Saturday, January 28, 2017

Money Motivation - Monetizing Your Workout

If you guys are like me, you are motivated by money - or maybe by the thought of losing it (says the person who just volunteered to not work for a little while. That's different!)

via LoveBugandPeanut on Etsy
Some of you might have read my $$$ posts in the past (here and here) about my "Runner's Savings Account" concept. The premise is super simple: I pay myself a set amount of money for every mile I run and penalize myself for skipping workouts. 

Do work. Get money. Easy enough.

You can see that I wrote those posts wayyyyy back in 2013. In terms of technology, 2013 was like 100 years ago and since then, a few tech savvy people totally stole my idea and made an app for that.

Since I snoozed on a million dollar idea - I might as well pass along the apps making it easy for you to capitalize on your own effort. Cha-ching!

Pact - Get paid to meet your own workout/diet goals with funds provided by the slackers that didn't meet theirs! 

HealthyWage - Make bets and cash out based on your weight loss.

CharityMiles - Feeling like giving back with your mileage? Runners earn 25 cents a mile for charity through the app. Now you can really feel good about your work out! 

But if you are more of a DIY person (aka "old school") and you want to control your own "Runner's Savings Account" - I encourage you do so with my handy how-to here.

And stay tuned! I'm working on some new coaching opportunities so I can monetize MY workouts. Start budgeting now - you know you need someone to keep your ass accountable.

Or - run and take the money!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Staying Home: If It Don't Make Dollars, Then It Don't Make Sense

Here is my big news: I am staying home with my babies! YESSSSSSSSS. 

You read that right. At least - I'm staying home for now.

There are a million reasons why: my health, finding a not-horrifying daycare for two babies, my hubby's sincere and relentless begging. Mostly my gut feeling that I need to be with these babies.

I would never, ever bash anyone that chooses to go back to work or that has to go back to work for financial reasons. I mean, let's be honest - my hubby and I are both public school teachers - not exactly rollin' in the dough. This decision was made with careful consideration of that fact.

I have had a lot of people express both concern & curiosity when they ask,
"How the hell are you pulling that off?"

This is how - we have a dirt cheap existence:

1. We don't carry credit card balances
2. We bought and gutted a (really cute) foreclosure
3. We just refinanced said foreclosure, making the mortgage cheaper than our previous studio apartment 
4. We drive "crappy" cars that are paid off
5. We have money in savings
6. We don't buy "stuff" (I hate clutter. It makes me violent and panicky.)
7. We find free entertainment - like hiking or playing in our own yard
8. We eat mostly vegetarian and we eat at home
9. We have made use of loan forgiveness programs for student loans
10. To keep this option viable, we make money on the side

Ultimately, this post is about number 10. We already have a few ways of bringing in additional income from home - but I'll be looking into some new opportunities in the near future. When I look at where my skills and interests are, coaching and training seem like obvious answers, so I am definitely exploring that idea. 

I'm not sure which direction to go though - here are some thoughts:
1. run coach specifically for busy and/or new moms
2. fitness accountability coach
3. run coach for beginners (like a C25K model)
4. a combo of all of the above 

So that's where I'll end for today. Anyone have thoughts or ideas on this? I'm not into selling stuff so Beachbody probably isn't the path for me (though I do love all their programs.) Anyway - advice and go!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Setting New Goals: Undoing Atrophy & Regaining Sanity

Well, my daughter turned 8 weeks old yesterday - and that means I have the all-clear from my doc to resume running.  

Can I get an A-MEN?!

I went for a short one today. 3 cold and glorious miles. 

During my run, I thought about what my new fitness goals would be. I decided that my focus must first and foremost be undoing the muscle atrophy that a pregnancy and 8 weeks of sitting around breastfeeding does. I mean seriously - has anyone seen my booty? Call me if you find it.

To give you an idea of the level of muscle loss I'm talking about here, my pre-pregnancy weight was a muscle-y 115. My current post-pregnancy weight is a wimpy, soft and saggy 111. It ain't cute. The same thing happened after my son, so at least this time I know it isn't a life sentence and I am not frantically looking for a Groupon for "tummy tucks" - but it is time to tighten it up. So that's my goal, my attainable goal with no timeline. I am VERY excited about this. The best part is that running makes my brain work better and happier - so that's part of the goal too. Run ---> regain mental stability ---> be a nicer mommy and wife ---> repeat forever and ever.

And guys, I think found where my butt went: directly into these super round cheeks and one round baby belly. :)


Sunday, November 27, 2016

"We are a New Balance family." Or are we?

This is not a post about my politics. It is a post about how politics are killin' my vibe, messing with my style and screwing up my running game. It is totally self-centered but it is also totally honest. I am annoyed.

I feel like society is always ruining the things I love. Usually bands. This time: shoes.

According to my Instagram account (which you should follow by the way,) I declared my household a "New Balance family" 18 weeks ago with this photo of my baby boy.

This statement was made long before the election and the ensuing New Balance drama after Trump won - when "neo-Nazis" declared New Balance the official shoe of white people. (What did I even just type? What world is this?!) 

Obviously - this is crazy talk. But it is not why I'm annoyed (at least not in this post.) I am annoyed because now I have to question purchasing another pair of my favorite running shoe. You see - I get the all clear from my doctor to run again in exactly 5 days. I was excited to get a new pair of my favorite kicks to make post-pregnancy Michelle feel fast again.

But no, it couldn't be that simple - New Balance had to open their big, stupid mouth. Ugh.

So screw you, whomever is to blame for tainting something that I love. When I am putting on my shoes, I don't want to think about politics or Donald Trump or neo-nazis or whether my footwear choice is sending stupid, politically charged messages (that I don't even agree with in the slightest.) I go running to forget all of that garbage.

But for real, can I just buy the shoes I like without second-guessing myself and feeling guilty? Is that ok with everyone? 


Thursday, October 27, 2016

The "Fit" Assumption: My Scary Experience with Pre-eclampsia

Hello. Long time, no see.

My toddler is currently at the grocery store with his daddy and my three week old is passed out from being milk drunk - so I thought I would share something I've been tossing around in my head for the last...couple years, really.

**I want to say that I am in no way pointing fingers at anyone here, certainly not my doctors or the medical staff that helped bring my babies into the world. I am just sharing my experience, because I can't be the only one.**

I am going to make this as snappy as possible - because - milk drunk, napping baby.

With both of my pregnancies, I stayed very active. I ran well into my third trimesters. I cut the grass until the very end. I went for super long walks. That is no great feat; I just kept on living the normal life of an adult that is bad at sitting still. As a result, I didn't gain a ton of weight (19 pounds and 17 pounds respectively) and my pregnancies were pretty smooth. My doctor was supportive of my choices during pregnancy, commenting regularly on how it was "nice to have patients without health problems."

She jinxed it.

Toward the end of my first pregnancy, my blood pressure readings started to creep up. Blood pressure has never been a problem for me. My pulse is barely detectable (thanks marathons) and my BP is typically textbook 120/80. But alas, the numbers steadily increased from week to week. And the urine samples I had to turn in every week started to show trace proteins. These two symptoms are classic preeclampsia signs. The thing that is not typical of a preeclampsia patient is me. I'm not a teen mom; I am not over 40; I am not obese; I wasn't carrying twins; I don't have any other health problems. My doctor recognized this discrepancy, too - and my symptoms were not explored any further. 

Fast forward to my due date. I woke up and proceeded to get ready for work as usual. As I looked at my face in the mirror, I realized I couldn't see half of it. I was completely blind in one eye. WHAT THE HELL??? I rubbed my eyes and held my hand in front of my face - I couldn't see it. I thought it might just be a migraine but I called the doc anyway. They had me come in to L&D triage immediately. My BP was in the 170s/100s and not budging. They promptly put me on the hellish cocktail of pitocin (to induce labor) and magnesium sulfate (oh my god - the.worst.) As we sat in the birthing room, they explained all of the risks associated with pre-E (we are on a nickname basis:) stroke, seizure, organ failure, death of mother, death of baby. I had no idea how serious the situation was, until I watched my husband's face turn white. 

Long story, short: after a long day of laboring and an eventual emergency c-section, my bouncing and screaming baby boy was born. And he was perfect. 

I, however, would have lingering pre-E symptoms for the following heavily-medicated month. Understandably and to the delight of my own parents, we immediately swore off the possibility of any future pregnancies.

How quickly we forget.

We found out that baby #2 was coming in early 2016. As happy as we were, I couldn't shake the feeling that we might be tempting fate. I was legitimately scared to the point that I promptly maxed out all of my life insurance options. 

I considered changing doctors, but ultimately, I decided to stay with my old doctor because at least she knew my history. I expressed my concerns to her right away. "What if it comes back? What are the odds...? What are the risks to my baby?" She assured me that it "almost never comes back" - that she could count the number of return cases she's had on one hand and again, "You're not the typical pre-eclampsia patient anyway." I was pacified, but only briefly.

Much like the last pregnancy, I stayed active. I stayed distracted. But I couldn't ignore the thought that it was going to come back. I just felt it in my gut.

I told the doctor as much. I asked why they weren't checking my urine for protein and I was told it was no longer standard practice. (Of course not. Perfect timing.) But the "something isn't right" feeling stayed. 

In August, I had another vision disturbance - and again, I found myself in L&D with elevated BP - but I still had twelve weeks to go in my pregnancy. I stayed in triage until my BP came down on its own and my blood tests came back normal. "See you in 3 months," they said.

They jinxed it. 36 weeks and 2 days.  

I went in for my final ultrasound. It was a routine growth ultrasound to see how baby girl was growing in the final weeks. As always, they took my blood pressure first thing. The tech adjusted the cuff and took it again. She didn't say the numbers - but her hesitation gave it away. She said, "You know what? I think my machine is broken. Let me take it manually." After her cuff slowly deflated, she looked at me and said, "It is that high." 178/108. A specialist was consulted and I was told that I would be delivering in a couple hours via c-section. A couple HOURS. I just kept sobbing and repeating, "She's not ready. I am not ready." She still had four weeks to go. 

They assured me that the only way to stop pre-eclampsia is to stop the pregnancy - and that once again, we were both at risk if we continued any further. 

My baby girl was born five hours later. And she was perfect. I am forever grateful for the care I received and the decisions that were made that day.

A healthy lifestyle is certainly a wonderful thing, but it does not make anyone a super-human. Assumptions were made about my health, because I didn't fit a type - even with symptoms presenting. Trust your instincts, always be your own advocate and get the answers you are looking for. Get that spot checked out. Go to your dentist. Update your life insurance policy. Don't be cute about your health.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

To Compete Well, Eat Well: Vegetarian Enchiladas

Like 99% of humans, I love Mexican food. Thankfully, Mexican food has a ton of wonderful vegetarian options. One of the recipes we make regularly is this very, VERY amazing vegetarian enchilada recipe (slightly adapted from this recipe. Budget Bytes has fantastic recipes - many of which I have tried and I am yet to find one I don't like.) I am certain that you could add the cooked meat of your choice to this recipe without disastrous results.

These little 'ladas are filling and packed full of healthy stuff for those of you that care about that sort of thing. As written, they are intended to be an inexpensive and healthy dinner option...but go ahead and smother them in queso if that's your thing.

The homemade enchilada sauce is pretty spectacular. Do not buy enchilada sauce from a jar ever in your life. DO NOT. This is an easy recipe and you will not regret the minimal time investment. The other bonus is that this recipe lasts us two or three dinners (two adults, one baby) depending on how much the little guy steals off my plate. 

There is a lot of flexibility like playing with heat, corn v. flour tortillas, the addition of the dreaded cilantro, etc - but below is how we make it. Like I said, this isn't my recipe. Make it your own! 
  • 2 T veggie oil
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 C water
  • 3 oz. tomato paste 
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
Enchilada Filling:
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 whole green onions
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • corn tortillas (smaller - taco sized)
  1. Sauce: In a sauce pot combine the veggie oil, flour, and chili powder. Heat the mixture over a medium flame until it begins to bubble. Whisk and cook the bubbling paste for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the water while whisking. Add the tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk until smooth and continue to heat over a medium flame. Let the sauce come up to a gentle simmer, at which point the sauce will thicken. Once thickened, turn off the heat and set the sauce aside until you’re ready to use it. (FYI - we double the sauce recipe only, because we like the sauce to cover the enchiladas entirely)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  3. Filling: Drain and rinse the can of beans, then add them to a large bowl. Chop the avocado, tomato, and green onion. Add them all to the bowl, along with the corn. Stir it up! Season with a little salt and garlic powder.
  4. Cover two cookie sheets in a layer of foil and spray with non-stick spray. 
  5. Warm the corn tortillas briefly in the microwave to make them soft. Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of filling and roll gently. Place the filled tortillas on the cookie sheet, seam side down and with a little room between each enchilada. Once all of the filled enchiladas are on the cookie sheets, spoon sauce onto each one until all sauce is used up and each enchilada is covered.
  6. Bake the enchiladas in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until they’re heated through.
  7. Serve with guacamole or a side salad. And cerveza. Enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Running with the Wolfpack

I can hear your collective sigh of relief: She's alive!

While many things have changed in the running life of Lace & Race, I have still been running. Just this week, I started taking out my new running partner, Wolfie. 

I have been dying to try out my BOB Ironman Jogger since I got it last summer. It is very serious looking and I feel like a badass when people see me running with it (because people are often thinking: Wow, that mom looks like a badass.) If I am being honest, I was expecting it to be easy to transition from running with no additional equipment to running with a jogger. It's not that easy. In fact, it is straight-up hard when I do any route that involves hills. It makes sense though; my big boy weighs about 22 pounds and the jogger is not small by any standards. That just means that I'm getting a better workout - silver lining. The extra weight actually reminds of how I felt running while I was about 8 months pregnant.

I've had a pretty substantial mental shift in how I view my runs, too. Pre-Wolfgang, I could run all day without a second thought. Long runs were relaxing, care-free and fun. Then I had a baby and literally everything I used to do seemed so pointless. Before Wolfie was big enough to fit in the jogger, I would leave him at home with daddy while I hammered out a few miles. The entire time I was away from him, I just felt guilty. Bad mommy! I wanted to hurry up and get back home. Any element of "relaxing" was completely gone and replaced with "This is stupid. I'm trotting around alone and I have a perfect baby at home!" I was putting in the absolute minimal miles to maintain some level of fitness, but those miles were a mental challenge, for sure.

So - I am more than relieved that the little one now meets the minimum size requirements to ride along with me. We've even found a way for daddy to join us with his bad hip: a razor scooter (pretty certain he'd kill me if I posted a photo.) It is actually really adorable and I'm happy he's along. We all travel as a pack....a "Wolfpack," I suppose.