Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: Food (Page 1 of 21)

Turtle Home Voyage #3 – Granger Lake

Last weekend, we were supposed to head to Port Aransas with the family for a weekend beach trip.  However, Port A really doesn’t *exist* right now, so we’re going to postpone our trip and go in the spring.

Here’s the highlight reel.  You can see everything here.

We had an extra day off work already booked, so we decided to take Turtle Home north instead of south and spent three days at Granger Lake.  The week before was extra hectic and stressful but once we pulled into our spot, I almost immediately relaxed because we had most of the campsite to ourselves.  The twenty-six slot section we were in had *maybe* 5 people at max over the weekend.  One happened to be right next to us, but she barely left her motorhome.  It was incredibly exactly everything I needed to destress.

Since Saturday was going to be quite a long day, we took Friday night easy.  We set up camp, and then cooked up a feast: steak, potatoes, and all the leftover veggies I had in the fridge.  So, so, so good.  Probably one of the best camping meals I’ve ever had.  We had a few light beers with dinner but went to bed around midnight like good kids.

But not before we got to see the spooky moon!

We had a day full of plans for Saturday – a bike date with Matt at 10am, and then lickety split, drive the hour up to Temple to hit up a sale to get our kitchen renovation supplies purchased, and spend some time with the fam.  Once we did some mental math on the store’s closing time and driving time, we realized we didn’t have time to ride the 40-50 miles as planned.  So, we went out for 30-ish-but-speedy in mind.

Once we hit the road, we found the wind was out to play.  I suggested we attempt another paceline because that worked REALLY REALLY well at HHH, and it was super nice to have three of us, which meant one mile of WORK and two miles of slight recovery.  We were able to keep a pretty nice speed and had some fun enjoying bikes on fairly empty country roads with light traffic.

We hit a turn and we made a puppy friend.  At first I was a little freaked out because you never know if dogs will be nice or aggressive, but thankfully, he just wanted to trot with us while we pedaled.  Sadly, this road was utter crapola, full of gravel and potholes and uneven, so we decided to turn around and do an out and back course instead a loop.

We also got to try out our anniversary presents.  Zliten picked us up these… walkie talkies… for lack of a better word, that attach to our helmets.  Spoiler alert: they rock my world.  Instead of spending most of our ride time shouting “WHAT” and “I can’t hear you” and “what did you call me? oh wait, you said turn left up here not you have a big rear”, we can just chat to each other like we were riding side by side.

Chipmunk to grey squirrel… can you hear me now?

Once we turned around, we hit this AWESOME tailwind.  We kept up our paceline and our speed climbed almost as fast as the temperature.  There was a (closed) bar that had sodas for sale on the honor system in a cooler out front, so we stopped and instead of a gel, I enjoyed the tastiest 1$ berry Fanta EVAR.  Biking in the country leads to fun discoveries!

We decided we had just enough time to roll up and down the Granger Dam road (adding about 6 miles), so we took some pictures at the Granger sign (as you do) and then time trialed our way back.  We spaced ourselves out every minute and busted ass down the dam road without drafting.  Strava says I got 7th place female and I know I held between 21-23 mph on my road bike, so I was pretty happy with life.  Yay bike fitness!

We quickly showered and changed and shoved turkey bacon avocado bagel sandwiches in our faces while driving and subsequently got a little lost on the way up and went about 15 minutes out of the way.  It worked out though, we found our people and our place and found out they were open later after all.  Whew!  After a jaunt around the store and a little wait, we met with our designer and finalized our cabinet order, added some granite slabs for the counter top (we shall see how that works out… but the difference in cost was 400$ vs 3000$, so we couldn’t pass that up) and some hardware and we got an INSANELY great deal.

We still have to buy some things and then also pay for it with blood, sweat, and tears, though Zliten’s parents are going to help us with a LOT of the work because they have done two kitchen redos now and are AWESOME.  I believe we still need to pick out paint, some tools to actually be able to cut granite, a backsplash (if we decide to do a backsplash and not just paint), a new kitchen faucet, a microwave with a stove vent, and probably about 20 other things that will come up, but the first big step is DONE!

Then, we went to a mexican restaurant, and I got a chicken fajita plate which was pretty yummy!  They had all sorts of salsas, which came in handy for the amazing breakfast tacos the rest of the weekend.

Oops.

We had planned to make an elaborate chicken, rice, veggies, and campfire bread feast that night, but we weren’t super hungry and were kind of exhausted so we just attempted to cook the bread as an experiment and I made some camping punch.  The punch worked out great.  The bread did NOT.  Ah well.  The guts actually were delicious but the crust was too burnt, so we’ll try it again next time for about half the cooking time.  We supplemented this void in our stomachs with dutch oven avocado oil popcorn and one tiny half smore because… camping.

I spent the evening listening to classic rock, watching the stars, and switching off reading my non-fiction Calm the F*ck Down – The Brave Triathlete sports psychology book and my Star Force space dinosaurs fiction book.  It was exactly everything I needed to, literally, calm the f*ck down after the last month and a half of CRAZY.

We stayed up way, way, way too late and subsequently stayed in bed until almost noon reading.  We started the day with a walk around the campsite and some amazing breakfast tacos with bacon, potatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese. Our ice had melted, so we hit the store for that and a few other things.  On the way back, we finally took a moment on the side of the road to poke one of the cotton bales on the farmland we had been eyeing all weekend.  Yep – even packed in tight, it’s still fluffy!  It felt just like a cotton swab.

After re-provisioning, we inflated the kayak and hit the actual LAKE part of Lake Granger.  We had planned to go all the way out to the dam (which was a couple of miles away), but once we got out of the little inlet area to more open water, the wind started to beat us up, so we just paddled in a big circle instead in the more protected water.  We mooed at cows on the shore and bopped each other with paddles and enjoyed the clouds dancing for us with the sun and we even found a lucky hat that we fished out of the water.  We logged a little over two miles of arm and shoulder work in about an hour.

For late lunch, we grilled up these ridiculous Sausage Slammer things.  This amazing abomination consists of cheddar cheese stuffed in a jalapeno stuffed in sausage with bacon wrapped around it.  We had one each and had to save the rest because we felt our hearts threaten to explode if we continued, but they were so, so delicious and decadent.

Om. Nom. Nom.

We had time for one more activity before dinner.  I had originally thought about blowing up the tube and floating in the water while my husband fished, but I felt like being a little more active.  I put on pants and shoes and took a hike by myself.  The way out was a lot slower because I stopped to take pictures of damn near everything.  I found an armadillo friend who was a little shy.  I saw lots of dragon fly sex.  I found my way to the haunted bridge in the pretty afternoon sun that makes it glow.  It was ultimately awesome.

The magical forest of scared-y dillos and bug shagging.

Stew was on the docket for dinner.  It’s an amazing meal… but it takes a long time.  Fortified from fatty fat slammers earlier and some beverages, we were plenty patient and the stew took a few hours, but it was worth it.  So much better than the crockpot.  Cooking on fire is the BEST!

Fire makes food magical… and look pretty for pictures too!

However, after two days of cooking on fire… the next morning, I had a headache the size of Texas.  I’d make the joke that it can’t be because of all the carbonated malt beverages the night before, but I know my body and it was an unreasonable pounding in my head for the amount of hops and barley soda consumed.  Either way, the best cure for a headache is water, so we pumped up the tube and Zliten attempted to feed the fish with worms while I floated back and forth between two trees and watched the clouds.

We dithered around and made another batch of breakfast tacos and packed up our things a little bit.  We almost lazed out, but we found a little patch of motivation and took off on our bikes around noon.  We decided to just circle the campsite since I didn’t know if I felt like riding one mile or twenty, and the end result was 6 miles in about 25 minutes before we stopped simply because we needed to vacate the premises.  My headache was still in force, but cycling didn’t make it worse, and everything is better on bikes.

Long weekend home away from home. 

We left the camp a little after the 2pm checkout, but it was so desolate no one minded.  After an uneventful drive home, we spent the rest of the day couchified and unpacking and doing ALL THE LAUNDRY.

While I will not claim much involvement in helping beyond moral support, over the weekend, my lovely husband fixed the outdoor shower, the hot water, cleaned the water tank, the outdoor light, switched out the propane tank, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.  At this point, the only thing that needs to be replaced is the battery, and the rest of the purchases are then just upgrades or toys!

Camping totally makes the week before and week after a little hectic.  There’s a lot of gear and prep and unpacking and you are absolutely away from your To Do list so you’re not making forward progress.  I didn’t even get to writing, which I totally could have and maybe should have since I’m now behind on my book.  Every so often though, it’s fun to say “fuck it” to your responsibilities and it’s SO WORTH IT to have those days where you’re just playing outside and the evenings where you’re disconnected from (most) technology and really focused, present, and in the moment.

I can’t wait to go again next weekend.

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August and then everything after…

I’ve got a lot going on this month, so instead of the weekly thing, I wanted to lay September out for the month.

Here’s what happens when I get lazy with instagramming for a few days.  You get the picture version of a training (and junk food) montage.

So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

In August, I rode bikes.  A lot.  It was my highest cycling month since January with almost 400 miles (and unlike January, it wasn’t cheat-y trainer miles because I rode mostly outside and my trainer is now HARDER than outside so…).  I ran and swam very little, but enough to remember how to move my arms and legs the right way, sort of.  I raced a triathlon and felt better about my performance than the same course back in June.  I rode 100 miles and was pretty happy with life after.

In September, I plan to be a *little* more balanced.  On the weekends, I still have rides planned but most of them say MEDIUM length (aka – 40-60 miles – which is medium in my life right now, heh).  Now that I proved 100 is doable, I feel like I just need one more long one a few weeks out of the next 100 and I’ll be fine as long as I keep the volume about the same.  I built some great bike base when I didn’t feel  like doing much else in the way of training this summer, and I’m pretty sure the next time I build to race a half ironman or ironman, that experience will help me out.

But… it’s time to change it up a little bit.  I have one more sprint triathlon Sept 23rd.  I should probably make it a point to run more than 12 miles and swim more than 3 in September, unlike August.  I still plan to bike more than the other sports, but maybe at least pretend like I’m a triathlete again, sorta kinda.

Last week I rode bikes for about 3 hours (in one shot), played DDR for about an hour, and then the last hour was split between a run and a swim.  It was a good recovery week after the 100 mile ride.

Here’s what I have planned for this week:

  • Runs: lunch run (probably about a 3 mile lake interval run), 2 mile brick run (chasing the faster people on my tri team)
  • Swims: sadly, with everything else, I only have time for one and it’s already done (unless I squeeze in another one while camping).  I’ll change this up the next week.
  • Weights: new program x2 (back to it after a week break), some DDR if I can work it in
  • Bike: 35 mile bike adventure Labor Day, 25 mile bike commute to/from work Tuesday, 12-ish mile brick bike Wednesday, 50-ish mile ride at Granger Lake on Saturday.
  • 11-ish hours as planned

So, yeah.  You can see where my priorities lie.  I am having fun riding bikes and I know in the next few months I need to shift to running if I want to make 3M Half Marathon my A race.  While that sounds like the worst thing in the world to me right now, I also know as soon as the temps drop I will be out there loving running and biking will be a little less awesome when I have to wear 20 layers and still can’t feel warm.  But also it might be still as awesome and I’ll see how things go.


Kind of secretly healthy.  Would have been healthier if they weren’t out of every single wheat bun at the grocery store ><.

August was rough for various reasons.  I actually had a few really good weeks in spite of it but there was work overtime (with catered food) and camping and one week where I just couldn’t even with any sort of effort for anything.

Here’s the wins – I’m eating much healthier than I was before.  While I still put things in my mouth that are negatives on the Diet Quality scale, I’m eating much more of the things that give me points like more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and nuts.  I’m slowly attacking the fact that I eat like a human garbage disposal on the weekends with strategy (pre-made salads/easy access veggies that are appealing, keeping pistachios like EVERYWHERE so I can eat them as a salty snack, etc).  I started making some progress with the booze calories and then I think my inner child twenty-one year old threw a tantrum with all the other diet cleanup I’m trying to do, so it’s one step forward, two steps back there.

But I think I’m ready to take another step forward, so here’s my goals for September:

Actually measure out the drinks I want to have when I’m home and try to stick to them.  I plan every-effing-thing else, and maybe that’s tipsy-me rebelling against stick-up-her-butt me, but just the act of setting aside a portion helps when I can make myself do it.  Just like taking a serving of chips or ice cream or anything else and having that instead of just allowing yourself to consume from the container, it’s all about portion control.

Continue to work on what I put in my mouth on the weekends.  I have done better with this and I feel like this is starting to be a habit, but definitely needs another month of focus.  I’ve done much better with veggies, but fruits and nuts can get ignored in lieu of junk food and whole grains sometimes become refined.  There’s some room for this but doing better is always a good goal.

Abide by the deficit a little more strictly.  I’ve had a few weeks with a pretty small deficit, and it’s proven that people tend to completely underestimate their consumption when tracking.  So, if I want to make progress here, I need to eat less than I am currently.  I make slow progress when I stay close to -1000 on fitbit (which seems to work out closer to -500/-600 on the garmin).  Hopefully, not going quite as crazy with the 70-100 mile rides will help me not want to eat small cities at mealtimes.

Here’s the numbers from last week.

  • Weight: 188.8 (+0.9) lbs
  • Avg cal per day: 1839(-743) calories
  • Avg deficit per day: 998 (+431) calories/Garmin average deficit: 621 (+454)
  • Macros: 58 (-23)g fat, 190 (-54)g carbs, 107 (-2)g protein, 28(+3)g fiber

DQ score: Monday: 26.  Tuesday: 26.  Wednesday: 21. Thursday: 24.  Friday: 25. Saturday: 8.  Sunday: 21.  Average comes out to approximately 21.5 (out of 32).

Overall… better.  The scale is still punishing me for my transgressions over the last two weeks but so far it’s looking better for this month if I can keep myself out of trouble and build up some momentum.

Because I am a data nut, here’s the averages from the last month.

  • Weight: 187.3
  • Avg cal per day: 2082 calories
  • Avg deficit per day: -820 calories (per fitbit, don’t yet have a month of garmin data)
  • DQ Score: 20.9.  A whole month on average over 20!  Yessss!

All in all, it’s a decent month although the top number is not going anywhere fast.  My goal is to beat these numbers in September and hopefully see some progress. Also, hopefully with a monthly average, I can actually see WHAT it takes to make that first number drop.


Four usuable rooms people.  The dream is alive! (ignore the dust)

I’m seriously proud of what I have been able to accomplish here.

My big goals were:

  • Finish the office to the point where it’s usable (DONE)
  • Paint and put everything in the shed that’s supposed to go in the shed (DONE)
  • Finish the pain cave to the point where it’s usable (DONE)
  • Write 4 first-draft chapters of my book (DONE)
  • Read two non-fiction books: How to Start Up and Daring Greatly (first one DONE, second I’m saving for later)

Other little accomplishments:

  • Got my e-chart set up for my doctors office which took faxing things and calling people and other adulting.
  • Started the inital prepping for our kitchen remodel.
  • Made myself sort of a girl again with plucked eyebrows and a self-pedicure
  • Saw some movies in the theater that I REALLY wanted to catch instead of whining about it later and saw Rob Schneider at the comedy club.
  • Had some friends over for an impromptu smallish game night.
  • Successful camping trip to Wichita Falls!

Whew!  I feel awesome about August considering I crashed into it feeling like a train wreck.  Amazing how marking some big things off my to do list, and making a prioritized list by month completely helped my sanity.

So, it’s September!  New month, new list.  Honestly, after the last few months of chores and getting the house in order, I think we deserve a little reprieve from that stuff.  I was getting close to burning it down so we could start over, y’all.  I’m glad I didn’t, and I’m happy it’s done, but it was a pretty close call.  So, we’re focusing elsewhere for the month.

  • TWO camping trips.  Since we had to cancel our family trip to Port Aransas because… well… it’s kind of not there anymore… (we’ll try again in the spring) we decided to go to Granger Lake instead for a long weekend to unwind.  We’ve both been rather prickly lately with the last month of craziness and three days in the wilderness without to dos, screens, technology, and frankly, much talking, sounds like the cure.  And then, camping for Kerrville… we’re staying two nights just for a sprint race, so most of the trip is also about chilling out and having fun.
  • Office.  Actually using it.  Now that the office is set up, we need to dedicate time to actually working on projects.  Here’s what I’d like to accomplish:
    • Three more chapters in my book.  I’m giving myself a little leeway because I’d like to make some strides in other things (below).  But, if I’m really rolling, I’ll try for one a week again and go for four.
    • Website functionality.  Investigate setting up site subscriptions, and payment options.  I feel like these are the last two things I need to learn to be able to set up a professional looking website.  I may outsource this one to Zliten or at least ask him to help me.
    • Side Gig Plan.  Start thinking about in what manner I would trade little green scraps of paper for things that I do.  What services would I provide?  What are appropriate prices?  What can I offer that can make me passive income (like stock training plans)?  What am I willing to do actively (like coaching a client one on one)?

Other stuff:

  • Dr. Appointment to drain my ears.  I’m not doing overtime anymore, so it’s not quite as annoying to get there during business hours and it would be nice to know if my ears are super plugged or my husband just mumbles a lot.
  • Two more Non-Fiction books.  One triathlon or memoirs type non-fiction book, and one about business/marketing/etc.  I haven’t picked them out yet – any suggestions? Hit me up in the comments.
  • Wills.  This should be fairly easy and cheap to set up online and then my parents will stop bugging me about them.  Also, it’s a good thing to do because I do ride my bike and dive 50 feet underwater and swim in lakes where people beat me up while I’m trying not to drown and I also abide by the 5 second rule liberally so it’s not as if I completely avoid risks in life.

I have a lot of other fun stuff planned too, like hosting game night, going to two others, celebrating some birthdays, and all sorts of other things I’m forgetting right now!

This week’s to do list:

  • Try to nail down our kitchen remodel and give someone green papers in exchange for it.
  • Identify the 2-3 non fiction books I want to read this month and buy them.  I’ll have a decent amount of reading time on the camping trip so I hope to have them queued up and ready to go!
  • Chapter 5.  It’s started, but just barely (about 1k words)  Finish it and start the next if there’s time.  Spend some time doing this in the woods!
  • Camping!  This will be trip #3 in the pop up.  Hopefully this one will be easier to pack for and less stressful.
  • Wills.  Zliten has already started to look into this, perhaps we can get this one taken care of!

I’m hoping to get all this done, but it may be ambitious with camping.  We’ll see!


PSA: If you’re looking for a way to help with the craziness happening in the Houston area, we sent some supplies on Amazon.  I liked this option because I know 100% of what I paid for this went directly to something that was needed in shelters.  Consider this option if you have a few $$ to toss their way and don’t know what to do.

Off with her head.

Some weeks, you just feel… off.   Mentally and physically.

Then again, any week you can feel “off” and still ride 100 miles on Saturday is a win in my book.

Starting last Monday afternoon, I felt… weak.  Tired.  Not sick, not exhausted, not hurt, just not myself and extremely unmotivated.  Definitely the kind of feeling I could push through, but probably not a great idea on race week.  I wanted to make sure I save some give-a-shit for the weekend, because riding 100 miles on an empty motivation tank would have been rough.

I started out the week strong with a swim on Monday morning, and did end up prioritizing my 2 sessions of weights, but all I did besides that was a 20 minute easy spin on the trainer.

Oh, and rode for 100 miles/7 hours over the weekend.  But still, much less than I had planned – 9 hours total instead of the probably-too-much that was scheduled.  Obviously, things worked out the way they were supposed to since I had a pretty great ride.

Onto the next, right?  This week I’m splitting the difference between “I just finished my long race” and “it was just a relaxed pace 100 mile ride”.  I don’t have huge plans to kill it all week, but I’m also not sitting on my ass drinking margaritas.

Here’s what I’ve planned this week but at any point I could just… not…

  • Monday: played DDR for about 30 minutes.  Legs definitely weren’t quite as springy as normal!
  • Tuesday: ~2 mile lake interval run.  Walked to the lake by work and ran around it 6 times, alternating fast and recovery/steady.  Legs still didn’t feel great but maintained low 9s for fast and high 10s/low 11s for recovery.
  • Today: swim and weights
  • Thursday OR Friday: brick session in the pain cave
  • Saturday: riding to the BSS social ride and then home (about 40 miles)
  • Sunday: off
  • Monday: (bonus long weekend) bike and swim adventure (about 40 miles)

The next two weeks I’ll be focusing a little more on FAST (with some long-ish ride miles to stay in shape for Livestrong 100), and then a mini-taper to see what I can do at Kerrville Sprint in about 3.5 weeks.


I have not been able to get enough pizza lately, but with #projectraceweight in full effect, I’m making them on whole wheat/corn tortillas instead.

When you get that icky fatigued feeling, the last thing you want to do is go hungry and maintain huge deficits.  So, that’s what I did NOT do this week.  My numbers are a step back for sure but I will stand by the food I put in my mouth because I shook off the… off… without getting sick or injured and succeeded where it counted.

My body just felt INFLAMED last week and recovered just in time to get another dose of it in the shape of a hot, 7 hour bike ride where I was constantly dehydrating and rehydrating myself.  So, my weight averages are probably going to suck for a little while.  Sigh.  One step forward, two steps back.  We’ll get there someday.

  • Weight: 187.9 (+2.6) lbs (to note, this would be 1.3 lbs down taking out the two days that weirdly swung up 4-5 lbs for no reason).
  • Avg cal per day: 2582(+615) calories
  • Avg deficit per day: 567 (-254) calories/Garmin average deficit: 167 (-371)
  • Macros: 81 (+14)g fat, 244 (+54)g carbs, 109 (+3)g protein, 28(+3)g fiber

At least all the numbers make sense.  I let my fat and my total go up, my deficit go down, and my weight went up.  Everyone has crappy weeks and this was one of them.  How about the quality numbers?

DQ score: Monday: 22.  Tuesday: 16.  Wednesday: 29. Thursday: 14.  Friday: 19. Saturday: 12.  Sunday: 3.  Average comes out to approximately 16 (out of 32).

Obviously the average went way down for the week… but it’s better than when I first started tracking it.  I’m doing much better with eating the right stuff but only moderately better at avoiding the wrong stuff… let’s just say there was a little too much booze and a few more refined grains/sweets/fried food than normal.  So far, so good with eating the right stuff this week, I’m hoping to keep that trend up so the important thing (weight) will start trending down again.


I cannot wait to go see all the fishies and take pictures of all of them and eat yummy food and dive until I’m so exhausted I can’t even with myself anymore!

Getting ready to ride 100 miles and camp kind of took over our lives last week but I was able to get some things accomplished.

I made a valliant effort, if I do say so myself, at finishing my fourth chapter in my book in a short amount of time.  I’m pretty close.  Since I had a goal of four chapters in August, and I still have a little August left, my plan is to finish the last bit of this chapter today and spend some time Sunday working on the next.

I’m over 20k words and counting!  It’s not quite as prolific as when I did NaNoWriMo way back in 2009 (I think I got to something like 30-40k in a month before I quit), but that also kind of burned me out of writing.  This pace is brisk but I’m still feeling stoked to make progress.  So it’s perfect!

I downloaded the preview of the Brene Brown book, but I haven’t had any non-falling-asleep reading time.  This week, for sure.

While it’s not quite a To Do (since it’s a ta-DONE), I’m excited to say that we’ve booked our winter vacation and we’re heading back to Bonaire.  Checking out the prices for everything, and all things being fairly equal, I’d rather spend a week rolling out of bed and diving in the most beautiful place ever from the shore in my backyard than an all you can eat/drink luxury resort or a cruise or something.

So, here’s the non-training highlights for the week and long weekend – it’s a lot but also mostly fun stuff!

  • Today we’re showing a friend around our gym and taking a new class!  She may get a membership! It would be fun to have more gym friends.  Then… attempting to finish up chapter 4.
  • Thursday, we will likely be spending lunch picking out our kitchen cabinets and counters, and then D&D game night.
  • Saturday is Labor Day grilling and (card and board) game night at our house.
  • Sunday’s goals are making progress on a non-fiction book (Daring Greatly or something else) and starting (and attempting to finish) Chapter 5.
  • Monday – we want to do something involving water.  We had originally planned on tubing, but I’m not sure I want to chance it with all the rain.  Instead, I think we have a bike adventure and hit up Barton Springs and Deep Eddy and maybe a few places for snacks along the way.

I’m excited!  Fun stuff is fun!  What amazing things are you doing over your long weekend?

Wanderlust on the cheap – 10 ways to vacation on a budget

Ah, it’s about to be vacation season.  I’ve got four camping trips planned from now until December, and I’m waffling back and forth on what I want to do for my actual VACATION vacation (requirement: must include scuba diving, snorkeling, and awesome photo opportunities).  This year, I’ve already been on a cruise to the Carribean with my folks, spent a week in the woods, plus a five day trip to do IM Texas in April.  I have the wanderlust and I have it bad.

The company isn’t quite so colorful at home.

I drop probably more than my share of income on it, but I also buy all my clothes from a thrift store and hang onto things until they are so worn out they’re not useful.  It’s one of my priorities.  I don’t remember most of the crap I’ve bought in the last 10 years, but I have vivid memories of my vacations.  I can be underwater with pretty fishies in blue water, which is not something I can do at home.  I can completely relax and let go, which is hard to do at home with one more chore or to do and the internet and the television all handily accessible.

I’ve made the mistake of thinking everyone is like me, but I know differently now.  I know some people who go five or even ten years without taking a vacation.  I’ve heard tell of people, ADULT people, who have never left their hometown.  I’ve also known a lot of people who only vacation to visit family or friends.  While that’s a wonderful thing, I love family and friends, and for those of you that aren’t (or have a spouse that’s) allergic to anything with fur, it can be a much cheaper option to get out of town for a bit.

However, you can miss out on some of the things that make a vacation a vacation.  You can’t completely let go and unwind when you’re staying in someone else’s guest room that’s going about their daily lives.  Also, unless your family is in Hawaii or Iceland, or somewhere else that you’d actually WANT to vacation, it’s really a visit.  Which is cool.  But it’s not a vacation.

What, your first idea for an excursion in Alaska in September ISN’T snorkeling?

How many new experiences would I have missed out on?  If I didn’t travel, I would have never been motivated to learn to scuba dive, which is now at least my third favorite hobby and one of the motivating factors on where I choose to roam.  I would have never climbed to see one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, Hanging Lake, or ran up a mountain in Juneau.  I wouldn’t have scaled the Colorado National Monument or up the Klondike Highway in Skagway (ok, partway…) on bikes.  I wouldn’t have snorkeled in Hawaii, Alaska, or any damn where you put an ocean or even a mildly pretty lake.

I love food and drink.  If I didn’t travel, I would have never had a REAL Belizian meat pie.  I would not have a sick obsession with Publix subs.  I would have never eaten Nepalese food in a little town in Colorado.  I would have never known the joy that is bean, bacon, and cheese breakfast tacos cooked over an open camp fire in the morning.  I wouldn’t have sat in a swim up bar in Jamaica drinking boozy banana drinks. I would have never had an (in)famous hand grenade in New Orleans and I would never have tried the fast food restaurant Krystal after having a few too many of them.

This is the stuff of dreams right here.

“Hey,” you say, “I get it, I want to travel!  But money’s tight, y’know?”

I got you.  If there’s a will, there’s a way.  Here’s ten tips to make travel more affordable/better so you can get the heck out of town and still have enough money to enjoy yourself.

1. Plan your trip when the air fare is cheaper. I am notorious for taking my vacations in early December because travel prices are at rock bottom.  We usually cruise in early March before spring break or on mother’s day weekend because it’s affordable.  Generally, if there’s a big holiday/event coming up, 2-3 weeks BEFORE and AFTER is the best time to travel.  Are the kids in school? Probably cheaper than spring/summer/winter break.  For those of you that have kids: I know my parents busted me out of school for vacations.  You’ll travel cheaper AND you’ll be your kid’s hero.

2. If you have set dates, consider being flexible with your destination.  For example, I knew I wanted to take a vacation for a specific week in December out of Florida.  Instead of doing a Key Largo trip (over 1000$ just for the condo), we took a cruise instead (less than 1000$ for both lodging and food and entertainment).

Condos are awesome because you have extra space and you can also make homemade meals from local food that look like this…

3. Consider staying at a condo/house rental vs a hotel.  Typically for the same prices as just a single room or maybe a little bit more, you can get a full kitchen, living room, patio, seperate bedroom (or two), a washing machine, and sometimes other cool amenities like a grill, a bike to ride, or even toys/games/dvds.  Besides being awesome for comfortability reasons, the grill/kitchen means you can cut down on food expenses.  While I love experiencing the food a location has to offer, I’d rather just have an easy breakfast and sometimes lunches I make at home.  And there’s nothing better than grilling some fish on the patio of your condo (that you biked a mile up the road to purchase from a fish market on the water)!  Some of my most memorable Key Largo meals were cooked that way.

4. Some things pay to book in advance, some are left best to the last minute.  For example, if you want to do a cruise excursion with the ship, book it ahead of time and it will cost less.  But, for the cheapest option, show up on the docks with cash and haggle.  It works the same way for vacations – usually planning ahead will save you money, but if you can be impulsive and flexible, you can get some super great last minute deals (for example, a 10 day South American cruise for 299$ per person is happening right now 😛 – and yes, that is room AND food for 10 days…).

8 days in Bonaire, because we were flexible about the time of year and the days we traveled, ended up being less expensive than two long weekend getaways somewhere in the states.

5. Taking your vacation in larger chunks will save you money.  If you take one two week vacation, vs four long weekends, you’re saving 3 round trip flights (or you can go somewhere four times as cool!).  Booking a condo for a month is sometimes just a little more expensive than a week.  If you have the flexibility, go long!

6. A lot of times, the direct flight option, if there is one, is the cheapest (plus you get there quicker, so its a win win).  Always search for the direct flights and then compare it to the cheapest (and see if it’s not worth spending a few extra dollars to take it to actually be on vacation a little longer).

And being here longer is typically better.

7. Consider the RELATIVE cost.  A cheaper flight leaving a day before means another night at a hotel.  A more expensive hotel room in the city may mean you can use public transport and save on a rental car.  A more expensive hotel room with a free breakfast means less meals out.

8.  A great way to “sample” a new area is to combine 2-4 seperate destinations that are nearby.  Cruises are great because you spend about 8 hours in each port.  Some, you don’t care to return to (Grenada).  Some, you fall in love with and spend a week there (Bonaire).  You can do this on land by hitting up a few different towns in the same region.  For example, we did a weekend in Portland, took a bus and spent a few days on the Oregon Coast, and a quick cheap plane flight took us to the Bay Area before we headed home. It would have been WAY more expensive to do these as three separate trips.

I got to wear a jacket in July and kiss crabs.  The Oregon Coast was surreal!

9.  Leave and come back on Saturday if that’s an option.  It’s usually one of the cheaper days to fly, PLUS you get a full day off to decompress and unpack (if you work a typical schedule).  Tuesday and Wednesday are generally the absolute cheapest but that means you have to split up a week off which can feel like you get less time off.

10. Super broke but still want to get away?  Go camping!  A weekend pass to a campsite is about 30 bucks (for improved camping with power and water).  Even if you have zero gear, you can rent a tent from REI for 40 bucks (or buy a super cheap one but I DO NOT RECOMMEND that – rent or buy a good one, but I covered that here), an air matress is 20 bucks, stuff to light a fire is 10 bucks, and from there, all you need is hot dogs, makings for smores, and a case of cheap beer and you’re set!

Not a bad view from your patio for 20$ a night, hmmm?

It’s easy to talk yourself out of taking a vacation.  The actual TRAVEL part of traveling is a hassle.  Then there’s packing, getting everything everything at home and work taken care of while you’re away… and it costs money, no matter HOW great of a deal you get.  I promise, it’s worth it.  Go forth and vacation (cheaply)!

Coming ’round the bend

It’s the little things and a few moments in time and measurements in fractions of inches that are going the right way that give me hope that maybe my crazy plans are actually working.

It’s exhausting work chasing this guy down….

Saturday, we did a slightly longer version of our Pain Cave brick workout from last week.  20 mins warmup, 6x 5 mins steady on the trainer/.25 mile on the treadmill at somewhere around 5k speed, 15 mins cooldown.

I can tell you how things didn’t go as planned that day.  I was tired and didn’t set an alarm and woke up after TEN AM.  The treadmill crashed down off the two by four it was propped on and scared the ever living crap out of me on the second interval. I’m still getting used to my husband on the treadmill about four inches from my face when I’m on the bike.

However, I can tell you sometime about interval four I felt my legs start to do the sling shot thing.  Instead of taking effort to move my gams from being extended behind my body to bent in front, at that particular pace and time, it was happening via momentum.  Not every time, and especially when I was just trying not to fly off the treadmill into all the hazards elsewhere in the room, but one part of fixing my stride clicked for the first time… at least in years, before I knew what good or bad running stride was, and maybe ever.

I logged 3.5 miles last week at an average pace of about 9:20/mile.  I’m starting to see dividends in my stride and hopefully this continues.

Also, I lived one of my worst biking fears on Wednesday and it wasn’t that bad.  I totally misinterpreted the world and instead of staying put when an ambulance was coming through a busy intersection, I clipped in and started to go.  Once I realized what was going on, I fumbled and didn’t get unclipped in time and went down RIGHT into the righthand turn lane from the lane heading straight.   It was not the nicest commute in the world but my big girl pants were firmly on, so I got up, rode to work the rest of the way, and rode home.  I’ll probably be a little more cautious on the bike for a bit because I am skittish, but I think I will survive.

Other than that, it was a great week, I hit everything I planned to do.

  • 2 swims
  • 2 bike commutes
  • 1 run off the bike
  • 1 brick workout
  • 2 weights

7.25 hours total.  One key was that I hit the swims in the morning.  We’ll see about changing that up once my schedule clears up a little, but once I’m heading home, it’s REALLY hard to motivate myself to take that detour to the pool.

This week is pretty mellow until Saturday, the ride I have been training for, Hotter’n’Hell 100.

  • 1 swim (DONE)
  • 2 weights (with my NEW PLAN)
  • 1 run off the bike
  • 2 bike commutes OR one bike commute and one morning ride (depending on how time crunched/tired we are).

…and obviously riding bikes for 100 miles on Saturday.  I expect it will take us somewhere between 6-7 hours of riding time, and we’ll have 4-5 hours of training on Mon-Tues-Wed and then two days off to rest up.

It’s weird to have a goal “race” that’s not really a race, but just sort of a morning/afternoon party on bikes, but after all the super serious Ironman prep earlier this year, I’m so so so so so good for it!


The iguana and I had very similar dinners that day… we’re both on #teamlotsofveggies

Here we go.  Numbers and stuff…

  • Weight: 185.3 (-2.1) lbs
  • Avg cal per day: 1967(-191) calories
  • Avg deficit per day: -821 (+102) calories/Garmin (538)
  • Macros: 67 (-13)g fat, 190 (-29)g carbs, 106 (-1)g protein, 25(-7)g fiber

Alright, alright, alright.  Finally some progress.  It’s always darkest before the dawn, I guess.  Obviously, there’s still room to be better, I actually overate on Saturday, not just my -1000 calories in fitbit, but my actual calorie burn +200 or so, but throughout the week it evened out.

Just for funsies, I’m going to put the garmin stats on here as well.  As you can see, it’s a difference of about 300 each day, so while on Fitbit, it looks like I should be losing almost 2 lbs per week, on Garmin, it’s got me right around the 1 lb mark.  Hopefully averaging these out over the next month paired with my average weight loss, I can decide which one seems more accurate in the long term.

So, how about quality?

DQ score: Monday: 28.  Tuesday: 25.  Wednesday: 18. Thursday: 30.  Friday: 27. Saturday: 6.  Sunday: 20.  Average comes out to approximately 22 (out of 32).

I’m going to guess that this, the low 20s, is the approximate DQ threshold where I start to lose weight (as long as my calories are in line as well).  I’ve cut out a lot of the negatives (switching refined grains for whole the majority of the time, eating fruits and nuts instead of other snacks, really thinking about sweets or fried food) and working on adding the positives (getting my required 4 servings of veg per day).

I suppose the despair last week and the relief this week is finding something that works that I can also live with.  Yes, I’m pretty certain that giving up all “negative points” foods and alcohol and I would lose weight.  I could probably do that for a couple weeks (while being a shut in) before I rebelled and went on the biggest battered-fried-dipped-in-ranch-frosted food bender with a bottle of whiskey.  I do moderation much better than abstinence.

I’m aware that I can’t indulge every time there is a reason to indulge and get to race weight.  I’ve passed up work pizza and cake this month.  I’ve stuck… reasonably well to the alcohol in moderation thing.  I’ve gotten comfortable with my weaknesses and starting purchasing pre-made salads to bolster my weekend veg content, making healthy deserts that include sunbutter to get some nut action (heh, heh), and keeping more accessible fruits around so it’s just grab, wash, and go.  The sugar cravings are MOSTLY held at bay with energy balls and some dark chocolate on occasion.  Oven fries, garlic pistachios, and popcorn are almost as good as fried fries and chips.

So, let’s say I find the balance and it’s indeed that 1 lb per week.  That’s about 30 weeks until I hit my goal.  Give or take a few weeks for holidays/vacations where maintaining is just fine, thanks, and I’ll be at my raceweight for my 39th birthday.  That would be a heck of a gift to myself, especially if I can do it while still stopping for a beer on the way home from bike commuting on Wednesdays as long as I also don’t eat the fried pepperoni pizza eggrolls from the food truck outside.


Yes, I used this picture before.  Imagine it just as dusty, but the bookshelf organized and the rest of the room you can’t see in serviceable shape!

THE OFFICE IS DONE, Y’ALL!

I didn’t actually take a picture of it because, honestly, it doesn’t look impressive.  When I gave up perfect for good enough, it meant there’s still crap on the shelves in the corner and there’s still a table with stuff on it and four monitors underneath and I still need to hang some degrees and certificates.  But, it meets all the criteria.  Everything has a place and the things that were elsewhere in the house that were supposed to go there are in there.  The closets close.  The floors are clear.  Most importantly, the desks are clear and we have workspace.

I am proclaiming it done, and for the first time in many, many years (maybe since we moved in), we have four usable rooms with a purpose.  This means, as I have promised my husband, that we are taking the entirety of September off house projects (while we gear up for the kitchen remodel).

I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve been able to sit down, write, and have it flow.  I’ve got the rough draft of three chapters written.  About 16k words.  I’m not so naive that I think it will continue like this forever, and I’m not entirely sure what I’ll think of it once it is done, but I’m writing a book.  I’m about a quarter done.  Even if it’s a big pile of dog mess at the end, I’ll have done it.  And I’ll know what to do better next time.  If I can write a crappy book in three months I can write a not-as-crappy book in another three months and then maybe a decent book in three MORE months and by the time a year is up, I have a shit ton of words and maybe something worth publicizing.

Other stuff I did or didn’t do:

  • Put together my weights plan – YEP!
  • Go shopping – NOPE!  I planned to ride my bike but it was literally feels like 110 when I was set to ride up so I took a nap (heat is EXHAUSTING) and we took an Uber instead.
  • Download a new non-fiction book – KINDA.  I’ve got the preview.  I’m going to decide whether it’s worth 15 bucks to me, but if it is I’m going to do it.  It’s just a little more than a movie ticket and will occupy my time longer.  I want people to pay me as an author, so I shouldn’t flinch about the price of a book I actually want to read, right?

And now, it’s a new week.  What’s up?

  • Racing HHH100 and camping this weekend.  Do all the things to prepare, and go have fun!
  • Finish chapter four of my book.  This is potentially dicey due to it being a short week filled with out-of-town prep, but I’m going to go for it.  Hopefully, it flows and I can at least make some progress.
  • Decide on the book and either download it or pick something else off my list (and read, obvs).

And, on that note, off to do the things that make the stuff go!

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