January Recap and Goals for February

I’m behind in writing this post, as it’s already the 11th of February. I did manage to end January at my goal of five pounds down, but between Saturday being sick and work getting extremely busy, I haven’t done a great job of staying on track. Admittedly I have been avoiding the scale, so I don’t know if I’ve managed to maintain my weight loss. But, I’m choosing to recommit to my new healthy lifestyle today, and I’m not dwelling on a couple of not-so-great weeks.

Starting today, my goals for the remainder of February are to continue my calorie and step goals, and to resume working out five days per week. I’m also setting goals for myself to take at least a half-hour walk and hold a one-minute plank every day, and to strength-train three times per week. To kick the rest of the month off right, this morning Bill and I did the Hour of Power home workout and then I held my plank. We’re headed over to a Super Bowl party today where I’m sure there will be lots of delicious treats, and I plan to enjoy them without over-indulging.

I also did something that I’m both excited for and very intimidated by – I signed up for the St. Patrick’s Day Dash, a 5k that’s being held in Seattle on March 17th. Back in 2012, I signed up for it when I ran my first 5k, and though I was nervous back then I had a great time. This time I might be even more nervous! I’m twelve years older and a lot heavier than I was back then, so this is going to present a whole different level of physical challenge than it did the first time around. But I have over a month to prepare, so I think I can do it! My plan is to train using the Couch to 5k app. On nicer days I can run outside, and if it’s cold and rainy out I can use the treadmill at my gym.

Even though I did fall off of my fitness goals for a bit, I feel like I’m coming back strong now!

Week Four Goals Recap

After a fairly stressful Week Three, I was really hoping that things would be calmer last week and that I could shift my focus back to my goals. But apparently the universe had other plans.

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I am something of a cat lady. Currently, Bill and I have a pretty normal number of two – a fifteen-year-old Maine Coon, Saturday (yes, like the day – there were seven kittens in his litter and each was named for a day of the week), and Ernie, the sweet rescue cat we adopted after we got married in 2017. I brought Saturday home as a foster kitten on Valentine’s Day in 2009, when he was just a few months old, and I ended up deciding to keep him. We don’t know exactly how old Ernie is, but we’re guessing he’s between nine and thirteen.

On Friday night, it was very apparent that something was wrong with Saturday. He couldn’t keep anything down, he wasn’t his usual snuggly self, and he walked as though he was in pain. We took him to an emergency vet and were up pretty much all night with him. By the next afternoon, the decision was made to hospitalize him, which was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done in my life. But as awful as it felt to leave him behind at the vet, it was the best thing for him, and happily he was able to come home early this morning. He seems to be feeling so much better! His eyes are bright again, his appetite is good, and he’s back to asking for hugs and purring loudly when he receives them.

Between worrying for Saturday and not getting a lot of sleep this weekend, the last thing I was focused on was trying to get to the gym for a workout. I think that some people can somehow function relatively well when they’re sleep-deprived, but I am not that kind of person at all. Fatigue makes my whole body feel awful. I didn’t make great food choices either. Bill and I were exhausted and didn’t feel like cooking, and even if we did feel like it we didn’t have any food in the house and we weren’t up to grocery shopping, so we got through the weekend on fast food. Last night we finally decided we needed to get back on track, so we went grocery shopping and picked up things we could use to make quick and easy dinners since we didn’t really know what the week would be like.

It’s been a stressful couple of weeks, but I’m just so grateful that everything worked out in the end. Our laundry room will be repaired at some point, and our water leak didn’t cause damage to anyone else’s home. It was terrible seeing Saturday so sick and having to make the decision to hospitalize him, but I’m just thankful that his recovery has gone so well and that now he’s comfortable and back at home. And above all of that, I feel so lucky to have my wonderful marriage to Bill. We really are each other’s biggest supporters and best friends, and having him by my side makes even the worst times so much easier.

Thankfully, my good food choices earlier in the week balanced out a lackluster weekend, and I ended up only 23 calories over my goal for the week. I’m honestly shocked that I was able to do that! I also managed to hit step goal (just barely, my average steps for the week were 7,541, but I’ll take it!). Although I missed my Saturday workout and didn’t strength train last week, I’m proud of the fact that even on an “off” week I was still able to work out four days out of seven. All of this translated to a minor weight loss of 0.1lbs, but a loss is a loss, and I’m happy about it.

So far I’m down 4.8lbs in January. I’m hoping that I can get that last 0.2lbs off so that I can celebrate a five pound loss for the month!

Week Three Goals Recap

Last week was anything but boring! After the prior weekend and the freezing pipe and flooding issues in our building, Bill and I were on high alert and feeling extra vigilant in making sure we didn’t have any issues with leaks in our home. But Wednesday night before I headed to bed, I went into the laundry room to clean litterboxes and found water all over the floor. We were able to mop up the water and found that it was seeping in through the wall, but we weren’t sure where it was coming from or why. So we called our HOA’s building maintenance and then spent a sleepless night worrying about where the leak was coming from and whether things might get worse before a plumber arrived.

Thankfully the plumbers came out first thing in the morning and they were wonderful. They cut open the wall and determined that the service line that was installed with our new washer and dryer last November was defective, and that there had been a slow leak ever since. They replaced the line and we’re able to do laundry, and assured me that another company would follow up with me to repair the wall. Because of the amount of water leaks and damage from last week’s frozen temperatures, I’m not expecting it to happen anytime soon, but that’s fine. I’m just so grateful the issue was relatively minor, and that our neighbors downstairs weren’t impacted. I have no idea how much this repair is going to ultimately cost, but I called the company that we purchased the washer and dryer from and I’m hopeful that I can be reimbursed by the installers.

Even though the week was stressful, I only went over my calories for the week by 317, so I averaged 1,545 per day. I was pretty happy with that, and even happier to be down 3lbs from the prior week! I’m down a total of 4.7lbs and that feels great. Bill assures me he’s starting to be able to see the difference, and I think I’m noticing changes too.

As for the exercise part of my goals, I didn’t do all three of my strength training workouts since I was absolutely exhausted on Thursday after not sleeping, and on Friday I ended up slammed at work. But, I did get into my barre class on Saturday morning! I forgot how hard taking two hour-long workout classes back-to-back is. But thanks to Pilates, I noticed that my range of motion through the moves feels better.

Aside from health and fitness, I’ve also been doing a pretty good job keeping up with my weekly cleaning schedule. It did get thrown off a bit when I couldn’t wash sheets and towels on Thursday while the laundry room was being worked in, but I got back on track and this week I’m confident I can stick to my schedule. I’ve also been doing some great things with organizing! I bought a shoe rack for our bedroom closet and moved all of my shoes out of clear plastic bins, so now I can find them more easily and they’re neatly stored. Bill bought and installed pull-out spice racks for one of our cabinets which makes finding the spices we want a breeze. We also tackled our pantry, which is a narrow and deep cabinet that makes it really difficult to see what’s in there. We installed metal pull-out drawers onto the shelves, and now I can easily look at each shelf’s contents! Bill caught the organization bug and ordered new shelves and bins for storage under the sink in our hall bathroom, and it’s made a big difference.

The only goal I’m woefully behind on is my reading goal, as I’ve yet to finish a book this year. But this week I’m going to make a new rule for myself that I’m not allowed to play games on my phone at bedtime anymore, so if I want to lie in bed before I’m ready to go to sleep I’m only allowed to read. Hopefully that will help!

Week Two Goals Recap

Like most of the country, we’re experiencing a major cold snap here in Washington. Temperatures dropped dramatically on Thursday with the arrival of a light snow (which thankfully stopped before it could really accumulate), and we’ve seen overnight temps in the teens. I was really worried that the roads would be coated with ice and that I’d be stuck at home and unable to drive to the gym, but I’m happy that it never happened and I was able to follow my usual workout routine.

On Saturday, one of the fire sprinkler pipes in our building froze and then burst. Since the sprinklers are part of the fire system, it set off the fire alarm to the building. Bill and I were home, getting ready to head over to a friend’s house to play cards, and of course when it started my hair was still wet and I wasn’t dressed yet. Bill went out into the hall to investigate whether he could see any signs of fire, while I threw clothes on and pulled cat carriers out of the front closet to grab the boys. Even though Bill came back in and reported that he didn’t see or smell anything, the alarm continued to blare, and it was obvious something was very wrong. We gathered up the cats and headed outside, standing in the parking lot and watching while we waited for the fire department. I did retrieve my car from the parking garage and left it running outside, securing the cats in the backseat, so that they wouldn’t get too cold.

It took about half an hour for the fire department to get everything secured enough that we felt okay returning to our home. By talking to neighbors, we learned about the broken pipe and that at least one condo unit had been flooded. We felt awful for our neighbors, so we unloaded our cats in our place and then headed down the hall to see if we could help at all. There was a LOT of water in the unit below the broken pipe. Using a Shop Vac, Bill and I took turns sucking up water from the floors and helping our neighbors move furniture and valuables to their living room, which somehow was free from water. We helped as much as we could, and then returned home exhausted but very thankful that our own home had been spared and that we could at least make a bad situation a tiny bit better for others.

After the drama of the evacuation and flood, all we wanted was comfort food, so we went and got pizza and drinks so that we could relax a bit. I’d love to say that this was my only splurge in my second week in January, because that would have been totally fine, but I had already gone off the rails on Wednesday when I worked from the office. I ate out for all three meals, had drinks with dinner even though I’d pledged not to do that during the week, and skipped my Wednesday night workout. But I’m pleased that I did rally and on Thursday I did both a lunchtime walk and a strength training workout.

My other hiccup for the week was that when I tried to sign up for the Saturday morning barre class, it was already full. I forgot how fast classes fill up in January at the gym. I can book spots in classes beginning fifty hours ahead of the class start time, so I now have a new alarm and reminder for Thursday mornings to wake up early enough to get into barre. But even though I didn’t get booked into that class, I did complete three strength training workouts at home last week using the Peloton app.

This morning, I weighed myself and the number was exactly the same as it was last Monday, which was no surprise since I exceeded my weekly calories by so much. But, I’m happy that I didn’t gain anything back, and I’m happy with incorporating strength training workouts into my weekly routine. And I exceeded my step goal by about a thousand steps, showing that I did get movement in.

For week three, my goals are to attend all four of my dance classes and my Pilates class, and to complete at least three strength-training workouts. I also have some tweaks I’m going to make to my diet to try and trim some calories while maximizing nutrients. For breakfast, I’ve been having two eggs scrambled with veggies and a whole wheat English muffin with butter. This week I’m going to ditch the English muffin, but add an apple as a mid-morning snack. It’s going to be another really cold week, so Bill is planning to make a big pot of chili that we can have for dinners. I feel like I have a solid plan, so hopefully this will be a good week for weight loss.

Week One Goals Recap

We’re officially beginning the second week of January, and it’s promising to be cold, wet, and possibly snowy. I’m a person who always initially gets excited at the prospect of snow, because pretty, but who then ultimately loathes it because it makes it impossible to drive anywhere and it interrupts my normal routine. Fingers crossed that if it does indeed snow, that it won’t be enough to keep me from the gym.

I’m happy to be able to report that I stuck to all of my goals for the first week of January, and was rewarded with a 1.7lb weight loss. That might not sound like a lot, but I believe that slow and sustainable is the way to go. I could easily cut my calories more, increase my exercise goals, and lose the weight faster – that is, if I didn’t get frustrated by the deprivation and give up or injure myself first. Accepting that this is going to take time and being patient will be my key to success.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and then meal-prepped for the coming week. Since the weather is forecasted to be so cold, I wanted to plan something nice and warm for dinners. Bill and I decided that we’d make a big batch of spaghetti that we could reheat each night and have that along with a side salad. Years ago, Bill did a ton of research to find a jar marinara sauce that wasn’t ridiculously high in sodium and artificial junk, and he landed on Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce. Recently, the grocery stores in our area have stopped carrying it, so I’ve started making my own marinara sauce and I’m pretty happy with it. I made a huge pot of it yesterday afternoon, letting it simmer while I chopped vegetables and put together our salad as well as the veggies that I scramble with my eggs in the morning for breakfasts. Having all the vegetables and sauce pre-ready makes preparing meals a lot faster. Bill will make the spaghetti tonight while I’m at the gym, and then it’ll be nice not to have to cook for the rest of the week. Although we both enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen, it does start to feel like a chore after working all day.

This week, I want to focus on my monthly goals but also add in a challenge to myself to do three strength-training workouts this week. They don’t have to be long, but I know I do need to incorporate more strength training into my exercise routine. Last week, I went to dance fitness classes four days and Pilates once, and I love all of those classes so I don’t want to change it up this week. Instead, I’m going to try and do some weight lifting before my evening dance classes on Monday and Wednesday, and sign up for Barre on Saturday morning before my dance class.

I’m feeling really good going into the second week and I’m excited to see more progress.

My Goals for January

Happy New Year and welcome 2024! Bill and I had a quiet night in for NYE. Usually we get together with friends to celebrate, but this year most of them had Covid so we stayed home this year. I made steaks for dinner, and we spent the evening playing cards and Dominos. All in all it was a really nice evening.

Today I got up and went to a dance fitness class at my gym, which felt like the perfect way to kick off a new year focusing on health and fitness. This afternoon Bill and I watched the Seattle Kraken win their first Winter Classic, and then we took down the Christmas decorations. Now it feels like the holidays are truly over.

I also spent some time journaling, doing my daily gratitude as well as making a schedule for housework for January. My first goal for the month is to stick to that cleaning schedule. I’m hoping it’ll reduce my anxiety as well as making our home comfortable all month long.

I did weigh myself this morning, and while I’m not comfortable sharing the exact number I’ll just say that I’m starting 2024 the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m not dwelling on that, choosing instead to focus my energy on creating new habits that will help to change it. I’ve made four weight loss and fitness-oriented goals for January to get myself started.

Average 7,500 steps per day. Walking is a really underrated exercise and I know that having a step goal will encourage me to get out for walks.

Exercise at least five days per week. I have a gym membership and can supplement with at-home workouts. Being active is really important to me going into the new year.

Average 1,500 calories per day. I’ve picked calorie counting as a way to start being more aware of how much I’m eating and to work on portion control. It’s the only weight loss method that’s ever consistently worked for me in the past. I like it because nothing is off limits; I just have to budget for the foods I want. Well, nothing is off limits in January except for one thing….

2024 Resolutions

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I am blissfully happy to be bidding farewell to 2023. It’s been a year with lots of happy times, but I also struggled a lot with my mental health and in a lot of ways I feel burned out and spread too thin after what felt like a manic year playing catchup after the pandemic. I’m ready to reset and I dearly love a fresh start, so I’m going into 2024 determined to make this new year my comeback year.

Tonight’s celebration will be a little different, as the friends we normally get together with for NYE are sick with Covid. But I’m excited to spend the evening with Bill and our kitties. We’ll play some games, sip champagne at midnight, and kick off a new year that I’m determined to fill with happiness.

I guess making New Year’s Resolutions is considered cheesy now but I don’t really care. I like making a list of goals for myself, and I know I likely won’t achieve all of them but if I do accomplish some of them I’ll be happier and healthier by this time next year. And so with that little disclaimer, here are my 2024 Resolutions.

Create monthly weight loss and fitness goals and stick to them. I’m going to write a blog post on the first day of each month, mapping out my health and fitness goals, and on the last day of each month I’ll post about how well I did. This extra weight I’ve gained has got to GO and I’m making that my main focus in 2024.

Write in my gratitude journal daily. I fell out of my journaling habit this year and I want to bring it back. Spending time reflecting on all I have has always been a good way to remind myself how wonderful my life is.

Read 25 books. I missed my Goodreads goal in 2023 and I want to get back to reading more in the new year. 25 may not seem like a lot but my main focus is to spend more time reading and less time scrolling social media.

Create a weekly cleaning and organizing schedule and stick to it. I feel happier when I’m in a clean and organized space, but I typically don’t want to spend over an hour tackling all of the housework at once. But, I can pick one or two rooms per day to clean, so that it’ll become part of my routine and our home will stay cleaner. I also want to address our messy closets, cabinets, and drawers, and get things organized. I’m thinking I’ll also mix in one deep cleaning project every other week or so, such as cleaning out the refrigerator, pulling out the stove and cleaning behind it, deep cleaning the dishwasher, and various projects like that.

Set monthly goals for becoming more financially savvy. At nearly 40, I feel like I’m behind on financial literacy and money still stresses me out. I want to get better at budgeting, and learn more about investing.

Tomorrow I’ll write my post with my goals for myself for January. For today, I’m going to have some coffee and get ready to ring in the New Year with my amazing husband and my sweet kitties by my side.

Blogging Again!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything here. Do people even read blogs anymore? Is it all about TikTok videos now? I’ve made some TikTok videos and I admit I find that pretty enjoyable. Mostly they’re either videos of my cats or videos of me reflecting on my love of cats. I don’t make them super regularly or anything, just as the mood strikes. One of them has over 1,000 views so I’m pretty sure Internet fame is imminent.

When I started this blog back in 2010, it was to write about my experience of moving from California to Washington. It was a huge change and the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Thankfully, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made and I love my life here. And now, I’m less than a year away from a different kind of adventure – turning forty.

In a lot of ways, my thirties have felt like they flew by. I definitely enjoyed them way more than my twenties! And they were filled with wonderful things. Bill and I got married and bought our home, we adopted our Ernie kitty, and I graduated from college and advanced a lot in my career. We’ve enjoyed fun vacations, including my first trip to Europe! And of course there have also been sad times, like losing my first cats Angel and Oliver, family members and friends passing away, and of course the Covid pandemic. I was thirty-five when Covid hit and in some ways I feel like the pandemic stole my mid-thirties from me, but I’ve come to realize that even though that time didn’t play out like I’d hoped it would, that’s just how life works sometimes and I can’t stay stuck in that headspace.

Now, with eight months remaining in this decade of my life, I want to end it on a high note by doing lots of fun things and by prioritizing myself and both my physical and mental health. Instead of being bummed about turning forty, I want to get excited about it because being able to grow older is a privilege, and I need to set myself up to be healthy and happy going into that new decade.

And so, I’m back to blogging, so that I’ll have a record of these last eight months and then of the journey of beginning my forties.

Reinventing V

Over the years I’ve developed something of a love/hate relationship with social media, but one feature on my Facebook and Instagram accounts that I’ve always loved is seeing the posts I made in prior years in the Memories feature (on Instagram it’s under Archive, but same deal). I started my Facebook account in 2007 and so some of the earlier posts make me cringe a little bit at times, but I also like seeing how much I’ve grown as a person and looking back on fun times with people I love.

Just such a memory came up last week. It was a photo of me and two of my Zumba friends. It was taken on a cold, clear January Saturday in 2013, when we decided to meet up and walk laps on the track at a local school to get some exercise. I remember that day vividly and it’s a really happy memory for me – not just of a fun time with friends, but of how I felt that day. I was on top of my game and the strong, self-assured look on my face in the photo very accurately reflects how I felt about myself. I was in the best shape of my life, I was full of self-confidence, and overall just felt really good about myself.

It’s been a long time since I last felt that way. The stress of the last few years has taken a toll on me, and I’ve struggled a lot with my mental health. I made some strides in 2022 with therapy, and overall I am feeling better, but there’s a lot more work to do. I want to fall back in love with myself, to give myself the very best care and to find my best self again.

One of the things I’ve learned in therapy is that a lot of my anxiety disorder originates from my need to be perfect at all times. Allowing myself to be imperfect – to make mistakes, to be tired, to get it wrong, to not have the perfect response to every situation – would very likely help me to feel a lot more worthy of love and a lot more confident. I struggle so much with giving myself the same grace that I give others, and constantly reprimanding myself is exhausting. I do genuinely try to do the right thing and to be a good person, and at some point that has to be enough. I can’t ever be truly happy if I’m constantly in fear that I’ll somehow fail someone or at something.

I’ve been pretty open about my therapy journey, and one of the amazing things that’s happened as a result is that others have become more comfortable sharing their own stories with me. It made me realize that some of the people I admire most in the world have also experienced mental health issues, and that having an anxiety disorder and experiencing depression don’t mean that I can’t be (or that I’m not already) an aspirational person myself.

And so, I am committing to reinventing myself in 2023. This will be my year to focus on falling in love with myself and my life again, to embrace my imperfections and give myself grace, to get back to the healthiest version of myself both physically and mentally.

Health Scare

On Sunday, my phone rang at around 5:15am. It woke me up; I was in Portland for the weekend with Bill and my good friend Jamie and didn’t need to be up until around 7:30 to start packing to head home. As I rushed to answer, my not-yet-awake brain was slowly processing that what I was hearing was my ringtone and not my alarm and that it was too early in the morning for anyone to be calling me with anything but bad news. The Caller ID display showed it was a call from my dad and briefly I hoped that he was simply up early (as he often is) and had somehow dialed my number by accident as he walked the dog. But as soon as I answered, he was there on the line, telling me first that everyone was okay but then going on to share that my mom had suffered a heart attack.

When I think of the things that I might have worried about happening to my mom, a heart attack wasn’t really on it. She’s in her seventies and up until now has never experienced any sort of issues with her heart. My grandfather and uncle both had heart problems, so it isn’t completely shocking – but they both experienced those problems when they were much younger so I always figured Mom had dodged any potential genetic bullets.

Having a parent in the hospital when you’re far away from them is incredibly stressful, or at least it is for me. As I am not a heart surgeon and quite frankly get a little squicked out by just being in a hospital, I don’t entertain any sort of fantasies that my being there would help her recovery in any way, but it’s still hard knowing that she’s going through something pretty traumatic for her and that there’s nothing I can do to comfort her or make things better. As someone who likes to plan and problem-solve, feeling helpless is extremely difficult for me.

Heart attacks sound very scary, but in reality medical advances have made them a lot less so and heart attack survivors can recover very quickly. As long as there are no unexpected setbacks, Mom should be able to go home from the hospital by the end of the week, and with some time to rest she’ll be as good as new. She’ll have to make some diet and lifestyle changes, but it seems like there’s also the possibility that she’ll ultimately feel better than she has in a long time.

Heart attacks present differently in women than they do in men and I feel like that’s as widely known as it should be. It’s important to know the common symptoms:

1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness, or heartburn.

5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

I trust that my mom is getting the best care possible and I’m excited for her to be able to go home from the hospital to get back to living her life.