Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stand up Paddle Boarding

Yesterday, Logan and I were able to cross another item off my list when we went Stand up Paddle Boarding.  We started off the day with a cup of coffee on our patio like we do most mornings, discussing how we wanted to spend our holiday weekend.  The weather was perfect outside so we decided to start our afternoon with finally using the groupon I got for paddle boarding.  We drove down to Fort De Soto Park where we met up with our guide for lessons.  

I thought it was going to be an hour of instruction, but it turned out to be a 'lesson' that lasted less then 2 minutes followed by and hour of Logan and I exploring on our own.  It was such a pleasant surprise.  Over the next hour we enjoyed the beautiful Florida weather, getting a little exercise and pointing out all the wildlife we could find.  Afterwards we continued to enjoy the great view of the water and amazing weather with lunch at a rooftop bar where we decided not to do anything productive all weekend and just enjoy some time off.  It was a beautiful way to start the holiday weekend.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

3 months and 18 lbs later...

Back in January I took a look at myself and didn't like what I saw.  I was overweight, out of shape and most importantly just unhappy.  It all started May 31, 2008.  Logan and I were on our honeymoon and we were sitting down to order lunch.  I was torn between two items.  One which was healthy and light, the other very fattening.  Logan reminded me that I had worked really hard for the months leading up to the wedding to look great in my dress and I deserved not to think about calories.  Order what you want.  So I did.... for that meal and every meal for the next 4 years.  Well, the honeymoon was over and at my peak I was 20 lbs heavier.  Time to make a change.  So I added to my list, 'spend 3 months dedicating to getting in the best shape of your life and take photos to remember it.'

One of the things I wanted to do for Logan before we got married was something many brides want to do for their grooms to be.  I wanted to give him a couple of photos of me looking my absolute best.  That way, years later when my body has been abused from childbirth, I have ketchup stains on my shirt and cheerios in my hair, he can look back and remember what I once looked like.  But then as it always does, life happened.  I got wrapped up with planning a wedding as well as our conference for work (which happened to be on the day after my wedding) that I never got around to a photo shoot.

There I was, 20 lbs heavier without the 'baby weight' excuse, dreaming of a body I once had.  So, what was I going to do about it?  I spent the first month on an extreme diet to drop the extra weight, then I spent  the following 3 month weight training with P90X and training for a 1/2 marathon.  Once complete, I finally looked and felt like me again.

Heaviest Weight tipping the scale at 148 yikes!

January 1 Official Start Weight:  146.2
May 1 Finished: 128

Down a total of 18.2 lbs, 19 total inches (6.5 inches off my waist and 6 of my hips)  Down 12.45%

Not only was I able to drop the extra weight that I wanted to lose, but I also gained confidence I haven't had in a long time, feel healthier and stronger then I ever have and now have a routine that will stick with me for life.  I plan on continuing my healthy lifestyle so I can keep my weight under 135 lbs. (I'd like to say I will keep it at 130 but the truth is I love food way too much.  I will just try to eat a couple veggies in a non-fried form more often.)

April 22nd - Completed a 1/2 Marathon!

I also wanted to share a little advice for anyone who is trying to lose weight or try to get healthy based on my experience.

1.  Set realistic goals and a realistic timeline.  Otherwise you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.
2.  Use a tool to see how many calories you should consume each day to get to your goal weight.  My average was 1200 per day.
3.  Find healthy foods that you love - if you don't like what you are eating, then you wont stick to it.  I found that I LOVE apples, Brussels and smoothies (recipe below) so I had a lot of them.
4.  Keep variety in your diet!  If you are eating chicken and broccoli every day for 12 days straight you are going to train yourself to HATE chicken and broccoli.
5.  Give yourself a cheat day each week.  ONE day where you don't eat healthy or work out and be okay with it.  (In moderation.  No reason to house a full pizza at lunch, 20 wings and a basket of fries for dinner and a sundae for dessert.)  Also - be able to get right back into eating healthy the next day.
6.  If you really want to lose weight, say bye bye beer.  (Alcohol in general)  Empty calories.  My first month I cut out alcohol and probably lost 5 lbs of beer weight alone.
7.  Strength training is just as important as cardio which is just as important as your diet.  You can't just do one.  You have to do all 3.
8.  There are no tricks or miracles.  Those girls you see in magazines with perfect bodies have probably never eaten a cheeseburger and are in the gym 7 days a week.  Not to mention, a crazy amount of retouch done!  There are no short cuts - you have to just work hard.  It sucks.  If one of you did find a miracle drug that allows you to eat what you want when you want, never work out and still look like a Victoria Secret's model please let me know.  I want to get in on that.  And if you are reading this saying, I eat whatever I want and I just can't gain weight - I'll always be a size 0 no matter what I do.  Then I hope you choke on a cheeseburger. 

Casey's Favorite Smoothie Recipe: (AKA the Green Monster)
In a blender combine:
1 single serving sized container of vanilla Greek yogurt
1 banana
1 large scoop of peanut butter
1 cup of vanilla Almond Milk
1 cup of ice
As much fresh baby spinach as you can pack into the blender (at least 2 cups full)

Makes about 2 smoothies - I would either make one for Logan and me or I would put the other one in the freezer for the next morning.  This is full of protein and perfect to drink after a hard work out or a long run.  It replenishes your body of the good things it needs after a work out.  Should be used in replace of your meal - so if you work out at night, this would be your dinner substitute.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

To Ink or not to Ink

I have been debating on getting a tattoo since I was 16 years old.  What started off as desire for a statement of rebelling against my parents grew into wanting to have an expression of my personality on my body.  A conversation piece.  Then I turned 18.  I can now legally get the tattoo that I have dreamed about and sketched in my notebook years ago and still liked.  That is a sign in itself right?  2 years later, I still like my tattoo idea.  But, this is permanent.  I had high aspirations of being someone of importance in a professional setting so I can't have a tattoo that people can see.  I had serious self debates on the placement of my tattoo. I gave up the battle for now and jumped on the belly button ring bandwagon.  At least I could remove it once the fad is over.  Great idea Casey.  Thanks to getting it ripped out one night during a bartending shift, I will now need plastic surgery to hide the gaping hole above my navel. 

So now jump to 21 year old Casey who still wants to get a tattoo but over thinks everything.  I have a lot of friends with tattoos in various places and clearly the spot that makes the most sense (based on the millions of girls who got them) is the lower back.  You can cover it up easily with clothing and show it off when you want to.  Perfect.  Oh wait, now that is deemed the official 'tramp stamp' and every woman who chose that tattoo location will be battling with the stereotype that they are not that easy.  Looks like that is out.

So here she is, 29 year old tattoo-less Casey who for some reason still feels like this could be a cool idea. (Not sure why I keep talking in the 3rd person.)  But why?  I'm too old now to say it is something that captures my youth.  I do have a corporate America job so it would have to be some place that I would cover up.  I obviously had an overwhelming feeling that it wasn't for me with the number of times that I have sat down in a chair of a tattoo parlor and left.  Why do I think I want a tattoo so much?

Hence the reason why it got put on my bucket list.  I need to make an official statement of yes or no I want a tattoo.  Part of me judges ever person I see with a tattoo.  You think that makes you unique?  That is an expression of your individualism?  Then why are there more people with tattoos then without?  You are more a follower to society then I am.  If anything I am the rebel here!  I am more unique, so there!  (Way to be a jerk about it, judgmental Casey.)  The other part of me thinks they are so cool and I want to ask each one of them to tell me the stories of when they got them and the meaning behind them.  Please lets go somewhere to drink craft beers, listen to Indy rock and you tell me about your interesting life without rules so I can live vicariously through you.  I think that is the part of me that also wants to quit my job, get full sleeve tattoos, dye my hair purple and work as a bartender at night while surfing during the day for the rest of my life.  (Says the girl who's only been on a surfboard once and was terrible at it.)

There is something truly beautiful about this.
And there is the problem.  I have an inner conflict on a daily basis.  Part of me loves my job, the home I come home to and the idea of settling down and having a family in our cozy little suburban neighborhood where I spend the weekends working in the yard, coming up with my next pinterest creation and volunteering in my free time.  That's the dream right?  But then the other part of me wants to sell everything I own and go travel the world with my husband for the rest of our lives picking up small jobs when needed to get by.  But since you can't have both, it seems I have already chosen path one.  Would a tattoo be that little reminder of the other person I could be? 

The answer is no.  If I really thought a tattoo was what I needed so I could be that person, I would have already gotten it.  To be sure, I took a little online quiz to see 'if I should get a tattoo' and just the fact I took a quiz should have prompted a screen that says, 'if you are questioning your decision then you aren't ready for a tattoo and never will be.'  So I am making the final decision.  I am crossing off my list 'decide if I am going to get a tattoo' with confidence that I am not a tattoo person.  I am still Tattoo Free since '83.  I am and always will be a poser.  I will continue down the burbs life that was cut out for me where I belong, with the strongest admiration for those in my life who are fulfilling my non-conformist fantasies.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The BIGGEST Challenge of all!

It is happening!  It is really happening.  I am a little bit in shock right now.  Normally I only post once I have completed a bucket list item, but I felt like it was worth mentioning this exciting moment now.

A few years ago when I decided to make the list, there was one item that came to my mind first.  There was something that I have always wanted to do, more then anything else and have been dreaming of it ever since I was a kid and watched the movie Jaws for the first time.  That's right, I am talking about swimming with the ocean's most beautiful predator, the Great White Shark.

I think shark week might be the most exciting time of the year for me.  (Well, at least it used to be before they just started regurgitating the same ones I've seen over and over again.)  Watching these majestic beasts glide through the water with such power after their pray is mesmerizing.  As a SCUBA diver growing up, I spent a lot of time down in the Florida Keys and have been around plenty of reef, nurse and bonnet head sharks, but most of those do not get much bigger then 5 ft.  Slightly different from the man in the grey suit who can get as long as 23 ft.  It doesn't matter how many times I've watched Marine Biologist and Adventure Enthusiast get in the water with them, it truly doesn't showcase the magnitude we are talking here.  I have to see it for myself.

And so the research began.  How am I going to make this dream come true before I officially grow up and have to be responsible for little people?  I could go to Australia and swim with them there, as well as cross off a few other bucket list items like swimming in the Great Barrier Reef and going on a safari across the outback, maybe make a stop in Hawaii on the way out there?  Sounds great... and expensive for this lady who just bought a house and is balancing two mortgages.  Looks like that will be a 10 year anniversary escape.

How about South Africa and go to Cape Town to see those amazing jumping great whites?  Hum... minimum of a two week vacation to justify the 14 hr. flight.  So... what are we going to do for the next two weeks?

Then I found it... the best solution:  San Francisco.  We will be traveling out of the San Francisco Bay to Farallon Islands.  On September 25th, I will be on a boat at 6:00 a.m. to travel to experience the largest White Sharks in the world while they feed on Elephant Seals before their long trans-Pacific migration.  I will spend the day both in the cage underwater as well as on the observation deck to witness some natural feeding.  By 6:00 p.m. we will be back to the docks complete with hundreds of photos, unforgettable memories and a grin from ear to ear.

This will be my view from the cage!
Since Logan and I like to discover new places, and we have already been to San Francisco, we are going to try to see as many other things during our vacation including Seattle to reminisce on my favorite genre of music growing up, the Gorge Amp to see Jason Mraz play, and make our way back to Napa Valley to enjoy a little wine and to eat at the world renown restaurant, The French Laundry.  (For those who know me, that is 'Jessica's' Bucket List item.)

Now the only problem will be trying to be patient while I wait for the trip to get here.  Luckily I still have a lot of other '30 before 30' items to keep me distracted.  Next up: Paddle Boarding and Paintballing!