We did some fun stuff.

We’ve actually been doing some pretty cool stuff lately, which is nice! I feel like we’re always “soooooo busy” all the time, but then people ask me what I’ve been doing and I don’t have a good answer. Which means I’m not spending my time very fruitfully.

I’ve been a big slacker about hitting the gym. I never did make my goal of hitting my one spin class for the week whenever that was, and I only got to the gym once last week. No good! I usually post my workouts on Dailymile, but they’ve been so underwhelming since the marathon that I haven’t bothered lately. They send a summary of your week’s workouts every Monday, and I was met with the dreaded “Your friends miss your training :(” Sad face. Sorry guys, I miss my training too.

Speaking of which, I finally got the custom insoles for my shoes and… THEY DON’T FIT. I went back to get them adjusted and haven’t tried them out yet. They were causing a lot of pressure and soreness on the arch of my right foot, as well as making my heel slip out of my shoe. The left one (for the foot that isn’t messed up, figures) is totally fine.

Now that the boring news is out of the way, let’s move on to the important stuff.

Nail news: I had time for a few manicures over the past couple of days, nothing too time-consuming or elaborate. Not that they ever are, but whatever. If nail art isn’t your thing, skip ahead to the BEER.

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First up is matte and gold. The burgundy is yet another mini from that old OPI set I have that doesn’t have any names on the bottles. I put 2 coats of Essie Matte About You on top, then dotted the gold over that (also from that OPI set). I had a hard time getting a good picture of it, but it looked pretty cool, minus, the parts that are outside of the lines (cleaned those up later). Unfortunately, like most matte manis, this started to chip pretty soon. Probably within 36 hours. Boo.

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Mani #2 was a modern twist on a classic French tip. I started with 2 coats of Maybelline Express Finish in Racy Red and painted the tips with two coats of Ciate’s Ladylike Lux. Topped the whole thing off with a generous helping of Seche Vite topcoat. Yes, it really was that shiny! It held up, chip-free, for several days. This is one of my favorite from my latest manis, and it was so easy.

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Big news! I made my first polish, hooray! I got my polish-making kits in the mail a while ago, but couldn’t really experiment with them until last week. I was aiming for something a little bolder and darker, but this turned out pretty. I need to get some little scoops to make adding mica to the base easier to measure. This is a combination of purple and copper mica, with a little bit of a dark gray mica that had a greenish-purple sheen to it.

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And official mani #3 [the previous one didn’t count, it was more of a swatch to show off my new color :)]. Two coats of Sinful Colors in Shock and Awe with a chevron pattern of Marc Jacobs in Petra on the tips. Love the MJ; it only takes one coat and sparkles like crazy with some Seche on top! This is the mani I’m currently rocking. I’m hoping it’ll last through Thursday.

Friday night, we went out to celebrate my brother’s birthday a few days early. None of the pictures turned out, given that it was really dark everywhere we went. That makes it sound much more scandalous than it was, though there was karaoke involved.

Saturday, Dan and I signed up to go on the SIP Club tour of the Schlafly Taproom.  Unlike at the Bottleworks, where they have tours regularly, tours at the Taproom are typically reserved for special events, auctions, etc. (or at least, that’s what the guide said). We went last year and had a good time, so signing up for 2013 was a no-brainer. We only RSVP’d for two (Dan and I), but the amazing Jeffery, a.ka. the nice dude in charge of the tours, looked the other way when he saw we had a third.

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Third wheelin’. Yep.

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Safety Dan, part deux.

After getting a short lecture on the history of the brewery and its surrounding area, we suited up with some fancy goggles and headed to the dungeon/basement for the good stuff. They had some Pi Common, a California common style of beer that can only be found at Pi restaurants, hanging out in the conditioning tanks. Wouldn’t you know it, it was ready to sample! So sample we did.

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Pours out of the pigtail.

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Dan taking a sample/talking shop with the tour guide. “Ooh, is this beer?” “Yes, this is beer.” “I like beer.” “Beer is good.” Something like that.

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More suckers in line for free booze.

There was some more beer talk, then we made our way to the back of the basement, where they house conditioning tanks that contain some of their big standards. Yum. History/trivia time: the logo on the far left was Schlafly’s original logo, which the marketing people axed once the company started to distribute to grocery stores. The rest of the logos you can see were designed by local tattoo artists and are variations on the fleur-de-lis.

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“Here’s some more beer.”

Next up was the cask room, where they ferment their sour beers. It used to house the boilers back when the building was a printing press. Now it’s the mad brewers’ laboratory.

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Potentially delicious science experiments in the making.

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“Take a picture of me in here.”

After all the boring stuff was over (just kidding…) it was time for SAMPLES. We had about 20 minutes to drink as much of the beer as we wanted. Within reason. Our options included the Hefeweizen, Tasmanian IPA, Old English Ale, the Biere de Garde, and something else I can’t remember. The TIPA and Biere de Garde were my favorites. There was also an assortment of cheese, toast, and cured meats.

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BEERS!

It was a really fun tour. If you’re on the fence about joining the SIP Club, just do it. For $25, you get a rad imperial pint mug, 20 oz. beers for the same price as 16 oz., 10% off store merch, and invitations to cool stuff like this tour. Come on, you know you want to. At the end of the tour, we each got a really nice sampling glass with the original dragon logo on it, a sturdy bottle-opener, and a Schlafly sticker. Not bad!

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The end!

Long weekend

Dan’s dad has been in town from Phoenix since Friday, so we’ve been out and about all weekend. Friday was pretty low-key; we dropped by Talayna’s for some pizza, then headed back to our place to hang out in the backyard with the fire pit. It was a little too windy, so the party stayed inside, but we had fun – and stayed up way too late nonetheless.

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Photos of the century. Google+ will save photo bursts of 5 or more shots as a GIF. (click the image to see it in motion)

Saturday afternoon, the boys hit up the Loop to grab some food an check out records while I spent a few hours recovering from Friday’s festivities. BFF Lacy and her Mr. were in town from Madison, and she and I hit up our friend Nikki’s wedding while the boys went to a Blues game and drank all the beers!

Sunday was the big family chili day, which I somehow managed to not get any pictures of.

We took today off work and hit up Crown Candy. That place has always been a staple in St. Louis, but it really took off once it was on Man vs. Food. There’s usually a line out the door. We had to wait about 30 minutes for a table, which is nothing.

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Malts and chili. You can’t see it, but there’s about 2 lbs of candy under the table. Don’t worry, we didn’t only get malts and chili; the guys also got roast beef sandwiches, and I had a turkey club the size of my head.

After consuming our body weight in malts and bacon, we went to the zoo to avoid a food coma. Tons of animals were out! We got to see the sea lions being fed, which I’d never watched before. The day started out chilly and overcast, but it warmed up even though the clouds never really took off. We were going try for an A-B brewery tour, but it was closed for Veterans Day.

We weren’t really thinking about the holiday when we planning our outings, so I’m glad that zoo was actually open! I head back to work tomorrow, but was great to walk around the zoo in such wonderful weather without any big crowds.

Next on the agenda: The Silver Ballroom, then a lazy night at home.

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All work, no play…

Well, you know.

This week has been all about work. I’ve been buried at regular work and with freelance work, so my days have been spent in front a computer or checking emails on my phone. Not the best.

I was so tremendously sore from lifting on Saturday that I took Sunday and Monday off from the gym. I hit it hard again on Tuesday (lifting from the New Rules) and now I’m so sore that I had to take today off. I’m going to force myself to do do some kind of workout tomorrow; I shouldn’t be this sore after a few 40 lb. squats (pathetic, I know)!

For dinner on Sunday, Dan and I combined forces to make some roasted red pepper ravioli stuffed with goat cheese. Dan made the dough and rolled it out;  I assembled everything. We don’t have a handy dandy ravioli tray – yet – so they looked a little wonky but tasted great! We dipped the finished product in store-bought marinara and in an olive oil/balsamic/herb mixture I cooked up. We rounded out the meal with spinach salads topped with feta, proscuitto, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette. Not bad for a Sunday night.

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Dry ingredients with roasted red pepper mixture.

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Let’s add a few eggs in there.

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Ball O’ dough.

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Pasta maker! Actually, that would be Dan. So, pasta presser? Roller?

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Sheets of delicious pasta!

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Sheets of delicious pasta being stuffed with goat cheese.

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Aerial shot of the pasta battle station.

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My handy work. I used a pizza slicer to cut them into squares.

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The finished product! We were going to try a few drizzled with honey, but we forgot. Maybe next time.

Last week, I ordered some nail polish making supplies that finally arrived on Monday! Unfortunately, I’ll probably be too tied up with work to be able to experiment much this week, but I hope to play around with them some time this weekend. Trust me, there will be (multiple) posts on that!

Adventures in running fuel

I had a shorter run on the agenda today, but I wanted to try out some Gu that I bought a few weeks ago. I thought it might be smart to test it while running at the gym in case it caused any stomach problems.

I first ate a plain piece of toast, because it just didn’t seem wise to down a vial of sugar first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I sat on the couch, tore open the wrapper, and took my first taste of the stuff.

It was weird.

I opted for the Tri-Berry flavor, which contains caffeine. Mmm, caffeine.

Intriguing and terrifying, all at once.

The texture was similar to that of a glob of gummy bears that’s been under the seat of your car for three days during a heat wave. So that was a little off-putting. It was also incredibly sweet, and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

After the initial taste, I felt like I needed to see what this stuff looked like, so I squeezed some out onto my finger. It was glittery. Is that good? I guess it did make me feel a little fancy.

I choked down the rest, chasing it all with a healthy dose of water, and headed to the gym. I’m happy to report that it didn’t make me feel sick during my 4 miles, and I never felt wiped out. My legs actually felt pretty good when I was done.

I have several more flavors I plan on trying, but I will say that, for me, the texture left something to be desired.

A friend of mine recommended Energy Gel Blasts by PowerBar, which appear to be goo-filled fruit snacks. I can get behind that. I plan on looking for some this weekend at the sporting goods store.

I’ve also had success refueling with classic Gatorade during my long runs. If I don’t find something I like better than that, I might just ditch all the crazy snacks and stick with that.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever tried to eat/drink during a run? Did it work? What’s your favorite refueling tip?

Sometimes, you just need some FAT

In general, I’m a pretty healthy eater. I typically prefer whole foods and produce to packaged goods and meat. However, I also have a notorious savory tooth (as opposed to a sweet tooth).

Most mornings, I wake up and eat a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and down a few glasses of water before my workout. On long run days, I’ll throw a banana in there. When I come home, I make breakfast part deux, which is almost always a few slices of turkey bacon, iced coffee with 2% milk and sometimes an egg.

Thursday was a little different. My alarm went off, and I couldn’t pry myself out of bed for the life of me, despite going to bed relatively early. So, I let myself sleep in, which really didn’t help much. I made it to the gym and pounded out my 3 miles, as prescribed by my training schedule. It was a good run. I felt strong and fast.

When I got home, something was different. I just wasn’t hungry. At all. So, instead of my usual routine of a protein-laden second breakfast, I just had my coffee and packed extra food to take to work, anticipating that I’d be really hungry later.

When my dinner break rolled around, I took out my food and realized that not a single thing I had packed seemed appetizing to me. The items I had were all things that I really like to eat, maybe even love. But for some reason, nothing tasted good or satisfied my hunger.

I ate a yogurt and gave up on dinner. I was dragging, hard. Like, practically falling asleep at my desk.

An hour or so later, I realized I really, really wanted some chicken nuggets and fries from McDonald’s. I didn’t just want them; I felt like I needed them. Not exactly the healthiest choice.

While I was recovering from surgery, my BFF introduced me to Bravo’s various Real Housewives shows. I’ve become a big fan of the NYC version, and through that, a fan of Bethenney Frankel. I’ve been reading her book Naturally Thin, and although the advice contained within is hardly new, it is helpful. Something that she stresses throughout the book is that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of foods that you truly enjoy just because they’ve been labeled as being “bad.” However, that doesn’t mean that you can eat as much of it as you want, either. You have to listen to your body, give it what it wants, and pay attention so that you don’t overdo it. “You can have it all, just not all at once,” she says.

So, when my craving for McDonald’s hit me like a ton of bricks, I stopped and assessed my situation. Was I really hungry? Yes. What had I eaten so far that day? Low-fat, low-sodium whole foods with very little protein. Would McDonald’s really meet my needs at the moment? Absolutely.

My body was craving fat and protein, specifically those chicken nuggets. However, instead of going all out and getting the 10-pack with a large order of fries, I opted to get the small Happy Meal. Not the 6-pack with medium fries. Just the small. It satisfied my craving and fulfilled my needs for heartier calories, but I didn’t feel like garbage after eating it because I hadn’t overeaten.

In fact, I felt energized and ready to get on with my evening.

Giving your body what it really needs doesn’t always mean choosing the salad over the steak, or in my case, fried bits of processed chicken. Assess your craving and try to figure out why you’re having it. If it’s because  you need those nutrients, indulge it — in moderation.

The importance of order

The lack of recent blogs is attributable to many things, but mostly to the fact that I had pretty major surgery back in June and was unable to exercise for several weeks. That’s all over now (and I’m fine, thank God), so on to bigger and better things.

I’ve talked about making time for exercise and eating well before, but one thing that I’ve found really helps me get my workout in and ensures that I pack a healthy lunch is the order in which I do things.

See, I’d found myself frequently pressed for time before work, and though I’d almost always manage to complete my workout, I’d rush to work empty-handed in the lunch department. That means no snacks during the day and fewer healthy (and cheap) options for dinner. Also, I was putting my coworkers’ lives in danger by allowing my blood sugar to drop so low.

So, to get my priorities in order, I made one simple switch: I make my lunch immediately after I work out, before I shower and get ready for work.* This isn’t a huge change, but it helps me budget my time better. It puts figuring out my food for the day ahead of putting on makeup and over-styling my hair. It lessens the rush I put myself through before I hop in the car for the commute to work. It gives me peace of mind that, if nothing else, I will be well-fed throughout the day.

If I dawdle or oversleep, it’s not my workout or lunch that suffers – it’s my appearance. And if having a great variety of healthy food packed in my lunch box means having to wear my hair in a ponytail because I didn’t get a move on, then so be it. I still look good for work, and I don’t have to worry about mortally harming my coworkers as I rampage to the vending machine for a Snickers bar.

*I work nights, so I have more time in the morning than most people. Obviously, packing your healthy lunch the night before work would serve the same purpose.

Making time

Everyone is busy. Really, really busy. That can make it really hard to get in a workout and eat well. Dan and I knew this upcoming week was going to be particularly rough, so we tried our best to prepare. We planned out the meals we wanted for the week and went to the grocery store Sunday afternoon. Stupid, I know. It was Super Bowl Sunday and the place was packed. We then came home and proceeded to prepare our major meals for the rest of the week. It took us maybe 90 minutes to make the following:

  • Baked chicken
  • Baked scallops
  • A huge chopped salad
  • A few pounds of steamed broccoli and cauliflower
  • Pasta salad with fresh veggies
  • Lemon garlic asparagus
  • Homemade macaroni and cheese

All of that, coupled with the nuts, raw fruits and veggies, and string cheese we snack on, fed us for the entire week. In fact, we probably ate better this week than we usually do, even though we were much busier. I adapted my workouts by trading in  my 40-minute sessions for some 30 Day Shred. That enabled me to squeeze my sweat sessions in, despite my lack of time. All in all, it was a pretty successful week.

When you make the commitment to eat well and exercise, it’s important to plan ahead so you can follow through. Make it a priority; Try to anticipate what your week is going to look like  you so can adjust accordingly. It will prevent disappointment and lead to success, which will motivate you to keep going.