Centered Self May 2014

Happy Monday. I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was very nice aside from my normal GMAT angst. I’m sadly just not doing well in the practice exams anymore. I excel and make huge progress in the practice questions every night when I study for 2-3 hours, but not on the exams I take Saturday. I think, and I know it may sound like I’m ‘opting-out’, but that I may just stop taking the full length practice exams now that there is 1 month till my test. They do not help me confidence wise nor do they help me focus on my ‘weaknesses’ I seem to do poorly/strongly in a new subject each week – making it so nothing is consistent. I’m gonna try for this approach since my 8 weeks of weekly CAT exams have not seemed to help me. I realize that I am rushing, because once I ‘get it over with’ I can actually enjoy my weekend. Honestly, it’s going to come down to that day of the test. All I can do is keep practicing out of my OG book 2-3 hours a day and pray to God and to all the underdog stories of all time that I will pull a decent score out of my ass on May 31. But, worst case scenario I take a formal course with Manhattan in the late summer.

le sigh. Aside from that I had a really nice reflective weekend. I have to marvel at how much I have grown in the past 9+ months mentally and physically. I am able to do things and experience emotions I would have never thought I would work through and make work for me. Mentally, I concurred my anxiety and overcame the insecurities that plagued me for most of my adult life. I am able to accept my faults and to gain strength from my successes. I’ve kicked the negativity to the curb along with all the people that facilitate negative thoughts and actions for me. Living a life without being brought down by others is marvelous. I have never been so free in losing myself in what I love. I finally have found what true security and self-love means.

Plus, I am so lucky to have a strong support group, that only wants to support me and see me succeed. Likewise, I have found immense happiness in inspiring others and trying to infuse a positive support system from myself to anyone I talk to. That doesn’t mean I still don’t have emo or bad days, but I sure as hell snap out of them more quickly and find myself engaging in more meaningful ways of coping with ‘the blues.’ I do have a hard time with expectations, but honestly my core group of friends and family always exceed any expectations that I would have. I’m truly blessed to have people that genuinely care for me and want to see me succeed and be happy. On the physical side of things, I have never been more strong and motivated. I can run like the wind! Well an 8-10 mile an hour breeze, but still that’s GREAT! I also have achieved my handstand goals and now can do unassisted handstands for 30seconds – 1 minute. I’m working on movement poses, but with a curious unnamed kitten – being upside down and trying to switch pose positions is quite difficult. I have to say I really enjoy knowing that I am strong from the inside – humble confidence radiates out of me these days.

I also made this ADORABLE geisha girl from Benartex Panel Prints. I got mine here and it actually took about 2-3 days to receive her! I had a blast putting her together at my friend’s house (duel sewing machines!) and then hand stitching at home (which I still need A LOT of work on).

Last weekend I decided to plant some kitchen herbs and I was so excited to see that 3/4 have already germinated! I’ll have Basil (pictured), Oregano (still waiting on it to germinate), Cilantro, and Rosemary in a few weeks! I also bought an organic Mint plant from Wal-Mart on Saturday and made virgin-zero calorie-full fun juleps/mockjitos with some lemon-lime soda water and stevia. ūüôā

I also will admit my favorite treat are those super cheap ice cream cups from Wal-Mart. They have a birthday cake one that is so so tasty. I have friends that help me eat it. *note I was done eating it – I am not that gross to share food with the cats.

I attempted to ‘sun-proof’ and thus heat-proof my living room this weekend also. I used some of those emergency thermal blankets, as I read a HOW TO HERE. Boris was the foreman for this job and inspected my work. I don’t know if this is gonna last/work. The crinkly noise is kind of annoying. TBD. If this <$5 experiment does not work I may splurge and get these real thermal black out drapes. Or I’ll buy those car window black-out foam things and suspend them… God things are getting weird at my house.

This might explain what’s up.


Life Around Here.

the hipsters are restless in Logan Square.

Life has been so busy lately. I’ve been studying for the GMAT, knitting the Heliopath KAL, running/working out, and taking care of my tribe.

First things first, the GMAT. I have to say I’m enjoying working through the workbooks for this exam. I have never studied for a standardized test before so all the strategies and methodologies are fascinating. However, the testing material is intense. Nothing is ‘complicated’, but the way the exam is designed is to make sure you know the basics in-and-out. So I’m re-memorizing my geometry proofs, my algebra rules, basic grammar skills, and reasoning strategies. I have faith I’ll get the score I’ve set as my goal, but these next 9 weeks will be full of practice problems, practice exams, and workbooks.

The Heliopath KAL is coming along – I’m about to start the arm shape-ing. Honestly, I’m pretty tired of the cables so I took a few days break from working on it. Tonight I’ll get one side done and hopefully start on the back-piece/make head way on that. I did however rearrange my entire house/address my clay cat-litter ‘situation’ I ended up switching to World’s Best (again) so fingers crossed my asthma/Boris’ allergies are improved.

DIY face mask I made to clean/rearrange my space. Asthma, suck it.

The gym has been great. I got an outdoor run in on Sunday since the weather was lovely. I also ‘splurged’ and bought new running shoes, which I desperately needed. These New Balances are great. I honestly feel like my momentum and speed are soaring in them!

My new New Balance Carnival 574s
Logan Square. 5K Sunday Run.

The Ugly Tribe. I spend so much time at home, these guys really make me so happy. Although during my first full length practice exam on Saturday, Vladimir would not leave me alone and would not stop fussing with stuff in the kitchen. I don’t think the GMAT people had a pesky sphynx in mind when they designed the exam. I may start going to the library to take those exams since I had to get up three separate times to sternly warn my eldest cat to GET THE EFF OUT OF THE SINK / QUIT KNOCKING OVER CLEAN BUT DRYING DISHES. Anyways here’s some photos of my weekend with them.

Boris waiting for some string cheese.
dont’ go run mom, just stay here and hold me.
you gonna share that mom?
pug – spooning.
lay with me you little sh%t.
I take nap here. zzzz.


Weekend Photo BLAST.

I had such a great productive weekend! I love when that happens. Even though the winter is really starting to wear on me and everyone else in Chicago, spring and summer are right around the corner (I just know it!). Let’s see. I have really been having a blast at the gym – I know right I hate to be one of ‘those’ people, but since I’ve regularly ventured back at the beginning of the year, I have seen major changes in toning. I haven’t lost anymore weight, but I can definitely tell that the gym has begun to tone everything. I’m obsessed with before and afters so here’s one of my lifestyle/physical change from July 2013 to March 2014. 7 Months.

Before July 2013 at 195. After March 2014 at 160.

Then I have been dying to try this small Chicago Diner chain since I moved here, but no one ever wants to go. Saturday after my run, I decided just to check it out myself and I am so happy I did! The Golden Nugget reminded me of the diners that I grew up eating in with my grandma and grandpa. I got the Steak Omelette which was just perfect. I know Chicago has any kind of eatery you could imagine, but I’m cheap as hell and sometimes picky as in I have specific cravings so this place will do just fine by me in the future.

Then came the time to touch up my hair – I had been getting it done, but things changed so I’m back in the saddle with my cheveux. I think it came out well. There is a slight dark band about two inches out I’ll have to address since a bleach shampoo cap didn’t even touch it, but overall I revived the red perfectly.

on the left before, middle during/post bleach cap, right the finished product.

Then I went ahead and started my chest plate.

Just kidding – obviously they are fake tattoos!

Then because I’m becoming the queen of cheapskates I went to Aldi, Five Below, and a clothes shop Discovery. I’m going to start shopping only at thrift store here in the near future, because I’m over new-consuming, but my final hoorah at Discovery was great! I got two more tanks not pictured for a total of $27 so a week’s worth of new tops/a dress. Not too shabby.

Then of course…..

Sigh. Monday. Blerg.



It’s Wednesday – BUT instead of feeling like ‘uh it’s half way there.’ Let’s mix it up a bit and get excited about our health instead! My dear friend just started a blog with the most adorable name ever. Bite Sized Twinkie. It’s in the foundational/beginning stages so stay tuned for big great fun things from her!

Also I recently became an admin for a wonderful paleo-inspired facebook page called Cooking Clean. There are four of us gals who contribute with mostly paleo recipes, workout tips, and motivation to eat, live, and love clean.

click on the pic to visit the facebook page!
click on the pic to visit the facebook page!

Since I technically am still doing the February Health Challenge, it is super important to remember that clean eating is key in any healthy lifestyle. We tend as a society to get hung up on calories, but really the most important idea should be quality of nutrients not quantity. No better example of this serves than diet soda vs. all organic fruit smoothie. Believe it or not a low-cal (i.e. not processed) fruit smoothie is easier and better for your body to digest than that evil zero calorie diet soda that actually tricks your body and causes huge disasters in blood sugar levels. (diet soda rant*)

i know a 'paleo' diet of an absolute minimum 1600 calories a day and running 2-3 times a week works for me.
i know a ‘paleo’ diet of at least 1600 calories a day and running 2-3 times a week works for me.

Obviously, everyone has their own preferences and eating styles that makes them feel best. For me, staying away from anything processed and limiting starches/complex carbohydrates is how I stay lean as well as prevent lethargy, bloating (cute!), and mood fluctuation. That means that overall, I do in fact eat a Paleo diet. I really enjoy almond milk as a substitute for traditional milk, and I find myself trying alternative flours all the time in baking. Don’t get me wrong I’ll still sample traditional candies and sweets, but it’s not at the levels/rates I used to. My mind and body mean way too much to me to ruin with overly-processed and refined ‘nutrients.’ It took a long time for me to accept that what I eat really does affect me mentally. Not in a ‘control’ way but in a basic chemical reaction – I still find new things that work and don’t everyday.

my 'shamrock shake' with high protein powder, fage greek yogurt, mint extract, almond milk, and green food coloring.
my ‘shamrock shake’ with high protein powder, fage greek yogurt, mint extract, almond milk, and green food coloring.

One way to get into the habit of food nutrient monitoring is by keeping a good old diary! There are tons of apps that make it easy to count/review nutrients/compositions/calories.

But remember! Quality of nutrients over quantity of calories is ALWAYS BEST.



This fitness challenge is getting DURTY. Just kidding, but I do have a few thoughts on the word ‘sweat.’

1. I’m obsessed with my new work out clothes that wick the sweat from muh baadee.


2. I am really loving the Argus app – it combines pedometer/water calculator/weight manager/activity log/social competition. Just ask Lois she is getting fierce with the daily step competition.



3. Running – last weekend I set a new best (in the last five years) of 2 consecutive 8:30 minute miles. I ran between 6.5-9 and when it was over I was sweating and felt the strong urge to spew all over the gym. I, however, refrained because I like Planet Fitness and do not need to be kicked out for “jillian michaels-ing’ myself. YOU CAN GET OFF THIS TREADMILL WHEN YOU PUKE, PASS OUT OR DIE!!!


Food & Fitness Journals

Ugh Monday – it seems like yesterday was Friday! I want a do-over!!

Since starting to monitor my diet and fitness (regularly) I have noticed both weight and physical changes. ¬†I run between 2.5-4 miles five times a week now and my endurance is up and jiggle is going down. ¬†I’ve lost about 8 pounds in roughly 6 weeks. ¬†Not too shabby, although I always have to remind myself that change is not overnight especially when the process is slow.

I’ve used several ‘apps’ over the years to help track calorie/fitness intake and after a few days I would always get so bored this included the lance armstrong app, the weight watchers app, the list goes on. ¬†So I downloaded for FREE My Fitness Pal – and have loved it. ¬†I sometimes disagree with the fitness calories burned, but I usually do not take that into my caloric count for the day and eat to reach different fat/calorie/protein numbers. ¬†It was definitely a wake up call the first few days of monitoring my food intake because I found out I was snacking SO MUCH. ¬†Literally 500-700 calories just on ‘snacks.’ ¬†Opps! ¬†So tracking has gotten me on the right path and I’ve found the inclination to ‘over-indulge’ is decreasing greatly.

One of the great things about My Fitness Pal is not just that it’s free, but that it’s easy to work with. ¬†It has thousands of entries – even for ‘lesser-known’ chains and it also has the super convenient bar-code scanner. ¬†Which is great for milk, almond milk, protein bars, eggs, pretty much ANYTHING with a bar code. Here are some screen shots – like I said I disagree with how generous it is with calorie burning for activities, but I always eat to a certain level and then it tries to discount way way more than I feel it should. ¬†In other words don’t worry I ate more than 1200 calories but believe me doing 30 minutes of moderate running does not justify the app telling me I only ate 600 calories. ¬†I get low glycemic level rage so there is NO WAY I could operate at these levels.




So for food that one is great – especially because it’s for free. ¬†They even have it so you can sync it with friends which is always far more motivational than going solo.

For exercise I have really liked RunKeeper. ¬†Now I have used this consistently for 4 weeks and I have had great success using it, but I have also had about 4 times of utter disappointment. ¬†The GPS for whatever reason thinks I’m running way too fast or have gone way farther than I have. ¬†BUT despite those times I love that an automated voice comes on telling you your pace, time, and distance every 5 or whatever predetermined time. ¬†You can also set up the voice to coach you to run faster, slower, and sprint. ¬†I also like that it runs concurrently with other apps so it doesn’t shut Pandora off or stop working if a text/call comes through. ¬†I really enjoyed knowing how far my little run was and being able to adjust it to go a little bit farther every day. ¬†Plus this one was FREE too.


I’ve actually improved to a little under a 12 minute mile (up to 4) since this one! Sprints are amazing!!! But you can see this looks alright – I’ve also looked at my phone only to see one of these bizarre trackings:


I’m pretty sure I would be trying for the Olympics this summer if I could run at this pace! ¬†Of course this type of scenario is incredibly frustrating – considering it means I’m cussing at my phone while trying to run. ¬†Usually if this happens Flak knowns just to sit down on the grass and wait.

Plus taking Flak has made me more accountable – I feel bad if we don’t go for a run/he is WILD without one. ¬†So therefore I go everyday I watch him, unless I want to try to deal with the beast. ¬†Running really benefits me in more ways than one!


This photo was taken ‘pre-run’ days… I’m starting to think Flak has ‘the hunger.’ Teddy bears, squirrels, flies…. I don’t even want to know what’s on his ‘kill’ list next.

What do you think about technology for fitness?  Is it more frustrating than functional for you or do you find it makes things easy?