I've struggled with documentation fatigue. I would abandon these monthly recaps altogether but I know future me would regret it since I do look back on the posts quite a bit. I also think there is a connection with my commitment to my health and the attention I give to tracking my workouts, steps, and social life. I am realizing that the more mindful I am in each of these areas, the more likely I am feeling my best. I've slipped the past few months and my body and mind are noticing.
June 2015 Flickr album
The first week of June may not be considered a highlight by most as I spent the majority of my time visiting my dad in the hospital. On Sunday, May 31, I drove a rented Nissan Versa to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and spent the week with my parents. I am glad I had a couple of days pre-surgery with my dad - moments I'll always treasure. On Tuesday, June 2, my dad went into Avera McKennan hospital to have a large pituitary gland tumor removed by a neurosurgeon and an ENT surgeon. The surgery was considered successful and now that 6 weeks have passed its hard to think back on the immediate days post surgery because a lot has changed. As was expected, my dad was pretty out of it after surgery and spent a couple of days in ICU and was then transferred to a neurological recovery room for a couple more days. He was released on Sunday, June 7 so I stayed until Monday, June 8. Though I left when my dad was still at the very beginning of his recovery, I've returned for the 4th of July holiday weekend and he is doing much better and his eyesight has improved significantly.
June by the numbers
Watch + Read
Eat + Drink
April by the numbers
As we are eleven days into December, the month of November is a bit of a blur at this point. Perhaps nothing remarkable happened? Or maybe the fact that December is packed with travel and plans, I already moved on. Likely a bit of both. Thankfully my photo-a-day will help spark my memory.
One of the highlights of the month was volunteering as an Election Judge in my precinct. I enjoyed helping people register to vote and it was fun seeing all of my neighbors throughout the day.
The transition from autumn to winter was brutal after having such an amazing stretch of perfect temperatures and sunny days. Winter survival plan was activated much sooner than I would have liked. I met up with Liz for pedicures and spent all day Saturday cooking soup with Amy Z.
Spending quality time with friends during the cold, dark months is important to me. Amy O. helped with that by having a gathering of awesome people for chili and beer. I explored a bit of Minneapolis with Allie and bought some cozy recycled sweater mittens. Lisa and I are hard core and continue to walk every Tuesday morning and have determined that as long as the temperature is 10° we will pound the pavement. Shopping malls are our back-up plan and I wonder if/when we'll have to fall back on that.
We celebrated Stewie's 11th birthday which is hard to believe. It was fun spoiling him at a nearby fancy dog store. I went to the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD) Art Sale with Lisa for the first time. It was a lot of fun and I'm hoping we can make it a tradition. That same weekend our neighbors invited us over for dinner and every time we're together I'm more and more thankful that we both plan on staying in our current homes a long time - they are fantastic. More winter survival for Scott and I included a massage for him and infrared sauna for me - followed by a flight of beer of course.
November by the numbers...
14 gym visits (+10 from September - it must be cold!)
371,754 steps (12,391 steps averaged a day)
1047 active minutes (35 minutes a day on average)
Scott and I experimented with no eating out in November. We decided this after eating at Bar La Grassa with friends. We also knew we'd make exceptions for any work-related eating out. Finally, we knew we'd eat out at least once over Thanksgiving while in Sioux Falls. It was definitely a challenge but we saved money and I was able to lose weight instead of gain.
- Bar La Grassa (with Dannah and Chris)
- Stout's Pub (work team lunch!)
- Taste of the Big Apple (with my mom and dad in Sioux Falls)
I also stopped buying cold press every day at Caribou Coffee. I now make my own and treat myself to coffee dates with friends about once a week.
- The Freehouse (beers before dinner at Bar La Grassa)
- Dunn Bros (work team meeting)
- Sparrow Cafe (frigid Tuesday walk destination with Lisa)
- Caribou Coffee (in Sioux Falls with Scott's cousin Cali and her boyfriend Chris)
- Starbucks Coffee (in Sioux Falls before Parade of Lights)
Watching & Reading
Walking Dead season five
Six Feet Under season two
Codebreaker (Drama-documentary about Alan Turing)
The Secret Place by Tana French (averaging 2 pages a night before falling asleep so it's slow going)
September was action packed and it's taken me awhile to recover and post the recap! The beginning of the month we were in Maine on vacation. You can read more about that in a series of blog posts: Days 1-2, Days 3-4, and Days 5-8. When we returned, my zen approach to life was challenged by a variety of stressors. Things got pretty busy at work; I busted my iPhone like a pro a week before the new iPhone 6 was released; and a few family issues surfaced. Because of all of the work I've been doing on healthy habits, I was able focus on the positive and the beauty surrounding me. September is definitely one of my favorite months of the year.
We celebrated the marriage of Scott's sister, Lisa and her now husband, Mitch. They had a lot of family and friends over to their home for a party and it was great to catch up with so many of Scott's relatives whom I don't see often.
We also spent time with my parents and carried on our tradition of touring the gorgeous homes on the Homes by Architects Tour. I think we discovered a new tradition with my parents during the home tour weekend - a trip to an apple orchard. This year we went to Sweetland Orchard where we got an intimate tour of the cidery, had a guided tasting of the ciders and ate cider donuts.
September recap of my health goals
I'm proud of the fact that not only did I maintain my health goals during vacation, I now know that these changes haven't changed my enjoyment of special occasions. Eating healthy and enjoying foods and beverages that may be richer or with sugar/alcohol in moderation made the vacation even better than if I had used vacation as an excuse to eat lots of chips, candy/ice cream, etc.
I didn't get the gym enough to qualify for the insurance reimbursement towards my membership. This is not a trend I want to continue even though I've been getting a lot of outdoor exercise. Something to work on in October. Added to my exercise regimen is a group strength training class at the U of M for employees. Four of us do a circuit of weight machines and cardio stations led by an instructor. We meet on Mondays and Wednesdays at noon and I'm already seeing the benefits of having an exercise commitment in the middle of the day. I'm able to get away from my computer, blow off some steam, and refocus. Another habit I plan on maintaining.
September by the numbers...
4 gym visits
456,971 steps (15,232 steps averaged a day)
892 active minutes (29 minutes a day on average)
Sawatdee (with Allie)
Sea Salt Eatery (with Amy)
George & the Dragon (with Julie and Cali Haberman and Chris)
Bread & Pickle
Peace Coffee Shop
Punch Neapolitan Pizza (with co-worker friend Sara)
The Pizza Farm (Stockholm, WI)
Taqueria El Ranchito (neighbor night!)
Prima (with my mom and dad)
Mill Valley Kitchen (with my mom and dad)
Pizzeria Lola (with my mom and dad)
Tiny Diner (with my mom and dad)
Heyday (ran into my cousin Bryce and his girlfriend Sarah)
Fat Nat's Eggs (work outing)
Elevation Burger (Portland, ME)
Mine Oyster Restaurant & Raw Bar (Boothbay Harbor, ME)
Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream (Bar Harbor, ME)
Bar Harbor Beerworks (Bar Harbor, ME)
The Jordan Pond House Restaurant (Acadia National Park, ME)
Three Tides (Belfast, ME)
Rock City Cafe (Rockland, ME)
Fresh Restaurant & Bakery (Camden, ME)
Haraseeket Lunch & Lobster Company (South Freeport, ME)
Lots of Caribou Coffee stops
Sweetland Orchard (Webster, MN)
Republic (with the web team)
Campus Club (with co-worker friend David)
Maine Craft Distilling (Portland, ME)
Bissell Brothers Brewing (Portland, ME)
Foundation Brewing Company (Portland, ME)
Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME)
Oxbow Brewing Company (Newcastle, ME)
Boothbay Craft Brewery (Boothbay, ME)
Bar Harbor Beerworks (Bar Harbor, ME)
Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery (Rockland, ME)
Zoot Coffee (Camden, ME)
Tandem Coffee Roasters (Portland, ME)
Watching & Reading
Six Feet Under
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
The Land of Dreams by Vidar Sundstøl
August was another great month! This summer has been tops. I spent quality time with friends: Summit Avenue walk with Amy; happy hour with Erin, Miranda and Jen; lunch with Miranda, St. Anthony Main for drinks and ice cream with Amy, weekly walks with Lisa, and a happy hour and pizza night with neighbors. Scott and I also spent quality time with our families. Emily and Jonathan returned to South Dakota for Ellie and Peter's wedding. It was fun to catch up with all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. We also spent time with Scott's sister, Lisa and her partner, Mitch as well as Scott's cousin, Bobby. We also left for our Maine vacation at the end of the month which I'll include a recap of in a separate post.
August recap of my health goals
Getting used to my new normal. I am no longer considered overweight and have reached a "normal" weight for a woman my age and height. I'm typing this as I leave on vacation and I'm ready to continue my healthy habits while away from home. With the help of my health coach, Mary, I see these times as fun challenges instead of using them as an excuse to sabotage all that I've worked so hard to accomplish.
August by the numbers...
12 gym visits
565,591 steps (18,244 steps averaged a day)
1,369 active minutes (50 minutes a day on average)
Agra Culture Kitchen (with Allie, 50th & France location)
Chef Shack (food truck, Fulton Farmer's Market)
Pracna on Main (with Amy)
Izzy's Ice Cream (Minneapolis)
Green + The Grain (food truck, downtown Minneapolis with Miranda)
Freshii (Southdale Mall)
Pizzeria Lola (Scott and I met up with David and his boys to enjoy market tomato pie)
Noodles & Company (Stadium Village)
Elements on 8th (Sioux Falls)
Grill 26 (Sioux Falls)
The District (Ellie and Peter's wedding reception)
Tre Lounge (Sioux Falls)
Josiah's (Sioux Falls)
Luci Ancora (with Liz before Tori Amos concert, St. Paul)
Mattie's on Main
Nina's Coffee Cafe (with Amy)
Pai Men Miyake (Portland, ME)
Bonobo (Portland, ME)
In Cahoots Block Party at Red Stag Supperclub
Novare Res Bier Cafe (Portland, ME)
Caribou Coffee (multiple locations)
Peace Coffee Bar (Lakewinds in Richfield)
Spyhouse Coffee (Nicollet Avenue location with Lisa )
Starbucks (Anderson Lakes Parkway, Eden Prairie with Lisa)
Bard Coffee (Portland, ME)
Watching & Reading
The Killing (season 4)
Six Feet Under
The Face of Love
June recap of my goals
I broke my record for number of steps this month which is no surprise since I WALKED A MARATHON! I didn't get to the gym more than my insurance refund minimum of twelve. I am 150% OK with this since I am getting so many miles in outside. I know that this is having an overwhelming positive impact on my health.
June by the numbers...
12 gym visits
632,999 steps (21,099 averaged a day)
1,378 active minutes (45 minutes a day on average)
19.5 pounds lost
After realizing that I ate at restaurants 24 times in May, I made a concerted effort to reduce that number. I knew that it would help my weight loss and money management goals. I cut the number in half.
Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
The Gray House (closing at the end of July)
George and the Dragon
D'Amico & Sons
Pig & Fiddle
Fulton Brewing Company
Bang Brewing Company
Watching & Reading
We finished season 2 of Orphan Black and I already miss it. We started watching Six Feet Under and I'm surprised we didn't start it sooner. I didn't go to any movies this month. I have been in the mood to see one in a theater so I'm going to treat myself in July to at least one! I basically don't read anymore. It's pathetic. I was all excited to see that one of my favorite authors, Tana French has a new book but it isn't available until this Fall.
My dad's side of our family had a reunion to celebrate my grandma Mary's 90th birthday. With the exception of two people, everyone was able to join. All four of my grandma's children and their spouses, all of her grandchildren and their spouses (except my cousin, Brett's wife, Amie) and all but one of her great-grandchildren. People traveled from great distances to make the weekend special for my grandma and it was fantastic to see so many relatives, some of whom I hadn't seen in 10 years.
It was the second year in a row that my sister celebrated her birthday here in the Midwest. She and Jonathan were here last year for my father's retirement party. Both years, Jonathan impressed the family by taking on the role of event photographer. I'm so grateful for the time I get to spend with both of them and happy I was able to take my little sis out for a birthday breakfast at French Meadow Bakery before heading to Fairmont, MN for three days.
My grandma had two birthday celebrations - one at her assisted living home and the next day a big bash at her church. At both events, my aunt Marlene led a program of singing and reflections. My grandma looked so happy and I know it all meant a lot to her. I am extremely proud of my dad because he put a lot of work into the weekend and it went off without a hitch.
Some photos from the two days (all taken by Jonathan except the one he's in):
Photos of the day and a recap of the month
Besides the weekend in Fairmont, Minnesota for my grandma's birthday, we also spend a Memorial weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was a great time and we took advantage of the perfect weather conditions and spent a lot of time on my parent's patio.
On Saturday, my mom and I got pedicures; something I wish we could do together more often. Scott and my dad joined us and we went downtown to the sculpture walk. We visited my grandparent's gravesite and walked through McKennan Park. Scott and I met up with my cousins, Kristina and Abby at Monk's House of Ale Repute and we walked to Kristina's workplace and around the trails by the river.
On Sunday, we went to Aunt Margie and Uncle Rich's cabin at Lake Madison. We met Peter, my cousin Elizabeth's fiancé. My cousin Matthew, a college sophomore, was also there. Right before we left, my aunt Becky and Kristina stopped by so I ended up seeing quite a few family members.
Photos of our weekend on Flickr
May recap of my goals
I'm feeling stronger every day. I've noticed a huge difference in the amount of pain I've been in on normal days (less lower back pain) and on days when I have gotten headaches. I had the best month yet in terms of steps taken and days at the gym.
May by the numbers...
21 gym visits
580,289 steps (18,719 averaged a day)
1,528 active minutes (49 minutes a day on average)
Well, this is ridiculous. Twenty-four different restaurants in one month. I realize the majority is a rsult of being out of town but this seems obscene. I vow to eat home-cooked meals more in June.
French Meadow Cafe
Bean Town Grill (Fairmont, MN)
Green Mill (Fairmont, MN)
Pizza Ranch (Fairmont, MN)
El Agave (Fairmont, MN)
HolyLand Deli in Midtown Global Market
One Two Three Sushi
The Lynn on Bryant
The Purple Onion
Sea Salt Eatery
Red Rossa (Sioux Falls, SD)
Josiah's Coffeehouse and Cafe (Sioux Falls, SD)
All Day Cafe & Goodnight Bar (Sioux Falls, SD)
Grill 26 (Sioux Falls, SD)
Burning Brothers Brewery
Tin Whiskers Brewing Company
Stub & Herb's
Monk's House of Ale Repute (Sioux Falls, SD)
Watching & Reading
The only TV series that we're into right now is Orphan Black. We're caught up and watching season 2 episodes as they are released on Amazon.
The only movie I watched this month was the documentary, Fed Up. I was going to write a whole blog post about my reaction to the movie but then I got sidetracked and it didn't happen. It was both infuriating and inspiring as I am on my journey of healthy habits. I have to wonder if movie theaters would release their sales of concessions for that movie compared to others.
I have been reading approximately one page of The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri a night. Since it is 344 pages, I'll have to speed up in order to finish it before I ring in a new year. Or, I could determine I'm just not into it and move on to another book! I do want to read more this summer so I better get on it.
Oh, and I got a haircut!
The Nivens Family