Living Minimally

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in New Jersey for 10 days.  It’s been an adjustment to life, weather and just getting back into my regular routine.

I didn’t have to stay 6 weeks in Montgomery.  I did have to go down, but I could have driven back solo while my husband finished his course.  I could have driven down, did what I needed and drove back to New Jersey (driving close to 4000 miles in 6 weeks). Instead, I chose to drive down once, stay there during the quiet weeks and drive home together.  That way, we could drive one car, stay together and it would be more enjoyable that way.

When we moved to Alabama, I packed everything I would need in two suitcases.  We weren’t sure the exact time frame, but you can live out of a suitcase for 2 months.

To be completely honest, I was nervous to go down there.  As I mentioned, I left my job for 6 weeks.  I didn’t know anyone in Alabama.  While I had things to do, it definitely was not as much as living back in New Jersey.

But I wanted a risk, new adventure, and challenge.  I told myself: if I had lived in the middle of nowhere, Texas, I could make it Alabama.  Thinking out loud and truth be told, despite the constant tornados, I liked Alabama.

Living in Alabama taught me a lot how to live minimally.  I learned I have far too much clutter here in New Jersey.

Essentially, I lived out of a suitcase in a two room hotel for 6 weeks.  In the hotel, we had a kitchenette but no oven.  It wasn’t bad, and we were able to eat healthy and make do without it.

So how did we go from too much stuff to a suitcase full? 

Lucky for my husband, he has two work uniforms.  Then he needed about 2 regular clothing outfits. Since he was running and training for his marathon, he brought more shoes than I did. Realistically, he could have probably lived out of a backpack…As an over packer myself, I could not.

Downgrade:

Do you really need 5 pairs of black leggings? Sure, the material might be slightly different or the pattern but is it necessary?  I brought exactly 10 outfits that could be paired differently.  Different tops and different pants.  I brought three pairs of leggings and did laundry every few days.  I grew to love that clothing enough that I won’t be wearing any of it for a few weeks now that I’m home.

When I got home, I had even forgotten I owned certain leggings.  At that point, I realized I had too much stuff.

We Learned New Simple and Basic Recipes:

We didn’t have an oven.  So we were forced to cook the majority of foods from a pan or the microwave.  For example, one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is by roasting them.  Roasted beets are delicious!  Instead of forgoing beets at all, we decided to try something new and boil them.  It worked out just as well and honestly it’s something I’ll do back in NJ too.

So while living in a 2 room hotel for a while wasn’t ideal, it did teach me a lot.

When I got home, it took me about a week, but I downsized and donated a lot.  What were some questions I asked myself:

  • Race Tshirts: Does the shirt have meaning to me?  Did I PR? Do I like the shirt, if it wasn’t my favorite, it was donated.
  • When was the last time I wore an item?  If it wasn’t in the last full calendar year, it was donated.
  • Do I have multiple of the same thing?  Base layers are great, but do you need 4 pairs of nearly identical black leggings?  I couldn’t even remember all of the similar styles I had.
  • Running Shoes: As someone who works in running retail, I had over 20 pairs of shoes.  I’m actively running in 3 pairs right now! I kept one model of each brand, and donated 13 pairs.  It feels like a fresh hair cut.

I’m happy to be back and I don’t regret staying down in Alabama for the full six weeks.  I learned a lot about myself and what was truly important to me.

Questions for you:
How do you figure out what to keep or donate?
What are some tips you have to live with less clutter?

 

Advertisements

Enjoying the Holidays

This Christmas, my parents, came up from Virginia to visit.  Even though I’m 26, I’ve never actually spent a Christmas at my own home. We’ve either gone to my husband’s parent’s house or my parent’s home for the Holidays.  It was the first time we spent it at our house.

family shot

I enjoyed seeing my family, and we had a lot of fun.  As most people know, my father was in the military, so we moved around quite a bit.  We never adopted a lot of traditions for Christmas.  We open gifts, have a turkey and spend most of the day relaxing or driving around looking at Christmas lights.  That is exactly what we did this year as well.

Christmas dinner

christmas turkey

My husband and I went out for a morning workout while the rest of the house was sleeping. After getting ready for the day, we opened a few gifts for each other. Of course who doesn’t like to give and receive gifts but seeing family was even better.

Dad

A tradition my husband and I do have, is cleaning up during the holidays and donate things we haven’t used in a full calendar year.  We were able to donate 5 bags of appliances (goodbye George Fireman grill), running shoes, random trinkets and everything in between.  Moving around so much (this is the first year we haven’t moved in 12 months), we don’t like to accumulate things.

tim-and-i-1

Believe it or not, this year I did not get any new running gear! I did not need any new running gear either.  My inlaws sent this beautiful Kate Spade purse I’ve been wanting (to match my Penguin wallet and sweater…and life).  I also got a few new pairs of pants to update the wardrobe.  It was a perfect Christmas.

 Kate Spade Penguin Wallet

We also went to view Christmas lights at the Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, PA.  If you’re local it’s a great place. You get to drive through and look at the festive Holiday lights and it’s an incredible layout. Yardley Christmas Lights

My photos don’t do it justice, but I would highly recommend going.

Yardley Christmas Lights

Questions for you:

How were your Holidays?

Do you typically travel or stay home?

Life as a Military Spouse

While this is (mostly) a running blog, it’s also a personal blog too.  After a long conversation with a friend, I realized where

I find myself constantly going back and forth of being: 

A “proud military spouse.”

To finding my own identity…

To being frustrated with the military because everything changes so rapidly…. 

I’ll always be proud of what my husband does, whether he is in the military or not.

Finding my own identity is a post by itself.  In conversation, I don’t care to talk about myself a lot (ironic since I’ve been blogging for five years), but I find myself questioning my identity.

Am I Hollie, military spouse?  Hollie the runner? Hollie the volunteer? Hollie the blogger?  To be honest, I don’t have an answer to that, and I find myself lost in my own identity.

And of course, the last frustration component makes up most of this blog. 

You know what?

Life has been hard.

Not in a whiny sense but in a talk real sense.  My husband and I are preparing for another deployment soon.  By “preparing”, I mean the Air Force needed him for another last minute trip, and he is currently away doing something else.  The trip was only supposed to last four days but four days turned to 5…6…7…and we are still counting upwards.

In the next 16 days, there is a lot to do before the deployment.  None of these things, he (or I) can do while he is away doing something else.  Sure there are goodbyes, but there is a lot of paperwork and misc tasks that have to be done beforehand.

These tasks are done on top of working a normal job.  What most people don’t realize is that also with the military, you don’t just “fly some” and come home.  When you’re not flying you’re back doing things on base too.  So it isn’t like a vacation when he is back. Not that he has been back to do that.

Essentially neither of us work regular hours.  Today (Friday) was our only day off together for the next 16 days, but that didn’t pan out. With my job, I must request days off a month in advance.  Working in retail that is what happens.  You can’t call in sick because if you do, the store can’t function. It ultimately strains the store.

I love my job but to give you an idea of how August played out, I asked for four days off to spend with my husband.  All four of those days he had emergency missions.  All four of those days off were wasted for me.  If I hadn’t requested off, I’m sure he would have had off.

With the military, your plans are always changing.  Your needs can often come behind the needs of the AF and the county.  I love my husband, and we are in a happy marriage but this month has tested both my stress and anxiety.  I would by lying if I said I hadn’t cried when several plans were canceled. Is it the end of the world?  No, but it’s frustrating.

I’m not a perfect wife, military spouse or person.  I do know that if he could, my husband wouldn’t cancel plans.  

So where does this leave me now? 
The same place I started.  Unfortunately, my plans are often dependent on what the needs of the military.  I’ll keep trucking on and we will make the best of the situation as we normally do.

Blood Test Results

As I mentioned last week, I opted to try Inside Tracker.

InsiderTracker

After my injury, I had no answers about how my ankle fracture occurred.  It blindsided me. I received a DEXA scan which came out normal (not even flagged for osteopenia).  I also got my calcium and Vitamin D levels which both came out normal.  Just like my blood test with at my doctors, my blood test with Inside Tracker indicated Vitamin D and Calcium were both normal too.  Even though I don’t believe I got answers about my fracture, and do believe the information I obtained from Inside Tracker is beneficial.

So after essential nutrients from my first blood test came out, why did I decide to go further with Inside Tracker?
My quality of life is fine, and I live my day to day normally.  I live a pretty balanced lifestyle and enjoy cake, cookies, salad and meat.  I don’t have any health red flags such as exhaustion or loss of period.  While most signs of my fracture point towards gait or a rolled ankle, I wanted to at least get a full picture of my health.  Thinking out loud, I would rather rule out any problems then the question, “what if.”

Unfortunately, my insurance is great but doesn’t cover the cost of a blood test, “just to know”.  If I were dying or going through something serious my insurance would cover the test (as they covered it to check my Vitamin D and Calcium levels). They do not include a test just check key nutrients.  Heck why not throw in an MRI just to get some photos too? If only health care worked like that…

Due to the price, my husband and I went back and forth with Inside Tracker.  For a full blood analysis, the cost is $499.  In the medical world that is comparable for blood work, however, without insurance it’s steep. Do I want a blood test or do I want Louboutins? Decisions of the month…(kidding).  I was fortunate Inside Tracker gave me a discount but even if they did not, we decided the price would be worth it to have the knowledge.

Since I don’t give blood well, I opted to pay the extra fee for the White Glove Service.  This meant a registered nurse come to my house and collected my blood.  Another thing I don’t deal well with is the test also requires you to fast for 12 hours.  Even after eating directly before and after, I’ve passed out the majority of time giving blood or getting shots.

So being the diva I am, I ordered a test for the earliest time possible time of 7 am. The woman who came was professional, timely and done by 7:10. She works with several different but similar companies. In fact, she has been a mobile blood collector for 20 years. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

I got my blood drawn on a Thursday, and my results were available the Tuesday after.  I was impatiently waiting all weekend.  To be honest, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to know the results. I had seen plenty of people shocked by their results. What if they found I had a serious issue?  At least I would have answers I guess.

So with that, what did they find?

Inside Tracker classifies your result from “Optimal”, “Needs Work” and “At Risk”.

Let’s start with my “At a Risk”:
Cortisol Levels:

Cortisol insidetracker

My biggest issue is my cortisol level.  My cortisol level is too high. This definitely plays a role in my stress level as well as bloating.  I’m also a very type A person, and I do stress out from anxiety. I’ve always had a higher than average cortisol level due to stress, anxiety and occasionally depression.  To be honest, I’m getting out of a rough time in my life, so it’s not surprising my cortisol level is rather high.

How am I combating that? Mentally, I am making relaxing a priority.  I’m trying to focus on sleep as well as adding a few more of the nutrients indicated.  A lot can play a role in cortisol levels, and I need to make it a priority to just relax and not overbook myself.  Better said than done right?

Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 insidetracker

 

My second risk is my Vitamin B12 is extremely high. This surprised me!  I drink no more than 20 ounces of coffee daily (decaf after noon).  I drink soda once in a blue moon (maybe once every other month?).  I looked at my multivitamin which also has 100% of my daily intake.  A lot of the food I consume is enriched with B12 too.  So for now, I’ll look for nonenriched foods.  I’ll look to find a multivitamin without Vitamin B12 too. I like the taste of coffee, so hopefully, by substituting nonenriched foods, I’ll be able to lower my B12.

Next to my High levels:

Iron: 
I am honestly shocked, but my iron is too high.  I don’t know a lot of runners who have this issue.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was too low.  This will be a hard one to work on, to be honest.  It recommends eating less red meat.  I wouldn’t say I overeat red meat, but I do have a few serving a week.

Iron inside tracker

 

Iron inside tracker

Liver Enzymes:

My liver enzymes are too high. I had no idea what that even meant. I had to do more research after getting my results, but it is great information to have.  It recommends taking a probiotic and eating a few servings of nuts, so I’ll be adding those to my diet and monitoring the results.

liver enzymes inside tracker

So What’s the Plan?
  • I intend to focus on my Cortisol and Vitamin B12 because those are most important.
  • It was recommended to take a probiotic.  Is that the band-aid to fix everything?  I’ve been taking a probiotic for just over a week now.  To be honest, I can’t feel any difference, and I feel more bloated, but I think it will take a few weeks to assimilate.
  • I’m still researching how to decrease my iron levels.  I have a feeling my higher iron is inhibiting my calcium and vitamin D,  While I tested in the normal range, it was towards the lower end (and make a huge effort to intake a lot of both).

They are minor fixes and adding a few more nutrients and foods to my diet.  There is nothing drastic or a crash diet.

I’m also going to get retested in 8-10 weeks to see if I am improving.

Would I recommend Inside Tracker?

I would.  While the price is high, the quality of information you receive is worth it.  While I had several higher than average and two “at risk” categories, I didn’t have any major red flags.  That doesn’t mean the knowledge won’t help.  I would have never thought my iron levels were too high, and honestly, I was debating taking an iron supplement because “that’s what female runners do”.

I don’t believe any of these imbalances caused my ankle fracture, however, I’m glad I chose to get the blood work. I do feel as though as I begin running and increase mileage, my body will respond better to the mileage.

Chances are if you decide to utilize Inside Tracker, there will be results that surprise you.  Maybe your blood work comes out in the optimal range.  Or maybe you have nutrients that “need work” that you never would have thought. For me, I didn’t think my liver enzymes weren’t optimal or that my iron was too high.

I like Inside Tracker because the information is high quality and useful for my situation.  It isn’t telling me to completely overhaul my diet or fast on juju juice for eight weeks.  It’s giving me minor tweaks of how I can improve myself and easy to update my diet with.

Question for you: Have you ever gotten blood work done? 

Month of July

Month of July Training:

Total Mileage: Roughly 150
Range of pace: X-11 minute (mostly untimed)
Races: 1
Run for the Hill of It
Workouts: 0
Cross-Training Sessions: 11 (swimming and elliptical)
Core Sessions: 16

Thoughts:
For obvious reasons, July was a much better month than June. I was able to consistently build up my mileage.  It’s only been 10 weeks since my injury but I’ve missed running a lot.  I don’t have any complaints with this month of running but I would much rather be running consistently without hesitation.

Me running

My last few months have been boring but every month can’t be the best or most exciting training wise.  Even though I know that, when you are personally dealing with getting back into running, it’s not any easier.

I did do a lot of Hiking:
I enjoyed hiking because I was able to get outside and explore without feeling hurt or injured.  It was something my husband and I could do on the weekend instead of going to a race. I didn’t know I enjoyed hiking that much until this month.
Hiking Hemlock Falls
Getting Lost at Bear Mountain State Park
Going Back to Bear Mountain State Park (and not getting lost)

hiking bear mountain

My Single Race:

I wrote about that yesterday but I’m pleased with it!

Run for the Hill of It

Thoughts for August:
I’ll continue to slowly increase my mileage and jump into a few races.  I don’t have any races in mind but I’ll find a few.  If I can successfully continue to build a base, I will look for a fall goal race.  I don’t plan to add any speed work yet.  I would rather run 40-50 miles with no hesitation, worry or pain.  After that, I’ll begin adding workouts.

Posts from this month:
How to Become a Morning Runner
How to Come Back Stronger from an Injury

Shoe Reviews:
Asics Cumulus
Mizuno Wave Enigma 6

Personal:
A Day in the Life

Questions for you:
How was your month of July?

Weekly Recap

I’ve thought about doing a personal life weekly recap.  I have a lot of friends and family that read LOLZ blog, but I barely ever talk about my “real life.”  While this blog is heavily running focused, it isn’t everything I do.

Sometimes I think I’m living a double life: Blogging and the outside world.  I’m not hiding anything from blogging, but I tend to microblog on Instagram or Facebook.

I thought I would start adding more personal life updates as well.

This week was a great week. My sister in law Lindsay graduated with her master’s degree.  I made the quick trip down to the DC area to watch her graduation.  It was a very good time seeing my family, and I definitely miss them.

mastes graduation

Yesterday I got my blood drawn for Inside Tracker.  I was given a discount to talk about my experience. To be honest, I was nervous about the entire thing.  I scheduled the appointment just over two weeks ago, and I wanted it to be over sooner than later.  I’ve never dealt well with needles.  I  can’t relax enough for them to get into the vein.  I also pass out the majority of the time giving blood or getting shots.  Needless to say, needles are a big deal for me. I paid the extra fee to have a certified nurse come to my house and take my blood at 7 am.  Since we had to fast 12 hours beforehand and I wake up hungry in the morning, this was the best option for me.  The Nurse was kind and helpful, and I watched Netflix, which kept my mind off it.  Everything went smoothly, and I was shocked at how easy it was.

I decided to try Inside Tracker for a number of reasons.  Since we are in the military, I don’t have a Primary Care doctor. It would take a lot of hoops for me to get a “routine blood test” after just getting one from my fracture (only with a few minerals such as calcium and Vitamin D) and the results being normal.  The miliary has great insurance, but I have no life-threatening conditions and in fact, I am healthy.  My quality of life is fine and I wanted a blood test “just to know” and to make sure that my nutrients are appropriate for running.  InsideTracker, while expensive, was the best route for me to take.  I have also seen several bloggers and others use and have great success with it.  Plus, Insider Tracker gives out fun bandaids.

InsiderTracker

Since my fracture still doesn’t have an exact cause I’m hoping my blood work might reveal something.  Either way knowing that information will be good knowledge to have, and I’m looking forward to the results. Once I have the results, I’ll be sure to talk more about it.

Last night for work we also hosted our first “Paint Your Own Race Medal Holder” event.  It was a lot of fun, and we sold out the event.  They have painting parties, so we thought, why not a race medal painting party?

running co paint night

Recent Posts: 
26 Things I learned before Age 26
Training Last Week (Summary: not so great)
Hiking at Bear Mountain (New York State)
A Day in the Life

Question for you:

How was your week?  Have you been busy? Quiet?

 

Day in the Life

I was asked last week to describe a typical day in the (eating) life.  Please keep in my mind, I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, dietician, or online nutrition coach. I am just me, a person who likes to eat relatively well and tends to blow their budget on eating at restaurants.

I decided to record everything last Monday.  I don’t usually count calories, but I’m generally aware of an estimate of how many I’ve eaten.  I know if I’ve eaten 1500 and am starving or ate 2500 and feel fine.  It works for me.  Since being injured, I also know I’ve put on between 3-5 pounds.  I haven’t weighed myself, but my guess is I weigh somewhere between 130-135.

Breakfast (5:15-5:30 am):

I enjoy waffles for breakfast.  I utilize my waffle maker every morning. I’ve had the same breakfast for a long time, and I know it works for me. I eat the same breakfast whether I’m running, working out, racing or whatever.   I’m normally in the minority, but I am hungry when I wake up.

Waffle (500ish calories):
(easy recipe)
2/3 cup flour
1/2ish cup milk
1 egg
baking powder

You can add whatever else you want in it.  I’ve added blueberries, pumpkin, chocolate chips and even cocoa powder.  It’s a basic ingredient list.

This is a plain waffle
This is a plain waffle

 

I normally catch up on work, emails, and everything and head out for a run between 6:30-7.  I like to eat before I run and never have an upset stomach during my runs.


On Monday, I ran 4 miles.  My run was uneventful and boring. It felt okay, and my ankle felt good, so I have no complaints.  In fact, my ankle has felt completely injury free since too. 

After my run, I ate a cup of Greek Yogurt and had coffee. I’m currently enjoying Fage or Chobani.  I choose whichever is cheaper at the grocery store.  I don’t normally drink coffee before a run but like to get Starbucks or Wawa afterwords…Monday was unusual for me and was my first iced coffee in about two years.  I don’t know why I was craving one, but I was.  That alone deserves a photo. starbucks


After showering and getting ready, it’s time to begin the actual day.  The meat of my day is always interesting and no two days are the same.  Sometimes I’ll work in the store of Running Co; sometimes I’ll work at home, and still other times I’m on base doing things.  My google calendar has become my best friend to keep me on track and not missing anything. I have my phone and computer synched up.

Last Monday, I wasn’t in the store, but I had a couple of meetings as well as something to take care of on base.  When I left my house around 9:30 am, I wasn’t home until around 4 pm.  I try to pack my lunch, so I don’t end up spend a lot of unnecessary money along the way.  Plus going out with friends is much more enjoyable than eating on the road.

By 11, I’m hungry.  I had a roast beef sandwich on wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, and mustard. I also had a few carrots and a peach. It was boring but good.  I tend to each more frequently and often when I’m out or in the store.  When I’m at home, I’ll just eat lunch and move on.

Roast Beef sandwich on wheat
Roast Beef sandwich on wheat

By 2, I was hungry again and ate another (exactly the same) sandwich.  A sandwich isn’t really a full meal, but it’s not a snack either.  I just consider it two lunches.

I got home around 4 and my husband, and I decided the night before we wanted steak.  I try and have red meat once or twice a week, and steak is by far my favorite red meat.

We usually do something simple like grill it and have a salad and potato.  That is one of my favorite homecooked meal.  It’s easy, fast and delicious.  We aren’t fancy, and our meals normally take 30 minutes at the very most to prepare.  I do the vegetable and potato cooking (which is not cooking at all) and my husband grills. I’ve also been drinking a cup of milk with dinner to keep getting calcium.  This evening we had asparagus too.

dinner steak


Lately, I’ve been doing core and strength at night.  I dedicate about 30 minutes to it after dinner.  I catch up on TV, get more core in and then relax.  From 6-9, I do that, relax and sometimes get work done.  If anyone needs a new Netflix show, I have loved “Army Wifes”.  A lot of social media happens at night, so sometimes I’m online for things like that too.

I’ve been making smoothies with a milk base, protein powder and whatever else I can find in the house.  Sometimes cocoa powder, sometimes fruit, it depends on what I’m craving. On Monday, I added milk, a scoop of protein powder, a half cup of pumpkin and cinnamon.

Protein Smoothie

I’ve stopped eating a lot of sweets and dessert every single night.  We tend to go out for dessert.  Do I enjoy cookies and cake?  Of course, but I don’t think it’s necessary to have them every single day.  I used to crave sweets almost every evening but about two years ago I stopped having as much sugar and artificial sweeteners and no longer crave them.  I always add a Truvia or sugar to my coffee.  Thinking out loud, I used to dump boatloads in…no wonder I craved sugars.  

In summary, I’m a fairly boring person when it comes to life and food.  I eat what I get on sale and try to eat healthy.  Just like running, a day of good (or bad) eating doesn’t determine your health.  Consistency does… 

Questions for you:

What is your favorite food?

What are some good lunch ideas?  I definitely need help in that department.