So Good

I’m frightened to admit this. I don’t want to jinx anything or be a Negative Nancy. But…

Life is really good right now.

I seem to be striking a rare balance in all aspects of my life—career, personal, wellness, financial, etc—and that rarely, if ever, happens. I just eel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, as history as shown always happens whenever I’m feeling this great. But for now, let’s focus on the positive in the hopes that putting good energy out will bring good energy back in. Shall we?

Home: Next month, I’ll be moving to a new home. I’m staying in my same city and literally moving about 500 feet from my current place, but I’m moving nonetheless! I’m picking out paint colors, brainstorming design ideas, and purging my useless stuff. My last day in my current place is December 31–which, if you think about it, is a neat sort of coincidence: starting a brand new year in a brand new home, closing the door on this five-year long chapter of my life that was full of destructive, unhealthy behavior…this move is going to be so, so good.

Work: My job is going super well—a huge accomplishment for me. While I still loathe the idea of actually having a 9 to 5 (I just want to be a stay at home mom, shop, cook, clean, and workout…or be Ina Garten), I love what I’m doing right now: I get to write, be creative, spend time thinking and planning, maintain a flexible schedule, and, best of all, once I leave work, it’s done. I don’t carry any of it home with me, physically or emotionally. It’s a beautiful existence.

Health: I’m fully recovered from my late summer slide. Mentally, I feel strong. Physically, I’m getting there. I’m back into my group classes at the gym, and in an effort to run more, I’ve started running a mile or so before each class as a warm-up. Not only does it help me get loose and ready for class, but, hey, guess what? Running is getting easier! I’m also back into my yoga practice, which makes my soul super happy. I’m going twice a week and looking at visiting a new studio for even more goodness.

Social: My social calendar is packed through the end of the year with tons of fun stuff (Weddings! Family time! Concerts! Holiday parties!), so basically, you guys, I’m firing on all cylinders. And it feels amazing. And I don’t want it to end. I’m just going to continue working hard, expressing gratitude to the Universe and any other forces at work in my life right now, and smiling.

Always smiling. Lots of smiles 🙂

A Bunch of Big Losers

Lately I’ve become a big fan of silver linings. Trying to find the good to cling to in any bad situation is so, so important–you have to remain positive no matter what is thrown at you. You just have to. Look for lessons in the negative, appreciate the sun shining on your face when saying goodbye to a loved one, savor the motion of putting one foot literally in front of the other when running a 5K. Seek out what you can gain when you lose.
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As I mentioned earlier, some of my family members and I traveled over to Wisconsin this weekend to run the Biggest Loser Run Walk. My aunts, my mom, and a couple of my cousins and I met up for a little fun on Saturday before the race on Sunday. We popped over for packet pick-up…and we are nothing if not classy ladylike ladies while out in public…20131020_10501420131019_14510820131019_150209While there, we also got the chance to meet a few of the Biggest Loser alums. I don’t really know much about them, but one of them called me beautiful. And that’s always nice to hear 🙂
2013-10-19_14.59.31Naturally, the next stop on our whirlwind Wisconsin tour was the mall. There, we proceeded to continue our ladylike ladies streak by indulging in much needed massages. Well, kind of…
20131019_17551720131019_175246Chair massages for everyone!

After a scrumptious steak dinner, we said goodbye to my mom (who, sadly, couldn’t join us for the race) and headed back to the hotel for a few more laughs before turning in early. Seriously, I so enjoy spending time with these girls. It’s been pretty amazing to see how close we’ve all become since my grandpa passed away earlier this fall.

Race day dawned with gray skies, freezing cold temps (literally), and an on and off drizzle. Brrr…We had a half-mile uphill hike to the starting line and then, solely to stay warm (haha) we proceeded to have a dance party (amidst the crowd of almost 4,000!) while waiting for our chance to run. Like you do.

20131020_083621And then run we did! As always, I was neurotic and anxious. I’ve thrown up after my two previous races, I haven’t been running consistently, I was running the race in mostly new shoes, I haven’t done a cold weather run in awhile…on and on. You know, my typical neuroses. Oh, and side note: I really have to work on stopping that negative self- talk, too. I’m not sure why that’s started up again, but enough is enough.
IMG_1625I felt okay during my run. I was all stuffed-up-runny-nose-coughing-up-a-lung throughout, and my hips were sore, but overall I felt okay. Then the hills started. Nothing too outrageous, though, at least not until we reached the last half-mile or so. We had to run up the hill we’d walked up on our way to the starting line. It was rough, I tell you!
IMG_1626But as I rounded the last little bit and saw my aunt cheering me on–I smiled. And when I saw my cousins yelling at me to get going–I smiled. And then I finally crossed the damn finish line and saw my other aunt–and I smiled even bigger and teared up a bit. I finished, I didn’t throw up and I PR’ed. So proud.

By the way–this is amazing–I initially thought I had cut 30 seconds from my time, but I just checked Sunday’s official results against the results from the WRTC run last month, and I actually cut one minute twenty seconds. YOU GUYS! I’m blown away by that! My cousins and aunts also did amazing, all of them placing in the top 10 of their age groups. So, basically Team Manda Kay rocked it big time 🙂
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This weekend felt like exactly what I needed to get my lazy, mopey butt back on track. I feel rejuvenated and re-motivated. Focused.

In life, when you lose–weight, your loved ones, emotional baggage–look for the upside and realize how much you gain.

Another Day, Another 5K

I’ve been putting off the writing of this post for way too long. Why? Well, I haven’t felt like writing. At all. And I never want this blog to feel forced–this precious little piece of the Interwebs is only meant for me. And you. But mostly for me. I want this space to be nothing but pure honesty for both you and me. Ok?

That’s why it’s been so difficult to write this post about another 5K that I’m going into half-assedly. I’ll spare you all the whiny over-analyzing (I’ve been doing plenty of that over on the Twitter and the Insta, and I’m sorry) and just tell you this:

  1. I don’t want to run this race. Not one bit.
  2. I’m so tired of wasting money and energy on these races that I still can’t complete properly.
  3. Along with this (warranted) awful funk I’ve been in lately, numbers 1 and 2 above have me all jumbled up in the head, completely de-motivating me and turning me into a ball of mush that wants to do nothing but cozy up in bed.

But come Sunday morning, despite the potential wintery mix and freezing temperatures we’re expected to receive, I’ll be in Wisconsin participating in the Biggest Loser Run/Walk! Like with any other race, I’m nervous. We all know I’ve not been progressing my attempt to force this 300+ lb. body to run. But given that it’s a Biggest Loser race, I know I won’t be the slowest, most out of shape person there (something I’m selfishly always terrified of), and I’m betting that the atmosphere will be pretty darn inspiring and motivating. I’m kinda looking forward to the race just for that.

Plus, two of my aunts and cousins are actually going to make the trek over there with me and do the race, too, and Mama Ruthie’s going to make an appearance at some point. Pretty awesome, right?
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And that’s what I’m clinging to right now: I have the support of so many amazing people. I can’t let them down. I can’t let me down. And I have no intention of doing other. But it’s time to get my ish back together, suck it up, and start making everyone (myself included) proud once again. And that starts with this race, with every step I take.

See y’all on the other side! Looking forward to sharing the race experience with you…and really looking forward to things getting back to normal around these parts very, very soon!

Full disclosure: The fine folks of the Biggest Loser Run/Walk provided me with a free entry into the Eau Claire race this weekend, in exchange for posting about my experience.

Who Run The World?

tumblr_lophucDdlk1qltig3o1_500Girls, that’s who. Well, women. Anyway, Beyonce knows whats up. And so do the organizers of Women Run The Cities–the 5K race I did on Sunday. It’s seriously the best. Over 3,000 girls and women running on a cool, early fall morning along the Mississippi, while tons of people stand on the sidelines cheering everyone on. Including all those hot dads and boyfriends. Like I said, the best.
20130922_082656It was a sea of purple! I ran Women Run The Cities last fall. It was my first race. I remember the overwhelming anxiety and pride I felt that morning. I also remember promising myself that next year, I would run the entire race.
20130922_081848 561406_10103656626298520_1454735783_nYeah, well. That didn’t happen. Just like the Graniteman a few weeks ago, I came into this race completely unprepared. But unlike the Graniteman, this race felt amazing. I don’t even care that I didn’t run the full distance. I don’t even care that I barely PR’ed (took another 15 seconds off my time). I don’t even care that my time is still over 40 minutes and my friend, Stephanie, running her first race, did better than me.
20130922_094558I enjoyed the race. Let me repeat that: I enjoyed the race. I enjoyed the run, the scenery, the swag, my fellow runners/walkers, the weather, the hot Starbucks waiting for me at the finish…the whole dang thing. Weird, right?

20130922_09450120130922_09435220130922_094551I love that I’m still doing this. I stuck with this whole thang for over a year. I’m even having fun doing this: making myself uncomfortable, running in front of people, pushing myself physically and mentally. And as someone who has tried to lose weight over and over again, as someone who has never felt like they lived up to their potential or stuck with something they truly wanted long enough to see it through…to me, that commitment is greater than anything else. The faster times, the weight loss, the longer distances, the strength…that will all come eventually. As long as I stick with it.

Emotional Rollercoaster

I’ve been rather quiet the past few weeks, and if you know me beyond this blog, or follow me on social media, you know why: last weekend, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. What started out as a fun and healthy family weekend has turned into a seemingly never ending collection of the longest, saddest days I’ve ever known. I could go on forever about my grandpa, the memories I have, the events of the past week…but frankly, I need a break. This is my first real brush with death, and I can say that in no way was I prepared for the overwhelming exhaustion, sadness, and complete lack of focus I’m experiencing.

My grandpa would absolutely not want me making a fuss over him, so instead, let me share with you all the highlights from last weekend…

Originally, I had plans to travel up the road a bit to St. Cloud (where the majority of my extended family lives) to run the Graniteman Race with my cousins. Friday night, I met up with one of said cousins to grab dinner and drinks at an adorable new(er) restaurant in town.

20130906_19435620130906_194348IMG_20130906_20554020130906_185957We chatted for hours while scarfing down some delish salmon and sweet potato fries, along with a couple cold beverages.
20130906_19165120130906_19123820130906_183639On the drive home, we stopped for froyo (obviously) and rocked out to Nsync—just like when we were younger 🙂 It was a perfect night.
20130906_200511However, I went to bed extremely anxious about the Saturday’s race. After some research, I began to realize that the Graniteman was more like a race for serious runners. Which I am so not. So, the nerves had kicked in big time.

When my alarm went off at 5am Saturday morning, I was horribly apprehensive, and doubting my decision to participate. I didn’t doubt that I could and would finish. No way. But I was absolutely terrified of being the very last person to finish. I mean, it has to be someone, right?
IMG_20130907_061317IMG_3582IMG_3584Well, we showed up, tried not to pass out from the ridiculous heat and humidity, got our race packets, extensively discussed how the field looked quite experienced (i.e. fast, i.e. Amanda, what are you doing?!), lined up for the 5K portion of the race and took off along the Mississippi.

As usual, I ignored my fellow racers and focused on myself. After the first mile or so, though, I looked up to see my cousin (who runs about a nine-minute mile) two people in front of me. I typically run a 14-15 minute mile, so this wasn’t good. I knew I couldn’t keep up that pace. I was already cramping and feeling nauseous.

Reluctantly, I slowed my pace and fell to the back half or so of the pack. But that didn’t ease the nausea or the cramping. I was feeling awful and seriously contemplating stopping, finding a medic, sitting in someone’s lawn sprinkler…something. About a mile and a half in, I threw up. I probably should have stopped at that point, but nope. I figured for as much anxiety and pressure as I put on myself, I was going to finish this damn race. I’m no quitter! 🙂

So that’s just what I did.
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The entire week before this race was an off week. I had been on vacation, I didn’t run, I only did yoga, and I didn’t make the best food choices. But in the back of my mind, I still wanted to PR.

I hustled my butt to the finish line best I could—the last few hundred feet were pure torture and I honestly thought I was going to have stop and walk across the finish line. With the announcer calling out my name and all those people, including my family, standing around cheering? That would have been complete embarrassment.IMG_20130907_235205I ran through the finish line and immediately started gagging. A boy about eight years old came up to me and asked if he could cut my timing chip from my shoe, and as he bent down to do so, I literally thought I was going to throw up on him. Good. Grief!

Thankfully, I held it for a few more seconds and made it to a trash can before I threw up for the second time. Yuck!

When I had finished being a total disaster, I grabbed some water and a banana, and sought out some shade. I immediately felt fine, and spent the rest of the morning proudly celebrating my PR (I cut three minutes!), cheering out my family and friends that did the 10K and half marathon, and watching my cousin and another friend win their age divisions for the 5K and 10K. And for the record? I was definitely not the only one with heat stroke-like symptoms.
IMG_3596IMG_3608IMG_3595Another race in the books! After all the festivities, we beelined it over to Starbucks for a caffeine boost before heading out to my grandparents to join the rest of the family for a cookout. As usual we spent the afternoon eating (healthy, mostly!) and really enjoying each other’s company.

The good, the bad, the success, and the failure…this past week has shown me the invincible strength, love, and power of family. With them, you can truly get through anything.
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Color Me…Happy!

20130714_101237This weekend, a giant group of my loud, crazy, fun extended family descended on my town to join me in The Color Run. If you haven’t heard of this run, the self-proclaimed “happiest 5K on the planet”, do yourself a favor and sign up for a race. You will love it!

I truly believe that in order for any sort of long-term exercise plan to be effective, you need to: 1. find fun ways to be active, and 2. find fun people to have that active fun with. This Color Run was exactly that.

So, to extend all that happy and fun, the night before the race, the whole gang met up at Sea Salt–an amazing restaurant at Minnehaha Falls. We enjoyed some libations, delish sea food, and a beautiful Minnesota summer night.

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Broasted salmon with dill yogurt sauce, fennel orange salad, and melon

Instagramming while drinking. It should be a punishable offense.

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During the actual race, I kept pace with my brother. He was so great about pushing me to go further, go faster. I ended up actually running the majority of the course (which surprised me), and I finished strong by joining my cousin and her friends (who are much speedier than I) to cross the finish line. It’s safe to say my love-hate relationship with running is officially back on the “love” side of things.
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And then post-race…obviously more drinking and eating must happen. Obviously. And it should probably be on a patio somewhere where you can enjoy the sunshine and really bake that color powder into your pores.
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Oh, and blowing my nose more than 24 hours later? Like a rainbow 🙂 Thanks for a fantastic weekend, Family and Color Run!

Summer Bucket List

Just like last year, I’ve put together a list of items I want to cross off my bucket list this summer. After a rather stagnant few months, during which I learned a lot mentally but didn’t do a hell of a lot physically, I’m feeling motivated to push harder than ever to get things back in gear and get that scale moving downward once again.

So, here are my goals for the summer, designed to get me out there…finding balance, shaking things up, making my life.

2013 Summer Bucket List

1. Run 2 miles

2. Attempt to water ski…again

3. Put myself out there physically

4. Complete a bike race

5. Go hiking in a state park

6. Lose 20 pounds

7. Purchase a pair of pants from a “normal” size store

8. Move everyday & spend as much time outside as possible

9. Go to a beach in a swimsuit. Swim, soak up the sun,  be confident

10. Save enough money for a personal trainer this fall

Tell me: what are you going to do over the next three months to make yourself proud and kick some booty?

February Goals

Does anyone still have problems spelling February? It’s not just me, right?! 🙂 It’s one of those words, like ‘prairie’, that I have to think about each time I spell it. Good thing I have an English degree...

So it’s February. The shortest, most depressing month of the year. This is the time when winter doldrums really set in. All that stale air, dirty snow, dark-at-5pm winter BS gets real, real old. Combine that with Valentine’s Day singledom, and it becomes especially tempting to fall into old, comfortable habits.

But so far this year, I’m doing really well. January was a good month: I made progress with all my goals, lost some weight and a bunch of inches. I ended up not running the 5K I had planned because it was freezing and I lacked the funds. Other than that, I made significant progress with C25K and a had a breakthrough with the dreaded treadmill. I re-started Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, though I didn’t do it consistently–I was too focused on my new favorite gym class, Body Pump! I did extremely well with staying out of the grocery store. I made maybe 1 extra trip, but I otherwise ate through what I had stocked up at home. Good month!

Here’s what I’ve got cooking for February:

Goals for February

1. Finish C25K
2. Complete 30DS–just because I’ve been wanting to do a full cycle of this FOREVER.
3. Move it at least once per day–too often when I take a rest day, I let that 1 day become 2, somtimes 3. Enough!
4. Complete calorie log every day–and do it without going over. I’ll sometimes enter half my day but then get too lazy or busy to finish it, which allows for unaccounted for calories going in. No more excuses!
5. Run the Valentine’s Day 5K–they make you way signs on your back stating your relationship status. Yikes.

As always, I’d love for you to join me! Pick a few goals from my list, or come up with your own, then share your list in the comments below. 

January Goals

I haven’t done a monthly goals post in a hot minute. So what better time than the New Year to get back into the habit? This time around, we’re setting five goals per month instead of ten (more doable, I think). Here’s what I’ve got cooking for January:

Goals for January

1. Make progress towards completing C25K – this is still lingering for me and I want it done!
2. Restart (and complete) 30 Day Shred (30DS) – again, I want it done!
3. Take 4 yoga classes 
4. Workout at least once per day
5. Run the St. Paul Winter Carnival 5K sub 44 minutes – a goal for this year is to run five 5K races, and 44 minutes was my time from my previous 5K race. So, check a race off the list and set a new PR.

As always, I’d love for you to join me! Pick a few goals from my list, or come up with your own, then share your list in the comments below. 

A Note From The Universe…and A Note From Me

I hope this post helps explain, at least a little bit, why I’ve been neglecting the blog and you, my loyal readers, as of late. I know I owe you a update on this month’s goals, and a few delish recipes. But, plain and simple, I’ve been busy! Work is kicking my butt in the best, most rewarding way possible, and beyond that, I’ve been crazy focused on my eating and workout plans–I’ve been pulling two-a-days for the last few weeks, and loving every second.

I’m feeling so good these days–so much energy, such a upbeat, positive mood, optimistic and happy about every. thing. The scale has been stuck this week thanks to my womanhood (damn you, ovaries!), but I’m making progress elsewhere: gaining muscle (thanks to my new weight training program), remaining loyal to my accountability partner (more on that soon), my clothes are looser, and my endurance, willpower, and dedication have never been stronger!

But all of these things take an extraordinary amount of time. My schedule for the past few weeks has literally been: 5am workout, work, evening workout, dinner, bed. Wake and repeat. And I love it. I really think I’m finally in the place where I’m enjoying this whole process. I’m having fun with it.

A Note from the Universe…

Generally speaking, Amanda, the busier someone is the faster time flies, the less they worry, the more friends they have, the farther they travel, the quicker they rebound, the richer they become, and the happier they are. 
Passport ready? 
The Universe