The Before and After Pictures: My Before.

Let’s Get Physical

If you’ve talked to me in the past few months or have stopped by my little cubby on the internet, you know I’m kind of obsessed with living a healthier lifestyle, in a healthier body. There’s too many reasons for this:

  • I’m getting married
  • To look like a badass for my wedding
  • To look like a badass on my honeymoon
  • To look like a badass for the rest of my life
  • To feel like a badass for all of those things, too
  • I’m happier when I work out
  • I sleep better when I eat better and exercise
  • I have less stomach problems when I eat better
  • To fit back into my favorite jean shorts
  • To be a good example of a healthy lifestyle while working in an office and taking graduate classes in the evening

And the list goes on.

When I read about other health journeys, there usually one element I’m looking for – the before and after pictures. I’m a visual learner. I associate hints, tricks, and mantras with these pictures. Instagram is my new favorite-thing-ever because I love the visual reinforcement of other people working out and eating healthy fare.

I’m not sure what being-the-best-me will look like. I have a potential number (weight) in my head but I’m not tied to it. If I gain 10 lbs but there are less inches – then so be it. For now, the two go hand-in-hand and I’m tracking the pounds and the inches.

Pictures are helping me to stay committed this time around. Often, I think I don’t notice the change over time because I see myself all the time. Think about it – do you notice weight gain in someone you see every day as much as you might notice when someone you only see once in a while gains a few? A close girlfriend in college put on the “Freshmen 30”  and I had no real idea. I would’ve guessed five, maybe. When you see someone everyday, especially yourself, it can be tough to see the results.

Pictures of where I was at before getting my butt in gear were the jolt of ice water I needed to see there was a problem. When you look at a picture of yourself from behind and don’t recognize who that person is with the backfat in the strapless dress that looks an awfully lot like a dress you wore to that same wedding…there’s a problem.

I’ve struggled with whether to post some of the before pictures I collected as evidence that I was not being the best me. Every person’s journey is different. My low could very well be someone else’s high. I don’t quite know how to say it but these “before” pictures represent so much more than how my body looks. They represent not listening to my body, not making myself a priority, secret trips to McDonald’s, and denial.



So yikes. But it’s a pill I’m swallowing. You know what helps the medicine go down? A spoon full of sugar.

I’m a big believer in appreciative inquiry. I would be amiss not to also look at pictures when I look like me and was maintaining a higher, more desirable standard of living for myself. I can’t wait to get back to these and beyond!



Here’s to the befores. Stay posted….”durings” to come…


Do pictures play a role for you when it comes to fitness? For better or for worse? 




Half Marathon Training Update: Ruh-roh.

Is there really such a thing as a “quick update,” I fear there may not be. Not from me.

In brief:

I trained.

I ran. (St. Malachi 5 Mile Church Run)

I didn’t run.

I’m running again.

Seven weeks into training and the seven more weeks until the Cleveland Rite Aid (Half) Marathon. It’s beyond time I formally checked-in with myself about how this is going. Let’s take a look at the plan:

Wow. There is a lot of striking-though on that spreadsheet. Quite a bit on the Saturday long runs too. Yikes. 7 of the 22 lavender squares (meaning training completed) are “off” days. I excel at resting. Fabulous. You can see where I try to make up for some of the missed training days too. Brutal. This just makes me sad, frustrated, whatever. I don’t feel like my training is going as bad as it looks.

Well, maybe on Tuesday morning I did feel it.

On Monday night, I announced a “I am getting up at 5 – no snooze – no excuses” alert. This gives my partner-in-crime full permission to encourage, berate, and judge in order to help me meet this declaration. I think he may secretly enjoy enforcing early mornings.

On Tuesday morning, I placed my feet on the cold wood floor before turning the alarm off. I hadn’t even looked to see what the workout was for the morning. When you haven’t worked out in over a week, that’s easy to do. Scrolling through my training plan, I saw, “3 mile race pace.” Great. Three miles at a pace I was hoping to be able to do for five miles last week and couldn’t hack it. A glutton for (well-deserved) punishment, I trudged down to the workout room. And by trudged, I mean, took the elevator.

I know to run the 27:27, I needed to run at 6.6 or higher. I can’t start off that way though. After not running for over a week, I was hurting and I couldn’t get the closed caption to work for the morning news. Yes, that’s important to me. Around twenty minutes I was still only around 6.2-6.4 and I knew I had some work ahead of me to get to 3 miles before or at 27:27.

Long story short, I was running at nearly 9 mph by the end of it and I missed the mark by 6 seconds. This was the first time in this training cycle I pushed myself to a point of dry heaving. I felt like a cat hacking up a hairball, a very embarrassed, shameful cat, because there are only three treadmills and there was another guy two treadmills over.


It gets even more embarrassing. I finished my cool down and grabbed the sanitation spray and a paper towel to clean off the machine and was 95% through wiping it down when I realized I had been cleaning the wrong one. At that moment I was sanitizing the treadmill immediately next to the other runner that was once between us. Though this shenanigan did not catch his attention, the F-bomb I dropped, when I realized what I had been doing, sure did.

Hopefully I didn’t lose too much of how far I’ve come from my senseless week off – those 27 minutes and 33 seconds were a much-needed reality check. One of reasons I have fallen in love with running is how commensurate the results are to the work you put in. I’m better than this.


Coming Up

I’m hoping to run a 5k on Sunday and finally break my 30 minute curse. I’m also leaving it open to decide if I would be better off using Sunday for a much needed, much missed, long run. The better the weather, the more likely I will be to forgo the 5k and opt for a long run.

I’m definitely running the Glow4Goal 5k in early April. I love 5ks at night and a glow in the dark t-shirt sounds amazing.


How’s your working out/running/training going? Is this winter (supposedly spring) affecting your game? 



St. Malachi 5 Mile Church Run: 2014 Recap.

2014 St. Malachi Church Run Recap- 34th Annual

Last year, the St. Malachi Run was supposed to be my first time running the 5-mile instead of the 2-mile and running a race over 5k. When we woke up, that particular morning in 2013 was chilly and sleeting. Having already picked up our long-sleeve shirts the day before and not having trained – I shut off my alarm and rolled back over in bed.


This year was different. I once again signed the hubby-to-be and I up. He reluctantly agreed to join me on the condition of the weather being above freezing. At the time I registered, I couldn’t fathom the temperatures dipping below 32 in mid-March. I was pretty nervous prior to the race but the weather ended up being “best case scenario.” Upper 30s with some cloud cover.

I had been pretty okay in my training. My original goal for the St. Malachi 5-mile was to run 9:09 miles, resulting in a final time of 45:45. 9:09 is my unicorn. I need to run a 9:09 over 13.1 miles for a half marathon time under two hours. I was hoping to  run five miles at this pace by now but as the race approached, I conceded to the idea that wasn’t realistic and then I made a huge mistake – I canceled my original goal in my head but did not set a new one. As we lined up for the race, Boyface asked me what pace we were aiming for. I copped out. I shrugged and mumbled something about 9:30 or 9:45. To be fair, I’m still getting accustomed to my goals being more than “just finish.”

I had dressed appropriately. Though I had not planned out wearing the fleece I put on for our way to the race – the brisk wind told me else wise. Once we were running, I definitely could have done without it. That being said, the fleece didn’t even make it to “tied-around-the-waist” status, so I was just fine. Some gloves would have been fine. Yes, 86 the fleece, substitute glaves and it would have been perfect. I was also happy to get some use out of a favorite St. Patrick’s Day shirt.


The Race

The race as a whole went well. The course has changed a little bit and I think for the best. The final half-mile was downhill. I was thrilled. My stride opened up and I just whipped through, narrowly avoiding potholes, to the finish line.

Boyface was a great running partner. I think this is only the second race we’ve run together (the other being the Malachi 2-mile in 2012!) and he’s such a rock for the uphill battles. I firmly believe in running hills, all the hills. I’m more likely to “have to” walk, once I get up the hill and have passed the pinnacle than during the climb. It’s strange. If I’m good about hills, he’s a rockstar. I do not mind one bit when he gets a few strides ahead of me, keeping a steady pace, and I have to push myself, just the right amount to catch up to his fine self.

The biggest highlight was the final climb back over the Detroit-Superior Bridge. I remembered the parallel moment in 2012, nearing the end of a mere two miles and I was on empty. I recalled my love asking with some concern, “are you okay?” I said I was and asked what inclined him to ask…”you’re breathing really hard,” he relied. Flash forward to 2014, I was running up the hill, I was pooped, but I wasn’t defeated. I was grateful for the progress I’ve made. I thanked myself for the early mornings. I took a deep breath, content to think I might get to take a few more of those in my life because of these efforts.   

Some “Meh” Things

My mind is still absolutely blown by how many people start in the front to walk. There was just a lot of people of varying abilities too. There was just a lot of people, period. I’m either growing to abhor large crowds as I get older or I’m just now learning this about myself.

Dogs. I don’t remember dogs being a thing when I ran the 2-mile race two years ago. Is that new? I think I can understand running with dogs for more scenic 5ks, more suburb-esque 5ks, but downtown? They made me nervous. Particularly the dog that was jumping at the faster runners coming back past us as we rallied towards the Science Center. The race was way too crowded for four-legged friends running alongside well below eye-level.

Inner Monologue By the Mile

Mile 1: 9:29 – Yay, starting! Boo, people dodging. Oh look! River Dance dancers!

Mile 2: 9:09 – Yay, running down a big hill and the Browns Stadium, Go Browns! Ooo, the fast people. Hey, there’s Jess’s husband, “Go Ryan!”

Mile 3: 9:24 – That dog is making me so nervous. People dressed up like something? Pillows? I need to tie my shoe. (Tied my shoe.)

Mile 4: 9:58 – I ran this at the beginning of the Rock’n’Roll Half! Oof, big hill. Big hill. That hill sucked.

Mile 5: 8:41 – Bridge! Happy self-realizations! We’re all almost there! Yay, people cheering! Down the hill! Pothole, pothole, pothole. Go, go, go. Where is the finish line? How close to the turn at the bottom? Okay, not that close, but pretty close. Push! Finish!


The  Results

  • My chip time- 46:59.16
  • 9:24 min/mile average
  • 80th in my gender and age group (Females 25-29)
  • In the top 40% of my gender and age group (80/210)
  • 1107th overall
  • In the top 50% overall (1107/2248)

Post Race

After the race, I serendipitously ran into one of my favorite people in Cleveland, Theresa. Who I subsequently forgot to get a picture with. We then skipped any post-race bar festivities because I signed up for a three hour yoga workshop that afternoon. I did have a beer with lunch to celebrate!


I had a great St. Malachi Race. Very pleased with averaging out to 9:26 mpm, even though it’s not 9:09 yet. Very thankful for the cooperative weather and my supportive gazelle-like companion.

Wedding Wednesday: The Music of the Night.

My Ultimate Guide to Wedding Music

Planning a wedding is a breeze.

Well, it is when you have a board of consultants that is as deep, patient, and wonderful as mine. It would be selfish to keep how amazing they are to myself.

I’m currently on a (major) wedding planning hiatus. My hardest, most time occupying stretch of masters classes is now through June. I cannot simply ignore our pending nuptials is less than a year now, though! I’m taking this time to ponder some of the lighter sides of wedding planning.

The music.


The future hubby and I are huge music lovers, we span almost every genre from music so “indie” it sounds like a bunch of noises happening in one room, (I’m looking at you, Panda Bear,) to Top 40, (“It’s going down, I’m yelling…”) Music is a big deal to us and our venue supports that theory and so will some of our personal touches.

One of my favorite parts of wedding receptions is the first dance. I always get chills when the bride and groom look into each other eyes and have the moment of, “shit, this is real.” It’s a look of (what I think is) joy, relief, amazement, and tenderness. I’ve been eager to pick out our first dance song…but then I had a really, really cute idea. This should have been foreshadowing. Any time I have a cute idea, the result is inevitably less cute.

My idea: I would compile a list of 10 or so songs as candidates for our first dance and then my darling fiance would pick one of them and it would be a surprise on the night of our wedding. Great idea, right?

The problem: After a solid date night, the topic of first dance songs came up and we decided to listen to the four songs I had added to the “Ultimate Love Song” playlist thus far. I will always be bitterly grateful for this. As it would turn out, he loathed three of the four songs and the one that might have worked is currently being run in a commercial for cat food. This is why we plan ahead…

If you are ever looking for some songs that are wonderful and not on any “Top 50 First Dance Song” lists, let me know. Might be a post for another time.

In search of new ideas, I reached out to my advisers. While I had them on the line, I threw out a few more music-related questions I hadn’t even dared to dream about yet. Here is the slew of questions they received:

  • What song did you pick for first dance?
  • How do you feel about that song now? Does it matter after the wedding, even?
  • How was the song decided upon?
  • Did you take dance lessons?
  • Did you have a choreographed dance?
  • If you did the father/daughter dance – what song? why? Who picked it?
  • Mother/son dance – who picked the song?
  • Were there any other dances?
  • Song choices in general – any surprising must play songs at a wedding? Any songs you’d recommend keeping off of the play list?

The responses were amazing! They were the perfect amount of sentimental and reminders about what’s truly important. Also, learned we are not alone in what happened with me having “perfect” songs in my head and him not agreeing so much…like with Jessica’s below…

Please enjoy all of the wonderful advice and anecdotes these beautiful brides shared with me!

Jessica M.’s Wedding

I didn’t even have to ask Ryan about taking dance lessons or having a choreographed dance, he was 100% against it. However, we settled on him learning to kolo (Croatian dance) instead.

I have always loved the song “I can’t help falling in love” and imagined that as the perfect first dance song. I thought for sure that Ryan would love it and that would be our song. He didn’t (and pretty sure he kinda hates that song) but he told me he loved the song “Then” by Brad Paisley. I knew the song and listened to it and knew what he meant by wanting that as our first dance song. The song described us perfectly but I was only 90% convinced. We went and saw Brad Paisley live the summer before our wedding and I finally agreed that it was a perfect song for our first dance song.

Then as the month went by, we were about 6 months (maybe less) from our wedding date and we changed our song! When we first started dating “Crazy Girl” By the Eli Young Band was popular and we always felt like that was a good song for us. We easily changed our song to that and I apparently never told my Mom because as our first dance song came on she thought the DJ was playing the wrong song!

The "Crazy Girl" and her Groom dancing to Eli Young Band on the left, and them mid-Kolo on the right!
The “Crazy Girl” and her Groom dancing to Eli Young Band on the left, and them mid-Kolo on the right!

Jen R.‘s Wedding

Our first dance song was “These are the Nights” by Making April . One of the things I really loved about this song was that pretty much no one had heard it before and it certainly wasn’t one of the cliche, always-used wedding songs.
Matthew chose the song. He heard it and loved it before we were even engaged. When we went on vacation to Jamaica where everyone (and by everyone, I mean nosy people who had no idea what they were talking about) thought we would get engaged, he played the song for me one night on the beach and said, “I thought we could dance to this at our wedding.” He didn’t propose for a couple months after that, because just like the song, the proposal wasn’t going to be cliche and what everyone expected. But this was such a romantic moment and I just fell in love not only with the song, but with the story that goes along with it.
We did take dance lessons, mostly because we are both completely rhythmically challenged and didn’t want to be out there without any help. Plus, if you listen to the song, it’s not your standard slow-song beat. That said, I was off the lessons after the first turn, so I’m not sure how much they helped. We did feel less nervous for having taken them and people told me you couldn’t tell I had gone off the rails (but people are very kind to the bride.)
We did a father/daughter dance and I let my dad pick the song for it. I’m so glad we did because it gave us a chance to chat (my dad is notoriously quiet) and got me the picture with the biggest smile captured all evening on my dad’s face.
I desperately wanted to do some You Tube-worthy bridesmaid dance, but then I remembered that we are all rhythmically challenged and I called that off. To my bridesmaids’ credit, they all went along with the idea and said they’d do it, but also professed profound gratitude when I changed my mind!
Jen & Matthew <3
Jen & Matthew ❤
My notes: I absolutely melt thinking about how he had this song in mind before he even proposed! I also love the idea of not being cliche, not with the proposal, not with the song. I will also not be asking my bridesmaids to do a flash dance – you’re welcome ladies.

Britt B.’s Wedding

  1. What song did you pick for first dance? “You Are The Best Thing” by Ray La Montagne– we heard it on a movie or TV show and instantly looked at each other like “that song is perfect.” We wanted something up beat and fun to dance to. A few months later it was the first dance song at one of our favorite weddings of 2012, actually probably one of the most fun weddings we have ever been to. They didn’t mind sharing the song with us a year later. We took a lot of advice from them because their wedding was so relaxed and fun.
  2. How do you feel about that song now? We still really like the song, I don’t know how much it matters later on, but I think it sets the tone for the night, so it’s not something I would decide 10 minutes before.
  3. Did you take dance lessons? Nope- just went out and had fun like we usually do, haha.
  4. If you did the father/daughter dance – what song? why? Who picked it? I had a few songs in mind for my dance with my Dad but I hadn’t settled on one. A few months before the wedding we were having dinner with my Dad when he asked me what song I chose. I didn’t really think he would be the kind of dad that was interested in it; he wasn’t involved in anything else for the wedding except for making a few wedding signs, haha. Anyways, I told him I hadn’t decided and gave him my list, he replied “those are good.” So if he had a song and he suggested either Luther Vandross- “Buy Me a Rose” (which is completely inappropriate,) or “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. It worked out perfectly because it was similar in style to our song, not sure if that matters. Dad seemed happy and honestly, I was tired of making decisions.
  5. Mother/son dance – who picked the song? Paul picked it, it was Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, Paul always liked the song.
  6. Song choices in general – any surprising must play songs at a wedding? Any songs you’d recommend keeping off of the play list? About a month before the wedding we met with our DJ and gave him a must play and a don’t play list. About a month before that we texted/emailed some of our friends who are known to be on the dance floor always and asked for songs that they wanted to hear. There are some people who remember great dancing songs, I am not one of those people, I know songs when I hear them but I’m not good with names. Paul also did some research online, trying to find must play songs.
Britt & Paul, laughing and joking during their first dance
Britt & Paul, laughing and joking during their first dance

Amanda L.’s Wedding

  1. What song did you pick for first dance? Feet Don’t Touch the Ground – Stoney Larue
  2. How do you feel about that song now? Does it matter after the wedding, even? “aww”… that’s it. No real special significance.
  3. How was the song decided upon? I let Dan choose it 100%. I felt that I was making A TON of the big decisions on my own (I mean, I’d ask Dan, but he just wasn’t interested). So, I wanted something that Dan could be in charge of that would be 100% his responsibility. He knew how important it was and worked really hard to find a song that really encompassed how he felt.
  4. Did you take dance lessons? LOL
  5. Did you have a choreographed dance? LOL
  6. If you did the father/daughter dance – what song? why? Who picked it? Yes. Baby Don’t Cry by Jamey Johnson. My Dad chose it 100%. It wasn’t even an option for me to choose something different. If you’re struggling with this, maybe talk to your dad about it. I was really surprised when my dad was already so prepared with a YES we’re doing the dance and YES I have already chosen the song.
  7. Mother/son dance – who picked the song? Dan and I chose this together. We first gave Heidi the option to choose, but the songs she chose were songs Mike couldn’t easily play on the guitar.
  8. Were there any other dances? Buck in Here 😉
  9. Song choices in general – any surprising must play songs at a wedding? Any songs you’d recommend keeping off of the play list? If you’re building your own playlist, then I think you’re golden. You have enough common sense to choose good songs. If someone else has input, you HAVE TO TELL THEM NOT TO PLAY SONGS ABOUT PEOPLE DYING EVER. I’ve been to more than one wedding where Whiskey Lullaby was played. Like, omg.
Amanda and her guys.

My Notes: Talk to my Dad about father/daughter dance, no dying people songs. Check.

Alicia H.’s Wedding

  1. What song did you pick for first dance? Our wedding song is Just The Way You Are by Billy Joel.
  2. How do you feel about that song now? Does it matter after the wedding, even? It definitely still matters. Whenever it comes on, we still sing it to one another like goofballs – including sing out the sax solo at the end.
  3. How was the song decided upon? I am not sure how we settled on it – it was just a natural choice.
  4. Did you take dance lessons? When you meet in high school show choir, you don’t need dance lessons.
  5. Did you have a choreographed dance? No choreographed dance – we just let the music move us.
  6. If you did the father/daughter dance – what song? why? Who picked it? Father/daughter dance was to My Girl. I picked it because I LOATHE “Butterfly Kisses” #truestory
  7. Mother/son dance – who picked the song? Mother/son dance was to that Winnie the Pooh song. Hans picked it. Everyone cried their eyes out as he sang along.
  8. Were there any other dances? As for other dances, we requested that the mother/daughter dance (which kicked off the general dancing) was Brickhouse. Because we’re ridiculous.
  9. Song choices in general – any surprising must play songs at a wedding? Any songs you’d recommend keeping off of the play list? A group stand-in-a-circle sing-a-long to Piano Man as the second-to-last-song is always a smart song selection.

My Notes:  Alicia and Hans are badass dancers. No butterfly kisses (absolutely.) Explore the mother/daughter dance idea…

Crystal A.’s Wedding

What song did you pick for first dance/how was the song decided upon?

“Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John – There was a TON of back and forth about this song. We’ve always felt like it was “our song” but Mark didn’t think it was really a great choice to dance to for our 1st dance. He thought it was too fast and nobody else would know what the heck it was.

The alternate we picked was L.O.V.E. and we were going to use that for sure… but I really didn’t want to use that one! Mark used to teach ballroom dancing (yes, seriously!) and I’ve never done “real” dancing in my life and I was sure I would step on his toes.

Literally two nights before the wedding, he agreed to “our song” and it was the best decision ever!!! We totally nailed it – in fact people asked us how we choreographed it and how much we had practices ahead of time. As we were getting ready to go out for our dance, Mark was really nervous about it because he still had reservations and we didn’t practice at all.

I think you should pick a song that means something to YOU and not worry about what other people think about it. Rock it out, slow dance, whatever fits you two as a couple is the perfect song for you.

If you did the father/daughter dance – what song? why? Who picked it? 

Another hard choice. My Dad said let’s do a Johnny Cash song (really!!) and trust me, there are NO good songs for this dance by Johnny Cash. He suggested some sort of church song that I had to overrule too. We finally went with My Girl which was my pick. Sweet but not TOO sappy or slow.

My Notes: My Girl is a good potential father/daughter song. Don’t be afraid to pick something unique to us.

Danielle C.’s Wedding

Our first dance song changed 4 or 5 times leading up to the wedding because we were engaged for a pretty long time. I think we finally decided on “Wonderful Tonight” when we were at another wedding and heard the song (not as the couple’s first dance, but just in general). It still has a tender place in my heart, however I don’t know if you remember what happened during my first dance or not. If you do, you’ll remember that I peed my dress on the dance floor while everyone was looking at us. So while I always have that moment of “awww, I love it!” when that song comes on, I also have that memory to relive. It’s a mixed bag really. Actually I think that you noticed a thong in the trashcan in the bathroom and told me and Jon when we were walking around – I admitted that it was mine. (Editor’s Note: Yes, I did notice a thong in the trash…I thought the reason would be attributed to more, um, sultry causes.)

We most certainly did not take dance lessons or have a choreographed dance. Seeing as I have the rhythm of a limp spaghetti noodle it was mostly something that I was looking forward to because it was almost time for cake than something sentimental that I couldn’t wait to do.

My dad and I did a father/daughter dance, but we didn’t pick that song until the very last minute. We just couldn’t come up with anything. My dad and I love, love, love to listen to the Temptations, Journey, etc. and there just weren’t any appropriate songs. I don’t even know what song we settled on at this point…yikes.

Mother/son dance…that’s a story. Apparently I just sucked at the whole music planning for our wedding because I never even thought about this being a thing until it was too late and Jon and his mom were both sad that there wasn’t one 😦

For the song that we walked into the reception – I let Jon pick and he told the DJ that he wanted it to be the Power Rangers Theme Song. Unfortunately he didn’t tell him to use the chorus and our DJ didn’t assume SO it was just a random song that no one recognized.

“One of me and Jon dancing and the other one of my jumping around having a blast – which is what you want your reception to be like (in my humble opinion)”

My Notes: Don’t forget to use the bathroom after the reception and before the ceremony, remember to pick a mother/son song, and for the reception announcement – be specific if there’s a part of the song I want to be playing.

What are some of your favorite songs to hear at weddings? Best first dance songs you’ve ever heard? 

My Crappy Goals: A New Year's Resolutions Update.

This year, I didn’t make 2,014 resolutions but it feels like I did. I made 13 resolutions in total, once you combine daily, weekly, monthly, and by year’s end vows. I’m certifiable. A few of these have gone to the wayside BUT a few have not…

Original Goals


  • Write and reflect
  • Be a more considerate driver
  • 1 hour of TV (tops!)


  • Lumosity
  • Review my budget/finances


  • Complete Blogilates calendar each month
  • DietBet (this month)
  • Reflection on an Awake Exec topic (book, webinar, etc.)
  • 25 miles per month

Within the year…

  • A certain weight or fitting back into my favorite jean shorts
  • Run a sub-2 half marathon
  • Learn to embrace ambiguity
  • Welcome mindfulness into my life (Complete “How to Train a Wild Elephant)

Let me be the first to point out that these goals suck. I’m re-writing them, today. They’re great examples of goals that are not SMART. Have you heard SMART goals? I’m sure you have – yet another wing-ding corporate BS acronym to memorize in a development class and forget about? Well, I kind of thought so too until it came up in a yoga workshop last Friday.

Sidebar: I have a very strict “pay attention if it comes from two different sources” rule. This means, if I hear something (be it personal feedback, something I should do, a trend, etc.) from two completely different places - I look into it. If my mom tells me I’m saying “you know” a bunch of times, I might shrug her off thinking she’s looking for it since she knew me as a know-it-all teen. Then, if a co-worker points it out to me after a presentation that same week, it’s time to reflect. Learning about SMART goals in a business context and then hearing their worth praised again in yoga means it’s time to re-evaluate their potential purpose in my life.

SMART Goals:

S: Specific – Targets a specific area for improvement. This should covers= the six “w” questions of who, what, where, when, which, why. I like this because it’s not some “airy” goal like – “write and reflect” a more specific goal would be – “publish a post 3-4 times each week on my blog” or “contribute 500 words each week to my novel.” This has also helped me realize writing and reflecting is better suited as a weekly goal.

M: Measurable – There must be concrete criteria for measuring progress towards the attainment of each goal being set. How will I know when I’ve reached “being a more considerate driver”? There’s nothing to measure. As a data-lover, this is driving me crazy about my goals. Shame on me. It’s important to try to measure something – I could say, I’m a more considerate driver if I go a month without rolling down my window, laying on my horn, and giving someone the bird.

A: Attainable – Can this goal come true? If I set a goal to be fluent in French by August, it’s simply not attainable. Not with working full time and a full-time graduate school schedule – not to mention I would need full immersion and even then, fluent? Maybe not. It’s important for the goal to be possible.

R: Realistic – This is different from attainable, in my eyes, because realistic addresses if you’re willing to work for it. I often make sure my goals aren’t too high but I need to be checking to make sure they’re not too low either. If a goal is too low, I may not take it seriously enough until it’s too late or I may not feel accomplished when I reach it. The goal you set should be one you’re proud of.

T: Timely – This rolls up to specific but definitely earns its own letter because this is a tough element of goal setting. The goal should be assigned a clear timeframe. It’s no secret that when we assign a due date to something – it’s far more likely to get done.

Updated Goals using SMART

  1. Every day, I will only watch an hour or less of television.
  2. I will publish at least three posts on my blog, each week.
  3. Write and send at least one correspondence each week to someone I’m grateful to have in my life.
  4. Complete my MBA by the end of 2014.
  5. Weigh 130lbs. or fit into my favorite jean shorts by this July.
  6. Run 300 miles (25 miles each month) by the end of 2014.
  7. Run a sub-2 hour, half marathon, hopefully at the Cleveland Rite Aid half marathon on May 18, if not, then at the River Run Half on September 7, 2014.

Much better.

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? What are some of your goals? How can you make them SMART? 

Free Sales Advice. How-to Offer Value. (In business and life.)

Offering a Value Proposition

“How-to Sell” Or How To Be A Meaningful Consultant…either way

There’s an old adage about sales not being about selling the product; it’s about selling yourself. I say, screw that. It’s not about you or the product. It’s about your Customer.

At the end of the day or even the meeting, it’s about them, the Customer. How well you can answer the question, “what’s in it for me?” from the Customer’s perspective. Sure, you have to be likable and reliable but that’s a base level requirement. That’s expected.

How to to answer “What’s in it for them?”

1. Know what they want – The first step to offering a true value-added product/service/yourself to someone is to know what they need. How do you find out what they need? Ask questions and more importantly, listen. There’s a good chance they’ll tell you but you’ll never know if you’ve already assumed what your Customer is looking for. Without listening you’ll sell to them based on some pre-composed idea. Listen beyond the Customer’s initial response. Their first sentence may have nothing to do with their last – they’re in a constant process of developing their strategy, what tools they need to win. They’re second thought will be even more poignant than their first and their last, even more important than the second. Listen.

2. Offer them education – Everyone is in the learning business. “Knowledge is power” isn’t just some silly saying to get kids to stay in school. It’s a value. A meaningful value. Offering industry knowledge not only helps your Customer, it helps you. Demonstrating intellect builds your case, credibility, and stature in their mind. If you have a genuine interest in their field, desire to aid their pain points, and lay that on the table – they’re instantly more interested in picking up the tab.

3. Tailor your product/service/self to them – No, not everyone is a precious, individual snowflake but every one of you Customers sure as hell is. Everyone has unique wants and needs; cater to them. If you did a stellar job of listening (step 1) this should be easy. Don’t dazzle the Customer with the same thing that marketing told you should dazzle most everyone, they are not most everyone. Present them with a cold hard case designed specifically for them. It’s going to be more work but don’t point that out. If you need to point that out – you’re doing it wrong. If you’ve taken the time to understand them and their team, your hard work will speak for itself.

Of course each of these three could have a novel written for them alone. I’m not in the business of over simplification but when I look at “selling” from colleges, to businesses, to simple promotion of yourself – these are three critical steps I can’t imagine leaving out.

When you’re “selling” aka interviewing, giving an elevator pitch, or rallying for support, keep these in mind:

1. Who is this potential supporter?

2. How can you help support them?

3. What’s in it for them, specifically?

If you can offer concise and substantial evidence for all three of these, how can they say no?


Splitting My Pants: A Love Story.

An immense amount of contrite quotes say something like, “love me when I’m at my worst, least deserve it, or even when I don’t love myself.” These have always sounded needy to me, perhaps a bit melodramatic too. I’m starting to think I didn’t understand the deeper meaning (if one can derive such a thing.) It seemed so foreign to me that someone should love you unrequitedly, believe in you strongly, and support you regardless. What’s in it for them?

More importantly – what does any of that have to do with me splitting my pants?

As you could see from my weight-to-relationship chart, the past few years have been filled with more “ups” than “downs.” My better half has witnessed my anguish about this on more than one occasion, but not any moments more memorable than the second time I split a pair of pants.

Yes, second time.

I’m not really sure why the first time wasn’t a big deal. I’d never split a pair of pants, due to size, prior to 2013. The year of split pants. Maybe because the first loss was a pair of old, skinny jeans from college. I mean, they’re called skinny jeans. I was not going to beat myself up about that – I wasn’t skinny like I used to be – didn’t necessarily mean I was fat, right?

The second pair of pants were a favorite pair of mine – gray, work pants, high-waisted, with six buttons on the front and look nautical-ish. So lovable. They zip on the side and I did notice the zipper was working a little harder than it used to, but nothing crazy, right?

One morning, when my hubby-to-be was home, I was getting dressed for work and the zipper broke. It had enough. It was no longer willing to charade fitting into this pair of beloved pants. I broke too. It was the morning I finally faced the imbalance in my life from convenience and stress-satisfying.

I can’t remember if I cried or not. I don’t remember what our conversation was. I remember being in a really dark place, unsure how I got there, even more nervous to try and get out. The weight I put on didn’t scare me. The lack of control leading me to this point, did.

He didn’t ask or make of a big show of it but a few weeks later the pants were no longer shoved in a lost corner of our closet but mended and hanging back up. Ready to reprise their role when I was. I was so grateful for his belief in me even when I had lost belief in myself.

love me

I had been nervous to try them on ever since. Cautious of hurting them or my ego. I hadn’t even intended to try them on today – I had pulled out a pair of my “fat” gray pants to go with a navy blue anchor top. After my morning run, I was feeling bold and ready. Ready to know one way or another.

They fit! Swimmingly at that.

I can’t help but smile when I think about how this moment never would have happened without my hubby-to-be. If it were up up me, those pants would have been donated or tossed so I would never have had to face them again.

Maybe those quotes about desiring a strong supporting actor aren’t so dramatic. One can only be so lucky.