2016: Hello From the Other Side

Mobilize (1)

What a year! Really, despite having slipped back with my weight and fitness, it has been nothing short of an amazing year. To recap (like I did last year) the biggest things that happened this year include:

  1. Relocated to Milwaukee from Chicago to be closer to immediate family (on my husband’s side) and live in a more affordable, less congested yet equally awesome Midwest city also on Lake Michigan
  2. Started a new job in college admissions as an events planner and supervisor to student ambassadors.
  3. Watched my oldest child start school
  4. Joined MKE Moms Blog as a contributor. This has pushed me to write posts on the subject of parenting, something I’ve never done before. It has been an awesome experience, a chance I am so glad I took. I even had the third most read post since we launched the site September.
  5. Embraced my shift in priorities: daily workouts and structured meals became less important for a while, particularly in the first half of 2015 when my husband was still commuting to Chicago 4 days a week. There was no way I was going to stress over working out when I was barely sleeping and managing the kids on my own every morning and early evening.
  6. Turned 30! As much as entering a new decade of life scared me, I had a blast celebrating my birthday with friends and loved ones while shedding a few more insecurities from my 20’s along the way. Example: I have a second chin and I don’t give a flying flip, I’m still posting my selfies.

When I logged into 2015bestnine.com the result of my top 9 pictures for the were as follows:

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kids, kids, selfie, kids, selfie, my brother’s new puppy, kids, kids, sorority selfie

This year, I have so many goals, mostly professional and physical. As for professional, I’d like step up my writing and social media game. I find that the things I enjoy doing most is writing, creating content for posts, reading and sharing great content and some very amateur graphic design. I’d love to grow Project Unfluff a bit more as well as potentially get to into other areas of writing like motherhood, feminist parenting, and celebrating the incredible accomplishments of women and girls.

I also want to get back into shape. To be clear, I’m not looking to lose a specific amount of weight, I have actually been given a pretty flexible goal by my new doctor which is really nice. I want to get back into “I’m not exhausted all the time” shape. I want to get back to jumping out of bed in the mornings to get my workout on and get moving for the day. I want to use all 24 hours to there fullest, something I’m capable of doing when I have the energy.

So my focus word for 2016 is: MOBILIZE. My husband has this saying: don’t talk about it, be about it. He’s right, I talk a LOT about the things I want to do but very rarely do I ever put those things in motion. So these last few weeks of 2015 have been full of putting things into place like signing up for Fitbloggin’ 2016 (SQUEAL!), ordering a kettlebell for short 20 min at-home workouts and researching some high-protein and omega 3-rich diets (think Mediterranean diet) to really clobber my bad cholesterol and excess weight. I’m trimming back on all of the things I don’t need and laser focusing on the essentials that will allow me to enjoy all the great things life has to offer.

2015 was a very tragic year for our world, I want to savor the things I have that are most near and dear to me. The world has changed in so many ways, a lot of it good, a lot of it terrible. Although I live in a safe community in a seemingly safe side of town, I’m not so naive to think that nothing could ever happen to me or my family so I’m going to do my best to appreciate every hour I get and to MOBILIZE when new ideas and goals inspire me.

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Couldn’t close out this post without my second chin being featured.

What will you do to be great this year?

<3 M.

#UnfluffYourStuff and #Dressember Week 1

#UnfluffYourStuff

There’s been some movement lately again on this part of my life (Project Unfluff) and it’s been so great seeing people mobilizing for self-care! As you might recall from my last post, I put out a call to my followers on Facebook to join me as we dare to self-care.

The results so far seem to be that people are really becoming more aware of what they need to do to ensure they are caring for themselves and their spaces. I for one did the following:

  1. Cleaned out all of our junk mail and threw away/shredded old [paid] bills, coupons, magazines, and other outdated documents
  2. Swept almost all of the floors [didn’t make it to the kitchen :(]
  3. Mopped almost all of the floors [see above]
  4. Put away ALL of the clean clothes (I seriously almost took a picture of our 4 empty laundry baskets I was that excited.)
  5. Washed dishes
  6. Made today’s dinner, cooled it then put it away
  7. Got my 4 year old to help pick up toys and she finally legit did it and did it well
  8. Put away the lingering Halloween decorations (don’t you judge me, internet.)
  9. Bought most of our kids’ Christmas presents online with mancakes
  10. Prepped our weekly calendar on the fridge

Looks like instead of working out I’m just using cleaning and organizing instead. This is ok, if I can get to a point where I can feel less stressed at home amidst all of our STUFF, I will start to feel better overall.

#Dressember

In addition to this self-care project, I’m also doing Dressember! What is Dressember? From the founders of this movement:

“Dressember uses fashion to advocate for women who’ve been exploited for their femininity. As women take on the creative challenge of wearing a dress for the 31 days of December, they are advocating for the inherent dignity of all women.

The Dressember Foundation exists to inspire and empower a global community of like-minded women who are locking arms to face one of the greatest injustices of our time.”

Think “Movember” but with dresses. I’ve just completed my first week of only wearing dresses and I’ve got to say, it’s a little more challenging that I envisioned. I have a lot of dresses and with tights and leggings, I can make it work for the cold Wisconsin winter. But I’ve already learned that it’s a little more than just a wardrobe challenge. It’s a test of my commitment, especially on the weekends when I just want to wear jeans all day long. It’s also forcing me to make a conscious choice while also remembering that I am very privileged to have a closet full of one type of clothing in addition to everything else and that I get to choose what to wear everyday.

Dressember Week 1.jpg

But this is more than a little fashion game, I have committed to a goal of raising $300. This money will be donated from dressember.org to the International Justice Mission and the A21 Campaign, both organizations committed to ending human trafficking, sexual exploitation and slavery around the world. So while you can catch how I go about meeting the daily challenge of wearing a dress on Instagram, I urge you to consider helping me meet my goal for a bigger cause. You can make a donation on my page here:

dressember
My Donation Page

I look forward to another challenging week of getting my 30 minutes in and also coming up with new and fresh combinations with the dresses that I have. What will you be doing for yourself this week?

<3 M.

Unfluff Your Stuff

#UnfluffYourStuff

I’ve been full of words lately. So many words DESCRIBING what I would LIKE to accomplish with very little to no changes being made. Since my last post I’ve basically managed to just barely keep my head above water. Work, kids, blogging (here not HERE.), paid and unpaid side gigs such as Uber and the national board for my sorority have kept me both incredibly busy as well as incredibly lazy.

Lazy? But I do so much! Let me explain. When I get a free moment where my immediate attention is not required, you will likely find me parked on my couch or at my desk at work when really, I should be finding ways to keep it moving. My home is still covered in toys, clothes and random things that need pitching/donating/organizing. My weight is also steadily creeping up because I’m rarely on the couch alone, there’s usually a snack or a beverage other than water in my hand.

So where is this coming from? After almost a week of staying with my brother for Thanksgiving, I watched as he and my sister in law diligently kept their 2 story, 4 bedroom house from becoming the aftermath of a hurricane while they hosted my family of 4, my parents and my aunt. It was astonishing and also a good kick in the gut. They never stop moving, they never stop wiping and putting things away. Things don’t get left out. There’s a place for everything and a handful of minutes after every activity is devoted to keep clutter away. It looks and feels impossible and yet you can tell, that it’s now just a habit. Second nature. Ingrained in their every day. I can’t pretend like I’m capable of such discipline but I know I can at the very least try.

So last night and this morning, despite the rough start today because Monday, I’ve decided to push myself to do more. I put a call out to my peeps that follow my Facebook Page (where I pretty much micro-blog when I’m too busy to write here) and invited them to join in committing to 30 minutes a day of doing WHATEVER will make you feel balanced, whole and accomplished.  Today, a tiny little movement was born that I am calling:

Unfluff Your Stuff

What do I mean by #UnfluffYourStuff? I mean take a moment to just care for yourself and your space. This could mean you do something along the lines of:

  • work out
  • organize a shelf that you’ve been ignoring
  • meditate
  • journal
  • read a chapter in a book
  • prepare a healthful meal
  • clean your fridge
  • check your bank account and credit cards and see if you’re on budget
  • throw out old papers, magazines, junk mail, expired coupons, etc.
  • play with your kids and/or pets

Basically, ignore the really, really tragic and unfortunate things in the world and in your personal life for a moment (easier said than done!) and find a little space for yourself so that you can turn around and be a more balanced and capable person to those who depend on you. You can’t fully give your all to something until you give your all to yourself and your space.

So on a random Monday that is not the “new year!” or “my birthday!” or even the first day of the month, I invite you to just Nike-up and DO IT. #UnfluffYourStuff, whatever your “stuff” happens to be.

Want to join us? I already have a group of 28 people getting in on the this movement. Request to join the closed Facebook group and share what you’re doing, find support, vent and share ideas.

<3 M.

Mustering all the musters

You guys.

I’m a 30 year old do-it-all. I have arrived at the intersection of working full time, raising 2 kids, keeping my marriage awesome, having my own blog and writing twice a month for another, holding a national board position for my sorority and planning next year’s sorority leadership conference.

That’s like…at least 5 google calendars.

Notice how “health and fitness” are not on that list. WHEN WOULD I DO THAT!? Easy there Maria Kang, I don’t need you to chime in, that was a rhetorical question.

When I started writing this blog a few years ago, I thought to myself, I could do this forever! Turns out though, that my subjects have migrated over time and with good reason. I have a very awesome and privileged life these days and I am enjoying it and also surviving it as well as I can. AND I am still unfluffing just maybe not just my weight. The things I cared about 5 years ago (i.e. making lots of money (lol I know right, I work in education, what was I thinking??), being a “cool urban mom” in Chicago, becoming a world-famous blogger with a book deal directly from Tina Fey herself, etc. ) are not my priorities now.

So after shedding all those pounds and, let’s be honest, gaining half of them back due to eating my feelings and inactivity and stress, I can’t adequately discuss healthy/fitness-y anything right now.

But I can tell you how I’ve shed the excess weight and baggage of always doubting myself. And the fear that I’m not doing this whole parenting thing right. And that even though I’m not where I would love to be physically, I still feel pretty awesome and my kids think my belly fat is cool which is all the validation I need.

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insert pic of amazing childrenz

But I really-and I will emphasize this- really need to get my sh*t together. Sonia Sotomayor (my Puerto Rican SHE-RO) did not get to the supreme court by writing appointments down on post its that flew away in the wind. I am going through an organization crisis and I’m trying to find the best system for me that works. So far I’ve come up with a combination of Bullet Journaling and color-coded Google calendars. Both are great and super handy…when I remember to LOOK at them…and pay attention and update them and what not.

I’ve never been a list person though. I don’t get excited about color-coded, tabbed, highlighted things. And well…as an event planner full time that’s…well that’s my downfall! I love what I do and I like the process of planning it’s just the extreme details I really need to focus in on a little better.

I will say that this rambling of a post has me thinking about expanding my topics beyond things I eat out of jars and how I like to pack my gym bag. Unfluffing is a verb that can be applied to all things LIFE. Got a corner full of clutter like I do? BAM!

clutterstruggle

Let’s unfluff it. Kids a little too wrapped up in getting new toys after a streak of getting new school things and being spoiled by family members? UNFLUFF THAT ATTITUDE. Let’s bring it back home to simpler things in life together. Let’s unfluff all the stuff.

Are you dealing with something that you KNOW is getting to be more complicated than it needs to be? It could be your weight. It could be your out of control, overgrown wardrobe. It could be your diet. If could be your calendar situation like mine. Have you recently successfully unfluffed something in your life? Tell me all about it!

<3 M.

Check In: Slow and Steady

It’s been a little over a week since I made a few new commitments. It’s been slow going but I’m happy to report that I have managed to not totally derail myself! I went to the gym 3 times last week and walked my butt off on Sunday at State Fair and doing chores. There were treats but I turned down most that were offered. I was so focused on trying to hit the mark each day that I started making these little post it reminders at work.  

  

Excuse my silly categories, I know tomatoes are fruits and beans are legumes. Oh and I finally ate that grapefruit on Saturday. Also, I don’t think I ever realized this before but when I want to health up, apparently I eat everything out of jars? Here’s just a few of the things I packed last week:

 

left: burrito bowl in a jar, top right: salad in a jar, bottom right: yogurt and fruit
 

But who cares cuz all that ish was delish! On the workout front, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just rolling into the gym at work and getting on whatever machine, beepin’ some random program in and agreeing to move for half an hour. It’s definitely not the attention to detail I had before but it’s a start. A good sweat never hurt anybody…

 

SnapChat: Intrepidida

But I could use a little more structure to what I’m doing. I discovered this 30-20-10 interval workout yesterday and I’m thinking about trying it on the spinning bike or the elliptical. I’m also contemplating getting back on my body weight game with a little 7 minute workout. Basically, I want to get into high intensity intervals again because I’ve got no time and the quicker the better. 

All that to say, I think I’m back in the game! Only time, consistency and more post-its will tell. 

<3 M. 

A New Chapter Begins Once Again!

As you all know, my crazy family of 4 up and relocated from Chicago to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in December of 2014. Since then, we have been living a crazy and unpredictable life. First I came to MKE with just my kids and a few suitcases of clothes and the three of us shared a bed at my mother in law’s house so I could start my new job while mancakes stayed in our apartment in Chicago. We’d go to Chicago on the weekends, be a family, pack up our place and then the kids and I would return Sunday night and start all over again. Then, we got our own apartment in Milwaukee in December and our big move happened just one week before Christmas. After the holidays mancakes started commuting to Chicago via Amtrak 4 days a week. That meant 4:45 am wake ups so we he could catch the 6 am train and return at almost 7 pm each night. That went on until early July! We finally reached a point as a family where we could not continue this crazy schedule emotionally, physically and financially, so my brave husband resigned from his position and has been driving Uber and making tamales and keeping the kids home to save on daycare and make it all work!

Well the craziness ends today, mancakes starts a new, Milwaukee-based job and we are giddy with excitement! I joked to him that it feels like he’s going into his first day of school and I’m so thrilled that not only will he be working where we live but he’s also making a career change from higher ed to talent acquisition at a great firm. We have been holding on for so long as a family and holding our breaths that these huge leaps of faith we were making would finally work out and it has and I’m not only relieved, I’m ready to get back to work on me!

It hasn’t been easy functioning like we have been and I haven’t felt like I could really start a new fitness routine until now. Between the expensive multi-city commute, the crazy early mornings and just the stress of the unknown, fitness has been very far from my mind. Last week, having come back from vacation with the news that my husband had a job, I managed to get 2 lunch-hour work outs in, joined a new blog as a contributor and finally cleaned the house like I haven’t cleaned it in ages! It was like the weight of worry was lifted from my shoulders and I felt like I could really “get shit done” again.

And thank goodness because this meme pretty much sums up where I’m at these days:

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Lord have I been eating my feelings since December! You know how you never really notice how bad things are until they get better again and when you come to, you’re double-fisting tacos and coffee cake? That’s me right now. In the last few weeks, I thought I was just “bloated” lately when my pants were really just getting tight again. I’ve been living outside of myself during this transition, looking down at a tired and stressed woman just trying to cope with lots of coffee, pastries and heavy meals. I haven’t been able to really care like I did before because I was just trying to survive this whole arrangement.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing! I’m so happy we chose to move to Milwaukee. I really love this city. In fact, I did get a little taste of how fun it will be to get back into doing fun runs and races and again when I took up Kelly from No Thanks to Cake’s offer to the Color Run in Milwaukee when she was here for a weekend of fun and pampering from Kohl’s! I got to run around the Milwaukee Brewers stadium with a wonderful group of women and left covered in color powder and smiles. I mean just look at how much fun we had!2015colorrunAdditionally, I’m finally at a place when I’m starting to make new friends and finding ways to connect with new women in the city, particularly with other moms. That is why I jumped at the chance to become a contributor for Milwaukee Moms Blog!

Milwaukee_Contributor_BTN

We launch the site on September 21st and I will be contributing 2 posts a month for the next 6 months. So I will have to start getting out there more and with us finally getting back on track as 2 full-time professionals, I feel like I’m the eager kid on the sidelines ready to get back in the game. PUT ME IN COACH!

So here’s what I’m shooting for this week:

  1. A minimum of 3 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruit a day.
  2. Refuse one “extra” a day. As in if someone rolls in with donuts tomorrow at work, I won’t be having one of those AND chocolate/latte/candy later in the day. Or perhaps I don’t have chips with my sandwich just because I’m having a sandwich.
  3. Try one new workout routine this week (I’m thinking HIIT)

Considering I did this stuff in my sleep not too long ago, I think I can handle it! Who wants to get in on this with me? Happy week!

<3 M.

Don’t Call It A Comeback

No really, don’t!

BUTTTTT….I did get my butt to the gym once this week so there’s that! And tomorrow, I’m doing the Color Run in Milwaukee!!! Why have I agreed to days of post-race rainbow boogers? Because the INCREDIBLE Kelly Guy from No Thanks To Cake won a badass weekend getaway from Kohl’s and she invited me to come along to the race on Kohl’s dime*! THANKS KOHL’S!!!! And thank you for thinking of me Kelly! Them Fitbloggin’ connections go deep and last forever :)

As you may recall, I did the Color Run in Chicago a couple of years ago.

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fierce in 2013!

Although it was fun AND I hit my goal of actually RUNNING the entire thing, lemme just tell ya, the aftermath was a tad off putting. I had color powder in every crevice of my being for days and I was blowing out rainbow snot for what felt like a whole week afterwards! Eww. This time around, I plan on wearing a bandana over my face and we are walking because mama is not run ready at.all.

It’s nice to be back here with something to actually write about! I really want to jump back into this blog again full force but my professional life has been so busy, I barely have time to eat much less get back to a work out routine. But like I said above, I did hit the gym once during my lunch hour, and it was awesome and I plan on doing it as much as possible as soon as my crazy week of events wraps up next week. Also, I’m about to hit that point in my wardrobe where I might have to go up a size again and I just donated that stuff during our move in December, I am not going back!

So don’t call it a comeback…yet.

<3 M.

*Kohls is sponsoring my participation in the Color Run however all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Today, I choose hunger.

Disclaimer: what I am about to say is in no way, shape or form against the incredible and effective product that is weight watchers. Seriously, I love WW. Like, a lot.

This morning, in an act of desperation, against all evidence pointing to: DOES NOT FIT IN OUR BUDGET, I attempted to reactivate my weight watchers membership. I have arrived at the point that brought me to WW the first time: knowing that without shelling out a lot of cash for it, I’m incapable of helping myself figure this out.

I am known for being successful at weight loss if I’m spending money on it. I was AWESOME at weight watchers ($35 a month), lunch-hour workouts ($26 a month) and the occasional race training ($30-50/race) and DietBet ($10-25/bet). Now? Well, because we are on budget lock down for the next foreseeable ever, every choice I make has to be worthwhile.

Don’t get me wrong, WW is totally worthwhile. But with a million and 1 tools out there for free and with the knowledge that I pretty much already have to know how it works and how to do it, I find myself arriving at a place where, whilst discussing whether or not I should hit the payment button for WW or not with my husband he kindly reminds me that I don’t need WW, I need to Nike-up and JUST DO IT.

It’s true, I’ve been whining for months about something I know how to do because I’ve already done it and I did it well. To the point where I was just living it, no real tracking and counting required.

And the first thing I remembered from my first few weeks on WW was that I was hungry. I got to the end of my first few days having eaten all of my points, borrowed from the extra points and I was still starving. Why? Because when I ate the correct portions of food for a (then) 27 year old woman, I found that my body was used to so much more and it was craving the overeating I had always been doing. I had to learn to just sit with my hunger. I knew I had all of my caloric and nutritional needs met after planning balanced, fresh meals with tons of whole grains, lean meats, proteins and oils. But I was still hungry and I had to learn to fill up on fruits, veggies and water. Once I got the hang of that, not only did the weight start flying off, so did my cravings and my hunger pains.

But I can never forget that feeling of hunger those first 2 weeks. Knowing full well, I didn’t necessarily need more food, especially if I hadn’t worked out. I just thought I needed more because emotionally, I didn’t feel all that satisfied. There was no over-the-top sweetness or fatty flavors. Over time, I found ways to satisfy those feelings with healthier options. I learned how to detach my emotions from my nutritional needs. I found ways to really “save my points” for the meals or celebrations that mattered and I learned how to re-prioritize my diet and be more intentional about my choices.

That’s what was so great about weight watchers, it provided me with the structure I needed to LEARN HOW TO EAT and also plan and find balance. Now, I would argue that I need that structure once again, and if I pay for it I will have it but we all know that that’s now how it works. But I know how to do it, it’s there, the skill to do it, it’s still all on paper and in the books and bookmarked websites and the places I learned to turn to create that structure all on my own.

What I need now is the will to do it. I have to have the desire to do it. I have to, for lack of a better word, be hungry for it.

So today, I choose hunger.