Week 1 Check-in

It’s been a week since I made new health and fitness goals for myself, and to be honest the first week didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I met some of my goals but fell short of others,

Work out at least three days a week, including two dance classes. I had unexpected appointments which kept me from making it to dance last week, so I didn’t hit that goal. BUT I logged four workouts, so I’m proud of myself for being more active! Hopefully this week will be a little easier to navigate and I’ll be able to get to my dance classes.

Bring my lunch to work every day. I was able to succeed at this one, without much trouble. I do feel like I should admit that I only worked three days last week, so this goal wasn’t exactly challenging.

Make dinner at home at least five nights a week. I did have home-cooked meals five nights last week, and so far this is my favorite new habit. I’m surprised at just how much I enjoy planning out and preparing meals at home.

No drinking alcohol on school nights. I achieved this one too, but again I only worked three days last week so there were only three “school nights” to contend with.

Track all my meals and snacks. Eh, I mostly did this. There were a couple of meals I missed; I’ll do better this week!

Log an average of 10,000 steps per day. To my surprise, this one was HARD! My average was 5,835 steps last week.

Overall I lost a pound, which made me happy even though I have a long way to go. Slow and steady, right?

2018 Health and Fitness Goals

It’s the second day of a brand new year, and like so many others I’m setting goals for myself. I have decided to use the word goal rather than resolution this year, because a goal to me seems more tangible and allows me to make a specific plan to achieve what I want.

And what I want is to fit into my favorite blue dress.

I bought The Dress back in 2012 to wear to a friend’s birthday dinner. It’s dark blue, figure-hugging, and perfect for a nice evening out. I love that dress and would love to wear it out for my first wedding anniversary. But if I’m going to make that dream come true, I have to be able to zip the thing up – which is currently not happening.

I need to lose weight so that I can realize my dream of wearing that dress again, but I’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t make me crazy or lead to re-gaining any pounds later on. When I bought my dress, I hadn’t been on a diet in over a year. I was managing my weight with a (mostly) sensible diet and an exercise routine that I was quite happy to stick to.

I know that I will need specific guidelines to help me reach my goal. I’ve worked out five habits that I want to stick to in 2018, that I think will help get me where I want to be.

1. Work out at least three days a week, including two dance classes per week. There are dance classes I can attend on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, so even if I miss one during the week, I can make it up on the weekend. I also have at-home workouts I can do to get in that third workout, and hopefully I’ll find the motivation to do more than three workouts a week!

2. Bring my lunch to work every day. Working in downtown Bellevue means that there is easy access to a ton of delicious food and restaurants, but both my wallet and my waistline will be happier if I bring my food from home.

3. Make dinner at home at least five nights a week. My husband and I love to go out to eat, and we both work long hours. Making food at home instead of eating out or picking up takeout may be a challenge at first, but I know that home cooked meals contributed to my lower weight years ago. Over the weekend, we planned out what we would have for dinner each night and bought everything we’ll need, so there’s no reason not to prepare what we already have.

4. No drinking alcohol on school nights. I have fallen into the habit of enjoying a glass of red wine after dinner, telling myself that it’s healthier than dessert. The truth is that, although I may be saving calories, I’m still having more sugar than I need to. There nothing stopping me from enjoying a nice cocktail or two on Friday and Saturday evenings, but on nights when I have to be up for work in the morning I’m going to opt for a LaCroix water instead.

4. Track all of my meals and snacks in MyFitnessPal. When I was maintaining a lower weight before, I used an app called Lose It to track what I ate. While I still like the app, I’ve found I prefer MyFitnessPal. Most of the time, entering a food into a tracker before I eat it will make me more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth, and this habit helps me avoid mindless snacking.

5. Log an average of 10,000 steps per day. Fitness trackers are super popular right now. I decided I wanted one a couple of years ago, and after researching different options I selected a Garmin vivofit. Most days I’m good about remembering to wear it, and it really does help me remember to get up and move around during the day.

These goals should be enough to get me started; if I add or change them later, I’ll update them here too. Hopefully I’ll find that these guidelines to be flexible enough that I can follow them consistently.

2018: The Year of No Bullsh*t

Last week, my friend Marie declared that 2018 shall be the Year of No Bullshit. I love this fierce mentality for going into a new year and adopted this new mantra immediately.

Of course, the YONBS will mean not feeling obligated to tolerate others’ BS, but for me it will also mean not allowing myself to fall into the same old BS either.

I confess, I am not where I would have liked to be at the end of 2017. I fell short of my health and fitness goals, and I’m not as far along in my degree plan for college as I would like to be. I can make a choice now: cut the BS and get back to working for what I want, or wallow in my failures and continue to disappoint myself. The former seems a lot more productive.

After flying through my first four college classes this semester, I enrolled in a fifth. I was so confident that I would complete it and maybe even finish a sixth class by the end of the semester. Fast-forward to two weeks ago, when I was panicking because I had put off studying and was now in a bind. I really don’t know why I let myself procrastinate so much; I suspect it was because I felt like I had all the time in the world to study, until all of a sudden I didn’t.

I wanted to drop the class and pick it back up next semester, but my mentor pushed me to try and finish it. I thought she was smoking something when she said it was achievable, but ultimately I (grudgingly) agreed to try. I drew up a rigorous study plan that had me covering all the course material and taking the final exam by December 30th. I wasn’t at all confident that I could pass the test, but as my husband pointed out, better to fail than quit.

I stuck to my study plan and devoted more hours to this class than I probably have to any schoolwork ever in life. And today, just a few days before I take the final, I’m able to pass the practice test with a score of 98%. I proved myself wrong. I actually CAN pass this test and finish my class this semester. I feel extremely confident that I’m going to do well on my final exam.

I learned so much from this near-miss. Now I know that I need to make myself a study plan so that I have structured due dates to keep myself on track. The experience also reaffirmed to me that I am smarter and more capable than I give myself credit for, and that I can achieve the things I want if I really put my mind to it. Once I cut out all my BS reasons for not doing what I needed to and just focused on doing the damn thing, I started succeeding.

Sound familiar?

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with my weight for the last few years. It’s also no secret, to anyone paying attention, that a big reason for this is because I wasn’t putting in the work to get what I wanted. When the scale showed me numbers that scared me, I went on crash diets that guaranteed me fast results, but that did nothing to help me build better habits. Not shockingly, repeating this BS cycle just left me heavier than I was when I started dieting. Earlier in the year, I was very dedicated to my exercise plan, but after Bill and I got back from Cabo I fell off the wagon and kinda just let it roll right on out of town without me. I let starting school be an excuse for skipping workouts.

Excuses are BS. Diets are BS. They are no substitute for just plain old putting in the work. And they have no place in my life, starting now (because really, why do I need to wait until 2018 to banish the BS from my life?).

Last night, Bill and I got home from work and immediately changed clothes and worked out. After we exercised, he made dinner while I studied. And at the end of the night, I went to bed feeling AMAZING, because I had dedicated time to achieving goals that matter to me.

I won’t always eat healthy. I won’t work out every single day, and I’m not going to study every day either. I’m not going to tell myself that I will. Going to extremes is also BS, as it isn’t satisfying or sustainable. But what I am going to do is put in the work to get what I want.

Finding the Fisher & Diaz Funeral Home

Back in 2009, I became obsessed with the show Six Feet Under. I was late to the party (the show first aired in 2005), which was a good thing for me because I was able to binge-watch the entire series on DVD and wasn’t forced to wait between seasons.

For those unfamiliar, Six Feet Under followed the Fisher family, who owned a funeral home in LA (originally called Fisher & Sons and later changed to Fisher & Diaz). The funeral home also served as the family home, which may seem a bit disturbing to anyone who HASN’T lived directly above a steady parade of dead bodies and funerals, but is something the family and their friends are totally used to.

Although I lived in Southern California at the time, I never thought to find out if the house used in the series as the Fisher funeral home was a real place. When I discovered that it was indeed real and actually was located in LA, I had already moved to Washington and didn’t think I would ever get a chance to see the house in person.

Last September, Bill and I ended up in LA while on our road trip, and I knew I had a chance to finally see the house. As we drove toward the beach one afternoon, we made a detour and found it.

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to find out that the 6,324sf house is located at 2302 W. 25th St. in LA. It was built in 1905 (according to Zillow) and is currently owned by the Filipino Federation of America.

There was no one around when Bill and I arrived at the house (another benefit of being behind the masses in discovering the show was that people weren’t exactly lined up to take photos of the house). We snapped several shots from the sidewalk before I decided I was going to go perch on the front porch for a photo.

Today Might as Well Be the Day 

Last week, I got it all wrong in my blog post.

This happens, because I am human. But I am here to own the fact that I got it all wrong, and to explain where I fell short.

I’ve had a week to re-read my post and mull it over. I so wish I had approached the topic completely differently. I admitted that I had lost my health and fitness passion, and that I had gained weight. I was incredibly negative about it, and I really wish I hadn’t been.

I wish I had said that it doesn’t matter if my old Halloween costumes don’t fit. It doesn’t matter if I’m a little heavier now, because I’m also way happier. I also failed to point out two important things: that while I was thinner, I was also in a spirit-draining and unfulfilling relationship and that I needed Zumba more for its family dynamic and the unconditional love of fellow class-goers than I ever did for weight loss, and that I was also my smallest when I was the least consumed with what I ate.

I’m not saying I don’t need to exercise now that I’ve found a loving and supportive relationship – far from it. What I am saying is that I mistakingly reverted to viewing exercise as a chore. It doesn’t have to be that way. Last week, I noticed myself feeling much more relaxed and energetic, and I know that’s because I started working out again.

I also wonder if I would still be heavier now if I hadn’t had a knee-jerk reaction to a little weight gain and so quickly gone on a diet. I had denounced diets, insisting they didn’t work, but I put on a few pounds and panicked. If I had continued to eat normally, would I have bounced back? I think it’s entirely possible that I started down this path again because I went against what I knew to be true all along and put my body back in diet hell.

I wish I had emphasized that gaining a little weight isn’t such a big deal after all. I’m not a failure because of my size. I’m not less worthy of love because of 15 extra pounds on my body.


The two girls above are both me. I am not less deserving of love now than I was in that photo on the left. That younger me is thinner, sure. Since that photo was taken, I’ve accomplished so many amazing things that you don’t see in photos. But the things that aren’t in the picture are what actually matter. The fact is that the woman on the left is SO much happier, so much braver, so much more in tune with what she wants and who she really is. Imagine what she could do if I quit being so mean to her all the time??

This isn’t the “aha, I’m cured, I love my body now!” post. Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? The reality is though, that this is just the start of changing my thoughts about myself. But all great movements have to start somewhere, and today is just as good a day as any.

Starting Over Again 

I think most people who have succeeded at weight loss will agree that one of the scariest thoughts afterwards is “What if I gain it back?”.

For me, that scary thought became reality. I lost weight, felt great, and maintained my new size for a few years, and then put the weight back on. I’ve tried different diets, intuitive eating, programs like Weight Watchers…you name it. Every time I tried something new, I would have some success. And every time, life got in the way and I fell off whatever program I was on. Time and time again over the last four years, I’ve found myself right back in the same old spot, 15 pounds heavier than I was in 2013.

It’s frustrating. It’s heartbreaking.

I used to write about my health and fitness journey frequently. When I lost weight, I blogged about my routine and what worked for me. When I started to gain, I talked about my various diets and attempts to get back on track. Eventually I stopped writing about it altogether, because I was ashamed of my failures and grew tired of putting them out there on my blog.

On Friday night, I pulled out my bin of costumes to pick something to wear for Halloween. I love dressing up and have accumulated a pretty sizeable collection of fun costumes over the years. The problem, I quickly realized on Friday night, is that none of them fit anymore. The ones I CAN squeeze into, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. I look just awful in them.

I let myself wallow in my self-pity that night, and then Saturday morning Bill and I got up and worked out. I planned out what I would eat in the coming week. I planned my workouts. By Sunday morning I was ridiculously sore, but I sucked it up and worked out again.

Yesterday I had a long day (not bad at all, just busy) and could have easily made that my excuse to skip working out. But I didn’t do it. I went to the gym after work and took a Zumba class.

I’m going to write about health and fitness again, because I need to rediscover my passion for it. Even if I never fit into my costumes again, I need to be healthier. The truth is that I don’t feel good when I don’t exercise, and when I eat junk. It messes me up both physically and mentally and I know I can do better for myself. And I know writing about it will make me feel more accountable for the choices I make.

Writing Again 

I think blogging comes in waves for me. There are times when I feel like I have so much to say and that I need to write, and then other times I can go months without even logging into this site. It’s not that my blog isn’t on my mind, it’s just that I don’t feel like I have anything meaningful to say. I’ve thought more than once about stopping, but that idea just makes me so sad. Writing is a huge part of who I am. From my spiral notebooks filled with journals and stories in high school, to my first blog (on MySpace, of all places) and now to this one, I’ve always had some writing project going. 

Sometimes it’s not about writing something mind blowing and powerful. Sometimes it’s just about getting back into the habit of writing at all. So here I go; here’s what I’ve been up to in the last few weeks. 

In September, Bill and I took a long road trip from Seattle to Las Vegas to attend my sister’s wedding. It was a small ceremony and (in my opinion) rather perfect. Vegas weddings don’t really get enough credit; there are several beautiful venues that definitely don’t fit the stereotype of shotgun weddings performed by Elvis. 

With the Newlyweds


After the wedding, Bill and I spent some time in California before heading home. My parents hosted us for a night, and we spent two nights in Hermosa Beach. 

I never really did tourist-y things when I lived in California, but on this trip I really wanted to find the house that was used for the Fisher Funeral Home in the show Six Feet Under. Bill humored me, and we tracked down the house (it’s located in LA). I thoroughly geeked out and took a ton of pictures (geeked out face on display in the photo below), and even went so far as to queue up “Breathe Me” by Sia as we drove away. 

“You can’t take a picture of this, it’s already gone.”

Back in Washington, I started a new position at work and finished up my fourth college class. Technically, I’ve completed my semester, but I want to keep pushing forward so I enrolled in another class. 

It’s crazy to think that it’s almost November, that soon the holidays will come and go and 2017 will be over. I’m hoping the rest of the year is just as pleasant as the first ten months have been, and that I’ll regain my inspiration to write more often as we finish out the year. 

Why I Stopped Eating Meat

I have always loved animals. My mom has a photo of me as a baby, sitting in the backyard with our cat, dog, and goat. As an adult, I’ve had up to five rescue cats at one time, and they are spoiled and pampered felines. When I still lived in California, I spent nearly every weekend volunteering for a Humane Society. 

A few months ago, a friend introduced me to a charity goat rescue called Goats of Anarchy. Through GOA’s Instagram posts, I fell in love with the goats rescued and cared for. When they got too sick and didn’t make it, I would feel sad (I was particularly attached to one goat, Lawson, and cried at work when I found out he died suddenly). I love the animals at GOA, even though I have never met them. 

I have been struggling for a long time now with the fact that I love animals and yet that I eat meat. Animal abuse makes me absolutely sick. I could never bring myself to harm a sweet creature just so I could eat it; and yet, I would eat animals killed by other people. I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t that bad, because I tried to get my meat from small local farms that treated their animals kindly for the duration of their lives. It was a flawed argument and I knew it, but something still held me back from formally cutting all meat from my diet. 

Over the last few months, I’ve been opting for vegetarian dishes more and more, trying different things to see what I like. Living in Seattle, this is incredibly easy to do: all of my favorite restaurants offer delicious veggie options that I am entirely happy to eat. I still ate meat, though, even though I increasingly felt like I was doing something I didn’t think was right. 

A lot of the time, people need that “Aha” moment to finally decide to make a major life change. For me, that moment was yesterday, when Leanne from GOA went to a local livestock auction in New Jersey to try and save some of the animals being sent to slaughter. The pictures she shared of that awful place sickened me: sick animals packed closely together, stepping over dead bodies and crying. They looked so afraid and defeated. It was hell, utter hell, and that any creature should suffer such torture before ultimately being killed for food just broke me. These were animals that came from small farms, they were living breathing feeling creatures. I cannot believe any human being could actually treat animals this way and still sleep at night. 

I can’t go along with this any longer. 

Yesterday I finally made the decision that I will never eat meat again. I will not support an industry capable of such cruelty. I will never again be the reason that an innocent animal was killed. 

I am not asking that anyone change with me. I am making a decision for myself based on what I believe is right. I just wish I hadn’t taken so long to decide to align my behavior with my beliefs. 

Reflecting on My First 2 Months at WGU

It’s been almost two months since I went back to school, and today I submitted my final paper for a class. If the paper scores highly enough, I’ll have completed my third class since going back to school.

When I first enrolled, I set myself a goal of earning my Bachelor’s degree by December 2018. It seemed like a manageable goal when I was first starting out, but after completing three classes in two months I really want to finish by next June. It’s a very aggressive timeline for completion, but my student mentor agrees that it’s obtainable if I keep working hard.

In a lot of ways, the course work is a lot easier than I was anticipating. I love that all my classes are directly geared toward my course of study, and each one builds on the concepts learned in the previous one. So far, I’ve taken Intro to HR, Employment Law, and Workforce Planning. I can easily apply the concepts I’m learning in school to things that are done where I work. There’s a LOT of reading, but I can do it while sipping my coffee in the morning before work or lounging in the living room on a Sunday. And while the final exams require at least a score of 80% to pass, I haven’t really struggled with any of them. The first time I took one, it did throw me a bit – the exam consists of situational questions rather than memorizing definitions of terms or anything like that, which was not a format I was expecting – but now that I know what to expect, I get through them pretty easily.

I was VERY nervous about submitting my first paper, because I had read about other students’ experiences and it sounded as if it was going to be a somewhat nightmarish process where I had to rewrite my paper dozens of times before earning a passing grade. My first two classes only required a final exam, so I was rather intimidated when my Workforce Planning test had a final exam and two assigned papers to complete. To my surprise and relief, I got the paper back with a passing grade on the first try!

I’m going to give myself a little break from school after this class, but I’ll start back up again with my next one the weekend after Labor Day. I’m especially excited to take the next one, as it’s a Project Management class and I’ll be able to directly use the new information I’ll be learning at work. I recently realized that I had a gap in my resume when it comes to Project Management, so taking an entire class on the subject came at the perfect time!

Overall, I really like the course structure at WGU and school is fitting into my life a lot more seamlessly than I was expecting. It’s really true that with this program, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. I’m really happy that I made the choice to go back and even happier that I decided to study at WGU.

 

A Little Hole in the Wall Place

Ahhh, Saturday morning. I love weekends, especially when they start off with me sleeping in (or, me getting up at 5am, feeding the cats, and immediately going back to bed – those spoiled animals do NOT wait for their meals).

This past Saturday, I woke up around nine feeling incredibly refreshed. It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to sleep in like that and it was amazing. I got up and set about making a pitcher of iced tea for the weekend, thinking that it would be nice to have tea for the warm days. It’s been a minute since I’ve pulled out my iced tea maker, and I had to fish around in the pantry to find the tea bags. When I opened the cupboard, I found that there was water on the shelf. Not a lot, just enough for me to say, “Huh, there’s water in here” and look down at the floor to see if there was water anywhere else.

There was no water, but there were ants on the floor.

ANTS.

I have not had ants in my kitchen since moving to the Northwest and had (falsely, I now know) believed that ants don’t attempt to take up residence in kitchens around here. In California, they’d make their way in every summer, usually dining on cat food before drowning in the water bowl. I would wake up to a little trail of them going across my living room more often than I care to think about, and I got very good at being careful not to leave anything out that would attract the little bastards. Here in Edmonds, I never worried about it, and to be fair there wasn’t much around that ants would like besides the cats’ breakfast.

My zen totally shattered, I set about removing the ants from the kitchen by way of spraying everything down with Windex and then cleaning up the carnage. Sorry, creatures, we have enough freeloading animals in this house already – we have no room for more. I will not go out of my way to kill bugs and things when I’m outside, but they come in my kitchen and they’re toast.

Once I finished de-bugging my kitchen, I went about my day, forgetting about the water in the cabinet that started the whole debacle. Well, forgetting for a couple more hours anyway, until I heard something dripping in the kitchen. I went to investigate, and found water dripping out of the wall and down the pantry. Although it undeniably created an ambiance, water definitely should NOT have been cascading down my pantry door.

As much as I yearn to be a homeowner again, I cannot deny the luxury of calling property management as a renter when things in my home are broken. We are incredibly spoiled where we live, as our manager and maintenance are beyond kind and responsive whenever we need anything. As the developing situation in my kitchen was one of the more immediate problems we’ve had, maintenance was out within the hour to investigate.

The maintenance fellow was very nice and jumped right in to attempt to locate the source of the leak. He went upstairs to the apartment above ours and turned on the bathtub faucet, but couldn’t duplicate the problem (we did take a video of the dripping water when we noticed it, which came in very handy since by the time maintenance arrived, the leak had stopped for a time). Apologetically, he turned to me and said, “I’m going to have to cut open your wall.” Since I was not going to be paying for the creation or subsequent patching of said hole, I was not too concerned, and set to leaning on my counter and watching this unfold.

Adds a certain something to the decor, n’jes?

Once we had a good-sized hole in the wall, it was apparent that our pantry cabinet was totally waterlogged, and that there must have been a previous water leak in the pipe above the cabinet because there was putty that has now fallen away. The maintenance man was hopeful that the water we were experiencing in our kitchen had been trapped previously by the putty and that there was no current leak, but I was skeptical. After giving us instructions on what to do should water come gushing out of the newly-exposed pipes, our new friend left with the promise to follow up with our property manager.

Of course, on Sunday while we were sitting in the living room the pipe began leaking again, confirming our suspicions that the water from the day before was not from an old problem but from an existing one. We stuck a towel underneath to catch the water, knowing that nothing much more could be done until a plumber could be called on Monday. This morning I was assured that the problem would be fixed in a day or two, but I’m bracing myself to wait this one out for awhile until all repair efforts have been coordinated. In the meantime, I will be amusing myself by telling anyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with me that my kitchen is just a “little hole in the wall place” and laughing at my own joke.