Posted in Baby Girl, Challenge, Fitness, Food, Life + Living, Strength Training

Sit tight, Baby Girl, it’s not time yet.

The following is a stream of consciousness about the upcoming arrival of our Baby Girl, and the possibility that it might just be time to start working from home until she gets here. See the rest of the content after the jump!

Continue reading “Sit tight, Baby Girl, it’s not time yet.”

Posted in Crafty, Life + Living

“Tell me you love me!”

I am pretty much on cloud nine at the moment.  When I went to process the vehicle registration renewal for one of our vehicles, the DMV website gave me an error saying that registrations that are overdue cannot be processed online.  Given that we had never even received a renewal notice nor had we received any information about the registration being past due, I decided that the website was full of it.  Our vehicle had a ’14 sticker on it, and I was a week away from the due date when I tried to apply.

I got on the phone right away with the DMV… This is what I do for a living–I resolve weird issues related to the administration of vehicles, so I was in my zone.  The woman at the DMV insisted that the vehicle hadn’t been registered since 2012 and that the tags were expired by almost a year.  She requested that we pay $363.00 for last year’s renewal and an additional $309.00 for this year’s renewal.  Now–we’ve been saving up for this year’s renewal, but there’s no way in the world I’m prepared to pay an EXTRA $363.00!  I may or may not have deadpanned and declared to the agent “I’m not paying that. There’s no way in the world!”

I asked how to dispute it, and she asked that I verify the sticker number, so that they could work through it.  Well–I had Jeff send me the photo, and lo and behold, the wrong sticker was on the vehicle.  After the 6 digit sticker number is the vehicle license plate number and this one did not match our plate number.  But I meant it when I told the DMV I’m not paying it… I called the dealer next and asked to speak with a title clerk.  The thing is, we bought our vehicle last July and these tags expire this July–it should’ve been noted in the inspection or during the title and licensing of this vehicle that the registration was due.  The great thing is, they were as wonderful to work with on this issue as they were when we were buying our vehicle.  I’ll definitely recommend them for your car buying needs.  I’m even going to write them a nice review on Yelp!

After researching it, the dealer determined that the previous owner of the vehicle put the wrong sticker on the vehicle and offered to send us to a check to cover the cost of last year’s renewal.  Hallelujah!

It’s times like these when I am able to take a snarl of a mess and resolve it satisfactorily that I turn to Jeff and tell him “Now, tell me you love me,” with a smug grin on my face 😉

Posted in College, Fitness, Food, Life + Living

K.I.S.S. – Being Better at my Job

The last *real* resolution I have for the year is to be better at my job.  Now, that statement is not simple nor smart, so I’m just going to try to make it fit within those guidelines.  The two ways I know of to get better at my job are to:

1.  Arrive to work on time.

This is the “simple” part because all it takes on my part is to leave home on time with enough ‘cushion’ for traffic.  8:15 am is okay, if too early, 8:45 am is okay, if too late, and 8:30am – the ideal time to leave based on travel time – is a horrid pain in the ass as far as traffic is concerned.  Testing out the ideal times to leave last week left me harried and completely frazzled by the time I got to work if I left at 8:30 am.  It felt like there were a disproportionately greater amount of speeders, weavers, and distracted drivers compared to 15 minutes earlier or later. In fact, I was nearly run off the road twice last week by ragers who would rather speed up when they see my turn signal than to let me move over into the lane.   When we’re already going 60MPH (96 KPH) that’s a dangerous situation!! And much too early in the morning.. I would rather be late to work than to deal with that sort of mayhem. Which is what I have been doing.. which is why I’m here making a goal to be early instead.

2. Continue training/education

Since my employer provides tuition reimbursement for college courses, I am going to resume my college schedule after the wedding.  In the interim, I am an active member of Toastmasters and have set a goal to give 1 speech per month and to fulfill 3 alternate roles per month in Toastmasters from now until June.  By doing this, I will complete 4 training hours per month, checking the box on that requirement, but it will also keep me in the routine of extracurricular activities that require some thought and effort from home.

So, the Simple Goals: Show up on time; keep up in Toastmasters.

The Smart Goals (be on time):

S – Specific – Show up to work 5 days per week before the scheduled start time, ideally 8:45am.  This means leaving the house at 8:15am in order to avoid the road ragers and distracted drivers.

M – Measurable – My time card will reflect my efforts.

A – Attainable – If I can’t show up on time or early to work, I don’t deserve to keep my job @_@; This is definitely one of the most attainable goals for me.

R – Relevant – Being on time is paramount to my position because other people rely on me to be there.  Moseying in whenever I feel like it creates a window of almost 20 minutes where people could be waiting for my assistance.  It doesn’t look professional, nor is it courteous to my mates.

T – Time-bound – This one will be continuous, but I will provide a progress report weekly.

S – Specific – Perform 3 roles in Toastmasters, and complete 1 speech per month.

M – Measurable – check the box, did I do it or not?  The speech, at least, will be scored on a rubric and has the potential to mark progression of expertise in delivering speeches.

A – Attainable – Given that I have taken a break from school in order to focus on current life events, I think that it is entirely reasonable to do Toastmasters with some of my spare time.

R – Relevant – Toastmasters improves my functioning at work because it is improving my grammar and spelling, but it is also improving my active listening skills.  More often than not, I find myself being a passive listener and multi-tasking while people are explaining something to me.  Since joining Toastmasters, I have become a more attentive listener and started to provide co-workers my undivided attention.  This will make me ‘better at my job’ because it will improve interpersonal relationships and further reinforce the notion that I’m a professional.  This will be important, should I decide to apply for a more professional role.

T – Time-bound – This goal has a mid-marker in June.  I will be doing monthly updates on my experiences with Toastmasters.

————

So, we’re a week into January so far, and I had set some pretty normal goals previously of cooking dinner at home and working out regularly.  We’ve cooked dinner at home 5/6 days 🙂 The grocery bill this week was $145 and so if we can continue to eat the food we have at home, we can stand to save almost that much in the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that we buy from restaurants because it’s inconvenient not to.  I’ll continue to track this.

Work outs have not been completed the last three days, I have no excuse except that it’s not a switch you can flip.  It takes time to build new habits and to break down the old, but working out is still something that is important to me.  I will be checking out the community center after work today and I have a new pair of work out pants to sport if I decide to join up.

How are your new year’s resolutions going?  Did you forget about them yet?

Posted in Fitness, Self-Reflection, Strength Training, Wedding Planning

K.I.S.S. — Having a work out plan

Along the same lines of the cooking related “I don’t feeeeeel like it” there’s also the exercise demon named “I don’t wanna.”  He’s a fiendish thing, sneaking up and stealing the best of your intentions and leaving you as a gelatinous heap on the couch.

The “I don’t wanna” excuse comes out after a long day at work and although you *meant* to go to the gym after work, somehow you ended up at home eating funyuns and watching re-runs of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  Or Dr. Who, either or.

“I don’t wanna” also comes around early in the a.m. when the alarm is set nice and early to allow you time to work out–he sneaks up and slaps the snooze button for an hour until you cannot possibly squeeze in a work out before you have to squeeze into your shrinking work clothes and get your bum to the office.

The good news is that “I don’t feeel like it” and “I don’t wanna” are both trumped by “it’s too easy NOT to.”

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In the last K.I.S.S. entry, I told you about Campbell’s Skillet Sauces.  In this entry, I’m going to tell you about a number of tools and resources that you can use to make a quick work out too easy NOT to do.

1. The first, and my new favorite, are resistance bands.  My mom got both Jeff and I resistance bands for Christmas and I have been using them quite a bit ever since.

You can still partially give in to your couch potato ways and sit in front of the TV while using an exercise band to do seated rows, arm curls, chest presses, etc.  Get a door anchor for the resistance band and you can do even more workouts–single leg abductors, kick-backs, squatting rows, etc.  The band should come with a booklet of ideas, but then that’s where a couple of other resources kick in:

2) Fit Deck.  These handy-dandy cards let you shuffle up any and all exercises you might be interested in and then choose as many exercises at random as you’d like to do.  Originally, we sorted them out into specific areas of the body to target because I really need to focus on my arms, upper back, chest, and torso so I can make sure to rock it in my wedding dress in May.  I realized I was defeating the purpose of the cards by targeting them, though, so recently they’ve been mixed together again so that we can have a spontaneous work out any time.  Right now, we can use the body weight and resistance band cards thoroughly.  Stairs are optional depending on how embarrassed we’d feel if a neighbor were to catch us.  We’re looking into getting a medicine ball at home, too.  If you like to work out at home, but DVDs are too predictable for you, definitely look at picking up some Fit Decks.

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3) Spark People’s Work Out Generator.  Answer a few simple questions in this free tool and it will spit out a fitness plan that works with where you’re at in your fitness journey and the equipment that you have available to use.  I am a member of spark and value their community so much.  A few of my spark buddies have recently gotten engaged and so we will be able to get together (virtually) to do wedding dress work outs.  I’ve taped a few to my front door so that as I leave for work, I know what’s coming up and I can stay motivated.

4) Pinterest for Fitness Motivation.*  I love pinterest.  Granted, not as much as I used to when it was new and shiny, but it’s still a great place to find new ideas and inspiration.  My fitness board is my place to dump ideas that I come across for fitness info online, funny quotes about working out, self-image, self-acceptance, reasons to work out, etc.  It’s a one-stop-shop for workout ideas and inspiration to do them.  I love to laugh, so there’s a lot of humour thrown in.  I have some body image issues, so there’s a lot of self-acceptance thrown in.  All in all, my board is my place for fitness inspiration.  Your board, might be different!  Pinterest user Emily has more workout plans and how-tos than inspiration.  The point is that you can use pinterest for whatever you want to use it for.  *The caveat is that it can be addicting.  Don’t get sucked in to pinterest for so long that you lose the time to actually go do something. 

Pinterest

My S.M.A.R.T. goal for fitness is:

S – Specific – I want to lose 12 pounds by the end of March, 2013.

M – Measurable – I will weigh in every other Saturday and report it to The Last Stand girls (spark people)

A – Attainable – 12 pounds in three months is l pound per week gone, doctors recommend 1-2 pounds per week weight loss in order to keep it off in the long term.

R – Relevant – Losing weight is relevant because being at a healthier weight will reduce the cost of food, clothing, and medical bills in the future, plus it has the potential to increase my happiness and self esteem.

T – Time-bound – Weigh-ins are bi-weekly with a milestone check-in in March.

So there you have it.  The cure to “I don’t wanna” is to make it too easy not to.  How do you defeat the “I don’t wanna”‘s?  

Posted in Food, New Food, Weight Watchers

K.I.S.S. – having a meal plan

When it comes to dinner, sometimes my good intentions go right out the window.  It’s been a long day of doing [x, where x=working, cleaning, or doing nothing] and when it comes to dinner time, even if there’s a “plan” in place, the excuse of “I don’t feeeeeeeeeeeeeel like cooking! *huff/stomp/pout*” comes out.

In this moment, it seems like it would be easier to just pick up the phone or go online and place an order for some sort of sustenance to fill the hungry hole. But what does that sort of decision cost in the way of time and money? And is it REALLY worth the effort?  Let’s break it down:

Our top three options for ‘I dont wanna’ usually include Domino’s, Jimmy John’s, or Wendy’s.

Domino’s: 
1 – Large Specialty Pizza, + taxes and delivery, +tip ~$25.00
1 – Side order of parmesan bread bites because we just can’t resist ~ $3
Total: ~$28.00, 30 minutes of waiting, 10 minutes of eating, hours of guilt for spending money we didn’t need to, eating bread bites we didn’t need to, and loading up on greasy cheesy pizza that is essentially nutritionally void. Worth it?

Jimmy John’s: 
2 – Bootleggers, + taxes and delivery, + tip ~$14.00
2 – side order of chips because they’re too good to resist, ~$3.00
2 – side order, giant chocolate chunk cookie, ~$4.00
Total: ~$21.00, 10 minutes of waiting, 10 minutes of eating, up to an hour of guilt for spending money we didn’t need to, eating almost 400 calories worth of mayo because I always forget to tell them to leave it off, upset stomach due to the kettle chips and the chocolate chunk–and why? Because we didn’t feel like cooking. Worth it?

Wendy’s
2 – Asiago Chicken Ranch Clubs
1 – 1/4 lb. Classic
1 – side of chili
2 – Softdrinks (small)
Total: ~$15-20, depending on prices and variables in choices; prices are not published online. Wendy’s doesn’t deliver, but they’re up the road from us, less than a mile so we take the time to go down to the car and drive there (yep. you read that correctly), go through the drive-through, and then drive home because we don’t feel like cooking. But we feel like getting dressed, putting shoes on, waiting in line, paying money for food that (again) is nutritionally void, going back home and disposing of all the trash.  Worth it?

See?  When you really take a look at how ‘convenient’ convenience food really isn’t it becomes easier to make meals at home.  One of our new discoveries is from Campbell’s and it’s called ‘Skillet sauces‘ – you just add chicken (or beef, or shrimp) and serve over pasta or rice.  So, the box of rice is a couple bucks and it lasts us a couple months.  This is the first one that we tried, but, we were pretty impressed with it. The skillet sauce packets likely goes on sale, so if you get a chance, you could stash them in the cupboard for days when you just don’t feel like it.

Last night, we were tired and unmotivated and having one of those ‘don’t feel like it’ moments.  I felt the urge rising to call for pizza, but, my new year’s resolutions are to lose weight, save money, and get better at my job.  Well, heyo!  Ordering in goes against two of those objectives.  Keep it simple, stupid–cook at home!  Save time, save money, control portions and nutrition.

I defrosted chicken in the microwave while setting a pot on the stove to boil water for the rice.  I measured the rice and sliced up a cucumber while those two finished.  While the rice started cooking, I sliced up the chicken and browned it in the skillet.  Add the toasted sesame ginger sauce on top and heat through–voila, meal is done.  We went from frozen chicken and two packets of ingredients to a nutritionally sound meal in approximately 20 minutes for a cost less than $3/person.

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When making your new year’s resolutions, flesh them out a bit.  How does having a meal plan or back-up plan take my KISS goal and make it a SMART goal?

S – Specific – I want to save at least $100/month for the next year.

M – Measurable – I saved (by not spending) net $17.00 by not ordering in.

A – Attainable – If I can continue to make decisions to eat at home like this, I can definitely save over $100/month.  This would include brown-bagging it for lunches and eating breakfast at home, too.

R – Relevant – Preparing and eating food from home, let’s say 4/5 work days, is relevant and applicable to my goals to save money, lose weight (remember I can control portion and nutrition), AND to become better at my job – when I stop to pick something up on the way to work, I usually scoot in a few minutes late.  Being punctual will improve my perception at work, and, perceptions are realities.

T – Time-bound – The time is weekly, adding up to monthly, adding up to the entire year of 2013.

What are some other ideas that you have for quick back-up plans for when you don’t feel like cooking?  Crock-pots are always good because you can just toss in a few ingredients and it does its thing while you do yours.  What else?

Posted in Life + Living

K.I.S.S. Me: I’ve got S.M.A.R.T. goals!

Okay, so the title is a bit cheesy, but I figure I’m entitled to a little bit of cheese if it makes for an entertaining take on the New Year’s Resolutions type of blog posts 😉

I’ve spent a little bit of time thinking about some goals that I have for the year, but, usually the time that I’m taking to think about the goals is during the time that I’m actually doing something else entirely, so these aren’t really the in-depth type of resolutions that whole year-long goals deserve.  Mostly, they’re observations of progress or improvement that I’d like to see in various areas of my life and minor goals I’m going to use to get there.

First, let me explain the abbreviations: K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Goals that are complex, complicated, confusing, or any other c-adjective that results in failure are a bad idea for me.  I’ve tried counting calories, I get lost in the numbers and drive an all-or-nothing mentality.

S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  I’ve tried declaring “I’m going to do THIS (big-exciting-thing)” and had no follow-through on it.  Or, I’ve followed through on the goal but the results were so pitiful as to be worth next to nothing.

My big un-measurable goals are usually to lose weight, save money, and get better at my job.  Over the next few days, I’ll be breaking down those goals into SMART goals that follow the KISS method.  They’re not going to be big and flashy or complicated, but they will be goals that I can attain.

So, what about you?  Do you set new year’s resolutions, or do you dread the influx of resolutioners taking up the cardio equipment at the gym?  Share your thoughts here, I’d like to see how other people take on new year’s and the proverbial clean slate.