Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Reflection

At the end of the year it always seems that everyone is very reflective of the past year while looking forward to the new year. I'm no different although I try to set new goals and plans for myself continuously throughout the year. 

As I sit waiting for a flight to Hawaii, I am thinking that I am just ready for a break. This year has been so demanding mentally and physically with pursuing and completing my masters degree, an increased work load at my company, and trying to train and walk two 3 Day for Cure events. (And lets not forget to throw in the daily curve balls that life brings.) There was a point when I knew I didn't have enough hours in the day, felt that I was disappointing many people with the choices that I made, and I felt I was so close to a meltdown. (Fortunately I believe my manager saw my desperate need for a break, and she happily extended my current vacation request.)

Although I want to completely shut everything off and not plan for the future, I can't. It's just not me. I'm always looking for a way to better myself . Although many people have asked me 'What's next?', I really don't have an answer for them. At this moment I am completely fine with saying that I don't know what I want to achieve in 2012. (OK, I do have some ideas.) I just feel that I am destined to do more with my life than I have to this point. (And that's not to diminish what I've accomplished so far.) Hopefully the warm sun and inviting waters of Hawaii will allow me time to reflect to continue my journey into 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Out With the Old

I've been very fortunate to have been off work for the past two weeks, and this good fortune will continue until at least January 15th (YAY for me!). One of the best things about being off work is that I have time to do the things that I typically don't have time to do. Like...clean up my 'Favorites' list on my computer.

OK, you might be laughing or thinking 'Really? That's all she has to do?'. But seriously, when is the last time YOU cleaned up your favorites list?

One of the folders I came across was labeled 'Blogging'. There was even a sub folder with some blogs that I had intended to go back and look at when I had time. And you know what? Some of the links no longer worked. Some of the bloggers hadn't written anything new in a loooong time (which I can relate to). And you know what else? I found some pretty cool blogs to begin following!

The other thing that I found were some blogging resources. This was especially helpful since I am going to breathe new life into my blog (I can see my stepmother rolling her eyes and laughing now). OK, just wait and see, my blog is going to get better! Until then...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Still Losing...Although Barely!

For those who are anxiously awaiting my Weight Watcher update for today, here it is:

Weekly Loss/Gain: -.4 pounds
Total Loss/Gain: -10.8 pounds

I am proud to say that I managed to lose .4 pounds in light of the Christmas holiday! This past week was challenging due to an unplanned lunch with my manager, Christmas dinner, and a birthday celebration. Here's how it went down...

My manager contacted me about meeting for a Christmas and congratulatory (for my masters degree) lunch. We met at Gloria's which is a Salvadorian restaurant that I had been wanting to try for a long time (the wait is over!). Let's just say it was well worth the wait! I made a great choice by choosing Salmon Costeno (marinated salmon served with rice and grilled veggies), and a not so good choice by choosing the sangria (it did have fruit in it which should count for something!).

I wasn't feeling too bad about the unplanned lunch outing since I tracked the points for the meal (and yes, the sangria too). My adopted family, The Meyers, invited me over for Christmas dinner. I'll begin with they are from New Orleans and there was lots of New Orleans flair in all of the dishes. There was an amazing cornbread dressing with smoked oysters and shrimp in it; then there was the sweet potatoes with a buttery pecan topping on them; and let me not forget about the 'meat pie' which was a slice of heaven - a buttery delicious crust filled with chopped oysters and other unidentified goodness. Those items were the highlights of the meal, although EVERYTHING was WONDERFUL!!! And I also had a couple of glasses of wine as the evening went on.

So after the Christmas meal extravaganza, I gave over all of my daily point allowance AND weekly point allowance. Honestly, there was no way that I could begin to place a point value on the items I ate. I just hoped that I would be able to keep my cool for the next 2 days until I weighed in again.

Well, my 'hope' quickly faded because it was a friend's birthday on the night before weigh in. This outing took me to Button's, a restuarant that plays live music. The chef at this restaurant is from New Orleans (are you seeing a theme here?). As I debated between the Shrimp and Spinach Salad or Shrimp, Fish, and Grits, what little will power I had quickly came to an end. And I'll be honest, the Shrimp, Fish and Grits was worth every point that more than exceeded my daily point allowance.

So when I say I am proud to have lost .4 pounds, I really mean spite of some bad choices, I still lost weight! The next couple of weeks will bring a new set of challenges since I am going on vacation. Although the bright side is that where I am going the weather should be great, there should be lots of seafood options, and the opportunity to be active (for the first time I am packing workout clothes to take with me). Wish me well and LOTS of will power!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

Typically I receive my Ten on Tuesday questions from Chelsea at Roots and Rings. Imagine my surprise when I realized Chelsea is taking the week off from blogging AND no Ten on Tuesday questions...oh my! And just when I was counting on her to supply me with questions so I can at least one posting per week.

Well, here goes my own Ten on Tuesday. And in typical form of my blog, very random questions that someone has asked me at one time or another, wished they had asked me, or they did ask and I danced around the question.

1. Where am I from?
I was born and raised in a small, rural community named Cassopolis, Michigan. It's a village (that's what it says on the welcome sign) located in the lower southwest corner of Michigan. The nearest large city that people probably know is South Bend, Indiana (home of the Notre Dame Fightin' Irish!).

2. How did I wind up in Dallas, Texas?
While I was living in Cincinnati, Ohio (hated it!), I spent a few months in Dallas for a work assignment. A few days after the assignment ended I was offered a different position with my company. Although I was not required to move I looked at the new position as an opportunity to leave Cincinnati and move to someplace that I liked, where I knew people, and would provide other career opportunities in the future.

3. Do I have siblings?
Yes, I have three. A sister and two brothers. I am the oldest. In many ways we are very different, yet we do have underlying similarities (although half of us aren't blood related).

4. Why do I blog?
Blogging started as a way to express my feelings in an anonymous way. I think that my life is kind of random most days, and thought (OK hoped!) that someone else might think my life random enough to want to follow along.

5. What do I do when not blogging?
If you're one of the 8 followers that I have, you already know that I don't blog on a daily basis (although I really, really want to!). Hopefully 2012 will make that pipe dream a reality! I recently completed my masters degree which took up a lot of my time. Since the end of October my time has been spent watching mindless TV (anything Kardashian, Real Housewives,) and some good TV (Revenge, Person of Interest). It's the off season for the 3 Day, although very soon my focus will return to training and fundraising for a worthy cause.

6. Do I have any friends?
Other than my Tweeps (follow me @indygirl_1997 if you want to read 140 character random thoughts), Facebook friends (send me a friend request, my name is Shannon Underwood), and loyal folders here, I actually have a few friends! For the most part, I am a pretty private person yet an open book. If you ask me a question I'll answer, although I'm not that forth coming with info on my own (much to the chagrin of my few friends).

7. What is my one guilty pleasure?
I'll keep this answer to material things since I seem to have a lot of guilty pleasures in different categories. It's jewelry. I love bling which I blame on my birthstone being a diamond. I love watches (OK, specifically Michele watches). I love bracelets and bangles. One goal for 2012 is not to make any major jewelry purchases (I haven't defined the threshold for 'major' although I probably need to figure out what that means soon!).

8. Growing up what did I want to be?
I always wanted to be a Flight Attendant and longed for the day that I could apply to an airline. My dream was cut short when I shared my dream with a complete stranger. His response was 'Why would you want to do that? That's nothing more than a glorified waitress in the sky?' From that moment forward I realized the power of words and the affect (positive or negative) words can have on someone.

9. What is my favorite vacation spot?
To date it is Aruba. I've been there twice and will definitely go back again. The island is small, located outside of the hurricane zone, and everything is reasonably priced. A lot of different countries are represented there and the food is wonderful! It's one place that I would feel safe enough to travel there alone.

10. How hard was it to come up with 10 questions!
Let's just say that I'll be glad when Chelsea returns next week!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Still A Loser!

I mentioned last week that I am actively involved in Weight Watchers again. I'm happy to report that when I weighed in today, I was down 5 pounds! Here's the summary:

Weekly Loss/Gain: -5 pounds
Total Loss/Gain: -10.4 pounds

A Twitter friend asked me what I did different this week to lose. I have to say two things: 1) I have been eating out waaaaaaay less and 2) I have been planning my meals. And here's how I did it...

This past Saturday I had a FABULOUS meal at Bob's Steak and Chop House. Since I knew I was going, I made certain to save my weekly point allowance for my special meal. I also made the choice of have a smaller cut filet mignon which is considered a lean protein. The big change that I made was only eating half of my meal, which is rare for me! Typically I leave a restaurant feeling stuffed and wondering why I ate all of that food. And before I forget, I also had my favorite dessert creme brulee!

I have also been using Simply Fit Meals to assist me with my meal planning. The meals are prepared and don't have any additives or preservatives. The GREAT thing is that each meal has the calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and fiber amounts listed on them making them Weight Watchers friendly! I also make certain that if I will be away from home to take my meals with me in my cute insulated lunch bag.

So see, I can be on Weight Watchers and eat whatever I want. I just need to plan for it. I mentioned earlier that I have been eating out waaaaaaay less. For me that means that I have gone from the majority of my meals being eaten out, to now only eating out 1 or 2 meals a week. Over the course of the next few weeks I would like to transition from eating the Simply Fit Meals to cooking more at home. Stay tuned to see how that goes!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

Here's this week's Ten on Tuesday compliments of Chelsa at Roots and Rings! If you'd like to join the fun stop by her blog to sign up.

1. What is your favorite online-only store?
Hmmm, I don't believe I have one. The closest one I can think of is QVC, although I can order phone by telephone, I never do.

2. Do you enjoy wrapping gifts?
Nope! Although I do appreciate a beautifully wrapped present from someone.

3. What is the temperature in your city today?
I live in the Dallas metroplex, and right now it is 44 degrees. A little below normal temperature for this time of year.

4. What time do you eat dinner?
Typically whenever I think about it. Although I try to eat around 6 pm.

5. Will you be making New Years Resolutions?
I always use the New Year and my birthday as a time for self reflection. I like to look back at what I have achieved and set new goals for myself.

6. How old is your oldest pair of shoes that you still wear?
Today I had one a pair of leather boots that I have probably had for about 5 years.

7. Do you have any restaurant phone numbers saved in your phone?
Yes, I do! Doesn't everyone???

8. What is your favorite and least favorite letter to write in cursive?
Probably the letter 'S' since that is the letter my first name begins with. I don't write the letter 'Q' very well. Probably because I don't use it that often.

9. Do you know any good riddles?
I sure don't.

10. How do you feel about snow?
I grew up in Michigan and  have experienced enough snow to last me a lifetime. Although there is something special about it at night when it covers everything and it twinkles like tiny stars.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm A Loser

Yes, I know that I shouldn't call myself a loser. Although today I am pretty proud to be a loser. I lost 4.2 pounds this week! Ok, let me back up...

Last week I decided to give Weight Watchers another try (And why not? I have been paying the  monthly fee, and April was the last time I can say I was seriously following the plan). I know that Weight Watchers works because I have lost weight on the program before. Although, I did regain all the weight that I lost. So you might be wondering 'What's different this time?'

What's different is that I've finally decided to be committed to do something to lose weight and improve my overall health. Over the past couple of years, I have realized that I can accomplish anything that I want if I just put my mind to it and stay committed. How else could I train and walk five 3-day 60 mile walks, walk two 1/2 marathons, and complete my Masters degree? Each of those were possible by setting a goal and staying true to it. Why should losing weight be any different?

I've blamed my weight gain on many things: my love of food, socializing around food, my career choice and the amount of time on the road, stress, emotions...the list goes on and on. Right now, none of those things are going away. So I am choosing to manage those things:

I can still love food...I just need to love it in smaller portions.

I can still socialize around food...I just need to do it less often.

I can still travel and spend time on the road...I just need to make better choices about what I eat.

There will be stress and I will be emotional...I just need to find a healthy outlet for it.

Hopefully making the decision to write about my weight loss journey will make me more accountable to each of you. Maybe I can give someone else the push they need to take the steps toward weight loss. Maybe someone will share with me strategies that they have to eat healthy and lose weight. I know there will be good days and bad days with my journey. The important thing is to keep my journey moving forward.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

Ok, here's this weeks Ten on Tuesday! If you want to join the fun, please check out Chelsa at Roots and Rings.

1. How do you eat your eggs?
Although I don't eat chicken, I do eat eggs from time to time. When in the mood, I like them hard boiled with salt and pepper; over easy; or scrambled with lots of cheese.

2. Do you volunteer?
I do, although it has been awhile. The last time I volunteered was earlier this year for the Rock 'n Roll Dallas Half Marathon.

3. What’s your favorite brand of jeans?
I'm not that much of a jeans person. The couple pair that I have right now were purchased at Lane Bryant.

4. What was your child’s first word? Or what was your first word?
Not kids here! And I have no idea what my first would have been.

5. Can you french braid?
I can, although I don't believe I will win any awards.

6. Do you prefer wide rule, college rule, or blank paper?
Of the three, I pick college rule. Although I write pretty big, so I end up taking up more than one line when I write.

7. Is there a specific treat do you always make during the holidays?
Nope. Although one Christmas I made about 8 different types of Christmas cookies. I want to do that again one year when I have the time.

8. Do you have a KitchenAid mixer? Do you want one?
For someone who doesn't cook, I do have a white KitchenAid mixer! It was a wedding gift, given to me by by mother who loves to cook and bake. The marriage didn't last, but the mixer certainly has!

9. What kind of computer do you use?

10. Favorite Christmas movie?
I'm kind of a grinch when it comes to favorite Christmas movies here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rock 'n Roll Vegas Half Marathon

Seems like I can't get enough of walking, so I decided months ago to sign up for the Rock 'n Roll Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon. Let's be honest, after walking 60 miles I know that I can walk 13. miles in my sleep. This half marathon intrigued me because it was walking the Vegas Strip at night!

Before the Half Marathon

Little did I realize that walking with 44,000 people AND doing it in Vegas would present its own challenges. My hotel was about a mile and a half from the start/finish, which I thought would be a good thing. Well, let's be honest, who really wants to walk extra miles before or after walking 13.1 miles? Note to self: next time select the hotel that the race starts from. Getting to the start wasn't that bad. Leaving the hotel afterward was a completely different took about 2 hours! This was due to the amount of people participating in the event and the lack of taxis.

Walking The Strip at night was way cool since I was able to see all of the hotels and casinos lit up. Unfortunately, I really couldn't take any pictures (I know, a marathon/half marathon is a competitive event and not a sight seeing adventure). This was also a great way to see the entire strip, including the downtown strip area.

I have been to Vegas more times that I can remember, but I always stay on The Strip and move between a few hotels and casinos. This was my first (and probably last) time going to the downtown area. As we walked away from the bright lights of The Strip, the landscape changed pretty quickly. It was pretty apparent where the money is at in Vegas. Needless to say I was happy when I was able to see the bright lights of The Strip again. And yes, this also meant that the half marathon would soon be finished!

I was excited to walk the event with my step mom and a friend of mine. This half marathon was the first endurance event that my step mom has completed since completing her treatment for breast cancer in December 2010. For my friend, this was her first (and hopefully not last!) half marathon that she has ever walked.

My biggest disappointment of the evening was that there were no finishers medals when we finished! I am all about instant gratification and was really looking forward to receiving my medal. Hopefully it should arrive in about 6 weeks.

I mentioned earlier that walking a half marathon really doesn't challenege me. I suppose I could train to walk it faster (I finished this one right at 4 hours), although I believe I am going to train to jog my next half marathon! There is another Rock 'n Roll half marathon the end of March that I am going to make it my goal to do a jog and walk combination to complete. At the very least, I want to beat my 4 hour finishing time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

Ten on Tuesday is something that I stumbled across on one of the blogs that I follow. Each Tuesday, 10 questions (sometimes very random like this week) are posted and then answered.  I think it's a great way to get conversation started AND it gives me something to post on Tuesdays!

If you're interested in participating, you can find Ten on Tuesday at Roots and Rings

1. What are 3 things that are on your Christmas wish list?

I just received a friendly reminder text from my mother this morning that she hasn't received my Christmas wish list yet. So I guess that answers that question!

2. What’s your favorite Christmas song?

I am probably in the minority that Christmas music isn't one of my favorite music types.

3. Do you have a favorite band or singer that sings it especially awesome?

See the answer to Question 2.

4. Have you heard about the website GoodReads?

Never heard about GoodReads until today! And this is the reason I love reading blogs...I always find out new and relevant information for me. (And there's an App for GoodReads too!)

5. What are 3 books you want to read?

I have been working on my masters degree for the past 18 months, and haven't had much time to read for pleasure. I have been reading Emily and Einstein for almost a year and really would like to finish it!

6. Do you hunt deer?

Seriously? Uh, no.

7. Have you started Christmas shopping? Are you completely finished?

I have. I purchased items to send overseas to a fellow 3 Day Walker's brother who is deployed in Afghanistan, and I purchased a gift card for a family in need. I now need to start shopping for my immediate family.

8. Did you shop on Black Friday? What was the best deal you got?

No, I love shopping but can't take the crowds and didn't do any cyber shopping either.

9. What’s one holiday tradition your family has?

My parents are divorced and I always spend Christmas Eve with my Dad's side of the family. We do a gift exchange and my Dad plays Santa. And there is always great food and merriment involved!

10. How many blogs do you read? Do you subscribe/unsubscribe often or do you purge every once in a while?

Probably too many! I just counted, and right now in my FeeddlerRSS App I have 52 blogs that I am following. Some of those bloggesr are like me and don't post on a regular basis. Although the majority do post at least everyday. Now that school's out, I have more time to actually read the blogs.

And yes, it probably is time to do a purge!

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011 Dallas 3 Day Walk

The night before every 3 Day Walk is kinda like the night before Christmas for me. There is so much excitement, anticipation, and anxiousness for what the next three days will bring! I was feeling a lot of anxiousness since I had just walked in Tampa the previous weekend, and I didn't know if I would be able to walk all of the miles in Dallas. I was excited to walk in Dallas with my team, Angels for the Cure, and my friend (and first time walker!) Adrianne.

Adrianne and I arrived at Opening Ceremony and it was cold! But like the rain in Tampa couldn't dampen my spirit, neither could the cold temperatures in Dallas. There was so much excitement in the air! We took pictures, danced and waited for Opening Ceremony to begin. Four members of my team participated in Opening Ceremony which was really awesome!

One of my team members in the Survivors Circle

Walking out from Opening Ceremony there were so many people there to support and and cheer everyone on! The spectators in Dallas really come out, especially with the first day being a Friday. The schools are kind and they allow the students to come out to cheer us on. The angel wings we wear are always a hit with the kids (heck, even the adults too!).

When we arrived at camp I was able to show Adrianne around since we wouldn't be spending the night at camp. I'm not a camper and neither is Adrianne, so we opted to stay at the Crowne Plaza. We ate dinner at camp and then headed to our 'camp' for the night. Just the thought of a comfortable bed was all that I needed!

Day 2 started nice and early for us. We arrived at camp in time to have breakfast and talk to other walkers. One of the walkers shared a story with us about the fall he had on Day 1 (very soon this will become quite coincidental). From the scrapes he had on his head I could tell it was a painful fall. Yet he was there to walk on behalf of his wife who was fighting breast cancer. As Adrianne and I left camp, I was was talking to her when I decided to walk right off the track we were walking on and took a tumble myself! I hit the ground hard,and thankfully I aimed for the grass and not the track we were walking on. As I lay there I was silently praying that nothing was broken since I put my hand out to brace my fall (I know, bad move!). My right hand was in a lot of pain, yet I could kind of slowly bend my fingers and move my hand and wrist so I knew nothing was broken. I decided to forgo seeing Medical (I had miles to walk and wasn't going down over being clumsy!) and keep pressing on.

Adrianne was beginning to feel some of the affects from walking Day 1. She wanted to walk slower which was fine with me since I was starting on mile 80 of my 120 mile journey (in a weird way I think my painful hand helped me forget about my sore tootsies). Thankfully I had some personal spectators in the crowd today! My friends Tanya and Claire came out with fabulous signs and smiles to cheer us on.
Adrianne, Clare, and Tanya
As the day progressed on, we were moving slower and slower and I started worrying about staying on pace with the route time. Adrianne started experiencing blisters that she had been self treating but wanted to go to Medical to have them treat them. I encouraged her to take one of the sweep vans to go to the next Pit Stop and gain us some time on the route. But by time I made it to the Pit Stop, she decided she was done walking for the day. I decided to continue on since it was important to me to walk all 120 miles. So I set off to finish the remaining 10 miles. During the 3 Day one is never walking alone, and I met up with some other walkers to finish out the day. Then it was off to the Crowne Plaza for a hot shower and a good nights sleep!

Day 3 started and I knew we were in for a long day. My body was starting to feel like it had walked 100 miles and Adrianne's blisters were giving her lots of problems. Thankfully we only had 15 miles to walk (ok, I know that's still a loooong distance!) and I knew we could get through it. I did meet an amazing man, Jim, who is walking all 14 cities this year! Yes, that means 840 miles....unbelievable!!! So when I want to complain about anything, I just think about Jim and what he is accomplishing one step at a time.
The amazing Jim!
As we continued walking Adrianne and her tootsies were not doing well. She decided to take a sweep van and I would met her at lunch. We fueled up and decided we had plenty of time to walk leisurely to make it in. As always it is such a wonderful feeling to see that there is only one mile left to go!

1 mile to go! I can hardly believe that I have walked 120 miles!
We made it to Fair Park and then waited for the rest of the team to make it in. Then a big group of us walked in together. I can never explain what a wonderful feeling it is to walk into holding. This year it was a mix of emotions for me: I thought about all of the people I met during the 3 Day, actually walking 120 miles, the survivors that I walk for, the people frightening this disease that I will never know, and just doing something amazing to make a difference!

In case you're wondering, yes I am going to walk next year AND I have already signed up. I've already decided that I will only walk one city. Stay tuned to see which city that will be!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December NaBloPoMo

Ok, here we are at the beginning of another month that I will attempt to participate in NaBloPoMo!

For those who follow my blog, you already know that I have attempted this challenge several times and haven't been successful. To those same loyal followers, you also know that there's not much that I set my mind to that I don't accomplish!

Although the idea behind NaBloPoMo is to blog every day, my goal is just to blog more often than I have been. And in the process hopefully I will find a few more blogs to follow. So here's to December NaBloPoMo and seeing how often I blog this month!