Adventures below zero

Instead of traveling across country for a stressful trip we didn’t really want to take, my husband opted for a staycation the week of Thanksgiving. The temps happened to drop at the same time, but we didn’t let it slow us down. We started our staycation off with a beer tasting at The UAF Pub Annual 40 Below Beer Tasting. Most people know we have also been casually house shopping, since it’s winter and the market is not really ‘hopping.’ But surprisingly, we came across a house we decided to look at with our realtor that we loved.

Mid staycation, we took a couple of days and ventured off to try some of our wedding presents out, which included some great camping gear. I also got a great Osprey backpack at an REI garage sale that needed testing. So the 3.3 mile trek to the Angel Creek Lower Cabin was the perfect opportunity. We left the trailhead at a hovering 0 F and arrived at the cabin at -18 F. The cabin was 0 inside and we finally got the wood stove to warm us up to well into the 80s.

We tested out of camping meals, ate snacks, drank cocoa, and played games. I taught my husband how to play rummy and by the end of the night, he had beat me at my own game. The clear skies showed us no aurora, sadly, but there were more stars than I can even describe. I can tell you, we slept like crap on the platforms and I blame my toss and turn husband for that.

We awoke and make pancakes on the wood stove, enjoys eggs out of a bag, and tea in our camp cups. We packed out bags, refilled the wood box, and played a game of rummy before hitting the trail to trek out. As we headed out, we took in the crisp and quiet air while peering across the frozen creek. We set up the camera to snap a photo of us – our first cabin trip together. Somehow we managed to layer just right and stay warm the whole time. The trails were in good shape for needing only hiking boots, but weren’t ski ready yet – which would have allowed us to pull more gear behind us and less backpack on us. We enjoyed the sun peering onto Angel Rocks as we headed back. The trees and dead plants have frozen crystals and snow that had remained untouched. Over two days, the cold air kept away any signs of wildlife – not even a bird. We reached the trail head excited to enjoy our sandwiches for lunch. Much a great way to spend two days of our staycation!

spent a relaxing Thanksgiving making one dish to take over to a friends house and had a true Friends-giving, as they call it. We were, however, truly thankful for the friendships. We enjoyed great food, and pie (which of course is its own category), wine, and games before retiring for the night.

As staycation came to an end, we ended up making an offer on the house we looked at and fell in love with. We are now in escrow! Look at us – adulting and shit. Had we not opted for a staycation, we may not have found our soon to be home!


My “Fitness Journey” is really just my life

Bing, bang, BOOM! So, lets chat about this little “fitness journey” of mine that’s really just, well, what is now my not so lazy life. Four and half years ago, I decided, “I want to run.” So, I threw on a pair of old sneakers, cotton shorts and shirt, and a bra that didn’t hold my (then) 36D ladies. Needless to say, I hated it. But I learned to walk before I learned to run. And before I knew it, I was killing 5k races and completed marathon relays and training for half marathons. And then – BAM.

Injury. I hurt my ankle running, ended up in PT and couldn’t run for months. I turned to indoor cycling and swimming – both of which I sucked at. It’s also when I found Crossfit. Injured and whiney, it became a no excuses playground for me to learn and grow. I healed and became stronger than ever, and figured out that lifting barbells was pretty fun. My push press went from 10lb dumbbells to a 90lb max and I was learning to throw weights over me, around me, through me, and I loved it.

Then I decided I’d sign up for sprint triathlon, mainly because a friend convinced me. My swimming improved a little and I stopped looking like a fish out of water and not knowing what I was doing, I bought my first bike since I was a child: a hybrid. With some setbacks, I still completed my first triathlon in under my goal time and 2 weeks later, bought a road bike on craigslist, practically new, for hella cheap. Right after that, I did other triathlon and killed it on my new bike. Basically, I fell in love with road biking – put on well over 1000 miles on my new bike that summer of 2014.

Then came grad school that fall. That meant little less time in the gym and lots of time on my indoor trainer. I learned to downhill ski and at that point, had been cross-country skiing with my hubby for 3 years. But came February of 2015, and boy did my fitness journey throw me for a loop.

So to quickly go back, in 2014 I was peaking. I looked like a triathlete/runner with tiny arms and I was the smallest I had ever been at 120lbs. Looking back, though, I was doing workouts a day, working out at a Crossfit gym focused on endurance and not as much on strength, and I was not eating nearly as much as I should have been. So my body, reflecting back, was moving into a breaking down point. Then I was learning how to do jerks with a coach in the gym, and tore my quad.

Guys…I TORE MY F**KING QUAD. I couldn’t believe it. I still have the forever indent in my leg to prove it. I was struggling through grad school, working an unnecessarily stressful full time, a part time job and interning, verging falling apart and then, I all of a sudden couldn’t run, bike, lift… nothing. I could do nothing involving my quad for months, and no coach at my gym could figure out how to help me modify. It was the most frustrating thing that could have happened to me. Many times I would go in and try to do a workout, and just leave, frustrated and crying.

Finally, months later, I was released to start lifting, biking and running again. Yay! I tried training for a marathon, but my knees would hurt and my muscles weren’t strong enough yet. Biking and swimming were the only things I felt I could do and not feel like I’d have to spend days recovering from. 10 months later, in December 2015, I decided to leave my Crossfit gym, feeling it wasn’t a good fit and I wasn’t making any improvements. I felt lost, and weak, frustrated, and unsettled that I wasn’t working towards anything.

Then my friend said – come try Crossfit Fairbanks, see how you like it. So I did. And I did. Shortly after starting, I did my first ever weightlifting meet. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun and felt that strong. I started the RP Diet and my quad gained so much strength and recovered so well and so quickly (don’t forget ya protein yo!).  I was able to downhill ski (finally) with no pain from my quad. I started a cycle of Oly lifting and it was fun, but frustrating, and I discovered I am definitely a Powerlifter.

So here I am, 7 months later, stronger than I have been in close to 2 years. My endurance is not the same, but I PRing lifts like crazy, and I have never enjoyed something so much. I still love biking, it is my passion, and lifting only complements it. So the bottom line is that this journey has brought me here. I have tried this, and tried that. I thought I might be a runner forever, but my body had better plans for me. I thought swimming might be next and I took time to improve my technique, but just realized it’s become a nice backup for me. I love to lift and I love to ride and it’s taken me some trial and error to get here, and what I do inside helps me to be strong and play outside and that’s just as important to me. Lifting makes me strong when I bike, and biking keeps my endurance up. You need endurance and you need strength if you want to get outside and hike, paddle, ski, and play play play!

So I encourage all of you to stay active, and find things you love. Don’t let people but you in a box, or tell you what fitness is supposed to be, and that to love one thing you have to be able to do another (i.e. if you want to love biking you have to cross training – do what you love!). Want to bike all day every day? Then do it. Want to run everyday? Then do it. Do what you love and love what you do.

A Journey to Self-Discovery: Part IV

Well, well, well. Happy New Year!

Here we are, part four of my journey to self-discovery. So, how did I get here? Well, being unemployed since the end of October, I’m happy to say I have accepted a job offer (woohoo!). This piece is really a reflection on my past few months digging through the trenches of myself and figuring out what is important and what my goals are. I saw a great post on Instagram where someone had brilliantly split up their goals in such a simple way that I had to follow suit.

Goal categories:

  1. Home 
  2. Health
  3. Wealth

Home: What do you want this year at home? This can include your relationships with friends and family, larger projects around your home that you want to complete, etc.

Health: How are you going to take care of yourself this year? Your fitness, eating habits, self-care, etc.

Wealth: This doesn’t mean “how do you want to get rich?” Goals like buying a home or a new car, saying more money each month, starting your retirement fund or life insurance, paying off this bill or that loan, exploring a new career, etc.

So, this is how I’m moving along on my journey to self-discovery. Next up, what goals did I come up with and what’s next? Stay tuned! Don’t forget to follow my blog. 🙂

What are your 2016 goals, wishes and wants? 

What its like to transition into unemployment

I’ve now been unemployed since the end of October now, and I can tell you it has its ups and downs. I had become part of something much larger than the work I was going in my community. As i’ve said before, Alaska is large in size and small in community. We became so very connected to people around the state doing the same work as me in their own communities and those connections made my work not only more valuable, but easier. We contributed to one another and each other’s work even from hundreds and thousands of miles away from each other in our very own state.

Then, I lost my job. At first, there are the “we would love your help in transitioning out… we want you to continue to be involved…” etc, etc. But the reality is, you slowly become pushed away and disconnected. The hardest part?

A piece of me has been taken away. The program I brought to Fairbanks feels as if its been taken away. Every day I regret not taking the steps to bring the program here on my own, but instead I feel like the piece of me that is lost is this one program itself. Being involved and volunteering is something I plan to continue to do with the program, but being ultimately removed from a role that I created is heartbreaking and has been the most difficult part for me.

People are easily replaced in non-profit. Even though my role was removed from the agency, some of that work has to be picked up by someone. I went from being part of the large prevention network in our state to feeling as if I might not belong there anymore because I am not longer in that “role.”

Your co-workers are not your best friends. When we work 40 hours a week, we become connected to many people who we begin to care about and consider our friends. But the reality is, most of your co-workers will not remain your friends or even check on you when you’ve gotten the big news that you’re no longer needed there. This is a reality we often don’t realize until this time. Now, mind you, that doesn’t mean that you won’t make lifelong friends at work, but everyone isn’t going to be that for you.

Now, what are the great parts?

Fitness. I can go cross-country skiing and swimming and running and crossfitting in the middle of the day! That is something I will miss a little (lot) since I am now officially training for a triathlon.

Sleeeeeeeep. I can sleep. I mean, really, nothing more to say about that.

House projects. Remember all of those little projects (I’m sure you have a list) that you want to get done but never have the time? Now you do. If you don’t have a list, you soon will.

Dinner planning is possible. Enough said!

Purging. Sounds weird, but so true. It gives you the time to go through and do your “spring cleaning” and downsize your life a little. Speaking of cleaning, I finally cleaned my bathtub.

So now that I’ve got all of this down, it’s time to figure out how to transition back into the world of the employed. But I can say I’m not nearly about distraught about that.



Wedding Planning Adventures: Dress Shopping

No matter how traditional or non-traditional you are when it comes to weddings, to all of you brides-to-be out there: Go dress shopping! Even if your wedding dress will be the first dress you even lay down your dollar bills on, I promise, it’s really fun. Well, in theory, it should be really really fun. I definitely have some feedback on dress shopping to all of your bride-to-bes and also to your bridesmaids, friends and family who decide they would like to give input.

If you didn’t know, I love Say Yes to the Dress. I am really really a sucker for it. It’s so fun to watch all of the brides shopping for their dresses, see all of the styles, and hear some great love stories. The drama many families bring with them dress shopping on these shows also makes me glad that isn’t my entourage. So on that note, one of my recommendations is to leave that drama at home. 

I tried on dresses for the first time in Virginia and the dress I found was a combination of many things I loved (btw – it also had a lot of things I loved from photos I took along). I definitely thought it was the one. But, it was unrealistic to order it in Virginia, so I made an appointment at the only store in Alaska that carried the wedding designer (Maggie Sottero – beautiful dresses!!) that I wanted. They didn’t have the dress in store, but I knew ahead of time that they could order it. Of course I love to try on dresses, so I had planned to try on more in a similar style that I was drawn to and was flattering on me and compare it to the photos of me in the first dress I picked in Virginia. At first, every dress I tried on was just as “nope, not as great as the other dress…”

But then I tried on this beautiful dress that made me feel even better than when I tried on the dress I found in Virginia. This was it. There was no other contender. I even compared photo to photo, and still, the one I had just picked was more than I could have wanted. In Virginia, I had chosen my top 3 of dresses. They each had something I loved. This dress has all of the things I loved in those dresses in one. This was the dress. I said yes to the dress! It was a bonus that it was $500 less than the other. I am so so glad I decided to try on more dresses. If not, I would have not found this more than I love even more than the one I thought was it.

I would post a picture but… that would ruin it for all of those coming on the big day. 😉

Tips for your wedding dress adventure:

  1. Do NOT wait until the last minute. Unless you want to buy something off the rack, its not in your best interest (actually its never in your best interest). When I ordered my dress, they said it should arrive in late April/early May. If you aren’t doing the math yet, its only December, so that’s 6 months away and 2 months before my wedding. Its just enough time to get my dress and get all of my fittings/alterations in. I live in a faraway land, of course, but it still typically takes anywhere from 4-6 months to order dresses.
  2. When you know you are ready find your perfect dress, make an appointment. You need all of that time committed to you.
  3. On that note, keep an open mind and don’t have your heart set on a certain dress you see in bridal magazine or pinterest. You may try it on and it looks nothing like the phone.
  4. Check out dress styles online and print some of your favorites. You’ll want them as a starting point when you get to the shop.
  5. Many say to bring a strapless bra. I recommend that or a white one, but I didn’t wear a bra when I tried on any of my dresses. Most have some built in support and its more accurate for you to go bra-less, but bring yours just in case.
  6. Wear a thong or low-profile underwear. It’ll help you to see how the dress will lay and what it will show. I tried on a couple of dresses that showed my low-profile underwear line – and that was a kicker for me.
  7. Bring along the shoes you plan to wear or ones with the same heal. If you are planning to wear flats (like me) or a small heal, see how much you would need hemmed and if you need to order a shorter dress (see below).
  8. TRY ON ALL THE STYLES! All different necklines, ballgown, strapless, mermaid – try them ALL on. First of all, its so fun to try on dresses and the dresses that look ridiculous are just as fun to laugh about. I promise, you may fall in love with something totally different than what you thought you liked.
  9. Set a realistic budget and STICK TO IT. When I started looking at dress prices, I realized my dress budget was not realistic so we set a new dress budget and definitely stuck to it.
  10. Leave your dramatic friends and family at home. You don’t owe it to anyone to tell them you’re going dress shopping or to take them with you. This is supposed to be a magical experience for you, so share it with those you love and those who will embrace the experience with you. These people will chose not to tell you that you look like a “peacock” or give you other notes of how unflattering a dress looks because lets be honest, they may be talking about the dress you’re trying on, but the reality in, it sounds like a bunch of judges telling you how you don’t fit that dress.
  11. And my biggest piece of advice from my experience: Go to more than one store, even if you think you’ve found the one. 
  12. Did I mention you should enjoy yourself? You should. It’s all about you, girlfriend. YOU need to love the dress and if you love it, your groom-to-be will too.

Questions to ask and things to talk about with your dress shop:

  1. Do they provide any free alterations?
  2. Discuss the alterations! For me, I live 6 hours from the shop where I ordered my dress, so we talked extensively about alteration options and they gave me a recommendation for my dress alternation in my town. Make sure you talk about what alterations you might need, pricing, if you are required to get alterations there, etc.
  3. Can you order a shorter dress? Many dresses come 3-4 inches shorter. It may have an extra cost and take a couple more weeks for the dress to arrive, but if you are short, you should really consider it.
  4. Did you order the color you wanted and can you see how all the colors might look to make a decision? Sometimes you can be shown a dress overlay on a different color you might want that can give you an idea of what it’ll look like.
  5. If needed, do they ship and for how much?
  6. The place you are buying your dress from is now one of your vendors – get a contract so you can ensure you get the right dress and everything is understood up front. Most places will already have one, so make sure you read over it before you sign your life away.