what’s next: February

I’ve been talking a lot about health around these parts lately. And that isn’t all I’m about.

I don’t think I ever told you guys, but I made a schedule and spread my resolutions out throughout the year. And I’m right on track so far. December (yes, the Overachiever started early) was slated to research health and weight-loss programs and choose one for the new year. January was the month to implement that program. February is the month to research and read about budgeting and money management. Then, in March, I’ll implement a system.

And I’m starting with Money: A Love Story by Kate Northup.

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I totally pre-ordered this book. And it has been sitting on my desk downstairs – on the very top of my stack – ever since. She totally did the circuit of all of the self-help people that I eat up. I listen to a lot of podcasts and interviews on my commute (I spend three hours in the car three days a week), so I heard a lot of hype about the book. And her methods sound affirming and awareness-based instead of restrictive and shaming. So I was in.

And then? I just sat on it.

Earlier this week, I went downstairs, picked it up, and dusted it off. Literally. It is in my purse. I’m carrying it with me. I’m just letting it get cozy hanging out with me. I’m giving myself until the middle of February to get it read.

In the meantime, what finance and budgeting people should I be reading? I read nothing in this field right now. Who is entertaining and engaging and encouraging? I’m excited to see what resources you all point me to!

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new toy! the JawboneUP

When I decided that I was going to get serious about my health, I decided to finally make an investment in something to promote awareness. Because, really, that’s my problem. It isn’t lack of motivation or stick-to-it-iveness, it is not being mindful. I have a hard time sometimes remembering my plan.

And there’s nothing like a band on my arm (which is sometimes cumbersome and gets stuck on my coat sleeve) to remind me.

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I looked at all of the various tracking devices, but this one sold me because the app is beautiful, it syncs through bluetooth, and Best Buy had it in stock.

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I love the initial display when opening the app (iOS only). It show me everything I want to know: sleep, movement, food, and drink.

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The first thing that I changed right away was my sleeping habits. I really REALLY want to see 100% in the sleep column because, really, that’s something that I get to do passively. It takes some focus to make sure that I have the time to get the required sleep in, but once I’m asleep, I’m not doing anything! I did change it from 8 hours to 7.5 hours after a few days of initial frustration. Even when I gave myself over 8 hours in bed, I was waking up naturally between 7hrs35min and 7hrs45min each morning. I just couldn’t get that 8hours. And it really irritated me. So I changed it to 7hrs30min and I feel much better.

I love the nightly sleep graph. (this was a weekend night.)

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The front screen works kinda like facebook or twitter. You scroll through to see your activity. I have the ability to “friend” people and create a team, but I’m really liking that my front screen is just me. And I’m afraid my feed would look different, and I don’t want that.

I think the food tracking is pretty good. I am still getting used to how it is organized (that means I have NO IDEA), so I use the barcode scanner most of the time. My favorite part, though, is that I can insert a picture of my food and see it in my feed. And once I put it in, it is saved under my foods so I don’t have to figure it out again. (Whoa, it got dark while I was taking these.)

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There are lots of fun things you can add. The Idle Alert is pretty neat. You can set it to vibrate at certain intervals to remind yourself to get up. I set it at 30 minutes on days that I am at the office. I also really like the Power Nap. It reads my sleep cycle and wakes me up when I’ll feel most rested. I keep intending to use the Smart Sleep Alarm but I haven’t yet. It works like the Power Nap alert but wakes you up in the morning at the best time within a window that you set. But, honestly? If I have my alarm set for 6 and it wakes me up at 5:50, I’m not going to be happy. Even if it is the “best” time for me to wake up.

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Other things I like: It syncs with MyFitnessPal. Well, I did like it while I was doing it. But I’m trying to focus less on calorie counting right now, so I’m off MPF. Yes, I count my calories here, but it doesn’t show me net calories and I don’t have a calorie goal. And that makes all the difference. I have a range in my head for rest days and a range for sweat days, but if I’m over? No sweat.

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What I wish: I really wish it would sync with PACT other than counting steps. Meeting 10,000 steps a day will count toward a GymPact, but no other synched activity links over. And, with all of the snow, this has become very annoying. I haven’t been running outside, so I’m not getting gym check-ins that way. And my “gym” is part of my neighborhood, so it doesn’t count as a gym. My yoga class is at a brewery and  my pilates class is at a running store. So I’m stuck using the Motion Tracker which SUCKS and only gives me credit for cardio, basically. I’m lifting weights 3 times a week and don’t get any credit for it. On my UP tracker, movement is noticed and tracked, so I wish that would sync as well. That is more of a “Krissie didn’t pay attention before she signed up for PACT” complaint, but oh well. I’m racking up $2 a week with these pacts, so I’ll find a way to make it work. And the snow will be gone eventually, right? RIGHT?

I’ll keep y’all updated on other cool things or bummers that I find with this gadget, but so far, I think I love her!

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because I document everything – my Erin Condren Notebook Review

My love affair with Erin Condren is all my own doing. She doesn’t compensate me in any way for my ooey-gooey love fests. The only bonus I get referral fees from any of you that order. Speaking of, if you do make an order? Follow this link and we both get $10!

I’ve shown you guys my love for my planner here, here, and here, but today I want to show you the notebook I ordered to help me track my progress with the Precision Nutrition – Lean Eating Program.

Initially, I thought I could keep this all in my planner. I mean, one-stop-shopping right? Eh, not so much. I have so much going on in there anyway that I wanted something separate – something I didn’t have to carry around with me. Enter this beauty.

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The Take Note Notebook.

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I added a few extra dollars to get monthly spreads in the front.

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I am incredibly excited about April because this page is BEAUTIFUL. (The back of each spread is lined on each spread except the page pre-January.)

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Behind the pretty page is the monthly spread. The orange is my workout schedule for PN. And then I add details in the aqua color if I changed or added anything. This is a nice spot to get an overview of my week.

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You’ll also notice washi tape along the side. This is so I’ll be able to keep track of each month from the side as I go along. I used a fun green stripe for January.

As with the planners, the notebooks also come with sticker pages. I love these stickers. You’ll see.

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The first few lined pages are full of information that I got cozy with before PN even started.. The program came with some introductory emails (which you know I outlined), and those notes got fun pink striped washi.

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And then notes I took out of the program binder got polka washi.

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And then I get things started. I have a date sticker on the left-hand side of each page. And then I have my tasks to check off: PN Lesson, 5-minute action (currently 3 Sun Salutations), LE workout, training plan, 8 cups of water, and food journal.

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I cannot get over how happy and motivated I feel when I see this.

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I plan on repeating this through the year. I’ll use different washi on the edges for each month. And I don’t always expect each week to line up exactly front-and-back, but I’ll take it when I get it.

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The back has these pretty blank pages. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them yet.

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And then a double-sided pocket page and a plastic sleeve.

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I just love this little notebook. I love the potential. I love the excitement. I just love it.

So how do you keep track of your goals?

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I get to define RIGHT.

As I mentioned before, I feel like part of my difficulty staying health-focused in the past is thinking too much. Reading too much. Trying to tweak everything so that it fits me.

I thought that I knew better than everyone about what was best for me because I am the expert on ME.

But what it comes down to? I was letting information paralyze me. I was drowning in information. And I wanted to do it all. Right now.

Because of that, I attribute a lot of the success of the past few weeks to my decree that I would follow directions. I decided I would work the Precision Nutrition – Lean Eating program exactly as prescribed.

And that was really hard for the first few days. I was resistant. I wanted to do what I was used to doing. I wanted to do weights at the weight and intensity that I worked at a year ago. I wanted to do mostly cardio and poo-poo the weights. I wanted to continue to train for a half-marathon. (It was a really hard decision for me to let that go. But I found that it was killing my spirit.) I wanted to do what I had always done because I was convinced that if I could just do it right, then I’d have everything under control.

But, here’s the thing. I’m not in the space – physically, nutritionally, emotionally – to do it right right now. The old right is a goal. The old right is something that I am really going to have to work back up to. The old right just isn’t possible today.

And I cannot tell you how much better I feel now that I have let that go.

I am doing my daily yoga as best as I can. That means my transition between downward dog and mountain pose is still a huge work in progress. But it is okay that it isn’t the old right.

I spent 30 minutes getting really sweaty and out of breath and tomato faced on Sunday. And I did it on the ARC trainer. And it felt really right. I set it for hill intervals and I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve been so proud of a workout. It felt like everything that running isn’t giving me right now. I busted it without worrying about pace or distance or walk breaks or any of that. I worked hard, felt great, and had no feedback to provide judgement. (Related: I’m going to start leaving my Garmin at home when I run from now on. I know the mileage of several routes. And I won’t pay attention to time. I will just run.)

I have started a list each day of what I do right. Where I’m putting in enough. Where I’m working hard. Where I’m making progress.

And that is right for today.

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So, on a whirlwind decision, I decided to do a free, two-week series of self-courtship emails. Just quick, 5-minute task for the first two weeks of February to promote self-connection as we ramp up for Valentine’s Day. Sign up here!

the week that was – january 20-26

Happy Monday, sweet friends! How was your week?

I really can’t complain. We got a lot of snow – well, a lot for us – and it has been much colder than we are used to. So that messed with my workout plans a little. It is just SO HARD to get back out when I’m in for the evening. But, all in all, I’m super excited about my week that was.

I got all of my workouts in last week (!!). Weights Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Cardio Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. (and a glorious, much-needed rest on Friday.) I am doing a little Daily Pilates challenge with my bestest running buddies, and I’m 6 for 6. I also added a few kettlebell swings to my weight days just because they make me feel bad-ass.

I am still rocking the vegetarian-at-home deal and our eats couldn’t have been more yummy.

Apple and gouda quinoa (my own creation that has been on repeat for about 2 years).

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Sweet Potato and Red Curry from Isa Does It.

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Bulgur Tacos amended from the TVP Tacos recipe in The Healthy Herbivore Cookbook. I love the bulgur, but prefer the taco spice from the Quinoa Chorizo recipe in the same cookbook. So I’m scheming for this week to create (and hopefully share!) a hybrid of my own.

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Guys. The Irish Stew from Happy Herbivore Light and Lean is a-mazing.

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I repeated last week’s Cheater Pad Thai from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, but actually used rice noodles because they had them at Krogers. (They didn’t at last week’s trip to Trader Joe’s.) On the second day, the leftovers were kinda sparse, so I added a few scrambled eggs to bulk it up to feed both of us. I felt very resourceful.

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Saturday morning, we were supposed to have company, so I had planned on making this Marbled Banana Bread. We didn’t end up having company, but the bread still happened. And, again, that Isa knows her stuff.

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(I need to shuffle my FiestaWare. Lots of grey this week. That was unintentional.)

For my maiden voyage with tofu, I decided to recreate my favorite Indian peas and cheese with tofu instead of the paneer. It was pretty fantastic.  Screen shot 2014-01-26 at 1.42.42 PM

I made a lunch on Sunday that would have enough leftovers for lunch on Monday. I settled on this Sweet and Sour Brown Rice Salad from Isa Does It. I absolutely love it. I added more beans, used different sprouts (since I had them on hand) and added rice vinegar to the dressing. It is pretty great. Reminds me of bahn mi, without the meat and the sandwich and the drizzled spicy mayo. So, basically, it just has a Vietnamese taste to it.

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So what was your favorite meal of the week?

I’m gonna go with the Irish Stew, I think. I think. I’m not committed to that.

what’s working – back in the kitchen

I received several vegan cookbooks for Christmas. I am not interested in going vegan (dude. I LOVE cottage cheese. And yogurt. And cheese in general.), but vegetarian-at-home is something that I can get on board with. I think that, because there isn’t the flavor profile of meat, vegetarian cooking is often more flavorful and complex. Also, with my lack of time available to spend in the kitchen, it seems like vegetarian cooking is either quicker or requires less attention. Often both!

I still love meat, though. And I am more than happy to eat it when someone else is cooking it for me.

For the first three weeks of the year, I was meal planning out of the two green Happy Herbivore cookbooks. And this kitten is my constant “helper.” So it was only fitting that she would help me with this picture.

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They have all been beautiful and tasty.

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And I couldn’t be more pleased. I am taking my lunch almost every day. I am feeling creative and challenged and pretty stinking happy. I even created two recipes of my very own last week. Ricotta-stuffed mushroom caps and Buffalo Mac and Beans!

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And this week? I’m branching out again – thanks to a Christmas gift card to Joseph Beth. I’m not sure how I didn’t know about Isa Chandra Moskowitz, but we are about to become best friends. I’ll keep you posted!

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So what other vegetarian/vegan goddesses do I not know about yet?

what’s working – my program

Like I mentioned briefly in my post about refocusing, I made an investment in myself and signed up for nutrition and exercising coaching with Precision Nutrition. I’m not sure who sent me the link initially, (I’m thinking Jaemie, maybe?) but I received it in a tweet with a “hey! This sounds like your coaching + weight loss!” and I  was intrigued.

And the more I read, the more spot-on that was. It seemed right up my alley. Prompts, direction, accountability. Sign me up.

So I did.

But the more I started reading about it between the time I signed up and when it actually started, the more resistance I could feel brewing. Seriously? We’re going to do two weeks of coaching BEFORE we even talk about food? But then I read ahead and am appalled by the way we will handle food because there is NO WAY this will work for me. And then? The workout schedule? That’s like taking a huge step back for me!

Then I take a step back and remember that I am being responsive. That what I have been doing isn’t working. That I need to trust the process. I have to trust the experts. I have to remember that my efforts have only been sporatic anyway, and that being consistent with anything will be an improvement.

I need to act and do instead of know and learn.

I am stubborn, friends.

Once the program actually got started last week, though, everything felt so much better. I had things to do. I bought exercise equipment (because – of course – our gym was closed for remodeling the week I needed to use it). I started a new notebook. I picked a daily habit. I had a reflection/action task for each day.

And I’m loving it. So much.

Of everything I’ve done this week, my favorite has been the vision board. I’m not going to lie – I usually roll my eyes at these things. I’m not artsy. Collages frustrate me. But it was suggested to do a Pinterest board, and just like that, I fell in love with the activity. (And I usually don’t like Pinterest either. Go figure.)

The premise is to see who I want to be when I finish my year with the coaching program. What adventures I want to be having. What I want to be doing. How I want to look and feel. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I was blown away by how inspired I truly felt. I was surprised at the style of clothing I was drawn to. What I want became crystal clear when I could just click the red “PIN IT” button.

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 9.33.40 AMClick here for my 2015 pinterest board – it will be ever changing, I’m sure.

This board solidifies so many things for me. I don’t need to grow out my hair. I’m excited about continuing to be vegetarian at home. I want to dress in layers and stripes and skinny pants and Toms and nerdy glasses.

This board is who I already am. In there somewhere. This life waiting for me is just the already-me with more focus and intention and discernment.

I am starting to see that restriction today will lead to freedom tomorrow.

And that, my friends, is incredibly liberating.