28 February 2014

final february friday fun

For those that might have missed it when I posted it on Twitter and Facebook, my interview with The Lifestyle Accountability show is up on their website!

The interview was done last Monday and I had a fantastic time talking to Adam and Devon. It's always so weird to hear what my voice sounds like to everyone else out there in the world (versus what I hear in my head) but luckily I actually approve of the final cut. I was worried I'd sound like a complete weirdo or something, being interviewed. (Or maybe I do and I'm just in denial.)

I'm also happy to report that after a super stressful week last week, this week has been sooooo much better. I really do think having the focus of half-marathon training has been a big part of it, but there's also been lots of big unknowns and balls being juggled behind the scenes and, thankfully, some of them are starting to align and go in a direction that makes me happy happy.

(How's that for vague, amirite?)

But, yay, it's the weekend! Tomorrow is a rest day and I gots me some brunch plans on Sunday. Also, uh, hi, March is, like, tomorrow. Kinda snuck up on us there. But that also means my most favorite time of year is just weeks away. My 2014 Film Festival program arrived yesterday. I love it so much I may have kissed it.

Whatever. Y'all know you love my adorable weirdness. Don't deny it.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

26 February 2014

only half crazy

I don't know how many people notice, but over there on my sidebar I keep a list of my races for the year. After a race is completed, I cross it off, like the Garage Sale 5K, and update my results page. My next race is the annual St. Malachi St. Patrick's Day themed 5 miler and after that, well, I sorta quietly slipped the Cleveland Half Marathon on the list.

To say this was a spontaneous decision is a bit of an understatement. See, I ran the 10K last year and had briefly considered running it again. Especially after they unveiled a 10K finisher's medal (I totally run for bling now. I have no illusions about ever winning age awards, but I love me some finishing medals). But I'm trying to be careful with money so the entry fee was my main obstacle.

Well, then, see, all of the official Cleveland Marathon bloggers were offering giveaways that included a free race entry. Needless to say I was all over that shit and entered multiple giveaways. From Run Bake Blog I actually won a subscription to Runner's World but the best was Friday when I was notified I won a free race entry from Anchored in CLE!

My first instinct was to go for the 10K like I planned, but then I looked at my calendar realized I apparently can't count and had almost a month more time between now and race weekend than I originally thought. That meant that if I started right away, I had just enough time to follow a 12 week half-marathon training plan.

So, I thought. Why the hell not. Might as well put a free entry to really good use, amirite?

Training started this week and at my friend Mina's suggestion, I checked out Hal Higdon's training programs and really liked the schedule so I went with that and only had to switch one or two days to make it agreeable with my personal schedule (like making sure cross training aligns with my classes at Harness Cycle). So, after work on Monday I went over to the nearby Planet Fitness (love my black card!) to get my three miles in. I have a long standing hate for the treadmill, but the big TVs overhead helped.

Since my running has, admittedly, slacked off a bit over the last few months, only really running the occasional race, I was more concerned with distance than pace. So while I hate the whole jog v. run mentality, it was definitely a jog with a few minutes of walking thrown in. Whatever. It was the first day, I'll build up speed and endurance as the weeks go on. This is also really good for the upcoming St. Malachi race as well as it will get me in shape for that, too.

For the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, I signed up over a year in advance. That meant roughly nine months of mental process of what I was about to do before training even began. This time it was two days between deciding and start of training. Having already finished one half I feel so much more prepared for this one. I also know the importance of training and following the plan as best as possible.

Speaking of RnR, I still plan on running their  2014 Cleveland Half, too. So train and run this one in May and about two or three months later I'll be starting my training over again!

Talk about things I never thought I'd ever say ever.

Any one else running any of the races during the Cleveland Marathon weekend?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

24 February 2014

get your ride on at harness cycle's new home

Since opening back in October, my spin studio Harness Cycle has been utilizing a temporary space while waiting for the permanent facility to finish. All renovations were done recently and the studio closed down this past week (which meant no classes, womp womp) to move everything over and get it all set up at their new home on Detroit and W. 29th.

Of course, once the doors opened that could only mean one thing. PARTY!

The new facility is gorgeous. The front lobby is all hardwood and exposed brick. For the open house on Saturday they set up food and drinks there and everyone just kind of mingled and walked around. In the space were the bikes were they had Harness swag (including a lovely dark grey hoodie that I may need to buy sometime soon).

They also had this super cute mini mantra bar set up with notecards of little sayings. I grabbed the one on the far left of the tray. It says do small things with great love and is currently hanging up on my bulletin board above my desk.

It was ridiculously packed last night, which is so fantastic for the studio. This city and residents always do such a good job encouraging local businesses

Now of course I want all of my local readers to go out and support Harness Cycle and get your ride on. So,  for all of my local riders, if you go to their website you can use coupon code WeRide216 to get one free ride! I'd love to see you on the bike with me, I can usually be found at the Wednesday and Friday 6:30 am classes, although I'm well aware that not everyone is an early morning rider so you'll be forgiven if you opt for one of the later classes. All of the instructors are super fun and friendly and give a great ride.

They have a great schedule with lots of classes throughout the week. Sign-ups go live Mondays at noon and book up fast, so be sure to act quickly to get your bike.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

21 February 2014

a case of the fridays

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you just felt kind of....off?

That's been me all week. I don't know what's really going on. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's S.A.D. Maybe it's some cyclical depression thing, seeing as how this was just about the time last year when everything went to hell.

There has been some good stuff: Monday night I recorded an interview with Adam and Devon from the Lifestyle Accountability podcast which was fun. Interview should be up this coming week and of course I'll post when it's available. My most favorite time of year, the Cleveland International Film Festival, is a mere month away and my March social calendar is filling up with events related to that and tomorrow I'm headed to the launch party of Harness Cycle's new permanent home over on Detroit and W 29th here in Cleveland.

Oh yeah, my friend David has developed a local storytelling event called Told CLE and has tapped me to be one of the Featured Storytellers for their inaugural event next month. The theme is "I Said That?" and I have a delightful story from my prison library days regarding the nickname the inmates had for me. (Plus, really, any excuse to break out prison library stories is a fun day.)

Seriously, though, this has just been one of those weeks and it's unfortunate because when I stepped on the scale Monday I was down 0.8 and yet here I am, in that old habit, of having a week where I lose and then kinda losing my steam and not caring. Ugh.

But a variety of personal and professional stuff just left me feeling so stressed and anxious all week that when I got home from work last night I had my beer open before I had my coat off.

True story.

So my Thursday night was spent in bed with my two favorite men: Eliot Ness from Great Lakes Brewery and Frank Underwood from House of Cards.

Now that's my kind of threesome, amirite?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

14 February 2014

have a heart to heart with yourself this valentine's day

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! For those of you in relationships, I hope y'all enjoy spending some special time with your significant other and remember my tips for surviving this particular holiday. For those taking the Singles Awareness Day route, let it be known that my favorite Valentine's Days have always been the ones spent with platonic friends. Back in college, my dear friend Ro and I would be each other's dates, buying cards and always going out for dinner and drinks together. In fact, the majority of my 32 Valentines have been spent single and the ones spent with friends have been far more memorable than the ones spent with boyfriends.

This day can sometimes make people....anxious. Even in well-established couples, there's the question of expectation. Or maybe you are the only single person in your social circle. Can't also forgot those dating situations where things are still new and you're both trying to figure what exactly is going on (of course, if that's the case, may I suggest these simply delightful Awkward Valentine's Day Card For Your Confusing Modern Relationship).

Regardless of whether or not you are in a relationship that can be defined as "Facebook official," always always always remember that the most important relationship you can possibly have is the one you have with yourself. The most important person to love is you.

It can be difficult, I know, to learn to love who you are, especially when you feel like you are being pulled in a million different directions at once. Family, work, kids, etc. All of these things can often become distractions and we put all of our focus on pleasing other people, making sure other people are feeling loved, feeling needed, that we forget to turn that love back on ourselves. Women in particular are very bad about prioritizing their own needs above those of the people around them. And I say that as someone without kids or a spouse, so I can't even imagine adding those into the mix.

Despite what the card and candy companies want us to believe, this holiday doesn't have to be just about romantic love. Remember when you were a kid and passed out Valentine's Day cards to all of your classmates? It's not as if you were telling all the boys and girls in your class that you wanted to marry them at five years old. So this year, along with celebrating the love you have for your family and friends, I encourage you to take some time to practice self-love as well.

(Get your mind out of the gutters, people. That's not the kind of self-love I'm talking about. (Though, y'know, we all do it so what the hell, knock yourself out.))

Seriously, though. The other relationships come and go, for whatever reason. Love affairs end. Children grow up. Friends grow apart. The only person who is really going to be around forever and ever and ever is you. So make sure that you give that relationship as much effort, patience, respect, and love that you do all the other relationships in your life.

Congrats to Angela H. for winning the Dark Chocolate Dreams Giveaway! Thanks to everyone else for entering! 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

12 February 2014

review: jawbone up

If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen this picture about a month ago.

The Jawbone UP is all the rage these days so when given an opportunity to review one for you guys I obviously jumped at the chance. So, thanks to Verizon Wireless, I was sent a demo unit a few weeks ago to try out. As soon as it arrived, I downloaded the free app and slid this bad boy on my wrist and got to work.

One of my main motivators behind wanting to demo the Jawbone UP was the sleep tracker. Because, y'know, who doesn't want to know what their sleep behaviors are like?

Setting the sleep tracker on the Jawbone UP was super easy and every morning I loved plugging the device into my phone and syncing it with the app to see what my sleep had been like the night before.

Seriously. How cool is that? I was always most interested in the "Fell asleep in" numbers because it always feels like it takes me forever to fall asleep even though I know it doesn't actually take that long.

Every day the app also provides you with various insights, to make the most of your Jawbone UP as well as just general healthy living information. Like, did you know that the average Olympic athlete burns over 5,000 calories daily while training? I didn't either until just the other day.

Thanks to the insights I also learned about some of the other features the device offers, like the Power Nap and Alarm Clock functions. Both utilize your natural sleep rhythm to figure out when the best time is to wake you up based on how lightly you're sleeping.

With the Alarm Clock you let it know what time you want to wake up and give it a window: so, during the week I like to be up between 7 and 7:30, so I set the time as 7:30 but let it know I'd be willing to be woken up to 20 minutes before that. With my 6:30 am spinning, however, I set the latest time as 5:45 am with only a ten minute earlier window. When the Jawbone UP senses you're at a prime time to be woken up it starts to vibrate. Just the push the little button to let it know you're up and it turns off sleep mode. You're also able to set different alarms for different days of the week, so once I set my times for the work week, my spinning days, and then made sure it was off on the weekends I was all set.

Speaking of sleep, I don't know about you but if my nap is too long I tend to feel even more tired than before, so this is where the Power Nap feature comes in. When you're just looking for a quick nap that will leave you feeling refreshed, the Power Nap mode will do something similar to the Smart Sleep Alarms in that it uses your sleep data to decide how much sleep you need to feel refreshed. You can either set an exact time you want to sleep or use the "optimal" setting and set a maximum time you want to nap and it will wake you up with  vibrations when it determines you're at the prime time.

Pretty nifty, huh?

Being attached to my iPhone I also really liked that I could sync the Jawbone UP app with several other apps I use on a regular basis, like Pact and MyFitnessPal. They all work in conjunction with each other, which is pretty cool: the meal information I put into MyFitnessPal will show up in  the Jawbone UP app while the calories burned as monitored by the Jawbone UP app will show up in MyFitnessPal. And as long as the Jawbone UP registered more than 10,000 steps in a day it would count towards my weekly Pact.

Finally, we have the life of the Jawbone UP and this is actually one of my favorite things about the device starting with the fact that there's no battery. With other motion trackers you always have to worry about battery life and, more importantly, getting a replacement battery which can be a bit of a hassle. With the Jawbone UP you just use a provided USB cord to plug it into your computer and it charges that way.

Then there's the really cool part: Each full charge lasts about 10 days and every time you sync the device with your app it will tell you how many days are left on the charge. No guesswork, like wondering how long 30% will last. It actually tells you 3 days.

All of that being said, there were a couple of things I wasn't super crazy about with regards to the Jawbone UP. The first is that I couldn't track my progress unless I synced it to my phone. So if I'm trying to keep track of how many steps I've taken for the day, I can't just glance down at the device and see a number. I have to physically take it off my wrist and plug it into my phone and open the app. Not super convenient if you want to know right away or aren't in a situation where it's easy to go through all the motions. (Though from my understanding, the new Jawbone UP24 takes care of that issue by syncing wirelessly.)

The other thing is that, as you can tell from the picture above, it's not very discrete as far as devices go. If I'm at work or at the gym, I'm obviously not going to care about the black band around my wrist. But, you know, if I'm going out for the night I'd like to have something a little less noticeable or something that could be attached under clothes.

Obviously, though, looking at the list below the Pros far outweigh the Cons when it comes to the features offered. The Jawbone UP retails at about $130, which is a good chunk of change, but for a device that tracks so much information when you're both awake and asleep and has so many useful tools that go along with it, I definitely recommend the UP if you're in the market.

App is super easy to use
Syncs with other apps, like Pact and MyFitnessPal
Power Nap Mode
Alarm Clock Function
No Battery that needs to be changed
Tells you how many days left on charge
Easy to switch between functions and features

Wish it was a little more discrete
Can't just glance down to see how many steps you've taken

Any Jawbone UP fans out there?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

10 February 2014

the five year plan

Right. So. Last week I gained half a pound. This week I gained half a pound.

What is wrong with me?!

It's my food choices, I mean I'm smart enough to figure that out. And despite those food choices I yet again tracked everything I ate so there is progress in there. I also slacked a little on exercise this week, so there's that.

I'm also still mentally struggling with the idea of being completely happy with where I am in life right now and answering the question then of why I feel I need to change my physical appearance.

I have a feeling that is something I will always continue to struggle with.

So, you may remember a few months ago when I was in London, I left y'all an early Christmas present in the form of a list of some of my favorite people in the healthy living community. They are all rock stars and only a small sample of the amazing people I get to (virtually) interact with day after day, week after week.

Today, though, I'm going to highlight two from this list who have been particularly inspiring to me this past week and in a very specific way.

Kelly has lost 115 pounds while Brooke has lost an astounding 170 pounds. Both achieved there success thanks to, of course, Weight Watchers and have had their own features in national magazines. I am inspired everyday by their stories but what I only recently learned this past week was that for both of them, it took 5-6 years to get to where they are today. For whatever reason I had it in my head that it took them a much shorter time than that.

In fact, over on her blog Kelly recently said: Whenever people ask me how long it took me to lose my weight and I tell them 6 years and about 4-5 years to get the definition in my arms, they quickly lose interest. Everyone wants a quick fix these days. It does not work like that. It takes time, hard work, and a whole lot of discipline mixed with patience. There is not time or date stamp for when you get to goal. It will happen when it happens

Some people lose interest when they hear that. They are looking for a quick fix. Me? I was actually inspired by knowing that.

I keep feeling this pressure to get back to where I was exactly one year ago. It's all in my head, obviously, but I think it's knowing what I'm capable of in terms of weight loss week and after week and not doing it leaves me feeling disappointed in myself. Plus, hi, I write a blog. About, y'know, losing weight. So when you are publicly putting your story out there and aren't having the results to back it up, it feels, well, weird.

Like, again, it would have been easy for me to not mention this week's small gain and just brush over it. Except I want to operate under honesty and transparency. So that means putting up numbers and information I'm not really proud of, even two weeks in a row. But I also know that being that honest and putting it out there has it's own version of pride, so it's this weird push-and-pull and constant tug of war in my head.

Seriously, though. Considering this "healthy living blogger" has spent the past year slowly and steadily regaining some of her weight and still has people who want to hear her ramble on means more to me than you can possibly know, so thank you, dear readers. Really.

At the beginning of the year, instead of resolutions I set goals for myself. One of these goals was to find scale satisfaction. I'm honestly still not entirely sure what that means in the long run, but I do know that I want to get back under 200 pounds.

I know that I can achieve that in a couple of months. I know that possibility exists. I also know it took me two years to lose 135 pounds and I lost over 75 of that in 2012 alone. I know I'm capable of pulling big numbers. The real question, however, is whether that's actually the best way to think going forward. I mean, considering I regained about 1/3 of my weight back, maybe that was more of a quick fix than I originally realized.

Maybe I need to take Kelly and Brooke's approach. I mean, okay, so I'm three years in at this point and in those three years, at this point, I've lost almost 90 pounds. So maybe I should sloooooow it down and instead of saying "I want to get under 200 as soon as possible" I say "I want to be under 200 by this time next year." Take some of that imaginary pressure off. Think long term. See the big picture. It's a lifestyle change, right? Which means it's also a lifelong journey. Which means my little three years of work is a mere drop in the bucket.

So for this week, I'm not going to focus on trying to lose the pound I've gained over the past two weeks. I'm just going to take it each day at a time and focus on trying to make the best possible choices I can. I mean, that's all anyone can really do, right?

Have you entered my giveaway to win a copy of 31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams and a 28 oz jar of chocolatey peanut buttery fabulousness?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

07 February 2014

giveaway: 31 days of dark chocolate dreams cookbook

With Valentine's Day exactly one week away it seems like the perfect time for a fun giveaway involving chocolate! But not just any chocolate, see. No, no. This is a giveaway involving a 28 oz jar of Peanut Butter & Co.'s Dark Chocolate Dreams and an entire cookbook full of recipes using this flavor.

I know, right? Like, I can't even.

Having worked with Peanut Butter & Co. in the past, I was super excited when they asked me if I would be interested in getting an advance copy of 31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams and my own 28 oz jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams. I said yes, naturally. I mean, duh. Who is going to say no to free peanut butter? Especially free chocolate peanut butter? Hello.

The recipes in this are all so tasty looking and I had a near impossible time deciding which one to try first and ultimately went for the Dark Chocolate Dreams Swirled Blondies.

No picture of the final product because they may or may not have all been consumed.

I plead the fifth on that one.

Some of the other recipes in the cookbook are stuffed French toast, fudge, ice cream, a homemade Swiss roll, cheesecake, peanut brittle, a layered crepe cake -- all made with Dark Chocolate Dreams.

What I really like though is that even though the cookbook was written with the Dark Chocolate Dreams variety in mind, any of their other flavors could be easily substituted. Like, I'm already salivating at the thought of making these blondies with the Mighty Maple flavor. Ooooh and maybe throwing some walnuts in?

So! Who wants their own copy of 31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams and a 28 oz jar of chocolatey peanut buttery goodness?!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Fine Print: Open to US Residents only. Giveaway ends Thursday February 13, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST. At the completion of the giveaway the winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

05 February 2014

finding time for fitness

As you know, about a month ago I joined Planet Fitness. I specifically went for the upgraded black card membership so I could use the home gym near my apartment but also the location near where I work.

Admittedly I've been somewhat lazy about using the one near work. Mostly it's a timing and motivation issue. Specifically, when I get out of work it's late at night and I really just kind of want to go home and any available obstacle (like the gym being packed at that time, no joke) will turn into an easy excuse. On the flip side, going before work is more manageable time wise but then I have to shower there and get ready and figure out breakfast and that's just too much work.

Again. Any obstacle becomes an excuse.

The saying goes that if it's important to you, you'll make time for it. Otherwise you'll make excuses. (Or something like that.) Well, working out is important. I have a little girl I can't let down. After a few weeks of making excuses I needed to start making time. Well, really, finding time and then over the weekend I wondered what if I go during work?

So, on Monday, that's what I did. After eating my lunch I jumped in my car and headed over. The night before I made sure my gym bag was packed and ready to go and I quickly changed and hopped on the treadmill and walked for about 30 minutes. Nothing crazy, but normally those would be 30 minutes spent sitting in the lunch room so this way I was able to log some bonus steps on my FitBit! Plus, the walking on the treadmill is low-impact enough that when I was done I was able to quickly and easily freshen up and head back to my job without it being too obvious I'd been working out.

The Black Card membership allows me to use a non-home gym location up to 10 times a month so at twice a week that's fine. Since I also hit a sort of off-time (I eat lunch fairly late in the day for most people) the gym was practically empty, which was nice since I didn't have to wait for a machine or anything. Funny thing is, when I was signing the visiting Black Card log I noticed there were a couple people who listed the Rocky River location as their home gym like me and their reason for visiting this other one was because of work. Looks like great minds think alike!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

03 February 2014

first week back and fitbloggin!

Who gains weight their first week of recommitment?

I do. Me. This one right here.

Stupid PMS making me EAT ALL THE FOODS.

How mortifying. I'm all "Oh I'm gonna rock this and watch me be all awesome" and then I step on the scale and I'm at 222.6 and, yes I know that means it's a gain of less than half a pound but still.

Whatever. New day, new week, no PMS so things should go a bit smoother, amirite?

Plus, now I have some extra motivation starting with the big news is that I'm officially going to FitBloggin '14!

My conference pass was purchased over the weekend and a few weekends ago I booked flights to Savannah and my hotel room. While the conference itself is being held at the Hyatt, I'll be staying down the street at the Marriott because a) I'm an introvert and need a single room ii) my parents had reward points, meaning the room was free and 3) this way, the money I would have spent on a hotel room for myself could go towards an all-access pass to the Cleveland International Film Festival (for awhile I was worried I'd have to choose between the two events).

I am so so so excited to finally get to meet some of the people I consider friends but only really know through social media! And, really, an entire weekend dedicated to blogging and fitness and healthy living? Helloooooo. What's not to love about that?

Actually, I have a dear friend who lives down in Savannah. Alexis and I have known each other since, like, fifth grade or something ridiculous and these days she is one of Savannah's top photographers. A couple years ago after first starting my journey I presented the idea of doing a, well, boudoir photo shoot with her.

There are very, very, very few people I trust well enough to say "Here! Take pictures of me in my knickers!" Actually, on second thought, Alexis is probably the only person I trust well enough to say that to but because of locations and such we haven't been able to arrange anything. So when I knew the conference was going to be in her city I knew I had to make it happen and she was so excited she immediately put it in her calendar.

Obviously, of course, the question is what I'm going to do with the photos. Really, though, the final pictures are just a bonus. I'm doing this for the experience. I'm doing it as a celebration of how far I've come, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I may be heavier now than I would perhaps like to be, but I finally have the self-confidence to say "Hell yes take pictures of me half-naked!"

Plus, knowing someone will be taking pictures of me half-naked is a good motivator to get my butt into gear and get to a weight that I do like, so, see, it all comes full circle in the end.

Who can I look forward to seeing in June?!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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