“A List for Last Year,” A FINAL Update on 2013.

Oh hey! It’s officially 2014… I won’t get used to writing/typing 2014 until June…but it’s fine…

Anyway, I figured I should give you all one last look at how my 2013 goals were accomplished. I’ll keep it short and sweet, I promise!

Enjoy!

Noelle’s (Re-Re-Updated) List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

1. Create a logo for the blog and go self-hosted.

Fail. That’s all.

2. Excel in my job.

I think for the most part, I do my job pretty darn well, but I’m still learning a lot… so I’ll call this one about 85%…..

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year/7. Be more present.

Yes. I killed this one.

5. Take more time to read.

Again, killed it.

4. Run a half marathon/6. Run 26.2 miles.

Half Marathon-I still haven’t raced it…but I’ve run it.

Marathon-Done.  So we’ll call this even.

8. Pay off at least one big bill–Get better about saving money.

Didn’t happen… 2013 was the year of random things that come up and shot our budget to Hades AND realizing that we really need an emergency fund.

2014 will be the year of actually having an emergency fund (We’re 75% of the way to our EF goal!) and being able to handle those budget killers.

On the plus side, I upped my 401k contribution and Farmer Ben started his retirement fund at work in 2013…so it wasn’t all bad!

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

Nope…. I can probably do about 30 without stopping…maybe 40 if I am feeling like a boss.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely! Done.

Told you that it would be short and sweet… I’d say I did well… granted, I failed miserably at two of my goals…but I definitely learned something from most of these challenges. And of the few that I didn’t accomplish, we are better prepared for them this year.

2013 was a good year, but 2014 will be better… I’ve got big plans for this year and can’t wait to fill you in along the way!

Now it’s your turn! How did you do with your goals for 2013? Anything you’re still struggling with? OR, do you have any advice for 2014?! Let me know! 


My Year of Running, 2013

Happy Holidays Friends! Hope you’re enjoying the last week of 2013!!!

I came across this running survey on Miss Zippy’s site and decided to play along…visit her original post to view the link-up party!

So, let’s get started!

What was your…

Best race experience? I didn’t do a lot of racing this year…but the races I did do were all pretty awesome.  Regardless, I’ll have to go with completing my first marathon.  It’s something that until this year, I never really had the urge to do and up until crossing the finish-line, I wasn’t sure I could do. This was the most difficult race I’ve ever done but it was so worth it.

You can't tell from this photo, but I am incredibly happy at this moment

You can’t tell from this photo, but I am incredibly happy at this moment

The marathon tested my entire being but I’ve never felt more uplifted in the running community. I’ve never connected with other runners, volunteers and spectators  as much I did with this race and the memory of that day is something I will cherish forever.

I’m already looking forward to marathon number 2.

Best run? Again, I’ll have to go with the Adirondack Marathon. I’ve never felt so accomplished in my entire life and I don’t think I’ve raced a more beautiful course.

I did it!

I did it!

Outside of racing, I’d have to say my best runs were the last month of marathon training… I felt on top of the world.

Best new piece of gear?  

Hmm…I don’t feel like I really use a lot of “gear” and/or “gadgets.” I’m pretty low maintenance on my runs…  If I had to pick something, I’d go with my CamelBak or ENERGYbits…. both of these were instrumental in marathon training and really helped me stay on track nutrition/hydration-wise.

Resampled_2013-06-20_12-18-54_891

I loved ENERGYbits so much that I became an ambassador so I could share them with everyone I know (*and a 25% off discount–use code “NoellesNotebook”).

Powered by bits

Powered by bits

Best piece of running advice you received?

Run your own race. It’s really easy to get caught up in the comparison trap…especially when you are a blog reader/writer. It’s tempting to compare yourself to other runners and wish you could be more like them… but at the end of the day, your biggest competition is yourself.

Trust your training. It takes hard work to improve. There’s no way around it…if you train well, you’re going to run well. I had a lot of mini-meltdowns over the summer as a result of a crazy schedule and marathon training…but I survived.

Most inspirational runner?

This is a tough one. In real life, I’d have to say my friend Kristy. She’s a mom, a student, a small business owner and still finds time to run. It puts me to shame! In real life/blogging life-my friend Jona. She’s so determined–when she establishes a goal, she doesn’t stop until she’s accomplished it–She’s a 46er and recently PR’d her 10k time by a lot. Pretty awesome!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

I’d say 2013 was a challenge, a year of learning, pushing through and a test of my abilities–both mental and physical.

Let’s chat: What was your running highlight? Biggest challenge? What inspires you?!

*Disclaimer: As an ENERGYbits ambassador, I do receive a little bit of money if you order using my discount code, however all opinions are my own.


Confessions: On Purpose

Friends, I need to get something off my chest.

I was going to make this one of my crazy, random posts… but I just want to have a little chat instead. So, let’s grab a cup of coffee or tea, or maybe even a bloody Mary (hold the celery!). Your regularly  scheduled random posts will return tomorrow.

It’s going to be one of those chats where you’re going to come out more confused than not, so bear with me.

In all honesty, I’ve been struggling the last few months. Not with my weight, not with my marriage, not with my digestion, but with my purpose. I’ve had this feeling of discontent that’s getting harder and harder to ignore and instead of doing something about it, I’ve been stewing.

Stewing and calling it “trying to be patient.” This stewing has involved prayer, reading, research and circuitous discussions with my husband that always end with me saying the same thing, similar discussions with my best friend, and her telling me the same thing.

So, you’re probably wondering, why the need to be patient? Why not just … do something?!  

I’m someone who needs a clear sign before I make a decision, it can be something as simple as running into an old friend or getting a phone call at the right time… Sometimes, I come off as impulsive, and yes, once I make a decision, I waste no time in taking action. But I’m not reckless…

I’ve done seemingly reckless things before but I was confident in those actions.  While, I may have been completely unsure of the outcome, I always knew that I was doing the right thing. Does that make any sense?

Recently (as in yesterday), I was presented with one of those possibly “reckless” decisions. Today, something happened that may force me into action…finally. I won’t say more because that’s all it is right now–a possibility.

I will leave you with this, I may be doing something a little crazy in the coming weeks. I won’t get into details yet because, it could be nothing. Regardless, I’d surely appreciate your prayers.

In the meantime, I’ll be praying on it, looking to Him and remembering this:

2013-10-12 17

It’s something very abstract at this moment. And no, for the 1241353413445412341th time, Farmer Ben and I are not expecting any spawn. Sorry, friends.

Happy Thursday and thanks for chatting!

Let’s discuss, what’s your purpose? How did you know? Are you impulsive, or do you need a full-fledged plan before you take action?


“A List for the New Year,” an(other) Update.

Oh hey! It’s October 18, 2013.  I figured I owe you all a second update on how my 2013 To-Do list is going.

So, here you are! Enjoy!

Noelle’s (Re-Updated) List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

1. Create a logo for the blog and go self-hosted.

Not gonna lie, STILL haven’t done this… however, I have gotten some ambassadorships that are pretty awesome and feel like I’m moving in the right direction. (you guys get 25% with my code for Energy Bits!)

I also finally broke down and got Twitter and Instagram… not that I know how to use them very well, but it’s all about networking, right? (usernames for both are NoellesNotebook if you’d like to give a follow!)

I’d love to know what you, readers, would like to see content wise…I realize that this space has morphed into a different animal from what I originally intended it to be… but I’m okay with that… however, I want to keep it interesting for all of you…so I’d love your feedback!

2. Excel in my job.

Confession: I struggle with this one.

I feel like my “promotion” has transformed into something else… my time is filled up with special projects that seem to take over what I’m actually supposed to be doing. And honestly, I have days (or months) where I just wonder how I am supposed to get everything done…  Does anyone else have this problem?

My boss tells me I’m doing well, but some days, I really have trouble believing that….but I just keep on going and I’m hoping that counts for something.

To be completely honest, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this particular aspect of my life, what’s to come of it, and what not.

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year/7. Be more present.

I’m killing this one.

  • Strides for James was amazing–we had over 200 participants and raised over $5,000 after expenses. We were able to reach our scholarship goal in less than a year and someone in our community is already benefitting from our group’s hard work.
  • Farmer Ben won tickets to a Red Sox game. We went and loved it.
  • The Hubby and I were in the bridal party/catered our friends’ wedding. Not gonna lie, it was exhausting but worth it.
  • We got to do some hiking this summer! I cannot tell you how happy this made me!
  • Just starting a new online class today.
  • Farmer Ben and I just returned from a kick-ass road-trip and are craving more adventures. We drove to St. Simons Island, Georgia, then headed up to Charleston, South Carolina. I am ready to move there!
  • On our road-trip, we ate Barbecue for 3 days. I’m not even a little ashamed.
  • Ben finally got to meet my good friend Natasha who lives in DC and we visited (and by visited, I mean had a couple of drinks and crashed on her floor before getting up ridiculously early and hitting the road again) Liz–FINALLY! I even got to show him my old apartment.
  • Also on our trip, we spent the night on a sail boat-a first for me!
  • I also ran my first marathon.
  • Spent more time with family
Catamount Mountain, August 2013

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

I think those are all of the big ones, but honestly, I feel so blessed this year with all of the adventures we’ve had and I am wondering what’s next!

As far as spending less time on my phone, I’ve absolutely cut down on this. I deactivated my Facebook account and haven’t looked back. I may re-activate it when I get back into the heart of planning Strides for James 2014… but for now, I am content to be in the dark about what that girl who was in my gen ed class, freshman year is doing. I’m learning to appreciate those around me and treasuring the time with people I don’t see every day.

Any suggestions to continue my “Yes” Year?!

5. Take more time to read.

Yes. Doing this.

I won’t bore with the entire list, but these are my favorites I’ve read this year (Not gonna lie, it looks almost exactly like the list in my last update):

  • My Bible
  • all three Hunger Games Books (twice)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire
  • Garlic and Sapphires
  • The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Born to Run
  • Eat & Run
  • The Dirty Life
  • The Beautiful & Damned

Any other reading suggestions?

4. Run a half marathon/6. Run 26.2 miles.

Half Marathon-I’ve run the distance but haven’t raced it. Can we call this one even? I may look for a race in the next month or two… just to check it off the list, but I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t get that race in.

Marathon-Done. One of the most difficult and worthwhile things I have ever accomplished… and I’m already planning to do another!

I did it!

I did it!

8. Pay off at least one big bill–Get better about saving money.

I’m getting closer.

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

I still haven’t been working on my burpees.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely!

I definitely went on a vegan recipe kick after reading Eat & Run. I’ve also been experimenting more with using different ingredients, especially when I was training for the marathon, I had to get creative with pre/during race foods because of some digestion issues.

We’ve also made an effort to eat at home more this year…and when we traveling, we try to eat at a local restaurant.

Roasted beets, cukes, lettuce, beet greens, tomatoes, carrots and homemade horseradish avocado dressing.

Roasted beets, cukes, lettuce, beet greens, tomatoes, carrots and homemade horseradish avocado dressing.

So, there you have it. I’d say for the most part, I’m doing pretty well…I definitely see areas where I can improve, but I am happy for now.

Now it’s your turn! How are you doing with your goals? Anything you’re struggling with? OR, do you have any advice to help me out?! Let me know! 


Confessions: Words with a Kooky Doctor

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I finally gave in and went to the doctor to see about my weird leg pain…

I don’t have a primary care doctor, so I did a walk-in right after work because I couldn’t get an appointment and ended up getting a full physical because I hadn’t had one in… I don’t even know how long. Shame on me.

Confession: Between work and our road-trip, I still haven’t gone to get the blood work he ordered… hopefully tomorrow? Double shame.

Anyway, while I was there, I quickly realized he had no idea what was wrong with my leg and that he wasn’t going to be much help in that department… he even told me so… but I figured I’d get the most bang for my buck and went on with the rest of the physical.

I mentioned that I had run a marathon and we talked about some health concerns (mostly that I am prone to some wicked headaches/dizziness).

His response? “Well, you’re obviously very healthy. You’ve run a marathon, the proof is in the pudding!” He continued with, “I don’t know what to tell you about the headaches other than they probably aren’t anything to be concerned with, it’s just an annoyance.”

He then asked me about medical history and asked me if I had any symptoms of depression…three times.

First, who says “the proof is in the pudding?”

Apparently, there is proof here.

Apparently, there is proof here (Source: finecooking.com).

Second, Yes– while running a marathon is a good sign of one being healthy, I don’t feel that it is an end-all, absolute indication of one’s physical health being perfect. Not that I have any major health concerns, but I was irked by his assumption and brushing off the one concern I did have…and repeatedly asking if I was depressed… it just didn’t sit well.

Anyway, the rest of the visit was equally enlightening. I discussed BMI with him next…

Side note: When I last saw my gynecologist, she was impressed that I had lost the weight that I have and that I did so slowly… but said it would be beneficial to lose about 15-25 more pounds. I feel like that’s kind of standard coming from a doctor and for all I know, she could be right. Honestly, I would be okay with 10 more pounds.

My current BMI is 28, so I am technically classified as overweight. Now, I realize that this is merely a guideline and even when I was in the best shape of my life, my BMI was close to what it is now.

I also realize that I AM healthy, but, I figured since I was there, I would ask his professional opinion… he is a doctor, after all.

I felt a bit silly asking, but I got it out, “you know, I’m just wondering because my BMI is a bit high… if it’s something I should worry about… I’ve lost about 30 lbs but it’s taken me a really LONG time to do so… and I know that’s a good thing, but at the same time, I don’t know if it’s normal for it to take as long as it did… I’m just wondering–“

He interrupted me (!) and even raised his voice for a moment.

“–You DO NOT need to lose ANY weight. You are perfectly healthy, you ran a marathon, so you’re obviously healthy. But, if you want to lose weight for physical attractiveness, or competitiveness, or whatever reason, the only way to do that is to eat way less and make yourself completely miserable. So if that’s what you want, then by all means, make yourself miserable.”

Cue my jaw hitting the floor.

That was not what I was expecting to hear and I was, for one of the few times in my life, completely speechless. Not gonna lie, it was nice to hear this, but I think he completely misunderstood my reason for asking the question.

I mentioned that my main concern with my current weight is the impact it has on my joints when running and that I know losing said 10+ pounds will be easier on my body, which he quickly dismissed by saying, “Not true.”

He went on to say how the only way to eat less is to know exactly how much you’re taking in and the only way to do that was to count calories (obviously) and then proceeded to tell me it didn’t matter what I ate or where my food was coming from, it only mattered the amount I was eating.

You can imagine my indignation at the last statement. This was a doctor telling me that nutrition value and where food comes from didn’t matter. I almost hit the roof.

Apparently eating things like this doesn't matter... Grrrr

Apparently eating things like this doesn’t matter… Grrrr

In short, the proof is apparently in the pudding; I am perfectly healthy.

Some Updates:

  • My leg seems to have healed itself and I went on my first run post-race last night. It was only 2.5 miles, but I had no pain. Let’s hope it stays that way.
  • I’m currently experimenting with my diet to see if something I’m eating/drinking is causing the headaches.
  • First experiment: cutting down my coffee intake.
  • Next step: getting the blood work done so I can get an official letter saying that I am “perfectly healthy,” and I can move on to finding a primary care doctor who I don’t find kooky.
  • I’m also going to get my eyes checked to see if the headaches are vision related. I am getting older, after all.

Let’s discuss, what’s the strangest/most outrageous thing a medical professional has said to you? BMI-do you pay attention to it? Any weird ailments? When’s the last time you went for a physical?


Finding a Balance: Burgers and Big Workouts

Hi Friends!

Farmer Ben and I are back from our road trip/vacation down south! Can I tell you a secret? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much barbecue in my life…I loved every morsel…but I must admit, it is good to be home, sleeping in our own bed and cooking at home. I’ll do a full post on that later…

I need to get something off my chest.

I was perusing instagram the other day and came across a photo of a giant cheeseburger with French fries. To put you in the right frame of mind, the burger was similar to this one, minus the braised kale:

Pictures like this speak to me.

Pictures like this speak to me.

Anyway, my immediate thoughts? “Oh my, that looks delicious!”

Obviously, I was drawn to it and stopped to read the caption and comments.

I won’t tell you who the user was but the caption was something along the lines of “Yes, I ate this…trying to tell myself that my ridiculously long, strenuous workout makes it okay.”

Cue screeching record sound… What?! 

I’m sorry… but that is ridiculous.

Why do you have to do a ridiculously long and strenuous workout in order to justify eating a cheeseburger and fries? Why do you have to burn a million calories in order to enjoy it? Or, make a vow to run a million miles the next day? Why can’t you just eat it and say, “man, that was delicious,” without feeling guilty?

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying that you should go out and only eat cheeseburgers and fries (or whatever your guilty pleasure of choice may be), obviously.

Not at all… but if you eat well most of the time, and yes, if you do ridiculously long and strenuous workouts more often than not (as this person does), then what the heck? Eat a damn cheeseburger!

Occasionally enjoying an “unhealthy” meal is not going to “ruin all of your hard work,” and it’s not going to make you gain 20 pounds or ruin your diet/workout regimen. Depending on the burger and your digestive system, you may be a bit bloated or gassy after…but it’s not going to ruin your overall health plan. It’s about balance, people!

I guess what I found most disturbing was the user who posted this picture. You are a role model in a healthy living community. That is not a healthy state of mind…and it’s a common theme I am finding as I peruse my instagram and twitter feeds of bloggers/people who claim to have a healthy lifestyle…people I look up to!

People would rather drink a protein shake or eat an energy bar full of artificial sweeteners and ingredients they can’t pronounce, than enjoy real, whole foods that happen to be calorie dense. I see more protein shakes with a side of celery or a few apple slices  than real, balanced meals on my feed. WHY?!

When did we get so far away from balance…and eating real food?

Again, I am NOT saying that a cheeseburger and fries is “healthy meal,” nor am I saying that all protein shakes/energy bars are bad…not at all!

I’m just saying, everything in moderation.

Neither of these options is going to completely nourish/sustain a person, especially a highly active person.

Balance is necessary.

When you start looking at food as the enemy or depriving yourself…or even trying to justify what you are eating with ridiculously long and strenuous workouts, then there is a problem…and this I am saying from personal experience.  On the same note, you also can’t look to food for comfort/stress relief…again, it’s about balance.

I am in no way perfect, and I am totally guilty of having that small voice in my head saying, “are you sure you want to eat that? Do you know how many calories are in it?!”

But, I’ve come to appreciate balance and I’ve finally learned the “everything in moderation” principle…Yes, I watch what I eat…but I don’t completely deprive myself and I don’t freak out after eating a burger. I’m no expert, but I think I’m a lot healthier now because of this.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

So tell me, what are your thoughts? Cheeseburgers, yes or no? Are you guilty of trying to justify your meals with workouts?  Favorite food to drool over on Instagram?


Scenes from a Full Weekend and a Confession

Hi Friends!!!

Life has been moving pretty fast around these parts lately…I’m looking forward to some much-needed time off and a road trip with Farmer Ben, later this week (Georgia and South Carolina, here we come!).

This weekend, I went to a women’s conference with some ladies from my church in Worcester, MA…this was a completely new experience for me and one that I needed.

I actually hemmed and hawed about going because, well… I just felt like I wouldn’t have time…but I made time and it was so worth it!

Not only did Natalie Grant lead worship (so powerful!), but we got to see some great speakers. I learned a lot and came back feeling refreshed and empowered.

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo...

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo…

My favorite speaker was definitely Valorie Burton.

Valorie Burton...I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

Valorie Burton…I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

I mentioned that this conference was something I needed and I found Valorie’s workshop especially relevant to some things I am dealing with right now.

I got home from the conference really late and Farmer Ben and I were up bright and early on Sunday Morning to volunteer with our church for our Faith in Action Sunday… basically, the congregation divides up into groups and does various service projects around town…

Our group went to a local park and raked leaves…for three hours. By the time we left the park, we had 97 giant bags of leaves and a ton of piles that we just didn’t have the man-power to bag. Needless to say, I am sore today and have some really attractive blisters on my hands.

After volunteering we went to my mother’s house and took a quick shopping trip… I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I absolutely despise shopping at Wal-Mart…This shopping trip reminded me why. I think I’ve had my fill of misbehaving, screaming children and rude people for the next three years.

We dropped my mom off and then headed to our friends’ house to make a quick dinner.

I made this mac & cheese from Pinch of Yum and fooled their son into eating butternut squash. Not only was it delicious, but it only had 1 cup of cheese in a double recipe!

Delicious.

Delicious.

After dinner, I whipped up these cookies…they were also a hit.

Farmer Ben and I finally made it home at about 9pm and I immediately went to bed.

Other than that, life has been good…

We’ve been going to the market.

$1 for this entire bag of "imperfect produce"

$1 for this entire bag of “imperfect produce”

This was $38...$20 for local meat and cheese.

This was $38…$20 for local meat and cheese.

Hubby bought me some beautiful flowers from a local farm….

IMG_20130928_105254_088

And we’ve been enjoying the weather. I finally got to break in my sweet orange wind-breaker from the race.

IMG_20131001_182709

And now for a confession… 

My biggest frustration at the moment is that I haven’t run since my marathon. I took a few days off for recovery and, much to my dismay, ended up having to work both jobs for the entire week following the race.

Running a marathon and then working 12-15 hour days for five days is not conducive to recovery.

That Saturday, I was going to go for a short run but I started having a weird pain behind my knee. It hasn’t gone away. It’s more annoying that downright painful and almost feels like a snap or a pinch…does that make any sense?

It’s not my knee… but I don’t know how else to describe it. I did some google-ing and am guessing that it’s either a baker’s cyst or a meniscus but doesn’t feel painful enough to be either.

I did notice that the pain was a little more annoying this past week, depending on what I am doing. Yesterday, it was pretty uncomfortable and by the end of raking it was burning.

Any ides as to what this is?

I broke down and went to a walk-in doctor but honestly, he was no help. He felt around and played with my knee, stood back and said, “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you…I have no idea what to tell you!”

Super helpful, right? I did, however, finally get a full physical, for the first time in at least five years.

I don’t think I’ll be returning to that doctor as, honestly, I found him a bit kooky (and that is saying a lot, coming from me), but it’s nice to know that as far as he could tell, I am perfectly healthy.

Anyway, I have a friend who works for a knee specialist and she offered to get me an appointment… it sounds silly, but I am putting it off because I am convinced it’s actually nothing and will feel silly if I turn out to be right.

These are the things that go through my head… sigh.

Well…that’s all for now… It’s going to be a short work week and a lot of driving. I cannot wait!

What have you been up to? What are your weird aches and pains? Cooky doctors-discuss. Butternut Squash, yes or no?