Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ready for another revolution

Last year, I participated in a workout program at my office. I really enjoyed it, and I saw some great progress. So it should come as no surprise that I signed up again this year. I'm really hoping to step it up and get even more fit.

One trainer is returning from last year, and we have a new trainer. I've taken a few classes with her, and I really like her. She's tough, but her workouts are good.

They also added an two additional time slots for classes this year.

 Last year the afternoon class was really full, so I'm hoping this will ease some of the congestion. I'm doing the 4:15 class because I get off work at 4 p.m. That's just enough time to change and get to the fitness room. I won't have time to hesitate. And I'll still be home by 5 p.m. WIN!

We had orientation the other day, and here's what this year's program looks like:

I'm already a bit sad they took away the yoga on Fridays. But now that I'm doing the Yoga with Adriene Revolution for the month of January, I think I can work it in on my own.

The next eight weeks are going to be a challenge, but I'm ready for it.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Yoga with Adriene
Monday - Cardio kickboxing + Yoga with Adriene
Tuesday - Yoga with Adriene Skipped. I didn't like it, but I had to skip.
Wednesday - 30 minutes on the treadmill + Yoga with Adriene
Thursday - Tabata class + Yoga with Adriene
Friday - Yoga with Adriene
Saturday - Yoga with Adriene Skipped in favor of coffee with a friend

Not a perfect week, but not terrible either. The hard stuff starts this coming week.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Twitterpated, Part 2

((If you didn't read part one, click here to go back one week.))

I've never been good at casual -- friendships or dating. If I'm in, I'm all in. I'm fairly certain this is why I was single for so long. I didn't want to date just to date. I was looking for a relationship. The right relationship. And I always believed that when I found it, I would just know it.

That was sort of the case with Sean, however it took me a little longer to buy in than it did for him. Within a few weeks of being together, he had broken out the L word. That terrified me. Not because I was afraid of how much he cared, but because I realized I now had the power to hurt him. Not that I intended to, but it was possible. And I knew I did not want to do that. I prefer to never hurt people, and I especially didn't want to hurt him. He's one of the kindest, most caring, and most sensitive people I've ever met. Hurting him would have wrecked me. Even in the early stages.

Our first selfie together.
I was surprised that I was so hesitant to let him in. I had been looking for love and a relationship for so long, I would have thought I'd be eager for all of this. Instead, I seemed to have some walls up. I wanted to be with him, but I wasn't entirely sure I was ready to let him in. Thankfully, Sean was very patient with me. For whatever reason, he waited for me to be open to him. And eventually, I did.

Not long ago, we were talking about that early time and he asked what changed for me, what made me decide I was in love with him. I responded that there wasn't one single instant or incident that sparked it. It was just something that built until I just felt what I felt.

There are so many things about Sean that I love, but probably the overall winner is the way he treats me.

He has never played games or made me guess what he felt for me. He let me know early on how much he liked me and how much he enjoyed being with me. I've never had a question of, "is Sean going to call?" or "does he really like me or is this just a time filler?"

He has always encouraged me in whatever I was pursuing at the moment. From races to writing to my next insurance exam, no one is a bigger cheerleader for me than he is.

He looks at me as though I am the most beautiful and amazing person he has ever met. I know I am riddled with flaws (as we all are), but the way he looks at me makes me feel perfect and special.

He's never asked me to change or shamed me in any way for who I am. He loves my passion for baseball. He doesn't care how long my hair is or what clothes I wear. He likes my cats and is trying to win them over (he's getting there).

We talk every day, and he loves phone calls. On the days we're not together, he calls me, just to talk about our day. In an age when texting seems to be far more common than a phone call, this feels special.

We have faced our share of challenges throughout this relationship, and I know there are more (and probably tougher ones) in the future, but there's no one I'd rather face them with than him.

Over the past few months, we've had many discussions about our future -- moving in together, getting married, and everything that comes after. We knew that was where we were headed. And we're both planners, so we've talked in great detail about a lot of it. This shocked and concerned some people around us, but we weren't concerned. We knew what we felt. And we knew what we wanted. And we knew it was right.

Stick with me for the third and final installment of this story coming next week.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Stuff & Things 1/12

:: I did some serious adulting the other night. I've been at my current job for a little over 18 months, and I FINALLY rolled over my retirement plans from my last two employers to my current one. It was less painful than I thought it might be. But I had to talk to someone on the phone for both transactions. Blech.

:: I've been cooking at home a lot more lately, and it's been really fun. I'm actually using recipes I found on Pinterest!!

:: Related to the item above, on Monday night, I learned that white sweet potatoes are a real thing. I cut open the potato expecting orange and was a bit alarmed and concerned when it was white. But a quick google search (that's 50 percent of adulting, I swear) reassured me that it could be white and still a sweet potato. It tasted just like orange sweet potatoes too. So it was fine, and I learned something new. (We had the Hannah in the picture below.)

:: I'm getting super antsy to have my engagement ring back. We took it to the store to be re-sized roughly 12 hours after he gave it to me. They said it would take two weeks. I'm hopeful they'll finish it this week though. I feel like a bit of a fraud when people congratulate me for being engaged. Ha ha ha. In the meantime, I just have this photo of it.

What's up with you this week?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Finding time for writing

Last week, I mentioned that I want to get back to writing more. I'm still trying to figure out how I can keep up with my writing. I can't say I don't have time, because that's not true. I can find time for everything that's important to me. I just have to figure out how to manage my time better.

My writing is a priority. I want to finish this next book. This series. I want to keep exercising that side of my brain and personality. I'm not prepared to give it up, even as I continue to add things to my life.

Ideally, I'd have time to write a little every day. But life isn't ideal. At least mine isn't. Currently, in most days, I have to fit in work, working out, eating, sleeping, blogging, keeping up with friends, and time with Sean. I'd also like to squeeze in some time for reading books, relaxing, and ... oh, yes, writing. That's the point of this post. Looking at that list, there's no way I can write every day. But I think I should be able to find a few hours each week for putting words on paper ... or the screen.

I started looking at how I work everything else in. My workouts, for example, are put in my phone calendar and my work calendar. I treat them as appointments that may be rescheduled but rarely skipped altogether. Perhaps I need to start doing that with my writing. Maybe I need to literally block out time each week for writing -- an evening, a Saturday morning, an early weekday morning (before work) -- and keep that appointment.

I think I'll start small -- and find three hours this week to write. That means closing down everything else -- no facebook, no Twitter, no pinterest. Just Microsoft Word. For one hour or two at a time.

Here's what I've put in my calendar for the rest of this week:
Thursday: 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m - 10 a.m.

It's a small start, but it's a start.

How do you make time for all of your things?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Show Us Your Books: December + a new year

Life According to Steph

I did not get much reading done in December. It was a busy month, and I found I was often too sleepy at night to read before bed. That said, here's what I finished:

This book hooked me from the very first sentence. It was unexpected and forced me right into the story. I felt really sorry for Aimee (the main character) as she navigated all the twists. She was truly tortured, though I think she came out stronger for it in the end.

I really liked this author's writing style. It flowed well, and the characters felt real. It was easy to get to know them and want to get to know them. There were some parts of the story that seemed to move a bit slow, but it was worth it in the end. I also liked reading a story set at Christmas time during the month of December. It felt right.

Full disclosure: I started this book in February and read a little bit here and there whenever I had time. I felt like this was the kind of book to absorb bit by bit, and I really did stretch it out. Sometimes I am too hard on myself and too critical of my life. This book provided me with reminders about the awesome person I am and the awesome life I have. I'll keep it around to pull out when I hit some rough times.

Maybe I didn't read much, but at least I enjoyed everything I read, right?


The last two years, I've set specific parameters for my reading -- themes, certain types of books, a number I want to complete, etc. I found that those things didn't motivate me. They stressed me out. I struggled to get through books I wasn't really interested in (just to meet some criteria I had set). I rushed through books to meet my numbers goal. It was frustrating and disappointing.

Reading shouldn't be stressful or frustrating or disappointing.

So I'm following Jana's lead this year. I'm just going to commit to one thing regarding reading -- continue. As long as I'm consistently reading, I'll be happy.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Music Monday: New albums please!

New music from my favorites makes my ears and heart happy.

You already know I'm super excited about new songs from John Mayer and Ed Sheeran. Mayer's "Love on a Weekend" has been in constant rotation since it was released, and I haven't stopped listening to Ed's two new songs since last Friday. They're both incredible, and I can't wait to hear more. My boy, Tim Stop, will be releasing new music soon as well. I'm anxiously awaiting my early listen (from being a Kickstarter).

Here are a few more artists I want new music from this year:

Kacey Musgraves
The Christmas album was great, but Pageant Material was released in 2015, and now it's 2017. I need some more country sass in my life.

Matt Nathanson
This is a man who just improves with every album. Everything he's released is better than the last thing he released. Show Me Your Fangs is almost two years old. I'm ready for more.

Taylor Swift
I love me some T-Swift. I understand taking some time off after touring non-stop for 1989. She also had a relationship flame and fizzle since then. I'm ready to hear more songs about exes, friendships, and broken hearts.

I was obsessed with their debut album after I saw them open for Ed Sheeran in 2015. Now they seemed to have disappeared. Sad face.

Tony Lucca
He's kind of taken a break from touring, but I'm willing to bet he's still writing. And I want hear it.

I'd also love more music from Eric Hutchinson, Parachute, Ben Rector, Stephen Kellogg, and Miranda Lambert. But all of them released new (AND FANTASTIC) albums in 2016, so I'm letting them have a little bit of a breather.

Who would you love to hear new music from this year?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Two new challenges in the new year

A friend shared this image, and I immediately loved it. The quote really puts things in a different perspective, especially as I try to adopt some new habits.

On Jan. 1, I started the 31 Days of Yoga with Adriene.

On Jan. 2, I started the Advocare 24-Day Challenge.

New year, new me? Not really.

Even though it's completely cliche to start new fitness/health programs at the start of a new calendar year, I'm doing it. I don't care if I'm part of a wave of people that some people hate. I don't care if people roll their eyes when I tell them about my new ventures and challenges. I'm doing this for me. No one else.

I'm currently a week into the yoga program. I love Adriene. She seems very friendly, very real, and witty at times. Her instructions are also fairly easy to follow. I am still very new to yoga, but I haven't had too much trouble following her. I like that the workouts are roughly 30 minutes (give or take). That's a brief portion of my day. And I don't have an excuse for not finding time. So I think I can stick with it, although I admit, I don't like doing this every day. I wan tot incorporate more yoga into my routine, so I hope I'm not burned out on it after this challenge. Another thing -- I love how I feel after I'm done with yoga, but sometimes my attention span wanes during the workout. I keep thinking about what else I need to get done. How do I stop that?

I'm on day seven of the 24-Day Challenge. So I'm almost done with the cleanse phase. It's gone well so far, and I haven't had too much trouble with temptation to stray from my plan. I've done this challenge once before, but I think I only did the first 10 days. This time I'm doing the full 24. I figure it's just over three weeks. I can do anything for that length of time. And I'm really hoping it'll help me adopt some better eating habits. So far, so good. I feel like I have more energy, and I don't feel as bloated or gross as I did right after the holidays. Meals have been easy. Staying away from beer has been less easy, especially considering I work at a brewery. Good thing I only have a shift or two a week. I'll just have to stay strong.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Yoga with Adriene
Monday - Yoga with Adriene + 8-minute abs
Tuesday - Barre class + Yoga with Adriene
Wednesday - 30 minutes on the treadmill + Yoga with Adriene
Thursday - Tabata class + Yoga with Adriene
Friday - Yoga with Adriene
Saturday - Yoga with Adriene

Yoga every day has created an impressive streak (for me). I've also found I just want to be active every day. 

Click over to see how Holly did this week. That girl inspires me!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Twitterpated, Part 1

Love happens in the strangest places. I've never discounted finding it online, especially since I've met most of my closest friends that way. I just never expected to find it on Twitter.

Last spring, I was listening to my daily dose of a local sports talk radio program. The hosts were talking about favorite beers and they happened to mention one of the beers made by the brewery where I work. I tweeted my approval of their shout out to the radio show account. When I came out from having dinner with a friend, I noticed I had new follows on each of my Twitter accounts by the same person -- a guy associated with that sports talk radio program. Sean and I began exchanging tweets at increasing frequency over the next few weeks. One night, while I was out being busy, he sent me a link about the Adrian Beltre extension because he knew it would interest me. I thanked him and told him I owed him a beer for making sure I stayed informed on my favorite team. He took me up on the offer and came into the brewery where I work a few days later. We talked as much as I could while working and he found a new favorite local beer (or so he told me).

Fast forward a few more weeks. I checked in for "The Book of Mormon." His response: "So jealous." He then DMed me and talked about how much he wanted to see the show. And he started researching tickets. He decided he was going to go the following night. I told him I'd be glad to see it again if he wanted company. He did, so I did.  We bought our tickets separately, so I ended up sitting directly behind him for the show. We still had time to talk before and during the intermission, but I was glad he didn't want the evening to end when cast gave their last bows. He suggested we get a drink, so we went to a bar near his apartment and talked some more. Conversation flowed so easily, and we found out we had a ton in common ... but enough differences to keep it interesting.  I still wasn't sure if this was just friends hanging out or something more.  He cleared all of that up by the end of the evening. I'm keeping those details to myself. You don't need them anyway.

By the way,  we arranged our first date on the same day I wrote this post and subsequently had a long conversation with close friends about my dating hang-ups and failures. Crazy, huh? I had no idea how much my life would change about 36 hours after that post went live.

Our second date was a bit comical as well. We made plans to meet up and watch the White Sox and Rangers game (his team and my team --- good test right away, right?). As I was getting ready to go meet him, I was listening to the radio show he works on, and they started discussing our date. His co-workers were giving him advice, and one bit was, "Don't talk stats and prospects with her. No girl cares about those things." Sean's response, "You don't know this girl." Clearly, he already knew me well at that point.

So, we finally both get to the restaurant where we agreed to meet for the game. Only to realize the game is blacked out on television (stupid MLB territory rules!). But we didn't let that deter us. We ate, drank beer, and followed the game via MLB Gameday on my phone. It wasn't an ideal situation, but we made it work. (And it's a pretty fun story to tell now.)

That's sort of been the motto of our relationship -- "we'll make it work." When we started dating, we had five jobs between the two of us. Odd hours. And other responsibilities. But we wanted to see each other and continue to build our relationship. So we did. We made time for each other and our relationship. We made it work.

Stay tuned for part two.

P.S. If you're confused by the title of this blog post, please check out this clip from "Bambi."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Stuff & Things 1/5

:: First of all, happy new year! 2017 is off to a pretty great start for me. If we're connected on any form of social media, you might have seen that I got engaged on New Year's Eve. Since he proposed right after midnight, I suppose it was technically New Year's Day. Either way, I'm very excited about this new adventure. Also, if you will indulge me, I'll be sharing our story over the next few weeks, starting tomorrow.

::  Sean and I are both planners, so we have already decided a lot of things about our wedding. Now comes the task of fitting it into a budget. We're paying for it ourselves, and I'm not taking out a loan or going broke for this one day. Advice is welcome.

:: I have done some sort of workout every day so far this year. I hope I can keep up this momentum.

:: After a whole year of doing at least one race a month, I'm feeling a little antsy and a little bit like I'm slacking on running. I'm cutting back on races (to save money), but am hoping to find a local running group to join once a month or so. In the meantime, I'm feeling restless. I hate the treadmill. Any advice for keeping up with winter running?

:: I've started watching this season of "The Bachelor," but I don't know if I'll keep up consistently. Is anyone else watching? Any early front-runners?

:: And here's your friendly reminder that there's new Ed Sheeran music arriving tomorrow. I cannot wait.

What's up with you this week?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bringing more writing to the blog

A fresh year feels like the right time to re-evaluate things and make changes where needed.

This blog is very important to me, as an outlet and a way of connecting with others. I've been thinking a lot about what kind of space I want this to be as I keep moving forward. So far, I will continue with music shares on Mondays. Tuesdays will be a bit of a mixed bag -- sometimes reading, sometimes just random thoughts and stories. I'm going to stick with Kristin and Jo's Stuff & Things link-up on Thursdays. Fridays will also be random (although I'm starting a special three-part series this week.) As I mentioned on Friday, I'm moving my fitness posts to Sunday. And one Saturday a month, I'll do a round-up of some of my favorite posts from other bloggers.

Did you notice the missing day in there? Wednesday. The middle of the week. Hump day, if you will. I'll likely join in with Rachel's "What I'm Loving Wednesday" every now and again.

One of my best friends sent me this book for Christmas:

I haven't had as much time for writing in the last few months due to higher commitments at work and spending time with Sean. But I really want to get back to my passion for writing -- both in my novels and on this blog. I think this book will be a great tool for engaging, building, and encouraging my writing. I plan to keep up with the daily writing prompts in the book. I'm hoping to find a few entries each month to share in this space.

I'm trying not to lock myself in to too much structure, but I like having some guidelines to go by.

What would you like to see more of from me on this blog? I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How to work out without annoying people

I had another post on Festivus, so missed out on the airing of grievances a few weeks ago. Since the new year is a time when a lot of people make a return (or maybe a first trip) to the gym, I thought I'd share some of the things that drive me crazy when I'm trying to work out.

People who crowd me in Zumba/FitFusion.
I've always followed the rule that if you put your arms out and they have their arms out and they don't touch, you have enough space. I have had a few instances where I claimed my spot and then someone joins in literally two steps away from me.  And then they get mad when I almost step on them during a song.  Don't crowd me and I won't punch you during "Confident," OK?


Someone choosing the treadmill next to mine even though there are many options.
This just feels creepy. Especially if you turn on your speed fast. Are you just looking for a race? I'm not interested. I go at my own pace and I won't let you guilt me.


Dudes who grunt while lifting weights.
It's not attractive. It's not helping you with your workout. Just stop.


People who drop the weights loudly.
See above. Also, it's dangerous.


People who walk or bike two-wide on the trail and do not move.
I know you want to visit with your friend, but I'm also trying to work out. I shouldn't have to run on the grass or stop altogether just so you can catch up on your latest family drama. Please share the trail!


Runners who stop in the middle of the course, literally, to tie their shoe, look for their friend, etc.
If you're going to do this, please move off to the side. I shouldn't have to hurdle or dart around you. This has happened to me so many times during races. It's dangerous for so many reasons.


All that said, I never want to discourage people from improving themselves or getting healthy. Do you. Just be considerate of those around you.

Pin It button on image hover