Friday, February 14, 2020

♥ ♥ ♥ 20 Years ♥ ♥ ♥

It's our 20th Anniversary! That seems like a crazy long time. I was only 21 when we got married, so one more year and I'll be married as long as I wasn't. It feels like a huge accomplishment. In a world where a heck of a lot of marriages end in divorce (including my first one), staying together through thick and thin, for 20 years, is amazing. I'm proud of us.

For our anniversary this year, we went to Salt Lake City. It's local to us, but we're home bodies and don't really have the time to travel right now. So no fancy trips to Turks and Caicos, or wherever. But, we had a really good, low-key anniversary. More on that another day.

Today, I thought it would be fun to share 20 things about us on our 20th year. I did this once before, I think for our 14th anniversary. So here goes...

  1. We were only together 8 months when we got married. We had know one another about a year and a half, but we had only been a couple for 8 months.
  2. We met online, through ICQ random chat, back before there were internet dating sites.
  3. We got married at the courthouse in Waco, TX. There aren't any pictures, we just dressed up, got married, and went out to dinner. Then, life resumed as normal. It was perfect. 
  4. In the last 20 years we've lived in three different cities (Waco, Stephenville, & Logan) in two states (Texas & Utah).
  5. Between us, we've earned five degrees -- We both hold master's degrees.
  6. Matt has a job in his degree field (management and leadership), I don't. 
  7. We are blessedly childfree and you would not believe the crazy looks we get when we tell people it's just been us for the last 20 years.
  8. We've always been able to have long, in-depth conversations about everything from the actual to the philosophical. That hasn't changed one bit. Matt is a pretty deep thinker, he loves meaningful conversation but is absolute garbage at small talk. 
  9. Our #1 shared hobby is gaming. We play role playing games (ie. Dungeons & Dragons)
  10. Our #1 shared collectible is dice. We're sitting somewhere around 400 sets each
  11. We're vegan! In December 2019 we went Vegan, almost two months now and going strong!!
  12. We're both introverts and home-bodies. 
  13. We bought our first house in 2015. Before that, we had always rented. 
  14. We've had four pets: Chummer (1999-2005), Galileo (2004-2019), Anakin (2005-) and Chewbacca (2011-)
  15. We're huge Star Wars fans. So much so that our house is decorated in a Star Wars theme, which is subtle and not as tacky as it sounds. 
  16. Fun fact: When we got together, I hadn't really seen Star Wars. My ex loved it, so I rejected it to spite him. When Matt convinced me to watch it, I was hooked. 
  17. We've had six cars in the last 20 years: Ford Taurus (Matt's car when we got together), a fully loaded Crown Victoria (Matt's granddads car), Pontiac Sunfire (we bought this car outright with the insurance money from totaling the Crown Vic), 2014 Hyundai Veloster, 2016 Jeep Renegade, and 2019 Hyundai Veloster N.
  18. We have totally incompatible ideas about aging--Matt is in total denial about how old he is, while I'm completely comfortable with getting older. 
  19. We both write, but don't share what we've written.
  20. I would be completely and totally lost without him and he feels the same way about me. 
There are a lot more things I could put here, but I just thought I'd share the first 20 things that came to mind. It's been a remarkable 20 years, we've accomplished so much, and still love one another as much a we did in the beginning. Not a lot of couples can say so much. I cannot wait to see what the next 20 years holds. Happy Anniversary, gorgeous! ♥

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Self Care

I had an epiphany a thoughtful realization a little bit ago. I gathered up the will to ride the Peloton after I had a pretty rough day at work today. I wanted to sit on my ass and watch rom-coms, but instead did some dishes and jumped on the bike. After a 15 minute class, during which I listened to a tiny little woman tell me how easy it was while I huffed and struggled, I settled in to do a "Zen in 10" meditation. 

The meditation is a Peloton program. I've taken to doing them after my rides, as a sort of way to center and bring myself back down. I was doing this meditation when I had the realization. You always hear people talking about "self care" and doing something for yourself, taking time to yourself. While I thought I knew what that meant, I literally had no idea. No idea. Zero clue.

I've always had this idea that self care meant lounging in a bubble bath with a pint of ice cream, a cup of tea, and reading a romance novel. Or, that it meant scarfing down a box of cupcakes while drinking a bottle of wine and binging on Netflix. But, I never was able to connect with these modes of self-care, even though I tried. Don't get me wrong, I love a good romance novel, but those things never felt like self care to me. Or, not self-improving self care, anyway.

Then, while trying to enjoy my meditation with my dog barking (not a euphemism) and my legs burning, I realized that despite my earlier assumptions, self care did not mean easy. It didn't mean making no effort. Sometimes, self care is painful and difficult. Sometimes it's pushing just a little bit beyond your limits or trying just a little bit harder. It means doing something that's good for you, even if you're tired, unmotivated, or unfocused. It means riding the Peloton and putting in the best effort even when you don't want to. It means trying to focus on the meditation even when you mind keeps wandering. It means ignoring the craving for Krispy Kreme not because of calories, but instead because they're not vegan and you're doing your damn best.

Today was my first day of conscious self care. I finally understand what it means. And you know what, I'm on my fifth straight week riding the Peloton and my second full month as a vegan, and I'm doing my damn best.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Judgy Vegans

It turns out being vegan is a whole new world of judgy. I mean, it has it's obvious benefits. I've lost 13 lbs in less than a month (part exercise, but mostly just what I'm eating), I feel better emotionally, my skin looks better. I could probably go on, but you get the point. It's also not as hard as I thought it would be, even though it involves a lot more cooking than I was previously doing. Both good things.

But, like, the judgmental things you hear from people when you tell them you're vegan are kind of ridiculous. The people you think will support you, don't, which has been the hardest part for me. Like, this is a good choice I'm making for my health, you don't so much have to understand it. But, really, even strangers and acquaintances give you the side eye.

I think what I've found most surprising and upsetting, though, is the judgy vegan social media crowd. These are the people you expect to support you because they're in the same boat. The ones who you think you should be able to cheer for you, even if they don't know you. It has turned out to be a bit more judgmental than I expected. A mixed bag of cheerful new vegans, helpful veteran vegans, and the curmudgeonly vegans who feel like too many people are encroaching on their lifestyle. 

I'm not talking about  most vegan bloggers, without whom I would not have been able to do this. I love them. No, I'm talking about those people who crop up with "don't eat that, it's processed!" every single time anyone admits to eating anything but plants that grew in the dirt from their own back yards. I joined a vegan Facebook page (thanks, Jodi!) and most of those folks are awesome. I've gotten some great meal ideas from that group. But, there always seems to be the one or two judgy people who wants to tell you what you're eating isn't vegan enough by telling you that the food is processed. I mean... shut the fuck up. 

Isn't it good enough that people are trying to do better, not eat cute little animals, and improve their health? Not everyone has hours to make elaborate, complicated meals 3x per day. Some of us rely on processed foods sometimes, much of which is actually pretty healthy. The frozen meat alternatives, like chick'n tenders, also taste great... well, okay, not the "smart dog" vegan hot dogs, they can go back to whatever hell they crawled out of and stay there!!! But most of the other vegan processed meat alternatives I've tried taste really good.

It's only been one month, and maybe I'm sensitive about it because I also joined the Peloton group on Facebook and some of those people can be downright mean. I think it's something to get used to, for sure. For now, I'm plodding right along making all sorts of delicious foods I don't think I would have even considered eating before. I'm feeling better and sleeping better, despite the judgment and feeling good about the supportive folks who are here for one another. 

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Thursday, January 16, 2020

One Month Peloversary

Today is my our one month Peloversary! Is that a thing? We've had our Peloton bike for one month today and so far it's been... surprising. I started to say great, but that's not quite right. Surprising is much more accurate. I thought, in light of that, that I'd share a bit about my experience so far. If you have one of these things or have questions about the bike, please let me know.

First ride: This was brutal. To say I didn't make it far would be an understatement. I seriously underestimated how difficult this thing would actually be. Cycling/spinning is much, much harder than it looks. All those people who make it look easy are probably in good shape and regularly work out. If you are not in good shape and don't regularly work out, this thing will crush you. It will crush your body and your will.

I got off the bike after that ride wondering what the hell I had done. I wanted to get a damn treadmill, not a Peloton bike. Matt talked me into it and when I argued about the cost, said he would ride too (liar!), so we got this thing and here I was wondering if I would ever ride it again after that. At that moment, I thought I might have just paid a fortune for the worlds biggest paperweight. 

I went back: After I got over the emotional struggle of failing so spectacularly at my first ride, I pulled up my big girl panties and went back to the bike. The first few weeks were sporadic, with me not being able to develop any sort of schedule. I couldn't seem to be motivated to ride with regularity, but I think the most important thing to say here would be that I did keep going back, even if not terribly consistently. I missed one whole week, but went right back and did three days in a row. The next week, I rode one day, but I keep going back and I'm working on forming a routine. This week, I've done another three days in a row. Right now, I'm feeling like that routine might be riding during weekdays and taking the weekends off, but I don't know quite yet. I'm still working it out. 

I actually want to ride: This was the strangest part for me. I realized today, quite suddenly, that I actually wanted to get on the bike. I wanted to get on the bike in the middle of the day, but I had to work. I had no trouble finding the motivation to go in there, strap on my cycling shoes, and clip in. And today, I did a longer ride than any I've done so far. To want to exercise, to crave it, that's a completely foreign feeling for me. I like how I feel afterward. I like how I feel the next day. I guess what I'm trying to say is... I like it. 

A pain in the ass: This is not figurative. When you start riding this thing your ass will hurt. Not a little bit, it will hurt a lot. I couldn't even sit on this seat for five straight minutes when I started. It was excruciating. I got a gel cover for the seat and it honestly didn't help all that much. It still hurt. My sits-bones just weren't able to withstand this thing. So, I did something I haven't really seen anyone else admit to. I sat on a pillow. There's a guest bed in the same room with my bike, so I got one of the pillows and used it to make riding the bike less painful. 

Then something strange happened. I dropped the pillow one day last week and rather than clipping out to get it, I just figured I'd give it a shot without it. And, you know, I was able to sit on the seat without suffering. It still hurt, but not so much that I couldn't just deal with it. I could sit for ten straight minutes (that's about my average ride right now, don't judge me) without pain. Today, I was able to sit on it for about 15 minutes without too much pain. 

The shoes & clipping in: Shockingly, the shoes fit perfectly. They take a little putting together, but they're pretty comfortable. My biggest objection to the shoes is that they cost $125 per pair. We bought two pairs, which makes these officially the most expensive shoes we've ever purchased. It's especially expensive when you take into account that you can't wear them anywhere but on the bike. 

The clipping thing proved to be a little challenging for me. I never have trouble clipping in, it's clipping out that's a challenge. It's not the easiest. Those pedals hold onto the shoes for dear life. You have to have a little bit of leg strength to clip out and I won't lie, the first time I rode I couldn't clip out on the right foot. I took the shoe off, got off the bike, and disconnected the shoe from the pedal (not easy!). I've gotten it down, but man!

Yoga, Strength, & Meditation: This is something I really like about the bike. There are programs that aren't bike programs. You can do yoga, meditation, and strength training. So far, I've done yoga and meditation, in addition to cycling, of course. I still prefer to do yoga through other programs, but this is a nice feature. 

Classes & Scenic Rides: So far, my preference is scenic rides, by far. It allows me to ride somewhere I'll probably never go without leaving my house. It's lovely and allows me to ride at my own pace. But, there are also both live and recorded classes, and a feature that just allows you to ride without anyone directing you or any sort of scenery. I've done three recorded classes, but no live classes because I'm not that brave quite yet. 

The cost: This was the biggest hang up for me. This thing is very expensive. After the accessories (shoes, heart rate monitor, water bottles all x2, and the mat for under the bike) it cost us about $2,850. It's an investment, for sure. On top of that, we pay $41 per month for the subscription. This is not a cheap piece of equipment, but I think it's completely worth it. 

Let me tell you, that is not easy for me to admit. I fought against getting this thing for a long time because I thought it was just an exercise bike. I thought it was just like every other exercise bike on the market with a fancy screen. I was wrong. It's more than that. The whole package is worth every single penny. The motivation to actually exercise for the first time in my life, it's worth it. 

Overall impression: I love it and am looking forward to many more rides. My goal is to get in better shape, better conditioning, and I think this bike can do that. It already is. In just one month of fairly inconsistent rides, I'm already improving. I can do more than I could when I got the bike one month ago and that alone makes it worth it. I'm getting better and stronger, and when I work out I feel better emotionally which is a huge deal for me. I just feel better overall. If you're considering buying one of these things... do it!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Going Vegan

We're not getting any younger, ya know? We're in our early 40s and we're looking back on our unhealthy adult years thinking we could have taken better care of ourselves. We're overweight, neither of us sleep very well, and we're not all that active. Okay, I'm not. The hubs works a job where he's on his feet a lot, like 15,000+ steps a night 3-4 days a week. We could have been doing better for ourselves all these years but we've always had a convenience foods lifestyle.

We've always eaten more than our share of fast foods, eaten in restaurants a lot, and when I cook it's generally been a sort of southern, soaked in oil, meat-forward type of diet. We've lived to eat and what we've been eating has tasted good (really, really good), but hasn't been good for us (really, really not good).

So, it would be impossible to overstate my complete and utter shock when my meat eating, cheese loving, dairyaholic husband decided he wanted to be a vegan. He did some research, watched some documentaries (The Game Changers & Forks over Knives), and made a thoughtful, conscious choice to do this thing. One of the many impressive things about him is that when puts his mind to anything, he usually succeeds. He's got great willpower, with some notable exceptions (smoking, boo).

I never thought I'd see the day, honestly. We've been together for 20 years and in that time I've never seen him consider anything even remotely similar to this. It's pretty remarkable how the people you spend every day with can change and grow, right under your nose, without you noticing. In fact, he's usually been completely derisive about vegetarian and veganism.

Since he's made this decision, I'm trying to change my eating habits, too. We're doing this together, but I have to say, so far he's succeeding much more than I am. It turns out I'm struggling to give up "normal foods," like chicken nuggets and mac & cheese. Something many people don't know about me, I was a vegetarian for a while as a teen. I could not stomach the idea of eating meat, most specifically red meat, so I cut it out of my diet. I still ate animal byproducts, like eggs and cheese, but not animals.

You would think, then, that I'd be doing better about this. If we were working toward being vegetarians, I would be crushing this. But, despite what any food documentaries or vegan food blog says, it is not as easy as it sounds to cut all animal byproducts out of your diet. There are things lurking in your food that you may not even know are animal byproducts!

So far, I've made some pretty tasty vegan recipes and, though he's not always been a vegetable fan, the hubs has enjoyed them. I haven't made anything he's turned his nose up at, so that's a good start. Granted, the foods I've been making are pretty basic--black bean enchiladas, veggie stir fry with rice noodles, that sort of thing. It's pretty hard to find some vegan foods around here, so that's not really helping. You would think in a community where everyone is sort of health conscious we could find more vegan foods, but you would be wrong.

Dispute the early struggles, which I am happy to say I have completely overcome now, we're doing okay at this. I've focused my energy on learning, which is really important because I do all the grocery shopping and cooking. If he's going to eat something, I've generally made it. So, it's fallen to me to tell him if he's eating something that might not be vegan and that's been a little bit challenging. Overall, we're doing better than I would have expected and are excited about how this will change our health!

Green Minestrone (Pintrest recipe) -- It was delicious!!