Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Let's get weird!

2013, you're on your way out the door. You've had your ups, you've had your downs, but we got THROUGH you. Everyone's making lists of what they have learned for the year which is amazing. I was able to stick to my goals and if we went though everything I learned this year I'd probably be in therapy and/or jail. But hey I survived, had heart surgery, and everything is back to 'normal'. LOLZ do you people know me?! I'm anything but normal.

So instead of my lessons, I'll share this hilarious story. My head is a fairly ridiculous place, and my imagination even more so. But I've decided that I must stop browsing the 'Celebrity" boards on Pinterest before bed because my subconscious is out of control with the dreams. My most ridiculous dream of late was had right around Thanksgiving and included Jeff Goldblum. STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES AT ME he's not the worst looking guy ever.

The dream went something like this: I was at an insurance event in which Jeff and I were making out in a corner and had planned to meet up later, because he had to leave for some reason and that's the point when I had a rational moment of WTF am I thinking?! I'm at a WORK event and everyone knows me here and they're definitely going to tell my husband. But Jeff was such a good kisser so, YOLO.

I think I was incredibly bothered by the dream because it incorporated both an actor I will never meet with my current profession in which there were people I regularly see and know. It's like hey, work associates, I don't see you enough but SO glad you're now consuming MY DREAMS (hashtag workaholic).

I spent my Thanksgiving Eve at a friends house and needless to say after a few dirty martinis my dream came up. My best friend found it ordinary because she's know me forever and she's definitely not weirded out by anything I say. 

My friend's brother picked up on this analyzation and the following conversation ensued:

E: This is the second time I've heard you mention this. You mean the guy from "The Fly"?
Me: Well, yes. But bad reference that movie is gross.
E: Okay then, what Jeff Goldblum are we talking like 90's "Jurassic Park" or "Independence Day"?
Me: Definitely "Independence Day". And he was a really great kisser
Husband: I'm not even upset. He's a good actor

So my husband approves of me making out with actors in my dreams, score. I mean I already have my hall pass set up, I'm looking at you Alex Skarsgard.

Thanksgiving morning instead of watching the parade like normal people, Nick and I put on a movie channel and wouldn't you know Jurassic Park is on TV! The first thing I say is 'Hey, I made out with him'. I really need more of a brain to mouth filter.

I then share with one of my other friends because I love to over analyze EVERYTHING and she texts me the following:




You guys, I have the bestest friends EVER. Also Jeff Goldblum, if by some strange miracle you are reading this, call me because I want to see if you're as good of a kisser in real life as my dream, and my husband is totally cool with it.

BRING IT ON 2014!! You can't even handle this weirdness! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2014 Goals


Go home winter you are drunk! Here it is the first day of winter and I ran outside in capris and a t-shirt...and was HOT. Winter get your butt back here I have some serious goals to obtain, and I run better in the cold!

It may not be Christmas yet but I've got new running shoes burning a hole under my tree on my list for Santa to bring and resolutions burning a hole in my conscious.

Last year I made the Resolution to lower my blood pressure and lose some weight. I'm happy to report that I have lowered my blood pressure to normal levels through diet and exercise and lost 20 pounds overall. So what if  I had a minor heart problem that required surgery?! That was biological and essentially out of my control (thanks mom and dad! I'm kidding, but seriously.)

I'm pretty proud of myself considering it's not been the easiest of years. Our first year being homeowners, then rescuing our puppy Homer, on top of normal everyday stressors and curve balls life throws our way. But I'm glad that I was able to still achieve what I set out to do.

So in the spirit of the rapidly approaching New Year, I've started planning my goals for next year. I am resolute to continue trying to lose weight and tone up, but I'm really going to focus on improving my running race times this year. Both of these resolutions go hand in hand.

Smiling as I saw my BFF Colleen on the sidelines. Half
marathons are so much fun #LiesITellMyself
As of this morning, I've signed up for the Philly Hot Chocolate 15K on April 6th. Stop rolling your eyes at me 9.3 miles DESERVES a bowl of melted chocolate and dippies at the end.
If they're keeping the lottery system I'm hoping to be lucky enough to get into the Broad Street 10 Miler on May 4th.

After those distance races I've got to get my butt in gear for the Special Olympics Fun Run in June. It's only a 5K but I have to get my time under 30 minutes to beat NY YIP's as one of our fastest runners had to go get pregnant and is due the end of May thus won't be running (kidding, I'm so excited for her and her hubby. I can't wait to meet baby 'S'). So I have about 6 weeks and a training schedule already printed to follow as my time will likely be counting towards the final tally this year.

The end of July will bring the Tour de Shore bike ride. I'll definitely be using my bike to cross train throughout these months, so I can pick it up more in June.

My ultimate goal for 2014 is to run a sub 2:30 half marathon. Yes, I'm a slow runner and my halves time average from best 2:39 to worst 2:48. I'm not sure which half marathon I'll run but I know there are a bunch between Philly and Atlantic City in October/November so I'll decide as I see how the training is progressing.

For now I'll enjoy the Holiday Spirits by pushing my body to the brink of alcoholism and diabetes (thank you someecards) guilt free until January 3rd.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Spirit

I will admit I've not whole heartily been in this holiday spirit. Sure my house is decorated inside and out. We had our second annual Ugly Sweater Party last weekend which was a blast. Our tree is up and lit. Tonight we're having an informal work Christmas party with some of Nick's fellow co-workers. Next week we're having a Christmas pot luck at my work. Doggie's Christmas CD is loaded on my phone and on repeat.

But I still haven't ordered any presents with only 11 days to go. In fact that's what I should be doing right now, but I've been avoiding it. Stress with work, running around to meetings, finances, doctor visits, vet visits, life worries; it's just all weighing on me.

However as I was cleaning my upstairs bathroom earlier, everything changed. Our master bedroom is at the front of our house, and the master bath has windows that look out onto the street. We are located toward the end of our development, with a side road leading to one final loop of houses and that being the only way in and out of the loop.

I had just completed scrubbing the shower when I heard sirens. In a panic as I hadn't heard a crash or anything I ran to our hallway which looks out of a large, second story window, just in time to see a cop car go by with it's lights on and Santa following behind him pulled by the fire department on his sleigh. How cool that our township does that I thought, as they turned down the access road to the small loop of homes behind us.

I knew that they'd have to come back around the access road to get back on the main strip, so I went back into the bathroom for a better view.

As I heard the sirens nearing again, I saw a vehicle stop at the stop sign. Into park it was thrown at the sign and a woman ran out, around front to the other side of her car, and grabbed her little boy out of his car seat. They stood by the front of the vehicle as the cop car slowed in order for the boy to see Santa. The boy waved and smiled as Santa waved back, and I could almost hear the exclamation of "Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!" over the sirens.

And just like the Grinch my heart grew three sizes too big, as I watched the joy on this little guy's face. Here was a mom, who was likely just on her routine way to do errands, probably counting her blessings that she could share this moment with her son.

I may have shed a few tears as I realized I could have been anywhere in my house, but only in this bathroom could I have witnessed the joy of innocence at this Christmas time. Santa must have known I needed a pick me up like that to get me into the Christmas Spirit.

Friday, December 6, 2013

You Are Gorgeous!

One of my closest friends posted on her Facebook this Huffington Post article "So You're Feeling Too Fat to be Photographed" (read it here). The points are aptly made in the article from the author that life is happening now; capture it because life's not slowing down and waiting for you to lose those extra 10 pounds to feel better in front of a camera. We must stop this negative body image consciousness that is shoved down our throats when we don't conform to the ridiculous, and I use the term loosely, 'standards of beauty'.

I'm all for a healthy lifestyle but that's not the point I want to make. My friend who posted this is one of the most incredible women I know. She's a fantastic mother, wife, and woman who is still standing after going through hell and back. She is someone I admire and could only hope to emulate as a mother once I have children. When I see her and the photos she posts, I see this beautiful, courageous woman. And when she posted the article, I was surprised because I don't see the flaws she does in those photos. I see a gorgeous mom, adoring children, and a loving husband.

I am guilty as charged in finding my flaws in every photograph of myself. Every one that is uploaded is judged with one of the following: I look fat, my arms look fat, my face looks fat, I look overall fat and need to lose weight, oh my gosh why didn't anyone tell me my butt is so big, and then every once and awhile, oooh that's a nice one I don't look fat there! Prime example, my cousin recently posted some of her wedding photos that her photographer took. They came out incredible and truly captured what an amazing wedding it was.

There was this photo of me included with the snippets posted on the photographer's website. It stopped me in my tracks. I remember the conversation I was having with the woman who is not shown. I was shocked at how perfectly a single, simple, in the moment photo captured me and my personality so completely.

Said photo. Copyright Luke Eshelman Photography
Then, I looked closer and thought, "Man, my arm looks fat. I need to work out harder on my upper body".

WHY DO WE DO THIS?!

My brother asked me later that day if I saw the photo. I told him I did and that my arm looks so fat.
He just stared at me. You know what that stare said? "Natalie, you are crazy, your arm does NOT look fat, it's a really nice picture of you".

And you know what, he's right. I'm good looking. I may not be a size zero, but I'm pretty, and gosh darn it people like me. We have to stop looking at ourselves and finding only our flaws because we don't fit into these 'beauty standards' and instead start seeing us for who we are...Beautiful.

But it's so hard. It's probably the most difficult thing to change about our conscious mind because we're defaulted to find the bad. I'm making it my goal to try, each and every day from now on, to stop judging myself so harshly by what 'society' expects me to be.

So this is to you, gorgeous woman or handsome man reading this. Look in the mirror. Say I am beautiful, handsome, and more then just what's on the outside. And mean it. Life is too short to let it pass you by and leave you saying 'I wish I had a picture of me to remember that'.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I'm fixed!

I am cured!

Monday was my surgery to map my heart and see if they could close that pesky extra electrical pathway. The surgery was a success and the pathway was able to be closed even though my doctor said it was in a tricky spot.

But what a journey it was!

First, I got a cold the week before. Last Monday I went to bed with a sore throat, but I thought it could just be that I ran 5 miles outside that day and it was slightly chillier then usual. No such luck as I awoke Tuesday with a stuffy nose as well. I spent the rest of the week pumping different meds in my system every 4 hours on the dot to try to rid myself of this cold. I got it down to a dull cough, lost voice, and no longer stuffy nose by the day of surgery.

It was a bit stressful the morning of as we got lost on the way to the hospital. I kept my cool until, as Nick was helping my mom re-route via Google Maps, we missed the final turn for the street the hospital was on. That was the point I yelled "YOU GUYS, GET IT TOGETHER!" I ended up being only 15 minutes late for my 6 am check in, which was fine because my surgery was scheduled for 7:30 am and I wasn't even taken into the operating room until 8:30.

Once checked in I was taken back to bay 13 (lucky number, I lied to myself) and had to stop in the rest room for the obligatory give-a-urine-sample-to-check-for-pregnancy-because-you're-a-young-female then change into my lovely hospital gown and slippers. No tiara again. Hospitals, rethink your dressings and add a tiara to this mix! Another nurse came in to run an EKG on me, so I got to show my boobies to the first stranger of the day.

After that the nurse that came to start my IV got mad because I left my urine sample in the bathroom at the direction of the other nurse on staff. I told her I'd be happy to go again if she thought the other was tainted and assured her I wasn't pregnant, but she said it was fine while still muttering angrily under her breath. She came back a little while later and said that the test was negative, which I knew it would be.

My mom works with some of the nurses on staff so I got to meet the head anesthesiologist by chance when he walked by and recognized mom. We shared pictures of our dogs and he took information from me, noting that he would be down to check in during the procedure. My CNA was going to be another one of my mom's co-workers so I knew I was in good hands. Plus my mom showed me her dog via Facebook, and I knew that being they were all dog lovers I was being cared for my some good people.

At around 8 am my OR nurse came down to wheel me to the operating room. He was amazing taking this big bed around sharp corners and didn't even once hit the wall! I told him as much, and he said it was so refreshing that I wasn't nervous. When I got down to the holding area he gave me a newspaper to kill some time. I was reading about the Philadelphia Marathon which was the day before, and wouldn't you know that the one runner they interviewed was from Poughkeepsie, NY?! I had all good vibes at that point.

My doctor came around 8:15 am to go over everything with me. He then mentioned how there is the possibility that if this extra pathway is too close to the heart valve and that valve ends up getting closed too, I'm going to need a pace maker. OH, OKAY WAY TO DROP THAT ON ME RIGHT BEFORE SURGERY! He assured me this had never happened to him, but since it's a slight possibility he had to advise me of it. FANTASTIC BRO.

The OR nurse came back, said he'd be wheeling me to right outside the OR as I'd have to walk in, and wouldn't you know he hits my bed on the wall! One of the docs called him out on it, but I took the blame and told him I jinxed the poor guy by commenting on his smooth bed navigation skills earlier. It felt like a walk of shame as I tried not to moon everyone on the short walk to the OR while clenching the back of my hospital gown closed.

I did have to moon everyone in the room as I got on the table for them to prep me. I told them to enjoy the view which made them laugh and comment that I was going to be a fun patient. The drugs they gave me were magical! I remember they put electrodes on my back, but apparently they put some on my front too. That must have been after the drugs so if you don't remember a room full of strangers seeing your boobs, did it really even happen? I digress.

My CNA told me she'd be injecting something that would make me feel like I had a few drinks. As we were discussing my favorite drink of the moment (dirty martini) and I was describing the different amazing olive types (blue cheese stuffed or gorgonzola stuffed oh my gosh so delicious) that shit hit my brain and it's the last thing I remember. Apparently as the nurse was prepping me I thought it was my dog. I'm guessing the sterilizing agent was cold and wet, just like his nose in these chillier months. I'm sure they had a good laugh over that.

For some reason I didn't realize they were LITERALLY going in for this procedure at my groin. I had thought my leg would be the access point just close to my groin. Negative, I have two tiny entry points on either side of my lady bits. I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful I was to have gotten that bikini wax. I told my recovery nurse as much. I'm pretty sure she thought it was the drugs talking. It wasn't.

Overall I feel really good I'm just sore at my incision sites. Due to my sensitive skin I've got the blotches outlines of ALL the electrodes over my back and chest which itch like hell and look incredibly sexy let me tell you. I can't stand for too long as it's uncomfortable, but if that's the worst part for a couple days I'll take it!

I have to say THANK YOU to everyone for your prayers and well wishes! They truly helped me and I felt all the love! A special thank you to my husband, mom, and aunt who served as my entourage at the hospital and helped me through the day. My doctors and nurses were just fantastic at the hospital; I couldn't have gotten better care. I'm the luckiest girl in the world to have such amazing people in my life.

This cold though, has outstayed it's welcome. Get out of here now before my husband kills me with all the hacking and nose blowing I'm doing. It's too early for Christmas but I really don't need Santa to confuse me and my red nose for Rudolph.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Winner: Fastest Stress Test!

My 86 year old grandfather and I had a unique bonding experience earlier this week as we apparently go to the same heart practice. My stress test was Thursday so he was giving me the low down of the last time he did his stress test on a treadmill. My dad asked me twice if I'd be okay to drive myself. I told him and my mom there's no way I'm going to feel any worse after as stress test then I do after a half marathon. I was right and I didn't lose any toe nails (the two from my September half marathon are barely hanging on).

The stress echo was not bad at all. Granted this is from a girl who bikes 65 miles and runs half marathons for fun. And if they really wanted to see what my heart could do they should strap a monitor on for one of Rhonda's kettle bell classes. They'd probably have a heart attack just reading the results, amIright?!

That being said, I was the youngest person in that waiting room by at least 40-50 years. I'm pretty sure all the other patients thought I was just waiting there for someone. Imagine their surprises when they call my name as the patient. Needless to say the nurses and doctor were just not ready for this jelly.

I knew I had to be on a treadmill so as instructed I wore my usual gym attire: workout pants, running sneakers, sports bra, and t-shirt (a nice one, without holes or stains! My mom would be so proud!)

I got to the back room and my lovely nurse Jackie tells me I have to take everything off on top. EVERYTHING. No bras allowed. I have to do this test bra-less. I was thoroughly unprepared for this situation and hoping I wouldn't be leaving with a black eye.

Fine, I take off my top. At least at the GYN your mentally prepared to show your boobs to a stranger. Then she wipes me down with rubbing alcohol and gel for the nodes. My skin is ridiculously sensitive so all I'm thinking about is how splotchy I'm going to be later. She proceeds to stick a billion 8-10 different nodes on me.

I then have to put on a crop top gown, opening front, and trot to the testing room. The lights were off but the monitors in the room gave a romantic glow. She strapped a fanny pack type reader on me and connected all the nodes to wires which transmitted my heart beats to the faaaaaancy computer. The tech told me to lay on my left side with my arm up. I told her to just wake me if I fell asleep. She took an ultra sound of my heart from the top of my chest and rib cage. It was too short for a nap, I told her as much when she finished.

My nurse told me to sit up and informed me that she'd be putting another other crop top gown on with the opening in the back in order to cover me more for the testing. I asked for a tiara so it would match my lovely gown, but she laughed and said they didn't have any. I told her I want to wave to my adoring people from the treadmill and that they should have one! The blood pressure cuff just completed my attire. I spared you all photos. You're welcome.

Then the doctor came in and asked if I knew why I was here. I told him I have WPW Syndrome, and my doctor needed to see if the valve was closing. He looks at me, eyebrow raised, "Well valve doesn't sound right", and I was all, "maybe to see if the extra pathway closing?" He said that sounds correct, and I told him I sell insurance so medical terms go over my head. My nurse informed him I wanted a tiara, and he started laughing. After reading the notes, he confirmed it was the pathway closing to watch for, and he'd monitor me closely.

They said I had a great attitude as I was all smiles and jokes on the treadmill. I mean, it's not like I planned to have a heart problem, so what can I do about it other then what the doctor recommends? It's just my personality I suppose (if you don't know me, my clients constantly ask if I'm always like this or do I 10 cups of coffee a day? I don't. I'm just overly happy. Or positive. Or crazy. I don't know I haven't been officially diagnosed). They essentially offered me a job right on the spot because they loved how happy and bubbly I was, but I don't think insurance knowledge translates to whatever nuclear medicine is (unless I get to blow stuff up, then I'll make it work!)

The doctor monitoring me is a composer by night and serenaded us through the whole stress test....WHICH TOOK ALL OF 5 MINUTES. I don't mess around. After they got my heart rate up I jumped back on the table for them to ultra sound my heart again. The nurses said I was the fastest and most fun stress echo of the day. But hey, when you work with old, grumpy people who don't want to be at the doctor's in the first place, I guess I'm just a breath of fresh air.

The doc said my heart muscle looks good but he has to study the scans closer to see about the extra electrical pathway. He said I will get a full report. But while I was sitting post test and they're letting my heart rate come down, something happened on the screen that made the doctor go, "well that's interesting." Which is totally fine and nothing to worry about, right?!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This too shall pass...

Sexy heart monitor nodes
I've been sitting on this post for awhile because I feel like I'm coming off completely scatter brained and can't seem to cohesively explain everything that's coming up for me.
But here goes nothing.

I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and God only gives you what you can handle. Apparently He thinks I'm a rock star cause life just went topsy-turvey in a matter of weeks.

Last week I met with my EP heart specialist and based on my EKG's and the diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, he scheduled an EP Study and possible ablation in a month.

My stress echo is just two weeks away to observe whether this extra electrical pathway is closing because otherwise two pathways of electric conduction in the heart is no bueno. Although I could live the rest of my life healthily with no side effects my biggest risk is something called SVT. Abbreviations seem to never end well in the medical community and WEBMD confirms SVT is bad, thus the procedure my doctor scheduled. It consists of mapping out my heart as the EKG results seem to indicate that this extra pathway may be too close to my 'regular' one to even consider closing. Good times.

I realized I hadn't asked before if I could keep living my life as I've been (ie: drink coffee, alcohol, run, lift weights) but I've been cleared to do all my normal activities. My 24 hour heart monitor showed no extra abnormalities. Bikini wax is scheduled (your welcome doctor/nurse/prep nurse/whoever else needs to be near the general vicinity of lady bits for this procedure).

The nurse who scheduled me at Lordes Hospital was fantastic. The procedure is on a Monday and I have an event that following Thursday which I refuse to miss (stress management panel, helloooooo I desperately need some techniques). She said it's 1-2 days recovery and I should be cleared to attend. She mentioned that the first day after I'll be pretty uncomfortable but then there will just be a large bruise. I told her I wasn't worried since I don't have a photo shoot coming up any time soon. Because when I'm overwhelmed I make ENTIRELY INAPPROPRIATE COMMENTS. At least we shared a good laugh over it.  I was impressed by her thoughtfulness and willingness to make this a simple process as she even helped re-arrange a couple follow up visits that were already on my itinerary.

I have to get new blood work drawn in a couple weeks. Apparently the blood work I had drawn two weeks ago will be outdated by then. Who knew that my blood work had a shorter shelf life then most of the condiments in my fridge?!

I admitted to Nick that which I've been denying anyone one else: "I'm scared". Logically I know I shouldn't be worried. The doctor assures me I'm going to be fine. He's outlined the procedure and what I should expect. It's not like this will be my first procedure going under. I had knee surgery when I was 13. I've had my wisdom teeth removed. I'm in good hands. I trust my doctors and the hospital they have me going to. I'm lucky enough to have associates from where my mom works who will be there and keeping an extra eye on me that day. I'm going to have an entourage consisting of my mom and husband at the hospital. My dad has offered to drive me to different appointments. And I'm incredibly lucky to have that support system.

But it's my HEART. So I can't help but me a little nervous. I know people have gone through worse. Heck my own grandfather had bypass surgery.

I'm just trying to stay positive and take it one day at a time. My surgery is scheduled for November 18th. It's my mom's birthday and one of my best friend's sister is having her 3rd baby boy that day. So that has got to be all good ju-ju, positive vibes, and I have nothing to worry about, right?

Because if nothing else, I get a few days off to be pampered and snuggle with this little face:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's Electric

EKG - my frienemy
If you would have told me earlier this year that at age 27 I'd be dealing with a heart condition even though I'm active and overall pretty healthy, I would have laughed, told you to stop being such a worrywart, and taken another shot of vodka. In a week's time I went from trying to figure out where to put my last half marathon finisher's medal to having to make a manila folder for all my medical paperwork because it's compiling so quickly. My calendar is filling with appointments to the point that I almost had a mini-meltdown at work when it didn't load properly and I thought everything had been deleted. I already told my husband to send me back for a younger model (paging Tiger Woods, see hilarious SNL skit here, skip to 3:00 mark).

As of my doctor appointment Monday I officially have Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, or as my brother jokes some made up condition that conveniently requires more testing. Basically the electric running from the atrium to the ventricle in my heart is working (thanks Google), but I have an extra electric pathway that shouldn't be there (does that mean I'm at a greater risk for static electricity?) It's nothing I've done, eaten, or taken;  it's just one of those 'things'. As heart issues run rampant in my family it's not completely surprising that I have a problem. My dad, who loves to remind us how he has high blood pressure, welcomed me to the D'Agostino Heart Club. I'm still waiting for my membership card.

Doctors assure me it's fixable but not before I have a series of tests done. First comes the 24 hour heart monitor next week. Apparently you can't shower until it's taken back off. Fantastic. Then I have to meet with a different heart doctor, a specialist that deals with electrical problems. What? That's not what an EP doctor stands for?! No, thanks to Jenn I now know it stands for electrophysiology because she's the smartest.  Then comes the echo stress test early next month. Joy. All I can picture is running on a treadmill and a room full of nurses staring at me as I try to not show what a terribly slow runner I am. Or trip and fall pulling what I'm imaging are about 112 different wire hookups from my body.

Finally the doctor will decide based on the test results as to whether I will be on a low dosage of medication or if I need to have a minor procedure to have the extra pathway closed (or ablated or something STOP THROWING MEDIAL TERMS AT ME LIKE I WASN'T A COMM MAJOR). Apparently for the ablation it's a cardiac catheter procedure so they make a small incision near my groin and go from there. My first thought being the logical sane ridiculous individual I am is that I need a bikini wax ASAP.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Doctor Time

It has been a zillion years since I've been to a general doctor. That stems from the fact that I am lucky enough to rarely get sick. Mostly though it's because my mom is a nurse which means I was raised that unless I'm bleeding to the point that a band-aid can't fix me or I have an appendage hanging off me, I really don't need the doctor and something over the counter will do.

But unfortunately I'm getting older. I have a family history of herediatry health problems that even the healthiest members cannot escape the gene pool infiltration. So in the necessity of preventative medicine I wanted to get a baseline with a practice and go from there.

Everything looked great in my checkup including my blood pressure which I've managed to lower extraordinarily since the last time I gave blood in March. Simple diet and exercise were my trick! Except that I've gained back 7 of those 20 pounds I lost. I'm pretty sure the doctor's scale is miscalculated because that's not what my at home scale said this morning (hashtag, lies I tell myself). But it's OKAY because I'm back on the straight and narrow to eating healthy, goals for weight loss, and exercising hard core. Weight lifting is your friend ladies!! 

The main problem I am having which caused me to finally call the doctor is that I've been experiencing chest tightness when I get stressed. This only happens a few times a month and usually just at work, so not nearly enough to be medicated. My doctor ordered an EKG to be safe. Have you ever seen the Matrix? That's what I felt like being hooked up to all the moduals. I don't think the nurse appreciated my sci-fi reference. I'm  hilarious people get with it!!
(Sidenote: have you seen how they take your temperature now?! It's some magical little wand they swipe over your forehead and voila! Body temperature! I was geeking out).

The results found a possible irregularity so I'm being sent to a cardiologist. This is a precautionary measure at most and I was advised not to worry. I'm with their conclusion in that I'd rather be safe and a cardiologist tell me it's nothing, my doctor is just a crazy lady then sorry if it's something serious that should have been treated immediately once discovered. 

Since I could only remember part of the phrase of the condition I may possibly have, I, being a good psychopath patient and wanting the most accurate information, Googled piecemeal wording until I found the full term I remember her saying.

Apparently it's "possibly" Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, and the little dip they show on the Wiki page is definitely what is on my EKG printout. (OBVIOUSLY, BECAUSE WIKIPEDIA IS SO ACCURATE).

So excuse me while I go WEBMD the heck out of this and make up all kinds of problems I don't really have and cry over the hypothetical solutions.

Being an adult is awesome. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

We're only half crazy

Yesterday I ran my first half marathon in 2 years. It was the worst time I've ever run. I don't even care. I was 3 minutes slower then my last half marathon in Atlantic City, which was almost 10 minutes slower then the first one I ran, this exact race in 2011, the Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon.

I'm not even going to blame it on the literally only 8 weeks I had to train. Granted, I've taken off 20 pounds since January, but this summer I've been slacking. Beer, BBQ's, and lots of side dishes. I won't apologize because I know that summer is always the hardest for me to take off weight. I LOVE that grilled food and visiting with friends over a few beverages. In fact I'm thrilled that I was even able to just maintain my weight!

Kristen and I decided to do this race last minute, she found an 8 week training program, and off we went with our training.

Kristen drove down and spent the Saturday overnight with me. We were ready that morning having had a healthy, home cooked meal the night before and good night's sleep. We had breakfast and left for the race with plenty of time to spare. However parking ended up being a complete fiasco. I'm lucky in that most of the races I do my parents end up dropping me off at the start and meeting me at the finish. This was the first race I've ever had to park for myself and I thought I was prepared.

The first parking garage we got to we were told by the attendant still had about 5 open spots at the top. We drove in circles to the top floor but got an uneasy feeling as we saw about 7 cars on their way back down as we made our way up. Needless to say the top had no spots and we had to exit. We sat in traffic for the next parking garage literally only a quarter mile down the way with open spots we could see for the next 20 minutes.

We had our cash ready for the attendant, parked at the spots near the end of the lot, and made our way to the race with minutes to spare. Kristen and I weren't in an early corral so we knew that not being in line for 8 am wasn't a problem. We made a quick pit-stop to the port-o-potties and made our way to our assigned corral.

I'm always amazed that in a crowd of 20,000 people between runners and spectators I manage to repeatedly run into someone I know. This time even though we were running spectacularly behind I managed to run into my high school math teacher Mrs. Cocuzza as she was making her way to the start line. We exchanged good luck hugs. It truly blows my mind how something like that is even possible with all the people there.

We had a perfect running morning: cool weather and sunny. My favorite thing to do (and way to distract myself) is look for signs and choose my favorites to remember later. They are as follows:
- Hurry up Dave the Eagles play at 1 pm (this was legitimately just past the start line. I couldn't help but laugh)
- My last half marathon was on Netflix. Good luck!
- Smile! You're faster then everyone behind you
- And my favorite at every race because it makes me smile: Worst Parade Ever.

Around mile 8 someone was dressed like Mr. Incredible and people were stopping to take photos with him.
The signage from the Rock & Roll Marathon was pretty motivating too:
- Chuck Norris never walked a half marathon
- A half marathon is just a 5K with a 10 mile warm-up

This year more then ever I noticed a lot of dad's/kids on the sidelines at certain miles cheering for their mommies. That was so heartwarming to see the kids cheering for their mom and high fiving her as she ran past!

I must say I was feeling great up to mile 10, which is when my body started revolting.
I knew my sneakers were up there with mileage (which reminds me of an awesome shirt I saw someone wearing: my sneakers have more miles then my car), but I found out quickly how right I was. Around mile 4 I felt a blister forming on the ball of my right foot. Not great times. Mile 10 was when my hips started cramping, Mile 11 my quads, and Mile 12 my calves. I had water at some of the rest stops and taken my GU, but it still wasn't enough.

Finishing a distance race for me is always emotional, even as it's been described as the 'runner's high'. I wish I could explain it because I know exactly how I'm going to feel, but am powerless to stop it. It's completely overwhelming and nothing I can do will stop the tears from flowing. I knew once I passed the 13 mile marker this was the home stretch. The crowd had thickened, and runners around me had their family groups cheering for them. I saw a sign that read 'If your feet are hurting run with your heart.' I immediately started to tear up.

Kristen and I post race!
Everything was hurting me at that point. I have to say a huge THANK YOU to my best friend Colleen who came out and shouted my name as I was approaching the finish. It's indescribable what you feel when a familiar face calls your name, especially your best friend of 20+ years, as you're surging to the finish. Her yelling out my name gave me the last burst of energy to push through. I crossed the line with tears in my eyes. Like I said I can't even put into words what it feels like to complete 13.1 miles. I've cried all 3 times I've finished the half marathon

Kristen deserves a HUGE congratulations as she kicked ass especially after winning for the second year the cross fit games at her studio on Saturday and then ran this half marathon Sunday. We met up at our designated spot and exchanged stories from our race, both emotional and happy that we finished.

My new goal for the coming year is to strengthen my hips and core, as well as cut 15 minutes off my time. I unfortunately can't run the AC half in October due to weddings, but I will be doing lots of squats (cue Lil John/LMAFO 'Shots' for motivation) and trying to take off more weight. I want to run another half in the spring or next fall. I'm a much better runner in cooler weather so the upcoming months offer me an opportunity to improve my time.

Colleen and I found out at packet pick up that there is a Hot Chocolate Run (15/5K, I'm going for 15k) which when you finish you receive a mug full of snacks and melted chocolate to dip it in. Let's be real people, I'm doing that run solely because it will be a fantastic prep for Broad Street the following month. Not because I'm a chocoholic and they give you a large cup of that at the end...which would be a ridiculous reason just to do a run.... :)
Brunettes do it better runners!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My apology to coffee

Mug Shot
My dearest, sweetest, newest friend,

I must apologize to you coffee. I used to be such a hater. How I managed to get through 27 years without drinking the amazing liquid that you are is completely beyond me.

Okay well I know how I avoided you; my parent's aren't coffee drinkers and thus, although I got to enjoy your sweet aroma while around my grandparents, I still couldn't cross the threshold of drinking you.

As I got older and tried you on different occasions I always felt you were too bitter.  I had no idea that I was the bitter one. No amount of cream and sugar could sweeten you up for me. I swore allegiance to my tea and would not come over to your dark side.

That all changed when we got our puppy. Ah yes, the little darling he is had me up at 4:30 am, 7 days a week when he first arrived. I had to start my day at 4:30 am, work until 5:00 pm, then do household chores, squeeze in a workout, and partake in general adult actives with friends. It was a gloomy time.

I needed something to keep me going; my beloved tea just wasn't doing the job. So I finally gave in and tried you again coffee.

And you were delicious.
Such sweet nectar of the gods that keeps me going whether it's my first cup at 7 am or my third second at 3 pm.

Now I must say I feel I'm addicted to you coffee. In all your shapes and forms. Whether it's from the Kuerig or a pot, crappy diner coffee or lattes from an overpriced shop, I no longer discriminate.

So once again coffee, I'm sorry I've hated you all these years.
I hope you can accept my apology and allow me to have you in my life daily, to make up for lost time.

Lots of Love,
Natalie

P.S. Tea, don't you worry. You'll still be my relaxing, night time beverage of choice as the evenings continue to get cooler!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Accident prone

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, but two weeks ago I had one hell of a 24 hour period. Cracking my tooth, falling and scraping myself up on my run, AND getting a nail in my tire/flat tire all within 24 hours has got to be some kind of new record for testing one's patience.

I have one lonely cavity metal filling in my mouth from ages ago. One. Years of braces and retainers have taught me to keep up with my dental situation because I do NOT want to repeat any of those scenarios again. My tooth crack isn't even a good story. You know how you feel like something is caught in your tooth and you run your tongue over it? Apparently I have the same super strength tongue as the Hulk because boop, off popped a piece of that cavity filled tooth. That was Monday night.

Leg modeling is not in my future.
Tuesday morning I was supposed to just go on a simple 2 mile run since I have lots of time limited time to train for this half marathon. It was a picture perfect morning; super cool for August and early enough that it wasn't too sunny. I ran my first mile at my race pace. And then about another quarter mile up I rolled over on my ankle, couldn't catch myself, fell, and scraped my knees. Luckily I was rounding my block so didn't have to hobble too far home. Now I'm 27 going on 5. Who scrapes their knees at this age?! I'm a hot mess.

I was truly FINE. I wore an ankle brace the next couple days just to minimize swelling and stabilize my ankle. My knees were the worst and even those were nothing that band-aids and neosporin couldn't cure.

That same day I was coming home from work and had to get ready for a dinner party as we were having a couple friends of ours over. I pull into my garage, get out of my car, and hear a hissing sound. Loud hissing like air coming out of the tire. I check my back tire and there's a huge nail sticking out of it. Great. Now I need to deal with my tire on top of getting my food ready for the guests showing up in a hour. Just fantastic.

But, as I said I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so even though I *almost* had a mini melt down in my kitchen, here's the positive aspect of these three events:

1. By chipping my tooth I had to have the filling replaced. My dentist was able to see me that following day and I was given the choice to have it fixed with the tooth colored filling instead of the ugly metal, which I have been wanting to do for quite some time. Of course, I haven't gotten my co-pay yet so maybe this won't be all that great. We'll see.

2. Even though this isn't close to being scientifically true, apparently my body needed a break and I subconsciously hurt myself. I went right from my 65 mile Tour de Shore Training into Half Marathon Training. By twisting my ankle I was forced to take a break, even if it was only for 4 days. Thanks to wearing the brace I was able to go right back on my running schedule that following Sunday and have been going ever since. Giddy up, exactly 4 weeks from today is the race!

3. At least I discovered my flat tire in the evening, instead of the following morning when I had to be somewhere at a specific time. I have free roadside with my vehicle lease so I just called and they sent someone out to put on my spare for me leaving me able to entertain my guests. I was able to get the tire plugged at a local shop and didn't have to purchase a new one.

Everything turned out just fine in the end and they say bad things only happen in threes. So I'm all set for at least the next month...I hope.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tour de Awesome

Terri and I just arriving!
Well I survived my third time biking the Tour de Shore from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. I may not have kept up with my riding buddies Terri and Jeff (who finished faster then last year you go guys!) but hell I got that shit done.

For barely training at all this year, I finished in about the same time I did last year. And I trained pretty hard last year considering the debacle that was my first year riding. I was thrilled to say the least. My quads disagreed immediately following the ride. However I must say that this is the least sore/recovery time I've needed in all my rides. I'm two days post ride and feeling quite fine. It's amazing how many times I wanted to just quit and I can see now what a mental struggle competing against the voice in your head is; your body is fine to keep going but you have to be able to silence that little voice inside your head encouraging you to quit.


Terri, Jeff, and myself aka
 the crazy people who do this year after year
Lots of things I learned from my past experiences made this third ride better. For one, the camel back water pack is essential. I packed an extra frozen Gatorade in that as well, and a half frozen/cold one on my bike. Those made all the difference in keeping me hydrated. I was truly lucky in that the weather was overcast and cool for July which improved my timing immensely. The day before I decided to charge my old school iPod (I'm talking click-wheel technology what what!) and use that to listen to music on my ride, as I figured I'd keep my phone on me as a backup/just emergency use. Riding to music the whole way definitely helped keep me motivated.

The hardest stretch for me was after I hit the 30 mile mark. I made it feeling great from Philly to Hammonton, and stopped at the second rest stop to refill my supplies and get some fuel in me. From there you get on Moss Mill Road and ride it for what seems like an eternity. For me it was hardest getting from there to the 4th and final rest stop before entering Atlantic City. As I said, I didn't keep up with my riding buddies but had my headphones in so I never minded riding alone. But then your quads start burning. And your 'seat' hurts. I'm not talking uncomfortable, I'm talking am-I-sure-I'm-not-permanently-damaging-something? hurt. And that voice in your head pipes up, 'You know you can stop and get in a support van and they'll take you the rest of the way';  'You don't need to do this'; 'Why are you even doing this?'; 'This hurts, my seat hurts, your quads are cramping. Just stop now';  'Why am I here?'

Luckily, I had many factors that helped me push through. For one, my fellow riders. It's almost like people would pass me and could see the thought bubble above me processing the idea to call it quits. People would pass me and ask 'how you doing'? or 'hang in there you're doing great'. Or I'd overhear other's conversations and they'd make me laugh. One in particular was a gentleman telling his friends how he was coaxing his hamstrings to just 'make it through this!'  Just little words of encouragement like that gave me the pep I needed to push those thoughts out quitting out of my head.

At one point before the 4th rest stop I was about to throw in the towel, and then I saw the 1 mile to the rest stop sign (sidebar, kudos to Tour de Shore for having those mile markers this year). It was all I needed. How could I face everyone waiting at the end for me by coming out of a VAN? I'd be disappointed in myself, and although I know my friends and family would support me no matter what, I'd be embarrassed to say I had to stop.

When I got to the 4th rest stop and they kept encouraging us that it was only 13 miles until Atlantic City.  I was pumped. How could I quit now I'd made it this far? I changed my playlist to get my motivation going, and rode those 13 miles into AC. You know what's fun when you're exhausted and drained? The wind blowing off the ocean AGAINST you. Oh yes, it was a glorious, against the wind 13 miles. But my main accomplishment this year is the bridge leading into AC.

You are spent. Your quads are cramping. You are mentally and physically fatigued. And your last major quest is having to pedal up a bridge to get into the city to your final destination. It's literally torture. I had hopped off my bike and walked up this final mountain the past 2 years because my legs wouldn't support me to pedal up it. This year, I RODE OVER IT. I had all intentions of hopping off my bike again and walking it. But no. This year there were other riders with me. This year I wasn't alone on the bridge. This year I made it up and over even though my quads screamed at me to stop. I was elated. I pedaled as fast as I could to get to the finish to see my family and friends waiting for me.

Literally after stepping off my bike.
Which is why I look like I might die
Overall I was so thrilled to do this ride again. I learned so much about myself. About how even though I didn't train as much as I should have, by keeping up with my overall fitness and losing weight from last year, those were the main contributors of my successful ride and quicker recovery time. I learned how that little voice in your head really likes to fuck with you. That voice wants you to quit and just give up when the going gets tough. But when you're able to push past it, it's amazing how well you can do.

I'm planning to start training for my half marathon starting this weekend. I'm going to remember just how nasty that little voice can be, but if you just push through you can squash it and accomplish feats you never thought you could. 

There is nothing flattering about bike shorts people!








Saturday, July 27, 2013

Exercise please!

Alright, truth time. I have been so slacking on my fitness. Wah wah.

All smiles pre-run!

Life has been is crazy. Between work and the house and   traveling and summer plans and the puppy, it's nuts! That's   no excuse I know, but it's the one I'm using to justify myself until tomorrow.

The last run I did was a 5K over a month ago for Special   Olympics. It was however my second best timed 5K on   that Tuesday morning. My motivation? BACON. No   seriously, it's literally the worlds BEST buffet breakfast ever after the run, and I wanted bacon so badly I could taste it.   Okay, so maybe it's all in my head after an exhausting run   following days of booze and a conference, but if it made me run faster then it worked! As always the breakfast was as   mouth watering-ly delicious and everything I ever hoped for, with extra bacon as a reward.

I am signed up for the Tour de Shore tomorrow and have done *minimal* bike riding. And by minimal biking I mean cramming a ride in at least daily of some mileage to make up for my lack of training. Hell I didn't even get a bike tire pump until the end of June. We were spoiled before when we lived in H-town and would just use my parents air compressor to fill our tires when they got low. Slow clap for me for finally getting in the game. 

I've just decided to go out tomorrow and have fun. It's my third year doing the ride so I pretty much know what to expect at this point (famous last words) and feel as though  I'll be fine for the 65 mile trek (hashtag, lies I tell myself). It's surprisingly hilly where I moved which is made my training, although shorter, much more intense.  I know I can do it even with only a month's worth of training because I've been working hard since January to improve my overall fitness. Even with my past months slacking I've been able to maintain my weight loss, and that's a hell of a lot better then gaining!

Kristen (the lovely lady in the photo above) talked me into doing the Rock n'Roll Half Marathon in Philly September 15th. Which is great because it will force me to train and get off my lazy butt. I'm going to recover from my ride this week and jump straight into running again. In August. So does anyone have a great 6 week crash course for Half Marathon Training? Because obviously I'm taking crazy pills.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Washington DC Trip

All the way back in April I had the privilege of going to Washington DC with an association I'm a part of for the Federal Legislative Summit. We got the opportunity to meet with members of Congress to present our issues and you don't really care so I'm not going to bore you with details.

Instead I'll give you some of the (ridiculously fun) highlights:
I drove to Washington as it's only about 3 hours from home and I'm used to rides longer then that as my husband and I did that every other weekend to upstate NY while we were dating.
While driving in I see what I 'think' is a large gaggle of geese flying in a V formation. When I look to my right however IT'S A HUGE AIRPLANE FLYING OVER THE HIGHWAY as apparently, the hotel I'm approaching (and staying at) is next door to the airport.  I mean sure I'm used low flying planes living so close to Philly, but I didn't realize my proximity to the airport at that point and needless to say it took me by surprise.

We got to have dinner at this amazing restaurant called Capital Grill. I know, there's one right here in Cherry Hill but I don't make that kind of dough, OKAY?! Five words: Blue-Cheese Stuffed Olive Dirty Martini (is that six? who cares!) Lip smacking good. Also the funniest were the three of us from the group trying to order different levels of dirty martini's at the bar. The bartender just looks at us, goes First, Second, and Third base? I raised my hand to third because I love my martini's extra dirty. Best explanation of how dirty you want your martini I've heard YET.

Anyway, we had the most ridiculous taxi ride there but the most exciting was when we took a  limo back to the hotel. I promised I wouldn't post photos as to ruin anyone's crystal clear reputation. Yes my friends we had a LIMO driver with down time stop and drive our thoroughly stuffed selves back to the hotel. It was AWESOME yet random experience.

The next morning was our meetings with Congress. I was innocently making my way down the hallway to find the ladies room before we departed for the Capital, and there were staff taking video interviews of our thoughts being at the Federal Summit. I have to laugh because they asked me to say a few words as I was walking by and I, of course, happily obliged to give an interview. It's amazing how many times on-camera opportunities have come into my life since graduating with my Communications degree even though I'm not working in the 'communications' field. The staff was grateful and impressed with my interview. I told them I'd sign autographs later.

The Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom and really are quite beautiful. The last group I was assigned to had the opportunity to meet with our Congressman IN a private meeting room within the Capital Building right before he went to speak on the Floor. It incredible to have that opportunity and get a behind the scenes look at our government's buildings. The nerd in me was geeking out in a big way, and I'm not even that political.

You know what's the best way to top off a trip?! Being stuck in traffic and it taking 4 hours to get home after a long day. Mhmm, but I wouldn't have changed any of it for the world, except maybe taking a train I could sleep on my way home. But I was extremely grateful for the bag of snacks they gave us to get through the day!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Embracing the Chaos

It's been only only a month since my last post but as I was writing I swore it was longer.
Life has just been too darn hectic.
To boot I've had my grumpy pants on while I'm dealing with all of it and I'll readily admit that.  I've been letting the stress take over me to the point that I feel completely overwhelmed and lost.

But I woke up this morning and decided I need to change my outlook.

Instead of resisting and letting the hectic-ness of life get to me, I need to just embrace the chaos. It's completely out of my control what walks through my door each day.

I decided I'm going to literally start living the serenity prayer today and every day going forward. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

I'm going to control what I can, and just take deep breaths when dealing with what I can't. And I will ask for help when I need it. Now it being the end of the day, I can admit it's been one of the most hectic yet productive days I've had in awhile. Because I've accepted that I'm not in control at this point, and need to just let things happen as they may.

I am a woman, I am strong, and I can handle whatever life continues to throw at me.
But a dirty martini at the end of the day never hurt me either.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Disappointed

Today was the Broad Street Run. Congrats to all those that participated! You had such a gorgeous race day!

I'm not going to lie, my mom and I were sitting at dinner Friday night both saying how disappointed we are to not have been running the race this year. And as I saw everyone's posts and photos from today, it only confirmed that feeling.

I personally didn't sign up this year for two reasons:
1. I was leery of the lottery selection and afraid I wouldn't get it (my luck is bad at best)
2. I wasn't physically ready for a 10 mile race

As I've posted before, earlier this year was a wake up call for me to get healthy. And since January I've made it my mission to, and luckily, I have succeeded. I'm 20 pounds down and counting.

So as my mom and I were talking, we decided we are DEFINITELY signing up for Broad Street next year. It's such a fun race and why not participate in something we enjoy?

With the weight loss progress I've made now is the time that I CAN start training to improve my time, which is what I keep reminding myself. I'm already signed up for the Tour de Shore so I can start working on my biking time to keep up with Terri for our ride in July (Lord that woman can PEDAL). I was hoping to run a half marathon in October but with all the weddings I'm attending I just don't think it will work in my schedule this year.

Either way, even if it doesn't happen this year, I'll get there. I'm determined to make the rest of my life a healthy one. I just need to take it one step at a time.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Resolutions - 2nd Goal

Well the scale had a surprise for me this week....I've officially made it to my second goal - I've lost 20 Pounds!!

And yes I know I just wrote a blog about being comfortable with yourself and the way you look but see post here about my wake up call - being told my blood pressure was high. I'm trying to get healthy people, not look emaciated!

Anywho, needless to say I'm proud of myself. I've got 10 more pounds to go until I'd be at a weight that I'd feel comfortable sustaining (aka, at my wedding weight) and 13 more from that to be at my ideal weight.

It has been an emotional ride and I'm slightly embarrassed that I let myself go to get into a position in which I have all this weight to lose. But I keep reminding myself that I'm only human. Life gets crazy, difficult, and different things thrown your way all the time, so I can't be down on myself too much. Especially seeing the progress I've made since January.

A lot of people have been asking me how I'm losing the weight. I hate to break it to you, but it's simple and nothing fancy: diet, exercise and calorie counting. There's no magic pill or drink that I'm ingesting. Just lots of dedication, accountability, sweat, and tears (yes, tears. Do you know how frustrating it is to work your butt off one week and NOT see the scale move, or it goes UP and not down?! I digress).

I'm using the app Lose It! to track everything I'm eating and weigh myself once a week. Even on days I cheat and go WAY over my budgeted calories, I holding myself accountable and track it on the app. Of course I'm trying to make good meal choices, but I'm no where near perfect and every day is not the best. But if I cheat, instead of throwing it all away I try better for the next meal. And if not for the next meal, then the next day. I keep remembering that it's one step at a time because I surely didn't gain all the weight overnight.

I'm motivated by others I see posting their successes or gym workouts all over social media, which by the way good for ALL OF YOU! I'm attending four (yes FOUR) weddings this year and I know with the progress I've made I'll be happy when I see photos from them. I'm thrilled because I had a dress I was hoping would fit for the first wedding in May and when I tried it on last weekend it fit perfectly. And I still have couple weeks to go, so it may even be BIG by that time (here's hoping, but not too big because I have no time to go out and buy a new one!)

Pinterest has been a Godsend since we are on a budget (and thus I'm saving money by not joining a gym), it helps me change up my workouts at home. I don't DREAD getting on the treadmill in my basement everyday when I have a different workout to keep me occupied. I have my own free weights, kettle bells, and yoga matt to mix up the routines and work different muscle groups. Now that it's getting warmer I'm enjoying exploring the neighborhoods near our house as I run through them.

I have to truly thank the woman, Rhonda, who was my trainer for the better part of 2 years from the time I got engaged to my wedding. I'm so grateful for the time she took to teach me about diet, nutrition, and exercise. I'd recommend to everyone that if you haven't worked with a personal trainer before, do it. Even if it's just to learn the right way to lift and get some nutritional information. Although I'm just working out at home, I've used so much of her teachings to help keep me on track. I have to admit that I didn't really 'get it' when I was training with her for my wedding day. Now that I finally do, the pieces are fitting together like she said they would to help me lose weight the healthy way.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Beautiful

First of all, any woman reading this post needs to watch this video.


How aptly visualized by Dove. We women are so harsh on ourselves and our bodies while others see us as we truly are - beautiful. Thanks to a 'size zero' society and the unrealistic expectations on the runway, we will never feel good enough or truly comfortable in our own bodies. 

Which brings me to a question that was asked to me earlier this year: was I watching the Miss America Pageant as the contestant for NJ is a local woman whom I attended high school with? My answer was no as I don't agree with beauty patents for one reason... what is the point of the swimsuit competition other then to objectify the bodies women competing? What purpose does judging contestants on their body serve in enhancing the competition?

Now, before you get all indignant and like 'oh you're just some overweight couch potato who's jealous of them', no. This is just my own personal opinion. This is not a plight against the contestants

First things first, I congratulate all those who got on stage and competed. Especially Miss New Jersey. I've had the pleasure of knowing not only this year's contestant but a few others in the past, and you're all incredible women. They have such beneficial platforms and work towards shedding light on causes greater then themselves.  I support them for their goals and their dreams and what they set out to change. They all amaze me and do more then I could ever hope to accomplish in this short life. I can't imagine the pressure of getting onstage in front of thousands of people AND a television audience and competing against all those other intelligent and talented women. Honestly, I'm in awe of all of you.

Secondly, I am not an overweight coach potato housewife woman who feels the need to belittle women who may look better then me in a swimsuit. I am athletic. I do multiple runs a year benefiting different charities  This July will mark the third time I've biked the 65 mile trek from Philadelphia to Atlantic City to benefit police charities. I'm not telling you this to get a pat on the back. I'm telling you this because I'm in shape. I may not have six pack abs and cut biceps, but I work out daily. I'm comfortable with my body and who I am. I'm all about a healthy lifestyle. But not all of us even with diet and exercise will look like these impossible ideals women are constantly expected to achieve.

So where did this lengthy post come from? I grew up with the Miss America Pageants. Atlantic City is 30 minutes from my house. I think it's a tremendous scholarship opportunity and was happy to hear it is coming back to it's founding home for this year's competition. But in all honesty, we women are constantly bombarded about how we don't have the 'right' look or body type. Let me have this ruminate in your brain for a minute...in the competition,  women's bodies are being judged.

Let me say that again in case you missed it...their BODIES ARE BEING JUDGED in a swim suit and assigned a point system.

A few things got me to this state of mind of not wanting to watch the pageant. I did a local competition, the Junior Miss Pageant, my senior year of high school. It was the first, last, and only 'pageant' type event I've ever done. To compete we had an opening number in business attire, gym routine that we all did in matching t-shirts and shorts, talent portion, 'evening' gown, question portion, and then we were judged and winner awarded. I got runner up and was thrilled with my placement.

My problem is why we are making these smart, talented women have to get in a bathing suit and strut across a stage to be given a certain amount of points. They should, in my opinion, be judged on their talent, how they answer the questions posed, and their involvement just like I was in high school. I mean honestly, how is looking good in a bathing suit enhancing your platform? I just feel like we're continuing to make it OKAY to objectify women and I can't stand it. And guess what, the girl who won the Junior Miss Pageant wasn't a twig. She wasn't super athletic with a tiny waist and toned body. She was a normal, average, beautiful girl who was above average with her involvement and achievements.

I can personally speak to the body image problem. At 17, I was 5'10" and 135 lbs. To give you a hint, the 'normal' weight for a 5'10" female is between 150-163 lbs. I was a dancer, field hockey player, and model. And I thought I was fat. How fucked up is that? I was 15 pounds under the average weight for a female my size and I felt overweight. I'd kill to have a body that's even close to that again but it's so unrealistic (and truly, real men like curves. Christina Hendricks anyone?)

I was going to school and by default working out for 3-4 hours after that between field hockey and dance practices EACH NIGHT.  Now there are girls literally starving themselves to look like what they see on stage and in the magazines and that isn't right. I mean just this week there was a story of Swedish Modeling scouts trying to recruit girls from AN EATING DISORDER CLINIC. I swear I feel like I'm taking crazy pills sometimes when I hear these things.

I guess I'm just worried for my future children, if they happen to be girls. I want better for us women. We need to feel good about who we are and be comfortable with ourselves. If I have daughters, I need to talk positively about myself and let her know that it's okay to love your body and self no matter what shape or size it is, just like my mother did for me.

That's why I love Dove's Campaign for Beauty using women of all shapes and sizes in their commercials and print ads. I love Dove for pointing out in that video above how harshly we as women are on ourselves, because once again we're not living up to the impossible ideal that has been 'set' for us. I'm all about being fit and healthy, but you don't need to look like a pageant queen to feel good about yourself.

Stand up ladies, we are all beautiful and come in all types of shapes and sizes.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!


Holy cow it's already Easter. Happy Easter to those celebrating! Can't believe it's already the end of March, this year is flying by!

Hi mommy.  
You know what's fun? Having to emergently take your dog to the vet. What's funner is when they prescribe meds to cure said dog of skin condition, and said meds make dog throw up. And vet instructs you to give Pepcid an hour before giving said meds to the pooch to get his tummy ready. Mhmm. Want practice for kids? GET A DOG! 

I was silly enough to think that teething was over but Homer's big back teeth growing in. I thought his nipping was bad before, but now my and Nick's arms look like we escaped a psych ward. Good thing he's ADORABLE. Seriously. But look at this face. I just can't even HANDLE it.

I'm adorable mommy you can't be mad at me
Oh you know you named your dog wrong when he AGAIN breaks our apparently rotting fence and ALMOST gets into our other neighbor's yard (who thankfully is fenced in). I feel like he's like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park and trying to find weaknesses in the fence. He's succeeding.  I'm so grateful we have him enrolled in puppy classes and he's able to come to us on command. That worked while we zip tied the fence together. Guess we know what our tax return $$$ is going on this year....

Oh freak snow storm in March, not cool. Go away winter and get your shit together Spring.

Pretty ladies and baseball!
I ran the Philly 5K last Saturday with my BFF Colleen. This is their third year and my third time running it. They finally have gotten their stuff together between a fun course, swag, and organization. My only complant this year was it was cold. Not much you can do about the weather though! But my official time is 32:47 which is like 3 minutes faster then my usual 5K time. SHUT UP I'm excited about it. I'm only 2 lbs away from my second weight goal, but that will be a whole other post once I get there...

Also kudos to the gentleman who took our photo on the field at Citizens Bank Park for the cool down lap and got NONE of the Phillies field in the background. Colleen and I had a good laugh over that!

You got free tickets to a pre-season game so yesterday we had a girl's day at the Phillies game. We met at Xfinity Live for some food and beverages. It was my first time there, and man what a place that is. If you ever get the chance to come to Philly, def check it out before your game. Lots of food, fun, and a beautiful day in the City of Brotherly Love!

I then came home to visit with the siblings and family (minus Mike, and we missed you!) My chest still hurts from laughing so hard. I'm looking forward to more laughs and fun times today!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Because he's black

I'm going to be a proud mama and brag about my dog a little (lot). Homer is doing GREAT. He's improving socially and learning the basic commands we're teaching him. He's gotten somewhat better about the teething situation. I can already see his big teeth coming in so the end is in sight (hopefully). My little boy is growing up already!

Apparently puppies can have skin conditions just like humans and our little man is suffering from a non-contagious one. Our vet is fantastic and although we probably traumatized Homer with the skin scraping, it looks as though his immune system is already fighting to heal it with a medicated shampoo aiding that along. You know what's fun, having to give a dog a medicated bath and let him sit in the suds for 5 minutes. Longest 5 minutes EVER. Unfortunately though I had to take him to said vet today due to some weird behaviors, but luckily it seems to just be his skin condition bothering him and nothing more. Fingers crossed that by adding some antibiotics and keeping up with the medicated shampoo baths he'll be better in about three weeks time.

We've enrolled him into puppy classes at PetSmart and am thrilled with how he is flourishing.  Homer is learning to interact with other dogs, people, and overall socialization. Our trainer even invited us to come to a bonus class on the weekend so he could interact with more and larger sized dogs as she was impressed with how he is progressing. He did amazingly with dogs both large and small is such a friendly puppy towards strangers.

I however noticed something last week that really stuck out and I'm torn as I see it more and more.

When we were looking at dogs to adopt online, I read this article on PetFinder about Black Dog Syndrome (BDS). It mentioned how shelters tend to be over-populated with black dogs and cats as most people like the cute, white, fluffy dogs to match their perfect picket fence and 2.5 kids (how does that statistic even work?! I digress). But I mean really, do people honestly buy into the big, mean, black dog (and or superstitious cat) situation? I was skeptical.

Nick and I didn't care if our dog was white, black, or purple, we just wanted a puppy that would fit in our home and lifestyle. Sure BDS may be a thing, I thought, but who doesn't just love to pet a cute puppy?!

We fell in love with Homer's little face and the rest is history. But I noticed that when we do take him out, some people are hesitant to pet him. Or they'll cross to the other sidewalk if I'm walking him outside. Is it because he's a black dog? Or are they just not dog people? Or is that their normal route and I'm just looking too much into this?

I hate to generalize everyone this way because there are plenty of people who do just come up to us and readily want to pet him. In my non-scientific research it's 50/50. I had one child walking around the store with his dad look at me, and then at Homer, and back at me which is when I told him it was okay to pet him. The boy hesitantly put his hand forward and then pet Homer on the head. His eyes positively lit up when Homer wagged his tail and allowed him to keep petting him quietly.

But then the stigma really stood out last week at puppy class. Part of the training was to stand by the entrance of the store and ask people who come in to pet the dogs so they can learn to take the attention and not jump up. It was Homer and a little white fluffy Maltese named Marble. It was incredible to see how many people flocked to the small fluffy dog and ignored Homer.  One woman specifically readily crouched down to pet Marble, and only hesitantly pet Homer when he went over to her. You could visibly see on her face she was uncomfortable and she readily admitted to us of being afraid of bigger dogs. Homer obviously could tell she was nervous, didn't jump, and just wagged his tail while she pet him.

I was at a loss for words. I thanked the woman for being kind enough to pet him, but my puppy is by no means big. I mean he's bigger then the other dog in the class, but he's still definitely a puppy. Maybe it's just my perception of big? When I see the hesitation I always encourage the the individual to pet him and tell them that Homer is very friendly. Usually that's all the person needs and they reach down to rub him. But it's amazing to see that nervousness or unsurity when I come down an aisle with my dog.

So needless to say I'm trying to break the black dog stigma and show people that Homer is just a kind and friendly dog. Because honestly, look at him. Look at that little sleepy weepy face and tell me that he's not just a little snugglepuffins you want to just squeeze. Don't worry, I'll do it for you.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dedication

Sorry for the picture quality but I was creeping on them
See that person in the bright yellow vest next to the fence? They're running in the road.
I see them every single morning I drive to work.
Literally. 5 days a week.
When it's sunny.
When it's raining.
When it's snowing.
If it's cold.
If it's warm (I'm assuming, we only moved into the house in September).
Either running or power walking down this road in their bright yellow vest.

I have no idea if this person is male or female. I guess I'll find that out as the weather gets warmer.

Talk about dedication. He/she makes no excuses when it comes to their own personal fitness.

I don't think I have that much dedication to anything other then maybe Facebook stalking (whaaaaat?! Just kidding. Or am I...?)

It's just inspiring to see this person out there every single day obviously doing something they enjoy no matter what weather. I decided to use this individual to help motivate myself and get my butt in gear on those mornings when the bed is so warm and comfortable that I just don't want to get up.  Especially because I just have to walk down to the treadmill in my basement. I mean, if he/she can exercise outside in the snow, what's my excuse for not making it to the gosh darn basement?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Audio Books

Let's start this with my husband surprised me with a Kindle Fire HD for Christmas. I was literally not expecting this present as I still love and regularly use my original Kindle, but was thrilled nonetheless when I received it.

With my new Kindle I keep getting reminder emails that I'm entitled to one free audio book from Audible. Here's my problem with essentially the way my brain operates.

In all my craziness last fall, I had attended this amazing Dynamics of Sales class in Buffalo with one of our insurance companies. The gentleman I sat next to for the duration of class mentions how he really likes audio books and it's his preferred 'reading' method. I was all I don't know because I love reading and the physical HOLDING of a book aka building my own personal library (nerd alert). Reading in the digital format of the Kindle is even a stretch for me.

When really, thanks to these emails and the suggestions of my friend, here's the way my lovely brain operates on how listening to books would go:

Said individual (moi) would be listening to the audio book in car, get pulled over or into a minor accident (just my luck), can't get audio book to shut off at very awkward/inappropriate scene (think 50 Shades, not that I have them on my Kindle so I can look studious but really I'm not), just for officer/ambulance squad/stranger to judge me on my book. Exactly like when you're watching movie/TV alone and when the single sex scene in the ENTIRE show comes on your parents happen to walk in. Awkward, yet hilarious situation would ensue because that is exactly what would happen to me. "License, registration and ma'am please shut off your mommy porn".

Which is kind of how I feel about certain songs on my iPod. Not the fun guilty pleasure ones (aka Spice Girls) but you know, the weird ones that you're like oh gosh I hope my headphones aren't too loud because if anyone knew I was listening to this I'd never hear the end of it. I'm worried that if I'm listening to them and suddenly  have a medical emergency and in the midst of the craziness of strangers trying to help me (because I would be so lucky that people are that kind) the headphones get disconnected and blaring through comes "Sk8r  Boi" from Avril Lavinge. Or the innocent bystanders go to pause my iPod for me and see I'm listening to "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion. And then all these people judge me for my SONG CHOICES.

I think I'll stick with my reading to myself thank you and skipping my weird guilty pleasure songs while in public to avoid all this mess that my imagination conjures up. My brain is such an awesome place to be.

On a side note, puppy classes start tonight. I'm hoping they address how to curb alcoholism in puppies because Homer is obsessed with trying to drink our adult beverages.

I will hunt this beer. 




Looks healthy to me!

Smells delicious!