Monday, January 30, 2012

Backward and Forward: Fitness and Health

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2011 was quite possibly the biggest year of my life as far as fitness and health are concerned. I've written about my journey here, here, here, here, and blogged about my training and running of my first half marathon here. I am absolutely a different woman than I was 12 months ago and I won't be looking back.

For the first time since I was a high school athlete, exercise is a BIG part of my life. I've somehow turned into one of those people who get cranky if they don't get their scheduled workouts in for the week. Exercise has joined work and family at the top of my priority list.

The list of ways I benefit from frequent and vigorous exercise is extensive, but my favorites are:
  • The way I feel: my body is stronger than it's ever been as an adult. Even on the days when I am SO sore from a hard workout, I remind myself how good this exercise is for my heart, my muscles, my bones, and every other part of my body.
  • The way I look: even though I still have about 10 pounds to lose before getting to my goal weight, my body is more toned than it's ever been as an adult.
  • Energy level: The first few months of early morning workouts weren't easy and I was so tired all day at work. But now that I'm used to it, I actually find that I have better energy to get me through my workday.
  • Community: I love that after a year of taking the same boot camp class 3 days a week with the same group of women, I feel a stronger sense of community. I love running into these ladies when I'm out and about in my town. Sweating it out at 6 a.m. can really bring people together.
  • SLEEP!!!!! Getting up at 5:15 a.m. four or more days a week to workout before I commute to work is not at all easy. I have it down to a science to where I barely have to open my eyes to get myself out the door. I shower and get ready for work at the gym, which isn't ideal. BUT...when I finally sit down at the end of the day after putting Sadie to bed, doing my daily chores, and getting everything ready for the next day, I am EXHAUSTED! I usually make it less than an hour before I'm headed upstairs to bed and it often takes me less than 5 minutes to fall asleep. As a lifelong insomniac, this is by far the very best reason for me to get up and exercise every day. I have never in my life slept so well, so consistently. It's heavenly. And being a well rested person most of the time makes me a better employee, wife, and mother. It all comes back to sleep, really.

So. For 2012. I'm going to continue pushing myself physically. I don't want to lose the momentum I've gained during 2011. I'm currently taking part in a challenge with my boot camp to complete half Iron Man distances during training over the next three weeks (actually the rest of my class is doing full Iron Man distances). In order to continue going to class three days a week, AND get 13.1 miles running, 1.2 miles swimming, and 56 miles of biking in, I'll be working out 6 days a week. I think that's bit excessive for the long term, but for a three week period, I think this will be just what I need to work off the holiday pounds I packed on, to increase my strength and endurance, and to help me FINALLY get to my goal weight.

Not sure what comes after that. I will definitely be doing the Bolder Boulder 10K race again, and will hopefully do some other races over the spring and summer. Not sure if I'll set my sights on another half marathon or maybe a triathalon. To be determined....

I can't finish up this post without talking about the scheduling of exercise in my busy life. I absolutely couldn't be making any of this work without my amazing co-parent. Brian and I have gotten to a place where exercise is important to both of us, so we're constantly trying to figure out how we can support each other in making time for our workouts. I'm thankful that we both see the benefits of exercise and can help each other reach our goals.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Backward and Forward: For Fun

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This is an easy one.....

2011 was a very fun year for me! My favorite fun things in 2011 included house concerts, festivals, dinner parties, girls' weekends, and all my many hobbies.

In 2012, I want to do the following things for fun:
  • contra dancing: I did a bit of contra dancing when I lived in Fairbanks, AK and LOVED it as much as I loved square dancing as a kid. Hoping to find a night out with my hubby (that may be a stretch) or a friend, to attend a contra dance or two.
  • hula hooping: I want to make and decorate my own pretty hoop (and one for Sadie too), and as soon as the weather gets nice, spend some time outside every day hooping, dancing, and working my abs!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Backward and Forward: Money Is A Good Servant, But A Bad Master....

This is the first in a series of blog posts I plan to do as we head into 2012. I'm going to devote each post over the next couple weeks to one area of my life. I'm planning to reflect on 2011, and look forward for 2012 in the following categories: personal, professional, spiritual, marriage, family, fitness/health, home, fun/hobbies, financial. I just thought this would be a fun way for me to set some personal goals for myself this year, and figured I might as well share it here, on my online journal.

First up: Finances....

We are absolutely right on track with where we want to be right now. Brian and I had a big year, financially. We successfully stuck to our cash-only budgeting system for all of 2011. Using a cash-only budget changed our lives in a big way. (quick explanation: we still use checks to pay bills, but we take out the same amount of cash every Thursday night, and that's all the money we have to spend on gas, groceries, drinks, entertainment, eating out, shopping at Target, etc...until the following week. When the money's gone, we don't spend any more. Ever. )I can count on one hand the amount of times I exceeded my $100/week grocery budget...and this was wildly exciting to me every time I left the grocery store! With the exception of a few unusual weeks (travel, weddings, holidays, etc.), we did not stray from our spending budget very often. And when we did, we discussed it first, and planned ahead for it.

This major change in our spending habits allowed us to comfortably chip away more and more at our debt, and I'm happy to report that we are debt free in 2012 (with the exception of our mortgage)! In 2011, as a couple, we learned to spend within our means, stick to our budget, plan ahead for special occasions, and how to live with less. It may have taken us 5 years of marriage to get a handle on our finances, but it sure feels good to be in control now. I think we both feel incredibly empowered by the financial changes and successes we had in 2011.

In 2012, we plan to move forward with our long-term financial planning (retirement, college saving, and buying land someday)! We are both doing well at work and being rewarded for it financially, but that hasn't changed our spending habits much at all. Any extra income from here on out will be saved or invested.

Looking forward to a new chapter in our financial lives now that we are out from under the debt we have known for a long time.

Monday, January 2, 2012


We had such a busy holiday season, and although I'm feeling glad that it's over, we had such fun.

Since we were home throughout this season, we splurged on a real tree this year. Sadie wasn't so excited about the visit to the boy scout's tree lot in the middle of a blizzard, but she loved the reward of hot chocolate at our local diner afterward. We had such a great day listening to Christmas music and decorating. We had a holiday appetizer extravaganza with my family, including my Aunt Shirley, at my parents' house on December 11.

On December 16 and 17, we celebrated Christmas with my family at my parents' house, and included all my favorite Ingersoll family traditions: crepe Suzettes for breakfast, bagels and lox for lunch, a big beautiful Christmas dinner, and a long, drawn-out gift exchange. Hot tub time for me and Sadie, lots of crazy dogs, and a walk around the circle. Just lovely.

The following week, we started lighting the candles each night for Chanukah, which Sadie loved being a part of. And on the winter solstice, we had our own celebration for the three of us. Our tradition has started to include chinese takeout, a movie, and simple gift exchange. It was simple and meaningful, and just what we wanted. Handmade, local soaps and goodies for me....a new cast-iron skillet, and a big stack of books! A record player and pile of handpicked records for my sweetie. Princess shoes and a train set for Sadie (love the juxtaposition in this photo....)On Christmas Eve Eve, last minute plans to have our neighbors and dear friends over for dinner fell through, but dinner was cooked and the table was set, so my parents joined us for an impromptu dinner party. Any excuse to use my pretty china makes me happy.....Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent with the Petersons. It was SO nice to have an entire weekend with them. I love the beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve service we attend, and of course I enjoyed all the delicious food cooked by my mother-in-law. What a treat to have our friends and their precious new baby, Grayson, join us for Christmas dinner.
Yes, I am glad that it's all over...I'm ready to get back to my healthy lifestyle after all the extravagance of the season. I'm ready to focus on work again now that I'll be working full weeks. And I'm ready to get back into the rhythm of daily life in our family. But it was a perfectly wonderful holiday season and I feel so grateful for all the family and friends our lives are filled with, and so thankful that we get to celebrate with them this time of year...we are truly lucky.