Thursday, January 22, 2015

Active Nerd

A little over a week ago, I bought myself the best gift, a FitBit Charge HR.

Untitled

I have been wanting an activity tracker for quite some time but they were always too expensive and I needed other things. Plus, I wasn't sure which brand and model to get and you want to be sure on something like that before spending. When I started reading about the new FitBits, especially the FitBit Charge HR, I new I needed to get one. The FitBit Charge HR just happened to come out the same month I receive my Wellness Works money.  At my place of employment, you can earn up to $200 a year for doing healthy things thought out the year like going so many times to the gym, running races, volunteering in your community, visiting the doctor, etc. Usually I just let that money go to paying bills, but with this year's new fitness goals I decided that the Wellness Works money should go toward my FitBit.

I am pretty much in love with the FitBit Charge HR.  The design is new and improved.  It can display the time, steps taken, current heart rate, distance for the day, calories burned, and stairs climbed. (It also alerts me to when my phone is ringing  by vibrating and the phone number or name appears on the display which I didn't think was a big deal but I am loving that feature since my phone is often on silent from work.) More metrics are collected and reported on my FitBit dashboard which I can view through the FitBit website or app. FitBit has pre-set goals for 10,000 steps, 10 flights of stairs, 5 miles, and more.  As I have mentioned before, I love a challenge.  I love these daily goals and I am ecstatic when I reach them and surpass them. I can compete with friends to walk the most steps each day or week.

The FitBit is really helping me be more active already. Last Monday, I was off work and the kids were off school so we did a lot of nothing and it really showed on my FitBit tracking.  I was thousands of steps away from 10,000  when I put the kids to bed, so I walked up and down my stairs and paced down the hall until I reached the goal.  And you know what, I felt great to make the goal.  Before the FitBit, I didn't have a way of seeing how inactive or active I was on non-workout days.  Now I can see all the numbers and get myself moving!

My FitBit is a nerdy dream come true.  I can see all these statistics.  I am really focusing on my sleeping pattern right now.  I thought I got at least 7 hours of sleep since Stormy started sleeping through the night, but I am not. I need to start getting to bed a bit earlier.

I am happy to report I have lost one pound, which is small I know, but that number hasn't moved in weeks. I'm not sure I can get all the credit to the FitBit but I know it definitely helped.

Do you have an activity tracker?  Do you find it motivates you?

Disclaimer: I am in no way connected with the FitBit company and I was not compensated for this post.  I am just really happy with my purchase and wanted to share.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Six Days

I am so sore.  I haven't felt like this in years.  Today is my first rest day in 6 days. Usually, I have rest days more than workout days.  I do have a plan to work out 6 days a week, but every week I miss most of those workouts due to a variety of commitments.  These commitments are mostly me leaving work later than scheduled (if I don't leave right on time, I don't have enough time to run and get the kids from day care before closing), doctor appointments for the kids (I didn't realize that when I had a second kid, doctor's appointments would increase so much), or some other thing I need to do for my kids (kids are needy).

Some how the stars aligned just perfectly for the first time in months for me to hit the gym. I continued my streak this week with playing basketball on Sunday, then running on Monday and spin class on Tuesday. I don't think I have worked out 6 days in a row ever.  Even when I was an athlete in high school, I only worked out Monday through Friday.  

Tomorrow, I'll start it all over again and see if I can hit six in a row again. I don't think I'll hit it this time around but there is always next time.

What is your longest streak? 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rocky, Cold Start

There is one thing knitters love and that is cold weather.  At no other time do I feel as useful as when it is bitter cold outside and I can make something that can remedy that. I find people appreciate the knitted (and crocheted) arts much more in sub-zero temperatures because really, there isn't much to appreciate about sub-zero temperatures.  This past week, my daughter had two days off for windchill. My college even closed one day. So we found ourselves with a bit more vacation time on our hands after a long vacation.

Last weekend I finished these mittens.

Untitled
I love them. Great yarn and great pattern. I figured that this would be my last project for a while since I was going back to work. But with the extra day off, I got some more knitting time.

I made two things.  A cowl and a hat.

Untitled
Both of them are all wrong.  The cowl I can deal with.  The cowl pattern is called Gap-tastic and I have made it before for my sister so it was a familiar pattern.  When I saw this yarn, I knew it was destined to become a Gap-tastic Cowl.  I was over half way through when I noticed that there was a twist. When knitting in the round, the pattern always says to be careful to not twist your stitches.  I was really careful.  I even pulled it all out once and restarted but I got another twist. This is the first time in almost 6 years of knitting that this has ever happened to me.  The blame goes to not having a long enough cable and me trying to shove too many stitches in to too small of space.  The good thing is is that there is a name for this type of scarf (mobius) and instead of it being a totally disaster, it is a new design feature. You can't tell that it looks different from what I intended.  It is still a cowl and it still does its job.

Untitled
The hat is not so lucky.  This hat will fit no one and I blame it on (1.) not having the correct size needles and attempting to do it anyway and (2.) the pattern being totally wacko.  I knit another hat from this pattern with the right sized needles today and I still cannot get this hat to fit.  I pulled out a bit and am making it longer.  I really don't believe a hat only needs to be 4.5" before decreasing for the crown, even with super bulky yarn. I'm going to go at least 6" this time.
.
Untitled


While sub-zero temps are kind to knitters they are brutal for runners. Since my gym closes when the college closes, I couldn't run on the indoor track on Wednesday like I had planned. On Thursday, the gym was open and I was the only participant for spin class, so I got a lot of one-on-one attention. Friday, I played in a Faculty/staff volleyball tournament (we got second place) and ran on the track.  It was actually one of the best runs I've had in a long time.  Now this may sound weird, but I got inspiration from watching an episode of Psych on Netflix. (I watch Psych as I go to sleep at night almost every night. I love that show.) In the episode, the protagonist, Shawn, is on a elliptical machine and he is really working hard because he thinks if he doesn't a bomb will go off.  Thought it is all a misunderstanding and he is in no danger, it got me thinking about my running effort.  I have been running more regularly for a few weeks now, but I have been doing what is called "easy runs." Easy runs are an essential part of running and yes it should be the majority of runs, but not all of the runs.  I decided to try to go faster and harder on Friday and it really paid off.  I ran 3 miles in 27:17.  This is no where near my fastest, but it is closer to my old easy run time than what I have been running. It made me feel good that even though I didn't get to run on Tuesday (due to packing error) or Wednesday (weather), I could come out and do a harder run. The good mo-jo traveled on to today and I hit the pool with my friend and swam 1000 m.  Tomorrow, I have pick-up basketball at church. I feel that even though this week got off to a very rocky start, I am starting to make progress.

I also finished my first book of the year, Like No Other by Una LaMarch and I think it is "meh." The premise is that a Hasidic girl meets a non-Hasidic boy and falls in insta-love which challenges her religiously obedient life and family. My favorite book of all time, The Chosen by Chaim Potok, is about Hasidic Judaism so I was hoping to like it but I think Potok's works are much, much better. 

So for 2015, I only need to: run 494 miles and at least 98 more times, read 24 more books, and make 10 more large projects (the failed hat doesn't count until I get it right). Not to bad, right?

Is your new year off to a rocky start?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Running Fail

To quote Modern Family's Phil Dunphy "WTF, why the face?" (If you don't know what I'm talking about watch this.)

Untitled

It was a running fail of epic proportions today. For 2015, my goal is to have at least 100 runs and run 500 miles. Additionally, I want to walk 250 miles (most of them on my work breaks). I also want to have 100 visits to my gym this year. Again, these are all do-able goals, if I set my mind to it.  I used to do this before I had Stormy and I can do it again.

Today was my first day back to work in just over two weeks.  We also got just over 5 inches of snow last night which made for an interesting morning of commuting (the van doors were frozen shut and we had to use the hatch to get kids in and out) but we all got to school/day care/work safely. Work was good and went quickly.  I am speaking as a part of three different presentations tomorrow so I had I lot to prepare plus a mound of emails to send. When I left work, I thought about just going home, but then decided to hit the gym. After all, these goals are not going to be made without choosing the gym over the couch.

When I got to the gym, I noticed I didn't have headphones.  No problem. It will be boring to run around a 1/10 miles track without listening to anything but I've done it before. Then, I got to the locker room to change clothes and realized I had not packed a sports bra.  Let's just say that a sports bra is essential to me running. In fact, often two sports bras are essential. So I realized that running is not happening today. Then I also realized my fancy new running watch that can keep track of my laps is also not packed. It was just not my day.  Most of these errors were due to the fact that I was supposed to go to spin class at 5:40 am but the gym opened late due to the snow so I had to repack my workout bag and some things got missed.  I did get in 1.5-2 miles of walking on the track and I did a mile in the halls on my break earlier in the day.  That's better than nothing.

Tomorrow's high is zero with wind chills in -20s to -30s so Miss D's school is cancelled.  As of right now, ICC is still on and if it is, I can try to run again tomorrow.  I am so thankful to have access to an indoor track when it is so cold outside.

Have you had any epic workout fails?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Knitting Goals



I've mentioned before that I am very goal/challenge orientated. One of the best parts of January for me is everyone else is thinking like I think all the time. I feel normal for a few days until everyone breaks their resolutions. For 2015, I have several goals that I will be revealing, including today's reveal: knitting. I want to make at least 12 substantial knitting or crochet projects. That is one a month, which I think is doable, even with my other goals. I've never challenged myself to a number goal of projects before, so we'll see how this goes.

Yesterday, I knit so much that my hand hurt. It is that crazy hurt of euphoria. I was in a "knitting trance" and soon I was pretty close to finishing the baby blanket, so I kept going (no pain, no gain in knitting too) and finished the blanket. One project done, eleven more to go. (Even though I started this project in 2014, I knit well over 50% in 2015, so it totally counts.)



The pattern is the Cuddle Tight Baby Blanket by Lion Brand Yarn. It is super easy which is perfect for watching TV (or watching my husband play XBOX). I used Bernat Baby Blanket yarn. It is so soft and squishy. Stormy really enjoys hugging it and I have to tell him it is not for him.

I have my next project ready to go. I am making mittens with one of my favorite yarns Malibrigo Rasta. (I love any Malibrigo yarn, really.) This color is called "Paris Night." It is an inky blue/purple.


Although mittens are not very big, they will still count in my "substantial" project count. I am just not counting baby bibs and dishcloths in the substantial count. I make a ton of small things (sub-goal: make 24 dishcloths). Hats and mittens, though small, will still count as substantial. I make so many little projects (finished in under 2 hours) that this year I really want to focus on getting some bigger things accomplished as well as getting some unfinished objects finished up. I have a few big projects that are nearly completed, but just need some finish work.

I am having a hard time deciding between knitting and reading right now. Usually I get into a real reading kick or real knitting kick and alternate which takes my time. I am trying to read the January book club selection for one of my many book clubs, but I want to start the mittens too.

I'm reading Like No Other by Una LaMarche. I thought I would really love it and read it quickly, but I am not finding it as interesting as the reviews promise. But, I'm only about a third of the way through, plenty of time for it to get more interesting. It just makes the call of knitting so much louder and hard to ignore.

What is something that usually distracts you from your goals? I usually have issues with conflicting goals and figuring out which one to do first.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015

It is a new year and a new attempt at blogging.  Maybe this one will stick. When I was pregnant with little Stormy, I was told that two kids triples the work and I would say that is accurate.  I have been working on being a good librarian, wife and mother while keeping myself happy with my hobbies. I have been thinking about blogging, but not doing it.  I even thought about deleting the whole thing, but then today happened and I wanted to capture it.

I am adding a new hobby this year, I signed up for my first triathlon yesterday.  I am excited to get training, especially to start swimming again. I know I can run, bike and swim, I just can't do them one after another just yet. I do have until June to get it right though. I hope to also try this triathlon thing next month (on Valentine's Day no less) at an indoor tri at a local college. The indoor tri is a lot less pressure because they are seeing how far you can swim, bike and run in delegated time periods.

I started my New Year off with a 5k race on the Peoria riverfront. It was cold, but not as cold as yesterday, and not as cold as it will be this weekend. I got to run with a friend from church.

January 1

I came in at just under 30 minutes (29:54). I got to use my new running GPS watch too. It was great to know exactly how far I was into the race at all times. It is super nerdy. I love knowing the running stats as I run and once completed. I have several goals for health in 2015 but one of the main goals is to get that 5k time down to pre-Stormy time, which is over a minute per mile faster (it may sound crazy but it's totally do-able). My friend and I already have two more 5ks over the next two months (we signed up for a three pack bundle) so I should be able to make progress by March. I actually have a race at least every month until August. This should keep me motivated to get those miles in.

I am working on a great baby blanket. It is super squishy yarn and amazingly easy pattern.  More and more friends, co-workers and relatives are having babies which keeps my knitting needles busy. While I was waiting for the race this morning I got a few more rows in.

January 1

If you notice in the photo, I have a Jamberrys with a silhouette of a woman running.  I come prepared! Look out 2015!

I'm looking forward to a New Year.  Do you have any big plans for 2015?


Untitled

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vintage Crochet Blanket

I love making things for babies so it is a good fit that so many of my friends are pregnant.

One of my friends from grad school is pregnant with her fourth child, a boy, due in just a few weeks.  I have crocheted a blanket for her first three so I started on the blanket for the fourth.

I haven't crocheted in a while. Crochet is my first fiber love.  I learned from my mom in my late teens. But once I started knitting five years ago, my crocheting projects diminished.  Still as my first love I am always happy to go back, especially when I am making blankets.  I prefer to knit for garments and accessories but nothing beats crochet when making a baby blanket.

I am in love with this pattern Vintage Crocheted Blanket by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. I normally prefer to use free patterns or patterns from books and magazines I already own, but when I saw this pattern, I had to buy it.  It has every thing I look for in a pattern: easily memorized and looks great. Plus, it is just really fun.  This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  I highly recommend this pattern to all crocheters out there.