My Goals for 2017: Check-In #4

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things.

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m going to use this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #4

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

In April, I read The Dry, and The Lowland and  I really enjoyed both of these fiction books. This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to eight. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

In April, I finally went for my first jog in about three years! Amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I managed to jog for 27 minutes, including up a hill. While my pace was glacial slow, it gave me hope that getting back into decent cardiovascular shape won’t be completely impossible. Just to be on the safe side, though, I decided to postpone my first 5K until June. And I registered for this one, so I can’t postpone it anymore.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

I tried two local, no-cook options in April. First, I tried the home meal delivery service from 9 Miles East, which I loved! I ordered the Meal Plan Plus, which comes with a four-serving dinner entrée, several salads, a soup, and two servings of grilled veggies with quinoa. It took my husband and me all week to finish everything we received! (Our daughter prefers to stick with chicken nuggets and mac and cheese – sigh…) We had the entrée and salads for dinner several nights, and I had soup, salads, and veggies and quinoa for lunch all week. Their food is local, seasonal, healthy, and delicious, and we’ll definitely be ordering from them again! If you live in the Capital Region or the Boston-area and are interested in trying the 9 Miles East home meal delivery service, contact Adam (Adam@9mileseast.com), let him know that Amy from My Upstate Life sent you, and you’ll save $10 on your first order.

The second option I tried in April was the “Mama’s Ziti To Go” dinner from Augie’s To Go. For $21.95, we got a large tray of ziti with meatballs and sausage, a basic, two-serving salad, and bread. I really enjoyed the meatballs and the ziti, but was not a fan of the sausage. Our super-picky daughter enjoyed the ziti, which was a huge win! They offer a couple of other weekly dinner-to-go specials, including my husband’s beloved chicken parm, which we’ll probably try in the future.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolutions?

Frugal Real Food Meal Plans

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

Spring Cleaning My Life

One of the many things I love about seasonal change is the chance for a fresh start. Each season entails different clothing, different routines, and different activities, sometimes dramatically different, sometimes more subtle. So when I read this recent post from Modern Mrs. Darcy, it really got me thinking about some changes I need to make this spring. These are the ways I’m spring cleaning my life:

  1. Start wearing sunscreen daily again. I know I should make this a priority because I don’t want to end up with skin cancer, but I’ll sheepishly admit that my fear of wrinkles and leathery skin is what really motivates me to slather on sunscreen in the warmer months. I’ve already found myself looking like a lobster once this spring, when I spent several hours outside without sunscreen, the day after using retinol on my face. (Talk about an anti-aging fail!) I love trying different skin care products, and I’m starting with this one and this one this spring.
  2. Move more – much more. I’m not an active person by nature, and I go into full-on hibernation mode in the winter. Unfortunately, as my doctor kindly pointed out at my physical last fall, I’ve gained 10+ pounds over the past five years. Judging from the warmer weather clothes I’ve dug out of the back of my closet recently, this trend has not been reversed. Now that it’s warm again, I have no excuse for not walking and/or running on a very regular basis. And my 5K goal from my goals for 2017 should give me plenty of motivation to get moving soon. Plus, I’ve got my Fitbit to keep me honest…
  3. Get outside daily. Whenever I’m feeling unsettled or out-of-sorts, I notice a quick improvement in my mental health after going outside. This is true even during the dead of winter. I’m not sure if it’s the sunlight, the fresh air, or just being in nature, in general, that makes the difference, but it consistently works. However, I love sitting on the couch (see change #2 above), reading, blogging, and just generally hanging out inside, so I need to make a real effort to get up and out every day to get the benefit of being outside.
  4. Research and plan free activities. Is it just me, or are there countless ways to spend a few dollars on kids during the summer? There’s the carousel, ice cream, festivals, splash parks, and all sorts of other activities competing for attention and cash. But I also know that there are lots of free activities in our area, and I need to put a little effort into researching and planning them. Our library is a great starting place, as well as the local parenting blogs and newsletters. I need to start filling the calendar with them as soon as I start hearing about them.
  5. Invest in some casual dresses and skirts. In past years, I’ve worn mainly shorts during the summer, even though I don’t really like them. They ride up, they’re really casual, and they simply do not flatter my body. This spring I’m investing in some casual, warm-weather dresses and skirts. I’m going to start by ordering a box from Stitch Fix. I haven’t received one in a while, but this seems like a great time to get some help refreshing my wardrobe. (Read about my love-hate relationship with Stich Fix here.) To keep costs down, I’m also doing some sourcing on ThredUp. They have tons of brand-new and excellent-condition clothes for great prices. Finally, I’ll take my shorts to the consignment store, to make a little money back on them.

Are you making any changes to your life this spring?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #3

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things.

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m going to use this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #3

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

In March, I read A Separation, and The Happiness Project. I didn’t love either of them, although I enjoyed The Happiness Project more. This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to six. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

I researched a few options in March, but didn’t actually try any of them. (Unless you count giving up added sugar for a month!) My work schedule is much quieter in April, so I’m going to try an exercise class this month. Because I’m about as out of shape as one can possibly be, this kind of terrifies me…

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

I’m not running yet, but I identified the three races I plan to run. The first is in May, so I better get going!! As one of my Team in Training marathon coaches told us, “Your goal is to complete, not to compete.” Yep!

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

I gave Blue Apron a try in March. This service delivers ingredients and recipes on a weekly basis. (Read my Blue Apron review here.) The meals were all good or great, and more “restaurant-quality” than what I usually make at home. I’m going to continue to dabble with Blue Apron, but since I still have to do the chopping and cooking, it doesn’t really solve my problem.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolution?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My 2017 Goals: Check-In #2

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things.

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m going to use this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Check-In #2

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

In February, I finished reading The House of The Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars, and read The Case Against Sugar. Neither one of them was exactly a page-turner, so I’m looking forward to reading some fiction in March. This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to four. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

In February, I tried something I’ve been really looking forward to trying – and it was a big disappointment. On an unseasonably warm Sunday, I brought dragged my husband and daughter to Spa State Park to try snowshoeing. We rented snowshoes, strapped them on, and returned them ten minutes later. It was almost 60 degrees out, and the snow was more like thick slush. I’m guessing these are not ideal conditions for snowshoeing, and we certainly felt it. I also just didn’t get the point; I didn’t feel like I was doing anything that I couldn’t do in just my snow boots. My husband thinks snowshoeing is better for walking on thick snow, without sinking in. That sounds plausible to me, but I don’t have a burning desire to try again. (Please enlighten me if you’re more of a snowshoeing aficionado than I am.)

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

No progress here.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

I’m trying something new here this week. I had a $40 credit from Blue Apron, and I decided to give it a shot. I still have to do the cooking, but the this eliminates my search for recipes and some of my grocery shopping. I believe my trial recipes are cod and tomato stew, and some sort of pork chop thing.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolution?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My 2017 Goals: Check-In #1

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things.

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m going to use it to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

Check-In #1

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read. In January, I read 2.75 books. I completed Lilac Girls, and I Am Not Myself These Days, and nearly finished The House of The Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars. I also created this page to track my 2017 reads – current, past, and future.

Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones. I didn’t actually try any new activities in January, but I looked at the group fitness class offerings at my local YMCA, and got some great ideas. I’m particularly interested in spinning, “Strength Train Together”, and “Zen Sculpt.” I’m currently very out-of-shape, so I need some time to get into better shape, before subjecting myself to the public humiliation of a group fitness class!

Run at least three 5K races. No progress here.

Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less. I’ve been working more days per week than usual this winter, which means meal planning has been particularly important. My clear reliance on it helped me dread it a bit less in January, but I can’t say the same about cooking. I never enjoy cooking, and I’m even less enthusiastic about it after having spent the day at work.

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolution?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Goals for 2017

For many years, I didn’t make New Years’ resolutions, because, who keeps those things?? Most people – and I’m looking in the mirror here – have completely forgotten their resolutions by the time spring rolls around. But a couple of years ago, I came across a quote that was something like, “Without a plan for where you’re going, you guarantee that you won’t get anywhere.” It made me realize that while I might not achieve everything I set out to in a given year, if I don’t at least set some goals and track my progress, I probably won’t accomplish much, if anything.

Some people set an actual resolution, some people choose a word or a phrase to serve as a theme for the year, and others set some number of goals to strive toward. I’m going with the latter.

My Goals for 2017

Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read. I have a habit of sometimes choosing books I feel like I should read, or I should want to read, rather than ones that I really and truly want to read. Not this year. In 2017, I’m choosing only books that I’m excited to read! To add some fun and jumpstart book ideas, I’m participating in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge. I chose the “put the oomph back in your reading life” option. (Read more about my reading style here, and track my progress toward this goal here.)

Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones. As someone who almost always chooses the familiar over the new, this one is a little anxiety-inducing. However, I recognize that it’s important both mentally and physically to challenge myself and develop new skills. I’ve been wanting to try snowshoeing for a couple of years now, so here’s my motivation. Also, group exercise classes terrify me, but there are lots of great options at my local YMCA. (And they would certainly help with my next goal…)

Run at least three 5K races. I pretty much took an exercise vacation in 2016 – with the exception of a late summer and early fall walking streak – and it shows. How? (1) At my annual physical in November, my doctor said I’m “not overweight”, but my weight has been increasing since 2012, a trend she called “concerning”, and (2) After I haul our trash and recycling cans up our driveway for the weekly pick-up, I find myself panting like I just ran a 10-yard dash. There are numberous 5K races in my area throughout the warmer months, and they’ll be a good source of motivation for me.

Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less. If you’ve read any of my meal plan posts, (recent ones can be found here, here, and here), you know that I’m a fan of neither meal planning, nor cooking. However, I recognize both as necessary evils, and thus I carry on with them. Since assembling my weekly meal plan literally fills me with dread every Sunday, I need to find a way to make it more tolerable. This could mean following prescribed meal plans, or prepping more meals in advance and freezing them, or hitting the lottery and hiring a personal chef. I plan to try different strategies throughout the year, to hopefully take this task from a two to a seven on the dread-scale, by the end of the year.

Do you set resolutions or goals for the new year? What are you planning to achieve in 2017?

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!

My Winter Break Goals

www-myupstatelife-com-8

I have a very part-time job. I work a few months at a time, throughout the academic year, as a college career counselor. Since my only job is to meet individually with students, when the demand for student appointments goes down – think final exam weeks – I go on break. I’m off over summers and the college’s winter and spring breaks. While this is not a particularly lucrative work schedule, it comes with tremendous flexibility. I’m able to get my daughter on and off the school bus every day, and I can adjust my work days as needed to accommodate school holidays, half days, and sick days. (Read more about my job here.) For this stage of my life, it’s the perfect position.

In the lead-up to final exams, the demand for student appointments decreases, so my winter break inevitably begins before the students’. Mine started late last week, and I return to work on January 10th. What am I going to do with these two months? Well, there’s the holiday season and all of the school events, celebrations, and preparations that come with this time of year. But that still leaves plenty of unstructured time on my hands. As a person who craves structure, I find it helpful critical to give myself some goals for the next two months. So in addition to the standard holiday preparations, here’s what I plan to accomplish:

  1. Empty, clean, and organize the cabinet under the kitchen sink. This hasn’t been emptied since we moved into our house seven and a half years ago, and it’s jammed full of cleaning supplies, bags, and who-knows-what-else. Frankly, I’m afraid to see what’s back there.
  2. Clean the ovens. Please don’t judge me, but I haven’t thoroughly cleaned the ovens since we moved into the house. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) While we have two, one gets most of the use – and it shows.
  3. Finish my fall reading list. I have two books left – The Power of Habit, and The Mindful Child.
  4. Complete six, small-space organizing projects. There are countless cabinets that have not ben emptied and organized since – you guessed it – we moved into our house, or shortly thereafter. Occasionally I’ll reach into the back of one of them, and I’m surprised – sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not – by what I find.
  5. Try five new baking recipes. Although the holiday baking season is a time for traditions, I regularly come across hundreds of recipes that I would like to try. Now is the time to do it.

When was the last time you scrubbed your oven? Are there any cleaning/organizing projects that terrify you?

Upstream Field Guide

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. Thank you!!