I found some dairy-free substitutes for milk (almond milk) and butter (Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks).  But what about cheese?  I mean - in the grand scheme of things, yes, I think I can live without cheese for a month.  But it would be nice to know that there is a dairy-free substitute out there that I can experiment with.

I shop at Whole Foods frequently - can anyone recommend some really good dairy-free substitutes for milk, butter, and cheese?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Candy-Free February!

So.... Juice-And-Soda-Free January was a success.  Like I previously admitted, I slipped up once and it was an honest mistake, not a deliberate act in a moment of weakness.  Looking back on the last several weeks though, I thought I should share some of my observations.  But first I should say, I'm just going to blurt this entry out and post it and then post it to every social networking site I'm on except LinkedIn because there's a lot of embarrassing stuff here.  I need to hold myself accountable though, so here goes.

First - I craved soda, and I really mean craved soda, in the very beginning and at the very end.  I figure these were my weakest points -- when I was just starting, and when I knew the end was in sight.  A few days before the end of January I flung the refrigerator door open, as if I had ANY other choice than to go to my water dispenser and fill my cup with water, and I eyed the case of Pepsi, and my mouth watered, and then I slammed the door shut, exclaiming UGH I JUST WANT A SODA SO DAMN BAD!  Luckily my studly hubby was in the kitchen and said "Just give it a few more days mama, and you can have one.  Don't fail now."  Love that man.  :)  So I filled my cup up with water and guzzled it grumpily before I could grow weak and change my mind.

Second - the original intent of Juice-And-Soda-Free January was to steer me towards drinking more water.  But that didn't quite happen.  For one thing, I have been drinking a 24oz smoothie almost every morning, and that must have kept me hydrated judging by how many times I had to run to the bathroom during the day to empty my bladder.  But I wouldn't really drink anything else during the day at work.  I'm not a coffee or a tea drinker (thank goodness I don't have that habit) - my usual drink at work is a can of soda around lunchtime.  But I really just found that I wasn't very thirsty, so wasn't drinking anything at lunch.  In fact, more days than not, around early- to mid-afternoon I found myself wanting another smoothie.  This translated into wanting something sweet.  Which segued into a terrible, embarrassing, dentist-visit-in-my-near-future habit of eating candy.  Within no time, I was eating candy sometimes several times a day.  It kind of became a joke at work.  CARA, DO YOU HAVE ANYMORE SKITTLES?  I NEED SKITTLES.  I'M CRAVING SKITTLES.  DOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY CHOCOLATE?  I NEED CHOCOLATE.  I went to Wawa once and spent I think about $17 on a candy stash for my desk.  (Embarrassing!)  I hoped the girl behind the counter thought I was PMSing and not really that much of a fatty that I had to have that much candy for no legitimate reason at all (yes, being judged as PMSing is less horrifying than being judged as a true fatty, for me anyways).  For a few days (only a few) I had a bag of mini Reese's PB cups in my cabinet.  Every time I took the bag out to nosh on a few a hundred or so (sometimes more than one time a day), I wondered if the new guy who got the desk behind me in our pod noticed my bad sweet tooth habit.  I mean it was really bad, people.  I was eating king-size candy bars more than once per day.  (EMBARRASSING!)  My aforementioned-friend Cara just said to me the other day, "Cristin, I don't know what you're going to do without candy."  I don't either.  I hope she keeps her damn Skittles away from me though.

So this is how Fast-Food-Free February has become Candy-Free February.  Candy is currently the bigger threat to my health when compared to fast food.  While kicking my one-can-a-day soda habit (which most would not even really say is a habit at all), I developed a worse habit.  A habit that has probably done more damage to my teeth than a can a day for the past month ever could (I drink it with a straw so it doesn't swish around in my mouth).  But I suppose the good news is I will probably go see my dentist soon.  This is good because I haven't seen him since before my daughter was born.

To keep myself accountable, I hereby declare the following as "candy" -- any individually-wrapped, individually-packaged, mass-wrapped, mass-packaged, chocolate-covered, peanut-butter-filled, caramel-anything, fruity-chew, cavity-causing sugar concoction that can be bought at any establishment anywhere.  NO CANDY, CRISTIN.  STEP AWAY FROM THE CANDY.  (In the past month, examples of "candy" by this definition have included: Almond Joys, Snickers bars, Snickers Peanut Butter bars, Reese's PB Cups [both mini and the big fat daddy king size one with extra peanut butter], Skittles, Starburst, Gummi Bears......and yeah that's about it.)

Anyways, I know what you're thinking.  Candy-Free February?!  But but but Valentine's Day is in February!  I know people, I know.  I think my husband is going to have to come up with something to give me other than the typical box of Godiva truffles this year.  Flowers are always nice but that box of truffles always lasts a bit longer than the flowers.  Probably not this year though.  Given the way my candy habit has been going, I probably would have polished the box off in two days tops.

Today is day 2.  Today, I am 2 days candy-sober.  Well, a day and a half really.  But I don't see candy in my future today.  There's none in my house so that's a good thing.  But today, I also re-introduce juice into my life.  You know, sometimes we just want to drink something that tastes like something, and if I want to drink some OJ I should drink some OJ.  I'm going to keep drinking smoothies and water, but allow myself 100% juice, and also steer away from soda.  Last night I had a Coke and guess what - wonder of wonders - I didn't enjoy it.  I didn't even finish it.  So Juice-And-Soda-Free January was good for something.  I might drink the occasional soda here and there but, I just don't really have a taste for it.  But Simply Orange?  I love that stuff.  Gonna stock up on some today in fact.  100% juice is good for you, folks.  Drinking an 8oz serving is the same as eating a piece of fruit. 

So Candy-Free February - who is brave enough to join me in this journey?