March 4, 2015

Plank A Day Challenge

Back-tracking a little, in January, I did my first do-something-every-day challenge. My internet friend Laura challenged all of her Instagram followers to do a plank every day for a month. Challenge accepted! Strength training, particularly core work, is a key part of triathlon training. You need a strong core to sit on a bike for four hours.

Here's the day-by-day of how it went down.

Jan. 1 - 1:35
Jan. 2 - 1:40
Jan. 3 - 1:45
Jan. 4 - 1:50
Jan. 5 - 1:55
Jan. 6 - forgot!
Jan. 7 - 1:00 (lot of planks in AM strength class)
Jan. 8 - 2:00
Jan. 9 - 2:05
Jan. 10 - 1:30 (arms extended)
Jan. 11 - 2:05
Jan. 12 - 2:10
Jan. 13 - 2:15
Jan. 14 - forgot
Jan. 15 - 2:20
Jan. 16 - 2:25
Jan. 17 - 2:30*
Jan. 18 - 2:00
Jan. 19 - forgot
Jan. 20 - 2:45
Jan. 21 - 2:50
Jan. 22 - 3:00
Jan. 23 - 3:15
Jan. 24 - 3:30
Jan. 25 - 3:35
Jan. 26 - 3:40
Jan. 27 - 3:50
Jan. 28 - planks in AM strength class
Jan. 29 - 4:00
Jan. 30 - 4:15
Jan. 31 - 4:30

*I did that one sauced in the middle of John's birthday party. True story.

This was an impromptu decision I made scrolling Instagram one night, so I didn't go to Pinterest looking for plans. I just decided to see how long I could hold it the first time and then increase by five seconds a day. In the last week, I wanted to shoot for a solid five minutes, so I started increasing by 15-30 seconds.

The trick is to do the plank while listening to music. Once I figured that out, it became a lot easier. My go-to plank song is "Shut Up and Let Me Go" by The Ting Tings. That song is 2:51, so my goal for awhile was to hold the plank for the length of the song. It helped so much. I highly recommend doing it this way.

Benefits? Results? Yes! My core got stronger, which improved my posture, swimming and yoga practice. Also? My clothes got looser. I swear, it flattened my stomach.

As soon as the month was up, we went to L.A., so I kind of just stopped cold turkey. I'd like to keep doing planks. I don't know if every day is the answer, but maybe three times a week. I'll report back.

P.S. While I was doing these, I came up with all these terrible plank puns. You're welcome.

Plank it; plank it real good
Plank what your mama gave you
If you've got it, plank it
You make planking fun
Plank on through to the other side
Plankin' - I plank it to the east, and I plank it to the west...

March 2, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up: Organize It Edition

My friend, and graphic designer to the stars, Meg, bought a totally rad new house in East Nashville and invited us ladies over to check it out. I have a huge crush on Meg's new digs and won't rest until my entire house is painted grey.

You know some days you wake up and your brain's like, 'Not today, bitch'? Saturday was one of those days. I published this post about maybe not doing my race, which begged the question, if I'm not doing the race, am I still going to ride my trainer for an hour? Turns out, no. But then I sat on the couch and beat myself up for not riding my trainer. Then I started eating. Then I closed the curtains, laid down on the couch and started watching House of Cards. Thankfully Carolyn texted and asked if I wanted to go shopping. Yes! Yes I do.

I was on a quest for acrylic makeup organizers, but needed to expand my search beyond Nashville West and Bellevue, so we went to Rivergate. We hit that Rivergate TJ Maxx HARD. I think we were in there for three hours, #2Legit2Quit. Then we went to Goodwill where I scored this vintage Pendleton blazer. I tried it on, then decided I didn't want it and set it down, but Carolyn made me go back and get it, and after looking at these pictures, I'm glad she did. I don't know what I was thinking (probably that I was hungry), but good save C-Bass!

My entire existence hinged on whether or not I worked out on Sunday. The only answer was to do the GD run, so without giving it another thought, I got dressed and drove to Belle Meade Blvd. I ran 7 miles. Alone. In the rain. I rewarded myself with Tequila's. John and I feasted on fajitas, and not just any fajitas, Fajitas Texanas, because sometimes you have to splurge for those two pieces of shrimp.

When I'm stressed out or working through a big decision, I clear my mind by tackling an organization project. I typically organize existing systems, like shoes, scarves, jewelry, etc. But sometimes I have to go buy new systems and re-work the whole thing. I've been real pissed off at my makeup zone lately. I need to see it all in one place. And I need acrylic organizers.

I realized these suckers exist all over the place, but the ones I found were either the wrong style, or the right style, but broken. I finally found what I wanted at the Rivergate TJ Maxx. So I sat at the dining room table yesterday, pulled all my makeup out of everywhere and organized it into this thing. It was very cathartic. I only kept what I actually wear, or new samples from Birchbox that I haven't tried yet. I threw away a ton of stuff and made a give-away bag of stuff I've only used once or twice. I feel so much better!

February 28, 2015

A List

I present to you, a list.

Yes, keep doing it:

You don't quit things.
You paid for it.
If you quit, you'll regret it.
That one time you did it, you loved it.
Them legs though.

No, you don't have to do that thing anymore:

You don't want to.
Your heart's not in it.
You don't know why you're doing it.
This weather SUCKS.
You miss weekends.
You're realizing you have other goals that need time and attention, oh you know, like that business you started.

I am debating dropping out of Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga. Los Angeles did something to me. I can't quit thinking about how there are other ways to live a healthy lifestyle that don't involve 12 hours a week of training. I still want to exercise, and run half marathons, and hell, I still want to do triathlons. I just don't know if I want to do this 70.3 distance anymore. Maybe instead, I'm a power walker, or a yoga instructor, or just someone whose knees don't hurt all the time.

I've been talking about this to everyone everywhere every day, and a friend told me that A) I am one of three people he knows right now wanting to drop out of this race, and B) not to make a decision in this weather, that if on a sunny, 60-degree day, I hate riding my bike, then yes, quit.

I'm not making a decision yet. The 'wait until the weather is better' advice is legit, and three more weeks of indoor training won't kill me. But y'all, I am not feeling this race.

To be continued.

February 25, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up: Old Slickory Edition

We had an ice storm in Nashville last week. I couldn't drive on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, tried driving on Thursday - mistake, and went back to not driving on Friday. Our driveway kept re-freezing, as did the street in front of our house. By Saturday afternoon, I decided I was going to Target if I had to put on my wetsuit and walk there.

It finally melted enough on Saturday afternoon for me to drive. I made it to Target. And Marshall's. And Old Navy. I needed new pajama pants, a black pencil skirt and ankle-length black pants. Target had absolutely nothing in my size. So I bought this candle. It was $10 and smells like the fancy one from Anthropologie. I got the rug and two black shirts at Marshall's. I heart that rug so hard. They had a million of them. This one was $30, but they had a bunch for $15 and $20, FYI. I hate Old Navy, but I knew they'd have pajama pants (on sale for $9), and they had nice-ish black pants and an okay black pencil skirt. Done.

My #1 homegirl, Lana, is running a full marathon on Saturday. I haven't done a long run in 2 weeks, but Melanie and I really wanted to run Lana's last long training run with her. She needed to run 8 miles, so we met at Belle Meade Blvd and ran the last 6 miles with her. And shockingly, none of us fell! (Everything was still covered in ice, except it was black ice now.)

Good luck on Saturday, Lana! Show Arizona the HAM!!!

Later on Sunday, I got to watch this little guy blow out the candle on his first birthday cake. Happy first birthday, Charlie! Your mom throws a mean party! (Alexis, I hope there's less babies at the Christmas party though.)

My plan on Sunday night was to watch the Oscar Awards a la our digital antenna. Nope. ABC was blacked out for the night. No problem, it's streaming online. Nope, not actually streaming. Only streaming things you can't see on TV, like the "backstage cam", the "audience cam", and my personal favorite, the "thank you cam". I hate you, ABC.

February 21, 2015

What I Wore: The Grammys

When John and I made the decision to fly to L.A. for the Grammys, I immediately panicked about what in the world I was going to wear. And that was when I thought I only needed one outfit - HAHAHAHAHA. Turns out, I needed a minimum of two outfits: one for the nominees reception and one for the awards show. I knew I was in over my head and enlisted the help of my friend Anjeanetta, who has YEARS (15?) of retail and styling experience both here and in New York City. She knows me well (we've been friends since college and were roommates in NYC) and knows my style, comfort level and what works for my body.

We started by setting up a Grammy Pinterest board. I pinned some looks I liked and she told me where to start looking, e.g. ASOS, Nasty Gal, etc. Once we had a board full of potential outfits we met over coffee and decided what I should buy. We initially decided I would wear a black dress to the awards and a jumpsuit to the nominees reception. The reception was business casual and the awards were black tie.

Anj liked the idea of me in a floor-length black dress with some kind of interesting detail, and potentially paired with a black, leather motorcycle jacket. Shockingly, this dress existed, and I bought it. Thank you, ASOS. The jumpsuit however, proved harder to find. I didn't want to buy one online without knowing what it would look like on my body, so I went to Target and tried on a few. Meh. There was this gold blazer/black leggings look on Nasty Gal that I loved, so we scrapped the jumpsuit and went with the blazer/leggings look.

Unfortunately, the Nasty Gal blazer was sold out in my size, but I was sure I could find one, so I started hitting the thrift stores hard. My search paid off. I found a gold Calvin Klein blazer in my size and in like-new condition for $8. Then I went to Target and bought a white t-shirt and pleather leggings. This entire outfit cost $38, which is hilarious because the borrowed shoes and purse I wore cost more than my airfare to L.A. True story.

Once I had the two outfits, I went over to Anjeanetta's and she styled me. I don't own fancy lady shoes, so Anj generously, and very trustingly, gave me a pair of Louboutins and a pair of Celine heels, plus a Chanel bag and a vintage Balenciaga clutch. Y'all, I'm not even kidding, I carried all of this on the plane because I was terrified the airline would lose my luggage and I'd owe Anjeanetta $7,000 in accessories.

Side-note on the dress: Anj had me order it in a size 12 (I'm probably a size 8) and have it tailored down. This is not something I would have known to do. Now granted, the alteration cost more than the dress, but it was money well spent. That dress fit like a glove. I got compliments on it all night. No one could believe it was from ASOS. (I used Elegant Alterations in Green Hills.)

I LOVED all of my outfits. They were perfect. I never felt over or under dressed. The Celine heels did amazing things to my legs in those pleather leggings. They didn't even look like my legs. I felt real fancy and real cool. I loved my dress so much. I never even put on the jacket because I didn't want to hide the dress. And aside from having to free-boob it due to an undergarment malfunction, I was totally comfortable, which is hard to pull off not only in black tie, but in an outfit I literally wore from 9:30/10:00am until 2:30am.

Anjeanetta, thank you sooooo much!!!

John is going to kill me for this, but he looked so good!! He wore a suit by Billy Reid, styled by Shelly Colvin. Shelly, girl, THANK YOU!

P.S. Anjeanetta is one of Pinterest's top pinners, so if you're not already following her, I highly recommend you do so.

February 19, 2015

Birchbox Review: December

My December Birchbox had a lot of good stuff in it. Of particular interest is this $7 Rusk texture spray, which I'm pretty sure is going to replace the $40 Oribe I've been buying. Trust. Here's what was in my box.

Rusk Texture Spray, $7-$18

I was a little bit annoyed when I saw this because I'm pretty sure it's a brand you can only buy at Walgreens, but turns out, I really like it! I know! I am as surprised by this as you are. Have I been wasting my money on Oribe all these years when I could have been using Rusk? Maybe. It's the same product. It doesn't have that amazing Oribe scent, but it does smell really good. I'm pretty into this stuff. All you texture spray users should give this a try. If you hate it, which you won't, you'll only be out $7.

Royal Apothic Cuppa Cuppa Firming Tea Treatment Mask, $58

Okay, I really love this mask. It's purple, which is strange, but it's sooooo good. It smells delicious and leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated. No idea if it's firming anything, but I kind of don't believe in that anyway. It's just a nice, clay mask that feels too luxurious for something you can do at home. The price is a little steep for me, but I'd like to own this.

Number 4 Hydrating Shampoo, $34

I don't spend this much on shampoo anymore, but if you do, this is a solid option. It smells a tad medicinal for the Number 4 brand, but not too bad. Also of note, it's concentrated and doesn't lather, which makes for an odd shampoo experience. Every time I used it, I either used too much or too little.

Number 4 Hydrating Condition, $36

I'm a fan of the Number 4 brand and have bought their products before. I'm not in the market for a $36 conditioner, but if you are, this one is great. It's super thick and moisturizing.

W3LL People Bio Brightener Stick, $33

Ugh, this thing. First of all, the actual product is a stick, but the sample came in a pot. Very confusing for application purposes. It's apparently a highlighter stick, but I'm not into it. It has too much shimmer and it's too creamy - it doesn't stay on. It's impossible to spread, so I'm not sure how you're supposed to even get it on your cheekbones. I've tried dabbing it onto my brow bones, but, meh. In comparison to what I currently use, Benefit Watt's Up, I prefer Benefit.

Mirenesse iCurl Secret Weapon 24Hr Mascara, $29

Man, it's real hard to hate mascara, but I hate this mascara. The brush/wand is terrible. If you have long lashes and need volume, like me, this is not the mascara for you. Also, it's just black, not "jet-black Taylor Swift at the Grammys" black. And you do have to use makeup remover to get it off.

February 17, 2015

L.A. Wrap Up: Grammys Edition, Part Two

When I left you, John and I had attended the Special Merit Awards and Nominees Reception on Saturday night and were getting ready for the Grammy Awards on Sunday. Fact:  there are 86 Grammy awards and only 11 are televised. John was one of the awards given out earlier that day in what is called the Premiere Ceremony. I thought this would be at a hotel ballroom and we'd all be sitting around big tables. John Waters was going to there and I told everyone I was going to take so many secret pictures of him. Well, turns out, not at a hotel ballroom. No, our ceremony was next door to the Staples Center at the Nokia Theatre, which is what would happen if Ryman Auditorium and Bridgestone Arena had a baby. It was huge.

We sat down and read on the program that John's award was number 12, so we were going to know if he won real fast, like in the first 30 minutes fast. I looked around at the enormity of the event and the enormity of why we were there, and started crying. I tried to tell John that I was proud of him, but I couldn't talk and we both started laughing.

John is a mastering engineer and was nominated for his work on There's A Dream I've Been Saving:  Lee Hazelwood Industries 1966 - 1971 (Deluxe Edition) in the category, Best Historical Album. John was nominated along with the box set's 3 producers:  Matt Sullivan, Patrick McCarthy and Hunter Lea. This was great because it meant we went through the whole weekend as a group of 8, which was a lot of fun, and also, way less intimidating.

They really did get to John's award in the first 30 minutes. I couldn't believe how fast it all went. I started crying again as they read the list of nominees and I heard "John Baldwin, mastering engineer", but then they read another name as the winner. I was stunned for a minute while my brain processed what just happened. We had met the winner at the reception the night before and we were happy for her, and listened to her acceptance speech, and then we all just kind of looked at each other, shrugged and left. We walked outside, found the closest hotel bar and stayed there until it was time for the Grammys.

(From L to R:  Alec Palao, Hunter Lea, Patrick McCarthy, Matt Sullivan, John Baldwin)

I had initially intended to walk the Grammys red carpet to A) see a red carpet in person, and B) see some crazy celebrities up close. But... mojitos. We lost track of time and barely made it into the Staples Center before they closed the doors. We sat down and the show started almost immediately. AC/DC started playing and it was so loud and so over-the-top. I started laughing and couldn't stop, and kind of started laugh-crying. It was just so ridiculous - the performance and the fact that we were there.

Seeing an awards show in person is really weird. Most of the stuff you see on television you don't see live because the host and most of the presenters are mic'd for television. So there are these screens that drop down and show old performances to keep the live audience entertained during all the transitions. It's bizarre. But we had great seats and the show was 80% fun.

After the awards show, we all walked next door to the Convention Center for the after-party, which John described on Twitter as, "Mary Poppins / Transcontinental Railroad themed". It was kind of like Bonnaroo, but in a convention center. There were all these different rooms, with different stages and different themed performers. Gloria Gaynor performed - ? None of it made sense. But hey, open bar! Honestly, it was a much needed opportunity for the guys to regroup, refocus and turn those frowns upside down, which we did. Until 2am.

John and I have joked about how we'll tell people about the Grammys because it's going to be so hard to do without sounding like assholes. It is hands-down one of the most important things that has happened to John's career, but the actual event was a total circus that kind of didn't mean much. We met a lot of people over the weekend who nodded knowingly upon hearing that it was our first time. I get it now. It's definitely something you do when you get nominated, but you only do it once. And I'm only talking about the televised Grammy Awards show, not all the other stuff. The weekend itself and all the nominee events that John went to are 100% worth the airfare, but the actual awards show? Yeah, once is probably enough.

Full Grammy photostream here.


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