Monday, April 22, 2019

Day Off and Last Week’s Workouts

I took today off work and boy, it sure feels great having a three day weekend. The weekends are just too short, don’t you think?

At the job I have accrued enough vacation, sick leave, and personal time such that, in conjunction with each pay period’s new accruals and holidays, I could have a paid day off every single week between now and retirement. The main drawback is I’d be short if I wanted to take whole weeks. Plus I would have to call out sick a lot and the bosses would catch on.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff! I set a goal to work out five times last week. Did I meet that goal? Keep reading and find out!🙂

On Tuesday I went to HIIT (high intensity interval training). I am iffy about that class because it is HARD, and for the past 6 months it’s been a succession of not so great instructors. Well happy day! My favorite HIIT teacher Erin is back. It was a great class and I made sure to take it very easy with the weights (I used 2 and 3 pound weights only).

On Wednesday, my daughter and I went for a 3 mile run after work. The weather was perfect and a random man on his lawn yelled out “You’re inspiring!” which made our day.

I had every intention to go to Zumba on Thursday, but instead accompanied the daughter to Target so she could exchange some shoes.

On Saturday I swam 40 laps at the Y, and on Sunday morning I ran 4 miles.

Sunday afternoon my husband and I went to a nearby nature preserve to walk on one of the trails. The trail started out great, but pretty soon we were in ankle deep squishy mud. We had the right footwear but headed back to our car after 30 minutes. I’m calling that half a workout.

In conclusion, I did 4 1/2 workouts.

Happy Earth Day!

The trail started out nice and dry 
It was a beautiful day 
There is a bird in there scurrying away from us

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Reading Lately

Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk
This is a collection of stories about the wives / moms who live in this suburb of London, but really it could be any suburb in the UK or USA. All the stories take place on one rainy day. The short intro of the wind and rain beating down on the neighborhood reminded me of the first Harry Potter book (think Privet Drive) and the Order of The Phoenix when the storm came in and the dementors came after Harry and Dudley. In the first chapter Juliet and Benedict are dining with a couple who are essentially the Dursleys. Well, the HP similarities end there. Juliet is the first wife we meet who is dissatisfied; she thinks of Benedict as a murderer for killing her dreams. She teaches at a private girls school, but she had potential for greatness! We meet Amanda, who is trying so hard to get in the clique; finally the women come to her house for coffee. Solly is expecting her fourth baby; she decides to rent a spare bedroom to a series of exchange students. How will that play out? Maisie is recently transplanted from London; she seems to be in a daze - until something unexpected springs her to action. Then there is Christine, the queen bee of Arlington Park; the story where she throws together the dinner party made me laugh out loud. The same women reappear in different stories, alternately despising and loving their children and husbands, and finding joy in little things. This book is extremely well written and sharp. I recommend it.

What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell
The chapters alternate between Olivia “now” - 35 and newly divorced, moving with her two children Carrie and Daniel, to her hometown at the Jersey shore, and Olivia “then” - 15 and rebellious, living with her crazy mother. In the first chapter of “now”, Daniel, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, goes missing. Every “now” chapter is the same, Daniel is still missing and Olivia is frantic. So you can just skip those chapters; I did. In the “then” chapters, her mother keeps the spare bedroom decorated as a shrine to these supposed twin daughters she had before Olivia. The mom is also a psychic, and she disappears for weeks on end, leaving Olivia alone in their rundown house, sometimes with no electricity; always filthy - any housework is up to Olivia to do. James, the mom’s occasional boyfriend stops in, but where is Child Protective Services? This isn’t a hundred years ago! The only plot line that kept me reading (skimming, really) was the twin redhead girls Olivia spots over and over. They look like her mom; could they be her long lost sisters? I will spare you the misery - the girls are her cousins. She follows them to New York City and meets her aunt. She never knew her mom had a sister. Where has this aunt been for the past 15 years? But wait! Uncle Tom comes home from work and Olivia realizes (by his idiosyncrasies) that he is her father and the twins are her sisters. Oh, and the cops find Daniel, who is fine. Skip this book.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Random Thoughts

I realized I never hit Publish on this post from the end of March. Better late than never!

I’m relieved that we finally got that done. Since my husband has his own business there are lots of receipts and things to organize prior to doing the actual filing (we use TurboTax). So, yeah, we procrastinated. It was funny because we had finally gotten everything organized and in folders; we moved the folders to the kitchen island. They sat there for a week, but I was like “Yes, we are making progress! The folders are closer to the laptop!”

Vera Bradley
I got a Vera Bradley handbag for $23; the retail price on the tag was $75. Score! If you know me, then you know I like my Vera Bradley. I have a VB lunch bag, makeup bag, toiletries bag, coin purse, ID holder, eyeglasses case, and tote bag. This bag will replace a similar one that bit the dust.

It looks like my old one but different pattern 
Song in my head 
We watched “A Star is Born” on DVD. We saw this at the theater and I liked it enough to watch it twice. The song “Shallow” by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Love it! Did you see them singing together at the Oscars? Watch it here on YouTube.

I made this recipe for apple oatmeal muffins and I used red velvet yogurt in place of the applesauce. The yogurt made the batter pink; they look a little pink in the picture, don’t you think?

So good I ate one before I remembered to take a picture
Have a great day!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Utilities Savings

It’s “thrifty Thursday”, and that means it’s time for a finance post. I went back into the financial archives to look at my utilities spending and was pleasantly surprised. Over the past five years, the amount we spent for gas and electric has gone down every year, except for 2018, when we spent $50 more than 2017. Here’s the breakdown:

These are some things we have done to lower our utilities cost.

1. We live in a newer home that has energy efficient windows and good insulation. Ten years ago, when we lived in our old house, heating costs were double for a home that was smaller.

2. We changed our supplier. Thanks to deregulation, we can choose a company to supply our gas and electric. We chose Agera Energy. There was no interruption in service, our bill didn’t change - we still pay the utility company. All that changed was the cost.

3. We got a Nest thermostat. It’s nice looking and easy to use - I don’t like when basic things are complicated. The smart technology links to our cellphones so it knows when we’re not home and adjusts accordingly. You can also turn it up or down from your phone. When we are energy efficient we earn leaves. Each month they send an email with our leaf report.

4. We don’t mess around with the Nest. We set it and forget it. In the winter we keep our house at 68 degrees during the daytime and 67 degrees at night.

5. If someone is cold, then they add layers. We keep three fleece throw blankets in our family room, one for each of us.

6. We turn the lights off when we leave a room.

7. I wash clothes in cold water or eco-warm water. Only the sheets are washed in hot water.

8. I hang our nice work clothes on a drying rack indoors. This is one load that doesn’t have to go through the dryer, and the clothes last longer.

Read more about sustainability at

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Calorie Calculator

To continue yesterday’s topic - when I see a weight gain of a couple of pounds - my action plan is as follows. I go to this website and enter all the relevant stats about myself. Below are the results. I aim for the maintain weight calories. I know from experience that I maintain my weight on 1600 to 1700 calories a day. Yesterday I ate 1570 calories and this morning I was down 1.5 pounds.
I also aim to eat more protein, drink more water, and eliminate sweets and refined carbs more than usual.

Even though I’m convinced that weight loss / maintenance is 80% diet and 20% exercise, I am upping my fitness plan for this week. I consistently work out 3 or 4 times per week. This week I’m setting a goal of 5 workouts. This is a personal test for me to see if committing to it on the blog will keep me accountable. Exercise benefits me physically and mentally. I need the endorphins, people!

Last week’s workouts: Zumba with Michelle on Wednesday, swam 40 laps on Saturday, and ran 4 miles on Sunday, for a total of three workouts.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Weighing In

My blog is not about weight loss or about weight maintenance after a big loss. My weight has been stable my whole adult life (except for when I was pregnant of course). However, I have always had a strong interest in nutrition, weight loss and fitness. In fact, I would have gone into this profession had I known it existed! I took a nutrition elective in college, but my school did not have a nutrition or dietary sciences degree. A lot of nutrition is about numbers, and I ended up working in finance, which is all about the numbers, so there you have it.

Back to my weight. About seven or eight years ago, I had a health crisis and lost around 15 pounds. Believe me, nobody wants to lose weight that way. I regained half of  those pounds back and my body came to a new set point. It is where my weight has stayed for the past five or six years, and is an ideal weight for me. I am hesitant to put the number down and have people say or think “Oh you are fine” and “how can you be worried about weight.”

What I want to dispel is the idea that thin or average weight people don’t have to think about the scales, or that we can eat everything. That is so not true.

I was a chubby kid and preteen. I was fat at 14 but normal weight at age 17 when I graduated high school. Somewhere in those years I became aware of my weight and slimmed down. I didn’t play sports (I dreaded gym class!) and I didn’t diet, but I started to pay attention to what I ate and drank.

I have done so ever since. It’s not an obsession but rather as Sean Anderson says, it’s a daily practice. I eat the same handful of breakfasts and lunches every day. I have a routine variety of dinners on rotation. I drink water but I also like Coke Zero. I measure the half and half in my coffee. (My coworkers call me precise). I ignore the doughnuts and sweets at work; I think “that’s not my food”. I have fast food once or twice a year, if that.

I do eat at restaurants, bake, enjoy holidays, have cake at birthday parties or showers, have an occasional glass of wine and an evening snack (or two) when I watch TV. I enjoy life but it is a daily awareness.

I weigh myself around three times a week; the days may vary except for Monday. I have a hard and fast rule about weighing myself every Monday. I also always weigh in on the 1st of every month regardless of the day it falls on. I have a three pound happy range; if I see even a pound higher, the alarm bell in my brain goes off!

Today is Monday and my weight is up and it’s time to rein it in.

Chicken + egg salad on lettuce + strawberries = healthy lunch   

Sunday, April 14, 2019

1st and 33rd

1st because Saturday was the first running of the Helderberg to Hudson Half-Marathon. My husband ran and I volunteered at one of the water stations along the route. I didn’t sleep well the night before because I was having anxiety about getting to my assignment “late”. (I know, so silly, in retrospect).

The volunteer email said to get there at 7:00 a.m. However, I was dropping my husband off at the race start first so I arrived at my station at 7:45. It was fine. There were 15 people at our station and the first runners came through at 8:50. Yes, we needed 15 volunteers - there were 2,500 runners.

Here is a picture from my vantage point. These were some early leaders; after this there was no time for picture breaks. After the runners went past our stop, and we finished cleaning up, I drove to the finish line. A lot of our running friends were there and it was a beautiful day.

The top 3 male finishers came by around 5 minutes before this group
33rd because Saturday was our anniversary (I’ll let you guess how many years).🙂 We went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in the next town that some friends had been raving about.

When we go somewhere new to us, I like to look at it through the eyes of a restaurant critic or a mystery shopper; one of my sisters has been doing mystery shopping for a long time so it’s rubbed off on me.

The service was excellent. The dinners included salad and bread, both of which were fresh and plentiful. The portions were huge; I wish I remembered to take a picture of my lasagna because it could have served three people.

The best part was the bill was about $40. With a 20% tip, the total was under $50. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great dinner! And we have enough leftovers for tonight to feed ourselves and our daughter.

Thanks for reading!