2017-A year of change and improvement

The prep update:

I did not post my December 16 update on my two goals to start this year fresh.  Short version: goals not achieved.  Therefore, they are the two main items on my resolution list for this year.

  1. Quit smoking: in progress.  I’m on the patch, because I’ve misplaced my Chantix prescriptions.  It will be harder this way, but maybe not impossible.  The really good news: with prior review, my insurance covers Chantix 100%, so if I request new ones from my doctor… yay!  That’s on my project list for tomorrow.  I will update when I am 24 hours cigarette free (ahem, not quite yet), and at 1 week, 1 month, and off nicotine completely.
  2. Achieve, then maintain “normal” BMI: also in progress.  I actually dropped *some* over the holidays, which is impressive!  I have 10.8 lbs to go though (still), partly due to fluctuations–I’ve been bloated–and partly from holiday celebratory foods that got me at the end.  Also, 3+ days of complete inactivity (sick).

The Forthcoming Year:

2017 is going to be a year of fairly substantial change for me.  I know that I will be moving this year (May).  That’s a big part of it.  I have other resolutions for this year as well:

  • Time improvement: I want, and need, to spend less time working at home and especially so at the end of the term.  I therefore need to work more efficiently in my office at work.
  • Money improvement: with a move upcoming, I need to work on getting and keeping my financial house in better order.  Part of this is related to the move, and I’ll explain more as I progress.
  • Health improvement: 2016 was a year of bad.  Aside from a couple of rounds of prednisone, facial paralysis, and the other incidental illnesses, I felt sick a LOT.  In addition to that, I found out something else (pretty personal) that happened that I haven’t quite been ready to blog about yet… but I plan to.  I want to NOT have as many problems this next year.  Unfortunately, I spent the first few days of the New Year feeling under the weather already!  I know that there’s not much I can do to avoid some viruses, and I did get my flu shot, but I want to work on having better overall health.  #1 and #2 should help me achieve that goal.  You’ll notice that this year I’m not setting a jogging or running goal–that’s partly related to that personal issue I mentioned.  Until I know more, it may not be in my best interest.
  • Blogging improvement: I want to get this blog on track.  Weekly posts!  No guarantees about topics, but stay tuned for more information.  Also, I’ll be launching a second, move-specific blog in the not-too-distant future!


Preparing for a New Year… starting 2017 fresh

Image reused with permission from Hodge Podge Moments!
Image reused with permission from Hodge Podge Moments.

Tonight, I participated in a Facebook group blog discussion hosted by Pam of Hodge Podge Moments.  Although some of it was about the holidays, and some about blogging mechanics in general, it made me think about what I want for 2017.  I haven’t set my resolutions yet, but one of the prompts was whether we intended to set a “word of the year” for next year.  My first instinct was “improvement.”

A lot of things are set to change in 2017 already, and I want need it to be a better year than 2016 has been.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten to do some pretty awesome things this year, like visit Seattle and tour the Luray Caverns with my friend.  A lot of things have not gone as well, especially in the health and finance areas.

I have two goals for this month of December to help start off 2017 right:

  1. Get BMI into healthy range.  I’ve been resolving to lose weight for ages.  I’m not exactly giving up on the long-term goal of a very healthy BMI, but I’m sick of the yo-yo effect.  I’m sick of obsessing about it.  I’m about 10 pounds into the overweight range right now, which isn’t horrible, but it does affect my body and my self-image negatively.  I decided a month or so ago that I wanted to refocus on getting to and maintaining a healthy weight before I tried to set my sights any higher (or my weight goals any lower).  I want 2017 to be a year of healthy weight, even if not ultimate-goal weight.  Is this a SMART goal? It is specific and measurable: I have a target weight (-8.5 pounds; BMI of 24.8).  Is it achievable and reasonable? It should be, despite holiday foods.  That’s about a healthy 2 pounds per week. I just got a FitBit and I’m using that to help increase my activity levels.  Is it time-sensitive? Absolutely–I have until the end of 2016!
  2. Quit smoking (again).  I started when I had the facial paralysis.  The neurologist I saw gave me terrifying options including brain lesion and MS, and I stressed out to the max.  I started smoking again and haven’t quite successfully stopped yet.  Last night, as I sat there coughing out a lung from the cold over Thanksgiving, I decided to re-commit to starting 2017 smoke-free.  I’d ideally like to be nicotine-free.  Is this SMART?  It’s specific and measurable: zero cigarettes.  Achievable? I gave myself some flex to make sure I could reach one of the two goals; either nicotine-free or at least smoke-free.  I have a prescription for Chantix–it’s expensive, and very dangerous with my depression, but I used it before and had been 5 years smoke free.  If I do not succeed with the nicotine patches by Dec 16th, I will fill the prescription and start using it.  Time-bound?  Again, yes–Dec 31st.  I’ll check in on these again!


I will hereby hold myself accountable and give an update on December 16 and another on December 31.

New Year’s Introspection & Resolutions

2015 In Review

2015 Bests
2015 Bests

How did I do on my resolutions to rehabilitate myself post-surgery?

  • Achieve a BMI of 20: NOPE. Not even close. This year’s low was a BMI of 24. I got it out of the overweight range and lost 20 lbs, though.  This is real and measurable progress, so partial win.
  • Run a 10-minute mile: Actually, according to my Band, my best split (mile) was 9:30 but I think that might have been a glitch. However, in Oct I clocked a 10:04 mile and a 10:05 mile so it’s possible!
  • Run the Santa Claus Shuffle 5k in less than 39:52 (that was my best time in 2012): This year’s time was officially 37:18, so WIN!

2016 Resolutions

I kind of liked having just one resolution last year with a few measurable outcomes.  I sort of kept that for this year.  This year, I resolved to work on my lifestyle: how I want my life to look and feel.  Part of this developed from the unreasonable stress I had at the end of this last semester and the fact that it’s simply untenable, so I need to work on better balance (doesn’t everyone?!).  So how do I organize those thoughts and make them measurable and attainable?


  • BMI of 22.5 is measurable. I’m enrolled in another DietBet Transformer. I should achieve this by the end of June. If I am happy, great; otherwise, progress to BMI of 20.
  • Yoga: I can start with Yoga Camp. This builds on the 30 Days of Yoga I did last year. Later, when $ permits, I can take a class. This is for mental health as well as flexibility.
  • Strength: there are plenty of options out there for free. For January, I’m going to do the Fit Girls Guide workouts (just not the meal plan, because I hate meal plans).       This year, I want to COMPLETE 10/12 monthly workout plans from whatever system(s) I choose or try!
  • Cardio: This year, I’m aiming for a 5k time of 36:00 or less. Jog 3x/week as training.
  • Continue the daily 10,000 steps or 5k/day (whichever comes last) for general fitness.
  • Do not skip two days in a row!


  • Complete the Apartment Therapy January Home Cure (again)
  • Continue the weekly/monthly/quarterly schedule.       It works!
  • Finish the Fall/Winter Closet Cure and do the Spring/Summer Cure. Stick to the one-in, one-out rule (if I buy something, some equivalent item must be donated or trashed).
  • Cooking: ENJOY my food this year! Attempt ZERO eating plans (seriously).
  • Personal care: create a beauty and lifestyle routine that works for me. This will require some experimentation.


Leave work at work. Maintain as close to a 9-5 as possible given the teaching schedule needs. Grading, planning, etc. all need to be accomplished at work. Do NOT add anything to your pile this year!

Social & Financial:

Redacted.  I have goals in these areas, but they’re not for public consumption.

I won my DietBet!

DB2015-BeforeAfterThis was one of the most difficult things I’ve undertaken–second only to quitting smoking. I don’t like sharing photos of myself really any time, but I’m choosing to share my before and after pictures this time because I’m proud of the progress I made. Real, measurable progress.

In this bet, I’ve learned a few things about what it takes for my body to lose weight, how fast, what’s acceptable, and what undoes my progress the worst. I learned that I do stress eat more than I thought. Or, at least, I tend to make significantly less healthy food choices. I learned that I still love cooking and I will never be able to follow a “meal plan” because it’s not me. If someone invents the “foodie’s diet” please let me know. I’m happy to save calories on breakfast and lunch in exchange for a delicious dinner (and maybe dessert).

I also made my 5k bet! My final time on my Santa Claus Shuffle was 37:18, which is WAYYY below the goal of beating 39:51 from 3 years ago. I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my life.

One of the most important learnings wasn’t mine, this time. My boyfriend finally, FINALLY, has learned to become supportive. Instead of suggesting pizza, he bought me whole-wheat pita pockets. Instead of making fun of me and offering me a cracker for dinner, he came with me to my 5k races this year. That means so much to me. It might actually mean more to me than my own weight loss. I haven’t quite sorted out my feelings on any of this.

Right now, my feeling is seriously in the realm of WHERE DA FOOD?! It’s Christmas Day and I WON!

New Year’s Resolution Complete: Santa Claus Shuffle 5k!

Official Race Results.
Official Race Results.

I did it! I did it! I did it!  Not only did I beat my former best time of 39:52 on a 5k, I did so by about two and a half MINUTES.  I finished the 2015 Santa Claus Shuffle 5k in 37:18 (official time).  Thus, I completed one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

As usual, the Santa Claus Shuffle was held in early December in Portsmouth, VA.  Three years ago, my friend Carrie suggested we run it together–and we set our first pace and time.  The next year, we also ran–though not as well.  Last year we missed the race because I was recuperating from surgery.  This year, I expected to be running it alone–Carrie moved back in January–but much to my surprise, she was in town and met me at the race start!  We didn’t stick together during the race, but we both set new best paces and times.

Race tracking by Microsoft Band
Race tracking by Microsoft Band

Ric was there at the finish line. No video this time–he missed it because I was significantly earlier than expected (gee, darn)! I also don’t have any official race finish photos or anything else except my personal favorite: the post-race celebratory banana photo of Carrie & me.  Yes, that’s a snowman-Dalek.  I did NOT want to run in costume this year, so settled for the most Christmassy short-sleeved T-shirt I had!

Carrie & Me!
Carrie & Me!

Healthy Moments Challenge Day 2

Today’s calendar item on the Healthy Moments Challenge was to try a new workout.  My very first thought this morning was

…does surviving a migraine count as a workout?! Today is gonna be a loooong day….  🙁


Some days I wake up with migraines.  Sometimes they tend to cluster, and I get one every week, a week apart.  I’ve never figured out what causes them.  I was able to get through my day thanks to Excedrin, but the pain hasn’t really gone away.

Despite that, I did my workout–and I love it when I can have something serve dual functions.  Today’s abs workout was simple.  I even had a helper.

Every single time I tried to lean back (to get a better picture) my kitten crawled up further.  This also complicated accomplishing pretty much all of the abs workout.

This is supposed to be about my experience with this, so today’s experience was a combination of brain-pain and “obviously the human isn’t busy enough if they’re exercising.  It must be pet-me time.”


What I really want to know at this point--does your pet "help" you with your workout(s)?

View Results

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From Here to Eternity (5k race)

The sign that started it all...
The sign that started it all…

Earlier this year (in the summer), I realized that my running shoes were getting seriously worn out.  I finally decided to go get new ones.  Ironically, that same day, I saw signs for a 5k race event that was absolutely perfect for me: a 5k run through the Elmwood Cemetery, at twilight, a week before Halloween.  I signed up that night.

Shortly after, I started practicing for that 5k. I know the technical term is training, but I’m not an athlete and “training” seems too serious for a non-runner (me).  Finally, on October 24, 2015, it was race day.  I did opt to run in Steampunk costume. Laughably, nobody thought to get a picture of me BEFORE I was all race-sweaty, so you’ll have to wait to see my Halloween pictures (coming soon).

The run through the Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk, VA (Oct 24, 2015). Image route from my Microsoft Band; blue = slowest, red = fastest.
The run through the Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk, VA (Oct 24, 2015). Image route from my Microsoft Band; blue = slowest, red = fastest.

Honestly, it was harder going than I expected, partly due to the clothing and partly due to the irregular surface (gravel path and grass).  Despite that, I set a reasonably good pace, but I did end up walking some to catch my breath.

However, my boyfriend and my Mom were there to cheer me on (thanks!) and my boyfriend got video of me crossing the finish line:

My final official finishing time was 39:56.  That was 20th in my age group (30-39), right about in the middle.  I was 5 seconds short of setting a personal record! Although that’s immensely frustrating, I have another race coming up in December to fulfill my New Year’s Resolution goal.  On the plus side, it’s my first race medal!

Finisher's medal and race bib
Finisher’s medal and race bib

Happy New Year!

I’ve spent some time reflecting on the past year.  It had a few highlights and some definite lowlights; overall, it is not a year I’d care to repeat.  However, 2014 is now the past, and can safely stay there.

Resolutions and Goals

This year, I have one resolution.  That’s all.  Just one.  I resolve to rehabilitate my body following the gallbladder surgery.  I’m still recovering some, and I can’t quite jog comfortably.  I lost a lot of fitness ground during those months of pain and initial recovery from surgery.  Recovery/rehabilitation is not a quantifiable goal, however; how will I know I have accomplished this?  I am setting myself some specific and measurable outcomes to achieve this:

  • Achieve a BMI of 20.
  • Run a 10-minute mile.
  • Run the Santa Claus Shuffle 5k in less than 39:52 (that was my best time in 2012).

Aside from that, I have additional goals for this year.  These aren’t resolutions, since they may not always happen, but they are things I want to work on this next year:

  • I want to blog more.  Specifically, I want to write about more Science and achieve a better balance in my blog for the three main topics.  To this end, I am planning to have Science Fridays, Culinary Sundays, and Beautiful Wednesdays.  This should help me space things out a bit in the week.
  • I actually want to write more book reviews.  I may continue with the Birchbox Book Club for a bit, but I also plan to join the SciFri Book Club for more challenging reading!  I don’t know what these books are yet, so my immediate goal is to finish The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day by David J. Hand.
  • I want to build some savings.  I’m not going to post my financial details here, but I saw a challenge where each week you save $1 more than the week before, so this week is $1, next week is $2, the week after is $3, etc.  It’s stupidly simple, so I should be able to do this.
  • I plan to take more online courses.  First up is an Adobe Educator course:  Adobe Generation Professional: Digital Creativity that should keep me going for the first two months of the year!

Anticipated Events

I’m not good at the long-range planning in general and I don’t look forward to a whole lot.  However, this year I look forward to getting in some more research, including (hopefully) a collaborative effort with Chemistry.  I am really looking forward to the American Association of Immunology Conference in May (in New Orleans!  My first trip there!).  I am NOT looking forward to my friend moving away, but I am thrilled that new opportunities mean positive changes for her this next year!



Resolutions: 3rd-Quarter Check-in

  1.  Financial:  I’m having a difficult time with this one.  Some months I’ve managed to keep to the $100/month budget, others I was over, and others I was way under.  My cats have been unanticipated expenses this year, too.  Overall, though, I’m working toward getting my student loans out of hock, my car payment caught up, money in savings, and a 401k by the end of the year.  Some of that will still be in-progress (student loans will be ongoing forever), but the rest will be doable!  I feel kinda good about that.
  2. Physical: I’m nowhere near my target weight loss goal.  I can’t get there unless I lose a leg.  I have greatly improved my fitness this year so far, and I am running my first 5k in December (jogging, really, but it’s a start), and I hope to do that ONE mile in under 10 minutes before the end of the year.  I will push on that.  I’m doing the Jillian Michaels’ 30-day shred.  I’ve worked out more this year than any other, and I’ve changed my diet more, too.  I guess I just wasn’t consistent enough.  I know that this summer I had a setback with a hip injury that knocked me down for 12 weeks, and I lost a lot of ground… that’s honestly not an excuse, but it did not help me progress toward my goals.  I got sloppy.  It happens to most people.   At this stage, I’m now at the heaviest I’ve been all year.  I’m sticking to a brutally restrictive diet and tough exercise regimen (Couch-to-5k and the 30-day shred both) and at this point, hope to re-achieve my low weight for the year.
  3. Beauty:  I’ve continued to make efforts on this, but not as consistently as I could.  I still have my hair in a bun a lot (because it’s quick, easy, and controls my hair).  After the 2nd haircut I decided I couldn’t heat style my hair as much because the split ends were seriously bad… and without that, frizz is not a style.
  4. Be nicer to my cat: poor Mickey.  She’s having a really bad time of it. Her eyes have quit producing tears, she was scratching bald and bleeding spots in herself… nicer is a relative term.  She’s on daily eyedrops/cream (which she hates) and a prescription diet (which she’s convinced is starving her to death) and at this moment she has laryngitis.  I’ve probably spent over $1300 in vet bills.  Her vaccines are up-to-date.  I still love my kitty to pieces and we snuggle every night.
  5. Photo-of-the-week: this is the one last section I need to work on updating!  There are some missing weeks, but I’ll be posting as many as I can.  I don’t think I can hit 95% though.  Some pictures were apparently lost due to technology-issues, but really, I think that was one or two photos.

Photo of the Week: Week 40

Cone of Shame

My poor Mickey. This does not help my resolution to be nicer to my cat. Except that maybe in a weird way, it should… she has been really itchy the last couple of weeks, and it has reached the point that her eyes are swollen. It turns out she’s not making any tears, and she’s probably scratching because her eyes are so dry! Poor, miserable little kitty 🙁