Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Ends

It would be hard to imagine a better year than 2013: wedding festivities and beginning our married life, honeymooning on the Hawaiian islands, starting a new teaching job, and the Red Sox winning the World Series were all highlights. It truly was the year of adventures I had been hoping for. I will forever have awesome memories of 2013, but I look forward to seeing what 2014 has in store. I hope it will be a year of productivity and discovery. Happy New Year!

<3 s, b, l&z

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Brendan's 32nd

Bren's birthday yesterday was a delicious occasion! We rang in Dec 27 at a new cocktail lounge called weather up with friends. Brunch at south congress cafe with my parents started the morning off right. Then, it was back to the house for presents and pie. An amazing dinner at uchiko complete with two desserts, including the best chocolate dish ever was a highlight of the day. We ended the night at drought house pub (one of bren's favorite places) with several friends.  

Family and friends called and texted Bren yesterday to say happy birthday too. Think it's safe to say he's feeling loved (and ancient) today. ;)

We are now on the road to my grandmother's house for time with family. We'll also be traveling to Lake Charles to see friends and ring in the new year. 

Is there such a thing as too much celebrating? 
We don't think so. 
<3 s, b, l & z

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!
We enjoyed our first married Christmas in Austin! Last night, we had 14 friends and family members over to celebrate Christmas Eve (with BBQ, beer, and margaritas--this is Texas after all). This morning, we celebrated with my parents (my brother, Graham, is in California with his girlfriend Maisie). We woke up, called Brendan's parents and grandparents, had a nice breakfast, opened stockings, played with Lola and Zoe's stocking stuffers, called Graham, and then opened packages. We finished up with phone calls and voicemails to grandparents on both sides and Brendan's sister, Annie. Up next: playing our new board game and eating a turkey dinner later tonight. 

We feel lucky beyond measure this holiday season and hope the holidays bring you and yours love and joy!

With Love,

Stacy, Brendan, Lola & Zoe

Monday, December 23, 2013

Relaxing Holidays

Brendan and I are in Austin with the cats as of Saturday evening. We're just getting ready for the holidays and enjoying the week with family. It has been nice to have a break from it all. We did most of our shopping in advance, but getting ready for the annual Christmas Eve gathering has been keeping us busy. (Please note: "busy" here includes sleeping in every day). We caught the second installment of The Hobbit last night after enjoying some Vietnamese food. We both liked the movie, but feel that turning the one book into three films is a bit of stretch.

What about you? Are your holidays relaxing or last minute craziness? My dad ALWAYS waits until Christmas Eve to do all his shopping.

A fun announcement:

Remember Anthony, who caught the garter at our wedding? Well, he has proposed to Brendan's cousin Katie, and the two are currently planning their own "I dos." We couldn't be happier for them! Pic of the happy couple: 

Happy holidays everyone!
<3 S, B, L&Z

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Real Snow Day

Our 3-day weekend last Monday turned out to be mostly un-necessary, but today, school is canceled again, and this time, there is actual snow on the ground.

We will be enjoying a weekend of cookie baking, staying warm and cozy, and grading, grading, grading. We made it through classes, but will be giving final exams all next week. Fall 2013 is almost behind us, which means winter break is rapidly approaching! 

Hope you have much to smile about this weekend too! 
<3 S, B, L&Z 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tales From Tuesday

Oh. My. Gosh.

My eyeballs are sore from grading.

And whoever had the idea to meld Christmas prep with finals season is not my best friend right now. I'm wondering how we are going to get it all done.

After teaching and four straight hours of grading today, we did a mega grocery run, the laundry is going, and soon, I will semi straighten up this apartment. Anything I'm forgetting? Likely, my sanity, but that is long gone.

However, we made it to the final week of classes, and even if I have to crawl to December 12th (the day I will turn in all my grades), so help me, I will.

In the meantime, at least I have Brendan, cats, wine, and Facebook (for awesome distraction between grading).

Good night, and good luck!
<3 S, B, L&Z

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving friends and family!

I hope you all have a nice meal to eat and loving company to share it with today.

Brendan and I are in Austin with my parents and brother, Graham, and will also be sharing the holiday with family friends. We'll be having Thanksgiving at Graham's house this year, and he has been working hard on prepping all week.

I have an overwhelming amount to be grateful for:

Brendan and I have been in good health this year, and we are glad to now live in a country where all Americans will have access to doctors.

We are glad to have a safe and comfortable place to live and two full time jobs. I am enjoying my new job at Midland College and all of the roles I'm playing (tutor coordinating for the writing center, advising Sigma Kappa Delta, and taking students through IRW II to COMP I), as well as working with Brendan. It has been a productive semester, with participating in a conference and presenting at a faculty colloquium as well as taking on overload, and teaching American Literature and serving on a committee for the first time, but I am thankful to be keeping busy. I feel lucky to be a teacher. I learn SO much from my students and genuinely enjoy talking about writing and literature everyday; I enjoy the challenge that comes with teaching and the constant growth and change that it necessitates.

 I am exceptionally grateful for my friends, who make life so much better. Many of my friendships are well over a decade strong, and it is incredible to have friends from all parts of my life. I am thankful for the lunches, the bad television marathons, the phone calls, craft nights, evenings out, and motivations to go workout...in every way, friends, old and new, make our lives brighter.

I am thankful that we can travel. We saw so many wonderful places this past year: Connecticut, Houston, Las Vegas...in Hawaii: Maui, Kaua'i, and the Big Island, and New Mexico, Ohio, and New Orleans. Seeing all this world has to offer is an amazing opportunity.

I am thankful for those two mischief makers, Lola and Zoe. Loving and caring for them these past five years has taught me a lot.

I am thankful for my family, which grew exponentially on July 5th. Having so many people to love and care for us and to love and care for in return is a wonderful thing. In 2013, our families grew too as my cousin Stephen married Casey and Brendan's cousin Molly married John.

Speaking of weddings, I am thankful for ours. It was amazing to see our families come together and have fun with each other. We will remember that weekend all of our lives.

And finally, I am thankful that I married the love of my life this year. He is truly the greatest gift in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

<3 S, B, L&Z

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hawaiian State of Mind

Yesterday, we enjoyed a day off, due to wintery weather conditions in Midland that had schools closing. This morning, we woke up at 6:30 to a power outage that had been in effect for over four hours. Needless to say, it was pretty chilly, and as we dressed for work in the dark, the outside temperature was 39 degrees. Looking at the unlit Christmas tree, my mind drifted back to our honeymoon in Hawaii...

I imagined the warm sun, swimming with the sea turtles, and the most happy three weeks of my life. After teaching classes this morning (Tuesdays are my work from home after teaching day), I returned to a still powerless and cold apartment. I knew I needed something to put me in a Hawaiian state of mind.

Enter the nail salon. It was warm, I could put my feet in hot wax, and have hot towels wrapped around my legs. Sign. Me. Up:

I picked a Strawberry Margarita pink that reminded me of our escapades on the islands:

I came home in these salon flip flops despite the 49 degree weather...oh the things we do for beauty. Now, I have a little bit of Hawaii to keep me warm. And the power is back on, so that helps too.

I'll be answering student emails, grading quizzes, doing laundry and packing today...and all the while, dreaming of Mai Tais on the beach and nights in the rainforest.

Here's to whatever keeps your thoughts warm when it's cold outside!

<3 S, B, L&Z

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Getting Our Holiday On

We've had a very icy weekend, complete with icicles and power loss. 

So, there was nothing to do, but stay in and decorate for Christmas: 

(check out our newest ornaments): 

First Married Christmas 

Just Maui'd 
Catch up on our zzzs: 

Lola's big yawn
And make and eat comfort food: 

Stacy's mini mac and cheeses 
All in all, a delightful weekend so far. We normally don't decorate until after Thanksgiving, but just couldn't resist the charm of thinking of Christmas over this iced in weekend. I've even begun my holiday shopping, and there's already one present under the tree. 

We hope your weekend is full of charm as well, whatever you may be doing. 

<3 S, B, L&Z  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Crunch Time

My life this week resembled a plate of pasta that was microwaved for too long and exploded everywhere.

However, pressure and self-imposed deadlines have always equaled productivity in my world, so even though the days have been insanely busy, they have also led to getting students their essays back, finishing a story, and completing my wedding album, along with meeting other mini-goals.

When yoga was canceled Wednesday night, I seized the opportunity to take a mid-week chill out with my friend, Kristen. Drinking wine and watching bad television ensued.

I also allowed myself to read an entire book for fun this past week. I'd been waiting for Marisha Pessl's next novel for years since Special Topics in Calamity Physics changed my life, and Night Film was worth the wait. Though I wasn't completely enthused by the last 100 pages, I am in complete awe of the believably tangible yet absolutely fantastical world Pessl created and her page turner plot. How long must I wait for the next book?

Tomorrow will prove to be a long day: I'm teaching, presenting at the faculty colloquium, doing a social event with Sigma Kappa Delta, grading, and finishing Fahrenheit 451, but sometimes, it is the crazy weeks that make you realize how interesting and fulfilling life can be.

I'm proud of what my students accomplished this week, and I think we could all use a weekend. Though Midland was 80 degrees today, we are expecting snow tomorrow morning. This desert life keep us on our toes!

Happy birthday to my newest Mom today!

Hope everyone is surviving their own "crunch times!"
<3 S, B, L&Z

Sunday, November 10, 2013

No News is Good News

We've been keeping busy at work, which accounts for the absence of blog posts. I've been interviewing tutors, planning honor society meetings, and working on a story in addition to all the normal stuff that comes with teaching. The good news? I'm teaching the last paper in Comp I and reading the last novel with American Lit. students, which are both signs that we're nearing finals. Of course, the next month will be busy, but I love that there is so much to look forward to with the upcoming holiday season. 

We've had a nice weekend...our third weekend in a row of actually staying home! Brendan made me this awesome Japanese soup on Friday night, and we watched the finale of Master Chef Junior, my guilty pleasure favorite T.V. show. 

Sharing the last bottle of wedding wine meant I was asleep on the couch by 8:30. Oh well. 

Yesterday, we took a walk at the 1-20 Nature Preserve, but unfortunately, every mosquito in town had the same idea. We were lucky enough to run into some fellow trail walkers that let us use some of their bug spray. We also saw Ender's Game at the new movie theater in Midland, Cingery. I loved that we could reserve our seats, show up at exactly the start time, and still have an awesome place to sit. However, the downside was that this place was packed to the maximum capacity on Saturday night, so traffic and getting to our theater was insane. People were ordering plates of food...but it was not like Alamo Drafthouse where waiters come and take your order, and instead, you had to wait in a huge line just to order your food and then go back to pick it up when it's ready. I don't think we'd ever plan to order dinner there. Austin has spoiled me with Alamo Drafthouse. Still, I'm glad Midland has another theater, and I would be excited to experience Cingery again during a matinee or week night. 

Today, we ate breakfast with our friends Jill & Ryan and their sweet baby at The Egg and I in Odessa. It was most delicious. Then, we knocked out all of our grocery shopping for the week. I've also been productive working on writing and other projects this weekend, so all in all, it has been a success. 

We hope your weekend was a great one too! 
<3 S, B, L&Z 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Weird Milestone

When every couple moves in together, they immediately assess what they need, and what they already have too much of. For Brendan and I, two things fell into the later category when we moved in this apartment in August of 2011: little tables and dryer sheets. A friend helping us move asked us if we were collecting little tables...no, we just happened to have 11 small tables between the two of us (believe it or not, we actually found a place for all 11). We also had about 280 dryer sheets. I was convinced we'd never have to buy them again. But last week, I realized we didn't have a single one left, and this week, they were on our grocery list.

A lot of things happened as we went through those three boxes of dryer sheets. Somewhere in there, we got engaged and then married. I started a new job...three times! We went from being absolutely broke to having a savings account. Lola and Zoe went from 28 to 36 (in cat years). We did a LOT of laundry. I was literally laughing when I told Brendan "You will never guess what we just ran out of." He guessed it.

In other news, we've had a pretty productive and low key weekend. The fridge is full, and now that we have some dryer sheets, I'm about to do laundry while Brendan finishes dinner. I'm so thankful for the extra hour today: I wish that happened every weekend! We're addicted to listening to This American Life lately, and we literally are devouring the episodes. Radio is actually more entertaining to me than television lately. Though I do love to watch this on Friday night.

Tonight, it's more reading and writing, as we head into week 11. On Thursday, I got the point where I literally finished all my grading...then on Friday, my students took a quiz. Sigh. That's why teachers say, ain't no break until the big break!

Have you hit any "weird milestones" lately? Let us know!
<3 S, B, L&Z

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Reflection on Difficult Times

Reading Grapes of Wrath with my American Lit class this week has me thinking about all sorts of hardships that people meet, and how they cope with them.

I'm sure most people are familiar with the novel, which follows the Joad family as they migrate west to find work during the Great Depression. I find this book stunning and compelling, and it brings me a greater understanding and awareness about my grandparents' generation.

The novel makes me stop and think about difficult times. Do we have them if all of our basic needs are met? Can times be said to be difficult without the absence of food, shelter, and work?

I think so. I think difficulty is a great part of life. I mean great in that difficulty makes up a large part of our lives, but also in that I think difficulty is what helps us appreciate our lives and inspires us to make more of them.

I'm not drawing a direct comparison, but I did think today of when Brendan and I moved west. We weren't moving here with just hopes, as we had already been offered work, but it still felt strange leaving behind everything we had known to go to a strange place. Those first few weeks here weren't easy. Even with the support system that comes with a great relationship, we still face difficulties, both together and as individuals. I think we have to embrace that truth in order to feel any kind of satisfaction in life. Yes, it will be hard sometimes, and we will be better and more empathetic people for having gone through those times.

It was strange, but after reflecting on this this afternoon, I saw a link come up on my Facebook page. It was about a family that lost everything in the floods that hit Austin, TX on Thursday. Strangely enough, my mom's home had some damage too, but only to my childhood bedroom, which is now getting a new floor. I followed this link and read about this family that had lost everything. Brendan and I donated what we could, and I was reminded that difficult times are in the lives of everyone around us. The only way to combat this is to care. Just like in Grapes of Wrath, our care for one another is truly what makes us human beings. When you see suffering, help if you are able, and outside of that, remember to be gentle with the people you encounter, even strangers. You never know who is facing a difficult time, and your kind words, generous spirit, or offers of help might mean the difference between hope and despair.

I've been spending a quiet Saturday at home with Brendan, catching up on work, and giving thanks for having what I need and for the opportunity to reach out and help someone else. Even though I don't "know" them, I know them because we're all in this together.

That's a nice thought, right?
<3 S, B, L&Z

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Living Room 2.0

Our living room situation was in need of some major improvement. Primarily because the cats did some serious damage to the chaise lounge: 

But also because the chaise has never been a comfortable place to sit, and we don't have the space to host non-functional furniture at this point. 

Enter the search for a loveseat...ahhh, how we could NOT find something agreeable. We looked in stores, we looked online, and we never found something that met our criteria. Are we just crazy, or is most furniture seriously ugly?

But finally, while browsing the internet one day, Brendan stumbled upon it at West Elm. A loveseat that looked cute and decently comfortable too. As a bonus, it was custom order only, so we could pick our fabric and color. After much googling of "fabric cats won't scratch," we decided on "performance velvet" and the color "ink blue." We were even able to save 10% on the order AND get white glove delivery, where the couch would be assembled and delivered to us, with no packaging to worry about cleaning up after. 

The only issue was we were told it would be mid-November before the loveseat arrived (we ordered in September). We were happy to get a call this week that our loveseat was on its way a few weeks early. 

A trip to Pier One for some throw pillows (we saved 30%) and a throw (20% off plus $10 off), and the look was complete! 

I love it! The best part is, so far, the cats do NOT scratch it, and it is actually a comfy place to sit. While this loveseat wasn't cheap, I hope it's a piece we will enjoy for years. 

The chaise was a $150 purchase on craigslist and lasted me 5 years; it's back on craigslist for sale, and so far, we've been offered $55 for it. Whoever takes it will hopefully reupholster it, and the chaise will have a second life, so it's a happy ending for everyone. 

In other "new" news, we bought the cats another scratching post and a catnip toy as a "peace offering" for losing their favorite scratching "toy." We also decided it was time to update their collars. The original collars were a gift from their "aunt Corley," but after 5 years, they were falling apart and missing rhinestones. Here's Brendan with Lola and her new collar. He's showing off his Red Sox beard. 

Zoe's new collar:

Replacing the collars was a bit emotional. I remember every few weeks or so when they were kittens, I'd slip the collars on, but they weren't yet big enough to fit into them. It seems like they've grown up so fast, and we've been through so much together. The girls seem pretty happy with their new looks. And with the Red Sox in the World Series and the weekend fast approaching, it's safe to say, we're happy too. 

For more upgrade posts, check out Kitchen 2.0 and Patio Perfect

Happy re-dos! 
<3 S, B, L&Z 

Monday, October 21, 2013


You know that phrase, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going"?

I think it can be more accurately stated: when the going gets tough, the tough figure out how to divide and conquer their workload without going insane. 

To say that this week is going to be stressful would be an understatement. I'm starting a 1301 flex class, which means getting to know new students and getting the course off to a successful start. I literally have 75 midterm essays to grade, a slew of revisions to grade, a novel to finish, a discussion board to grade, and I'm still trying to recruit and train tutors for the writing lab. I have some substituting this week and a presentation in a few weeks to prepare for as well. The apartment is messy, and I wonder to myself where we'll find the time to straighten up, or  if I'll be able to squeeze in workouts to the already packed days.

My past experiences have collectively taught me that this too shall pass. When I hit the stressful point of the semester, I take a deep breath, and take the pressure off of myself. It won't all get done in one day, and those two weeks I always tell students they must wait between turning in a paper and getting it back are necessary. Last year, I really learned how to take my workload and divide it by the number of days I have to get through it. The result is grading a little each day, which allows me the flexibility to stop when I get burnt out or tired. After all, I don't want to grade anyone's paper when I'm in a bad mood. I know how many pages I need to read each day, how many papers I need to grade, and what small tasks I can tackle in my personal life. No, this week isn't going to feel easy, but I can make it manageable.

I highly recommend dividing and conquering to anyone that is hitting mid semester burnout.

Other tips:

Never underestimate the power of an awesome partner/spouse. Special thanks to Brendan for making a healthy dinner tonight and helping clean the kitchen.

Drink tons of water...stress is dehydrating, and go to bed a little earlier than normal if possible.

Learn your limits and say no to things you aren't capable of taking on.

Remember to balance your work life with your other life...one shouldn't dominate the other, at least not completely!

Here's to Monday being over! At least that thought is positive.

<3 S, B, L&Z

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halfway Done!

The Fall 2013 semester is half over, so after administering midterms on Friday, Brendan and I hit the road for a weekend in Austin. In two years of living here, we have never gone to Austin for just a weekend. It's a little much car time for only a day and a half with family, but we had a good excuse this time, as my brother's girlfriend, Maisie, and my cousin Elena were both in from out of town.

Friday night, we ate with my family at Clay Pit, one of my favorite restaurants and then got drinks with Graham and Maisie at Nomads, the site of our wedding after party.

Saturday was low key: breakfast at Julios with the family, shopping with Mom, drinks with friends at Rio Ritas, and dinner prepared by Graham and Maisie at Graham's new house. Maisie made her famous key lime pie, lucky us! Below: friends and fellow Red Sox fans Cassie and John at Rio Ritas.

This morning was the cousin's brunch at Jack Allen's. My first time there, and it was pretty tasty. My cousins all wrote this blog article at cousin's brunch, since they knew exactly how the entry would sound. I guess that means that they are all avid readers, right guys ;)

My dad is on a cleaning out the garage kick, so we brought two bicycles home to Midland with us. Brendan is fixing one up for me, so hopefully, I can ride around the neighborhood soon.

We're home now, and a little worn out.  I feel encouraged though: 8 weeks to go, and I know we can do it.

Here's to the second half.
<3 S, B, L&Z

With "ghostwriting" from G&M, M&A, S&C, and E ;)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On Ditching the Snooze Button

It's been over 4 weeks since I've pressed "snooze." That's right, I've been pulling myself out of bed at 6:30am every Monday-Friday for 4 weeks now, and I'm living to tell about it.

I have read many articles that claim snooze buttons are hazardous to our natural sleep cycles and advise readers to discontinue snoozing. I figured I would give it a try as an experiment and see what happened.

The results? I actually really love it.

First step, I had to figure out how much sleep I need. 
One article gave great advice: by establishing a sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday), one will eventually begin to consistently wake up a little before the alarm. Waking up on your own demonstrates to you that you're body is getting enough rest. Through trial and error, I've found my magic number: I need about 7 hours of sleep each night in order to feel my best. Thus, I need to fall asleep at 11:30, which means, ideally, I need to be in bed before then (around 11:00).

The second step was establishing a routine. Once I found my magic number for hours of sleep, not hitting the snooze became a lot easier. At first, it was really hard because I was used to staying in bed until around 7, which only gave me 40 minutes to get ready for work. Now, I have 30 minutes to myself in the morning to eat, prepare for class, and check Facebook...and having some time to myself makes the process of getting up a lot more pleasant.

Not hitting snooze is actually pretty easy...I don't keep the alarm next to the bed, so I physically must get out of bed to turn off the alarm. Then, I have a process. I turn up the thermostat and I turn off the fan because usually the apartment is too cold. I put on my robe and move to the couch, turning on all the lights as I go. Brendan makes coffee, and we both take 30 minutes to just wake up. We don't talk to each other during that time: I have learned that Brendan does not want to talk yet, nor will he remember things discussed if brought up before coffee has hit his system!

Not snoozing has improved my life in many ways. For one, I feel more prepared for work. Two, I have been early to work since the experiment began. Three, I feel better and less cranky in the morning. Four, I am definitely more well rested, and five, I usually have time to make the bed!

I recommend ditching the snooze button for good! It will take a while to find your "magic number" of sleep hours needed, but once you do, you will be waking up on your own, and not to an annoying device beeping or playing a tune.

To reiterate:
Find out how much sleep you need
Get in bed at the same time every night
Set the alarm for the same time everyday
Put the alarm away from the bed to resist hitting snooze
Establish a routine for waking up
Part of that routine should involve leaving time for yourself to wake up
Enjoy being on time to work & feeling well rested!

In other news: Happy anniversary to my parents in-law! They've been married 36 years today! Here's to many more anniversaries to come!

S, B, L&Z

Sunday, October 13, 2013

3 Years Together

October 12th is no longer our "real" anniversary, but we'll take any excuse to celebrate. Instead of our normal weekend trip, we went out to dinner last night and saw the British farce A Perfect Wedding at the community theater here. From now on, we'll save the trips for our "real" anniversaries, but perhaps still do something small for October 12th.

Coincidentally, our wedding anniversary and anniversary of dating are 99 days apart, so it was also fun to reflect on our first months of marriage.

We picked up our wedding rings just two days before our wedding. I remember looking at them and  thinking, okay this is finally happening. It felt like we were engaged forever. Time definitely moves faster on the other side of marriage!

A few people have asked us how married life feels; basically, it feels the same, except now our kitchen is much fancier (thanks to all the wedding gifts) and our finances are officially 100% combined, which makes it easier to plan for long term goals together. We were off from work for 6.5 weeks after our wedding, and that was really ideal because it allowed us to have a super long honeymoon and still have time to come home, organize the gifts, write thank you notes, deal with my name change process, etc. All of that time, we were 100% focused on newlywed bliss mode. We've been back at work for about 8 weeks now, and that has been really busy, especially because we both have overload and because I'm just starting at Midland College. Even though we've returned to the "real world," I would say newlywed life still has a certain novelty about it. It's really nice to finally be husband and wife, and I enjoy having the same last name. The name change took some getting used to, especially since it's the only name my students use (I still have a bit of a delay when responding to it!), and while I've switched over everything important, there are still numerous accounts (frequent flyer, store credit cards, etc.) that I haven't changed yet. I'm still working on some wedding projects (like photo albums), and we are expecting our wedding video back soon.

In other news, we're hanging on with this crazy semester. Next week is midterm week, and also the end of my 8 week flex course in developmental writing. I'm hoping over 3/4ths of my students will move up with me to Composition I for the second 8 weeks. It's hard to believe we're almost halfway there. I am excited for fall weather (we've finally been enjoying some cooler temperatures and it's thundering outside!), and the semester definitely gets easier once everyone is adjusted to being back.

Happy Sunday, Funday everyone!
<3 S, B, L&Z

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women, Stage 7 Recap

My Stage 1 Recap is here
My Stage 2 Recap is here My Stage 3 Recap is hereMy Stage 4 Recap is hereMy Stage 5 Recap is here

My Stage 6 Recap is here

I realize that I was awful and never did a Stage 7 recap. I finished Stage 7 a week before our wedding, and life was just too busy to update. Then, I forgot all about it, until I realized I was planning to start on the New Rules for Life program today. 

So, what were my overall results? 

I lost...
2 inches from my bust 
1.25 inches from my band 
No inches in right or left bicep
1 inch from my waist 
1.5 inches from each thigh 
2 inches from my hips
a total of 9.25 inches and 7 pounds

I took 9 months to complete the program. I also did yoga twice a week and trained for a 5K during the program.

Here is what is funny about these results: I went into this program wanting to tone my arms! Even though my arms were the one area that didn't lose inches, my strength improved a lot, and I still think they look more toned, despite being the same size. 

Stage 7 was brutal. The workouts had me doing 4 sets of 15-20 reps of every exercise. It was completely exhausting and took a really long time. I was glad to be done! 

I was happy with the results, and even though they felt so gradual, I sometimes questioned whether or not anything was happening, or if my measurements were off, when I look at photos, I can definitely tell a difference. These photos were taken July 2012, three months before I started the program:

Compare to these photos (same photographer) taken July 2013 (about a week after I finished the program): 

I can even tell the difference in my face. Friends that had not seen me in over a year said "Oh, you lost a lot of weight!," but in reality, I had only lost 7 pounds. This program taught me that it really is possible to look better without losing much weight. 

The best part of the whole experience was that I could go on our honeymoon and do a 17 mile kayak trip of the Na Pali coast. I don't think that ever would have been possible without the strength I developed in this program. I was also able to run faster and yoga classes became a little easier when my upper body strength increased. 

I would highly recommend this program because I think anyone could do it, as long as they committed the 2-3 days a week to go to the gym. It isn't instantaneous, but the results are real and can be maintained. 

My next step is to complete The New Rules for Life. The book has 3 phases, each with 5 levels. I plan to skip level 1, since it is for absolute beginners, and start the program with level 2. I'll keep you updated about how that goes.  

Happy Tuesday! 
<3 S, B, L&Z 
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