Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Creepers

This morning, the plan was to get up and get in a six mile run before class. You know what I did instead? I caught up on this week's episodes of Nashville, Criminal Minds, and American Horror Story. I don't have cable and didn't get to watch them last night. It was necessary. I could view this as an epic fail, but instead I am looking at it as an opportunity to get in three quality runs this weekend with far better weather than we got today. 

On another note, let's talk about Halloween. I'm not a big fan of Halloween. There was a Halloween episode of this web series called Awkward Black Girl that opens with the line, "There's only one day a year when hoes and superheroes can run the streets without judgment." Two years later, and that line is still accurate. I guess I can understand the allure of pretending to be someone else for a day, but in general I think the crazies come out on Halloween. 

Case and point, I was walking home tonight and for the second time in two days a couple of guys did what I like to call The Licensed Creeper. The Licensed Creeper thinks he's hot because he has a car. It's probably not even a nice car because the guy in the nice car is a little classier than The Licensed Creeper. The Licensed Creeper likes to roll down the passenger window and yell at women as they walk by. He may also be the guy who leers silently behind the wheel or just honks at you if he is in a hurry or not in a position to stop and fully commit to the creep factor. The Licensed Creeper seems to think any one of these tactics will work for him. Apparently he is under the delusion that women like it when strange men call them things like "Baby" and "Chica" out of car windows and that name calling like that will get them something other than ignored. 

I encountered two different Licensed Creepers this week and I can only guess that Halloween brought the foolishness out of these individuals. In any case, I would like to send a message to all the Licensed Creepers out there. Leaning out of car windows to talk to women is demeaning at the best of times and downright threatening at the worst. My name is not Baby or any other inappropriate nickname you might choose to toss my way. If you had introduced yourself politely at a coffee shop and started a conversation I might have been interested. I guess you were not trying to make a genuine connection with me yelling out of your car window the way you did, though, because if you were, you would have expressed your interest at a time when I might actually be able to get to know you. The next time you feel the urge to blurt something rude at an unsuspecting female pedestrian from the comfort of your car, please reconsider. You will likely make her uncomfortable and yourself look like a jerk. And just in case you're thinking about being brave and actually getting out of your car when the whole yelling out the window thing doesn't work, let me warn you. I have pepper spray and I am not afraid to use it on Licensed Creepers like you. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Fastest Mile

As far as tempo runs go, this one went pretty well. Not long before this run, I made a bad life choice at Starbucks in the form of lemon pound cake and sweetened green tea. I'm guessing I have all those extra calories to thank for making this run so successful. Even with my walk breaks, I think the first mile was my fastest ever!

During the first mile I challenged myself to do all the running intervals at 6.1 or higher. I know most runners can finish whole marathons at that pace, but for me it still feels crazy fast. I finished mile 1 with the running intervals at that pace, but after mile 1 I started doing my running intervals at 5.6 or faster because the first mile was so exhausting. Hopefully if I keep doing my tempo runs at that pace it will eventually start to feel easier. 

I also got a package today with my copy of The Lemonade Cookbook. I don't think it has officially been released yet, but the publisher was looking for people to review it. I happily agreed. The book contains recipes from Lemonade, a restaurant in LA. I've only skimmed through the pages so far, but everything sounds delicious. I'll have to find a few of the simpler (Ashley-proof) recipes to try out before I write a full review.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Disasters

So, last night I came home, checked my email, and got some good news. I am now an IDEA Inspired Blogger! Basically, the program is for bloggers who "inspire and motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle." I was really excited about it!

Unfortunately, it's the only thing I've been excited about this week. It has been a rough one and pretty much everything that could go wrong, has. Let's recap. Last week, I noticed a new Crohn's symptom that I've never had to deal with before. Since my doctor can't see me until next week, I've been worrying about it ever since. 

Then, I was in a fender bender on Friday. No one was hurt, but it freaked me out. I'm a nervous driver on a good day. By the time I graduated from high school, six of my classmates had been killed in car accidents, and that's not counting the accidents involving students who were not in my graduating year. I was not close to any of the students who died, but I went to a small high school and knowing or knowing of that many students who died in accidents made me acutely aware of how dangerous cars are. My experience on Friday is not likely to improve my opinion of driving.

Finally, I woke up this morning and went to the refrigerator only to find everything in the freezer melted and nothing in the refrigerator cold. I had a ton of food, and more importantly my medicine in there and all of it was ruined. I spent my day hauling bags of my groceries out to the dumpster, ordering replacement Humira pens, and waiting for maintenance to show up. When they finally got to my apartment, I started explaining that my refrigerator wasn't working and all of my food had gone bad. Then the guy looked in my refrigerator at the bags of melted frozen chicken and onions that were beginning to smell and tried to tell me I didn't have to throw away everything. Right. Because the only thing that could possibly make this week better would be a sprinkling of botulism on top of my pasta.

Anyway, I plan to get back to my regularly scheduled miles tomorrow. Let's hope that I won't encounter any new disasters before then...

Sunday, October 27, 2013


It's shark week and I have cramps. I am also bloated and generally miserable about it. I hate this time of month because I feel the way I felt thirty pounds ago--big and unhappy. I wanted to remind myself that even if I've gained some water weight this week, I shouldn't feel discouraged because I've come a very long way. I started looking through photos from the months before I started my weight loss journey and found the one above. I haven't looked at photos  from last year in a while and I was shocked at how different I looked then. 

Pictures like the one above are part of what prompted me to start eating better and working out. Even though I knew I didn't look my best back then, I think I made myself believe that I didn't look that bad because I couldn't handle the reality of what I had done to myself. I needed the distance of a year and six months to accept that I used to be in a very bad place, but if I keep working hard I never have to go back there.

I had planned to run 3 miles today and it almost didn't happen. I took some Tylenol after lunch and curled up in bed with the first season of Arrow on Netflix. Before dinner, I coaxed myself out from under the covers and put on some running clothes. I promised myself that I didn't have to run hard as long as I ran. I picked an out and back route and tried to enjoy the nice running weather and ignore my cramps. It worked for the most part and I had a much better run than yesterday's debacle.

I was happy with my splits and I felt like it was a good way to end week 4 of marathon training. I mean, I ran 23 miles this week and even if I didn't enjoy every single mile, I enjoyed being able to do them. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Two Part Long Run

I wish I could say I had one of those confidence-boosting long runs today that makes me remember why I keep doing this whole running thing. Sadly, if I said that it would be a lie. I had 11 miles on the schedule and I spent all 11 miles on the struggle bus.

It started with the water situation. Since it has gotten cooler, I haven't been drinking as much water on my runs. I decided to experiment and just take my 20 ounce handheld instead of filling up my 50 ounce hydration pack. I filled up my water bottle and left it laying on the counter while I put on my shoes and found my gloves. Apparently I didn't have the top screwed on very well because when I came back the fabric pouch where you slide your hand in to hold the bottle was wet. If it had been warm out that wouldn't have been a big deal, but the weather app on my phone said it was 28 degrees fahrenheit. I was planning to wear gloves on my run, but they weren't waterproof and the pouch was so wet that I knew it would soak through my gloves and make my hands freezing cold for my entire run. I still didn't want to run with my hydration pack so I grabbed my 10 ounce handheld bottle and decided to use it instead. 

I was fine for the first 4 miles or so, but then I started to notice that the cold air was working like a refrigerator and making the water in my bottle get colder as I ran. It was miserable. I had the bottle in my left hand and it felt like I was carrying an ice pack. I wound up just drinking the rest of the water so that my hand could warm up, but then I started to get thirsty a couple of miles later. I definitely regretted not wearing the hydration pack.

The next problem was with the route I mapped out before I left. I came up with what I thought would be a perfect out and back route. I even arranged it where I would get to run in a new park for a while. If it had worked out it would have been a great route, but when I got to this one street on the route it seemed really isolated and it made me feel anxious and uncomfortable running there alone. I wound up turning back and running along a busier street instead, but my improvised route was extremely hilly. I started to see signs saying that I was actually on one of the city's greenways, which was nice, but it was definitely a greenway I would rather walk than run. When my Garmin beeped at mile 4 I had just made it to the top of a really steep hill and there was another hill in front of me. I had planned to run out 5.5 miles and back 5.5 miles to make it to 11, but I could not stand the idea of running up more hills to get to 5.5 miles and then have to face those same hills on the way back. I turned around at mile 4 and started running home. I told myself that I could stop at home, use the bathroom, get some more water, and go finish my run after that. Here are the splits for the first 8 miles:

When I got back to my house I was tired and freezing. The heat felt amazing and I just could not bear the thought of going back out in the cold after being inside. I took a very hot shower instead. After lunch I took a nap under a pile of blankets. It took a while, but eventually I started to feel warm again. Unfortunately, my new found comfort brought guilt along with it. The running schedule said I was supposed to run 11 miles today and I had only run 8. I regretted not finishing my run, so I peeled myself out of bed, put on a fresh set of running clothes, and headed back out to run 3 more miles.

Making myself run 3 more miles was one of the harder things I've done lately. It was a lot warmer out than it was this morning, but my hips were already sore from my morning 8 miler and I just didn't want to run again. I had planned to tailor my route to be less hilly than usual, but it turns out that half the streets I had planned to run on were blocked off for an event. Pedestrians were still allowed to go down the streets, but there were so many people around for the event that I felt like a spectacle going about my interval run in front of them. For the second time today I had to change my route unexpectedly. The change meant facing even more hills. I managed to finish the 3 miles in spite of the terrain, though. Here are the rest of my splits:

I'm actually really glad I finished the last 3 miles of my run. Not only do I think it's important for building stamina, but my second run of the day wound up working like a recovery run. I felt less sore after I finished those 3 miles. It was pleasant and unexpected. I wish I had done all 11 miles at once, but I had such bad running luck today that I'm just happy I finished 11 miles. Here's hoping for a better long run next week.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Retirees and Rookies

During yesterday's 6 mile run, I started to feel a familiar twinge in my knee. My initial response was to panic, ugly cry, and abandon my dream of running 26.2 at 26. Then I realized that I had been wearing the same shoes since May and during that time I trained for and run a half marathon. Most running gurus say you should change your shoes every 300 miles or so because the padding starts to break down in the soles and they stop providing adequate support at that point. I didn't track how many miles I had actually put on those shoes (bad Ashley), but I'm pretty sure it was at least 300. The problem, I decided, was that it was time for new shoes.

I had a meeting and class this morning so I planned to go get new shoes after lunch. I had a block of tofu that needed to be used up so I whipped up an apricot ginger marinade while the tofu was draining and the oven was pre-heating. After I sliced the tofu I coated each piece in the marinade and put it in the oven to bake. I was really happy with the finished product.

I watched this week's episode of the Vampire Diaries on Hulu while I ate and it was sad, y'all. I won't spoil it for the people who aren't caught up, but I teared up and that doesn't happen very often. I finished up my lunch and headed to my favorite local running store to get some shoes. (As an aside, does everyone remember the Youtube video Shoes? It was totally playing in my head as I typed that last sentence.) 

My visit to the running store was, as usual, short and sweet. The owners are two older men who have been running and coaching runners for years. I walked in the store and told them I needed new shoes. He asked how long I had been running in the ones I was wearing and I said I thought I had gotten them in May. He said that was pretty old and then went to find me something similar. I guess they didn't have anymore Brooks Adrenalines (like my old ones.) He had me try on two different pairs of shoes then sent me out into the parking lot to run in each pair and see how they felt. I ended up choosing the Asics above. They have some sort of gel in them and my initial impression was that they were squishier than the Brooks. The guy laughed and said that was because the cushioning in my old ones was so broken down. I didn't really like the second pair I tried on and he said I looked more comfortable in the Asics. They still offer pronation control like the Brooks Adrenalines and they felt comfortable. Asics will also, apparently, be donating some percentage of my purchase to prostate cancer research, hence the blue. Apparently there were no pretty pink running shoes that work for my feet and benefit breast cancer research or some other lady disease so I had to settle for these. Hopefully I will like them because we are going to travel many miles together before February.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

26 at 26

I have mentioned that I am tentatively training for the Rock 'N Roll New Orleans marathon in February 2014, but I did not tell you why I picked that particular marathon. My 27th birthday is also in February and a lot of things are going to change. I will graduate from law school at 27. I will take the bar and (hopefully) become a lawyer at 27. I will (hopefully) find a job and start working at 27. I will (hopefully) move to a new city and start a new life at 27. If everything goes as planned, 27 is going to be a big year for me, but before I can get there I want to end 26 on a high note. I want to run a marathon. I want to run 26.2 miles at age 26. 

I think that 26 at 26 is also a chance for me to show my commitment to making healthier choices for life. When I started this journey I couldn't even run for a whole minute. I never would have dreamed of signing up for 26.2 miles. This is Ashley 2.0. The new me got up this morning and ran 6 miles before class because that's what it will take to make that 26.2 mile dream come true.

I always laugh when I see the splits from outdoor runs because you can always tell when I hit the hills. Lately I've been trying to power up them at faster paces, but despite my best efforts I always slow down. Maybe if I keep pushing in the coming weeks I'll get faster on the hills.

I also got a fun surprise in the mail earlier this week. Quest Nutrition sent me a couple of their protein bars to try out. They sent the White Chocolate Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavors. I haven't tried the White Chocolate Raspberry yet, but the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough was pretty good. If you prefer natural protein bars, these probably aren't for you. There are a few unpronounceable ingredients which I don't particularly like, but the bars they sent me are 190 calories each and the taste is pretty good. I probably wouldn't use them all the time, but I definitely wouldn't turn one down after (or even before) a tough run. What are some of your favorite protein bars?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Plague

I was already tired when I woke up this morning. I really hate it when that happens. It really doesn't help that I definitely maybe have the beginnings of the plague. I never told my body it could get sick  and it did it anyway. Rude. 

I have read posts on several running blogs that said if the blogger is sick from the neck up, they still run. Since I seem to have the beginnings of a sore throat, I decided to go ahead and do 3 miles. Outside. In forty degree weather with a cruel and bitter wind. I imagine it helped my throat immensely. 

I picked an out and back route that I haven't run in a while and made myself get dressed and get it over with before my first class. I think I picked a good time. There were lots of other runners out braving the cold and I felt a sense of solidarity with each of them. We were the few, the proud, the ape-s*** crazy who venture outside in inclement weather in pursuit of miles. Sure, we were all cold, but that didn't matter because we were out there chasing that elusive runner's high. Together. Because we all have mad love for the same thing. Write a song about that, Taylor Swift.

Normally I try to make my first run of the week a faster treadmill run, but since I am getting sick I wanted to take it easy. Instead of one of my upbeat running playlists, I listened to the  Audiobook I started yesterday and just ran at whatever pace felt comfortable. Once I got home I took a shower and went about my boring day. This is week 4 of marathon training. The life between the miles doesn't seem as big when you're planning to do the impossible.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Beautiful Mess

Yesterday I was on Twitter and someone asked what photo editing apps fellow bloggers were using for their blogs. I responded that I typically use Instagram to add color filters, PicStitch for collages, and Photobucket to host images. I was really interested to see what other bloggers would say, though, since I'm still kind of a rookie at this whole blogging thing. Someone said they use the A Beautiful Mess app. I had heard of it before, but I never downloaded it because it costs $0.99 and I am cheap like that. However, I've been wishing lately that I could do a little more with my photos, so I broke down and bought it. I started playing around with it and quickly developed an obsession. Where has this app been all my blogging life? Look at some of the pictures I made:

For this one I used a picture I took during Sunday's foggy run. I added one of the color filters to make the image black and white then used the text feature to add a quote to the top. I really love how it turned out!

For this one I started playing with the borders on the app. The one thing I really don't like about the app is that not all the borders are included in the purchase price. I had to shell out an additional $0.99 to get the white border you see under the triangle border. I guess you don't have to buy the extra border packs, etc. but some of the borders in the add on pack are really cool and you might, like me, end up wanting them if you plan to use the app regularly.

This one you have already seen on yesterday's post, but I am including it again because the app includes little pre-made phrases that you can add to pictures. I used one of the phrases on this picture and added a color filter from Instagram to get the finished product. I like the effect.

Finally, the app has pre-made doodles that you can add to your pictures. The three hearts in the one above are one of the included doodles. 

I will probably keep playing around with the app as time goes on, but so far I really like it. The people who created the app have some great examples on their website and you can also find more example photos if you search for #abeautifulmess on Instagram. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to watching Suits and doodling on iPhone pictures. Have a good night! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Social Media Fail

After four straight days of running, I needed a rest day. I still did a lot of walking around campus to get to class, but no running clothes got sweaty in the process. Mondays are always pretty busy for me so my rest day turned out to be fairly exhausting. Such is life, I suppose.

This was a step down week on my training plan so my long run was only 6 miles. Lately I've been letting myself get a long run treat, but I did my long run on Sunday this week and I didn't get anything because the bakery I wanted to go to was closed. I decided to get myself a long run treat today instead, but was too lazy to drive to my favorite bakery. I did go to Starbucks and got a cheesecake brownie, though.

It was good, but I'm starting to get a sore throat and the chocolate kind of burned going down. On top of that the brownie seemed small.  I was annoyed that such a small brownie had 300 calories and started wishing not for the first time that the world worked according to Ashley so that I could make all desserts low calorie, I would only lose weight in my problem areas, and if I gained weight at all it would go straight to my boobs. This line of thinking was somewhat soothing and when I snapped out of of my daydream I reminded myself that if I run hard during my eleven mile run this weekend I can earn a more satisfying treat. 

In other news, I went a little social media crazy over the weekend. I finally got around to making a Facebook page for my blog which you can find here. So far I've been posting food/fitness related articles that might be interesting, links to my latest blog posts, and trying to figure out how to make my Instagram app post pictures directly to my blog's page instead of my personal account. I also started working on building my Twitter and Instagram following. I mostly just convinced myself that I have no idea what I'm doing in the world of social media, but I thought I would mention my trip on the struggle bus it in case anyone is interested in following and/or has tips or tricks for how to use social media in conjunction with a weight loss and running blog.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Marathon Training Week 3

This has been my third week of marathon training and it went pretty well. I'm following the distances on the Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan, but I'm doing all my runs in intervals as per the Jeff Galloway Run Walk Run method. So far I'm really happy with my hybrid plan and since it seems to be working for me I'm going to try to stick with it through my whole training cycle. This week my schedule was so hectic that I had to run four days in a row to get all my runs in. After completing 6 easy miles today, I am proud to say that I got through it. Here are links to my posts from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Now, let's get on with today's run.

I managed to get out the door early this morning. For the first time this fall it was actually cold enough for gloves. One of my aunts gave me a bright yellow running hoodie last Christmas that has reflective strips on the outside and this warm fuzzy material on the inside. I wore it this morning thinking it would keep me warm since I planned to run slow, but as it turns out I was glad for the reflective strips too since my route took me through some serious fog.

It was eerie and I almost had a meltdown every time I saw someone coming towards me out of the fog because I have seen that scary movie, y'all, and the minority character dies first.

I stopped on a bridge to take this picture and it was way too quiet for that time of day. It made me so nervous that I decided to change my route and go back where there was better visibility. I'm sure there was a very disappointed werewolf/vampire/other supernatural creature laying in wait on the other side of that bridge, but I would rather be the main character who lives until the end of the movie. I had no intention of being the peripheral character who dies in the first ten minutes to warn the viewer that something wicked this way comes. In any case, I survived to run another day. Here are my splits:

I took a somewhat hilly route and that combined with an intentionally slow pace after 3 straight days of running made for slower mile times than I have been seeing lately. I was okay with that, though. Today was about getting in the miles and enjoying the cool air. Done and done. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Brussels Sprouts

I had every intention of getting my run out of the way this morning, but I went to Walmart instead. Then I was going to go before lunch or before dinner. Neither happened. I kept putting it off and putting it off until it was almost too late (for me) to run outside. I ate dinner early and headed out about 45 minutes after that. I don't usually run at night and I definitely cut it a little close this time. Fortunately there were a ton of other runners and people out and about so even though it got dark while I was running, I felt safe since I was on heavily traveled streets. Here are my splits:

I was aiming for slow easy miles so I listened to a few chapters of my audiobook and ran at a pace that felt comfortable. I love that the temperature was in the 50s today because it is so much easier to breathe in the cooler air.

Other than going for an evening run, my day was mostly uneventful. While I was in Walmart I saw some brussels sprouts in butter sauce beside the single serve steamer vegetables I buy to eat as sides and snacks. I had never had brussels sprouts so I bought a box to try them.

I heated them up this afternoon when I got hungry before dinner and I'm not gonna lie. I won't be buying anymore of them. They didn't taste bad exactly, but they kind of made my stomach hurt. Plus there are other vegetables that I like better. If I'm going to spend calories, I would rather spend them on something I actually enjoy eating. Speaking of which, I also tried The Coily Bombshell's egg white and oatmeal protein pancake today.

I made the recipe into one giant pancake and spread PB2 on top of it after I took the picture. Unlike the brussels sprouts I actually enjoyed this and unlike the brussels sprouts I will be making this recipe again. In any case, I'm glad I branched out a little and tried some new things. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Easy Miles

Less than twenty four hours after yesterday's 3 mile treadmill run, I headed out for more punishment 5 more miles. Today was the first day that it was truly cold out. It was in the mid 40's when I started my run and I actually felt a little cold even in long sleeves. 

Normally I turn my Garmin on and let it find a satellite signal before I go outside, but I forgot this morning and regretted it. I stood around for several minutes waiting for the stupid thing to find a signal before finally decided to turn the GPS off altogether and let it track the run using the foot pod. I never managed to calibrate my foot pod, but I've been wearing my Garmin for treadmill runs lately and the foot pod data has been fairly close to the treadmill readings. I took a familiar 5 mile route just in case the foot pod decided to act crazy, but there was no need. My Garmin beeped almost exactly where it normally does for mile 1. After that, I felt fairly confident that I could trust it. Here are my splits:

My intention was to take this run slow and easy since I ran at a harder pace last night. I pushed a little harder than I meant to int he first mile because I was freezing. I kept thinking that if I picked up the pace a little I would warm up and be more comfortable. I made myself slow down for the rest of the run, though. It wasn't too hard once I got to the park. There was fog rolling over the lake and it was absolutely gorgeous with the ducks swimming in the morning light. I stopped to snap a few pictures, but I couldn't really do it justice.

Sometimes I need an assist from Instagram to make up for my lack of photography skills :) 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Full Plate

Here's the thing. On Monday, I thought I was going to have a relatively low-key week. The most taxing thing on my schedule was a mock cross examination for my trial advocacy class. Other than that I was all set for an easy week. Nothing ever turns out quite like you planned, does it?

As the week wore on, my schedule began to fill up rapidly, mainly because other people kept adding things to my plate. By the end of the week I had a mock negotiation exercise for one class, an errand to run for another, and an unexpected appointment, and I didn't know about any of it when I started my day Monday. I spent my week feeling harried and as a result, today was the first day I was able to run.

It was a really difficult run. It was a long day at school and when I finally got home I made myself go straight to the gym because I knew that if I sat down on the couch, I wouldn't get back up. I made it through the first two miles doing my running intervals at 6 mph and my walking intervals at 3.4 mph. After that, I just couldn't make myself keep going that fast so I slowed down just to get myself through the last mile. I wish I had been able to push myself a little harder during that last mile, but I honestly didn't have anything left in the tank. 

I want to get in at least two more runs before the end of the week. Fortunately this is a step down week on the marathon training plan I'm following so I want to get in around 11-14 more miles before Sunday.   Hopefully today will be the last bad run I have for a while....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Audible Audiobooks and Exercise

Me and books go way back. In fact, there was a time when books were my whole world. Growing up,  I always had a book in my purse and you could always find a stack of books in my room that I couldn't wait to read. Over time, the way I read evolved. When Amazon first came out with the Kindle, I wanted one immediately. I finally got one my senior year of college after saving money from my part time student library job for weeks. I think that Kindle was probably my closest friend for a couple of years after that. I used to load it up with e-books and keep it in my purse in place of the paperbacks I carried around growing up. It was this introvert's dream gadget.

I would probably still be carrying around my Kindle, but when I started law school two years ago, the only books I had room for were my textbooks. I stopped reading for fun during my first year of law school, and as strange as it sounds it felt like losing a piece of myself. Fast forward to last year. My rampant stress eating as a 1L had left me thirty pounds heavier than when I started law school. I was miserable and I had to change something so I decided to lose the weight that I had gained. I started by walking on the treadmill every night for an hour and soon I started making tentative google searches for "how to start running." I started devoting more and more time to my exercise pursuits and that's when it clicked. I thought If I get some audiobooks I can read while I workout! So I joined Audible and I haven't looked back since.
Recent Audible Daily Deal
The way it works is that you sign up for one of Audible's plans and you get credits that you can use for audiobooks. There are four plans to choose from.

I chose the annual plan where you get 12 credits at once because it fit my budget best at the time.

Most books are one credit. Once you become an Audible member, they also have sales on occasion where you can purchase additional audiobooks, usually at a lower price than you paid for each credit. To get the best value, if you see a sale book you want and the sale price is less than your credit cost, you will save more money by paying the sale price instead of using your credit on the book. Does that make sense? You can also take advantage of the daily deal which is listed in the top right hand side of Audible's home page under the search box. For some reason it took me a long time to start paying attention to those, but they are usually $6 and under and they are great for when you run out of credits and want to get some more audiobooks at a low price. 

Recent Audible Daily Deal
I like listening to audiobooks while I do my long runs, during hikes, and while walking to class. I am also guilty of pressing play on a really engaging book while driving. For me, audiobooks are about multi-tasking. They have allowed me to rekindle my love of reading at a very busy time in my life when I wouldn't have time to read otherwise. However, most of Audible's narrators are really talented and it is fun to hear them read each character in a different voice. If you get tired of your usual workout playlist or that Jillian Michaels podcast, check out Audible. Audiobooks have gotten me through some long tough workouts and I plan to keep reading, er listening, through my first marathon and beyond.

Monday, October 14, 2013

eShakti Review: The Globetrotting Dress

I have written about eShakti on my old blog, My Fashion Confession, twice before, but when I recently got an email from an eShakti representative asking me to write a third review I thought I would share my feelings about the company with everyone here.  

If any of you ladies are like me, you have found that perfect dress, fallen in love with it, and gone to try it on only to find that your normal size doesn't fit, one size up is too big, and one size down is too small. I think that problem happens even more often when you are on a weight loss journey like me. Please tell me I'm not the only person who has struggled through that in between sizes phase where you can't find anything that fits! If you know what I'm talking about, you might want to give eShakti a chance for one simple reason: custom styling. I love eShakti's line of vintage-inspired clothing and I thought some of you might be interested as well. I know this is a running and weight loss blog, but I am also a girl who loves pretty dresses, so read on if you're into that kind of thing as well.

Custom Styling
If you have never heard of eShakti, here is the scoop: they are a company that makes gorgeous, customizable clothes in sizes 0-36W.  Have you ever loved everything about a dress but the sleeves? Have you ever wished that the dress was the perfect length, no tailoring needed?  If so, eShakti might be a good fit for you.  

When I saw this dress I immediately fell in love with it, but say you like your dresses to hit below (or above!) the knee rather than the knee length options that I like. Customers ordering this dress are able to choose the length of the dress that best suits their needs and you can even choose whether you want a deep v-neck or a standard v-neck. Other dresses offer additional options too. For instance, you can remove the embroidery on certain dresses or even choose a different type of sleeves if you don't like the standard option.

For this dress, I entered my height in the order form and chose a standard size based on measurements I took of my bust, waist, and hips. I wanted a knee length dress and the length and size were spot on.  I was really happy with the fit of the dress I received.  While custom styling adds a charge of $7.50 to the total price, that is still cheaper than having an item tailored elsewhere and it is really nice to get a dress in the mail that fits perfectly!

Most of eShakti's offerings are feminine, vintage-inspired dresses, skirts, tops and jackets.  If you like the clothes at Anthropologie or Modcloth, you will probably like eShakti's offerings as well.  

On a scale of Old Navy to Anthropologie, eShakti is somewhere in between in terms of price.  If you are used to buying $30 dresses at Old Navy, eShakti's $80 dresses might seem a bit pricey.  On the other hand if you frequently purchase $150 dresses at Anthropologie, eShakti will seem like a steal. I guess what I'm saying is that it's all relative.  

I have never been disappointed with the quality of an eShakti item.  Their custom styling is really well done, they use good quality materials, and by washing them in cold water and air drying them I have found that they hold up well over time. This particular dress is made of a nice cotton and I think I will be able to wear it all winter with boots and all summer with sandals and sunglasses.

Dress: c/o eShakti
Necklace: New York & Co (old)
Heels: Modcloth (old)
Bag: Madewell via Ebay

Bottom line: eShakti makes great clothes. I paired the dress with heels and a statement necklace here, but I could definitely see myself dressing it down with sandals in the summer or pairing it with boots and a cognac leather jacket during the fall and winter.  

Interested in getting your own custom dress from eShakti? Now through October 15, 2013 eShakti is having a buy 2 get 20% off sale. You can visit their website here. Happy shopping!

*Full Disclosure: eShakti sent me the dress above free of charge for this review, but the opinions expressed are my honest assessment of my experience.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Knife Skills

I have a set of fairly sharp kitchen knives. I use them often for everything from chopping vegetables to slicing tofu. Out of all the times I have used my sharp kitchen knives in my cooking adventures, I have never come close to cutting myself, not even once. So imagine my surprise when I was trying to open an Amy's Indian Samosa Wrap with a steak knife and this happened:

I know it doesn't look that bad in the picture, but it hurt enough to make me shriek profanities and there was enough blood to run down my finger and drip all over the place before I could get a bandaid on it. The picture above is after a full day of neosporin assisted healing. It throbbed and made my life miserable yesterday, but I'm happy to report that I can type with it again today. Being wounded is a struggle, y'all.

I've been trying to follow the distances in the Hal Higdon Novice 2 Marathon training plan. Last week I skipped one of the shorter runs, but I wanted to get in a fourth run this week to try to get into the habit of running four times per week. The schedule only called for three miles, but I don't really plan to get in anymore activity today so I decided to run 4 miles instead.

It went really well. I expected to be a little sore after yesterday's 9 miler and for the first mile my legs and hips made some half hearted protests. By the time I reached the end of mile 1, though, I felt great. It was hotter today than it was yesterday so by the end of mile 1 I was super sweaty. I kept thinking about changing my route to avoid some of my least favorite hills, but I felt so good that I decided to run them to help me get stronger. I was really happy when I got home and looked at my splits. Even after my long run yesterday I was able to coax 4 solid miles out of these legs. Does this mean I'm getting stronger?