Friday, February 27, 2015

Things I'm Loving Friday XXIII

F R I D A Y! We made it! And just ask me how much of a struggle walking up three flights of stairs was this morning. And then I had to walk back down and up again because I left my set of classroom keys in my car. Maybe I'm in long-distance running shape, but I'm nowhere near being in Felipe shape. You win some, you lose some, I guess. And today, I'm definitely losing. But as my students would tell you, "failure can strengthen a person because it motivates them to do better next time." You can tell I've got expository essays on the brain. And I actually sat down and wrote one myself the other day. More on that later.

I selfishly love Fridays, because the day doesn't really start until after lunch for me. I give my reading classes a quiz every Friday, though today I am going to have to spend a little bit of time going over affect vs. effect, as evidenced by the practice they did yesterday, and I give them the entire class period to do it. When they finish they have time to catch up on homework for their other classes, kind of as a "Congrats, we all made it to Friday!" And even in English, I've been doing essay conferences with my kiddos, so they have been responsible for reading the last four chapters of A Lesson Before Dying and completing the study guides on their own before the exam on Monday. Some have been responsible. Others, not so much. But today I'll spend the last 20 or so minutes of class reviewing for the exam, and those who pay attention will really benefit from it. So, a relatively easy Friday. And it's Go Texan DayYou know I couldn't continue onto our regularly scheduled Things I'm Loving Friday without mentioning that. The Rodeo Cook-off kicked off last night, and the first concert of the season is Tuesday, March 3rd. I absolutely love Houston Rodeo season, and though a lot of the concerts that I want to attend are not during my spring break, I am still hoping to make it out to a few of them. I guess I can handle getting a little less sleep than usual! And you better believe I'm sporting my boots today. I'm a Texas girl through and through!

Now, let's move on, shall we?

Things I'm Loving Friday

Scary Close
Guys, I started and finished a book in three days. DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR. That's how good Donald Miller's Scary Close is. Seriously, if you do one thing this next week, purchase a physical copy from Barnes & Noble, order a copy from Amazon, or download a copy to your e-Reader. This book made me think in such a new way about relationships. And not just romantic relationships, but relationships with people in general. Friends, family, co-workers, and everyone in between. How we can't put up a wall if we want to have real relationships. Vulnerability is hard, but it's absolutely necessary. I can't tell you how many quotes I wrote down while reading this book. And because you guys know how much I love a good quote, I'll share a few of them with you.
  • "Those of us who are never satisfied with our accomplishments secretly believe nobody will love us unless we’re perfect."
  • "Life is more about connecting with people than it is about competing with them"
  • "Sometimes the story we're telling the world isn't half as endearing as the one that lives inside us."
Like I said, it will change the way you approach relationships. And if you want another book to go along with that, read Love Does by Bob Goff. Love Does Stuff, y'all.

Red Velvet Oreos
Oreos are one of the only cookies I can actually eat, thanks to the fact that it contains no milk byproducts. How that is possible, I am not entirely sure. But every once in a while I let myself indulge in one or two. And though these limited-edition Red Velvet Oreos feature a cream cheese center, there is neither cream nor cheese present within these cookies. That being said, I did not taste test these cookies, because I had to use every last one of the 20 cookies that came in that $4.50 box. Yeah, I know. But these Red Velvet Oreo Cupcakes from My Baking Addiction looked too good to pass up. I surprised a couple of my CPA-studying friends with them, and fingers crossed they brought some good luck along with their good taste.

New Houston
It is no secret that I love Houston. I was born here, I was raised here, and to be honest, I would be perfectly fine if I never moved out of Houston. Moved out of my childhood home, of course, but the city itself? I love it. And so do other people, evidently. Yes, the traffic is a huge bummer, but find me a big city without it. Seriously, I might consider moving there. Anyway, our fine arts scene is top of the line, our restaurant selection might, dare I say it, be better than Austin, it is diverse, in many senses of the word, and the people here are some of the friendliest. Again, though, probably not on the freeway. If you're going to live in Houston, you have to be an aggressive driver.

Harry Potter Magic
If you're new around here, I love Harry Potter. I hope that doesn't offend you. But I wish I could make all of my students read at least the first book, so that their eyes could be opened to the magic of this world. Literally and figuratively. So, Harry Potter combined with BuzzFeed? Yeah, that just can't be beat. This article featuring 34 of the Most Magical Sentences in the Harry Potter Books almost had me in tears. Seriously. Magic. And you can't deny the valuable lessons found within the 7,000+ pages.

Lavett & Chinn Original Sea Salt Texturizing Mist
And for those of you who don't want to mess with purchasing three products, or put three different products in your hair, I have found a new curly hair product obsession, courtesy of J. Crew. Let's be honest, who doesn't wish she could recreate those perfect and effortless waves that form after a day spent at the beach? Especially in the frigid (am I being too dramatic again?) temperatures we are currently experiencing. And I may even like this product a little bit better. It makes my hair more wavy than curly, which suits my rounder face much better. Plus, that gives it a little added length, which is much-wanted after recently chopping off a couple of inches.

I hope your Friday is a great one! Tonight is sure to be low-key, because some of my friends have a belated birthday surprise scheduled for tomorrow night. I have absolutely no idea what it could be, but you know I'll be back with a full report!

And before I completely sign off, I am absolutely puzzled over #TheDress debate. What color do you see? Black and blue? Or white and gold? Please weigh in, because the whole thing just baffles me. In the words of Ellen, the world may forever be divided between those who see black and blue, and those who see white and gold. For the record, I see white and gold, but there were instances where I glanced at it and saw black and blue. And I really can't wait to hear what my students have to say about this pressing issue.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Happy Thursday! We've made it over the hump and we are so close to the weekend. I have a little extra pep in my step on Thursday and Friday, because if I've made it this far, I can certainly survive the downhill slide. So, let's get going with today's events, shall we?


Amira, my partner-in-crime in the 2015-mile running challenge, and also one of my best friends, understands the struggle that comes from being told you can't run. When I told her the news, which was obviously very positive, she understood that when you're told you can't run, it makes you want to run even more. And you guys know I love the sunshine, so not being able to run today was a little bit frustrating. But I got over it pretty quickly when I made my way up to the MAC for a Felipe class. Now let me tell you something about Felipe's classes. I know I've mentioned them before, but just to refresh your memory. They have a very loyal following, in that if you are a Felipe attendee, you don't miss. You just don't. And while you are in the classes, you want to curse him for all that he is making you do. But when you finish, you want to hug him because you just got one dynamite workout, and you likely pushed yourself harder than you would have thought, because Felipe doesn't let anyone stop until everyone is doing what he is asking.

And I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. But Felipe shape is a whole other story. So, this afternoon's Muscle Blast class was T-O-U-G-H in the best way possible. I have been slacking on my strength training lately - I would just so much rather do cardio! - and this workout is something my entire body is going to feel tomorrow. That 4:40am wake-up call? Not happening. And while I don't want to compromise the integrity of the class by sharing with you what the entire class looked like, I will share with you one of the circuits we did, with which I have a love/hate relationship.
  • Squats (20)
  • Backward lunges (10 on each leg)
  • Pushups --> knee-to-outside elbow plank (2 pushups; 4 knee-to-outside elbow plank, x4)
  • Squat to alternating overhead press (10 on each arm)
One arm presses up and then the other (Source)
30-Day Minimalism Challenge

I came across this challenge while reading this blog, and I absolutely loved it. Challenges speak to the competitive side of me, and this one has a very unique purpose. We use big holidays like the new year and our birthdays to sort of, start fresh. For a more proper name, "The Fresh-Start Effect." Well, the new year has already passed, as has my birthday, but the start of a new month is quickly approaching. And this month is sure to be CRAZY with the English I STAAR test looming at the end. So that seems like the perfect time to start this challenge, which will hopefully help me to live a "simpler, more intentional life," with more energy for the things that matter. You guys know I love my to-do lists, and I am the queen of going until I've crossed everything off. Which can be exhausting and not always the most beneficial and productive way to live. 

That's why I love this challenge. It's almost like it's 30 days to a better peace of mind. Not that I am not peaceful. But the fact that I haven't seen two of my best friends who live and go to school not 15 minutes away from where I work in almost a month is a little bit absurd. So, come March 1st, this very Sunday, I'm going to choose one of these things to do a day. There's no special order, and I probably won't give a report over each one. And it's almost guaranteed that some of these are going to be far more challenging than others. But I'm excited to begin this challenge, and I'll certainly let you guys know about any big revelations along the way.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February Mileage

This post will be short and sweet, but after yesterday's post about my doctor's appointment, I just couldn't leave y'all hanging. Luck was on my side today, as we just happened to have an early release day. Why, I don't know, but I'm certainly not going to complain about it. And while spending a sunny afternoon in the doctor's office wasn't my idea of a good time, I left feeling as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

While deep down I knew I wasn't suffering from anything worse than shin splints, I wanted to hear it from someone who knew what they were talking about. I arrived at the doctor's office, filled out some paperwork, and was ushered to the back relatively quickly. After stating that I had been experiencing some left shin pain, I was then whisked over to another part of the office to get an X-ray. This X-ray experience was far less painful than what I remember from when my ankle was X-rayed at age five.

Dream Team (Source)
Those fifteen or so minutes of waiting were agonizing. Okay, I'm being dramatic. They actually weren't bad at all. I just did a little bit of school work until the doctor came in to talk about the X-rays. He basically confirmed what I thought, and what other people had been telling me, and said that the scans were normal (hallelujah to that), and that though stress fractures can sometimes be hard to see via X-ray, it didn't feel like a stress fracture, however, it could be heading that way. That it is probably bruised, but that it is 1000% (yes, 1000) curable with rest. Which is hard for me. And he was quick to add that I can still bike, elliptical, and swim. And running isn't completely out of the question. But he said my weekly mileage was getting a little high, and that ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, and a couple of weeks rest is just what the doctor ordered. Literally. So here's my plan. I ran Monday, and I'm not going to run at all until next Tuesday. And then I'm going to see how it feels. I really liked what the doctor said to me, "Does that mean running is out of the question? No. But if it's hurting you the next day, you did too much." And while I am certainly going to take this one nice and slow, and really listen to my body, I am so thankful that it was nothing more than a few too many miles logged. Last night my brain was already picturing walking through the halls of Bellaire with a boot on my foot, or even worse for a floating teacher, crutches. Maybe I should have done theater in high school, huh?

I'll put this to rest for a week or two
And  these might not see the pavement for a couple of days
So, it looks like I am going to have to pick up the slack on some of the miles next month, aren't I? Because February is not going to see any more miles from me. And maybe now I'll actually get in some strength training, as well as put together some new swimming workouts. And I even hope to learn a little bit more about recovery and taking care of my body, because it's something I've neglected over the years. As hard as it is for me to rest, I've learned by now that this is the only body I've got, and a couple of weeks off now is a whole lot better than hobbling around or undergoing major surgeries later. So, drumroll please, my February mileage comes out to

78.45 miles

A little less than January's total mileage, but February also has a few less days. Yeah, we'll blame it on that! I just can't help but shake my head when I realize I made it through 10 years of volleyball without a single injury, but I start running and rollerblading to stay in shape and suddenly I'm falling apart. I guess that's what happens when you turn 23. But before I sign off, I have to say that I was extremely impressed with my visit to the Orthopedic Sports Clinic. It was a really cool facility and I now know why it is the place to be, and why it's so hard to get an appointment. In fact, I ran into three people that I know and/or recognize from middle and/or high school. The Spring Branch area bleeds loyalty.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Today, I turned in my first cell phone. Happy Tuesday to you, too! Ha, but normally I'll take up a cell phone and give it back at the end of class. Today, however, I had just lectured the students about how if I saw another cell phone either they gave it to me (to be returned at the end of class), or they would get a write-up (which would result in losing the cell phone). And I have this student twice a day, so I talk to him about this on the reg. So instead of giving it back at the end of class, I marched it down to the principal's office (this is becoming a trend) and turned it in. And I think my 7th period class now knows I mean business. It only took six months, right? Next year, I'm starting right off the bat.

My inspiration (Source)
In other news, I know I'm officially an adult when I make my own doctor's appointment on my very own accord. Doctors give me anxiety, and I'm not sure why but I just always assume the worst. And I sincerely hope I am laughed at tomorrow for making this doctor's appointment, but remember that left shin that has been nagging me lately? Well, on yesterday's run it didn't feel good. And it felt even worse once I stood up after having been sitting for about half an hour. I freaked myself out reading articles online, so I called up the doctor my brother went to when he broke his collarbone and made myself an appointment for tomorrow afternoon. I know I am probably overreacting, and that the doctor will likely tell me it's just a shin splint, and perhaps I should spend more time stretching. Even still, I'm a little bit nervous because it would crush me if it was something more and I had to stop running for a while. But I would much rather be told to stay off it for a couple of weeks than continue to make it worse and do something that damages it permanently.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Segwaying off of that topic, I want to bring National Eating Disorders Awareness Week into the light. I'll be honest, I didn't even know this was a thing until I heard it on the news yesterday, but I sure am glad that it is. Eating disorders are extremely serious, yet I think they are often times taken lightly. And let me start off by saying that I do not have an eating disorder, nor have I ever had an official labeled eating disorder, but as I mentioned in this post, body image is something that I still to this day struggle with.

And with good reason. Having grown up in the "technological age," all I've ever known is what I see in magazines (not so much anymore), on television, and on the Internet. And all of these things send us mixed signals. These foods are "bad," these foods are "good," these foods are "super," and here's this miracle pill you can take that will make you burn metabolism at an incredible rate. This body is perfect, this one is cringe-worthy, because of course we're all built the exact same way. Make sure you're getting this much cardio per day, don't sit for too long, be sure to lift weights, find time to stretch those muscles, all while holding down a full-time job, and then some. This new diet is the answer to all of our problems, but this one might be even better, and before we know it, these thoughts absolutely consume us.

Let me tell you my story. I have been active all my life. I played every sport under the sun, and I've always been relatively thin. Not stick-thin, but just about average. Always the right weight for my height. The summer before my junior year of high school, I made the decision to not play volleyball in college. That meant the day I played my last high school volleyball game was the day I said goodbye to scheduled workouts. I'm talking hours a day, for both club and school. I didn't know a life without activity, so I became a frequent face at my local gym - Memorial Athletic Club. I had belonged there for years, but when I say I became a frequent face, I mean I was up there at least once a day, if not more. I became obsessed with working out, and working out for hours. I became obsessed with what I ate. If I ate a so-called "bad" food, I worked twice as hard to negate it. And I took this mentality with me to college, because I was so afraid of gaining that freshman 15. Even more so because someone told me that "if I were to gain 10 pounds, people would definitely notice it."

My dorm had a gym, making it easy for me to get in a workout every day, knowing in my heart of hearts that I needed a rest day every now and then, but feeling lazy and guilty and as though I would gain 20 pounds from taking one day off. Yeah, I was crazy. I took this mentality with me to summer camp that year, waking up in the very early hours of the morning to go run up and down a hill, when I should have been soaking up every second of sleep that I could get. I lost quite a bit of weight, but I did eventually get back to my original weight. And as much as I loved studying abroad in Barcelona for two months, I will admit that one thing that made me nervous was the thought of not being able to work out consistently. And moreso that I would gain weight. Which, okay, not possible with how much you walk over in Europe. Even if you are eating bread with every meal.

Not when climbing the Eiffel Tower is your morning warm-up
Anyway, though I have certainly calmed down on that a bit, letting myself enjoy dessert (hello, I eat chocolate every day), and letting myself take those all-too-important rest days, this is still something I struggle with. And it will likely always be something I struggle with. Because eating disorders aren't a phase. They're mental, and these thoughts can be destructive, and they can consume you. I've obviously experienced bits and pieces. And I realize that my blog could be a very dangerous thing. It chronicles what I eat and what I do to workout, and that it could very well contribute to these destructive habits. That being said, I make a conscious effort to talk about my workouts as a success, and something that I look forward to, not as something that I have to do. Because I know myself well enough to know that if my body is telling me it's tired, I should probably listen to it. And as for the food, I L-O-V-E food, and I want to share the deliciousness (word?) with the world.

The reason I told you that long, drawn-out, deeply personal story is because eating disorders are more than just anorexia and bulimia. They're destructive, consuming thoughts that can eventually become life-threatening. Or life-damaging. They can damage you physically, but also emotionally, and relationally as well. But they're very treatable. And I share this with you because so many people struggle silently with eating disorders and body image and excessive exercise. Because these things are scary to admit. This year's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week theme is "I Had No Idea," focusing on recognizing the signs and symptoms of eating disorders early, because recognizing them early can prevent a full-blown eating disorder from developing. So, because this post has gone on long enough, if you or someone you know is suffering from or struggling with an eating disorder, please, not only should you seek help, but know that you are beautiful (or handsome) and that this doesn't have to consume you and your life. Obviously I am no medical expert, but I have a little bit of personal experience, and like I tell my students, I think that gives me at least some credibility!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Student Quotes III

I love my students. I really, really do. When they walk in and say, "Hi, Miss," or ask me how I'm doing or tell me to have a good weekend, and ask me about my personal life, I love it. I feel like I'm someone important to them. And maybe I'm just another adult who tells them what to do on a regular basis, but because they make my days so much brighter, I can only hope that I do the same for them. That being said, I know I have my moments. Because teaching is hard and interacting with 100+ 15-year-olds on a daily basis is challenging. Just take a moment to think back to what you were like at 14 and 15. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. 

M*A*S*H Memorial

You're welcome for that. And just the other night I was thinking back to my own teachers. How they, my calculus and physics teachers in particular, gave up their quiet morning time to help struggling students like myself. Okay, struggling might be too strong of a word, but AP Calculus and AP Physics did not come easy to me. I really had to work for the grades that I got. And as someone who now teaches, and who purposely gets to school more than an hour before the bell rings so that I can have a moment to myself and get my things together and make copies and scarf down breakfast, I can't help but be grateful for all of that time they gave up to help me. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, so many of my teachers have made such a difference in my life, and even when my students frustrate the ever-living heck out of me, I can't help but think back to my teachers. And though I was maybe, a different student than the students I'm working with, at the end of the day they're still kids, just like I was.

But even with all of that being said, they still say the darndest things, and as usual, I make sure to take the time to write them down. So, here's another rendition of Student Quotes.

Wise beyond his years
It wasn't
10. This isn't a quote, persay, but the other week I had to pull two students out into the hall and talk to them about how their excessive flirting was becoming a distraction to the rest of the class. I didn't use those exact words, but honestly, I kind of hope their flirting turns into something. Young love developing in my very classroom. Well, not my classroom, but you catch my drift.
9. I think I've mentioned this before, but in my reading classes, I give my kids 15 minutes of silent reading time, during which they can read any book they please. One of my kids was staring at his cell phone, so I asked him to please get a book. His response?
"I am reading a book ...
Okay, you got me on that one!
8. On my birthday, the following conversation ensued:
Student: "Miss, you're only 23? Why are you a teacher?"
Me: "I have to work!"
Student: "But you should be a bartender or something!"
Yeah, because that will pay the bills (actually...). Okay, I know I don't have any bills. But still.
7.  Many of these quotes came from my birthday, of which the kids took full advantage. A student asked me, "Miss, what year were you born? 1889?"
Excuse me, sir, but who is your math teacher?
6. A kid learned it was my birthday, whips out his cell phone and says, "Hold up Miss, I'm gonna order some mariachis for you."
5. This one came a couple of days before my birthday, when a student informed me that he was going to bring me strippers for my birthday. Just in case you were wondering, it didn't happen.
4. Every Friday in reading, I give my kids a combination vocabulary, spelling, reading comprehension, and revising and editing quiz. It's pretty standard that my students have Chick-Fil-A in my 1st period, as Bellaire sells Chick-Fil-A breakfast on Friday mornings. One of my students got some of his breakfast on his quiz, proceeded to lick it off, and then hand it in to me. Thanks.
3. In a reference to my last Student Quotes post, one of my sweet students in 7th period struts out the door, calling out over his shoulder, "Alright Ms. T, stay gucci!"
2. One of my students from last semester comes and visits me every morning before 1st period. It's become a ritual, and I get a little sad on those mornings when he's running late for school and doesn't stop by. One morning he says to me, "Miss, you know how I know a girl is desperate? She hits you up on Facebook." Noted. I wonder if it's the same for guys?
1. I've also mentioned that I have some students twice a day. I wasn't sure how I would like that, but I really do. I almost feel protective over these students, and they are some of my most well-behaved students. So, one student was there for 1st period, but he was missing from 7th. The next morning, when I asked him where he had been, he told me he was at the park because his dog died. When I started to express my condolences he laughs and says, "Nah, Miss, I'm just playin'. I went to the doctor." Kids these days. 

One of my students gave me a Valentine's Day present
And one more for good measure. Today I was talking about singular indefinite pronouns, and I just about blew my students' minds when I told them that everyone, neither, and either are singular indefinite pronouns, and therefore the pronoun his (or her), as opposed to their, would be paired with it. One of my students blurted out, "But you're wrong! That don't make sense!" You're right. It don't, but that's just the way it goes.

And I'm not sure I ever talked about where this idea came from. As an English teacher, I must give credit where credit is due. In order to protect his identity, one of my teachers had (and still has) a Twitter account under the alias of @MrTeacher. If you don't follow it, you should. He tweets the hilarious and nonsensical things his students say, and it was my high school goal to make his Twitter. I made it once upon a time, talking about Snuggies, of all things. Remind me to tell you about Snuggie Day in another post. But that opened my eyes to how hilarious high schoolers really are. Thus, Student Quotes was born. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New New New

And I am back, with some B I G news! Fitness & Fro-yo has undergone a total design change. Because the company who put together my last blog layout went out of business, some of the links went out right along with them. I had been too busy, or so I said, to sit down and fix it, but this weekend I spent quite a bit of time looking to see where it had all gone wrong, and what I could do to fix it. Honestly, I'm about to call up UT and ask for my degree in computer science, because I learned quite a bit about coding throughout this process. Kidding, but still. Code is essentially a foreign language to me, so I tried not to get too frustrated when little things weren't working for me.

Still running, and still eating frozen yogurt
What all is new, you ask? Well, my blog is still the exact same in terms of content. What I blog about won't change, but I now have an "About Me" page, a page each with all of my workouts and recipes linked up - these are still a work in progress, as it is going to take a little bit more time to find and link up all of the workouts and recipes that I have posted, and I also have a contact page. If you ever have a question about anything I post on the blog, or if you just want to say hi, it's very easy to do. And something that I am still working on, but hope to have completed in the coming week, are the social media icons to the right of this post. The Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest icons all link to their respective sites, but the mail icon actually links to my Instagram account. I am working on getting that cleared up. I am also hoping to add an icon to my LinkedIn account, because I am a yo-pro after all, and again, that will hopefully be done in the coming week.

I am no longer a "20 year old college student who lives in Austin," rather I am 23, living in Houston, and experiencing the real world. 
But that doesn't mean I can't still have some fun
I am so excited about these changes, and I hope you enjoy them, too. Shoot me an email, give me a follow, or just enjoy looking around and checking out my new site. Hopefully this will motivate me to keep my posts regular, and maybe to try out some new recipes and workouts, too!

New shoes, new blog design
And I'm off to enjoy the Sunday sunshine. We've been expecting rain all weekend, but the sun is currently doing its thing. Talk to you guys this week!

Fitness Survey

Just popping in for a quick post before I head off to Sunday brunch with Amira, but be sure to check back later for what I (hope) will be a Sunday afternoon surprise, as I am sure you have already noticed that things are looking a little different around here. But until I've finalized everything, enjoy what I've got thus far!

What do you do regularly to feel good about your body?
Run. Swim. Rollerblade. Play volleyball. Walk. Take the stairs. Drink water. Eat healthy. All of these things help me to have body confidence.

Have you ever taken part in a fad diet or workout?
There isn't anything that is coming to mind. I never got into the CrossFit thing, and dieting has never really appealed to me. Mainly because I don't like to tell myself I can't have something, as that will only make me want it even more. I've never done paleo or gluten-free, I've never juiced, nor have I ever done a cleanse. I think the closest I can come to a fad workout is P90X, when some of my freshman year dormmates and me decided to invest in the program as a way of negating our delicious dorm food. That lasted all of about five workouts. But I did, and I still do, really enjoy 12-minute abs!

Do you use fitness apps?
I do not. Mainly because my phone informs me probably every day that I am almost out of storage. And I'm not entirely sure how that has happened, but I digress. Because I track my mileage on my Garmin, and I get any other fitness inspiration from Pinterest or by reading my favorite healthy living blogs, I don't see a reason to have one. But, if you guys have any fitness apps that you swear by, I'm always looking for a new workout routine!

What’s a go-to race-day meal?
Peanut butter and banana on an English muffin or whole wheat toast, topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon. That's been my pre-race (10K or longer) meal from the very beginning, and it has not yet let me down.

Do you listen to music to get pumped up before races?
I have my running playlist on Spotify that I listen to when I run, but now that I think about it, I don't really listen to any music before the race. I guess I listen to whatever they have playing at the race, which is usually pretty good if I do say so myself. Can't go wrong with Shake It Off or Uptown Funk.

Any good luck charms or pre-race rituals?
I don't have any good luck charms, but I do typically wear my hair pulled back in a French braid with a headband to hold back my stray hairs. And as for pre-race rituals, I mainly just make sure I have enough time to go to the bathroom before the race starts, because there is nothing worse than having to go to the bathroom while running. Just saying.

When do you feel sexiest?
Is this supposed to be a workout-related answer? Because while working out makes me feel good, I certainly don't feel sexy immediately after a workout. Remember yesterday when I talked about how much I sweat? Yeah, I'm a sight for sore eyes.

Enjoy your Oscar Sunday!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Kicks

Happy Saturday! While we were supposed to have a very rainy Saturday, we've hardly had any rain at all. And while I was looking forward to the rain, as a means of being productive, I'm glad the sky held itself together. Because yesterday after school I treated myself to a pair of new running shoes - Asics GT-2000 3, to be exact - from Luke's Locker, and I am obsessed. In love. Infatuated. Call it what you want, but they feel like pillows on my feet. And they're pretty cute to boot.

I believe I mentioned in last Sunday's post that after the Austin Half Marathon, I was going to invest in a new pair of running shoes. You are supposed to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles, and I think it's safe to say that I've put my fair share of miles on my pink Brooks. My body was certainly telling me that, and after putting on my new pair of Asics, I knew it was true. I felt a difference right away. And as I've also mentioned before, I pronate when I run, meaning I need a little extra support so that my knees won't start giving me trouble. And though that means buying a more expensive shoe, I would much rather pay a little bit more for shoes, than have to pay for knee surgery, or worse, stop running altogether. And ever since I have started purchasing shoes with that extra support, I have experienced very, very little knee pain. And I'm hoping this new pair of shoes will help with my left shin pain. Because weirdly enough, it's only my left shin that has been giving me trouble. Hopefully the new shoes, paired with some diligent calf stretching, will do the trick.

To break in my new shoes, I decided to take them out for a seven mile run around the neighborhood. They have to get acclimated with one another, after all. I know many parts of the country are experiencing some crazy cold weather right now, but not this part. It was about 72 degrees with 80% humidity when I went out for my run. I thought it was going to be a tough run, but it was actually very pleasant. I set out to run only six miles, but it felt so good that I just kept on going. A little slower than usual, but I'll chalk that one up to the humidity. Nonetheless, a great Saturday afternoon run.

I was nice and sweaty after that run, so I came home to shower and freshen up. One of my fellow English teachers has the same off-period as me, and he has a teacher float into his room. And I obviously do not have a classroom, so we both find ourselves in the English lounge at the same time. He is absolutely hilarious to talk to, and he is also a big-time runner. Just the other day we discussed how when we run, we sweat. Some people maybe have a bead of sweat running down the side of their face, but that is not the case for me. So, a shower was very necessary.

After my shower, I headed up the road to Salata for a healthy post-run salad. I sat in there and read Scary Close by Donald Miller while I was eating my salad, and though I am only about one-tenth of the way through the book, I love it already. It focuses a lot on meaningful relationships, and the freedom that comes from loving other people. I'm hoping to get a few more things done so that I can curl up for the rest of the evening with my Kindle.

After making a few stops at CityCentre, I headed back home to continue working. I have been surprisingly productive today, but I still have quite a lot of ground to cover, mainly in the grading area. Honestly, I'm not even touching the short answer responses they wrote yesterday in class, because they are an absolute train wreck. The question asked of them was extremely complex, and I'm not sure that they really gained anything by writing them. I want to take time to go over (for the upteenth time) how to correctly answer a short answer response question. It would take me far more time than it's worth to truly grade and make comments on them. I do still have a stack of expository essays staring back at me, and I would like to get to those before the weekend is over.

I hope your Saturday has been a good one! Anyone gearing up for The Oscars tomorrow night? I will watch them, of course, but because I'm absolutely awful about going to see movies, I'll probably be watching it more for the dresses. And to see if Bellaire grad Richard Linklater can bring home another award for his film, Boyhood. See you guys tomorrow!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Things I'm Loving Friday XXII

I'm not even sure where this week went. Looking back, it feels a little bit like a blur, because I don't feel as though I have stopped moving since my alarm sounded on Monday morning. I feel like I've done a lot, yet my to-do list is still miles long. I think that's because I keep finding new things to add to it. And I essentially lost Wednesday to Cardinal Kickoff, but that was a lot of fun, and I was excited to see that so many girls are interested in playing volleyball at Bellaire. Though that does make the whole decision process much harder.

And not everything on my list is school-related! I just have to find time to go to Anthropologie and Kendra Scott before the month (aka, the discounts) is up - that's really going to be hard for me to do, I know. But seriously. As much as I dislike rain and thunderstorms, and I absolutely soaked up the sunshine yesterday after my run, I'm almost looking forward to it this weekend. This way, I can sit down with everything that I need to do and knock it out, so that I can relax a little bit during the week. It's gotten to the point where I feel bad sitting down and not doing anything productive (can we consider this blog productive?), and that's absolutely not how I want or need to be feeling. We had a writer from Writers in the Schools come and visit our classrooms a couple of times this week to work with our students on a persona poem, so maybe that has something to do with it. She came to visit one of each of our classes, and then we were on our own for the rest. The fact that it's not my lesson so I'm not as confident teaching it, combined with the fact that it's poetry and I really don't feel confident teaching that, certainly could have contributed to that go-go-go feeling. One positive is that I have been falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, and not waking up until my alarm goes off, so here's to being able to get some good rest!

And, because it's Friday, let's move on with our regularly scheduled events - another rendition of Things I'm Loving Friday. This time, in article and/or video form.

Austin Marathon Hyvon Ngetich Crawling to Finish
Guys, if you haven’t read this story or watched this video, please do it now. If you want to restore your faith in humanity, all you have to do is go watch a marathon. Seriously. As you know, I participated in the Austin Half Marathon last weekend, and though I was not there to see this in person, though I'm sure she was not too far behind me, I am in awe of her bravery and heart. This woman led the marathon the entire race, but her legs gave out just before the finish line, causing her to collapse. Rather than give up, she crawled on all fours the remainder of the way to the finish line, refusing help when offered to her. Not out of pride, but out of determination. She said she didn't quit because,"Running, always, you have to keep going, going." And to quote Manuel Bojorquez, this is "an image of defeat turned into triumph." 

Humans of New York
I don't know how many of you guys like Humans of New York on Facebook, but I absolutely love it. Hearing the stories of other people, regular people living their lives, just like you and me. While many of the stories shared are inspiring, this one in particular tugged on my heartstrings. The question that was being asked was, "Who's influenced you the most in your life?" While many of the answers were the usual mom or dad, one child named his principal, Ms. Lopez. When asked how she has influenced him, he responded,
  • "When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter."
That last line absolutely stopped me in my tracks. Because that is the reason why I wanted to become a teacher, why I love being a teacher. I've had many teachers who went to bat for me back when I was in school, and I would love to be that person to my own students. And what's even more inspiring about this story is that this principal, just days before, had decided that she was going to quit. That the job was too difficult and she was frustrated that she wasn't seeing any of her efforts come to fruition. And then something like this happens. Tell me that doesn't warm your heart.

In the spirit of teaching poetry this week (honestly my least favorite lessons of all time), here is some poetry that I do like. I grew up with Shel Silverstein, and I have almost all of his written works. And while his works are usually of the children's variety, many of them contain messages and lessons that are applicable at any age.

10 Races Perfect for People Just Beginning Running
I know all too well what it's like to be a beginning runner. When my volleyball coach told me to run to Dairy Ashford and back, I thought that was the equivalent of modern-day torture. Which, it is kind of embarrassing to be running down the side of the street all by your lonesome. But, I digress. It can be intimidating to start running, especially when you watch all of these experienced runners participating in race after race after race. But just remember, a 12-minute mile and a six-minute mile covers the same distance. And with all of that being said, here is a list of races perfect for people who are new to running, or maybe new to running a certain distance. I would also add any Color Run races, as those can be a fun way to grab your family and friends and log a couple of miles. Who knows? Maybe that will inspire you to run 1000+ miles in one year. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

A magical place to run a race! (Source)
Enjoy the rest of your Friday! I know that after what has felt like a crazy week, I am going to take life easy today. An easy walk around my neighborhood, and a little bit of baking for some of my friends who are studying their lives away for the CPA exams. And maybe a little bit of grading, because I am struggling to stay above water on that front. And it's only the first week of the new cycle!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lenten Season

We've (almost) made it over the hump! This week has seemed to go by fast for me, but my to-do list just seems to keep on getting longer. I cross one thing off and then add three more. I fell slightly behind, or I just feel a little behind, with my trip to Austin this past weekend, as I did very little school work while I was there. And I don't regret that, but I have felt like I'm playing a game of catch-up. And tonight we have "Cardinal Kickoff," in which incoming freshman will come and see what Bellaire is all about. I'll be holding down the volleyball booth, and hopefully recruiting some dynamite freshmen to don the Cardinal red.

Because it wouldn't make sense for me to go home and then turn around and come right back, I am staying up at school, with the intention of getting some work done. Organizing my desk, anyone? And because I didn't want to have to shower and re-ready myself, I woke up bright and early this morning to get in a swim before school. I have found that the key to getting a lane to myself is getting to the gym right when it opens at 5am, or meandering on up there around 7:30pm - after all of the youth aquatic fitness and aerobics classes have ended. And for some reason waking up at 4:40am to swim is a whole lot easier than getting up at 4:40am to run. Especially when it's a crisp 40 degrees outside. Which, if I'm being honest, is pretty ideal running weather, but a dark 40 degrees feels much colder than a sunny 40 degrees. So while yesterday's after-school sunshine-y run was a dream come true, this morning's frost? Not so much.


It's that time of year again - the time when we pick something to give up in honor of the Lenten season. If you celebrate Easter, that is. And, even if you don't, people often use this time to give up something that has become sort of like an addiction to them. Now, I'm not Catholic, but I have always tried (and usually failed) to give up something for Lent. Usually food. My Granny always, always, always gave up chocolate, and I always tried to follow suit. Chocolate, sweets, frozen yogurt - I successfully completed that one, surprisingly enough - and last year I told myself that I would journal every day of Lent. Yeah, right. One year some of my WyldLife teammates and I said we would read through the New Testament in 40 days. Again, I fell off track. Maybe some give up using foul language, as I know I could certainly watch my mouth while sitting in Houston traffic, turning off technology for a couple of hours a day (we all know I could benefit from that one), or some other bad habit that will help turn us back to Jesus. While those last few are a little bit closer to what the Lenten season is all about - preparing our hearts for Easter and experiencing the want, sacrifice, and temptation that Jesus experienced in the wilderness - I don't think it matters what you decide to give up or do for Lent, rather why you decide to give up or do something.

I know I'm guilty of giving up sweets because maybe it will help me shed a couple of pounds. Does it ever? No. Instead, it makes me irritable when my friends are enjoying that delicious cup of frozen yogurt and I'm eating carrots. Besides, what's a day without chocolate, anyway? This year, instead of giving something up, because I have found that doesn't really turn my heart back to Jesus, I'm going to take a little bit of time each day to write down either what was great about that day, what I'm thankful for, or a combination of the two. Every day is not going to be great, that is for sure, but there is something great to be found in each day. And I can't take any credit for that thought! One of my fellow UTeach grads has started a blog, that I absolutely love reading each morning, in which she is writing down one thing that she is thankful for every day for a year. What a difference it can make to look back on a day and reflect on the good that happened! Even if you have to dig a little deeper for it. Especially if you have to dig a little deeper for it.

I also want to commit one new piece of scripture to memory each week, and maybe make it a verse that I'm not already familiar with. There is no love without sacrifice, and though I'm not technically "sacrificing" anything, except maybe a few minutes spent wasted on Facebook, my hope is that I can celebrate and rejoice in the good news that I am made new each day by a gracious and loving God.