Tag Archives: travel

Staying Healthy when your Routine is Disrupted

5 Jun

Sure, it’s easy to stay healthy when you get into a routine, but what do you do when your routine is disrupted?

Today I’m at a work meeting about an hour away from home and I’m finding a brief moment to blog about how I keep a healthy routine.

We broke for lunch and I had an hour and a half. I noticed that there was nothing but fast food nearby, and a shopping center. I decided to take a nice long hike to the other end of the shopping center to hit up the grocery store.

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I was able to not only get in about a 20 minute walk, but also get a pretty healthy lunch of seaweed salad, a pre-peeled hard boiled egg (delicious together, by the way), a peach and (not pictured) a Lara bar. I had to get the frozen yogurt so I could use their table to eat ūüėČ – but I only used fruit toppings!!

I got all of that food for about $10, about the same as fast food and I was able to save back one egg and half the Lara bar for a snack later. I even had time to hit up a local discount store, where I scored a new workout outfit that will inspire me to hit the gym when I get home this evening!

Question of the Day:
How do you stay healthy when your routine is disrupted?

A Fall Getaway

1 Oct

This weekend, Zach and I joined some friends for a trip to Marlinton, WV for their annual Fall Festival and “Roadkill Cook-off” — all of us had seen advertisements for the Festival when we’ve visited Pocahontas County, so our¬†curiosity¬†was peaked. Our friend Mandee’s husband Garrett’s family happens to have a cabin located right along the Greenbrier River and they invited us down to hang out at the cabin and check out the Festival.

See Zach and Garrett?

The cabin was great! All the comforts of home. We arrived on Friday evening and left Sunday morning, so minus our Roadkill Festival fare, we concluded that we would need three meals while we were there — dinner Friday, breakfast Saturday, and dinner on Saturday. So each couple was responsible for one meal. Mandee made us an excellent chili on Friday evening (I threw together a quickie cast-iron skillet cornbread also). I’m sad I didn’t take any photos, but I was ravenous and just inhaled it! I was responsible for breakfast Saturday morning. Since we were right on the Greenbrier River Trail, I wanted to get a run or two in, so I decided on a low-maintenance breakfast: quiche!

Mmmmm….

Quiche is the easiest. You just crack some eggs, add in some cream, cheese and veggies then cook it until it’s not runny anymore. I even used a store-bought crust because I was going for quick and easy. I love easy meals that are delicious and seem labor-intensive. This quiche turned out great. Usually I go the asparagus route with quiche, but this time I threw in some broccoli and peppers. It was very delicious. I made two, and we had plenty of leftovers to heat up and eat while we were packing up on Sunday morning.

Speaking of running (was I?), like I mentioned we were right on the Greenbrier River Trail. It’s a 78 mile trail that goes through the mountains of West Virginia, and it is breathtaking. On Saturday morning, I did a three-mile loop in one direction and then on Sunday I did a six-mile loop in the other direction. It was a really pretty run, and the weather was chilly enough that once I started sweating I was still comfortable.

I must have stopped to take a million photos.

Our cabin was located on mile marker 77, so on my six mile loop I ran until I got to mile marker 74 and then turned around. I love running in the solitude and nature, but do not try to do it without music. When I run in town, there is plenty to keep my interest, but miles and miles of river and trees, while lovely, can get pretty repetitive pretty quickly. The first morning I realized that I forgot my headphones, hence the shorter run, but then on Sunday morning I realized I brought that hat you see on my head up there, which has built in headphones. Luckily it was chilly enough to run in a hat.

Enjoying the view from the cabin porch, post-run.

Let’s talk about the Roadkill Cook-off, shall we? The Pocahontas County Autumn Harvest Festival and Roadkill Cook-off has been happening for 22 years now. The first rule listed in the WV Living Magazine article about it last year reads:¬†The main ingredient must be any animal commonly found dead on the side of the road, including groundhog, possum, deer, rabbit, squirrel, or snake. Pigs, cows, chickens, horses, and goats are also acceptable. The animal need not actually come off the side of the road, and in fact,¬†most of the judges prefer that¬†it didn‚Äôt.

I’ll have to admit, I was pretty nervous. I’ve been a vegetarian in the past, so going beyond my usual chicken or fish was a bit of a stretch for me. But, these are once in a lifetime opportunities, people!

After a rainy Friday, we had some fabulous weather for the festival on Saturday. Blue skies, fluffy white clouds, hot sun and cool breeze — perfect fall weather. The Festival itself was pretty standard — crafts, food, etc. But the real fun was located in the town square. For three dollars, you got a wristband that allowed you to sample any of the food that was being judged for the cook-off:

 

The first line we got into was a booth that was serving “Possum Burgoo” I’m pretty sure they were trying to go for a traditional Kentucky Burgoo (which is amazing!), so I figured if nothing else I would like the stew itself.

This possum was incredibly life-like.

The stew itself resembled chili. I got a huge chunk of meat in mine, which I bravely ate. It tasted exactly like chicken. In fact, I swear it actually was chicken because possums are kind of gross and I don’t want to think about eating them. The stew itself, however, was bland. After that I went into it with a new attitude: Food Critic.

After the first booth, we got straight into line to try a squirrel meat rice dish. It was a little better than the Burgoo, but I was still searching for my favorite.

The next line we got into had the best presentation, in my opinion. They were serving “Porcupine Quill” which was basically a skewer of porcupine meat (are porcupines typically roadkill?) with vegetables and a yummy sweet and a little spicy sauce.

 

The boy in the middle said that Native Americans would use this recipe and use the porcupine’s quills as skewers for the meat and veggies. This was by far my favorite of the cook-off. They claimed to use the traditional Native American recipe, but it seemed a lot like teriyaki sauce. It was still delicious.

After that, we tried a bear meatloaf, which I found to be a little mushy, but everyone else seemed to like.

A few of the booths were closed down because judging was happening. This is the one I would have liked to try:

 

In case you can’t read that menu, they had a Teriyaki Venison, a Rabbit and Dandelion salad and Venison fried rice. Yum! I’m really sorry I missed that one.

All in all, we thought the Roadkill Cook-off was just so-so. While the food was interesting and exciting, other than the samples of the food being judged, there wasn’t many food vendors around. There was a stand selling goat meat sandwiches (not my thing) and a stand selling Polish sausage (so my thing). Everyone got a goat meat sandwich, but when I went over to get a sausage they were out of onions and peppers so I passed. We ended up going to a restaurant and having a few bites there before heading back to the cabin for the evening.

 

We got back to the cabin just as the sun was setting. I ran to the river to take some photos of the view, and I got the above gem. Despite the festival being kind of a bust, we had a great time hanging out, enjoying nature and each other’s company so the trip was a success!

Question of the Day:
Did you do anything fun this weekend? 

Big News!

27 Aug

It has been quite the vacation so far! We arrived yesterday around 3 and after quite a long check in, we finally all got settled into our house. This house is so lovely. This is the view from the back deck: 

 

We are just in paradise. Emerald Isle is an adorable place. Apparently the whole island is a turtle sanctuary, and right up the beach from us, there are turtle eggs: 

 

We had a great time the first night, but we were sleepy from the long drive, so we hit the hay pretty early. Zach had mentioned that he wanted to take an early morning walk on the beach, so we headed out around 7 or so. It was a lovely morning and I was just busy watching all the birds and taking photos of the sunrise: 

….when Zach asked if he could ask me a question. And then, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!!!¬†

Photo courtesy of Zach’s sister Courtney, who might have been as excited as I was! (which is awesome, so glad to have a new sister)

I always knew that Zach was the one, but I never expected this or saw it coming at all. Apparently when Zach went golfing last week, that was actually code for ring shopping! And I bought it hook, line and sinker. It helps that I’m totally gullible!

Right now, my cheeks hurt from smiling so hard. I’ve never been so happy, today is the best day of my life. I can’t wait to marry the man of my dreams!¬†

Question of the Day: 
Are you married? How did you or your significant other pop the question? 

 

 

 

 

From a negative to a positive.

21 Aug

Last week, I tweeted this:

As it turns out, that wasn’t actually true. This morning, I ran 4.5 miles, 3 miles of which were almost right at my half-marathon pace! Let’s backtrack a bit. I’ll warn you now that this run recap will get a little TMI, so if you’re not into that sort of thing you might want to stop reading now.

I woke up this morning and knew I had to go for a 3.5 mile run. Since I was running outside, I knew I had to drink my morning coffee and make sure I used the bathroom first. Because none of the bathrooms at the park are open in the early mornings (that irks me to no end, by the way), and inevitably I will be at the furthest point from my house and have to go.

It was kind of chilly this morning so I had to wear my long sleeves.


Long sleeves = perfect running weather, in my opinion. But I do feel like I’m racing time to get my summer vacation in before fall begins…But I digress. I headed out and was feeling very strong. I checked my pace a few times and noticed that I was just below my goal half marathon pace, and I felt great. Around mile 1.5, I started feeling that familiar grumbly tummy feeling, but I ignored it. When I got to my turn around point, however, I was wondering if I would make it back!

So, I’m at the turn around point and I realize that I have to use the bathroom, like, soon. I know it will take me roughly 15 minutes to run back, and I also know that there was a (really sketchy) port-a-potty near my favorite water fountain, which was .5 miles — in the other direction. I started to run back home but quickly realized I would not make it, so I walked (running was out of the question) to the port-a-potty. Which was the most disgusting port-a-potty I’ve ever been in. Ever.¬†I know, I know. This is totally TMI, but running just gets things moving and sometimes this happens.

Like I said, I waited it out at home before I took off, so I was running late as it was, and now I had to run 2 miles instead of 1.5 to get home and get ready for work. I knew I had to run, and fast, so I did. I averaged well above half marathon pace in my last two miles! Not only that, but I felt really great and strong.

I can do it! I can run a sub-2 hour half!

Sometimes negatives turn into positives. As I mentioned yesterday, I ended up running about .81 miles longer that I was supposed to for my long run, and now today I ran 1.5 miles more than I should have (well, .5 of those were walking, but still). As of today, I’m above my training miles by 2.3 miles!

Just a note, next week I’ll be on vacation and I’m taking the week off of training. I’m sure I’ll still run, because running is one of my favorite things to do on vacation (how cool is it to go see the sights?), but I’m not going to hold myself to a training schedule, because vacation is for relaxation! I need to keep telling myself that because, in case you haven’t noticed, I have a hard time really letting go. In fact, I’m easing into vacation mentality already this week. Last night, Zach and I went out for a bit, and I was hungry so I ordered….chili cheese fries!¬†That is very out of character for me. So much, in fact, that my friend Susie said, “Who¬†are¬†you!?” I’m just trying to let loose a bit. I have all fall and winter to be hard on myself ūüôā

I promise that I’ll have a new Financial Fitness post for you after vacation. I’ll be blogging next week, but I’m just going to talk about vacation and what a great time I’m having ūüôā

Question of the Day:
What’s your most¬†embarrassing¬†fitness related story?¬†

Making do with what I have…

16 Aug

Recently I finally made it to the new local food market in my town: The Wild Ramp.

I wish I had taken photos, but here is how it works. The Wild Ramp is a locally owned, non-profit market. All the produce is local (it seems that the farthest anything had travelled was Athens, OH), and most of the people who work there are volunteers. The produce is grouped by farm, so there may be, for example, tomatoes on several different tables. When you pick out produce, you also have to take a bar code sticker to the register so they will know which farm you are buying from. The best part: $0.90/$1.00 goes directly to the farmer, as opposed to buying local produce at the grocery store, where maybe $0.20-$0.30/$1.00 goes to the farmer.

Click on this image (from the wild ramp blog) to be directed to their blog.

The most surprising thing that I found was that it wasn’t all produce. There was locally made tofu, veggie burgers, local eggs (they have a place in the front where you can donate your used egg cartons), even local meat! I bought some local tofu, I can’t wait to try it!

I also bought some tomatoes and peppers, and a few other things I can’t mention because they went to my Foodie Pen Pal this month.

For $50 and 1 volunteer hour per month, you can become a “Friend of the Market”, which I absolutely plan on doing. The perk (although, I think the real perk is helping to support a sustainable local resource for healthy food) is that you can call ahead and have your food ready to pick up when you stop by. You also get a subscription to their newsletter. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this resource so close by! Huntington, WV is really moving up in the healthy food game. I wish Jamie Oliver could see us now!

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In other news, my training this week is going well. I’ve had two really good runs in a row, so I ¬†think I’m bouncing back from whatever was holding me back last week. Also, I had a really good night sleep last night, although I don’t know if the reason I slept well is particularly healthy:

After work, Zach and I went grocery shopping. Once I got home and got my run out of the way, we had some dinner and rather than clean the kitchen, I asked Zach if he wanted to go out for a drink. We decided to head over to a nearby bar which has a really nice patio and a couple of our friends were already there. Once we sat down, more and more friends kept showing up! It was a really nice evening, but I stayed up too late and had a few too many drinks. So I think maybe the sleeping well had more to do with being a little tipsy than actual, quality sleep. But it felt great, so that’s that.

Last night made me really look forward to my upcoming beach trip. Everyone who was at the bar last night will be at the beach except for one person, and it made me think about how much I’m going to enjoy sitting on the patio of our beach house, listening to the ocean and talking with my good friends. Just 7 more work days to go!

This morning, because I still don’t have a coffee pot, I made instant coffee from a sample that I got from Taster’s Choice, and it’s not bad! How’s that for making do with what I have?

Question of the day:
What’s your local source for fresh produce?¬†

Financial Fitness #4: How to raise your FICO score

7 Aug

First and foremost, this is what my horoscope said this morning:

Yeah, yeah, I get it. I don’t need my horoscope to remind me that I’m going to have to turn down invitations for anything fun that costs money this month. On the last Sunday of this month, 15 of my closest friends and I will be hitting the road for Emerald Isle, NC, where we have rented this beautiful house for the week:

Paradise, right? Right on the beach, pool, hot tub, 7 bedrooms, pool table, foosball table — I really can’t wait. However, when you live on as tight of a ¬†budget as I do, it takes some serious financial planning to afford a week long vacation. It helps that I have a huge group of friends who are totally willing to plan such a big trip together. I like to be comfortable while I’m there and not stressing about putting myself into debt that will last until next summer, so I’m pinching some pennies. But this isn’t a post about saving for vacation, so let’s get to the meat of today’s post: How to raise your Credit Score.

I’ll admit that 6 months ago, I didn’t even know what my credit score was. I didn’t want to know. I’d avoided credit cards most of my life because I ran into some trouble with them early on, and I pretty much paid for everything in cash. I was on a cell phone plan that I shared with my family, I didn’t have a mortgage or a car loan. Other than student loans, I appeared to be debt free.

Then, Zach and I decided that we wanted to start the home-ownership process and I had to suck it up and check my score. I don’t know why I was surprised that my credit score wasn’t so desirable. It turns out, if you want low rates on credit cards, mortgages, car loans, etc., you¬†have¬†to build up your credit score. I’ve managed to up my score by 50 points in the past month, so I’m going to let you in on how I did it.

What you can do to boost your score right now: 

  1. Get a copy of your credit report.¬†This is the number one, most important thing to do. You can’t improve your score without knowing where you stand. Once you have a hard copy of your report, you can sign up for a Credit Karma¬†account to monitor your score without putting hard inquiries on your report. Checking your own report is ok, but if you have a lot of hard inquiries from companies on your report, it can negatively affect your score.
  2. Dispute or pay old debts.¬†I was actually surprised to find a couple things on my report that I didn’t know about. Old debts and mistakes are more common than you think. The first thing is to dispute anything that you think shouldn’t be on there. Write to the company and ask them to verify your debt, and if it isn’t yours, you can dispute it with the Federal Trade Commission. If the debt isn’t able to be verified, you can request that it be removed from your report.
  3. Consolidate your student loans.¬†If you want a boost on your credit score, because you’re applying for a mortgage or something, consolidating your student loans will do that. However, you should consolidate anyway.
  4. Reduce the amount of debt you owe.¬†Easier said than done, but if you owe a large chunk anywhere, put a large chunk of money towards it. Especially if it is high-interest debt, you could even reduce the amount of savings you’re putting away to pay down that debt. Remember, having a savings account that is collecting a ¬†low interest rate isn’t as important has having no high interest debt.

What you can do to maintain your score boost and raise it over time: 

  1. Pay more than the minimum on time. There is no getting around this. Even one late payment will do damage to your score.
  2. Keep your debt to available credit ratio around 30%.¬†Which means, if you have a credit card that has a $1,000 balance, you want the available amount of credit on that card to be around $700. If you buy a big-ticket item on that card, pay it down to 30% available credit ASAP (if you can’t pay it totally off).
  3. Have various types of credit on your report.¬†Having a variety of types of credit helps you look more desirable to potential lenders. Again, as long as you are managing your debt responsibly. But don’t open a bunch of accounts just to have a mix — that could get you into trouble in the long run.
  4. Don’t close your oldest credit account.¬†Length of time you’ve held your accounts is a big indicator in your score. If you have an old card, pay it off, then use it once each month and pay it off.

I think of having a high credit score like using the heaviest dumbbells I’ve used in a work out — it’s a sense of pride and shows how strong I am. The stronger your FICO score, the better rate you will get on your accounts, saving you money in the long run.

In the meantime, I’ll be pinching my pennies for my vacation.

Question of the day:
Do you know what your credit score is? 

Camping Trip Recap

18 Jul

I took a lot of photos during our camping trip last weekend, and I’ve been dying to share them, but first I want to talk about my workout this morning (scroll down a bit if you’d like to get right to the camping goodies.)

Typically on Mondays and Wednesdays, I attend the ‘Cardio Fusion’ class at my gym. I’ve been attending this class for over a year, and I never get bored by it. It is taught by my favorite group fitness instructor. He really pushes us every morning. The class (despite being held at 6:15 AM) is always packed, and there are a variety of people. It’s lots of work with weights with cardio peppered in. As I’ve mentioned, however, my gym is closed for maintenance this week. SIGH.

I was really missing my class this morning, so I decided to try to do something similar. I picked out this workout on Netflix:

Looks a little corny?

The video was 44 minutes long, and separated into two sections. You could do each section independently, as there is a warm up before and stretch after each section.  I did the lower body section, then I paused it and went out for a one mile run, then I did the upper body section.

This was a good video. The lower body portion starts out with squats, then goes into lunges. Pretty basic stuff, but effective. The upper body section covers your back, shoulders, biceps, and chest. The shoulder portion is particularly grueling,  I had to step down the weights during that section. Speaking of weights, I find it hilarious that everyone (even the instructor) in this video appeared to be using 3 lb weights. I was surprised when I looked this up on Amazon and saw that it was released in 2006, because the fact that everyone was using puny weights and looked like this:

Nice outfits!

I would have pinned this as early 2000 at least. Unless you are completely new to weight lifting, I would definitely use heavier weights than what they use in the video (I used 8 lb weights, but went down to 5 lb on the shoulder section). Even without the run in the middle of the video, this would have been a good workout. I had already broken a bit of a sweat by the time I paused it and hit the road, but by the time I was completely done, I was drenched. If you have Netflix Instant, you should definitely check this one out. This was very similar to what I would have done at the gym, but with more cats:

The goblin cat stared at me, the lurking cat lurked and the fat cat laid directly in my way and protested loudly if I stepped on her tail.

Ok, on to the camping trip!

So, the plan was to leave Friday directly after work and make the three hour drive to Marlinton, WV, however, the rain on Friday was intense. After much texting back and forth between me, Zach and our friends Susie and Shane (who had made the drive up the previous day), and many, many checks of my weather app, Zach and I decided to stay in Huntington for the night and leave bright and early the next morning to head to the campsite. Everyone else got there relatively early in the day on Friday, and we just didn’t want to drive up there and set up camp in the dark and the rain. Turns out everyone stayed overnight at Susie’s family’s condo in Snowshoe, WV (you guys, this place is BEYOND beautiful) anyway, so driving up on Friday night probably would have been a better option.

But, the drive up on Saturday was¬†incredible!¬†I drove most of the way because Zach was sleepy. I’m a natural early riser, so of course I was raring to go. I turned on my This American Life app (the best thing ever) and just drove. The weather was perfect! The plan was to drive to the campsite, set up our tent, then meet our friends at the condo and head over to the Greenbrier River for floating.

Our Drive from the campsite to snowshoe. The views are so lovely! We had to use old school handwritten directions because the cell service and GPS are sketchy in God’s country ūüôā P.S. I love the sign at the entrance to Snowshoe Mountain.

Once we got to Snowshoe, we gathered our friends and headed out for ¬†the drive to the Greenbrier River. It’s a bit of a hike (as everything is up ¬†there). It started to storm the¬†second¬†we started driving, and the drive was pretty stressful. It seemed like every three minutes, the weather changed from gorgeous to ominous:

Rain, sunshine, black clouds, fluffy clouds. Stress!

But, once we got to Jack Horner’s Corner (the place where we rent the inner tubes), the weather looked like it would probably hold up. The store where you rent the tubes is adorable!

They have all kinds of cool stuff: Like Root Beer! P.S. aren’t my friend Josh’s shorts the coolest?

Turns out, we had amazing weather for our float down the river! This is the third year that we have done this, and every other year there was a guy with a flat bed truck to drive us down to the drop off point. This year, he wasn’t around, so we had to improvise. The guy at the store gave us a long rope and we tied a bunch of tubes to the top of Susie’s jeep, and then a few others rode in Zach’s car while holding tubes out the window. It was pretty hilarious. I put my phone away for pretty much the whole trip after this, so the photos that follow were taken by my friend Susie:

The group photo is pretty much excellent.

The camping portion was great too! We had a little rain, but Shane (the birthday boy!) made this really cool tarp thing strung up in the trees that kept us (and the food table) dry. He is so handy! The only downside is that mine and Zach’s tent leaked, so we ended up sleeping in basically a puddle! The tent we used was an old one, so we just tossed it out and didn’t even take it home. All in all, we had a great time! This weekend, we’re off to Louisville to attend the 11th Annual Lebowski Fest! I’ll be sure to take plenty of photos to share.

Our campsite was perfect! That river flowed right behind us and got pretty high late at night during the rain. I was afraid for a second we might have to pack up camp in the middle of the night, but everything turned out ok.