Thursday Things

1. I’ve been doing that whole “run in the morning” thing. That “run before your brain knows what’s happening” thing. Let me tell you, knowing I can go home after work and do absolutely nothing except sit on the couch is pretty awesome. What is NOT awesome is the alarm that goes off at 3:45am to run. Do you know how dark it is out then? It’s basically still nighttime. We grab a headlamp, leash up the dogs, and leave the house by 4am for a 3-4 mile run. It’s awesome and terrible all at the same time.

2. I’m currently a slave to a budget. Well, I’ve always been spreadsheet-obsessed and had my budget planned out for the next 3 months. But since there are several trips on the horizon (Dallas, Florida ((yes Paula, we need to discuss this one)), New Jersey, Houston), we’ve been basically hibernating on the weekends. My color-coded Google Doc has every single penny allocated to a specific savings account and there isn’t much wiggle room. Christmas is cancelled this year, I’ll send you a high-five!

I did manage to find a trip to NJ for just over $300, which is a STEAL. I haven’t been home to the northeast for the holidays since 2010 … mostly due to the fact that it included 37 inches of snow and a 4-day-turned-2-week-trip.

No snow this time people, please and thank you.

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3. Austin is FINALLY getting a Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joes Rollingwood

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I feel like we should have been one of the first cities to have one, but I guess being the home of the flagship Whole Paycheck may have had something to do with that. Anyway, it opens tomorrow and is 10 minutes from my work, so I imagine I’ll be stocking up on Cookie Butter and Two-Buck Chuck on my lunch break.

I already asked this on Twitter earlier, but what do I NEED to buy from TJ’s? It’s part of the “grocery” budget, so this is an expense I can justify. You know, kind of.

BONUS: In case you don’t follow me on Instagram (wait… why don’t you?!), here’s today’s #throwbackthursday post:

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Arlington, TX {circa 2010-ish}

Playoffs, here we come! Thank god there’s something to take my mind off this poor excuse for a Patriots team this season…

GRONK! WHERE ARE YOU?!

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Ah, there you are. Come back to the Pats soon. They need you desperately.

Grocery Shopping like a Nerd

Inspired by Tiffany’s post last week, I thought I’d share my OCD grocery shopping and meal planning tactics.

Meal Planning

(from top left: Shakshouka, Strawberry Balsamic Pizza, Curried Cauliflower and Chickpeas
with Grains
, Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos, White Pizza Lasagna,
Zucchini Cakes, and Double Bean Quesadillas)

Every Wednesday our ads for HEB (local grocery store) and Sprouts Farmer’s Market come in the mail. I sit down and comb each page of the ads, making a list of everything on sale.

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Then I make a list of everything in our pantry and fridge. I try to choose recipes where a majority of the ingredients are already in our kitchen since it’s more cost effective.

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Next I hop on the internet machine and hunt down some recipes. Lately I’ve become borderline obsessed with Jessica from How Sweet Eats and many of the meals on our list this week are straight from her archives. Melissa raved about a Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea recipe she made recently so that made it’s way onto the list as well. I try to have between 5-7 meals planned out; this will get us through about a week and a half since most recipes have plenty of leftovers.

Then I make ANOTHER LIST with all of the meals on the left and their respective ingredients on the right.

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From this list, I make my final grocery list which has HEB on one side and Sprouts on the other. Each side is also divided up by aisle. Yes, I have issues. But you’d be surprised how fast I can get in and out of a grocery store. So don’t judge.

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Sprouts is at about the halfway mark in my commute so I’ll stop there on Friday on my way home from work. Once I get home and put the groceries away, Brad and I head to HEB for Round 2. Shopping on Friday night around 6pm preserves your sanity considering most of the city is out having happy hour cocktails or kicking off date night. We’re home no later than 7 and then the weekend can officially begin!

Tell me your best grocery shopping and/or meal planning tip.

It’s Time to Plan: An Erin Condren Review

I’m a planner.

Fine. I’ll say it. I’m an organizational freak. Excel is filled with color-coded spreadsheets, which have all been uploaded to Google Docs so I can access them wherever I am. Another heavily used item is my Google Calendar. Long run schedule, work meetings, upcoming travel – you name it, I have it in there. I need to know what’s going on, present & future, at all times.

And not that I think technology will ever fail me, but I also like to carry a paper planner. Something about the pen & paper aspect makes me really happy.

Enter Erin Condren.

Erin Condren

I had no idea this beautiful thing existed until I saw a photo Kelly posted. Immediate planner envy took over and I needed to learn more. It had so many features normal planners don’t, the layout is unique, and the cover is personalized. After pouring over the website for a week, I pulled the trigger and ordered my own.

It finally arrived yesterday! For reference, order date to delivery was 12 days: not for the impatient.

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The packaging alone was pretty impressive.

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And then, the great reveal…

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LOVE it. Much more visually appealing than the normal solid color ones I usually buy! The front & back covers are thick and the metal coil is very sturdy, making it very durable as a whole.

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Laminated monthly tabs:

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Both monthly & weekly pages:

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Stickers are provided to mark important days. Also included: hair/dentist/doc appt, wedding, date night, bridal shower, concert, party, game, pay day, etc.

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A folder to keep any loose papers or receipts organized and in one area.:

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A zipper pouch in the back for additional storage.

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Erin Condren also included a sample pack of gift labels:

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Overall, I’m really excited to start using it! It has everything I usually require in a planner with a few extra features that’ll make it even easier to stay organized. Another perk is you can order it whenever you want and have it start in the month of your choosing. Most planners run Jan-Dec or July-June, but I had mine start in September so I could start using it right away. No waiting until the next round of annual shipments to come in!

How do you plan? Are you a pen/paper person or technology lover?

The Anti-P90X Meal Plan

The week before we started P90X I paged through the Nutrition Plan. It listed your meals and snacks for each day, along with recipes for each meal. Very detailed, very helpful. For someone who works from home or is a stay at home mom, this plan would probably work out well. However, when you have an hour commute in the morning, ninety-minute commute in the afternoon and a significant other who leaves the house an hour before you do – it makes cooking three meals a day a little difficult.

We did quite a bit of brainstorming and deciding what would be the best way to make the plan work for us and not against us.  By the time I get home from work it’s 6:30pm. Tack on about 90 minutes to two hours (workout + cooldown walk) on to that, and we’re already at 8-8:30pm. It’s LATE. There’s no way I’d want to spend time in the kitchen cooking dinner, let alone eat dinner that late. We go to bed between 9:30 and 10 (4:45am comes really fast!) so stuffing our faces that close to bed time just isn’t ideal.

In the end it came down to us having our biggest meal of the day at lunch time. We’d each be responsible for our own breakfasts and snacks. Lunch was planned out the weekend before so there was never a question. Dinner is a protein shake. Necessary for proper post-workout recovery, but not too heavy to head to bed soon after drinking it. If it was a particularly hard workout or we’re still hungry afterwards, we have a salad with grilled chicken. Yeah, it might not work for everyone – but it works for us.

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As I mentioned yesterday, I spend most of the morning and early afternoon on Sundays in the kitchen cooking up our food for the week. I portion out meals into containers so they are grab-and-go when we’re leaving for work in the morning. Last week we had Turkey Meatballs in Pomodoro Sauce with Garden Delight Pasta, Stuffed Bruschetta Turkey Burgers, Whole Wheat Couscous with Garlic & Herb Feta and Grape Tomatoes, Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins, and Zucchini Bread. I also made a low-fat ranch from scratch to use for salads. It was a busy day, but it beats eating Lean Cuisines for lunch and starving the rest of the afternoon. I’d rather make the breakroom jealous of my lunch as opposed to wondering what exactly is in that frozen lunch that makes it edible until 2014.

I had to make a clean break from coffee, for now at least. Drinking coffee causes me to skip breakfast because it fills me up. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so the java had to go. I drank unsweetened iced tea the first couple days to wean myself off the caffeine and it hasn’t bothered me since. Oddly enough, since I stopped drinking coffee I quit my mindless snacking throughout the day. I blame it on the Sweet n Low.

Another huge (HUGE!) step was reducing the amount of sugar in our diet. We purged our pantry of every item which had more than 6g of sugar per serving (with the exception of protein bars). Um, holy shit – there is so much sugar in EVERYTHING! That was an eye-opener. I think Brad lost 5 boxes of cereal in the process, although I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Frosted Mini-Wheats? Ahem. I’ve been using Xagave both for baking and in my hot/iced tea.

Last but not least, we allow ourselves one cheat meal. Notice I didn’t say cheat DAY. No need to throw caution to the wind for the entire day. On Sunday we have our choice of splurging on breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’ve gotta say, this has been an incredible help through the past couple weeks. You don’t feel like you’re being deprived because you know if there’s something you’re craving, you can have it on Sunday.

The whole process has been a bit of an adjustment, but it’s all for the best. I think this works out better for us than counting points or calories. I’d rather work on portion size and quality of food than try to survive on Lean Pockets because they have the right amount of calories. What it comes down to is: you want to lose weight? Stop eating crap! So that’s what we’re doing.

Back on track

A couple months ago Brad and I decided that after our wounds healed from the Spartan Sprint we would allow P90X to kick our ass for, well, 90 days starting May 28th.

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Days of picking up Sonic on the way home or ordering a pizza for dinner are over. Our eating habits have been completely revamped. Saturday mornings are now spent meal planning and making a detailed grocery list.

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The combination of list-making and shopping only the perimeter of the store allows us to knock our grocery shopping out in less than 30 minutes, even on a busy Saturday morning.

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Sunday mornings are spent cooking for the week, which allows me to avoid picking up a single pot or pan on a weekday. (HUGE fan of this!)

I’ll get into meal planning in another post, but for now here’s what’s set to come out of my kitchen today:

It’s a bit of work for a Sunday morning, but you know what? If it grants me a cooking-free week, I will gladly slave away in the kitchen for a few hours on the last day of the weekend with the CMT Top 20 Countdown blaring in the background. Also, our one cheat meal for the week is on Sunday so after I’m done playing chef I am rewarded with a crisp glass of wine and someone else cooking for me.

Last week our cheat meal was at the Alamo Drafthouse while seeing Snow White & the Huntsmen. Delicious food was consumed, including fried pickles, fresh baked-to-order chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream, and multiple adult beverages. Cheat meal, INDEED!

Snow White and the Huntsman

Alamo Drafthouse

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Todays destination?

Brick House Tavern and Tap

And I have my heart set on some delicious carbs:

Brick House Pretzels

One step at a time

I took this evening off from the gym. It was glorious. There is something about a well deserved rest day after a tough run that I really enjoy. I iced my finicky shins and rested my tired legs yesterday, but there was one thing I forgot to do: spend some quality time with my foam roller.

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When I awoke this morning, my calves were happily tucked inside their compression sleeves but my quads were neglected and pissed. They hadn’t received nearly enough love yesterday and continued to remind me of that fact all. day. long. I spent some time with Mr. Red after work today, and have another session scheduled before bed.

On the weekly workout goals front, the best way for me to be held accountable is to sing them loud for all to hear:

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Too soon for Christmas references? No such thing! Apparently Macy’s has the same thought process – they already had their decorations up this weekend when I was there.

Anyway, here’s my workout plan for the week:

Monday

Rest Day

Tuesday

3 mile run + Austin Trash Run

Wednesday

XT (elliptical or bike)

Thursday

3 mile run + Yoga

Friday

XT or Rest Day

Saturday

8 mile run

Sunday

XT + IM 70.3 Austin volunteering

Proper tapering? I think so. I’ll recap my progress on Sunday evening.

Is it weird that I’m already thinking about training for a second marathon? I know the first will be tough, but I’m most worried because it’s uncharted territory. I won’t bat an eye or think twice about registering for a half marathon because I’ve completed five. I was even registered for my second before I ran my first. I know the distance, and I know I can finish successfully. I feel like once I cover 26.2, it will feel a tiny bit less daunting. It’s still a marathon after all.

I’ve got my eye on a spring marathon and I’m contemplating throwing my name into the lottery for ING NYC. The only thing drawback to New York is training in the Texas summer again. Ugh. But that race is definitely on my to-do list.

Of course, I still have another goal to accomplish before then: smashing my half marathon PR.

One step at a time.

And then this happened

Yesterday morning before work I zipped up and buttoned my crazy pants. I even added a belt for good measure; there was no way I was getting out of this. I spent the first few hours at the office letting the insanity build up. And then this happened:

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It’s official – I am now registered for my first marathon. Holy effing crap.

Today after work I slowly began to realize what I got myself into. And then this happened:

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Out came the wine and my “I mean business” glass. I am absolutely obsessed with training plans, and there’s no better time like the present to get to work on one for October. So what if the plan begins in July? I don’t care – I’m going to be ready.

My legs still aren’t fully recovered from Sunday, and I’ve already registered for a race twice the distance AND started drafting a training plan.

Clearly I have issues.

Google Docs Obsession + Training Schedule = This

The amount of time I put into drafting, formatting, color-coding, and planning a training schedule is R I D I C U L O U S. And I’m sure, even though I am posting this one in it’s *final* state, I will change it at least 5 times in the coming weeks. But alas, here it is kids…

I’d like to incorporate Body Flow and Hot Yoga into my Saturday/Sunday schedule as well, but that all depends on the day. Body Pump will most likely make a guest appearance on Wednesday evenings, and I’ll get my cross training done in the morning. I have always always always used Monday & Friday as my rest days, and I’d like to keep it that way. Hot Yoga seems like the perfect way to decompress from a “case of the Mondays” but Friday is non-negotiable.

Let’s be serious: the only running I’ll be doing on Friday is to the wine rack for a delicious bottle of red or to the fridge for a cold refreshing beer.

Time to plan!

Yesterday I left work for my lunch break on a mission to purchase a new planner. I headed to this wonderful store:

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The Paper Place is extremely dangerous! There were two tables full of planners and journals, walls full of pens and cardstock, and spinning racks of stationery. I had spent 35 minutes in the store and I didn’t even realize it!

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pads

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After wandering around for a bit, I realized I should probably start looking for what I actually came for.

Initially, I had my heart set on Exaclair’s Exacompta Space 24 since Sarah from The SHU Box raved about it. I appreciated the limited amount of room for actual appointments (because I’m not really that important) while also having ample room for notes/lists/reminders. I usually find myself doing rough drafts of budgets and sketching grocery lists in my planner, so the more room the better. It was perfect – except when I started thinking about carrying it around. I rotate through my purse inventory fairly often, probably about every 3 weeks. While it would fit in my current bag with ease, my smaller bags just wouldn’t have room. This was a deal breaker.

Just as I was about to admit defeat and head back to work, I noticed a smaller planner on the very bottom row. The Textagenda. I believe it’s marketed towards students since the calendar runs from July to August, but this was fine by me. It meant I was able to start using it right away!

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I’m not too wild about the color, but it was my only option. Sure, I could have waited and ordered it online with a color I liked more but I’m not all about delayed satisfaction. I’m more of a Veruca Salt “I want it NOW” kind of gal. So red it is 🙂

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Even smaller appointment area, more space for notes/lists, and “priority” boxes to fill with the day’s most important items. Even better, it was nearly $10 cheaper than the Space 24! Sold!

I haven’t started writing in it yet, I’m saving it for tomorrow evening when I will start planning out my week. Today is reserved for organization of the bedroom, which is going really well actually. Back to work I go, hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!