Presents on Pinterest

Now that Chanukah is in full swing and Christmas is less than a month away, let’s talk presents and wishlists.

I got Finn a Chanukah present.  Kong (the parent company behind this non-destructible toy) created a ball that squeaks and is also nearly non-destructible.  I gave that to Finn the first night of Chanukah and she is loving it.  It’s the green version of this ball.

Sometimes, I’ll get myself a Chanukah present.  This year it was finally getting my piano tuned.  Most of the time, I’ll see things and say to myself, “Oh!  That would be a perfect Chanukah present!” and I’ll create a mental wishlist.  This year, I started a Pinterest board for that wishlist.

Item 1: a winter coat.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be this one from Patagonia,  but I would like one that is down and WARM!  The winter coat I have is a few years old and totally dilapidated.

A winter coat: Patagonia Women's Fiona Parka (in black or navy)

Item 2: Time with a personal shopper.  Some time ago, my stepmom took me shopping with a friend of hers who is a personal shopper. My perfect gift would be more time with her and a gift card with which to buy new clothes and such.  I scheduled time with the friend between Christmas and New Year’s to go through and clean out everything in my closet, like my own personal episode of What Not To Wear.

Item 3: A gift card to Lululemon.  Between all of the WODs I do and the Spinning classes I take and the Spinning class I teach, I think enough has been said.

Item 4:  A pre-paid 90-min to 2-hour massage.  Deep tissue or sports massage preferably.

Do you buy holiday gifts for your pets?  What’s on your wishlist?  Add your pins to my board here: http://www.pinterest.com/HonkyTonkFit/my-holiday-presents/.  If for some reason Pinterest won’t let you pin, leave your e-mail address in the comments so I can invite you to the board.  Or just leave a comment with your wishlist.

Happy Chanukah!

Autumn

The other day, Finn asked me to go out:

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This walk was one of the few instances when I actually took my phone with me.  During an earlier walk that morning, I reached the conclusion that fall isn’t all bad.  Yes, there are fewer hours of daylight.  Yes, summer has gone and winter is blowing in.  Yes, it is colder outside.  Yes, my alarm clock goes off in the morning before the sun has started to rise.  Yes, the sun has fully set before I leave work for the day.  Yes, the trees now stand naked and bare.  But there is a beauty in fall that doesn’t exist during any other season and it lies in the changing colors of the leaves.

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My favorite picture is this one.  For 4 days, every time I opened my front door, this was my view:

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Several days after the above photos were taken, I went out of town for work.  When I pulled into the driveway at 10:30 at night, I was greeted by this bush:  (I did not use a flash in this picture.  The plant is lit by a light that’s out of the picture to the left.)

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Disclaimer: All photos were taken by me on my iPhone.  My apologies for any blurriness caused by Finn tugging on her leash.

This Is It

So this is it.  The final day of the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge of 2013 (not the final day of this blog).  One of our requirements is to submit a testimonial of our experiences with the Challenge.  Here’s what I wrote:

For me, the best part of the challenge was learning how to keep a Paleo diet.  I enjoyed cooking for myself and learning new and creative ways of preparing food.  When out to eat, I developed an appreciation for studying my menu carefully when forced to eat out and question what was going on my plate.  I also got a kick out of scaring the waitstaff by telling them I was “gluten-free, wheat-free, grain-free, soy-free, and dairy-free.”

At the beginning I was frustrated with food-shopping.  The first round of grocery shopping to get ready for the Challenge took 6 hours to find everything I needed and was looking for.  The issue: reading ingredients on foods I would normally eat.  I had no idea that corn derivatives, soy derivatives, or sugar in some form was in nearly every food that wasn’t a raw ingredient (i.e. produce, raw nuts, fish, meat, spices and herbs).  As the Challenge progressed and I knew where to find what I could eat, shopping became much quicker and easier as I was no longer going up and down aisles but rather around perimeter of the store (with the exception of the one aisle for almond flour, olive and walnut oils, and spices).  I came very close to throwing in the towel when I had strep the first time.  I came even closer to giving up on the whole Challenge when I had strep a second time.  But I didn’t.  My motivation was my perfectionism: I needed the perfect diet score as it was the only thing I could truly control and the only thing I had any chance of winning a prize from.

Now that the Challenge is barely hours away from ending, I have the time to reflect on the past 8 weeks in their entirety.  The frustrations of that first round of grocery shopping were worth it.  Getting sick twice (and now having a cold) stunk but fighting through and not giving in was rewarding.  When we did WOD 1 (L3; wall balls, dead lifts, box jumps) the first time, I was ready to walk out the door after the round of 15.  It took me over 4 minutes to complete the round of 21.  I said there was no way I was going to finish it.  Well, I did with 1:26 to spare.  The second time through I knocked 2:01 off my time and never felt like I wanted to quit.  I’m actually looking forward to doing this WOD again so as to see just how low I can get my time.  WOD 2 was just awful the first time around and even worse the second (I missed by 2 swings and 30 burpees the first time; completed my swings and missed 36 burpees the second).  WOD 3 was fun (cleans and shuttle sprints).  I’m a slow runner so this pushed my limits.  I shaved 23 seconds off my time at the end.  Never giving in to my frustrations with the diet paid off.

This morning I stopped by my box for my final round of measurements.  I am down a total of 2 pounds.  My chest and thighs stayed the exact same size.  I lost 1/4” in my waist and gained 1/4” in both arms.  My hips lost 2-1/4” inches.  The lack of change in these numbers annoyed me.  I saw someone at my box lose 30 lbs and 6 inches in their waists.  I read posts on Facebook of people losing that much and more.  Where was my loss?  My coach warned me at the beginning I wouldn’t see much change in my measurements because I was lean to begin with.  He was right; but, I am still annoyed.  I wanted to see a bigger change.  I wanted my biceps to get bigger than they did.  I wanted my waist and chest to drop a whole inch.  I wish I had someone who knew my body help me with diet to get me the losses and gains I wanted.

Overall, this was an amazing experience and I look forward to doing it again.

Project Productivity

On Wednesday at work I had a big project to tackle for which I did not need access to a computer.  This project of auditing bills had been put off for so long (maybe 1-2 weeks) that the stack of bills grew to be about 18 inches tall and weigh at least 20 lbs.  It was an awful lot of paper!

Anyway, I knew that if I stayed at my desk along with my phone and my laptop, I would be incredibly distracted and not be able to finish the audit.  So I took the bills, a highlighter, a pen, a stapler and extra staples, a stack of Post-It notes, a box of envelopes, a mug of coffee, a bottle of water, my cell phone, my iPod, and earphones and went into our conference room.  I put up an out of office message in Outlook that told co-workers where I was and provided my cell phone number for anything that was urgent and time sensitive.  The away message told everyone else that I was completing a project and away from my computer.  I sat with my back to the closed door and turned the music up just loud enough so I couldn’t hear the door open.  I was in the zone and focused on getting through the stack of bills.  I began at 11 am and ended 6 hours later at 5 pm.  But it worked.

What do you do when you have a big project to tackle and don’t want to be interrupted?

10 Days

With 10 days left to go, those of us doing the Paleo Challenge are in the final stage.  During this time we’re re-doing the first 3 WODs to see how our time has improved.  WOD 1, 6 weeks ago, was brutal.  It had an 18-minute time cap and it was a total of 252 reps:

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Wall balls using the 14-lb medicine ball and hitting a 9-ft target

Dead lifts using a 75-lb barbell

20-inch box jumps

In the picture below, my time during the first week is in blue.  It took me a full hour to recover enough to drive home.  After the round of 15, I was ready to walk out.  I didn’t think I’d finish as it took me over 4 minutes to get through the first round.  But I finished with one minute and 26 seconds to spare.

We re-did this WOD again last night.  Being on antibiotics and tired, I thought I wouldn’t complete it.  Instead, I shaved 2 minutes and 1 second off my time (the time in green in the picture below).

Do you eat clean?  Have you noticed that your performance has improved since you started eating cleaner?