Category Archives: Grad School

Strength & Selfies

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“Hey there, ho there, how do ya do…”

Okay, sorry, I just accidentally channeled my inner Lana (Mandy Moore) from The Princess Diaries.

I wish I had more than a few minutes to stay and play, especially given that I have blogged a very sad number of times this month, but I am positively swamped. I’m putting in 20-25 hours per week at my Internship site — which I am absolutely loving — plus I have more than a lot going on classwork-wise. That’s all I’ll say so as not to go on a stress-induced rant… Besides, sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging. Sorry I’m not sorry that I don’t have the mental or physical dedication to get up an hour early just to make sure I post something daily. As much as I love blogging and I genuinely appreciate the feedback I receive, I don’t anticipate receiving this year’s Hardcore Extreme Blogger Award.

Tonight I want to talk about my two self-challenges for October (y’all know I love a good challenge ;-)) — strength and selfies.

[Ummm… what?]

My first self-challenge is to complete three days of strength-training for every one cardio workout. Whether that be yoga, weight-lifting, intensive stretching, or what have you, I am determined to fit more strength-training into my workouts. I’m not seeing the muscle tone or definition results I’d like, and my weight loss has all but stagnated. I’m not gaining weight, but I’m certainly not losing it, either. I’m hoping to take progress pictures to remind myself of how far I’ve come and of the gradual progress I’m making toward the fit woman I aspire to be! I haven’t decided yet whether these will grace the blog. I’m not one of those brave souls out there who can bare all via Instagram for the sake of comparison. More power to ya, but my tummy ain’t makin’ the front page anytime soon!

My second challenge is to take more pictures of myself! This does not literally mean the blog will suddenly be full of selfies, but… Well, I do live alone… So yeah, that’s probably exactly what it’ll mean! In looking through my iPhone recently, I have found that about ninety percent of the photos I take are of food, food prep, grocery-shopping, adult beverages, wedding dresses… basically anything and everything except myself. I realized that what makes me enjoy other bloggers’ sites so much is their photos of them actually doing the things they’re blogging about. This is something I’d like to beef up, too.

That said, I’m off and running! No rest for the weak and weary, is there? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Thanks for stopping by!

Back In It

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Y’all, I am BACK.

Back in the ‘Burg,
back in my apartment,
back in my semblance of clean-eating,

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(mostly) back in my exercise routine,

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back with my grad school girls whom I missed so much(!),
and back into blogging.

It’s not hard at all to believe I went 13 days without posting. Between wrapping up my summer teaching position, studying for the CPCE (which was this morning, by the way), wedding-planning, and packing, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of stress and excitement. Perhaps I should have taken a page out of Colleen’s book and simply taken the month of August off, knowing how much was approaching, but alas…

I had several posts I desperately wanted to write: the emotional ending to four summers of work with my students with autism; an update on Ian’s and my Zero Negativity Challenge; a close family friend’s wedding last Saturday; and a few other piddly topics. As much as I adore my blog and sharing my life with you guys, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’ve really dropped the ball on monthly mileage updates toward my 2,013 miles in 2013 goal. As I begin my 600-hour internship next week, I’ll be putting my time-management skills to the ultimate test! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Right now, at this moment, I am in such a good mood. That counseling exam is behind me, it’s a gorgeous 79 degrees, I am finally blogging (and blogging outside),

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I have dinner plans with some of the girls to celebrate yet another grad school milestone behind us, I have little else on my agenda besides a post-exam, pre-dinner workout calling my name and Pretty Little Liars reruns to watch, and I move my baby sister in to her apartment tomorrow to begin her senior year of college! I am truly blessed, because I could not ask for a much better Saturday ๐Ÿ™‚

This semester, I plan to work diligently to be a more frequent blogger. I think daily posts might be a bit ambitious, but I’m aiming for at least every other day. In other words, my goal is not to procrastinate or make excuses; when I get an itch to write, I’ll write! Thank you all for sticking around during my unplanned and unannounced absence. I write Sarcasm for me, but it means a lot to know there are interested readers and friends out there!

With that, I’m off to hit the gym! I’ll have much more activity in the coming weeks, and I promise to make a better effort to share it!

There’s No Good Title for This Post

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I feel like by now, I should know that when I toss around words like “normal” or “routine,” my week will be anything but.

Monday, I developed a headache midway through the workday, but I was pretty well able to ignore it… Until it turned into a full-blown migraine after dinner. I was in bed by 9:00 and I couldn’t have been more grateful to myself for having picked out my outfit, packed my gym bag, and packed my lunch in the afternoon. Being proactive (read: OCD) pays off ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tuesday, my mom and Caroline and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar at a Richmond-area church whose choir director was Caroline’s and my childhood choral conductor, and whose drama production manager is the current drama lady at my former high school. The musical (a.k.a. rock opera) was phenomenal, and it was hard to believe Jesus, Judas, and Mary Magdalene were played by high-schoolers!

Wednesday, I started to get that itchy, tickly throat I often get before a major cold, sinus infection, or allergy attack knocks me on my ass. Nothing ever really came of it, but I still felt like someone was progressively sucking the energy out of me as the day wore on. I had all but resigned myself to skipping the gym when I started to feel guilty… and I went anyway. I didn’t feel one bit like running, so I hopped on the bike and spun for about 30 minutes.

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While I was having a private pity party, a news feature popped up about Annette Fredskov, a woman who recently completed 366 (three hundred and sixty-six) full marathons in 365 days, finishing strong with a double-marathon. I thought, if this crazy bitch can run 26.2 miles every single day, how come my procrastinating butt can’t even train for 13?!

I’ve realized recently that no matter what I choose to train for, I’ll always feel like exercising differently. Training for something gives me incentive to push myself and try for harder and faster and longer and more difficult, but it also causes me to grow weary of that particular event. For example, today I “cross-trained” by swimming a mile:

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(i.e. putting off half training for one more day, but still getting good exercise and calling it race prep).

If I were training for a competitive swimming event, I would probably find excuses to run or hop on the elliptical. Swimming is just such a fantastic total-body workout, and it really melted my stress away after a long and difficult work week.

See what I mean? ๐Ÿ˜‰

#FirstWorldProbs at their finest: not knowing which elective exercise to perform when.

My throat still hasn’t felt any better over the past three days, though I have been downing this stuff and as many fluids as possible…

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…while pretending I’m naive to the fact that my body will excrete whatever it can’t use. Curse you, vitamin C threshold.

Getting to sleep by 10:00-10:30 every night doesn’t hurt, either, nor does not having much on my plate for this weekend. In fact, tonight’s activity of choice is studying for the CPCE I am scheduled to take August 24. What a delightful Friday evening! Ha…

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May your throat feel less scratchy than mine; may your Friday night be more adventurous than mine; and may your weekend be just as free and relaxing as mine. Ta ta!

The Week from Hell

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You guys, I’d like to be able to tell you that the reason I haven’t blogged in six days is because I’ve been having so much fun, loving life, and stopping to smell the roses. But honestly, this week was the week from hell.

This was my first official week on the job, and I am working with three full-time staff and five wet-behind-the-ears trainees. We get along really well and we have great chemistry as a group, but things were a little bit off kilter this week trying to adjust to everything. I’m not complaining, though; this is my fourth summer, and I remember exactly what it was like to be the wide-eyed new girl trying to soak everything in without mucking it up too badly. I’m grateful that I have eight easy-going colleagues who don’t seem to mind my OCD.

So, after working from 7:45 until 3:30 or 4:00 each day, I came home, packed my lunch for the following day, and poured myself into bed for a 20- or 30-minute nap. At 5:00, my mom and my sister Caroline and I were out the door for Vacation Bible School. Dinner was served at 5:30, and then we nursery workers hightailed it down to man our post. For as long as I can remember, the three of us–accompanied by various helpers over the years–have been the requisite VBS nursery volunteers. We’re not especially interested in participating in VBS for whatever reason, but we’d still like to do something in the way of helping out. Many moons ago, we found our niche! It’s actually quite relaxing to sit in a rocking chair and supervise little ones as they entertain themselves “making dinner” and playing with a Little Tikes piano.

Come 8:30, though, I was fried. I would come home, chat for a few minutes with Dad, throw some shampoo and water in the direction of my hair, and collapse. A few nights, I managed to make some decaf and sit in the swing with Mom, but most nights I was just so excited to see my inviting bed.

To say that “I didn’t have time for the gym” is just an excuse, especially since I was getting 8-9 hours of sleep per night. But, I know my own body and I know my limits, and adequate rest wins over trying to force the gym into a chaotic week. Fingers crossed, next week will be calmer and more routine. I’m beginning to forget that I ever knew what boring, same-old-same weeks used to look like. This summer has been so go-go-go that I feel like I’ve hardly taken a breath.

Again, I’m not complaining. I know that I’ve been very blessed with the opportunity to take two vacations, to get two (very, very interesting) classes out of the way to lighten my load during my third year, to volunteer for VBS, and to be rehired at my favorite job in the world for the fourth consecutive summer. Opportunity has knocked, and I have repeatedly answered. Sometimes, though, it’s just nice to have a second to yourself.

Prayer has been one of my biggest allies through all of this, though I think God and I are on different wavelengths right now. We’ll get our stride back, though. I know He has big plans for me coming up; I’m just not sure what they are yet or where they’ll take me.

Today was… better. I “slept in” until 8:40, then enjoyed (caffeinated) coffee outside with Mom. There were blueberry pancakes for brunch, then Mom and I braved the Saturday madness at our fourth bridal store. There had been talk of Capital Ale House for dinner, and I was delighted to find out that it was true. My favorite lamb burger and orangeย chiveย vinaigrette mixed greens salad almost made this week worth it. I even indulged in a raspberryย Lambicย before we set out forย Monsters Universityย (which, by the way, is super adorable and totally worth the outrageous theatre price).

Finally, I wanted to tell you about my first week with Simone France. First of all, the skincare regimen is super easy to get used to after just a few days. I already feel like a pro at “making the sandwich”–Simone France’s terminology for the morning regimen. Here’s my cheesy giddy selfie after five days of regular SF usage:

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My skin is by no means cleared of the little bumps that seem to hang out around my hairline, or the blackheads that have adorned my nose and chin for eons. However, I love how non-greasy and yet simultaneously moisturized my skin feels throughout the day. It feels soft and smooth without having that lovely oily sheen. I’m sad that I’m almost halfway through my official SF cleansing cloths, but I’m seriously considering investing in more of the product line with my own money. Of course, Colleen’s glowing endorsement didn’t hurt, but I am living proof that this stuff really works and that the experience of using it has been nothing but pleasurable.

Now, it’s quite time for bed. Tomorrow we are skipping church — which probably doesn’t help my cause with the Big Man — in favor of getting to my cousin’s baby shower in Staunton on time. Hopefully, I’ll have really adorable pictures to share with you.

If you’re still reading, thanks for letting me vent! I’d love to know: How was your week?

I’m Baaa-aaack!

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Goodness gracious! I haven’t blogged in NINE days! I sure have missed the blogosphere, but to be honest, I didn’t have too much to tell you guys.

As you know, I was in class for three weeks. [Hopefully, my last summer classes ever.] Then, I got home last Friday, June 28, and we left for Smith Mountain Lake at the crack of noon on Saturday. SML has been one of my family’s favorite vacation spots since I was in elementary school. Most families are either lake people or river people or beach people; I like to think we’re all three ๐Ÿ˜‰

We stayed at Covered Porches, by far the most beautiful and generously furnished vacation home we have ever rented. It doesn’t take much to impress this old gal, but Covered Porches was everything I was expecting and then some. It was even the perfect size for ten people. This is depressing for me to admit, but this vacation was possibly my last full-blown family excursion before Ian and I tie the knot. Eeeeek! Mr. and Mrs. Giles going on vacation ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am so grateful that Ian was able to join us for the entire week between “bouts” of med school, and so were a few college friends. It was quite the fiesta with the Lew Crew!

The weather was actually pretty crappy all week, with either rain, storms, or gloomy skies every single day. No matter; it didn’t slow us down one bit.

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We spent the week laughing hysterically playing “Cheers, Gov’nah,”

organizing splash contests,

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lounging by the lake,

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playing Blackjack with beer bottle caps as currency,

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tubing (which is quite a workout, by the way!),

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hunting down four-leaf clovers,

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frolicking on the dock,

playing cornhole,

swimming and paddling around,

chatting around the campfire,

and simply enjoying the lake life.

I would be remiss if I glossed over how I ate while on vacay. I always like to think that my grad school lifestyle will carry over while I’m out of my routine, and it almost never does. I feel as though if it were truly one hundred percent my lifestyle, I wouldn’t have trouble maintaining it when I’m out of my norm. However, I also believe that sometimes it’s okay to indulge. That may not be the appropriate term to use to describe this week… Maybe gorge is more accurate. I ate my body weight in s’mores one night, and in tacos another. I also drank enough Seagram’s and Bud Light Lime to float a small fleet of battleships.

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It’s not that my family doesn’t eat nutritiously — quite the contrary, actually. For example, one night we planned DIY mini pizzas with whole wheat shells, low-fat cheeses, and veggies galore; one night we sautรฉed Polish sausages with green peppers, onions, and sauerkraut; and each morning there was Chobani, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, and “skinny” bacon available. I just seemed to be a bottomless pit this week! Next week, as I always vow post-vacation, I’ll get back into the swing of things and plan delicious, nutritious meals. I’ll also jump back onto the workout horse.

That reminds me, though…

Being on vacation and being away from the gym does not equate with being sedentary in my book. Between running back and forth from the house to the dock (uphill, both ways, in the snow), swimming, canoeing, tubing, swinging, paddling, and numerous intense games of volleyball, I certainly don’t feel that I lacked for heart-pounding, BP-elevating action!

In other, completely unrelated news, one of my favorite parts of vacation with my family is that TV is hardly a thought. Unless the weather is so bad that playing outside is not an option (or the Orioles are playing ;-)), the remote collects dust. And that’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it.

Well, there you have it folks. The reason for my hiatus: fun, sun, family, friends, celebration, and relaxation. After a trip to OBX, two summer classes, my sister’s 21st birthday party, a week of refresher training for my summer job, and a trip to SML, my summer may finally settle into a regular routine. Well, except for nursery duty at Vacation Bible School next week…

Also, I said I had news regarding the half-marathon my tubing buddy Lauren and I are running, and I do! Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hey Coffee… Ya Miss Me?

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Howdy, and happy Thursday!

I don’t have a tremendous amount to tell you, because as you know, I’ve been in class for the past three weeks. Two weeks ago was Eating Disorders, and last week and this week were Substance Abuse and Addictions counseling. I just wanted to pop by because I’ve missed you all so much ๐Ÿ˜‰

I thought I’d share with you briefly my experience going caffeine-free. As part of my Addictions class, each of us was asked to “give up” something — obsessive texting, Facebook-checking, smoking, drinking two 2-liters of Coke a day, or what have you.

My poison? Caffeinated coffee.

Both Ian and my mom always joke that before I’ve “had my coffee” [read: come fully awake and gotten out of my sleep funk] it’s best not to talk to me unless you require little more than a grunt. I certainly wouldn’t say I’m addicted to coffee; I do, however, rely on it to wake me up and keep me awake on important mornings.

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I realized, after having been caffeinated-coffee-free for the past 10 days, how much time I used to spend on coffee as part of my morning routine. There’s not just the brewing and the drinking… there’s the doctoring, the mixology, the waiting until it’s the perfect temperature, and then the requisite stop at the “facilities” before I can head out the door. The past two weeks, I have had anywhere from 15-30 extra minutes to read, watch Netflix, get a few more things done, mow the lawn, milk the cow… You get the idea.

The real reason I decided to allow coffee to be the vice I would give up is because I don’t want to rely on caffeine anymore. I want caffeine to be a treat instead of a regularity. I have found that I relish this extra time in the morning; rather than setting my alarm later, I’ve been enjoying pushing snooze a time or two, and then languishing in bed before going through my routine without haste.

I did allow myself to make decaf whenever I wanted it because decaf doesn’t serve any sort of eye-opening purpose for me. The purpose it does serve? To be my after-dinner sweet treat while I read on the porch. It doesn’t take much to satisfy me in the sweet-tooth department, and a cup of Folger’s doctored with Truvia, a little skim, and a dollop of fancy creamer hits the spot ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m certainly not planning to give up caffeinated coffee or other beverages on a permanent basis. I’m just enjoying making them more sporadic. As evidenced by my attitude now compared with 57 hours in, this challenge has done me a world of good!

Just FYI: I’ve got lots of new stuff coming to Sarcasm, including vacation plans and an update to the half-marathon Lauren and I are running! Stay tuned!

Richmond Firefighters Beat the Heat 5k [Race Recap]

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G’day, blends!

I fully realize that it’s been a week since we last “spoke,” but I have a good excuse! I was in an eating disorders education class Monday through Friday from 8:30 until 5 on the button. I came home, made a quick and easy dinner (let’s play ‘Can You Spot the Repetition?’),

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and dove headfirst into my work until 10:00 or so. I was lucky if I remembered to condition after shampooing before I all but collapsed into bed. (I’ve been watching season three of PLL, so I’m channeling my inner Hanna with the drama factor.) After all, that’s the mark of a quality education, right, Dr. P? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yesterday, I left immediately from the ‘Burg and drove straight to P.F. Chang’s at Stony Point for dinner with Ian and one of his groomsmen, Mac. Dinner (ahem, and drinks) put me home after 10, which barely gave me five minutes to greet my family before pouring myself into my inviting bed.

This morning, I was awakened from some gnarly dream at seven… to run for the first time in more than a week!

[Timeout for a second.]

I don’t want to make excuses, because those women who get up at 4:30 to hit the gym before work, and those women who run up bleachers and staircases because they don’t have the extra bucks for a gym membership, put my grade-A whiny butt to shame. But–in my world–last week, there simply wasn’t time to get buff and lean, nor was there time to spare to blog.

[Okay, time in.]

Dad, Mom and I piled into the car still half-asleep at 7:30. We got down to Shockoe Bottom and somehow found a place to park in plenty of time. Within five minutes, here came Ian and Mac, the other two-thirds of our cheering section ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dad and I stretched out and joined the crowd at the front of the race. We are by no means among the first to finish, but we like to get a good start rather than trip over people’s dogs and strollers.

We started well, and the first mile breezed by in 10:40. It’s between the first and the second when I’m like, where the hell is mile-marker 2?! Finally, we crested a small hill, and two came into sight. We passed it with about 12 minutes left to make our goal of 34 minutes. If you will recall, 34 minutes was our goal last month, and I missed it by 12 seconds.

I thought, this is literally the best pace we have ever kept, and it didn’t feel like we were slowing down much. I was especially grateful for the extra time we had built up at the end, because the concluding segment had a slight incline, and I was really feelin’ eight days out of my workout regime.

When I saw that beautiful American flag come into sight, I gasped out, “Is that the finish line?” Dad said, “Yep!” and we both knew what we had to do. We picked up our pace even more, really kicking up our heels. At this point, we had two minutes left to meet our goal, and time was ticking.

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I slowed down a bit when I reached the American flag suspended from the fire truck because I thought that was the finish line, but we were corralled single-file into the narrow finish where the timer was. Dad and I crossed together in 34:11.30.

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I was immediately disappointed that we hadn’t met our goal, especially since we had kept a faster pace than ever, and we had had extra time at the end to allow for zapped energy, the heat, and the incline. Ian spun it like this: even though Dad and I didn’t precisely meet our goal of 34 minutes, we did beat our previous time record, and we did run the entire distance, and we did finish together. When it’s put like that, I guess we didn’t do so bad after all ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not to mention that we earned these snazzy medals!

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In the spirit of full disclosure, I L-O-V-E earning a medal at a race. Call it my need for extrinsic motivation, but wearing that sweet thang around my neck for the rest of the day makes me feel like the biggest rock star.

After the race, we celebrated with breakfast power sandwiches, fruit smoothies, and even a shared Cobblestone at Panera.

I want to add that even though this morning’s race kicked my ass a bit in the legs department, my clean eating all week certainly supported me nutritionally.

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I was thanking myself in leaps and bounds–literally–as I struggled through mile three.

Well, that’s pretty much it for today. Also, welcome to those of you who are new to SWASOV! For the next two weeks, I’m gonna do it all over again. Well, sort of…