Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bike Lessons = Life Lessons

Last week as we rode around on the slickrock in Moab, I repeated a few mantras to myself. These lessons are so simple, but they have really helped me improve my skills and have a lot more fun biking. They are my mountain biking mantras, but as I repeated them, Andrew pointed out that bike lessons = life lessons.

Think about what you want to happen, not what you don't want to happen. Instead of thinking about not falling, I focus on how I want to ride - confident, calm and relaxed. I trust my understanding of my skills and my sense of judgement. It's a simple shift, but it helped me ride trails that I didn't even dream of trying a few months ago. When we focus energy on what we want to do, it's more likely to happen. 

Keep your eyes focused on where you want to go. If I try to avoid a particular rock, I always end up riding right toward it. If I keep my eyes focused on the route that I want to ride, I am much more likely to steer in my intended direction. This mantra has also helped me be smarter about the lines I pick because I'm looking for where I want to go rather than what I want to avoid. It's easier to look further down the trail and see the bigger picture beyond that one rock.

It's all about putting in the hours. Sometimes I feel discouraged because I can't ride a particular section of trail, and then I remind myself that I have only been riding seriously for a few months. I've put in a lot of hours this summer, and I have improved incredibly. To continue to do so, I just need to keep putting in the hours. It's easy to compare myself to other riders on the trail or to Andrew, who has been biking since he was a child, but when it comes down to it, those riders are better because they've put in more hours practicing. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Anniversary Trip to Moab

When we planned our anniversary trip this year, we picked Moab because we wanted a trip that was active and outdoors. We had talked about going to Oregon and driving up the coast, but after an invigorating summer of biking, we didn't want a vacation that involved so much sitting. 

Moab is special to Andrew because he grew up vacationing there, and Moab is special to me because it is the first place that made me love the Southwest, and Moab is special to us because it is where we took our first vacation together ten years ago. I like to think we were destined for this future after sharing a water bottle filled from Matrimony Springs on that first trip. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Death and Danger: My Various Breads and Various Butters

I crossed rappelling down a cliff off my Mondo Beyond list last week. A week later, I still can't believe I did it and that it ever ended up on the list to begin with. 

It all started this spring when I went through a phase where I obsessively binge-watched old seasons of the Amazing Race. The contestants are required to do challenges like bungee jumping off bridges and sky diving over Bora Bora, and there's always at least one team with someone who is desperately afraid of heights. The contestant panics while their partner, with varying levels of empathy depending on the relationship, encourages them to go for it. Eventually the contestant is often able to complete the task and they almost always declare that it was worth it. 

After watching several seasons, I decided that I needed to overcome my own fear of heights. I made a list of the scary height-related challenges on the show, I decided that rappelling seems like the least scary, followed by zip lining, followed by bungee jumping, followed by the ultimate challenge - sky diving. I don't even like hiking (or seeing other people hike) near the edge of high drop-offs so the thought of rappelling down the side of a cliff is enough to make my heart race and my palms feel sweaty. 

But I am committed to overcoming this fear so as we planned our anniversary trip to Moab, I quietly researched canyoneering trips. I picked the trip recommended for beginners that is family-friendly and watched youtube videos of children happily rappelling down Morning Glory Arch. I talked with the owner of the guide company who assured me that it was safe and that although it is unnatural to be hanging over a canyon by a rope, I would love it. I quizzed Andrew and other friends who have experience with this kind of thing. And then, I surprised myself by just doing it. I just did it

Well, that's not the whole story exactly. I booked the trip and then tried not to think about it until the night before when I could barely sleep and was so overcome by anxiety that I gave myself a painful cold sore. But when it came time to do it, I did, and that is an amazing feeling. The first rappel was just under 100 feet and the second, more exposed rappel was just over 100 feet. The second rappel was much scarier because it was exposed, and there was a moment after I had started when I looked up at the guide and told him, "I don't want to do this anymore." But he said, "well, you're doing it." And I really didn't have a choice except to keep going. 

The guide told me that it was good to get out of my comfort zone. Of course, every day of our trip I was outside of my comfort zone riding trails that pushed my abilities, but this was by far the scariest. No big deal though; if you know me, you know that death and danger are my various breads and various butters...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Five Years

Andrew and I are celebrating our five year wedding anniversary today, and our ten year anniversary of being together. I can still hardly believe how lucky we are.

Tonight we'll clink our glasses with Andrew's signature family toast: Boof, long life, happy living! So true!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Girls Weekend in Vegas in Photos

What we did when we weren't seeing Katy Perry:

 new york new york
 penny slots
 lipstick selfie
bellagio fountains
fun, fun, fun
glow bracelets

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Last Friday Night

After months and months of waiting, I finally went to the Katy Perry concert this weekend in Las Vegas with my sister and best friend. They flew in from Minneapolis and I flew in from Albuquerque, and we met in the airport to start a weekend o' fun. The whole trip was planned around the concert on Friday night, and Katy did not disappoint. She put on an amazing show that still makes my heart beat faster when I think about it.

I told Andrew before I went that the three of us would remember this weekend for the rest of our lives, and I think I am right. I haven't done a trip with girlfriends in years and years, and this was SO.MUCH.FUN! That's really the best way to describe the weekend: pure fun.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eating Whole for 30 Days

Andrew and I are approaching the end of a Whole30 eating experiment. I had been thinking about trying a Whole30 for a couple of years, but honestly, I was scared. It involves giving up dairy, sugar, grains, legumes and alcohol for a month.

For me it wasn't as much about doing a Whole30 as it was about trying a different way of eating for a month. Starting with a plan and some rules worked well for me. It helped me start, which was the hardest part. Like I said, I have been thinking about doing this for a long time.

We spent a week mentally and logistically preparing our lives. We ate up all of our non-compliant foods and went out for pizza and hamburgers and drank the rest of the wine and beer. I researched what other people are eating on the plan, bought a ton of groceries and spent an afternoon prepping things like roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, and paleo mayo.

We started cooking all of our meals at home. Before the experiment, we went out to eat or picked up takeout a handful of times each week. For breakfast, we often grabbed granola and yogurt. After the experiment started, we cooked three meals a day, every day. This was a lot of work, and I've felt busy all month. Between cooking and cleaning up after cooking, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen. The kitchen is my favorite room in the house, but it felt more like a chore than a joy this month. There were exceptions to this feeling, of course, but sometimes you just want to eat something easy that doesn't require the stove or dirty dishes. Yogurt and english muffins with peanut butter were sorely missed at our house this month.

At first, I was focused on what we were cutting out of our diets and how we could find suitable substitutes. My focus quickly shifted from what we can't eat to what we can eat. And there's a lot that we can eat. Although I have to say that a really good steak just isn't the same without red wine, creamy mashed potatoes, baguette and blue cheese. However, I really don't need to be eating that way on a Tuesday night, thank you very much. Cutting these things out of my diet has helped me appreciate and savor them all the more as a special treat.

For breakfast we ate eggs, roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed spinach, and some kind of meat like smoked salmon, steak or a compliant breakfast sausage. For dessert we ate bananas with almond butter, coconut flakes and cashews. For lunches, we ate leftovers from dinner with a big green salad and more fruit and almond butter. For dinner, I made things like turkey meatballs with homemade marinara and roasted spaghetti squash, salmon cakes with roasted asparagus, lamb burger patties with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, and stuffed peppers with ground beef and roasted vegetables. We drank a lot of sparkling water.

After two weeks, we were feeling terribly bored, and despite saying we wouldn't eat any processed food during the month when we started, we trolled the aisles of the grocery store looking for compliant convenience foods. We bought larabars, a variety of sausages and some deli roast beef. I squealed with joy and jumped up and down in the grocery store when Andrew exclaimed that he had found compliant proscuitto. As hard as this experiment was at times, at least there was proscuitto.

The results that I've noticed for myself are improved sleep, weight loss, less bloating and generally feeling better with more sustained and even energy to get me through a normal day. This way of eating does not work for me when I want to exercise strenuously at high elevation. The rules of the Whole30 helped me get started, but I also want to live my life, which I've learned means that I need to eat some complex carbohydrates before I can bike several hours up a mountain. No amount of protein and healthy fats can power me up Taos Canyon. I've learned that the hard way...

One thing that this experiment has really made me appreciate is that the choices we make about food are incredibly personal. These choices involve many different aspects of our lives and priorities and personal situations. The experiment has helped me be more reflective about my relationship with food and my daily choices.
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