Thursday, February 21, 2013

Three Things Thursday ...

training hours - I am currently 11 days into my 30 week training plan for Cedar Point 140.6. Right now, my workouts are super short, like off season short (except for my long runs since I have a half marathon in April). However, on most days I double. I'm not sure if he's never noticed this before or if he's just hypersensitive to it right now, but everyday, J says, "You're {biking/running/swimming} again? You just did a workout."

Um, yes. That's what they call training.

It kind of makes me wonder what he's going to say when my training load is 20 hours a week rather than eight.

consistent - Speaking of training, I have finally returned to a normal pattern of swimming. No more taking off weeks at a time just because I felt it was too cold to get in the pool. And thanks to some awesome swim sets, I am loving ever stroke (cue my Rev3 teammates saying, "That's what she said.").

Anyway, in the past two weeks I have realized that despite all the things that I lack in the pool, I couldn't possibly be more consistent with my pacing. I've swam 2500 meters three times in the last 11 days and despite completely different workouts I finished in 48:54, 48:51 and 48:52.

Sure, I've never taken a lesson, I lack speed and decent kick and I'm confident that the teenagers on the pool deck are laughing at me, but at least you can set your watch by my swimming.

manners - Did you ever have a day where you swore you were doing a horrible job as parent? A day where you were convinced that your children had been possessed and there was nothing you could do about it? Yeah, well, I have those days all the time. But, I've officially found the best way to solidify your competence as a parent ...

Invite a completely spoiled and disrespectful child over to play with your children for an afternoon.

Don't believe me? Well, you should.  All it takes is a few hours of being called "Hey you!" instead of by your name for your child to be shining in comparison.

Wait, that's not enough? OK. How about you listen to that child complain that he or she doesn't like a single food you offer or activity you suggest? Or better yet, how about overhearing that kid try to jump on your bike and/or treadmill without asking?

Well, when your kids step in and say, "That's not a good idea. It's my mom's and we should really ask first," you'll suddenly realize that you've done a fabulous job of teaching your children manners and setting appropriate boundaries for them. Trust me, you'll feel like a freaking rock star.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chores and Money Management ...

Yesterday afternoon, I posted this picture of my children's chore/allowance chart.

pay day ...

After about an hour, I had a dozen or so requests for the details of our system. Honestly, it's nothing amazing, just a concept that works for us. And it's not even original. It is based largely on a system that I learned about in the book, The MoneySmart Family System: Teaching Financial Independence to Children of Every Age.

Basically, we took the guidelines of the plan in The MoneySmart Family System and adapted it to our lives. The rules were laid out for the girls and they fell into line pretty quickly. Even our four year old completely understands and accomplishes all of her chores without complaint (well, mostly without complaint.) And now that they understand what is expected of them, we have increased their workload and will continually do so. They will also see increases in allowance as they age and responsibilities grow.

Beyond the fact that this system allows my children to contribute to our household, I truly love that it is teaching them how to manage their finances, a skill I hope they continue to develop throughout life. They are learning how to spend and save wisely and I am proud of how much they have learned already. (Note: J and I pay for all of their needs, vacations, extra-curricular activities and the occasional treat (i.e. frozen yogurt). The girls are expected to save and pay for all of their wants (all toys, accessories, activities, etc). Eventually, the girls will also be expected to purchase their own clothing, aside from the basics (underwear, socks, shoes) and will be compensated with a larger allowance to do so.)

So here's how it works.

The Rules:

  • In order to earn a point, all steps must be completed in their entirety. There will be no awarding of partial points.
  • Each point is worth $0.10.
  • If you earn all four points, every day for one week AND you earn at least two bonus points, we will double your payout, giving you $0.20 per point.
  • You will be paid once every two weeks.
  • You will divide your earnings as follows: 10% - Give, 20% - Save, 70% - Spend
  • You can further divide your spending money to save for a special purchase.
  • Spend money will go in your piggy bank. If you are saving for something specific, Mom and Dad will help you keep track of the amount saved towards your future purchase.
  • Save money will be deposited into your bank account. This money is like an emergency fund and is not to be withdrawn from without approval from Mom and Dad.
  • Give money will be pooled together. Mom and Dad will match the amount you put in and we will collectively decide where and when the money should be allocated.
  • Any items that Mom and Dad choose to not buy for you will go on a wish list or will be saved for by you. We will help you determine how much money you need to save and make you aware of how long it will take you to save for it. You can add or remove items from the wish list at any time.
  • Money received as gifts can either be put into your bank account, directly into your savings for a specific item or divided in the same manner as the money you earn through points. The choice is yours.
We keep track of each child's points on this chart ...

And here's how they can earn points:

To earn your Morning Point, you must:

  • Get dressed, including socks, shoes and hair.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Make your bed.
  • Put your dishes in the sink.
  • Pack your backpack.
  • Get out the door ON TIME, without complaining.

To earn your School Point, you must:
  • Behave well at school (green or better.
  • Do your best on all of your work at school.
  • Complete your homework as soon as you come home without complaining.

To earn your Chores Point, you must: 
  • Clean you room before bed - All books and toys away and all trash thrown away.
  • Clean the playroom – All books and toys away, closet “closed” and all trash thrown away.
  • Put away your clean clothes
  • "Round Up" the rest of the house - Check every room for anything that is yours or that you used throughout the day and put it back where it belongs. If you fail to do this, you will not get a point and the items will become mine.
To earn your Bedtime Point, you must:
  • Shower (if needed)
  • Put on your pajamas and put your clothes in the wash.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Go to the bathroom.
  • Go to bed ON TIME, without complaining. There will be no opening your bedroom door UNLESS you need to use the bathroom.
Bonus Points:
You can earn bonus points for the following:
  • Doing a chore with or without being asked by Mom or Dad.
  • Any day that you do not use your iPod/Computer AND you do not watch more than 2 hours of TV.  Note: TV or electronic use while Mom completes her workouts will not count against you.
  • For good behavior as determined by Mom or Dad.
  • For 30 minutes of exercise
  • For 30 minutes of workbooks or reading, outside of your homework.
See? It's nothing amazing, but it works for us. Do you have a chores system in your home? What do you like best about it?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Three Things Thursday ...

Drama - So, I don't claim to be the world's best parent or anything, but I do take pride in the fact that I don't concede to my children. EVER. No matter how much they kick and scream, I require that they do what is expected of them. This ranges from putting their laundry away to picking up after themselves to doing their homework immediately after school.

Yesterday, Doodle wasn't feeling her homework. So, rather than sucking it up and getting it over with, she chose to scream and complain for an hour and a half. At some point, her tantrum became too absurd for me to believe so I decided to record it. Here's how it went down. And while there is no video, the audio is epic.

I swear that one day, my children are going to believe that I mean business.

Giant - My kids are huge. Not that I am really surprised, considering that J is 6'7". However, Dilly was tiny when she was born (at full term) - 6 pounds, 14 ounces and 19". Despite her average beginnings, she has really sprouted up in the last four years.

This morning she had her yearly check up and she measured 44", which is 3/4" taller than Doodle (who is ginormous) and the same height that Dizzle was at age five. Obviously, all that food she has been inhaling is paying off.

Slacker - So, Rev3 Cedar Point training officially kicked off this week and despite the fact that I can now brag about what I am training for, I feel like a slacker. The first week of my plan includes two swims, two 30 minute runs, an hour and a half of cycling and a 45 minute brick. Seriously? I usually don't even feel like a 30 minute run is worth it. If I didn't throw in a two hour long run (in prep for my April half), I'd feel like the biggest poser around.

Fortunately, I realize this feeling is only temporary and in a few weeks I am going to be begging for this base weeks. Grass is always greener, right?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fitbit Aria Review ...

I think like most women, I have a love-hate relationship with the scale. I don't want to feel tied to it, but in the same breath, I care what it says. In the past, the scale has done nothing for me but tell me minimal information about my relationship with gravity. It definitely wasn't a tool in my weight loss/management arsenal. If anything, it was just an item of fear.

But, that was my old scale.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to test the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale {retails for $129.95} - the most hi-tech scale I have ever seen.

The Fitbit Aria, which records weight, body fat percentage and BMI, automatically syncs your numbers to your Fitbit account via your web account or phone app, making it the ultimate tool for tracking your progress.

To begin, users download the free software and visit the Fitbit website to set up an account. From there all you need to do is turn on the scale and follow the step-by-step directions to connect the Aria to your home Wi-Fi network. The scale takes care of the rest.

Seriously, this scale does EVERYTHING.

Not only does it record weight, body fat percentage and BMI, but it automatically recognizes (I have no idea how) up to 8 individuals per scale, meaning the whole family can utilize this tool. Additionally, as I mentioned, it will wirelessly sync that information to your Fitbit account (or app) where you can track your exercise, food and water intakes and numerous other data points, such as blood pressure and heart rate. (Note: this number geek LOVES this.)

What is that you say? You already have an app that does all of that? And you love that app?

No worries. So did I. (Note: Honestly, I didn't like the food tracker in the Fitbit app, due to the fact that I was unable to find a way to scan in the bar codes of the foods I ate.)

And Fitbit knows that we have other tools in our weight loss/management arsenal that we are already tied to. The Aria is not meant to replace those tools, but rather enhance them. In fact, you can link your Fitbit Aria scale to your My Fitness Pal, SparkPeople and Lose It apps, as well as several more which can be found on the Fitbit website.

Basically, you can't lose with this scale. Oh, wait. That's exactly what you'll do with it.

Disclaimer: I received this scale free of charge, however, the opinions stated here are fully and entirely my own.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reverse Bucket List - Year 31 ...

Today is my 31st birthday.

For months, I have been thinking about what I would want to say to myself on this day. More so than January 1st, my birthday seems to mark a fresh start for me. It gives me a chance to look back at where I've been and to dream about where I am going.

At first, I thought I might write myself a letter much like I do for my daughters each year. But, then I thought about it and realized that all the things I say to them are the exact same things I would say to myself.

Be strong.
Fight for what you want.
Know you're worth it.
Show your love to those who love you back. And even to those who don't.
Be the best you EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Then, I stumbled upon this post at Banana Buzzbomb - A reverse bucket list. Rather than obsess over the things you want, this list takes stock in what you already have. It's something that I think I forget about too often, as I continuously strive to be a better me (or at least not lose ground to my current self).

So, today on my 31st birthday (and hopefully a lot more often than that), I am celebrating how far I've come, instead of worrying about how far I have to go. Here's my reverse bucket list:

1. I always made academics important, even if I didn't think attending school was. I absorbed as much as I could and held myself to a high standard. Ultimately, it paid off. I went to an Ivy League university.

2. I graduated from that Ivy League university in three years. Just because I could.

3. I've always been athletic. I played travel soccer from the time I was 10. I made the varsity soccer, basketball and track teams as a freshman. In college, I was on a Division I Track and Field team.

4. I broke my pelvis and dislocated my hip when I was 12. The doctors told me that I probably wouldn't play sports again. I was back on the soccer field six months later.

5. I overcame my hate of running and have run six marathons. Two in the same week.

6. I (mostly) overcame my fear of my bike after crashing it and destroying my shoulder. Now I am going to race a 140.6.

7. I married my first serious boyfriend. I knew he was the one for me immediately and I would have married him just as quickly if I wasn't deathly afraid of what my mother would have done. We waited two years and have now been married for almost nine.

8. I gave birth to three beautiful daughter who are truly my everything.

9. I ran eight miles two days before my third daughter was born. Nothing else has ever made me feel so bada**.

10. I changed my life and lost 70 pounds. I've kept the vast majority (aside from pregnancies) off for nine years.

11. I'm still friends with my childhood best friend. We've known each other for 28 years.

12. I never left the country before I was 20. Since then, I have been to England, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas and Bermuda.

13. I am a two-time NJ state champion in the shot put. I still have the discus records at both my middle school and my high school.

14. I used to take karate. I've broken a board with my hand, my foot and my head.

15. I have been featured in Runner's World (August 2011). I was mentioned as a Twitter account to follow in the December 2012 issue, as well.

16. I was personally asked by Ethan Zohn (of Survivor fame) to run for his NYC Marathon team.

17. I was selected by Nuun to represent them at the Hood to Coast Relay. Twice.

18. I shaved my head. Kind of a ballsy thing for a girl to do.

19. J and I have purchased three houses in our nine years of marriage. Our current one is finally starting to feel like home, but I'm not entirely convinced.

20. I have no credit card debt.

21. I've never put my Ivy League degree to good use and the older I get the more OK I am with it. Staying at home with my girls has been one of the best decisions I ever made. Maybe one day I'll have a job with an income that can support us, but this thankless, wage-less job of shaping these children is the best one I will ever have.

22. I've gotten three tattoos. And I don't regret any of them.

23. I have been honored with the opportunity to be a member of Team Rev3 Tri. And let me just add that sponsorship doesn't suck.

24. I survived the death of a parent.

25. I went from being unable to lift my arm (at all) to finishing my first 70.3 in exactly 11 months.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Goal: Refresh and Refocus ...

I am a firm believer that you can do anything you set your mind to.

But, and this is a big but, I think that in order to do anything you set your mind to WELL, you need to balance it with the other aspects of your life.

Sure, you could pound away, day after day and walk away a champion, but at what cost? Would you ostracize your family and friends? Would your body and mind suffer? Would you sacrifice all else in the quest for a single, solitary goal?

Maybe, you would, if the timing was right. But most of us can not focus solely on one all consuming goal. We have real lives, responsibilities and jobs to attend to. We have children and spouse and others in our lives who all have needs (and wants) that are of equal and sometimes greater importance. Sometimes, we have to be selfless and there is nothing wrong with that.

three people I'd sacrifice anything for ...

Ultimately, life is about balance. Balance in all aspects of your life and well-being. What good is it to reach your goals if you have no one to share them with? How would it feel to look back on how far you've come if you had to step on others to get there? How fulfilling would it be to reach a goal only to realize that you hated the process? If you can't find happiness in yourself and with those around you while you reach for your dreams, is that dream really worth having?

From the very first moment I decided I wanted to race a 140.6, I have been faced with the questions of how it would affect my family, of what I would be asking them to endure, of what I would be willing to sacrifice to get there. I know it's going to be hard on me, both mentally and physically. But, I know that I am not alone in this. And I know my husband and children are going to feel the effects too.

But, in the end, I know it will be worth it. I know that someday my children will have big dreams and they will remember how I balanced all the areas of my life while striving for something great. I know that I am leading them by example and eventually they will appreciate all these lessons I am imparting. And I know that I will do everything in my power to shield them all from the effects of my choices.
  • I will train early, late and when they are at work and school.
  • I will eat, sleep and hydrate well so that I am refreshed for them each day.
  • I will ask for help when I need it, so that I never blame them for what I can't handle.
  • I will spend the moments I have with them, fully with them. 
  • I will remind them constantly of how much I appreciate their part in my quest to reach my goal.
  • I will expect that there will be days that they resent me or my training. And I won't begrudge them that.
A week from today, I will start my 30 week training plan for Rev3 Cedar Point. For the next week, I am going to focus on them. I am going to map out how we are going to tackle the next 30 weeks as a team. I am going to take a week to refresh and refocus my body and mind. No workouts. No obsessing. No asking anyone to sacrifice because of me. It's the least I can do, for everything they do for me.

Friday, February 1, 2013

January Rewind ...

Miles Run: 98.91 miles. Probably should have jumped on the treadmill for a quick 1.09 miles just to round it out.

Bike Miles Rode: 126.4 miles. All on the trainer.

Swim Meters Completed: 12800 meters or 7.7 miles.

Rest Days Taken: 7. Travel kind of threw me off this month.

Highest Run Mileage Week: 1/1-1/6: 23.6 miles

Highest Bike Mileage Week: 1/21-1/27: 37.3 miles

Highest Swim Volume Week: 1/1-1/6: 3600m or 2.24 miles.

Long Runs Completed (10+ miles): 0. Third month in a row. I'm currently building my run base again and with this whole HR training, I did get to 9.9 miles. This weekend's long run should put me over 10.

Current Book: Right now, I am reading Days of Blood and Starlight by Taylor. But I also finished a few other books in January. (Note: For those of you who have asked, if it's on this or any of my lists, I would recommend the book. If I don't like the story or the book doesn't grasp my attention, I don't bother finishing it, thus it wouldn't be listed here.) 
  • Matched by Condie
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Taylor
  • The Bar Code Tattoo by Weyn

    Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Jumpin' Jack Doritos. I probably haven't eaten Doritos in 10 years, but I saw this throwback flavor (which was my favorite as a kid) at the store the other day and I had to have them.

    Current Colors: Charcoal Gray, Yellow and Pink
    Current Drink: Hot tea with a touch of sugar. It's freaking cold here right now.

    Current Song: Try - Pink

    Current Triumph: I ate 3,000 calories yesterday. Without splurging on cake. Be inpressed.

    Current Goal: Be a better me. Each and every day. And tackle my 2013 To Do List head on.

    Current Blessing: Health, happiness and love. I've got all three.

    Current Excitement: I'm still riding high from making (and subsequently meeting) Team Rev3 Tri. I registered for my first 140.6 this week. And my birthday is in 6 days. It's like a giant freaking party over here right now.

    2013 To Do List:


    • 140.6. That is all. - Registered.
    • Make time for strength training. Don't let training loads eliminate strength workouts completely. And stick to strength training in a group, it keeps you accountable. - CrossFit membership ended today, so I'm gonna need to motivate myself to keep up the strength training this month.
    • Switch to time-based/HR training. Despite my knowledge of training paces, I have a hard time sticking to them. I'm hoping this will help me train more effectively. - 32 days in and adjusting quite well.
    • Log 4,500 cumulative run, bike and swim miles. Up 485 from 2012. - As of February 1st, 233.01 miles logged.
    • Race a 10K with a finish time much faster than your very dated current PR of 53:17. I never managed to register for a 10K in 2012 and I'm not sure where it will fit in this year, but it's on my radar. - No progress on this one.
    • Set a new PR in the Half Marathon, currently 1:57:06. I totally blew this one in 2012 and will likely only have one good shot at it in 2013.- Registered for Flying Pirate Half in April.
    • Run a 5K with Dizzle and Doodle, even if that means tricking them into it. - The kids have been running quite a bit recently. Probably going to aim for the fall.
    • Eat like a gluten-free athlete. After struggling with health issues much of 2012, removing the gluten has been key in alleviating the symptoms. Don't be swayed by the lure of wheat. Or cake.- On point, like usual.
    • Find the race day (and training) nutrition plan that works for me.- Eventually ...
    • Consume no more than 18 desserts from Shyndigz. This number worked well in 2012 and helped me cut back on my serious cake addiction. Plus, their gluten-free menu is limited, so I shouldn't be tempted as often. - As of February 1st, 2 desserts consumed. Both from Dilly's birthday cake.
    • Drink at least 100oz of water per day.- Oh, heck yeah!
    • Only say yes to the projects you REALLY want to work on. An honest no is much better than a halfhearted yes. - Check.
    • Stick to our budget. We've lived credit card (and credit card debt) free for three months. No reason to go back now. - Double Check.
    • Ignore your impulses. Take time to process the true value of the things you are filling your space/life with. - Yes and no. Although TigerBlood rocks my socks, I might just be in the market for a sweet Quintana Roo ...
    • Figure out what to do with my hair. Keep the mohawk or grow it out. I'm taking opinions on this one.- I'm growing it out. For real this time.
    • Continue to balance family life, training and now, work.- Check.
    • Prioritize and be a good example for the people in your life. - Like quadruple check!
    • Help and support J and the kids in reaching their goals. We are a team and that must always be the primary focus of our lives. No one should have to sacrifice so that someone else can reach their goal. If a balance can't be found, it's not worth pursuing.- I would never waiver on this one!