Weekend Recap: Fitness Blondie NO MORE?!?!

January 19, 2015

I was never happier to be off of work on Friday on ready to start the weekend. Last week was all around a crazy, nonstop, "Murphy's Law", type of week and I needed a break and downtime. 

When I got off of work, J and I went and ran some errands. I had a Japanese Bubble Tea (Mango) with tapioca pearls and it was fantastic. Years ago I had them often, but I have not seen a place that sells them in a long time. Thus when I spotted a stand in the mall, I had to have one. 

I got some frames and pictures made while we were out so I could put them up through the apartment. I think they fit perfectly and are a great addition.

Friday night, J and I went to my best friend's house so she could do my hair. She has a salon setup in her basement so it makes getting my hair done a lot more fun. The goal? Black with red lowlights. As always she did a fantastic job and I love the new look. Also while doing my hair we had a little bonfire.

Saturday was a beautiful day in Charlotte with mild weather in the upper 50's and lower 60's. We took full advantage. I enjoyed a long job on the Greenway, cleaned my apartment with music blasting, and the windows open, and J and I scored our latest "dumpster" find.

Remember on my last blog post about the table we scored from my neighbor throwing his house? Well, another neighbor was throwing out this gorgeous mahogany table and said I could have it. It needs a little work on one of the drawers, but it's perfect other than that. I am going to play this week to find the perfect spot for it. 

Later in the afternoon, I got ready, and of course I took lots of selfies of my new hair.

Once we were ready, we went to our friends Justin and Jodi's house for homemade fondue. It was a lot of fun making it at home instead of going to "The Melting Pot". If you read my blog you know I love "The Melting Pot" and eat there often, but it gets expensive. Homemade fondue was not only delicious, but really fun. It's a great way to host a dinner party. I am definitely going to be investing in a fondue pot now.

After we left Justin and Jodi's we came back to my apartment. I had been telling Johnathan that I wanted to make a shot glass holder out of an old baseball bat case that he has that was not being used. Since it was still kind of early and we had energy, he got to work and did it. I think it's super fun and adds a lot to the bar and dining area.

Yesterday was another beautiful day so J and I spent the day out with his friend Sean and his friend Jinny. 

We all had lunch, went to see "American Sniper" (which was phenomenal. We even had to advance purchase our tickets due to all of the shows being sold out!) and I earned my free movie ticket (yay), and did some shopping. 

Of course I had to take a few more selfies. (Don't judge me. OK, you can if you want because it's a little absurd; just try to look past it). 

When we finally got home from the day, I made the most delicious broiled Ribeye and pasta salad, I kicked his butt on the Wii, and then we called it a night. Now, time to finish this work day... 

Let's Chat: January Happenings

January 12, 2015

It is hard to believe that today is January 12th -- it's nearly the middle of the month! I wish time would slow down. The days seem to be passing by so quickly. Today's blog post is a bit random and in the style of my "Let's Chat" posts. 

First, I want to start with my dad. Most of my friends and nearly everyone who reads my blog knows of the cancer battle my father has been fighting. It started in 2006 in his kidney's. One of his kidney's were removed and he remained cancer free until he almost died in September of 2011. Thank God for the incredibly gifted doctor's at Duke Hospital who saved his life. 

Since then, my father has been fighting terminal cancer. It's in his brain, the bones in his legs, his pelvis, and now it has started aggressively spreading through his liver. He was scheduled for surgery last Thursday on the rod that is in his right leg (the cancer has eaten away the bone). The surgery was immediately cancelled due to a CT scan that showed all of the cancer found in his liver.

I received the call on Wednesday night about all of the findings. The doctor's will not be able to operate on my father anymore. I cried myself to sleep and took the next couple of days to process the information. For years now, my family has been on the rollercoaster of great news, devastating news, great news, devastating news, and now we have received the biggest reality check of it all. 

I hear of cancer killing people all of the time, but I never thought I would have to deal with it, especially right now. I feel like I was 16 yesterday. It was just yesterday that my father and I were fighting over my curfew and what I could wear. I love him so much and I just cannot believe his health has turned into this so quickly. He has told me repeatedly he does not want to die. He has fought so hard and remained so damn strong, positive, and optimistic throughout this, and to see that it is finally coming to this breaks my spirit, my heart, and my soul.

There is nothing I can do to make it better. I can remind him of how much I love him and send little gifts... but does that take away his fear? I can not imagine knowing that I am going to die soon, especially since I know my father wants so desperately to live. There is still so much we have to do... I need him to walk me down the aisle, I want him to become a grandparent. I want to share all of this with him. However, I have to come to the realization that I will not be that lucky.

The past few days of knowing this information has been hard but I have been praying constantly. I made a status on Facebook and I am asking for prayers on my blog, too. I know there is nothing that can be done to make this cancer magically disappear, but if anyone reading this can pray for my father to find peace, strength in his soul, and to feel God's warmth and protection around him, I would truly appreciate it.

A couple of months ago, I was getting ready for work in my bathroom, and I accidentally hit my phone. This resulted in my phone falling screen first on my tile floor. Because it did not have a case on it (that broke a few weeks prior), it cracked badly and since then, little pieces of the screen have been slowly chipping away. I had been using my phone cracked, all while lazily looking over my options. 

On Friday morning at work, I dropped my phone again, and it finally bit the dust. I immediately freaked out because the phone had completely died and I found out I did not have insurance on my account (why? I have no idea). I broke down in my bosses office because I was still a nervous wreck over my father. Now could not be a worse time to be without a phone.

I was touched by an angel, though. I went to Verizon and they let me upgrade my phone four months early, and provided a free "Lifeproof" phone case (which is just like having insurance on your phone). I have a ton more memory on my 5S. I was most thankful because it was a heavy and completely unexpected expense. 

When Johnathan and I arrived home from visiting our families for Christmas, I had my first ever experience "dumpster diving" (I guess you could say). 

My neighbor had a gorgeous black table he was throwing away. It was in perfect condition besides being a little dirty. J asked him if I could have it and my neighbor was more than happy to rid of it. I cleaned and polished it, added decor, and placed it behind my love seat. I think it fits perfectly and I am so happy to have it in my apartment!

Speaking of home decor, my brother and sister-in-law gave me two new Marilyn Monroe pictures to add to my obsession-- I mean collection. I love the quote on the below picture and think it looks perfect on my mini book shelf.

New Year's Eve was low key for J and I. I worked a half day and with it being the end of the month, I was absolutely exhausted by the time I left. Accounting is no fun on the last day of the month, and because of the holidays and a surplus of absenteeism, those of us who worked were in especially stressed and rotten moods. 

Thus an evening at J's mom's in the beautiful mountains of Lake Lure were exactly what we needed. We had a relaxing night with beautiful scenery and great snacks. 

This past weekend was difficult. After the news of my father then my phone, I was drained on Friday night. Saturday I felt OK during the day so J and I went to our friends house to watch the Panther's game. After 45 minutes or so, I felt myself growing increasingly weak and shaky and I proceed to throw up 3 times. How wonderful, right? This was after the heel of my favorite boots fell off walking in their house. This was me completely sober too; no wine or anything. I couldn't believe. 

After that we went home, and I was down all day yesterday and today I am still feeling naseous and light-headed. I hope my body is working hard at fighting off any flu that may be trying to lurk; I have never had it before and I do not want to start now. 

I will leave you with a couple of weekend pictures and cute pictures of Marty (since it's been a while).I'll write more this week. What's going on with you guys?

Naturally Increasing Dopamine Levels: The Brains "Feel Good" Chemical

January 7, 2015

If you are like me, once the holidays are over, I feel more stressed and tired than usual. There has been an influx of travel, extra tasks and stress at work, RLS symptoms surfacing more than normal, and both of my parents already deteriorating health have taken a turn for the worse lately. I could use a "boost". Something to aid in pushing on and keeping a positive mindset. 

A way to do this is by naturally increasing the dopamine levels in your brain. Dopamine is a "feel good" chemical in your brain, much like the neurotransmitter serotonin. Studies have shown that a depletion of dopamine is linked to depression. Dopamine is normally triggered when you approach and expect a reward or some type of satisfaction. The release of dopamine in the brain provides a 'good feeling' along with a surge of energy, which results in an increase of motivation. 

It is comforting to know that one can work on improving their mood and life without having to automatically see a doctor and get prescribed medication. Sometimes all we need is that extra "boost". There are different types food that naturally help dopamine levels when consumed plus everyday actions that you can do for yourself to help along the way. I know more sleep is absolutely something I need to make a priority. Then there are natural supplements that can be purchased on Amazon or local drug stores. As usual, consult your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing anything to ensure that it would not interfere with any medication you may be on now. 

Tyrosine forms DOPA, which is then converted to dopamine, and this, in turn, forms norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter related to mood. By supporting the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, L-tyrosine supplements can improve emotional well-being, sleep, mood, and cognitive/mental function, especially under situations involving environmental and emotional stress. 

Mucuna pruriens, commonly known as "velvet bean", naturally contains upwards of 5% L-Dopa (levodopa). L-DOPA is the same biochemical that is made in humans from the amino acid L-tyrosine and is then integrated into dopamine. 

L-theanine is an amino acid uniquely found in green tea that creates a state of alterted relaxation, meaning there is no drowsiness. L-theanine is known to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and increase dopamine levels in the brain.

Rhodiola is something a few of friends have said they consume and believe it helps. It is a popular plant in Eastern Europe and Asia, with a reputation for improving depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue and treating stress symptoms. 

These are suggestions and tips anyone could benefit from on a daily basis. Sometimes we all need that extra "push" especially with it being a brand new year!

[Edit: There was a typo on my first picture. Sorry about that!]

New Year. New You. New Start? The Choice is Yours.

January 6, 2015

Upon reading posts on Facebook, browsing pins on Pintrests, and seeing pictures on Instagram, I find that that "new years" often makes people cynical. There are those that mock the "new year, new me" mentality, and then there are people who are desperate for it. I see both sides. 

What I believe most about a "new year" is that nothing in your life will change or be different unless you are willing to work for it. Circumstances do not change unless you do.

Here we are six days into 2015. I feel tried. I am worn out from the holidays. Work has been as crazy and hectic as ever; and I find myself stating that constantly. I believe I need to come to the conclusion that is not going to change. Parallel to work, there was copious amounts of travel, lack of sleep, lots of food, and RLS flare-up's. 

I think a lot of us feel worn out from the holidays and sad that they are over. Therefore, a "new year" mentality is just the bit of hope to get one back on track and provide a goal to work and hope for. Right now, I need that. 

But then I remember that everyday is a new start if you give it that power. No matter how many times you have slipped on your diet, said "no" to a workout, bought that purse when you needed to save the money... everyday is another chance to get it right. Everyday is another chance to try again. Do not focus on that bad choices of yesterday, focus on how you can make positive choices today... right now.

That is what I am going to do. I have let loose, enjoyed myself thoroughly, and now I need to get back to work. Life is all about "finding the balance", and I am glad I enjoyed myself and veered off of my normal tightly structured schedule, as it enabled me to breathe and try new things, which also resulted in me missing my structure! For a while I was bored of it... now I crave it. 

This is a new year, and it is bringing an abundance of changes for me-- a big part is sharing my life with someone else now. Which in itself is a fun, new journey, though stressful at times. 

Take control and be kind to yourself. A lot of people are in that "after holiday" slump. Ease into a new routine that implement the changes you want to make in your life. Diving in too hard into those changes can result in drowning yourself -- crashing and burning. Changing a little at a time creates consistency and consistency is what forms habits. That is what your new changes need to become -- a habit, something you always find yourself doing. That is how I lost weight. That is how I fell in love with exercising. That is how I changed the way I look at myself. Those positive changes that resulted into new habits are what make it easier for me to reset my mind and fall back into a healthy structure. 

So, here we go. From my oily, greasy hair that is carelessly thrown into a bun with my coffee stained pants, I say Happy 2015 and let's make it the best yet.