Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Wednesdays...

I hope you all wore pink today!

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I didn't.

I totally spaced off the tenth anniversary of Mean Girls. But, considering the fact that I'm stuck in high school for the rest of my life, I think I pay enough homage to that flick.

Not only did I not wear pink this morning, but I barely pulled myself together enough to look somewhat presentable. I woke up this morning more tired than I think I have ever been. Conferences last night truly did me in.

I chugged my coffee but still had a hard time waking up. It was a rough morning.

But, the day got better.

After my afternoon professional development, I headed home to change and grab the Scheel's gift card that my aunt gave me for Christmas: I need a new race outfit, after all.

Side note: you should never, ever, ever wear new clothing on race day. I, however, don't like to listen to solid, tried-and-true advice. Instead, I like cute, new clothes.

Unfortunately, Scheel's did not have the Under Armor tops that I like, so I headed to my favorite place for workout gear, Old Navy. I had some Super Cash burning a hole in my pocket, and I ended up getting over $100 worth of goodies for $60: two sports bras, one pair of capris, and three workout tops. I was pretty stoked.

Then, I met one of my bowling buddies out for dinner. His birthday was yesterday, and we needed to celebrate. Per his choice, we hit up Sakari for some delicious sushi. After, we headed to our last bowling night of the season.

And now I'm about ready to pass out. :)

Breakfast:


This looks oddly similar to yesterday's, doesn't it? Well, friends, that's because it is exactly the same: three eggs scrambled with sauteed mushrooms and onion and topped with avocado and salsa.

Lunch: I didn't even bother to take a photo of my lunch because, like breakfast, it was the exact same as yesterday's. I need a little variety in my Instagram masterpieces. Again, it was a super-delicious burger, sauteed mushrooms, and avocado. (Oh, and I also ate an apple.)

I'm pretty sure those burgers are going to be a fairly regular item on my menu. Holy yum.

Snack: MB forced two pieces of chocolate (mini Krackel bars) down my throat. Just kidding: as I mentioned before, this was a choice that I made.

It was, however, not a choice I needed to make. I could've refrained from eating the chocolate and would've been just fine.

Dinner:


Clearly this was a Whole30 break, but it was oh, so worth it. We ordered four rolls: the godzilla, the dynamite crab, the avocado, and the spicy tuna. And, we devoured all of it.

Snack: On the last night of bowling, we always have "fun night," where a strike only requires nine pins (for men) or eight pins (for women), and people bring lots of goodies to share. Well, I had approximately zero ounces of self-control tonight, and I indulged in a cookie that one of my teammates made as well as a small cream puff bite.

Again, I could've totally just passed those up, but I did not. It was completely my choice, but wish I had thought about the choice I was making before I absent-mindedly grabbed for the treats.

I am in no way saying that eating the chocolate at the meeting or the cookie(s) at bowling was wrong and something that I shouldn't have done; I am saying that it is something that I could have thought about a bit more in order to make a more cognizant, less habitual choice.

But you know what? Tomorrow is a new day. :)


What is your favorite high school movie?

The Breakfast Club is a definite winner in my book, but I absolutely love Mean Girls, too. Oh, and 10 Things I Hate About You. And Can't Hardly Wait.

Clearly I have an unhealthy attachment to high school...

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"They Love Me! They Really Love Me!"

It is my dream to attend an award show someday.

I would definitely be a lot more excited than these two...
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Ideally, I would not only be a nominee, but also a winner:

And yes, I'd be just as ridiculous.
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Or, let's be real: being arm candy would be just fine with me.

Although now that he's officially off the market (and since I'm not 5'11" and 120 pounds), I think my chances are shot.
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Until my multi-million dollar screenplay comes to fruition, however, I am honored to be given the Liebster Award by Kaela at FLABulous to FABulous. (Before I go any further with this whole thing, please go check her out. I am super inspired by her and am so happy we connected!)

As Kaela mentioned, "The Liebster Award is something by bloggers for bloggers. It is a way for us bloggers to discover new blogs, meet new people, and promote each other."

There are, of course, rules attached:

1.) you must link back to the person who nominated you 
2.) you must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominator
3.) you must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award (with a small following)
4.) you must create 10 questions for your nominees
5.) you must notify your nominees


Without any further ado, here are the questions that Kaela assigned me:

1. What is your favorite workout?

I would have to say that my favorite workout is some type of boot camp. First, I love workouts that are in a group environment: I am much more likely to "feel bad" or "guilty" if I don't exercise, and I am much more likely to have a more intense workout. I am competitive in that regard. Second, I love workouts that are different every day, as I bore easily of doing the same thing day in and day out.

That being said, there is nothing like a good solo run. As I train for my many upcoming half marathons, I have been logging a lot of miles by myself lately, and I have really grown to prefer running alone -- just me and my thoughts on an open trail.




2.What state do you call home?

I was born in Minnesota, lived in Ohio for a year, and then grew up in Nebraska. However, I've lived in Iowa for the past 13 years (which I can hardly believe), and it's definitely my home now. I love me some Des Moines.


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3. What is your favorite 'cheat' meal?

I could eat sushi for every single meal. And, I could eat ice cream or fro-yo for every single dessert. And, I could eat popcorn for every single snack.

4. What was the "That's it moment"? What made you start your journey?

I've always been on my journey (see my About Me section for more details). However, the moment that really hit me this time around was when my mom and I were talking, and she said that she realized that no one else could do this for her: she had to do it for herself. It created some sort of connection to "I deserve this. Make it happen."




5. What has been the hardest part of your journey?

I would say that the most difficult part of my journey thus far has been going on vacation. Food (and, let's be real, booze) is such a social event for me. And when it comes to travel, I want to experience the local cuisine. For example, when I went to Atlanta, I wanted to drink the sweet tea and eat the fried chicken: I didn't want to stick with salmon salad and sparking water.



However, I need to work on taking all of that with a little more moderation on the next trip that I take. I got a bit out of control with non-compliant food and beverage while out of town last week.

6. Who has been your biggest motivator?

I think my biggest motivator, especially lately, has been my sister-in-law, Aly. She may have initially thought I was crazy with Whole30, but she called or texted nearly every day to ask how I was doing, she encourages me all the time with her workouts, she motivates me every day with my workouts, she swaps recipes and products with me often, and she's been pretty much my partner in crime throughout this whole ordeal. And I am so, so thankful for her.

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Oh yeah, and she's also my Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon running buddy. :)

7. What is your favorite quote?

There are so many quotes that I absolutely love, but for now, I'll leave you with this one:

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Seriously, though, there are about 1,000 I could've posted here.

8. What is your favorite book?

My favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. I am extremely passionate about issues of civil rights, especially racial equality, and the words that Harper Lee wrote 54 years ago still ring true today. The book was beautifully written and was lightyears ahead of its time with progressive issues. And I'm not sure there's a better human being than Atticus Finch.


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9. When you fall off the wagon, how do you pick yourself back up?

I don't really "fall off the wagon" anymore because I give myself permission to eat the way that I do. I have readjusted my thinking so that I understand that everything I put in my mouth is my choice, that I don't have to eat a certain way but that I choose to do so.

Therefore, if I "fall off the wagon" and make more poor choices than usual, I simply tell myself that I am now choosing to make good choices, as I know that's what my body will appreciate.

10. What do you love most about blogging?

First and foremost, I love the people that I have met through blogging. It's crazy to me the number of friendships that I have developed, simply as a result of writing (sometimes very boring) entries on the Internet.

Second, blogging is therapeutic for me. I can literally lose myself for hours on end -- just because I am so engrossed in what I am writing.

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Third, it means so much to me that my story, my experiences can possibly help others. That is, after all, my goal in everything that I do.


And now, here are my nominees for the Liebster Award:

Aly (my sister-in-law) at Here Comes Happiness
Cathy (my mama) at Cathy Shows Up

Check out my friends in the blogosphere as they answer the following questions:

1. If you had to choose just three words to describe the focus of your blog, what would they be?
2. What advice would you give to new bloggers? 
3. What is your favorite form of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)? Why?
4. What actress would you choose to star in a movie about your life?
5. What was the best concert you have ever attended?
6. Who has been the most inspirational person in your life in regard to fitness and/or nutrition?
7. What are your three best qualities?
8. What is your biggest accomplishment thus far?
9. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
10. Where is your absolute favorite place to shop?

I hope you enjoy the Liebster Award as much as I have! Again, Kaela, thank you so much for the nomination!


And if you were not one of the nominees, please answer one of the questions in the comments section below -- and, if you have a blog, tell me about it! I love new friends!


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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Long Day

I am not one to complain a whole heck of a lot, but today was a loooooooong day.

I woke up bright and early at 5:30 -- before my alarm even went off. I was semi-awake anyway (guess it was just where I was in the sleep cycle), and then the truck came to empty the dumpster for my apartment building. My bedroom faces the back parking lot, which is right where the dumpster is, and let me tell you about the truck that comes super early every Tuesday morning: it is not quiet.

So, I was up and at 'em.

For breakfast, I whipped up my current favorite: scrambled eggs with sauteed onion and mushroom, topped with avocado and salsa.



For lunch (a mere three hours later), I ate leftovers from last night:



Seriously, this burger is amazing. And I'm pretty sure that my new favorite food is sauteed mushrooms. In addition to this deliciousness, I also ate an apple and a bite of the super awesome Paleo treats that I made my coworker/friend Lindsey for her birthday.

I had a fairly busy day teaching, and then we had parent-teacher conferences. So, essentially I had a 13-hour day.

And, I'm glad that I ate a relatively hearty lunch, as dinner was non-existent. By the time I headed to the PTA dinner in the teachers' lounge (only an hour after conferences had started), it was all gone. I ended up eating approximately eight grapes, a bag of "clean" popcorn (can't remember the brand, but it was legit), and a peanut butter cookie. The popcorn and cookie weren't technically "Paleo," but I was hungry and was not well-prepared.

Oh well.

I apologize for the short post, but I am wiped, friends. I need some relaxation -- stat.


How would you have solved the "I-forgot-to-pack-food" dilemma that I encountered today?


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Five Days in the ATL

Before I get started on the trip, I have to mention the part that I'm sure none of you care about: the conference. My colleagues (my principal, our social worker, and our academic interventionist) and I attended the College Board's A Dream Deferred and Preparate conferences.




I have attended these conferences for the past three years now, and I would have to say that this was the best year yet. The keynote speakers (including John QuiƱones and Soledad O'Brien) were amazing, and I learned something new at each breakout session. Best of all, however, was that I have so many ideas rolling around in my head -- and on paper, don't worry -- as to what we can bring back to our school for next year and years to come.

Again, I am so thankful to my school district for supporting diversity and educational equity -- and for allowing me the opportunity to attend this conference to better myself (and hopefully my school).

Now, let's chat about the stuff that might interest y'all a bit more. :)

We left school at 1:00 on Tuesday and headed straight to the airport. When we got seated on the tiny little airplane, I of course had to take a selfie:


Looking super fly after a day of work and running around an airport.

Both flights out there were just fine: I was pleasantly surprised at how little turbulence there was based on the size of the aircraft.

I never cease to be amazed at how airplanes work. Seriously, I feel like a little kid based on my intrigue. My colleagues totally judged me (rightly so) as I took a bazillion pictures of clouds, verbalized everything that popped into my head ("That looks like heaven!" "I feel like there should be Care Bears out there!" "I'm pretty sure airplanes are magical!"), and was, basically, just being myself.



When we landed, we headed straight to our hotel:




Does it look familiar to y'all? This is where The Hunger games was filmed. It was 47 stories of awesomeness.

We quickly threw all of our stuff into our rooms and headed out for a bite to eat:




We stumbled upon Max Lager's as we were paging through the packet of restaurants that the concierge gave us, and it sounded like a decent place.



First, we received a compliments-of-the-chef appetizer: fried jalapenos and onion rings. (Before I go any further, let me clarify that Whole30 was non-existent during this trip.) The jalapenos were amazing.

Each of us ordered one of the four things that our server recommended: the Creole BBQ Shrimp, the Southern Fried Chicken, the ribs (on the other side of the menu), and the pork chop (also on the other side of the menu).

The boys ordered beer (it was a brewery, after all), and Emily and I ordered Haymakers. It was a super delicious drink, but it was way too sweet after not having consumed sugar, so I only had about half of it before calling it good.


We also split the best dessert ever: fried cheesecake.

Back at the hotel, we turned in fairly early so that we could get up for the morning sessions.

After the conference on Wednesday, three of us headed out for a run. We saw that Centennial Olympic Park wasn't too far from the hotel (0.4 miles, to be exact), so we headed there.



I've said it a million times (and I'll probably say it another three zillion), but exploring a city by running it is one of my absolute favorite things.

The fountains were very much appreciated after a hot, sweaty run.

I really loved the park -- so much so that I headed there a few times before hitching the plane back to Des Moines.

Yes, I was absolutely thrilled to see flowers after the winter we've had.

After running around the park a few times (it's actually fairly small), we headed back in the direction of the hotel. Instead of going straight "home," though, we wandered past the hotel toward a different area of town -- just to explore.





The churches were just gorgeous -- as was the artwork outside of them:



I'm pretty sure I could've wandered the whole city by foot (taking pictures of everything, of course) given the opportunity.



After our workout, we showered and headed down to the hotel bar where we had a couple of drinks and waited for the rest of our crew to get ready.

This is where I should also mention that I had such a good self-esteem trip. I don't know where it came from, but I got such a boost of confidence and flirted with several very attractive men -- and they flirted right back. As silly as it sounds, it was just what I needed.

For dinner, the four of us headed to Ray's, a seafood joint near our hotel. We started with some sushi for an appetizer, and then I gorged myself on crab cakes and some praline dessert -- and yes, more cocktails.

A couple of us stayed up a bit later when we got to the hotel, mingling with new friends in the hotel bar.

On Thursday, we attended the conference and then went for another run through Centennial Olympic Park:



We had to then head back to Max Lager's because I -- being the genius that I am -- forgot to grab the itemized receipt, a definite must for the district.

So, we went into the restaurant looking like hot messes. We were so gross, in fact, that not one but three people asked us if we wanted a glass of water, and one of the servers stuck washcloths in our hands so that we could dry off.

Hot Mess Express

We then headed back, took a quick swim in the pool, and headed to the cocktail reception that the conference threw for us.

I got a bit tipsy after enjoying three free glasses of wine (each of which was quite large), and then we headed to Gladys Knight's restaurant for dinner:




I chugged two huge glasses of sweet tea (my favorite beverage on the face of the Earth) and had a few bites of chicken and waffles before passing on the rest. (My tummy was full of wine and cheese and crackers from the reception.)

It was okay, but it definitely wasn't the best meal of the trip.



I ended up giving three quarters of the waffle and all but one piece of chicken to a homeless man on our way back to the hotel.

After I felt a bit better, a few of us headed out for a night on the town. I wish I would've taken pictures, but we looked hot.

We went to a karaoke bar down the road and people-watched until quite late. We met some interesting characters: undercover cops from New York who were busting up arms deals in the South, for instance. After, we headed back to the hotel for yet another night at Pulse, the hotel bar.

On Friday, the conference ended mid-afternoon, so Emily and I hit up the hotel pool:



Let me tell you how glorious it was to be able to lay down in a bikini and soak up the sun. I can't wait for summer.



We took quick showers and then once again got ready for another night out.

Em & Em

First, we went back again to Max Lager's for dinner. If you ever go to Atlanta, I highly recommend that place: and get the fried chicken. Trust me.

Then, we figured out the MARTA system as we took the train -- and then the shuttle (after walking through the underground mall) -- to the Braves game.

This photo cracks me up: clearly the boys were over selfies. Whatever.

This is the second time I have been to a Major League Baseball game while attending a conference, and I think I'd like to make it a tradition. Even if the game isn't good, it's great people-watching.


And I always love a good ballpark.

And, of course, the company:


We are such nerds.

Since when is the Tomahawk Chop still an acceptable thing, though? Seriously.

After the game, we navigated MARTA back to our hotel (barely) before hunkering down at, you guessed it, the hotel bar. There was some really interesting people-watching happening there, but Emily and I decided to head back to the karaoke bar for some singing and dancing. We sang so much that my voice was hoarse the next day, and we danced so hard that my muscles felt like they had run eight miles.

And it was awesome.

The next morning, we woke up fairly early and headed back to Des Moines.


Another airplane was racing us. We won.

It was an absolutely wonderful trip, and I am so glad that I was able to experience it with the people that I did. One of the best things about conferences is getting to know your colleagues in a different way.

I am so thankful.

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