What My {Teacher} Mom Has Taught Me

Today, and this past week, mark two very important (Hallmark-created) holidays for which I’d like to take a minute to commemorate.

Teacher Appreciation Week and Mother’s Day.

I am fortunate to have been blessed with a wonderful mother, who just so happens to also be a teacher. Continue reading

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Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget: May Check in!

So……… the big B word is bout to rear its ugly head again.

That’s right – it’s budget time.

I didn’t do an official “budget check-in” for the month of March…..Stuff happens.

I mentioned it in passing in my “If We Were Having Coffee…” post.

Just like in February, I was really close to breaking even during March. However, my monthly budget is actually $300-$400 less than I make each month, so ideally I should be saving that much. I spent a little bit more this month than last…Regardless, I am still $1,000 less than the levels I was spending in November-January.

And so it goes…..

April was actually not too bad. I just about broke even again, which means I’m still spending much less than I was last fall! However, I started to realize that my lifestyle was changing from the very first budget I set for myself in January when I started this whole ordeal…and even from in February, when I modified it to more realistically reflect my spending habits.

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Even though I was within my budget (in the grand scheme of things, if you don’t include my Blend fee and airfare, I spent $100 less than I earned this month, not including a big tax refund. Cha ching!)…I was waaaayyy off in some of my spending categories and I noticed a couple of trends in April.

First of all, I went down to playing dodgeball only 1 night per week and have have been staying in a lot more and not drinking at bars. Hence the extra moolah in the Entertainment category. However, the reason that I’ve been spending less at bars…is because I’m spending more at home.

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The “Misc” category is where I put any non grocery purchases (alcohol, nail polish binges at CVS, etc. etc.)…It’s wayyy cheaper for me to split a bottle of $4-$5 wine between a couple of nights than to go out and spend $5 per drink at the bar over the course of a few nights. Plus I am just l-a-z-y 😉

For reference, here’s the budget I was going off of. That “entertainment” budget of $120 was a combination of dodgeball bar and “activities”:

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Another area that seems to be in flux is my eating out, or “restaurants” budget. For someone who almost never eats out, going $15 over budget was surprising…However, check out my purchases:

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Over half of it is coffee!

On days that I am really busy and am tempted to eat my lunch at my desk, I try to follow my own advice and escape for at least a few minutes to walk around outside for a bit. The easiest way to do that is often to walk over to Starbucks, Ambrosia, or La Bou and grab a coffee or tea.

SO, keeping in mind all of these changes, I once again edited my budget to reflect my spending habits. I am allowing myself more money for Miscellaneous purchases, a little less for bars, and I’m going to try to limit myself to $25/month at Starbucks. The main reason for this number is that I can easily reload my Starbucks app with $25 at the beginning of each month!

 

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One big thing that will affect my budget going forward is my new gym membership at California Family Fitness. I decided to take the plunge and join a gym for a few reasons that I think make it worth the cost:

  1. Convenience. The gym is 3 blocks from my office, meaning I can go in the morning, work out, shower, then get to work! And hey, if I use their shampoo and conditioner I may even save money there 😉
  2. Variety. Since I left my old job (which had a gym on-site), I have been focusing mainly on running 3 times per week and I do “strength training” 1-2 times. However, I never feel like I get a great workout when I use my little hand weights in my living room, and I am extremely limited in what I can do. I would like to start including more variety in my workouts and pushing myself harder in non-running activities. I did my first ever group fitness class yesterday, and I loved it!
  3. Human Interaction. With the exception of one run with Chris and one with my friend Liz, all of my half marathon training runs were done alone. I work out in my living room alone. I like to work out alone because I am pretty good at self motivating, but I am by no means an introvert and I love being around people. Even working out by myself in the middle of a gym full of people would be an improvement over what I’ve been doing!

So, there’s my official justification for forking out $60/month when I have a limited budget. I think I am going to aim for 2 gym workouts, 1 group class, and 2-3 runs per week. It sounds like a lot, but I figure I’d like to be there 3x a week to make the price worth it!

I will do my best to keep y’all updated at the end of this month on how I do with the new budget. Till then, stay tuned and have a great weekend!

How has your budgeting/spending been lately? I’ve reeeeally had to fight the urge to spend all my money on shopping for new spring clothes. I’ve been pretty good about staying away…unless it’s on sale 😉

Do you belong to one or more gyms? Do you think you get your moneys worth?

Five Word Friday: Life Lately

I’ve been MIA. Here’s why: IMG_5158 You already know my Sundays. IMG_5539 My weekdays are fun too! IMG_5206 Wednesday morning weights. The usual. IMG_5362 COURTSIDE seats: Kings versus OKC newdesk Moved up front at work. IMG_5555 Food Should Taste Good RULES! IMG_5478 West Sacramento Caturday Bike Gang IMG_5415 Spring weather + spring clothes = Love. IMG_5628 Easter church selfies with Mom IMG_5662 Feed fish, check. Next: abs.

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My job has its perks 😀

(for non-Californians, that’s Gov. Jerry Brown)

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Describe your life lately in 5 words!

If We Were Having Coffee…

Hello, my little long-lost blog… it’s been a while!

After being blown away by all of your support about my half marathon, then getting my act together and posting my first recipe in months…..I went radio silent.

I’m not one to post religiously regardless of whether I actually have anything interesting to say; I like to go for quality over quantity, you know?

Sometimes, a girl is just busy. Said busy-ness can take shape in the form of working late, or running around to different meetings every other night…And sometimes after a long day at work, being ‘too busy to blog’ just means I need to veg out while watching How I Met Your Mother and Parks & Rec for 4 hours.

Let’s catch up, shall we? Let’s go on a virtual coffee date.

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If We Were Having Coffee…

…I would tell you about the afterglow of my half marathon.

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Even weeks later, I’m still trying to hold on to the feeling of accomplishment and elation that I had after the race. This is the best solo picture I got from the race photographers- can you tell I was approaching mile 13 and desperate to finish? Ha! I was super impressed that there’s even video of me finishing – I come in on the right side of the screen around :20 then cross the finish line and pretty much bounce right back off screen.

…I would tell you how excited I am for spring & summer.

Although I got really lucky that I trained for my race from December-March in mild conditions with barely any rain, I am more than ready for some spring weather! During race weekend and the weekend after, we had beautiful 75 degree days, but it’s been rainy and cold ever since.

I’ve been pretty lucky with my seasonal allergies this year (knock on wood)…Sacramento is NOTORIOUS for being terrible in the allergy department. Hopefully my luck holds up, because I’m making the switch from indoor Dodgeball to outdoor Ultimate Frisbee next month and I can’t wait to run around outside!

…I would admit to you that I totally went over budget last month.

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Just like in February, I was really close to breaking even during March. However, my monthly budget is actually $300-$400 less than I make each month, so ideally I should be saving that much. I spent a little bit more this month than last…Regardless, I am still $1,000 less than the levels I was spending in November-January.

Hosting Tyler during race weekend definitely meant dining out more often than usual. Plus, I have been really busy at work, which means that some days I don’t have time to go home for lunch. ALSOOO, the rainy weather has made taking Lyft a much more desirable option than walking or biking in the rain lately. Good thing it’s affordable! (especially if you sign up using my code 😉 )

I’m hoping that cutting out one night of dodgeball from my weekly routine, as well as drinking less and avoiding more than one Chai Latte splurge per week will keep me on the straight and narrow budget-wise!

…I would ask you which race I should run next!
rainy 9 miler / sunny 8.5 miler!

rainy 9 miler / sunny 8.5 miler!

I have been keeping up with the same running routine as usual- I run 3-4 miles on Tues/Thurs, and I don’t know if I will ever give up my Saturday morning long runs! I ran 8.5 miles last weekend, and 9 rainy miles this past weekend.

I want to run another half marathon in the fall, and the top contenders at the moment are all in October: the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF, and two possible Rock n’ Roll Half Marathons – in San Jose and Los Angeles. HMMM!

The only downside of doing a race in October is the fact that I’ll be training in the Sacramento heat in August and September. Typically, we get a good dozen or so 100+ degree days during the summers here…training in that heat would definitely present a challenge!

…I would probably talk your ear off about boys.

I’m not gonna lie – I talk about boys a lot. (Just ask Carly and Becky!) But for the sake of my own privacy, and that of any guys I date, the most personal details you’ll get on this little bloggy blog are about my black toenails from running or how much I pay for rent each month. 😉

Anyway, I had a realization last week: I have been single for 9 MONTHS now. For the first year+ that I had this blog, I was in a serious relationship. My ex was a big factor in why I started blogging, and a lot of my early posts involved meals I made for us.

I’m proud to say that I’ve achieved a lot of personal growth in the last 9 months. However, like any single girl in her mid 20’s, I often have frustrations about guys and dating…

Why do they ALL send mixed signals? Why is every guy on Tinder revolting? That text was totally flirtatious, right?! I mean, he used a winky face and everything. Is there a real Ted Mosby out there, and if so, why haven’t I found him yet?

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS, people.

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So that’s a little of what’s been running through my mind lately.

If we were having coffee, what would be on your mind?

Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget – February Check in!

So I’ve got bad news and good news about my budget this February.

The bad news is… I went to New York for 4 days and spent a lot more money than I would have in Sacramento…mostly on some delicious food.

The good news, however, is three-fold! First off, I looked at my average spending over the last 6 months (not including February) on WellsFargo.com, and I spent $700 less in February than my average, and $1,000 less than last month (!!!). That’s including my trip to NYC (not including airfare, which I paid back in December). Secondly, I was finally paid my first installment of unemployment benefits last month, and on Monday was paid 3 of my remaining 4 weeks. This will help out a lot, especially since I took two unpaid days off for my trip, and will definitely be a welcomed supplement to my income. I have had a HELL of a time getting through to EDD on this (obviously, since I’ve been employed since mid-January now and am just now getting paid for November/December…), including about 35 phone calls in a <25 minute time frame last week to finally get through to an operator. Third and finally, I broke even this month. This is a huge victory for me, considering the 2/3 pay cut I took a couple of months ago. It means that I have started to really adjust my spending!

Anyway, I have not included the expenses from my New York trip on my budget breakdown for this month because, like last month, I basically considered them one time purchases. It was vacation, after all! Last month, I didn’t include my Macy’s card payments and a few other purchases (e.g. my replacement iPhone)…and I think that was largely why I stayed within my budget. The absence of a Macy’s credit card payment and some self control when it came to online shopping apparently really went a long way in managing my budget this month.

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I did make a pretty big splurge at Target right before Valentine’s Day (see above), and an impulse Kate Spade online sale purchase (about $150 total between the 2), but I generally kept it light on any other miscellaneous purchases this month. And besides those 2 slip ups, I didn’t go shopping!

Otherwise, I think my adjustments from January’s budget (the fact that I took half of my restaurant budget and put it into the dodgeball bar/entertainment categories) were smart. Check it out:

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Groceries

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I unfortunately only made it to the Farmer’s Market once this month. It was rained out one week, I was in New York for another week, and I was just plain dead from a long run the other week. I have, however, been taking major advantage of the Safeway Just4U app when I shop at Safeway. Check out how much I saved on my grocery bill when I went this weekend- I spent $56 and saved $33!

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Yes, you’re reading correctly, I got 2 jars of Nutella for $2.99 TOTAL! #score

Miscellaneous purchases included a six pack, one bottle of wine, and some nail polish and fake eyelashes from CVS 🙂

Going Out

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Stayed within my dodgeball bar budget this month! This is surprising, considering how often I end up getting the above “dinner” on Thursday nights… IPA and a basket of fries. Of course, this usually supplements a pre-dodgeball protein bar/banana/snack. OK, that doesn’t make it much better, does it? 😛

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Last week, I treated myself to my first lunch out since starting my new job. It was a rainy day so I couldn’t bike, and I didn’t want to walk all the way home (walking there and back takes up about half of my lunch hour) so I decided to treat myself! Pasta salad at at Ambrosia never disappoints…it is a lot more pricey than my usual stir fry at home though, so it may be a while before I do this again 😛

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The bulk of my going out spending this month was thanks in large part to a few birthday parties and Sacramento Beer Week. I need to either learn how to get guys to buy me drinks, or how to stop being the hero and offering to buy rounds of drinks!

This month will be a different story, as I am hereby swearing to be a hermit these next two weeks leading up to my half marathon! I am most likely passing up on a trip down south to the Democratic Convention this weekend, for fear of not being able to do my last training run or doing something stupid and injuring myself a week before my race.

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I still stayed more or less in my overall food budget this month. If you add in my New York trip, it’s a different story…However, even including my trip, I broke even, and for that I am super proud of myself! *pats self on back*

What was your last big splurge?

Getting bought drinks at the bar– what’s your secret? 😉

Weekend in Photos

Happy Monday! First of all, thank you all so much for your nice words on my last post. It was really encouraging to hear that other people have gone through the same struggle with seeing gains on the scale, especially while training for half marathons.

On to my weekend!

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It got off to a pretty amazing start, if I do say so myself: I stopped at Groce Out on the way home and got some wine cheese and crackers (my usual Friday night routine…I’m so predictable) and vegged out all night watching House of Cards Season 2 eps 5-8. So so so good!

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Saturday morning, I was up and out the door before 9am for my first long run in a couple of weeks (No long run last week since I was in NYC, but Joanna and I did fit in a 6 mile run one day which is better than nothing!)… It ended up being a beautiful 70 degree day! I ran 11 miles again and was SHOCKED that I ended up averaging 9:09/mi, which is my goal for my half marathon pace!

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Something happened and I totally just kicked it into gear for my last 4 miles or so. I think that might have been the point where I ditched my shirt! Haha EVERY week I’ve run more than 10 miles, I’ve taken my shirt off. Sista starts to sweat! And 8:28 for the last mile?! WTF?!

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Since I woke up so early, I actually had time to make it to the Farmer’s Market for the first time in weeks. I splurged and bought myself some daffodils and a chai latte because I was feeling so happy about my run. Treat yo self!

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After 4 more episodes of House of Cards (that’s 8 total for the weekend now, for those of you keeping track) I headed out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Good times had by all as always!

photo 5The next morning I woke up and went to Davis to hang with Roger, and more importantly his pug Pierre, my favorite little gremlin 🙂 Look at those ugly teeth! It was another beautiful day and a perfect one for a nice long walk with the pups!

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After one last episode of House of Cards (the finale! AAHHHH) and a few other various tv shows, I headed over to dodgeball where I actually got a great workout in..and looked real cool wearing my new tube socks 🙂 We played a bit of water pong at the bar and then I came home to slow down, send my BFF a weekend update email, and mentally prepare for the week.

Another good one in the books!

Do you watch House of Cards? What do you think of Season 2? I liked it a lot more than Season 1!

How was your weather this weekend? We seriously lucked out!

Confession Time: Why the Scale Sucks

Today I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons and her Thinking out Loud link-up!

Rather than simply thinking out loud like the topic suggests, I am taking a page out of my dear friend Becky’s book and using the link-up as an opportunity to reveal a confession or two.

My confession: I am insecure about my weight.

When I started running in January 2011 (just 1.8 miles 2-3 times per week, mind you!), I was unknowingly embarking on a ~1 year long weight loss journey. That increase in cardio activity, paired with calorie counting/nutrient tracking, was definitely the key to my weight loss success.

I reached my ideal weight a little over a year ago. When I say ideal, I mean it was the weight I was at when I realized I had lost 2 pants sizes and was truly happy with how I looked (and more importantly, how I felt!). Starting at 136 pounds and a size 8, I plateaued at about 119 pounds and a size 4 sometime in 2012 and stayed there for most of 2013. I was coo with that, and I feel like it’s a pretty good size and weight for my body type. (P.S. Here’s my before and after pics just for funsies!)

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at the color run in august 2013 looking quite svelte!

Since so much of my weight loss success was tied in with my running, when I decided to run a half marathon a few months ago, I figured, if anything, I’d lose some more weight.

WRONG!

Over the past 3 months, I’ve gained about 8 pounds. For those of you keeping track at home, that would mean that I have gained back half of what I lost after college. At first, this felt like a huge setback. Some part of me (brainwashed by society, no doubt) kinda liked the fact that I was under 120 pounds. Anything with a ‘teen’ in it sounds skinny, right?

But the reason I decided to run a half marathon was not to lose weight. Upon further reflection, the main reason I signed up to run the half was to feel strong. The question I’ve found myself asking myself is: What makes me feel stronger: a number on the scale, or being able to run 11 miles without stopping?

after my sub 60 min 10k!

after my first sub 60 min 10k!

Um, NO BRAINER people. I feel like a bad ass any time I run for over an hour. Every hill I climb, every curb I hop over, and every mad dash to the end of my run…makes me feel amazing.

One of the most recent times I was able to weigh myself, I looked in the mirror first. Was I happy with what I saw?

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a picture of the picture on saturday to send to my BFF and pretend i wasn't on a plane coming to see her!

fun story: i took this picture last thursday, then took a pic of the pic on saturday to send to my BFF on snapchat to pretend i wasn’t on a plane coming to see her! #SNAPCEPTION

The answer was still yes. Since I don’t have a gym anymore, I do a lot of ab work. My legs are freakin’ tight and lean from all that climbing, hopping, and mad dashing. I proceeded to step onto the scale, see that I was still 8 pounds heavier than “normal”, and….did not really care.

The problem with relying on the scale to track my progress is that as my mileage increases, so does my muscle mass. Most of my weight gain is muscle. The only clothes that fit differently are my jeans around my thighs — which are HUGE and hard as rocks now, by the way.

What really put everything into perspective was the realization that even though I am only about 8 pounds away from my 2010 weight, I am still 2 sizes smaller. Basically, all of my weight is compacted into a smaller package than before, even though I weigh more now than I did 4 months ago.

There are other added benefits to building muscle that outweigh any disadvantages (pun intended). According to a recent issue of Women’s Health, one of the biggest misconceptions about women and building muscle is that if you stop weight training, it turns into fat. The fact is, muscle tissue and fat tissue are two completely different kinds of tissue: muscle by nature requires more energy to metabolize, meaning the higher ratio of muscle-fat your body contains, the more energy (calories!) it will have to expend to keep things running.  Sounds like a good thing, right?

This is a big reason why, though I still track my food pretty often throughout the week, my focus is less on calorie counting to lose weight and more on replacing all of the calories I lose on my workout days with calories from healthy protein sources. I am trying to teach my body to run 13 miles at once…the least I could do is properly fuel it!

So that’s my confession: I am not always happy with the number I see on the scale. But I am happy with what my body is capable of, and I feel so great physically most of the time that it is hard to let a big little number keep me down. 😉

How do you track your fitness progress?

Have you ever experienced muscle weight gain?