Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Show Us Your Books: February 2018

Life According to Steph

I am highly disappointed in my February reading. I only picked up one book. And I only finished one book. It took me a long time to get through it, but not because it was a particularly long or difficult book. For whatever reason, my interest just wasn't there. Sigh. So should we talk about my solo completion?

The synopsis of this book is what pulled me in. A happily married mother of three receives a photograph in the mail one day that turns her life upside down. They didn't give much more information than that and, of course, I HAD to read it and find out what kind of photo could destroy a woman's life as she knows it. And it took a long time for me to get that answer. Well, the author describes the photo early on, but that alone doesn't explain why it was so unsettling. The story wavers between past and present, and all of it is written as a letter from the woman to her son. Maybe that's why I had so much trouble with it -- the writing style was really uncomfortable for me, for some reason. I've read other books in this style, but usually it's mixed in with some third person writing, which helps a little. I also had a hard time finding any affection or even empathy for the main character. She just wasn't very likeable and came off as kind of rude, pouty, and entitled at times. I'm glad I stuck with the book and finished it because it does make some points about how small decisions can have bigger effects. But I haven't yet decided if I'll pick up another book by this author.

As I said, I'm disappointed in myself and am going to try and at least double my efforts in March.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Sweats: Overcoming Xtreme disappointment

Xtreme Revolution is over. 

On Monday, we had our last workout. An email last week promised an easy one, but it certainly wasn't that light. It wasn't the toughest of the eight weeks, but it was no picnic.

On Tuesday, we did assessments, in which we did as many of each of the following things in a minute -- push-ups, sit-ups, x jumps, burpees, jump rope. Then we compared our numbers to the pre-Xtreme numbers. I lost my sheet from the start of Xtreme, so I have no idea if I actually improved. Admittedly, I wasn't feeling great the morning of assessments.  I had a massive headache which made jumping and sitting up quickly painful.

On Wednesday, we did our post-Xtreme measurements. I went in feeling like I probably made some progress but probably wouldn't have the huge results I had last year (I lost seven inches). I was wrong. And not in a good way. I went down one pound, lost half an inch in my hips, and a quarter inch in my thigh. But every other number went up, including my body fat percentage, my bicep, my waist ... EVERYTHING. I was so frustrated. I had worked hard for eight weeks, pushing myself through tough workouts and sometimes even doubling up. I wasn't perfect with my eating habits, but I didn't indulge too often. I pouted over the numbers for the rest of the day, skipping my planned afternoon workout and instead throwing myself a pity party.

On Thursday, I decided it was time to rebound. 

The workout I created for myself on Thursday.

Post-workout stats.

I decided I wasn't going to let bad numbers define me or stop me. I don't work out for the numbers on the scale or the measuring tape. I work out to challenge myself and get stronger, which I undoubtedly have. That workout above? I never would have attempted that on my own a year ago. Probably not even six months ago. The numbers may not show it, but I am definitely more fit than I was eight weeks ago, and I plan to continue that journey. 

Post-workout sweaty selfie.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Xtreme Cardio (30 mins)
Tuesday - Xtreme Assessments + Workout (30 mins)
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Cardio & Strength Circuit (40 mins)
Friday -Say HI (high impact) to the weekend (30 mins) + Flex Friday (30 mins)
Saturday - Off


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Best of the Bunch: January & February 2018

I had kind of a blogging and blog-reading drought in the first two months of the year. So there were probably a lot of great posts, but because of my lack of interest in blogging, I probably missed most of them. Regardless, here are three that I really enjoyed.

A new year brings a fresh sense of self and goals for a lot of people. I really liked Taylor's list of 18 things to focus on in 2018. I need to keep a few of those in mind for myself for a more peaceful year. She also did a great job of voicing her thoughts on the latest school shooting.

I have a lot of self-doubt. Way more than I probably should. I've accomplished a lot, but too often I feel like I'm not doing things the way other people think I should. When I feel like that, I need to go back and read Joey's post entitled, "Stop waiting for the world to tell you you're not enough."

Thursday, March 8, 2018

This & That 3/8

:: Last weekend, Sean and I tackled our first real home improvement project since we moved into this house a year ago. We painted our basement floor. See the before and after photos below. It's just one step in semi-finishing our basement. Hopefully soon we'll have drywall up and then we'll move the furniture back for our new favorite place to watch sports and movies.
Basement floor before painting

Basement floor after painting

:: I am struggling with guilt as I plan my wedding. I'm so worried about my decisions inconveniencing others or making them unhappy. I maintain my stance that it's our day and we're footing the bill so I should do what I think is best for us, however, I am not immune to the negative feedback I've received. It still hurts me and causes way more anxiety and stress than I can describe. I've cried. I've lost sleep. I've had nightmares. It is not fun. When does the fun part come back?

:: Mother Nature keeps teasing us with a taste of spring and then snatching it right back and dumping some cold weather and snow on us. I'm over it. Her display of power is getting annoying. Just let us move on to spring!!!

:: I did not do much reading in February. One book, actually. I'm a little disappointed in myself. I think I'm in a bit of a reading slump. Hoping to dig out soon.

What's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Wedding Wednesday: All the moons

Wedding planning is so hit or miss. I love parts of it and hate parts of it. At the moment, I'm completely over it and am just ready to have my extra time, money, and head space back. But we have 93 days to go, so I'll have to hang on for a a little while longer.

One aspect I think everyone gets excited about -- the honeymoon.

Actually, there's no booking to be done at the moment as Sean and I are actually planning to delay our honeymoon until next year.

We have our sights set on going to Spring Training in Arizona!! Our teams (the Rangers and White Sox) both train in the Phoenix area. I've been down there once and he's never been. We decided it'd be fun to escape the Iowa winter and go see our favorite boys of summer as they prepare for a new season.

Waiting will allow us time to save money and wait for a fresh bank of PTO (neither of us has much to start with and we're using a lot for the wedding and related activities). And it gives us something to look forward to after our big day has passed.

However, I've had a lot of people encourage me to look into a mini-moon. A weekend getaway or even just an overnight stay somewhere right after the wedding. I really do want to do this. After all the work and stress involved with the wedding, it would be nice to escape.

The trouble is scheduling. I'm already taking so much time off of both jobs for the wedding. Plus, an event I'm involved with is just two weeks after our wedding and will require me to take more time off from both jobs. So when are we supposed to go?

For a brief time, I considered just getting an AirBnB for the Sunday night after our wedding. One of my best friends actually offered this as a wedding gift. However, I'm not sure it would really give us much reprieve. We will probably still be with family until Sunday afternoon and most AirBnB's have a checkout time of 11 a.m. So we'd really just go somewhere to eat and sleep. Doesn't seem very economical or relaxing to me. Plus, after two nights in a hotel (where I'm staying the night before the wedding and we're both spending our wedding night), I have a feeling I'll want to be in my own bed again.

Did you do a mini-moon in addition to a honeymoon?
Do you think it's OK if we wait a month or so for our mini-moon?

I'd love to hear some thoughts and opinions.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

This & That 3/1

:: The last few days, my permalinks have not worked, which has been really frustrating. I hope they work today. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I am not code/tech/blog savvy when it comes to that stuff.

:: I don't think I mentioned it, but a few weeks ago, I received a promotion at work. I've been working towards it for the past year and a half, so I was very excited about it. My job responsibilities don't really change, but it's more money and a step up in general. I'm feeling encouraged about where I am in my career ... and let's be real, I never thought my career would be in the insurance industry, but it's working for me.

:: I have my first dress fitting today. I am very nervous, mostly about what they're going to quote me for alterations. Cross your fingers for minimal, easy changes.

:: Last week was super busy, so I purposely made this week a little lighter in the evenings. It's been nice to be home, actually cook dinner, and relax for a few hours each day. I wish every week could be like this, but I'm also not willing to give up some of the things that take me away from home in the evenings. Ahh ... the joy of being an introvert with FOMO.

:: The Oscars are this weekend and I don't think I've seen a single one of the nominated films. I'm just not good at going to movies, but I love listening to other people talk about them and reviewers. Do you have any favorites for the awards?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Things I'm good at

... following a recipe.

... making lists and spreadsheets. This is the only thing keeping me sane during wedding planning.

... writing. Sometimes I doubt myself on this, but most of the time, I think the skill is there.

... selecting gifts. Most of the time. Some people are really difficult.

... pouring beer. There is some technique and art to it.

... filling up my Kindle with books. I have full intentions of reading them all. Someday

... scoring a baseball game.

... befriending cats.

... overthinking and overanalyzing things.

... showering and getting ready for the day post-workout in less than fifteen minutes.

... encouraging people and being a bit of a cheerleader. I'm much better at doing this for others than I am at doing it for myself.

I thought I'd balance yesterday's listing of my weaknesses with a few of my strengths. Or at least attempt to balance. Somehow, listing positives about me is not as easy as the negatives.

What are some things you think you're good at?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Things I'm not good at

... saying "no." I want to do all the things and never want to let people down.

... putting myself first (related to the above).

... making decisions.

... hard-boiling eggs without cracking at least one of them.

... sleeping in. Seriously, I don't know the last time I was able to sleep past 8:30, regardless of what time I went to bed.

... thinking before reacting.

... saving money (although Sean is good at this, so I'm starting to learn).

... keeping up with house cleaning. I was so good at our routine when we first moved in, but I've been slacking the last few months.

... buying clothes. I'm so clueless when it comes to fashion. When I have to buy clothes, I usually just wander and then reluctantly try a few things on.

... finding something to watch on Netflix. I scroll and scroll and scroll and rarely find something that sounds appealing.

... leaving my desk for lunch. Unless I'm going to my fitness class, I typically just eat and keep working. We're not supposed to do that, but oh well.

... hiding my displeasure when customers walk into the brewery near closing or linger long after we've closed the taps. I'm working on this even though I still think they're rude.

... folding a fitted sheet. I've watched YouTube videos and my mom even showed me, but I'm still struggling. I'll keep practicing.

... blogging regularly.

I'm sure I can add to this list in the future, but it's a good start. What things are you not good at?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

This & That 2/22

:: I am on day eleven of thirteen consecutive working days. In addition to that, I've had non-work evening obligations five of those evenings. And went to two social things last Saturday. To say I'm burned out is an understatement. I keep saying I need to slow down, but I haven't actually been able to do that. Any advice?

:: People keep asking me how the wedding planning going and my answer can best be summed up in the gif below.

:: On Monday night we had an ice storm. It wasn't fun getting to work on Tuesday morning, but it was manageable. Sounds like there's more winter heading our way today. Dear Mother Nature, you can stop showing off anytime now.

:: On a happier note, one of my coworkers became a grandpa for the first time this week. The new baby's name is Emmett. I love that classic, "old-sounding" names are still being used. I'm all for unique names (no one wants to be one of four in a class), but some people just go too far.

Wow, this whole post is kind of a downer/complaint session. Sorry. But it definitely reflects how I'm feeling lately.

What's on your mind this week?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Longing for community

We all long for a place to belong, but I suppose each of us finds it in a different way.

I wasn't really part of any group or clique in high school or college. I had my group of friends in each setting, but I would never have been able to categorize us. Maybe I was really just a floater. I could get along with a lot of different groups -- the athletes, the smart people, the artists, etc. But I didn't really have one group with which I identified.

When I was in my late teens, I discovered a world of N Sync chat rooms. This was back in the time of dial-up internet, which meant I couldn't get on the web until my family had gone to bed. We didn't have a separate phone line for our internet. Not many did back in those days. But once it was my time, I would spend hours in there, conversing with other people from around the world -- mostly about the band we all loved but sometimes venturing off into other topics. I met one of my very best friends this way. I was in her wedding six years ago. And through her met another bestie. They'll both stand beside me on my wedding day.

I moved to Texas after college and was having a hard time making friends. It is hard to find buddies as an adult. At least in my experience. Once again, the internet came to my rescue. I joined the John Mayer Fan Club (Local-83) and instantly found a community of people from around the world who shared a common interest. Often more than one, but there was always at least one that tied us together. The fan club and message board are long gone now, but I am still friends with many of the people I met there. One will even be photographing my wedding next year.

I currently have blogging, which has also become a community of sorts, although it's evolving all the time as bloggers quit. But I've found a lot of friends there. People who may no longer be blogging but are still among my Facebook or Twitter connections.

Since then, I've ventured in and out of other fan message boards -- some nicer than others -- and found various connections. I'm currently in a few different groups online -- one for brides who are planning their wedding and another for people with fitness goals. Both are encouraging and safe places to discuss a current common interest. Obviously, one definitely has an expiration date. Once my wedding is over, I'll no longer be a bride-to-be.

I guess I'll be searching for another community after that. That's the thing. There's always somewhere else I can find to fit in. Or, at least, that's the hope.

Naturally, I have a song for this post too. One of my favorites. Love love love it. It really does sum things up. This particular performance was for a school, which is highly appropriate.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Music Monday: Charlie Puth - "How Long"

I don't listen to a lot of music radio, so I usually get my dose of newer music in my dance fitness class. My instructor, Emily, broke this tune out a few months ago and I love it. I especially love her routine to it.

I'm starting to develop a small infatuation with Mr. Puth. He's so young, but he's got some great jams. And he's adorable.

How are you exposed to the latest music?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

This & That 2/15

:: I've never been a big Valentine's Day person, but I've long since given up protesting it and boycotting it. There was a time I would wear black and just generally be grumpy about the day. But that's no fun. A few years ago, I changed my perspective and decided to look at the day as one of love -- for myself and other important people in my life, romantic or not.

:: That said, Sean did treat me pretty well yesterday. He brought me breakfast from my favorite bagel place. I love their sriracha bacon cream cheese. And their coffee is legit too.

Oh, and he bought me Rangers leggings for pitchers and catchers report celebration.

Yep, I did OK.

:: I sent out wedding invitations the other day. Now I'm waiting for RSVPs. And people to have hurt feelings because they weren't invited. Honestly, the guest list was one of my biggest stress points. Deciding who to include and not include was tough. But we had limits on numbers, so we did the best we could. I'm still worried I hurt peoples feelings.

:: I have not read a single book this month. Nothing in my kindle has caught my attention. Blah. I need to get on it soon. What have you read recently that's great?

:: Another big school shooting yesterday. I don't even know what to say anymore. I hate that it's becoming so commonplace in our country. Our children deserve better. We all deserve better.

What's on your mind this week?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Show Us Your Books: January 2018 recap

Life According to Steph

I somehow managed three books in January. And they were all very different.

"A Promise Broken" by Anissa Garcia
Anissa is a long-time friend of mine. Her romance series is a page-turner, mostly because of the steamy scenes and palpable tensions between the characters. I also really love the cast of characters beyond the main two, so I've enjoyed continuing to "get to know" more members of the family and their friends.

"The Twilight Wife" by A.J. Banner
Kyra remembers nothing about a diving accident she suffered, but feels fortunate her husband has remained by her side, patiently answering her questions about her life. It all felt "off" to me from the beginning. I knew the husband was shady and not being completely honest with her, but the full picture was even more twisted than I imagined. 

"Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate
I saw this on another person's to-read list and thought it sounded intriguing. It was more than that. At times, it was also heartbreaking, anger-inducing, and inspiring. A family of children are thrust into an orphanage and lied to about the status of their parents. The things they endure in the orphanage are unspeakable and then they're separated into various homes. The tale is told from two perspectives that eventually bring the whole story full circle. It started slow, but once I got going, I could not stop reading.

I'm off to a slow start in February, but hopefully I can keep this pace through the year.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Music Monday: Delta Rae - "No Peace in Quiet"

A few years ago, I went to a concert to see Gabe Dixon. I was super pumped to see him after listening to his music for a long time. I had no idea I'd come away from there with a new musical obsession -- Delta Rae.

 Their energy and sound were incredible. I loved how many performers were on stage and the way they were all highlighted during various times. While I haven't gotten to see them, I've continued keeping up with their releases. This one is so hauntingly beautiful and Liz's voice is perfect.

It's about a breakup, so maybe it's not the best for Valentine's Day week, but I just love it, so I'm sharing it anyway.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Sweats: Halfway through Xtreme

Last Monday, we officially passed the halfway mark in the Xtreme Revolution program happening at my office. It's hard to believe we're four weeks in already. I'm really enjoying the classes and my workout buddies.

Photo taken at the end of the first week of classes. This is the 6:15 a.m. crew. Most of them are still hanging in there, but we've lost a few along the way.

To "celebrate" the halfway milestone, our trainers had us do a special workout called a mini-Murph. Here's what it entails:

1/2 mile jog/run
100 weighted squats
75 bicep curls
50 pushups
25 x jumps
1/2 mile jog/run

You must do it in exactly that order.

It's an adaptation of a CrossFit workout. Looking at the full Murph makes me want to vomit.

Anyway, we were told to check our time when we got through it (mine was 21:53). We'll do it again at the end of the program to see if we've improved.

Obviously, that didn't take up the whole class for me (or most of the others), so we were told to go back to the squats and continue through the workout. I ended up doing 200 weighted squats and 150 bicep curls. My quads have still not forgiven me.

The mini-Murph is definitely the toughest workout we've done so far, but there have been a few others that made me sore too. And as much as I complain about it, I secretly love it. I love knowing I've challenged my body and -- honestly -- my mind (because so much of it is mental). I love seeing what I can really do.

I haven't broken out the scale or measuring tape because I want to wait until the end to see the full effect, but I definitely feel like I'm getting leaner and stronger. 


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Xtreme Cardio (30 mins)
Tuesday - Xtreme Burn (30 mins)
Wednesday - Xtreme Tabata Abs (30 mins)
Thursday - Xtreme WOD Strength (30 mins)
Friday - Xtreme Wild Card Cardio (30 mins)
Saturday - Off


If you set any goals or started a new fitness initiative for the new year, how it going?

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