Saturday, August 11, 2012

Flo-rida and R. Kansas

In the absence of one big vacation this year, Adam and I planned a couple mini-trips, centered around events we already had planned. First was Adam's iCast boat show in Orlando. He was working most of the week, but I came down anyway and took some time to myself. The first day, I walked over to the convention center in Orlando, where the boat show was being held. If you've ever been there, you know how big it is. And even though it looks like it's just a block down from the hotel, the walk took about 45 minutes. Never fear, there was a Haagen-Daz at the convention center, so I was handsomely rewarded for my efforts. :)

Seeing Adam at this show proved to me that he has found his perfect job. He was beside himself with all the "celebrities" in the fishing world who were there. Yet when he got the opportunity to talk to them, he was all business and seemed to handle himself really well. Here is a picture of him with "Mr. Crappie" (Wally Marshall).

Adam told Mr. Crappie that he has about 12 of his fishing rods in our garage. I believe Wally also makes the Ms. Crappie rod, which I believe we have a few of as well! No matter how many times he explains it to me, I will never understand Adam's need for probably 20+ fishing rods. Maybe he doesn't understand my need for jeans either. Maybe that explains why we're shopping for a house with a 4-car garage (and more closet space)!

Our next mini-trip was just a couple weeks later, as we ventured down to Arkansas for my cousin Curt's wedding in Ft. Smith. For those who don't know, Adam and I used to live in Arkansas before moving to Kansas City. I lived in Ft. Smith for almost 2 years while Adam lived in Little Rock. When we got engaged, I moved to Little Rock as well. We hadn't been back to the state since moving 5 years ago, so we used the wedding as an opportunity to go visit our old stompin' grounds. We left early Wednesday morning and headed to Little Rock, in a trip jam-packed with all the things we used to enjoy doing. On the way, we stopped in Rogers, AR to eat lunch at our all-time favorite restaurant, Rolando's. There is one in Ft. Smith, where my previous company (ABF Freight Systems) took me when I interviewed with them, and I instantly fell in love. Rolando is from Ecuador, and the cuisine is similar to Mexican, but with more of a cilantro-based spice, tomatillo sour cream and black beans. Phenomenal. I had my all-time favorite, Jose's Quesadillas:

And Adam had his standard Don Quixote burrito:

After lunch, it was onward to Little Rock. The next day and a half were a trip down memory lane as we re-lived some of the things we did and places we went during our year and a half of long-distance dating. First up was a trip to the local brewery, Diamond Bear. We used to do their tour/tasting on Saturday evenings before a night out on the town, and we got to know one of their owners, Russ Melton, pretty well. This is a family business that has grown from the ground up, and it's nice to see them doing well. They only distribute in Arkansas and a little in Mississippi, so we are still waiting for them to expand to KC! Surprisingly, Adam and I both really enjoyed their Irish Red beer. When we found out they only had 5 6-packs left (they have now made it a seasonal beer only), we snatched them all up. The brewery is only normally open on weekends, but since we were only in town for 2 days, we called, and they were happy to let us come in and get what we needed. 

Next was a trip to our old employer, Alltel (now Verizon). I think we both hated working there, but me moreso than Adam. I had a terrible boss and a terrible senior engineer who was supposed to be my mentor. When we drove down to campus, guess who we saw walking right past our car?! What are the freaking odds? The 2 far buildings on campus seem to be deserted now that it's just a regional office for Verizon. Soooo glad we got out when we did. 

We hopped on the interstate and drove out west to see Adam's old house. The house was a great starter home, in a nice West Little Rock suburban neighborhood, but there were mixed emotions about seeing it. We spent a lot of time there, and even got engaged there. But we could still see the dents in the front door from when the house was broken into and robbed over Christmas 6 years ago. I also have some suspicions about the current residents, since a bank account was fraudulently opened in my maiden name, from that address last year. Then we swung by the apartment where I lived with my lovely friend Char. It was a dump, and you couldn't pay me to live there anymore now! All in all, this little tour made me SO thankful for where we are today.

For dinner, we went to a place called Sekisui, or as I always called it, "Fish on boats." This was the first place I ever had sushi, which I now LOVE. Their happy hour consists of sushi rolls floating in a moat around the bar. Adam loaded up!

Then we got some wine and relaxed in their lounge area while watching the Olympics.

The plan on Thursday was to play some golf, but as we ventured out for breakfast, it was raining. It was such a welcome sight since we haven't seen rain in so long that we weren't even bummed about our plans changing. So, we tooled around the mall for bit and headed out to another favorite activity of ours, hiking Pinnacle Mountain. One of my favorite things about Little Rock was the nature. Lots of hills, trees, and lakes. The Pinnacle Mountain hike is perfect, almost a mile one-way, with some pretty steep ascents near the top. On the way up, Adam found a great tree for pull-ups:

My attempt was not as graceful.

 We continued our climb and got slightly off-path, which led to a bit steeper ascent than I was prepared for. The high winds really didn't help the situation either.

But after a little work, we made it to the top and were rewarded with a great view of Lake Maumelle.

Adam took this opportunity to do some push-ups and mountain climbers (ironic choice), while I watched.

We ended our time in Little Rock with an evening with our good friends, Stan and Jane. Stan and Adam met when Stan sold Adam his house. Despite a generation gap (their children are our age), we really get along well with them. Adam and Stan became great hunting buddies, and we loved to go to their gorgeous house for dinner and a game of spades. Jane cooked us a wonderful dinner, and we chatted and played spades...boys vs. girls. We played 2 hands and each won 1, so everyone went home happy. Stan's favorite saying is "Try and you might," in his bold attempts to go nil or even blind nil. They are just genuine, happy people and SO much fun to be around. We stayed up way too late enjoying our time with them.

On Friday morning, it was off to Ft. Smith for the wedding festivities. Ironically, my cousin Curt moved to Ft. Smith and began working for a subsidiary of the same company I worked for, and he arrived just a few months after I left town. I really loved working for ABF, and I loved my co-workers and my time in Ft. Smith, so it was great to go back. We met some old co-workers, including my old boss for lunch at...where else...Rolando's. Then we did what any rational people do on a 108-degree afternoon...we went out to play golf.

This was my first attempt at actually playing a course, so it was good that no one else in their right mind would've gone out golfing that day. I managed to have a couple successful holes, making a pretty long putt from the edge of the green to get a 7 (my best score on a single hole up to that point), and then making bogey on a par 3. I was so proud to have achieved a score they actually have a name for! After 6 holes, I was getting tired and hot, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. Adam finished the 9, and we went back to the hotel and jumped into the pool. In another sport that Adam is much better at, he tried to teach me the butterfly. Though inspired by Michael Phelps, I was terrible at it. I did, however, win the treading water contest, no matter what Adam tells you!

From there, it was time to get ready for the wedding festivities. I read the petitions in the wedding and was glad to be part of such a beautiful day. Curt's new wife Heather is a beautiful and sweet girl, and our family is lucky to have her! As with any vacation, it was nice to get back home. We both agreed that even though we had fun during our time in Arkansas, we are so glad to be where we are now. We are truly midwesterners at heart, and Kansas City is home!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chillin at the Holiday Inn

Okay, so ACTUALLY as I write this, I'm chilling at the Hampton Inn, but I don't know of any songs featuring the Hampton. I've recently started a different role at work that requires me to travel a little bit more.  **DISCLAIMER** I don't travel nearly as much as some of our real road warriors, so I still have a lot to learn. If any of you professional travelers are reading this and have any tips to share, please do!!

Whether for business or pleasure, summer is a time when a lot of us travel more than usual, so I wanted to share some of the things I've learned (some the hard way) along the way about staying fit and fabulous while traveling.

It's SO tempting to fall into the "calories don't count when I'm on vacation" mindset but let's not kid ourselves here! One of the best parts of going on vacation is the opportunity to experience new foods you just can't get "back home." My current trip brings me to Brenham, TX, home of the Blue Bell creamery, delicious pecan pie, and better Mexican food than you find in Kansas. Planning for these things, I try to keep myself in check for my other meals, and of course I'm planning for time to be active.

Vacation brings lots of opportunities to be more active than we are in our daily lives, without even recognizing it sometimes! A couple years ago, Adam and I went to DC, and I can't even imagine how many miles we must have walked in a day touring the city and museums. To really take an active vacation to extremes, plan for a vacation/race. Whether that's a 5k, half marathon, triathlon, or whatever. The vacation serves as a great reward for all your hard training. Then there are things like skiing, hiking, rafting and biking. More of a spa on the beach kind of girl? Did you know walking/running on the beach is an AMAZING workout for your legs? All your muscles have to work so much harder to stabilize themselves in the sand, and many resorts also have yoga classes by the beach. What a great way to start your day!

Business trip in rural TX? No problem! Even if your hotel doesn't have a fitness center, there are plenty of things you can do in your own room with NO equipment!

Legs: squats, lunges, bowler lunges, plie lunges, wall sits, all of which simply use your own body weight for resistance. If you're used to using weights when you do squats, you may need to do more reps than you're used to, or even find something in the room like a phone book that might add a little extra weight.
Core: there are a million variations on planks to keep your abs and back tight.
Arms: pushups, then bring the hands together and the elbows closer to the body for tricep work. Bicep curls can be effective again with a phone book or even without weights, as long as you keep the motion slow and concentrate on contracting the muscles. For a more intense workout, think about bringing a resistance band. It takes very little space in your suitcase and can be held tighter or looser depending on your strength level.

Mix these exercises in with 60-90 second intervals of jumping jacks for a total body strength/cardio workout! Got internet? A quick YouTube search of "hotel room workout" will give you plenty of other ideas!

Taking the extra 30 minutes just for a quick circuit will make those little indulgences like Blue Bell ice cream and Mexican food feel a lot more enjoyable. Just be sure you do the circuit BEFORE the ice cream!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quoth the Maven: Introduction

In just 11 days (but who's counting?), I will finally finish my MBA! Everybody asks me, and sometimes I ask myself, "What are you going to do with all your spare time when you don't have school?" Fortunately, I've had 2 great opportunities to teach TurboKick come my way. **SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT** You can come to my class every other Tuesday 5:30 - 6:30 at The Athletic Club of Overland Park and every Sunday 10:30 - 11:30am at the Olathe 24 Hour Fitness!

Because that's not quite enough to satisfy my need for constant activity, I have also recently been presented with another very cool opportunity. As of this week, I am serving as a Suburban Catwalk Maven. So what does that mean? Glad you asked! Suburban Catwalk is a fashion and beauty blog started by Jennifer Hermon. Check it out. As a Maven, I will be able to try new beauty products and trends and share my experiences with all my friends who will listen.

Assignment #1 was to attend the launch of Candy Glam, a spring makeup line from Empower Me. I was introduced to my 2 fellow Mavens, Kelli and Janet (who we have named "Short Janet" for clarity).

Various salon services were offered for just $5. Since I had an upcoming full mani/pedi planned in preparation for Felicia's wedding the following weekend (yay!!), I passed on the mini mani, and since it was a Thursday evening and I was going straight home, I also passed on the quick up-do, party eyelash application, and hair chalking, but I did partake in some eyebrow threading. A loyal waxer/tweezer, I had never tried threading before, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results. The pain level was about the same as with waxing but without the redness I usually get from waxing. It took just a few minutes. It's only been 5 days, so I can't really speak to how long it will last.

There were also a few other vendors there including Kosama - which is apparently like a P90X format in a group setting, Vault Denim - which I just glanced at since I was attending a separate Vault Denim party the following day (which was successful BTW!), and Jamberry Nails - which is like the Sally Hansen stick-on nail designs. The Jamberry girl gave me a strip to "sample," but she only gave me 4 strips, so I'm not entirely sure how I'm supposed to make that work.

Jennifer also presented me with a pink gym bag (you KNOW how much I love all things athletic and girly!) full of some other product samples, most of which are skin care related. Because there are several different products, I plan on testing out just one at a time over the coming weeks.

So the moral of the story is that hopefully with school ending soon, I will have the opportunity to do some more fun and interesting things besides study and get my Turbo on. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Confession: I'm a Two-Timer!

It's been a really long time since I've done a blog post, and unfortunately that's because I haven't been doing too many exciting things. This is my last semester of my MBA, so all of my time has been eaten up with work, school, and working out. Fortunately for anyone reading, this post isn't going to be about work or school.

Chalene Johnson is a motivational speaker and fitness guru, creator of several workout formats including my favorite, TurboKick. Chalene preaches that it is imperative to find your "soulmate workout." This is that activity that you really can't live without. You schedule it into your day, and it becomes like a hobby. It could be a group class like boot camp or Zumba, a solo activity like running or strength training, or even a new sport like tennis or hiking.

Much like real relationships, there really is a workout out there for everyone, but sometimes it takes "dating" to find it. I hear so often, "I just hate working out." There's no way you will ever stick with something that you don't enjoy, nor will you put the energy into it that is required to really see great results.

All the way through college, softball was my soulmate. As I entered the adult working world, I unfortunately had to break up with softball, as it was no longer conducive to my lifestyle. Of course I still love the game, but it's not feasible to play and train for softball every day. When I graduated college and began working full-time, I joined a gym and started taking group fitness classes. Classes appeal to the social aspect I loved about team sports and that concept of "teammates" pushing each other. There's always that person in the class who inspires you to work harder. I tried step classes, boot camp classes, lifting classes, even an urban rebounding class, which uses trampolines.

In all my group class experience, I never found my soulmate until 2 years ago when Adam and I joined 24 Hour Fitness and I was exposed to TurboKick. This class combines kickboxing (I LOVED TaeBo back in high school) with plyometric intervals, dance elements and really fun music. I drove all over the metro to various 24 Hour locations just to find a TurboKick class (I don't recommend the Olathe class, but Karen's class at the Shawnee Mission Pkwy location is the best by far!). I've obviously spent a lot of time in the gym over the years, and my weight always lived in a 5-lb window. After starting TurboKick, that window dropped by 8 lbs and has not gone back up!

About a year ago, I started down the path to become an instructor, and as I learned more about the format, I fell more and more in love with it. There is flexibility to make it more dance-y or more athletic and to tailor it based on your students' fitness levels. It really is supposed to be a party and it doesn't take itself too seriously. I laugh more in that class than in any other class I've ever taken.

Now, here's the beauty of the fitness "dating" process - you don't have to pick just one soulmate! There is definitely a quieter, more introverted side of me that really enjoys a nice solo long run, as you've seen in previous posts. So I fully admit that I am a two-timing ho when it comes to fitness, and both my soulmates love me unconditionally anyway!

If you haven't yet found your soulmate, it's a great time with the warm weather to go out and try something new. Take up a new sport with your real-life soulmate or try something vastly different from what you're used to. You might be surprised at what you fall in love with!