Exciting Things Happening

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here. We went on vacation the first week of April, and catching back up with work and other exciting things just made the rest of the month total chaos. I’ll start with telling you about our vacation:

Vacation started with Opening Day. We spent most of the day downtown enjoying the beautiful weather before watching the Cardinals beat the Cubs that night.¬†The next morning, we left for Pensacola, FL. We drove, and somewhere in Tennessee, my check engine light came on. I texted my cousin who does all the work on my cars and he said as long as the light wasn’t flashing, we were okay, but he said to stop by an Autozone to have them pull the code. We did, and fortunately, it was nothing to worry about (we stopped at a Chevy dealer to double check before we drove the rest of the way).

The rest of the trip was uneventful, as any good vacation should be. We ate at all our favorite restaurants and tried a few new places too. We got to go to the beach twice, and we got in the water, believe it or not! The water wasn’t as cold as I expected, but the windiness made getting out of the water freezing! I didn’t have any books to read with me at the beach because I was in between library loans (I had just returned one and was on several waiting lists for others, which, of course, weren’t available until we got back).

It ended up being a great vacation, albeit a little too short (driving really cuts down on the amount of time you get to spend relaxing!).

When we got back from vacation, things were more than a little hectic. We still hadn’t finished our taxes, mice were still nesting in our oven (that should probably be its own post), and my car needed an oil change, plus we needed to figure out exactly why the check engine light came on.

On top of all that, I got called in to interview for a job I had applied for. The interview went really well and they offered me the job the next day. After some negotiations, I accepted the job! I put in my two weeks’ with my freelancing jobs and I start my new job as a full-time copywriter tomorrow! ūüôā

All this craziness and stress had not helped my shoulder, though, and my¬†other shoulder started hurting too. I went back to the doctor but got no answers, which was really frustrating. Finally, I decided to try getting a massage to see if that would help. It was only my second massage ever, and it was my first deep tissue massage. It ended up being so much better than my first. It didn’t eliminate my shoulder pain right away, but by the next day, I felt so much looser and more relaxed in my shoulders, upper back, and neck. I may need to make deep tissue massages a regular addition to my self-care. I’m still having some slight tenderness¬†in my right shoulder, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was before.

I’ve been running a lot more lately to make up for all the yoga I’m not doing. Most of my runs have been with Copper, which makes them more challenging because she stops so suddenly! That stopping and starting really works the legs! My runs are slowly improving, though, so at least I’m seeing some progress. I’m probably going to start doing some light weightlifting again to start re-strengthening my arms. More than a month without any weightlifting has made me weak! I’m considering going back to yoga, too, and just avoiding/modifying poses that will cause my shoulder too much irritation. We’ll see how my first week at the new job goes!

I hope you’ve all been well!¬†I’m hoping to blog a little more frequently now that things are starting to calm down! ūüôā

-AB

 

Review: Jaybird Freedom Wireless Earbuds

It’s been quite a while since my last post. Exciting things have been happening in my corner of the world (I’ll get to those in my next post). A while back, I started having some trouble with my wireless Jaybird X2 earbuds. Despite being fully charged, I couldn’t get them to turn on. After charging them multiple times, I finally got them to turn on, so I went for a run. The next time I went to use them, I had the same problem.

I emailed Jaybird’s customer support about the issue. Since none of the “try this or that” they had recommended worked, they offered to replace my X2s, but since those were out of stock, they told me they’d be sending me the Freedom earbuds instead. Before agreeing, I did a lot of research to make sure what I was getting would at least be comparable to what I had.

Then, in order to get the new earbuds shipped, I had to cut the cord on my X2s. Let me tell you, this was a nerve-wracking experience. My thoughts were racing: “What if I accidentally emailed the wrong place and this was all some sick joke and I’m just out the money I spent? What if one of their customer service reps is pissed off and taking it out on me?” I did it anyway, because there was no way I was going to get those X2s to work consistently ever again. After sending them a picture confirming I had cut the wire, they notified me the Freedom earbuds would be on the way.

I received the Freedoms relatively quick and so far, I am extremely happy with them. They are much smaller than the X2s. Plus, the ear fins, which are designed to keep the earbuds securely in your ears, come in several more (smaller!) sizes, so I was able to use the extra small ones! The foam tips are also much, much nicer with the Freedoms.

You can see a comparison between the two in the pic below:

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Freedoms on the left, X2s (with cut cord) on the right.

You can see how much smaller the Freedoms are. The control panel (?) is a bit bigger and heavier, and that box next to the controls on the Freedoms is a battery pack. I haven’t tried running with that, because I think it would add too much weight. So far my biggest issue with the Freedoms is trying to find a good cord length for me. It comes with these tabs so you can shorten the cord. I’ve tried it almost as short as it goes, which was uncomfortable. I also tried an in-between length, but it would catch every time I turned my head to check before running across an intersection. I’ve tried running twice now with the cord as-is without the tabs, but that made the control panel bounce around too much, so I’m still trying to find a happy-medium with that.

Aside from the cord length, I’ve been extremely happy with these earbuds. They block out the sound really well (almost too well to be safe), fit comfortably, and most importantly, they stay put! They are small and discreet, so I don’t feel like a total dork walking around in these. If you’re looking for new (or your first) wireless earbuds, you can’t go wrong with the Freedoms. They are a little more expensive than the X2s (and I was fortunate enough to get the X2s on sale), but I think it’s worth it, especially if you struggle with earbuds fitting your ears like I do. I’m actually not sure you can still buy the X2s–I think they’ve been replaced with the X3s. But there’s about $20 difference between the X3s and the Freedoms, which is definitely worth it to have better-fitting earbuds.

As always, thanks for reading!

-AB

*Please note that this is not a paid review.

Setbacks

I finally decided on Monday that I should maybe ask my yoga instructor what she thinks about my shoulder problem. Her response? Get it looked at asap. Bummer.

I attempted to see the doctor on Wednesday but, thanks to an insurance snafu, had to reschedule for today. My doctor said it could either be tendinitis in my rotator cuff or a slight tear in the tendon. Either way, I’m under strict orders to avoid weight-bearing exercises for two full weeks. So no yoga. ūüė¶

She also gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer. If I don’t see any improvements within the first week, she said she wants me to take the anti-inflammatory for a full month. She said I’m too young to have to have shoulder surgery, but didn’t really say what the next steps would be if the rest and anti-inflammatories don’t help.

While I was there I asked her about a few other things. One thing was, thankfully, totally normal and nothing to worry about. The other could be some sort of deficiency, so we did some blood work. We’ll see what that turns up.

I guess since yoga is pretty much off-limits (at least a normal flow practice is anyway), I should get back into running this week. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone out for a run (that whole lack of energy thing is mostly to blame, but also pure laziness). We’ll see what the weather does. St. Louis is expecting snow tomorrow.

If you have any exercise tips for me that don’t involve my shoulder, I’d appreciate it! Hope you guys have a great weekend!

-AB

Marching On

Despite being a short month, February felt incredibly long. While I managed to make some progress toward some of my goals for this year, I fell behind on others. I completely stopped my strength training and went from doing yoga every day to doing it just two days a week (if that). At some point at the end of January I messed up my shoulder and more than a month later, it still hurts. I’ve tried taking ibuprofen, icing it, stretching, and mobility exercises only to find temporary relief.

I’m giving it another week with some new exercises and more ibuprofen before I give up and go to the doctor. Because I need my shoulder working properly. I already have bad knees! I can’t have a bad shoulder too–I have big yoga goals this year…like doing hand-stands and whatnot. I need strong shoulders for that!

So on the exercise front, things are not going so well. I haven’t had a ton of energy lately. It seems to take me everything I’ve got just to get out of bed most mornings, despite getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night.

I did manage to make more of an effort to work on some personal writing projects in February. In the past month I’ve written and revised a new poem and wrote and article I’m hoping to submit to an online publication pretty soon. Re-dedicating myself to creative writing has really sparked my motivation. I’ve got some great ideas for some future projects that I can’t wait to work on.

I have pretty much completely cut out all the foods I’m allergic and/or sensitive to, including dairy, gluten, and eggs. I’ve been doing dairy-/gluten-free on and off for several years now, so that was never a huge deal to me. But throwing eggs in the mix has been a huge source of frustration. My options for eating out are so much more limited, and breakfast options are pretty much non-existent.

What’s even more frustrating is that even after cutting all this junk out of my diet, I still don’t feel great. I was hoping I’d have more energy, fewer breakouts, etc., but no. I seem to wake up every other day with a new pimple or zit, the eczema on my toes won’t go away, and I’m as tired as ever.

We’re looking into gym memberships so my hubby and I can start working out. Our thinking is that if we’re paying for it, we’re more likely to use it. And I’m hoping that if we go to the gym together, we can motivate each other and keep each of us accountable. I know once we get going, the energy and motivation will come back. It’s the getting started part that’s the hardest.

As far as my goals for budgeting/saving/paying off debt goes, we’ve made some progress! I paid off one credit card last month and put my entire paycheck from my second freelance gig toward another. It was a really good feeling. We’ve also been setting aside money in three separate savings accounts: Emergency, Vacation, and Car Repairs/Home Renovations.

We booked our next vacation, and we’ve been using money from the Home Renovation account to slowly but surely make some necessary upgrades in our house. Most recently, we installed a new toilet and vanity in our master bathroom, because what was in there looked¬†ancient. We have a long way to go with our house, but it’s a start. And we are more committed than ever to putting money into savings (or towards debt) when we have extra. We aren’t quite budgeting, but we have a system right now that seems to be working pretty well for us, so I’m not gonna mess with it.

In an effort to save money and save me the frustration of eating out multiple times a week (really hard when you can’t have gluten, dairy,¬†and eggs), we meal prepped together on Sunday. It went by so much more quickly with both of us doing it together and we have plenty of quick and easy (and healthy!) meals for the week now! We are going to make more of an effort to meal prep together so we aren’t eating out as often.

This month, I’m hoping to spend a little more time exercising (providing the shoulder pain goes away) and a lot more time reading and writing!

How are your 2017 goals coming along? Have you run into any obstacles? How are you dealing with them?

Health Check-Up

I have not been eating super healthy so far this year. The chaos of the new year and a second job made it easy to eat whatever was most convenient, regardless of how unhealthy it was. After some nasty breakouts (due to my overconsumption of dairy, I assume), I have decided that what I’m doing is ridiculous.

I completely avoid peanuts, beef, pork, and lamb, because I’m allergic. But I’m also allergic/sensitive to wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs, and I eat those whenever I want. No, I don’t break out into hives or go into anaphylaxis when I eat these things. But they do make me feel pretty crappy. So why in the hell do I keep eating them?

Good question. Convenience, mostly. If I strictly avoid¬†all those foods, I’m inconveniencing my husband, my family, my friends, and myself. Because I love dairy and I enjoy foods that contain gluten (hello pizza!). What I fail to focus on is that these foods are negatively affecting my health. And I shouldn’t be compromising my health just because it’s inconvenient.

I finally told my husband¬†that it’s just nonsense that I completely avoid certain foods I’m allergic to and not others. So we’re going to start focusing on avoiding foods that have anything I’m allergic to in them. I’m not going to worry about whether what we’re eating is paleo or Whole30. I’m just going to focus on not eating the foods that make me sick.

What a revelation! To make it seem a little less overwhelming, we’re taking it week by week. No, I’m not going to die if I eat cheese or eggs. So if we end up at a restaurant or family dinner where certain things are unavoidable, I’m not going to sweat it. But I am going to make more of an effort to find restaurants where I can eat without having to make those compromises (if you have any recommendations, please send them my way!).

I have to stop saying it’s okay to eat these things whenever I don’t feel like inconveniencing someone. They don’t make me feel good, so I need to stop eating them. No, they don’t always make me physically sick. But they show up in other ways: Dairy makes my skin break out in nasty pimples and I get eczema on my toes and fingers. Too much gluten upsets my stomach. Eggs¬†really upset my stomach. It’s too difficult to try to moderate how much dairy I can have before I start seeing its effects on my skin. It’s much easier to just cut them out of my daily diet altogether. So that’s what I plan to do.

Do you have food allergies? What are they and how do you deal with them? Any good restaurant suggestions?

2017 Goals Check-In

I posted my 12 goals for 2017 about a month ago. Now that we’re a month into the new year, I figured I’d do a check-in to see how things are going. Some things I have really focused on while others I’ve made little to no progress with at all. I started the year off by doing yoga every day (31 Days of Yoga by Yoga with Adriene) which was incredible. I’m going to continue trying to practice yoga every day.

I can’t remember the last time I did any strength training exercises. I was feeling a little under the weather early in the month and thought lifting weights would just make me feel worse. Since I’ve been doing yoga–sometimes twice a day–I just haven’t gotten back into the weights. I’m hoping to get back to that this month. I also have not gone for a run in what seems like forever. I’m just not cut out for cold weather running, and the days it has been warmer, I haven’t felt up to getting out there.

We haven’t done any traveling yet, but we’ve got a nice vacation fund going. We’re hoping to take our first trip sometime this March or April. It’s kind of up in the air right now, but hopefully we get it planned soon.

Toward the end of the month, I finally got some inspiration to do a little writing. As a freelance copywriter, that’s all I do, all day every day. By the end of the day, it’s hard to find the energy or inspiration to do my own thing. But for the past week or so, I’ve been working on a little side project that I’m pretty excited about! Hopefully I can get it finished in another week or two.

I’m not quite sure if I’m on track for my “read one book a month” goal. But I’m almost finished with our first book of the year for book club and I’ve got a long TBR list going. I finally gave up on audiobooks. They just aren’t for me. But I’ve been making it more of a priority to read at least a little bit each day, so I think that’s going to help me with this goal.

I finally took that social media hiatus I’ve been thinking about for more than a month. I’ve been social-media-free for two full days now and it has felt great. I have¬†so much free time now that I’m not constantly checking Facebook. I’ve been reading, writing, and I even got my violin out and got it tuned yesterday.

I haven’t made a ton of progress on my other goals so far, but it’s still early in the year, so I’m not too worried. I’m excited about the changes I’ve made so far and looking forward to making more changes to bring me closer to my goals.

Tell me about your 2017 goals. Are you still going strong after one month?

12 Goals for 2017

In my last post, I talked about how I felt about my goals for 2016. For 2017, I’ve come up with 12 goals to focus on. I’m debating focusing on one per month (better get started if so!). I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about picking a “word of the year”. I though a lot¬†about it. I made a list of goals and words, but I just couldn’t pick any single word for my year. The ones that most stood out were Grow, Simplify, and Explore. I suppose I could say “screw it” and have three words. For now, I’ll just stick to my goals:

  1. Continue strength training. Since starting the Harder to Kill Challenge back in October, I’ve been strength training at least a couple times a week. It has really made a difference in how I feel and it’s something I want to continue this year.
  2. Practice more yoga. I’m currently participating in the Yoga Revolution challenge by Yoga with Adriene. It’s 31 days of yoga for the month of January. So far, I’ve done yoga every single day, and hope I can continue without breaking the streak.I really want to grow in my practice and I’ve considered looking into teaching.
  3. Travel more. My husband and I finally created a dedicated savings account for vacations and we’ve been fairly successful about building that up. We’re hoping to plan a trip this spring (location TBD), and maybe another, shorter trip this fall.
  4. Write more. I’m a writer. As in that’s my job; it’s what I get paid to do. And that’s completely awesome. Except that it sometimes means I don’t get around to blogging or doing the creative writing I want to do. I announced more than a year ago that I intended to write a book, but I’ve made very little progress with it. My goal this year is to make some progress.
  5. Read at least one book per month. That’s at least 12 books this year (and at least 12 reviews over on my other blog, Black Coffee Books). I’m hoping to exceed this goal, but I never seem to achieve the loftier 25 or 50 books a year. So maybe by setting a smaller one, I can surpass it and feel proud of my accomplishments.
  6. Create a business plan.¬†I haven’t officially¬†announced this one yet! But my husband and I are seriously discussing opening our own business in the next couple years. So my current goal is to figure out the start-up costs and create the business plan.
  7. Volunteer more. Although I had planned to volunteer last year, I never actually did. This year, I really want to become more involved in the things that matter to me. I want to look into volunteering at the library and maybe participate in a community clean-up event.
  8. Increase sustainability. By the end of last year, we were using cloth napkins pretty much exclusively in our home. My goal for this year is to continue finding ways to be more sustainable and create less waste. I got an amazing Starbucks travel mug for Christmas that I intend to start taking with me to the coffee shop so I’m not using paper cups as often. We’re also still using paper towels (although much less so now), so I want to find ways to reduce our dependence on those as well.
  9. Minimalism. Along the same lines of sustainability, I also want to focus on minimalism. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of¬†stuff we have. I want to be more mindful this year about the things I choose to buy and bring into my home. Is it something we¬†really¬†need? Are there other things I can get rid of to make space for the new? I’m also really intrigued by capsule wardrobes, but haven’t quite managed to start one. Maybe 2017 will be the year of the capsule wardrobe.
  10. Focus on my marriage. I want to have the best marriage we can possibly have, so I want to do what it takes to improve our communication and other aspects of our relationship. I think doing so will go a long way in our happiness for the year and in the long run.
  11. Spend less time on social media. I’m as guilty of it as everyone else. I check social media every free chance I get (and sometimes when I’m really not free to do so). I only half-listen to things my husband tells me if I’m scrolling through Facebook while he’s talking. It has interfered with my work and frankly, it’s just exhausting. I get more and more frustrated with it every single day. I think at some point in the very near future I’m going to take a hiatus from social media. If/when I return, I plan to severely limit the time I spend on those sites.
  12. Spend more time outside. Because I work from home, I never have to leave the house (which is totally awesome sometimes). Of course, right now, it’s freezing outside and I don’t want to leave the house. However, I know it’s definitely not good to stay cooped up inside all the time. So I really want to make more of an effort to get outside when I can (especially if the weather is nice). I want to go on a few hikes this year, and I need to get back into taking my dog for nice long walks.

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Somehow, running didn’t make my top 12 goals! I do have some running goals this year though! I want to run a few more 5ks and potentially run my first 10k sometime this fall (before it gets too cold). Right now, I’m focusing on yoga and strength training because I refuse to run when the temps are below freezing. I think both of these will help me ease back into running when the time comes.

What are your goals for 2017?

As always, thanks for reading.

-AB