January Check In

My mantra going into February

The first month of 2019 is almost over and so is the first month of my journey back to better physical shape and wellness.

Let’s start with the not so great first:
I didn’t push myself as much as I could have. When I started at the beginning of the month I was truly starting from the beginning, but I allowed that to color my view of what I was capable of doing. It turns out I could have been doing a lot more.

I didn’t get up early as often as I should have so that meant less time for working out. I barely practiced any yoga in this month because of it.

I didn’t make the best food choices. I didn’t do as terrible as I could have, but I gave in to cravings more times than I’m happy about. Other than one particularly bad night, I didn’t go crazy with the less than healthy choices, but it was a little something here or there, all those little somethings eventually added up, and the scale didn’t move as much as I’d hoped.

Truth

The Good:
I’m down 3.7 pounds from December 31st.
I’ve lost 1 ½ inches from my hips, and 1 inch from my waist.
My BMI is down 1.1 points

When I started lifting weights, I had to start small using light weights. After about 2 weeks, I was regularly using the heaviest weights I have.

Other than missing one day due to illness, I managed to do a 5K or more every day, rain or shine.

I finished Darebee’s 30 day squat challenge with an extra one for the 31st, and completed all 30days of Darebee’s Iron Born program.

I got one round of “Wake Up’ in every other day.

I went out for an event and indulged sensibly. I enjoyed myself, but also made smart choices for the bigger meals. I didn’t deprive myself and felt totally satisfied, and it showed next day when the scale said I’d lost some weight.

What I Learned:

Part of the not so great food choices stemmed from not seeing any changes on the scale or in the way my clothes fit. Usually I see some results fairly quickly when I start to work out and eat clean after not having done so for a bit. So I got frustrated when scale wasn’t moving and my clothes didn’t seem to fit any better. The only thing that was encouraging was that my BMI was lowering fairly regularly, so I knew something was working, even though I couldn’t see it. I’d forgotten, though, that when I haven’t taken care of myself in a while, my body holds onto the weight desperately. Even though I wasn’t seeing what I thought was progress, I was in fact making some. The weights, for example, were a big indication that I was building muscle, and that doesn’t necessarily show on the scale.

I know I would have seen more progress if I hadn’t indulged as often as I did, but part of this journey is creating a new lifestyle, and it’s not going to be perfect all the time. When I DID indulge, it was in small ways, and I tried not to do that thing where I figure, “oh well, since I’ve already been bad with my food choices, I might as well keep eating more crap” and then go crazy eating whatever I want. So, some progress there, but definitely room for more.

I logged in over 100 dedicated miles this month for Run the Year. Consistency is key. Every day I did SOMETHING. Sometimes it was just walking a 5k. Other times it was just lifting weights. But it was something every single day.

Also, if I skipped my daily challenge or daily Iron Born workout, I made myself make it up the next day, or days, in addition to that day’s planned workout. If I missed two days of doing 50 squats a day, then when I finally got back to it on the third day I had 150 total squats to do. This is also where I learned I could and should have been pushing harder. On the days I had to make up workouts, yes, I was tired, but I got through them and realized I could do more than I was giving myself credit for.

Going forward in February

I need to get up early if I want to get a full yoga class, run, and workout in. That’s the main focus for my workouts, just getting out of bed at 4:45 every morning, no matter what. The extra time I’ll have means I have zero excuses not to get a yoga practice in, as well as everything else.

I’ll be continuing my 5k a day challenge, plus I have my first race of 2019 this coming weekend. I’m using that to set the bar for other races later in the year. I’m also getting into the middle of a half marathon training program, so I’ll be getting in even more miles and working on my endurance.

I’ll also be continuing my daily challenge and strength workouts with Darebee’s 30 day challenge: Squats & Punches and various Darebee weight workouts, and continuing to aim to do one round of “Wake Up” a day.

To push myself further, I’m adding:
Darebee’s 30 Days of HIIT program,
At least one alphabet workout a week.

I’m curbing the indulgences. I’ve stocked my freezer and fridge with healthy food so I have plenty to eat and with several events this month, I’ll have opportunities to indulge, in moderation. But if I want to see more progress, I have to stop with the little indulgences, so that’s my food focus for the month.

It may be a short month, but I’m looking forward to ramping up the workouts and hopefully seeing a ramp up in progress, too.
What about you? How did January go for you? What are you changing or continuing for February?

Countdown to Avengers: Endgame – Captain America: The Winter Soldier funnies

Happy Marvel Monday!

I’ve been doing a Marvel movie countdown to The Avengers: Endgame by watching one Marvel movie a week in chronological order.  This week’s movie is Captain America: The Winter Solider.

Here are a few funnies for your Marvel Monday.

If you want to start you week off by training to be a super hero give this workout a try

Red Reads February Book Challenge

I adore book challenge. I tend to fall into ruts when reading and book challenges are a great way to break out of my comfort zone and discover new authors and subjects. Last year I did a Spooky Reads challenge for October where I tried to read as many books as I could that had some element of either horror or supernatural. I managed to get through 14 books and 4 graphic novels, and I had such a blast reading all those spooky stories as it set the mood for the month. It was also a really great way to get through my never ending pile of To Be Read books.

This February I’m taking on a Red Reads book challenge. The books can be of any genre or subject matter, but whatever book I choose must have a red cover or have “red” in the title. Using this criteria, here’s my stack I’m aiming to make a dent in for the challenge.

February 2019 Red Reads book challenge pile I’m hoping to make a dent in.

What book challenges are you working on this year or this month? What challenges from the past you really enjoyed? Let me know in the comments!

Paging Scott Lang

Apparently, since the outdoor pool party that was happening in my cats’ water dishes on my porch got Raided, the ants around my house decided to up their game. Yesterday, I came home to find that ants had invaded my home and decided to throw a massive pool party in the water glass I left in my bedroom. The party must have been lit, because a ton more of their friends showed up and found my books and book shelves to be awesome places to throw giant raves and have all kinds of conga lines ALL over them.

Furious, I promptly shut off the music, screamed, “This is a Raid!” stated wiping down all the surfaces with a cloth covered in it, while yelling, “Get off my lawn!” They scattered, with most trying to flee the building, while others took shelter in some less obvious spaces, like between my books, thinking if they kept the music down, they could keep the party going. New ants, who clearly didn’t get the message the party was shut down, or hoped to make it into the covert locations, we sent packing in the most final of ways.

This morning, their trash (and corpses) litter my furniture, and yet, there are STILL quite a few ants showing up late to the party, who insist on checking out the scene and seeing if they can’t make the most of the situation. I’ve cleaned everything up, but they’re still coming to do recon. Can someone pull Ant-Man out of the quantum realm and have him get his buddies out of here? I don’t like turning my house into a final resting place for ants, but they went to far and broke the cardinal rule: “Don’t mess with my books!”

Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise Scavenger Hunt at Disneyland

This morning my mom and I got to experience Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Surprise Scavenger Hunt at Disneyland and the kick off of Valentine’s Month at Disneyland Resort and we had so much fun! My mom and I love doing the egg hunt at the parks during Easter time, so when we found out a new hunt was coming to the parks, we were sold!

From the Disneyland website:
“Throughout Valentine’s month, test your investigative skills as you search for the secret valentines Minnie has hidden for Mickey and friends all around Disneyland Park. Simply purchase a commemorative game board and stickers for $6.99 plus tax at select merchandise locations, find the secret valentines and redeem your completed game board at Disney Showcase for a special surprise (while supplies last)—January 22 through February 18, 2019.”

Participating Locations



https://disneyland.disney.go.com/events-tours/disneyland/valentines-month/

Much like the Disney egg hunts, you can purchase the game board and redeem it for a prize without having to complete the board first. I picked up two game boards at Disneyana and then headed to the Disney Showcase to redeem them and pick up our surprise before the hunt.

Game board and stickers
A full look at the game board and clues
Game board stickers.

It turns out there were two different surprises we could redeem the game boards for so we were able to get both. The surprises were boxes of Valentines with each box containing different characters. They had the Valentines on display at the redemption location so you could see them before choosing your pack.

Redemption location and a look at the surprises for redeeming our game boards.
Valentines pack 1

Valentines pack 2
Both packs of Valentines
Back of the packs

Once our game boards were stamped and our Valentines received we were ready to hunt! Just like the egg hunt, Valentines were hidden around the park, but unlike the egg hunt map, the game board has valentines giving clues as to the location of each one. I also noticed each of the stickers had a letter on it which, when the game board was completed, spelled out words.

Since we weren’t sure just what the Valentines looked like it took a bit to find one, but once we knew what to look for it was easier (but not necessarily easy) to sport the rest. Here’s the first Valentine we spotted:

Found our first Valentine of the hunt!

One of the many reasons I love doing the hunts is all the little details I get to see at the parks while searching for eggs, or, in this case, Valentines, and Minnie’s Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt gave us plenty of views of fun spots. Found in shop windows, on top of rides, on decorations, and various other places some were so well hidden we had to come at it at just the right angle to even find it! There’s 12 Valentines to find in total, and it took us maybe 2 hours to find them all, mostly because a few were particularly tricky (I’m looking at you Frontierland and Tomorrowland.)

My mom and I both lamented that this only takes place at Disneyland, and not in Disney’s California Adventure and Downtown Disney, too, as we had so much fun hunting for them, we wanted to continue hunting for more. The surprise was fun, though I think I’m partial to the egg hunt eggs, but everything was really well done, and I hope we get more scavenger hunts in the future. Maybe one for Halloween Time?

This event is only for a limited time, so if you get a chance to experience it, I highly recommend it!

!SPOILERS!

Don’t scroll any further!
Below is the completed map as well as locations and views of the Valentines. Turn back now if you want them to remain a mystery!

…Still here?
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Okay, you’ve been warned
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I love the statues in New Orleans Square so this was a favorite location of mine to find a Valentine.
I think this was my favorite location for a Valentine
This was a hard one to find, and I forgot to take a photo of the other side which had Stitch on it. The cast members underneath it didn’t even know it was there!

This was the trickiest for us to find.

Completed game board. I put my stickers next to their corresponding Valentine since I wanted to be able to see the clue as well.
The stickers, when placed in the right location, spell out “Love The Magic”

Star Wars Candles: A New Hope

I’m a huge fan of geek scented candles. For years, I used candles to heat my house since I didn’t have a working heater, and plug in heaters would trip the circuits. Once the heater was replaced, I didn’t need the candles for heat anymore, but I always loved the look and smell of them. A few years ago I discovered several vendors that sell geeky themed candles and I’ve been hooked ever since. Well, when I found out that Star Wars was releasing candles based on the original trilogy, I was sold and ordered all three sets online. Here’s my review of set one: Star Wars: A New Hope

Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the packaging these came in, as I could hear broken glass as I moved the shipping box, and was concerned about getting broken glass everywhere. Below are photos from the website from which I ordered the candles. When I opened the shipping box, there was a long black box with STAR WARS printed on it. When I opened that, I found that 2 out of the 5 candles had completely shattered. There’s a cardboard base in the black box that the candles sit in, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from falling out in transit. I carefully took the candles and candle holder out, cleaned it up and this is what I was left with.

Star Wars: A New Hope candles, minus two broken containers
Themed base/candle holder

The candles are small, roughly 2″ square, with a neat black and silver label with the Star Wars logo, the candle name, and “A New Hope” printed on it. They sit perfectly in a 15″ x 5″ themed black and silver display holder. While there are no lids included, even though the packaging recommends them, lids are apparently available to purchase separately.

But the big question: How do they smell?

“Bantha Milk”
A light blue candle that smells strongly of sugar. It’s super sweet, kind of milky smelling (to be expected) and also a little plastic-y, as if I could smell the pitcher Aunt Beru was pouring it from. If you imagine adding powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a glass of milk colored with blue food coloring, and then drinking that out of those old plastic tumblers most of us had in the 70s and 80s, you get the idea.

“Cantina”
A bright yellow candle, it smells like leather, sand, dust, and also vaguely tropical, like a fruity tropical drink. You get a sense of the patrons of the bar, and it makes me wonder just what were they serving all those pilots and smugglers there on Tatooine.

“Wookiee”
Chocolate brown in color, this straight up smells like Chewbacca on a hot desert planet. A mix of shag carpet, dog fur, a hint of musk, and leather, that have all been on a space ship and in the twin suns a bit too long.

“Trash Compactor”
This one reeked. Red like the outer edges of a dianoga’s eye, it smells like wet trash and food that’s been sitting in a metal waste basket decaying for some time. If you enjoy the smell of sour, rotting, stagnant water, this candle’s for you. No wonder Leia, Luke, Han, and Chewie were so anxious to get out of there.

“X-Wing Cockpit”
Bright orange flight suit colored, this smelled exactly like I thought it would: a warm mix of old, worn upholstery, leather, sweat, dust, adrenaline, and metal. I could practically hear Luke sitting in the cockpit saying, “Red 5, standing by.”

Overall impression:
As regular candles, for me, they’re just okay. A couple I wouldn’t mind keeping to burn, but that Trash Compactor one is making its way to the garbage chute shortly! These look pretty sitting on their base, and the novelty of them is fun. If you wanted a whole new experience while watching your 592nd viewing Star Wars: A New Hope, these candles would be fun to break out during the appropriate scenes in the movie. Not sure that’s worth the price, though, but these would make a fun gift.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post reviewing the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Candle set. I know you’re curious to find out just what DOES the inside of a Tauntaun smell like…

Black Widow Ops Training Jacket

It’s been 4 days since the start of the new year and I’ve been getting my Y/E/S in every day.  It’s been great, but today I woke up sore and tired, and it was a struggle getting out the door.   To motivate myself, I decided to make a fun workout jacket, inspired by one of my favorite characters, Marvel’s Black Widow.

Posing with my favorite Avengers at the 2015 Disneyland Avengers 5k

Black Widow is my favorite Avenger, and the character I think of when I want to channel my inner badass. With my theme for 2019 being “Training Montage,” I thought what better motivation than one of those “property of” themed athletic jackets, only inspired by the place where Black Widow got her start: The Red Room.  The Red Room is a fictional Soviet training facility in Marvel Comics that was created to train highly specialized spies, and it’s where Natasha Romanoff honed her skills and became the Black Widow.

I first looked online to see if anyone was selling a jacket like that, but I couldn’t find anything to purchase.  Enter my Silhouette Cameo.  I was so hesitant to buy this machine, but it turned out to be one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It has paid for itself countless times over with all the fun costumes, clothing, and other things I’ve been able to create because of it!

The best tool I ever bought!

Inspired by various designs I found online, I created my own “Property of Red Room Training Black Widow Ops” design in the Silhouette Cameo program.  Once the design was finalized, I sent the vinyl through the Cameo to be cut, and then weeded away the excess. Armed with a newly purchased red and black fleece jacket from Amazon, and freshly prepped designs for the front, back and sleeves, it was time to iron it all on!

Cut and weeded heat transfer vinyl ready to be ironed onto my jacket.
Before ironing (I made a mistake weeding one of the “I’s” in “training” so I cut another one and added it later.)
Missing “I” replaced and back of the jacket finished!

I wanted something a little different for the front, and when I found a Russian translation for The Black Widow Ops Program I thought it’d be a fun nod to her origins, and make for an interesting design.

Getting ready to iron on the front design.
Finished front and sleeve.
Front and sleeves of my finished Red Room Training jacket.
Back of my Red Room Training jacket.

A few minutes later and all finished! Brand new training jacket!  I’m so pleased with the way it turned out, I may make a tank to match. I can’t wait to wear this on my next training run and channel my inner Avenger!