Living Life in Leucadia

It has been SO long since I last posted about settling into California, oops? I’m excited to get back to posts about crazy adventures on the “Best Coast”. Jury is still out there, but for right now I’m leaning West. Anyway, so I told you that I bought a new car (SUV) and it’s still amazing. I have not picked out a name yet, but I’m sure that will come. For now, I’m just excited that I’ve driven over 1,000 miles so the engine is broken in and I can use cruise control. Work at Halstrom is going well, my hours are continuing to build and for right now it looks like I’ll be teaching a lot of AP World History and Algebra II, both of which are fine by me! I’m getting to know the new staff members and students and everyone seems really nice so far, so that’s great!

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After a lot of searching that really began back in North Carolina, I finally found an apartment and have moved in. I wanted to be in the Encinitas area again, since living this close to the beach is amazing and I like to walk to restaurants and stores when I can. My top priorities were two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dishwasher, and parking of some sort… and obviously proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Several places fell through or changed at the last-minute or I was the second applicant and it was starting to look like April 1st was my new move-in goal. But then I found a posting 23 minutes after it went live that looked great! I called the property manager, went over the next morning at 9am, applied on the spot, and signed the lease the next day. It was a bit crazy but it was the first place I’d seen with everything I wanted. And it was the cheapest place I’d looked at too! It’s a two-story “townhouse-style apartment” with the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and the living, dining, and kitchen downstairs. There’s a great under-the-stairs closet for all of my athletic and camping equipment and I have an assigned parking space. There are only ten units in the complex and we have an adorable courtyard with a make-shift fire pit, ping-pong table, and outdoor shower. I’m still getting to know my neighbors but they seem really chill without being obnoxious. Yay!

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Enough about the business side of life, now onto the fun side of things. I can’t believe that I haven’t even been back a month because (in true Karen fashion) I’ve hit the ground running! I’ve already taken a weekend trip to La Quinta in the desert with an incredible group of new and old friends (pictured above). Less than 24 hours after landing, kickball started back up for the season and I have a fantastic team this time around! We may not be at the top of the leader board, but I’d argue that we have the most fun. In addition to playing together on Sundays, a bunch of us have fallen into trivia on Tuesday nights. We won the first week, which got us hooked, and were third this week. Our prize for winning was a bar tab and we got an Easter basket of candy this week for third (even better!). Last night nine of us stayed out after midnight to see Furious 7 on opening night. For those of you on the fence, it’s 100% worth going to see. The Paul Walker tribute at the end was a bit drawn out for me, but the movie itself was just what you expect, lots of fast cars and hot girls with some street fighting mixed in.

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I’ve also spent a good bit of time reconnecting with my core group of girls out here. I hit up a Dan + Shay concert downtown one night (pictured below), I hiked Cowles Mountain in Mission Valley one day (picture at top of post), I went on a training run along the coast, and I celebrated the first birthday of a very special little girl another night. It’s so good to be back with my support network and catch up on what’s been going on in their lives the last four months. Don’t get me wrong, I love my guys and I miss my East Coast people… but my girlfriends here are pretty incredible. We are starting our book club back up too, so I look forward to reading some new novels and having crazy discussions once a month going forward.

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I also like to check in on my fitness/nutrition in these type of posts too. I have been struggling with workouts these last few weeks because I dropped a DVD player on my toe, which prohibited me from wearing shoes for a while. I also cracked a big toe while jumping on a trampoline with my favorite fifth graders. And my left upper-calf/knee are giving me some struggles. But I’ve registered for the La Jolla Half Marathon on April 26th in addition to the Tinkerbell Half in LA on May 10th, so we shall see. I am just excited to get back into racing and finish these two events with my friends that are running with me. Time won’t be so much of a factor this time around, but I do plan to have both of my contacts in for LJ šŸ˜‰ Oh! And I ran the Wellness 5k with Sean a few weekends ago. It was a smaller race, which was nice for a change. Sean ran his personal best 5k time and I won my age group, so we were both pleased with that! Immediately after the race, SK donated platelets and two days later I donated whole blood. It makes my heart happy to think about the lives we helped to save with those donations and I encourage all of you to sign up to donate blood this month, if you can!

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I’ve gotten some new Beachbody DVD’s to mix things up and they seem to be keeping me interested for now, but I’m craving getting back on the bike and in the pool. My road bike is being put back together on Monday and I need to figure out my plan for pool access so I can start triathlon training. Nutrition right now is taking a back burner just with the chaos of life. I’m re-adjusting to packing lunches and getting workouts/smoothies done before work, but it takes time and I’m trying to set realistic goals for myself. Finally, I have gotten actively involved in Girls on the Run again this season. My teaching schedule doesn’t allow me to coach, but I am a shoe fairy and am on the 5k planning committee. As a shoe fairy, I size girls on our scholarship teams for brand new shoes and then get to deliver them the following week. It’s like Christmas in April for these girls! If anyone in SD wants to help me cheer on our amazing girls at the 5k on May 17th, let me know! I’m in charge of coordinating the cheer stations, so any/all help that morning would be amazing… you get to dress up and be as crazy as you want… just saying.

Alright, that’s all for now but I promise not to wait another three weeks to post and happy Easter!!

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Final Feedback on February Fasts

I made it! And what’s funny is that I didn’t even realize it until this morning (March 2nd). I think that’s a good thing though, right? Since I obviously wasn’t counting the minutes until the clock turned from February 28th to March 1st. This challenge turned out to be a lot easier than I anticipated overall. Again, I was basically hanging out at home in North Carolina with no friends which helped, but I was also doing a lot of running around town when it’s easy to give in to fast food and sugary treats for energy. Here’s my original post to remind you of my February fasting goals and my mid-month update to show my progress a few weeks ago.

So where am I going with each of these items? Let’s see!

Fizzy drinks – I am going to try my absolute best to keep these out of my diet. Between the sugar and caffeine, they do a number on me now that I’m not as used to them. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a good mixed drink here or there, but I want to set the standard to be less than one a week from here on out. We shall see!

French fries – Only the very best, most delicious fries will be had. Especially if they are sweet potato fries. And especially on special occasions. I want to continue to avoid fries as my “go to” side item in restaurants. The reality is that I can steal one or two from a neighbor and be good to go with fruit or a salad instead.

“Fourth meal” – I anticipate this to become a problem again… especially once I start work. Namely because I will go back to eating breakfast earlier in the day and lunch earlier, so I will want dinner earlier. I’m going to try to avoid this by scheduling a healthy snack in the afternoon to help push dinner back later. Most of my Cali friends wait until 7 or 8 to eat anyway, so this will allow me to wait for them without getting “hangry”. And if I’m eating dinner that late, then there isn’t much time for a “fourth meal” after that!

Frozen treats – Again, I just don’t need them and I don’t want to stock them in my house. I’m sure I’ll make a trip or two to the local froyo store, but I want to limit frozen treats to once or twice a month. I can pick other ways to get a bit of sweet at the end of the day. And if I do go, I am going to really try to stick to fruit bowls instead of chocolate bowls. What the heck does that mean? Basically that when I go to put toppings on my delicious frozen yogurt, I’m going to put fruits instead of candy. Not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Fast food – The reality is that I will need to eat out while on the road in the future, but I plan to avoid going to fast food in San Diego County. There is no reason to, especially when such great stores as Whole Foods and Jamba Juice exist. The food tastes better and is way better for me. Again, we shall see how that works out šŸ™‚

Those of you curious about my health/fitness results will be interested to hear that while maintaining a similar weight to the middle of the month, I have lost another 2.5 inches off of my body! This is thanks in large part to my half marathon training picking back up and my Piyo workouts continuing to kick my butt. I’m excited to keep them up while adding in kickball and long, therapeutic walks with my girlfriends back in SD.

Thanks for reading about my health and nutrition progress and let me know what you’re trying to do to change your eating habits!

February Fasts Update

I just looked at the calendar and realized that we’re already over halfway through February! This month has been crazy busy so far. I’ve been spending a lot of time helping get the Edge Church ready for launch THIS SUNDAY! Oh, and I went to Big Sky, Montana for skiing with two of my best friends. I’ve also been spending a lot of time thinking about and then making the decision to move back to California. And I’m now frozen into my apartment by 2-3 inches of snow/sleet. Because this is North Carolina and they aren’t super used to the white stuff. But all this stuff isn’t what my post is really about tonight, it’s about my five fasts in February!

Let me first remind you what I chose to eliminate from my diet for this month: fizzy drinks, french fries, “fourth meal”, frozen treats, and fast food.

Fizzy drinks has been way easier than I thought! I did cave and have soda while in our box at the UVA vs. NCSU men’s basketball game. Mainly because I was tired and it was there and I was feeling spoiled. That night I didn’t sleep well AT ALL. I was totally wired. Note to self, caffeine makes my mind crazy. It’s all really dry in my apartment and I feel like I’m constantly thirsty, so not drinking soda has helped slightly with that. I will most likely continue to omit soda from my diet except for rare occasions.

French fries is not a problem when I eat at home, which I’ve been doing a lot of. French fries are a huge temptation when I’m eating out, especially because I really like ordering sandwiches which often come with fries. In Big Sky, I swapped my side of french fries for brussel sprouts and was disappointed in them. So I stoleĀ a few fries from the boys. But it was much better than having my whole plate full! I would love to say french fries will be gone forever, but I know that’s not the case. I will try to get a healthy side and just split fries with people in the future… because a half of serving is better than a full serving, right?

“Fourth meal” hasn’t been too bad… mainly because I’ve been delaying my meals and not having my Shakeology shake until about 10am after my Beachbody Piyo workout, so then lunch isn’t until 2pm or so, which means I wait until 7pm to eat dinner. There isn’t a ton of time after that to eat more. And I’ve already eaten most of the snacks in my house šŸ˜‰ I’m trying to just drink a container of water instead to help fill my stomach. I’ve occasionally hadĀ a square of dark chocolate as a dessert to my dinner. But again, that’s way better than the foraging through the pantry I used to do! I plan to continue limiting late-night snacking because I know I sleep better when I haven’t just eaten!

Frozen treats again has been easy since I haven’t eaten out too much. The dark chocolate squares have quenched my sweet tooth and I just haven’t been craving cold milkshakes or ice cream since it’s been in the teens and 20s here recently. Brrr! There are also not delicious frozen yogurt shops on every corner like in California. I predict the frozen treats will be creeping back into my diet soon šŸ˜‰ I know I do better when I don’t keep it in the house though, so I’ll continue to resist buying them for the house!

Finally, fast food. Again, I’ve been home alone most of the month and in an environment where I’m not being invited out to a ton of meals. But I have been running tons of errands throughout the days, which is when I’m always most tempted by fast food. I think I had fast food once on the way to Montana in the Chicago airport, which was to be expected. Again, I hope to continue this without too much problem while still in North Carolina!

So basically, I’m happy with how I’ve done so far and I feel good about finishing out the rest of the month. I am still trying to figure out how all of these will or won’t continue once I’m back in California. I will say that all of these diet adjustments, plus adding in healthier alternatives, and doing Beachbody six days a week with half marathon training… I feel great! I have also lost six pounds this calendar year and, more importantly, 2.5 inches from my body! Most of that was from my arms and waist, which have definitely become more toned from workouts and managing my food. I hope the next 11 days will help solidify my routines and remove the few cravings I still have.

On the spiritual front, I have been working through my weekly devotionals which had given me a greater focus on my life. I’ve worked through a lot of frustrations and mental blocks that have been building and I’ve dealt with some issues I’d been suppressing. I’ve felt really fulfilled working the launch the Edge Church and because I feel so great about my nutrition and fitness, I can use my time being positive and supportive of others! Overall, this has been a great month and I’m excited to see how the rest of it plays out šŸ™‚

Five February Fasts

As y’all know, I have really focused a lot recently on leading a healthier and happier life, both physically and mentally. A huge piece of that is nutrition. I mentioned in a post last month that I’ve started a Beachbody workout program and I’m rolling into another season of half marathon training as well. In order to fuel myself, I need to really buckle down on healthy eating. It’s easy for me to add fitness but it’s harder for me to alter my eating. Especially living alone, there is no one in the house holding me accountable… although there’s also no one in the house buying Oreos either šŸ˜‰ But the temptations, especially of restaurants and fast food are right here and it’s on me to stop myself. I really, really want to work on this though. And I want to work on cooking healthy, delicious meals that make me WANT to just eat in, even with friends!

So I had already decided going into this year that in February I would really kick into high gear. I’d in theory be settling into life here on the East Coast and be ready to buckle down. So far I’ve just been doing a lot of research into clean eating and portion control and nutrition in general. But before I can really focus on adding tons of healthy stuff, I want to eliminate certain things for this month. I know realistically that I can’t (and don’t want to) eliminate some of these for the rest of my life, but I do want to force myself into healthier options by refraining from unhealthier ones. So for the month of February (which is the shortest month of the year, how convenient!) I will be fasting from the following five items:

– Fizzy drinks (aka soda)

– French fries (including sweet potato fries, sadly)

– “Fourth meal” (which really just means late night snacking after dinner)

– Frozen treats (aka milkshakes, ice cream, chocolate chunks, etc.)

– Fast food (which I’m defining as anything from a window or place that has a drive-thru)

Those of you that know me, know that I don’t frequent most of these things. And I’m certainly not eating out every day or drinking gallons of soda a week… but do I need them at all right now? I don’t think so, at least not for the short period of 28 days. These are some of my comfort foods and I default to them. I want to retrain my body to be satisfied with healthier snacks and “treats”. As a side note, I don’t love what soda does to my mind at night. Because my body isn’t used to caffeine, it keeps me up and gives me really weird dreams sometimes.Ā I’m hoping that by removing these things, I can focus on the better choicesĀ I should be eating instead!

Another, smaller goal is to continue shaping my body and fueling it to help me perform to the best of my ability. I have a few athletic goals for this year and I’ve been really working on strength and flexibility as well as endurance. A less centralĀ thought is also that one of my best friends gets married six months from today (YAY!!) which gives me a great long-term goal for building tone and transforming to a healthier version of me! Again, my focus is not so much on physical appearance or the scale, but more on feeling healthy and being confident that what I’m putting in my body is actually good for it.

An additional piece of this fasting in February decision was added a few days ago when the couple leading our church posted about fasting and praying leading up to the big launch day. I’ve done a few “30-hour famine” weekends back in grade school, but I haven’t really applied nutritionĀ to my spiritual life before. I’m excited to see what God can do this month while I eliminate some of these foods. And I look forward to praying and thinking about the health and strength of the church while focusing on the health and strength of myself! One of my biggest snacking times is in the evening while I’m winding down and boredom orĀ fidgeting sneaks in. I’m going to try to take that time to stay on track with my devotionals and prayers, instead of heading to the kitchen for a snack. This spiritual part feels like something that’s been missing from my previous attempts at healthy eating and a fully transformed healthy lifestyle.

At this point it’s probably needless to say, but I’m REALLY looking forward to the next 28 days and I’ll be sure to keep you all posted throughout the month. And please, please, please help hold me accountable! Texts, emails, Facebook posts, cards, comments, anything… I can do it, but I can do it easier with each of you supporting me šŸ™‚ And if any of you are on similar journeys, I’d love to hear about them as well so I can support you too!

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