Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Seatbelt Nazi

I realized as I went to correct a grammatical error on yesterday's post- that I have a lot of half-started blogs that never got finished.  Many of them don't really apply anymore, so I'll just leave them for yesteryear-  or perhaps I'll make a mashup of half posted thoughts just for grins and giggles.   But this little nugget I had to post just because it still makes me roll my eyes just thinking about it. I tell you this because, I'm just going to finish the thoughts that apparently abruptly ended mid thought-  and then post it,  I'm not going to fix the tenses so we'll all just pretend its still the week before Thanksgiving :-D

I traveled from San Francisco to Chicago on Monday.  Considering it was the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday, the airline was jam packed.  Not an open seat on the entire plane.  The flight attendants were nothing like those who were on my Chicago to San Francisco flight the previous Friday.  They, had been cheerful, and nice- and all around it was a pleasant flying experience.  The flight on Monday the attendants were crabby and apparently the alpha-female of the flight perhaps didn't like that I smiled at her and said "good morning" when I walked on the plane and decided that I was the target by which she would nail all of her frustrations and aggressions to.

It started, with my grandma and her carry on luggage.  Granny's old- and it takes way too long to try and explain anything to her-  so rather than spend the time debating with her,  I typically just do what needs to be done, and engage in the discussion later.  So, when getting on the plane I told her to just give me her luggage I would handle putting it up in the overhead bin that she should just go into her seat and sit down.    We get to our row, and there's a nice man sitting in the aisle seat (granny had the middle I had the window)  but our overhead bin was quite packed already.  I shuffle things around manage to get Granny's teensy bag into the overhead bin and we sit down and get situated.  Now, we were fairly close to the front of the plane- so its not like the plane was going anywhere for sometime.  So we're sitting there, I'm looking around in awe at all the travelers (and, maybe part of the U of I basketball team who also happened to be on our flight)  and alpha flight attendant comes to adjust the bags in our bin to make room, notices me, apparently deems me to large for my seat thereby asking "Ma'am, do you need an extender".

I say, no thank you. I'm good.

Her response: Is your seatbelt fastened- because they're going to come around and check.

Me:  No, but we're still boarding

Her:  Buckle your seat belt please

Me:  Um, ok- but there's still people getting on.  I buckle my seat belt  in front of her assuming she'd be satisfied and walk away.  Nope. Silly me.

Her:  Are you SURE you don't want an extender.. its a long flight you have to keep it buckled for the WHOLE flight-  all FOUR AND A HALF hours.

Me:  Nope. I'm fine.  Plenty of room between me and the belt.

Her:  Make sure it stays on

Me : (thinking- Jeeez its on, get over it and move the eff on)  saying : I will, thanks!

Flight takes of yada yada-  we're all good.

About an hour into the flight the drink cart comes around.  Ms Thing offers me a drink, then asks if my seatbelt is on.  I stand up and point to the fact that I am STANDING with my belt still on (So clearly, NOT TIGHT)  she hands me my water and moves on.

We pass over the Denver area and his some turbulence (Im assuming it was Denver, but its not like Im looking at  flightmap-  I just saw snow covered mountains so I am assuming that it was the rockies we were flying over)

Fasten Seatbelt sign comes on.
Guess who comes running to my seat to check and make sure my seatbelt is still fastened.

At this point the guy next to my grandma even starts to notice a pattern and we dub her "Seatbelt Nazi"

The rest of the flight, we take bets as to whether or not said Sealtbelt Nazi will come running anytime, the Fasten Seatbelt sign came back on, we hit even the teeniest bit of turbulence, or she was just in general passing through the cabin.

I think in total she asked me about seven different times whether or not my seatbelt was on.

I know that a *certain* airline is notorious for their treatment of heavy people, but I was not flying SWA.. I was actually flying American.  And I wasn't mistreated really, just repeatedly picked on I guess.  It was more of a nuisance and/or annoyance than anything else.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Girls Night IN- #cleverdessert #spon

Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There's no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On!

As you know, this has been *quite* the trying term.  Well, as of this weekend, the assignments are all turned in and I'm shouting from the rooftops :Free At Last!  Free At Last!:

In celebration, "the girls" from my book club and I decided to celebrate with a "Girls Night In"  -  since its the holiday's and all, we tied it into an impromptu Holiday Party, complete with delicious adult drinks (My drink of choice, the Bourbon Ball Martini which I learned how to make while down in Louisville-  quite YUM  and definitely perfect for a holiday get together)  and white elephant gifts.    I have not laughed that hard in a really long time.  It was nice to actually socialize for a change, catch up with my girls and actually have an evening where I wasn't thinking "oh man, I should really get home..I have so much to do".  What a wonderful way to spend my first night of freedom!

If you've never done a White Elephant before, it's quite fun (and simple)-  you take an old or old/new (ie- "new" but sitting in your house for however long) item, wrap it up and bring it to the party.  From there everyone's rules differ, but you essentially all choose & open a present and then madness ensues.

I ended up "gifting"  an 8 foot blow up snowman that I received as a xmas present a few years back, and received in return a singing GLEE Magic 8 Ball.  Definitely worth the trade in my opinion.

But even without the gifts and the drinks, its always good to throw your head back and have a good hard laugh til you can't breathe night with your friends, and that is definitely what Saturday was for me.  It made me realize that no matter how busy I get with school- I need to stop once in a while and make time for fun once in a while.

Have you had a fun girls night in recently?  I'd love to hear about it!

Remember to check out Duncan Hines' website to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.  They endorse Blog With Integrity, as do I

Monday, December 12, 2011

Its Amazing What A Bit of Self Confidence Can Do

I know, I know.. who are you- right?  Where have you been for the past oh, six or so weeks.   I'm sorry that I have disappeared again, but to be honest being a Literature major having to write paper after paper and expound upon topic after topic really sucks the creative juices right out of you.  Especially when you are having to do it over and over and over again- and balance a job- thereby forcing your creative process late into the nights and wee hours of the morning.  However, as of midnight this morning- I am FREEEEEEE!  Hallelujah!

What does this freedom have to do with Self Confidence?  Allow me to be ancedotal for just a moment.

As I was writing my final papers-  and growing tired of my "100 Most Relaxing Songs" CD  as Ive totally worn that baby out over the past few weeks ( I can only think and write in intense situations while listening to classical music- and Pandora just doesnt do it for me when it comes to Classical music).  So, sick of my 100 Classical Songs CD, I decided to switch into Christmas Music since it's December and all.

A Song came up on my ITunes-  called "Still Still Still".  Its a Christas Carol-  quite beautiful actually.  When I was in high school, it was the audition piece to make it into select ensemble.  I remember auditioning and shaking like a leaf, and unable to hit the "high note" in the first section of the song (its a G-  not really all that high but for a 15/16 year old, it seems high)

I've implanted the You Tube link in case you want to hear the song but Im mentioning it merely for its ancedotal value at this point.  I never did make select ensemble ( I was never "good enough")  but fast forward to the present time.  Even up to a few years ago, singing had always been something I have't quite been able to "share" with people... I would always become grossly intimidated because in the past, sharing my voice with people would always have negative consequence due to lack of self confidence-  I would either forget the words, fall apart and go sharp or flat - or just generally have a whole mess of things go wrong.    However, recently, probably since finishing that first triathlon I've suddenly found myself again.

I was asked to "pinch hit" in choir a few months ago (I haven't been regularly attending because of - you guessed it-  school)  but my choir director knew I could hit the A (yes... an A, much higher than that damn G of years past)  with no issue, for a song we were singing and asked if I would come to fill out the Soprano section.  It was the first time that I had been "needed" and I knocked it right out of the park :the crowd went wild: :cheering, applause:

Fast forward a few months later, and I'm knocking out papers on Patriarchal Hegemony dropping these big assed words like it's nobody's business.  Words that have been floating around in my brain for some time, but I never had the proverbial balls to whip em out.  I have been afraid of Russian Literature for who knows how long-  afraid why?  Because Ive always thought it too hard-  too above my mental capacities to be able to absorb... and what did I do this term?  Dabbled in the Russians of course.

There is a point, I promise this isn't a Millie love fest.  That triathlon, gave me so much more than a blog to write on, or new friends to share in my journey, or a path to a healthier me-  it gave me back- well me.  The me I had thought I lost some time ago.  She is slowly starting to peek out again and bask in the sunshine.  Being able to set a task and see it all the way through showed me that I'm worth investing in.  That I am fully capable of going the distance, and not wussing out or chickening out- or giving up.

And, if I am capable of these things.. I know you are too!  So, throw open your arms, throw caution to the wind,  and open up all those windows to your soul that have been locked up and shuttered... the old you will grow in the sunshine.. you just have to allow them to do it!

What activities has your lack of self-cofidence held you back from doing lately?  Or.. if its easier to answer it this way:   If I wasn't ________  I would ________

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Louisville- A Vegetarian's Dream

Being the chub foodie  that I am-  I am always super excited to discover real, legitimate vegetarian fare.  Living in a cosmopolitan city like Chicago, one would think vegetarian restaurants and or meals would be abundant.  We're the third largest city- surely taking that into consideration there have got to me an infinite number of vegetarians in this town.  I'm quite certain there are-  however, we are in the land of the stockyards -  the place where animals come to die and be butchered (think- The Jungle)  this is a true meat and potatoes town - unless you want pizza.    My husband and I joke about it all the time because we go to a restaurant and say "do you have anything vegetarian"  and they usually give me 2 options 1. a "Veggie Wrap" or 2. A salad. (oh, and in fairness, the occasional veggie burger).

On a brief side note-  I don't know if any other vegetarian ever experiences this when eating with meat eaters-  but with my family and friends, vegetarian has become synonymous with "illiterate"-  as they all constantly have the urge to point out anything they see that might even hint at a vegetarian meal as they peruse the menu.  Typically the convo goes like this:

Person 1:  Oh, did you see that they have a Veggie Wrap on the menu

Me:  Yes, I saw thank you

Person 2:  Hey,  there's a VEGGIE WRAP (insert enthusiastic voice of the person trying to up sell the vegetarian options on the menu)

Me :  Yes, thank you

Person 3:  Oh, not only do they have a (again with the wonderment voice) veggie wrap... but they -also- have a salad! (continued voice of wonderment)

How badly do I want to walk into a restaurant and actually have legitimate options?  Enter the town of Louisville.  Being that Kentucky is south of the Mason Dixon line - even if it's just slightly south-  In years previous, my assumption had been that it would be meat, meat, meat, more meat, and vegetables coated in bacon.  To my pleasant surprise-  Louisville is quite the place for delicious food.  It is truly a vegetarian chubs   foodie's  dream.

Our first night in Louisville, we ate dinner at this wonderful boutique restaurant called "Bourbon's Bistro" Not only do they have the most delicious (dangerously so) bourbon infused girly drinks ( I had the Bourbon Ball Martini -  ok, in the interest of full disclosure- I had THREE of them)  but I was served for my appetizer-  goat cheese and garlic (so yumalicious I can't even tell you) and dinner was a Black Bean and Mushroom Croquette covered in a sherry and butternut squash coulis.  I almost embarrassed myself by licking the remainder of the sauce off the plate, but I restrained myself (maybe).

Here's a pic of us at the restaurant-  keep in mind we got there (and took this picture) right when they opened (we had a 6pm sharp reservation)  the place started hopping around 6:30 and was packed with a line by 7

Day 2- Friday. We stop for breakfast at my personal favorite breakfast place in all of Louisville - Lynn's Paradise Cafe  .  If you watch the Food Network, you have seen her on Throwdown with Bobby Flay as well as Man Vs Food. My reason for loving it?  A TON, literally a TON of vegetarian friendly options-  you may say "its breakfast of course its vegetarian friendly-  but this is the only place I know of that offers vegetarian biscuits of gravy.  And, they are Yum-O- Licious!  Oh yeah and their quiche's  are delish as well.  

If you do go-  be sure to stop and take some time perusing her shop.  She has a lot of really fun (and funny) gifts -  plus fun hats and sunglasses (though, I'd say she probably frowns on people [like me] trying on her hats just for gag pictures
Oh  and group shots outside are always fun as well.  This year, I decided to be a dancing fruit.  In years previous  my husband and I play the spoon and fork in these pictures.  My husband decided to be the fork and that's my grandpa playing the spoon :)

Friday night we went out for burgers at Blue Grass Brewing Company.  Now I know earlier I said that veggie burgers are kind of passe when it comes to real vegetarian fare- but when you're going to a bar and just having a late night snack- having a veggie burger offered is always a thumbs up.  Now, considering whenever I go out for dinner with friends and family-  veggie burgers are typically all that is offered, so I consider myself  a veggie burger expert.

The burger at Blue Grass is To.Die.For.   They're handmade (always a plus) and I swear I have never had another veggie burger nearly as delicious as this one.  I try to get the recipe every time I go down- but the lady who makes them is never actually IN the restaurant when I'm there.    If you do go-  ask them to put it on a pretzel bun instead of serving it on the traditional bun - and my personal preference is Swiss cheese  not the pepper jack it is traditionally served with.  But, trust me, try it.

The only downside to my vegetarian foodie tour was Churchill Downs.  The luncheon planned for us, did not take vegetarians into consideration-  so I hate some bread,  a salad,  and a brownie.   Of course, just as we were leaving we discovered that the vegetarian requests changed from years previous and that the chef in fact -could- have made me something to eat.  Ah well, you live and learn.

Saturday night, we made a stop at my first love (restaurant wise) in Louisville. Ramsi's Cafe on the World   - or just Ramsi's.  :)

This is the acme of vegetarian/vegan fare in Louisville.  You could close your eyes and point to practically anything on the menu and it is either a legitimate vegetarian or vegan dish- or can be made that way.  My favorite's there:
Brie Bernadette-  I'm not even kidding, I have dreams about it.  It's brie - rolled in Almonds and Pecans, lightly fried and drizzled with honey -  it is one of those "lick the plate" dishes- Im not even kidding.  For dinner, I usually get the Egyptian Kitchen which is calleKusheri -  which is essentially a lentil dish- and it is so good.  I passed on dessert though they do have some deliciously decadent ones 

All in all, Louisville =  super fantastic vegetarian fare.  If you happen through Louisville or decide because of the amazing restaurants I visited you are now inspired to visit- stop through the ones on my list.  I promise you, you won't be disappointed :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Millie Meets Emmie

Since I'm a day behind on posting (and, well- since I didn't post at all this past weekend)  I'm going to post out of order, because I KNOW you're all dying to know about meeting Emily more so than my vegetarian's foodie tour of Louisville (which- was delicious by the way-  will post on that tomorrow).

Saturday was the day that Emily and I got together.  Can we just rewind a bit and start with Saturday morning?  Okay-  so, first- the reason that I was in Louisville to begin with is because I'm a Kentucky Colonel-  and we had our annual Day At the Races fundraiser.  So, since Emily (you know her as Skinny Emmie) lives in Lexington and I was in Louisville I asked her if she wanted to come join the party- to which she said yes (yay!).

I've been having mini fashion crisis's for like Oh, Don't know a month maybe-  over what to wear.  If you follow Skinny Emmie- you know she is *quite* the fashionista.  Seriously.  I thought I could rock some awesome ensembles, but she certainly has an eye for fashion as well.  I finally settled on an outfit (because my original dress that I ordered from Old Navy came ripped grr)  and grabbed some panty hose last minute at the avenue on Wednesday night before I left-  and I never opened them or checked them.

So let's go back to Saturday morning- where we were before I tangent-ed (is that a word? meh, whatever)

Every colonel attending the event was either at our hotel or at the over flow hotel down the street.  Anticipating another year of long waits for Room Service or long lines at the restaurant Mr. Millie went to get bfast while I ran around my hotel room like a crazed women trying to do my hair, makeup and just in general get ready.

:brief tangent:

Why is it that as women, even though we wake up an hour before our husbands, they still manage to jump in and out of a shower, and get dressed and ready- and are finished in like twenty minutes tops-  then they repeatedly look at their watch like you are purposely taking a millenium to get ready yourself. -  so frustrating.

Anyhow-  hair and makeup finally done- I whip out said pantyhose and discover- they were made for a midget.  They were certainly NOT my size pantyhose.  Great- just great- I thought- now what am I going to do.  Thankfully I had packed 2 outfits- one in case it was cold and one in case it was warm (it was warm)  so I had leggings intended to be worn under my "cold" outfit which I used under my skirt.  It probably looked a but weird but whatevs.

We get to the racetrack -  settle in- and Emily arrives (YAY).  My first thought "Gosh she is TALL" -  I'm 5 foot 9  so I'm certainly not short- and she is taller than me.  I'm *quite* certain she is 6 foot.
But other than that-  it was like we have known each other forever.  I was so afraid there would be a lot of random bouts of uncomfortable silence where we just kind of stared at each other- but since I think I'm incapable of silence anyway- and my mouth moves about a million miles a minute- we didn't have to worry about that.

And-  guess WHAT?  Emily has decided to come to Illinois in June for the SHEROX triathlon :raises roof:

So, I'm putting you ALL on notice.  You have six months-  why don't you train and join us?  It will be fun with a capital F.

Here are some shots from the afternoon:

This is us trackside (well, above the track)-  but outside. Photo credit to Papa Millie

Here's one of us at our table-  Emily and her Husband, Me, my husband's friend Scott and my Husband in the upper left corner with the matchy matchy blue tie :)

And, one of just me, by myself- because I was channeling Sasha Fierce -  I think I looked pretty good! :)  

So-  details to follow-  BUT

Save the Date!
Sunday June 10th, 2012
Naperville, IL
( link is to the 2011 info-  2012 Info Not Posted yet!) 

Be there- or be SQUARE!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#LaneBryant Is Smoking Crack- Seriously.

As you all know, I'm always trying to find the latest places to shop- that are affordable and fashionable.  Plus size girls have a VERY (and I do stress the word very) limited selection of places that we can shop.  Unfortunately, if your social circle includes other plus size girls you have more than likely had multiple run ins with the same outfits or wearing the same shirt in a different color/style/etc.  Most of us -heavily- depend on Lane Bryant.  For a long time- even with other stores like the Avenue, or Fashion Bug, or Catherine's Plus Size, - or heck- even the local department stores, continually missed the mark on what they thought bigger girls wanted to look like (overgrown lumpy potato sacks)-  so Lane Bryant has been the mecca.

However, Lane Bryant has extraordinarily steep competition these days.  Even though I'm not 100% thrilled with the "we want your money but keep your fat ass out of our stores" online only shopping experience from Old Navy-  at least a girl can cater to her every fashion whim on the cheap.  And previous to Fashion Bug being acquired by the same people that own Lane Bryant- their buy one get one for a dollar sales were a dream.  

Before you turn your nose up at me thinking about heaven forbid buying clothes on the cheap-  please remember that plus size women have long been considered the second class citizen of the shopping world.  Most of the clothing that is offered to us- are poly mixes or cottons.  God forbid someone provide us with clothes that have some style to them.  And while the skinny people of the world can waltz from store to store (by the thousands of stores) at the mall picking and choosing their "style" from multiple locations throughout the mall-  we have always had to squeeze ourselves (pun intended) into the cookie cutter ideal of what fashion buyers decided what we should look like. 

Refocus back to Lane Bryant.  Lane Bryant has always been a staple for providing many styles, options, and fabrics, usually  at a fairly decent price.  Now, I say usually, because even previous to this post, I found that paying $80 for a pair of cookie cutter jeans - that were just of the stores label carrying no real "weight" to the name-  more than ridiculous-  but for a long stretch they were the only ones that offered jeans in the latest trends- so I was happy to pass over my Lane Bryant platinum card and pay the price to fit in.  They offered great sales and opportunities to really clean up if you got in at the right time (and previously- if you were a platinum member you got an extra 20% off on Thursdays I believe it was)

However, Lane Bryant, I have noticed a peculiar phenomena happening lately.  Your prices went from- fair ($29.99 for the average article of clothing at your store)  to slightly annoying ($34.99-$44.99) for the typical article of clothing - to down right ridiculous.  $69.99 for a SWEATER?  ARE YOU HIGH?  For some piece of crap poly blend  that will shrink and barely cover my belly after one wash- Michal Kors himself better come with it, and follow me around telling me I look fabulous.

Your CRAP-  and yes, your clothes really are cheaply made crap-  is made in China, where you are paying some woman three dollars an hour to mass produce your clothing-  and then you are gonna expect me to pay SEVENTY DOLLARS for ONE ITEM OF CLOTHING!?!?!?  

Ive been into multiple locations in the past weeks, because unfortunately, I requested gift cards to your store from everyone for my recent birthday,  so I could purchase some new clothes for a couple of trips I am taking.  Every store I go into, not only do your salespeople cleave onto every hapless victim that walks into your store- (and seriously they don't let go- they're now worse than the salespeople at  Dress Barn and you really can't sink much lower than Dress Barn) but it's really laughable that you even sell gift cards in $25 denominations because I can't even buy a necklace with a $25 gift card.

Case in point here are the items I considered buying these past two weeks:

Embellished Print Band Bottom Top

This is a super cute T shirt.  But that's the point. Its a TSHIRT.  There's next to no material in a t-shirt.  This shirt-  at any other store would be $19.99  tops-  At Lane Bryant, their cotton poly blends are apparently the acme of poly blends, because this very shirt is currently for sale for-  are you ready?  FORTY FOUR NINETY FIVE.  One shirt.  

I picked up this cardigan-  again super cute, thought I could wear it both to work and to an event I have coming up.  I nearly CHOKED when I saw the price tag- for a CARDIGAN.

Rhinestone and Flower Accent Cardigan

 Had it been say, the price of the TShirt even ($44.95) I probably would have bought it.  But, how expensive was this top?  SIXTY FOUR NINETY FIVE.  Are.You.Kidding.Me?

Now, I am a Paisley girl.  Vera Bradley, is my soul mate.  Seriously.  So when I saw this Cardigan, and another one similar to it, I was in heaven.  I was ready to buy them both.  In previous years, cardigans like this, would be $29.99  or $34.99 or maybe $39.99  at most-  usually with a buy one get one half off sale, which made it sting a bit less.  This year, what is Lane Bryant charging for this sweater?  FIFTY NINE NINETY NINE.  (but, in consideration of full disclosure- there is a BOGO on cardigans right now  but even with a BOGO this is ridiculous)

Now one could say, oh people pay that much for clothing all the time its not just the plus size girls- yada yada yada.  But that is my point.  If I was at Nordstrom, and I was purchasing one of their staple designers- say a Ralph Lauren or an Anne Klein-  I would expect to pay that much money-  and I would know that the clothes are fairly decent quality and will last more than say three washings.   This also brings me to my second point.

So disgusted by Lane Bryant's sheer audacity at thinking they deserve to charge this much money for mediocre clothing -  I decided to pay a visit to Macy's.

Now, since Macy's murdered my beloved Marshall Fields- we haven't exactly been on speaking terms.  Well, we've spoken a few times-  said some cordial "hellos"  and maybe I -may- have purchased a Martha Stewart Bedroom set from them.....  and, maybe a couch......   and a coach bag or two....  and some jewelery-  BUT for the most part, we have certainly not had anywhere near the love affair that Field's and I once shared.

I went to Macy's though-  and bought not one, not two, not three but FOUR items, totaling $89.68.  One sweater dress ($31 and 20% off)  a super cute shirt to wear to my event - $13 (I know! I was stoked), a cardigan ($35) and a shirt that isn't exactly similar to the blue one but close enough ($19.99 at 30% off)

As I discussed my shock and disgust with Lane Bryant to the sales girl at Macy's  she also informed me that Macy's is starting to offer clothing going up to 28 (they used to be a solely to 24 store) and also mentioned that Lane Bryant apparently has forgotten that they have lots and LOTS of competition these days.  After my stop into Macy's  I decided to also check out The Avenue, and discovered that they as well have VERY decently priced clothing (though certainly not as completely fashion forward as Lane Bryant I'll give them that)  but if you have the time to mill around its worth the shop.

Now, in "defense" and I use the word almost with an air of sarcasm  of Lane Bryant-  they -did- (until Sunday)  have a 40% off the entire store "sale"  but sorry,  when you are charging seventy dollars for a cardigan, even the $42 with the discount is laughable.

Sadly Lane Bryant, you have become arrogantly too big for your britches (again, pun intended).  You know that women desperate for even the smallest taste for hip and fashionable attire, flock to your store in droves, plunk down their platinum like its nobody's business, and worship at the alter of your brand.  

Be loyal to the people who made you as big as you are.  There are people by the thousands right now protesting greed and consumerism.  Treat your customers with respect-  every other store in the country is spinning upside walking tightropes and juggling flames right now to get people's business.  Perhaps, because you know you have the market cornered, you don't feel the need to do the same.  Unfortunately though, you aren't the stallion in the pony show anymore.  And, until you remember that it was me, my dollars, and my loyalty that made you where you are-  and you show some appreciation-  I will not be buying from your store again.  I am more than insulted that you expect me to pay more for a sweater than what you would pay one of your employee's for a days worth of work.  

Let me say this again.  If an employee at your store, working eight hours getting paid minimum wage or just above it- can not even buy an article of clothing in your store on a days wages,  where do you feel entitled to charge that much money for your clothing.

You do not sell designer clothes.  
You do not even provide a brand that is a high enough quality to deserve such a high price.
You sell disposable clothes.  One season, maybe two.

Increase your quality

Lower your price. 

Remember who made you.  

Perhaps then, you wouldn't have to rely so heavily on those conversion percentages, and your sales people could go back to helping rather than shadowing, creeping, and down right annoying every customer that walks through the door.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again- You're Never Gonna Keep Me Down

It's been a long, long time.  I know.  No excuses.  Just so.flipping.busy.
I just can't figure out my bearings- and find up again.  Only a few more weeks.  I will survive.
I guess, in all honesty  I just haven't felt much like blogging.  I just keep getting kicked around in one of my classes-  and I try, and try, and TRY and bang my head against the wall trying-  and I can't muster anything higher than a C.  Yep, a C.  I can't even tell you the last time I received a C in anything.  It's an exhausting, never ending battle of putting my all in, killing myself trying to figure out what it is about me or my writing that isn't working, having people read, re-read, and re-read again things that I write, thinking "ok, this is the one.. THIS will be my B (or lest I even hope perhaps an A) just to get kicked in the gut again.  I hate feeling like everything I do is not good enough.  This term is most definitely been a huge hit to my self-esteem.  "Everyone else" -ie the few people that I actually speak to in my class-  have all managed to digest their critiques and excel (well, if you consider low B's excelling, which at this point- we do)... and yet  I moved from a C- to just your average run of the mill C.  So, that's essentially why Ive been a bit MIA.  This little old blog, and my triathlons, and my physical goals are the few things right now that are in the "I feel good about these" category.  Unfortunately, I can't even bask in the glory of those these days because I'm so mired down with never ending assignments that late October into now have turned into "exercise...what's that?" days.  Only a few more weeks, and then it's balls to the wall.  That is, if I make it out with my sanity.  I keep telling my friends, you are going to have to come look for me up on the mental ward- I'll be the one chewing my hair and talking to my bunny slippers.

Oh and to add insult to injury-  Ive been sick.   I swear i have the worst luck.  I am rarely ever sick.  Its a very rare occurrence that I even use my sick days for illnesses throughout the year-  but, if I'm getting ready to take a vaca or have something important coming up- you betcha I'm Rosemary's baby, except with projectile phlegm. This weekend I'm headed down to Kentucky for a charity event-  AND  I get to meet the famous Skinny Emmie of  ( I know, you're jealous ;-)  )  and as if the whole knock to the self esteem- lazy butt only getting wider, thing wasn't enough to make me -really- excited about our get together-  I now get to be Typhoid Mary on top of it, sneezing and wheezing all over the place.  Great first impression.  *fingers crossed* the antibiotics Im now on work their magic by Saturday.

My Big Girl Panties challenge with Meredith has consisted of- Meredith chugging along like a rock star... and me, buying a LOT of hours to keep up.  That will change after December 7th-  hopefully I can make up some of these lost hours.  If not- I guess I'll be ponying up some big dough come the beginning of the year I'll be ponying up some major cash.  -heavy sigh-

Anyhow.. I can't wait to update you guys on my fun day with Skinny Emmie  -  its gonna be capital F fun, even if my face looks like a puffy raspberry. One of these days I'll actually get caught up on all the stuff I need to do by the end of the term-  and hopefully I make it out with at least a smidgen of my self-esteem and my sanity.  Until then, Chumbawumba  is my new mantra "I get knocked down, and I get up again- you're never gonna keep me down"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Because I have @Klout- The Clymb @theclymb

So, another awesome thing I got to try recently, is a private shopping network called "The Clymb".  It is similar to a lot of other flash sale websites that have great deals on items for short periods of time.  This one those is specifically for outdoor brands, and stuff for hiking, running, working out, etc.  The discounts are undoubtedly awesome!  Even after I made my purchase, the emails I get for the daily "ascents" still offer great, great things-  like Teva sandals, Slumberjack Tents, O'neill Sunglasses, Sigg Waterbottles and so many other awesome things that I've forgotten and don't want to try to summarize for fear of misrepresenting what's there.  But every day there is new merchandise.

Since they don't carry clothes for us big girls, I was relegated to the accessory aisle and decided on these super cute sunglasses from O'Neill

I received them last week, and so far I'm loving them!

The only complaints that I have for the site:

#1  There are no offerings for plus size apparel, and there are no plans for future offerings of plus size apparel.  So this is strictly a skinny girls dream (as far as clothing goes)

#2  Their customer service department response time is reaaaallllly laboriously s.l.o.w.  Emails really should be replied to within 48 hours, ideally within 24... their customer service for each of my 3 inquiries took almost a week.

#3  Their merchandise is not on site- it's shipped from the suppliers, so it will take a while for your merchandise to arrive-  expect at least 7 days, but plan for about 13-15 days.

Other than that though-  the deals really do outweigh the few complaints that I had with the site.  So, here's the lowdown on The Clymb

Each brand’s product is available for 3 days only or until it’s sold out. Membership is free and by invite only. So, I am providing a link for anyone who would like to try them.

I was given a free product or sample because I'm a Klout influencer. I was under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.  Klout, like myself, endorses Blog With Integrity 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Because I have @Klout - @BigTrain Fit Frappe

So, one of the great benefits of having a blog, is free stuff!  Who doesn't like free stuff right?
A month or so ago, I was approached by Klout to test a product made by a company called Big Train out of California.  It's a Caffeinated Protein Powder, called Fit Frappe- which comes in a ton of different flavors, and is essentially like having those high calorie blended beverages without the calories or sugar.

Fit Frappe™ 5 flavors new protein drink mix (Espresso, Mocha, Vanilla Latte, and 2 non coffee flavors Vanilla and Chocolate

·         20 g protein 16 oz drink
·         Gluten Free
·         ~130 calories
·         Serve it hot, cold or blended
·         ~5 g fiber
·         < 1 g sugar
·         vitamins and minerals

They are actually quite tasty-  as you probably read from this weeks previous post- Ive sort of become addicted to them.  While I have to wean myself off them just a bit, they are definitely worth a try for those of you who like going for a morning blended beverage, but then hate yourselves for drinking all those calories.  This has a taste of a you-know-what that rhymes with "Flap like Nemo"  but is full of all the goodstuff we need like protein and fiber.

Check them out on Facebook at or their website at

I was given a free product or sample because I'm a Klout influencer. I was under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company. Klout endorses Blog With Integrity, as do I.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

You Are Not Alone

Holy Guacamole, it has been a hella long time since I've checked in.  My.Bad.  Seriously.

This term has taken its toll thats for sure.  Time has been squeezed into a never ending progression of work, school and homework-  and working out is stuffed into teeny intervals of space when time permits and motivation is eeked out of the very last drops of energy.

This weekend was a workout with Brutus-  it's been a while, as our schedules haven't been able to mesh.  Weeks of dependance on caffeine, and eating only one meal a day has resulted in a serious depletion of the energy stores.  My day's have become a succession of protein shake breakfasts, followed by caffeinated protein shake lunches (and usually some form of solid food) -  followed by a coffee and  some form of "grab and go" snack (usually peanut butter crackers, a nut mix, or pretzel crisps with cheese or hummus)  -  and that is about the extent of my meals in a day.  Probably less than 1200 calories.  If I had to guess (since this bad girl hasn't been food tracking at all-  Id say I have barely been eating over the 1000 calorie mark)

So after a "warm up" of fifty weighted squats and twenty twistie thingies that my tired brain can't provide a better description of-  I was already running on fumes.  Two sets of rigorous lower body work (read: squats, squats, squats, more squats- some bicep work, followed by kettle ball squats) I was literally out.of.gas.

Usually, I'm tired or my muscles get a bit shaky, but never like this. Never to the point where I can't even stand -  I was exhausted.  I have officially hit the point of burning the candle to it's complete end.  That- was where the breakdown happened.  Yup- me, the non crier- cried.  Okay, I spilled like five tears and then was able to reign it back in before it turned into an ugly cry- but I broke down.

Now- this is where you will all say "Brutus rocks" because he totally does.

He said "you are not alone in this...  you have your husband, you have me, you have your friends, and they all are here to help you."

I just need to ask.

I know.  I'm not alone.  Asking for help = not my favorite thing. We've been over that a billion times.

And, in reality what all can I ask for help with?  Help reading the never ending books? Help writing the never ending pile of papers?  Help keeping me company at three in the morning when I wake up and I'm not able to fall back to sleep?  Yes Mr Millie can help with dinners and keeping us on track and organized.  Brutus can help keeping me in check, giving me suggestions for high protein snack/meals and giving suggestions on how to eat on the go,  but other than that-  how else can I be helped?  I sort of dug my own grave this term.  As usual, I took on too much in order to prove I'm worth remark.  To show that I can balance the plate on my nose, while balancing on the ball, while singing kumbaya backwards in chinese, with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back-  tadaaa- :jazz hands:

 I keep yearning and searching for approval that isn't going to come.  The only one that ever ends up affected by it is me, and my own exhaustion, and yet I repeat the same pattern over and over again.

At this point, all I can do is push through. Its too late to change anything (class wise).  We have a new plan eating wise going forward. That consists of tupper ware-  coolers, and small grab and go snacks that can be eaten at work, in the car, during class-  made beforehand and stored in the fridge until needed.

The new plan for working out-  walking on the treadmill- every night- after class/homework/etc.  To prevent moving backwards, to keep the muscles limber- while also not burning out and then a Brutus butt kicking every Saturday.

Only 2 caffeinated drinks a week (*whimper*) -  according to Brutus- once the body knows it has fuel stores (from the food) it can turn to, it won't feel so tired all the time.

Then, once the semester is over-  spending a LOT of time recharging - I have some vaca days left and some floating holidays left-  which will be used to let my brain just recover from being overly taxed.

A wiser schedule for next term- which will not force me to have to work every single day and night seven days a week.  It may delay my graduation date, but at least I won't lose my mind and I'll have some time to really focus on getting healthy.

So, that is all she wrote for now!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Meredith Vs Millie Workout Challenge

So-  I have decided to dub this the "Put On Your Big Girl Panties" Challenge.  Mainly because Meredith's Ante Up Jar Pictured Below-  says "Suck It Up: Time to Put the Big Girl Panties On"

My Ante up jar is less impressive (but it is pretty blue) But I have yet to decorate it-  its in my "to do" list.
Just to briefly review our "Big Girl Panties" Workout Challenge.  We are competing until the end of the year.  We set a "goal" number of hours spent working out (100)  and Meredith designed a google doc to count us down from there.  At the 1st Check in - August 30th  - we had to have 7 hours on the books
Our 2nd check in, we had to have 19 Total hours on the books.  By the 30th we will need to have 31 total hours on the books  and so on and so forth.

So -  Here is where we stand as of now:

1st Checkin-  we both put in $25 because neither of us made it to the first goal
2nd Check-in -  As of RIGHT NOW-  I am at 81 workout hours left to the end of the challenge  ( I had to "Purchase" the 3.5 deficit that I was not able to get in)  and Meredith is at 81 as well -  hers are actual clocked hours- because well, she rocks  and I well- suck.
So, tomorrow starts day one of the third check- in period.  I have until September 30th to get in 12 Hours of Workout Time.  This period we're a bit luckier than previous because there are exactly fifteen days from period to period.  So we have fifteen days to do 12 hours of working out.  Hopefully- this is where I pull ahead of her. :-D
The person with higher total hours worked out at the end of the four months foots the bill for a spa day in January.
And I don't like losing.  And, for the record- neither does she.  So this will be a hard fought down to the wire competition.
I feel a bit guilty because I have a web of support through my blog, twitter and facebook page for people to keep me in line... but seriously I need it!  Especially with everything else on my plate, it is SO easy to just say "Eh, I'll do it "tomorrow"... which is what has me  in the hole in regards to the ante up jar.
So far-  we each put $ 25 bucks in the first time.  Then, I just bought the 3.5 hours that I was short- resulting in another $17.50.
I have realized that I need to have a plan.  Im good with plans.... and schedules.  With plans and schedules I can stay on task.  As much as I hate walking on treadmills (as opposed to walking outside)  I'm going to have to start leaning heavily on the Treadmill to squeeze workouts in after work and before starting on homework.  Perhaps-  if a few days a week I can eek out a double workout-  I can surge ahead  muuhahaha.   Of course, since Meredith reads my blog daily, she knows my plans! Argh- foiled!
We shall see!  As I said- November is a big month for me.  So thats roughly two months away.  Must.get.sweating.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Kindness

I really don't want to get up on a soap box - because trust me, I have my moments-  if there were a microphone in the car broadcasting what I *actually* said as I drove to work in the morning, Oh Lordy it would make a sailor blush.

But recently Ive noticed that there is a sudden outbreak of inconsiderate people. Case in point-  I'm at Lifetime on Saturday, swimming.  The inside lap lanes are closed for fall maintenance to drain/clean the pools etc.  I did not know this when I went there Saturday morning.  They tell me I can use the outside lanes, if I dont mind swimming in cold water.  Well- I'm used to swimming in their inside lap lanes so it can't be any colder than that (it was slightly chilly on Saturday early morning and before the sun came out the water was in fact, rather chilly)

I did most of my workout totally alone-  and with about fifteen minutes left of my workout, a man comes in and joins me in the next lane.  I warn him that the water is ridiculously cold and that he should just jump in and get the shock of the cold over.  So we strike up a convo as we take our "rests"  and we start to talk about the inside lanes being cold- which moves into why they needed to shut down the pool for cleaning.   I say "its probably all that sweat from the Ironmen training these last few weeks before the big race that dirtied up the water (referring to Ironman Wisconsin which was just this past weekend)  to which he replies "Nah, it was probably all those fat ladies getting all sweaty jumping around doing their water aerobics"  there is a pause,  and then he says... "no offense".  To which I replied, well- I'm sure those "fat ladies" don't have three Triathlon medals, so none taken-  and pushed off the wall and finished my swim.

But seriously- I wasn't offended so this isn't a "oh how mean that the guy called me fat" story  its more of a -  who says something like that in the company of strangers?  It's amazing to me that people think that's okay.

Fast Forward to today.  I'm at Target buying a birthday present for a co-worker.  I literally have three items in my hand- 2 presents and a card.  I'm walking down the aisles looking for an open checkout.  There is a woman coming from the other end, who clearly makes eye contact with me, knows that I am heading for a checkout stand, speeds up, pops a wheelie on her over-burdened cart and cuts in front of me.  Seriously? I have three items- which took me all of a minute and a half to scan and pay for-  she, had a cart full of items that took her probably five minutes to ring and pay for.  Would it have killed her to wait the extra minute and let me go ahead of her?  If the shoe were on the other foot- I would have totally let her in front of me.

It goes back to that whole "tunnel vision" thing I talked about on Monday.  Are we so hyper focused and in our own world that we really have forgotten that we share this planet with other people?

I think that this week while we're working on our outer selves, we should do some pruning on our inner selves as well.  I challenge all of you to put someone else before yourself just once this week.  Whether it's letting someone in front of you at the grocery store,  sending a card to let someone know you're thinking of them, or grabbing a cup of coffee for a co-worker when you make your way into the kitchen.  Let's all try to reach out a little bit for the remainder of this week and remind people that we're aren't alone on this planet :)

While I was ruminating on how to present this topic, I actually found a website dedicated to the topic.  Its Do 1 Nice Thing    Empowering Kindness Every Week.  So with this website in mind, I will post the nice thing that I did each week as part of pruning my inner garden -  and hopefully you will let me know what you did as well!

Monday, September 12, 2011

How Do You Give Back? #WalgreensGives #spon

Thanks to Walgreens for sponsoring my writing. Help Walgreens help others! Visit their Facebook page here to learn about their charitable partners and decide which cause Walgreens will donate to with a quick vote.

When you think of the words "Giving Back"  what comes to mind?  Is it in the physical sense, as in - donating money or time to a specific cause, or is it giving back to people what they give to you-  returning kindness for kindness, paying it forward to others in your community?  With the anniversary of 9/11 just passing, it reminds me of how nice everyone was after the attacks.  We as a community were awaked out of our tunnel vision and realized that we are on this planet with other people.  We held doors open, said please and thank you, people gave up their seats on public transportation to people who needed the seats more than them.  We remembered to "give back".

My current way of giving back, is through an organization called "Chemo Angels".  As Maragaret discussed in her motivation post on Wednesday, going through Chemo is a tough journey.  As she said, when mired in the middle of it, you dont know what is up or down but you keep trudging through because you know there is the hope of healing at the other end of that rough journey.

A friend introduced me to the Chemo Angels organization after the soldiers I sponsored in Iraq & Afghanistan returned home.  She knew that I was already sending letters and packages weekly to three soldiers, and so suggested I sponsor someone going through chemotherapy.  As you guys know with my hectic schedule of work, school and exercise, the hours in the day are already not enough for all that is on my plate- so being able to make a difference to someone on my own time is a plus for me.  With this amazing, grass roots organization, you are paired with a person who is going through chemotherapy to be a friend and a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy time.  I send a card a week and usually a package with some form of small gift (a magnet or stickers, or some magazines etc)  just to let them know someone is thinking of them.

I honestly think that this became so fullfilling for me as much as it has been for my "angels".  And, I love that I really am making a difference in someone's life- with something that has an immediate impact.   Don't you get excited when you get something other than a bill in the mail?  Imagine if you were sick and feeling down and you found a note in the mail wishing you well.  It would lift you up- even if just for a litttle while right?  And that's exactly WHY I love giving back in this way.

If you are interested in learning more abut the Chemo Angels and what they do, you can visit their site at

Don't forget to help Walgreens help others! Visit their Facebook page here to learn about their charitable partners and decide which cause Walgreens will donate to with a quick vote. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Monday Motivation- On a Wednesday: Margaret

As I've said before, Papa Millie is heavy into bike riding these days.  It all started at the Y, a spin class, and a spin coach named Margaret.  From the two years that Ive known Margaret (or should I say known OF Margaret- as I just actually met her in person for the first time at the Naperville Tri)  she is one heck of a lady!  I will let her story speak for itself, but Spin Coach, Triathlete, avid Biker, Cancer Survivor.

Here is Margaret's amazing story:

“Feeling Good…. Feeling Alright…”

About a month ago I had an epiphany…. I realized I was feeling good. And not just good, darn good!

Reflecting on it over a few weeks, I was having the best summer in years- since before 2007. This was such an amazing feeling- and yet putting it out there is almost scary. Before I even told anyone I just kept it to myself for a while- and then told a friend or two. Then a few more people. I recently told one of my doctors…. And I am just beginning to realize that this journey I’ve been through over almost 4 years, a struggle for my life, has finally brought me to a better place.

I’ve always been active. I’m the only girl in my family- 4 brothers and I was right in the middle. From my oldest brother to the youngest there are 6 and ½ years. Growing up we spent all our time outside: climbing trees, playing tag, hide ‘n go seek in the cemetery behind our house, football, baseball, and hockey and of course riding our bikes everywhere.

 In high school I joined the track team and became a distance runner. My dream was to compete in college which I did- I was a “walk-on” my freshman year and eventually earned a scholarship. I had some injuries, had some fun times, traveled to states I hadn’t seen before, and made some great friends. Being a distance runner we were “in season” the entire school year- cross country from August to November, 2 weeks off then right into training for indoor track which went from January until the beginning of March, then right into outdoor track- through the end of the spring semester. Summers were time to recharge while still maintaining fitness, and during the summers in the early ‘80’s I discovered the sport of Triathlon.

After college I continued to keep up with working out- not as much as in college. I worked full time, got married and had 3 kids. My last triathlon was in the summer of 1990. Through the years, working out became my time to myself (not easy to find those quiet moments when you have a young family, work and all that goes with it). I would run a race every so often, sometimes just one a year. But in 2007 everything changed.

I think it all started after we had the big storm in August of that year. A few days after that epic storm, I was running in the woods and feeling like I couldn’t take a deep breath- almost like my sports bra was way too tight. I thought maybe all the rain had something to do with the air quality. I also had this voice in my head whispering that something more was wrong, and the voice whispered the word “cancer”.

A few weeks later I was competing in a race and had a major blowup. The first mile was slightly downhill and I thought I was ready to run a good time. Although I had warmed up and was fit, that first mile felt like I was running way beyond my abilities and I felt a crushing feeling in my lungs. My mile time was slower than what it felt like. I was having trouble breathing and slowed down, eventually having to walk. As soon as I got home, I called my doctor and was in the office first thing on Monday. We were both thinking “exercise induced asthma” but they had to rule out a blood clot in my lungs. Every test that she ran came back with a funny reading, so I had a lung x-ray, blood test, CT scan, and then a slew of heart tests. They did not find anything so she put me on an inhaler and everything seemed fine.

Until November….
That was when I found it….
                                    The lump….
                                                      And the enlarged lymph nodes….

I was scheduled to see the doctor the next day, and within a short time a mammogram, ultrasound, and whatever else would be needed. My previous mammogram was December the year before- all clear- so this was pretty frightening. I had the biopsy the day I had the mammogram. The next day I got the call.
They say you never forget the moment you hear the words “you have cancer.” I still remember that phone call. The next day my life became a whirlwind of tests and doctor’s visits and more tests. One thing I learned was that with cancer whatever the doctor tells you can and will change. With more information they get a better idea of what you are dealing with and just like a football game in the 4th quarter with 2 minutes to go, they will be aggressive if it is needed, improvise and throw in a quarter back sneak.  My game plan changed several times. First I was going to have surgery and then chemo. After an MRI, they knew the size of the tumor and decided that since I had cancer in my lymph nodes I should go through chemo first. (Oh, and all those tests I had in September- my surgeon looked at the CT scan and he saw enlarged lymph nodes. The radiologist was looking for something else, so it wasn’t caught until my surgeon pulled up the CT scan pictures in December). Then the types of chemo and number of treatments changed- or maybe my mind was just too overloaded to grasp it all.

I started chemotherapy a few days after Christmas, and I finished the last round of chemo at the end of May in 2008. I won’t go into the details except to say chemo felt like going through a very long tunnel. I rationally knew there was another side to the tunnel, but being in the midst of it I couldn’t see the light. For me, fatigue was one of the worst side effects. No matter how much I slept I was never rested. It’s described as being tired from the inside out. Imagine being too tired to sit on the couch and watch a movie with your kids. Or, too tired to eat. Or wanting to sleep but that wasn’t even enough. (Since going through chemo, now whenever I see someone who is going through treatments, I try not to say “you look so good”, I try to ask them how they are feeling and listen to them. I lost a lot of weight during treatments and even though people told me I “looked good,” I didn’t feel good). 
The next step after chemo was surgery. This turned into 2 surgeries because the margins weren’t good.  (The surgeon will cut out the tumor with a bit of good tissue around it. Then the pathologist will look at the tumor under the microscope. They hope that the margin of good tissue around the tumor will be clear of cancer). With cancer you want them to get it all.

Radiation wasn’t in the plan for me, because I had a mastectomy, but in December of 2008 I found out that I needed that as well. Apparently because the cancer didn’t respond to chemo as they had hoped, the size of the tumor, cancer in the lymph nodes, and it was a high grade cancer all added up to 6 weeks of radiation.

I have had several friends who have had cancer. Several who have had radiation. People will talk about the radiation induced fatigue but no one really tells you about the burns. The nurses tell you it is different for every patient, some just get a little pink. Some get 2nd degree burns. I was the latter group. I’m not discounting the benefits of radiation therapy.  I met a woman in the waiting room. She was on her 4th relapse of cancer. She said wherever she had radiation the cancer did not return. Good stuff. Strong, but good. Thankfully the skin heals, but the scaring underneath lasts forever.

I finally finished my last treatment at the end of March that year. My surgeon originally told me that cancer treatments would last 8 to 9 months. It ended up taking 16 months. Towards the end of treatments, and during radiation, I had time to reflect on my life and realized I needed to make some changes. I got certified as a Spin Instructor and at the end of May that year I began teaching. I slowly worked my way back into running. I tried to be careful with doing too much because I seemed to get fatigued easily (and the radiation scarred my lungs).

At the end of the summer in 2010 I competed in a mini triathlon. It was a 400 yard swim, 8 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. Of all the events in the triathlon, the one that worries me the most is swimming. (Ironic, since I swam Masters after college, grew up swimming in Lake Michigan every day of my childhood and I coach an age group swim team). After all the surgeries and radiation I have a lot of scar tissue and limited range of motion in my arm and shoulder. I made it through that tri (barely) and was happy to get out of the water without too much pain.

At the beginning of this summer, Millie’s dad asked me to join the 3 P’s when they competed in the Naperville Triathlon. I decided to give it a shot and hoped that the sprint distance wouldn’t tax my arm/shoulder too much. (I found a great Naprapath in the building where I work. Although I’m always going to have struggles with my arm and shoulder, it has improved to the point where I can swim almost a mile without muscle spasms). Teaching Spin classes is generally how I do my bike training, though I found I have to spend time on my bike outside of class. A road bike fits different than a Spin bike and it’s important to know how it feels before race day.  

We competed in the Tri on August 14 and it was a great day and a great event. I’ve usually gone to events by myself so it was a really nice change to be with the group. Pre-event nerves lessen a bit when you have some friends to commiserate with you.  We all arrived at the race together, got numbered, and our spots in the transition zone  were close to one another. We separated as we went to our various spots for the swim, but we all arrived at the finish within a short time of each other, and capped off the day with a group breakfast, sharing stories of the event and comparing possible races for the rest of this season and  next year.

I don’t know if it’s a result of my cancer diagnosis and treatment, or just getting older, but when I train and compete, my main goal is to have a good time. One of my friends owns our local running store. His pre-race advice to me was to keep smiling. It’s funny, but I really think that helped. We all struggle at times during racing and training, but somehow smiling makes it seem a little easier, and definitely more fun.  So, while I am cautiously optimistic about how good I have been feeling, I’m keeping the smile on my face for good luck. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Better Late Than Never!

Yikes!  So- I guess it's been a while (again).  I feel so guilty. Its been so long since Ive written.  I stink- I know.  So, I think this is going to have to be a bullet pointed list of updates, as there are so many!

Update on the Friendly Competition with Meredith:
We had our first "Check-In" on August 31st.  We both fell short (only by a few hours) of our first exercise goals - so both of us had to throw $25 in the Ante Up jar (mine is purchased, just not yet decorated- soon I promise)    Since the first ante up, we are both doing a much better job of staying on track with our exercising, and there is only about a 45 minute (I am not the one in the lead- CURSES!) difference between the two of us.  I blame my classes- for realz.

Two of my three classes this semester, while online, require "virtual classroom" time.  In which, I am seated in front of my computer for three hours, with headphones and a microphone, participating virtually in a classroom.  Not only does this make it difficult to exercise (fear not, every thirty minutes I do some work with my balance ball and/or Kettle ball)  but it is also a LOT of sitting between work as a desk-jockey  and then running home (I fully expect to be complaining of a speeding ticket by the end of the term) to make it into my virtual classroom by 6.

This also makes it hard to stay on the ball with eating- since I walk into my house, let my dogs out, use the restroom and have to then log online to my class-  no time to cook a dinner.  After two weeks of this crazy schedule- I have finally gotten into a rhythm I think.  The first week I have to admit, the drive thru was my friend on both nights (bad Millie- I know)  Thankfully now, I have a lot of stuff in my fridge that I can just grab and bring into my office with me - egg salad, cheese, yogurt etc.  Though not a "dinner" by traditional standards, it is enough to keep me satiated.

As far as my 5K in October goes, unfortunately I have to pull out of the commitment.  It looks like that is a weekend my husband and I are going to be out of town.  Blah.

Brutus and I will not be working out this coming weekend- hes going to be an extra in Superman -how cool-  so I will need to find something else to do on Saturday morning to get my workout in.

The plan is to start swimming again in the mornings this week.  Tomorrow will definitely be a no go, since as I type this, I am neglecting homework that is due by midnight.  So, its going to be down to the wire to get that in.  Stinkin holidays- great that I didn't have to work, but unfortunately this weekend was also a black hole for shirking my educational pursuits.  -  It was Papa Millie's birthday, so one day went to spending time with the fam.  And of course, today was spent running the usual errands, groceries etc.

I had so much else to say, but I have already forgotten it.  :(

I still have to get up my sisters post about her leg of our Triathlon- though since we competed almost a month ago, I guess it's kind of moot now. But it will go up (sometime soon I hope)

I also have a new Motivational Monday poster, Margaret-  who will be posted shortly as well.  - though technically today *is* Monday already, the stinkin Holiday threw me off.

I also have had the privilege of sampling some new products - so there will be some reviews up in the coming days as well  :)  Yay for product samples!

Alright, I should get back to my homework.  :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Friendly Challenge Amongst Friends

So my friend Meredith (whom I have previously referred to as my MB [motivational buddy]) and I have entered into a friendly wager.  In order to ensure that we both continue to strive towards fitness through the fall, where most people post Tri season tend to put on the brakes and pack on the pounds-  we have decided to put some money where our motivation is.

She and I have entered into a friendly competition to log 100 hours of exercise between now and the end of the year 12/31/11.  That breaks down to five hours of exercise a week-  which is completely doable considering the massive amounts of hours we log during Triathlon training months.  We will be checking in on the 15th and 30th of each month, logging our hours on a nice spreadsheet-  I'm still trying to find a way to keep dual counters here on the blog- but I have until the 3oth to figure that one out.

Anyhow-  the "loser" will pony up the cash for a spa day.  If by midpoint checkin someone is drastically behind in hours (ie they only have 6 hours total logged) they can buy back into the challenge at $5.00 an hour.   We each will have "Pony Up" jars to put money into depending on who loses or wins each checkin.  (Mine is not yet decorated- but I will post both tonight or tomorrow).

This is also great for me because it keeps me motivated to continue to train (which I need to do anyway) and focus on the 5K in October.  This is also an excellent motivator for me because I have so many things that are going on after the 5k.  My birthday is at the end of the month in October.  Then in November, I get to meet Skinny Emmie  when I attend an event in Louisville- so I want to look ab fab for that!  Then later in the month is my nephew's birthday so I'll be flying to San Francisco to go see him-  and since I come from a family of Paparazzi  cameras will be flashing at all of these events - and I want to look good :)  

I am quite excited for this little challenge win or lose (moneywise) we will still both come out winners (healthwise) in the end - but seriously, I want to win! :-D   So, here's to a great competition  and many, many hours of logged workouts!