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”

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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…

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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!

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Y/E/S

Y/E/S.
That’s what I wrote on my To Do list after a while because I was too lazy to write out the three things the letters represented.  I didn’t intend the letters to spell anything, it just was the order in which I did what they represented, and yet, YES was the prefect word for what I was doing for my body.  Y/E/S stood for Yoga, Endurance, Strength, the three things that were the keys to me getting in the best shape of my life three times.  When I was training, for 5 days a week, I would get up at dark o’clock, go do an hour of yoga, go out and run 4+ miles, and then do an hour of strength, weight, and HIIT workouts. On Saturdays I would do a long run or speed working depending on my training schedule, and Sunday would be more yoga and strength or HIIT, or both.   I got the strength and flexibility from the yoga, the cardio endurance from the running, and the strength and endurance from the HIIT and weight workouts.  Y/E/S. This trio was the combo that my body LOVED.  I’ve never felt so good as when I’m incorporating all three in my life.  So this year I’m getting back to Y/E/S.

Yoga
I belonged to a yoga studio for almost 10 years and went nearly every day when I was running races and training.  I found it made such a difference in not only my flexibility and strength, but also my recovery from both races and brutal workout sessions.  One of the many things I love about yoga is it can be whatever you need it to be.  Want to sweat, push yourself, and get strong?  There’s a class for that.  Want to chill and de-stress?  There’s a class for that.  Want a bit of both with some stretching, too?  Yep, there’s a class for that.  Taking a yoga class before I went for a run helped stretch out my body and warm me up. It was also great to do a little yoga after a long run and stretch things out.  Or, if I was too sore from a previous workout to do another one, I could push myself gently in a yoga class and give my muscles a bit of a break while stretching and strengthening them as well.  There were times when I didn’t do any yoga when I trained, and really  felt the difference.  I’d be stiff, my body didn’t recover as well, and I just didn’t feel as good overall as I did when I made yoga part of my workout routine.

Nothing like a crazy arm balance to start off my workout

When my schedule stopped being compatible with what my studio was offering, I eventually gave up my membership, and ended up taking a break from practicing.  I’m a yoga teacher so I have no excuses for not rolling out my mat and practicing on my own, but, yoga is the one area where I’m not self motivated, I prefer to be led, and enjoy it so much better when I can take a class.  After struggling to find a program that really motivated me to roll out my mat, I never found one that gave me the same energy of a class until I discovered YogaGlo.  Originally a physical studio that taped their classes, a few of which I had the pleasure of attending while they filmed, they’ve expanded into so much more online, and are now known as Glo. 

https://www.glo.com/

For less than $20 a month, I get unlimited access to all kinds of yoga classes.  One of my favorite things about it is I can search by teacher, style, level, duration, and more.  They offer classes as short as 5 minutes or as long as 90 so it’s hard for me to say I don’t have time for a class.  And its not just yoga, they have pilates, meditation, courses, cooking classes, and more. Some of my favorite teachers from whom I took studio classes are on there like, Kathryn Budig, Kia Miller, Tiffany Cruikshank, Elena Brower, and even Annie Carpenter, under whom I did my teacher training.  I still struggle a bit to roll out my mat, but Glo has made it so much easier to get back into the habit of practice.  And if I want, I don’t even need to change out of my pjs.

Running
What was supposed to be a bucket list, one and done, half marathon at Disneyland, turned into a decade of running.  I don’t actually enjoy running, but I do love what it does for my body and my endurance. Plus I needed to train for the races I was doing so I sucked it up got my miles in, and now it’s a part of my life.  Trying something new to get me back in my running shoes, I’ve signed up for Run The Edge-Run The Year 2019.  It’s a challenge to run, either individually or collectively as a group, 2019 miles in the year 2019. As I’m aiming to do more races in the future, I’m hoping this helps motivate me to get out there in the mornings, get my miles in, and improve my endurance. 

I’m also a fan of Jeff Galloway. His interval method and training programs not only improved my race times, but saved my knees as well. I always did better on a race, and recovered faster from one, when I followed his training plan for it, and I plan to follow them for a few half marathons in this coming year.  I’m looking to get some new ASICS running shoes and custom insoles from Road Runner which I find helps keep my knees happy, too.  I’m also looking to up my interval times and work on speed work for a potential marathon in the next year or so.  With all the upcoming miles in my future, getting back to a yoga practice is going to really help.

Strength
Having been the fat kid/adult most of my life, and an introvert, I was never interested in going to gyms or taking classes.  I’m much more inclined now, but not all places have schedules that work for me so it’s hard to justify paying for a membership if I don’t use it.  Plus, if I travel at all, it makes it even more difficult. 

I’m a huge fan of DareBee workouts.  They have individual workouts, programs, and challenges you can follow, but what caught my eye the most was they have a lot of workouts that are geeky, movie, tv, or gamer themed.  Being a geek at heart, it’s way more fun for me when the workout is called something like Black Widow, or Starbuck, or Batcave.  They have a great search feature which lets you look for workouts based on type, difficulty, focus, equipment, etc. which is perfect when I’m looking for a geeky themed one or when I want workouts just using weights. 

I love their programs, too, like Iron Born, or 30 Days of HIIT, which are a collection of workouts over a number of days.  They even have interactive programs with story lines and are a bit like choose your own adventure which shakes things up a bit.  Darebee workouts are my tried and true, go to workouts because they’re all relatively simple, I can do as few or as many reps as I feel up for, and know I always get a good workout from them.

http://darebee.com/

Another workout I love incorporating is the letter or alphabet workout.  These are fun because you can use them to spell out a word, a phrase, anything you want.  I usually use a couple alphabets, so that I can spell the word/phrase out twice and get a longer workout, and sometimes tweak the exercises a bit to add more weights, or other exercises I want to focus on more.  Also, I don’t think I’ve yet to spell something that didn’t have burpees in it, so these workouts tend to push me. More than any exercise I’ve ever done, burpees get me in shape the fastest.  I both hate them and love them, but they work!

Using the two alphabets above, I created this New Year, New You workout that’s a perfect start for 2019. And hello burpees!

Y/E/S worked three times to get me in the best shape of my life, and I’m looking to it again to get me in shape a fourth, and final time.  I won’t be doing an hour of each, every day, though the plan is to eventually get back to that.  No, I’m starting small, building a base.  Maybe a 10 or 20 minute yoga class at Glo.  Then maybe a 3 mile walk or run.   Then maybe a couple sets of a Darebee or a single letter workout.  Start slow, work on getting a little bit better every day, and focus on the journey of getting healthier and happier in 2019, and beyond.

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Abs are made in the kitchen

Want to know the secret on how to lose weight and get 6 pack abs?

Working out and eating clean. You were hoping for something else? Yeah, me, too. After getting to my goal weight/shape three times now I’ve learned there is no secret. There’s no magic pill, or exercise or workout, or special diet that will get me there. I really wish there was. Just eating clean and working out. It’s that simple. And it’s that hard. For me, the hardest part is eating. I LOVE food and I love eating, and it loves me…particularly around my middle. It’s also my favorite numbing device when stress and drama make their appearance. I’ve found, though, no matter how much I work out, I CANNOT eat whatever I want, when I want it and still be in good shape, too. That’s just not how my body works. There’s an axiom out there that goes like this: you can’t out exercise a bad diet. For me, it’s completely true. If I want to lose weight and see my abs and other muscle definition, I have to eat clean even more than working out.

Everyone has their own version of what eating clean looks like and works for them. Eating clean, for me, means eating healthy, fresh, non-processed foods. It means avoiding all those non-fat, fat-free, sugar free, etc. faux foods like fat-free ice cream, or sugar free muffins. I find I’m much better off eating a small amount of actual ice cream, than I ever am eating a pint of the sort of ice cream stuff. I find it’s easier to say no to all ice creams (fat-free/sugar-free included) than trying to fool my body with the fake stuff because the craving is still there. My body is at its healthiest and happiest when I eat lean meats, lots of veggies, and the carbs I eat come from quinoa, rice, and potatoes.

I try to avoid alcohol, sugar, gluten, and corn. I have a mild sensitivity to both gluten and corn, and after multiple challenges and responses, a bite of gluten or corn literally equals 1 pound on the scale the next day. Also, a lot of gluten free products contain corn (I’m looking at you, xanthan gum) and I react even worse to those. Just like the fake ice cream, if I’m going to eat it, I’m better off eating real bread than gluten free. Since both make me bloat, what’s the point of doing all those workouts if I can’t see any definition and it just puts on unnecessary weight?

For 3 months, while I was training to wear the bikini, I avoided gluten, corn, and sugar like the plague. But each time I trained, I dreamed about them. Literally, dreamed about food. Ask me about the dream I had once about a hotel ballroom filled with tables laden with bite-sized pastries. No joke. Once each race was over, I’d indulge, telling myself, oh I’ll work this off later, but those 3-4 hours or workouts never happened. Days of that add up and that was the reason I gained weight after losing it three times. I was on a diet, rather than a lifestyle, and diets are temporary.

Part of eating clean is also portion control, which I learned my first round of Slave Leia training. I thought, hey, it’s healthy, I can eat tons of this, right? I was eating tons of salads and couldn’t figure out why the scale was going up. It doesn’t matter how healthy the food is, I WILL gain weight if I eat too much of it, plain and simple, so portion control is key. I know there’s all sorts of diet plans out there, but the best strategy that worked for me was watching my calories. I’m short, barely 5′, so for me, after working with doctors and trainers, the most calories I should be consuming a day is 1000-1200 depending on how much I’m working out. It’s not an easy number to work with. After eating all the crap I’ve been eating, and so very much of it, for the next few weeks while I adjust to the new regime, it’s going to be a pain in the ass. I’m going to be cranky, and hungry, and want to eat all the holiday treats that are floating about every time I go anywhere this month. But it’s okay because I’m making the better choice. I’ll be eating for the body I want, not the body I have.

I learned something the last time I got in Slave Leia shape, and when I implemented it by eating clean most of the time, I found I could say yes to the occasional indulge. One of my last few weeks before I the race, I went on vacation for the first time to New Orleans. I knew a couple weeks after I’d be running in a bikini so I tried to be careful with my food choices, knowing I wouldn’t have the time to work off a week’s worth of “vacation” eating. I thought it was going to be terribly restrictive, but instead, it made me focus on my choices, and be honest with myself about whether I really wanted something, or just wanted to indulge for vacation’s sake. I also employed my friend Laurie’s 3 Bite Rule. The 3 Bite rule works like this:

Say there is something you absolutely want, need, cannot say no to, you simply must have it. Order it and take only three bites:

1) The first bite to give in to the indulgence of it.
2) The second bite to savor it.
3) And the third bite to say good-bye.

By indulging a little, being mindful of what I was eating, and eating clean the rest of the time, I was able to savor the tastes of the city. I had Bananas Foster at Ralph Brennan’s. I had beignets at Café du Monde. I had 3 pounds of crawfish all by my little lonesome. And only had to add a couple of extra workouts to burn them off once I got home.

And that’s my plan for 2019. I know I can’t eat clean 100% of the time because it’s too extreme. There’s no balance. However, if I eat clean 95% of the time and channel my New Orleans experience, like I did before, it works. I eat clean, unless it’s a special occasion/event, in which case I mindfully indulge. Also, and this is important: it never comes home with me. I cannot have anything tempting in my house or I WILL eat it. I have some will power, but it’s another muscle I need to work on strengthening. So, nothing in the house. If I go to see a movie? Fine, maybe I get a small bag of Sour Patch Kids. Going Disneyland? Fine, maybe I get a churro, but that’s ALL I get and I don’t bring home a candy apple. At a birthday party? Have 3 bites of cake. And then immediately go back to eating clean.

That’s the big secret. It sounds so simple, right? Eating super clean for 3 months was easy when I was motivated by the fear of running in a bikini in public. It got the job done, but only in the short term. I don’t have that fear to motivate me this time, because this time it’s not about the goal, it’s about the journey. It’s about changing the way I live my life. That’s my motivation. What kind of person do I want to be in 2019? The kind of person who eats clean most of the time, controls my portions, works out, and has the healthy body and life to show for it. While indulging on an occasional Disneyland churro once in a while.

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2019: Training Montage

Finishing the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon

Once upon a time I was in the best shape of my life. Actually, not just once. Three times. Three times I had 6 pack abs, energy, strength, and could wear anything in my closet without worrying about how I looked. The first time I got in shape was to wear the iconic Slave Leia (or as it’s now called thanks to the new Star Wars canon: Hutt Slayer Leia) gold bikini for a half marathon at Disneyland in honor of Disney buying LucasFilm. Having been the fat kid/adult for most of my life, I’d never worn a bikini before, let alone run in one. The fear was daunting, but I LOVE STAR WARS and it had always been a dream of mine to wear that gold bikini and channel my inner badass princess.

I trained HARD for 3 months, working out 3-4 hours a day and eating really clean. All the blood, sweat, and tears were worth it as I got in crazy shape. I never imagined in my life I could ever look like that. Hello abs! Hello endurance! I loved it and I’d planned to keep in that kind of shape. But, after the race was over, I kept making excuses. Oh, I can eat this because I’ll work it off tomorrow.  One little cheat meal here or there won’t hurt. Or, oh I can pass on working out today and I’ll do extra burpees tomorrow. Those abs took lots of work, and if I wasn’t putting in the work, well… Being in such great shape only lasted about two weeks before I fell back into old habits and gained most of the weight back.

But then, a couple years later, Disneyland announced a Star Wars themed race weekend, and I felt compelled to run in the Hutt Slayer bikini again.  I trained even harder for 3 months, working out 3-4 times a day, eating super clean, and sure enough the abs were back and ran in that bikini proudly. THIS time, I was determined to keep those abs and keep the good habits going. Then, two weeks later, a family tragedy derailed me, my entire world got turned upside down, and the last thing I had the mental or physical energy for was a workout or clean eating.

The 2015 Inaugural Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon

A year later, Walt Disney World announced a Star Wars Dark Side themed race. I thought, perfect! Third time’s the charm! THIS time I’ll get in shape and stay there and that’ll be the end of it. Still in the midst of family drama and stress, I trained super crazy hard for 3 months, struggling to workout 3-4 times a day, struggling to eat clean, but I did it. It paid off, I was part of the inaugural Dark Side Slave Leia/Disney Princess running costume mash up group as Slave Ariel. I went home with the plan of keeping it all up. I quickly succumbed to the stress and drama that was still ever present, and gained all the weight back.

2016 Inaugural Walt Disney World Dark Side Half Marathon

After that, while the dream of getting back in shape was still in my mind, life, stress, and running burnout saw my weight creeping up, until finally this year, I pretty much gave up, stopped working out for the most part, and ate whatever I wanted. I needed the rest, and while sleeping in and eating gluten and sugar has been wonderful, it came at a cost. None of my clothes fit, I’m tired, weak, and lethargic, and I generally don’t feel good. The time for rest is over. Time to get off my ass and get back to it. I want my health back. I want more energy. I want to wear the clothes gathering dust in my closet.

I’m dubbing 2019 the year of my Training Montage. You know in movies like Rocky, or Creed, or Kill Bill, or Mulan there’s a scene of various clips of them training? There’s usually an inspiring song while we see them starting at the bottom and slowly getting stronger, faster, better, etc. That’s a training montage. It’s where a character builds him/herself/themselves up over time in preparation for a battle, or some sort of athletic event. And that’s what my theme for 2019 will be. Before, when I got into Hutt Slayer shape, I was already in pretty good shape, running several races a year. Now, though, I’m starting at the VERY beginning. I have to build a base before I can even think about getting those abs back.

Each time I got in shape for the bikinis I was under a time crunch. I had X amount of months to get to a goal so there was pressure and getting in shape became the main priority in my life. It was doable, but that was ALL I was doing. Eat, sleep, work, workout. That was my day, every day, for 3 months. It’s no wonder I couldn’t keep it up. There wasn’t room in my life for anything else I wanted to do. I couldn’t sustain it which is why I gained the weight back.

I recently read a book my friend Sylvia suggested called Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear. In it, Clear talks about how small daily improvements lead to success. That by focusing on just getting better a little every day, you’re more likely to reach your goal than just by focusing on the goal itself. Before I focused on the goal. I pushed and punished my body to get results, which I got, but the process wasn’t sustainable. And that’s what I’m looking for this time around: sustainable results. This year, I’m trying something different. Rather than focusing on the goal, I’m focusing on the journey. Don’t get me wrong, my goal is to get my health, endurance, and abs back, but I’m focusing this time on the journey getting there. I know fast and furious gets me short term results. I want to know if slow and steady gets me the same results, but also lets me keep them.

2019’s plan is for me to gather the proverbial footage for my own personal training montage. Using the year to work on building myself back up, bit by bit, and getting stronger, faster, better, and healthier. In the days to come, I’ll be posting my strategies for how I’ll be working out and eating clean. They’re the same ones that got me my abs in the first place, so I know they work, I’ll just be ratcheting down the intensity. I know I’ll get there. I’ve done it before. This time,though, I’m really feeling the idea of focusing on the journey, on working on being just a little better each day, on building a new, and sustainable lifestyle. I know I’ll build my abs (and myself) back up, it’ll just take a little longer, but hopefully this time, they’ll last a lot longer, too.

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2018: The Year of Escapism


2018: The Year of Escapism

That’s what my friend, Leslie, called it after discovering she had read over 100 books this year.  I can relate.  I set out to read 52 books in 2018.  So far, I’ve read 100 books and 32 graphic novels, and the year’s not over, yet.
To say I’ve been escaping is an understatement.  After a personal tragedy in 2015, my life has slowly been going off the rails, getting worse with each passing year.  The good news is a lot of drama and other stuff finally came to an end this year.  The bad news is the three years of stress finally took their toll.  My emotional and physical tanks weren’t just empty.  They were bone dry with holes in the bottom. 

Being able to finally relax, breathe, and attempt to recharge, I ended up taking it to an extreme.  With my tanks so empty to start, any endeavor seemed to take way more energy than normal.  I’d go for a walk, I’d need to rest.  I’d do a load of laundry, I’d need to rest.   I’d brush my teeth, I’d need to rest.  Oh, I did a few new and exciting things here and there, but they’d take me days, if not weeks to recover.  I spent more and more time resting to the point of inertia. So I sat a lot.  And read a lot.  And ate…a lot.  At the end of this year thanks to all that inertia and lack of energy, I’ve read 100 books, and I’ve gained over 15 pounds.  I had such hopes for this year, of doing new things and focusing on others, finally free of stress and drama.  But  that wasn’t what I needed.  I needed to rest.  To escape into books and stories.  To take a break from things I’d been doing and dealing with for years.  It turns out, what I really needed in 2018 was a fallow year.

fal·low, adjective
1.(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.

I spent the last decade running several races a year.  After 10 years of constantly pushing myself, a woman who doesn’t really like running to start with (I did it for the people and the costumes, but that’s another post,) I got seriously burned out.  So when Run Disney ended their Disneyland races at the end of 2017 my body, my mind, (and my bank account) were desperate for a break.  In addition, I’ve spent 20+ years at my job, only to have the work steadily dwindling the past couple years, as my job comes to an end at the beginning of next year.  Between all that, and the stress and drama, I didn’t really just HOW much of a break I needed. 

It wasn’t how I’d planned 2018 to be.  I certainly hadn’t planned to be so tired.  But it turns out all that resting is exactly what I needed.  Oh, I kept trying to push myself, rousing a bit of energy for some event, or workout, or whatnot, but it burned out quickly and  there wasn’t any left to sustain me.  All the motivation and determination in the world won’t start a car if it’s out of gas.  And while it took me a few months to really understand it, that’s what I was.  Just completely empty.  So I started to embrace it.  Other than some stress over the summer, I’ve been resting.  And while I didn’t plan on gaining so much weight, that’s exactly what happens when you eat what you want and sleep in.  And oh, how lovely it’s been to do both!  Don’t get me wrong,  I miss being healthy.  I miss my six pack abs.  But nachos taste better than burpees, and sleeping in a nice warm bed feels better than getting up in the cold dark at 4:30 to work out.  I welcomed losing myself in books, and movies, and tv shows and sitting back while some other person’s story played out.  I needed a year to restore and, while I’m not fully there, I feel like I’ve made some serious progress. Sometimes the best thing is to do nothing.

I’m still tired.  I still have to sit after doing something.  I still want to curl up and read books all day.  But the thing is, I finally feel like I’m ready for more.  I’m excited for 2019.  It’ll be hard to break out of the bad habits I just spent a year wallowing in, but I always knew they were temporary, and I have both the motivation and the energy now.  I’m looking forward to finding a new job.  I’m looking forward to getting my health and body back in shape.  I’m looking forward to new adventures, and time spend with friends.  Finally, for the first time in a very long time, I’m looking forward to the future.  But until January 1, 2019, maybe one more book…or two.

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