In the last two months…and starting (quitting?) Whole30!

In the last two months I…

Donated blood. Went to TopGolf a handful of times. Went to an ASU football game. Went to a wedding in Sequim, Washington and rode the ferry back to Seattle…

Another hello gorgeous weekend in the PNW.

Another hello gorgeous weekend in the PNW.

Attempted and failed at seared ahi tuna steaks. Got my hair did and done and redid. Had an awesome yoga/brunch/pottery painting date with my mom…

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Went to the dentist. Went to the dentist again (waaah). Celebrated the return of football Sundays (and Mondays and Thursdays). Joined/started a book club – so far we’ve read The Burning Air and Rooms. Was excited for – and then reminded that it’s not quite yet – race season…

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Esprit de She 5K 35:05 – You almost wouldn’t even know by looking at this picture that I had to sit down for about 5 minutes two miles in so I didn’t pass out :(
Oktoberfest 5-miler 50:27
They were both just really warm days and I was unprepared. Hello wake-up call!

Had a mini high school reunion aka drank beer on a patio with the people I actually liked…

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Went to Tour de Fat.  Saw the Zac Brown Band in concert…

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And started the Whole30. I have a few friends doing it with me and I posted one pic on Instagram, but I feel like for some reason this blog keeps me most accountable.

This was breakfast. BREAKFAST.

This was breakfast. BREAKFAST. Meat and vegetables for BREAKFAST.

I started on Monday and it’s going well so far – no “hangover” or crazy cravings. Maybe a little food boredom already, which is no bueno, but having a plan makes it easy to stick to it. Kinda. I’m having a few moments of weakness and considered failure an option before I even started but as of now I have no good reason not to keep going, so I guess I will?

Have you done Whole30? Success or no-go?

Work it Out: Orangetheory Fitness

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Orangetheory Fitness! During the month of August they are doing a salute to the troops and giving new guests a free three-class package. I joined a friend who already is a member and a friend who was also doing the trial and finished the last of my classes last night and I loved it.

Orangetheory is an hour-long class that fits in cardio and strength training. Everyone wears a heart rate monitor and TV screens around the room show your heart rate and what zone you’re in, with the idea being to stay in orange or red (84% max heart rate and above) for a good portion of the class. Or if you’re me, like the whole class. I’ve never worked with a heart rate monitor before, but apparently my body likes to get to work.

No, everyone is not looking at your heart rate and judging you. Yes, I did look up and compare to see if others were in the same color zone I was in or if I was the only one totally overexerting myself, but in a group of strangers, I didn’t know which profile on the screen matched which sweaty class goer, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

The class of 24 (different sizes at different studios) is split into two groups. One group does cardio first – treadmill intervals – and the other does weights – three rounds of 3-4 exercises AMRAP style. They say you can burn 600-1000 calories during the class (my results told me I was burning about 500-600).

What I liked: Someone telling me what to do. All I had to do was show up and commit to working for an hour. It forced me back into running and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and I love it all over again. The music and the fast pace – the hour just flies by.

What I didn’t like: Personally, nothing. Well, okay, I guess the price of actually getting a membership because I’d love to join, but since I can’t quit my gym and it has all the equipment and more to do the same type of workout on my own (minus the motivation), I can’t justify spending even more monthly on a class-based studio.

The thing I didn’t like in general is that it’s a fast-paced class and you have one instructor working with a large group, split up doing different things, so the newbie in the corner doing either ineffective at best, unsafe at worst, strength training is not going to get the coaching he or she needs. I witnessed it last night when the older lady across from me was swinging her weights all over.  While they don’t necessarily emphasize speed over form, they also don’t promote form over speed.

As I said, though, I really liked it overall and I’ve already got my own OTF-style workouts in the works!

Oh the Places You Will Go: Phoenix (Summer Edition)

I have no clue why people want to visit Arizona in the summer. All I want to do is leave. But, my college roommate, Amy, has visited a few times in the summer, including this last weekend! She lives in the San Fernando Valley, which is just about as hot and dry as Arizona anyway (just about).

She started planning her trip and I told her no, that I was going to be the tour guide. Now that I think of it, I kind of wonder what she had in mind. Oh well.

Instead of showing her what I normally do on a summer weekend (currently: binge watch The Killing), I wanted to make the best of it and take her to favorite places of mine. So, if you’re planning on visiting Arizona, here, from a native is a list of suggested activities:

On Friday, I picked Amy up right after work and we went to the best pizza place in town. No, not Pizzeria Bianco. Pizzeria Bianco is delicious and it’s a cute, little restaurant in a fun neighborhood. Oprah and Jimmy Fallon love it. Heck, it’s even worth the usual hours-long wait. But, locals know the better wood-fired pizza option is nearby Cibo. It’s even more delicious and even cuter.

I don’t spend much time in downtown Phoenix, but I do really like it when I’m there, so our next stop was my favorite bar, Copper Blues. It’s big inside and out, but gets packed and it’s just a fun vibe with a live cover band playing behind the bar.

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Completely unplanned, we then stopped by two additional bars in Old Town Scottsdale on our way home – Amy would have gladly told you the next day that even just one extra bar was a bad idea. We went to two of my favorites for low-key fun and strong, cheap drinks – Giligin’s and The Lodge.

I wasn’t totally wastey pants, I did stop at a point and also drink a lot of water, and miraculously the next day, I made it out the door for an 8:15 spin class to sweat out the night before. It wasn’t pretty, but I was happy I fit it in.

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On Saturday, since it’s best to be around a cool pool on a hot summer day, we went to Talking Stick’s pool party with a few of my girlfriends. We got there early enough to get chairs to relax in for the better part of the day – going back and forth to the pool to cool down. I wasn’t interested in drinking, but the servers there are fantastic with endless buckets of bottled water – gotta stay hydrated!

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A day in the sun wears you out, so we stayed in for the night to make enchiladas and watch some romcoms we picked up from Redbox. Walk of Shame and That Awkward Moment do NOT get a best of Arizona award, but they were entertaining and when I dozed off a bit, I didn’t miss much of the plot!

The next day we checked out North Scottsdale’s new OHSO Distillery for their brunch – $10 for a meal and a BIG mimosa or beer. That hit the spot for sure! Then we went to Topgolf, for what was my third weekend in a row! The first weekend I went for my BIL’s birthday and I was awful, the next for my own birthday (oh yeah, I turned 30!) and I wasn’t terrible, then on Sunday I actually won the first game! Also this time we were finally up on the third floor and it was so much fun!

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Then we hopped over to the Tavern Grille for a few pitchers and some girl talk before doing dinner at Oregano’s.

Somehow I rallied that night since it was her last night in town and my idea the whole time to go see an 80s cover band at Wasted Grain, which apparently was having its grand opening party last weekend. I’ve always wanted to go see them but they were more rock than pop so I only knew a handful of songs they played – oh and the singer made a rapey comment that totally turned me off of them, which is why I won’t even post their name, but that damper aside (plus the damper of having to go into work after just a busy weekend and long Sunday night), it was a really fun weekend!

Amy commented how fun Arizona is since there’s actually things to do and this weekend was a nice reminder that, yes, Arizona can be fun if you suck it up and deal with the heat – and do a lot of eating and drinking!

1910 Minutes

This month, I spent 1910 minutes on my mat in a 30-day yoga challenge. It was….not as big a deal as I had built it up to be in my mind.

I’ve been practicing yoga for three years now and I’ve always wanted to do a 30-day yoga challenge, but just like when you’re told to hold a bound side angle pose indefinitely, suddenly your brain starts telling your body you probably can’t do it. Spoiler alert – I totally can.

BSA

I hadn’t been to yoga in a while and I hadn’t been consistent with yoga in even longer. All my fun summer trips and activities were in May and June, so July looked a little sad. Until I decided to change that thinking to “July is an empty book, an opportunity.” It also worked out that doing the challenge in July meant finishing three days before my 30th birthday – and yes, the challenge was on my 30 before 30 list.

The first day, I was nervous but I was ready to rock and roll. Getting to my mat the first week was easy, but the second week started to take its toll and I didn’t feel mentally ready for the challenge (the whole brain v. body thing) and felt like I was more going through the motions of getting to class than actually choosing it.

My home away from home.

My home away from home.

As I sat there waiting for a class one day, I considered that I should probably make a yoga-loving friend. I needed a friendly face greeting me and I need an active friend in general so I can be surrounded by good influences, do the things I love and not get the are you crazy look from EVERYONE when I suggest yoga at my bachelorette and/or wedding. On day 10, in walked Emily. She joined the same gym/yoga studio about a week in and we hit a lot of the classes together. Sweating awkwardly next to her helped a lot!

By day 21, I started to think I’d just keep this going, oh I don’t know, like forever? That line about it taking 21 days to form a habit is no joke! The last week was pure enjoyment and getting there was a necessity – it was part of my routine and WTF am I going to do now that it’s over?

On day 28, my instructor shared some words of wisdom she heard from a Tibetan monk she met in Hawaii (btw, can I have her life, please?):” People make a lot of excuses for why they can’t to they things they want to do. The excuses will always be there, just ignore them. Don’t let anything stop you from doing what you want to do.”

I realized how I had gotten so far where previously I stopped short. I’m stubborn. I absolutely wanted it. I usually do make excuses to skip evening workouts and except for one pre-work class and weekend morning classes, all the classes were after work, but for once, I had no (good) reasons to skip them.

I did hot Vinyasa, slow flow, slow burn, Ashtanga, Yin and Hatha and even worked in a crossfit/yoga hybrid class. I made it to the studio 28 of the days and did an at home flow twice, including one day on my hot patio as a storm rolled in. I loved the variety (okay, I didn’t love Yin…lying on my back for an hour felt like cheating).

I went in with no expectations, so I think the biggest surprise was that I really improved my handstand, as in, I got a handstand! Really on the first day, and it just kept getting better. I did notice my arm strength improved and they are feeling pretty firm. My core strength came back and my legs are showing a little more definition.

The only potentially negative physical effect is my neck pain starting flaring up again. I really hope the two are not connected, but I started to adjust some postures to avoid putting pressure on that side. I put it off as long as I could, but I started going to a new chiro to try to figure it out and make it feel better.

So, I guess that’s it. 30 days done and done – a great, big deal and not all at the same time. I did take today off, but I’m excited to get back to some of the classes I discovered are my favorites and spend some more me time on my mat. 

Stripperella

So, I turn 30 in 20 days…not that I’m counting. I actually don’t feel good or bad about it currently, but ask me again at crunch time and I may have a new answer.

This week, though, a mini panic did set in that I made a 30 before 30 list last July and I have not crossed many items off. I’m a crosser-offer, so obviously the next few weeks will be a rush to hit at least a few things. The first of those things was “take a pole dancing class.” Remember when that was the craze, oh like five years ago? Yeah, it’s been on various lists of mine since then, so it was time.

I went to Express MiE in Tempe for their pole-ah-tease teaser (intro) class. The studio is a mile from my parents’ house and was convenient since I was already in that part of town for my niece’s third birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. Seems like the appropriate time and place to learn to pole dance, right?

Express MiE has been in place for a while and it’s where I always figured I’d go, plus they had a Groupon for the intro class – $15 for the 90-minute sampler.  There were 11 women in the class – many came together in pairs – ranging from probably early-20s to 40s, everyone full of nervous giggles. The instructor was an ASU grad student – pole dancing is for everyone!

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The 90-minute class moved quickly, from warm ups that pulled in sexy touching right away, then some sexy walking, then a quick pole routine, then a wall routine. Lots to do and learn in a short time. It ended up being fairly simple and easy – it just looks like magic when you put it all together.

Was it a workout? There were some toning moves that left me a little sore already, but there wasn’t much cardio or sweat involved. We traded off on the poles with two others and learned the short routine in mini steps, same with the wall routine. The pole was maybe 30 seconds and the wall just a little longer. At the end, the instructor did a demo of everything she’s learned in her two years dancing and it definitely looked like a workout, but it would take a while to get there.

Did I feel sexy? Yes, for 30 seconds. The touch-your-curves and t-shirt tease portions of the class started pretty much right away, so there was no time to be shy. There were no mirrors so I have no clue what I looked like. The other women, who also had no experience, looked great, so I choose to think I looked sexy too. With no dance training or real rhythm, this may be a stretch, but the whole class was about how you feel anyway!

I’m tempted to take the six-week level one class, but I have other, more challenging workouts to do. I’ll make sure to take the few sexy moves I learned with me though!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go set PRs for my half marathon and triathlon, learn to surf and read five books. BRB.

The Most Fun You Can Have in Arkansas With Your Pants Off

Because it’s hot and you just want to wear dresses and as the maid of honor, I had to wear a dress! For her gift to her dad, my bridefriend April gave him a shirt that said, “My daughter got married outside in Arkansas in June and all I got was the bill and this shirt.” And that about sums it up, but I could think of nowhere else I would have rather been last weekend than in Rogers, Arkansas celebrating her marriage!

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I flew from Mesa’s Gateway airport on Allegiant – that cheap, but nickel and dimey, airline that flies to the most random airports – to Springfield, Missouri last Thursday. It took a few hours to drive to Arkansas, but immediately, I was like, “okay, I get it…it’s green and gorgeous.”

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Plus, I know most people say they will take a dry heat, but I enjoyed the weather, if only because it was a break. They were having a warm spell, but that’s still just upper 80s and humid plus they have nice breezes. For people who think a dry heat would be like the same but without humidity, no. Try 110, but at least it’s a dry heat!

I’ll take the cooler humidity. Maybe not forever, but for a break. On the second day I figured out the massive amount of gel my hair would require and then on the wedding day, it was perfectly coiffed, all held back and sprayed so that it wasn’t going anywhere. So, the weather and my hair were really my biggest concerns there and once those were out of the way, I had a fantastic time.

I didn’t have a lot of time in Arkansas to be a tourist, but I got in a run on Friday morning. I found what I thought would be a cool place to go, but there wasn’t a sidewalk to get me there on a curvy, two-lane road, so I decided to skip it and just run on the sidewalk past the highway and toward the mall. I only got in three miles and by the time I got back, I checked the elevation – surely Rogers, AR had to be higher than Scottsdale, but nope, only by about 100 feet, so that couldn’t have accounted for my difficult run, it was just the heat, humidity and oh yeah, my lack of training recently.

IMG_3230Then I joined April at her house in Fayetteville to wrap up some of the DIYs she had left. Who knew I could make a boutonniere?! I ate BBQ for lunch, because Arkansas, before getting ready for the rehearsal and dinner. There were about 10 attendants on each side, so both events were big affairs, but went very well. By that time a few other Arizona girls had arrived and they were eating at Apple Blossom Brewery in Fayetteville. I told April I might just head back to the hotel, but she said GO. I had their brown beer and a good time with the girls, so that was a good call. Then I got lost in a Hills Have Eyes locale almost out of gas with a dying phone. Luckily I made it back in time to party at the hotel bar.

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Saturday was for wedding everything – hair, make-up, setting the venue and getting married!

I think the best weddings require a few things:

1. Being on vacation. As much as I bitch about taking time off and having to travel for someone’s wedding, being away from the real world sets the mood and gets me ready to just have a good time.

2. Knowing a bunch of the guests. I’ve known April for half of my life and most of our high school friends were in attendance and also, her group of college friends – some bridesmaids, some guests – who I had met during our weekend in Seattle were there as well, so it was just a great time. And they were all there on vacation too, so we all stayed at the same hotel and that was great.

The Arizona group

The Arizona group

IMG_32453. Something going wrong. No wedding is perfect and laughing it off almost makes the whole thing better. For April’s outdoor wedding, she got tents at the last minute in case it rained. Twenty minutes after the ceremony, which was not tented, ended, it poured for about a half hour. The bridal party was inside the property house and I can only imagine what the guests outside were doing, probably crammed under the two tents. The rain cooled everything off and made a bunch of mud that everyone slipped in, but who cares? It was fun!

That’s all you need. Bridezillas, take note.

I had so much fun, I attempted to change my flight because basically I had to wake up and leave the very next day, which was just a terrible plan, but that’s Allegiant and their weird flights. Just like that, Arkansas was over.

 

Yoga. Again.

Sitting waiting for my hot vinyasa class to begin last night, I was a little nervous. I had been to the studio and taken many classes from the instructor (it was this one), but I couldn’t remember the last time. I finally figured out the last time I did yoga was a Tone It Up video sharing my mat with my puppies and before that was a free lululemon community class at the W. Not that those don’t count, but they don’t count the same way. Plus those were in May.

I’ve had all intentions of getting to numerous classes since then, but have failed, but last night was the night. I’m sad all my travels are over, but now I can focus on creating my Arizona summer. And getting my summer body back…better late than never, right?

The class was hot and challenging, but familiar. It was definitely easier to get back to than running after a string of weeks off. I got into a good extended side crow and held my longest free handstand ever, which is not very long, but it was more than a bounce up and back down so I was pleasantly surprised! That savasana was well-earned. And so was the 14-lb. watermelon I picked up on the way home – HYDRATE!

Today? I’m a little sore, but in a good way and I’m ready for class #2 tonight!

It’s the Little Things

For some reason I took on two good habits this month. It wasn’t really a conscious effort at first. If it was I may have just tried one, or may have failed, but since it wasn’t, I actually got about a 98% I’d say. It started on June 1. I drank a glass of water first thing in the morning and then that night, I flossed my teeth.

I think it was because the universe had been sending me messages that those might be good things to do. I haven’t even clicked through the article showing a before and after shot of the woman who drank a bunch of water for a month and suddenly looked about 10 years younger because I’m about to hit 30 and I’ll try anything!

And then I read an interview with Sarah Silverman who said death creeps in through your gums, which is something my 7th grade English teacher told us but 17 years ago I didn’t care. I’m ready to care now.

Previously, I flossed religiously twice a year, each time on the night before my dentist appointment. Would you like to know a secret? After about two days, your gums start to cooperate and stop bleeding. AND, it only takes about a minute of your life. Also, if you floss, then you take floss with you when you travel, so you can eat everything bagels on vacation!

The water thing is especially important in the summer as it gets so hot in Phoenix and dehydration happens fast. It also takes very minimal effort and time. Once I start my day on that good foot, I somehow remember to drink more throughout the day too and mid-afternoon headaches stay away. It came in handy in the last few days I spent in Arkansas, because apparently humidity is also dehydrating. Who knew?

So, everyone, drink all the water, even if you live in cooler places, even in the dead of winter. You may look 10 years younger and you will definitely have to pee a lot, which means getting up a lot, which is good because sitting causing death is the newest thing. Since I’m on a good habit roll, maybe for July I’ll just stand.

Oh the Places You Will Go: San Diego

I will never get tired of going to San Diego. It’s a quick trip from Phoenix regardless if you fly or drive and then you’re at the beach! I spent last weekend in San Diego and could think of nowhere better to celebrate the first day of summer.

My good friend, Robin, wanted to go to San Diego to celebrate the last birthday of her 20s and who was I to say no? Last year, she celebrated 28 in Tahoe. Besides just being awesome in general, hanging out with her has some serious perks, girl knows how to party. And by party I mean pick cool places to go hang out and do the same things we would do at home – but with a beach!

I was so dedicated to this trip, I went in an hour early to work all last week to leave at noon on Friday and catch our flight. Robin found an awesome house in Mission Beach that slept enough people to accommodate everyone who trickled in and out all weekend and it was only a block to the beach and a block to Mission Bay. Everything was walkable – or as I experienced for the first time there, cheaply Uberable.

We ate Mexican food, had delicious breakfasts and hung out at the beach, played Cards Against Humanity, drank a beer (or two or three) and saw some of the nightlife.

On Saturday morning, I went running up the boardwalk and then back down on the beach itself.

June gloom morning run.

June gloom morning run.

For running, San Diego beaches > New England beaches. For beach beauty, New England beaches > San Diego beaches. But for the tie breaker, for swimming, at least during the times I was there, San Diego for the win. We stayed on the beach doing nothing and intermittently going in to dive the waves for hours.

SD June 2014

I think people who live by beaches take it for granted. When I lived close enough to Malibu, I know I did. I’d love to say if I lived in SD, I’d enjoy it all the time, but the truth is, I’d probably try to enjoy the beach, but be thinking about the other things I should be doing. That’s the glory of vacation…there was NOTHING else we had to do. I have the splotchy tan/burned/still pasty skin to show for it. (There was a serious error in judgement involving a travel-size can of spray sunscreen and the wind.)

On Sunday, I met Robin’s older sister who lives in NE San Diego County and she asked me what I did. After two days at the beach house, I couldn’t really remember what my work life was and had to seriously pause to consider the question and answer it. I’d say that’s a good sign that it was a  great vacation!

Bikini Series Check-in: Week 8

Eight weeks ago I started the Tone It Up Bikini Series – eight weeks of workouts leading up to the first day of summer.

No, I don’t have an awesome before and after to show off, I’m actually tempted to call the whole thing a fail because I didn’t complete every single workout. We’re doing a personality assessment/exploration at work and I see now that I’m disappointed because I’m a high-S (for steadiness) personality and I love to finish things and get very tied to my projects (all yep).

BUT, traveling coast to coast kinda got in the way and it was really freaking cool, so it’s okay. Also, I’m going to be nicer to myself and not call it a total fail because I did get pretty sweaty on occasion, there were mornings I got up nice and early to make sure I got the workouts in and I learned some new things:

New strength moves – Tone It Up deals mostly with light or body-resistance strength training, but they are decent workouts. I don’t need to be so sore and unable to move for three days after for it to be a good workout.

I can push myself through interval training and it’s probably pretty good for me.

The biggest takeaway was: any workout is better than no workout. There were some days when the schedule called for a 20 minute booty call and then spending the evening visualizing your goals, I was like, “for serious?” But, it helped me see that consistency is key and the truth is the woman who follows the TIU plan religiously is probably going to be better off than me when I’m running for an hour two days a week plus taking a vigorous cardio class on the weekend. And I also found out I have it in me to suck it up when I don’t feel like working out after work because, hey, it’s only 40 minutes.

So, Karena and Katrina have a first week of summer schedule up now and are going to keep up the weekly workouts. While that’s not my whole plan, I’m a Tone It Up convert and I think I’ll love having the resource for those days when I don’t want to be my own trainer.