May 31, 2015

Sunday Sweats - Races and Healthy Eating

Sunday Sweats Theme Inspired by Holly

Returning from vacation and getting back to the grind!

On Friday, I wrote about sugar addiction, and I'll be making a few notes here in the Sunday Sweats post, just because it's a convenient way to track symptoms/progress/etc.  I'm NOT going to start keeping a food journal (or at least not here on the blog), because I know no one's interested in that.  As always, feel free to skip these posts!  I wasn't terribly interested in people's workouts until I started tracking my own, so I certainly won't be offended if you're not interested in mine.

Weekly Workouts

Monday - NOLA Adventures

I'll be honest, by Monday I was pretty burned out.  So Monday was spent primarily reading in the hotel room and preparing to fly home.

Tuesday - 1 Mile Run | DTT: 12 Min

Spent most of the day traveling, and then took a nap upon arriving home (New Orleans is not the most restful vacation spot).  Afterwards, Ryan cajoled me into joining him for a run, which was actually pretty nice, because it was my short run day, so I'm back on schedule for my training plan this week.

Wednesday - 30 Min Biking, Yoga, Strength Training | DTT: 75 Min

I got up early to bike and do some yoga.  Nothing special, just some self-guided stuff to stretch out my back, hips, and legs, and some planking/pushups to kinda/sorta/not really make up for missing bench day.  Leg workout at lunchtime but leg press instead of squats since my workout partner was MIA.

Sugar Withdrawal Day 1: Pretty minimal.  I'm expecting the worst around day 3 and day 7.

May 29, 2015

Sugar Addiction - Cutting the Crap

I feel like it's become more widely known that experiments have been done with rats and sugar, and that the results showed the rats responded to sugar in a similar fashion as cocaine and other narcotics.  Or maybe not - but now you're up to speed with what I'd heard.

I'd also noticed similar effects in myself.  A day or two without sugar (and we're not even talking all sugars, just the super refined sugar and carbs you get in baked goods or candy) and I think about it ALL DAY LONG.  I've mentioned before that I believe I have an addictive personality.  But I guess even with all those little tidbits, there was still a part of me that doubted that sugar addiction could even be a real thing.

Then I googled "sugar withdrawal."

My god!  Sure, some of the articles make a point of saying it's not proven, or theories vary.  But the sheer number of hits for something I thought would be difficult to find!

So let's travel down the winding trail of Google research I just completed.

To begin, I read many articles about sugar withdrawal symptoms, timing, duration, and so on.  But this article from The Conversation sums it up best, and gives more detail on the rat/sugar experiments (with links to the original research findings).  To sum up (for the lazy - for full detail read the article), we've got a buttload of added sugar in our diets.  The more processed your food, the more hidden sugars there are.  Sugar triggers a pleasure reaction in the brain, similar to drugs.

When it's taken away, we continue to crave that chemical reaction and may even experience withdrawal symptoms to the loss of a chemical our body is accustomed to having.  One of the studies mentions the rats displaying depression-like symptoms while undergoing sugar withdrawal.

Isn't that terrifying?

May 28, 2015

"Because I'm a Nerd..."

I've seen a lot of people refer to themselves as "nerds" who I wouldn't consider to be nerdy in the least.  In my head I tend to scoff and write them off, because obviously you can't be a nerd if you don't meet my personal definition of what a "nerd" is.

The thing is, there's really no set definition.  I would probably use the term to refer to myself, but my boyfriend (whom I met on Geek 2 Geek) told me shortly after meeting that I'm not a real geek and shouldn't have been on the site.  Jokingly, of course.  I'm sure (I hope) he's glad I used the site, but he was serious that I wasn't a geek.

And I'm open minded enough to admit that other people might actually consider themselves to be nerdy or geeky even if I wouldn't.  But here's the other thing.

I see the term used like this, "I love reading posts where I actually learn something.  Because I'm a nerd!"  Hold up.

This rubs me the wrong way immediately, but it took a little reflection to figure out why.

Sure this person might consider themselves a nerd.  And enjoying learning might be part of their definition of what a nerd is.  But... it doesn't come across as discussing a hobby or passion in that context.  It's an excuse.  "My nerdiness causes me to have this uncool tendency" rather than "I'm a nerd because I'm so passionate and interested in this thing."

No one should feel like it's uncool to be intelligent, or interested in learning.  And no one should feel the need to use the word "nerd" or "geek" to explain away their "uncool" interests.

I'll admit a "nerd" can be defined many different ways, and there's a plethora of hobbies and interests that I would consider to be "nerdy."  But what really characterizes the nerds I see or read about is the level of interest and care that they invest into their hobbies.  Nerds are passionate.  Whether that topic is fantasy books, sci-fi TV, larping, cosplay, gaming or even just generic reading, being "nerdy" about something means you revel in it.

May 26, 2015

Movies I Liked with Actors I Don't

You know how you've got your pet actors, whose movies you'll go see just because they're in it?  And maybe also actors whose movies you avoid because you can't stand them and they always play THE SAME CHARACTER!?

Well sometimes my favorites fail me, and sometimes the people I love to hate surprise me.  Let's see if you agree with any.

6 Movies I Liked Despite the Actors

1. Tom Cruise | The Last Samurai

Tom Cruise is pretty notorious for playing the same role in all his movies.  And once you've seen him being smug and cocky in one of them, it certainly feels like you've seen them all.  But The Last Samurai was, well, good.  I really enjoyed it.  Tom Cruise had a bit more humility than usual, which helped, but something about it really just got to me.

Favorite Quote: "I will miss our conversations."  (Such a simple thing to say to sum up the vast cultural divide they've transcended.  I actually said this to a coworker after getting a new job, because, while not as drastic as the movie, we had very different backgrounds and still managed to have some really interesting dialogue.)

2. Will Ferrell | Stranger Than Fiction

I'm not generally a fan of what I call "stupid comedy."  The humor in Will Ferrell's movies is mostly derived from WTF moments, and him acting like an idiot.  But Stranger Than Fiction was more serious, and his character was, for lack of a better word, out of character for him.  The concept behind it was what really made me like it (a man finds out an author is writing his life and it turns into a destiny vs free will thing), but there were a couple cute scenes where I really liked the characters, as well.  (Speaking of cute, Elf wasn't bad either.)

Favorite Quote: "I brought you flours."  Ahhh, so cute!  Plus, puns!

May 24, 2015

Sunday Sweats - Pre Vacation

Sunday Sweats Theme Inspired by Holly

Not my most inspired week.  But not my worst either.

Weekly Workouts

Monday - Strength Training, .6 Mile Run, Biking | DTT: 70 Min

An awesome bench workout at lunch!  We're supposed to go in cycles, starting light with lots of reps, and gradually moving up to heavier with less reps, and finally jump to a new weight and see if you can lift it and how many times.  So this week we got to the end of that cycle, and I was pretty excited when I was able to lift 85 pounds, a new record for me!

After work, I ran Luke around in my toe shoes!  It's the farthest I've run in them and it was the best one so far.  I'm starting to get comfortable with the midfoot/forefoot landing.  It tires my calves, but seems a lot easier on my actual ankle.  When I got back, I found a package with my new compression sleeves!  (like the socks but with no foot - so much easier to put on!)  So then I wandered around the house in them, and biked with them on, and by bedtime my leg felt like I hadn't run at all.  Overall awesome day for workouts.

Tuesday - Nada

I'm a little embarrassed about this one.  It seemed like the fates aligned to enable my natural laziness.  Our company went out for lunch, so strength training didn't happen.  My after-work workout partner canceled on me and then, despite knowing I wouldn't be able to workout this weekend and I really should get the time in, I took a nap.  And then I got up and read for a couple hours.  And went back to sleep.  It was wonderful, but not at all in keeping with my goals.

Wednesday - Strength Training | DTT: 30 Min

Uh yeah... cardio?  Where did you go?  Went light for our leg workout today, since last week I'd gone up to a new max weight, and it's also convenient since I need to do my long run tomorrow instead of Saturday.  Then, since I didn't feel like I'd worked hard enough, I added some curls and triceps to make up for yesterday's missed workout.

May 21, 2015

Secrets vs Privacy

I remember discussing an acquaintance with my mother, who had recently had a life event and was slowly telling a few people about it.  (Sorry, I know the lack of detail is frustrating.)  She mentioned that a certain fellow knew about and said, "So that means [his wife] knows, too."

And I paused.  Why would that be the case?  My mom elaborated, "Your spouse is the one person you tell everything to.  It's a safe bet that if one knows something, the other one does, too."

Now, I don't know if I would agree that that's the case with every couple, or even with most.  I guess I don't know.  I had never really thought about it in context with Ryan and myself.  Did I know things he didn't know?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I really didn't.  I mean, obviously in the 23 years before I met him I've gained knowledge and experiences and it would be impossible to compare notes on every event in your entire life.  And there are plenty of things he's not interested in - primarily friend gossip.  (Oh, and blog stuff.  But he hears about that, anyway.)  But I certainly don't hesitate to share when it's relevant.

And I started wondering about privacy.  Do I need to start giving my friends a disclaimer, "Hey, my boyfriend/fiancee/almost-husband has the login information to my brain."  Do they expect me to not tell him things?

I know a few people who aren't an open book with their spouses.  One such individual prefers to keep her passwords private, reasoning that, "My friends might tell me something private and not want [her spouse] to see it."

May 19, 2015

Health Fads - I Tried 'Em

Since becoming a blogger, and actively reading other people's blogs, I've learned and been exposed to a multitude of ideas.  Some have been great, some not worth thinking about, and some have even been game changers.

In addition to picking up new ideas and principles, I've jumped on board a bunch of health fads, the most recent being my exploration of essential oils.  After a bit of consideration, I realized this may be the most blogworthy thing I've ever done, and so I present to you:

Health Fads I Tried & How it Turned Out

Lemon Water

Nadine sold me pretty hard on this with her post, The Benefits of Lemon Water, and I thought, "Why not?"  It's easy enough.  So for about a month, I bought a bag of lemons every week, and squeezed a lemon into my water every day.

The Experience

The taste is a bit potent when you drink that much lemon juice all at once (for my weight, it was a whole lemon, but for a thinner person, it'd just be one half).  After a while, I got used to it, but I never liked how the taste lingered in my water bottle, and made water refills taste odd for the rest of the day.  For the most part, I didn't notice any increase in energy or anything like that, but there was one run that went particularly well.  It was a longer run, and about every mile I'd take a sip of my lemon water, and it really felt like I'd get an extra burst of something with each sip (instead of the water belly that is the usual result).  And it was awesome and exciting, but then I never had a repeat of that experience, so I guess it's a bit inconclusive.  The only other thing worth mentioning is that, maybe because of the impact on my taste buds, I felt like I craved sweets a bit less after drinking it.

Have I Continued?

I stopped for a while.  The extra $5 a week seemed like an unnecessary expense for something that didn't keep anyone fed.  But, I started again, primarily because I'm struggling with my sugar addiction (term used only half jokingly) and I need any edge I can get!  And also because having lemons on hand is convenient for cooking or DIY hygiene/cleaning products.

May 18, 2015

Sunday Sweats - Exercise > Stress

Sunday Sweats Theme Inspired by Holly

Now that I'm past the hump and my to do list has dramatically decreased in size, I'm surprised at how well I handled the last couple weeks.  I rarely got 8 hours of sleep, and every hour of every day was scheduled, with rare breaks for free time.  But I felt less stressed than I did a month prior when I was (marginally) less busy.  And I think it's entirely due to one thing: Exercise.

Until recently, I never made time for exercise.  It was one of the more onerous things on my to do list, and the first thing to go when it became clear that I didn't have enough time to do it all.  But this time I made my list, decided exercise was a priority, and found a way to fit it in just about every day.  And I felt good!  Tired, at times.  But always confident in my ability to recoup and continue on.

A relevant conversation at the 10-miler 2 weeks ago.  I met several of Sister2's med school friends.  At some point the conversation turned to our running origins.  How long ago had everyone started running?  The answer was, for almost the entire group, 1 or 2 years ago.  While already enrolled in medical school.  With a schedule so ridiculously jam-packed that 8 hours of sleep is laughable, and some lectures have to be skipped to make time for homework in other classes.  What had driven these people to take on a hobby as grueling and time-consuming as running?

Sister2 summed it up succinctly, "Stress.  If we didn't do something, it'd be too overwhelming."

And, in my mind, that statement is both validation and verification.  Yes, this is important.  Yes, you can make time for it.  If the busiest people I know can make time for exercise and it improves their lives, then I definitely can, should, and will make time for it in my own life.

Going by the past few weeks, it'll be well worth it.

Weekly Workouts

Monday - Strength Training, Biking | DTT: 60 Min

At lunch time: bench press, flys, and ankle rehab.  We've only done flys a few times, but they're getting easier as my muscles get more comfortable with what was originally a very uncomfortable position.  My dad calls this a chest exercise, but I call it the armpit exercise, because that's what will be sore tomorrow!  Biked in the evening, which was actually kind of a victory since I forgot all about it until bed time and then wavered a bit before deciding to do it anyway.

May 14, 2015

Real World Vigilantes

I used to wonder, while watching some super hero movie or other, how the "ordinary people" could be so dumb.  They'd get upset and start talking about vigilantes like it was a bad thing, and our poor hero was practically chased out of town instead of appreciated for the good things he (or she, but usually he) was doing.

But, as an adult, I'm starting to understand some of the repercussions of random individuals taking the law into their own hands.

Our justice system isn't always fair.  Innocent people are imprisoned, and even killed, and it's hard to know how to stop it.  (The Innocence Project estimates anywhere between 20,000 and 100,000)  So imagine how much worse it would be if, instead of following due process, the decision to "punish" someone was taken by some random, anonymous individual on the internet, made quickly, based on whatever information that individual was party to.  If you've read my post on how the media deliberately misleads us to better sell their story, you see my concern.

But still, it seems irrelevant, right?  We don't have any superheroes running around, in capes and spandex.  But we do have the Internet.  And along with the Internet comes anonymity, self-righteousness, and a handful of people with the skills to put those 2 attributes to work.

Sometimes groups like Anonymous do things we'd consider to be positive.  They pick up where the government failed and punish these so-called evil doers.  Buuut... all too frequently, the government "fails" because there's not enough evidence to prove that someone is guilty.  And if we, or some anonymous entities on the Internet choose to punish everyone we think is guilty despite proof, then it's inevitable that the end result is even more innocent people suffering.

A perfect example of this is the story of a man who took a selfie at the mall (Naked Security), intending to send it to his kids.  A nearby mother assumed he was taking pictures of her children, took a picture of him, and denounced him on social media.  Eventually it was sorted out by police, and she apologized but not before both parties were subject to harassment and death threats by our lovely Internet vigilantes.  Death threats over a misunderstanding.  And then more death threats for the crime of unjustly accusing someone.  Which, when you think about it, is pretty damn ironic, considering the people making the threats.

I was prepared to do a buttload of research to support my thoughts, but I found a fantastic article that makes some points (backed up with research) that I hadn't even thought of.  RH Reality Check has an article titled "How Anonymous Does More Harm Than Good for Sexual Assault Victims."

The article goes on to point out specific cases where Anonymous, in the name of justice, leaked information and made sensitive cases much more high profile than they were originally.  This public attention didn't help to resolve the cases more favorably to the victims than it would have otherwise, but it certainly did put a spotlight on victims that it's unlikely they would have wanted after already being subjected to such a traumatizing experience.

I think this topic is especially poignant after watching Age of Ultron the other day.  Without spoiling too much, a lot of evil (all of it, really) in the movie is a direct result of someone trying to do what they think is right.  And superheroes and supervillains are the perfect caricaturization of Internet vigilantes, because they hide behind a mask, whether that be a stylish black ensemble, or the anonymity of the Internet.

Our government and police force might be flawed and even, at times, inefficient.  But we know who they are.  We can't have immediate convictions, but also protect the rights of innocents.  Because it takes time to uncover all the facts and make the best decisions possible.  And, if it was me, I'd sure as hell want due process and not some snap-second decision made in a random Internet forum.

To sum up: Vigilantism is like having an additional police force.  Only instead of having less accountability than normal citizens, they've got none at all.  And that scares me far more.

What's your take on vigilantes and hacker justice?  Have you seen Age of Ultron?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

May 12, 2015

Kickass Blogger Recommendations - Edition Smoothie

At this point in my blogging career ("career" used loosely here), I've talked to quite a few people and received some truly fantastic recommendations.  Obviously not everything I've been compelled to try has been amazing, but I thought I'd share the really good ones.  One at a time.  Because blog series.


Awesome Thing that was Recommended: this Smoothie Recipe
Awesome Blogger Who Recommended it: Taylor @ The Daily Tay

So... it's a smoothie.  But you see, this particular smoothie (as well as promises of svelteness and lengthy locks in the original blog post) came at a very crucial time in my life.  I had just begun meal planning.

And so, in my frenzy of beginner enthusiasm, I was searching for quick, easy, healthy breakfast items.  The Daily Tay complied.  For a few weeks, I was mixing things up.  So I'd have smoothies one week, and then coconut quinoa (delicious!) the next.  I made a really tasty peach cobbler oatmeal for one.  But gradually the convenience of the smoothies phased out all the other options.

As a huge, added bonus, smoothies make it possible to cram so many food groups into one item.  You can add anything you want to that blender!  And most of the time it still tastes good!

The exception was a particularly spectacular fail, so I will share.

How to Make a Completely Unpalatable Smoothie


  • Mandarin Orange Segments
  • Crushed Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Juice?  Water?  I don't remember


  1. Decide that 3 weeks of making the same smoothie recipe with minor tweaks has made you an expert!  It's time to experiment wildly.
  2. Tropical fruits taste good together, right?  Instead of simply eating oranges and pineapple on cottage cheese, let's blend them together!
  3. What about that old, leftover kiwi?  It looks lonely on the counter by itself.  Let's throw that in there.
  4. Take a big swig.
  5. Try not to cough at the sudden rush of citrusy acids and cottage cheese lumps that were in no way altered by blending.
  6. Painfully choke down the rest of it because you don't have time to make anything else before work and you don't want to waste all that wholesome fruit you threw in there.
  7. Never experiment again.
Except that I did eventually begin to change things.  But it took a few weeks before I was brave enough.

The original recipe has kale, spinach, blueberries, a banana, lemon juice, honey, chia seeds, and water.  After going through several small changes, my current version looks more like this:

A More Palatable Smoothie


  • 1 Banana
  • Blueberries or Strawberries - really any berry that doesn't go bad in 2 days (darn you, raspberries!!!)
  • Kale or Spinach (or whatever green, leafy stuff I happen to grab)
  • Greek Yogurt
  • V8 Fusion
  • Lemon Juice
  • Chia Seeds
  • Whey Protein Powder (maybe - this is a new addition and might not stick around)


I was going to put "instructions" but you guys know how to blend.  Really, I just have to explain a couple idiosyncrasies and I do have a couple of real tips, to my own surprise.
  • I don't measure anything.  So it goes something like this: toss in a banana, 1/5 of the fruit in the container (because I need enough for the other 4 days), 1/5 of the lettuce-y stuff, a couple scoops of greek yogurt (probably close to 1/3 cup), a splash of V8 fusion (just enough to make it liquidy), and the others are small amounts or none.  You don't need my measurements, though, because everything can be adjusted to your taste and it will still come out fine.
  • ADD THE CHIA SEEDS AFTERWARDS!  They are a pain to clean out of the blender!  And they embed themselves into my dish scrubbie and have to be picked out one by one.  So after I blend everything up, I dump my tablespoon of chia seeds directly into the glass I poured my smoothie into, and stir it with a butter knife.
  • Lemon is lemon-y.  Ryan won't drink it with lemon, because he says it's too acidic.  I don't notice anything.
  • It's ugly.  It's sort of pink and mostly grey, and it has lots of greenish bits floating in it.  But it really is delicious, I swear!
On the subject of whey protein, I'm a little torn at the moment.  I bought some chocolate flavored stuff for Ryan, and tried it, and it is DELICIOUS!  But I've read that it's most effective after a workout and my smoothie already has a source of protein and already tastes pretty good.  And, honestly, I keep adding so many things that the calorie count is surprising for something comprised mostly of fruits and vegetables (it's not terrible - about 400 - but no matter what I add, I still get hungry at 10am, so I need a few extra calories for a pre-lunch snack).

I still like the whey protein powder, though.  I think I might implement it as a tasty, after-workout snack.  I discovered, to my sorrow, that it's not optimal to get all your protein from powder (imagine that!  Whole food proteins are recommended!), so I can't go on a smoothie only diet, but I won't lie.  It's tempting.

Which is crazy, considering that a mere 5 months ago, my life had no smoothies in it!  Thanks, Taylor.  It's been a life-changer.

What blogger recommendations have changed your life in some way?  Do you do smoothies?  What do you think of whey protein?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

May 10, 2015

Sunday Sweats - The Relaxing Week

Sunday Sweats Theme Inspired by Holly

Compared to all the pre-race anxiety, pretty much anything would be relaxing.  I took it fairly easy to rest up my ankle (which is mostly fine, but I can feel the warning twinges every now and again), and also because my final project was due today.  On that note, the past couple weeks have been amazing!  2 weeks ago - design projects done, well in time for Sister2's wedding!  1 week ago - race is over with, major source of anxiety gone!  Today - final project done and handed in!  My to do list isn't terrifying anymore!!!

Anyway, back to the workouts.

Weekly Workouts

Monday - Strength Training | DT: 30 Min

Bench, pulldowns, and ankle rehab.  My bench was a little weak, but that's probably to be expected.  I had cardio aspirations after work, but after grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and some classwork, I was all too happy to crawl into bed.

Tuesday - Strength Training, Biking | DT: 60 Min

A pretty mellow lunchtime workout - just dumbbell curls, db triceps extensions, and ankle rehab.  Any day that it's free weights instead of the bar is a chill day.  :-)  After work biked for half an hour at our community gym with my neighbor.  Working out with a buddy is not the most time efficient way to do it (lots of chatting before and after), but it does make it so much more fun!

Wednesday - Strength Training, Biking/Yoga | DT: 60 Min

Barbell squats, lunges, calf raises, and general ankle rehab/stretching.  It's probably silly, but ever since I managed to reach my toes a couple weeks ago, stretching is a highlight of each day.  After work, I biked a little bit, but (surprise, surprise!) my legs were pretty worn out, so I switched over to the yoga mat halfway through my allotted half hour.  I made up my own routine, but it's kind of nice that I know enough poses to be able to do that.  A vinyasa flow, moving from down dog to baby cobra (because it always makes my back sore, so obviously those muscles need work), spinal twists (because I love them and do them almost every day, anyway), balance work, and general stretching.

Thursday - Biking | DT: 45 Min

Was aiming for an hour, but 45 minutes in my stomach was growling and making horrendous noises, so I gave in and ate dinner instead of finishing.  It's easy to make biking too easy, by setting it at a comfortable level and then just reading the whole time and not thinking about it.  So now I'm gauging by sweat levels.  If I'm not sweating, then I probably need to bump it up a level.

Friday - Nada

Rest day.  (But I'll let you in on a secret: I don't have any scheduled "rest days."  Rest day really means I was a bum.)

Saturday - 3 Mile Run | DT: 36 Min

Went to the park and ran outside.  You'd think, having just gone 10 miles last weekend that this would be a piece of cake.  Nope.  Not at all!  I mean, I made it.  And my lungs were fine (which is how I always measure "in shape-ness").  But it felt gross the whole time.

Sunday - Pilates | DT: 40 Min

My mom and I did one of our favorite pilates videos (Dynamic Pilates Full Body). Nothing terribly exciting but it's always nice to get everything all stretched out and loosened up to start the next week.

    Total Weekly Mileage: 3
    Total Time Exercised: 4' 31"
    Weeks to Next Race: 14 - We signed up for the The Town's Half Marathon!!!

    Thoughts Going Into Next Week

    I'm free!  I'm so excited for all the sleep and having nothing to do each night other than exercise and make dinner.  I made myself a training schedule for the half marathon, and this first week is a pretty light one.  I set it up so that I'm transitioning slowly from what I already do (mostly strength training and biking) into running.  I plan on being much more gentle on my ankle this time, and each week the overall mileage only increases by 1 (or 2 later on in the plan when the weekly miles are higher).

    Also, I'm really liking the compression socks!  (Recommended by the lovely Alyssa.)  It's hard to tell for sure if they're helping, buuut I have yet to experience ankle issues when wearing them.  So it might be time to get a second pair.

    How did your workouts go this week?  Have you ever tried compression gear?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    May 7, 2015

    In Defense of GoT - Spoilers Ahoy!

    I keep reading (and hearing) from other people that this season of Game of Thrones is off to a slow start, it's boring, it sucks, etc, etc.  I didn't watch the first couple episodes immediately, so I got to see all the opinions before I started, and I wasn't terribly excited for it.

    But you know what?

    I watched it and I'm REALLY enjoying it.  I mean, c'mon!  There's all this crazy shit that just happened to Tyrion.  He and Arya (and Varys) are all the way on the other side of the world, trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

    I'll admit I'm not particularly enjoying Daenerys' storyline just now, but watching Margaery and Cersei snipe at each other and anticipating the eventual showdown has been pretty entertaining.  Jon Snow was just faced with a pretty major fork in the road and moved from relative obscurity to a position of power.

    Poor Sansa's not in a great place right now, surrounded by enemies, with more on the way (although I suppose that's nothing new).  Oh!  And she and Brienne are doing all kinds of things they didn't do in the book.  Bronn is back and Jaime's got non-book plot stuff.  How is this gonna end?!?!  How will it all tie in?  And will someone hurry up and off the sadistic Ramsey, already?

    So what exactly is it that everyone else is not enjoying about this season?  Are we missing all the gore and death?  Because I've kind of been enjoying the brief respite from it all.  Too much background and character development?  Not enough action?

    I really feel like the past few episodes have been a lot of setting the stage, and you know what?  I think that's ok.  Game of Thrones is a violent, chaotic world, but it's always struck me as a more realistic one that some other fantasy stories.  There's no clear-cut good and evil, just people.  Main characters die.  People make decisions not for the greater good, but for their own, selfish purposes.  And sometimes there's a lull in the storm.

    Seeing as this "lull" involves kidnappings, power struggles, an imminent rebellion, and SO MUCH PLOTTING, I think I can hang in there until the plots come to fruition.

    What's your take on the 5th season of Game of Thrones?  Are you bored or fascinated?  What do you think's going to happen next?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    May 6, 2015

    Late Nights - I Love 'Em! (for real, though)

    I got slightly less than 3 hours of sleep last night.  Last night disappeared before my eyes, between procrastination chores ("Homework? Nahhh, laundry!"), working out and being perhaps excessively social with my workout buddy, a last minute client project ("I can fit this in - it's just a small one!"), some very important label-making, and then FINALLY working on my final.

    This morning, I was groggily stumbling around wondering why I do this to myself.  But as my brain's (slowly) woken up, a stronger voice is making it's presence known, "Because you love it."

    I do.  I love the random productive late nights when you get a million things done.  I love staying up to work on design projects.  And, as frustrating as it can be, I even love struggling with code.

    This is what my project looks like so far.  What. A. Mess.  (And yes, my final project is also my wedding/elopement website.  Convenient, eh?)

    After several hours of working on my final project, I think it actually looks worse than it did before.  But I know enough now to see that there's a fairly minor issue, probably with the CSS positioning.  Once I figure that out, those stripes up top will magically widen to encompass the content areas they're supposed to.

    I've also worked with enough projects to know that it doesn't have to get finished up all in one shot (my last real client website I worked on for 20 hours straight because I couldn't put it down; by the end, my brain was so tired that it was 10 time harder to figure things out).  It doesn't even have to look good at the end of each coding session.  It just needs to have more in place than it did last time.

    At this stage in the past, I'd be filled with dread and frustration.  "Why isn't it doing what I want?!?!"  But this time around, I'm enjoying the prospect of the challenges ahead.  I've got this, even if I don't know how yet.

    I think part of that is working out a schedule ahead of time where I'm confident there's enough time to get it all done (and done well - not half-assed).  And I think the other part is embracing who I am.

    Is it smart to stay up most of the night working on projects, and then randomly decide to finally print the labels to finish up the DIY recipe book project I started in February?  No.  But it's who I am and what I like to do (plus it is gorgeous - no regrets!).

    And I'm looking forward to doing it again tonight.  Being tired for a couple days is well worth the joy I experience from that burst of late-night productivity.  Time to kick some ass, and then take some naps!

    Bonus: this week's theme song.

    Do you ever stay up late just to put a dent in your to do list?  Do you have any unhealthy or unwise habits that you don't regret at all?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    May 5, 2015

    Driving Douchebaggery - The 10 Most Rage-Inducing Driving Things

    Driving.  It's infuriating.  And, as I'm sure you've deduced from my post about bumper stickers, I can get a little road rage-y.

    Since I know I'm not alone on this one, let's talk about the worst of the worst.  Here's my top 10 driving pet peeves.  (As a side note: they're not all caused by douchebaggery, but I think it's a fun word so I used it anyway.)

    The 10 Driving Things I Hate Most

    1. Lack of Turn Signals

    It had to be said.  Why does no one use them?!  I see lots of people complaining about it online, but obviously those aren't the people driving around in my area.  What's the deal here, anyway?  Do people forget?  Is it too much effort to flick the switch?

    2. Not Using Headlights in Poor Visibility

    Your headlights aren't for you to see the road.  They're for other people to see you.  Sometimes it's pouring down rain, and those grey cars are just blending in to the giant blur that is my driver's side window.  And it's safer for both of us.  If I can't tell you're there, what's to stop me from pulling out onto the highway right in front of you?

    3. Aggressively Not Paying Attention

    So it's annoying when someone's driving badly because they're on their phone.  It's also annoying when someone comes roaring up behind you and weaves around you and through traffic like Cruella Deville.  But when they do both at the same time, it's downright terrifying!  Imagine a momentary lapse of attention, while cutting it close to another car, while driving 20mph faster than everyone around you!  This so incredibly stupid!!!

    4. Misplaced Consideration

    So... I understand that you were trying to be nice when you stopped in a straight lane to allow me to turn.  But, usually not following standard right of way just confuses everyone.  Frequently the people who do this have a huge gap behind them, so it's not actually necessary, as I would have been able to turn just fine if they had not stopped.  And sometimes it's dangerous, in a case where there's multiple lanes and the other lanes didn't get "we're stopping out of turn" memo.

    5. Slowing Down to Merge Onto a Highway

    No!  You're making this so much harder!!!  Now we're going to pull out, be going way slower than everyone else, and either we'll slam on the gas to get up to speed, or they'll have to slam on the brakes to not ram into us.  Just get up to speed and find a hole.  Usually, if you're going the same speed as them, people will let you over.  If you're going slow, they're going to do their best to not get stuck behind you.

    6. Double Parking

    You're an inconsiderate jerk, and I bet your car's not even that nice.  End o' story.  (Exception: your truck/van/whatever is legitimately too large for one space.  Usually not the case.)

    7. Blocking the Passing Lane

    Fast lane, passing lane, whatever you want to call it.  Unless there is so much traffic that the left lane is as full as the right lane, don't hang out over there.  Pass whoever you're passing and then move.  If you insist on driving in the left lane, at least move when someone faster catches up to you.  It's not your job to enforce the speed limit, and keeping them trapped (and probably angry) behind you just puts you in a more dangerous driving situation, as they'll likely be tailgaiting.

    8. Brights in the Fog

    That extra light doesn't make it easier to see.  It just causes more light to be reflected back at you (and everywhere), causing even worse visibility.  Didn't anyone attend defensive driving?!

    9. Cutting Someone Off Instead of Using Empty Space

    I'll always get peeved when someone cuts me off.  But when there's nothing behind me but wide open space, and you put your turn signal on (or don't, as is often the case) and start to force your way in front of me, I'm not going to cooperate.  You'll probably win in this game of chicken, because I've got too many accidents behind me to intentionally cause another, but I'm going to make it difficult for you.  On principle.

    10. Parking Lot Vultures

    Unless there is NO parking left at all, do not follow me to my car so you can get a closer spot.  You can walk.  It's not that hard and it's even good for you!  Equally bad are the cars that get in your way while they wait for you to move.  Uh, yes, I do require some space to pull out of this spot.  No, it's not more fun to have to do a 3-point turn to get around you.

    I'm going to stop at 10, and I tried to avoid the obvious ones like: people being jerks, tailgating, and cutting in line when an exit is backed up.  But I'm sure there's more!

    What are your driving pet peeves?  Any defensive driving tips the rest of the world seems to have missed out on?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    May 4, 2015

    Sunday Sweats - I Lived to Tell the Tale

    Sunday Sweats Theme Inspired by Holly

    I set up a workout schedule with my neighbor last week, and I think this is going to be really good as far as accountability.  I have 3 workout partners right now and set workout schedules with all of them: M/T/W lift weights at lunch with my dad, T/Th gym with my neighbor, Su yoga or pilates with my mom.  So that's 5 days of the week I can't flake out on my workouts, at least not without hearing about it from someone!

    In other news, yesterday was race day!  (which is the main reason I'm a day late with this.  I am tiiiired.)

    Weekly Workouts

    Monday - Strength Training, 30 Min Biking

    Bench, pull downs, flys, ankle rehab.  Biked after work and read, which was a really nice little respite from the otherwise constant productivity today.

    Tuesday - Strength Training, 1 Mile Run, 10 Min Biking

    We tried something new today.  At first I was concerned, because my father tends to ignore safety and clean and press's (s'/'s/s's/zzzz?) involve a lot of free motion with the bar that your spotter can't really help you with if you get off balance.  But after trying it out (with just the bar), I didn't feel too out of control and it was a good workout!  I was breathing hard after only 2 sets.  Then dumbbell curls, tris, and ankle rehab.  After work I was exhausted, so it was good to have a workout buddy to force me to go to the gym.  Unfortunately, my ankle was being stupid, so after a mile I switched over to the bike and rode a bit while we chit chatted about books.  There are worse ways to work out!

    Wednesday - Strength Training

    Non-workout related note: I tried whey protein powder!  I bought the chocolate flavored stuff for Ryan, because he said he wanted to get in on my breakfast smoothie routine.  Naturally, he has yet to try it, but I put a scoop in my smoothie this morning along with the usual stuff (banana, strawberries, greek yogurt, kale mix, splash of V8 Fusion, and chia seeds) and it was soooo delicious!  I checked the nutrition label after, because something that tastes that good can't be healthy, and it wasn't bad.  1 serving is 150 calories and a whopping 52% of your daily protein!  Holy crap!  I was so distracted by that, that I forgot to check for sugar, but I seriously doubt there could be enough sugar in it to overcome how impressed I am by the protein content.  At this rate, I'm considering having smoothies for all my meals.  (NOTE; I checked the sugar - minimal.  Even more impressed.  But after some research, I have concluded that whole food sources of protein are still needed.)

    Squats today, along with some half-hearted lunges, calf raises, and ankle rehab.

    Thursday - Strength Training, 30 Min Biking

    Just a mini workout.  Some shoulder stuff, but mostly just stretching and ankle rehab.  Trying to prepare myself (and my ankle) for Sunday.  Biked after work.

    Friday - 9 Min Pilates

    I went home during lunch, and didn't have much time, but squeezed in one of Sean Vigue's mini Pilates workouts, which was kind of nice.

    Saturday - 60 Min Yoga

    More Sean Vigue, because of all the videos we follow, he seems to do the most stretching and I want to work out every kink before tomorrow (1 Hour Beginner Yoga Class).  So nervous!  The race has a time limit (something I was not aware of when I signed up) of 15 min miles.  No big deal, you might say, unless you're not capable of running 10 miles!  Ack!!!  I did the math - at my pace (12 minute miles), I need to run at least 6.5 miles before I can walk (using a moderate walking pace of 3mph or 20 minute miles).

    Sunday - The 10 Miler!!!

    I made it!  It wasn't fun, but it also wasn't awful.  I made it about 4.5 miles before walking, and then alternated between walking and jogging.  Somehow I averaged 11.5 minute miles, which was most unexpected, considering how much I walked!

    I won't do a full race recap, but here's the highlights:

    • Excited spectators cheering us on for almost the entirety of the race.
    • Some particularly skillful drummers around mile 3.
    • The fire hydrants that had been loosened to spray us with cool water as we ran by.
    • The signs!  "Worst Parade Ever" and "Don't Trust a Fart After Mile 5" (funny AND good advice) and "Hit Sign for Power Up" with the Mario mushroom.
    • Getting to mile 8, realizing I was going to finish within the time limit, and finding "my people" who were also run/walking and, while we took turns passing each other, we stayed close enough that I got to recognize them and could use them for pacing.
    • The end!  Because it was over, and because my time was surprisingly good.
    • All the food.  We had pretzels, and water, and goody bags filled with food, and then there was a stand with free ice cream samples (hazelnut flavored - delicious!).
    • My ankle didn't hurt at all.  And still doesn't.  (Don't know why since the 1 mile on Tuesday hurt it, but not going to think too hard about it.)
    Also worth noting: I was so nervous about this.  I was convinced I wasn't going to make it, and I was afraid of doing something wrong, or that I'd be the first one walking, and on and on.  After having run it, I've realized a 10 Miler is really not that different from a 5K.  There's people of all different fitness levels, some people start walking right from mile 1, and everyone's positive and encouraging.  Now that I've done it, I'm feeling so much less intimidated and I'm going to go ahead and sign up for that half marathon in August.

    Last thing and then I'm done.  Because I was nervous, I came up with all these silly pre-race rituals.  And now that the race went as well as it did, I'm pretty much going to have to do this all every time:
    • Eat light the day before - mostly liquids and no dinner
    • Yoga the day before (but something a lot easier than the 1 hour video - my shoulders, back, and hamstrings were tired!)
    • Calf/ankle massage with lemon and peppermint essential oils (for "energy")
    • Compression socks (Thanks for the suggestion, Alyssa!)
    • Caffeine the morning of (but not a ton, because it's a diuretic)

    Total Weekly Mileage: 11
    Total Hours Exercised: 6.5
    Weeks to Next Race: 0

    Thoughts Going Into Next Week

    It's done!  I'm so happy!  I know my ankle's not giving me problems (now), but in the past it's always been after a longer run, so I think, just to be safe, I'll focus mostly on biking for the next week or two.  After that, I'll ease back into a new running plan to get ready for the half marathon!  And I want to add more yoga into my schedule.  It works my body in places that nothing else seems to.

    How did your workouts go this week?  What's the longest distance you've ever run?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design