Monday, November 28, 2016


I was kicking so much butt this spring and summer: I was working out like crazy (literally six to seven days a week, often for two hours at a time), and I was eating relatively healthfully.

And then I wasn't.

A few things happened: first, I ran two huge races and, while I did really well, also injured myself pretty greatly. Finally in mid-October, I went to the doctor and discovered that as a result of a severe sprain six years ago, a fragment is off my tibia, and now I have fluid in my talus bone, which is causing the bone to swell. I have been in a boot since then, and while I have had it off for two weeks, I have realized that that was a poor choice and that I need to keep wearing it until I can start physical therapy.

Try not to be tooooooooo jealous.
Second, I was working out so much because it gave me something to do. Since I was still relatively new to Minnesota, I knew so few people, and being at the gym gave me human interaction, built-in friends, and again, something to do. Now, I have friends (and the most phenomenal partner), so the gym has become less of a time-filler, for lack of a better word.

Third, I got lazy -- not necessarily with working out (although I haven't been going as much as I would like) but rather with food. I have been quite busy lately, and I have found that Qdoba or Panera are much easier and faster than cooking. Also, my sugar dragon reared its ugly head, and I became addicted to Hot Tamales and all things sweet.

Needless to say, while I was looking (and feeling) utterly amazing this spring and summer, I am looking (and feeling) less-than-stellar now. Because it is starting to affect my mental health and self-image, I have decided that things need to change.

Deciding this in the middle of the holiday season is, admittedly, probably not the most solid of choices. While I really want to do a legit Whole30, I am not going to commit to that right now (and Melissa Hartwig, the founder of Whole30 does not even recommend doing so). Rather, I am going to eat mostly Paleo during the week and allow myself to "indulge" if the occasion arises on the weekends. In addition, I am going to set a workout plan for myself and actually stick to it rather than just go to the gym and "do whatever."

So, here's what this week looks like:
This organized table/spreadsheet should surprise none of you who know me.
In addition to having a specific menu and workout plan to follow for the majority of the week, I am going to restart Sore to the Core. While I think the majority of my stellar results came from eating super well, I also know that my core needs a heck of a lot of work; I generally rely on my cardio (specifically running) to shape my abs, but since I can't do anything of the sort right now, I need to actually do some targeted ab work.

The other goal that I have for myself is to drink more water. This spring, Aly (my sister-in-law) and I did a gallon-a-day water challenge, and I felt so good while doing that. Lately, I have been drinking hardly any water and have instead been surviving largely on coffee (and maybe some wine). So, starting tomorrow, I am going to try and drink five Camelbaks a day. The only difficulty I see with that is school. (And yes, I realize that is a big difficulty.) We have one water filter in the building, and it is quite a long way from my classroom. And I also have limited opportunities to use the restroom (something about not leaving 33 teenagers unattended...). 

But I think I can do it.

I know my skin will thank me.

I really enjoy drinking a glass of wine at night. I have yet to decide how I am going to handle that part of my "lifestyle change." Right now, I think I am going to say it's a-okay, as long as I drink my gallon of water first.

But we'll see.

I think in January I may do a legit Whole30, in which case the wine would be a no-go.

That's a whole different conversation, though. When I did a Whole30 last January, I do not believe I did so in a super healthy way, which makes me hesitant to do a Whole30 again. We'll see how this amended plan goes this month.

Stay tuned.

For now, my ultimate goal is to just feel better. I felt so freaking amazing this spring/summer. I physically felt super good, and I also felt like I looked the best I ever have. While I know that looks are not the ultimate goal, feeling confident and strong is -- and honestly, some of that comes with how I feel I look, how my clothes fit, etc.

I just want to get back to where I was a few months ago. And I know that I can.

Peace, friends.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hello Again


It's been quite awhile. It's been over nine months, in fact. (No, I did not conceive and/or birth a child. I just didn't blog.)

In those nine months, I have been very busy. Here's what happened:

In March, I ran the Get Lucky 7K with MS, a family friend from years ago. Fun fact: she used to be my babysitter! Now we live in the same city again, which is super awesome. I am looking forward to running with her more once we're both healthier (more on that later).

Also in March, SH and I drove down to New Orleans (!!!) and headed on a cruise to Mexico. We hit up Cozumel and Progreso. I love the ocean so much.

In April, I worked out -- a lot.

Straight-up Beast Mode.

I have no idea.

In May, I ran -- a lot. And I looked super buff doing it.

Even though sometimes I literally wanted to vomit. I was running fast, y'all!

In June, I ran the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (the 13.1 version of Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota). I went up there with my assistant principal and her friend, and we had so much fun together -- and stayed in an old brothel! I kicked major ass at this race, PRing by nearly 20 minutes. After, though, I was a hurting unit. But it was so worth it.

I also started working at the gym. I loved it so much that I told them I wanted to spend even more time there. And they let me!

Also in June, my sister came to visit me, and we helped the Twin Cities kick off Pride with the Beer Dabbler. We had so much fun, and I think we're hoping to make it an annual event. (I'm not sure my sister knows this yet, though.)

For the Fourth of July, I celebrated with Jay, one of my very first Minnesota friends.

How cool is this photo?!
Also in July, I headed to Des Moines for 80/35, an annual music festival. I hung out with my best friends in the entire world and had entirely too much fun -- like, entirely too much fun.

In August, my best dude friend came to Minneapolis, and he took me to the Chelsea vs. AC Milan game, the first event at U.S. Bank Stadium, home to the Minnesota Vikings. It was my first big soccer match, and it was so much fun. I'm now a Chelsea fan?

Also in August, I ran Ragnar, a 200+ mile relay race. I accidentally signed up for this after an afternoon of being on a pedal pub. While I was super nervous and knew virtually no one, it turned out to be one of my all-time favorite experiences.

Team Never Trust a Fartlek

Also in August, I went to Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska, for my sister-in-law's sister's wedding. (Confusing, right? We're all pretty much family.) It was so great seeing my whole fam.

Me and my bro -- digging the aviators. I don't think we've looked this much alike since we were way younger.
In September, I headed to Chicago with two of my best friends in the whole world -- one from Michigan and the other from Massachusetts. We met there for a girls' weekend -- and to celebrate the wedding of one of our dearest Freedom Writer friends. It was such a wonderful time; we only wish KW could've been with us.

Posing in front of the Chicago River, noting how many people were hating on us for being the prettiest people on the planet.

Stuffing our faces with the best pizza imaginable.
Also in September, my boo and I headed to Iowa for a weekend. We hit up the World Food Festival (where a cute little guy called us the "beautiful teacher couple" and J officially asked me to "go steady"), and then we drove down to Knoxville for Peace Tree's annual Brews & Muse (and my sister's birthday party). We had so much fun.

In October, my boo and I won a costume contest.

Look at me I'm Sandra D.

Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson (I didn't know that was her last name until just now).

A week ago, my best Minnesota friend and I flew to Atlanta to present at the National Council for Teachers of English Annual Convention. We had such a wonderful trip to an amazing city, and we kicked so much ass at our presentation.

And just a few days ago, I hosted Thanksgiving. My mom and dad, my aunt and cousin, and my boo and his daughter all joined me. It was such a beautiful day with some of my favorite people in the whole wide world.

So there's a recap of nine months of 2016. This is not at all what I intended this blog post to be about, but if I write the actual entry, this post would be like 1,000,000 times longer than it already is. So, stay tuned for an actual blog post tomorrow morning. :)

Peace, friends.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Apps for the Gym

Happy Monday!

Life has been crazy-busy (which I know is my excuse all the time). I have a day off today, though, so I wanted to make good on a promise from a couple of weeks ago and hook y'all up with the apps I use every. single. day. at the gym.

So, without any further ado, here are the top three things you need.


This one is free!

I first started using this app when I began my powerlifting journey, and I honestly don't know how I'd remember everything if I didn't have it.

Using the search function, I first find the exercise that I am doing. It is loaded with so many exercises, and if the one you're doing isn't there, you can "recommend an exercise" be added. In the screenshot below, you can see the exercises that I've done recently. (Because I do so many different lifts each week, I have to use the "search all" function fairly regularly, but it's nice to have some stored as recent, too.)

In this case, I clicked on "Barbell Bench Press." Before I start the day's routine, I can click on "History" and see the number of sets and reps and the amount of weight I lifted. This function goes all the way back to Day One, which makes seeing (and tracking) your progress really great.

When you hit "Finish" after the workout is over, it gives you a total number of points. At first I was bummed about the points not increasing every week, but I'm so over that now. I don't even know what the points mean -- or how you earn points -- so I don't really care about this function too much.

One of my favorite pieces about this app, though, is that it has explanations for all of the exercises and accompanying videos for most of them. There have been a few times where we have had to watch these videos in the middle of the gym, just to make sure we're doing the exercise correctly. It's a really nice feature that they're on the app for us.

If you are into lifting, I highly, highly, highly recommend downloading Fitocracy. It has made tracking my workouts so manageable -- and it's so much easier to carry around my phone than pen and paper.


This one cost $6.99. (Sometimes it costs $10, and other times the price drops. Follow her on Instagram -- @alexajeanfitness -- to know when to buy.)

So this isn't an app, but I do access it on my handy-dandy cellular device. I purchased the program using the link above. She then emails you a code with which to download the program. I saved it to my Dropbox and to my iBooks -- pretty much every place I could possibly save it.

As I've mentioned before, this is a 30-day ab program. There are four workouts per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday), and each workout has five exercises, ranging from 30 seconds to 45 seconds. Between each exercise there is a 20-second break, and between each of the three sets of exercises, there is a one-minute break.

This is what the first day looks like:

This was tough for us when we first started, but now it's a piece of cake. This is the program, y'all, that whipped me into shape and gave me a tinier core than I've had in a very long time. See the progress pics here.

She has a Sore to the Core II out now, but we're going through the first one for a second time. In two weeks (when we finish Part I again), I believe we'll be starting Part II.


This one cost $4.99, but it's the best $4.99 I've ever spent.

When we first started doing Sore to the Core, we kept track of time using the stopwatch feature on our iPhones. Unfortunately, I was so focused on keeping track of when we started/stopped that I wasn't concentrating on the exercises, I was worried about messing up the time, etc.

I did some research and found Seconds. There are a variety of timers that you can use: HIIT, Circuit, Tabata, Round, Compound, or Custom. You can create folders of different workouts (like the "Sore to the Core" one I created below) and enter different programs into that folder. So as you can see below, I labeled each week as 1, 2, 3, or 4 and each day as 1, 2, 3, or 4. (So 4.3 would signify the third day of the fourth week.)

When we're ready to go, we simply click on the day that we want to do, and this timer pops up:

The woman will say, "Plank" and then let us do our thing. She'll count down "3, 2, 1, rest." And then the next exercise will scroll up. She does this all the way through our entire workout. There is NO keeping track, NO counting, NO messing up for us. It's all done for us.

It takes a minute to enter everything into the program, but it is so. worth. it. Seriously. Buy this app. Now.

And there you go, friends! Please let me know what you think of these apps!

Peace out!

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Whirlwind Weeks

Hi friends!

(Side note: at the beginning of each period, I greet each class by saying, "Hi friends!" I try to avoid gendered language as much as possible, and calling my students "friends" has been pretty effective. On the rare occasion I greet my sixth-period class with something different, one of my little girls emphatically exclaims, "Um, hi FRIEND!" The little things kids notice -- and care about -- crack me up.)

Evidence that I do, in fact, sometimes wear real clothes, not workout attire.
So I obviously haven't written for a while -- 15 days, to be exact. This was totally not my intention. I have had dozens of ideas and updates brewing in my head every single day, but I have been so darn busy. I am done with work at 2:30 but often have meetings until 3:30, and then I go to the gym for an hour-and-a-half to two hours, and then I go home and put everything away (I hate clutter), and then I cook and eat dinner, and by the time I sit down to write, it's after 8:00, and I'm pooped.

I'd like to say that my lack-of-writing-regularly will change, but I cannot make any promises until life is a little less chaotic. Plus, I feel like I post most of what I would say here on Instagram, and I don't want you all to get bored.

Let's cut to the chase:


I am on Day 22 of my second Whole30. And it's been a struggle.

I loved my first Whole30 -- so much, in fact, that I did it for 58 days straight and only stopped because I went out of town for a bachelorette party.

This time, I am going to make it 27.5 days and then call it good. Whatev.

So let's compare what's different:

Then: I enjoyed cooking up a storm.
Now: I still enjoy cooking, but there are times that I just want to go out to dinner and not have to worry about analyzing the menu ingredient-by-ingredient beforehand.

Then: I truly loved the recipes.
Now: I still love most of the recipes, but I need some variance in my life. I am so sick of sweet potatoes, eggs, and slabs of meat.

Then: I completely overhauled my diet and therefore felt a drastic (and phenomenal) change.
Now: I don't eat like absolute shit on a daily basis, so I haven't felt much different. I can say that I am less bloated than I was, but that's about the only difference.

Then: I was sleeping better than ever.
Now: It still takes me forever to fall asleep, and I still wake up several times a night.

Then: I was eating huge meals.
Now: I know that I am not eating enough. I just haven't been hungry. That also may be why I'm not feeling the "Tiger Blood" or experiencing the amazing sleep that Whole30 promises.

Then: I was not exercising at all.
Now: I am kicking my ass with lifting and running at least 90 minutes a day. This does not leave a lot of time for cooking. In addition, whereas Whole30 was my obsession the first time around, I am now way more obsessed with the gym, and nutrition, while important, is a side factor.

So anyway, I just want to be done.

And I really, really want a glass of wine. And a burrito bowl with rice. And one of my mom's chocolate chip cookies. And cheese in an omelet.


Friends, I am killing it at the gym.

I am, however, still sucking at gym selfies.
I have been sticking with the schedule that I create every week. Here is this week's schedule:

If you've been keeping track, there are some new exercises this time around. I am switching up most of our accessory lifts so that our muscles don't get too used to doing the same movements. (Do you like how I pretend I know what I'm talking about? I actually have no idea, but it sounds good.)

Even when the "running" row is empty, I am still doing cardio work -- walking at a slow-ish speed on the treadmill in order to get all of my steps in. So far, despite technical difficulties with each of our trackers, my sister, my sister-in-law, and I have all reached 10,000 steps every day of our challenge. And all three of us have said that we are not going to stop after the 30 days is up.

This is what I look like after I run a reallllllllllly fast (for me) mile.

As far as the abs routine goes, Sunni and I finished Alexa Jean Fitness' 30-Day Abs Challenge (Sore to the Core), and we both have seen tremendous results:

The pictures on the left were from January 4th, and the pictures on the right were from yesterday, January 30th.

I am pretty damn proud of myself, and seeing this progress makes me really, really, really excited to continue. Sunni and I are going to do the first round of the program again, and then we are going to purchase the second round.
I used to be self-conscious in this top because it was skin-tight. Today, it was baggy.
I haven't stepped on the scale (Whole30 rules), so I don't know how much (if any) weight I've lost, but I know there have been some major changes taking place.

This top is a size medium -- AND IT FITS.
And although I don't have a photo of me in them (yet), the jeans that I haven't worn since 2012 fit -- with no muffin top!

These are the jeans -- that you can't even see. I just like this picture. :)

Although I am so ready to be done with Whole30, life is obviously going pretty darn well. I think I have turned into a gym rat, and I am totally okay with that. It's clearly making a positive impact -- both physically and emotionally.

Many of you have asked -- either in person or via Facebook, Instagram, or text -- about the Sore to the Core program and other apps I use for workouts. Fear not, friends. I am about to drop some info on you in a pending post. Stay tuned for that to come later this week.

Much love to you all!

Question: should I continue the blog, or would you prefer to keep updated on my not-super-interesting life via Instagram? If you would like me to continue writing, what kind of material would you like to read? Give me a topic, and I can talk for days. :)

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