Inspiration And One Year Of Blogging

I recently realized that this blog is nearly one year old. It made me start to think back on why I started it and what writing it has done for me.

Why I Started This Blog

I was diagnosed with Graves Disease and Insulin Resistance.

Graves Disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).

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Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

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Scary stuff.

There is no cure for Graves but it is treated with either surgery (removal of the thyroid) or Radioactive Iodine. My doctor opted for the Radioactive Iodine treatment. I went to the hospital, was given a pill, and then was sequestered for three days. After the treatment, they monitor your hormone levels via various blood tests and wait for the thyroid to cease functioning. In my case, I was lucky that I lost most of my thyroid function but not all. I am able to control many of the symptoms with medication.

Having a slow metabolism (your thyroid regulates your metabolism) makes weight gain easy, so I decided that I had to something to make sure that I stimulated it by getting my butt moving. I had attempted the Couch To 5K program a few times, never making it all the way through. The idea of running and maybe even racing was very exciting. I could picture sticking to that, as opposed to just going to the gym. I need goals, something to strive for, and some way to prove that my effort is worth it. After six months, I actually started to like running and thought that writing about my experiences would keep me on track.

One year after the Radioactive Iodine, my endocrinologist told me that I no longer have Insulin Resistance. That exercise works better than medication and that my levels were at a normal level. Even with minimal thyroid activity, I have not gained any weight. Even though the Doctor told me to expect a 20 to 30 plus pound gain after my metabolism slowed down. After a year, I have maintained the same weight but most importantly, I feel better and am stronger than I have ever been.

Favorite Memories

My first race the Seasons 52 5.2K. I loved this race and am looking forward to running it again this year.

My first comment was on 5K Number Two. The idea that anyone is reading this was crazy and really exciting to me.

My favorite post is about my wedding.

My most popular post is Food Rut.

My most commented post is my 30 Before 30 list.

Running my first half marathon.

Favorite Pictures

Blogging has not only lead to my love of running but a new hobby of photography. I am so new, and still trying to figure out my camera and Photoshop, but loving every minute of it. I have also taken more pictures of cats that if they ever become extinct, they should be able to genetically engineer new ones based on my pictures.

Cute Cat Near Shoes

Cat PW Actions

BW Alia Cat

Thanksgiving 2011

Bondi Band and Race Bib

Cat Under Blanket

Thank you for reading and here’s to one more year of great memories and lots of sweat.

Half Marathon Training Week Four

If you would like to follow my other weeks of training, they can be found on my Workouts page. I break my half marathon training down by week to make it easier to follow. 

Another week of eating and drinking plus lots of time off work. I think my training improved greatly with the amount of time off. Maybe I can have a two day work week with the same pay?

Half_Marathon_Training_Week_Four

Key Workouts:

Easy Run: One out of two.

Tempo Run: Total of six miles with four at tempo.

Long Run: 12 Miles

Cross Training:

Dance Trace which I am still loving.

Yoga which I always love.

Total Miles: 21.06

Planned Miles: 24

I need to fit in more strength training and will need to give up having two rest days a week to do so. I run after work and before dinner during the week. Should I try strength training in the morning? I cannot push dinner back any later or we will be eating it the next day and J may file for divorce.

The reason I skipped the second easy run this week was because I was a little sore from Dance Trance and thought my long run would go better on fully rested legs. As my body gets used to Dance Trance, this may change but maybe a Yoga class the next day would work well.

How do you modify your plan to fit it all in?

Christmas Aftermath

Christmas this year was very low-key this year. J was away all last week visiting his family in Connecticut. I enjoyed having the house to myself.

I finally was able to watch The Help which I loved almost as much as the book.

The Help Movie

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I caught up on all manners of cheesy TV including the finale of the X Factor. I would not have picked Melanie as the winner but I enjoyed all the duets they did in the last two shows. She is a bit bland and prone to singing terrible ballads for my taste. At least she does have a good voice and seemed humble enough throughout the show.

Melanie Amaro

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I gave J an early Christmas present before he left for Connecticut.

Canon Powershot Camera

He wanted a camera with some manual controls so he can learn how to use them but not as many as a DSLR. I am really excited to try this out when we eat out and lugging around a giant camera is not always so practical.

There is always a cat around the corner in our house. Just needing to make sure everything is kosher. Tail making sure it is indeed a camera and not a bomb.

Cat with Canon Powershot Camera

This Christmas, like many others, J and I got each other the same gifts.

Nook Simple Touch

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Two Nook Simple’s. It works out well because I had planned on using his and he mine. So now everyone is a winner.

Christmas Day we joined everyone else in Polk County and went to the movies.

The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was fantastic! I read the book and knew what to expect with the story but hoped that the film would handle the complexities of the characters in a way that kept it exciting but did not skip over any details. It did a good job of unraveling the mystery. J had not read the book and he was easily able to follow the story. The music by Trent Reznor was excellent and I hope to see him doing more film sound tracks.

Now I have two more days off to lay around the house. There may be some running and probably some shopping (yay for getting gift cards.)

How was your holiday?

How To Enjoy The Holiday Season Without Going Broke

I love shiny new things as much as the next girl but the economy is not in a great place and many people are not in a position to spend extra money for gifts. That does not mean that you should stop giving but you can do so on the cheap if you follow the steps below.

Some of the best gifts are heartfelt and personalized. Your recipient also knows how much time you spent working on it. This is definitely the case where it is the thought and effort that counts,

Here are a few of my favorite easy and inexpensive crafts that make great gifts.

Knit Dish Clothes

Inexpensive and easy to do. You can buy cotton yarn at Michaels for a dollar or two. They come in so many colors which makes it easy to use a favorite color or coordinate with a kitchen.

Grandmothers Favorite Dishcloth

Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth

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Learn to Purl Dishcloth

Angel Cloth

Basket Cloth

Waffle Knit Dishcloth

Food

I love giving and getting food as gifts, it is such a personal touch and great way to share a favorite recipe.

My go to for a ready to eat gift is chocolate truffles. They are simple and people are wowed by how yummy they are. J actually requested that I did not make as many this year because he could not stop eating them last year.

Chocolate Truffles Recipe

I love how many different boxes and bags they make for candies and cookies.

Cute_Holiday_Treat_Boxes

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Vintage_Gift_Treat_Box

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Dessert In A Jar is a way to give your favorite recipe, along with the dry ingredients. It makes a great gift if you are travelling and when it is not practical to bring something already made.

Sand Art Cookies

Peppermint Stick Cocoa

Peppermint_Stick_Cocoa

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General Crafts

Reversible Coffee Cup Sleeves

Reversible Coffee Cover Sleeves

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How are you being frugal this holiday season?

Half Marathon Training Weeks Two And Three

If you would like to follow my other weeks of training, they can be found on my Workouts page.

It has been a busy past few weeks with all the shopping and pie eating. The weather cooling off is making running easier but I could do without running in the dark. I do enjoy seeing all the Christmas lights and wish my neighbors would leave them up year round. It makes the one and a half mile neighborhood loop, much more interesting.

Doing all of my runs, especially the longer ones, solo is starting to get to me. Even though I love listening to talk radio or Howard Stern, it would be nice to run with other people sometimes. The closest running club to me is the Lakeland Runners Club. I am contemplating joining in the new year.

Week 2:

Half_Marathon_Training_Week_2

I got in my speed work but my long run was a total disaster. I was supposed to run 11 miles but instead ran 4.27. At least the police were involved so I have some excuse but would have rather gotten in the mileage. There was zero cross training this week.

Key Workouts:

Easy Run: One out of two.

Speedwork: Total of six miles with 3×1600 with 800 jogs.

Long Run: 4.27 out of 11 miles.

Week 3:

Half_Marathon_Training_Week_3

This week I did every run in the plan plus three cross training workouts. I am so glad I finally tried Dance Trance but probably should not have done the class and then run 11 miles on Saturday. Everything hurt on Sunday. Luckily, I was able to make it Yoga and that helped immensely.

Key Workouts:

Easy Run: Two out of two.

Tempo Run: Six miles total with four at tempo.

Long Run: 11 miles

Do you run with a group or solo?

Any experience with joining a running club? I must admit to being a little nervous about it. (What if I’m the slowest person there and onward though my normal list of neurosis.)

My Two Left Feet Try Dance Trance

Orlando has lots of amazing exercise classes I want to try. From Aerial Arts, Barre 54, and every kind of Yoga you can think of. Most of my workouts consist of running but I love to cross train and need to incorporate different workouts for my body and my mental health. So when the opportunity to try Dance Trance popped up, I jumped on it.

Dance Trance is  a class that uses choreographed dance routines set to popular music. What makes it different from other dance fitness classes?

From the Dance Trance site:

The DT choreography is created in a manner that allows students to pick up combinations as they learn. The musical phrases (verses, chorus, bridge, and instrumentals) are all choreographed so that movements also repeat with the phrases. Although students learn many songs in a class, they are able to pick up on this method of teaching and learn the combinations as they are working out. This is the embodiment of the “DT routine”- originally choreographed combinations to original music by the original recording artist.

They do offer classes for different levels. The Break Down Class is where the routines are broken down slower. This makes it easier for those with two left feet like myself or anyone who just wants to make sure they are getting all the steps right. The standard class is called Dance Trance and it is for an intermediate to advanced level but requires no dance experience. This class you just follow the instructor.

Even just jumping in, I was able to (mostly) follow the instructors. When I could not, the class is so full of energy and joy, that it is impossible not to have a good time. I get nervous trying new things but everyone was really nice and supportive that even though the class had a mix of all levels, I never felt odd for being new.

I smiled and laughed (at myself) throughout the whole class. It was a great workout and I left super sweaty.

DT Orlando at Lululemon-44

Sweaty picture with Katy and Victoria.

Please check out the Lululemon Athletica Mall at Millennia Facebook page for a video and here for the really great pictures taken by Katy.

I had such a great time that I already made plans to attend a Break Down Class this week with a friend. Can’t wait!

When was the last time you tried something new?

American Horror Story Is The Most Screwed Up Show On TV And I Like It

A few thoughts on this lovely Thursday which I took off from work.

1. American Horror Story. If you ever find yourself giving birth in an old house, aided by a ghost doctor and nurses, while your dead daughter watches, run. When the Anti-Christ is finished tearing its way out of you, your crazy neighbor takes the baby to clean it up and is confronted by your husbands dead mistress, you know you aren’t in Kansas anymore. So wrong, yet so good.

2. I finally downloaded a few free Photoshop actions. These actions can be found here courtesy of Pioneer Woman. I have no clue what I am doing but it is fun.

Before:

Alia Cat Before

After:

Alia Lovely Ethereal Boost Cat

Before:

Dennis and Mom

After:

Dennis and Mom Soft Fade

3. I am a huge Howard Stern fan. I listen everyday and we have Howard TV at home. Today he announced that he will be a judge on America’s Got Talent. This news is still sinking in but I do hope that this will let a larger audience see that Howard is more than a crass, shock jock. I do not currently watch America’s Got Talent but will tune in to see Howard.

Blog Recipe Roundup

I try to keep things fresh in the kitchen by trying out new recipes. Variety is extremely important to J and if I can keep it interesting, I have an easier time getting him to eat healthier.

This week I made 30 Minute White Bean + Chicken Soup from how Sweet it is. This soup is amazing and easy to make. The only changes I made was leaving out the mushrooms (I forgot to buy them) and I used an Italian Cheese Blend instead of Fontina Cheese. The bacon flavor of this soup gives it just enough stick to your bones flavor to make it perfect for a winter dinner. I paired the soup with tuna fish sandwiches. Quick and easy as long as you cook the chicken the night before.

Leeks

Leeks can give soup such an understated flavor. Perfect for those who find onions a bit too strong.

Maverick Ranch Bacon No Nitrates

I love bacon but hate nitrates so only buy nitrate free bacon. (Here is a discussion on nitrate free bacon from Chowhound. I do not find that it tastes worse than regular bacon but everyone is different.)

30 Minute White Bean and Chicken Soup

I am looking forward to eating more of this soup for lunch. It has that will taste better the next day quality to it.

While the soup was cooking, I took some pictures of Tail. He might be possessed.

Possesed Cat

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Saturday And My Run In With The Police

Saturday started out like most days. I woke up before the sun came up, swearing that I would start my long run at six. I do this many Saturday’s but am really to scared to run in the dark by myself, so I always end up sitting around and drinking coffee. When the sun came up and I was able to drag myself away from the computer, I did end up getting outside.

I was supposed to run 11 Miles but knew I would not have time because I had a hair appointment at 11 and I am slow. An 11 mile long runs take around 2:26. So I decided to run for as long as I could.

My house is on a cul-de-sac and there are no other houses around us. I typically run around the cul-de-sac and noticed a car parked up on the grass near the pond. I went inside to let J know. J saw the car late last night parked there but thought it might be some kids. We decided to call the police, just so they could check out what was going on.

I went back to my run and then three police cars come barreling down my street. Then comes an undercover car. Being nosey, I keep looping around so I can see what is going on. Two people were in the car sleeping. The police end up arresting the man, not sure for what and the woman was let go. She took off on foot. The car was then towed. It is such a strange situation because we live in a fairly rural area, where there are plenty of places to park a car that are not near any residences. Not sure why you park next to a house with the lights on.

So with all this excitement, my 11 mile run turned into a four mile run. I am still so early in my training (week two) that I feel OK about missing it.

After the run, I did make it to the salon. I decided to go a little darker for the winter.

New Hair

(Please ignore the messy bed behind me.)

Have you ever discovered something on a run that made you call the police?

Should I get over my fear of running in the dark?