Health and Not Weight Loss (or My Current Game Plan)

Since getting sick, I’ve lost a pretty significant amount of weight. This is a good thing since I’ve been working on losing weight and I’m pleasantly surprised that the weight has stayed off. Typically when I lose weight quickly like I did, it comes back just as quickly as it came off. But this time has been different and I’m starting to be ok with that and not in constant fear that the scale is going to jump up like crazy the next day.

It does freak me out that many people are commenting on my weight loss. I’m hearing it from so many people lately. I know it’s a good thing, but I still feel like I didn’t earn it. But I’m trying to just accept that now I’ve been keeping the weight off even though I’m not sick anymore and focusing on that.

While I am trying to lose weight, I’ve decided that it isn’t my focus right now. I’m basically preparing my body for surgery now and I take that very seriously. When I was preparing to have my hip surgery, I did the UCLA RFO diet to lose weight. Being at a low weight was good for that surgery since it was helping to make my joints have less weight on them while I was recovering. But I still hate that I lost and gained that weight so quickly. But that was the best option at the time to get my body ready for surgery.

I’m really working on the physical part of surgery preparation. And yes, that does involve working on weight loss but that is more of an after thought for me. I know that this surgery will be tough on my core, so I want to get my core as strong as I can. After surgery, I won’t be able to do any core or abdominal work for a while as I heal. So being extra strong there will help with that. Being flexible will help too since I know I won’t be able to bend like normal for a bit of time too, so I’m working on stretching a lot and making sure I won’t have a hard time when I’m not able to move around as much.

I’m doing this by pushing myself even more at Orangetheory. I know I won’t be able to work out like normal right after surgery, so I want to make as much progress as I can now so the setback won’t be as bad. I’m looking into more workout stuff I can do at home that will help get my body ready for this. And I’m working harder than ever on my eating disorder recovery because that will help with the weight loss aspect of preparation. I know that the smaller I am the easier the surgery will be. The surgeon will have an easier time getting the tumors out and my scars should be smaller. Those are good things to focus on when I’m having a bad moment.

And there is a lot of mental preparation I’m doing to get ready to have surgery next year. Right now, the only thing I need to focus on is hoping the tumors get smaller. The smaller the tumors are, the less of my liver that they will have to remove (which means less liver I need to regenerate). My mom is a big believer of how much thinking positively can do to help your body. When she was dealing with chemo and radiation, she spent time each day imagining that little Pac-Men (that’s what she called them) were going to her tumor and eating it away.

I can’t see Pac-Men in my liver working on my tumor, but I have my own thing. For some reason, when I think of my tumor getting smaller, I think of the Dwarfs in Snow White with their pickaxes. So I spend time each day thinking of them using their pickaxes and busting up the tumor. I know that the tumor won’t go away completely from this positive thinking, but I’d love to see them significantly smaller when I have my next MRI in April.

I’m doing whatever I can to make this surgery successful. I’m grateful that I have time to get my body and mind prepared as much as possible. I know that even if I’m not as skinny as I was during my hip surgery, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be healthier than how I was back then. Health is the focus because that is what will control how successful the surgery is and how easy my recovery will be after.

Happy Birthday Dani (or Another Awesome Disney Day!)

Even though I was just at Disneyland last week, I went back again this week! But this time, it wasn’t just a regular Disney day. We were going to celebrate my friend Dani’s birthday! Since Michelle and I knew last week we’d be coming this week for the birthday adventure, we did some planning while we were waiting for the rides!

The first thing we did last week was pick up a birthday button. Even though we knew we could get one when we came back, we wanted to have it in advance. This way, not only did we have it to give to Dani when we all met up to drive together, but Michelle was able to jazz it up with some rhinestones to make it even more special!

I think it looked amazing and Dani loved it! Also part of our pre-planning was making a fancy lunch reservation for our group, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

It was 4 of us for the day (Michelle, Dani, Dani’s boyfriend, and me) and we got to the park around 1pm. We had our lunch reservations at 2, so that gave us just enough time to ride the first ride Dani requested to go on: Toy Story Mania. I’m not that great at the shooting part of the game (I don’t go on this ride that often), but it was fun and I tried my best. And as soon as we were done with the ride it was time to head over to lunch.

I hadn’t had the opportunity to eat at Carthay Circle yet (I did go once to eat at the bar, but that’s different), so when Michelle and I were figuring out where we should make lunch reservations this was the first place we thought of! When we checked in for lunch, there was some time before our table was ready so we relaxed in the lounge area. We ordered some drinks and toasted to Dani and her fabulous birthday! And soon enough we were led upstairs to our table.

I had checked out the menu online earlier, so I was pretty sure what I wanted to get. We ordered the biscuits for the table (I heard those were a must-have) and a couple of appetizers to share among us. I tried the chili relleno that had duck in it. The pepper was a bit too spicy for me (I think it had spicy breading on it), but the filling was delicious!

And for my main course, I got the tri-tip with blue cheese risotto. It was very filling and rich, but I had planned for a meal like this. It was so good and I would totally order it again!

And of course, we needed some dessert! Dani chose the monkey bread and the servers put a candle in it for her to blow out.

It was a very relaxing lunch and I’m so glad that we splurged on doing this. We probably spent almost 2 hours eating, but it was worth it! Cathay Circle is a gorgeous space and I feel very lucky that I got to check it out. And while we were getting ready to leave, I noticed some floor length mirrors and decided to do a mirror selfie in there.

Our next stop was Tower of Terror (yes, right after we ate a big meal). This was possibly my lat chance to ride Tower of Terror because it will be closing in the beginning of January. I might make it to the parks next week, but it’s not for sure. So we all wanted to ride the ride once the original way and once at nighttime. It had been a while since I had been on the ride during the day, but it was just how I remembered it. And we tried to take a ride photo with us all doing clock faces, but I think there was a bit of miscommunication because I just look like a goober in our photo.

After the ride, we did a bit of walking around the park and noticed the nice sunset that was happening. I think we were all feeling a bit goofy because all the photos we took there were pretty funny. While I tried to take a nice photo, Michelle decided it was time for a funny face behind me.

And I didn’t realize that we were taking a funny group photo so while Michelle and Dani have silly faces I just have a ridiculous grin.

Our next ride was on the carousel right next to Toy Story Mania (since that was going to be our next ride). We all sat in a row and tried to get a group photo, but that wasn’t happening since we were all up and down out of sync. But Dani got this fun picture of me and her boyfriend.

Just as we were able to ride Toy Story again, the ride broke down. It was sad that we couldn’t go on it, but we were given a pass to ride any other ride in either park as an apology. We saved those for later and went on our next ride which was California Screamin’. I couldn’t wear my Minnie ears on the ride since I knew they’d fly off, but I held them so that I could get them back on my head for the photo.

And then it was back to Tower of Terror to ride it in the dark for possibly the very last time. Dani and her boyfriend didn’t know what they were in for with the ride and Michelle and I wanted it to be a surprise. They figured it out when we were in line since there were signs advertising that this was a chance to ride the ride in total darkness. I was a bit sad that this might be my last ride on this before it’s closed and changed into another ride, and I think everyone else agreed. So we decided our ride photo should be a sad one.

After that ride, we headed over to Disneyland for the rest of the night. The first stop was Space Mountain and it was awesome as always. It does feel a bit slower when you aren’t seated in the very front, but we wanted the birthday girl to have the best seat on the ride.

Then we walked across the way to ride Buzz Lightyear. I had told Michelle about the point values for the targets last week, and it turned out she had no clue that the targets had different values! That was a huge mistake because she ended up kicking my butt on the ride!

And we knew we wanted to watch the fireworks and it would be less crowded over by Small World, so we headed back that way in the park. We rode on Small World before claiming our spots to watch the fireworks, and it looked so festival with all the lights in front.

We found some steps to sit on for fireworks and Michelle and Dani went on a food run to get us all some corndogs to have for dinner. And while the view of the fireworks were partially obstructed by a tree for me, they still looked nice. And since it was less crowded back there, I think that I’m going to try to watch fireworks back there from now on.

At the end of the fireworks, they have “snow” falling. It was pretty magical to see and even though the soap in the snow made my hair so gross, I couldn’t help but go out and get a picture of me in the middle of it.

We ended our night with a going on a few more rides. We made it on the Storybook Canal Boats, Peter Pan, and the Jingle Cruise. And even though we all said that we didn’t want to stay at Disneyland super late that night, it was close to midnight by the time we got back to the car!

This may have been my last Disneyland adventure until 2017 (if I make it there next Monday it will probably be a very short day). I’m so glad I got to spend it with amazing friends and being able to celebrate someone’s birthday!

Foodie Con (or Still Not Sure If Conventions Are My Thing)

A little while ago, I was asked if I’d be interested in attending a food convention that would be happening in LA. While I’m not a huge fan of conventions (I don’t love the crowds and overwhelming feeling I get there), I thought this could be something really fun to do. The convention I was invited to was Foodie Con LA and it was held this past weekend.

foodie-con-sign

I was only able to attend on Sunday (I was busy with work and other commitments on Saturday) and originally planned on trying to go with a friend. Unfortunately, my friend couldn’t make it so I headed there by myself and was determined to make the most of my time there.

While there were some really great things about Foodie Con, I was saddened to see that when I arrived there were several empty booths. I don’t know if those people were arriving late, but they weren’t there an hour after opening. It did help to have fewer booths to try to get to, but it was weird to see the emptiness in the space.

But besides the emptiness, I did have some fun there. I still had the overwhelming feeling of being at a convention and it was tough being there alone, but I did meet some cool vendors. I didn’t try anything (my stomach was having an off morning) but it was fun to see some of the new and creative food products out there.

If I had to pick a favorite vendor, I think it comes down to 2 options. The first favorite that I met is a grocery delivery/farmers market box service called Milk & Eggs. I’ve thought about doing a farmers market box in the past, but I’m always afraid that I won’t be able to eat everything in the box (or it will include things that I know I don’t like). But with Milk & Eggs, you can set it up to be more like a regular grocery delivery. They have the farmers market samplers that are very common to see with other companies, but they also have prepared foods and other thing available.

food-delivery

Yes, they have dairy and egg products (hence the name), but they also have pantry items and meat. And some of the things I was seeing online were holiday specials like honey ham and pastas. I don’t know if I want to have something like this delivered to me on the regular, but I like having it as an option. I’ve been thinking about when I have my liver surgery how I may be restricted in lifting things for a while. So a grocery delivery service may be necessary. And I think Milk & Eggs seems like an awesome one to use that is reasonably priced and has a lot of things that I would want to eat.

And my favorite food vendor was Truffles USA. I love truffles. They are just so yummy and when I see a dish that has truffles in it at a restaurant I will usually get that. And Truffles USA is all about truffles! They do sell whole truffles (which are very expensive and totally out of my budget), but they also have a lot of truffle products for sale.

truffle-table

I didn’t buy anything while I was there, but I have a feeling that I will be making some purchases from them soon. I’d love to have some truffle oil or truffle butter to use in recipes. It may help to get some creativity back into my meals. Truffles USA also posts some recipes on their website and I’m seeing if any of them seem to be something I could and would like to make. I’ll share with you any truffle recipes that I test out and love!

There were other nice vendors at Foodie Con, but I didn’t really connect with any of the other businesses there. Some of the stuff was food I wouldn’t really eat (a lot of vegan and gluten-free options compared to non-vegan or gluten foods) and there were a few booths that were so packed with people that I didn’t feel like I could go check it out. Even though there weren’t a ton of people at the event while I was there, it seemed like a few booths were the super popular ones that everyone went to and crowded around.

Overall, while conventions aren’t really my thing, I’m glad I checked out Foodie Con. I did get to meet some cool food people and I have a feeling that I will be checking out some of the vendors to see if I want to order from them at a later time. I’m grateful that I was invited to check it out and hopefully the next time I go to a convention like this I have a friend to check it out with me!

Disneyland At Christmastime (or An Evening Of Rides)

When I knew I’d be meeting with the liver surgeon on Monday last week, my first thought was that I should do something fun after the appointment. I went to Universal Studios with Michelle after my first appointment (when I found out it was actually a tumor), so it seemed fitting to do something like that again. I asked Michelle if she was free, and she was. So we planned an afternoon at Disneyland to celebrate whatever news I got.

I knew most of the news going into the appointment (thanks to my OB/GYN giving me an update and sending me the MRI report), so I wasn’t feeling that odd going to Disneyland. I knew surgery would be happening next year and that there is no reason to stress. I did double check with the surgeon that I was cleared to ride rides at Disneyland since I’m aware there are risks of the tumors rupturing. Thankfully he gave me the all clear.

Michelle and I didn’t have a ton of stuff on our Disneyland list. We knew we’d be coming back the next Monday (yes, I went again yesterday) so we were taking things pretty slow. When we got to the parks, it was almost time for sunset so we decided to head over to the giant ferris wheel to try to view the sunset from high above the parks.

sunset

It was a pretty amazing view and we managed to time it out really well!

Our next stop was a quick dinner (soup in bread bowls again since it was so cold out!) and then off to ride Radiator Springs Racers. Walking through Cars Land during the holidays is so fun with all the cute decorations and every year it makes me smile.

cars-land-tree cars-land

I love Radiator Springs Racers at night since the outdoor part of the ride looks so beautiful then. And I tried to get a fun picture on the ride, but I forgot when you sit in the back your arms may get cut off in the photo.

radiator-springs-racers

Before our next ride, we made a quick shopping stop. I had been looking for some cute Disney ears for a long time. I had some I loved and ended up losing them about 12 years ago when I moved from one apartment to another. But I found some that weren’t too expensive (and the headband part didn’t hurt) so I decided to treat myself! And right by where I got them, they had a really cute photo backdrop setup!

new-ears

Our last stop before going into the other park was Tower of Terror. They are doing a really fun thing at nighttime where they don’t have the effects or sound happening. That makes the ride so much fun! And while we were in line, we noticed a man who was getting a bunch of hugs from various employees. Turns out, he had just done his 200th ride on Tower of Terror! I told him how cool that was and he let me know he was actually known for riding Radiator Springs Racers over 8,000 times! Everyone on the ride thought that was amazing.

tower-of-terror

When we walked into Disneyland, I was just so happy with how beautiful the park looked with all the lights on the trees and buildings. But Michelle commented how the castle didn’t look that nice. She said that it usually has more lights for the holidays. Then, as if someone in the park heard her, we heard an announcement to please stay where we were because they were going to dim all the lights so they could properly light up the castle for the night! I had never seen that before and it was a lot of fun to watch.

castle

Next on our adventure was to ride Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster. Michelle and I have forgotten who is in the lead with wins on that ride, so we decided that we are going to start a new count since we have no clue who is ahead of not (so this ride didn’t count toward the new tally).

And of course, we had to go to Space Mountain. I wanted to make sure my new ears were in the photo, but I knew I couldn’t wear them during the ride because they would fly off my head. I held the ears by my legs for the ride and then grabbed them and held on just before the photo. I put them on backwards, but they still look cute!

hyperspace-mountain

As we were leaving Space Mountain, it was about time for the fireworks to start. We knew we’d probably be watching them again in a week, so we watched a bit with an obstructed view and left to try to get in at least one more ride.

fireworks

Our original plan was to go on Indiana Jones, but just as we walked up to the line they announced it was closed due to technical difficulties. So we ended up going on Jungle Cruise which is all decked out for the holidays. The jokes were as corny as ever, but I love seeing the lights around the ride. And at nighttime it really is beautiful.

The fireworks were done by the time we got off the ride and there wasn’t a huge crowd by the castle. So we decided to wait a bit so we could get some photos in front of the castle with nobody else in the photo. That was something I don’t get to do that often.

nighttime-castle with-the-castle

By that time, the park had been closed for a bit and we didn’t want to miss the tram back to the parking lot. So we headed out and waited for a tram to take us back.

We ended up doing some planning at Disneyland for our adventure we did there this Monday. This week, we went to celebrate our friend Dani’s birthday! And that post will come later this week!

A Not-So-Easy Easy Week (Making Sure I Challenge Myself)

After a week of tough workouts the week before, I figured I go a bit easier on myself. That did happen in the sense that I only did 3 workouts this week, but each of those workouts were ones where I pushed myself to go more than before so I guess I still couldn’t let myself off the hook.

Monday’s workout had endurance, strength, and power in it and we didn’t switch between blocks. During endurance on the treadmill, I did my 1 minute intervals during the 3 minute push. But for the 2 minute and 90 second pushes, I ran for the entire time. I’m getting more comfortable again with running those longer times and I’m working on figuring out what types of intervals I’d like to set as a goal for my next 5k race. I’m still testing things out, but I’m feeling like I can do better than 1 minute intervals.

I was thinking about my next 5k race while doing the strength work on the treadmill as well. I know that my next race will have hills in it and I really need to start training for running on hills. While I did walk for the higher inclines between 6-9%, I did do a 1 minute run at 2% incline. I know that’s not a lot, but it’s a start. For the power block, we had 1 minute pushes followed by 1 minute at base, so that’s pretty easy for me to do with my intervals. And we finished with a 1 minute all out pace where I pushed it and ran at 6.5 mph. That was not easy to maintain for a minute, but I enjoyed doing it.

For our floor work that day, we had a lot of focus on arm work. I ended up using some lighter weights than I would have liked to, but for some reason my body wasn’t feeling it with the weight work. We also had some single leg squats using the straps. Since I was able to do the single leg deadlifts while holding on the week before, I really thought I could do the single leg squats too. I really tried, but I had to stop and just do regular squats instead. I don’t know if single leg squats will ever be possible for me, but I do need to keep testing myself to see if that day is the day I can do them.

Wednesday was a strength day and I took that as a sign that it was meant for me to keep testing out running on inclines again. I was able to run for all the pushes between 2-4% incline. I’m not sure what the hills are in the 5k race, but I know they are more than 4%. I’m hoping to find out what the inclines are so I can use that as a guide to keep training with my running up inclines. I want to set up that race to be my best one on that course. Even though most of the running was at an incline (and I walked anything higher than 4%), there were some flat road moments too. I was able to run for a minute at 5.5 mph and for 30 seconds at 6.5 mph.

Floor work that day had each block starting with a 400 meter row. I ended up getting faster each time I did it which is pretty crazy. But all of my times were fast to me (the slowest was 1:48) and I felt pretty exhausted going into the rest of the floor work. The rest of the floor was more focus on arms (shoulder presses, tricep work, strap work) and that was good since my legs were tired from rowing.

Friday’s class threw me for a loop. It is normally a regular 2 group class, but for some reason this day it ended up being a 3 group class (like I had on Thanksgiving). It was an endurance day and I started on the treadmill. We had an 8.5 minute distance challenge. I thought for some reason we were doing it twice, so while I did push myself on it I knew I could have done better. My intervals were 2 minutes of running and then 1 minute of walking. I ended it with a 2.5 minute run. I am happy with my distance, but I’m so curious how much farther I could have gone if I really went crazy with my speeds.

treadmill-work

Next I was on the rower. To start, we did 100 meter sprints and the goal was to do it in as few strokes as possible. I did manage to get my stroke count down from 16 to 13, but I could never do better than 13. Next on the rower was a 800 meter distance challenge. I went a lot faster than I thought I could so I ended up needing some time to catch my breath. We had to hold a squat after that row and then try to do 800 meters again (I only made it about 300 meters the second time).

Finally on the floor, we had a ton of plank work. We had plank punches and plank leg lifts which were both challenging and I ended up having to do some modifications. We also had some lunges and sit-ups to round out things.

I’m glad that even when I’m not challenging myself with how many workouts I’m doing in a week, I’m still able to challenge myself in each class. I’m no longer trying to hit my workout goal for the year (it’s not going to happen and I’m ok with that now), but I’m still trying to find things that make me feel like I’m ending this year so much stronger than I was when I set that workout goal. If my workouts were easy, it probably would have been easy to hit that goal. Since I’m not doing that, I do need my rest days.

Only a few more weeks of workouts for 2016 to go!

Tumor Updates (or I’ve Got A Plan For My Liver)

It’s been an interesting adventure so far with my liver. In the past month, I’ve gone from thinking my liver was fine to thinking I had a cyst to finding out I had a tumor. Since I had no symptoms of the tumor, I’ll admit I was pretty shocked to find out it existed. But I was set up with a great medical team and my doctor has been very persistent in trying to figure this all out.

Before Thanksgiving, I went in for another MRI. This time, it was a different type of dye they used so they could figure out what type of tumor was in my liver. I knew I’d be meeting with my liver surgeon the Monday after Thanksgiving so I assumed that I would find out answers then. But on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I got a call from my OB/GYN (who was trained by my dad and has known my family for a while). She told me she had been following my medical records and saw that there was a report about my last MRI.

They officially declared that my tumor is an adenoma. This is the type of tumor that is a rare side effect from being on hormonal birth control. So my OB/GYN called me to tell me to stop taking my birth control pill because we didn’t want the tumor to get any bigger. She also told me on the call that they actually found out I have 3 tumors in my liver (the big one plus 2 small ones). She was able to send me the MRI report so my family and I could read it and she also talked to my dad to fill him in. We learned a lot by reading the MRI report (thankfully I have so many medical people in my family), but we were all still curious what the liver surgeon would say.

When I finally met with him on Monday, he pretty much agreed with everything we already heard. Yes, I have 3 tumors and they are all adenomas. He was happy to hear that I had already stopped my birth control and he explained my options. I could choose to not have the tumors out, but there is a very small chance that one day they could become cancerous and a larger chance that they could rupture and cause internal bleeding. Also, I could not get pregnant while the tumors are in there (pregnancy makes the tumors bigger and more likely to rupture). Or I could choose to get them out and have liver surgery that will take out 2 of the tumors (one isn’t in a spot where they could remove it right now) and then deal with recovery from surgery.

tumor

That large circle with the line through it is the tumor. It’s pretty large (almost the size of an iPhone) and covers a good portion of my left liver. The other tumors aren’t seen in this image but one is below the large tumor and the other is more toward the middle of my liver.

To me, it’s no question. I’m going to have surgery to get the tumors out. Even though the risk of the tumors becoming cancerous is very very small, I don’t want that risk (the chance of me getting these tumors to begin with was very small so I’m not a fan of odds right now). Also, I do hope that one day I will be married and want to have kids so I need the tumors out to have a safe pregnancy in the future.

Fortunately, nothing needs to be rushed right now. I’m not at a very high risk of rupture for the tumors (although I have been told to be careful with any trauma to my abdomen) and I don’t plan on being pregnant anytime soon. I was able to make a plan with the liver surgeon that I’m happy with right now. I need to stay off the hormonal birth control so we can see if the tumors will shrink at all (and I’ll be getting a copper IUD very soon to make sure I don’t get pregnant). In the spring, I will be getting a new MRI to see if the tumors are smaller and then I’ll meet with the surgeon.

And sometime in late April or early May I will be having my liver surgery. They will take out those 2 tumors (and maybe if the tumors shrink they can take out all 3) plus about 25% of my liver. And since I already need to have my gallbladder out, they said they could probably do that in the same surgery! I’m happy to know that I can do 2 surgeries at once.

It’s not an easy surgery to recover from. This will be much more difficult than my hip surgery or my tonsils coming out. I’ll need to stay at the hospital for a few nights and will take some time to get back to normal. And even though my liver will grow back (it’s one of the few organs that can do that), that will also take time and may be a bit uncomfortable or painful for a few months.

Even with all the negatives that the surgery may bring, I feel very confident in my choice to have the tumors out. I understand that I don’t have to do it, but in my mind having the surgery is the only reasonable option. Unless something crazy happens, I probably won’t have any more liver updates until my next MRI in the spring, but I promise to keep you all updated. One thing I’ve learned while researching liver adenomas is that there aren’t a ton of stories out there like mine. So I want to share the journey in case someone else has the same situation to help them feel less freaked out by it all.

December Monthly Challenge (or Wrapping Up For The Year)

It the last month for my monthly challenges for 2016! I’ve had a lot of amazing monthly challenges and they have really changed me for the better! But before I get into my December challenge, I want to do a quick recap of last month.

Last month, I set the challenge to drink more water. More specifically, I wanted to try to drink 80 oz of water a day. I picked that amount because the cup I use to drink water at home is 20 oz. So it was easy to say I wanted to drink 4 cups a day. I managed to accomplish this almost every single day last month. I was able to get the timing down to where I knew when I needed to finish each cup. The only time I really didn’t meet my goal was when I was out-of-town. This was mainly because I wasn’t focused on how much water I drank (plus I didn’t know how big the cups were at the rental house). But overall, I’d consider the challenge a big success!

I had some really big ideas for my December challenge, but after some consideration I decided to scrap that idea. I’ve already ordered a new planner for 2017, so I can do some of the big ideas next year. And there are some really big ideas (like having a month completely binge-free) that I’m very excited about. But for December, I decided that this monthly challenge is a time to do some reflection.

So I’ve decided that my December challenge is to rededicate time to the challenges I set throughout the year. Most of them have been easy for me, but I’ve totally been slacking on a couple. And being at the end of the year is the perfect time to make sure these challenges become habits and I make sure that I start 2017 in the best place possible.

The ones that I’ve been able to keep with pretty much no effort have been properly tracking my food intake (although there are some improvements I’d like to make), doing daily gratitude lists, not ordering delivery food (although I may get delivery Chinese food for my Christmas dinner), weighing myself every day I’m home, working on self-submitting for acting jobs every day, meditating every day (but there is improvement I can focus on), reading 10 pages of a recovery focused book daily, and my water intake.

While those have come easily to me, I know that I’m not doing them 100% all the time and I have taken notes on steps I want to take to make these new habits even stronger and better for me. I think those steps should be pretty easy since they are small tweaks versus starting from scratch. But I think improvement and progress with habits is a good thing so I’m happy to work on making these better.

The ones I’ve been struggling with have been practicing mindful eating, a yoga class online (or at least a yoga pose) every day, and doing a daily task sheet. The mindful eating one has been very tough. I have an alarm to remind me of it, but because my eating schedule isn’t the same day to day, sometimes the alarm is too early or too late. I need to work on a different system, but I’m not totally sure what that is yet. But I’m happy to be working on it this month. Yoga was working really great for me for a while, and then time just got away from me. It’s another thing that I have an alarm to remind me of, but I need to make it more of a priority in my life again. It was a good thing and I know I need to work on bringing it back. And while the daily task sheet was a challenge I didn’t end up liking, I know that having a daily to-do list is good and I’m seeing how that could be most productive for me.

I think spending the month working on the year’s challenges will put me in a place where I’m ready to take on 2017 head first. I know that 2017 has the potential to be a very rewarding yet very challenging year so I want to be in the best head space possible. And getting back to my challenges will be a great way to accomplish that.

My new planner should be arriving in the next week or so, and I’m so excited for it! Buying this planner really was one of the greatest things I’ve done for myself and I’m so excited to make next year’s planner even better!

And because the team at Ink+Volt know how much I have loved my planner this year, they gave me something to share with you all! This is a link to the entire 2016 planner that you can download and use! Even though 2016 is almost over, you can use the December pages to make sure you also end 2016 the best person ever! And if you love it, you can still buy the 2017 planner and hopefully get it delivered before the new year starts!

I’m really excited for this month’s challenge/reflection/rededication and seeing how I am able to solidify my challenges in my life. My next monthly challenge post will be my first challenge for 2017!

Full Thanksgiving Week (or Lots Of Family Time)

I feel like I’m still decompressing from my Thanksgiving week. It was such a great week and even though it was the same length as most of my Thanksgiving trips, I felt like I got more family time this year than I have in the past.

I was able to get my work shifted to be a bit earlier during Thanksgiving week, so I could start my drive to San Diego 2 hours earlier than normal. That made a huge difference in my drive since I ended up missing the big rush of traffic and was able to get down to San Diego in about 2 1/2 hours (normal for me is 2 hours and last Thanksgiving was over 4). My drive got a bit delayed when I was almost to the rental house when I got pulled over by a cop. Turned out my loaner car from the mechanic didn’t have the current registration sticker on it! It took some time for the cop to write the ticket, but since I’m not the owner of the car it isn’t my ticket.

Even with the time spent waiting for the ticket, the drive was easy and fast and once I got to the rental house I relaxed. I felt like I was totally in vacation mode and the view we had from the house really helped.

first-sunset

And Tucker decided to make himself very comfortable by using me as his personal pillow. At least I know he loves me since he was always laying on my legs if I was on the ground or on my feet if I was sitting in a chair.

tucker

The day I arrived, we didn’t do too much. Most of us had gotten to San Diego that day, so we were fine with relaxing and not rushing around. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, and I went out to dinner that night which was nice since we were going to be around a ton of family the rest of the week.

On Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, I had to work from the rental house in the morning. There was a breakfast bar in the kitchen so I worked from there. It was a bit noisy, but it allowed me to still hang out with my family while I was working. I didn’t want to isolate myself so it worked out nicely! After my shift was done, I went with my dad to take the dog to a dog park (he needed to get out some energy). It was another pretty low-key day until dinnertime. We all headed over to my aunt’s house for dinner that night. Almost the entire family was there (we were only missing 1 person) and it was awesome!

It was a casual dinner which was nice. I ended up at a table with my brother, sister-in-law, cousin, and my cousin’s kids (so we were at a kids table), but that was fine. Eating dinner was pretty quick and most of the time we were there was spent in the living room talking. I was telling my grandma how you can look up census paperwork online and showed her how I found the paperwork her parents (my great-grandparents) filled out when she was little. Their maid was listed on their paperwork since she lived there and my grandma was telling us all stories about the maid and her parents. It was a really special thing to get to hear  since we don’t know a ton of stories from when my grandma was growing up.

Thanksgiving day was pretty busy. My morning included the family workout at Orangetheory (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite traditions!) and then I was trying to help out my mom with getting dinner ready. A lot of stuff was done in advance but there was still plenty to do the day of. One of my jobs was to help with the big table we were using, but unfortunately even with all of the muscle in the family, we weren’t able to get the extra leaf in the table. But we managed to get everyone in between the main table and a card table (for the little kids), so it worked out well.

table

On Thanksgiving Day, my cousin Adam and his girlfriend arrived and with them there we had the entire family at Thanksgiving for the first time in a very long time! It was a very full dinner, but it was incredible to have 17 people from 4 generations together.

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This was also the first time in 6 years that the 5 of us in my generation (my cousins, brother, and I) were all together. I’m hoping this will be happening more often, but we had to get a photo together just in case it is a few more years before we can do this again.

cousins

The day after Thanksgiving, I had to work a full shift for work. I was able to get my hours shifted early again, so I only had to work from 8am-1pm. And I worked in the kitchen so I was spending time with my family in between customers (we didn’t get a ton of people calling or using our chat system so there was a lot downtime). My brother and sister-in-law left to go back to Santa Barbara while I was working, but everyone else was going to be coming back to the house for dinner again that night.

That last night in San Diego had another incredible sunset and my mom and grandma pulled some chairs over to the big windows so they could relax and watch the sun go down. We also tried to see the green flash with the sunset, but it was a bit too cloudy.

family

After having leftovers for dinner, I got back into my loaner car to make the drive back to LA. It would have been nice to spend another day in San Diego, but I really needed to get back. I said goodbye to everyone (a lot of them I might not see again until next Thanksgiving) and made the drive back up. Fortunately, I had a very easy drive (and didn’t get pulled over again) and was home in time to unpack before needing to go to bed.

Overall, it was a pretty wonderful Thanksgiving week. I know that I’m so lucky that my family can get together like this and I’m very grateful that we all make the effort to continue this family tradition.

Thanksgiving Prep (or So Little Time)

Leading up to Thanksgiving, I knew there was a lot of stuff I had to get done and I was really trying to plan things out the best I could. Of course, things never work out the way you think they will. I’m just glad I got all my prep work done before I left last week!

The main part of my Thanksgiving prep was getting the food made that I knew I was bringing. I only was bringing 3 dishes with me, but when you have a tiny kitchen making 3 dishes can seem overwhelming! Especially when I don’t have multiples of the kitchen things I was using!

The first thing I made was banana bread. This has become a tradition over the past few years and I’m glad I’m able to make it to help out. It’s a pretty easy recipe to make and I happened to have some bananas that were overly ripe that I could use. I had almost all of the ingredients that I needed for the recipe at my house (except some of the dairy and the blueberries) and it was a quick thing to put together and get into the oven so I could make the 2 other things I needed to make.

The other dishes I was bringing were dips. I made the feta dip that is a tradition with the family (usually my mom makes it but it is now my thing to make). This is another easy thing to put together, but it is something that I usually don’t have the ingredients for in my house. But once you have everything you need, you just throw it all in the food processor and it is done! The other dip I made was a white bean dip that I found online. It was another really easy thing (just white beans, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and lemon) that was a food processor dip. The only complication I had was I only have one food processor bowl. So I made the feta dip, washed and dried the bowl, and made the other dip. Between the dips and the bread, I got everything done within about an hour.

thanksgiving-food

Packing was something else I tried to plan out, but it ended up being something that I was doing while I was working the day I was going to be driving to San Diego. My family now does casual Thanksgiving and that does make things easier with packing. But because I have lost a pretty significant amount of weight lately, I’ve been realizing that many of my clothes don’t fit anymore. So I grabbed all of the things I was thinking of packing and was trying them on between customers. I guess I should just feel lucky that my work is online chat and phones and my customers can’t see me!

Between packing and cooking, I felt like I had enough on my plate. But I also ended up having my liver MRI the night before driving to San Diego. I was at the hospital for a few hours getting it done so that was a bit of a time suck. The MRI itself wasn’t too horrible. Once the IV was in and I was in the machine, it was about 45 minutes. And at this hospital, you can listen to music while in the MRI tube. They had Pandora as an option and I requested the Broadway station. All the songs that played were things that I knew, but the best moment was when I heard my friend AJ singing on the “Heathers The Musical” soundtrack in-between 2 songs from “Hamilton”! That really made me happy and forget about all the stuff I had to do to prepare for San Diego the next morning.

And because all that craziness wasn’t enough leading up to San Diego, on Monday morning as I drove to my workout the power steering in my car died. I’ve never driven without power steering before and I knew that it was something that needed to be fixed before driving down. I took my car into the shop around 10am on Monday and discovered that the power steering in my car isn’t the standard one used so it would be tough to find a replacement part. They were hopeful that my car would be fixed by Friday, but that meant I wouldn’t have my car for Thanksgiving. Fortunately my mechanic offers free loaner cars so I got one of those and drove that to and from San Diego. As I’m writing this, my car still isn’t fixed. They got the replacement part in on Friday, but it’s still not fixing it. I’m hoping I’ll get my car back this week, but at least I have a loaner car to use so I don’t have to pay for a rental.

My Thanksgiving prep did end up being a bit stressful, but it all worked out in the end. I got everything done that I needed to (plus some things I wasn’t expecting) and I had an awesome Thanksgiving trip. But my Thanksgiving recap won’t be until tomorrow’s post!

Thanksgiving Workouts (or Continuing A Tradition)

This past week of workouts included some in LA and 1 in San Diego. It’s pretty much a once a year occurrence that I work out somewhere other than my Brentwood Orangetheory, but it was awesome to get to work out with my family in the middle of the week.

My workout on Monday was in LA and it was an endurance day. We had a lot of long push paces but I pushed myself a lot. I was preparing to work out with my dad and I wanted to make sure I was in the best running shape possible. For the 3 minute pushes, I did my 1 minute intervals. For all the pushes that were 2 minutes or under, I ran the entire time. We also had a progressive push for 4 minutes where we were supposed to get faster every minute. I know I can’t really run for 4 minutes yet, so I set up my own intervals. I did 90 seconds of running, 30 seconds of walking, and 90 seconds of running to get through that long segment. And when we had a 1 minute all out, I decided to go really fast to see what I would be able to get for my distance in class. And to find out I did 2 miles again was a nice confidence boost!

2-miles

For the floor on Monday, we had 2 blocks. And each of those blocks started with a 750 meter row. That’s a pretty decent distance to row and I knew it would be tough. But I still wanted to go as quickly as I could to see what I was able to do. I managed to get them done in 3:37.6 and 3:26.7 which isn’t bad at all! We also had a lot of arm work including chest presses and flies and using the straps to do rows and bicep work. By the end of the class, I felt pretty prepared for my Thanksgiving workout with my family.

My next workout was on Thanksgiving at the Orangetheory in La Jolla. As usual, my dad was able to join me (one of my aunts was supposed to come for the 3rd year, but she was dealing with some injuries that prevented her from working out). My aunt who came for her first class last year was also with us. My brother came back after missing the workout last year. And my cousin and sister-in-law were there for the first time! We had a pretty large group and our experience levels were a big range, but I was so excited about it. I think my cousin and sister-in-law were both a little nervous (and having me explain the workout wasn’t making it better), but I think everyone was happy that we were doing something to help burn off the calories we’d be eating later.

This workout was a 3G (or 3 group) workout like it is every Thanksgiving. We were able to start on the treadmill and it was an 8 minute distance challenge. My dad and I were on treadmills next to each other, but I knew he could go farther than I could since he can run pretty well. But it was cool to have my dad next to me since this was the first time he was getting to see me run. I did 2 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking for my intervals and I managed to get .6 miles done in those 8 minutes.  We were back on the treadmill one more time and we had a 5 minute block with pushes and all outs. Each segment was 90 seconds or under, so I was able to run the entire time for those.

We also had a bit of a partner workout between the rower and the floor. The people on the rower were rowing for distance while they waited for their partner on the floor to tag them out. On the floor, we had to do squats, squat half swings, and push ups. Because of how the partnering worked, none of my family was partnered with each other. But that might have been for the best because then we didn’t have to be mad at each other for taking too long to tag us out. On the other half of the partner workout, I didn’t end up having a partner (it wasn’t a full class). So we had 1 minute row sprints and then went over to the floor to do shoulder pressed, one leg deadlifts (I did them one-legged but held on with one hand) and more push ups.

For the end of the workout, we had 5 minute rotations where the rower was quick pushes and on the floor we did some plank work. It wasn’t an easy workout, but it wasn’t the worst I have done. But for my family who isn’t used to the pace or pattern, I know it was a bit tough on them. But fortunately everyone had a great time (my sister-in-law even said that she would join Orangetheory if there was one in Santa Barbara for her to go to) and I think that everyone will be joining us again for the workout next year.

And as always, we had to get a photo as a family with our coach. We had someone different this year (the past 2 years we happened to have the same coach each time), but this guy was awesome! I hope he will be our coach next year!

family-otf

We also got a silly picture after the workout. There had been an ongoing joke about if my brother would get sick from pushing himself too hard in the workout this year, so in the silly picture he is pretending to throw up (he’s hidden behind my dad’s arm).

silly-otf

I got back from Thanksgiving late on Friday, so my next workout in LA was on Saturday morning after work. It was a strength day and I was pretty glad for that. I was a bit tired from Thanksgiving and was happy to have a lot of walking during the treadmill time. But it ended up not being a standard strength treadmill day. We had 3 blocks on the treadmill and each started with a 90 second push pace at no incline. I ended up running for all of those. Then we had our hill climbs. Those ranged from 3 minutes to 90 seconds and I walked at an incline between 8-12% for all of those. Then we ended each block with an all out pace (between 30-90 seconds) and it was at a 4% incline. Normally, I wouldn’t run those, but I figured I’d try it because 4% is my walking flat road. Running at 4% isn’t easy, but I was able to do it and I’m glad that I tried.

On the floor, the first block was more focused on arms. We had push ups with weighted rows plus bicep curls (I was using 20 pounds for the bicep work) We also had some ab work in that first block. In the second block, we had lunges plus some strap work and then rowing. The rowing was between 300-400 meters so it was more like a sprint than some of my rowing in the beginning of the week. I was glad that I chose to do a workout on Saturday because it really helped me to get back into my normal schedule after being out-of-town for a few days. And I also knew I ate a bit more than normal over Thanksgiving so I wanted to make up for that.

For the next few weeks of workouts, I don’t think I have anything too crazy going on. There is a contest at my Orangetheory where you have to do 15 workouts in 6 weeks, so I know that should happen for me (if you get that done, you win tickets you can use for various drawings for prizes). I’ve heard there is a sprint dri-tri coming up, so I’m going to look into that and see if it fits with my schedule. But mainly I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing to make sure I end 2016 better than I started it!