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The last two months have been insane! I’ve got a “Part 2″ blog post for the holidays coming up, but wanted to share a brief recap of our trip to California!

Mid November, I joined Bob while he was out in San Diego for a work trip and we did a little exploring together. It was a MUCH needed trip because I felt like we hadn’t spent any time together since the beginning of October when school started. I loved San Diego, (so warm! so sunny!) but we only had a few days so we still have a lot more things to explore in the future. He’ll be going out there a lot for work, so I’m hoping to join him at least once more… we’ll see!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the trip:

Farmer's Market in Little Italy

Farmer’s Market in Little Italy

La Jolla -- gorgeous area

La Jolla — gorgeous area

Unlimited mimosas at brunch overlooking San Diego skyline

Unlimited mimosas at brunch overlooking San Diego skyline

In La Jolla -- rooftop bar

In La Jolla — rooftop bar

Sunset on Coronado Island

Sunset on Coronado Island

Altogether, it was a nice respite from a busy life and we enjoyed the several days together uninterrupted by work or homework. So nice.

Have you had a quick getaway recently? Where’s your favorite place to rest?

2014!

Hi friends!

It’s been quite awhile, I know. Between a quick vacation to San Diego, traveling for holidays, and my masters classes, I’ve been swamped. The first thing to go, unfortunately, was this blog.

Our house decorated for Christmas

Our house decorated for Christmas

I’ve missed it, and I’ve missed you, and I plan on updating at least once or twice a week now that things seem to have settled down a bit. I’ll give a quick picture recap of our trip to San Diego, of our holidays, and of what else is going on in our lives, but for now, I’d like to share my 2014 non-resolutions.

First, let’s look at last year’s. I’ve crossed off the ones I completed.

Beat my half-marathon time by running a second half.  Complete a single pull-up. Write down one thing every day that makes me grateful. Lose a few inches around my stomach and tone up. Not worry about my weight but instead worry about how my pants fit. Write down why I love Bob every day. String together 20 double unders in a row! See my best friend more often than once a month. Re-paint our bedroom. Make the bed every day. Start volunteering somewhere. Read 12 books. Run a 5k. Run for the pure joy of it. Keep the bedroom clean. Light candles often.  Treat myself to nice undergarments from Victoria’s Secret. Learn how to wear scarves. Meal plan weekly. Go away somewhere fun for my birthday. Try a new recipe every other week.Visit Nashville. Launch a mobile website for my company. Go to CrossFit 4-5x per week. Throw an awesome baby shower for a dear friend. Clean out the office and guest room closets. Donate or trash items in the basement that haven’t been used for over a year. Complain less.

Bob & I after the "It's a Wonderful Run" 5k

Bob & I before the “It’s a Wonderful Run” 5k

I think I did okay. I ran out of time for the half marathon training, and because my attendance at CrossFit since I started classes had decreased dramatically, my pull-up didn’t happen. Pretty sure I didn’t lose any inches (although I didn’t have measurements.. that was dumb). Also, I managed to see Cassie (my best friend) often, but once classes started, I stopped seeing people for the most part. And I cleaned out the office so I could make it warm and inviting for schoolwork, but ignored the closet.

Cozy corner in the office to read.

Cozy corner in the office to read.

This year’s non-resolutions?

I’m keeping them pretty simple. And taking a few from last year.

Work out 4-5x per week. CrossFit 2x per week. Weightlift 2x per week. Run for stress relief. Enjoy schoolwork. Learn from my classmates. Launch a responsive design website at work. Clean out the office & guest room closets. Complain less. Do something fun at least once a week. Take more bubble baths to relax. Eat clean 85% of the time. Be more like Pollyanna. Love my husband more than myself. Walk (or run) the dog once a week. Journal more as a way of de-stressing. Go to church more often and enjoy the community there. Update the blog 1-2x per week.

This time next year, I’ll only have one more month of classes until I graduate. 2014 will go fast, between the schoolwork, regular work, and Bob traveling for work (more on this later). I want to enjoy every minute, and keeping calm & joyful will be my priority.

What about you? Any non-resolutions? 

LuRong Results

This will be my last post about LuRong this year (and I just realized that I’ve been spelling it wrong for two years, it has a capital “R” in the middle – whoops). I just wanted to give a quick update on the results from the challenge.

For those of you who don’t know – yesterday was the final day of an 8 week challenge of strict paleo eating. It also had a performance aspect to it (10 workouts that were scored throughout the 8 weeks), goal setting, and other miscellaneous tasks (i.e. submitting  a written testimonial). I successfully completed the entire 8 weeks without a single “cheat” (so, no food other than vegetables, fruits, meats, and nuts/seeds). I also hit 5 of my 6 goals:

  • I want a new PR on my back squat (shooting for 20#)

Yes – #20PR on my back squat on Wednesday this week. I also had a 20# PR on my front squat earlier in the challenge, and a 45# PR on my CrossFit Total on Wednesday.

  • I will drink 1 oz of water for every 2lbs of body weight (so about 100oz/day)

Yes – although I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom a lot more often!

  • I want to give up alcohol completely for the next 8 weeks

Yes

  • I will work on my squat mobility at least 5x a week

Nope – I didn’t get this one – only 3-4x per week for the second half of the challenge.

  • Continue to work on my relationship with Meg

Yes – the specifics of this goal were private, but I achieved it.

  • No cheats for the entire challenge

Yes

Not only did I hit all of these goals, but I had some big improvement scores. As I wrote about last week, we did three benchmark workouts at the beginning of the challenge, and redid them again at the end. I improved on all three by a considerable amount – 29% on the first, 5% on the second, and 28% on the third (I redid all three again this past week and improved my second two even more from my update last week).

Finally, I got my final measurements done yesterday to compare to the beginning of the challenge. As I wrote about before, I let myself go a little bit too much before this challenge started, so my beginning numbers are higher than they should have been. But, nonetheless, I lost 20 pounds and here are the measurement results:

  • Chest: lost 5.25″
  • Left and right arm: lost 1.5″ on each
  • Left leg: lost 1″
  • Right leg: lost 0.75″ (maybe I use my right leg more than my left?)
  • Waist: lost 5.25″
  • Hips: lost 3.5″
  • Total inches lost: 18.75″

I don’t love these photos, because I still have a LOT of loose skin around my belly from the last two years of weight loss, but I still wanted to post them to show the difference a clean diet for 8 weeks makes:

Before and after - I can START to see my abs for the first time in my life!

Before and after – I can START to see my abs for the first time in my life!

Now, I know that I may be perceived as a paleo evangelist, but I really don’t want to be. Paleo works for me. And, truth be told, if many people eliminated alcoholic beverages and sugar from their diet for 8 weeks, they’re going to see similar results, regardless of the consumption of grains and dairy (not allowed in paleo). But, I have found that for me, grains and dairy are not good for me. My body does not react well to them, and I have tried incorporating them back in before and it’s just not optimal for me. If you’ve never tried to eliminate some of these foods from your diet, I’d encourage you to try it. But I really hope that this isn’t me trying to force paleo on other people – I’m advocating eating whatever it is that works for you. For me – it’s paleo.

As I wrote about before, I do think this will be my last formal challenge though. Assuming I can find a way to eat like this all year long, while allowing some limited indulgences, I’d like to make this a more sustainable lifestyle. And, if you keep reading this blog, I’m sure you’ll find out how I do!

Fitting it all in

I’m struggling to get up to 2x per week at CrossFit. I love it once I’m there, and always am glad I went, but GETTING THERE continues to be an issue. I was supposed to go yesterday but when the alarm went off at 4am after a restless night of dreaming about getting a C on my final paper for this class (I haven’t even turned it in yet… oh, dreams), there was no way I was getting up.

I did make it there today, however, and am planning on going tomorrow.  So even though it’s at the end of the week, at least I’m going to get it in twice. I have a lot more motivation to go if I’m going with Bob (like this morning) because I consider it a little bit of time spent with him.

I have been working out on my own over lunch, however, at work. Believe it or not, I’m actually exercising as much as I did before I started class. This week I’ll have hit 5 out of 7 days.  Don’t be too impressed, though, because one of those days was our Barbells for Boobs event at our gym (which was AWESOME).

Photo taken by Barbells for Boobs. And yes, this is my first "real" CrossFit picture. I'm psyched.

Photo taken by Barbells for Boobs. And yes, this is my first “real” CrossFit picture. I’m psyched.

See this picture above? I was clean & jerking 75 pounds. Last year, I clean & jerked 45 pounds. (Let’s ignore the fact that my overhead squats were the same weight at 45 pounds…).  That progress (however slight) is what I don’t want to lose while I’m only making it 2x a week during the next 15 (a month down!!) months.

Which is why I’ve started “New Rules of Lifting for Women” — a book my parents gave me for Christmas and I didn’t need then because I was going to CF so often at the time.

NROLFW

It’s split into 7 stages and is a 6ish month long progression at 3x per week. I’m planning on doing twice a week, so the program will be a few months longer for me. It incorporates heavy lifting and interval training, both things I love about CrossFit. Not going to lie, when I saw that deadlifts, back squats, and thrusters were part of the routine, I knew this would work well. :)

The first stage has high reps (2 sets of 15) and works down to heavier weights at lower reps (8) over the course of 16 workouts. I did the first two workouts at 15 reps but am skipping 2 workouts and going down to 12 reps at slightly heavier weights. The first stage is FOREVER (16 workouts vs every other stage which is 8) and I am sure it’s to get people unfamiliar with lifting, familiar with it. I’m going to follow the rest of it as prescribed, however, and just make sure the weights are challenging enough.

The first stage doesn’t have any interval training, but I’m throwing my own in there using CrossFit Endurance workouts posted every week in our CF group. My original plan was to do these CFEs on the opposite days that I lift but this week has been a bit crazy so I’ve just tacked them on at the end of the weight lifting. My lunch gets a little long because of that (ran close to an hour and a half yesterday), but I also spend weekends tweeting and Facebooking and Instagramming for work, so I’m not worried.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m settling into a routine, I’m making exercising a priority, and I’m just taking it one day at  a time as promised.

Furthermore, Bob has been INCREDIBLE as I’ve figured out all of this. He’s doing most of our grocery shopping, he’s been cleaning the kitchen while I’m in class, he’s taking care of other things like installing a hot water heater while I slave away over homework, and he has just been all around wonderful. So I know it’s a little bit of a husband brag, but it needs to be said that he is amazing.

Have you ever followed a weightlifting program? What has worked for you?

Meg and Bob Night!

Health is all about balance and fitness doesn’t always mean physical fitness. That’s one of the reasons I try to consciously set goals for myself that aren’t just physical. Emotional, mental, and spiritual fitness are just as important as physical fitness to ensure that I am staying healthy. And to me, my relationship with Meg is probably the most important thing for me to work on and keep strong, because it really affects all aspects of my fitness (physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental).

Which is why we have dubbed Thursday nights as “Meg and Bob Night.”

Meg has written about how she is trying to adjust to her new schedule and demands due to her starting her graduate degree. And I’m not sure if I say this often enough – but I’m extremely proud of her for going back to school to earn her Masters, and to be willing to juggle so many other things while she does it.

One of the things that we knew would be tough going in was how much time we would get to spend with each other. We’re spoiled – we don’t have any kids, we both work locally, our work schedules line up, and we rarely travel without the other person. Basically, we are used to spending a lot of time with each other. So, we knew it would be a change for us.

Meg and I before the Barbells for Boobs event at Flower City CrossFit this past Sunday.

Meg and I before the Barbells for Boobs event at Flower City CrossFit this past Sunday.

What we didn’t realize was how a particular stretch of the week was going to be especially challenging.

  • Monday nights Meg usually locks herself in our office as soon as she gets home from work and finishes up homework for her Tuesday night class, usually not leaving the office until it’s time to go to sleep. So even though we’re both there – it’s safe to say I don’t see her Monday nights.
  • Tuesday nights are her 4 hour class which is a half hour from hour home, so she leaves work, goes to class, and gets home usually after I’m already in bed. So I don’t see her on Tuesday nights.
  • Wednesday nights I am in a floor hockey league, so we’ll usually eat dinner together, but then I’m off to the league and by the time I get home Meg is usually in bed. So I pretty much don’t see her Wednesday nights.

By the time Thursday rolls around, we haven’t spent more than 10 minutes of quality time together since Sunday (and she is usually doing homework for most of the day Sunday anyway).

So, we have dubbed Thursday nights as “Meg and Bob Night.” Meg is not allowed to do any homework. I am not allowed to log into my work e-mail or to do any work from home that night. We try to keep our use of our phones to a minimum (we need to get better at this), and we aren’t allowed to schedule anything else for Thursday nights – even something simple like a haircut.

I have never looked forward to a day in the week more than I look forward to Thursday nights. All week long I get excited when I think about Thursdays and being able to spend time together.

This is an old picture, but it's one of my favorites!

This is an old picture, but it’s one of my favorites!

I’m not trying to be sappy or romantic – I’m talking about the actual, tangible need that we have for our relationships. I try to keep this in mind as I set my goals - that as hard as we work during a workout, we need to work on our relationships with others. It’s not enough to just coast or to put off the work that they need, just like it’s not enough to put off going to the gym. But when we put the work in, we reap the results. Even though this should be a very hard time for our relationship, I feel like it has never been stronger. It’s like that in all areas of life – the more work you put in, the stronger you get.

Lurong Update

As part of the current paleo challenge I’m participating in, they are awarding bonus points for writing about your experience. Well, since I had to write about it and submit it to them, I thought I might as well just copy/paste what I wrote into the blog so that all of you can get a quick update on how Lurong is going (or, if you really don’t care, then you can wait for Meg to post something much more interesting). Here you go!

I am in the final week of the 2013 Lurong Living Paleo Challenge. I am a member of Flower City CrossFit, and this is my second year performing in this challenge.

I am in a much different point in my fitness journey this year compared to last year. Last year, during the 2012 Lurong Living Paleo Challenge, I got under 200 pounds for the first time in my adult life. It was at the tail end of an 18 month weight loss journey that saw me lose over 100 pounds. The challenge helped me, but in hindsight I was just heading in the same trajectory for the 9 weeks during that challenge that I had been heading in for the previous 18 months. The challenge was important to me, and I learned a lot, but I believe I would have still lost the weight even without the challenge.

This year was different. Since the end of the challenge last year I have been trying to figure out what maintenance looks like. My weight has fluctuated as much as 20 pounds throughout the last 12 months. I have been up and down in weight all year long, and learning how to live and eat in a manner that is sustainable has been a struggle. I do think I found the key for me though – I have found the most success when I am strict paleo with 1-2 cheat meals a week.

Enter the 2013 Lurong Living Paleo Challenge. Honestly, I wasn’t going to sign up for this one. I felt good, was performing at a high level (for me, that is), and for the first time in my life (no exaggeration) I was feeling like I had my weight under control. But then I started to think about the challenge last year. Flower City CrossFit finished in third place in the country last year. While I did everything I could last year, the performance aspect was my biggest weakness. I did most of the workouts scaled, and I did not score many points off of workouts. In fact, it was demoralizing to see several “0’s” for points when I gave it everything in a workout, but still ended up in the bottom percentile bracket, and therefore rewarded with no points.

So, this year, I decided to sign up again. I knew I had a lot of people from last year’s team joining, along with a crowd of new faces to join the Flower City CrossFit team. And I am also a better athlete than I was a year ago. I wanted some redemption for all of those performance points I left on the table.

What I didn’t know was that psychologically this was going to affect me before the challenge started. Even though I had been eating strict paleo with only 1-2 cheat meals a week all summer long, about 3 weeks before the challenge I started to get too loose with my diet. I think in the back of my mind the shadow of 8 weeks of strict paleo, with no cheats, was affecting my decisions. I cheated much more often than 1-2 times per week, and I gained weight and felt terrible. So, by the start of the challenge, I definitely needed the 8 weeks of detox to get my butt back in gear!

The first three WODs were as you would expect: not great. I did all three at Level 3 (the highest level), so I felt really good about that. But I didn’t finish the first two under the time cap, and finished the third one with just 16 seconds to spare. But as the challenge went on, I felt better and better. I forgot how good you feel in general when your diet is dialed in. And I also forgot how much it impacts your performance! I just finished doing the final benchmark workout (although I might do one or two of them again just to see if another week helps), and here are my results:

Benchmark 1

Beginning of Challenge: 18:12 (18 minute time cap, 12 reps uncompleted)

End of Challenge: 12:50

Improvement: 5:22 (29%)

Benchmark 2

Beginning of Challenge: 12:47 (12 minute time cap, 47 reps uncompleted)

End of Challenge: 12:19 (12 minute time cap, 19 reps uncompleted)

Improvement: 0:28 (4%) – but all 28 extra reps completed were burpees!

Benchmark 3

Beginning of Challenge: 4:44

End of Challenge: 3:29

Improvement: 1:15 (26%)

I proud of these improvements, but I am also proud of my performance scores all year long – I was able to consistently get a decent amount of points for me and for the team – much, much better than how I performed last year.

Not only that, but I’ve lost 17 pounds so far this challenge. I weigh a few pounds more now than when I finished the challenge last year – but those are good pounds! I have put on some muscle over the last year, and I believe the last several weeks have contributed to that also. I had a 20 pound PR on my front squats, and I have PR’ed on several other lifts as well during this challenge.

I am glad I participated this year. Will I participate next year? I hope not. The reason I say “I hope not” is because I am hoping to have finally figured out what sustainable eating looks like for me. I’m hoping that between these two challenges I have learned the skills I need to maintain my weight, continue to improve my performance, and feel good all year long. I hope that I don’t NEED the challenge next year. I’m definitely glad I did it, and I don’t regret doing the challenge either this year or last year. I would actually recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried to eat strict paleo for an extended period of time.

Bob’s Wednesday Confessions

I really enjoy reading Meg’s confessions when she posts them, so I thought I’d share a few of my own:

  • I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music lately

This may not sound noteworthy to you, but growing up I was always a rock kind of guy. I actually presented at conferences as an undergraduate on the theological implications of the music of Nine Inch Nails. Let’s just say that pop music was never really something I enjoyed. But for whatever reason, over the last several months, I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music. And I like it. Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, and Lady Gaga are playing in my car more often than not. And here’s another thing: I’m not ashamed of it. Yes, while I’m blasting “Roar” by Katy Perry on my way into work, I fully understand that I could easily be replaced with a 14 year old girl if it weren’t for the fact that she wouldn’t be old enough to drive a car. But, I happen to like the songs!

It might be worth noting that I’ve always been more of a lyrics person than a music person. So, if you’re a music-snob, and are going to lecture me on chords and progressions and whatever – just know that I don’t appreciate good music. I appreciate good lyrics. And yes, a lot of pop music has dumb lyrics, but I don’t really like those songs (“bubble yum bum, ba dum barum”).

  • I absolutely hate morning radio shows

I do tend to listen to some ESPN radio, so I can’t say I hate talk radio. But there is nothing worse to me than listening to your typical morning radio show. Granted, as I just mentioned I’ve been listening to a lot of pop music, so the morning shows that I tend to run across are not necessarily catering to my demographic. But they play some music in between their banter, and I keep getting sucked into accidentally hearing bits and pieces of the shows, and they just make me angry.

They make me angry because I think I can categorize the comments of a morning radio show into two buckets: 1) They’re either painfully obvious (“I mean, I would never throw a baby down two flights of stairs. . .”), or 2) they’re incredibly opinionated about dumb things (“Why do girls always twirl their hair? That is so dumb. If a girl I was dating ever twirled her hair, I would just dump her right away.”)

I probably shouldn’t get so worked up about these shows, but there’s just something about them that make me angry. Just listening to people say stupid things repeatedly – it makes me lose hope in our society.

  • I hate political Facebook posts

Or really any Facebook post on a divisive issue. What are you really trying to accomplish by posting that? Do you really think you’re going to convert dissenting opinions by the amazing facts and wit in which you so accurately represent? Or do you think you’ll be successful in trying to open it up into a forum for useful and constructive dialogue where people can discuss the merits of both sides of the argument? Or are you really just looking for a thunderous “hell yeah!” from all of your Facebook friends who agree with you, while not tolerating any possible inkling that at least some intelligent and well-meaning people might have contrary opinions?

There is definitely a place for politics and other divisive issues, but using a social media that alerts you to new awards that people have won in Candy Crush and who has begun a new relationship is not the right place. All it does is artificially strengthens your own opinions because people who agree with you tend to comment or “like” it more than others, while creating a hostile environment for any dialogue or honest conversation (“yer st00pid if you think that”).

So, that was a lot of negativity. I try not to be overly negative, so let me try to balance that out with a gratuitous photo of our happy dog:

I know I'm being that crazy dog owner, but doesn't it look like he's so happy in this picture with Meg?

I know I’m being that crazy dog owner, but doesn’t it look like he’s so happy in this picture with Meg?

What are your confessions?

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